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Previous Entries

» Reprehensible repression
» fun with syllogisms
» bootPod
» Pottering about on the left

February 05, 2009

Protest or Parade?

Posted by Elaisha Stokes at 12:19 PM ET | Comments (1)

When I was a teenager I spent a lot of time at public rallies and protests. Back then I really believed that if I raised a little hell the world would become a better place. I travelled all around North America, mobilizing other youth and standing up for what I believed was right and true. I've been shot at close range by rubber bullets (painful) pepper sprayed until my skin started to rot (very painful) and hit by flying canisters of tear gas (extremely painful). I don't go to protests any more, not only because they've proved to be physically painful experiences, but also because I view them as contextually ineffective. Naomi Wolf agrees. She argues that protests always work when they raise the stakes, but that today's protests can't due to the "Disney-fication" of political dissent. Check out her nine minute clip above to learn more about what she views as the end of democracy as we know it. Is the end of true political dissent and discourse upon us?

More entries on: Resistance

February 03, 2009

Sri Lankan protests demand peace

Posted by Anna Bowen at 01:07 PM ET | Comments (1)

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As I rushed to Union Station on Friday to join the throngs of commuters brushing by each other to get a seat on the gotrain, thousands of Sri Lankan protesters were just ending off their successful protest in downtown Toronto. The crowd hoped to draw attention to what is being called the genocide in Sri Lanka. Peaceful protests drew thousands in other cities worldwide as urbanites in London, Australia, and Paris also witnessed human chains that reached several kilometers long and hunger strikes, all in efforts to help bring an end to the violence.

The demonstrations were a public outcry, and protesters are asking governments to help end the military offensive against Tamil civilians in the north of Sri Lanka. Both the CBC and the BBC mistakenly reported that the protest was to end violence against the Tamil Tigers, much to the discouragement of protestors. The protests brought Sri Lanka to the media for the second time in 2009, following the death of Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga, editor-in-chief of The Sunday Leader, which occurred last month.

Democracy now reports that over 250,000 civilians are caught in the middle of this conflict. Reports of attacks on hospitals have also come to the forefront of the news. The Red Cross describes the situation as a humanitarian crisis. In part Friday's protesters at Union Station hoped to draw commuter and travellers' attention to the Tamil cause. The protests certainly grabbed headlines, but we'll have to wait and see what kind of intervention comes of the peaceful demonstrations.

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February 13, 2008

12 Years of Revolution in Nepal

Posted by derek at 11:35 AM ET | Comments (1)


Today marks the 12th anniversary of the initiation of the revolution in Nepal. Led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the revolution, called a "People's War" by its proponents, began with sporadic actions in Nepal's isolated rural areas in 1996 and now sees the rebels controlling 80% of the country. Mystifyingly ignored by North American media, the revolution in Nepal may have wide-ranging repercussions in a region already marked by turmoil.

The CPN(M)'s rapid advance is largely due to their winning over much of Nepal's poverty-stricken rural population - support won by relying on a program of wiping out national, caste, and gender discrimination as well as by implementing land reforms. That, together with a highly unorthodox strategy the Nepalese Maoists call "Prachanda Path" named after their Party Chairman, has placed the maobadi on the verge of country-wide power in the land-locked Himalayan country.

A peace agreement, signed in November 2006, is currently being respected, but things show signs of heating up. The Maoists have just re-activated their rural governments that were dissolved when the peace agreement was signed, and a new showdown seems set for April when elections for a new Constituent Assembly will take place.


More entries on: From the intern desk | Global politics | Resistance

February 14, 2007

Backing the Con(rad)

Posted by john_d at 10:07 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sick of how the United States is persecuting one of our best and brightest with a frivolous legal action inspired by little more than the inferiority complex of the common masses?

It's time to stand up for Conrad Black.

Visit and leave your message of support beside those of David Frum, Baroness Thatcher, Michael Coren, Christie Blatchford (yes, Christie Blatchford), and Mark Steyn.

