Colonos are hibernating, but shall one day return – perhaps – meanwhile we have come across a new blog just the other day, which is worth a look if you are interested in “Property, Commoning and the Politics of Free Software” and “philosophical and political inquiries into the material nature of the immaterial“. The essay featured in the blog has an interesting critique of the work of Yochai Benkler and Lawrence Lessig, as well as the politics of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation, turning on the concept of property relations.
“… I thought we were an autonomous collective…”
Some people still have a romantic idea about Denmark as a little social-democratic haven in Scandinavia where people are free, no one is poor and the rich pay a lot of taxes.
That is a long time ago.
In 1982 Denmark followed the U.S. and the U.K. into the Reagan-Thatcher era with Poul Schlüter as Prime Minister.
That was the end of the social-democratic experiment.
Notable, for instance, in the destruction of what was once – as far as a nation state goes – a relatively benign state of affairs was Bertel Haarder (currently the Interior and Health Minister in the Cabinet of Lars Løkke Rasmussen). From 10 September 1982 to 25 January 1993 he was Education Minister and orchestrated the destruction of the educational system and returned in November 2001 and remained until February 2005 as Minister for Refugees, Immigrants and Integration in the Cabinet of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, which helped elevate Denmark to one of the primary targets of islamist extremism and made Denmark known as one of the most racist, xenophobic right-wing, imperialist warmongering countries in the world – just a couple of steps step down the totalitarian ladder from Iran and North Korea, one is tempted to suggest.
This is what it looks like (and sounds like) today as the police enters a bicycle workshop where people are playing music, repairing bikes and cooperating and sharing skills (notice the comments: “We don’t need any papers AT ALL … I am aware that you have another system in those countries where you are from”, spoken with that typical Danish superior attitude to foreigners..):
In today’s Politiken we are told that several people have been arrested for threats against “Dansk Folkepartis formand, Pia Kjærsgaard“, that is the ring leader of the fascistic, ultra right-wing, Islamophobic and generally xenophobic and racist, socalled Danish People’s Party. The first article tells no more than that, but soon others were to follow.
It is now declared that the five people arrested are supposed to have a Somalian background and that threatening a hate speaker is a threat to democracy. “If you threaten an elected politician you threaten all the people who voted for them”, says an appeaser of the Conservative Party, while the Prime Minister, also in dire need of some popularity, calls the threats “totally unacceptable“. (EDIT: It has now been stated that one of the Somalians is a “self-taught imam” another is a director of a bank, allegedly with connections to al-Hikmah, that in turn relates to a school in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, called Ibnu Baz Islamic Center, and that “some of the school’s youth are suspected of having joined Hisbul Islam og al-Shabaab“).
Although colonos are not in favour of threatening people, we are also not in any possible way surprised: When you threaten an entire religion and way of life, then you threaten – or at least insult – all of those people who identify with that religion and way of life. How difficult can it be to understand that? Moreover, the vice-president of the party’s youth organisation, a local council member, has just been excluded for violent threats against named Danish individuals who are said to collaborate with legal muslim activities, such as the building of a mosque. In this case, the party does not deem it relevant to report the threat to the police – “they leave such doing to others“?!?
Press Release: Carbon Markets Violate Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Threaten Cultural Survival
“Indigenous Peoples are being forced to sign over their territories for REDD to the Gangsters of the Century, carbon traders, who are invading the world’s remaining forests that exist thanks to the knowledge of Indigenous Peoples,” denounced Marlon Santi, President of the CONAIE, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, one of the most powerful native organizations in the world. “Our forests are spaces for life not carbon markets.”
Indigenous leader kidnapped and forced at gunpoint to surrender carbon rights for REDD in Papua New Guinea
New York, USA — As carbon traders hawk permits to pollute at the Second Annual Carbon Trading Summit, Indigenous Peoples denounced that selling the sky not only corrupts the sacred but also destroys the climate, violates human rights and threatens cultural survival.
“Carbon trading and carbon offsets are a crime against humanity and Creation,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network. “The sky is sacred. This carbon market insanity privatizes the air and sells it to climate criminals like Shell so they can continue to pollute and destroy the climate and our future, rather than reducing their emissions at source.”
