Saturday, February 24, 2007
A waking dream
It is within this realm that poetry is born
Living, breathing, art.
If art is pure emotion
It is an unconscious conscious subconscience
Nothing else exists
It will not work, he said.
I know, she said.
But it does not matter anymore.
Perfection is just another illusion.
Much like security.
Fruthermore, Darfurians share the cross-cutting cleavage of being a Muslim, ‘Arabs’ and ‘Africans’ alike. This evidence dispels the idea that the conflict is religiously based, or the equation of Arab to Muslim and African to Non-Muslim. Likewise, some Fur have assumed Arab identity. The Islamic Nationalist government in
These relationships confuse ethnic and religious identities with political identities. The opposing groups in
The variety of ethnic groups in
This North-South divide has led to tensions in
Many will present these atrocities in terms of ‘Africans’ versus ‘Arabs’. However, the ethnographic evidence shows that the categories ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ are not ethnically identifiable, (although they are assumed to be), but they are instead politically polarized groups. One group supports the ‘Arabic’ nationalism that the National Islamic Front (hereafter named NIF, the government regime in
Thus, ‘Arabs’ and ‘Africans’ are simply abstracted external categories, presented as if they were very real: ‘reification’. An ‘ethnic’ conflict, therefore, is the politicization of ethnicity: ‘ethnopolitics’. It is a creation of the state, it is no more ethnic than it is religious; it is simply a power struggle; one group is armed and the other is disarmed.
Like most African nation-states, the political border of the
Rebel groups formed to resist this ‘Islamic Radicalism’ and hegemony of
Can we name this ‘annihilatory extreme’ in
The debate over semantics was perhaps an ‘official reality’ in order to avoid the need for the international community to intervene and to protect their oil interests in the
Oil was discovered in the
The NIF regime sees the
What is the motivation for the violence? Is it resources, is it oil, or is it ideology? We can only speculate. Evidence shows that the root causes of the violence stem out of many sources and areas. They have been bundled into a confused, yet dichotomized world of black-and-white, powerful and helpless, living and dying. Whether or not it is genocide? This seems to me to be irrelevant, as civilians are the victims, there clearly needs to be an intervention.
For the Chomsky fans, another inspiring documentary for action: Noam Chomsky, Rebel Without a Pause. What a man, how brave, may we all be so defeatless!
Another one, which I haven't seen at this moment as I write but will be seeing very shortly: Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in our times.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Music is our salvation.
It communicates the beauty in the world.
Musicians translate the voice of god
Singers are angels
Lifting our spirits above
To overcome all our sorrows
A chorus of freedom
In our minds
There is light
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Over-consumption is apparently easy for people to signal as an environmental problem, but for the majority it remains extremely difficult to consequently act accordingly. It is confronting to realize that the only way to make a true difference in the world is if we change our own behaviour, for this has consequences for the environment as well as the poor and oppressed populations worldwide. Actions are often only undertaken if there is an economic gain or possibility. This is typical of the economic analysis, using the cost/benefit relationship, wherein social and environmental consequences are not considered.
The processes of exploitation, exclusion and marginalization are well-known phenomena of the world capitalist system today, yet powerful players at the top, which are benefiting from this system, are not prepared to part with any of their wealth in order to redistribute it among the poor. Providing opportunities to those people they are exploiting would decrease their power, and diminish their comfortable positions. Such opportunities could be achieved by moving towards an emancipatory discourse for the poor, which would contribute to breaking ‘the culture of silence’. This includes the silence of the academic community towards the poor. The poor, oppressed and marginalized demand a central role in academic discussion, as important actors in our world economy, but most of all to give them a platform so that they are no longer silenced and invisible, but rather to create the potential for change.
