Goldsmiths — radical?

It’s funny to think about that our student "riots" of fall 2010 have been made part of the Goldsmiths marketing strategy (selling buttons, etc.) while at the time they tried everything possible to stop us from organizing or occupying anything at the time. That winter I needed to get away in order to get the space and time to write my thesis. Conclusion: Choosing between defending the university while getting attacked for precisely that by it’s management, or be geographically far away in order to do what one set out to academically do there. The conflict still has not been resolved. There is still no future for us in British academia. And 1.5 years have gone by already. :(

OLPC not all that great anyways?

I have wondered about this a bit — in a world where a tiny part of the world can potentially produce the electronics for everybody and large parts of the world will never be industrialized (or even deindustrialize) — could it be set up for the underdeveloped parts of the world to develop right into a culture of (coffe drinkin, all-day) web users? Given a socialist, worldwide allocation of resources? Or is this not taking sufficiently into considerations the expectations and cultures of the world? Most certainly OLPC did not consider sufficiently having locals on the ground who could give tech support.

Honduras, 2 years after the coup

Ever since I left Honduras to tour Europe with my footage of the protesters in August 2009, I have felt quite a weird connection to that country — even though I had only been there a few days, I felt like I was somehow responsible for spreading the knowledge about what was happening there. At the same time, I was quite afraid of returning to Honduras. When this year de-throned present José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was allowed to return, I thought it should be safe enough now. I created a series of mini videos, each representing an interview with a Honduran activist about how they see things now. Unfortunately the interviews will only be available in Spanish.

Go here to go to videos.

Nicaragua, back from the dead?

As Daniel Ortega won the popular vote with more then 50% of the vite for the first time since the early 1980s, I thought I should mention my recently released book Nicaragua, Back from the Dead? An anthropological View of the Sandinista Movement in the early 21st Century.

It is distributed through major distributors such as Ingrams worldwide, and in the UK through Word Power Books. I also put up several free online versions available as well, as I mentioned I would do.

Terror in Norway — more democracy or more surveillance?

The immediate reaction to the terror attack in Oslo on the part of the Norwegian government has been to say that they will react with “more democracy.” This apparently is to mean that a stronger distinction should be made between those who have “extreme views” and those who actually take to arms (Ap). The idea is that the current setup may have led to Breivik keeping his views to himself and fanatic groups on the internet, while the media has avoided printing such views.

For us who have been involved in civil disobedience actions and alike, this sounds promising, and every Norwegian leftist I have communicated with in the past week has been rather happy that the official response has been so different than that of the Bush-government after the terror-attacks on September 11th 2001.

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Ugly, but Honest

This sign says what I aim to do with these photos: See the ugly, but honest reality. When selecting motives for photos, it is so common everywhere in the world to focus upon the things that we see as relevant or nice. Between these points of relevancy there are wast areas of nothingness that one just needs to cross in order to gt to some other nice and relevant point. Some people seem to always be relegated to be in-between points though.

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Interview about future of socialism in Cuba

The following is an interview I did with Professor José Bell Lara in September this year. I spent September in Cuba, trying to understand the economic system, some of the IT systems behind it all and how Cuban (students) see it all.

Edited versions of this interview was published in the Australian Links International Journal for Socialist Renewal as well as the Turkish language site soL. A short version in German was printed in Neues Deutschland. A Norwegian version was published in Rødt! Nr. 4 2010.

The Cuban state has been acting paternalistically

Interview with Dr. José Bell Lara, Professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Cuba (FLACSO-Cuba), University of Havana, Cuba

Dr. Bell Lara has written essays such as “Globalization and Cuban Revolution” (2002) and “Cuban socialism within Globalization” (2007) and is part of the International Advisory Board of the journal Critical Sociology.

This interview was conducted in connection with changes in the economic model of Cuba announced by the Cuban government in September 2010.

Johannes Wilm (JW): Welcome. I would like to start the interview by relating the Cuban revolution in the context of Latin America. In the northern part of Latin American there have been three leftist revolutions that have survived at least a few years during the last century: Mexico 100 years ago, Cuba a little more than 50 years and Nicaragua about 30 years ago. In the case of Mexico, the revolution ended in a deadly mix of corruption and neo-liberalism. Will the same happen in Cuba? Is it impossible to make such revolutions last for more than a certain number of years?

Jose Bell Lara (JBL): Well, the problem is in the nature of the revolution. What social forces made these revolutions? In the case of Mexico, the fundamental social force was largely rural. It was a revolution against the Porforio Diaz dictatorship. But the leadership of this revolution was in the hands of the middle classes. And their social project went no further than to install in Mexico a capitalism without the evils of the leader — ie the Porforio Diaz regime. And although there was a lot of participation by poor people, during the first decade of the revolution, most revolutionary leaders who had support amongst them were killed by other middle class revolutionaries. It happened to Zapata, who represented the south with its peasant population and the most radical revolutionary project. The same happened to Pancho Villa.
A new group assumes the leadership of the revolution and decides upon the direction of where the revolution was going: rebuilding a capitalism that was the Latin America equivalent of the European “welfare state”. It reaches its high point at the end of the 1930s, during the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas. During those years the oil is nationalized and there are a series of measures to increase living standards.
However, the restructuring of the ruling class in Mexico and the readjustment of Mexico to the world-wide capitalist system, always follows the general trend of the system. And the general trend of the system today is neo-liberalism, as just another phase. Because there is no competition with the Socialist camp anymore, all the social gains in Europe and America are being lost. And that is also the case of Mexico.

Cuba urban gardening. Photo copyright 2004 by John M. Morgan

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Who really helps Haiti?

After listening to a lot of debates lately on who should give more and who has given a lot to the earth quake effort in Haiti, I decided to do some number crunching myself. Arguments such as “Denmark only gives 10 million, but it should give 50 million Danish Kr.” make little sense if one has nothing to compare it to. This overview excludes all help that is not given in the form of money and or that does not come from a country. Also, in case aid has not been listed on Wikipedia yet, or in case aid that was promised and never materializes, it will skew the picture on this overview as well. I may try to update it a few times, but can not guarantee that it represents an accurate reflection on what is being listed on the corresponding Wikipedia page at all times.

If you want the Open Office spreadsheet file I used to create this image or want to send in corrections, please use the above email.

Status 25th of January 2010:

Brazil gives twice as much as the US in total amount of support

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