Posted tagged ‘i am a thinking man.’

1. [Steven]Harper’s Revenge: Toronto and the G20 Summit

September 30, 2010

Harper’s Revenge: Toronto and the G20 Summit
The lead up to the G20 meeting in Toronto was a series of puzzles to many onlookers: one, why locate the G20 meeting in the country’ largest city and in its congested city core at that? Two, why spend $1 billion to do so? Three, why alienate a decent law abiding and responsible citizenry with overwhelming policing force?
The only local beneficiaries of this largesse of Harper’s fiscal generosity seemed to the city’s Police Force, regional Policing Forces, RCMP, CSIS and the other peripheral elements of the nation’s policing complex like private Security Guards and the Canadian military in the provision of extra manpower for the occasion.
Lost in interpretation of this scenario was the obvious need to protect World leaders once invited to the country, for should harm befall them questions would be raised as to why no expense was spared in protecting them; and if no harm befell them then any expense was worth it to protect them and Canada’s international reputation.
Haunting this evaluation of Harper’s actions however is the why question, for Canada is a huge country—the second largest country in the world, after Russia, in terms of physical size according to the CIA Factbook– with many adequate locations where protections of such leaders could have been conducted with greater ease and lower cost; with cost efficiencies the cause célèbre of the neoliberal handbook of political strategy.
In ignoring cost and choosing Toronto as the most appropriate location for the G20 meeting Harper deviated much from his party’s mandate of fiscal responsibility and responsible government. $1 billion in G20 cost saw to that.
When the why question is asked Harper’s choice of actions reveal political behavior that neoconservatives by no means have a monopoly in practicing: political revenge.
Harper permitted the G20 meeting in Toronto to punitively demonstrate to urban Reform Party hating Toronto they will not escape the smell and fist of his power. He rules Canada; and, therefore, by extension, Toronto.
For the Reform Party and Steven Harper, Toronto, is a most disobedient and politically indifferent city to its Federal authority able to live independently because economically rich, economically diverse and internationally linked. It lives as if Federal authority is a paper fiction and not a political reality in its day to day life. It therefore had to be brought to heel, symbolically, to know the limits of its independence. What better way to so do than to take control of the city through full Federal rule under the perfectly legitimate guise of protecting World leaders for the Group of 20 economically leading countries.
How can a Federal take-over of the country’s largest city be seen as a Reform Party coup when the massive investment in policing manpower and telecommunications surveillance took place in the name of securing World leaders from harm?
Toronto’s cosmopolitanism and entrenched liberalism (small “l” liberalism) which has been emitting disdain for Harper and the Reform Party by simply not electing any of its candidates in the several federal elections the country has witnessed since Reform was formed out of the debris of the Progressive Conservative Party and Preston Manning’s Reform Party, must be taught a lesson in subservience. If it chose not to bow voluntarily it will be forced to bow by force: hence G20 in Toronto and the massive demonstration of police force and paramilitary authoritarianism.
Harper seems to be saying, scorn me at your peril. Reform rules, baby! Smell it. Eat it. Feel it.

The infantile, testosterone fuelled, egotistical aggression, of such a declaration was partnered by the policing authorities assigned to implement Harper’s strategy of contempt for the city and its Reform scorning multitudes.
Reeling from a series of media friendly calamities Canada’s policing bodies have in their conduct demonstrated a substantial deviation from the popularly held assumptions of good character and fair judgment that has been their social capital for generations. They now find themselves mistrusted, called racists, Islamophobists (meaning: they scorn Islam and Muslims), drug dealers and drug thieves, fraudulent, and anti-democratic. There exists alternative, competing, interpretations of their conduct in many sectors of the public; the public is no longer of one mind about the “Police” as the recent fall out over the killing of Robert Dziekanski, at the hands of four RCMP officers, October 14th, 2007, at Vancouver International Airport, revealed. The scenario worsens when we add the Air India Inquiry Report of ex-Superior Court Judge, John Major, presented to the public, 17th, June 2010, where he found the Federal Government, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security and Intelligence Service were complicit in allowing the bombing of the Air India plane, June 23rd, 1985, to take place.
Canada’s “Police” needed a face saving boost to their public image and G20 was the perfect fit. They got to demonstrate to the public their “hard power” skills-(which need no explanation)-and “soft power” skills like mastery of new telecommunications technologies that monitor cell phone conversations and even close them down altogether, in service the national interest.
In addition, Canada’s Policing authorities in historically suffering from a constitutional inferiority complex vis a vis their American counterparts saw in policing G20 a source of redemption. It gave them an opportunity to run their very own anti-terrorist show and illustrate, in the boy’s club way that matters in such a community, that Canadian Police can do anti-terrorist policing too: there is more to being white and Canadian than ice hockey
Harper’s revenge and the Police’s desire to gloat before their American counterparts were two agendas that met, mutually reinforced and mutually fulfilled each other’s expectations. This explains the extravagant cost and lockdown of the downtown core of the country’s largest city: ego made policy.

