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Rats in their hole...

Well, following on from the previous post, here's what the BBC says regarding the motivations of the Burmese dictators:

In Burma, complete isolation means the generals have little to lose from international sanctions. Nor is there a large and powerful middle class with a lot to lose. There is only the military - the most powerful institution in the country - with its fingers in every aspect of daily life.

It suffers little from isolation, except in the increasingly narrow view of its officers.

Soldiers are taught that they are an elite class, entitled to special respect - and that anyone who opposes them is an enemy bent on returning the country to chaos and civil war.

That will almost certainly be the warped instruction given now to the troops who have shot at unarmed monks and civilians in Rangoon. (BBC News)

The Burmese protestors will never be able to beat the army at their own murderous game, so the only solution is satyagraha. Which means extreme courage and many more dead...

Or someone go in there and make a deal with some generals - appeal to their sense of self importance and greed...

A rat in a corner…

…is always the most dangerous.

Pondering the recent events in Burma, I have suddenly realised why sometimes it’s better to arrange for some kind of get out route for nasty dictators – rather than letting them fight till the end and get their just rewards.

By all accounts the people in power in Burma are despicable, and deep in their hearts they must know how unpopular they are: though by moving the capital 400 km inland, away from the historic capital, they may have been exteriorising their internal shift to self-delusion.

"The ruling generals say a seven-step roadmap to democracy is moving forward, though they are still at step one. No one knows when the new parliament building could be occupied." Source.

But just put yourself in their shoes: they know that if their enemies take power, they will most likely whack them in jail for corruption, human-rights abuse, etc. – at best – and at worst they will get strung up. Which is what they would do in that situation.

At moments like this, when there are thousands of people brave enough to stand up to the government – when people manage to put aside their individual fear of being hurt, and put their faith in the crowd – the oppressive regime knows that it’s a fight to the finish. Crush them, or they’ll crush you. So, unfortunately, as eye-witnesses recount today – it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. I fear a repeat of the thousands killed in 1988 - it's so despairingly disgusting when you think of it...

What could one do?
• Scare the regime leaders into scarpering. This will only happen at the last possible moment, and it will take a lot to get there.
• Find allies in the regime, and promise them leniency if they go turncoat. This is the most common I think – sometimes it’s as simple as soldiers or police refusing to carry out the dirty work of the regime, and the effects knock on up the ranks. In Burma, it is the army that holds power, so this is less likely – so it is by approaching some major generals that one might get them to switch sides.
• Give the leaders a way out. Tell them – leave now and we’ll not punish you. This has happened often enough, it stinks but often is the best way to avoid a massacre.

In any case: I stand in awe of those people who dare to stand up to the brutal regime and risk torture and death. Let's put our trust in the goodness of humanity, and hope to see peace and dignity restored to the Burmese.

Bloggers allied - Part III

For the previous related posts please look here (Part I) and here (Part II).

This third and final section will look at the blog 'alliances' in Malaysia, and go back to the initial question of whether All-Blogs is unique in any way.

In the English-speaking Malaysian blogosphere there are the following blogger groups:

Muslim Bloggers Alliance: clearly a religiously oriented group, it was initiated by Mahaguru58 in July 2007 and is an online extension of offline interests. It's difficult to know much about its intentions or goals, as the discussion group is closed to non-members and there is no centralised blog/homepage, but it does seem to be somewhat exclusive: although the Pro-tem Secretary, Menj, states that it is open "all Muslims who are bloggers", he also goes on to specify: "Liberal Islam heretics are not welcomed." No doubt, though, by visiting member blogs one can see where their interests lie.

It seems to have a formalised structure, given that 'Pro-tem' officers are named, but the actual aims and objectives are not immediately available, given that the discussion groups that the url leads to is closed...

In terms of the categories discussed in the previous posts, I would describe it as religious, with an offline focus (this is debateable), founded by a group and restricted to a geo-political base (Malaysia).

PABS: there is no 'home link' as such for this grouping, but it was announced on 24th July 2007 by SoPo blogger Ktmoc here, and by other noted SoPo blogger Susan Loone here. As noted by Mamak, it seemed to be formed in reaction to the perceived politicisation of All-Blogs.

