The greatest irony of the Thatcher crusade is that its economics pulled against its ethics. I doubt if the idealised abstinent, puritanical, self-respecting Grantham of her imagination ever existed in the real world. It certainly didn’t exist in her Britain. As a quick reading of the Communist Manifesto would have warned her, free-market capitalism is, of its very essence, subversive. It is restless, heaving, masterless, wonderfully dynamic and creative, but, in itself, utterly amoral. The hot breath of the cash nexus dissolves the ties of faith, community, family and tradition. And, as Friedrich von Hayek pointed out more vigorously than any critic of the free market, entrepreneurial success has nothing to do with merit or fairness. It is about satisfying wants and even at times about creating or manufacturing them; and the wants are as likely to be bad as good. The speculative frenzies and spectacular frauds that have studded its history are of its essence, too: among the forces that drive it, greed, credulity and the herd instinct loom much larger than the rationality that most economists celebrate.
- David Marquand, The warrior woman
They were part of the peace settlements in Cambodia, Somalia and Bosnia, they negotiated with militant groups like the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or the IRA in Northern Ireland and a few of them were also engaged in the Middle East peace process. Fourteen elder statesmen from Europe, Australia, South America, Africa and Asia are calling in an open letter for the Mideast Quartet, comprised of the European Union, United Nations, Russia and the United States, to end their diplomatic boycott against Hamas.
The signatories of the letter, which is being published exclusively by SPIEGEL ONLINE in Germany and the Times of London on Thursday, include former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami; Alvaro de Soto, who served as the UN envoy for the Middle East Quartet from 2005 to 2007; Lord Chris Patten, the former British governor of Hong Kong and European Commissioner; and Lord Paddy Ashdown, who served as the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina and oversaw the implementation of the Dayton Accords.
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Ben-Ami told SPIEGEL ONLINE the letter was directed equally at the European Union and the United States, but also at Israel. “Israel has to start thinking outside the box. I can recall the case of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO didn’t recognize Israel as a precondition, but as a result of the Olso process. The same should happen with Hamas.”
The letter (PDF format)
Hooray for shock therapy in Afghanistan:
Senior British, US and local aid workers have described a number of problems [with reconstruction in Afghanistan] including bribery, profiteering, poor planning and incompetence. The overall effect has been to cripple the development effort structured under the Bush administration’s insistence on an unregulated and profit-driven approach to reconstruction.
“The major donor agencies operate on the mistaken assumption that it’s more efficient and profitable to do things through market mechanisms,” a senior American contractor working in Afghanistan told the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “The notion of big government is a spectre for American conservatives and this [the reconstruction process] is an American conservative project.”
The contractor said the “original plan was to get in, prop up Karzai, kill al-Qaida, privatise all government-owned enterprises and get out. It wasn’t a development project, that wasn’t a concern. Development was an afterthought.
The Graun calls this “poor planning and incompetence.” Sorry, but “an unregulated and profit-driven approach to reconstruction” may be indeed reflect willful indifference and a shoddy understanding of what proper reconstruction of a failed state actually entails. But it goes well beyond ‘poor planning and incompetence;’ This is outright criminal negligence on the part of pathologically obsessive free-market ideologues who didn’t give a good goddamn about cleaning up the mess they made.
In other words, textbook disaster capitalism.
To save y’all the trouble of ever having to suffer through a martyr-posing Pilger polemic again, let me summarize the tiresome formula:
John Pilger loses the plot somewhere up his ass; bravely inserts his own head in a daring rescue attempt, despite overwhelming suppression efforts on the part of the Ruling Elite. Repeat, ad infinitum, until you’re ready to beat yourself to death with the collected works of George Orwell.
Awesome. Can’t wait for 4 more years of doctrinaire paleo-lefty contradiction-heightening, delivered in a hectoring, teeth-itchingly self-righteous tone of rote high dudgeon and affected disgust directed towards The Absolute Worst Empire in teh World–Evar (oh, and of course Israel, which is still number two with a depleted-uranium-tipped bullet!)
Sweet Jesus, I hate purity trolling.
(That said, I will throw down with anyone who disses my homie Robert Fisk.)
The Beeb reports on Today’s pro-Israel PR stunt “peace rally” in London:
Organisers said they wanted people in Gaza and Israel to live in peace, but argued that Palestinians must accept some responsibility for the conflict.
Demonstrators told the BBC they felt the rocket hits and losses Israel had suffered had been downplayed.
Chief Rabbi Dr Sir Jonathan Sacks said he wanted Hamas to “say yes to peace”.
Rabbi Sacks told the crowd: “All it took to avoid this suffering was for Hamas to stop firing rockets on Israeli citizens.
Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, addressed the crowd saying: “We are here because we believe in peace, because we believe in life, and because we want peace in life.
“The events of the past two weeks have not been a war on the people of Gaza but war on the people using them as human shields.”
Shorter Sacks and Grunwald:
“Hey, Gazans — stop hitting yourselves!”
Christ on a cockney wideboy. Orwell himself couldn’t have envisioned a more warped event in his wildest dreams. Maybe up really is down.
by Caroline Shepherd
(Originally posted at Shiraz Socialist)
The right of people in this country to decide by mutual agreement whether and under what conditions they consent to sexual intercourse is fundamental. In particular, it has never been illegal to pay for consensual sex since at least as far back as Magna Carta. The government are now proposing to criminalise men who pay for sex for the first time in this country’s history. That would constitute a radical change in the legal position for which the government has no electoral mandate, since the policy at the time of the 2005 general election was to legalise brothels operated by a small number of sex workers. We therefore call upon the government to obtain a mandate from the electorate before introducing any bill on prostitution.
If you’re wanting to fight this Jacqui Smith nonsense, there’s a good place to start.
If you’re a British citizen, do please sign this. I’ve written [at Shiraz Socialist] (A feminist perspective on Jacqui Smith’s proposals to change the prostitution laws and What do you make of this?) and my own [blog] about how much these new laws would endanger sex workers if they came into effect, so do have a read through if you’re not sure what’s happening and then do sign the petition.
I would also like to ask people to spread the link to this petition as widely as possible. If you’re a blogger and not a British citizen, I’m sure you’ll have British citizens reading, so do please reblog this.
Caroline Shepherd is a self-described “sex positive feminist who supports sex workers rights.” Her kick-arse posts can be found at Better Burn That Dress, Sister, Shiraz Socialist, Feminist Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy and in the moderation queue.
“I wasn’t thrilled about joining the KKK, but it was the closest bird-watching club to my house.”
Made. Of. WIN.
Related: Ian Leslie wades into some of the more…enlightened UK press coverage of Obama and racial identity: “These bien-pensants from left and right point out that as Obama is “bi-racial” and thus as white as he is black. Then they sit back and wait to be congratulated on their brave insight.”
h/t Norm Geras