The policing of COP15 has been totalitarian and democratic rights routinely suspended: no one is considered innocent until proven guilty, but simply arrested “preventatively”. Close to two thousand – 968 in one swoop – were arrested without committing any offence and been left to sit for hours in a freezing cold street, in their own piss and shit, with plastic strips around their bleeding wrists. Some, including delegates, have been severely beaten.
There have been riots in the animal cage prisons (illegal according to Amnesty) and some spokespeople have been arrested and will be charged with – so far all taking place behind closed doors! – the intentions to be violent against the police and for the intentions to incite riots. In part based on phone tapping of interviews with journalists and alleged illegal tapping of Greenpeace. This is what democracy looks like! The police has since admitted that they “only performed two illegal acts of surveillance of phones, nothing more” and Johan Martini Reimann, Director of Copenhagen Police, in order to calm the waters with an unwitting irony, ensures the public that “they have not operated in a manner differently from normal“. Nice to know that the Danish Police routine breaks the law – and as usual revealing to hear what total disregard for the rule of law that this institution has!
In other words, the rule of law no longer rules (did it ever?) the little rotten Duck Pond. There has been world wide reporting of the fascistic policing measures (see for instance: “Copenhagen: the sound of silence: Denmark’s reputation is being destroyed by police action outside the summit and the gagging of NGOs and poor nations inside“), which, of course, does not really surprise those familiar with the Danish police force and political system. Chavez has interestingly stated that Denmark is more repressive than Venezuela.
In connection with a funny, rather innocent, yet cheeky and coordinated Greenpeace action last night in front of and inside the Danish Parliament – Christiansborg – the Chief Inspector of Copenhagen Police, Per Larsen (currently accused of covering up a terrorist act for political gain) , now severely threaten people. First he states that such an action is “as stupid as anything can be. When you do that kind of thing, you are going to pay for it. And that bill is being prepared now“:
»Det er så dumt, som noget kan være. Når man laver den slags, så kommer man til at betale for det. Og den regning er ved at blive udstedt nu«, siger chefpolitiinspektør Per Larsen fra Københavns Politi.
That’s not enough for Per Larsen, however, who also threatens to shoot activists. He says that “the risk is present if anyone feels threatened. When you do such a thing you expose yourself to risks”:
»Den risiko er også til stede, hvis nogen havde følt sig truet. Når man gør den slags, så udgør man da en risiko for sig selv«, siger Per Larsen.
As we have seen throughout COP15 the Danish police do whatever they can, whatever the want, with whatever means necessary to repress protests and to intimidate and scare people from participating in saving the world from corrupt politicians and greeedy corporate pigs, but this is the first time that they directly threaten to shoot people. (Of course they have infamously shot at protesters in Copenhagen before – in 1993 when 113 rounds were fired at an anti-EU demonstration. Denmark just is like that!)
Obviously poor little Per Larsen is upset that the Greenpeace activists took the piss out of him and his imbecile force and now he wants revenge and speaks like a little boy who has had his toy taken away.
While activists climbed lamp posts etc. in front of the parliament building, three others, dressed in appropriate galla fashion entered the fine dinner where the Danish Queen were receiving the “leaders” of states for some pompous food and drink. The exact same style of action was carried out a week earlier in Brussels. EDIT: The four Greenpeace activists have still not been released, causing the Spanish state to “help” one of them, namely the Spanish head of Greenpeace, Juan Lopéz de Uralde.
All bets are off now, all targets – by any means necessary – are legitimate, it seems.
If you can see through fingers with the way in which one political party is singled out (when in fact the rest of the parliament and the country hide many racists as well) and the melodramatic, pathetically glorifying believe in and appeal to Obama bin Ltd., the representative of Goldman Sachs, – if you can distract your attention from that, then this video is a good introduction to the state of affairs in Denmark where things are most certainly rotten.
Danish: a language that in its native culture is infused with racism and homophobia, linguistically embedded in jokes, sayings and exclamations.
The following interview was published in Le Monde on 25 May 2009 and translated by NOT BORED! 27 May 2009. It also appears in the Tarnac9 blog, and here, as well as in this tag collection. Spread the word!
