Friday, May 16, 2008

Airport bookshops

Left or right, that choice - but no other choice - is yours

I have a tendency to buy books at airports. I hate getting stressed worrying about missing my flight so always end up at airports and hour or two earlier than I really need to be, just to be on the safe side. To kill time I’m as happy browsing the bookshops as anything else and invariably end up buying something from the non-fiction section. At airports where English is not the native language, they still often have a selection of books in English, but obviously a smaller selection that tends to focus on bestsellers. This leads to some very odd juxtaposition in the non-fiction section as you invariably seem to get the latest management guru book next to a Noam Chomsky tome. Why is this? Do the people who read the management handbooks also read Chomsky? It seems unlikely, but then if it is not the case this leads to the worrying conclusion that at least amongst my fellow book-buying travelers there are two tribes: the rapacious capitalists and the Chomskian far-left West-bashers. I'm not sure who it would be worse be squashed next to for a three hour flight.

23 comments:

KGS said...

Easy choice, Capitalists deal in real issues while utopian US bashers like Gnome Chumpsky and Naomi Klien, deal in the dangerous imaginery.

Seeing that they C & K represent an ideology that has murdered over a couple hundred million people during the past century and a half.....is there really a choice to be made here?

jussi said...

The ideology of capitalists is no less soaked in blood.

KGS said...

Hey Jussi...please back that up...please. I await you repsonse with baited breath.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I think this could be a rather fruitless conversation as the term "capitalism" and "socialism" are so wide to be meaningless in trying to do body counts in this sense, but if the two of you want to give it a go please - be my guest.

But to answer your challenge Kenneth - if you want us to accept that the Nazis were just socialists in shinier boots, a point that is to say the least - debatable, then I think you would have to accept that the North Atlantic slave trade, or the Belgian rape of the Congo for King Leopold's enrichment were the products of "capitalism".

Of course this would also show the silliness of debate because the English abolitionists who led the fight against slavery were liberals, and hence free-traders - so 'capitalists'. Just like all around Europe resistance against Nazism and Soviet totalitarianism was came from Social Democrats, like SDP in Germany, Tanner in Finland or Orwell in the UK.

KGS said...

The rape of the Congo was the work of King Leopold, king of the artificial state called Belgium.

King Leopold treated the Congo as his own fiefdom.

His rape of the Congo was as anti-capitalist (in the spirit of free market enterprise) and anti-democratic as many of the international conglomerates that seek to stifle any competition, with many being leaches to foreign economies.

while Capitalism does have its many stains, but they are overwhelmingly outweighed by the disasters wrought by socialism and communism.

No Toby, that the Nazis were socialist in word and deed is not debateable, it's a historical fact. I might quible over whether the Nazis were just heretic Marxists or just plain energetic socialists, you take your pick, but socialists they were.

Pity Orwell viewed socialism as something worthwhile outside of its totalitarian twins of Communism and Fascism. I would venture to say that many more comrades within the SDP party throughout Europe had a more affinity with, and a favorable view of, Communism than could ever be found within the ranks of the conservatives.

Socialists are not monolithic, but their ideologies in almost every splinter has been devestating to society as a whole. Piste.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Kenneth, some of your points are fair enough but you insist on making such sweeping generalisations it's silly. Capitalism is the pursuit of profit, this has good aspects to it - innovation, dynamism, wealth creation etc. But it has down sides as well, like the logic of monopoly. You can't pick and choose your capitalism to suit your argument. Well you can, but it ain't very convincing.

And if you think "socialism" is so "devastating" you really shouldn't be living in Finland, a country clearly devastated by it's social democratic history. Not.

And you never answered the slave trade point.

p.s. why is Belgium anymore artificial than the UK or the USA?

Jussi said...

I'm sure you're right Toby. I really don't have the interest or means for that matter to start comparing body counts.

