opinion

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In the Shed

Published June 5, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

John F. Kennedy

This is a cautionary tale of conformity by men to the narrative of the idealized masculinity, which requires some to find sanctuary in the closet or shed, As men, we seemingly adhere blindly to this myth as if some article of faith and in turn readily impose it on all. It is the root of all oppression, discrimination and subjugation in society.  The previous post concluded by drawing an analogy between the closet representing the oppression of queer men, and the shed of heterosexual men. This post provides some reflections the premise here is that one man’s closet is an others’ shed and sometimes you might find a closet in the shed. While both represent a prison, they also provide a sanctuary through a weird sense of anonymity.

The issue to free men from these sanctuaries or prisons means we have to challenge the need for their very existence. During the 20th century, masculinity faced a crisis its status as a sacred cow downgraded through critical inquiry by its detractors i.e. cultural diversity, women, and queers. The outcome of this inquiry masculinity is found wanting, more bravado than substance that actively seeks to maintain Anglo-European heterosexual able-bodied male individual, collective and institutional privilege.  Even in the diverse reality of their lived experience, men and their allies still hold doggedly to the fraudulent idealized model of manhood.

The question here is

Reform or Revolution

Coming out of the Shed the road towards a new way of

Knowing and Doing Manhood?

Bibi does Washington

Published May 28, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

Peace

We can achieve peace

I will not listen to you

I will not talk with you

I will not walk with you

We can achieve peace

You will listen to my words

You will do what I say

You will walk alone

We can achieve peace

Bibi does Washington

In this last week, Israel and President Obama have seemingly had a falling out over remarks made by the US President on 19 Mat during his US Middle Eastern policy (CSPAN Video) speech. These remarks related to terms relating to future negotiations on the Israeli – Palestinian peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took exception to these remarks seemingly causing the President a few uncomfortable political moments.  However, what is strange is that the speech simply restated the existing US position on this matter with no obvious changes.

Then on May 20 Obama and Netanyahu met  at the White house after their bilateral meeting the pair posed for the obligatory photo op and give some commentary on the meeting. During this event, the President seemed perturbed by the whole experience, while the PM restated his oppositional position. The evident sticking point seemed about observation of the 1967 borders proposed by the President in his speech and Israel’s manic obsession with national security.

Subsequently, the President addressed  (CSPAN Video) the American Israel Public Affairs Committee ( AIPAC) 2011Policy Conference a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies to government on May 22. Where he engaged in a major political fence-mending exercise, indicating that the meeting with the PM had bearing although he also restated his position of the 19/05/11 leaving no doubt, where he stood. This did not deter the PM from prosecuting his case both at AIPAC and in his address to a joint meeting of Congress (24/05) later in the week.

It sounded like Obama’s aim here to re-start the stalled Israeli – Palestinian negotiations by outlining some general principles in moving forward. The outcome for the President a definite diplomatic/political ‘slap on the wrist’ by Israel and its US allies, Netanyahu proved himself the consummate diplomat /politician. In achieving his goal to effectively, neutralise any threat to his plan from the administration with the support of allies. he Palestinian Authority shunned the PM’s position for its limited parameters for peace. Where to from here, the peace talks remain stalled, Netanyahu ensured that outcome by asserting such rigid terms that he knew the other stakeholders could or would not agree to a progression of this process.

Checkmate

LGBT suicidality

Published May 10, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

Suicide and Suicide Risk in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Popula tions: Review and Recommendations Article (HTML) “Journal of Homosexuality” Jan 2011

When I first saw this article, I thought something new that somebody has realised that the LGBT communities face a higher risk from suicide. The acknowledgement by this panel of academics of how social factors like stigma and discrimination contribute to suicidality or suicidal behaviours of people who identify seems refreshing. In so much as it validates our experiences that these factors detract from our individual and community wellness.

Such as

  • Rejection or abuse by family members or peers
  • Bullying and harassment
  • denunciation from religious communities
  • individual discrimination
  • Discriminatory laws and public policies have a profound negative impact

Their Recommendations include

  • LGBT organizations to lead efforts to encourage early identification of mental health issues
  • Push for the development and testing of a wider range of culturally appropriate mental health treatments and suicide prevention initiatives.
  • Revision of diagnoses pertaining to transgender people in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (due out in 2013) to affirm that gender identity, expression and behavior that differ from birth sex is not indicative of a mental disorder.
  • Improving information about LGBT people by measuring  sexual orientation and gender identity in all national health surveys in which respondents’ privacy can be adequately protected, and encouraging researchers to include such measures in general population studies related to suicide and mental health.