Charles Simon-Aaron
University of Malaya
chasimaa@hotmail.com

906 words

2. A Black Brazilian Coach for the Brazilian Soccer team?

September 30, 2010

A Black Brazilian Coach for the Brazilian Soccer team?
In the aftermath of Brazil’s defeat by the Dutch in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in Nelson Mandela Stadium, July 2nd, 2010, the need for reflection on coach Dunga’s tactics, strategies and player selection needs to be extended to include reflection on the continued refusal of the Brazilian Football authorities to recruit and select a coach from among the nation’s community of black Brazilian talent. This moment of defeat and the caustic rumination the Brazilian football playing machine will do in its search for a new World Cup winning formula cannot be allowed to ignore this missing ingredient in the development of the nation’s football. Perhaps!
The whole soccer loving world is watching its response to this defeat to learn how to cope with such a loss.
I admit to playing not-nice with this question at a time when soccer, care of the World Cup, offers its four-yearly serving of mass joy and globalized satisfaction for the great unwashed of the modern world in South Africa in 2010. This is not the time popular mood suggests for such seismologically critical interventions in the cultural diet for the world’s untermenschen-[i.e., German for inferior people].
It is rather a time for the poisons of social conflicts and inequalities to be buried whilst a common humanity is resurrected and practiced with the same ease as life in its absence. A consideration such as this, at such a time, is a most unwelcomed disturbance.
It is best dealt with headed for the waste bin of history, but surely there is no better time for this question to be asked, if not during the World Cup then when for the non-Brazilian fan of Brazilian soccer?
From Brazil’s 1958 victory in Sweden, under the leadership of Vincente Fiola, when Zito, Garrincha and Pele were unleashed upon an unsuspecting post-Second World War era with their beautiful mesmerizing skills, to now, Brazil has never had a black African Brazilian coach, why?
Why, indeed when one considers the legend of legendary black Brazilian soccer playing talent that the nation seemingly possesses in as much abundance as it does rivers, oil, root vegetables and sunshine. They are part of the social fabric of the Brazilian nation and are seemingly born every minute with each generation possessing more skill and talent than the one before.
Why with a roll call as distinguished as Didi, Edu, Garrincha, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto, to name a but a few, can the nation that has given birth to such illustrious talents not be able to recruit any from among them for the highest position in its most internationally renowned export. Why?
The current cry around the world is for the hiring of local coaches–see the debate with Africa and its panoply of globalized non-African coaching guns-for-hire–yet Brazil has magically escaped this lash of international public inquiry if not derision? Why?
Perhaps this oversight has something to do with the differences between the definition of “race” in Brazil and that outside of the country.
Perhaps for Brazilians, including African Brazilians, the absence of an African coach is not a problem.
Perhaps what Brazil calls black is different from what Africans and Europeans from its more northerly neighbors would not call such. Perhaps!
Perhaps we–non-Brazilians–have to admit that the Brazilian explanation of race is such that it needs to be respected as unique to the nation and its history and North American considerations on the matter should stop at the door step of Brazilian sovereignty. Perhaps!
Perhaps Brazil will get to the promised land of democratic inclusiveness, accountability and transparency in its social conduct in the realms of popular culture when it raises its standard of living in a globalized world where its economic and technological prowess now matters in many international markets in many product lines from shipbuilding and military technology to oil production and agribusiness. Perhaps!
Perhaps Brazil is learning that when you are a major player on the globalized world stage there are standards of conduct expected of a senior state such as accountability, transparency, and consistency in governmental affairs which may run counter to domestic preferences on some issues—like choice of soccer coach for the national team or the legal rights of homosexuals or assisted suicide. Perhaps!
But, if the reader will allow the plebian egalitarian prejudices of this author be invoked with due respect the intellectual considerations above on the matters of “race” and Brazil and “race in Brazil” the following is issued for soccer lovers to ponder: when are we to see a coach of Brazil’s national soccer team who looks like Pele, the country’s, and the modern game’s most world renowned icon? When?
When Brazil?