- Rosa Isolde Reuque Paillalef, Mapuche Feminist
Monday, February 12, 2007
The correlation between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels has been acknowledged widely for decades. The concern about global warming has led to heated debates about the use of fossil fuels to provide energy, and whether there are feasible alternatives. Renewable energy sources, efficiency and nuclear energy are all presented as low-carbon possibilities, yet agreement on their implementation varies and remains contested. The thirst for oil brings about geopolitical, socio-economic and environmental repercussions. Nuclear energy with all its risks cannot possibly be the best alternative. The political will to implement environmentally friendly, sustainable and renewable forms of energy is presently insufficient, despite the IPCC and the Uppsala Protocol. What remains largely uncontested, yet lurks beneath the surface of these debates is the need for energy itself. The claim that the demand for energy will continue to rise with economic growth and population growth therefore seems indisputable. Do we really need so much energy? The current negative effects of energy use in its different forms must force us to reconsider whether it is desirable to use energy at all for the future. If our need were in demise, our main energy problems would accordingly be solved. The socio-economic, geopolitical, health and environmental costs of energy far exceed our need for energy, and it is our need for energy that needs to be curtailed in order to solve our energy problems and ultimately, achieve sustainability for the future.
The war in
As if Chernobyl was not enough warning, nuclear energy is now once again on the table as a recommended alternative to oil as a source of energy, as it is deemed commercially viable, and economically competitive. Not only are such disasters as
Alarmingly, an increasing number of studies conclude that nuclear energy should be an important part of the strategies towards sustainable energy development, which influence policy such as the OECD’s IEA ‘sustainable development vision scenario’. The focus on carbon emission decrease causes the negative environmental impacts of nuclear waste to disappear into a blind spot. The mere fact that nuclear energy is suggested to be a sustainable source of energy clearly negates the multidimensional aspect of sustainability, which considers environmental, social and economic effects. Furthermore, the health risks accompanying nuclear production and radioactive waste are disastrous at worst: infertility, leukaemia, cancers, diseases, native malformations, death etc. The problem with radioactive waste is that it may not actually become a visible problem until centuries into the future. Therefore, the thought of creating more nuclear energy completely disregards future generations, which is an imperative aspect of any discussion concerning sustainable development.
Whether or not we need energy to survive as a human species seems like a moot point, yet it is certainly the magnitude of energy that we ‘need’ that should be questioned. It is argued that energy is one of the basic human needs; however, the majority of energy is employed in the production of mainly luxury goods and services. This luxury is needed due to our concept of comfort. Energy efficiency not only requires technology, but a fair amount of awareness. Awareness that the earth’s resources are finite, and an awareness that we consume much more than we actually need.
Renewable energy sources have been identified for decades, yet their implementation is problematic. First of all, the political will is lacking when it comes to the implementation of solar energy, as PV panels are not economically viable in the short term. When economic considerations are prioritized above environmental considerations, innovation and sustainability are blocked. Furthermore, certain renewables may not be ecologically sound alternatives. Sustainability is therefore not only a question of technological advance and innovation; it is a matter of political will, and transcending ‘Not In My Backyard ' attitudes.
For example, wind energy is a clean, environmentally friendly, renewable and sustainable form of energy, yet for a number of social and economic reasons, actual construction of wind turbines remains very slow. Many people protest the implementation of wind turbines due to their sight and sound, which are predominantly aesthetic and the sound is certainly no more than any urban centre.
Solar PV systems seem to be the most feasible option, despite their initial price, in terms of sustainability as well as implementation. Solar systems are used more and more in development projects, to increase self-sufficiency as well as sustainability, so that using distributed renewable energy resources will foster local independence from world markets, and create economic, social, and political stability.
In agricultural sectors, biofuels can be considered a sustainable option, albeit they are used on a small scale, such as using cattle manure or plant oils that are produced naturally anyway. On a large scale, biofuels are discouraged as an alternative, as it would require a lot of land, significant energy as inputs, and competes with food by diverting land and water resources, and defeats the purpose of environmental sustainability due to soil degradation, biodiversity loss and the fact that it is not carbon-neutral .
Hydro power is also presented as a carbon-neutral alternative, and it is renewable, however it is not an environmentally benign power source. According to new studies, the amount of greenhouse gases generated by hydropower can be greater than the amount of greenhouse gases produced by a fossil fuel power of the same strength, and increases threats such as erosion, landslides, change of sedimentation, loss of fresh water and biodiversity loss, nor is it socially benign! The implementation of dams has led to the displacement of millions of marginalized and indigenous populations worldwide, such as the Three Gorges Dam in China, The Narmada Dam in India, etc.
