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U.S. Department of Peace
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:

Hmm, that was a bit more that 30 seconds, still not enough though Very Happy


ok.. try 60 Minutes.. Wink

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
Sounds like something out of Atlas Shrugged.


The theme of Atlas Shrugged is that independent, rational thought is the engine that powers the world. Shocked

Ah well 1957.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The thing about Ayn Rand is that her heroes are far from rational. Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
ok.. try 60 Minutes.. Wink

I'd rather do some patching, and feel liberated enough to just do that Laughing

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
The thing about Ayn Rand is that her heroes are far from rational. Rolling Eyes


From what I read of hers I'd say the tactic is to present the obvious as visionary and controversial in order to make the reader (who, presumably will agree with the obvious) feel visonary as well.

Quite boring in a literary sense but probably very lucrative.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Seems like Russia is doing OK.

That dude paid like 20 million dollars in order to get up there. I wonder what he will have to pay in order to get back to earth. Shocked

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
I have the suspect that all Americans have left this thread.


Oh, just lurking.

We all have our war stories -- even those of use who were born after WW2 ended.

My great-uncle, Franz, lived near Vienna and was conscripted into the German Army. When the Germans were trapped in the middle -- with the Russians invading from the east and the USA from the west, the trapped Germans ran to the USA lines to surrender -- suspecting that they would get better treatment from the Americans than from the Russians. Uncle Franz ended up spending a few months in Fort Dix. My grandmother emigrated to the USA during WW1 and was a US citizen. According to Uncle Franz, the Americans treated him well during his brief captivity (just a few months).

There were actually five relatives from our extended family that perished in the Pacific during WW2.

WW2 entailed great sacrifice by all Americans -- those fighting and those at home dealing with rationing and other wartime measures.

Though WW2 was before my time, I believe that the sacrifice of Americans to defeat the Axis powers was necessary and good.

Of course, the topic is a "Department of Peace" and perhaps an invocation of Godwin's law would have kept the thread on its original topic. Smile

I appreciate the opportunity to read opinions from all over the world, such as on this thread.

My comment is that, when it comes to the invasion of the world by "American Pop Culture" I understand and, as a creative person trying to reach people who are closed minded to things outside of "Popular Culture", I can relate.

However, "Pop Culture" is not a government or military program. Rather it is coming from multinational corporations. Ironically, much of the so-called "American Pop Culture" comes to the world from the likes of Sony!

Now... if there is a way to commercialize peace... perhaps there is a market for it somewhere... hmmmm... Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

kkissinger wrote:
When the Germans were trapped in the middle -- with the Russians invading from the east and the USA from the west,


I thought we had covered this? The US troops were only a part of a larger force consisting also of countries like Canada and Australia. I think the whole US&Russia image comes from the cold war.


Quote:
the trapped Germans ran to the USA lines to surrender -- suspecting that they would get better treatment from the Americans than from the Russians.


Likely true but instead of attributing this to the great and humanitarian Americans I'd atribute it to the battle of Stalingrad, one of the worst fronts int he whole war.


Quote:
WW2 entailed great sacrifice by all Americans -- those fighting and those at home dealing with rationing and other wartime measures.


Yes, it did, but the same was true for many, many other countries. I do think, however that few countries *profitted* from the second world war as much as the US did. For example the doctors who performed medlical experiments on the people in the camps (let's not go into detaiIs but just say those experiments couldn't be performed elsewhere). Where do you think those doctors went after the war? Do you imagine they were punished?

Quote:

Though WW2 was before my time, I believe that the sacrifice of Americans to defeat the Axis powers was necessary and good.


Yes, I understand. Everything you wrote is true but I feel it's important to realise it wasn't just the US that did those things and these weren't they only things that happened.

It's not that I disagree with anything that you said, it's that I'm concerend about the rather explicid focus on just the US and just the positive things. I realise this focus isn't just your own; it has been promoted in many countries, yours and mine included. One very clear resend example is that movie about the Enigma machine from a few years ago. There (so I read, I didn't see the movie) theUS was presented as capturing the Kriegsmarine Enigma that helped decode that form of the Enigma. A charming romantic idea for the movie's target audience but without foundation.