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Charles Simon-Aaron
University of Malaya
International Relations and Strategic Studies
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
50603
July 2nd, 2010

3. Haiti: Pioneer of the New

September 30, 2010

Haiti: Pioneer of the New
Once again Haiti plays the role of pioneer of the new, first with its anti-slavery revolution of 1804 and, today, as a result of the physical devastation of the January 2010, earthquake. How is it able to so with the latter when so obviously devastated, you ask? Answer: its resistance to inequality.
Haitian Africans resisted the rapacious greed and unrelenting violence of the white French enslavers of the Island for whom they were cheap and expendable labour imported to the island to produce sugar tobacco and coffee, with an uprising of world historical significance, the first successful slave rebellion in human history which led to the proclamation of the independent Haitian state in 1804.
With the revolt, they spoke to their masters in his language of violence. In their victory, they called on their master’s tradition of political institutions to guide them in shaping their new path of Republican government.
The 18th century age of Haitian uprisings was one of mass enslavement of Africans in the Americas and Caribbean by French, English, Danish, Spanish, Portuguese, and American slave owners.
The revolutionaries of Haiti made their nation a supporting location for the American liberator, Simon Bolivar, for whom it served as a base for his revolutionary sojourns across the southern American continent from which the modern nations of South America were born: Colombia; Peru; Venezuela; Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay. Haiti served their birthing. Haitians supported the Americans in their fight for independence from the English and the Greeks in their liberation struggle against Turkish colonialism.
Emancipated Africans existing as a pariah state in the then family of white European nations for whom slavery was economic commonsense, made their victory the source of other nations and peoples emancipation.
Their self-emancipation was a source of inspiration to other enslaved Africans and a threat to slaveholders throughout the region.
Haiti was an international example of the mutual compatibility between Africans and freedom. For Haitians, since the slave labour gave birth to the modern world then emancipated Africans had earned the right to partake in its fruits.
Haiti’s challenge to the Western dominated international order of the day was its political rejection of the economic inequality that so defined the 18th and 19th centuries, be it in the form of plantation labour in the Americas and Caribbean, manufacturing capitalism in Western Europe, or unequal trading practices by the West with the rest of the world.
In the modern era, modern Haiti finds itself, in the midst of the earthquake induced devastation, revealing to the world the consequences of a society falling prey to the perils of unbridled capitalism or, neo-liberalism: ‘the absence of things’: When the cult of profits guides the shaping and reproducing of a modern society human life is more so defined by its absences than its necessary presences for those without cash.
A careful listing of Haiti’s absences reads like a menu of basic necessities of modern life: electricity; computers; roads; water; housing; healthcare facilities; schools; literacy; medicines; trees; fire stations; city government; food; and the list goes on and on and on.
Meaningful modern life has been denied the people of Haiti and the post earthquake response of the world community broadcasts these facts for the world to see, and feel: This is what neo-liberalism means for societies that are forced to live in strict accordance its postulates of profit maximization and cost efficiencies, and are poor, underdeveloped, and, in some cases never developed.
Neo-liberalism, the diet of cheap labour, free markets, minimal government and, in Haiti’s case, total dependency on American capital and external governance, has created a playground for wealth making that makes the Haitian state, government and society redundant appendages to its rule.
That Haiti’s privileged and tiny elite has squandered the nation’s wealth, enriching itself at the expense of the well being of its peoples, the nation’s most precious resource, is in now in full glare for the world to see. The people are poor because of the unrelenting efforts by the nation’s elite- in alliance, the American state, World Bank and IMF-to ensure they remain a cheap labour pool for low cost international commodity production networks: baseballs; baseball bats; T-shirts; textiles; electronics assembly; computer assemblage; trinkets manufacture and the like. This has been a fate the people of Haiti have resisted for generations to the consternation and opposition of the local elites and their international supporters, electing in 1999, and 1994 and 2000, Jean Bertrand Aristide, their nation’s first democratically elected president, whose efforts to make the state meet the basic needs of the nation’s peoples was met with his repeated ouster and exile at the hands of the local army, and local elites, in consort the American CIA.
Haiti was as much opposed to the dominant political trend in world economy at its birth-the inequality of the plantation economy- as it is today-the neo-liberal age and its cult of privatization, profits and free markets. This is a destiny conferred upon its peoples by dint of history and circumstance. That they showed the world in 1804, the need for a new, alternative and humane way for human beings to live in the modern world predisposes them to show the world the new, of which they are abled pioneers. Haiti becomes a pioneer of the new both in terms of what is possible and what is necessary, for the struggles of its peoples have been in the past and in the present unstinting resistance against the physical, psychic and moral ravages of inequality.

