Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bloody business as usual

Okay, so some brave soldiers were killed in Afghanistan today.

This is tragic for them, for their families and friends, and for the people of Aghanistan as it's going to speed the withdrawal from that unhappy country, and leave it to blunder back into the dark ages of Taliban-Warlord Hell. We mourn these deaths, because soldiers were sent there to fight a barbaric regime and it's terrorist acolytes. Whatever terribel things have been done by colaition soldiers in Afghanistan, whatever blunders there have been, and however it ends up (I'm betting; badly) there was a moral case to be made for them and that their deaths were in pursuit of some good end.

But also today, another 29 miners were killed in an explosion in China.

The connection might not be immediately obvious. But think about it. These men were working in the ramshackle, corrupt and deadly mining industry in China. Chinese mines drive the Chinese industrial boom, which in turn produces the apparently endless quantities of consumer baubles we're so hungry for. Without those baubles, our quality of life will take a hit; so I suppose you could say these miners also died in pursuit of - from our self interested point of view - some good end.

Last year, over 2,400 people died in mining accidents in the PRC - this is considered an 'improvement' on 2009. Never mind the other deaths related to mining, but which didn't actually happen in mining accidents, and the maimings and sickness associated with the industry.

Only I don't think you'll hear their deaths being discussed or mourned with quite the same intensity. After all, admitting our life style is based on driving people into death trap mines isn't something we're entirely happy thinking about too much.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I was, of course, completely right - "Murdochs should FOAD," say shareholders

... Some of them, at any rate (1).

Obviously, a good thing. The media world will be far better without the malignant influence of the Murdoch's, though it is likely more Cthulhoid horrors will simply arise in their place, unless Something Is Done to limit ownership of the media.

And, in fairness, while it is edifying to watch the Murdoch's being eviserated in slow motion, it is also a distraction from the reality that they're only one part of a decadent, corrupt and self serving media establishment. Slaying News International should only be a start to the process of ethical cleansing in the media - but it will probably be the end.

To wax French for a moment, should we regard the media as something akin to the means of production? They do not produce value, true, but they do produce meaning and consciousness. And producing consciousness helps create consciousness. Media companies and institutions are sites of hegemonic control, and of hegemonic dispute. They can either be reactionary, or progressive, or (most liekly) both at once. Obviously, no-one wants Pravda and Tass, but equally, we need more than The Sun and Fox News.

We aren't well served by the media in all manner of ways, because we've created a media than finds it is in its interests to work against our interests.

Something needs to be changed.

But nothing will be, most likely.
1 - "Rupert and James Murdoch should leave News Corp board, claims US shareholder advisory group," by Richard Blackden. Published in The Telegraph, 10th of October, 2011. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/media/8818903/Rupert-and-James-Murdoch-should-leave-News-Corp-board-claims-US-shareholder-advisory-group.html)

Hopey-changey stuff

First of all, people are talking about a 'vote for change' based on the combination of Labour, Greens and New Zealand First. ‘Chan...