pelshvalen

May 162022
 

The expression “international relations” can be the name of a field of study or research. It can also refer – unsurprisingly – to “international relations”.

I see that experts of “international relations” tend to be qualified as either “realist” or “liberal”. You will have to do your own research, but I have done mine and have reached the conclusion that the “liberal” school is at best pitifully naive. “At best,” I insist, and I mean “at best”.

Most nation states will prefer diplomacy (polite coercion) and cooperation to armed conflict, if for no other reason because the latter is costly. Just as most people don’t take each other to court, even if they have “a good case”, because no matter how sure they are of the legal basis for their claims, they can never be sure that “justice will prevail”.

Some “nation states” call the shots more than others in international organisations. Take even the Security Council with its “permanent members”, who have veto powers: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; three Western countries against two non-western. Almost like the sharply bipartisan US Supreme Court. Except that the veto power means that the Security Council is pretty well paralysed. Were it not for the veto, the West would have its way in every case. You might think that would be a good thing, but if you are not a reasonably wealthy person in a reasonably wealthy state, you might not.

We are human, after all. Our species has many lovely traits, but also some that are less loveable. Take for instance our tendency to abominate those who are different (colour, religion, outlook, sex, whatever.) When I went to upper secondary school, the school’s very best student was kicked out because he refused to cut his hair. “Quite a few years ago”, you may say, and you may think we have changed since then. Changed, yes, but at all times, and in every place, there will always be abomination. India, a country I learned to revere as the home of Ghandi, as the cradle, as it were, of non-violence, has turned into an extremely violent place. Even Sri Lanka …

When people are desperately hungry, they don’t always act nobly. When people are desperate, period, goodness knows what they will do.

I’m sure you are familiar with “group dynamics”, in workplaces, for instance. Maybe you are a student. Maybe you have a child at school. Whoever you are, I’m sure that you know, in your heart of hearts, of people who were not included, not invited, not welcome. Maybe you yourself were excluded, treated overbearingly or even hectored. Or maybe you yourself were a bully. In the US, they are so ahead of us that they even have school shootings, more often than not perpetrated by people who have not been included, invited or welcomed.

That’s us, you see. Homo sapiens. We can be very kind. We can also be anything but.
“But,” you say, “cooperating nation states will not stoop to the level of vile individuals!”
No?

  • What did the West do with its Covid vaccines? Did we or did we not share them with, say Africa?
  • There is a terrible famine in Africa now. Far worse than ever before. And it’s due to climate change! What are we doing about that? Huh?

And by the way, a resolution to combat “glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance” was adopted by the UN in 2021 against two votes. Guess whose votes they were. See for yourself, finding the N preceding the names of only two countries.
https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/3951466?ln=en

Now all this was just an introduction. My real agenda is to suggest a lecture held in 2015 by John Mearsheimer. John Mearsheimer is currently a favourite hate object for the press. He was and is still however, a prominent expert on international relations, a so-called “realist”. I think that we should have paid more attention to what he said back then.

Seven years after he held that lecture, we have a war on our hands and it’s too late to prevent it and probably also too late to stop it (because wars follow their own perverse dynamic. Remember, we’re humans, i.e. not entirely rational.)

  • A lot of people on both sides have died and will continue to die. Died! Like lost their lives (sometimes slowly and painfully) – leaving broken hearts, widows and orphans…
  • Innumerable homes and livelihoods in Ukraine will be gone.
  • Innumerable people in the US and Europe will sink into poverty or deeper poverty.
  • A handful of people will grow fantastically much richer, and I bet that you and I won’t be among them.
  • We are told that the war will lead to food shortages over the entire planet.
  • Meanwhile, the entire planet is facing a monumental existential challenge: Climate change.

Mind you, this war is not going to end any time soon. Will it have been worth it? If so, why?

  • Because we hate Putin?
  • Because we believe in “freedom”?

What is freedom? For whom? From whom? How and at what cost?
Now that I think about it, though, ultimate freedom is death, so I guess, yes, this war is a step in the direction of ultimate freedom for all.

Apr 302022
 

I’m standing by a window on the top floor of a hospital in a village just outside the capital. In my hand, a cup of steaming, near-undrinkable hospital coffee, but in my ears, ear-buds. I’m taking a five-minute break from work, shutting out all but the sight of softly rolling fields – green at last – trimmed with darker green coniferous forest, and the sound of indigo – Mood Indigo. Spring has come and I just simply love the chromatic twists of Duke Ellington’s piece.

The harmonies are a wee bit lewd, I muse, taking an unwilling sip of the horrid coffee, as something breaks up a house on the outskirts of the village, and black smoke rises. I tear out my ear-buds and hear a blast as another house is blown to bits, flames and black smoke, and another and another, closer and closer to the hospital where I am staring petrified from a window on the top floor.

Relax! It was just a dream, a horrible dream.

But my dream refused to end! Hour after hour, it seemed, it hounded me into the bleak grey hours preceding daybreak. That was when I finally woke up and walked through the nightmare, pretending to be my own psychoanalyst: There was, for instance, the scene where we were in the over-crowded bomb shelters under the hospital. Even the patients’ beds were jam-packed. Black, foul-smelling smoke was pouring in through the great iron door that muscular men were trying to shut against the pressure from innumerable beds and patients and nurses on the other side – the outside! – where they were being enveloped in poisonous smoke.

