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Member: sweetdissident

CollectionsYour library (221), Wishlist (23), Currently reading (2), To read (1), Read but unowned (4), Favorites (4), Pete's Political Book Club (68), All collections (285)

Reviews22 reviews

Tagspolitics (23), racism (10), fiction (10), spirituality (8), history (7), health (7), social justice (6), religion (6), social change (5), metaphysics (5) — see all tags

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About meI love reading, writing, and thinking.
I especially love writers who think, and eloquently write.
I most especially love writers/thinkers who are eloquent and write poignantly about human rights, compassion, dissent, and love.

Books I Have Read & Heartily Recommend:

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,
Charles Yu. . .
The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
War Talk, Arundhati Roy
Manufacturing Consent, Chomsky & Herman
For Reasons of State, Chomsky
The Fateful Triangle, Chomsky
Orientalism, Edward Said

Book I cannot wait to read: If on a winter's night a traveler, Italo Calvino.

About my libraryI'm just beginning to amass a decent library, so there's not much. Some highlights: I have Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, a prize possession, and Gore Vidal's Empire. I am looking to collect all of Ms. Roy's political essays and Chomsky's works as well. I have some books of poetry, Christina Rosetti, Wordsworth, etc., but I keep giving them away. I have a tiny collection of Arthurian Lore, also Frederick Douglass' A Narrative of the Life. . .and Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter. Another favorite book of mine is Taylor Caldwell's Dear and Glorious Physician. I have an old copy of it. I collect a little bit of Children's Lit. as well; have a signed copy of George Shannon's Sea Gifts.

I have recently made some connections between Arundhati Roy's work, and William Trevor, esp. Beyond the Pale & Other Stories. I adore Trevor.

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GroupsAnarchism, Books that made me think, Children's Literature, Progressive & Liberal!, Readers for Peace, Utopian Literature

Favorite authorsItalo Calvino, Noam Chomsky, Frederick Douglass, Randall Robinson, Arundhati Roy, William Trevor, Gore Vidal, Charles Yu (Shared favorites)

Also onYouTube

Real nameGinny

LocationJeffersonville, Indiana, U.S.

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/sweetdissident (profile)
/catalog/sweetdissident (library)

Member sinceAug 15, 2007

Currently readingThe Fateful Triangle: United States, Israel and the Palestinians by Noam Chomsky
Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers by Arundhati Roy

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Comments

Hey Ginny,

thanks for the encouragement. This Masters is actually the one I am working on the History of PR in. I just finished an essay on how the First World War was a revolution in techniques of propaganda. I would be happy to send it on to you if you pass me on your email address. I can't be as overtly polemical as I usually am in commenting on such things and had to couch a lot of it in "objectivity" :P Anyway you are more than welcome to a copy if you think you might find it interesting.

Studying a course in the Image of America at the moment, all about American exceptionalism since the Revolution. I have to give a presentation about Obama :D If any news stories of interest come your way be sure to pass them on through FB. It isn't for a while yet so I will be keeping my eyes peeled for things to come.

So I am off to read about the Idea of America at the time of the Revolution for class tomorrow. Wish me luck.

PS Hope you had a lovely birthday :)
Hey Ginny,

here is the long overdue LT comment I owe you :P

I am not sure how prophetic I am as I more than likely stole that remark from somebody else :D It is true though. I am unsure to what extent individuals have taken a role of primacy in the organisation of the various Occupy Movements, certainly there were political factions involved in its organisation. We can however take great heart that it is one of the more spontaneous eruptions of discontent in recent times. It could be seen as akin to the anti-war movement before the invasion of Iraq. There were a lot of committed anti-war groups already yet the sheer numbers that showed up to many of the protests was proof that there is another significant layer of society that doesn't necessarily organise the grassroots yet clearly feel as upset as many of those who do.

Personally speaking from my own brief foray into activism and protest it is a very disconcerting and disheartening business. I know historically the left can't unite but to see a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign get overtly disgruntled that an anti-war movement had begun "threading on their cause" was a nasty thing. It is perhaps for this reason that there are many more individuals who find involvement with these groups as disillusioning as involvement in the business of government. I feel that is the beauty of an Anarchic outlook insofar as there is a unity there in terms of the rights of a group or an individual to be heard, in spite of the fact that the underlying philosophy is at times so diffuse and ethereal. Unfortunately for now there is little hope for those voices to be heard in the sea of suppression and hierarchical browbeating that currently exists in many of the leftist organisations.

Anyway, we remain hopeful. And on that cheerful note it is time for work :P

Hope this message finds you well and I hope you can expect a greater consistency in the timing of my replies from now on. I am a little but swamped at the mo since I decided to do a second Masters. This one is in the History of International Relations. Interesting stuff :)
Haha, It's just a wish list to start on after I finish high school in a few weeks -- but thank you!
I'm a huge fan of your library too, looks great :)
Hahaha, it is true. I am beginning to wonder about my own girlfriend, I get the feeling she would leave me for Finkelstein in a heartbeat :P That is a good one though, I always thought he had a little extra glint in his eye. He should have asked for an introduction ;)

Anyway on to the more pressing issue. How in God's name is Nader getting the blame for the wars? I can't understand that on any level. Am I missing something?

I feel Obama's Peace Prize may be taken around the same level of hypocrisy and comedy as Mr. Kissinger's (though at least Kissinger attained his through some palpable "peace process"). I thought for sure the honeymoon would be over by now and the novelty of the historical nature of his election would also have worn off. I believe Obama has also reinstated the military tribunals that Bush initiated in Guantanamo. For some reason he appears to be getting praise for the suspension of habeas corpus simply because it no longer occurs in Guantanamo. It appears that you are right, the only reason I can see for Obama's peace prize is that he is not George W. It may be the final act of the world's collective sigh of huge relief. I say that however with an increasing concern for the future of Israel and Iran's impending conflict. Though that sigh of relief was in essence universal, I have a grave and deep sense of foreboding that it was also horrendously premature.

Good luck in future arguments, they have become increasingly difficult to have since many are rejecting outright, criticism of Obama.

All the best Ginny,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

that was a really sweet email and a very nice response too :) You lucky thing.

I am glad you don't think I am an alcoholic :P

What was the Finkelstein story you were talking about on FB. I am excited to hear it now. You didn't meet him or something did you? Looking forward to hearing it or reading or whatever way that works.

All the best Tony

PS you are the only person I know who knew that my facebook picture is of Russell ;)
Hey Ginny,

thanks again for all of those links.

Can't wait to see the interviews, and you might pass on a message for me for Chomskyan to give to Chomsky about how much I enjoyed his talks in Dublin. If he can't there is no bother.

Shame about the proposed march, seems to have been ostensibly hijacked from what I read in Finkelstein's statement. A genuine shame, maybe he can pull it off another year.

I am hoping to being a PhD soon on the History of the Public Relations industry. Should be good if I can pull it all together though there is still a great deal of work to be done. Wish me luck :)

Hope this message finds you well. All the best,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

thanks a million for the links. I have only watched the Finkelstein interview thus far. It was very enjoyable, nice to see him a bit more relaxed than usual. Do you know how the march went or has it been done yet? I would love to see the video of it.

I am greatly impressed that someone you know has met the holy trinity :P Zinn, Chomsky and Finkelstein. If only Said were still alive. He must also track down Gore Vidal in his declining years :)

You can pass on from me if you are talking to Chomskyan my warmest regards and hopes for his future ventures and interviews. You may tell him also that I am very jealous of him ;)

Thanks again Ginny,

nice to know that there are many committed people left out there.

Tony
Hey Ginny,

yes I was quite honoured to see him once again. You had a small role to play in deciding what books I should get signed and I remembered how much you said you loved For Reasons of State. I have American Power and the New Mandarins signed so I was jumping between For Reasons of State and Towards A New Cold War. You remarks swung my decision :)

I hope you will get to see him soon, hopefully you wont faint :P

All the best Ginny,

Tony
Hahaha Hey Ginny,

I loved the poem :) Sorry I kept you in such suspense :P

The first event was excellent there was only about 200 people and we were sitting right up the front no more than ten feet away from him from the start. Afterwards I got Failed States and Hegemony or Survival signed and told him I was looking forward to seeing him later in UCD (my old university).I also got Pity the Nation signed by Robert Fisk.

The second event was much larger with around 2000 people attending. He gave an excellent talk on US Foreign Policy (of course). That lasted about 45 minutes and there was a q and a for about the same amount of time. There was an excellent question asked about how Obama's election had precipitated a "leftward" shift in the US, one which Chomsky was taken aback by and asked again "Did you say a leftward shift?" at which everybody laughed and applauded so I would have to say he was well received. He thoroughly deconstructed any notion that this was so anyway.I was eager to give him some appreciative remark but he was being "interviewed" by a Kurdish guy on some issue or another. I did however get both For Reasons of State and Manufacturing Consent signed :) I reckon I will probably send him a short email Re; how much I enjoyed the talks.

It was a day that I will remember most fondly :) Sorry again for keeping you in suspense, but in a way I am happy to have elicited a small poem from you :)

Hope that quells the curiosity that is obviously burning inside you :) Anything I didn't cover about which you are also curious just ask.

My kindest regards and all the very best,

Tony :)
Hey Ginny,

long time. My arm is much better, thanks for asking.

I am enjoying Finkelstein a lot, I checked up on some of the videos. I enjoyed a lot the interview with Riz Khan and have been getting all of my friends to watch the debate with Dershowitz.

Sorry to make you jealous again Ginny after the Irish accent thing (though I think this may be worse). I am going to see Chomsky twice today. He is doing an interview with Robert Fisk in Trinity College and then heading on to my old university later on today also. I cannot wait :)

Hopefully will be getting a few books signed also.

Hope all is well with you,

Tony

PS My typing is not as restricted as it was so I can answer freely to you now :)
Hey Ginny,

again not to make you jealous but I must take the accent for granted since I am surrounded by it daily. I can hear a nice sound in country accents sometimes but I am sure there are some regional accents here that would delight and bewilder you much as they still do me.

I have never heard of The Grand Chessboard although it does sound fascinating. The US is not the only one by the way having a renewed burst of interest in space. Both China and Russia are very interested to see also what kinds of weapons platforms and resources space supports.

I recently watched the excellent documentary about Robert McNamara called The Fog of War. I had been meaning to watch it for a long time and was delighted when I finally did.

You will have to excuse me if I am a bit delayed in responding over the next few weeks. I was playing football (soccer:)) recently and fractured my wrist so I only have one hand (thankfully my good one) for the next while. Funnily my cousin in New York broke his leg in the same fashion less than a week later :P

All the best Ginny,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

Father Ted is brilliant alright. I recommend you keep going with them as it only gets better and better:)

Haha, I heard that Dara O' Briain bit before alright, pretty funny and quite true in parts. I have all of Blackadder as well and have watched them all more times than I care to count :)

My favourite comedy is that which is socially aware, and by the end of Hicks' shows or Lenny Bruce's shows you feel as if the entire illusion of Western civilisation and values has been deconstructed before your very eyes. Some of Hicks' material is obvious, but generally is stuff that you never hear said. It is as if he says what you were thinking the whole time. For example during the First Gulf War no comedian would touch it with a 50 foot bargepole but Hicks did large chunks of his act about the war and managed to combine damning facts about the it with hilarious commentaries. I have never heard anybody combine such trenchant social critiques with the ability to be a quite outstanding comedian also.

