My host for my ChinaJapan.org site had a crash and had no functional backups. They handled the whole thing with complete incompetence which I will be describing at major hosting forums to warn future customers. I’m going to be moving the site to another host where I am hosting Muninn and FrogInAWell along with numerous other projects. I have fairly recent backups so I think I can get everything back up.
Che and Sponheim
By the time I post this to the internet, the Norwegian Storting elections will be over. However, one amusing thing about the last days of the election campaign. The Left party, or Venstre, was campaigning in downtown Stavanger on Friday, my last day at the library. The Left party is actually one of the non-socialists (Norwegian parties are traditionally but somewhat misleadingly divided into socialist and non-socialist camps) and are in the current (relatively) conservative coalition. However, they had some interesting campaign posters which were appealing to young voters. They depicted that famous image of Che Guevera (sp?), the Communist revolutionary leader on a red background. However, instead of Che’s face, they put Lars Sponheim, the leader of the Venstre party.
This was cute but somewhat surprising given the Høyre (Right party, their coalition ally) party’s recent ineffective attack on the Socialistic Left or SV party by associating them closely with Communist regimes and their atrocities. However, I suspect the irony of the poster escapes the notice of most.
And yet imagine if you will, the same campaign poster, approved by the party in the United States. While the Left party in Norway is a very moderate centrist party in comparison to the Republicans, imagine if you will some moderate republican putting their face on a Che poster in a effort to appeal to young voters. It just wouldn’t happen, right?
Norwegian Television Debate
VG, one of the major Norwegian newspapers (although it has always looked like a tabloid to me) has a strange way of measuring up the political debate between the party leaders in its Sunday, Sept. 11th issue. It first give all the participants of the debates a grade from 1 to 6 (six being best). It gave a 5 to Jens Stoltenberg (Labor party) and Dagfinn Høybråten (Christian Democrats) and 4s to everyone else except the right-wing Progress party (3 points) and the marginal Coast Party (2 points). Then it marked each one along a scale showing whether they were on the offense or defense in the debate. The highest “offense” ratings went to the hard left-wing Red Alliance, Socialist Left and Labor party, basically the left spectrum of Norwegian politics. Then, most bizarrely, it marked the mood of each participant with happy and sad faces on a scale. The most happy were apparently the Center party and Progress Party, with the most miserable being the Right party (who are set to lose big in this election) and the Coast party.
Critique of Domination
Roger Cohen had a good editorial in the Sept. 10-11 Int. Herald Tribune I got in the airport today where he discusses the political split on discussing looting during a crisis like the Katrina hurricane. He notes that conservatives are taking a hard line “zero tolerance” for looting (even those stealing food and water) but notes sardonically that Rumsfeld once said “While no one can condone looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of oppression.” Of course, he was referring to Iraq, which led Cohen to say that Rumsfeld and conservatives think that “A little mayhem in Mesopotamia was just fine” as long as it wasn’t within the US.
However, I found most memorable a quote from a French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut in the article. He was deeply critical of any sympathy towards looters, who he described as having a “revolting reaction.” Now, I strongly disagree with his take on the looting question and find myself having no moral opposition to any looting for food and essentials in a crisis situation. However, he then added a quote which sums up one of my biggest problems with recent critical theory.
While I’m very much influenced by a lot of recent critical theory out there, especially those important in historical research, I’m worried about the kind of moral paralysis I feel can result from some approaches suggested by things like postcolonial theory and postmodern critiques of society. Finkielkraut sums this up very nicely into one line, “It’s funny, our dominant ideology is a critique of domination in all its forms.”