As for the three hour flight, I'd rather sit next to the lefty. At least it'd be a lot more entertaining than the guy foaming at the mouth about money. Besides the suits tend to get pretty nervous around me anyway, and usually don't risk conversation.

No kgs i won't, i won't. Even though you asked me nicely please, please. Not even with pretty please and sugar on top. I don't need to, because Toby already did.

Oh yeah, don't hold your breath kgs, it prevents oxygen from getting to your brain.

KGS said...

While there are many definitions of capitalism, one being the pursuit of profit, with the more common theme of property and the means of production being privately owned, in comparison to a centralized state control or command economy. That privatization of an economy and property, is what produces the freedom to pursue ones own wealth. That said, you have made a couple of fair points. Yes Finland's model "appears" to not have been devastating on its society, but the devastation I was alluding to was Communist and Fascist socialism, which has been responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths over the past hundred years, through war and self induced famine. One needs to look no further than the present day failed states of N.Korea and Burma, with the latter being responsible for untold number of deaths of its own people in the wake of a natural disaster.

It can be argued that the Finnish phenomenon is an anomaly that can't be successfully reproduced anywhere else, but that model, no matter how vaunted, is in slow decline with its socialism creating more problems than it is solving. And yes, it is slowly but surely being devolved into something far less socialist as the years go by. It is an unsustainable enterprise no matter how much public wealth is being pumped into it, it's just a matter of time.

Corporate capitalism, is a political-economic animal that closely mimics the socialist/fascist model, in that it seeks to monopolize, much in the same vein that the latter monopolizes the intellectual sphere, thereby removing all other forms of competition. Socialist thought (while it traditionally rails against profit) has actually nothing against profit as long as it is done by state enterprises, nationalized and "supposedly" evenly distributed to the public. Socialism, even in its most benign form of political governance is detrimental to its society in the long run, through failed government meddling which includes social engineering. One needs to look no further than in the US, where Democrats have fostered a return to serfdom for many disenfranchised African Americans, who look to the state as their answer for all their needs, in the many big city ghettos, particularly Detroit.

Black Americans (the overwhelming majority) who have taken it upon themselves to improve their own lot, enjoy middle class life, while the rest who reside in the slums depend upon the state for their existence. The differences in the mentality couldn't be more stark.

Where Belgium is concerned, yes indeed, it is an artificial construct brought about by greed, of which the majorities of both peoples to the north and to the south owe no allegiance to the other. The Flemish cling to their own identity as Flaams then to any fake construct called Belgium, regardless that the country has existed for over 150 yrs, and if allowed to go their own way, they would. They, the Flaams, produce most of the wealth for the fake construct country, while the Walloons feed off of it. It is only with a sense of irony that the EU is built from, patterned off of the Belgium model, and that model is supposed to be the glue that holds the entire project together.

You should read Paul Belien's book, "A Throne in Brussels".

As for the slave trade, yes it was a part of the free trade, and yes countless lives were ruined, but I would argue that the Islamic slave trade was even more diabolical, lasted longer, more people died in route to their "new destinations" and accounted for more suffering than what took place in the New World. Hell, it still goes on in the ME. So perhaps it could be argued, (this is not an attempted apologetic) that the slave trade under the auspices of the West's free traders, was more benign to the hapless slaves caught in the web, than what took place in the ME, where value was of little concern. This is of course only an intellectual argument, and I deem both slave trade as being equally immoral and devastating to society as a whole, but the Islamic world had a far worse survival right for their own slaves.

As to Jussi's remarks, well judging a person by how they look seems to me a bit bigoted. As for holding my breath, I can manage almost a minute and 45 seconds before I begin to feel any discomfort.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

"I deem both slave trade as being equally immoral and devastating to society as a whole"

I agree with you on the immoral issue, but not on the devastation. The US was founded on slavery, much of its wealth was created by slavery, and even after the civil war, virtual-slavery was allowed to continue by another name through the Jim Crow laws. Slavery hasn't been devastating to the US at all, it has been central to wealth production - only to the African Americans who suffered under it, and perhaps to some very hard to define moral way has it been devastating - seeing as how race remains so corrosive in American society to this day. Read, or read about, WSJ journalist Douglas Blackmon's "Slavery by another name".