I personally never saw the appeal of Irish accents but it is probably because I have one and encounter them daily in all their strange forms but I dont mean to make you jealous :P

Anyway I hope all is well with you Ginny.

All the best,

Tony
PS I tried that Father Ted link out after I had posted the message and to see the first episode you have to click the small screen not the large one on the right :) Hope you like it.
Hey Ginny,

thank you for these lovely compliments you most certainly have a way with words yourself.

There is no need to apologise for anything regarding messages etc. Anyway I know what it is like to get the look where it seems as if you have grown another head on your shoulder but have in fact simply voiced an opinion :P

There are many people who choose to retain a belief or faith in many different forms of superstition even after they have abandoned their religious belief. I guess it is always residual in one's mind especially from the nature of our upbrining (I was also raised a Catholic) that there is something more. Even an atheist can never say with complete certainty that there is no god or ghosts or whatever, the best we can offer is that every scrap of evidence (and there is a lot of evidence) points to that conclusion. Believing in ghosts and other spirits I suppose is relatively less harmful variation on the theme of the supernatural. There is no accompanying doctrine with believing in ghosts attempting to dictate or regiment every part of people's lives. So though I consider it as ludicrous as the rest of the supernatural I tend to give it little attention for that above reason.

Yes I figured you were speaking of Christians. Patriotism here is a really big thing also and something else I had to escape. In many ways I have been far more successful in discarding religious ideas than I have with patriotic ones. I guess I still take an interest in my country to some extent basically on a historical, political, cultural and philosophical level. What patriotism generally demands however is a complete ignorance of one's own history. It is like what Orwell says in Notes on Nationalism that "The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them". The same applies to the US and Israel, and generally the grotesque and disproportionate displays of violence are facilitated by media and intellectual representations of the Arabs as the irrational enemy hell-bent on the West's destruction. There are vast amounts of ignorance about the entire conflict and the Arab or Muslim component especially. Believe me it is not only within the US that there is complete misunderstanding of the social demographics within the conflict, and as we were discussing before people are immediately associating Arab with Muslim and even more worryingly equating Muslim with Terrorist. As an aside I met a charming Israeli Arab while I was away on my holidays. He was displaying some wonderful artworks in a local library of Arabic Calligraphy. I do calligraphy myself, and was interested to find that much of the calligraphy was Biblical scripture. I was delighted to see it as in Dublin we have a rather beautiful collection of religious texts from Eastern and Abrahamic religions, (we have in fact some original Bible text from c.2nd/3rd centuries AD) though I had never seen Christian text in Arabic calligraphy. Anyway he was all of those things that would massively confuse those people of patriotic fervour who those people we are talking about; he was Christian, Arab and lived in Haifa in Israel. He made really beautiful art also.

Here is his website in fact http://kamildow.com/

Galloway just chooses the wrong route for me though I should say that there are many more provisos and qualifications in what I am saying as opposed to the rather narrow soundbites of Galloway's I have heard. I discern between interfaith relations which believe should be made pretty crucial focus of human energy. This dialogue between faiths should never have the ability to impinge on critiques of religion however. As a further qualification what I mean when I say critiques of religion is the rational and reasoned challenging of the claims of religion that are plainly false and scientifically provable as such. In terms of what Galloway probably meant regarding the attacks on Sharia law, to oppose these antiquated morals on the basis that your own antiquated morals are somehow superior is criticism in its hollowest form. I would nonetheless never dream of curbing the freedoms that exist so we can express either opinion. So my own feeling is basically that to retain at least and air of sanity around this debate it must be necessary for interfaith dialogue, interfaith criticisms and scientific criticisms all to be preserved under a natural right to free expression, except when there is an incitement to violence.

As a further aside on blasphemy our President decided to pass our blasphemy laws without consultation of the High Court. It is both good and bad news however. Though you can now be fined up to E25,000 if a person of faith takes offence to something you have said the fact that our highest court was not consulted means that there is plenty of room for constitutional challenges, especially since we have no actual definition of blasphemy. The law, I must say however, is a complete anachronism. They first tried to pass this legislation in the early 1960s and it was even considered slightly ludicrous then, for it to be passed in 2009 is verging on the unbelievable for me. I live in an absurd country though I fear I would have a severe challenge finding one which is not so.

I have never watched Fry and Lawrie though I enjoy both of them. Stephen Fry is a quite hilariously outspoken atheist sometimes. You would really enjoy Blackadder, which has both Stephen Fry and Hugh Lawrie and is absolutely hilarious. The sketch show is slightly before my time on the television and I have not since tracked any of it down.

I must confess Ginny that I am not Dara O Briain's biggest fan(that is the correct spelling by the way :P). I will admit that he can have his moments certainly but I have always found the funniest comedians and critics of religion to be American. In fact most of my favourite comedians are from the US. My favourite of all time is Bill Hicks, he was just spot on for me in nearly everything he says. The style of comedy is far more abrasive than that of Dara O' Briain, which I personally enjoy but some people find too much to handle. Anyway you should definitely give him a try if you find the time, a man of pure comedy genius. You may also know Lenny Bruce who is a fantastic comedian and gives his shows in an almost lecture style. If you get me started talking about comedy the length of these messages is going to double in size :P

I will also recommend some Irish comedy for you all about the Catholic Church, which is a masterpiece by two absolutely brilliant comedy writers called Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews. It is called Father Ted and if you can find it anywhere on the internet I am sure you would enjoy every minute of it as much as I did many times over and over again :)

http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=father+ted&hl=en&emb=1&aq=f#q=... -This is hopefully a link to the first episode of Father Ted.

You can type Bill Hicks into google or youtube and you should find plenty :) Happy searching.

Great to hear from you Ginny, hoping to hear from you soon.

All the best,

Tony

Hey Ginny,

just to let you know I am flying out of the country on Wednesday to go visit some friends of mine. I may find myself in some rather rural locations so if it takes me a while to reply to you in the coming weeks that is the reason. Anyway I will be back on the 21st of this month but I will hopefully have internet access in various spots as I travel around.

All the best,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

sorry it took me a few days to get back to you, you may have been eager to hear a response. I have been considering what you have said and I hope I have come up with some reasoned responses; some may be agreeable to you others not so. Regardless of whether you agree with much of what I am about to say there is something I should clarify. You have proven yourself quite consistently to be one of the most lucid and reasoned people I have come across on the internet (not sure how much of a compliment that is really :P), therefore you have with me carte blanche to think and express whatever crosses your mind and have no fear of offending me or of me taking it personally. I am fairly satisfied that we can ably discern what is intended to address us and what is a criticism of or opinion on whatever we happen to be discussing. We know each other well enough now to be comfortable to say and think whatever we please without fear of belittling one another or being aggressive towards one another. I hope you would extend all of the above courtesies to me also, though I feel silly even enquiring about such knowing that you would never force an opinion on anybody.

I can see this message will be substantial already :) I will address all of the points you made in each paragraph and I have taken the liberty of numbering them accordingly so that you can easily see what I am responding to directly, though you will have to jump between pages (you can use Ctrl+Tab instead of your mouse to switch tabs in case you were unaware). I hope you don't mind me not bothering making it private as I don't mind anybody seeing an opinion of mine expressed anywhere, be they overly passionate or ill conceived or whatever. Ok on with the substance.

1- Before you hopped up on your soapbox :P I hope I have addressed the opening remarks above.

2- I disagree with Galloway profoundly when he says that we should not have the right to criticise or question openly either the doctrines or the foundations of religious belief. For me freedom of speech and expression would comfortably find religion under its remit, a remit I feel includes everything even the infamous holocaust denial. The rare exception is of course when there is an incitement to violence. Anti-Semitism is of course horrendous but it should never be used as a tool to inhibit the rights to criticise religion (Anti-Semitism itself often being a direct result of another religion). I do not believe myself that religions are entitled to any honouring and I am firmly of the belief that if people openly criticised religion far earlier in their development then countless lives would have in fact been spared the torments of Inquisitions, religious wars, child abuse, shockingly bad health advice still leading to the deaths of millions even today and the myriad other psychological and physical tortures it has imposed. Humanity could not have known at the time, but when we exchanged our wonderful Classical traditions of materialism and scepticism for Iron Age myths God only knows how far we set ourselves back (and I see little point in asking God, since he never saw fit to answer any of my other questions:P). The less relevant religion becomes day to day the closer the world moves towards reason and sanity, and by Galloway linking religious criticism to Anti-Semitism or hatred or somehow concluding that our right to criticise religions should be somehow curbed by a hateful and angry minority does him not a single bit of justice in my eyes. It was a good thing when astrologists changed to astronomers, when alchemists changed to chemists and physicists. The closer we come to explaining the real beauty of the Universe in a truthful and intellectually satisfying way then the more we can begin to consider a genuine advance in the moral and intellectual fabric of our species. In my opinion this will only be fully attainable when all superstitions have been put aside. For me a pronouncement of the belief that we should not be able to openly criticise the doctrines and actions of religious groups and leaders does untold damage. Of course Hezbollah and Hamas have a mandate and have every right to defend themselves and their country or land against aggression it nonetheless does not diminish my sentiments towards their extreme religion and its ramifications.

3- I accept that Galloway's actions were indeed admirable and there is of course no debate as to whether we should give whatever aid possible to ease the suffering in the Gaza Strip. I guess the thing we differ about is that I find the distribution of aid to be far more convincing when undertaken by secular organisations like the Red Cross. Again I am aware of the feebleness of this argument as you point out and as I accept below in my earlier post Hamas were elected. I further accept that it is not Galloway's aid that is keeping them in power but the Israeli aggression. It is also true that the situation in Gaza appears so dire that one could be forgiven for providing aid and support even if Stalin or Pol Pot were in power there. I feel it diminishes none my argument against the malevolent nature of the religious doctrines or their role in the particularly bloody brand of internal politics practiced by Hamas. If only they hadn't put the PLO in so many uncompromising positions at unacceptable peace negotiations a secular element might have had a real say in the future of the region and this point we are discussing now would be an entirely moot one and probably a nonexistent one. If Israel ever do decide to obey the 4th Geneva Convention or if the US gave them a friendly nudge in that direction I dare say Hamas might be equally capable of picking up such an offer. However the uncompromising stance of all concerned parties (not an inconsiderable amount of which is owing to religion) leads me to believe that the blockades and settlements will continue to abound.

4- There is a very basic ignorance and simplification of both Islamic culture and the East in general in much public discourse today. Some people cannot even discern between Arab and Muslim. Furthermore many people who hear the word Arab now conjure up a negative image while not considering the fact that the word encompasses not only 400million people but a great deal of their wonderful culture and beguiling language. I feel it is necessary for me to clarify my own view so you don't confuse what I am saying with other things that are flying about regarding Muslims or Arabs. I disagree with the faith of Islam as much as I disagree with Judaism, Christianity, Witchcraft, Astrology, Psychics, Mediums etc. etc. I am sure you are already aware that I have absolutely no problem with faith, and while I consider superstition of any form to be limiting to some degree of one's ability to consider critically or sceptically an intellectual issue, when it is kept personal and does not begin to impinge upon my own personal choices then faith and I are at peace. In terms of Islam or Arabs I would never conceive of having such a narrow view of a people or a faith so complex are their histories, culture and even more so the individual opinions of another human being be they Muslim, Arab or whatever. I can imagine how much it infuriates you to have them considered in this way, much as it does me when I hear much of the same tripe talked around me. I am aware that Sharia law covers an array of social and legal customs as well as religious ones. It is also however central to the fact that the age of consent in Iran is nine years of age, or that one can be "legitimately" slain for apostasy. Similarly ancient Jewish circumcision rites were responsible for the deaths of two infants by venereal diseases in New York in 2006 (transmitted from the mouth of a middle-aged Rabbi performing the ancient rite where the foreskin after being cut is taken into the mouth, bitten off and spat out. Catholic priests left an entire generation of people in my country scarred by the abuse they suffered as children at their hands. It is lamentable for me that these things should be a concern for humanity in the 21st century.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jHqndf9Kx4&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwhythatsdelight... -Horrible Video Re: My last point regarding Catholic Priests- The whole scandal has been coming out the last 10/15 years or so. Truly shocking.