Therefore, renewable energies (wind, sun, water, biomass) are harmless to air pollution but face severe limits of feasibility for the world-scale development. True alternative energy sources are often unnoticed and certainly not recognized as plausible solutions to global energy problems. This is due to their small scale and locally-based character. Yet it is precise these two characteristics that make them sustainable, as transport is eliminated and self-sufficiency, and thus independence is increased. The smaller the scale, the greater the energy efficiency can be. Self-sufficiency also implies a limitation to energy use levels, so that they fulfil basic human needs but do not exceed sustainable levels for luxury items and superfluous behaviour.
The possibility of using clean, sustainable and environmentally friendly forms of renewable energy has been around for decades, if not centuries. Yet, the political will to resort to locally-based solutions seems to be lacking. Is it because they do not contribute to the national or global economy? Large-scale schemes are often the solution, (such as the quest for oil, hydro-electric dams etc.) as this contributes to industry, trade and political power, or is it just a matter of economics?
As with most sustainability issues, the interrelation between economics and politics forms the main stumbling block to achieving sustainable energy use. The economic dimension is prioritized above the social and environmental dimensions when energy policy is made, albeit a few exceptions.
The environmental and social costs are at present not included in the pricing of fuel or electricity. These costs are often referred to as ‘externalities’, yet have been known for decades, leading me to wonder when these costs will be internalized in energy policies. Inevitably, the negative social and environmental consequences of our energy use far outweigh any economic cost we may impose on energy sources. Therefore, putting a monetary price tag on the earth and on our survival cannot possibly answer to our ethics as a human species. Being confronted with our own behaviour is one of the hardest tasks we have as a species, yet it is not impossible. The ability to see the consequences of our own actions does not require superhuman abilities; it is rather the prerequisite for our survival and that of the planet. War is the most extreme cost that our ‘need’ for energy can bring. Not only is it traumatic for those directly involved, it threatens our global political security and is disastrous for both the local and the regional socio-economic and environmental stability.
Politics are a human creation, as are economics and energy production and use. These inventions have led to large scale changes in the ecology of this planet, and therefore the welfare of our species as well as every other species. Let us not forget that we have the ability to reinvent our social reality if we choose, which will in turn affect our planet, our natural habitat.
A reduction in the world’s population will not necessarily lead to an improvement in the global environment. The world needs to behave sustainably before the numbers can make a difference. If the world is overpopulated with overconsuming capitalists who do not consider the future of their grandchildren, then overpopulation is indeed a problem. Even if the numbers of these people were to decrease, we would still exceed the so-called ‘carrying capacity’. However, if the world was to have the same population, but of people living according to the sustainability concept, overpopulation would no longer be a problem for the environment.
Instead of reducing emissions by using less fossil fuels, the wealthy elite are seeking to replace oil and coal as energy sources with other risky sources such as nuclear power. Furthermore, over-consumption is apparently easy for people to signal as an environmental problem, but for the majority it remains extremely difficult to consequently act accordingly. It is confronting to realize that the only way to make a true difference in the world is if we change our own behaviour, for this has consequences for the environment as well as the poor and oppressed populations worldwide. The importance of environmentally friendly, renewable and sustainable energy use is recognized globally, yet reducing automobile usage or other forms of energy consumption has not been addressed effectively to date. Actions are often only undertaken if there is an economic gain or possibility. This is typical of the economic analysis, using the cost/benefit relationship, wherein social and environmental consequences are not considered.
To achieve the ideal of balance between the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, ecological, social), would require a compromise. A compromise in their values, as one may not be more valuable than the other. Therefore, the actors involved must compromise their own interests on the basis of equality with the other parties involved. In line with Wolfgang Sachs, among others, the present development model itself is unsustainable, and therefore sustainability is not possible in the current system. Sustainability must represent an alternative approach altogether, not one that takes place within the development paradigm.
whispers to me
of talking animals
with a good beat
of blue guitars
in a thousand pieces
another walks in circles
in a million directions
laughs out loud
the right place
a perfect world
My vision, dreams, thoughts and desires.
A new World.
Is the obvious answer.
It is bliss.
It is truth.
The possibility of the universe
Inspires the dream,
A light in my mind.
- Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
- Runaway World by Anthony Giddens
- Planet Dialectics by Wolfgang Sachs
- The Algebra of Infinite Justice By Arundhati Roy
- Fences and Windows by Naomi Klein
- Stupid White Men by Micheal Moore
- The Case Against the Global Economy and For a Turn Toward the Local edited by Jerry Mander and Edward Goldsmith
- Ecofeminism edited by Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies
- Seeing Like a State. How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott
- Death Without Weeping. The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil by Nancy Scheper-Hughes
- The Multicultural Riddle by Gerd Baumann
- Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz
- Europe and the People Without History by Eric R. Wolf
- Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson
- Everything written by Farley Mowat
- The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
- Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
- Young, Damned and Banda. The World of Young Street People in Mexico City, 1990-1997 by Roy Gigengack
- Europe and the People without History by Eric R. Wolf
- The Road to Guantanamo
- An Inconvenient Truth
- The Corporation
- Manufactured Consent
- Our Daily Bread
- City of Photographers (La ciudad de los fotografos)
- We feed the World
- The real dirt on farmer John
- Farenheit 9/11
- Internationally Speaking
- Ibogaine, Rite of Passage
- 1 Giant Leap
- Informed Dissent
- Darwin's Nightmare
- Noam Chomsky: Rebel Without a Pause
- Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times
- What the bleep do we know?
- Loose change
- The Constant Gardener (about human suffering on many levels)
- The Oil Factor
- Occupation 101
- Democracy Now! Standing up to the Madness
- Who killed the electric car?
- Howard Zinn: You can't be neutral on a moving train
- Into the Wild watch it first, then read this, the real story.
Yesterday I went to a lecture by Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, and recognised as the first indigenous president of the Americas. His policies symbolize an unprecedented break with the past. He wants to 'decolonize' Bolivia, starting with the natural resources, which foreign companies have largely been profiting from since the implementation of the World Bank and IMF's SAPs. Instead of the company receiving all the profits, he has reversed the percentages, so that the state now receives 82% and the company receives 18%. He copied this ratio from the Dutch government, whom he had visited years ago before he was president, and this inspired him to implement it in Bolivia. And why not? If the Dutch can do it, why can't the Bolivians? He plans to redistribute the profits in order to relieve poverty and promote 'bottom up' development, instead of the failed 'topdown' strategies of the past. This is not radical, as academics, activists and development critics have been saying it for years. It is, however a radical break from the mainstream, the hegemonic liberalization and economic development above all. Finally a social movement that has come to political power. This is the epitomy of democracy.
Bush used the discourse of democracy to justify his invasion of Iraq. However, the situation in the US is not emblematic of democracy and democratic processes. For example, the dubious circumstances surrounding the vote count during the 2000 elections, the media censorship concerning September 11th and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The patriot Act itself does not support the ‘democratic’ ideals of freedom of speech. Not to mention the social and economic problems in the US that many of its citizens feel needs to be addressed before its military intervene or meddle in another country’s affairs. There is an aboriginal wisdom which says: ‘Before passing judgment on another, one must look to oneself.’ This is certainly not a practice of the US foreign policy of the Bush Administration. Furthermore, implementing ‘democracy’ through violence is certainly not democratic; rather it is precisely these techniques that characterize an authoritarian dictatorship, which the US are supposedly dismantling.
Similarly, the world is looking to Latin American countries and fearing the ‘radical’ left wing policies of Chavez and Morales. Will they radicalize? Enforce their policies on their citizens through violence and oppression? Not likely. This is truly an economic fear of investors that want to continue their exploitative relationship with Latin American countries, and must now lose profits for, god forbid, the benefit of the poor. Redistribution is their credo, and to the US it sounds like communism. The fear of the ‘Reds’ has not died, yet now it is wrapped in the package of the terrorism discourse. Yet acts of terror have been reportedly used by foreign companies and their staff against the local population in Bolivia, Peru, Chile… when they received the go-ahead in the age of neoliberalisation and SAPs. Morales raises an interesting question, which echoes Noam Chomsky: liberalization was originally intended (by Adam Smith) to free the movement of goods as well as labour, yet through US hegemony, liberalization has only resulted in the free trade of goods, and restricts the movement of the very people that are producing these goods. In order for the world to be truly ‘liberalized’, the people need to be allowed to move freely across borders. The fear of terrorism (ironically the point of terrorism is to instill fear, so the terrorists have already achieved their goals) does not allow this, yet it is these restrictions that contribute to the origins of terrorism.
I prefer not to make a scientific prediction of the future of indigenous movements in