In Defence of Public Criticism

My apologies, I had my first written assignment due, one that also coincided with my first touch of a cold up here. Most of my residence came down with one an I got a very slight touch of it also. All of which led me to be absent from this site over the last little while.

I have been reviewing the thread ‘The End of Politics.bm’ and the comments there. Of these I really wanted to respond to some of the more important points that I saw, namely #57 and #62 from LaVerne and #66 from Ken. Both of these posters are fellow PLPers and as such I tend to regard their comments as being of greater importance to some others as regards the purpose and intent of this blog.

The relevant parts that I want to respond to are:

From #57 – ‘Alsys, do you true friends “constructively” criticise you publicly, or do they pull you aside? Jonathan does have the right to critise his party publicly, but those of us who don’t agree with his public criticism also have the right to criticise him. Do you think that all “loyal” PLP members agree with everything that the Party/leadership does? No way!!! But, our criticisms are taken to the right place. Posting your criticisms of your party on a blog for all the world to read is not being loyal. Especially when the majority of the participants of that blog are anti-PLP. I really don’t understand why Jonathan does it and I’m sure he’ll give a long explanation as to why he feels it necessary to make public criticisms.’

‘I wonder if Jonathan has even written a (private) letter to the Premier or the Chairman of the Party expressing his concern. For some reason only known to him, he must make his concerns public and I have a problem with that, whether you or anyone else likes it.’

From #62: ‘At the risk of being lynched again by posters including yourself, I wonder if Jonathan belonged to a political party that was made up of a majoirty of white people, if he would constantly publicly criticise that party, or would he sit down and dialogue with the leadership? As I have said previously, I reallly don’t understand why he feels it necessary to constantly publicly criticise the PLP. In essence he is criticising himself because he is a member of the party.’

From #66: ‘With regard to this blog, and Alsys’ blog, I must say I, as a PLP supporter, see nothing wrong with disagreements within a party. I think it is healthy. However I do have a problem with Mr Starling’s propensity to air his issues publicly when I dont believe he has ever even tried to sort them out internally. Airing them in the public domain should be the last resort, in my opinion. Jonathan – all these people that support you going to the press only want to see what dirty laundry is being washed. As for Alsys, in reading her posts, I see someone who is a bit naive, and trying to see everything as half full. it is admirable but not quite realistic. She professes to be a PLP supporter. I am not convinced. Voting once for a party does not a supporter make. Researching the history, working for the party, defending the party makes you more a supporter. Again, these are my opinions, and I dont want them taken personally.

Okay.

In response to the issues raised in #57, I thank Ms. Furbert for acknowledging my right to criticise the Party publicly, and likewise acknowledge her right to publicly criticise my public criticism. I very much welcome that and think that such public debate is healthy and to the long-term benefit of the Party.

However she goes on to make the argument that I am going about my criticism the wrong way, that I should not be airing my criticism publicly on this blog and that by so doing I am being disloyal to the Party. This is not a new argument, and we have discussed it several times before in various forms.

I have written before that in my experience the Party machinery is defunct and in need of fixing. Party branches are mostly inoperative, Central Committee is mostly a venting forum where any grassroots initiatives are fobbed of off, and Party policy is disseminated rather than created. There are many good comrades working to repair this machinery and their efforts should be applauded and encouraged. Despite this it is necessary to broach these issues publicly simply because it cannot be done within the existing broken machinery of the Party. Even when and if the Party machinery is corrected, this should not disallow public debate.

She says that I am being disloyal to the Party. I have always said from the get go that I am loyal to what I understand to be the principles of progressive labour and not to the various Party Lines of the PLP. When I see the Party acting contrary to the principles of progressive labour I reserve the right to criticise the Party for disloyalty to those principles.

And yes, to answer her question, I have from time to time spoken to various Party Officers of all levels of my concerns. However as Party actions are being done publicly, essentially without the informed debate and subsequent consent of the Party membership, and often in contradiction to the principles of progressive labour, I reserve the right to publicly criticise those actions.

In response to #62:

Interesting tactical move there. Had Ms. Furbert read the ‘About’ section she would see that while I studied in Canada I joined and was active within the Canadian sister Party of the PLP, the Canadian New Democratic Party. She would also see that I was among the founding members of that Party’s Socialist Caucus, a socialist faction within that Party that sought to return the NDP to the principles of progressive labour from which it was founded. So yes, if I was a member of a predominantly White political Party I would similarly be critical of it should I feel the need to do so.

