Thursday November 27, 2003

I finally got around to watching this Lord of the Rings movie everyone talks about. I ended up shaking with rage during most of it. This movie is so thoroughly racist, and contains so many thinly veiled allusions to the war on "terror", that it can hardly be a concidence that mr Tolkien decided to release this movie three months before the Iraq war.

I didn't watch the first movie in this series, (and there's a third coming out next month), but the story goes something like this: There are these hobbits, who are extremely kind, goodhearted people. The hobbits have a powerful ring they're trying to take somewhere. To help them with this there are a wizard, a man, an elf and a dwarf. All of them just happen to be white, and to underscore this point for the dull-witted, the wizard is referred to as "Gandalf the White". He even dresses in all white clothes! (All that's missing is the hood.) The man, Aragorn, is some kind of übermensch, a descendant of the superior Dunedain "race". He's 87 years old, we're told, but looks half his age - thanks to his "superior" genes, no doubt.

Working hard to foil the plans of these good, decent white folks are the "evil" Saruman, and the even more "evil" Sauron, rulers of two countries called Isengard and Mordor. Both are portrayed as near-demonic in their hatred of our white heroes. Sauron is no more than a big, red eye, hovering in the air, clearly implying that he's some kind of "Devil". Both have massive armies at their disposal, consisting entirely of filthy, ugly monsters that happen to be black, every single one of them.

The allegory to America's crusade in the Middle East is obvious, complete with a Good, white country (Israel) surrounded by "evil" darkies (Arabs): The human enclave of Rohan and Gondor, (a shining "white" city), nudged as it is in between Isengard and Mordor. It is clearly on the brink of being wiped out - the exact same defense used by Israel to justify its occupation of Arab soil. Every trick in the book is employed to dehumanize the enemy. Saruman's forces are shown committing "terrorism" against a small village, as if that's somehow the very definition of "evil". And the most effective way to dehumanize someone is of course to show them not as human at all. The enemy forces in Two Towers are literally subhuman, and most of the "heroes" are literally superhuman.

The ring is clearly a metaphor for the nuclear bomb. The good guys have it, and everyone's fine with that, but when the "bad" guys want the same power, that somehow makes them evil. Hypocrisy, anyone? Iraq, anyone?

But, I hear the skeptical reader protest, this is just a movie. You're not supposed to take it seriously. Does everything have to be about politics? Can't we just enjoy a movie like this for what it is, four hours of mindless entertainment? But that is naive. In the current climate, there is no such thing as an apolitical movie, or even an apolitical statement. Politics is all around us, in the air we breathe, in all we do and say. And in this case, the political undertones reek like the breath of one the Saruman's "urukhai" monsters. In one scene, for instance, one of the evil characters, a diplomat from Isengard, mocks the good guys for being "warmongers". And the good king of Rohan, formerly fooled into negotiating with the all-evil Saruman, is told, upon regaining his senses(!), that perhaps he'll feel better "with a sword in your hand". Lets try rewriting that in modern terms: A man coming out of a deep psychological trauma is handed a gun by the doctor who healed him, and is told "maybe you'll feel better with a gun in your hand". Tolkien isn't a right-wing gun nut, he's a right-wing sword nut! Same shit, different century.

And it gets worse. Consider: Almost all the major characters in the movie are male. Most of the women are weak and childlike background characters, who must be stashed away and protected from the "evil" darkies by the brave, heroic males. The two female side characters are both passive and weak, good for nothing but to cook (badly!) for the men.

And in a callous endorsement of the American practice of sending teenage boys to fight the president's dirty wars in faraway countries, the heroes of Two Towers order even male children to take part in the big battle at the end. One of the kids gets a lesson in sword fighting from the übermensch Aragorn himself. And there's no ambiguity! No hint that it may be wrong to send children to fight the petty wars of their tyrannic leaders. Note also that there are no women fighting - only male children. In Tolkien's universe, even boys outrank adult women.

And there is of course no hint whatsoever that perhaps the other side isn't evil at all, that perhaps it too has its reasons for acting the way it does. Has anyone ever tried talking to Saruman and Sauron? Perhaps they too have grievances. Perhaps if everyone just sat down around a table and talked it all out, some acceptable compromise could be worked out between the white people and the black people. Perhaps they could share this ring between them? It's clearly more than powerful enough for one group alone to monopolize. But no, the conflict can only be resolved, it would seem, by slaughtering all the black people, while heroic music pumps out of the loudspeakers.