Mind you, the thick iron doors are real enough. They date back to the Cuba crisis. Over the years, hospital employees hurrying through the long subterranean corridors will absent-mindedly have wondered why they are there. Now, once again, they make sense.

My psychoanalyst, i.e. me, tells me that I am terrified they will once again be needed, and that now, bomb shelters from the fifties cannot possibly accommodate the current population.

Once again, we are witnessing a stand-off between powers. Back then, in 1962, somebody – possibly on both sides – had a bit of sense, and WWIII was averted. Will it be averted this time?

Some politicians – again on both sides – have very big egos and are keening to demonstrate their mettle. In the West, they are often referred to as “hawks” or “hardliners” or “neocons”, men more often than not, obsessed with the idea of being noticed, yea, adulated. In the US, having preened themselves they make sure to gain the attention of TV cameras in front of which they strut like turkeys.

What, I wonder, are they called in the East?

In the West, we don’t see Russian turkeys, unless we consider Putin one. He has after all been depicted in the press with a bare torso. (You would never see Biden with a bare torso! On the other hand, you would never hear Putin speaking like a neocon). Maybe would-be Russian turkeys are being suppressed. There is, of course, also the possibility that Russians don’t admire human turkeys as much as we do in the West. Maybe they admire subtlety and irony. In fact, I happen to know that Russians are masters of irony.

How about honesty? Putin is a liar, no doubt about it. He said he would not invade Ukraine, and see what happened!

Mr Putin, henceforward nobody will ever, ever, ever believe a word you say. That card, that of your word, is one that you will never again be able to play. Not that politicians in the West don’t lie. “I never had sex with…” And what about the famous “weapons of mass destruction” for which an entire country had to be destroyed. But those liars got voted out of power. They went. They all go, one after the other; all the western strongmen (and they all lie) go, but you, Mr Putin, you are staying, having imprisoned your opponents. Now, however, you have played a card you could not afford to play. You lied demonstrably to an entire world that will not forget, far less forgive. Mendacity is not generally tolerated, Mr Putin.

Now “the Russians” are destroying a whole country. Much good it will do them, with Finland and Sweden joining NATO and a cold war – more like an ice age – freezing all of Europe. Oh, I’m pretty sure Russia will survive. Less sure that Europe will, not to mention Ukraine.

If it comes to being bad, every trick in the book will be used by both Western turkeys and Eastern masters of mendacity.

So who is good? Who is bad? It seems so obvious now, but who produces what evidence in what court? Above all: Who is the judge?

Meanwhile people are being killed absurdly on both sides. “Poof! You’re out!”

For years, I’ve been following the Catalan issue. Catalonians and Spaniards have diametrically opposed understandings of Catalan history, just as the Ukrainians and Russians have different understandings of Ukrainian history. In 2017, Catalonia seceded, and the Spanish central authorities demonstrated that Franco’s spirit is still alive and well. (The Franco regime’s crimes against humanity have never been prosecuted in Spain.) A civil war seemed more than possible. Fortunately, a change of government in Spain enabled genuine and constructive dialogue. The issue is not solved, not least since “patriotic” Spanish voters tend to be furiously opposed to compromise, but I put it to you that genuine constructive dialogue is better than civil war.

NATO never offered genuine constructive dialogue. After Russia’s very unfortunate reaction to NATO’s pigheadedness, the West has stomped into this issue with heavy military boots, pouring arms into Ukraine, inviting Ukrainians to exterminate themselves and their country, solely in order to debilitate Russia.

All I can say, by way of conclusion is this: Hey you guys on both sides, history will be your judge, so pull your fucking socks up!

Jan 212022
 

Let us take stock of NATOs fiefdoms in Europe. The map (right) shows the extent of NATO in Europe in 1990: (source: Wikipedia as at 20 Jan. 2022): Since the organisation’s foundation in 1949, only four states had joined: West Germany, Greece and Turkey (in 1952) and Spain (in 1982 after the end of the Fascist dictatorship).

The light blue patch denotes that Germany was being unified and that what had been East Germany would soon be included in NATO. East Germany’s inclusion was the source of negotiations between the Soviet Union and Western powers.

Since then — only 30 years ago — the outcome of these negotiations appears to have been “forgotten” by the Western powers. Agreements were reached in 1989 through 1991, that the Western powers subsequently failed to honour.

As a Norwegian, I am particularly pained and humiliated by the abject lies told by my former Prime Minister, the current dangerously silly secretary general of NATO. See for yourself in the National Security Archive that the Western powers pledged that NATO would not expand “one inch” eastwards.

Now this is the extent of NATO in 2020:
(source: Wikipedia as at 20 Jan. 1922):

See a difference?

All the former European Warsaw pact states have been joyously welcomed into NATO. Well, not all: Moldova is not a member, and Belarus is Dictator Putin’s plaything.)

And then there is, of course, Ukraine.

