"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in"
(Leonard Cohen)
"Ignore all proffered rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say"
(Michael Moorcock)
"Look for your own. Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings."
(Andre Gide)
"I want my place, my own place, my true place in the world, my proper sphere, my thing which Nature intended me to perform when she fashioned me thus awry, and which I have vainly sought all my life-time."
(Nathaniel Hawthorne)
“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”
(Franz Kafka)
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated"
(John Donne)
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
(Robert J. Hanlon)
"Life is beautiful, but the world is hell"
(Harold Pinter)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Imperialism Cuts Its Loses

EXTRACT: Bluntly, imperialism is once more cutting its losses in Afghanistan - and what will be left behind? One thing is guaranteed: it will not be a stable or ‘democratic’ government - a fantasy equal to the notion that the “surge” against the Taliban was a “success”. Quite self-evidently, to begin with the US/UK-led invasion never had anything to do with promoting democracy or stable government. Let alone, as some on the left stupidly insist, a grab for resources like minerals and oil pipeline projects - as if imperialism looked at Afghanistan and then rubbed its hands thinking of the opportunities it provided to make a buck.
No, imperialism got involved in Afghanistan because it had become a nuisance - not least by having bin Laden as an honoured ‘guest’ and letting him use the country as a base for military operations - crucially, of course, the September 11 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC. For that the Taliban government had to be removed in the name of the ‘war on terror’. Of course, this foreign adventure was the product of the Bush administration’s imperial hubris, which genuinely believed that the US military could just march into any country it liked and then mount a dignified - if not noble - withdrawal at the moment of their own pleasing. Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld promised a swift militarily victory ... and got one. However, the few thousand US and other troops could not impose and kind of order. Indeed warlordism, banditry and opium production were “given a new lease of life”. Moreover, the Taliban, who shifted the centre of their operation to Pakistan, were soon back in control of the southern half of the country.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Tree of Life

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dignity in Life and Death

EXTRACT: Terry Pratchett wants to take control of his life and hence the manner of his death as well. And communists support his right to do so, or what should be his right to do so. The current situation, whereby British people have to “drag themselves” to Switzerland in order to get the “services that they were hoping for”, is, as Pratchett says, “appalling” and something to be “ashamed” of. Clearly, the state should not stop people from deciding to end their life - forcing them to go on living in a way they find insufferable. And people need to be able to exercise such a choice in a humane way - as opposed to throwing yourself under a train or buying some cheap heroin from your local dealer in the hope it does the job. Obviously, this is not “Nazism” - as often stupidly, and hysterically, claimed by many ‘pro-lifers’ and religious fanatics, Rather, it is a simple recognition that the quality of life is just as important as its duration.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Epicurus - Letter to Menoeceus

“Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in the search of it when he has grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. Therefore, both old and young alike ought to seek wisdom, the former in order that, as age comes over him, he may be young in good things because of the grace of what has been, and the latter in order that, while he is young, he may at the same time be old, because he has no fear of the things which are to come. So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed towards attaining it.”

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Rules #2

Government Demonises Muslims As Extremists

EXTRACT: This redefinition of ‘extremist’ is now edging very close to anyone who strongly opposes British military aggression, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. Let alone anyone who suggests, whether a Muslim or not, that oppressed peoples have the right to resist imperialist occupation. However, it goes without saying that “calls for the death” of those doing the resisting - or actually killing them - is not extremist in the slightest. On the other hand, according to the new Prevent redefinition and strategy (and the sentiments expressed by Cameron), to even debate with any group or individual labelled an ‘extremist’ can now mean that you too get stigmatised in the same way - after all, are you not giving them the oxygen of publicity?
No wonder that, by all accounts, there was a fierce battle within the cabinet - it being argued, not without reason, that the new policy was short-sighted and self-defeating. In the words of Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat energy secretary, the revamped Prevent programme “alienates and marginalises Muslim communities” and “exacerbates racist bias and ignorant views” - not to mention that it has “just prevented a practical solution to tackling violent extremism”. But the Michael Gove-Theresa May ‘tendency’ won the day and hence it is full steam ahead.