Snowden marking the end of US world dominance?

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In all honesty, this day had to come. Espionage and unlawful surveillance from a country that uses uncommon  acts of terror to justify two full on wars should not be a surprise. In fact it confirms the suspicions of most.  These allegations  now give governments the leverage to eventually say no to the USA, and to say no to it’s invisible hand that has been dominating the world since the 2nd World War.

The government of Hong Kong refused to revoke Snowden’s right to travel, and like most governments instead turns the table on the agenda at hand: it instead asks, what information do you have about us that we don’t know about. Whilst being a ‘threat of national security’, Snowden has done little but highlighted the USA’s impeachment of the fundamental human rights of it’s citizens and of other foreign individuals. This gives significance to the information that he holds. He is seen more trustworthy than the American political and legal system, that is seen to have failed not just the American people but it’s constitution. More so, his has more diplomatic agency than any American consulate or embassy has in the world at the moment.  No country, under international law has to deport Snowden. It is even encouraged by Amnesty International that he should not deported back the USA in fear that he may be tortured or mistreated by US authorities.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/usa-must-not-persecute-whistleblower-edward-snowden-2013-07-02

In many instances, targeted countries would not collaborate with a country that has betrayed them; put them in a collective meeting or alignment in a political summit or committee: this could be most powerful than any legislation or action conducted by the USA.

With the lack of trust in America from the global community (both organisations and nations), it’s economic decline (china predicted to take over by 2017),  and it’s failures in Iraq and Afghanistan: it could be said that America is eventually crumbling into economic, military and political decline. However, unlike Europe’s colonial powers of the early 20th century, it may not be so willing to except this eventuality.

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Malaysia’s Racial Politics

“Malaysia truly Asia”: The tourist board boasts beautiful islands, lush, green rainforests and a multicultural metropolis in the name of Kuala Lumpur. For the average tourist, that is probably what you will see. They try hard to hide the underbelly lurking the background: racial politics.

Malaysia is and has always been divided. Unlike the lights of the European system of class, Malaysian politics is more dynamic. It is a turbulent whirlpool of race, religion, place of origin and economic background. It is no longer as simple as whether you are Malay, Chinese or Indian. There is now a growing migrant class in Malaysia, attracted by relative political and economical stability. Without migrants, like most developed and emerging economics, the country would be a standstill; but they are treated as an underclass in society.

Petitions have been published and spread around the web calling for the governments of countries where most of these immigrants originate from to disallow them to vote in the general election. One petition states: “We have gathered solid and undisputed evidence that a great number of them are now being used by irresponsible parties to undermine the electoral process in Malaysia, as they have been granted dubious residential status to vote in our forthcoming general election.” It goes on to request that “those who are found to be involved should be duly punished under your national law.”

Such protesters for ‘fair and free’ elections go further to formate a petition written to President Obama, calling it a “democracy crisis in Malaysia”. It is not just through petitions and slandering quotes on the social media that we see such prejudice, it is also prominent at polling stations. A member of the public proudly publishes a video of other voters picketing a bus of voters, of whom they believe to be immigrants, to deter them from voting. But why do people care?

According to the census of 2010, the population of non- Malaysians is only 8.2%. However with the implementation of a new scheme to record and grant amnesty to over 2 million illegal immigrants, the actual number of registered immigrants could amount to roughly 15% of the entire population. This would make them a larger group than ethnic Indians which only accounts for 7.3% of the population. This act of registering illegal immigrants has obviously been seen as a coy to generate soft votes for the ruling party.

However this was one of many blatant exercises to win votes. Subsidies, government backed loans and bumiputra discounts on properties and other material goods are all symbolic of classical boom and bust economics. Yet there was little complaint of this from the opposition, maybe it was because they benefited. But they don’t feel that they benefit from immigrants.

Prejudice towards the immigrant class has been ingrained in Malaysia for years, and it is them who face the brunt of the unjust diversion of frustration with the ruling party. Most of those who have signed petitions and cooperated in ‘flagging up’ these ‘fraudulent’ voters originate from an ethnic minority. It is a gross contradiction to what Malaysian ethnic minorities are attempting to achieve: fair and free elections, and more importantly equal political and economical rights to all Malaysians.