Now I am sure that most of us agree that Mr Putin is as much of a psychopath as President el-Sisi of Egypt and the handsome prince of Saudi Arabia and whoever is in charge in Israel at any given moment, currently Benny Ganz, all three of whom systematically and continuously commit crimes against humanity.

But NATO does not go to war on Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Israel, far from it! These three countries are NATO allies. So please let us agree on one point:

NATO is absolutely indifferent about human rights.
I repeat: NATO DOES NOT DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS.
NATO cares only about “realpolitik” (as defined in Wikipedia as at 20 Jan. 1922):

… politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism. It is often simply referred to as “pragmatism” in politics, e.g. “pursuing pragmatic policies”. The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are perceived as coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian.

So I ask you:
If you were Russian, living in Russia, and your president told you that “our country is surrounded by NATO and risks being attacked”, and you looked at the two above maps, what would you think of NATO? …. a NATO that is now literally hugging all your European borders except that of Sweden, Finland and Ukraine, a NATO that is now determined to include even Ukraine.
Would you consider NATO expansion “peaceful”?

And I ask you also:
If you were Russian, living in Russia, and you looked at the two above maps, would you oppose your president? … a president who, admittedly, uses all “necessary” means to suppress serious resistance to his regime, but who is determined to uphold Russia’s honour.
Or would you gladly defend your country against NATO?

Please remember that Russians love their country just as much as you love yours.

Now, I put to you that the current secretary general of NATO is not a smart player, is not even vaguely a statesman. He is merely a puppet of the Pentagon (i.e. US military industry) and is, probably unwittingly (poor man), acting as a warmonger.

Analogy: A kid is surrounded by bullies telling him to lie down on the ground, or else!
Now if that kid happens to have a switch-blade in his pocket, he might actually fight back, and maybe his friends (China, Iran and other outcasts) will come to his rescue and the outcome will be extremely bloody.

I don’t like kids with switch-blades anymore than you do. But I think we have to rethink foreign relations. Silliness should certainly not determine the fate of any country’s population.

In a recent substack post by Glenn Greenwald about the unholy alliance between “war hungry” neocons and the Democratic Party, I find a quote from Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations:

In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. To them this amusement compensates the small difference between the taxes which they pay on account of the war, and those which they had been accustomed to pay in time of peace. They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

Now that’s silly for you.!

Reality is this:
(Copied from the New York Times, photo by Diego Ibarra Sanchez)

Dec 212021
 

The Social Democrat Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile in 1970, and again in 1973. His re-election in 1973, in spite of the United States’ destabilization activities (which effectively paralysed Chile) was the last straw for the U.S. and the Chilean upper class. The role played by the United States in the bloody 9/11 coup and the dismantling of Chilean Social Democracy is well documented not least by declassified documents from the US National Security Archive.

The blood-curdling bestiality of the subsequent dictatorship has also been painstakingly researched, not least by some of the victims’ next of kin (e.g. the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet). Incidentally, allow me to recommend the six episodes of the Netflix documentary, “Colonia Dignidad” established shortly after WWII and later used as one of the dictatorship’s myriad torture and detention centres.

The next opportunity for Chilean voters to make their wishes known came on 5 October 1988. To prove to his Western friends, not least Margaret Thatcher, how much his people loved him, and thus to justify continued dictatorship, Pinochet had allowed the “YES or NO plebiscite”. It didn’t occur to him that people would vote NO (i.e. NO more Pinochet!)

Again I recommend a film, “NO”, by Pablo Larrain. The fictional protagonists playfully use the enemy’s Neoliberal marketing tricks to win voters.

Equally important, I think, is another lesson learnt: David can beat Goliath. Pinochet held absolute power over all media, which trumpeted, day in and day out, Chile’s impressive GNP, its wealth and strength. All known leftist activists were either dead, abroad or in jail. Pinochet was handsome, elegantly courteous to the ladies, a “real man” for the men and devout (i.e. “a good man”). He was indeed beloved by many. His detractors were portrayed as dangerous communists, determined to strip you of all your property.

Still, Pinochet’s opponents won!

His “Chicago boys” had been hand-picked by Milton Friedman to reform the economy of the country, which became a testing ground for market fundamentalism, commonly referred to as “Neoliberalism”. After Pinochet stepped down, market fundamentalism was still enshrined in “his” Constitution, which was promulgated in 1980. For decades now, the world has considered Chile an economic miracle.

Was it?

The day 18 October 2019 saw the start of the “Estallido” (explosion). Just a few days earlier, President Piñera had boasted that Chile is the “oasis of Latin America”, failing to mention who owned the “oasis”. “Not us, to be sure,” said most people. “To be eligible for retirement benefits, we have to pay private pension funds that only repay a fraction of what we paid. We have to pay for private health insurance and for the education of our children. We are hopelessly indebted; we work from dawn till midnight; we hardly even know our children!”

When “our children” were castigated for refusing to pay the Metro fare to get to school because of a small price hike, parents stood by them. What started as a juvenile prank (the kids simply jumped over turnstiles) ended up as a major riot with tanks and a president who declared the country at war.