Look beneath the fairy tale wrapping. Every scene in this movie screams out the outdated idea that the world can be divided into us, who are good, and them, who are evil. This bipolar worldview is typical of the real life Gandalf and Aragorn - George W. Bush and Tony Blair. The Two Towers - funded by big Hollywood corporations with known Zionist connections - can thus only be seen as an elaborate propaganda spectacle aimed at Bush skeptics at home and abroad. And we Europeans, sadly, are falling for it. Another battle lost to the evil forces of neo-imperialism.

Monday November 24, 2003

Whoever said that old age dulls the wit hasn't heard of Norman Mailer. This literary genius and champion of the left has the power of the word still with him, as is evident from this interview in Dagbladet:

- I call [Bush] the spam president, says New York's literary lion to Dagbladet. Norman Mailer is now 81, but is still clear in his criticism of the current administration in Washington. - As you know, spam has no content, it's in the way, and can destroy your entire computer.

Mailer is more right than he knows. As is well-known, Micro$oft Corporation is one of the major backers of the Republican party. What most people don't know is that their insecure and intrusive software solutions (Micro$oft Windows and Micro$oft Outlook) are the primary reasons why spam spreads so easily on the web. When the I Love You-spam took down the internet, it did so through security holes in Micro$oft Outlook. Outlook is one of the most widespread e-mail browsers in the world, and is closely integrated with Micro$oft's lucrative Hotmail service. It is full of spam-friendly holes, so many that it's hard to dismiss them as accidental. There's a lot of money in spam. Most of the e-mail going over the web today is spam. Has the powerful spammer (or "direct marketing" as they call themselves) associations paid Micro$oft to allow this? Why else would they leave these holes open?

If so, the presidency of George W. Bush was paid for by spammers. Remember that the next time your computer is destroyed by a Viagra spam.

That it is possible to make good software without compromising with spammers and capitalists is demonstrated with Linux. Linux is an operating system that is free, stable, has all the software you could ever need, and - best of all - is developed according to communistic principles. It's based on the GNU GPL license, which says that you are free to make changes to Linux as long as you give away the source code and don't get paid for it. According to free market dogma, this shouldn't work. When nobody gets paid, who'll have an interest in making improvements and fixing bugs? And yet it does. Marx knew why - altruism. Programmers know that it is in everybody's interest to have good, free, socialist software - and so they just make it, voluntarily. A better real life demonstration of the power of communism is difficult to imagine.

The contrast to how corporations develop software is striking. Underpaid programmers working long hours towards impossible deadlines, sacrificing usefulness and reliability for "ease-of-use", pretty colors and other cheap gimmicks aimed at the braindead masses. The very things communism is here to rescue us from. That, and spam, whether in the form of e-mail or American presidents.

Tuesday November 18, 2003

I'm sure we've all noticed how the left has a much better sense of humor than the right. This is of course only natural. Satire is the weapon of the rebel, not the establishment, and as Ray Bradbury points out in Something Wicked This Way Comes, evil hates nothing more than to be ridiculed. So when the war criminal and neo-conservative puppet George W. Bush visits "Great" Britain this week, I'm certain he'll be outraged to see posters like this:

This is funny on so many levels. Bush really did attack Baghdad, and he really is a thief - doubly so. He's stolen both the Iraqi oil and the office he claims to hold. He does whatever he pleases, without any consideration for international law, or even common standards of decency. He'll grab whatever third world nation his business friends finds it in the "national" interest to incorporate into his empire - and we can't stop him.

But while it's ok, almost a duty, to laugh at posters like this, we must not forget the serious message underneath. Bush should more properly be known as the Butcher of Baghdad - calling him a thief is an insult to thiefs. As the principled Labor mayor of London Ken Livingstone points out, George W. Bush is the

.. greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. .. I don't formally recognise George Bush because he was not officially elected. So we are organising an alternative reception for everybody who is not George Bush. .. The American agenda is sweeping everything before it, and although it's not perfect, the EU is better on environmental issues. It's a less rapacious form of capitalism.

I'm not sure I agree with him about the EU - an übernationalist Fortress Europe, exploiting its neighbours while keeping all the wealth to itself - but it's certainly better than the US. Almost everything is. And on foreign policy issues the EU isn't all that bad. Its support of Saddam Hussein will go into history as one of the brave and morally prescient deeds of the decade. That's more than can be said about the Thief of Baghdad.

Tuesday November 11, 2003

Dagbladet has a brilliant interview with John le Carre, where he puts the finger on the problem with America:

In the US, Bush is surrounded by ultra-conservatives and ultra-religious characters. These have managed to convince Blair that their way is the right one. [..] The US has become a country where many "disappear" into internment camps. We all know about the Guantanamo camp on Cuba, but the Americans have several such places where the interned are not allowed access to defense lawyers. [..]

