Sunday, October 26, 2008


Emma Thompson has always amazed me.
This time she brings us the story of an intelligent and inspired woman who needs to deal with chemothreaphy (it's not her cancer but her treatment that is narrated in the movie). She has to deal with the treatment on her own, as most strong and intelligent women in modern times deal with numerous difficulties. But the tone is very sober, not overly dramatic. And her reflections make up a critique of the medical system, and the deeply painful loss of metaphysical inspiration. The movie is based on Margaret Edson's play, which I so far couldn't find any online copies of. But start with the movie... I rarely suggest a movie against a book. Often times books are tortured and murdered by Hollywood. Most recently I had to endure the gracious Deleuzian cyberpunk sci-fi book Babylon Babies by Maurice G. Dantec being turned on its head into Babylon AD. Just so that you know and skip at all costs; here is what wikipedia notes on the reception of the movie:
Director Mathieu Kassovitz was very unhappy with the distributors, 20th Century Fox, producers and other partners. He described the film as "pure violence and stupidity" and stated that "parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24."
The film was universally panned by critics.
Rotten Tomatoes records a 7% "rotten" rating (based on 87 reviews), with the consensus being: A poorly constructed, derivative sci-fi stinker with a weak script and poor action sequences.
Metacritic compiles a 26% rating based on 15 reviews.

A political muddle

Zygmunt Bauman,, October 26 2008

Gerhard Schröder declared 10 years ago, during the Third Way and New Labour honeymoon, that "economic policy is neither left not right. It is either good or bad". Ten years later, we are allowed to conclude that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. When he made his declaration, 11 out of 15 governments of the then European Union were run by socialists. Now, election after election, country after country, the left is elbowed out from positions of power. In the course of the last decade, social-democratic parties have presided over the economic policy of privatisation of gains and nationalisation of losses. They ran states preoccupied with deregulation, privatisation and individualisation.

At the end of the New Labour decade, Gordon Brown leads the all-European effort to mobilise the taxpayers into the campaign to recapitalise the capitalist economy, saving it from the consequences of its own greed and inbuilt suicidal tendency. There is almost nothing left to distinguish left from right in economic, or any other, policy.

And there is no distinctly left vision or credible program that would appeal to the imagination of electors and convince them that good economic policy may be synonymous with left economic policy. Following the line of Third Way thinking, to be left meant to be able to do more thoroughly the job that the right demands to be done but fails to do properly. It was Tony Blair's New Labour that laid institutional foundations under Margaret Thatcher inchoate ideas of "there is no society, only individuals and families". It was the French Socialist Party that did most for the dismantling of the French social state. And as to the post-communist parties in east-central Europe, renamed as social democrats, they are the most enthusiastic and vociferous advocates and most consistent practitioners of unlimited freedom for the rich and leaving the poor to their own care.

Over more than a century, the distinctive mark of the left was to believe that it is the sacrosanct duty of community to care for and to assist all its members, collectively, against the powerful forces they are unable to fight alone. Social-democratic hopes to perform that task used to be invested in the modern state, powerful and ambitious enough to limit the damage perpetuated by the free play of the markets by forcing the economic interests to respect the political will of the nation and the ethical principles of national community. But nation states are no longer as powerful as they used to be or hoped to become. The political states once claiming full military, economic and cultural sovereignty over their territory and its population are no longer sovereign in any of those aspects of common life.

Genuine powers, the powers that decide the range of life options and life chances of most of our contemporaries, have evaporated from the nation state into the global space, where they float free from political control: politics has remained as local as before and therefore is no longer able to reach them, let alone to constrain. One of the effects of globalisation is the divorce between power (the capacity to have things done) and politics. We have now power freed from politics in the global space, and politics deprived of power in the local space.

That development left the socialists without the crucial (the only?) instrument intended to be used in the implementation of their project. Simply, a social state guaranteeing existential security to all can no longer be constructed, nor survive, in the framework of the nation state (the forces that would have to be tamed for that purpose are not in the nation state command). Attempts to use the weakened state for that purpose were in most cases foiled under the pressure of exterritorial, global economic forces or the markets.

Increasingly, social democrats revealed their sudden inability to deliver on their promise. Hence the desperate effort to find another trademark and legitimation. The Italian Democratic Party or for that matter the Polish Left and Democrats, exemplify the destination to which that search leads: total absence of trademark and legitimation. In this form, the distant offspring of the old left can count only on the failures of their adversaries as their sole electoral chance, and on the disaffected and angry victims of those failures as their only electoral constituency.

The first collateral casualty was the issue of existential security. That past jewel in the left's crown has been dropped by the parties wrongly called left; it now lies, so to speak, on the street – from which it has been promptly picked up by forces equally wrongly called right. The Italian Lega is now promising to restore the existential security – which the Democratic Party promises to further undermine by more deregulation of capital and trade markets and more flexibility of the labour market, and by a yet wider opening of the country doors to the mysterious, unpredictable and uncontrollable global forces.

Only, fraudulently, it interprets the causes of existential insecurity differently from the left of the past: not as a product of the capitalist free-for-all (freedom for the high and mighty, impotence for the lowly and resourceless), but as the outcome of the well-off Lombardians needing to share their wealth with indolent Calabrians or Sicilians and of the need, common to them all, to share their means of living with foreigners. They forget that the immigration of millions of ancestors of the 21st century Italians to the US and Latin America enormously contributed to their present riches.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip

A short animated film about the feedback loops likely to lead to catastrophic climate change, and what needs to be done.
by Leo Murray

Wake Up, Freak Out - then Get a Grip from Leo Murray on Vimeo.

