Archive for February 20th, 2008

‘Semantic Blockage’

One time about ten years ago I woke up with a hangover and heard this. I found it again. Don’t listen to it if you’re easily offended. You know who you are. I think the vocalist was in a mental institution at the time.

Encounters of The Non-Violent Kind

Jonathan Freedland:

Nevertheless, non-violent encounters with Israeli authority – whether at checkpoints or even at the gates of Jewish settlements – might be the best hope Palestinians have of winning the sympathy of outsiders. Palestinians could compare their struggle to the Martin Luther King movement for civil rights, walking and marching for their freedom.

Like the tango, it takes two to non-violent encounter. If I doorstep you with a gun and ask you to make a charitable donation, it is not a non-violent encounter just because I decide not to shoot. Likewise, when an unarmed protester on the West Bank confronts an armed member of the IDF, this is not a non-violent encounter either. But that’s besides the point I want to make, which is that non-violent protests in Palestine are often met with a violent reaction. Like Mairead Corrigan Maguire found out:

Personally speaking, I don’t think one should ask other people to allow themselves to get shot in order to make a basic point about justice. If people decide they want to risk getting shot, fine, but it isn’t for others to encourage it unless they’re prepared to do it themselves.

Culture, Wikipedia-Style

The ever-reliable Wikipedia:

Cuban culture is much influenced by the fact that it is a melting pot of cultures, primarily those of Spain and Africa. It has produced more than its fair share of literature, including the output of non-Cubans Stephen Crane, Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway

In that respect, it is similar to Ireland, which has also produced more than its fair share of literature, including the output of non-Irish people Edmund Spenser, Thomas Carlyle and Leon Uris.


The almost universal acclaim for the Cuban healthcare system, its praise in Michael Moore’s Sicko and so on, obscures its function as a totalitarian instrument of state control. Operating an economic system that obliges individuals to perform mind-numbing and pointless tasks in order to earn a living, Castro’s government was horrified that many people appeared to be using the excuse of poor health as a means of subverting their slave state and its production targets. The idea that the system itself might be making people sick fell within the ambit of counter-revolutionary thought, and was therefore systematically ignored.

To address the problem of falling production, the authorities forced the doctors to become state enforcers in order to get the apparently sick back to performing their designated production tasks. In performing examinations on patients, they were used to produce documents that gave details of the precise production tasks for which the citizen was suitable, which would then be provided to the authorities. This was, as any person living in a free society will acknowledge, an administrative panopticon under which the individual’s health was not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of state production targets. The body was the property of the state.

Hang on, did I say Castro’s Cuba? Very sorry. I meant Brown’s Britain.

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February 2008
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