It does not occur to many Malaysians that the majority of immigrants come from marginalised communities. Innocent people from Sri Lanka, Burma and other parts of Asia come to Malaysia to simply seek political asylum, and many of whom do what they can to contribute to the Malaysian economy. These people have chosen Malaysia to reside, they have the legal right to reside and they have the legal right to vote. Free franchise is a basic human right regardless of race, and yes, that also applies to immigrants as well. You never know, they might have voted for the opposition.

Class- Submission to the NUS Website

Thatcher once said, “there’s no such thing as society, there are individual men and women and there are families.” There is perhaps no wonder why she missed the boat in comprehending the legacy of her policies. Society, no matter how disjointed, exists in Britain as much as it does in the rest of the world where there is some form of human civilisation. We are, after all, social beings. Quoting John Donne: “ No man is an island”.
But I do contend with the idea of class as originally stated the communist manifesto. Yes, at the time of writing, there was a clear economic division in society. And yes, there is still a level of inequality in our society today, but not in the same dire conditions illustrated by the works of Marx and Engels. I am not saying that they were the first to recognise the existence of class, but they were the first to recognise that exploitation had to be combated.
Class, like religion, gender, race and other binaries set upon us as either voluntarily or otherwise, is another means of segregation within our society. It is ranking individuals with some form of socio-economic status that is unnecessary and unjust in this day and age. Regardless of class, everyone is required to work in some mode of employment to make ends meet. How much one earns does not eradicate this point. We are all clogs in the rusting clockwork mechanism of a society. Like Marx and Engels said “the labourer, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity.”
We are all dependents on an elite group of people, who I would say are above the government or any authority.  They are the ones that see us as bait for their next Ponzi scheme, especially Britain, as we trade nothing but magic paper and pixels on a screen. We are a net exporter of services, basically nothing particularly tangible. And as we see the increase of education standards across the globe and higher living costs in Britain, Britons are going to be seen to be more disposable than ever before.
We are all on the same boat. However is it not all doom and gloom. No matter how much one earns, it is a matter of how much one values money relative to everything else in life. The very founder of capitalism, Adam Smith said in his book: The Wealth of Nations that “the value of any commodity to the person who possess it and who means not to use it, is equal to the quantity of labour with enables him to purchase or command.” In more simplistic words, he is suggesting that someone who works harder for something will value it more than someone who did not have to endure the same level of work.
What I am trying to say that class is irrelevant today, however is it still in existence in contemporary society. But we need to stop comparing ourselves to what our neighbour has, or how many cars Jeremy Clarkson has or how big Jordan’s fake breasts are, and just concentrate on ourselves. The most important thing to ask, is not how much do I have but how happy am I? As my tattooist once said, “sometimes more is less.”

It is time for a new world order

7926126812_33571c3544_b[1]Photo Credit to Luc Forsyth: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75878499@N03/

When the world is ran by some form of imaginary paper and digits on a computer, it is time for humanity to realise that both their perception of economics and politics is based on pure bullshit.

Bitcoin is probably one of the most innovative ways to show how flimsy the whole financial system is, it maybe the means to the solution of devaluing the philosophy associated with imaginary paper, or what we call money. The problem that we are faced with is not the financial crisis, that just flagged up the problem. No, our problem is money itself. Bitcoin is a beautifully simplistic definition of currency. It is deregulated to the fact that there is no single place where it is stored. It is stored on a open source system, so your details are basically decrypted somewhere in the cloud, not in the HSBC ledger. It is not a national currency, it has no central or federal bank and it is ‘mined’ according to the value of the currency against now the USD. And more importantly, its value will not be politically motivated by the lights of China or someone nasty.

But imagine if the Bitcoin  was the global currency and no other currency existed. It was mined to the extent to which the world could feed itself and attain a standard of living that we see acceptable. This is going to be low for our standards in the west, but more than adequate for someone in Haiti who is rummaging through the scraps. But anyway, we get to this stage of equilibrium and no more bitcoins are mined and is distributed evenly. We then just let nature take its course, remembering money can no longer be generated artificially.