The Muslims have taken up where the Soviets left off it would seem. The world is too complex, and the media cannot fit that into soundbites, the good-v-evil paradigm must be maintained. We must always have our Emmanuel Goldstein to point at as the other and dangerous. I know groups like AIPAC want a return to McCarthyism to root out a new menace, and while their lobbying is quite pro-active shall we say they can never triumph. McCarthy was proven a drunk and a liar, and that was during the Red Scare; a far more plausible and conceivable threat. For the sake of your sanity I would reject outright what comes out of the little black box in your home, the entire format of the media and their structure is entirely at odds with what is in many ways impossible to portray- the complexity of human thought and we might hope rationality. Furthermore your country is now far more open that it was during McCarthy's short period of prominence. As an aside Clooney made quite a good film about Edward Murrow during McCarthyism called "Good Night and Good Luck". I enjoyed it very much. I would also recommend to you with every fibre of my being the film "Network". Anyway while I would definitely agree there is cause for concern from these groups and they should indeed be combated vigorously they are no greater than the average threats to our already limited democracies. Again you can always be like as Mark Steel says "a little Tom Paine" by being the first one in the room to stand up and say "Hang on a minute, that's not right!". You have the motivation and the wherewithal to inform people even if it is only those closest to you. You might not have the lobbying power of AIPAC but I do not doubt for a second your motivation or stamina on these issues:). Those Campus Watch people really do not like Finkelstein. They appear to a be a faux intellectual type assembly, that stood up to no real criticism from those they were in turn trying to intimidate. I enjoyed the fact that several professors put their names forward to be place on the watchlists in protest.

5-9 - I will try to deal with this as a chunk because I am writing an entire thesis here :P I entirely agree that they were left with absolutely no recourse but to violence, certainly in Palestine and Lebanon. This was similarly true of many liberation struggles who might also well have said "to hell with America". Some were religious others not but their atrocities were no more handsome regardless, and perhaps only in the minds of a soldier can the genuine cost and necessity of a war be tallied. If that were not an unattainable goal then we might find the conclusions were that there is in fact no such thing as a righteous kill or a just war, another idea gleaned from religion. Nonetheless that is slightly off point and I will try and remain in the real world here. Religions do indeed need to respect each other for all our sakes, if they don't find a way soon then we appear on a sure path to annihilation. The religious bigots that run for example Pakistans nuclear programme and believe that nuclear energy is a gift from the djinns or fairies in the desert have no qualms in using the same technology that defies and disproves their narrow superstitious beliefs and may yet ultimately destroy us all. That is also why the Christian Coalition strongly support Israel, not because of their belief in the necessity of a Jewish homeland or an affinity with Israelis it is because they feel that Armageddon is something to be devoutly desired and prayed for and if it is going to happen anywhere they believe it is in the Holy Land. I agree entirely that we should be opposed to any form of governance or power structure be they Bush, Obama, Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah any and all of them should be criticised at every opportunity on the basis that they wield power at all. I made this point quite clearly to some co-workers recently. They were all fawning about our former Taoiseach (Prime Minister)Bertie Aherne having such a common touch and how great he was. By the way he was corrupt and a fervent forwarder of the neoliberal economic cause creating a phony economic boom during which we appear to have lost our souls as a people. Anyway we are all broke again now so we can be real people once again. Anyway one of them cites as an example of his common touch the fact that the first thing he did with Clinton when he came (in '98 I think) was take him to the pub for a drink, a cheap and irrelevant PR trick obviously. So I delighted in informing my colleagues that Clinton had called one of the worst mass murderers and mass sterilisers of the 20th century (Raden Suharto of Indonesia) "our kind of guy". I also pointed out that when Madeleine Albright was asked at a press conference about the estimated 3000 child deaths a month in Iraq from bombing and sanctions she replied "we think the price is worth it". So I concluded logically I felt, that if Bertie had any integrity whatsoever he would not have allowed a US president into the country. Naturally the only world where such an argument doesn't play is politics and many are blinded by its manufactured image of complexity, mystery and impenetrability. So yes I would agree that many should be much more retiscent about whose hand they shake and what deals they strike and if there must be a power structure then we must insist upon the tiniest amounts of moral courage, of which politicians by and large seem totally incapable. I believe atheists have a different tasks from religions in terms of respect. I am rather hoping that while religions go on to the goal of respecting each other, which seems now necessary for our survival then scientists and eminent atheists can go about demolishing all of the cores of faith so that human beings can be above all truthful about the nature of their existence. I would be happy that such developments would in no way be violent as little carnage has ever taken place explicitly in the name of atheism. I view it far more as a process of both discovery of science and the self, one that has been chipping away at the faiths for hundreds of years. Much of the time the progress is slow and we must wait for a Vaselius, a Copernicus, a Galileo, an Einstein or a Darwin to make a leap. Nonetheless the greater the forces of denudation brought on by science against the core myths of religion the closer we come to making our argument about the nature of power, religion or even Galloway totally irrelevant. Said should most certainly be standard issue for each and every one of us and I would further that with a few more books and a great deal more scepticism about both power, politics and religion.

10- I certainly have no issues respecting people who hold a religious belief. When those beliefs include morals with external effects that no modern conscious person could tolerate then my respect is irrevocably diminished. When faith impinges on customs of food, clothing or sex or the various other elements of people it tries to control my respect is diminished as these decrees have wider repercussions. The Pope's rather stupid recent remarks about contraception. There will untold amounts of damage caused in Sub-Saharan Africa where millions are suffering from HIV/AIDS precisely because of ill conceived remarks borne from ancient myths and characters. Religions as I have said must make a pretty crucial issue out of at the very least co-existing with one another, if not respecting one another and of keeping its rather foolish and damaging remarks to itself. Atheists on the other hand should make a rather urgent issue out of ensuring that these comments, and rites and regulations are challenged and shown to be false. I don't deny that religion can provide comfort etc. but it does not make it any more true, and all I am interested in really is the truth. So again here I don't agree with Galloway at all. He appears to be trying his best to latch on to the Golden Rule put perhaps most eloquently by Christ (or at least attributed to him) that we should treat others they way they would like themselves to be treated. But he does this in my opinion in a rather hollow way, when it is not coupled with a complete right to express oneself. I would like to have the right to argue against religion nor would I ever dream of depriving Mr. Galloway the opportunity of doing so. Am I concluding correctly that George Galloway would not extend that same courtesy to me if he had his way? If so that is very damaging in my opinion. Perhaps he refers to respect the same way I do i.e. interfaith respect being a necessity, but it appears to me he wishes to curb any sceptical or critical approach to religion.

11- We certainly agree as to the nature of the "God" we fight for. I think if Bush or his handlers were as devout as was portrayed the last eight years or so may have truly been terminal for us. It is obvious that Israel holds immense strategic importance as a regional superpower in what I think Eisenhower called "the richest area of the planet". While there are many on both sides of the conflicts that have religious motivations, particularly those left standing and wondering why a cruise missile just destroyed their house and killed their family, they are all in fact players in the good old corporate sell off of the world. The interests are so obvious as to make me wonder why politicians do not blush more. The oil fields are obviously a glittering prize for Western powers, particularly since Chavez got in in Venezuela. They may now set about rebuilding the countries they destroyed handing out massive contracts to the highest bidders, and building the same Friedmanite economic "miracles" that gripped much of Latin America in the 70s, 80s and 90s and continue to do so to this day. Massive loans from the World Bank should see them warmly embrace the IMF structural adjustment plans that will enable the sale of all the major resources of their nations and the entire Middle East region. Saudi Arabia is very important to the US economy and regional interests, and it is also one of the most rigidly fundamentalist states in the region. These people really do not mind who they do business with and religion may factor in on various levels but the ultimate goal remains the same; profit over people. As regards Sharia law, I was unaware intitially of the myth that Muhammad said it was ok to beat your wife, but I know he said it is ok to kill those who leave the faith or to stone a woman who commits adultery. In fairness though in Sharia law it is illegal to execute a virgin, that is why sometimes they must first be gang-raped then executed. I think I have made my points about this anyway, and you might see that my contempt for religion is not restricted to Islam though it does retain some of the most fanatical creeds and subsequently governments. In saying that all the creeds of the Abrahamic religions seem warped to me, it is just the other two have done quite well in putting away those inconvenient lumps of ugliness that abound in their holy books. You may indeed have heard Chomsky calling the Bible "the most genocidal book in total canon".

12- We are in complete agreement about how we are in fact interconnected with every part of nature something that we were all very quick to forget; perhaps an unfortunate side-effect of technological advance. However to my eyes religion can only further muddy the lines of connection as a force that for me does little but further polarise people who are connected. I have seen it first hand over here and you may also be witnessing in the US at the moment though domestically I hope you are far away from any religious wars. Here are some quick and simple quotes that might encapsulate some of my feelings on religion. Can't remember who said this one but it goes; "Religion is an assault on human dignity. With or without it you would still have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things but for a good person to do evil things, that takes religion". Or one my favourites an Emile Zola quote "Civilisation shall not attain perfection until the last stone, from the last church, falls on the last priest". Our old friend Oscar Wilde had this to say; "Truth, in the matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived". And good old Bertrand said "Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom".

I will just finish up from here on the last few remarks because I have been writing for hours. I really hope this all makes sense as one big stream:P Anyway I agree entirely that it is time that we should start loving, respecting and caring for one another the way human dignity demands. Our main point of divergence on that appears to be that I don't believe that religion certainly in the many organised forms it has taken could ever be accommodated into that scheme of things. Not unless it is kept totally private with the right to worship however one chooses firmly preserved. That could only happen under the strict proviso that it not impinge on other people's inalienable rights to live their life as they see fit. That is the only ideal situation I can envisage and thus far religion appears incapable of getting on board with any such notions. Certainly there are a great many believers whose concern is to do good and live morally but they must accept that to live good lives they have discarded vast amounts of their holy texts as the morality espoused therein is ugly and an affront to any modern conception of morality. There are also a great deal of believers who have further things from their mind than the good of humanity, they also appear largely to be the ones with the most influence.

It seems inevitable that there will be no champion amongst Western government on the rights of oppressed masses in the Third World. There is indeed an air of supreme authority in the way Western governments conduct themselves throughout the world. The horrors we have inflicted in our complacent complicity will be a burden to carry for all of Western "civilisation" like slavery, civil rights, universal suffrage and the countless other causes that had to be fought for with bodies at blockades against the seemingly insurmountable and monolithic corporate and government structures. The economic pillage of the Orient and the Americas by Europeans and their descendants will I hope in future be recognised as one of the greatest atrocities to have ever befallen mankind. I hope when the inevitable struggles in the East for freedom from economic and racial bondage come they are secular in both their character and principles. I am reminded of when Gandhi was asked while visiting Europe I believe, what he thought of Western Civilisation. Gandhi replied "I think it would be a good idea". Surely that remains as relevant today with the exception that far fewer of the population believe what the government tell them.