“War?” spat the infuriated hundreds of thousands of protesters on the streets. “You are going to war against your own people?” Indeed, President Piñera was castigated by his own allies when Chile made international headlines due to the authorities’ brutality against peaceful demonstrators.

The uprising lasted for weeks and only ended after President Piñera had promised a new plebiscite. On October 25 the people of Chile were allowed to answer two questions: 1) Should the existing constitution be replaced? 2) In the event, should a new constitution be drafted by a democratically elected constitutional committee?

The voters responded with a resounding “YES” to both questions.

Alas, the subsequent backlash included the usual lies about what would become of Chile in the hands of idealistic fools manipulated by Russia, Cuba and China. I shall refrain from giving you the full text with which, I’m sure, you are already familiar. You know as well as I do that the Neoliberal set adroitly tailor the “information” they provide to fit their customers’ educational level, religion and culture. Above all, they make sure to filter “information” and spice it with titbits of fiction. “Truth” is not in the Neoliberal dictionary.

Many Chileans will literally have wept when a Fascist won the first round of this year’s presidential election. Referring to politicians you dislike as “fascists” is not comme il faut, but Jose Antonio Kast really is just that, a Fascist. A soft-spoken, handsome religious conservative like his hero Pinochet, he has the political outlook of an iron fist. Just as in Brazil, voters had tired of moderate conservatives and the only right wing person who could rally support was one who promised the moon. Electoral participation in the first round was, however, no more than 47%.

Voter turnout in the second round, on 19 December 2021, was 56%, even though most buses mysteriously stopped running that day, and people had to stand in line for hours in the scorching heat. Moreover, many Chileans living abroad were also prevented from voting when they discovered that Pinochet’s constitution requires them to register with their embassies almost half a year in advance of elections.

Chile is a deeply polarised country. That’s what dictatorships do to countries: They cleave them, and the wounds last for generations. Take Spain, for instance. Franco died in 1975, but the country has not healed, it is merely hushed. Silence is not always golden.

But in Chile, a young and fresh generation has taken charge, a generation that appears determined to dismantle Neoliberalism. To quote President-elect Gabriel Boric: “if Chile was the birthplace of Neoliberalism, Chile will also be its grave.”

Let us hope.

Dec 202021
 

LOOK TO CHILE

LOOK TO CHILE

LOOK TO CHILE

Challenging neoliberalism, fake news, and mainstream (neoliberal) press is only the first step. Winning an election against such formidable foes, however, is nothing less than fantastic, almost sci-fi.

What remains to be seen is whether the beautiful forces of mostly (but certainly not only) young people demanding a decent life, a fair constitution, and basic human rights will survive past the almost paralysing astonishment at their actually having won the election.

Hope is definitely not dead.

Nov 272021
 

Where were we?
Oh , yes:

   pandemics;
   rising inequality;
   and of course the pending implosion of basically all systems, due to climate change.

Is there any point in writing? Is there any point of signing petitions which governments don’t even bother to read, of joining protest marches that attract little notice unless they are brutally castigated by riot police. Is there any point of even discussing these issues?

Over the past decade, Greta Thunberg, Thomas Piketty, and Yuval Noah Harari have all been saying – each in his or her way – Stop the runaway train! They are no doubt still saying it and many, many others with them. Yet, all we hear from the powers-that-be is, as Greta Thunberg points out: bla-bla-bla.

Many of the passengers on the runaway train are bent over their mobile phones or tablets, some are chatting quietly, some are gazing out the window, a few are reading a book or a printout of a report or academic paper. In one of the wagons where a group of 6 are singing Christmas carols, a man has managed to fall asleep in a corner. Night has fallen outside, and the train careens on.

But not all is lost. Tireless efforts by millions of dedicated scientists all over the world have yielded results. Most of the deleterious processes undermining climate as we know it have been identified. By the same token, researchers have found out how these processes can be halted, even stopped. Yes, it can be done!

There is only one overwhelming obstacle: “the matter of money”.

Not that there isn’t enough “money”. Far from it. Somebody said the other day, “it only takes 2 % of all countries’ national product” – that’s not much, really, not when so much is at stake.

What is so utterly unresolved, however, is “whose money?”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skibbereen_by_James_Mahony,_1847.JPG

Alas, there is much callousness about! Take for instance the British authorities’ reluctance to provide relief to its own citizens during the great famine in 1845-52. (One million died, and more than 2 million fled.) Was there an element of ethnic cleansing involved (after all, the victims were Irish, Catholic and poor) or was this disaster only a matter of “who pays?” At any rate, Great Britain was the richest nation on earth, and the authorities knew exactly what was happening.

Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries, when neither the nobility nor the clergy paid any tax, was a different matter. The Spanish crown, nobility and Church desperately needed funds to pay for endless wars and unimaginable profligacy (“noblesse oblige”). For a while, the Crown had access to silver and gold, robbed from Latin America, but over time, Spanish decadence was basically paid for by the peasants, who had the nasty habit of dying of starvation and exhaustion. There was no industry, few if any bustling towns with wealthy, tax-paying burgers, and hardly any agriculture to speak of. Spain was an extremely backward country.

