Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Lazy post

Just some choice tidbits I gathered from the 'sphere in the past few days.

Abiola Lapite on anarcho-capitalism
[W]hat anarcho-capitalists like to refer to as "Private Military Companies" or "Private Police Forces" have already been tried in the real world and found wanting - they're called Mafias and Warlord factions.

From Michael Kazin's review of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America in Mother Jones
Can [progressives] rid themselves of a nagging contempt for the unhip, the poorly educated, and the God-fearing? If the left is not a movement of and for working people—blemishes and all—then it has little chance to regain its previous influence.
[T]he left fragmented into a variety of worthy causes—from environmental defense to gay and lesbian rights to affirmative action. These fragments have helped make the United States a more humane place. But they forgot that the first rule of democratic politics is to state a few forceful ideas and to make clear how they can benefit the majority.
[I]f progressives want to prove the right wrong, they'll have to stop boasting about how enlightened they are and start winning over the heart of America.

Meanwhile, Alan Goldstein shows how far progressives have to go on the unabashedly liberal Salon.
[A]t the Really Really Free Market held Sunday afternoon on Union Square[,] I am unable to locate a single person who can speak coherently about science....Many people I interviewed made outrageous claims without a clue as to where their information came from.

I was informed that, because foods are not labeled, we don't know if we are eating a tomato with fish genes or corn with human genes. And, since it's not labeled, we obviously can't know what effect eating all this weird stuff will have on our health. I heard that biotechnology is not how the people want their food or medicine grown. I heard from people who would try a biotechnology cure for cancer, but only if acupuncture failed. I heard that the ecological impact of biotechnology looks pretty grave. I heard that research into Viagra: The Next Generation was preventing the development of a cure for malaria. I learned that our government needs to put a lot more energy into providing healthy alternatives rather than giving corporate welfare to big biotech. I heard a lot about faith, a lot about belief, and a lot about magic. Someone offered to read my future with Tarot cards.
If America cannot evolve a coherent environmental action movement Gaia, BIO and entropy will just have to work things out.

A history of the Left's position on Zionism as seen through the eyes of The Guardian demonstrates the potentially disastrous consequences of such incoherence.

From The Economist
The poignancy of the Guardian's affair with Israel stems from the Zionism of C.P. Scott, the great editor who ran the paper for nearly 60 years from 1872. Though a gentile, Scott was a friend and patron of Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist movement's foremost diplomat. Scott introduced Weizmann to Lloyd George and in 1917 gave a gushing welcome to Lord Balfour's promise of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Without one, declared Scott in an editorial, the Jews would never be safe. As for Palestine's Arabs, their rights should be respected but they were “at a low stage of civilisation”. In a letter to Weizmann he predicted that the “New Judaea” would not only be good for Palestine but serve as a “reconciling and awakening force among the neighbouring Arab peoples”.

From The Guardian itself
The "disenchantment" of the Guardian is largely due to the limits of its liberal philo-semitism once Jews could no longer be loved primarily for their victimhood. When it became clear, after 1967, that the creation of Israel had given rise to another set of victims, the Palestinians, Jews could no longer be unequivocally embraced. By the time of the Lebanon war of 1982, and the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut that killed nearly 2,000, Israel was well on the way to achieving its current dubious status as the pariah state of the left. The rise and rise of the radical right in Israel, embodied by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, simply reinforced this perception. But the often-expressed expectation (in the Guardian's letters pages) that Jews should behave differently because of their suffering exposes the weakness of such moralising. Persecution, it seems, is meant to lead to better human beings.
Just because someone's a victim doesn't mean she's a hero.
- Xiao Qiang, former executive director of Human Rights in China