I would imagine getting that tattooed on to you would be quite painful but you could take it for the cause :P

I think we have largely found agreement, though not on Galloway I am sure he doesn't mind waiting a while longer four our verdict :P I figured I should stick mainly to religious elements anyway as I was trying to illustrate throughout what I perceive to be the inherently irrational and damaging characteristics of religious belief. In particular those that seek imposition upon the bound mind, often a product of a bound debate. I hope I was able to tie them back into some of your main points.

Looking forward to hearing from you Ginny.

The very best to you as always,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

All I can say about Finkelstein is WOW. Poor old Dershowitz must not have known what he was getting himself in for :) As Chomsky points out about Dershowitz he is an expert at changing the subject, which he is forced to do several times during the debate. It will be a constant pain to me now that we have a Professor Alan Dershowitz but no Professor Norman Finkelstein. Oh well academia can be just as corrupt as government I suppose. Anyway I was blown away by his command of the facts and his forensic deconstructions of Dershowitz's book, certainly a diligence to rival Chomsky there wouldn't you say?

My point regarding the aid was more about Galloway and not the organisation. I was remarking about how philanthropic works that are reinforced by a nutty idea can be more damaging long term. For example while Hamas distributes aid and help to Palestinian civilians throughout Gaza, the very violent brand of internal politics it practices feels somehow furthered in its mentality by their good deeds. This is similar to Galloway who supports this disturbing fundamentalist Muslim opposition, which appears less helpful to the situation for the long term. This argument of course melts away as you rightly point out that Hamas are indeed the elected leaders of the Palsetinian people, however I have little respect for certain ideologies and under such terms do not agree with Hamas. It is therefore a logical extension to disapprove of Galloway who supports such groups and who himself has some autocratic tendencies. I do believe I heard him saying that he is not in favour of Free Speech when remarks challenge, offend or "blaspheme" religion (a remarkably easy thing to do I might add). So I guess what I am trying to say in a rather rambling fashion is that while I have little time for Hamas policy, I have the utmost respect for the Palsetinian choice that has been taken, rather bravely I might add while under duress from the US and Israel. Whereas relating to Galloway I find his perspective as an observer and participant of some repute on the Middle East to be much of the time rather unhelpful to a prospect of lasting settlement or peace regardless of his involvement with the distribution of aid. I do not deny however the importance or necessity of the aid it is just I feel Galloway could align himself far more responsibly than he often does.

I have just realised however that we are both pointing to evidence on Galloway that seems immediately contradictory. I am claiming to have heard him say that free speech should not apply to religious opposition and you have heard him say that he is in full favour of religious and cultural tolerance. There is something going on here, perhaps a concerted effort at assassinating the character of Galloway or what I consider to be more likely that he is sometimes malleable in his opinions depending on his audience. I remember his testimony before the Senate regarding Oil for Food and the Iraq War, and it was the short time when I liked Galloway, and he said much of what I felt really needed to be said. I had nothing but the utmost respect for him up until recently when he began aligning himself in my opinion rather shoddily with some rather extreme groups of people as well as making some deeply ambivalent remarks about fundamentalist Islam and civic freedoms.

The current assault on the Arab world is just that, an assault on the Arab world and not the Muslim world. I feel it is hurtful to align oneself with the extreme end of religious autocracy when we should be facilitating the activities of those various secular Arab elements that were such a hindrance to Western business practice in that region during the Cold War. They might just prove an equally effective opposition to Western oppressions but also the oppression common in their own countries.

Oh well I figure Galloway can align himself whatever way he chooses to, it is probably a more consistent position than my own given the fact that he is supporting for the most part democratically elected government, I can nevertheless not bring myself ever to accept the extreme Islamism that is usurping the more righteous claims to life held by the secular and intellectual traditions of the Arab world. I will say that I merely hope Galloway gives any future thoughts he may have and wishes to externalise on the issue a good deal more thought than I believe he has up to this point. So I hope you will understand that it was absolutely no effort on my part to belittle the work of the vivapalestina group.

A quick point on Hitchens also. I have never agreed more profoundly with a man on his religious views and so little on his political views. Hitchens claims to be on the side of secular nationalism and his great example is supporting the Peshmerga army of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. What I fail to understand about Hitchens position is that the invading Army in Iraq are predominantly from a nation that has facilitated Turkish slaughter of Kurds through a grotesque amount of military, financial and diplomatic aid. So I don't enjoy his politics nor did I enjoy the debate with Galloway from either perspective.

I am very happy to hear about your departure from religion. I know it was a tormenting time for my mind when I went through similar transitions in belief. Each step reduced my belief to a degree that accomodated more and more of my knowledge and less and less of my faith. You are right that religion is an inherently destructive and polarising notion and couldn't agree more that the texts are of interest in terms of literature and culture. I cannot recall who said this but it is true that "the religion of one society is the literary entertainment of the next".I have absolutely no qualms either with faith kept introspective and private yet when regulation abounds on food, clothes, sex, healthcare etc., regulations that are all negative, then I must despair at the impact of religion on our nations. I would despair more in the US than over here however. So pious were we when our Constitution was written some 70 years ago that it is in effect a religious document that enshrines a prominent place within our society for the Catholic Church. Your document written over 220 years ago seeks to achieve quite the opposite yet is tread on quite openly at the moment by more fundamentalist religious demagogy. Anyway Ginny if you are having any deeper considerations about the implications of your rejection of religion I would be happy to talk them out with you, as I am sure many a similar thought has come my way. I can also direct you to some great works for the budding atheist in us all :)

I am going to move through a similar phase politically. I can no longer brandish any label and attach it to myself. I am therefore rejecting my own selected branding of Anarcho-Syndicalist or Libertarian Socialist and simply going to allow private judgement on any issue that I might consider of significant interest to give some thought to.

It is very refreshing I must say to talk with somebody who champions the advancement of knowledge. I know for a fact that if we can prove one thing to one another through simple fact and rational discussion that there will be no defensive or erroneous retention of the old idea that has just been disproved but instead a celebration of the advancement of our individual and collective knowledge. It is a rare quality to find in a person never mind two of them :)

I hope to talk with you soon Ginny and I hope all of the above makes sense it is a bit waffley at times :)

Tony
Hey Ginny,

Carl Sagan was indeed a great mind, and we are fortunate enough to have been given a small glimpse at it through works like Cosmos. I watched Zeitgeist Addendum and its overall message excelled far beyond the conspiratorial and combative nature of the first one. I enjoyed the futurist interpretations of the world's technological potential, and it provides probably the closest current picture of what Anarchy might look like. Dare I say it is something I do not expect to see in my lifetime or in the lifetimes of several generations to come- that is supposing we actually survive as a species this potentially terminal phase of evolution, which we appear to be throwing ourselves towards with greater abandon than ever before. Anyway it was an invigorating film and I am sure even Sagan would have enjoyed the advocacy of what up until recently was considered purely part of the realms of science fiction.

I must watch Finkelstein debate with Dershowitz, it sounds like a good one. I might actually learn something as well. I am a constant disappointment to myself in that I don't know enough about this conflict to talk about it adequately, particularly since my copy of Fateful Triangle was signed by the great man himself. Anyway I can probably fill in the gaps in my knowledge with some historical repetitions that are found in most conflicts. I generally find most US interventions follow a grander scheme and generally have several elements in common with one another. I stopped reading the comments at the end of videos on youtube, it is often a sure way to angry up the blood. This can come simply from recognition that such erroneous beliefs and statements might actually be sincerely believed by the person at the other end. I figure I have been guilty many times over the years of espousing ill informed and subsequently ill formed opinions over a variety of internet channels. There are however a great deal of hilarious minds out there alright, all of them very eager to make themselves heard.

Well Ginny it appears we have found a point on which we are in profound disagreement (and I am happy we found at least one at last:)). I am not a fan of George Galloway's at all. Not reducing the man to philanthropy or social work he has made what I would hope were many throwaway remarks about various non aligned dictators. If they were not throwaway remarks then the good works he is performing are perpetuating a rather lowly and miserable form of existence in the Middle East. That is not to say the aid he is providing is not helping in some material way but it is reinforced by a destructive perspective of how conflict should be resolved. The man seems so remarkable inconsistent in his opinions that I found it difficult to take him seriously quite some time ago, even before the Big Brother incidents (which were downright bizarre). I am unsure of the level of faith that should be placed in a man that willingly met and warmly greeted both Ude and Saddam Hussein, and is in fact heard to be praising Saddam's courage and indefatigability. To be honest though I never alerted you to Galloay's existence because the man enters my consciousness very little, and I only thought highly of him for a brief time many years ago when he testified before a Senate Sub-Committee hearing on the Oil for Food Program. There is a rather foolish debate between Christopher Hitchens and George Galloway on the net in which the two of them are reduced to a shouting match in which the issue (supposedly the Iraq war) is quickly forgotten and the real business of character assassination begins. I agree with neither of their politics and the debate was helpful in reinforcing that position.

Anyway on another issue that is going on at the moment over here. I don't know how much of this was reported over your way but it is really quite remarkable. I am talking about the Lisbon Treaty, which will affect the 27 member states of the European Union and yet Ireland will be the only country to hold a referendum. It is really quite absurd that a nation of around 5 million people will be deciding the social, economic and military policies for over half a billion people. We have seemingly a glitch in our system whereby our country must hold referendums to change our own national constitution, which Lisbon would do. Anyway we already voted the Treaty down but the NO vote was an amalgamation of various concerned groups and the Treaty was still only narrowly defeated. So we will try again in October to get the answer right this time. We are going to have some rather lame assurances that Europe will not be able to impose abortion on Ireland and with the rather grim economy to wield over us also I cannot see it failing a second time. This trend is a rather worrying one for me as the greater the level of responsibilities the EU retains in Brussels the smaller the say becomes for citizenry of my own country and 26 other countries to boot. Anyway this will also lead to increased European subsidies to high technology industry for militarisation; an element not discussed in any detail, yet the one of most concern to me. Oh well, on a slightly higher note we recently held elections for European Parliament and a Socialist candidate of some rather impressive credentials got in. His name is Joe Higgins and I will gladly inform you of his existence as another of the few honest politicians, a list of which I note we have been teasing out in these conversations. The day after the elections there was a rather amusing headline in one of our major newspapers reading "Mr. Higgins Goes to Europe". I am sure this will speak volumes to you as to the man's character :)

I will hopefully talk with you soon Ginny and we may find some tenuous points of agreement on Galloway, though I wont hold my breath :)

I hope all is well with you otherwise

Tony

PS There are plenty of videos of Joe Higgins on youtube if you can find him speaking in the parliament generally they are all good and hilarious also.
Hey Ginny,

I am still unsure as to what to make of Oslo as I must confess I bought Said's book got into it and then sidelined it. We share a common experience here I am sure:)I started reading a Christopher Hitchens book and am also still reading a history of Modern Africa and a History of Anarchism as well as Carl Sagan's Cosmos, not to mention the bookmarks that are lying a few dozen pages into a few pristine books of mine (yet to be seriously read). I personally felt Oslo was more about partition and the co-opting of Arafat. I thought the only time that 242 was seriously considered as a part of a peace plan was in the Camp David/Taba negotiations in 01. As far as I know this is the closest they came to settlement along the 67 border. However I can assert little with authority here as the situation there is very complicated and I am yet to get my head around much of it particularly the negotiations. I know for sure that neither of these rounds came to fruition despite settlement on 242 being offered by various Palestinian organisations (namely the PLO) for over 40 years now while the cantonisation of unlivable spaces has continued to gather pace in recent years, not to mention the consequences of Israeli aggression that we are now uncomfortably familiar with through the pictures of the violence. There is a very lively debate between Chomsky and Alan Dershowitz on the conflict available on Youtube. I believe Dershowitz is suspected of some crude politicking to deny your hero Finkelstein tenure at De Paul University. I agree that Finkelstein is another brave soul and it is great to see somebody younger to pick up the good work of Vidal, Chomsky and various others.