I am not criticising myself by criticising the Party. I would be doing a disservice to myself and the Party should I not stand by my principles and my loyalty to the principles of progressive labour.

Party members may disagree with my interpretations of the principles of progressive labour and my tactics. I welcome their arguments as this advances the discourse.

In response to #66.

Ken, I really don’t take any of this personally. I have some quite obvious and public ideological differences with LaVerne, and sometimes we may argue rather bitterly at each other, but this doesn’t change the fact that I continue to regard LaVerne with great respect and as a friend and colleague. I believe that she too shares the conviction that we can argue bitterly over politics but not take such disagreement personally.

I have sought to take my criticisms internally, and also stand by my right to do so publicly as necessary. It is obvious to most Party members what the intention of say the RG taking my posts for news is, although it is also obvious why my criticism is more newsworthy than UBPers criticising the UBP. I hope that most Party members see that and take it with a pinch of salt. Our Party doe shave some serious issues, and we do need to be frank and open in our discussion of them. The UBP is irrelevant right now, and we do a disservice to ourselves by not confronting the problems within the Party.

Finally it seems to me that some Party members have not yet fully grasped the full repercussions of the new technologies that exist today, including blogs. Attempts have been made to use these new technologies for cynical electoral purposes, but these are often seen for what they are. The expansion of public information access and debate are irreversible without totalitarian actions. The Party must either adapt to that new reality or suffer the consequences.

The Party Constitution provides a framework for disciplining members. I have in the past challenged my detractors to have the courage of their convictions and end whispering campaigns against me and publically call for my disciplining. They have failed to do so. Perhaps in my absence to defend myself they will find this courage. They are welcome to do so. I will accept the decisions should they be made through official and formal channels but reserve the right to appeal them on my return. I doubt that that will be necessary.

This blog, and my defence of the principles of progressive labour will continue.

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48 thoughts on “In Defence of Public Criticism

  1. Sounds to me Jonathan, that there is a note of desperation in these comments from Ms. Furbert and Ken.

    I am sure Alsys will be happy to see that she is naive! Sorry to see too that anyone wonders that you might not do this if the ‘criticised’ were of the same skin colour.

    Very sad!

  2. “Publically called for my disciplining”.. They won’t ( as you pointed out). Not at this stage of the game. How the hell can they get ‘white folks to join and/or support the party if they chastise you for speaking your mind?

    They’re damed if they do and damed if they don’t. Being a lone wolf with convictions is where you are right.

    I don’t agree with most you think and write but freedom of speech is just that. But then again, one has to look at the radicals that are involved in the PLP. Many good MP’s and thousand of great members but just look at the spin and deception over the past eight years from the Horses mouth.

    Get your degree and move on.

    Rummy.

  3. Mr. Starling, for what it’s worth to you, the issue seems to be that the blogosphere and the Royal Gazette in Bermuda seem to be made up of and reflect a mostly anti PLP white Bermuda based male mentality who no doubt have an axe to grind with the PLP not just on political differences but also because of ingrained racism and privilege (and please note that privilege has nothing to do with your bank account). So, when you knowing this choose to continue to air dirty laundry in that arena your motives will questioned. You know very well that Rummy, Loki, Bill Zuill etc. have no say and have no interest in the machinations of the PLP, so why hash it out with them. For better or worse very few PLP members engage in debate on the internet, so if you’re concerned with the party why not engage them where the party members are; the churches, the workman clubs, the social organizations. I am at a lost as to what is gained by dumping on the party amongst those who hate the party anyway. What do you hope to gain? It’d be like a feminist who has problems with her feminist organization going on the Howard Stern show to air her grievances. It makes no sense.