Why? Because of what we would nowadays refer to as an “attitude problem” or, more precisely, because of ideology. Finally, in the 18th century, “the enlightenment” started seeping in, eroding cracks in the pernicious ideology that enveloped Spanish society, and Spain slowly started picking itself up out of the gutter.

Mind you, there was plenty of resistance to the progressive reforms advocated by adherents of “enlightenment”. Neither the clergy, nor the nobility wanted to relinquish privileges and – this is key – the destitute peasants weren’t impressed either; the reforms sounded outlandish and would not immediately benefit them. Spain remained a backward country until after the death of its last dictator, Franco.

Ideological sea-changes tend to be painful. There will be unpleasant discussions between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and students. Besides, not all so-called “progressive” ideas are good ideas even if rioters are willing to die for them.

In many countries, we see a traditional “right wing”, a traditional “left wing” and a so-called “centre”. And then we have what the press calls “extreme right” and “extreme left”, both of which are condescendingly referred to as “populist”. The majority of voters want to play safe, so they tend to prefer “centrist” parties. In recent years, however, growing income and wealth inequality and anxiety about the future (immigration, crime, and climate change) has driven growing segments of many populations to lose faith in Democracy, to vote for fascist leaders, and to demand “tough action”. (We are now seeing a neo-fascist taking the lead in Chile, after the first round of elections. Interestingly, an Italian newspaper has seen the writing on the wall for Chile and has published an excellent analysis of Antonio Kast’s style.)

Whether a government is headed by traditional parties, fascists or “populists”, most countries are in the throws of ideological, economic and political petrification. There is an unwillingness to acknowledge that a free market has not and will not solve the issues of immigration pressure, crime and climate change. The free market has, inst exacerbated the problem of growing income and wealth inequality, i.e. the divide between rich and poor countries (hence the growing flow of desperate migrants) and between the haves and have-nots in each country (hence crime and civil disorder).

Moreover, no country that I know of has started adapting to a very simple little fact:

Continued economic growth is simply not sustainable. There is absolutely no doubt about this, like it or not. I repeat: Continued economic growth is not and never will be sustainable.

We need to find other ways of doing business. There are lots of ideas out there, alternative economic models, elephants we fail to bring into the runaway train. They are tied up outside the train stations, in the freezing cold. There is no doubt in my mind that something will have to give, sooner or later. We are at a sea change. In comparison, the advent of the Pill and the Personal Computer will have been small change. So bring in the elephants!


		
Oct 202021
 

No doubt about it: There is more domestic violence (“Intimate Partner Violence” or IPV) in the Nordic countries and the UK than in, for instance, Spain, Italy and Ireland. In spite of greater gender parity!

Allow me to draw your attention to an Icelandic TV series, “The Flatey Enigma”. This is to all appearances a fairly ordinary crime story, true enough from the 70s., with a vibrant female heroin and a dull and ugly scoundrel who happens to be the investigating police officer.

However, there is nothing ordinary about the series. Just as the heroin has to revert (in 1971) to blackmail to have a particularly interesting article published in an academic journal – because she is only a woman, after all – the director of this series has had to use a “crime device” to demonstrate that Icelandic women were battered in the 1970s.

I watched the four-part series with growing dismay. I had known that conditions were hard for everyone in Iceland back then, and that women rarely had reason to laugh or even smile, but I did not know they were battered. I decided to look into the issue.

In the seventies, some very few women were fortunate or brave enough to go abroad to work and/or study. They had no trouble finding work throughout Scandinavia, because they had a reputation of being extremely hard-working. While abroad, they learned that women need not defer to men, and they learned to talk back. In 1975, back in Iceland, they were able to organise the most remarkable demonstration of female power I have ever heard of: They persuaded the country’s entire female population to go on strike for one day. How they managed, I cannot imagine! But they did.

It was a stunning affair. The country was absolutely paralysed for a whole day. No food on the tables, schools and childcare centres closed. Male doctors had to nurse hospitalised patients, daddies had to change toddlers’ nappies, planes were grounded…

After that, things changed. Everything changed, and very quickly. Vigdis Finbogadottir became president, and Iceland evolved from a miserable backwater where many people still lived in turf huts into a truly modern country. (I hasten to add that the greedy bastards who drove Iceland to the brink of extinction in 2008 were not women. Mind you, women can be greedy bastards too.)

No, Icelandic women need not bow to any man in public. BUT, in private, alas, things are still not well. An article in Foreign Policy notes:

One theory to explain the Nordic paradox is that increased gender equality fuels male resentment, creating frustrations that are channeled into physical violence—a mode of action where men can easily still dominate. Violent outbursts of this sort, fueled by feelings of injured masculine status, are so deeply psychologically motivated that they can be difficult for governments to counteract.

In the same article a link takes us to the abstract of a study carried out by the National Hospital.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to analyse the prevalence of hospital visits and nature of injuries caused by intimate partner violence (IPV) against women and associated costs. All visits to Landspitali National University Hospital by women 18 years or older subjected to IPV, inflicted by a current or former male partner during 2005–2014, were observed and analysed
…. punching (29.7%), shoving (17.8%), kicking (10.5%) and attempted strangulation (9.8%) were the most common types of aetiology. Repeated new visits were 37.8%.