First you were referring to just socialism - now you say Fascist or communist socialism is responsible for millions of death. Well fine, no one is going to argue with that. But what then has that got to do with say, Paavo Lipponen or Tony Blair? They come from the European social democrat tradition. All countries have their particularities, but the Finnish model is hardly that unique. Social Democracy/Labour parties have been hugely important all across western Europe, and indeed the rest of the first world. Real disposable income in the UK is now 4 or 5 time the equivalent in from 1945 - this has happened as the country built a welfare state, not despite it. Public schooling, public healthcare, etc. all of these work perfectly well alongside private enterprise, as the wealthy parts of the world show.

On Belgium - you didn't answer the question. What do the English and the Scots owe each other that the Flems and Walloons don't? What do the Scillians and the Tuscans owe each other? What do Virginians and Pennsylvanians owe each other? What do the Ibo and Yoruba owe each other? Or Bavarians and the Saxons? Or, or, or... Nationalism is the construction of imagined communities, this doesn't mean it doesn't have important political ramifications - but we all know where the path trying desperately to conjure constant, unique, historically undifferentiated ein Volk leads.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

p.s. A minute 45 is ages! Do you free dive or something?!

KGS said...

Ehhh...I believe you are overstating the impact of the South's input as an economic dynamo, most of the wealth generated in the first hundred years came the slave free north, not the south. Slavery was notoriously counterproductive economically, and was one of the reasons why the south failed to compete with the north in most economic sectors. Did the US benefit from slavery, yes, but the free states had a far greater impact, so it's incorrect to define its economic progress solely in those terms. Slavery was indeed devastating to the US, for led to the moral corruption of the south, as well as to a devastating civil war that saw over 600 000 people killed and the south in virtual collapse. That is in my book devastating.

Ironically, the legacy of racism in the south which filtered to some degree into the north, has much to do with the present day Democratic party. Yes it tried to redeem itself through socialist policies, beginning with FDR's New Deal (very much a flirtation with Fascism that was all the rage during the 20 and 30's to mid 40's), but has been shown itself to be entirely self defeating policy, by keeping the "down trodden" even more down trodden while everyone else has long left for more productive lifestyles.

You give way too much credit for the nanny state for developing Europe, though it has been one of the greatest drains on its societies. The more people are left to depend on the state, the less free they are. Take caring of oneself "Individualism" will always triumph over governmental hand out "herd think". If you think that the latter is the way forward....well, that's your right to think so, but I'll never buy into it. why do you think Canadians are so worried over the prospect that the US will turn to the dark side, and imitate their system of health care? Where will the Canadians then go for their health care?

Your comparisons concerning the Flaams and Walloons do not pass the test, take for example the Virginians and Pennsylvanians, they entered the union freely of their own will, as opposed to the Flaams being forced into it. Their is no national unity to speak of, with one side loathing the other, especially since one side depends much more on the economically sound Flemish state, which would like no more than to jettison the leach that eats up all of its profits.

When it comes to socialism, the ideology itself, whether we speak of its totalitarian side,....or its soft, doughy, warm fuzzy side that has such a strangle hold on society, where people depend upon the state for almost everything they need in life (outside of the workplace), which has worked to undermine the freedom of the individual (unknowingly or not). In all of its forms....it either intimidates, or worse, murders the individual, or lulls it into a slumber where it is even more easily manipulated to jump through the various social hoops the states sets in place.

