From a review of Michael Moore's Sicko, at Salon.com...
When Moore interviews Tony Benn, a leading figure on the British left,
his larger concerns come into focus.
Benn argues that for-profit
healthcare and the other instruments of the corporate state, like
student loans and bottomless credit-card debt, perform a crucial
function for that state.
They undermine democracy by creating a docile
and hardworking population that is addicted to constant debt and an
essentially unsustainable lifestyle, that literally cannot afford to
quit jobs or take time off, that is more interested in maintaining high
incomes than in social or political change.
...and perhaps that an indication of broader civilisational health. Our motivators, measures of success, quality of life - indeed all the metrics of modern civilisation - are economic functions...that cannot be right.
Just two days before the arrests of the alleged Toothpaste Terrorists in August, UK Home Secretary John Reid made a speech about sacrificing civil liberties in support of national security. The suspects had been tracked for several months, so the timing of Reid's speech was deeply manipulative; emphasising an urgent, imminent threat that simply did not exist.
Reid's assertion that foreign policy cannot be 'shaped under the threat of terrorist activity’ is almost laughable when it's clear that foreign policy is driving terrorist activity!
There's a sharp lesson here for British Muslims - if we wish to affect foreign policy, we must exercise our democratic will; the first generation of Muslim immigrants patiently changed the nature of British politics to embrace equality in law, we must now patiently assert our disgust at foreign policy on every part of the political spectrum. Violence will not change anything 7/7 and the recent arrests prove this - democratic change may be slow and take generations, but it worked before and we must at least try to make it work again.
In the United States, AIPAC ensures that every US politician understands that support for Israel is crucial to national electoral success. As Cameron, Brown, and potentially Reid himself, position themselves to lead Britain, British Muslims must organise a non-partisan lobby that sustainably ensures that all British politicians understand that an ethical, just foreign policy is essential for British electoral success and successful governance.
UPDATE - Though the EU-US talks on sharing passenger data collapsed today, the British government has a 'patch' in place to make sure they could continue to inform on their own citizens, despite its illegality in other EU nations. Why don't we go the whole hog and issue disembarkation cards for Gitmo at check-in...just in case.
Cheeky. Today BBC News covered Banksy's alternative guerilla attack on Israel's 'security fence' (see Art prankster sprays Israeli wall). Along various sections of the fence, Banksy's trip to the 'ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers' has punctured the fence with:
An Alpine view from a lounge and Idyllic scenery showing through holes at Bethlehem
'A ladder, 'cut along' dotted lines and a girl held aloft by balloons in Abu Dis
At one point Banksy was threatened by Israeli soldiers as warning shots were fired into the air...Ali joked that 'imagine if i did that...they woulda defo shot me dead lol'.
Perhaps this is the form of non-violent Jihad we need in the Islamic world - combating the tyrranical stupidity of Israeli occupiers with the message that the souls of men cannot be crushed with tanks and bombs. Banksy's Balloon Girl image pictured here simultaneously expresses a poignant yearning for freedom coupled with a playful 'f*ck you - we're better than this' message to the occupiers. Art can lift the souls of the oppressed and motivate activism more than any suicide bomber.
Banksy's website relates a hilarious exchange with a Ramallah local - You paint the wall, you make it look beautiful - Thanks - We don't want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall, go home. Priceless.
UK media barely covered the dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library last month, though I did catch Jon Stewart's great commentary on the Daily Show as well as Dubya's smirking 'tribute' to his predecessor.
However, thumbing through some celebrity photos on Flickr yesterday, I came across an interesting photo of Bush trying to squeeze past Clinton onto the boulevard...an uncomfortable public faux-pas indeed.
All I can say is God Bless Citizen Reporting - what big media fails to disseminate, enterprising Flickr users will photoblog for us :)