I repeat: There are few Muslim immigrants in Iceland, so it’s no use blaming them.

If asked to pick one of the suggested causes of the Nordic Paradox, I would vote for “backlash”. If you impose norms on a recalcitrant group, it seems intuitively obvious to me that there will be resistance. Some will protest loudly. Others will just take private action.

Female emancipation dethrones the male. Many men have absolutely no wish to sit on a throne and be “boss”, and for them female emancipation is liberating. For many others, however, it is perceived as socially castrating and as a violation of what they consider their birth rights.

There are lessons to be learnt here for countries where female emancipation is still a matter of the future (e.g. Afghanistan). Action will have to be taken to help the male population come to terms with a new and disconcerting (for them) reality.

Oct 192021
 

Have you heard of the Nordic Paradox?

I quote a paper on the subject:

Intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) is a global public health issue often assumed to be associated with gender inequality. The so-called Nordic Paradox, the apparently contradictory co-existence of high levels of IPVAW and of gender equality in Nordic countries, has not been adequately explained.

Let me tell you, all this is new-speak in my ears, starting with ” IPVAW”, which is international jargon for what we normally refer to as “domestic violence”.,

The reason I found the said paper was that I was confronted a few weeks ago by friends in Spain who resented my – ehem – “insinuation” that Spaniards go around battering and killing women. Yes it is true that a year or two or three ago, 55 women were killed in Spain. But, my friends continued, how many people live in Spain? So how many femicide victims are there per 100k in Spain?

I was put to shame.

My friends sent me figures and charts and goodness-knows-what, to demonstrate the opposite of what I had posited. Below, you will find a map of the EU countries. Source: Violence against women: an EU-wide summary. The 2012 findings were apparently more or less corroborated in a rather more wide-ranging March 2021 report. You will recognise the “FRA” logo of both reports.

What the map tells us is that the countries with least domestic violence are, interestingly, countries we generally consider Catholic. Countries with the highest reported levels of domestic violence are Denmark, Finland and Latvia. I repeat: these figures are from 2012.

So, are Protestants more violent than Catholics?

Are Catholics more reluctant to report domestic violence than Protestants? What about Muslims?

This line of enquiry is not politically correct, so I will leave it for now.

Norway and Iceland are not on the map as they are only EEA countries.

Statistics Norway provides very little information about domestic violence in Norway. All I found were three terse sentences:

Lifetime Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence: 27 %
Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the last 12 moths: 6 %
Litime Non-Partner Sexual Violence: Official National Statistics Not Available.

As for Iceland you will see that Denmark, Finland and Iceland are high up on a WHO shame list (notice Turkey!!!):

To summarise: In the European Nordic countries, not least in Iceland, there is greater gender parity than practically anywhere else in Europe. Forget the details for now, but let’s just say that women in these countries enjoy as much liberty, pay and prestige as men. E.g.: The Danish, Finnish and Icelandic prime ministers are all women. However, there is more domestic violence in these same countries (and in the UK) than almost anywhere else in Europe.

Again I direct your attention to the interesting paper about a Swedish study that I mentioned by way of introduction. It refers to various suggested explanations for the paradox, such as male backlash at female success, and high alcohol consumption. It discusses whether women in Sweden are more prone to report maltreatment than women elsewhere. It points out that there are reasons to argue that the opposite may be the case. The paper also dismisses the theory that immigrants are at the heart of Sweden’s poor showing, as “othering.

Enter Iceland. Again, Iceland is not on the EU map and is more interesting than Norway in this context, as I hope to demonstrate. Iceland is a particularly interesting country for researchers of — not least — medical, social and natural sciences as it is an island. (Hardly any Moslem immigrants have even considered taking refuge on that cold Atlantic rock. ) Due to its tiny population of about 360 thousand, Island is also frequently a statistical aberration.

So, no, Muslims do not explain IPV in Iceland.

To be continued.

Oct 142021
 

Have I made fun of the term? I bow my head in shame.

Yes, it is true that being allowed to vote once every four years for some caudillo to lead your country is not really worth fireworks. However, Democracy is not only about ballot boxes! Sometimes, you only understand that, when Democracy has been lost. And it is so easily, alas, lost.

Democracy requires “Separation of Powers” (a concept commonly attributed to Montesquieu). “Separation of Powers” means that the executive branch (i.e. the president, the army, the police and the secret service) have no powers over the judiciary (i.e. the courts) and the legislature (i.e. the National Assembly or whatever assembly determines what laws should apply in a country.) Separation of powers is absolutely quintessential for a “Democracy”. Every once in a while, we see that a hotshot decides that he should be his country’s emperor, like Napoleon. Alas, the basis for such a decision is more often than not sociopathy; certainly not wisdom.

An excellent if somewhat lengthy documentary from the European TV channel Arte about conditions in Hungary serves as an illustration of what happens when one man holds too much power. It should give you goosebumps as it thoroughly illustrates at least three points, of which the first, that Hungary is now only nominally a Democracy, is only a prelude. Let me cut to the quick: In the midst of the EU, then, you have a country led by a governmental crime syndicate; a rather chilling thought.