Now, we can debate wether movies need to be hystorically correct (hell no) and for sure this change was likely more entertaining to the audience but since the modern American movie audience is largely unaware of the history of the Enigma such changes are not without relevance. You are totally right to point out that pop-culture isn't primarily a military or propaganda affair but it's not entirely seperate either.


Quote:
Of course, the topic is a "Department of Peace" and perhaps an invocation of Godwin's law would have kept the thread on its original topic. Smile


Smile
I do think I should be fine if I say the whole of the west has come to realise many of Hitler's dreams. Admittedly "the whole of the west" includes those who disagree with me but I don't think that was quite what Godwin meant.

Quote:

My comment is that, when it comes to the invasion of the world by "American Pop Culture" I understand and, as a creative person trying to reach people who are closed minded to things outside of "Popular Culture", I can relate.

However, "Pop Culture" is not a government or military program. Rather it is coming from multinational corporations. Ironically, much of the so-called "American Pop Culture" comes to the world from the likes of Sony!

Now... if there is a way to commercialize peace... perhaps there is a market for it somewhere... hmmmm... Wink


Yes, I largely agree. I'd say US pop-culture is often less of a government program then many opponents of the US like to think it is. I don't think Bush is losing any sleep over French farmers that attack a McDonnalds restaurant. Sombody clever is making a lot of money on Mekka Cola. Still, it's not nearly as seperate as the consumers of US pop-culture think it is either. I already mentioned the history of Hollywood but you can also look at the US government encouraging a certain tone in movies in resent years.

A particularly interesting case (to me) is what's playing out right now with US companies Microsoft and Apple trying to enforce US-style copyright in Europe, the EU (rightly, I think) jumping on this followed by the US governemtn peleading for light or no sanctions in those cases. That's a case where pop-culture and political influence are tightly interwoven, at least to me it is.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Back in the 60s I traveled a lot to Europe. I met a lot of people who resented even then that Europe was becoming Americanized. I shared their feelings. Then I went to Japan in the early 90s. What a surprise; Japan is many times more Americanized than America. Shocked

BTW, pop culture is beyond the control by governments, especially one run by American Republicans. Jazz, rock, and hip hop never got much support from the government. The Dixie Chicks are bigger than ever.

It seems, Kassen, that what concerns you is American arrogance. That concerns me too.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:

It seems, Kassen, that what concerns you is American arrogance. That concerns me too.



Right on! But it's not just American arrogance. It's the idea of arrogance based on nation or race (or whatever) in general. What concerns me is nationalism, power and how history is being re-written in support of those.

Of cource with a US "department of peace" the debate will see me being critical of "US arrogance" and history revision but if there would be a debate on the formation of the French prison system or politics in ancient China, or more resent Japan or for all I care the Roman empire, the colonialisation or ancient Egypt I will level the same amount of critisism there if not more.

Sadly "US arrogance" at the moment is a very pressing issue in many areas so that's what pops up. I can understand that is is distressing to some Americans (there are more Americans here then ancient Egiptians or colonial era Spanish....) who would like to defend the nice US that they see which consists of their own pleasant neigbourhood and nice friends but it's not that US that I am attacking. I'd like to go on record that I had a lot of fun in the US both times when I was there and that I saw a lot of the country (I think I saw more states then many US citisens do) and much of it was very beautifull and most people were very nice. This is totally independant of my critisism of the US's forgein political and military policy (and much of it's domestic policy as well). In a different section at the very same time I've been very supportive of a project on a US university. These are totally seperate to me. To me ChucK is as typical for the US in resent history as carpetbombing is which just goes to show there's no being "in favour of" or "against" very large and complexly structured (as well as completely abstract) concepts like "the US". Now that I think of it I'd much prefer to stop refering to "the US" as a concept completely since it's by and large only presented as a single concept by people I very much disagree with.

Similarly I'm extremely critical of The Netherlands, current populists politics and the erosion of democracy here while I still think it's a very nice country compared to nearly all others in many aspects.

Perhaps it would be better to debate some hystorical regimes and hystorical uses of the word "peace", then leave people to quitely make up their own mind about similarities between those and current affairs. Based on that I think there is justification for longing for peace while fearing anything called a "department of peace".