This is will either turn the world into an autocratic quasi-communist system or an autocratic quasi-capitalist system where people will end up starving to death regardless. The problem is still going to be money, but now in the form of bitcoin. We unfortunately value everything that we have on something that is purely meaningless. Before the 1970’s we had the good old gold standard. But as we started growing a conscience in trying to create economic equality in western society, generating wealth out grew the supply of gold. In other words aggregate demand, that was generated artificially by government owned companies employing people who would otherwise be unemployed, led to demand for money. This led to the demand for gold, but there was not enough of it. So the gold standard was dropped.

We come to the system that we have now which is the floating exchange rate. This fluctuates with the base rate (which is rate of interest banks and lenders can charge their creditors) and quantitative easing as it fiddles with the supply of a currency, as well as speculative demand. So one currency is valued against another currency which technically has no value. So money is pointless.

But it has universal purchasing power of absolutely any product that you may need, from a prostitute to a loaf of bread. This is despite money having no value whatsoever. With this absurd logic, a pair of headphones which is priced at $10  is the same price as a grain of rice which is priced at $0.00005 because they are all bought with money which is valueless (10×0=0.0005×0). And it the same logic that leads to the unnecessary deaths of people who die of hunger and malnutrition, or of cold weather during the winter. These people are dead due to a lack of something that has no extrinsic value.

Deregulation was unfortunately necessary during the reign Margaret Thatcher after the collapse of Keynesian economics, it still caused the same problem of generating artificial supply of money. Money was seen to be as bottomless as a root beer float at A&W. It led to risks to be made as gains were seen to be limitless in the banking and insurance sector, as at the end of the day it was a massive ponzi scheme with everyday mortgage holders and loan bearers at the bottom of the pyramid. There is one good thing with bitcoin, it will eliminate the banks but it will not solve inequality.

The Sussex Asian Affairs Society

For once the social sciences is not dictated by western ideals. Yes, a group of Asian IR and ID students are setting up a society to discuss problems that are facing us today from a eastern prospective. With an array of potential speakers, film viewings and debates, we hope that everyone will see culture from a different perspective. It is not going to be all serious, there will be lots of food of course; and the odd silly film and discussions.

Bolivia for Sale

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Photo Credit to Sandra De Souza: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sandra_de_souza/

This is pretty much the aftermath of last weeks Top Gear and Damian Lewis dancing to Gangnam Style on Jonathan Woss’s show. As much as it is apparently about Homeland, spending week after week wondering if a pseudo-American ginger man is going to be killed is equivalent to having a warm cup of milk after a long day. So lets put aside the already well known stereotypical American fear of a terrorist blowing their own arses up (and blowing theirs up as a consequence) and put the limelight on a more pressing and relevant matter: the true impacts of neo-liberalism.

Bolivia for sale illiterates the reasons why we should question the means of development and foreign intervention. Please have a watch:

Who should run the country?

Starting a politics orientated course last year popped my abstract bubble of scientific theories, leading me to fall face first into reality. I felt that there was something wrong with the world we lived in, the way our society works, the status quo. I still do and yes, perhaps something should be done but how much does the decisions made by a couple of Eton-educated elitists actually affect our lives?

It is a question that I toyed with when I went back home. The hustle and bustle of South East Asia, the positive economic outlook is blatant: a major contrast to the unemployment gloom we see here. But then a friend points out: it’s the general election next year. And it all falls in place. As a sceptic of everything under the sun it is not hard to come to the conclusion that the sudden wealth is due to the political motivations of the governing party. There is even a smartphone subsidy for youths funded by the Malaysian government. In less fortunate places, government policy and party politics probably  determines if the poorest of the poor have rice on the table. Not being able to question your government and the oppression of negative feedback on their performance is severe.

Here, yes there are cuts, there are job losses but we have a system, that in theory, should safe guard us from extreme poverty. When I’m taxed at work I always ask where the money is going? And I would like to hope that it is going to help those who are vulnerable and need help. In Britain we are free to question, to protest and to be openly sceptical. Using critique affectively and pursuing to be better is never a bad thing. But realistically is what we say being listened to. Even if they are being listened to by our elected leaders? Can they actually implement change?