Ironically, Socialism cum Marxism was originally a conservative movement, with many of its early intellectuals coming from the aristocracy in Europe, with even one of the Belgian kings being one, and who knows, more than likely many more members of the various royal families secretly sympathized with early socialism, and why wouldn't they, both the aristocracy and the royals were mortified about .....CAPITALISM. That upstart movement of free trade and individualism was raising one too many of the lower class in Europe and in the US to new levels of power and starting to challenge the "status quo".

Anyways, perhaps that's a subject for a new thread.

--KGS

p.s. I must admit that it was a record of mine, I mentioned it because my dander was up. I am a former competitive swimmer.

Jussi Hyttinen said...

Ah, bigotry. I'd be very careful leaning into that crutch too much. You know with all the hate speech in your blog and all.

Anyway, I'm sure you look super in Speedos.

KGS said...

I do not have any hate speech on my blog, the Tundra Tabloids.

Either provide an accurate example of your definition of "hate speech", as well as good examples of hate speech supposedly on the TT, or retract your statement.

Failure to do so will have a lasting impact on your credibility as a credible commentor, at least in my eyes.

Jussi said...

kgs, just because you're not crudely screaming "nuke the ragheads" in an "all american patriot" -blog doesn´t make your message any less clear to me. Even though the message is veiled in a cloak of intellectuality and journalism. You just have a prettier wrapper.

That's why I find it hypocrisy for you to bring up bigotry. Are you going to call me an anti-Semite next?

For the record, I'm not against Israel, USA or any other country for that matter. I'm not for them either. The point I made was that the loosely used term "capitalism" is responsible for immense suffering in the world today. I think we both agree on that. I also agree on the counterparts being responsible for the same. It's not the doctrine, but the men and women of power and their abuse of it.

As for your demands for proof and excerpts from your blog, retracting my statement and the failure of providing evidence resulting in lasting impact on my credibility as as a credible commentor....wow that was one hell of a sentence, you must watch a lot of US TV. Anyhow, I don't mean to shatter any illusions of grandiosity, but these blog comments are not exactly congressional hearings. Get a grip.

KGS said...

Just as I thought.

Jussi knew that his claim about the TT was just an ad hominen attack, so there will never be an honest attempt form him to back up his claim.

The only thing that puzzles me, is that he put his actual name to his comment, Jussi Hyttinen. Smart?

Well Jussi, I don't see why you would think I would deem you to be anti-Semite, unless you give me a reason that is. And rest assured, I will have the decency and intellectual honesty to give you the reasons why.

Your charges against me on the other hand are baseless, and appears to be something that you just casually slung out there without apparently much though applied to it.

For if you had truly thought about it, and still held that view of the TT, you would have have given examples of what you were referring to. The truth is, you do not care enough to answer truthfully, you just throw a couple of slurs and think that you're done with it.

Well Jussi Hyttinen, if you think that one's veracity means very little in the blogosphere, I would dare you to ask the owner of this blog (Toby) what he thinks of people who make claims, but without any regards to the evidence behind them?

jussi said...

Hi Kenneth. Here's some of the most recent stuff on your blog, Kenneth. That's just at a glance, Kenneth. Here goes Kenneth:

"The Tundra Tabloids of course wishes both Abdullah Tammi and his Islamist party all the worst possible luck in meeting their goals, may they forever face an uphill struggle in their Islamist endeavors."

"Kissing the Qur'an as well as holding a special apology ceremony was downright foolish."

Are you telling me you don't hate the people you criticize? Do you concider your reports neutral and unbiased?

As I said it's all very nicely wrapped and politically correct but the message is clear to me. Why don't you prove _me_ wrong instead of wasting your energy into trying to prove me to be an idiot. Actually you don't need to prove me wrong as I'm just voicing my thoughts on your blog. Those are my personal opinions and there's nothing you can do about them.

P.S. I love the whining to the owner of the blog!

KGS said...

Either you are totally oblivious to what Islamism stands for, or you are sympathetic to the Islamist cause. Which is it?