After this ridiculous trial is over and Lord Black is vindicated, we're all going fox hunting.

Thanks to the Canadian Magazines blog for the tip. And if you have a few days to kill, you might want to read Books in Canada's book-length defence of Black, Auto da Fe: Conrad Black, Corporate Governance, and the End of Economic Man, and/or the Dooney's Cafe rebuttal by Brian Fawcett and Stan Persky.

Wow, that's a lot of words about one guy. And I'm betting it's just the preface.

I love that Canada is having an in-depth intelligent conversation about all this.

More entries on: Resistance

October 23, 2006

50 Years Ago Today

Posted by Krisztina at 03:25 AM ET | Comments (1)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Hungarian Revolution. Everyone's gonna be talking about it all day today, but don't fear, I've combed Wikipedia and offer you the Coles Notes version, cuz as a Hungarian immigrant, if anyone's gonna be doing internet research on this topic, it should be me.

Ahem. The Hungarian Revolution was a spontaneous and bloody uprising started by students and workers who, after Stalin's death demanded a reform of the Communist Rule with their 16 point agenda, which included establishing free elections and withdrawing from the Warsaw Pact. What started as a march and protest quickly turned to street fighting as Hungarians fought the Russian Army with whatever they had in hand; guns, gasoline, cobblestones, and even kitchen utensils. The revolt spread across the country, radio stations were taken over, the secret police were disbanded and the government was overthrown. But on November 4th 1956 Soviet forces retaliated with Air Strikes squashing the movement and killing many civilians. When the dust settled, upwards of 10,000 were killed (many executed in months after the uprising), 100,000 were imprisoned, and 200,000 fled the country.

Commemorations are being held all across the world, toast the revolutionaries with a shot of palinka if you get the chance.

More entries on: Resistance

October 06, 2006

Reprehensible repression

Posted by mason at 10:23 PM ET | Comments (1)

Soup is Good Food directed us to a nifty campaign by Amnesty International, a campaign that now has a permanent presence in the right-hand column of Blog This. The idea is to spread the word about sites that are censored in their own countries by publishing their writings. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right that is often being denied people, and part of the power of the internet is to circumvent oppressive authorities who seek to hide injustices.

The green box you see is an attempt at broadening the reach of controversial ideas and proving they are "irrepressible." Each time you load Blog This, a new censored site is excerpted with a links to the site. No shortage of important, censored stories to sift through, from the killing of an opposition politician in Kazakhstan to the kidnapping of reporters in Iraq.

More entries on: Human rights | Interweb | Resistance | THIS matters

August 15, 2006

fun with syllogisms

Posted by john_d at 03:36 PM ET | Comments (2)

Today in the Toronto Sun, columnist Peter Worthington wrote:

"Like most Canadians who don't have AIDS and aren't HIV carriers, Harper probably isn't much interested in the topic.

Sure, he thinks it is a terrible affliction, but not one he's likely to get."

I've been mulling ever since, trying to see how this logic translates cross-platform (as the geeks say) for the average neo-conservative.

The "logical" construct Worthington uses goes like this:

We don't need to be interested in diseases we probably won't get.

Stephen Harper probably won't get AIDS.

Therefore, Stephen Harper doesn't need to be interested in AIDS.

Nothing I agree with there, but that's not all that surprising for a neo-conservative argument. But start shifting the variables a bit, and the same trouble starts for neo-conservatives.

We don't need to be interested in oppression we probably won't suffer under.

George Bush probably won't suffer under Saddam Hussein's oppression of his citizens.

Therefore, George Bush doesn't need to be interested in Saddam Hussein's oppression of his citizens.

You see the hitch?

More entries on: Resistance

August 11, 2006


Posted by john_d at 09:57 AM ET | Comments (5)

This is for the folks at Boing Boing.


It's my iPod!... a mash-up of a vintage 1990's boot box and a bunch of vintage 80's and 90's era cassette tapes for playing on my car cassette tape playing device. I hacked the box by removing the boots and wearing them for a number of years. Also, I am screwing the corporate musicstapo because some of these are mixed tapes from pre-blank media surcharge days. Damn I love the taste of freedom!