I like Tony Benn also. There is a series of comedy lectures about historical figures by a BBC historian called Mark Steel (very good and very funny). Benn participates in an interview and they have tagged him as "Tony Benn: Seditious Malcontent" :) I guess he could in some ways be considered a British Gravel who fought hard during the Thatcher years for the rights of the workers. I am not sure what his record is on increased democratisation but the man is worthy of a great deal of respect for being in public life and having the temerity to speak his mind. Today he is a political force all unto himself, as tends to happen only in the twilight of these people's careers and lives; they put him on a pedestal and wait for the social workers to come around and start giving him colouring books and lukewarm cups of tea :) Then they pretend to have agreed with him all along.

Other people have been telling me about this film and the fact that I had seen the first one and was not enamoured by it meant I was not bothered watching the addendum. Perhaps a new name would benefit this film. However a recommendation from you can only cast it in a new light for me and I will certainly be viewing it the next opportunity I get. I will give you relevant feedback as it comes :) You are a very good student :P Anybody who recognises the power of Russell's thought is a good student. I believe I sold him to you on the basis that Chomsky has a poster of him in his office at MIT. I was sure it would take no more for you to go and check him out :) I heard a lovely little quote from Russell there yesterday though it is relevant to religion more than government though I suppose the link has become stronger in recent years. Anyway it is; "As far as I remember there is not one word in all of the Gospels in praise of intelligence"- that made me smile :) I actually have Russell as my profile picture on Facebook and nobody knows who it is, I had one person guess at Sherlock Holmes :P

I am looking forward to hearing about the assault on intellectual freedoms, as I always am. We are about to have blasphemy laws passed over here, laws that were rejected in the 60s for being a bit silly. Hilarious to think they can reemerge 40 years later and be seriously considered practical even though we have no definition of blasphemy. We want to increase protections on the institutions that allowed child rape become the norm in the schools it ran, which for the record was every school in the country until the last 20-30 years or so. Politicians; how do they sleep at night? the only sane answer I can think of is that they actually believe this shit they talk, yet this makes me feel so horribly depressed about our entire situation at home and throughout the world that I would prefer not to believe it and convince myself that they are just as cynical as their actions would suggest.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since the first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
with a most evil fan.
The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air;
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair. -Oscar Wilde "Ballad of Reading Gaol" - 1896

"Art is Individualism, and Individualism is disturbing and disintegrating force. Therein lies its immense value. For what it seeks to disturb is monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of machine" -Oscar Wilde

Hope you like the quotes :) I felt you deserved two for making me feel just a little bit more normal in world where I oftentimes struggle to do so :)

I hope to talk to you soon Ginny.

All the best,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

glad you like the Oscar Wilde quote, here is another to keep you going that could take over from the one about Utopias. "Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and rebellion" -Oscar Wilde :)

I would have the exact same fantasy tea party though I am afraid I would substitute Finkelstein for Bertrand Russell :)

I have been finding some works of Vidal but nothing you have recommended, maybe I will just get one ordered for me. It is very easy to do but something I always neglect to remember when perusing the shelves of whatever bookshop.

That is magic about the war poems. I am reckoning it is the first time I have ever been quoted anywhere before, there is a little internal buzz out of seeing somebody reproduce your words and to have drawn some inspiration for a work of art from them, although I am sure for the most part the pictures were the inspiration. It was very kind of her to give me a little credit anyway.

I hope this little message finds you well anyway Ginny and apologies for the delay in responding.

All the very best,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

I am delighted with your laudatory remarks about my post and am glad it was able to cheer you up to some extent. I am finding comfort simply through informing others, as you appear to realise already that writing your Congressman is a waste of paper. Then again you ignited within me recently a new hope in the political system by introducing me to the wonderful Mike Gravel.

I had a look at that site and really enjoyed your response to the jingoist fella. Your response was calm and collected yet irrefutably logical and erudite. This a skill I frequently lack i.e. a cool head in responding to various erroneous or irrational remarks. I sometimes loose my temper :P which often just leads to greater alienation with those who you are trying to convince of something. I may try and get involved but I tend to be floating around on so many of these things I generally end up neglecting one or two of them. Nonetheless I am giving that response an eager 10/10 as it is so succinct yet wonderfully constructed and a spirited defence of one of the heroes of our modern age. Of course we do not need reminding of that :)

I am looking forward tremendously to looking into Vidal's work, something I have failed to do thus far. I am actually struggling to find any meaningful collection of his works over here particularly his works of non-fiction, which I am finding increasingly frustrating and ridiculous. The man is one of the finest intellectuals ever to have graced our cooling rock with his presence.

And last but not least I certainly do believe anarcho-capitalism is an oxymoron. I have more respect for the belief having talked to someone about it. However I just scratched my head the first time I heard of it and it was precisely the first question that I asked myself; isn't that an oxymoron? :) I guess great minds do think alike. I nonetheless still prescribe to Chomsky's opinion that if such a system was ever imposed (not seriously believing it would develop on its own) that it would essentially amount to a replacement of the sometimes partially answerable State apparatus with totally unanswerable private concentrations of wealth and power. I am a firm believer that if Anarchy is to come about at any point it requires economic equality and perhaps even more essentially the collapse of labour divisions. None of this could be achieved in a capitalist competitive atmosphere, at least it is not something I could ever envision. So in my opinion it is most certainly an oxymoron.

I will leave you with a little quote from one of my fellow countrymen I could genuinely look at with a sense of pride, one Oscar Wilde: "a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias" :)

All the best Ginny, was very nice to hear from you especially when you had such wonderful, things to say about my little piece all of which were greatly appreciated :)

Tony
Sweetdissident

The other day I was watching Democracy Now on Link TV, with Amy Goodman hosting. She had a very good show that held my interest. Thank you so much for indirectly introducing me to these dissidents thru the introduction of Mr. Chomsky.

doowatt
Hey Ginny,

yes those photos are hideous.

Good to see that your Chomsky collection grows stronger.

It sounds as though you have hit the proverbial wall considering all of this, as I myself have done many times before. It is not a nice place to be but there is a more optimistic outlook I tend to fall back on in times of despair. While it does on occasion appear that media institutions and corporate capitalism are insurmountable you would be very surprised by those harbouring that level of disillusionment with the state of the world. I don't think you would be required to venture very far beyond your own doorstep to find similar sentiments of at least anger at governance, regardless of views on alternatives.

Dissent has become a far easier in most "democratic" governments than it was say forty years ago where protest against Vietnam led to several deaths in US colleges and brutal violence on US streets. Sure you will still be belittled for holding an opinion but it is so much better than a bullet. Many people need to be brought to a certain cultural and intellectual level, and fundamental reform in education systems should be the foundation of this. We are however a poorly evolved species, our pre-fontal lobes are too small and our adrenal glands too big.

That is where I find my place in the world as somebody who can debate to reasonable level and challenge the foundation myths that sustain our fantasies with facts, evidence and carefully reasoned arguments. It could be said that this view is in fact a pessimistic one but it comes with no illusion and no mistaken identity that where the media and government fails ordinary people must stand up and be seen to comfort the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable.

I hope that is of some help to give perspective and strength to continue, if only with your own concerns in life. I doubt you would ever do this as you seem a person too conscious of the world's shortcomings to revert to insularism.

I did enjoy your review of Miseducation, intelligent and to the point. There is a quote in this book from Madleine Albright in this book which made me laugh in that horrible absurd way that politics does a lot of the time. Maybe you have read this already but upon being asked about the estimated 3000 child deaths a month brought about by bombing and sanctions in Iraq she said "we think the price is worth it".

I am going to leave a rant I left on a site called Last.fm about US Foreign Policy. It will consume a large chunk of your homepage here but I hope you find time to read it and rate it for me. The only other way you can view it is by joining the site and becoming a member of the group so this will make it easier but a bit messier for your LT profile :P

All the best,

Tony, I hope to hear from you soon.

My rant which begins at "US Foreign Policy" is partially a response to this comment.

Basically, the US foreign policy is: Steal as much as you can as soon as you can. And if someone threatens you because they want their money back, intimidate them first and if that didnt work then destroy their culture/heritage/minds them so they become so decadent that the population falls practically asleep. If even that doesnt work, then try to use the puppets to kill these people. and finally if they really need to, they kill them themselves.

US Foreign Policy

While above this there is a fairly accurate description of how American foreign policy works there are some points that should be made.

Many of the countries in which the US operates outside of Europe and Japan (where opinions matter) are not controlled by the vacuous nature of American culture that in most cases is concomitant with US military operations. Generally those outside of the US, Japan and Europe, where the US still wields a considerable influence over the government the forms of control are often terribly more violent affairs than any encouragement towards hideously bloated consumption. The US propagates two types of culture everywhere it impacts on the globe. The first one is the malevolent propagation of empty American cultural entities and businesses. The second one is the far more viscious culture of violence and terror which locks domestic populations, be they in Colombia, Iraq, East Timor, Vietnam etc. etc., into an endless spiral of violence and death. This culture of terror is what is relied upon in what is often referred to as the "developing" world to maintain a grip over the the bodies of the population crushing dissent at its foundation. What is far more heavily relied upon where the US government believes opinions matter (i.e. the US, Japan and Europe) is a rather monumental system of companies and government institutions that disseminate propaganda. This is coupled with a grotesquely inflated and unsustainable level of Western consumption, which is encouraged at every hands turn by the media and PR industries. This consumption however appears to be the core motivation of US foreign policy. In order to maintain the "sleeping" state that Maiser points out above it is necessary for people to feel free to make choices in their lives. All these choices amount to generally is the ability to choose what one consumes and the very occasional ratification of insignificant decisions, which have often already been made. It is therefore essential to maintain this system so the 1000 or so richest corporations in the world can be represented without hindrance by Western governments particularly the US. What this amounts to on foreign policy is a hideous stunting of the growth of the most resource rich nations on the planet, to allow this level of consumption to continue, and thus retaining the lock and key to the people's minds in countries where there are some small allowances made for those who wish to be scorned and belittled for a dissenting opinion.