  4. starling…….they r only reacting to your comments cause the truth hurts…keep it up…the more you speak truth… the more resistance u will get from the loudmouths……keep it up…so far out of all the plp people on island u are the one of the very very few with enuff balls to speak up. I encourage u to continue to challenge these fanatical plp people who only wish to silence u so they can continue with their corruption with no opposition.
    The more you speak…the more they try n shut u up…the more the bermudian populace will begin to wake up to the simple truth…the plp has gotten rich and switched n is a mirror image of the ubp…the political system is inheritently corrupt..absolute power corrupts absolutly, and we cannot trust ANY politician to look out for the best interest of the nation…since they all have ultetior motives for seeking political office and thoes motives always boil down to money.
    Starling I have a request….can you do a piece on the possibilities of the bermuda populace achieving a shift in the political structure of Bda government system…IE…how do we the people minus politicians, achieve getting rid of political parties and get back to a reformed style of a parish based governing council….made up of individuals voted into the council by the votes from parish constituants.
    I realise this may go against your party connection…..but it should be quite clear after 50 yrs of a dual party system under the westminster system…..that bermudians are the ones getting continuously screwed by the socalled elected officials.
    Many of us despise All u politicians and the hangers on …like laverne furbert and others who attempt to spin all under the sun to achieve keeping their party looking good. It will be a great day when u all are silenced….dammed assholes.
    Sir george summers….if u so concerned with what starling has to say…y is it that u dont follow ya advice to him….y is it that so many of the plp people are actin like spineless jellyfish in light of all the dirty goings on within the plp government and the party at large….non labour people have infiltrated the leadership and as one of your own have already said …”the plp is our ubping the ubp”…jullian hall
    A new generation of voters is comming and we aint gonna be puttin up with ya bullshit much longer….we will have the power when all the old people are dead!!! and u will be rewarded for your deceptions.

  5. Sir George…

    You might just as well argue “why have a newspaper”….”why have a Workers Voice”…?

    Dirty laundry (if that’s what it is) needs to be brought into the public domain. Oh – and it doesn’t matter whose laundry it is by the way – PLP or UBP.

    Jonathan’s motives are not being questioned. The simple fact is that no administration likes such openess and criticism. Understandably too.

  6. a tangential question…

    The PLP is certainly associated with workmans clubs, the union and so forth. But how is it in any way socialist? Its program is profoundly conservative. It is often reactionary. It is not progressive. Progressives educate children, reform government, fight corruption, reform the tax code, protect civil servants and house the people. Of these the PLP has made some headway with housing. But thats it. There certainly has been movement on civil rights for some, but not all by any means. And most of this has been work to privilege some over others to a reverse historical imbalance. The race issue itself has yet to find the leader it needs to start a national dialogue.

    The best thing and the most progressive thing the PLP has done in almost ten years was their first election victory. It may have been the best thing anyone has done in government in the past fifty years. Truly it was a shattering glorious moment. If it hadn’t happened who knows where we would be now. But that was a phenomenon, not a trend. Perhaps Bermudians can’t govern themselves. Perhaps we are just bad at it.

    So Mr. Starling, how is the PLP progressive?

    PS, your friends in the PLP are right. Political parties do not support open discussion. That is the whole point of the party. To sympathize with the membership but control them. You join a party, you have to shut up. You do and say what they tell you. They sympathize with your concerns and go on mucking up. You complain and they give a job to do. Want an opinion? Get out of political parties.

  7. “Jonathan’s motives are not being questioned. The simple fact is that no administration likes such openess and criticism. Understandably too.”

    Again, criticism is not the issue. I restate, very very few PLP members engage in debate on the blogs or in the Royal Gazette. In fact most people who post on Bermuda blogs and who write for the Royal Gazette are the cultural and racial antithesis of the PLP. So, if Mr. Starling is really engaging in this debate in the hope of affecting some change or at least let his points be known, how is that achieved within arenas where he knows there are no PLP members? It’s quite curious and begs the question as to what hsi real motives are.

  8. Hi Civil Monster,

    i’ve written quite a few times my perspective on the PLP and to what degree they are a ‘progressive’ or a ‘labour’ force today. I’ll briefly summarise it all again here.

    I regard the Party as still organically connected to labour, and with that the potential is always there for labour (in its traditional sense) to reassert itself in the Party, wresting power away from the ideology of Blairite/Clintonesque Third Wayism.

    I regard the Party as being progressive on the issue of race. Not entirely right, but certainly having a much better grasp of the racial question that is central to Bermuda. The UBP and its supporters continue to get lost in their maxim that racism ended with segregation and that institutional racism does not exist – the colour-blind society now syndrome. Any attempts to seriously address (or even articulate) this problem is often described in near hysterics as being divisive or a form of reverese racism.

    I too share the sentiment that the ictory of 1998 has been one of the key historical/political events of Bermuda and will always be so.

    As to the issue of the Party. Yes, you are right in that that is the mainstream conception of Party organisation. It is not mine. I would write a whole whack about my own cocneption, but I’m off to the student union pub to work on a group project over a couple of pints (mmm, pints and climate change reports…). So instead I’m just going to copy and paste a bit from Rosa Luxemburg that I think speaks to that issue quite well.