LeMonde | 5.25.09 – Here are the responses to the questions that we [Isabelle Mandraud and Caroline Monnot] posed in writing to Julien Coupat. Placed under investigation on 15 November 2008 for “terrorism,” along with eight other people interrogated in Tarnac (Correze) and Paris, he is suspected of having sabotaged the suspended electrical cables of the SNCF. He is the last one still incarcerated. (He has asked that certain words be in italics.)
Q. How are you spending your time?
A. Very well, thank you. Chin-ups, jogging and reading.
Q. Can you recall the circumstances of your arrest for us?
A. A gang of youths, hooded and armed to the teeth, broke into our house. They threatened us, handcuffed us, and took us away, after having broken everything to pieces. They first took us into very fast cars capable of moving at more than 170 kilometers an hour on the highways. In their conversations, the name of a certain Mr Marion (former leader of the anti-terrorist police) came up often. His virile exploits amused them very much, such as the time he slapped one of his colleagues in the face, in good spirits and at a going-away party. They sequestered us for four days in one of their “people’s prisons,” where they stunned us with questions in which absurdity competed with obscenity.
The one who seemed to be the brains of the operation vaguely excused himself from this circus by explaining that it was the fault of the “services,” the higher-ups, all kinds of people who want [to talk to] us very much. Today, my kidnappers are still free. Certain recent and diverse facts attest to the fact that they continue to rage with total impunity.
Q. The sabotage of the SNCF cables in France was claimed [by someone] in Germany. What do you say about that?
Read the rest of this entry »
This is a rather flattering, brief, misleading look at Rafael Correa’s public life and his rise to political power in Ecuador, which, once again, positions him as “radical, single-minded” (sometimes called a “socialist”) and which, once again, ignores his dubious environmental politics. Readers of colonos will know better. It has been pasted from openDemocracy.
Rafael Correa: an Ecuadorian journey
The impressive political rise of Ecuador’s economist-turned-president is about to face its greatest test so far, says Guy Hedgecoe.
Rafael Correa’s landslide election victory on 27 April 2009 makes him the first candidate since Ecuador’s return to democracy in 1979 to win a presidential vote outright in the first round. With the opposition divided and the resounding vote confirming his already formidable control of the Andean country, this left-leaning nationalist is the most dominant figure Ecuadorian politics has seen for decades.
The recent, very violent policing of protests against the G20 meeting in London has become a matter of concern. The story that the authorities tell is one of disobedient police officers. The story, with a bit of imagination, could be understood as if, perhaps, there aren’t just a few bad apples in the barrel, some individuals: maybe there is a disease inside the institution, indeed it is “very worrying“:
“Some officers now appeared prepared to flout recent orders from senior commanders to display their numbers, Huhne said, with another officer photographed at the protest staged by Tamils in Parliament Square with his numbers disguised. “What we appear to have is repeated cases of police officers ignoring the direct orders of their police supervisors and this is very worrying.
“There’s only one motive for a police officer disguising his identity and that’s because he thinks he’s going to be doing something reprehensible.”
Senior Metropolitan police officers held a series of crisis meetings throughout last week and sources said Sir Paul Stephenson, the new commissioner, was determined to get a grip. One Met source said he was ready to “kick some ass” among senior officers. The IPCC has received more than 185 complaints about the G20 protests, of which 44 are not eligible for consideration, including complaints from people who saw footage on TV. Around 90 complaints about use of force included witness accounts as well as those from alleged victims.”
It is obviously wishful thinking that the current concern will translate into institutional reforms on a large scale. Most likely it will subside into a few firings, extended suspensions (paid holidays) and early retirements with golden handshakes. The police as an institution is intricately connected to the economy and representative democracy, representing industrial, private interests, as such it is a force of violence that is mobilised when the masses threaten the elite. The police are the arms of the agents of waste.
The WWF – the ones with the Panda logo – have published a report on the details about “saving” the Amazon rain forest by putting a price tag on every thing, – sorry, assets is probably a better term-, that the rain forest possesses.
The report – Pita Verweij, Marieke Schouten, Pieter van Beukering, Jorge Triana, Kim van der Leeuw and Sebastiaan Hess. Keeping the Amazon forests standing: a matter of values, WWF-Netherlands 2009 – is presented here by Mongobay.
