logomancer: Xerxes from System Shock 2 (Default)

Like a lot of people, I was glad when I heard of Margaret Thatcher's death. Indeed, I would say that I've never been more celebratory of someone's demise than in any point in my life. On my third Thatcher meme for the day, a friend pulled out the old and tired phrase "De mortuis nil nisi bonum", and I decided that my point had been made. In retrospect, had I any sense, I would have kept going.

Why do I hate Thatcher? I'm not a UK citizen, and I was 7 when she was forced out of No 10. But what she did do was midwife the paradigm shift of thinking that transformed society and government from bodies which existed for the good of all to bodies which existed to further the interests of the obscenely rich, together with Ronald Reagan&emdash;who wasn't scorned at his passing in 2004, and is now a saint in America's civil religion&emdash;and Brian Mulroney.

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Most of us, even the ones that consider themselves liberals, have become convinced that this is the way of things, and it is right and just. And Thatcher and her ilk were the ones doing the convincing. They played on our fears, our dreams, and mostly our prejudices in order to change us from a community of people working toward a common good to a pack of wolves snarling over the crumbs on the table left to us by the plutocracy. And it worked.

And that...is why I hate her. And Reagan. And Mulroney.

logomancer: Xerxes from System Shock 2 (Default)

I honestly don't know what the Nobel Committee was thinking when they gave Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. In my mind, he hasn't really done anything concrete to deserve it. Yes, he gave some impressive speeches; he's good at that. But there have been people -- including former US presidents! -- who spend literally years, or decades, working toward peace, and have been denied this. Barack Obama's in office 9 months, and he gets one of the most prestigious awards in the world right off the bat,

It seems like a lot of the reasons the Committee gave him the award boil down to 1) his reported foreign policy views (i.e. the US should consider the views of other countries for a change), and 2) to repudiate George W. Bush. While repudiating Bush is something I heartily agree with, there are better ways of doing that. They don't need to cheapen a rather important prize for that; he's not worth it.

As for the other point: The administration has existed for a mere nine months. I don't think anyone has a clear grasp of what Obama wants to achieve other than Obama, and maybe his staff. Giving him the prize for what they perceive as his ideas on foreign policy smacks of wishful thinking; for all we know, he could be lulling the world into a false sense of security while he continues on with the proud American tradition of beating up small developing nations so that Americans can save a nickel on a gallon of gas.

On that point: those who applaud Obama's foreign policies should take a look at his policies on extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, and torture. And what he's doing in Afghanistan. Bagram Air Base is no better than Guantánamo.

Unlike some Republicans, I don't think Obama is the Antichrist, but giving him this award is a cheapening of what it represents -- a recognition of one's seminal work toward peace. Obama hasn't gotten there...yet. I am open to the idea that he might. But there were more deserving people that have worked toward peace this year, and it would have been better to give it to one of them.


logomancer: Xerxes from System Shock 2 (Default)

January 2015



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