921 words
Charles Simon-Aaron
Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
50603
chasimaa@gmail.com

4. LeBron James, Po’Folks, Winner and Losers in Modern America

September 30, 2010

LeBron James, Po’Folks, Winner and Losers in Modern America
Words: 933
Where would you rather play if your name is LeBron James, sunny Miami-(winners) or cold, dull Cleveland (losers)–the mistake by the lake?
Be honest.
I do not know your choice, but I do know mine: Miami.
After 7 years service to the Cleveland Cavaliers I too would leave. It is time for a change. LeBron James did as he had a right to do according to American labor laws and the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA.
What hurts with his leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers are the consequences for the little people of Cleveland, the security guards, bouncers, waitresses and waiters, hotel attendants and cleaners, bus drivers, barbers, parking lot attendants, maintenance and sanitation workers-the city’s little people, its po’folks.
Cleveland is a depressed ex-manufacturing city in the heart of America’s ex-manufacturing heartland. With outsourcing and deindustrialization, home foreclosures, depopulation and a dwindling tax base, it has seen much, much, better times. It is now a city that is a shell of its former prosperous self.
Into this toxic mix of economic destitution and urban hardship LeBron’s money making presence kept the city’s po’folk in a position to make some “get-get” at home games, now that he is gone the money his presence made available has gone with him. The $20 million he forewent to sign with Miami is no blessing to Cleveland’s little people.
For Cleveland’s little people who pinch pennies and miss credit payments to make ends meet, the numbers surrounding the big three of Wade, James and Bosh, are beyond the sky. Those numbers make even less sense in an American economy unbalanced by mass unemployment and the economic extinction of its unskilled work force.
Claims Omar Akkad in his Globe and Mail article, “The world according to LeBron,” (Toronto: Friday July 9th, 2010), LeBron generated $153 million annually for the Cleveland Cavaliers; was expected to be a billionaire in New York had he signed with the Knicks and, have a $3 billion dollar impact in Chicago had he signed with the Chicago Bulls.
When the numbers of his economic impact with the team ($153million) are added to that of his impact upon the city we find that combined he generated about $211 million a year in the Cleveland are. This is serious money in a depressed urban economy. We have not added the extra income earned by those industries supplying the hotels, bars and restaurants.
When we add the income paid to the service workers–mostly po’folks–the economic impact of LeBron’s leaving in terms of income lost, in a depressed economy, comes home full force. Many of these workers look at their jobs as bread and butter jobs because the high paying jobs in manufacturing industry no longer exist. This is serious economics for po’folks.
Who is going to pay top dollar to see a Delonte West?
Oh, and by the way, who is Delonte West? Get the drift.
As tough as times are now for po’ folks in the America, America is many joyful Sundays for its rich. Claims David Degraw in his AlterNet article, “The Richest 1% Have Captured America’s Wealth — What’s It Going to Take to Get It Back?”(http://www.alternet.org/story/145705/): (2008-2009) “the wealth of the 400 richest Americans increased by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion, which is more than the combined net worth of 50% of the US population. Just to make this point clear, 400 people have more wealth than 155 million people combined.”

With the traditional manufacturing economy gone forever to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and Brazil, po’ folk have to find other ways to make a living hence the rise of the drug trade, smuggling cigarettes and other contraband–like human cargo– gun running, insurance fraud, selling blood-(and other body organs)- stealing copper wire and cars.
Any job that brings with it steady employment and a steady paycheque is a job worth keeping. These are the adjustments to a changed economic reality that ordinary Americans are engaged in to make cash to survive.
This new economy of low economic opportunities for po’folk is a short term, part-time, casual, temporary, and low waged economy with new victims with every passing day–(losers.) In this economy LeBron is earning $99 million along with his fellow superstars, Wade and Bosh, which reinforces the economy at the high end of the economic food chain–(winners).
The Nielsen Co. estimated 9.95 million people watched the ESPN show “The Decision” where James made known his choice of team. Season ticket prices have skyrocketed in Miami-(winners) as they have been lowered in Cleveland-(losers). The Miami tourist board is wringing its hands in glee whilst the Cleveland tourist board is sipping regrets from its cup of loss.
The American economy is one of winners and losers.
LeBron James now is a winner.
LeBron’s decision is one made in keeping with the golden rule of America: he who has the gold rules. LeBron James is getting his gold and, though he enrages the fan base of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and the city’s fathers he celebrates the attitude of a new America, one born in a deindustrialized nation where it is no longer how you make money, since there are no occupational guarantees for working people in this economy, but how much money you make. He did not create these rules he is just making the best of the advantages his marketable skills have granted him-within the rules.

Dr. Charles Simon-Aaron
Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
chasimaa@hotmail.com

6. Who is Charles Simon-Aaron ?

March 18, 2009
the thinking man

the thinking man

Hi, there. You are most welcomed to my blog.

I am sure you may like to know who Charles is. Right? On your left is a digital rendering of me. Got the picture?

Next are the words that concisely describe Charles Simon-Aaron.

A gifted public speaker, I put things in perspective. I am lucky to have the opportunity to lecture at universities, at seminars. As a student broadcaster, most of the people of my generation reading this blog today will readily add know more about me than I do of myself. You may feel free to add to my bio in the comments box provided below.

I am of Guyanese heritage. I grew up in Bristol, England where I did my undergraduate work.


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