The US acts like a rogue state when Bush thinks he's allowed to start so-called preemptive wars against other countries. The Americans started a war against Afghanistan to put an end to the activities of Osama bin Laden, but you can't bomb an ideology to pieces. They also used bin Laden as an excuse for going to war against Iraq, and still 7 of 10 Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the terror attack on September 11.

There's nothing new about this. The US has always been a rogue state, walking to the beat of a different drum - the war drum. When by chance it has found itself on the right side of history, its contribution has always been tainted with a callousness towards human suffering, and a fanaticism rooted in its Christian-nationalist origins, that even its apologists can't overlook. The US did aid the Soviet destruction of another form of Christian-nationalism, Hitler's Nazi Germany, but they reduced Western Europe to rubble in the process, necessitating an expensive rebuilding process that today is mirrored in the battle-scarred nation of Iraq. The followup was even more disgraceful. In a betrayal only rivaled by Hitler's in 1941, the US turned on its former Soviet ally, exposed and exhausted after a long war, and began to terrorize it and its socialist friends, (leading to its eventual destruction.)

The point is not to play down the current evil of America - we should never lose our ability to be outraged by the US - only to show that it is far older than its critics often realize. Their evil is almost timeless and supernatural, a quality that sticks to them at every turn they make. Slavery, the Native-American holocaust, imperialism, the Cold War - the US played a central role in all of these, choosing the side of evil with a frightening consistency.

Le Carre aims his verbal artillery at the British as well:

I have no doubts that the journalist Gilligan at the BBC was right, and that the report was "sexed up". More importantly the hearings shows that the ingelligence service has been politicized and lets itself be directed by the politicians. Previously surveillers and spies kept their independence from the politicians, but no more.

This is a bit naive - as a former British spy Le Carre perhaps overestimates the former independence of his own service. Western intelligence has of course always had one goal, and one goal alone: to undermine international socialism. If that isn't a "politicized" goal, I don't know what is.

But his larger point is well taken. Le Carre rightly ignores accusations that Andrew Gilligan himself "sexed up" his own article, originally a far-right slur that the embattled BBC, hated both by its own government and the corporate media, has lately seen itself forced to adopt. The BBC has been moving towards the right for years, quiety and slowly. How long can it defend its independence and integrity from the Bush-lapdog Blair and the oligarch Ruper Murdoch? But there's always hope as long as dissenters like John le Carre keep pointing out the truth.

Thursday November 06, 2003

The New York Times reports that, contrary to claims by the Bush administration, President Saddam Hussein, (still the lawful elected leader of Iraq), wanted peace all along. One of the last things he did before the fateful attack on March 20th was to send a plea to Pengagon advisor Richard Perle for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Iraqi officials, including the chief of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, had told the businessman that they wanted Washington to know that Iraq no longer had weapons of mass destruction, and they offered to allow American troops and experts to conduct an independent search. The businessman said in an interview that the Iraqis also offered to hand over a man accused of being involved in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 who was being held in Baghdad. At one point, he said, the Iraqis pledged to hold elections.

The article paints the picture of a desperate third world country, unable to understand what it has done to offend the most powerful nation on earth, or what it can possibly do to appease it:

The Iraqi seemed desperate, Mr. Hage said, "like someone who feared for his own safety, although he tried to hide it."

Mr. Obeidi told Mr. Hage that Iraq would make deals to avoid war, including helping in the Mideast peace process. "He said, if this is about oil, we will talk about U.S. oil concessions," Mr. Hage recalled. "If it is about the peace process, then we can talk. If this is about weapons of mass destruction, let the Americans send over their people. There are no weapons of mass destruction."

The Bush administration, obviously, rejected the offer, and covered it up.

When even a Republican spokespiece like the New York Times begins to contradict the White House propaganda machine, "President" Bush is in trouble. What this will do to the fledgling Iraqi resistance movement is anyone's guess. Iraqis who naively trusted the American claim that the destruction of their country was unavoidable, and that the Americans are there simply to "aid" them as they set up a "democratic" society (ie. a capitalist-dictatorship controlled from Washington), must feel deeply betrayed. The anger of the Arab street has been growing for two years, fueled by a steady succession of American atrocities against Muslims, and may explode at any moment. When it does, what the Americans are facing in Iraq today will look like a Republican party convention by comparison.

And that Iraq would bypass more well-known Bush officials and go straight to Richard Perle, a well-known Zionist, gives a frightening glimpse of who's really pulling the strings in Washington. Papa's boy Bush it certainly ain't.

Monday November 03, 2003

There's been a lot of posturing in the West about the arrest of the Russian Yukos chief and robber baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The United States is as always head of the pack, raising doubts about the "rule of law" and "basic fairness" of the Russian judicial system. But as Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanovon pointed out yesterday, this is, frankly, none of their damn business:

"The United States is trying to place the actions of the judicial organs of Russia in doubt. This is interference in the judicial affairs of another state which is unacceptable in a normal democratic society," Ivanov said in the State-run TV channel Rossiya. [..]

