Miles Report No. 37 - Honour, Aga Khan, and Ukraine.
Interesting week, starting off with thoughts on hearing a short discussion in parliament on honour, followed by events in the Ukraine and its Euro/US centric bias, followed by interesting comments on civil society by the Aga Khan.
I did not hear much of this discussion, centred on some Conservative member being caught out lying to parliament about some voting ‘irregularities’. What was interesting was hearing the comments about “honour” as it applied to members of parliament (lying and vote rigging appear to be a normal function of this government).
From my perspective, as you may well guess, there is a distinct lack of honour in parliament and for parliamentarians - the latter as it should be. Why? Because those who achieve majority status come to admire the wealth, power, and privilege that governing offers to them. This is not only true in Canada, but in most governments around the world. The people are simply pawns in the game, with much rhetoric and many devices used to persuade them that that there is good and bad in the world, and that we are the good and the other is the bad. Thus we have a system wherein the members of Canada’s parliament are hardly honourable.
The idea of honour of course did not arise from the people themselves, but from early parliamentarians who controlled the land and wealth (private property) of the nation(s). They agreed with each other that they were honourable and needed to address each other with such ‘honorifics’ in order to distinguish themselves from the plebeian crowds, a feel good holier than thou attitude.
Which leads indirectly to the Aga Khan who spoke to Canada’s parliament today. He started with the usual platitudes and homilies that would be expected from a guest speaker, but the most interesting part was his words on civil society.
Just before that, he spoke of the “external interventions” that make the Sunni-Shia divide worse, so that it is “becoming a disaster.” He then made an appropriate comparison to the Catholic and Protestants in Ireland, although he could well have extended that back through history to the Protestant and Catholic wars that raged throughout Europe during and after the Reformation. He calls these “dangerous trends be well understood and resisted.”
I wonder how that compares to Harper’s statement about the greatest threat to society being “Islamicism”, an invented term coming from a Christian dominionist. As for the external interventions, they are largely from the U.S., Canada, the UK and NATO - and recently from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States that Canada supports with military aid. These interventions have “undermined relations between great traditions.”
Why? Support of U.S. global hegemony for the petrodollar. If the U.S. loses that it will become increasingly impoverished as it already is in spite of mainstream manipulated statistics (see shadowstats.com for the real statistics on GDP, CPI, unemploymenet et al).
Civil society is of course not in the interests of the ruling Conservatives as expressed by the Aga Khan. Ironically the Aga Khan cited Canada’s “openness to religions” in spite of or in ignorance of Harper’s comments about Islamicism and the ultimate purpose of the Office of Religious Freedom (combined with Poilievre’s Office of Democratic Reform taking on Orwellian dimensions).
Of course for Harperites, religious freedom means freedom from the very civil society structures that the Aga Khan discussed. Freedom from science, from environmental controls.
The Aga Khan said that civil society had a strong role to play in education, culture, science, labour, health, safety, environmental concerns, humanitarian actions among others. He warned against the over emphasis on the “private profit making section” at the expense of civil society. He continued on discussing the parameters of civil society - pluralism, diversity, and a cosmopolitan ethic that welcomes complexity and the rights and responsibilities of those familiar and others.
He discussed the “transformative power of the human intellect” a basis of Islamic thought that includes the elements of civil society - science, labour, health, safety, environment et al, something that is distinctly lacking in the current Haperite government. He mentioned a “great Canadian scientist and humanist” for his pluralistic attitudes, a process that is an “asset of enormous global equality.” Did the Harperites see the irony in this?
He ended with a few platitudes about Canada’s leading role while mentioning the Office of Religious Freedom, as mentioned above, either ironically or ignorant vis a vis the fundamentalist/evangelical nature of the ruling Conservative Harperite government.
In general, the ideas presented by the Aga Khan are enlightened years ahead of anything the Harperite Conservatives could ever conceive. Islam has a strong tradition of honouring education and science among other areas of pursuit. His ideas on civil society (and not covertly supported NGOs as found in the U.S. and Canada) present ideas for an advanced society that is truly open and honest, diverse and plural.
Ukraine (and the CBC)
My interest in the Ukraine situation derived from the poor journalism as presented by the CBC. Are things rotten in the Ukraine? Yes. Are the leaders corrupt? Yes. But what is galling about the CBC reporting is their distinct turn towards U.S. style reporting - by which I mean their concept of balance does not include actually discussing the situation with anyone from Russia except ex-pats.
Oh! You say this is about the Ukraine? Well, yes and no. Of course the Ukrainians want a better lifestyle with more of the pop and fizz of western allures. But the real issue is that the Ukrainians are unfortunately the pawns in a continuation of the imperial great games that have been ongoing for many centuries in Eurasia.
The CBC repeatedly made statements about Russian intervention, about Russian signs of aggression, without once mentioning the many covert influences from the U.S. and its allies. Okay, Russia is not the most democratic country in the world, but if one really examines the U.S., it as well is simply a nominal democracy with lots of pop and fizz and cheezy entertainment for the masses. The “experts” interviewed by CBC were all ex-pats and admittedly some of them were well spoken and well versed, with comments ranging from ‘no, Russia would not attack’ to ‘well, yes, Russia may well attack.’
But beyond these ex-pat experts working for mostly right wing think tanks, nothing was presented of the historical context of the Ukraine, nor of the Russian situation vis a vis U.S. encroachment and containment vis a vis NATO (and the broken promises of no NATO extensions into eastern Europe). Nor was anything mentioned of U.S. covert operations, of the infamous “Fuck the EU” phone call from U.S. officials, of the billions of dollars the U.S. has invested in destabilizing countries around the world.
Ironically, one commentator repeatedly indicated how Russia was destabilizing countries on its perimeter in order to take advantage of the situation. Ahh, beating the U.S. at its own manipulations, when the reality is that it is the U.S. that beats around the world, disrupting any government that does not cozy up to its hegemony and control of the worlds reserve currency, the U.S. fiat petrodollar. (fiat currency: legal tender without any real intrinsic value).
Finally, no comments were coming from Russia itself. I mean really, why would the CBC be interested in “balanced” reporting that did not serve its preconceived view of things, just as with most mainstream media? Why not an interview with the Russian Foreign Affairs office? Scared of reality? Scared of a real “balance”?
As for myself, as you may well guess, I receive my balance from RT News, admittedly biased the other direction, but also enabling me to read alternative views from which I can make my own judgements. And as a result, the mess in the Ukraine is about U.S. interests in containing Russia, of being able to place first strike nuclear weapons on Russia’s borders, eventually destabilizing Russia itself, while maintaining the petrodollar as the global reserve currency.
The Ukrainians are simply the current pawns in this great game. And all the while the Chinese are quietly buying enormous amounts of gold….I hope Harper has a convertibility agreement with China for their yuan.