Happy new year

I’m just putting the finishing touches to an article on the World Forum on Agrarian Reform – an object lesson in how powerful democracy can be, and why so many are keen to stifle it. Read it here.

And, because I like to overcommit and then disappoint people, I’m updating a piece on ‘Global Fascism’ that I co-wrote with the splendid Phil McMichael. There’s far too much recent evidence to support the interpretation we made earlier last year. Cultural politics in the U.S. provides prodigious fodder. Take this, for instance:

Earlier this week, [Gerald] Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. “Oh no,” he laughs. “It’s my fifth meeting with Mr Bush.”

Bush is interested in Allen’s opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush’s base. Last week, Bush’s base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that “promote homosexuality”. Allen does not want taxpayers’ money to support “positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle”.

That’s why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

I ask Allen what prompted this bill. Was one of his children exposed to something in school that he considered inappropriate? Did he see some flamingly gay book displayed prominently at the public library?

No, nothing like that. “It was election day,” he explains. Last month, “14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman”. Exit polls asked people what they considered the most important issue, and “moral values in this country” were “the top of the list”.

“Traditional family values are under attack,” Allen informs me. They’ve been under attack “for the last 40 years”. The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is “Hollywood, the music industry”. We have an obligation to “save society from moral destruction”. We have to prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from “re-engineering society’s fabric in the minds of our children”. We have to “protect Alabamians”.

More at the Guardian here.

So, plenty more writing to be done over the next couple of weeks, in between mediating family arguments and working on a special secret project which I’ll tantalise you with now before getting sued for it in February. So, I’m going off air until the new year. Have a good one, wherever you are.

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