How to get election results right?

For the last few years a strange phenomenon has been spreading in western capitalist societies: elections are either directly rigged (with some probability in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador 2006), election results are mysteriously close to the 50%-line (as in Oslo 2003 and USA 2000/2004) or the one side wins, but in some strange way the other side takes office (as in Schleswig-Holstein and Germany 2005). Almost all the time it’s the right-wing that strangely wins over the more or less radical left (although the Kissinger-fraction will probably claim that the same is the case in all those countries their various orange revolutions do not work out). In magnitude it seems that the rigging of elections is at least as accepted as it was in the Stalinist regimes, or even more so — that is given that there is not more than what we can simply by reading our western newspapers. It will be interesting to wade through the records of all this to see just how big it is once this system comes down.

Oskar Lafontaine and Die Linke believe a general strike is the right strategy to translate a left election victory into left wing politics.
Oskar Lafontaine and Die Linke believe a general strike is the right strategy to translate a left election victory into left wing politics.

But what can one do in the mean time? Has saying goodbye to using violent means for the progressive side (either in the form of Maoist guerrilla fronts or Stalinist massive armies) meant that there one just has to accept any atrocity that the elite might throw at one? Of course one can make the public aware of just what has happened — as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. did in the case of the USA 2004 elections.

The two answers I have seen so far are close, although not the same: On one hand there is the AMLO of Mexico strategy of simply going ahead and taking a virtual office anyway — completely nonviolent but backed by so many people that it’s hard for the self-proclaimed winner to do get anything done. Whether this strategy will work will be seen after November 20th, when he “takes office.” The other strategy is to call for a general strike — as former leader of the social democrats Oskar Lafontaine and his party Die Linke in Germany has been doing recently and as I did myself in 2005 after the tricking in Schleswig-Holstein.

Both strategies built on the principle of taking control over the country from the streets rather, but the difference is one’s size. While AMLO likely won the presidency of Mexico, was it in the cases of Schleswig-Holstein and Germany only the general left that actually won, with the larger parties (the SPD in both cases) deciding to form a government lead by a right wing party rather than to form a coalition with parties further to the left.

Whether any of these strategies are successful remains to be seen, but already now it is clearly that it takes quite a lot more to take down the current system than what it took to take down the so-called socialism of the Stalinist bloc — demonstrations of sizes similar to those that brought down the GDR against cuts in social programs in the Schröder-years didn’t even dent the system. Other strategies and plans are therefore absolutely interesting.

Betwixt & Between 2006 published!

So, you haven’t heard from me in a while. Well, the past three weeks I have been studying Spanish at the Xinabajul Spanish school in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Although Huehuetenango is really untouristy (and full of traffic), I really saw no point in describing experiences that probably are 100% alike of those all other language students in Guatemala have.

B_and_B_2006

Nevertheless, besides camping in Mexico city and studying Spanish here, I have also been helping to get the latest version of the Norwegian social anthropological yearly journal Betwixt and Between edited, written, layouted and printed. I don’t know if articles I have been editing are representative of the entire collection (220 pages in total), but at least as far as what I’ve seen, the articles tend to be of a more activist nature in that it’s not just all about describing things using the most advanced version of the Bourdieu-analysis-toolkit, but rather it is to actually try to point at some real problems/issues out there. (Un)fortunately, almost all the articles this year are written in Norwegian (one in Swedish) and few in English. While I understand the point of writing articles for those who do not know English (or any other language of size, however not in order to just keep Norwegian around as a museum type artifact), the problem is of course that writing an article in Norwegian severely hinders the spreading of the knowledge gathered specifically for the article.

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