New Comic

July 31, 2009

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best – and therefore never scrutinize or question.
~Stephen Jay Gould

I decided to go all the way and create a comic strip about sustainability. Since my favourite characters are the neohippies, I would like you to introduce Wann Abe and Hippe Te. He is a PhD student from UBC, she is a rich, alternative artist, and both live, where else? in Vancouver.

More Characters coming soon! Click on the image to go to Socialist!

socialist090731

Any resemblance to any real character is pure vengeance.

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What is you label?

March 2, 2009

Labels are for cans, not people.
~Anthony Rapp

I was having dinner last night with some friends, and the conversation moved to political stances, neo-hippies labels, and driving cars. Talking about left, centre, and right wings, one of my friends asked me how do I label me. “I am above labels” I answered, “everybody has a label” she replied.

According to one test I took in Facebook, I am a class-3 liberal. The test levels can classified you between a a Class-10 liberal to a Class-10 conservative. But I find more often than not that lot of  people like to put labels on themselves, and those labels, though providing a sense of belonging, limit their ability to think. I find people in the streets that join causes just because they are liberal, or because they are perceived as “just”, without further thinking. Can you be a liberal and a conservative at the same time? Can you be a leftist with a brain, and a rightist with a heart? Let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Can you be pro gay marriage but against abortion?
  • Can you be socially liberal but fiscally conservative?
  • Can you support the efforts in Afghanistan but be against the Iraq campaign?
  • Can you give money to the World Wildlife Foundation while hoping that the guys at Greenpeace get soon real jobs?
  • Do you support welfare programs but are against a big government?
  • Can you drive a car but at the same time be an ecologist?
  • Do you think that a biker that rides on the side walk, run red lights, and go against traffic is actually worse person than a driver that obey the law?
  • Can you support genetically enhanced crops and still think that organic crops have a place on the market?
  • Can you be a meatarian but support vegans?
  • Can you work on Bay St (Canada’s Wall St) and still support the ideals of Mohammed Yunus about banking to the poor?

If you answer to YES to more than three questions, I welcome you to the unease world of thinkers that do not know all the answers, but actually may make a difference. The world is more complex than simple labels make us think!


Olympic Torch Protest

April 7, 2008

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.
~Albert Einstein

Any protest against China repression in Tibet would a well deserved one, but a protest has to be done in a smart way, trying to get the message to the people that can change it, and avoiding by all means to look stupid and radical.

The manifestations in France against the Olympic Torch are a perfect example where people stop thinking and start acting for the sake of acting. To protest the Chinese repression on Tibet, they decided:

  • Attack the Olympic movement
  • Destroy the Olympic flame, one of the most beloved icons of modern times
  • Endanger the athletes that carry the torch, like Stephane Diagana, 1997 400-meter world champion

Why the activist don´t aim the protest to China´s Embassy and consulates? Why don´t they send massive letters of support to the Dalai Lama? Why not to close the access to China´s Embassy, Consulates, and Economic envoys? No, they decide to attack the Olympic torch and the French athletes. I am sure there are better, more effective, and way more direct means of protest against Human Rights violations, but they decided to stop thinking and to act for the sake of act.


Non-Conformist Conforming II

March 9, 2007

Non-Sequitur

by Wiley Miller


Non-Conformist Conforming

March 6, 2007

Hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies. Broadly speaking, there are none but corn-pone opinions. And broadly speaking, Corn-Pone stands for Self-Approval. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is Conformity.
Mark Twain

In Toronto’s “West” Queen Street West there are a handful of stores that appeal to that segment group that I call the New Hippies; people who try to hold liberal values but cannot look beyond their noses and don’t think what those values stand for. “West” Queen Street West has got stores offering merchandise with the “Che” Guevara, Marcos, Mao. The t-shirts you can get have clever quotes. I love to see how many people who call themselves anti-conformist can be targeted as consumers so easily because they conform to trends that are empty at the most. Real radicals aren’t buying t-shirts in trendy Toronto spots, are they?

What bothers me is not how they anti-conform against Gap by conforming with Atticus; is how they delude themselves by thinking they belong to a fighting liberal class that is above all the capitalist pigs, when they can’t look that they are being deceived by the marketing masters they said they hate: People like to eat organic, but in Canada, and many places in Europe and northern USA, organic food needs to be shipped from abroad, especially by plane. The new (rich) hippies buy this organic, expensive, healthy food that burn seven times its own weight in carbon monoxide to get to the store and look from above to the poor chavs that have to buy locally produced, pesticide-plagued food.