    ‘Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins (the postponement of the Soviet Congress from three-month periods to six-month periods!) Yes, we can go even further: such conditions must inevitably cause a brutalization of public life: attempted assassinations, shooting of hostages, etc. (Lenin’s speech on discipline and corruption.)”

  9. well Sir George,

    Most of my motives for this blog are found in the About section. I have opinions. I choose to write of them. I could write hiding behind false names but I choose not to because I have nothing to fear, nothing to hide, and besides, I figured Bermuda being such a small place and my political views so vocal it would be a moot point.

    I was disappointed that the PLP (its supporters more than any official form) had essentially yeiled the field of battle to the UBPers by default in the context of the internet. While it may not yet be dominant, it is an increasingly important arena for the political battle. Furthermore it has a great potential to expand political discourse (which is one of the few articulated aims set forth in the Party constitution). I sought to engage with the online UBPers partly to sharpen my own positions/arguments, see if I could win any bloggers to the PLP through rational discourse (this includes lurkers who would otherwise only get the UBP side of arguments), and serve almost as a ‘bridgehead’ for other PLPers to join the fray.

    I have focused alot of my ammo so to speak in dealing with the UBP, both formal (their election platforms for example) and theoretical. But I cannot at the same time turn a blind eye to the shortcomings of my own Party. Its clear that my conception of the principles of progressive labour from time to time (and I noticed immediately after the 2007 election that I felt this would accelerate) with the actions of the PLP. I cannot simply ignore that, nor can I simply ignore justifiable criticism of the Party’s actions. I must concede this criticism when I think it is valid, when I cannot see some way to justify the Party’s position and when the Party itself fails to even attempt to do so. To act in such a way would leave the field open for UBPers to attack the PLP in general of being composed of monolithic blind supporters, which it most certainly is not. The Party has nothing to fear from robust and constructive criticism from its members, public or otherwise.

    The number of PLPers online may today be a minority, but it is growing. I am not afraid of arguing with anti-PLPers. Why should any PLPer be afraid of that?

  10. Whoa, lots of typos in that one.

    That was ‘yielded the field of battle.’

    And my conception of the principles of progressive labour would increasingly come into conflict with the actions of the Party of that name.

  11. Sir George…

    Now – come on! Even if you are right about there being no PLP members in certain blogs/arenas (and I am can’t even begin to think that one through)…are you suggesting that “because we don’t – you shouldn’t”…or does it just come back to “we aren’t taking part – therefore your motives are questionable”.

    As I said at the beginning – sad – very sad.

  12. ” In fact most people who post on Bermuda blogs and who write for the Royal Gazette are the cultural and racial antithesis of the PLP”

    Sir Geroge,

    So what are you saying is that whites are the “racial antithesis” of the PLP? Nice. So much for that claim of PLP being an all inclusive party huh? And we are the racists….jokes

  13. “The number of PLPers online may today be a minority, but it is growing. I am not afraid of arguing with anti-PLPers. Why should any PLPer be afraid of that?”

    PLP members/supporters seek to crush and silence criticisms because they saw what happened to the UBO in ’98. As the criticisms moutned from UBP supporters and members so did the confidence and support of the party. So much so that they lost power in that now infamous November day. Teh PLP is far from stupid and they realize that if they don’t ostracize and condemn any sort of opposition from within, that history just might repeat itself.

  14. True to a degree. The PLP however has had some rather bitter experiences with splits, the most serious one being the NLP split in the 1980s, and I think that that shoul be kept in mind when looking at how the Party operates. Also, the PLP, like labour parties everywhere, follows the practice of democratic centralism which has certain problems inherent to it.

    The main difference between the situation of the UBP in the 90s though is that the opposition (todays UBP) is essentially irrelevant, whereas the 90s PLP was a viable and effective opposition. Plus, we are no where near an election, barring a snap election that is. Attempts to ‘ostracise and condemn any sort of opposition from within’ will only be counter-productive given the existing balance of forces.

  15. Fair enough. But the writing is on the wall JS. Look at how quick any criticism is shot down as simply haters or aggrieved ex-PLP ministers. For instance, Devent and Perinchief are the most recent examples of this. I am pretty sure I remember Ms. Furbert brushing off their criticisms as nothing but bitternerss because they were no longer part of teh cabinet. Again, look at how she has reacted to you and Alsys as recently as last week. That well wrtitten article by Drummer Boy with several valid points was simply labelled as a “surrogate son of the soil” by guess who.

    So election or no election the attempts of censoring any opposition is alarming If PLP seriously had nothign to worry about then why the incessant need and attempts to gag the critics then?