Most times I just listen to my bootPod on random, because I don't want to take my eyes off the road to see which tape I'm choosing.

Andrew Potter take note -- both Mellencamp and Springsteen on the "most frequently played" list.

More entries on: Resistance

July 26, 2006

Pottering about on the left

Posted by john_d at 02:23 PM ET | Comments (19)

Go now and read Andrew Potter's latest column in Maclean's.

In it, he outlines some of the basic tenets of the Euston Manifesto, which he calls "a statement of broadly left-liberal principles cooked up last spring by a collection of London-based journalists, activists and academics."

Quick full disclosure-- Potter blurbed my book, and I do like to drink with him when I see him, which is too rarely; but none of that means I can't objectively engage with his arguments.

That said, let's engage. I first heard of the Euston Manifesto on Potter's blog. I spent a bit of time with the EM, trying to figure out if it is something I might find myself signing. I have a romantic notion about signing declarative manifestos, ever since my hero Vaclav Havel was imprisoned for lending his signature to a piece of paper. Signing things can be an incredibly brave act -- just ask anyone who has bought a house. Now there's a way to make one's peace with the market economy. Sign here, here, here and here, and initial everything else. Then sign here. Now give me more money than you have.

In the end, I decided I could NOT comfortably sign the Euston Manifesto. While I applaud the impulse that created this document, I find its many flaws outweigh any positive significance it might have in the global debate. In my opinion, the EM and its many highly-placed and well-respected signatories have caved under relentless neo-con criticism, accepted the charges lobbed at them from the right-hand side of the arena and made the most forceful apology they could muster. The whole thing smells weak and a bit snivelish.

Potter outlines much of what I mean in his latest column when he presents his brief history of the problematic left. Let me quote a bit:

"The purpose of the Euston Manifesto is, essentially, to save the left from itself. It is an attempt to draw a clear line between the social-democratic liberal left and the anti-war left, the latter of which has, since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, made common cause with tyrants, excused terrorists, and -- in some cases -- sold out the rights of women to reactionary theologians, all in the service of a single-minded opposition to the United States."

"...The left followed a similar path of thought when it came to understanding the American desire to topple Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime in Iraq: the invasion was immediately linked with a dystopian narrative of suburban excess -- it was about providing a steady and cheap supply of oil to fuel the gas-guzzling SUVs that symbolize all that is odious about American consumer comfort."

See, this is exactly the problem with the EM. It is responding to the scenario here outlined by Potter, as if the charges herein had merit in fact. Which means that to sign it is to agree that the anti-war left in general has indeed made common cause with tyrants, excused terrorists and sold out women to reactionary theologians. Signing, in effect, is to agree that the left's criticism of the US invasion of Iraq was generally as simple-minded as Potter suggests it was. We on the left who are generally anti-war and have for many, many years been calling upon various world powers, including the much maligned US of A, to stop befriending tyrants, excusing acts of terrorism and selling out women are confused by this argument. I think I briefly engaged with Mark Steyn and Andrew Coyne on the use of just this kind of logical fallacy on this very blog awhile back.

Here's directly from the Euston Manifesto:

That US foreign policy has often opposed progressive movements and governments and supported regressive and authoritarian ones does not justify generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

Well, who wouldn't agree with that? I'll tell you who -- neo-conservatives, who regularly make a "logical" link between any criticism of US foreign policy and a generalized prejudice against either the country or its people.

When did you stop beating your wife, Mr. Manifesto?

Is the EM really the only way for the left to gain back some of its moral authority? Why don't we just try not letting the bullies on the right define our positions for us -- you know, in everyday life; not on some document we can publicly sign to say, "not me, I'm not one of the deluded ones on my team." In the end, I think the EM probably makes the neo-cons very happy, since it shows just how unsolid is the solidarity. Lob a few logic bombs at these jokers and they start fighting among themselves.

More entries on: Resistance

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