I hope that clarifies matters.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In the case of American arrogance, I actually think it is an attitude held across the American culture. The current administration has it is spades, but it's endemic in the population. You are right that it is used and festered by corporations. One of the most distressing things to me is to hear advertisements supported by the insurance and medical industries saying we don't need universal health care because it would mess up "the best health care system in the world". Preposterous. Also, we don't need to develop passenger rail service because we have "the best transportation system in the world". Absurd and blatantly false. It goes on and on.

A little more humility and objectivity by Americans about their own country would certainly be appreciated by other people in the world, but it is even more important to Americans themselves. When you walk around with your head in the clouds you are always falling on your face.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Exactly. I personally feel that the Dutch way of dealing with recreational drugs is amongst the best (if not the best) in the world. If you look at the numbers we are doing great, compared to other countries our numbers of addicts as well as the negative effects of adiction to hard drugs (criminality and so on) are very low. The same holds true for matters like teen pregancy.

Fortunately those numbers aren't used for chest-thumping; these policies are under constant debate and variations are tested a lot.

I think that's exactly how it should be.

Even if the US systems of public transporations *would* be the best that's no reason to rest on your laurels (Japan and Germany who have some downright spectacular systems in place certainly don't!). The need for public transporation keeps growing, after all.

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Coriolis



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I would certainly agree that US foreign policy in recent history is perceived by many to be very arrogant, and probably with good reason. Noam Chomsky speaks about the "we own the world" syndrome in US public debate in this article:
http://www.chomsky.info/articles/20080101.htm

American culture is arguably the most visible culture in the whole world, and so it's obvious that their foreign policy will be too, especially given it's "clumsiness" which is closely connected to the "we own the world" thing.

Now, I'm not talking about the american people here - Chomsky often refers to polls wherein the vast majority of us citizens denounce american participation in the various wars and conflicts we've seen over the years. And not for the reasons that are discussed in the mainstream us media (are too many of our boys getting killed? Is it costing us too much?) but rather because people feel that those wars are "fundamentally wrong and immoral".
IOW: Americans are alright, but their gov stinks.

Same thing here in Denmark and many other countries. We're not as visible as the US, but we're doing our fair share of wrong in the name of "peace" and "democracy". There's all this sickening talk of "exporting democracy", but nowadays even the social-democratic party here is so conservative, that all this export tends to be about securing markets (IE buy cheaply from third world countries, and sell them something else expensively) or securing energy supplies (by militarily supporting everything the US does in the Gulf and other places).

Not many western governments want peace where there isn't any - they want stability, which is something else entirely. Not quite peace in Afghanistan yet, but Unocal and Cheney got their pipeline, so now we've just got to beat down the rest of the Taleban (try and ask the british and the russians if they think it can really be done - honestly), so they don't blow it up!
As long as there's a pipeline pumping oil, we've got stability in Afghanistan. Not the local people's idea of stability - ours.
Oh, and there are danish troops over there too - because we buy the story about going after Bin Laden, thereby helping the global military-industrial complex up the production, and Unocal with their pipeline.

9/11 was a tragedy, but there was a reason why it happened. Someone found a way of getting back at the West for all the "peace and stability" doled out over the years all over the world. Those suicide pilots might as well have been Iranians - for the US/british installing of, and backing the Shah's murderous regime for decades, or for supporting Saddam Hussein against Iran, basically helping him wage chemical war on his enemies (including his own countrymen). Though the germans, the french and others had a hand in that as well. They could have been Indonesian or Timorese for US and western meddling over there, allowing Suharto to kill hundreds of thousands from 1965 and onward. They could certainly have been Vietnamese (don't need to explain that, do I) or from your pick of several South-American states who has had legally elected governments overthrown by US backed forces. Or how about native american?

Officially, most colonial powers are now former. Technically though, they're not. The world is still divided into people who are being sucked dry, and others who are doing the sucking. Waging wars, supporting coups, maintaining protectionism in trade, and lying to their own people - those are the ways to go for governments that want to keep that status quo.

In that context, peace isn't really on the table.
Except as a propaganda tool.

Sorry for butting in... Wink

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The most interesting points you make are that the American people denounce the participation in the wars we enter and that we are out to spread democracy throughout the world. Puzzling is that if most Americans were opposed to wars and we did live in a democratic society, then why are we involved in the wars? What has boggled my mind is that W said during his first debate with Gore (please add southern accent) "Armies aren't for nation buildin', armies are for fightin' wars. That's what we're gonna do. Fight wars." As disputed as the election may have been (I lived in Tallahassee, FL at the time and could write VOLUMES on what happened), he won. Four years later, the democrats choose one of his fraternity brothers to run against him. A man worth so much money that it didn't matter.

