Utterly, hopelessly, biased analyses centred in, around, and beyond, the Loyalist settler enclave known as Kingston, Ontario.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Most people don't admit - or perhaps don't realize - that they are wasting the time of others when they create blog posts. This one is self-consciously useless to anyone but me - I want this image on the web so I can link to it, as that's the easiest way I can think of to defeat a 'protected' environment I have to work with. Sorry!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Communism in the USA

As the EU spirals down the economic toilet, with Britain hanging on to the edge of the bowl like the lonely - but wise - old turd that it is, increasing attention is being paid to the sound financial policies of the United States of America. They pulled themselves back from the lip, though they may still be lingering uneasily on the seat (all right, enough of the toilet metaphor).

How did they do it? The state spent money to prop up the economy in general, and financial institutions in particular. This is what used to be called 'Keynesianism', which was supposedly tossed ... well, somewhere ... as part of the neoliberal revolution. Let the markets decide has been the mantra, and continues to be in Europe, despite all of the evidence that markets can be very, very stupid.

But that Che-t-shirt-wearing anarchick George W. Bush knew better, or at least some of his advisers did. They spent money like they were able to print it themselves! And Barack Obama, who had actually _worked_  in the factory that made that T-shirt, in a former life, was happy to continue with the same policy.

Result? Anarchy not only in the UK, but all of Europe. And in the USA? Good old communism. Chavez and Morales beware, the United Statesians may soon be coming back to 'help' you 'develop', as they will surely become the global masters of 21st century socialism (TM).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tragically Un-hip Alley

The City of Kingston is asking for input on how it can honour the Tragically Hip, who are a local band that made it big in the capitalist music industry for a while. Fine people, I'm sure - one of my kids used to hang out with one of the kids of the band's manager. That close to that close to fame!

It seems the leading idea is to name an alley after them. Even though the alley happens to be beside a hockey arena that is supposed to double as a music venue, I know I wouldn't feel too terrific about that.

Also, I wonder if this is where the city should be putting its resources which, we are constantly told, are extremely limited. Some better ideas might be :putting up some public housing, daycare spaces ... or if we want to stick to the theme, supporting emerging artists of various sorts in serious ways. Kingston could begin to play with the big kids by giving, say, 10% of what NYC or Berlin give, as a percentage of their budget. The city could allow the artists themselves to allocate the cash, keeping the White Men (and Women) in Suits out of it. (Yes, I know there will be nespotism and infighting, but it's not as though that doesn't exist when the Suit People are doing it. At least there'll be some amount of informed aesthetic judgement happening.)

But then again ... there's an interesting interview with John Lennon (I think), just after The Beatles became famous. He says 'We were just four guys, just a band'. The use of the past tense is revealing - he thinks they had become something other than a band when the masses latched on. But they hadn't. They were still just a bunch of guys. So Kingston could honour its local Beatles by not naming this increase in funding for autonomous creativity after them (though that might be better than a non-descript alleyway.) No committed artist needs that, it's embarrassing, it makes one feel like, say, a Springer (local capitalist developer who took over the town square).

I'd suggest: name the new arts program after one of the hundreds of poor and unheard-of artists in the city, drawn at random and with their permission. As a former friend of a friend of the band, I'm sure that would make them all very happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some People _Are_ Above the Law

Not surprisingly, Kingston City Council voted last night to evict the Occupiers from their camp in Confederation Park. Despite some lively interventions from Councilors Schell, Downes, Neill, Osanic, and Hutchison, the local right wing triumphed by one vote, using the dual rhetoric of ‘fairness’ and ‘respect for the law’ that has been deployed in this context by city authorities throughout the world. We support your cause, they declare, but we can’t stand idly by while you break the law. By golly, what would happen if everyone were to start acting like that?

In fact, it doesn’t take much imagination to work this out. Canadian corporations break all kinds of laws, all the time, all over the world. Our mining companies, for example, ignore environmental regulations, hire paramilitaries to take out local opposition, and refuse to pay their taxes.

Canadian governments, at all levels, are no better. Each and every one of them is in violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which required that we not ‘take possession’ of the indigenous territories that constitute most of what we now call Canada. We settlers are all living on stolen land – Confederation Park belongs to none of us, and therefore needs to be unoccupied in a way that is surely beyond the comprehension of the Mayor’s Office.

If these examples seem too distant in space and time, then I might point out that it’s not just the (apparently) unemployed, unwashed, and manger-displacing Occupiers who routinely bend the bylaws. There’s another park not far from City Hall, for example, in which a horde of local trouble-makers gather each afternoon to flaunt the leashing regulations by allowing their dogs to run wild and cavort in some highly lascivious ways. If I were the type to call the cops on my neighbours, I would sick Councilor George on them right away.

Despite their professions of support for the cause, and their belief in ‘fairness’, the mayor and his allies are sending a disturbingly mixed message. First, they are telling us that states, corporations, and good solid citizens can break certain laws when doing so suits their individual and collective self-interest. And second, they are telling us that if you are not in one of these categories, tolerance of  your activities will stop precisely at the point where they might start to make a difference. This is hardly ‘fair’ at all; indeed, it massively reinforces existing lines of power and privilege.

If they have achieved nothing else, the Occupiers have succeeded in bringing to greater mainstream attention fundamental questions about capitalism, inequality, and the democratic deficit in supposedly ‘free’ societies. Although many people are hoping otherwise, I am confident that this is not the end of the Kingston Occupation, nor of the Occupy Movement as a whole, nor of the global currents of social change in which this movement is embedded. We live in interesting times, times that not even the staid Limestone City can make go away by selectively burying its collective head in the law books.