"This is characteristic for Washington. They air their lopsided interpretations and judgments not only in relation to Russia but in relation to many other countries as well," Ivanov said. Ivanov recalled that a series of "major bankruptcies of companies" with the arrests and detentions took place in the United States.

But the Department of State "failed to express its concern over any of these high-profile scandals and did not interfere with the purview of judicial instances," he said.

Touché! Post-Soviet Russia has become a deeply corrupt society ruled by the wealthy for the wealthy. If it is to avoid the fate of the United States, it must act now and retake control over its economy. Arresting the country's richest man is not enough, but it sends a clear message to Russia's business community - stay on your toes, we're onto your filthy game. I've had my doubts about Vladimir Putin in the past, but I'm with him all the way on this one.

Sunday November 02, 2003

Here's something funny - ever noticed that George W. Bush, the president of the United States, looks like a chimpanzee? It's true:

There are more pictures here. How anyone can take this guy seriously is beyond me.

Hi, and welcome to my blog. I should begin by explaining who I am. I'm the twin brother of Bjørn Stærk, a fact I'm deeply ashamed of. We grew up together in the poor, industrial town of Mo i Rana in northern Norway. Our parents worked at the local ironworks factory. Conditions were dreadful, and the pay was low - death and misery was all around us. Despite our poverty, I had a happy childhood until the age of 5, when my twin brother fell down the stairs and struck his head. He was in the hospital (more of a dirty barracks with two nurses and a drunken doctor, really) for two months. When he came back, he was completely different. In front of our parents he was the same old Bjørn, kind and charming, even more than before, but alone with me he was violent and tyrannical. He would beat me up, torture me, make fun of me to our friends.

From that day, my life became a living hell. Our parents never caught onto his game. On the contrary, as time went by, they fell increasingly under my brother's spell, doing his every bidding and beginning to share his disgust for me. Time came to begin in school, but after the privatization act of 1982 we couldn't afford to send both of us. So my brother went to school, and I stayed home, slaving away with the housework. To receive any education at all I had to sneak off with a book when nobody was around. At most I'd have an hour or two for myself, but these were the happiest hours of my miserable childhood. I worked hard, and despite the regular beatings I never gave up hope for a better future. Later I got work at the ironworks, but it was closed in 1998 by the billionaire Kjell Inge Røkke, leaving an entire city without means of support.

When my twin brother moved to Oslo, my parents suggested that he bring me along to take care of me, as they didn't believe I would be able to get another job of my own. Bjørn resented me even more because of that, and the first thing he did when we arrived was to lock me up in the cupboard. That's more or less where I've been living for the last couple of years, only sneaking out to do the housework when he was at work. I often complained, but he said I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't really want to, and that I was free to leave. I would have, except for the chains he'd locked me into. I once asked for the key, and he just gave me a copy of the Fountainhead and told me to free myself. What a bastard.

Bjørn keeps his blog protected by a password, but on two occasions I've managed to sneak in a few posts, pretending to be him. He was furious, but covered it up by pretending it had all been a "joke". There was nothing funny about the beating I got, though.

Four months ago, I finally escaped. He was mostly glad to be rid of me, I think. I've found a job, but it hardly pays anything, so I've had to beg our parents to ask my brother to allow me to use his website. He's finally given in. (His exact words were, "Oh whatever - just keep that low life scum away from me".) There's no way to describe the joy I feel as I launch this blog - I've prepared for this my whole life. I've read all the revolutionary material I could get my hands on, and spent the many hours in the dark thinking and planning. (He doesn't want to admit it, but my brother keeps two very interesting North Korean books in the bookcase. I managed to take them with me - they're my most precious posessions.) I won't have time to post much, but I will try to keep you all regularly updated. The communist revolution is coming, it's only a matter of time, and we must prepare ourselves.

I post as Comrade Medvedsilnyn, which is my nom de guerre. Nom de guerre is Spanish for "name that belongs to a guerilla fighter", and that's how I see myself, as a guerilla fighter. After my escape, I've built connections to the revolutionary underground here in Oslo, which is far larger and better organized than I ever imagined. Most of my activities with the underground is secret, but rest assured that I'm doing my part. Are you doing yours?

It is my hope that this blog will be an intellectual gathering point for the growing communist movement in Scandinavia, but socialists, trotskyists, anti-globalists and anti-imperialists are welcome as long as they don't flaunt obvious falsehoods and bourgeouise propaganda. We need all the friends we can get, but the revolution will be difficult enough as it is without the divisive work of faction-makers and splitters.