Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Website updated, new Chomsky essay, tribute page

Hello all,

Firstly, the Chomsky at 80 website is looking a lot more respectable. The next time it will be updated is after the big day itself, with photos, accounts, etc.

Secondly, Chomsky has just posted a new essay on Znet, entitled "The Election, the Economy, War and Peace"

It's a corker, with observations on how electing a minority isn't such a "first"-

"The rhetoric has some justification if we keep to the West, but elsewhere matters are different. Consider the world's largest democracy, India. The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, which is larger than all but a few countries of the world and is notorious for horrifying treatment of women, is not only a woman, but a Dalit ("untouchable"), at the lowest rung of India's disgraceful caste system.

"Turning to the Western hemisphere, consider its two poorest countries: Haiti and Bolivia. In Haiti's first democratic election in 1990, grass-roots movements organized in the slums and hills, and though without resources, elected their own candidate, the populist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The results astonished observers who expected an easy victory for the candidate of the elite and the US, a former World Bank official.

True, the victory for democracy was soon overturned by a military coup, followed by years of terror and suffering to the present, with crucial participation of the two traditional torturers of Haiti, France and the US (contrary to self-serving illusions). But the victory itself was a far more "extraordinary example of democracy at work" than the miracle of 2008.

"The same is true of the 2005 election in Bolivia. The indigenous majority, the most oppressed population in the hemisphere (those who survived), elected a candidate from their own ranks, a poor peasant, Evo Morales. The electoral victory was not based on soaring rhetoric about hope and change, or body language and fluttering of eyelashes, but on crucial issues, very well known to the voters: control over resources, cultural rights, and so on. Furthermore, the election went far beyond pushing a lever or even efforts to get out the vote. It was a stage in long and intense popular struggles in the face of severe repression, which had won major victories, such as defeating the efforts to deprive poor people of water through privatization.

"These popular movements did not simply take instructions from party leaders. Rather, they formulated the policies that their candidates were chosen to implement. That is quite different from the Western model of democracy, as we see clearly in the reactions to Obama's victory."
And a host of other worthwhile observations about- as the title suggests- the economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Iran.

And thirdly, Milan Rai, who is attending the Chomsky at 80 event, has created a website where you can post appreciations/birthday wishes to Noam.

Hope to see you "all" on Saturday.

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