  16. “democratic centralism ”

    Sounds a little like a contradictory term to me. How can a Govt/organization be a centralised democratic system (honest question)?

  17. Actually, known by a different term – ‘Cabinet collective responsibility’ – it (democratic centralism) forms one of the key bases of the Westminster system of governance. It can be generally summed up as members having to support any and all of the decisions made regardless of whether they themselves support them.

    While certain elements within the Party may be more vocal and thus have the potential to ‘intimidate’ open discussion by so doing, it would be a critical mistake to regard these individuals as being typical representatives of the Party.

    I don’t think I am really in the position to answer your question ‘If PLP seriously had nothign to worry about then why the incessant need and attempts to gag the critics then?’ I don’t think its necessary; if anything I think its counterproductive to the Party’s fortunes.

  18. Learn soemthing new everyday. But I agree with the second term that it is known as “Cabinet collective responsibility.” Because the word democracy should not be related to a process such as you have described above. Thanks for the clarification though

  19. Mr. Starling, do you ever attend any of the churches or social clubs that PLP members frequent in order to vent your concerns? If you do and your blog simply augments that discussion then fine. But if you don’t make a a real effort to engage in the real world then again I have to question what is your endgame with the blog. I invite you to look at the posts on your own blog and then counf the number of anti PLP posts and the the pro PLP posts and then ask yourself what is being gained. You have simply provided a place for white men to bash Black people. Intentionally or not, the end results are what matter.

  20. ” You have simply provided a place for white men to bash Black people. Intentionally or not, the end results are what matter.”

    Why do all PLP supporters automatically tacke any criticism of the party as a criticism of black people in general? It really is an immature view on politics in this island. Grow up and realize that there will always be and must be opposition in a political system such as ours.

    Also please elaborate on what you mean by your earlier q

  21. ” You have simply provided a place for white men to bash Black people. Intentionally or not, the end results are what matter.”

    Why do all PLP supporters automatically tacke any criticism of the party as a criticism of black people in general? It is a pathetic and tiring argument. It truly is an immature view of politics in this island. Grow up and realize that there will always be and must be opposition in a political system such as ours. If you don’t like it then move to a country which crushes any and all dissent. I suggest China.

    Also please elaborate on what you mean by your earlier quote when yuo said the posters are the “racial antithesis” of the PLP.

  22. “Mr. Starling, do you ever attend any of the churches or social clubs that PLP members frequent in order to vent your concerns”?

    Now that really is an interesting thought. The last time I attended any form of political meeting and asked a question, I got the “sit down white boy” treatment.

    Who is bashing who?

    So really what you are saying Sir George is that “because” we have a black Govt, whites shouldn’t be critical of it?

    Suggest you give some thought to the notion that “someone” needs to be critical of this Govt, irrespective of their skin colour.

  23. Sir George Summers…(if they can spell correctly, chech their previous posts)…bashing balck people? Your so out of touch you actually believe what you type on tis tv screen,,,,

    I bet your a Series 2008/Model MP-27/UPB # 004/-TCD 100/PWD -/034

    This is not Georgia yet nor Slovakia/Chechnia/ Mount Hill Pembroke…..

    Read Mrs. Furberts speech, listen too the words they spoke…..

    I need a rum………….

    Ps…..Buildings Bay bears 300 degrees..mabe ‘East by south’ might work, then hang a right…you might get through the “Gates”…..make that a dubble….

  24. So really what you are saying Sir George is that “because” we have a black Govt, whites shouldn’t be critical of it?

    No. What he’s saying is that because we have a black Govt, nobody should be critical of it. No matter what.

  25. This brings back memories of the sixties/seventies…Some white folks just don’t get it as can be seen from their posts here. Lighten up guys. Reflect on Daddy said and what the neighbours said and just ingest and digest what they did to overcome what you perceive to be an obsticle. It’ right in your face.
    So much for teaching the children well….

    Your nose is melting, can you see beyond it? Apparently not….
    I suggest a Bermuda Day, next week..say the 14th October,,,Hug, smug, and just have fun. Whats the boss gonna do? Don’t go to Bars, just go next door and take some grub. Hotels got enough to feed the hungry few.

    I need a rum…….

    Actually, communication is more than a “Conversation” and thats why I will never stop trying to do so. To many good people have done so much to get us here, lest we forget where we might have been, even though some think we are there. Hug your neighbour, is that what it’s all about?

    Peace…….