As a larger picture historically the United States' foreign policy can be seen to have one major paradigm shift beyond its initial moves towards an imperialist FP under the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine basically stated that the United States' sphere of influence in Foreign policy was its own hemisphere allowing the US basically do what they want in Latin America, and the Caribbean and to a somewhat lesser extent at this time the Pacific. Though the primary shift in US Foreign Policy does not gather pace until the end of WWII the roots of it can be seen in the US' involvement in the First World War, casting off its supposedly 'isolationist' stance the US began helping their European brothers against the belligerent Empires of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Diplomatically this could also be seen by the US' refusal to recognise post revolution Russia until 1933. The post World War II era is when the US' FP begins to take the more familiar shape it has today, initially in Korea, Guatemala and Iran where both large scale wars and coups were perpetrated imposing tyrannical military regimes on the populations of these countries. The US expansion towards a global FP had begun to gain clarity, direction and pace and was made concrete in what was known as the Truman Doctrine, which effectively made the US sphere of influence anywhere in the world they felt their interests were threatened. This notion of US interests being threatened by some indigenous nationalist movement 10 thousand miles from the US seems ridiculous, yet this idea was hammered home into the minds of Americans and Westerners in general; propagated through a subservient network of cowardly intellectuals and self-censoring media organs. The institutions and individuals who disseminate lies and propaganda and bind "debate" so tightly, have become and integral part of the US war effort and it has often been recognised, particularly since the Vietnam era where the media played a larger role than ever before, that the PR war must also be won. It is now realised as core to the security of US interests, which is to say corporate interests, that domestic populations that have on occasion a great capacity for dissent be lied to repeatedly and endlessly. This coupled with the encouragement to consume constantly makes it a particularly difficult system to expose or overthrow or break free of. This is due to the fact that it is precisely those things that makes us most comfortable in the West, which must be sacrificed to end the other culture in US foreign policy the one that involves tyranny, murder, assassination, carpet bombing and general carnage imposed often on an unarmed and defenseless civilian population.

I guess the overall theme of this rant has been that there are in effect two elements to US Foreign Policy. The first consists of murder, tyrannical government and the theft of resources on a really vast and truly global scale. The second, which has become necessary to maintain the first, is the murder of insular, ancient or intellectual culture and its replacement with a phoney, plastic and empty modern culture consisting of nothing more than automotons who believe the ultimate expression of their individuality is to be found and expressed through the products they consume. Obvioulsy individuals are more complex than to be subject to my reductive theories yet for the most part this remains true and most remain content to be consumerist dullards, with more products than personality.

And that is USFP :P
Hey Ginny,

glad you enjoyed the comics, I enjoyed them myself. Besides this is much what I am like going to parties, or not going to them however that works :P

Reading a bit of fiction myself lately. Just finished Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos, which was excellent. I read an interesting quote from Vonnegut after he traded his pen for fiction for a sword with which he could bludgeon authority. It goes; "The only difference between Hitler and George Bush is that Hitler was elected". I got a good laugh from that one :D Anyway it is always good to vary the reading habits lest we all fall in to an endless uncontrollable depression :)

Yes I think we are all returning from some kind of hysteria about Obama to a realisation that he is and will always be just another member of the club. It will indeed be tragic if FP doesn't change to any degree, then again I suppose it has been pretty consistent over the last 60 years so I wont hold my breath.

I wont scold you, I know what Said is like at the best of times :) I knew you would appreciate the man's almost unique bravery in telling the truth, as well as the compassion of his thought. Maybe this isn't seen too much in Orientalism, as it is somewhat abstract, but in his work "From Oslo to Iraq: The Roadmap" he oozes feeling and indignation about the nature of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory. As well as this the information is rare and valuable. I would easily put Said in that bracket of great and brave thinkers, with Chomsky and Howard Zinn.

I am going to leave a few links here below Ginny with the warning that I would not click them unless you have the strongest of stomachs. They are photos from the recent Israeli offensive in Gaza. One must recall with horror upon their viewing that they constitute the tiniest fraction of those killed by Israel under US parentage. Nonetheless they are quite horrific themselves so be careful unless you are made of solid steel. Anyway thought you might appreciate them in some strange way, or maybe I feel a strange obligation to spread them around.

WARNING:Gruesome Photographs of Recent Israeli Offensive on Gaza.

http://home.online.no/~unnelin/gazabilder.cfm

http://portail.islamboutique.fr/gaza2008/

http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20090116&amp...

Talk to you soon Ginny,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

thought you might get a laugh out of this :)

http://www.postmodernhaircut.com/Chomsky/Chomsky.html
Hey Ginny,

long time. All is going pretty well, still stuck in my job as the economy disappeared. Lacking a bit of direction at the moment but doing well nonetheless. Free time means that I have started reading again with gusto :) In the middle of 10 books at once I will never finish, you know how it is :)

How are you anyway Ginny, all going well so far in the new year?

How do you feel Mr. Obama is doing so far?

He's doing some pretty ambiguous things in Pakistan. I am happy to see nonetheless positive moves towards the closing of Guantanamo. However given the fact that the Guantanamo situation should never have arisen in the first place I wont give him too much credit for having even the tiniest streak of humanity within him.

Hopefully chit chat with you soon,

Tony
Sweetdissident,

Wow I knew you had a wonderful library collection, that you were holding back, The Witches Practical Handbook?, Practical Intuition?, Sea Gifts?....All of which I wish I had!!!!!!

Talk to you soon...

doowatt34

diana

Hey Ginny,

thanks for the tips on how to touchstone. I only realised you could do that recently.

It was a lengthy exchange alright, and that cant be helped by the fact that I only started using quotation half way down the page :)

It is refreshing to know that there are people in the States, like yourself, who know the true meanings of libertarianism, conservatism, communism and socialism.

I am not sure what a Cartesian view of the soul is? I assume it is that we cannot directly engage with the soul so we should refute its existence. The philosopher Dan Dennett had an interesting idea lately he expresses in Richard Dawkins' wonderful documentary "The Genius of Charles Darwin". He equates the esoteric idea of the existence of the soul with the physical reality of neurons that travel through our brain giving us our instructions on living.

The Bible is certainly a good read and contains many things that recur in my current taste in entertainment; rape, murder, genocide, deceit, intrigue. In another sense when Christ arrives on the scene he takes a rightful place as a great human philosopher. For me he was nothing more than this as I am today an avid atheist. My progression to this frame of thinking was swift and interesting. My mind has been in turmoil with this issue since I stopped attending mass only around three years ago now. I think I stopped believing a long time before that but kept going to keep my parents happy. I think myself and Geneg had more in common than we would veer like to admit as he rightly points out that the words of Christ could not be further from the acts carried out in his name.

Yes I am quite sure Obama would be well acquainted with the Bible, probably not so much with War Talk. A book I must read myself at some point.

Anyway hope to chat with you soon Ginny.
Hey Ginny,

I am not sure how you Touchstone books, I have never done it before. Anyway yes there was a lot of hoopla going on in there :)

Thanks for the support. I figured you would agree with much of what I was saying. That guy Lunar if anything hardened my belief that Anarcho-capitalism can never work the way it is intended.

Anyway Ginny, thanks for having a read.

Tony

PS I never thought to ask you this before because it was never really relevant but are you religious at all yourself Ginny?
Hey Ginny,

I am dipping in and out of ZNet, not spending as much time there as maybe I should.

Just had two monumental debates going on the "progressive and liberal" group on Librarything. I was just wondering if you might take a look at them as you might provide further insights into what I have been arguing (or trying to argue) in there. Unfortunately I did not fully grasp that I should definably quote what I was attempting to refute so it is a bit messy. However you would probably get the idea from the last couple of posts. The threads are "A belief of mine" and "Books you want the next President to Read". You might find time to take a look :)

Hows everything with you? Good I hope.

Talk to you soon Ginny.
Hi Ginny,

as far as race is concerned yesterday was a big day for America. Thankfully beyond economic stimulation from US investment I have not been too affected by US foreign policy, I have certainly not personally experienced its darker side- a fact I am eternally grateful for. As for Obama himself something makes me want to believe that there is something genuinely decent in him but I reckon only time will tell. It is certainly time for some moderation after eight years of total mayhem.

I retain little hope for a quick end to the two major wars the US is involved in, and am also slightly worried concerning Israel. If Obama is even as remotely pro-Israel as I have been led to believe he is then they are in for a tough time in Palestine. However, if he were to advocate a settlement based on the 1967 border then I would be far more likely to agree that the man may have a genuine rapport with the sufferers of the world.

Anyway you are absolutely right; the colour of the man's skin should be of no relevance and probably wont be, but in historical terms yesterday was big....VERY BIG :)

Talk to you soon Ginny,

Tony
That is good to hear Ginny, long may it continue.

That was nice of him to say and I am looking forward to many more hours of wisdom from Chomskyan's Channel.

Talk to you soon,

Tony
Haha, it is indeed a small world Ginny :) I was delighted when I found that channel and you can tell him from me to keep up the great work.

Could you send me the links to your respective Znet pages, would love to see them.

How have you been anyway Ginny? Things settled down for you yet? :)
Why thank you Ginny, I often take a bit of flak over here for not knowing enough about domestic politics here. I prefer talking foreign policy to be honest :) Glad I was able to cheer you up a bit. This may do so even m ore I found a Youtube channel devoted to Chomsky. Some really good and rare videos.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Chomskyan
Hey Ginny,

thats pretty shit. I hope you will be doing better when this message finds you or you find this message.

Palin is indeed rather caustic. Her appointment as McCain's running mate has to be one of the most transparent efforts at vote grubbing I have ever seen. I hope the people who were going to vote for Clinton on the irrational basis that she is a woman do not do so with her and McCain.

That reminds me of something rather amusing I watched just after Clinton and Obama had been declared front runners for the candidacy. There was some political debate show on the tv; cant recall the name but the debate was suitably bound. Anyway there was a black woman on this show espousing the notion that she somehow cannot lose if the Democrats are returned to the White House :) Cracked me up inside.

Hope that cheers you up a little :D
Hey Ginny,

that is a wonderful thing to have; signed and everything. I love having books signed by the author; brings out the little kid in you sometimes and you just don't want to let go of it :) A friend of mine recently bought a copy of Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. As far as I know she spent around 500 euro on it.

There is a very interesting argument from history regarding the nature of popular protest. Namely the question as to whether the shape of popular protest would have been irrevocably changed if there was no single personality spearheading it? The most quoted example is Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.

I feel myself that the nature of protest should be constant. It was often said of the media that their job should be to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. We both know in terms of the media that is a sham but I think it is something that can be applied to individuals who are perpetually conscious coupled with a means for dissent i.e. comfort. That is your basic catch 22 scenario with dissent; what it requires is for those who are comfortable to rock the foundations of that very thing they believe has brought them comfort. Regardless of who wins an election the protest must be constant. Nonetheless I really do not want to see McCain win. I guess an Obama victory would allow the world breath a sigh of relief and we will perhaps stop paying such a high mental price as a result of who is governing.Another problem with dissent not only against government in general but about specific policy, which is that those protesting feel the need to align themselves with a party. As you rightly point out the respective declines and gains in dissent against specific parties correlate with those who are governing. Few take a step back and make an informed approach to individual issues. Bit of a ramble there, hope it makes sense :P

Said is a tough nut to crack alright; Orientalism is certainly the heaviest read of his. Everything is geared towards the abstract; begins to melt the mind :)

Talk with you soon Ginny.

Hey Ginny,

Thank you for the kind remark.

It is great to hear that the like minded are coming thick and fast :) I am going through a little downturn. I have my oldest friend with whom I can discuss anything. That is always a help if things get on top. Of course knowing that committed people like yourself are out there is also stimulating. In election years with wars going on and the nonsensical political debates continuing unabated it becomes a lot easier to slide into darkness. I figure it should be a time in which political discussion can flourish but debate always appears to me to get a lot tighter when there is a lot going on. Events that are not politically scandalous anyway.

I loved McCain's soundbyte about how party politics must be put aside. Is it just me or does that appear to be an admission of the often petty and ultimately irrelevant nature of party politics is?

