I’ve had access to the internet for the whole week, and have failed to comment sensibly on Mark Thatcher (a splodge of wonga), Prince Harry (Natives and Colonials) or the British torture pictures in Iraq (Operation Ali Baba). These examples of aristocracy and racism can be so overwhelmingly depressing that one might not know where to begin. And if one is overwhelmed, here’s a start. Richard Pithouse’s beautiful essay on Fanon. I’m off to Northern Zululand for two weeks, so I’ll have an excuse for not writing until the beginning of February. But do read Richard’s piece if you’ve a chance – first class thinking, beautiful writing, and anger enough to fuel struggle-related activities for weeks. There will be a quiz.
The fallout from Prince Harry’s goose-stepping hijinks is not the only compelling argument for republicanism. I am reminded of an important piece of propaganda that once adorned the dorm-door of my mate Paul Stevenson. Unable to find it online, I have manufactured a poor imitation (the original had the royal family looking significantly more inbred) for you to download. Of course, regicide isn’t sufficient – Britain ought to be a republic – but it’s a start.
Would you like to vote for the President of the World Bank, an organisation which your country likely either lends to, or borrows from, to the tunes of millions of dollars every year, and which shapes the economies of countries across the globe? Well, you can’t. The Bush administration will decide which US citizen gets the job when James “Jim” Wolfensohn leaves the post after 10 years encumbrance. You might think this a little undemocratic, but it’s okay – the Europeans get to pick a European to head the IMF in return.
I’ve been to enough international activist conferences to spot a trend – when it comes to languages, Africa seems to have it far harder than any other continent. Comrades from Latin America can chat through the colonial expedients of Spanish and, if need be, Portuñol. Asia seems to manage through at least one person in a group speaking in English, as does Europe, with occasional resort to German. Africa has to surmount English, French, and Portuguese. It’s a blinding headache, especially if, as I was, you’re the one called upon to broker this Babel.
Curious about the latest news on the World Bank’s trade policy? Well, although the Bank is slow to share the good news (there’s no mention of this on the Bank’s front or press pages), the US Department of State is happy to evangelise. You can find out about the latest World Bank report, “Global Agricultural Trade and Developing Countries” by visiting the U.S. State Department’s website here.
Funny how one thing leads to another. Today, for instance, I was driving along chatting on my cellphone when I was pulled over by a motorcycle policeman for driving and using a cellphone.
He asked me for my driving licence, and I realised I’d left it at home. So then he tells me that it’s funny how one thing leads to another, as he’d never have known I was driving along without a driving licence had he not caught me on the phone.
Sorry about that. Far too much time on planes and in airports this past month. But I’ve been collecting things for you while I’ve been away. And fixed the things I posted shoddily before leaving. Sorry again.
When I heard that Médecins Sans Frontières had stopped accepting donations for the Tsunami, I was a little boggled. They claim to be an emergency relief organisation and if this were all they did, it’d be reasonable of them to let the purse-opening public know that the emergency had been sufficiently bankrolled. But what had held MSF in my high esteem for so long was that they went beyond the mandate of ordinary relief groups, such as CARE, by getting political, and pointing out structural constraints to the delivery of emergency medical aid. South Africa’s Zapiro can point these out fairly astutely.