  26. Thank God i am black. The problems the Brown Government is causing is serious. The man and his type are being frightened by the white media to produce for whites and destroy blacks. Slicing the throats of poor people at gulfstream is a crime against poor people, Harry Veirra and the Klan are proud of the Brown Government. With a brutal killer like this of blacks who needs whites. Hatred for the poor exist because the poor prove the failure of the government. Everywhere you go unemployable black youth roam the streets. Drugs and prostitution are rampant islandwide. Jennifer Smith built houses for the poor so did Alex Scott, in fact all the on going units come from the previous administration but this man Brown worships hotels and golf courses. The opposition’s hatred for the poor exists with the silence to condemn Burch and his henchmen of elite pigs who inherited their houses from the UBP. Hopefully Brown will wake up after all this is his first few years as Premeir. Right now he and his adminstration are guilty of crimes against poor people! How can you sleep at night with the blood of homeless diabetics rotting in pond on your hands. may God forgive you he knows your not evil just a little out of touch.

  27. > How Racism Works…
    >
    > What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard
    > Law Review?
    > What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his
    > graduating class?
    >
    > What if McCain were still married to the first woman he
    > said ‘I do’ to?
    > What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife
    > after she no longer measured up to his standards?
    >
    > What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became
    > addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally
    > through her charitable organization?
    > What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
    >
    > What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5?
    > What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
    >
    > If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe
    > the election numbers would be as close as they are?
    > This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and
    > minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes
    > negative qualities in another when there is a color
    > difference.
    >
    > You are The Boss… which team would you hire?
    >
    > With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health
    > care, a weakened dollar, all-time high prison population,
    > mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc.
    >
    > Educational Background:
    >
    > Obama:
    > Columbia University – B.A. Political Science with a
    > Specialization in International Relations.
    > Harvard – Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
    >
    > Biden:
    > University of Delaware – B.A. in History and B.A. in
    > Political Science.
    > Syracuse University College of Law – Juris Doctor (J.D.)
    >
    > Â vs.
    >
    > McCain:
    > United States Naval Academy – Class rank: 894 of 899
    >
    > Palin:
    > Hawaii Pacific University – 1 semester
    > North Idaho College – 2 semesters – general study
    > University of Idaho – 2 semesters – journalism
    > Matanuska-Susitna College – 1 semester
    > University of Idaho – 3 semesters – B.A. in Journalism
    >
    > Now, which team are you going to hire ?
    >
    > PS: What if Barack Obama had an unwed, pregnant teenage
    > daughter….
    >
    >
    >
    > Â
    >

  28. Sir George, your cut and paste skills are second to none. Bravo.

    ps – people like me will continue to smash the current morally-bankrupt, corrupt Government until it cleans up its act and stops its taxpayer-funded friends and family plan. Your accusations of racism against those that speak up will make no difference, rest assured.

  29. Blood Diamond

    The white man is your old enemy. And he was only human. Your new enemies are all human. If you think you can spot your enemies by colour, you are a sitting duck.

  30. Thanks for the over view Starling

    A quote from Lenin. What a treat. You know, I am sure, that he was a rhetorician of insidious flexibility. He was able to cast any statement he made in the past, in a new way and make it mean its opposite, in the present. But its a very nice quote. By a fascinating man. I wouldn’t trust him with a lollypop.

    The opposition problem is a serious one. The UBP is irrelevant and was irrelevant the moment it got defeated. As opposition it is quite useless. Thats dangerous for all of us.

    Look at the US. Clinton was a cunning president. The republicans were a robust opposition. Together they balanced the budget. Since Bush Jr.’s win the democrats have been a lousy opposition. And look where we are today.

  31. Um, no, it was a qoute from Rosa Luxemburg from her speech directly criticising Lenin and the Leninist model of organising. I thought I had made that clear.

  32. If you’re going to judge the capabilities of MPs based upon professional and educational experience Sir George, at least use the Bermuda paradigm. Relying on the U.S. model simply indicates your intellectual dishonesty and downright laziness … or is it just an inconvenient truth that UBP members are in fact responsible for building the economic engine that has resulted in our collective success today (which the PLP appear to be fiscally abusing through excessive taxation and over spending)?

  33. Sir George,
    Mr. Starling, do you ever attend any of the churches or social clubs that PLP members frequent in order to vent your concerns? If you do and your blog simply augments that discussion then fine. But if you don’t make a a real effort to engage in the real world then again I have to question what is your endgame with the blog. I invite you to look at the posts on your own blog and then counf the number of anti PLP posts and the the pro PLP posts and then ask yourself what is being gained. You have simply provided a place for white men to bash Black people. Intentionally or not, the end results are what matter.