Criticism

Social factors trigger LGBT suicidality these recommendations do not seek to address the issue but at some level manage the symptom.  The symptom being suicidality the issue here is stigma and discrimination experienced by people who identify as LGBT and their communities. It is not a pathological process but a social issue requiring a political intervention not a clinical one. While the later may assist the individual in developing personal resilience, it is a bandaid measurer. A political side step, which focuses on the victim rather than critically responding to the underlying issue

The Arab Spring

Published April 25, 2011 by Michael C Leeson

It seems strange I have chosen at this time to write on what some call The Arab Spring, a series of protest in Africa and the Middle East nations against authoritarian rulers. A people’s movement featuring various forms of civil disobedience for example rallies, marches and strikes sometimes met with open violence by authorises. These events have seen increasing civil unrest across the region as the democratic tsunami rolled from Tunisia through Egypt and beyond. It has resulted in regime change, with the legislative/policy change, sacking of several governments, heads of state resigning, and even civil war. The people voice demands for political reform to end decades of authoritarian rule, which is unprecedented in the region.

Including

Tunisian Revolution , 2011 Egyptian Revolution , 2011 Libyan civil war

2010–2011 Algerian protests, 2011 Bahraini protests, 2011 Djiboutian protests

2011 Iranian protests, 2011 Iraqi protests, 2011 Jordanian protests

2011 Moroccan protests, 2011 Omani protests, 2011 Syrian protests

2011 Yemeni protests, and others

What inspires me about these events is the civil passion to challenge the violent authority of aging dictators and seek to reinvigorate their nations. While I see, the calls for democracy in simple terms as a people demanding change to improve their lives. Some have described this social change movement as a youth movement. However, in these protests I have seen people from across the lifespan standing up and demanding social justice.

It is not about

Debates based on competing political philosophiesAmerican Imperial, Capitalism  and Socialism

Islamist threats verse Western interests around securing oil supplies

The power of social mediaTwitter, Facebook and the blogger sphere theses are tools they are not feet on the ground

Traditional relations between the West & Arab people – as those being ousted are mainly Western puppets

However equally it may be about some and/or all of the above

All I can say is let the passions of the people reinforce their resolve in seeking to write their own destiny and defeat those who seek to expunge the flame of justice.

Mr Cameron your a bludger

Published November 9, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

It seems the Conservative UK government has discovered work for the dole or a version there of, where those receiving unemployment benefits are required to undertake unpaid work. The plan here sees benefit recipients expected to undertake a 30 hr week for 4 weeks (?) with no additional payment to mitigate costs incurred by the individual. This means the supposed employer gets free labour for a time, what does this may mean.

A false reporting of unemployment statistic, this always looks good for an incompetent government

Capital again given a free ticket by government

A drop in wages & workplace conditions, why pay someone when you can get labour for free

An expectation that people on limited income incur additional costs without an appropriate level of compensation for a day’s work

Who’s a little bludger now Mr Cameron

All people seek is a fair days wage for a fair days work

Bubba goes to Washington

Published November 9, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

The mid-term results seem disappointing especially, after the Bush years,

Some themes & commentary

Conservatives are the party of free enterprise, what about monopoly capitalism? – The State through its operation seeks to perpetuate economic monopolies hence, neutralising competition.

They hold to the free market as a tenet of faith. However, it is a qualified observance shaped by i.e. neoconservative, economic liberalism, liberal democracy

Arguing for the end of the welfare state rather they promote Charity whose victims litter the pages of history

Fiscal responsibility, what about the GFC which evolved over the past 30 yrs during the reigns of the great senile one, Geo I, Clinton & Geo II the Tsars of lassie-faire capitalism and economic rationalist perspectives

Social illiterates – no sense of community –– obsessed with individualism – we live in a society whose social system is at best morally bankrupt

Low tax & Small government –  Bush years some contradictions here

trickle-down economics – government pandering to the elite

Romanising dated social institutions – how relevant is marriage in the 21st century – While it may represent the vestiges of heterosexist hegemony, now threatened by those queers.

The Tea Party – Geo II fan club – a rag tag band of right wing loonies pretending it is the 17th century – We had our own version One Nation about 10 years ago offering simple answers on complex issues, it too had some electoral success but imploded under the weight of leadership egos.

