On 31st August, 1980, the Polish communist government gave in to the demands of the striking workers at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk. The workers were now free to organize and bargain freely.
There is no doubt that Reagan, Gorbachev and Thatcher played major roles in ending that vicious and dangerous period of history known as the Cold War. But we must never forget the vital role played by the epic struggles of Lech Welesa and his fellow workers in Gdansk.
It is a shame their extraordinary bravery was followed by rampant Reaganite globalization fueled by speculative consumer-capitalism, and leaves us today with a hard-hearted corporate-driven pre-emptive American hegemony, but still the original bravery deserves remembrance.
Free Enterprise My Ass
The true free enterprise economic system has been moribund in the US for decades. When so much of the economy is tied up in the anti-competitive government-managed military-industrial-financial complex, then "free enterprise" becomes no longer a part of reality, simply a useful rhetorical tool. This has been going on since before World War Two. But we may soon have a real date to hang on to as the "Death of Free Enterprise Day".
Within the next week or so, we expect the Bush Administration to enact regulations that will fix (i.e., mandate) low interest rates for those house buyers who are classed as sub-prime even when their contractual obligations call for those interest rates to rise steeply in the next months. In other words, house buyers in the US are being told that it doesn't matter that they purchased a house they could not afford; someone else will come along and help them pay the bill. No worries. Of course, for those tax-payers (and their grandchildren) who will be told to pay these bills there might be some worries.
The Democrats are pushing much the same interest-rate freeze proposals. Hillary Clinton, for example, came out with hers this morning.
Both the Democrats and Bush will say they are doing this to help the poor Americans who dug this hole for themselves, to help save them from inevitable foreclosure. They will say it is the duty of hardworking American taxpayers to pay up to help this unfortunate group save their homes. Such bullshit this all is. Both plans in reality seek to save the grasping financial markets from meltdown.
Both the Democrats and the administration know that the real losers in any genuine sub-prime meltdown are not the new homeowners (who will simply return to their lives in low-rent apartments) but the finance companies who will never be able to sell the repossessed houses at the prices the companies paid for them. It is the finance companies the American taxpayers will be bailing out -- again!
The Dead Hand of Socialism
The cloying dead hand of socialism has fallen across BC in the form of "affirmative action" regulations approved by the New Democratic Party for the next provincial election. There are now racial and gender quotas for candidates, and central rule by an iron fist.
People often assume that, as an anarchist, I must somehow be a socialist at heart, or at least a far-left-winger. Wrong. Socialism is much farther away from the principles of anarchism than is capitalism, for example. And these new rules vividly illustrate the problems with socialist theory and practice.
Socialism of all kinds -- from the softest utopian Owenism to the harshest national socialism -- is founded on two fundamental principles-- elitism and fascism: (a) the masses (and even the constituency parties) are too stupid to make up their own minds and need to be led by what the Trotskyites call the "vanguard" -- a repugnant elitism by any name; and (b) the good of the society outweighs the rights of the individual; this is fascism by any definition.
These new rules by the Grand Poobah Carole James and her clique are profoundly anti-democratic, robbing the local voters of all choice. I have never been tempted to vote for the NDP. This disturbing fascistic elitism guarantees that I never will.
The Bush Doctrine Lives -- In Pakistan
The Bush theory of the "unitary executive" ( a modern theory of dictatorship, espoused by three or four US Supreme Court justices) has been taken to its logical extent by Bush's favourite partner in the war to promote "democracy". General Mushareff has declared martial law in Pakistan, and fired the Chief Justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court for disagreeing with him.
Yesterday, Bush Administration spokespersons loudly and publicly told Mushareff not to do it. Quietly and more effectively Bush Administration decision makers whispered to him that nothing would really happen, so go ahead.
Perhaps Bush and Cheney are looking for experience in this business, for their own coup just before January 2009.
A Plan To Attack Iran
The wingnuts in the Bush Administration -- and outside it -- have clearly determined that an attack on Iran is required. Norman Podhoretz (now Giuliani's foreign affairs mentor) almost demands it. Bush in his press conference today talked of World War III. They have just 15 months to get this done, though, before the next Democratic President sweeps into office.
But I don't think Bush will have the balls for it. I think he will worry about his historical place, having already weakened the US military through his commander-in-chief blunders in Afghanistan and Iraq. But I think he still wants to attack Iran. A quandary, unless ... Bush resigns and allows Cheney to run the balance of his term.
Cheney, of course, has nothing but a negative legacy to protect, so why would he worry? On Day One he moves his furniture in, on day two he sends the Marines and the bombers into Iran.
Hurricane Felix Update
The latest forecast has Hurricane Felix tracking far to the south of Costa Maya, and even south of Belize City that looked, for a while at least, as if it would be the main target.
Looks like Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras will bear the brunt this time.
Update Tuesday morning: Hurricane Felix made landfall in northern Nicaragua as a category 5 storm. Apparently this is the first time since recording began that two cat 5 hurricanes have hit land in the same season. Ahhh, don't you just love that global warming!
Tropical Storm Felix is building strength as it passes north of the Venezuelan coast. It is expected to become a hurricane later this weekend. The projected track suggests it will slam into the Yucatan or Belize in the middle of the week.
Look out Majahual! Those poor folks are still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Dean, and another big storm is the last thing they need right now. Nothing much we can do except sit and watch and hope for the best.
After publishing this post, I went looking for updates on the conditions at Majahual. At a Belizean site, I found this image which comes from a Mexican magazine. It seems to show severe damage to the jetty at Majahual. This jetty has been vital to the village's growth and survival, allowing a number of cruise ships to tie up at the same time. CruiseCritic.com reports that Costa Maya has been deleted from cruise itineraries for at least 6 months.
"The latest from Costa Maya is that more than 50 percent of the pier has been destroyed by Dean. Rebuilding will required a multi-million dollar investment, and it will be a minimum of six months before cruise ships will return to the port."
The same site has another first-hand account of conditions in the village from Julie Minter of Blue Ocean Safari Dive Center:
"From the new light house all down the town of Mahahual, it is no longer Mahahual, everything is gone!" Many of the local businesses, she tells us, including restaurants, souvenir shops and dive shops are gone, with only a few buildings spared. Minter notes that "busted glass, water and wind damage is seen all over ... houses are left in pretty bad shape. It is a shame that not everyone knew or got to visit this beautiful well kept secret that we knew as 'our private paradise,' our little island."
Similarly, from the San Francisco Chronicle:
"About 50 percent of the port complex - three ship berths, as well as pavilions for local and luxury shopping, a beach club, saltwater pools, entertainment center, restaurants and bars - was damaged by the hurricane, according to port spokesman Cesar Lizarraga. "An early estimate indicates the port will remain closed for six to eight months," he said."
The news and the sights clearly are not good, and any more damage from Felix will be a devastating second hit.