There are people out there Ginny, who care a far greater deal than I do. Few are as passionate when discussing issues and ideas but even fewer are as lethargic and ultimately without action; unless of course you consider conversation a form of action. It may be even more heartening to know that there are those who go beyond what is necessary and shatter the complacency and values that they were raised in. It is perhaps discussion and people's near total lack of interest in the forces guiding their lives that has perhaps fueled this laziness. I know the argument that 'if they only knew what was happening' so I try to share my perceptions, which obviously to me appear correct. Nonetheless the apparent lack of an impact much of the nature of this discussion has on people is frequently disheartening. I am chasing a proverbial drop in the ocean trying to 'convert' friends and strangers alike.

I guess in that context it is good to have those that share the occasional opinion. I figure I should view diverse opinions as a gift regardless of how stultifyingly ill informed they are.
Yes of course. I just believe that if you have the ability to make it that far as a candidate for a major political party you are probably part of some major elite business and policy circles. In general and historically Democrats aren't as thirsty for carnage as Republicans. I wouldn't imagine McCain remembers his own experiences very well if he can willingly send others off to fight. Nonetheless he will owe loyalty to many of the same major corporations that Bush does; therefore the war must go on.

I gave up on television news particularly FOX, or SKY as we have here. If you want to angry up the blood, watch FOX for five minutes. It is as if there is a competition as to who can be the greatest cheerleader. There is a short movie called Outfoxed about FOX's total disregard for actual reporting. There is a case discussed in it where a guy called David Glick who had been on 'The O' Reilly Factor' was misrepresented as saying something he didn't. He tried to sue Bill O' Reilly. The nature of the law is such that they had to prove that O' Reilly knowingly lied on air. Turns out Bill O' Reilly lies so frequently and pathologically that it was impossible to prove that he had done so in this particular instance.

Another guy gets suspended for a report he did on Reagan's 80th birthday. The celebrations apparently did not look celebratory enough. The 80th birthday of one of the greatest mass murderers the US has ever produced is an important affair alright.
Hey Ginny,

not sure if you replied to the comment I left below. The page was telling me I have a new comment but I cannot see one.

Just to let you know if it was you.
Hey Ginny,

I myself retain little hope for any substantive change if Obama is elected or anyone else for that matter. The fact that he got this far may be a greater reflection on the consciousness of Americans than Obama himself (although I do not doubt the man's charm and charisma). I would be happy enough if the eventual victor rolls back some of Bush's abhorrent policies and resurrects the Welfare State; although Clinton did most of the dismantling of that. If he was elected it would certainly be a return to 'Camelot' for the Democrats; yet my own perspective on Kennedy is far from favorable.

Funny you should mention the Uncle Tom thing because I just watched today a film by Brian de Palma with Robert de Niro from 1969 called 'Hi Mom'. De Niro having failed as a pornographer becomes involved with a black empowerment group. It was brilliant. All I can do is recommend it :)

A delight as always Ginny.

Hope to hear from you soon.
No need for an apology Ginny. I believe the same thing. In fact I believe that is all NATO is. I do not believe NATO is benevolent at all; its functions were clear since its foundation. However I am not too keen on finding out how far a resurgent Russia can be pushed. At present I am hoping that political leadership feels the same.

Don't forget we also get to watch the high farce of the Presidential election in the coming months. I have not noted any other worthwhile candidates since Gravel unfortunately pulled out. I have watched Obama's petty efforts at gaining credence through his choice of running mate in the election. Never heard of Joseph Biden before, yet before I even looked into it I knew that the PR angle would portray him as the foreign policy buff; which it is doing to great effect I am sure.

Marcuse is excellent, however reading constantly off a computer screen gets rather tiring quite quickly. Nonetheless a brilliant read.
Hey Ginny,

Thanks for the kind congrats. Bit of a loose end since I submitted it. Still complacently beavering away at my part-time job. I am thinking Phd. :)

What do you make of the NATO Russia situation after the Georgia affair? Just out of curiosity.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Tony
Hey Ginny,

going to hand in my thesis today. I can get started now on that backlog of recommendations I have from you. :)
I hope so too.

Is Gravel really out, what happened there? It will I am sure still be full steam ahead for the National Initiative.

Must have a look at that book, sounds like a very interesting read.

Not sure if you have ever heard of Herbert Marcuse. His writings are on the more philosophical end of radicalism, he was nonetheless a great radical himself. Well worth a read. His writings are thankfully available for free. I recommend One-Dimensional Man :)

http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/
Sweetdissadent

If you become a Librarything early reviewer, you can get free books!! hint hint....also, I could not possibly afford many of the books now that I've obtained, because as you know many are out of reach, price wise...so I order many from abebooks.com, which is very resonsonable. Also I go to thrift stores, garage sales, library sales, and on those special holidays I ask my friends to purchase books or a provocative DVD...so they already know what my wishes are...I'll have to obtain Roy's and Chomsky's books or videos by this method, honestly I can't wait!!!!

By the way what are you currently reading and have you watched any provocative DVD's on social responsibility, outstanding thinkers or political mischievements?

peace

diana
Of course you are right, and I always vote according to my ethics and not for 'practical' reasons or reasons of economy. I believe it can cost up to 50 million dollars now to run a Mayoral or Gubernatorial campaign, it sickens me to think what better things that money could have contributed to. It is another sickener to think that in the current climate where candidate choice is based virtually in its entirety on personality we would be more likely to vote for Ted Bundy than we would Mike Gravel or even Chomsky :)

You watched Manufacturing Consent; brilliant. Glad you liked it.I would scarcely compare the book with the film; apart from them being different in subject for the most part the density and meticulous researching of the book makes it one of Chomsky's finest works. His collaborations with Edward Herman are always informative reading. Manufacturing Consent and Political Economy of Human Rights are totally indispensable in understanding the make up of the world after World War 2.

A pleasure as always Ginny,

talk to you soon.
yes, thanks again. Even for those like us who like to think we are to a larger extent than most, informed about the world it is still easy to forget there is more than two parties to decide between :) I was talking with my American friend today, but unfortunately she reckons that a third-party vote is a spoiled vote. I figure in a sense she is right since they have no hope really, but I also informed her that if everybody who was dissatisfied with the two-party system got up and voted for a third party, rather than focusing on futility, it may not appear as futile after all. Got her to take a look at the National Initiative anyway. I do not hold out much hope there either :P I despise party politics, it is precisely the orientation of thought from that point that leaves the other candidates out in the cold.

Keep me posted Ginny

I do not have a vote so my support may mean less and less as the election draws near.
I cannot say I have seen any of his musical performances. Did watch a couple of those short Chomsky videos, I love when he says that polling information if merely reflective of the amount of money being spent in the campaigns. I hope Gravel becomes far better known amongst the US citizenry before the election. A Gravel victory, though appearing virtually impossible given media policy, may not be insurmountable. He could be another Howard Dean. I will combat and inform at every given opportunity assaults against Gravel as well as against his policies. The impact will not be large here in Ireland but I perhaps can get him one or two expatriate votes :) My cousin is also a US citizen now, living in New York, I will be sure he knows about Gravel also. He does however work for Morgan Stanley and may not like corporate social responsibility. If he is not elected I will be sure to continue informing people about the national initiative where in spite of a Gravel loss, could make future challenges to elite hegemony not as insurmountable as before.

Thanks Ginny, this guy has lit up my life :)
Hey Ginny,

sorry about the double post. I found Manufacturing Consent on Youtube. The video however is in 17 different parts, which will be quite annoying to watch. The video quality is quite good but there is only around ten minutes in each of the 17 parts.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=manufacturing+consent&search_typ...
It was my pleasure, it did a lot to cheer me up. It had never occurred to me that you could make meaningful changes by becoming a politician :) Gravel appears to be traversing (quite successfully) that dangerous road of serious change.

Chomsky as an adviser; I do wonder how enthusiastic he would be. I recall Chomsky being asked jokingly would he ever consider running for President. He replied that if he ever did run for President the first thing he would do is tell you not to vote for him :D
Hey Ginny,

Gravel is phenomenal. It baffles me as to how he ever even became a Senator :) He must be like Mr. Smith. Nonetheless, his ideas are without doubt some of the most refreshing and exciting I have heard discussed within the representative democratic framework. Unfortunately he will never be President, which is a real shame. I love the fact that they discussed ideas, something we certainly need more of in politics. He certainly appears as a man who does not bandy words, is knowledgeable about US history and not afraid to discuss it with great candor. I was not in total agreement with everything he said; I do for example feel that a massive part of the US withdrawal from Vietnam was down to domestic dissent. Still fascinating to hear somebody who is running for US President say that we cannot admit when we are wrong. That is a big problem for individuals and nations alike these days.

Thank you for that Ginny, having heard that I am the most optimistic I have been for a long time. Regardless of Gravel's winning or losing, just to know that he exists is a great boost :) That is my view as an Irish citizen and I hope would be my view no matter what my citizenry.

Fingers crossed for the National Initiative.
Yes I would absolutely agree. There is a vast swathe of empirical data, but it is always used in service of ideology. This is particularly true of historical data although I have come across it in archaeology also. In this light I would consider Zinn and indeed Chomsky as much propagandists as Arthur Schlesinger or J.L. Gaddis. Oftentimes it is not the data brought into question but interpretation. The is a rather fiery debate, also in Manufacturing Consent between Chomsky and John Silber (some sort of Harvard dean) and they are debating about El Salvador. Chomsky is talking about them wiping the press out and about how a news editor was found hacked up and mutilated. Silber starts shouting that it is not true. Chomsky starts shouting that it is and asks him did these things happen or not. Silber's reply is that they did not "happen in the context in which you (Chomsky) suggest". I figure this is the divergence between most forms of propaganda the context in which factual data is placed.

Ah, I did not realise that Beyond the Pale was a collection of essays, I just saw a gigantic book full of William Trevor and thought of you :P Said I must remember to tell you but I could not remember the title.
Yes, the film is absolutely amazing. I must have watched it ten times over and cosiderring it is 3 hours long :P Just when you thought your love for Chomsky could not grow any more, this film comes along :)

I saw a book recently which is one of collected essays of William Trevor. If you wre not aware of its existence you are now. Not totally sure of the title.

Yes the whole Zinn thing was ridiculous. Basically this guy's idea was I have studied this for forty years and by definition my opinion of events cannot be wrong. I would agree that Zinn is a proagandist but I would further state that all historians are, whether they know it or like it.

My book list grows and grows, and believe me I am taking all recommendations into account. I cannot wait to retire in 40 years or so, all the reading time I will need :P Bought Hugh Thomas' Slave Trade, A History of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440-1870. Very good.

Hope to hear from you soon Ginny

PS Could not help but notice the comment below this one. Is that true about Arudhati Roy writing fiction.

PPS Also in the middle of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5.
Sweetdissadent

I absolutely love J.A., I've had 5 negro presidents for at least ten years. I bought it from the shrine of the black madonna...its a great addition. Also I was reading something about adrundhati roy, that she/he? was at first a fiction author before they become very political???

peace

diana
I was not being negative about ZNet. I think the range of topics they discuss is very useful. I merely meant it in terms of the expansion into minority studies, women studies, diseases, propaganda etc. etc. as being very useful. Thank you for excluding me, I must have learned most of my words at least two years ago :P

It is indeed an invaluable resourse for allowing people to see that they are not isolated beings, as the internet does in some ways.

Yes I like Zinn, I was not sure whether I told you this little anecdote. Anyway I was soing an assignment a year or two back about the rise of unions in the US. I used Zinn's book to tease out the factual events surrounding the Haymarket Square Affair. In my bibliography for the essay my lecturer (a bit of a dinosaur) put a large red mark through the reference to Zinn and wrote PROPAGANDA: DO NOT USE beside it. I thought that was a rather funny thing to put beside a book, particularly on the US. I am a firm believer that if I was not to use propaganda in my essays there would be no bibliography and no essay :)

I am aware of the article but as yet have not read it, gain college work is taking primacy at the moment.