The meaning of the acronym is not clear: shar101 says it is 'People's All-Blogs Society', whereas SK says it means 'People's Alliance of Blogs'. I can't find a reference on the two founding members' blogs.

It is apparently still active, as an August 4th post by Ktemoc entitled " PABS calls on Government to embrace bloggers" implies. In this post we also see a statement that gives us insight into the reasons for its formation as an alternative to All-Blogs:

"As for the Allblogs*, apart from their high profile visit to the de facto leader of an opposition party, its protem chairperson alluding to support for the PPPA and some of its protem committeee members' preference for registration of only identity-revealed bloggers as members of its association, I wonder what else can it do to protect bloggers and promote blogging, as its committee had envisioned."
Continue reading "Bloggers allied - Part III"

Plus ça change…

Just a quick one to provide a link to a transcription of Bin Laden’s full speech . Worth reading, to understand his argument – ‘know thy enemy’ and all that.

He develops an argument which really owes a lot to Lenin’s analysis of global imperialism and the World War I (for example, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism) – basically saying that foreign policy in America is driven by multinational corporations. Specifically, blaming Kennedy’s assassination on “the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its [the Vietnam War] continuation”; asking why the Democratic Party did not force withdrawal from Iraq after the last elections, he says “they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war. Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital.”

Then he develops some more modern themes: global warming, poverty in Africa, globalisation – these are also blamed on “The capitalist system [which] seeks to turn the entire world into a fiefdom of the major corporations under the label of "globalization" in order to protect democracy.” This message seems somewhat more directed at your average younger person, of the anti-globalisation type.

Then, interestingly, he whacks in a message to the middle-classes too: “the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages”; later, he promises taxes (zakat) of only 2.5% under Islamic rule.


Continue reading "Plus ça change…"

Bloggers allied - Part II

A previous post looked at blogger alliances in the world. Though instead of 'world' I should really say 'English language Google & Technorati' because that's all I looked at. I will look at French and Italian at some point, but more interesting would be to look at Korea, China, Japan, India (though the latter would likely have turned up in English...), Russia, and so on.

There were not many, and I categorised them by the broad categories: Political, Religious, Hobby & Single Interest, and Blogosphere Centred. Now I'll try to summarise some of the characteristics of them. The first of which is that they were almost exclusively American (20 out of 22).

Geo-Political boundaries
Most of the political ones were based on bloggers within a certain constituency (for example, the state of Virginia), banding together to represent their interests online, in an extension of their offline political allegiances. The 'Kurdistan Bloggers Union' refers to an ethnic rather than a geo-political territory, and no doubt many of the bloggers there were not necessarily based in the region of 'Kurdistan': this offers one example of the transnational potentialities of the blogosphere.
Others that transcend (potentially at least) offline geo-political borders would be the religious ones (though one is locally based – the 'SoCal [South California] Bloggers' Alliance') and the nascent 'Sci-Art Bloggers' initiative.

This one is a bit difficult to find out without further research, but some seem to be more individual initiatives, such as the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, while others have more of a collective base - Media Bloggers Association may be an example of this, though I don't know for sure.
Knowing the context of the founding of these groupings is important because then we can gain insight into their goals and motivations. For example, a single person might set up an 'alliance' and invite others to register and/or post simply in order to benefit (financially and/or socially) from the traffic on the website; a group effort is more likely to reflect particular social goals such as an effort to create a 'space' for contestation/alternative discourse. Continue reading "Bloggers allied - Part II"

I pink, you pink

What’s wrong with this statement?

Boys like blue, girls like pink and there isn't much anybody can do about it, researchers said on Monday in one of the first studies to show scientifically that there are gender-based color preferences. (ABC News)

This is a study where they’ve shown “a group of men and women to look at about 1,000 pairs of coloured rectangles on a computer screen in a dark room and pick the ones they liked best as quickly as possible.”

The results: women tend to prefer a pinker blue than men. Apparently a preference for blue is “universal”, so it's the base for everyone.

Continue reading "I pink, you pink"