About my Blog

I am writing this blog from a radical political point of view. To be a political radical is to examine everything critically. It is about taking today's news, today's unmentioned news, history, or even just the way we think about ideas, and adding a totally new perspective to them. If you are a radical, and a socialist, like me, you will agree with a lot of what I have to say. If not, I hope I at least make you think about things that you previously took for granted. Most of all, I hope everyone enjoys this blog.

About Me

I have just graduated from college, where I wrote opinion pieces for my school newspaper. Though I started out a liberal, I have moved far to the left since then. Despite my politics being different from most people, many people found a lot of what I had to say interesting and insightful. I hope to continue challenging people to think here on my blog.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Earthquake in Haiti, A Man-Made Disaster with No End in Sight

This is the First Article of a three part series.

Many of us feel terribly sorry about what is happening in Haiti. Of course, we try to give aid in this situation, hoping to do our part to help Haitians survive.

But we should feel more than pity, and sorrow, and sadness. We should be furious.

The results of this earthquake are more of a man-made disaster than a natural disaster. It goes without saying that the failure of the U.S. government and NGO's to deliver aid is a man-made disaster.

But how can there be a lack of aid, with all the giving that has been going on?

Andy Gallagher of the BBC reports that aid groups complain that it is difficult to get aid where it is needed because of the inherent difficulty in organizing such aid, and the lack of infrastructure in Haiti. These alibis seem to work fairly well, until we realize that giving aid usually involves crises in places with weak infrastructure.

A more telling comment comes from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who, according to Andy Gallagher's BBC report said that the U.S. is not dropping aid from the air because it could lead to riots. Imagine that your community was in dire straits, and someone who had the capability of delivering aid rapidly did not do so because "you might riot if we did?" You might respond "How dare you suggest that we are not 'civilized' enough for you to give us the help we need!"

Nelson Valdez, writing for Counterpunch, describes more of this racist attitude. He states that clearly, aid to Haitians is not the first priority. He quotes a Scottish reporter as saying that "aid workers in Haiti today called for more security amid fears of attacks by increasing desperate earthquake survivors." Valdez also cites a report stating that "security squads" have moved aid providers to "secure locations."

There is just one problem with this concern for security. The rioting and looting that lies beyond these concerns isn't happening. The people aren't rioting, they are begging for help.

Jesse Hagopian, writing for the Socialist Worker, has his own observations regarding this crisis. When asked "What role has the U.N. been playing?" He replied "I really didn't see them at all, even though the hotel I was staying at became a center where hundreds of people came for relief." This is more significant than it appears, since the U.N. has a large presence there. In fact, they have been occupying the country since 2004.

Of course, the U.S. marines have also arrived. Why are they there if not to help? Reading between the lines, we can conclude that they are part of the plan for "security" in Haiti. The U.S. government fears unrest. (I will get into more about U.S. imperialism later, but the U.S. would not want a new regime implementing progressive policies due to this disaster).

In addition to "aid" involving a racist fear of Haitians instead of a rapid delivery of aid, we have the U.S. government putting on a show every bit as ridiculous as Bush's disappearance during Hurricane Katrina. Hagopian explains that the airport at Port-au-Prince was shut down for three hours, preventing aid from arriving during that time. Why? So that Hillary Clinton could arrive there to show support! In addition, former presidents Bush Jr. and Clinton have been asked by Obama to help support the relief effort. Of course, this is the same George Bush that led the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina. In short, this isn't about helping Haiti, it's about politicians pretending to care.

I would say that the U.S. doesn't care about what is happening in Haiti, except that U.S. actions over the last century reveal that it cares a lot. However, the U.S. cares about its own imperialist interests, not about the people of Haiti.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A world without risk is a world that doesn't exist

The terrorist attack on Christmas got me thinking. When it happened, I thought that it might be a random person. Of course, there has been a lot more evidence since then, evidence that the government should have known something, considering that the intelligence stated that a person referred to as "the Nigerian" was going to be involved in an attack planned in Yemen. But I digress...

When I was thinking that it was some lone nut, I asked myself, what would we do if it was? Indeed, what if it wasn't on a plane? And what is the story when horrible incidents don't involve terrorism but still involve death, like the shooting up of a school? Or, as far as we know, the shooting in Fort Hood?

My point is this, we cannot create a world where there is no danger. Consider this simple fact, when the passengers got on the plane, their was a higher probability of them dying in a plane crash caused by a malfunction than a plane crash caused by a terrorist. And then, there was still an even greater chance of them dying in a car crash on the way to the airport.

Of course, our ideas about security did not start after 9/11. If a person who committed a crime is placed "out on the streets" and then commits another crime, the problem is that we let him out on the streets too soon.

In short, our society wants no risk, at least not from other people. Even if we really did weaken crime by dealing with the causes instead of the symptoms, even if we had the perfect society, does anyone really think that there wouldn't be one person who murders someone else in a world of over 6 billion people?

Not only are we foolish enough to believe that we would be more protected if only the government is tough enough, we also believe that our government can completely protect us (or wants to, but that's another post). It's nonsense.

I think its a psychological trick. We rightly choose to take risks in order to enjoy life to the fullest. However, to deal with the discomfort of doing so, we imagine that we live in a world without risk. The media, of course, scares us all the time, every time we hear a crime story, we're supposed to imagine that it could happen to us. Of course, it could, but that doesn't mean it will, or that its remotely likely.

With a terrorist attack on American soil, its even worse. We're supposed to imagine that not only could it happen to us, but that it did happen to us. It doesn't matter that it didn't happen to you or I. "Us" means any American. Of course, if you have the misfortune to be the victim of an American bombing instead, well, the media makes sure we didn't think that happened to anyone, let alone us.

I would argue that if America were to end imperialism, there would be little motivation for terrorists to attack America. I would also argue that "crime" in America is a result of an unjust society. However, I think some people hope that the government is this super protective being that can provide us with absolute security. Under capitalism, the government does not even serve the people it claims to protect. But even an ideal government can't play God, and protect everyone at all times. It's a good thing too, since who would ever want a government with that much power?