Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Straight Up Socialist

I've started another blog called 'Straight Up Socialist' as an avenue for my political musings, as I find this blog is a somewhat inappropriate venue for the inevitable onslaught of my radical left-wing views across the internet. I'll probably post as infrequently as I currently do on here, but the content will be coherent between the two as I'll be dividing my interests allowing URL lines. Expect to see content relating to political activism, environmentalism, socialism, protests, union movements and so forth there, and any content relating to irreligion and religion here.

So if you're interested in following me over on my new blog as well I'd appreciate the support, and I will try to keep the content here relevant to blog title as much as I can.

Efficiency and Rubbish

I was driving through the suburb I live in last week on rubbish collection day. One thing that for some reason caught my attention more so than usual was the number of different branded rubbish bins on the side of the road. I counted at least 6; not including the council’s recycling bins and the various green-waste company bins; this was just the household-waste wheelie-bins. This means that every week, just in my small suburb, at least 6 rubbish-bin trucks (probably closer to 10), 1 rubbish-bag truck, 3+ garden-waste trucks and every second week the recycling trucks come through.

Here’s why I think this is a problem and it can be summed up in one word: redundancy. If all the rubbish collection was socialised, those 6-10 private rubbish trucks that come through my small suburb could probably be reduced to just one truck. If rubbish collection was all conducted by the local council (and not just the rubbish bags and recycling) the cost would be lower and the environmental impact would be reduced by not having redundant rubbish trucks trekking all over the city increasing congestion and emitting more pollutants and greenhouse gases.

However now that a large portion of rubbish collection has been privatised for profit it is hard to go back to the more logical socialised system, as you would have to either force the companies to sell to the council (which would cost ratepayers), or simply cut the private companies out of the picture, which could be disputed on legal grounds. Whatever the solution is to cut out this unnecessary waste something needs to be done. We have an oil crisis looming in the foreseeable future, and then there’s runaway climate change, which is exasperated by our excessive greenhouse gas emissions. The redundancy in Auckland’s rubbish collection may be a negligible contributor to the global problem but it is indicative of a larger problem in society. We need to find ways to cut back emissions and pollution wherever we can.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Opiate of the Masses

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”
—Karl Marx

I relate to this sentiment more and more as my interests broaden and I’ll explain why. I see religion as a distraction. There are so many more important things that are happening in this world. Our climate is changing, our environment is under threat, and there are civil wars, oppressive governments, corrupt politicians, unscrupulous capitalists, greedy corporations, human rights violations, poverty, famine, preventable diseases and many more things which require immediate attention. However, millions of people spend unfathomable amounts of time practicing and spreading religion. Without portraying myself as an elitist who claims to have found “the truth”, I think the debate on religion is over, and has been for a long time. When leading apologists like William Lane Craig when push comes to shove, rely on faith and a subjective sense of the ‘witness of the holy spirit’ and admit that their reasons alone will not convince anything, the debate is over.

I was having a discussion this week, and the prospect of what could happen if we fail to do anything about where humanity is headed, we are doomed. If we don’t put an end to the profit and consumption-driven capitalism that western culture is based on within a decade, our future may be very bleak indeed. I don’t think most common people really take seriously the consequences of runaway climate change. Sure, people have watched Al Gore’s documentary, or perhaps have watched ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, but the message still hasn’t hit home with everyday people. Overconsumption of food and fossil fuels continues unabated, farm land in New Zealand is largely used for extremely inefficient Dairy and Meat industries, which are the biggest polluters in this country, and produce the bulk of our carbon emissions.

Imagine if all that time and effort being put into religion, was diverted into something that would really make a difference? Those millions of people could pressure governments to stop feeding the corporate gravy train, and enact measures to protect our future, and our planet. We could stop the habitat destruction and mass wildlife extinctions that are taking place. Instead we have largely apathetic populations that are caught up in trivialities like religion and celebrity pop-culture. As long as people are distracted by these kinds of things, they fall prey to consumerism and maintaining the status quo that will lead to our collective demise.

However, these are not the only things that keep the population in the dark. People get distracted by television, video games, facebook and the list goes on. That’s not to say any of these things are bad, but simply that they play too large a role in a society that is on the verge of collapse. People need to be aware and to get active. Sorry for the length and rantiness.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Christians, Conservatives and Israel

Recently I had a scuffle on facebook with a conservative and it got me thinking again about something that I wanted to write about last year. Why do Christians and conservatives in particular support Israel? I want to explore a few avenues in this post.

The first avenue I want to explore is skepticism. In my recent debacle, the conservative in question said something along the lines of “Why would you possibly think that Israel is not a legitimate state?” when I had expressed such an opinion. He seemed totally unaware of the dialogue in this subject, and cited the fact that Israel is a member of the UN and nearly every country in the world recognises them as legitimate as his reasons for supporting Israel. That blew my mind. He’s an intelligent person too, but apparently practices no skepticism on popularly held views that he also holds. Is this view typical of conservatives? Are they completely unaware that there is serious debate over this issue and unwilling to question the status quo?

Related to the previous, conservatives tend to laud Israel for being the only truly democratic state in the region, as if that automatically deems them worthy of support. They fail to realise that many of the corrupt and fascist states in the area have been propped up and supported financially and militarily by the United States. It’s difficult to have a stable democratic government when foreign superpowers are actively destroying all hope of liberty. Furthermore, Israel only acts with liberty and democratically within its own borders. Their actions toward other countries are anything but. The constant oppression of the Palestinian people, along with massive human rights violation shows that Israel is not just as bad as some of the worst dictators in the region, but is possibly worse, as they get away with it.

Finally (I had to get to it eventually), the religious reasons. These puzzle me the most, as Christians throughout history have been some of the most zealous anti-Semites around. Yet for some reason, in the last 70 years that has all changed. These reasons range from the insane apocalyptic end-of-days beliefs to simple tacit support for their god’s “chosen people”. Perhaps I’m missing an important piece of the puzzle here, but this seems to me like a good example of religious beliefs trampling common decency and human rights underfoot. Palestine was stolen from its inhabitants and given away on what appear to me to be religious-based grounds. The Jewish people had not ruled that area in any meaningful sense for over two millennia, so what right did the imperial west have to take that land off the people living there? None whatsoever.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Invisible Bigotry

It has been a month since I last posted on my blog unfortunately, but this really prompted me to speak out. In the wake of the KONY 2012 campaign, a friend of mine posted a link to another blog on facebook. The title of the post was "Invisible Children Funded By Antigay, Creationist Christian Right" which caught my attention. I had been somewhat critical of the movement for other reasons, such as the tacit, or sometimes explicit support for foreign military occupation in the region.

I'll just take a quote from this post, which you should really read for yourself.

But Invisible Children’s first yearly report, from 2006, gives “special thanks” to the “Caster Family Foundation” and IC’s 2007 report is more specific, thanking Terry and Barbara Caster. In the lead up to the 2008 election, the California-based Caster family was identified as one of the biggest financial backers of the push for California’s anti-same sex marriage Proposition 8.

 Always be skeptical of popular movements, and if they pass the test, give them your support, but don't blindly support causes, ever.