Some Saturday Musings

OBA Lies?

I’m surprised that all of a sudden there’s a debate about the OBA’s 2012 election promise of creating 2000 jobs.

As election promises go, this one seemed clear to me as being empty fluff – it didn’t contain any clear policy commitment (like holding a referendum on casino gambling or suspending term limits for two years for a review) – it was just nonsense.  Irresponsible nonsense at that.

They were challenged at the time to explain how they would achieve this objective – along with explaining their economic plan – but their defence of the promise was nothing more than bluster along the lines of ‘trust us’.

It was irresponsible because it played on both the fears and the hopes of the people, without articulating how it would be achieved – it was little more than a cynical electoral ploy.

Of course, the OBA weren’t the first political party (in Bermuda or elsewhere) to adopt such a cynical election ploy, nor will they be the last.

I don’t think this was directly responsible for the OBA winning in 2012, but it could be seen as part of a web of election promises that we can now look back upon as either a direct lie (such as the casino gambling referendum promise or suspending term limits for two years pending a review) or empty fluff (and basically nonsense that just sounded good) – and this web of deceit and emptiness no doubt did contribute to their electoral victory, when taken in its entirety.

I argued last year, during the various discussions relating to the cancellation of the casino gambling referendum, that the OBA’s actions were making a mockery of electoral promises and platforms going forward, and rendering our politics farcical. I maintain that going forward at least the OBA’s future platforms have been rendered meaningless and their party itself untrustworthy.  I reckon they’ll eventually come to regret burning up their political capital so needlessly and thoroughly.

“He’s a Marxist!”

I continue to be amazed at how many online commentators, on the various news media, react to my op-eds.

They generally don’t address any points I make, pretty much ignore my argument, and just fall into some sort of personal attack mode along the lines of “He’s a Marxist! That means he wants to recreate the Soviet Union’s dictatorship in Bermuda! Run way, run away!” or “If you’re a Marxist why not go off to Cuba or Russia or North Korea or China and stop bothering to add an alternative political voice here!”.

The most recent examples can be seen in my rebuttals to Mr Robert Stewart, in my discussion of austerity as an ideological weapon in the class war and a defence of welfare.  Neither of my articles were really all that Marxist – certainly not the welfare piece, although the critique of austerity and the role of the State did draw on Marxist analysis, sure.

Yes, I’m a Marxist.  I don’t consider that a dirty word or something bad.  I think it’s a very powerful analytical tool.  I do not support the nightmare that the Soviet Union became – to me the revolution succumbed to a counter-revolution and became some sort of fascist state that used only the rhetoric of the revolution for purposes of legitimation.  It was only superficially ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’.

And I’ve made it clear that while I draw on Marxist theory, it’s impractical to institute truly socialist policies in the Bermuda context in isolation – that is, without substantial global moves towards socialism.

The best that can be done in Bermuda is to utilise Marxist theory for the purposes of critique and raising consciousness. In terms of actual policies, I think the maximum that can be done in the Bermuda context, in isolation, is a commitment to increasingly progressive social democratic policies.  These do not go beyond capitalism. I do not think we can go beyond capitalism without profound socialist moves in either Europe or, especially, North America, on account of our economic model and geographical location.

I also think it’s important (and I’ve alluded to this above) to draw a distinction between Marxism and ‘actually existing socialist/communist states’.  I understand why these two are constantly conflated, but it shows an intellectual dishonesty at worst and ignorance at best, a reliance on a simplistic and superficial understanding.

I do not want the State in charge of everything – I do not support a totalitarian vision of the State. Indeed, I see that as one of the chief defects of the Soviets, the reliance on the State, the acquisition of authoritarian powers by the State. There is a distinction between nationalisation and socialisation, as well as the socialisation and democratisation of the State.

I doubt my detractors really care though – they’re quite content to rely on a mix of ignorance, dishonesty and personal attacks.

The post the OBA didn’t want you to see! (?)

With the rise of Facebook and Twitter generally eclipsing the role of the blogs as the premier site for online discourse, I’ve been trying to adapt. Part of that involves using the blog primarily as a site for posts, yes, but more or less ‘out-sourcing’ the discussion on the posts away from the blog’s actual comment section (which remains of course) and onto FB or Twitter.  I also use FB and Twitter to disseminate the post, using links.

So, when I write a post, I generally post it also (in the form of a link) on FB and Twitter.  I haven’t yet created a FB page for the blog itself, and instead use my Vote Starling FB page for that purpose.  As Bermuda has evolved a handful of FB groups which can be seen as sites for political discourse, I often post these links in those fora – each group tends to have a different political flavour, and this is reflected in the way they react to the posts.  Some groups enthusiastically comment, others generally ignore them.  That’s fine.

What surprised me about the most recent post, about the serious allegations arising from Mr MacLean and Mr Peniston’s affidavits, is that the OBA FB group decided to delete the post altogether.  I was given no explanation for this action – it didn’t contravene any of their rules.

So I posted it again, pointing out that it had been deleted without explanation.

Second re-posting...

Second re-posting…

It got deleted again.

So I posted it once more, a third time now, only for it to once more be deleted.

Third time lucky? No dice it seems...

Third time lucky? No dice it seems…

This time I did get an explanation, perhaps as a result of my comment in the third re-posting that it should be common courtesy to let one know why ones post is being deleted, and that I would likely just keep re-posting it and they could just keep deleting it ad infinitum.

The explanation given was basically that they’d been advised by lawyers to remove any links that ‘had direct quotes from the affidavit and links to sites re the same’.

I maintain that my post didn’t include any direct quotes from the affidavit, and I made it quite clear that the affidavit should be treated as just that, allegations, at this point.  I suppose the fact that I provided a link to the tumblr site where one can view the affidavits for oneself could fall under the ‘links to sites re the same’, but to me that’s a stretch.

I leave it up to readers to draw their own conclusions – did the OBA FB page have a good reason to delete the posts, or did they just not want their members to read the post?


3 thoughts on “Some Saturday Musings

  1. They are taking their clue from their politicians accept they don’t sue to keep Bermudians from criticizing their policies ; they delete.

  2. ‘I doubt my detractors really care though – they’re quite content to rely on a mix of ignorance, dishonesty and personal attacks”.

    Not convinced it is as personal, as you seem to be suggesting. Bermudians take a sensationalist approach to politics. It’s one of the products of a culture that is driven by emotion (inc fear) as distinct from taking an analytical approach.

  3. Some of it is definitely personal, a few of the trolls post things like “what do you expect form the communist marxist socialist”, with zero context whatsoever. There’s no reason to slam a contributor like that, it’s just juvenile and immature. One of the major flaws of comment sections like the news media sites have is that there’s no active and intelligent moderation; posts get approved as long as they don’t risk a lawsuit, but trolls are encouraged by the bucket-load.

    As for the FB groups, you’d think that groups that claim to be open and transparent, wouldn’t have such situations happening, but again I’m not surprised. Every single one of them has their own agenda.

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