If it's the former, such as statement of yours could of course be excused, but let me warn you, in this case, ignorance is definately not bliss.

If it's the latter, it means then that you are sympathetic with those who loathe/hate the unbelieving non-Muslim, especially those who wish to remain an unbelieving non-Muslim. You are also then in opposition to liberal pluralistic democratic governance, being instead "all for" an Islamist state.

So which is it?

If you deem the TT as being "hateful towards Islamists" because it it wishes them no success whatsoever, perhaps you are then ignorant of the terms Islamist, Islamism and Islamization. This is no more a friendly ideology then the extreme form of Japanese Shintoism or National/Communist Socialism.

I believe you are confused over the terms.

As for Kissing the Qur'an. When one understands the Islamist supremacist ideology embedded in the Islamic religion, in which a universal humanity that embraces the ethic of the "Golden Rule", has no conceptual place whatsoever, then you'll begin to understand the significance of a non-Muslim kissing a Qur'an and apologizing to the point of groveling.

It only serves to strengthen the idological supremacy I just referred to. No Jussi, I don't hate individual Muslims, but I'm very much in opposition to those Muslims that are tryig to impose their Islamism on the rest of us.

jussi said...

Kenneth, on the subject of Islamism, why are you assuming that I'm either not agreeing with you or that I'm stupid? Or do you automatically assume that the former is a result of the latter?

My views, support or animosity of Islamism were never the point in this thread. I was merely taking out the TT excerpts to prove a point I stated in an earlier entry. The fact that the excerpts happened to be about Islamism is a coincidence. Obviously a lot of TT has to do with Islamism, so the excerpts were in that topic. If your blog contained aggressive content over hamsters being superioir pets to parrots, then the content of my excerpts would have more likely been in that topic.

You do realize, that if you had asked me in a civil manner to elaborate my views on capitalism being no less blood soaked than socialism, you wouldn't need to be explaining how you or your blog is not bigoted? Instead you jumped to the conclusion of me being an idiot in a split second and without too much judgement laid on the sarcasm. Then you called me a bigot, which I thought was hypocritical. So here we are now.

I never said I disagree with what you are saying in TT. Nor did I ever say you weren't entitled to your opinion. I would like you to extend the same courtesy to your fellow commentors.

KGS said...

Jussi H: "Kenneth, on the subject of Islamism, why are you assuming that I'm either not agreeing with you or that I'm stupid? Or do you automatically assume that the former is a result of the latter?"

Answer: In response to my challenge, your first example of my supposed "bigotry" was a post in which I hoped an Islamist party would fail in its agenda. The fact that you used that as an example means you are (a) either in disagreement over my attitude towards religious Islamist totalitarians or (b) ignorant of what islamism actually means. Other wise you would never have thought to include that as an example, any more than using as an example where I disparage fascism or communism. Remember Jussi, you chose that example all by yourself.

Also, I never called you stupid, please quote me correctly. Being ignorant of something is a fact of life that we all face on a daily basis, and such ignorance shouldn't be labeled as... stupidity.

Jussi H: "My views, support or animosity of Islamism were never the point in this thread. I was merely taking out the TT excerpts to prove a point I stated in an earlier entry. The fact that the excerpts happened to be about Islamism is a coincidence. Obviously a lot of TT has to do with Islamism, so the excerpts were in that topic. If your blog contained aggressive content over hamsters being superioir pets to parrots, then the content of my excerpts would have more likely been in that topic."

I fail to see your logic here....at all. We were discussing in Toby's thread about socialism, fascism, communism, when YOU YOURSELF commented that the TT was a bigoted site. YOU YOURSELF left the subject being discussed, and used an example of the TT's supposed bigotry, which when reviewed, could only mean one of two things, (a) you deem my critical views of a Finnish Islamist party as "bigotry", or (b) you are ignorant of what Islamism actually means. Again, which is it?