Oliver Stone's movie Nixon has a scene that is included in the Haldeman diaries. One particular evening, Nixon went to the Lincoln memorial and chatted with some peace demonstrators. Altered for artistic reasons, the point was that even he (Nixon) couldn't stop the war if he wanted to. Eisenhower's final speach as president warned against America becoming an industrial military complex. He should have known better than any one what the military is capable of. I recommend watching the documentary Why We Fight.

I think most Americans would love to see the country change from a nation that imposes our beliefs on others through force and become a nation that imposes our beliefs by helping, feeding and caring for others. It will be impossible to do that while we are so prejeduced against our own. The change has to be on a worldwide economic level, but that isn't going to happen overnight, nor happen without some devastation along the way. It would be easy to say, "Let's stop putting money into the military and put it into education, and health care. If we want to carry the "cross of Jesus" as so many conservatives pretend to do, such changes would not even be questioned.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That Dubya quote is actually a strange one when you think about it: My feeling is, that even though both American continents were originally taken by force by Europeans (not by "discovery" - by invasion, if you think about it), many Americans probably feel that guns are for self defense - that's always the argument in favor of liberal gun laws anyway.
But somehow the right to self defense, the perimeter within which the American nation is allowed to defend it self has been extended to pretty much the whole world in the last 100 years or so (especially since WW2).

Nothing strange in that - that's what we've always done in the old world.
We're just not so open about it since the last world war, whereas it has become utterly acceptable to say for an American president.
I'm not an expert on the matter, but Dubya is probably THE president to have said it the most clearly.

Re the military-industrial complex:
The way Chomsky explains it is that wars are basically a macro-economic tool in the US. So if the economy needs a boost, let's commission the development of some new stealth bombers, to create jobs.
That's the US way of doing it. In my country (Denmark) we build a bridge or a highway or a hospital or something.
That tells you two things:
First of all, real capitalism is non-existant, it's a fraud. When the leading industries in the US are so heavily subsidized (aerospace, arms, electronics, computers and other hightech have reaped enormous benefits from military contracts over time), then there is no free market in the very homeland of capitalism! Or anywhere else in the world for that matter. If it really was free, China would have owned all our asses for 20 years by now!
Second:
How on earth do you justify military spending of this magnitude?
By having lots of enemies of course! Now, I'm not saying all these enemies are made up by the Pentagon, but you don't justify heavy military spending by negotiating with the bad guys. You do it by making sure you have an excuse to play hardball every chance you get. It sure worked in Iraq: I just read that this particular war will, by the end of 08, have cost the US a staggering 650 billion $! How much of that money do you think is currently lining the pockets of army contractors?

That much money makes for a LOT of power. I guess Nixon probably was right in that film: He couldn't stop the war if he wanted to. If you want to stop the wars, don't count on getting any funding for your presidential campaign, you know? And don't ask Lockheed Martin for help with that Peace Dept - it's not in their interest...

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:
And don't ask Lockheed Martin for help with that Peace Dept - it's not in their interest...


That is just soooo cynical! Shocked

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:
In my country (Denmark) we build a bridge or a highway or a hospital or something.




Yeah, but that's a different market. For one thing you have health insurance.

;¬)

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
For one thing you have health insurance.

We do...but then that is paid for with what is probably the highest tax pressure in the world, which I happen to approve of. But that in turn pisses me off, when my country spends 2.5 billion on war in Iraq, since that much more of it will be my tax money. Evil or Very Mad

US tax money could be spent better, is all I'm saying, or certainly the people's definition of better.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

This occurs to me...

Bush is much worse than we thought he was. Rolling Eyes
Corollary: No matter how bad you think Bush is, he's worse than that.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

mosc wrote:
This occurs to me...

Bush is much worse than we thought he was. Rolling Eyes
Corollary: No matter how bad you think Bush is, he's worse than that.