An elected party, especially in the country like the UK cannot make any long term changes. They have to do what is popular to be re-elected. We see now that the two-horse race consists of teams of career politicians rather than professionals who understand how the government actually works. It is the specifically trained civil servants who spend their careers working in government organisations that run the day to day running of our country. As much as I feel that freedom of speech and choice is important, it is probably more important to give the job of running certain aspects of the country to people who know what they are doing. So we have a bit of a problem.

Do popular movements achieve their objectives

After volunteering finally with amnesty international I thought I’ll find optimism in the populist movement ideology. The idea of protesting for a greater good does not always result in what was wanted to begin with. It is usually the most radical parties that are organised enough to jump on the bandwagon of these movements and it seems to be a global phenomena.
I suppose we have the socialist and Islamic parties here jumping on to the bersih and Lynas movements here in Malaysia. The swpp supporting the tuition fees movement in the uk and the Muslim brotherhood and other affiliates working on influencing politics and taking advantage of discontent in the Arab spring.
Even if it doesn’t address the interest of the majority they often get popular support for fighting for a common cause or argue that they represent the majority by joining a popular movement.
There is always someone trying yo ruin the party

Correspondence with Mike Weatherley MP for Hove and Portslade

Dear Mike,

I’m sad that this has deterred you from delivering your talk on drug policy reform. As much as I oppose what happened on Wednesday, it is also a real judgement of your character and belief in your policies. Denying yourself to be heard due to such an event about has made me very disappointed. Dealing and persevering with crude opposition is always going to be in the nature of your profession, and you are ever so fortunate to be in the UK. Such timid action is probably a justification for using harassment and intimidation to get a point across, is that a message you would like to portray?

In terms of university security, I’m sure they will learn from their mistake. I don’t think anyone thought this would have happened. (However I am more than happy for you to give management a hard time.)

Thank you for your prompt reply. I’m happy for you to take this point rhetorically.

Kind Regards,

Yasmin Centeno

From: WEATHERLEY, Mike [mailto:mike.weatherley.mp@parliament.uk]

Sent: 16 November 2012 18:20
To: ‘Yasmin Centeno’
Subject: RE: Apologises

Dear Yasmin

Thank you for your kind and well reasoned email.

I wish I could have had the opportunity of explaining why this is a good law – and to hear why persons like yourself disagree with it. But alas that was denied.

I doubt I will be coming back to Sussex Uni any time soon. At the moment they are in denial about their security arrangements which just means my talk scheduled for the 30th November on drugs reform is now cancelled. Such a shame.

In have passed on your good wishes to my staff and they are grateful.

Kind regards and thanks once again.

MIKE WEATHERLEY MP

Hove and Portslade

www.mikeweatherleymp.com

From: Yasmin Centeno [mailto:yhnc20@sussex.ac.uk]

Sent: 15 November 2012 00:19
To: WEATHERLEY, Mike
Subject: Apologises

Dear Mike,

I am a student at Sussex University and I am writing this letter as an individual and not as a representative of any student or official body whatsoever.

I am not politically inclined towards the conservative party however I am concerned about what happened at my university yesterday. It denied you the basic right of being about to talk freely and this troubles me deeply. As much as I disagree with the squatting policy that was passed over the summer I believe that you should have had your freedom to explain your side of the argument. I’m sure I speak on behalf of a majority of politically inclined students and staff when I say that we were genuinely enthusiastic for a lively and evenly matched debate about your stance on this issue.

The actions of a select minority did not just undermine our university but the very liberal morals and ideologies that we collectively stand for in this society. It worries me in a place of study, such as Sussex University, that such acts occurred and I apologise that you and your staff were at the brink of it.

I would like to say thank you for coming to Sussex despite what happened today. Please don’t let the actions of a select minority determine your perspective of the general student and staff population of Sussex University.

Please send my regards to all your staff who were affected by today.

Yours Sincerely,

Yasmin Centeno