The deceased Portuguese novelist José Saramago wrote a wonderful novel that humorously illustrates how easily Democracy could be subverted, even without violence: “Ensaio sobre a Lucidez”, literally Essay on Lucidity, 2004, (the English translation of which is called “Seeing”). I recommend an article about the book in the Guardian by Ursula K. Le Guin. She concludes:

He has written a novel that says more about the days we are living in than any book I have read. He writes with wit, with heartbreaking dignity, and with the simplicity of a great artist in full control of his art. Let us listen to a true elder of our people, a man of tears, a man of wisdom

The novel can be read as a sequel to “Essay on Blindness” (1997). Whereas the “Essay on Blindness” is horrifying, the tardy sequel is kind to the reader. Yet, it leaves no doubt: On a rainy day, Democracy can be undone by a mere gesture, or absence of gesture, of the hand.

As we all know, of course, many countries are run by autocrats and/or de-facto crime syndicates. Many, many countries. Hungary, however, is in the EU. The EU prides itself on transparency and rule of law. Indeed there is no concealing from the EU what is going on in Hungary and Poland. But as you will see in the documentary recommended above, there is nothing the EU can legally do about the matter. So far.

What about your country? Does it claim to be Democratic? Is it really?

We all saw how close a call the US had, when the country’s voters nearly gave Trump “four more years” in “fair and Democratic” elections. What would happen to France if Eric Zemmour becomes that country’s president in “fair Democratic” elections? (And what will then happen to the EU?

No, I do not subscribe to the idea that Democracy is outdated. China and Russia may believe in authoritarian leadership, in imprisoning or even killing whistle-blowers and journalists that ask difficult questions and expose abuse of power. I do not. I should add, for the record, that China and Russia are not the only countries where constructive criticism is unwelcome. And in case you have forgotten, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are still wanted by you-know-what country.

No the problem is not that the US and the EU are too Democratic, but that they are not Democratic enough.

Who voted for Trump and who will vote for Zemmour, and why?

I find myself wondering whether sex slaves vote and if so, who do they vote for? They make up a small, yet not totally insignificant proportion of most countries’ populations. Imagine your country as a large empty aquarium. Pour in all your country’s sex slaves and they will just barely form a film over the floor of your aquarium. Add all the people who fill the shelves of all your country’s grocery stores. Add all the street sweepers, all those who wash all the floors in hospitals and all the floors of your cities’ innumerable office buildings… The tide is rising in the aquarium. You still haven’t added the unemployed.

What about the majority of your rural population, which is probably “at risk of poverty and social exclusion“, as the EU puts it: “The at-risk-of-poverty rate is the share of people with an equivalised disposable income (after social transfer) below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income after social transfers.”

Please, PLEASE note that we are talking about 60% of the MEDIAN “equivalised disposable income”. In plain English: half the population have an income above the median and half have an income below it. In my country 18 % of all fully employed people are “at risk of poverty and social exclusion”.

Who do they vote for? Do they vote for Labour, or whatever the equivalent of Labour is called in your country? Will our Labour-equivalents truly improve their conditions? Will any major party that respects rule of law? My guess is that the answer to that question is “no”, and that our “at risk of poverty and social exclusion” voters know that.
No wonder, then, that wild-eyed preachers, charlatans, megalomaniacs and sycophantic scoundrels find it easy to deceive consumers and even voters by offering a deceptive ray of hope.

Take a look at your country’s median income in 2021. You might consider how far the median income would get you if you had to pay rent, electricity, transportation, childcare, insurance, internet, phone bill, etc. etc. etc. oh, and I forgot food.

Sep 232021
 

I det siste har jeg stadig oftere måttet høre på sinte spydigheter fra ikke-nordmenn om det de betrakter som norsk hykleri i klima- og miljøsaker. Det dreier seg f.eks. om våre karbonkvoter – at vi betaler oss ut av å måtte redusere utslipp; at vi subsidierer kjøp av elektriske luksusbiler (uavhengig av hvor mange bensin- og dieselbiler en familie ellers måtte disponere og bruke); at vi utrydder ulver; at vi driver flathogst osv., osv.

I uke 37, hadde Klassekampen et sint innlegg om Equinors fracking i argentinsk Patagonia. Lørdag 18. september minnet samme avis leserne om “Kobbermyggen” i Repparfjorden. Myndighetene har gitt konsesjon og tillatelse til drift av en kobbergruve i Repparfjorden, mot innvendingene fra blant annet Sametinget, Havforskningsinstituttet og Fiskeridirektoratet. Noe av problemet gjelder avfallshåndtering. På mandag sendte jeg et innlegg om disse to sakene til Klassekampen. Det ble ikke tatt inn. I stedet kom et tilsvar om fracking fra Equinors “Informasjonsdirektør”: “Grove påstander om Equinor i Argentina”. Jeg lurer på hva årslønnen er for en informasjonsdirektør hos Equinor.