Jussi: "You do realize, that if you had asked me in a civil manner to elaborate my views on capitalism being no less blood soaked than socialism, you wouldn't need to be explaining how you or your blog is not bigoted? Instead you jumped to the conclusion of me being an idiot in a split second and without too much judgement laid on the sarcasm. Then you called me a bigot, which I thought was hypocritical. So here we are now."

That is pure nonsense. I find it highly amusing that you talk of civility in the discussion being important, when you were the first to come out with a zinger: "Oh yeah, don't hold your breath kgs, it prevents oxygen from getting to your brain." Civility? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


Playing the victim is the last refuge for some one loosing a debate. I spoke cleary about my views of what communism, fascism and socialism stands for, not about you. You are the one who stated: "As for the three hour flight, I'd rather sit next to the lefty. At least it'd be a lot more entertaining than the guy foaming at the mouth about money. Besides the suits tend to get pretty nervous around me anyway, and usually don't risk conversation."

To automatically assume that some one who supports capitalism will "foam at the mouth about money" or that some one who supports capitalism means that he or she will be wearing a suit, speaks of preconceived notions or in other words,...bigotry.

Jussi: "I never said I disagree with what you are saying in TT. Nor did I ever say you weren't entitled to your opinion. I would like you to extend the same courtesy to your fellow commentors."

If you claim that the TT has bigoted posts, you sure as hell are saying that you disagree with what the TT is saying, unless you (a) believe the TT is bigoted but like bigotry or (b) totally confused in what you really mean, since you are contradicting yourself repeatedly during these recent exchanges, or (c) you are not really serious at all, and just having a go with me. Which is it?

issuj said...

kgs: That is pure nonsense. I find it highly amusing that you talk of civility in the discussion being important, when you were the first to come out with a zinger: "Oh yeah, don't hold your breath kgs, it prevents oxygen from getting to your brain." Civility? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

-I was following your lead. You set it with your first repsonse to my first post. The oxygen comment was sarcasm matched with yours. If you had asked me to elaborate without scorn my reply would have been different. My first statement was "The ideology of capitalists is no less soaked in blood." No scorn there.....

kgs: Playing the victim is the last refuge for some one loosing a debate. I spoke cleary about my views of what communism, fascism and socialism stands for, not about you. You are the one who stated: "As for the three hour flight, I'd rather sit next to the lefty. At least it'd be a lot more entertaining than the guy foaming at the mouth about money. Besides the suits tend to get pretty nervous around me anyway, and usually don't risk conversation." To automatically assume that some one who supports capitalism will "foam at the mouth about money" or that some one who supports capitalism means that he or she will be wearing a suit, speaks of preconceived notions or in other words,...bigotry.

-I'm not playing a victim, and I think we're past the point of winning or losing this conversation. This must all be very entertaining and sad to anyone who decides to read these comments. As for my views on people in suits, well that's a result of observing people on flights.

kgs: If you claim that the TT has bigoted posts, you sure as hell are saying that you disagree with what the TT is saying, unless you (a) believe the TT is bigoted but like bigotry or (b) totally confused in what you really mean, since you are contradicting yourself repeatedly during these recent exchanges, or (c) you are not really serious at all, and just having a go with me. Which is it?

-You fail to see the point, as you stated. There is a very solid logic behind this. So option d) would be the possibility of agreeing on what is being said but disagreeing on the manner in which it is said. Hypothetically.

KGS said...

Truly sad and miserable argumentation on your part "issuj". "Waiting with baited breath" is the best example you can come up with really?

Whatever.

Your argumentation is simply impossible to support, since you yourself supplied the examples. Why you continue on is beyond me, IMHO, you are making a spectacle of yourself, best that you either backtrack and start over, of end it. :-)

susi-j said...

Of course it is! It's insanity. Maybe we can still be friends?

Dave said...

My God, who'd have thought that a posting about a bookshop could have got us here... I lost interest when barmy Paul Belien was used as a reference point...

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