This bizarre fashion of price tagging everything starts with the realisation that the market mechanisms have failed the environment, which is a pretty good observation, but then proceeds to suggest that the very same paradigm of thinking – the economistic, capitalistic reductionist line of thinking – should simply also be applied to “the environment”, since it provides humans with valuable “ecosystems services“. If it is not tagged with a price, why care for it?
While this whole business, as it were, sounds rather disturbing (Can two wrongs make a right? Can a problem be solved from within the paradigm it was created? Einstein famously answered the latter question, of course), the report has some very good bits – it is a very comprehensive report that deserves wider attention, but the price tagging horror really does not appeal very much – at all – to colonos or any of the people we have worked with in the forest. Essentially, it sounds like a lose-lose scenario: either lose the forest or sell it to the highest bidder? And bidding is low these days of financial collapse, so one could hardly imagine worse timing for the publication of this report.
Interestingly, it has a pretty good section on IIRSA, which has been covered again and again here, but the section does not include reference to the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor. This goes to show just how big the “biggest infrastructure project in history” is: an otherwise detailed and comprehensive report does not need to list the Manta-Manaus corridor in order to show just how much of a horror show that IIRSA is threatening to be:
Assuming that there is a global crisis – financial, climate change and starvation – and assuming that something could be done about it – what would it be? The initial reaction has been to push for more of the same – more debts to be created in order to keep economic power in the same hands. Maybe a few policy changes to avoid too extreme corruption and self-aggrandisement, removal of some draconian measures, but that’s about it. Spend more, that is way to go. It sounds so simple and in a sense it is: wiping the rich people’s slates clean so that they can lend more money for the poor to spend. If it makes you think of spiralling further down into an abyss we’re on the same wave length.
In order, then, to get the American people to spend more money that they don’t have – the total outstanding credit card debt carried by Americans reached a record $951 billion in 2008, constituting a next level in the financial collapse of a system based on ever-increasing debt – president Obama is suggesting “a $410bn (£290bn) spending bill due to be voted on this week“. Part of this bill seeks to lift some of the extreme anti-Cuban legislation that was introduced during the administration of Bush the Second.
There is no doubt about it, Obama – the man in the White House – gives good speeches, but even an old World Banker takes note of the fact that Obama’s grand plan to save the world and “the hardest working people on Earth” (he says it as if it a good thing??) from their predicaments is insubstantial (These videos gives you an insight from the inside – if you really want to know about all the little sheenanigans of a failed system or just want to see the Emperor of the Free World sit before you in his shiny new clothes. Characteristic of times of crisis he looks and sounds like a rhetorical stooge with a nationalistic appeal “the greatest force of progress and prosperity [and climate change?!]”)
Anyway, the Cuban news is a tangent that invites viewing the world from a Latin American perspective.
There has been a lot of talk around the world and colonos even get emails from students studying the “very interesting environmental aspect” of the new Ecuadorian Constitution, which gives (human rights-like) rights to Pachamama, which is an Andean (and in some part of the Amazon) term for Mother Earth. (It is derived from Aymara and Quechua.)
Inside Ecuador, however, there is a growing resistance to the project of Correa’s government, largely due to a lack of environmental sensitivity as perceived by the social movements – the environment is systematically subordinated to capital interest – and a lacking recognition of collective rights. Indeed, the new constitution stresses the sacred nature of private property, as has previously been quoted in a post in this blog about the ways in which the constitution was presented in a misleading (half arsed) manner by The Guardian (which should be an autogenerated links below if we’re lucky!?).
In other words, there is a large discrepancy between how foreigners, especially opportunist socialists and social-democracts, perceive and, importantly, choose to represent the politrix of Rafael Correa and his government and how social movements, from peasants through urban anarchists to the people of Amazonia, perceive and resist the programmes of Correa.
As noted again and again – central to much of the criticism we’ve been on about all along – the new constitution also weds Ecuador to the IIRSA project, which is a World Bank project for the integration of infrastructures in Latin America to make it easier for global capitalism to move resources (out), goods (in), labour (around) and people (out if they complain) for the purposes of profit maximisation, asphaltation, bridge building hysteria and river way raping. The Ecuadorian part of IIRSA is first and foremost the Manta-Manaus/Manaos corridor or node in the IIRSA network of commodity trails that threaten to severely further disfigure the Andes and put an end to the world’s largest rain forest, the Amazon or Amazonia.