Friday, October 17, 2008

First Moroccan mayor in the Netherlands

RNW News 16-10-2008
Rotterdam City Council has voted Ahmed Aboutaleb as its mayor. The current deputy social affairs minister and member of the Labour party will be the first ever Dutch mayor of Moroccan origin. The appointment still has to be officially approved by the interior minister. Mr Aboutaleb will succeed Conservative VVD party member Ivo Opstelten, who has been in office for ten years.
Rotterdam City Council said Mr Aboutaleb is "extremely involved in local government" and "an inspiration for all Rotterdam residents".
But the small rightwing party, Leefbaar Rotterdam, with a large representation on the city's council criticised the appointment of Mr Aboutaleb: "He lives in Amsterdam, he's an opportunistic career climber, an Ajax supporter and worst of all, he has two passports", said leader Ronald Sörensen.
The National Committee of Moroccans (LBM) has applauded the new appointment of Mr Aboutaleb. "The Moroccan community is writing history by providing such a large and leading city with its lord mayor", says a spokesperson for the organisation.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Yeşiller Partisi: “Ilısu barajına karşı çıkanları terör örgütünün uzantısı ilan eden Başbakan Erdoğan özür dilemeli.”

İstanbul, 15 Ekim 2008 - Yeşiller Partisi Eş Sözcüsü Ümit Şahin, Ilısu barajına karşı çıkanları terör örgütünün uzantısı olmakla suçlayan Başbakan Erdoğan'ın haddini aştığını söyledi ve yıllardır Hasankeyf'i korumak için mücadele edenlerden özür dilemeye çağırdı.

Yeşiller Partisi Eş Sözcüsü Ümit Şahin tarafından yapılan açıklama şöyle:
“Ilısu barajına karşı çıkanlara terör örgütünün uzantısı diyen Başbakan Erdoğan haddini aşıyor. Hasankeyf’te en değerli tarihi eserlerin sonsuza kadar sulara gömüleceği, yüzlerce köyün ortadan kalkacağı, insanların göç etmek zorunda kalacağı, endemik türlerin ortadan kalkacağı, ekosistemin ciddi zararlar göreceği açık. Ilısu bölgeye kalkınma değil, insani ve sosyal yıkım getirecek bir projedir.
Türkiye’de yıllardır pek çok kesim Hasankeyf’i ve bölgedeki yaşamı korumak için mücadele veriyor. Türkiye’nin AB’ye girmesini en çok destekleyen Avrupa Yeşilleri de Ilısu’ya karşı ve kendi ülkelerinde kredi garantisinin iptali için çalışıyorlar. Üstelik bu çabalar sonuç vermek üzeredir ve Başbakan’ın paniklemesinin nedeni kredi garantilerinin kesileceğini görmelerinden duydukları korku olabilir. Bize böyle ağır sözler söyleyen Başbakan, Türkiye’nin en büyük destekçisi olan Avrupa Yeşilleri’ne ne cevap veriyor merak ediyoruz.
Başbakan Erdoğan açıkça gerçekleri çarpıtmakta, haksız olduğunu bildiği için de doğruları dile getirenlere hakaret etmektedir. Başbakan’dan sözlerini geri almasını ve Türkiye’de ve dünyada doğayı ve tarihi mirası korumak için mücadele verenlerden özür dilemesini istiyoruz.”
Yeşiller Partisi MYK üyesi sanatçı Yasemin Göksu ise Başbakan Erdoğan’a seslenerek şunları söyledi:
"Evet burada bir yalan var, ama yalanı söyleyen sizsiniz. Binlerce yıllık bir kültür ve coğrafi yapıya sahip Hasnkeyf' e suni bir deniz manzarası yapıştırmak, nasıl bir haddini bilmemek ve cehalet örneğidir? Demek ki sizin dünyanızda bir yer "deniz manzarası" yoksa değersiz... Ama denizler de, termik santrallerinizden, nükleer santrallerinizden, yazlıklarınızdan, talan edilmiş orman alanlarınız ve 2 B'lerinize kurduğunuz turistik tesislerinizden daha değerli değil. Değerli olsa gerçekten turizm cenneti olarak ve kendi doğallıklarında bırakılırlardı. Demek ki Hasankeyf’in binlerce yıllık bilgeliği, heybeti, ruhu yetmiyor size güzel görünmesi için. Bir insan, binlerce yıllık mirasın üzerine TOKİ blokları dikmekle övünebilir mi?..."
Yeşiller Partisi Eş Sözcüsü Bilge Contepe ise konu ile ilgili olarak Yeşiller Partisi’nin tavrını şu sözlerle özetledi:
“Ilusu barajının yapımı; Hasankeyf’in tarihi, kültürel ve ekolojik değerlerinin yok olmasına, binlerce dönüm tarım arazisinin sular altında klmasına ve yerli halkın yaşam ortamlarından koparılmasına neden olacaktır. Bu önemli sorunun sınırları aşan bir mücadeleye kavuşması dünya Yeşilleri’nin mücadelesiyle gerçekleşmiştir. Bundan sonra da mücadelemize devam edeceğiz ve Hasankeyf’in sular altında kalmasına izin vermeyeceğiz.”

Yesiller Partisi

Friday, October 10, 2008

song of the mood creeping over to amsterdam...

hazy shade of winter
Simon and Garfunkel

Time, time, time, see whats become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hear the salvation army band
Down by the riverside, its bound to be a better ride
Than what youve got planned
Carry your cup in your hand
And look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Hang on to your hopes, my friend
Thats an easy thing to say, but if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend
That you can build them again
Look around, the grass is high
The fields are ripe, its the springtime of my life

Ahhh, seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Wont you stop and remember me
At any convenient time
Funny how my memory slips while looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme
Drinking my vodka and lime

But look around, leaves are brown now
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter

Look around, leaves are brown
Theres a patch of snow on the ground...