Corollary to mosc's Corollary: No matter how much damage you think Bush has done to the US, to it's economy, to its principles, to its alliances, it's far far, worse than that.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 7:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:

We do...but then that is paid for with what is probably the highest tax pressure in the world, which I happen to approve of. But that in turn pisses me off, when my country spends 2.5 billion on war in Iraq, since that much more of it will be my tax money. Evil or Very Mad


Sure, but then per head of the population my country spends the most on the EU, I think.... something I don't agree on. I'm also not sure why making health insurance mandatory (as opposed to disallowing the insurance companies to refuse people) made it twice as expensive, I'm sure it has nothing to do with there being no need anymore for the price to make sense if you can't refuse it.... I don't agree with that, I want a option to refuse it.

But then, a while ago I spoke with a friend of mine from a country close to but not in the EU... and after a while of talking I felt forced to say "you urgently need a psychiatrist" in the most polite possible terms. Turns out that in this person's country health insurance is both extremely expensive and hard to get. I realize I'm not qualified to make a medical diagnosis but informally I can tell you this leads to rather ugly situations.

Apparently they (the rulers of this country) realized this and saw it fit to make all medication available at drugstores without the need for any prescription. I'm sure that doesn't lead to any issues at all. *cough*.

I never spend more then a few hours in Denmark but I think it's similar to the Netherlands. I'm torn between being sad at at the situation being utter crap and happy it's at least quite a bit above average.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
I want a option to refuse it.

Not sure I understand: You want an option to refuse public healthcare, or...?
You probably have private clinics in the Netherlands as well so that's an option. Many public institutions could probably need a bit of trimming and modernization, but I'd rather have free healthcare that is a bit expensive to society as a whole, than have my personal health depend on my personal wealth, if you see what I mean. How the hell can you have a system that tells a person with, say, cancer to fuck off cause he's too poor to be treated?
"Sorry dude, but that would hurt the shareholders"?

Ah, but this is not really related to world peace is it?

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:

Not sure I understand: You want an option to refuse public healthcare, or...?


I want that too, but I already have it. Doctors, like anybody, need to have your permission to touch you (of course if you do this you have some chance of being deemed unfit to make such judgment as the same institutions that profit from your health or lack of it are the ones that determine when you are fit to make your own choices). I want a option not to have health insurance.

Quote:

but I'd rather have free healthcare that is a bit expensive to society as a whole, than have my personal health depend on my personal wealth, if you see what I mean. How the hell can you have a system that tells a person with, say, cancer to fuck off cause he's too poor to be treated?
"Sorry dude, but that would hurt the shareholders"?


Yes... but here it's not public and far from free (It's my second largest monthly expense, after rent). Hospitals are (nearly always) public but health insurance are privately owned companies. Companies that can't refuse you (by law, but by the same law you will get fines if you don't pay) and you have a requirement to pick one. I disagree with that. If it's mandatory (and all the mandatory insurances are basically identical) I feel it should be a single public institution and a tax, not private companies and normal monthly payments.... and I want a option to refuse it.

Quote:

Ah, but this is not really related to world peace is it?


I think it's another side of the exact same coin. It's totalitarian states deciding over the life, death and wellbeing of individual people on a large scale for personal profit.

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Coriolis



Joined: Apr 11, 2005
Posts: 616
Location: Stilling, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
Yes... but here it's not public and far from free


Didn't know that - that sucks! I certainly see your point about that.

Quote:
I think it's another side of the exact same coin


True as well, I guess. It's part of the same struggle for change that has to be carried out by people like you and me...

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Kassen
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Joined: Jul 06, 2004
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Location: The Hague, NL
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Coriolis wrote:


Didn't know that - that sucks! I certainly see your point about that.


Yeah, I think the whole construction is quite weird. Generally I like the Dutch tendency to compromise on any issue until few people are very unhappy with it but here that just resulted in something very strange. I don't think it'll last 5 years.


Quote:

True as well, I guess. It's part of the same struggle for change that has to be carried out by people like you and me...


I have little hope for real change as it all comes from basic human nature. My point here, BTW, was freely after Foucault's observations about "the state" having this tendency through the ages to demand the right to decide about life&death of it's subjects. You may be interested in his work. It's for example interesting to observe public healthcare arose as soon as the state started to see it's subjects as a labour force.

I think it's for example quite interesting that these health insurances cover artificial insemination for couples that have a hard time getting children yet not cover birth control pills or -say- a vasectomy.

I realise this is making it quite abstract but I hope that clarifies the link I preceive.

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