Anyway, there are a few current articles that make for interesting reading to keep up to date on the Ecuadorian developments, led by the idiosyncratic Correa:
“According to several current and former officials, Correa often makes impulsive decisions in isolation and is reluctant to listen to dissenting views.
“This government is all about Correa and he has closed all space for debate, leading many of us no choice but to leave,” said a close ally who still supports Correa but quit a top post over policy disagreements. “He is ending up alone surrounded only by people who tells him what he wants to hear.“”
Another article deals with financial issues, such as dollarization and the price of oil and how it all hangs together from the perspective of (wanker) financial science:
“Ecuador needs an oil price of $95 to cover all the spending in its budget, according to Barclays. The government had a surplus of $508 million in the first half of the year, Correa said Sept. 20.
“Correa’s only choice for growing the economy is the public sector,” said Bernal at Bulltick. “The lower the price of oil goes, the more the need for Correa to deliver on the fiscal front. Ecuadoreans will only live with Correa as long as they have expectations of growth.”
Then a really useful overview of things provided by an uncommon bed fellow of colonos, Socialist Worker:
“A MORE serious conflict is developing over government environmental policies that benefit mining companies. To crack down on anti-mining protests, Correa has ordered the use of brutal military force, a move bitterly condemned by the social movements.
Even Correa own coalition, Alianza País, is having internal contradictions. Recently, he issued a warning by declaring that he will dissolve the party if more internal infighting continues. He also took the opportunity to define his political project as “an ideological project of the nationalist left.”
But Correa’s nationalism is in opposition to indigenous people’s conception of their own nation, one that stretches across national boundaries from the Amazon to the Andean region. To the extent that indigenous people assert their historic claims to their lands, they are seen as a political threat by both multinational corporations and Correa.
The stakes in this conflict were raised on October 12–Columbus Day, traditionally seen as day of resistance by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. In neighboring Colombia, indigenous groups staged a levantamiento (uprising) to protest government repression and demand more cultural and political rights. The uprising in Colombia inspired indigenous people and their allies throughout the region–including in Ecuador.”
There is also a short piece on Plan Colombia, which is part of the War on Drugs by the Evil Empire and therefore, one might hope, will face some sort of reforms under Obama bin Ltd., and, then, finally some sort of list by Reuter’s, who as usual has been pasting capitalistic-financial propaganda about all the horrible and out of order things anyone left of Henry Kissinger might dare to think or, God help it, act. Just read it in the inverse, as it were :)
Happy Winter Solstice!
This brief reflection on the nature of property was spawned by a misleading statement about the political persuasion of Lawrence Lessig et al. by http://techliberation.com.
If, as it is claimed “they set the intellectual agenda for the Left on information technology policy“, then there is no left.
Lessig et al. are liberals and right of centre in any sensible political analysis. Last time I checked one of the main points of leftist politics was a critique of the ownership of the means of production in the tangible realm and a clear rejection of the predominance of exclusive private property in that context.
Lessig, however, has stated repeatedly that he sees no problem with the conventional liberal understanding of exclusive private property as the best way to organise the tangible realm. This position of his has been brought out in debate with the far right people – or property fundamentalists (like Epstein) – who believe that exclusive private property should also rule in the intangible realm.
Benkler remains “suspicious” of accounts that use the term property, which is not quite the same as accepting exclusive private property in the tangible realm, but it is a clear rejection of property as a protocol for social organisation of the intangible realm.
They essentially reject “property in general” on the basis of a very “particular form of property”, namely exclusive, private property (in the tangible realm) with a collocation of exclusionary and exchange rights. That is a pretty much the same as saying that I am suspicious of Italy, because I once had a bad experience in Rome airport, while in transfer. You cannot simply reject something in general on the basis of a very particular instance. One piece of software might be bad, like Windows, but could I sensibly reject a GNU/Linux system on that basis (without sounding like I had no clue)?