Memories - Rejecting an Application

Submitted by hadrian on Sat, 06/16/2018 - 16:02

Introduction

No-one is born a left-winger or right-winger. Our political identity is shaped through our place in the world, the people we meet, and the interplay of these forces with our peculiar characters. Like most people alive these days, I was raised in a predominantly authoritarian environment and instilled with its values. I was taught to respect authority unquestioningly. Nevertheless, I have moved steadily towards an anti-authoritarian politics. In the series Memories, I intend to look back on smaller and larger events in my life and how they influence my political views.

A Job Application

Quite a few years ago I used to work in a computer shop. It was a fairly standard shop with a staff just under ten people divided equally over support and sales. There was one store manager and a submanager. The latter position was utterly useless, and merely gave the person holding it a false sense of superiority over the others. Next to that, the manager was basically a glorified sales-person with a few extra tasks such as ordering inventory. He wasn't a bad sort of fellow and greatly valued building a team built on mutual respect and harmony. He gave us a certain leeway to socialize on the shop floor and wasn't afraid to do the dirty work with the rest of us. All things considered, he was easily the best manager I've had. Nevertheless, when I think back to my experiences in that shop it's a seemingly innocuous event that has turned out to be the most salient concerning a round of job interviews he was preparing.

Word Games - Benefits

Submitted by hadrian on Fri, 06/15/2018 - 19:55

 

Pre-Amble

In 2015 I got together with a few comrades to write a short, monthly magazine with left-wing content ranging from takes on the news to poetry and drawings. It was called "The Media: Your Newspaper." An arrogant-sounding name intended to mock the pretences of corporate and state news-media. Unfortunately, we were never able to devote the time and attention that the project deserved and we were only able to publish two editions. We had intended to include a small column about the way language is often used to mask or frame certain everyday things. Although the media is probably dead, word games certainly aren't. From time to time - time and inspiration permitting - I will post new word games on the blog.

 

Introduction

Language is used as a tool of power. Small word games are used to hide our role in the world; to palliate our role; and to constantly influence the way we perceive the world. In Word Games, I will attempt to look at the way our masters abuse our common heritage: language.

A small rant about E-numbers

Submitted by hadrian on Thu, 05/17/2018 - 08:26

Introduction

When, several years ago, I decided to switch to a fully vegan diet, I had to embark on a small voyage of discovery. Many foods I had not expected to contain animal products, turned out to be full of them. Since that time, I have often talked to other vegans about our dietary habits and often had "did-you-know" moments. Another product that turns out to be inedible. Within two weeks I started to check the label before consuming anything. To all who rarely, if ever, do so, I can greatly recommend trying it a few times. You will be surprised with what they put in your food.

There are a few non-vegan E-numbers. After a few years of veganism, I can generally check a label within a second or two, sometimes even in other languages. The fact that many allergens are now in bold-face helps a lot. So does the use of E-numbers. However, in recent years I've noticed more and more manufacturers are listing long chemical names. Turns out, these are simply the full names of the E-numbers. Nice...

Return to Activity

Submitted by hadrian on Tue, 07/04/2017 - 15:06

As you may have noticed, I've been absent for an extended period of time. Although ideas for an article popped up from time to time, I've been unable to actually get down to writing and finishing an article. There are a few unfinished pieces in my queue for 2017, but overall I haven't been able to find the time or concentration to get down to it. Pretty much all my writing activities just stopped for more than half a year, and only recently have I been able to put pen to paper and finish anything.

The hiatus in my writing activities coincided with a time I wasn't doing very well. I'd overworked myself and was basically figuring out how to balance my conflicting and contradictory needs. This is an ongoing process and I may choose to write about it soon.

The Situation in Ethiopia (Part 3)

Submitted by hadrian on Tue, 08/30/2016 - 13:16

Introduction

In the first part of this series I discussed the political situation in Ethiopia. In the second part I dealt with the economic changes which are being forced onto the country. These changes are designed to reform Ethiopia into a capitalist state. This last part will deal with the international position of Ethiopia.