We have some cyclist that really believe they are above all drivers because their bikes don’t pollute and they ride even at -20 degrees; then they cut the line, run the red light, run over pedestrians, and ride on the sidewalk at expense of other people. Just so you can see them and follow their ecological friendly example.

My favourite example though is the t-shirt I saw in the aforementioned Queen Street at the Black Market Store, they sell a t-shirt that has got a bike, and below the legend “NO IRAQI WAS BOMBARDED TO FUEL THIS VEHICLE”, what a delight! All the rest of us, who have to drive, bunch of murderers, if only we get the message! The tiny fact that the t-shirt was manufactured in Bangladesh, infamously known by its sweatshops and child labour, is just unimportant. As long as they can buy the shirt at $14.95 plus taxes to deliver their message, the kid that was paid $1 a day should be happy.

UPDATE

I received some comments about how wrong I was for attacking the Black Market Store, and the Black Market Staff wrote to me that they never, ever sold the t-shirt that I mentioned. I think is quite clear that I am not attacking the Black Market store. They sell military outfits next to old rock concert t-shirts so I don’t consider it to be a new hippie store because they don’t have the pretension of being an activist store. I went anyways to double check where the t-shirts are made in, and found out that all new t-shirts are manufactured either in Canada or Mexico, countries with well established clothing manufactures and a very clean record on sweatshops (Mexican salaries could be higher, but the conditions are appropriate). They also sell used t-shirts at $15 dlls each, and they come from countries as diverse as USA, France, Guatemala, and yes, Bangladesh. I understand that they do not have control where the used t-shirt are made in, so they cannot really be sure that they never sold a used t-shirt as the one that my friend and I saw.


Talking with Perspective

February 28, 2007

The only way to make sure people you agree with can speak is to support the rights of people you don’t agree with.
Eleanor Holmes Norton

One thing that prevents me to join some organizations such as Greenpeace, J4MW, et cetera, is the radicalization of a great number of its members. In the other hand, the organizations perceived as all the evil that exist on Earth, are usually opened to its critics’ positions. Shell, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund always welcome its most critics’ point of view.

Let’s take an example, In Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is regarded as a rendezvous of the rich and powerful, but the voices opposed to globalization are always heard; they even have got special events, like the Open Forum. In contrast, the World Social Forum, the anti-globalization counterpart of Davos, is completely close to anybody who wants to speak in favour of globalization.

When in the small village of Atenco, in Mexico, riots and violent anti-governments manifestation turned into criminal acts, J4MW supported unconditionally the criminals that led the demonstration, closing the doors to any voice that support the legal status and the government position. In similar ways, radicals at Greenpeace make even grassroots activist to draw themselves out of this organization.

In the sustainable movement, David Suzuki once declared that ‘anyone who owns a SUV can’t care about the environment’; but he has being more moderate since then, and he is regarded as one of the greatest authorities concerning the environment. In the Fair Trade movement, any research that indicates that fair trade is not sustainable in the long term, because it keeps people in poverty, is usually received with a lynch spirit by the grassroots activist.

The left is plagued by people who likes the social ideas, but don’t have the willing to research how well these ideas apply or how realistic they are. In many cases, people joining social movements do so in order to oppose globalization, pollution, free trade, but just for the sake of oppose them. How somebody can seriously support Chiapas’s egomaniac Marcos? After 12 years of ‘war’ the area he controls is even poorer than before, his solutions are completely unviable, his openness to dialogue inexistent, but a lot of leftist still support him. I for once abandoned his line after two years of policy inconsistency and bad poetry that characterize the Sub-Commandant.

The ideas that these organizations embrace are usually the ones that I will support: anti poverty movements, global warming awareness, justice for migrant workers, and human treatment to animals. Is the lack of pluralism and self-critic what drives me and, I am sure, most moderate leftist away from them. Some organizations are no more that umbrellas for all kind of socialist movements, that oppose in general all what comes from the capital’s owners, the multinationals, and the USA, but can’t come up to particular solutions. Compare such organizations full of wannabe hippies against real, humanitarian movements like Medecins Sans Frontiers, the World Wide Foundation, and Amnesty International. These are real, grassroots activists, really busy trying to make this a better world, with little time to criticise everything they are against to.

In the meantime, this is an organization that can count with my absolute support and blessing:


Running of the Nudes