There is a small part of Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (The documentary) regarding Znet, including a short interview with the founders, whose names elude me at the moment. I must have watched that film over ten times now. A great way to spend a Friday evening :)
Hey,

I am the late one this time :) I actually went on to Znet a few eeks back I had been on there before but I forgot the sheer range of issues they discuss there.

Likeness can get boring after a while. I am sure I share many of the same values as my girlfriend but what I enjoy most personally is the ability of the other person to debate and discuss. If you agree all the time the discussion gets tiresome fairly quickly.

Recently picked up Zinn's People's History of the US. An excellent radical perspective on the US domestically from 1492 onwards.

Recently got back into the documentaries of Adam Curtis. All I can say is if you have not seen them; do. Absolutely fantastic. Here is a list :)

Pandora's Box, Century of the Self, Power of Nightmares, The Trap, The Mayfair Set. All of them are pure excellence. There is another one called the Living Dead, if you ever find this somewhere please let me be the first to know as i have been unable to find it since first getting into Curtis a few years back.
Sweetdissadent

Its been a long time, and how are you... and yes actually I found a little time to read currently, Egypt vs Greece and the American Academy...a very interesting analysis of Prof Mary Leftkowitz' and others attack on Afrocentrism, written by a variety of the oppositions colleagues. such as Asa G Hilliard, Clyde Winters, Theophile Obenga, Molefe Asante, Charles Finch, Don Luke etc and others. They have made a good case for Afrocentrism and have helped others including those siding with Ms Leftkowitz to step up their game in a more positive direction as these guys have come to the table with their A game on an nothing less.... and by the way if I wanted to start reading something by Noam Chomsky where would you suggest that I start???

Peace

diana
Haha, you are very right. The way I figure it now my girlfriend can be arom of escape for me. Sure it is nice to have like-minded people to talk to but I am not so sure if it would be good for a relationship.

You should watch Red Heat with John Beluschi and Arnold Schwarzenegger for a truly overt example. I sometimes thought I was crazy but it seems everywhere I look now in terms of popular culture the idea is to make it as vacuous and trite as possible.

Of course we have our movies to simply look at and enjoy while they are running, but as a form of art they are perhaps one of the most important mediums for imparting ideas. You should get him to watch Manufacturing Consent (although it is a documentary) I wonder could it just being a movie remove the relevance of the themes it explores.

Propaganda I feel is the greatest obstacle we have to overcome, the propaganda system can seem at times monolithic, even though I know it is not. There is a diversity of opinion even in the news media, even though in its daily distribution it is severely bounded.

PS Thanks for the intellectual remark; I just do not really consider myself to be one. :)
Thats is good, you appear to be in a better situation than me as regards partners. I cannot even get my girlfriend to watch things that may contain violence. I think I will trap her one day and I will say let's watch the Fourth World War. That dilm (if you haven't seen it already) is one of the most horiffic things I have ever seen. For the mostpart is documenting dissent and rebellion in different parts of the world under the IMF stranglehold; Argentina, Mexico, South Korea. There is however one particular part where a Palestinian man cries over the body of his daughter. The girl who could be no more than 9 or 10 had just taken and Israeli slug to the arm, which you can see has absolutely decimated her entire arm. It follows her from the surgery table where she dies until the body is revealed to her father. This is perhaps one of the most harrowing things I have ever seen. While one must always have a sense of humour, we can all be reminded of what sometimes makes it so hard to have one.

Anyway I will trap her with this film because I am a terribly cruel person, and just to remove her from being such a sensitive girly girl that she is. Your situation must be better than mine as you have not yet resorted to shock therapy :P I don't think you could ever be cruel towards somebody who gad introduced you to Dr. Strangelove. My girlfriend introduced me to America's Next Top Model, Ugly Betty and many other pieces of meaningful intellectual discourse on the current global crisis. So as you can see In have no choice but to be cruel. :P

Anyway my sympathetic ear is always here. I would not consider myself however a budding intellectual, I would not really consider myself intellectual at all but I can tell you that at 22 I am already a burned out husk of a person :D
I have floated around it from time to time but never subscribed. Generally if I want to ask Chomsky something I email him at MIT. I do know however that there is much more valuable stuff on that site, so I must subscribe.

Who is the boyfriend, have you discovered your like-minded adonis? :)
Haha, you must have been slightly freaked out before you reaslised what it was from. :P
Hey Ginny,

yes I figure we are even too :) I am actually reading some very interesting things for my thesis; namely Michel Foucault, who had a very enlightening debate with Chomsky back in 1971. Available on Youtube by the way.

Dr. Strangelove is one of my favourite films. I love Peter Sellers too. I recommend Being There as another classic Sellers film. You also might like The Life and Death of Peter Sellers a biopic. Strangelove would be my favourite of his though.

The census thing is quite interesting. I am sure being drowned in paper isn't very nice but historically I have an interest. They recently released the 1911 census for Ireland on the internet; very interesting stuff (for me at least).

Hope to talk to you soon Ginny and hold on to those Precious Bodily Fluids :D
Hey,

I haven't looked at Trevor's book yet but I will get there. I have to write my thesis soon for my Masters so I am neck deep in that stuff at the moment.

Anything major happening on your end? Did you vote in the Primaries at all?
Hey Ginny,

long time no talky. Just figured I would drop you a comment you might see in the coming months to recommend Peter Marshall's History of Anarchism. Don't know if I told you about it before. Anyway well worth picking up.
sweetdissident,

I got on the Pacifica.org/Democracy Now site and heard a video with Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn...I can see why you like him so much, the two of them were fascinating...I worry that since he is up there in age, if he were to write a book the shook the foundation of the country, could he weather the heat!?!?

peace

doowatt34
Hello Sweetdissedent

You love Norm Chomsky!!!...could you tell me a little bit about him, what he does, what his background is, what he does now, is he still alive and how you were introduced to his works and philosophy?

Peace

Diana

doowatt34
sweetdissident,

when gerald ford died it is my understanding that part of his legacy was that he supported the invasion of east timor by the racist indonesian army that killed a third of the population...its too bad, cause the people are still, to this day fighting the same imperialistic mindset...I started getting emails from the blacklist magazine and there were alot of articles by the east timors themselves, regarding their history and exactly who they were, where they came from and what they believe...It was interesting that they know that their origins are on the afrikan continent, and they can link their cultural spituality their also....amy goodman as always does a great job reviewing what happened 1975 when she was there reporting on the invasion and subsequent slaughter...

peace

diana
sweetdissident

yeah, I read the interview between amy goodman and randell robinson...it was very good and I commend ms goodman for taking a media stance, "out of the box" and giving us real news about real people doing things in real places...I went to haiti in 2005, with an environmental farming group...it was totally awsome, the spirit of the people, what they were trying to accomplish, their culture and language...however it was sad that a lot of self serving NGO's were there looking out for their own interest, well that's what I saw...with the exception of a few, all were arguing about nut-inn, and the mindless psycho babble just drove me nuts...Have you read The Black Jacobins, it is one of the best books on the history of Haiti, check it out....

peace

diana
Sweetdissident,

I recently went to the democracynow website and read about the Timor tragedy featuring gerald ford. Thanks so much for the information. I'll have to return to the site to see what Mr. Randell has to say about the invasion. As I delve more deeply into the history of southeast asia, the more interesting the region becomes...I definately would like to visit austrailia soon as well as other original black asian countries.

peace

doowatt34
Yes, I am especially interested in the plight of the East Timorese the scandalous history, persecution and massacre and the rest of the story. Currently I have but have yet to read...East Timor Genocide in Paradise and Reluctant Indonesians: Australia, Papua and the Future of West Papua, and Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence. The whole Afro-Asian plight is very similar, to Native Americans (The Washitaw), South Africans, and Indigenous North Africans battle with outside islamic /imperialistic forces....

Peace doowatt34
Hello

Thanks for adding me to your favorites, I appreciate it....I am new also and I love manually adding books...I can keep abreast of my inventory. I see that you have some of Christina Rosettis' work, I had to read her works in college, and she is quite wonderful. Currently I am collecting material on the history of Indonesia and the history behind the revolutionary fighting by the Black Indonesians that is currently taking place. It's quite an interesting area.

Enjoy your time on LT

Peace doowatt34
The quick reply was just a matter of luck - I happened to see your message not too long after you posted it. You don't have to make messages private - especially if you want to say nice things about me :-)
Your author entry "Rogers, J. A." is fine. Sorted by author, he now comes after Ray Bradbury, then comes William Trevor, who you have also entered with the comma, then William Duffy.
How you see the author name in the catalog depends on how you have set up your view, or, if you haven't yet customised your views, what the LT default was. For your author column, you can choose "first last" or "last first".
I don't mind giving you a bit of help: I too found some of LT a bit hard to understand at first.

As to the book on linguistics of Chomsky's that I have, I read them with interest at the time. They aren't easy going though. "Aspects" was truly a pioneering work.
Hallo sweetdissident - apologies for not getting back to you sooner.
I agree that William Trevor is wonderful. For me, nearly each and every one of his short stories is a masterpiece. I'm quite excited at the moment, because his latest collection of stories, Cheating at Canasta has just been published. Not sure when I'll find the time to read them, though!
If you like William Trevor, I can strongly recommend Elizabeth Bowen - again, her marvellous short stories, but also novels such as The Last September.
All the best, Carolyn
I see you have Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell. My copy is old too and I also have The Man Who Listens, which is a lovely book.
Regarding your comment on my review of Gore Vidal's book I think that you have completely misunderstood my point. I simply thought the book could have been much more in depth to increase it's usefulness as a resource material. I don't disagree with the premise of the book but I found it lacking in making a strong point. It wasn't particularly well written and the repetition was indicative of that. Believe me I have NO "patriotism" towards the US government as I am a Canadian and have unlimited complaints of their policies and political maneuvering myself. Your preaching to the choir!
Hi,
Thanks for your comment. I love history especially African & Africans in the disapora. History is my hobby and I also collect authors and now I've gone on a vampire road, I just love to read.

Nzingha
Not a problem! You'll find a lot of nice, helpful people on LT. Welcome to the site!
Hey,

you and I are kindred spirits. I wrote to Chomsky at MIT also, had a bit of a correspondence going at one time but I figured he was so busy that I would leave him alone :P

I had a chance to see several of his lectures when he was here (Ireland). I got Fateful Triangle and American Power and the New Mandarins signed. They are the pride of my Chomky collection.

It is so difficult to recommend Chomsky because it is all so good and informative.

It is a pleasure to meet somebody as passionate as myself about the great man :D
I notice that you like William Trevor - I also think he is excellent. I see we have very few books in common however.

You may also like Sebastian Barry - he is also Irish and I find his writing wonderful as well.

Cheers,
Karen
Welcome to LibraryThing--it's addictive! I haven't read Beyond the Pale yet, but it's in the Collected Stories that I have. I'll get back with you when I read it. The first Trevor I read was Felicia's Journey and I remember it blowing me away--very haunting, tense. That one is my favorite of his novels. He's really amazing with the short stories, though. It's such a hard thing to pull off, but he consistently does it. He has a new collection coming out October 18--Cheating at Canasta.

You might also like Colm Toibin. I find myself drawn to the Irish writers...
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