Immigration issue – economic down turn – unemployment – fortress mentality –  hyper-nationalism –  a volatile mix and fertile ground for loonies of all persuasions especially the right

Where charity must end and social capacity building begins

Published August 27, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

It has been eight months since the devastating magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, this impoverished country. This event was not clearly cause of Haiti’s third world status but made a bad situation even more complex. Before the event, you had a society divided along economic lines of the wealthy few and the mass populace living in abject poverty.  In a solution, focused world there is no quick fix here, no matter how many countries seem committed in addressing the problem. Here community recovery or reconstruction is impossible for one stark reason this project would involve state building activities.

Here state building refers to undertaking activities to construct social institutions that effectively grow social capacity in a country where to date the state is at best dysfunctional. It involves making a long-term financial commitment by wealth nations, something lacking other than in superficial scattergun charity responses.  Recently, CNN retuned to see how things have changed since the quake the shock on their faces, was amusing at some level. What did they really expect give a destitute man a bowl of soup, an aspro or band-aid  and everything would be fine, charity is not the key here.

Now the flood crisis in Pakistan

NGO’s mostly worry about the organisation and selling the charity product in the West.

Yes, we can move forward with real action

Published August 25, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

Increasingly, I feel reassured by the words of the independents at the centre of the election result, that Australia can achieve a viable, stable effective and progressive government.   The model of progressive consensus government seems to be one constant theme at any media event, today these men spoke at the National Press Club in outlining their approach to the situation. I admit having been left a little cynical by the past 30 years of party politics, I see this as a real opportunity for the people to take back their parliamentary system. To end the soap opera that it has become played out on the 24 hour News cycle of drama,  the blame game, name-calling and one-upmanship, or is it simply the starry-eyed socialist in me, which sees the potential of embracing this moment in history.

Red Team 0 Vs  Blue Team 0

Result Australia Wins

A plague on both your houses

Published August 23, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

The sky fell on both major parties, but I am not sure if they got the message, the electorate is sick of politics as usual. Nether major party has a mandate or legitimacy to form government this is not a matter of simple numbers as the informal vote was up too. It would seem the electorate has lost its trust in this petulant batch of schoolyard bullies, who talk and claim to hear what people say but do they really listen let alone take action other than to prop up the big end of town. .

No more, yes Prime Minister or yes was that  Supreme Leader

For example

  • Unfulfilled campaign promises
  • Wasted mandates
  • Incompetent implementation of service
  • Promoting a litany of nanny state legislation
  • Pandering to big business and commercial interests
  • Structuring health and education systems to meet the needs of industry stakeholders rather than the community’s

Etc, etc, etc

The question here is to these politicians is whom do you really seek to serve, the people or invested interest groups?

I hear Gillard’s message of stable and effective government, but what does that look like in a simplistic game of political one-upmanship.

How about consensus as a new political concept

Welfare is not a dirty word

Published August 17, 2010 by Michael C Leeson

It seems Australia’s addiction to middle class welfare, although not as comparable to the US, has these politicians drooling with glee in doling out one fat promise after another. It is reminiscent of Howard‘s campaigns many promises with little commitment in the follow through upon gaining office. The position taken here is that welfare is not Christian charity as conservatives see it. Rather it is a strategic investment in social capacity building, through wealth redistribution especially in wealthy Nation/States like Australia. The underpinning principle being that all citizens have the right to enjoy a high quality and standard of life and not just the privileged few.

In the current manifestation the Welfare state is no more than a handmaiden of capitalism, in spewing out cheap labour for this inherit crisis flawed social system.  We have seen the operation of capitalism as a greedy obsessive-compulsive beast that nearly brought society to its knees. However, it readily put out its paw in demanding assistance from the State through the public purse.  Business as a matter of routine  seemingly nay say social interventions in promoting the virtues of economic liberalism however, expect significant consideration for itself. It seems business’s hypocritical position on State interventions rarely comes under a critical gaze. One could argue Business sees the State as a handmaiden in advancing the capitalist imperative of consumerism. Upon reflection after 500 hundred odd years of imperial and subsequently capitalist expansionism, we have a bio-system on the verge of collapse and a society in chronic distress.

During, the 2010, campaign we have seen one promise after another aimed at enhancing a work ready labour force, while those on the margins are shown the stick of punitive consequences for their errant ways or ignored. The question then becomes what is Australia’s view of the Welfare state a great social equaliser or as a flawed inadequate safety net to mitigate the impost of capitalism.

And

How good is greed?

How many smiling faces do you see on people’s faces in the street?

Why do you think the health system is under distress?

When will we say enough is enough and take back our right to a long health and happy life?

When will we realise the simplistic capitalist view of society does not enhance well-being, it simply turns life into a discount sale