Wisconsin: end of week one

by Harry on February 22, 2011

Again, today’s rallies at noon and at 4 have been large, though not massive. The Assembly is debating the bill, and the Dems are doing everything they can to delay it: when I was there an hour ago they were debating a motion to refer it to another committee — whereas they can only speak a few minutes each on a motion to table, they can speak forever (and it certainly seemed that was what they were doing) on a motion to refer. The senators are still outside the state (and donations are pouring into their coffers, I gather — the Reps are going to face a lot of money at the next election). Walker has delayed the budget speech for a week. There must come a point at which the observation that he is, in fact, incapable of governing will affect people’s view of him. Here’s a video by one of our graduate students:

The Political Theory of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

by Kieran Healy on February 22, 2011

Via Shehzad Nadeem at OrgTheory comes this report on Muammar el-Gaddafi’s son and the Ph.D in Political Theory he wrote at the LSE in 2008, who as it happens also accepted a pledge of £1.5m from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, which Saif ran. Gaddafi the Younger’s thesis, which you can read in its entirety if you like is titled “The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions: From ‘Soft Power’ to Collective Decision-making?” In it, he argues that,

inclusion of elected representatives of non- governmental organisations (NGOs) in tripartite decision-making structures could potentially create a more democratic global governing system. … the thesis argues that there are strong motivations for free individuals to seek fair terms of cooperation within the necessary constraints of being members of a global society. Drawing on the works of David Hume, John Rawls and Ned McClennen, it elaborates significant self-interested and moral motives that prompt individuals to seek cooperation on fair terms if they expect others to do so. Secondly, it supports a theory of global justice, rejecting the limits of Rawls’s view of international justice based on what he calls ‘peoples’ rather than persons. Thirdly, the thesis adopts and applies David Held’s eight cosmopolitan principles to support the concept and specific structures of ‘Collective Management’.

He goes on to say that,

The core aim of the thesis, then, is to explore the potential for the concept of Collective Management to develop a more democratic, morally justified system of global governance that recognises the rights of individuals … and is particularly focused on empowering civil society organizations (CSOs) to give a stronger voice to those currently under-represented in the existing system

From here it is only a short few steps to the view that when push comes to shove, blood will run in the streets and you and your family will fight to the last bullet. I think there’s a passage in A Theory of Justice that can be read as endorsing this claim.

Al Jazeera and the Arab awakening

by Chris Bertram on February 22, 2011

Much as I’ve been loving Harry’s posts on Wisconsin, it seems odd that we haven’t said more here on CT about the more important struggle going on in Libya and about the Arab world more generally. It is difficult to get a sense of what is going on from the sporadic reports, but it looks very much as if Libya’s transition will be to the Arab awakening what Romania’s was to the end of Stalinism in eastern Europe. Gaddafi seems now to have lost his grip on reality if not yet completely on power. Let us hope that he suffers a similar fate to Ceacescu.

Anyone who does want to follow developments in the Arab world has one best option to do so: “Al Jazeera”:http://english.aljazeera.net/ . Vilified by the US under Bush (and its reporters almost certainly murdered by the US military on several occasions), Al Jazeera has been both the conduit of information and the catalyst for change and democratization.

The Emir of Qatar may be a despot, but for Al Jazeera alone he could be winning a Frederick the Great prize as the most enlightened one of recent decades. The democracies of the West, by contrast, have contributed nothing. If the Arab peoples do succeed in freeing themselves, they will have done so themselves and despite the actions and attitudes of the West and the United States with its policies of Israel-first and make-deals-for-oil. For that reason, and so unlike Eastern Europe, such influence the US has in the future will be a function of its power alone and not its moral authority, which is now non-existent. Anyone can back a democratic revolution when it is half won, or cavil at the most disgusting atrocities, but no-one is going to forget that the West backed many of the Arab dictators (especially Mubarak) until nearly the end and still supports some of the worst of them (such as the Saudis). Some might cite Iraq as the exception here but it isn’t really: Rumsfeld embraced Saddam until he went off-message just as Blair welcomed Gaddafi back into the fold when it seemed opportune to do so. Let us hope the Arab 1848 continues to more successful conclusions.

Still going

by Harry on February 22, 2011

The update is that yesterday the rallies at lunchtime and 5pm were, according to the Sentinel, “massive” — and, according to participants “much bigger than we expected”. The Journal-Sentinel has been documenting this with great photo albumshere’s yesterday’s. The teachers go back to work today, and many schools I’ve heard of are holding demonstrations of teachers and students before school opens. The Senate goes back to work, and the Reps are trying to tempt the Senate Dems back by proposing a bill requiring that voters show ID at the polls. The momentum has held up remarkably well on these colder days of Sunday and Monday, the question is whether things will hold up today. There is some talk of a high school student walk-out during the day, but I don’t have confirmation of that (I’ll get it when the 14 year old crawls out of bed). Frustratingly I can’t find a definitive time for the afternoon rally yet, but my bet is 5pm. Anyone who wants to donate Pizza, here is the Ian’s webpage — best pizza in Madison, being delivered from 2 blocks away, but ordered from 47 states and 14 countries (someone from Turkey ordered pizza for the protesters?). Worth reading the story on the front page, and worth bearing in mind that there are a few protesters who are not enamored with mac and cheese pizza, believe it or not. I was out of town yesterday (in my Dem senators’ adopted state) but am looking forward to returning today.
Apparently this was made by a 13 year old kid, but I haven’t found out the name. I like the sped-up bit, and the choice of Green Day.

Comment away.

Call me Dave.

by Harry on February 22, 2011

Via Kris Olds again: Dave being common. Not sure which I prefer, the banana or the beer. (I confess that I find this sort of acting obnoxious whether the politician is a toff or not. Imagine Eric Heffer pretending to be something he wasn’t).