Er det en tilfeldighet at det i Wikipedia ikke finnes noen norsk utgave av den lange engelske artikkelen om “tailings”? (Jeg tror ikke ordet “slagg” er en tilfredsstillende oversettelse av ordet, da “tailings” også omfatter kjemikalier som brukes under utvinningen, i tillegg til naturlig forekommende stoffer som omdannes når de reagerer med vannet.)

Verdens naturvernunion (IUCN) har i dag 81 medlemsstater, blant dem Norge, som møtes hvert fjerde år. I 2016 ble det lagt fram et forslag om å forby dumping av avfall fra gruvedrift i havet. (Vedtak fattet av IUCN er riktignok ikke bindende.) Norge og Tyrkia var de eneste statene som stemte mot forslaget. Til og med Kina og Russland stemte FOR. En overskrift fra organisasjonen Earthworks gir et talende uttrykk for Norges renommé fra et miljøvern-ståsted: “Indonesia’s Move Away from Ocean Mine Waste Dumping Sets Example for Norway, Papua New Guinea“. Er det Papua New Guinea Norge ønsker å bli sammenlignet med?

I artikkelen “Mining waste too sharp for Norwegian fjord marine life” forklarer den skotske forskningsinstitusjonen the Herriot-Watt University følgende (fritt oversatt): “Det å dumpe gruveavfall i miljøet er stort sett forbudt i Europa, men i Norge er det helt vanlig at selskaper søker om tillatelse til å sende slammet rett ned til de dypeste områdene i tilliggende fjord. Avfallet medfører store endringer i fjordene, hvor det dannes en finkornet havbunn uten liv og uten de organiske stoffene som organismer trenger for å livnære seg.” Legg merke til at det Herriot-Watt kaller “dumping”, kaller folk som Monica Mæland “deponering”. Det høres unektelig mer sofistikert ut.

Vårt eget Naturvernforbund har en fotoreportasje i Jøssingfjorden hvor det ble dumpet avfall fra titan-gruven i Tellnes fram til 1984, men hvor fjordbunnen enda var død i 2020.

Under tittelen “Risking Fjords For Profit? Norway’s Dirty Mining Storyi the New Internationalist leser jeg at både Repparfjorden og Førdefjorden (hvor det utvinnes rutil, som inneholder titan) har sterke dypvannsstrømmer, og at Havforskningsinstituttet frykter at det fine livløse støvet på bunnen av fjordene vil bli spredd vidt omkring, slik at giftstoffene i støvet, kommer inn i næringskjeden.

De norske myndighetene hevder visst at kobberutvinning i Repparfjorden vil være “grønn” industri. Temmelig frekt, spør du meg. Mer enn det: Kynisk.

Hva gjelder den berømmelige norske elbil-politikken, er IMF ikke imponert (fritt oversatt): ” Jo dyrere bilen er, jo større er tapt skatteinngang for staten og tapte avgifter; dermed gis de største subsidiene til husholdninger med høyest inntekt…” Videre (fritt oversatt): Norge kunne “heller ha betalt subsidier for hver bensin- eller dieseldrevet bil som faktisk ble erstattet med en elektrisk bil.” Så enkelt kan det sies. Ingen vil vel hevde at IMF er venstrevridd? En annen sak er at Norge må være det landet i Europa hvor elbiler forbruker mest energi pr mil. Vi burde kanskje heller ha subsidiert elbilbruk i Afrika?

Norge gjør i det hele tatt mye rart det ikke snakkes nevneverdig om i norsk presse. Equinors fracking-eventyr i USA ble riktignok gjenstand for en modig Brennpunkt-dokumentar. Et av de uforglemmelige punktene i dokumentaren er hvordan Equinor prøvde å bortforklare skadevirkningene av deres virksomhet i de rammede distriktene. Nå skal Equinor i stedet forgripe seg på Patagonias Mapuche-land. Jeg gir sant å si ikke fem øre for informasjonsdirektørens forsikringer.

Også Norsk Hydro har vært på eventyr i Søramerika. The Guardian hadde en talende overskrift om Hydros virksomhet i Amazonas: “Pollution, illness, threats and murder: is this Amazon factory the link?

For å gå tilbake til Repparfjorden: Jeg innrømmer at 300 arbeidsplasser i Finnmark ikke er til å kimse over. Ordet “arbeidsplasser” er i det hele tatt et magisk ord som åpner stengte porter over hele verden, porter som tillater at :

  • Immigranter på flukt må dø (eller drepes?)
  • Urfolk må gi avkall på sine områder
  • Fjorder må kveles
  • Arter, f.eks. ulver, må utryddes
  • Pollinerende insekter må forsvinne
  • osv. osv.

Dette, sier de, for at vi skal være konkurransedyktige og beholde vår velferd. Men beholder vi vår velferd? Til å begynne med blir det bare de lavest lønnede som dumper ned under fattigdomsgrensen etter hvert som strømprisene stiger. Senere blir det stadig flere …

Mark my words.

Til gjengjeld: Fra og med i dag (22.09.2021) er alle spanske ulver fredet. Drap av ulv straffes heretter med 8-24 måneders fengsel + bøter, og forbud mot å drive jakt i 2-4 år. En gledens dag for mange; men som i Norge er temaet betent.