    Why does Jonathan need to attend specific forums to vent his concerns. Bermuda should be an open air political arena where Jonathan is free to vent concerns whenever and wherever he so chooses. Welcome to the new millennium, where there is a new political frontier online. I would suggest that may be people from his party join him online in addressing his concerns, whether perceived legitimate or not.

    As for your last comment, what utter bullshit (I’m going to give Jonathan a copy of my stamp). You play the race card to attempt to persuade Jonathan to cease and desist, and by doing so loose all credibility to your arguments.

  34. The more I read and hear about the upcoming US election, the more I realise that the depressing stuff that you hear in Bermuda politics happens everywhere else too.

    For example, on the subject of public criticism, a US conservative blogger, Conor Friedersdorf, recently expressed doubts about Sarah Palin. He was attacked by another conservative, Helen Rittelmeyer, for doing so:

    “we aren’t all special political snowflakes, and we have to pick teams. The rules would be different if politics were meant to be a process for discovering truth, but it isn’t, not even in a democracy. You stick with your team and help it win, and, if you have problems with the ideas your team is promoting, you take it up with them outside the political realm. I’ll admit that blogs exist in a strange middle ground between political rhetoric and intra-party discussion, but I think I can sidestep the problem by saying that, if you can’t take your discussion out of the other team’s view, then at least conduct it in such a way that the other team understands you’re still standing by your guys no matter how the argument turns out.”

    Mr. Friedersdorf’s response:

    “The loyalty test the Ms. Rittelmeyer seeks is undeniably incompatible with the responsibilities of an intellectually honest writer. More than that, however, it is actually deeply destructive to the very conservative movement to which loyalty is supposedly owed.”

    Mr. Friedersdorf agrees that politics is not a process for discovering truth. (This is interesting – perhaps those of us who believe that the UBP and PLP should be arguing the respective merits of their policies are being naive?) However,

    “Surely, however, it is useful to have some citizens in a democracy whose primary interest is firing up the crucible of public discourse, so that ideas — political and otherwise — can be tested. That is the role taken on by writers, editors and opinion journalists.”

  35. I should have added Friedersdorf’s explanation of why he considers absolute loyalty to a party to be deeply destructive to that party:

    “The GOP certainly won’t remain the conservative party in our two party system if everyone who cares about its principles automatically votes Republican out of “family loyalty.” The thing that’ll happen in that case is that vote-hungry politicians will take us for granted, safely betraying us to other constituencies because we’ve committed to never betraying them.”

    (if this comment makes no sense, it’s because my previous one is still awaiting moderation because I put some links in it – check back later).

  36. Makes sense too me. Loyalty is as such but good judgement, ethics and common sense should play a big part in all our lives.

    Then again, from your previous this does not always play out. Thanks Phil.

  37. You play the race card to attempt to persuade Jonathan to cease and desist, and by doing so loose all credibility to your arguments.

    I’m not trying to stop Mr. Starling from doing anything. I am simply questioning his motives and whether he is achieving his objective.

  38. Sir George,

    Just to give a brief reply to you:

    I am a strong atheist and a militant secularist, so no, I do not attend any of the Churches. I am however fond of beer (guinness, preferably draft) so I do from time to time go to various social clubs. I do of course engage in discourse in those venues.

    As I am currently off-island for the next forseeable twelve months though those points are effectively irrelevant.

    Nonetheless, neither of them should mean I should not run this blog either. The terrain for political discourse is expanding, and I see it as necessary to engage in discourse wherever is practical (churches being ruled out for me). I believe in engaging with rival political opinions rather than ignoring them.

    Also, I am white. While race is a social construc and all that, I am mostly regarded as White in Bermuda, and also regard myself as White. Last time I checked the PLP was not a ‘Black’ Party but a Labour Party that, due to the peculair race/class history of Bermuda was mostly composed of and supported by the Black working class. While the blogosphere may be dominated by the Whites and those who were not historically ‘fellow travellers’ of the movement for progressive and socioeconomic justice, there is the possibility to win over new members and supporters by engaging in them with rational debate. There are misperceptions about our Party and only by engaging in such discourse with those who are anti-PLP (which is not the same as being pro-UBP) can we dispel some of these myths. If we can win over people ideologically or rationally, then we should do so. It is hard, and due to our history and the perniciousness of institutional racism it is an uphill battle in some sectors, but it is one we cannot afford not to engage in as long as it is our goal to solve the race question as well as the deeper questions relating to the class structure of our society, the dimensions of gender and sexuality and colonial institutions of both physical and mental forms.

