Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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War things

1035 words

I don't intend to write too much about the Iraq invasion as the whole situation is so stupid that it'll probably wind me up too much and other people have a better background to comment on the topic, making what I would have to say neither helpful nor original. So I'll limit myself to putting together a few snippets.

As many people probably read, Michael Moore wrote an open letter to governor Bush. Amid the obvious things he points out that of the people deciding to have a war, apparently only one has a child in the military. Add to that that you'll spend the public's money mostly into your friends' pockets, makes war look like a low-risk all-fun affair. Viewed more positively – how much more credible would the pro-war stance of certain countries' rulers be if they had to make proper sacrifice themselves and the benefit would be exclusive to others?

Yesterday's paper had a not-incredibly well-written but nonetheless interesting commentary on peace demonstrations and the current position of the protestors. It opened with a question that Albert Einstein asked Sigmund Freud in a letter in 1932 Gibt es eine Weg, die Menschen vom Verhängnis des Krieges zu befreien?, with Freud's answer being

Warum empören wir uns so sehr gegen den Krieg, Sie und ich und so viele andere, warum nehmen wir ihn nicht hin wie eine ander der vielen peinlichen Notlagen des Lebens? [...] Der Hauptgrund, weshalb wir uns gegen den Krieg empören, ist, daß wir nicht anders können. Wir sind Pazifisten, weil wir es aus organischen Gründen sein müssen.

Quite an interesting thought. And probably very Freudian, showing his medical background and belief in physical or 'organic causes'. Somehow this reminded me of the Oscar Wilde quote I read on a poster [with Oscar Wilde quotes] in Annar's room while staying at their place in Coventry:

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

To me both ideas seem to be in the same spirit, but I can see people disagreeing and claiming the opposite.

Another article in the same issue dealt with the topic of boycott, considering different forms of boycott. There can be individuals and states boycotting. They can boycott individual companies or whole countries. They can boycott for a wide range of reasons, moral, say when not buying stuff from Nestlé or their subsidiaries for their baby food ambitions, or boycott companies which are into GM food (Nestlé again, if you wish), or nuclear energy (Siemens, say), or weapons (probably any car/plane manufacturer) etc. You can also boycott countries to bully them into signing treaties or hopefully force them to stick to agreements.

The article points out that many forms of boycott are misled. For example we hardly ever know precisely who is involved in earning money from us buying a certain item. There is most likely a big bastard warmongering company at the receiving end of the sale of anything that you don't buy directly at the source. Surely, U.S. Republicans can now make a point of not enjoying their French wine, I can feel a little bad about supporting Ryanair to buy more Boeing jets and burn more Exxon fuel and of course we should stop using the Internet.

In the current paper they have a cartoon, doing one of those puns with the name Rumsfeld. This one has an extra twist for mathematicians as it also includes the phrase killing fields.

Another topic going through the media is the issue of actually helping the Iraqi people to rebuild their country after it has been bombed into ruins. A major sentiment is of course that whoever breaks things should pay up to fix them again afterwards. However, obviously, people do not trust the 'alliance of the eager' to do this in a reasonable way and that's why we are in the ironic situation of organisations that oppose the war saying they'll help out fixing things now. This may be the only way to help people survive in Iraq – despite sending the wrong message to Messrs Bush, Blair & Co. On the other hand, sending them the 'right' messages didn't help them to get the clue either, so everybody just does what is in their own power, I suppose.

Concerning the situation of the Iraqi people, I had a brief contact with this while in Oslo. On a cab ride back from town it turned out that the driver was Iraqi and according to what I was told afterwards (the conversation being in Norwegian, which I don't understand), he had family in Baghdad and understandably was very scared. Even with our country opposing the war, the question is how we can talk to people like him with a straight face.

Concerning the truth dying first-thing going on these days that leaves the media consumer wondering what exactly is going on despite (or due to) excessive 'coverage', an article by Robert Fisk in The Independent makes interesting reading concerning uncut al-Jazeera footage he saw. Elsewhere in the media industry, people are apparently doing their best to censor be sensitive about anything that could be too hard for people to stomach in these difficult days. Naturally this includes music.

In the rude department, I simply have to mention the e-mail that has been circulating with, among other things, a sample of gay porn with the faces of Bush, Hussein and bin Laden pasted on the people. While I can't really see bin Laden figuring in all this, it is definitely an interesting and straightforward visualisation of the whole 'Bush fucking Hussein' business. I'll put a link here once my flatmate gets round to actually forwarding the message instead of just showing us the printout.

Doc Searls thinks about the notion of de-otherising in reaction to another article. Probably a good time cue in John Lennon's wildly abused Imagine and to end this post with science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon's statement that

A nation… is just a society for hating foreigners.

March 29, 2003, 21:00

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