Diplomatic Slavery

After the end of the civil war against the Derg regime, Ethiopia was split into two countries. The largest part continued to be Ethiopia, while Eritrea split off to became Ethiopia's neighbour. Towards the end of the 20th century there was a border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia in which Eritrea supported the Oromo Liberation Front. During the current protests the Ethiopian government claims that Eritrea is funding these protests in order to destabilize Ethiopia. Whether or not this is true doesn't change anything about the legitimacy of the Oromo's struggle. Moreover, no resistance can be supported without the existence of structural problems.

The Situation in Ethiopia (Part 2)

Submitted by hadrian on Wed, 08/17/2016 - 21:36

Introduction

In the first part I discussed the complex political situation in Ethiopia. Of course, this situation is intimitely connected to the economic situation. Even the best-intentioned political experiments only succeed or, usually, fail because of economic realities. Although the Ethiopian experiment would probably have failed solely on the basis of its reliance on a one-party dictatorship, the country is also undergoing enormous economic changes. The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the de facto ruling party of the country, calls itself Marxist but has cleary forgotten Marx' insight that class struggle is an important motor of history. One of the major causes of the current wave of protests, which already started in 2015, is the class struggle in Ethiopia.

Economic Changes

Ethiopia, like many countries in the region, has a predominantly agricultural economy. The most important export is coffee, followed by sesame seeds. Roughly 85% of the working population works in agriculture, 10% works in services, and only about 5% in industry. In comparison, only 4% of the Dutch working population works in agriculture (Source: Ethiopia,, the Netherlands). While the Netherlands is burdened by a heavily developed form of capitalism, which implies a very technified agriculture, Ethiopia is in a very early stage of capitalism. A country, under the right circumstances, can survive for a long time without developping a later stage of capitalism but the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has decided to try and economically grow the country. Statistics show they've been hugely succesful, but statistics are also an excellent way of covering up the daily reality that people have to live with.

The Situation in Ethiopia (Part 1)

Submitted by hadrian on Tue, 08/16/2016 - 03:24

Introduction

Even the BBC has woken up to the fact that a massive wave of protest is moving through Ethiopia. This isn't completely surprising as over a hundred people have been murdered by the Ethiopian government. The problem with the coverage by the BBC is the lack of an in-depth analysis of the causes of the problem, as is common in mainstream media. They make some superficial comments on land disputes between the Amhara and Tigray. However, the situation in Ethiopia is much more complex and worth a more in-depth analysis.

Politicized Ethnicity

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never truly colonized by Europe. Italy first tried this during the scramble for Africa but was defeated. Four decades later Mussolini tried again and this time, partly because of the use of mustard gas, the Ethiopians were conquered. It is said that Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia at the time, warned the world with the profetic words "it is us today. It will be you tomorrow."

The world is going to shit, what can You do?

Submitted by hadrian on Sun, 08/14/2016 - 21:47

Introduction

Erdogan's reign of terror has become so open and clear that most people find it hard to deny Turkey is devolving into a totalitarian dictatorship. The citizens of the United States are asked to make a choice between an incompetent bigoted war-hawk and another incompetent bigoted wark-hawk. Terrorist attacks are now a weekly event in Europe. It's no longer possible to talk of a society or, if one really wants to continue doing so, we must admit that this society has been infected with an almost terminal cancer. After all, we have to deal with the mutual hate being forced down our throats by politicians and corporate media as well as a continuing economic depression the effects of which on the poor are disastrous - and never forget the rich continue to grow richer. The enormous problems surrounding the environment have almost been forgotten but have certainly not dissipated.

We've been born into a world where fear is the only lasting emotion. Solidarity with each other has nearly disappeared and the cancer has grown so big that some dare to claim that the government can mediate solidarity for us. Nothing is further from the truth as solidarity cannot be enforced. Solidarity can only come from ourselves. It's a form of resistance against economic and armed violence as it rejects all forms of violence and force. It's the form of resistance that has become, now more than ever, a most pressing necessity. The time to protest austerity is past as the welfare state and capitalism are dying. We can continue to ignore this simple fact and hope that politicians will magically save everything but, over the past several hundred years, they have proven themselves utterly incapable of providing us with a world of peace and safety. The dream that politicians will save us can only bring us a nightmare. Nevertheless, we do have to organise society as we cannot survive without each other. As such, the time has come to learn to trust each other again, and we can only do so by learning to trust ourselves.

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