Tag Archives: Politics

“Politics and the English Language” Response

The Founding Fathers created a new kind of democracy, one that has impacted regimes all around the world since the US Constitution became law. But since then the very word “democracy” has acquired both a positive connotation and multiple definitions. The standard definition is rule by the people, whether direct as in a town hall-style government or the representative republic the Founding Fathers espoused. But George Orwell makes provocative statements about the further meaning of that word in his essay “Politics and the English Language”:

In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

The dictionary at answers.com has some surprising definitions, in addition to “rule by the people”:

• The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
• Majority rule.
• The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.

These meanings go a bit beyond “rule by the people” and explore what that rule theoretically leads to: social equality, respect, majority rule…hence the word’s positive connotation. But perhaps Orwell’s most provocative statement is that the defenders of all regimes take advantage of democracy’s meaning.
The question now is: when is a regime truly a democracy? Or in the case of the United States, how much of the actions of elected representatives are truly representative of the majority’s interest? Is South Carolina a democratic state if its governor uses taxpayer money to go to Argentina? Certainly that was more in his personal interest than in that of South Carolina’s majority.

Ben

US Funds Colombian Deaths Over Drugs

In her new book, Blood & Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia, author Jasmin Hristov writes: “For roughly forty years, the Colombian state has been playing a double game: prohibiting the formation of paramilitary groups with one law and facilitating their existence with another; condemning their barbarities and at the same time assisting their operations; promising to bring perpetrators of crime to justice, while opening the door to perpetual immunity; convicting them of narco-trafficking, yet profiting from their drug deals; announcing to the world the government’s persecution of paramilitary organizations, even though in reality these ‘illegal armed groups’ have been carrying out the dirty work unseemly for a state that claims to be democratic and worthy of billions of dollars in US military aid.”

As the largest recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere, Colombia has long been the US’ most important ally in Latin America. Simultaneously, Colombia has also become the hemisphere’s worst human rights violator, with Colombia’s numerous paramilitary organizations recently taking center stage, as they’ve gradually become directly responsible for more human rights atrocities than the formal military and police. In the name of fighting “narco-terrorism,” poor people and dissidents are massacred, assassinated, tortured, and disappeared, among other atrocities—done to eliminate particular individuals and to “set an example” by intimidating others in the community. 97 percent of human rights abuses remain unpunished.

In recent years, a variety of human rights organizations, as well as mainstream academics and journalists have found it impossible to ignore the astronomical human rights violations. However, even though these groups have accurately reported on the actual atrocities, Jasmin Hristov argues that in their reports, the atrocities are largely de-contextualized from the powerful forces in Colombia and the US that directly benefit from this repression. According to Hristov, this mainstream presentation serves to mask the fact that US and Colombian elites directly support (via funding, training, supervising, and providing legal immunity for) state repression carried out by the police and military, as well as illegal paramilitary groups that are unofficially sanctioned by the government. Whether it is murdering labor organizers or displacing an indigenous community because a US corporation wants to drill for oil on their land, Hristov passionately asserts that death squad violence is purposefully directed towards sectors of society that stand in the way of the ruling class’ efforts to maintain economic dominance and acquire more resources to make even more profit.

In her book, Hristov does make a convincing argument that Colombia’s notorious death squads are inherently linked to maintenance of the country’s extreme economic inequality. Particularly since the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s that have increased poverty, Colombia’s poor continue to resist their oppression in many different ways. In response, state repression on a variety of levels is needed to terrorize unarmed social movements and other community groups and activists.

Throughout Blood & Capital, Hristov seeks to expose the rational motivations behind state violence for capitalism’s economic elites in the US and Colombia. In meticulous detail, Hristov shows how the super-rich benefit from state repression and how the violators of human rights have essentially become immune from any consequences for their actions. If death squads are truly to be abolished in Colombia, we must look honestly at how and why they exist today. Hristov’s new book is a powerful tool for exposing who truly calls the shots.

Neoliberalism or neopoverty?

Hristov asserts that “it is not a mere coincidence that during the era of accelerated neoliberal restructuring, the deterioration in the living conditions of the working majority has been accompanied by an increase in the capabilities and activities of military, police, and paramilitary groups, as well as the portrayal of social movements as forces that must be monitored, silenced, and eventually dismantled.”

I don’t know if it’s fair to blame this atrocity on neoliberal ideology. But surely this helps make the case against prohibiting drugs. You’re only creating crime instead of discouraging it.

Hello World

Hello world! I would like to introduce myself. My name is Matthew Ramsden and thanks to the generosity of the founders of this blog, I have been appointed as a new writer and contributor to Kids Like You And Me. Well, my posts will pretty much be the same as what the other writers post; CD and movie reviews, political opinions, anecdotes about my life etc. However, I will also add whatever I know about live theatre if any drama kids read this (REPRESENT!!!) So that’s about it. I want to thank the founders of Kids Like You And Me again for adding me. I’m sure this will be an interesting experience. In the words of the great journalist Edward R. Murrow, “Good night and good luck.”

Dell Sucks…A Problem With PM Corps.

This isn’t really a thorough, ground breaking analysis but…profit maximizing corporations suck. There is no excuse and here’s why: Dell, maybe you own a computer made by these guys, utilizes a strategy called 3-7. It’s pretty simple, three out of ten computers are efficiently produced and are expected to be immune from any major problems. The other seven computers will be prone to problems and will require some kind of repair work. This business model works out wonderfully for Dell because people who encounter a computer that requires repair will send it back for service (back to India where the repair will be incredibly cheap) OR buy another computer (Dell hopes it’s one of their “3” models that costs only $500) all together, figuring it’s too much of a hassle to wait for a repair. Dell doesn’t mind repairing computers or assisting people in their difficulties. Their cheaply manufactured products will make them a shit load of money in sales and cost them only slightly in expenses and production. This kind of profiting off of bad things happening is not uncommon. It’s been around for years — the automotive industry has been a consistent example over the years of purposely making shoddily and unsafe parts and accessories. That’s because the cost of repair (paying damages to victims of an “accident” OFTEN subsidized by the government through TAXPAYER monies) is minutely important relative to profit, which will always be there. It can and has been argued that many industries make money off of bad things happening. And honestly I don’t feel like I am in the business to propose a lasting solution to this terrible problem. Social business is a start, perhaps most feasible in an industrial age like ours.