Colombian local elections – as indecisive as predicted

Yesterday I blogged about the Colombian local elections. The results are in, and they are just as indecisive as analyst Simone Bruno predicted in the article I mentioned yesterday.

The Polo Democratico, Colombia’s democratic left party that has been on the rise, won the mayor’s seat in Bogota and the government of the department of Narino. But Uribe’s candidates won the majority of seats. From here, the elections do look like they were very close.

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Local elections in Colombia

A friend of mine, Simone Bruno, wrote a fine article in Spanish on the local and regional elections in Colombia that are taking place today. Some highlights from his piece.

-22 candidates have been assassinated
-8 others were assassinated before announcing their candidacy
-36000 candidates under police protection
-family members of candidates have been murdered

-Many of the assassinations of candidates have been done by the guerrillas. Simone quotes Uribe going on his “democratic tour”, saying: “we have weakened FARC, we have weakened ELN, and dismantled paramilitarism.”

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Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine

Despite not being a dispassionate reviewer, I wrote this review of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. In case you didn’t know, I’m not entirely without positive bias. And even with high expectations, the book really impressed. It seems to be doing quite well without my recommendation, but I would like to add my recommendation to the many that are out there. Hope you like the review.

The foolishness of Canada’s liberals

Unlike most leftists, I happen to think that we spend too much time ranting against liberals, as opposed to, say, putting forth practical and workable versions of our own ideas and presenting strategic ideas and commentary. Liberals aren’t, after all, us. They have a different vision for society, different interests, and different strategies. They share many of society’s racist premises. They don’t even hate the way right-wing governments in power destroy the fabric of society and the potential for positive change in the future the way we hate it. So when they set themselves up to get trounced by the right, they don’t find it as upsetting as we do. So why should we get worked up about it?

And yet, here I am, disgusted with Canada’s Liberals for deciding to support the Conservative minority government. A little drop in the polls for them, a couple of by-elections that went against them, a little bit of bluster by the “US Prime Minister for Canada”, and they back off. The two issues on which they could have defeated Harper are the climate and the war. Harper gave them both on a platter, and gave them the choice of whether to use them now or not be able to use them later. How are they going to argue for Kyoto, now that they’ve supported dropping it? How are they going to argue to get out of the senseless and destructive war in Afghanistan when Canadians really turn against it, now that they’ve supported staying there?

Taiaiake Alfred’s ‘Wasase’

I read this book a few weeks ago but I didn’t write about it because I got engrossed in ‘The Shock Doctrine’ (I’ll do a full review of that soon – but as a preview, though I’m sure you’re all reading it, I’m finding it really brilliant. It started strong, with things that were part of conversations I’d had years ago – torture, war, Ewen Cameron, the dictatorships of South America, Chile – but once I hit the stuff about Poland and China, which I knew very little about, the book really took off for me. The way she weaves it all into a chronological narrative and follows people like Sachs through it all… it’s very impressive).

‘Wasase’ is an attempt by Taiaiake Alfred, a Mohawk scholar who works at the University of Victoria, to formulate a strategy for indigenous resurgence (that’s his word). How can a country like Canada, built on genocide and colonialism, be decolonized? That’s the question he tackles. And his answers are – through nonviolent political action, without excluding self-defense; by delegitimizing colonialism, starting with the colonized. To that end, he presents some very interesting points about how colonialism depends on what is happening in people’s minds, and if that can change, the system can become untenable.

Alfred doesn’t preclude the idea of solidarity from the settler society, but nor is he willing to count on it and, indeed, he presents arguments that settler society is so racist that it shouldn’t be looked to, at least not in the first stages of resurgence.

One aspect of the book, and of his work generally (I read ‘Peace, Power, Righteousness’ years ago) is that while he is confident and strong in his values and commitment, he is very intellectually humble and open. Much of the book is dialogues with other people, in which he faithfully presents their thoughts and ideas, before commenting on them. Much of the rest of the book is him giving a careful reading to the history of anti-colonial struggle in other places, and presenting his thoughts on these struggles and their thinkers. Reading along, you feel like you’re exploring something very important with someone who is exploring with you (that’s something of what I try to do in this blog, I suppose).

His openness also leads him to admit when he doesn’t have answers. When he explores the question of indigenous-run casinos, for example, he notes the importance the money has had for some communities, and he also notes the limitations and the problems that these have caused. He quotes proponents and opponents, both favourably.

Wasase is an attempt to open a conversation about one of the most important questions North American society has, all the more important because the society is so unwilling to face it.