  39. Hit enter prematurely. Where I was going with the race thing was that the Churches and the social clubs you speak of are generally part of ‘Black Bermuda’ – I don’t think we can deny there are significant chasms between Black and White Bermuda in many cultural areas such as this one. I am not uncomfortable engaging in discourse in these ‘Black’ spaces, but I know many Whites are, and in certain occassions I often do encounter initial hostility on the basis of a superifical prejudgement of my politics on the basis of my skin-colour. After some discussion it becomes clear that my politics are quite far removed from the UBP, and indeed much more radical than anything the PLP has offered in decades, but more in line with much of what the grassroots traditionally are supportive of.

    But if we want to move forward as a country we need to solve the race question, and to do that discourse must be had with those who can be won over to progressive labour by ideological/rational discourse. To do that we must engage with them and seek to understand where they come from and bring them up to where we are coming from. This is not meant to be patronising, its simply to say we need to work our way through the discussion, as uncomfortable as it becomes from time to time, in order to stop talking past each other and start talking to each other.

    At the same time defence of the principles of progresive labour must be continued. There has been a tendency for too long to allow certain principles to be violated in the interests of political opportunism, and this may have led to securing politicla power but it does so at the cost of forgetting what the point of obtaining that political power was in the first place. Means do determine ends afterall. Open and frank discussion of the Party and its direction is vital both to ensure the Party is true to its principles (and a discussion of what these are needs done also), as well as to encourage new members/supporters to the Party by showing it is comfortable with a vibrant internal democracy – that this after all strengthens the Party in the long-term.

    I have said several times that the UBP is functionally irrelevant at the moment and for the forseeable future – it may even be terminal at this point. The recent poll results of their support and perception by the public of late would certainly confirm this opinion for the time-being. Criticising the Party publicly when I feel necessary – that it is acting coontradictory to the principles of progressive labour – in such an atmosphere of UBP irrelevance is both non-damaging to the Party and critical for it to capitalise on the current political malaise to its long-term benefit and the deepening of the potential for a truly new Bermuda based on participatory economic and political power.

  40. Succinct and to the point Johnathan – and thanks for saying it. It was about time someone did.

    There is a current trend of what I can only call ‘bullying’ by certain people on blogs, (and I don’t include Sir George in that). It defeats me to try and understand why it is happening and what those bullying could possibly expect to achieve by it.

    If they believe that by continuing to do so somehow wins the argument, they are naive at best. It is also arrogant on their part if they are making the presumption that readers won’t make up their own minds on reading threads. An open mind is a precious thing, and much needed here in the Bermudian political arena.

  41. Well put Mr. Starling. Now if only your “socially constructed” bredren were as enlightened.

  42. *sigh* Did you actually read any of what he wrote? Any comprehension at all??

    What good is it to continuously (and this is directed at many posters) point fingers? How the hell are we all supposed to move forward if y’all are so focused on getting snippy points off each other! So does not help… and it’s childish as all hell to boot.

    The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party’s policies and programmes are meant to rekindle hope, to heal Bermuda’s present divisions and to replace apathy and alienation with a spirit of optimism and a feeling of oneness and unity. We continue to put Bermuda first, and to put Bermudians first.

    This is what I believe is our way forward, taken from the PLP’s mission statement. Healing, not nitpicking.

  43. Alsys…

    I am sure there are many who ‘go with you’ on what you say. The real problem though (as I see it) is that there is no meeting of the minds on what constitutes “going forward”.

    To be blunt, there are certain current critics of you (Naive/simple et al) that I sense prefer the status quo. Power has been achieved, and held on to, and the only way for them to maintain that is to play the politics of blame game.

    Now, I can understand it, but picking up your central point, i.e.going forward, it ain’t going to happen if that game is played. You will realise that I fully support blogging as a communication tool, and as a way of learning. It does appear to me that there are some, i.e. the critics, who would rather people didn’t learn, didn’t have an open mind, didn’t listen to others and so one could go on.

    We talked earlier about arrogance. Another contribution used a word I should have used, i.e. patronising. I find the style of those who would be critics of you, patronising. Trust me when I say they would rather you and Jonathan fell off the scene.

    Much easier to control when there are no dissenters or questioners out there.

  44. Are you serious Mike? Or are you just trying to send another message?

    I can read between lines… I don’t do them.

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