Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Overlooked Consistency

A colleague wonders about the obvious paradox: the Empire is imposing unification in Bosnia while supporting separatism in Kosovo.

This has been obvious to anyone with eyes and ears for quite some time. But in the realm of Imperial "logic" it is entirely possible for people to believe in paradoxes. There is "absolutely no connection" between Bosnia and Kosovo, the chorus of Imperial officials droned (but then they said Kosovo was the "last chapter in the breakup of Yugoslavia; go figure). Bosnia is a "sovereign state," with inviolable borders (and Serbia is not?!). Kosovo is a "unique case" (no, it really isn't). And so on. Consider this:

What seems to govern events in the Balkans under Imperial rule is something that, for lack of a better term, could be termed the "Abramowitz doctrine": a complete absence of any principle that would be valid for all. Indeed, a complete absence of any principle at all, except power.

Completely different rules are in force for Serbs and for Albanians, or Bosnian Muslims; certainly, no external rules whatsoever apply to the Empire, in any of its manifestations. What "rules" that exist are made by Imperial viceroys, commanders, envoys, commissioners, and advisors, on the spot and without any need (or regard) for internal consistency. The ends – ultimately elusive, but hiding under the platitudes of "justice" and "Euro-Atlantic integration" – justify any and all means, while any resistance to them is a priori considered criminal.

Law is non-binding upon the Self-Righteous. Treaties are of no consequence. Neither is logic, for that matter. Understanding is not required, only obedience.

I wrote that in December 2004. The only thing that has changed since is that the Empire has long stopped pretending to care about even the forms of civilized conduct. After all, it is the master of facts, and the rest of us live in the delusional "reality-based community" that only examines the reflections of their glorious deeds, right?

As a matter of fact, there is a logic to Imperial behavior in the Balkans; a sort of macabre consistency: the Serbs are always wrong. Once this "axiom" is accepted, everything the Empire does makes perfect sense. Without it, nothing does.

Before you dismiss this as a "rant of a paranoid Serb" (thus proving the point, actually), I'll explain that this deduction was made by Doug Bandow.

Morton Abramowitz famously quipped that Serbs "seek perfect reasoning" where there isn't any. As Bandow's deduction shows, only the first half of that statement is true. There is reasoning, but it is so corrupt, so twisted, so absurd, it's dismissed as impossible by Serbs. "Surely they wouldn't... Surely it can't be..."

Newsflash: Yes, they would, and have. Yes, it can be, and is.

If the bombs of 1999 didn't teach this lesson... what will?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Constitution vs. Freedom

By way of a friend in faraway New Zealand, I received this afternoon an opinion piece from the New Zealand Herald, in which the author argues for a Constitution. Apparently, the only three democracies in the world without one are the UK, New Zealand and Israel, and now Gordon Brown (Blair's heir-designate as PM) is talking about changing that in Britain.

If you read the original piece, it's clear that the author sees the Constitution as a bulwark for government programs (education, healthcare, politics of race, etc.) rather than against government abuses. I'm suspecting the same "logic" is at work in Britain; a decade of Blairism has led to many changes in British state and society, and it's only natural for Blair's heir to wish to cement these impositions, rather than risk them undone by someone else down the line.

Here's a passage from the NZ Herald op-ed that seeks to camouflage this sentiment and present a constitution as a protection of rights:

The Institute for Public Policy in Britain has warned that its Parliament can deprive citizens of centuries-old rights "by the same means as an alteration of the speed limit" - that is, a 51 per cent vote.
Welcome to democracy! That's precisely what it's about, when one gets rid of the legalistic frills. Of course the thought is terrifying. But it is precisely because the Parliament has such power that it has been exercised with restraint. That is, until Oliver Cromwell Blair chose to remake Britain in his own vision...

The American constitution, which established the federal government of the U.S.A., was a compromise between statist, empire-building ambitions and a conservative distrust of government. Fast-forward 200+ years since its passage, and one can easily see all the provisions limiting federal government power either circumvented or ignored completely, while a multi-trillion-dollar bureaucracy employing millions has arisen out of deliberate misinterpretation of a couple of words (i.e. commerce clause). But Americans today insist they are free, because the Constitution protects them. Right. And the Moon is made of cheese.

States love constitutions. Rather than being the chain that binds their power, constitutions are a disguise that protects their tyranny. When the behavior of the state is governed by tradition, history and precedents, society has control over the state. Once a paper replaces tradition, that control moves into the hands of the state itself. A court reviews it, a parliament of some kind amends it. The state becomes its own arbiter. How likely is it to judge itself harshly? If you answer "very," I've some beachfront real-estate in Nevada for you. Call now, operators are standing by.

If Britain gets a constitution - and with Labour controlling all the levers of government, the question is not "if " but rather "when" - it will become even less free than it is today (which, admittedly, isn't much). I don't know how highly the Kiwis value their liberty, but they are guaranteed to lose it if they follow Britain's example; leaving Israel as the only democratic state that answers to an authority higher than itself.

Aptly ironic, if you ask me.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

One of the reasons I don't even try writing fiction is that reality is often much stranger. A story involving three months of negotiations that went nowhere, a surprise election of the parliament speaker, a surprise reversal, overt foreign interference and a last-minute swearing-in of a new cabinet would have been dismissed as contrived and incredulous. And yet that's precisely what happened in Serbia over the past two weeks.

After the constitutional referendum last fall, Serbia held parliamentary elections in January. The ramshackle coalition that had somehow managed to maintain a minority government since 2004 did not manage to win enough votes for a new mandate. But then, neither did anyone else. The Radical party once again got the biggest chunk of the votes, yet not enough for a majority. Imperial legates and EU komissars put considerable pressure on Serbia to establish a "democratic bloc" government - effectively resurrecting the old DOS coalition that executed a the October 2000 coup.

For a moment there, early last week, their wish seemed doomed: prime minister Kostunica's DSS supported the election of Tomislav Nikolic, leader of the Radicals, as the parliament's Speaker. Amidst the resulting wailing, howling and gnashing of teeth, Kostunica reversed his position (or did he?) and successfully negotiated a deal with president Tadic's Democratic party and ex-partner G17 Plus. Nikolic resigned from his post after just four days, managing to retain an appearance of dignity and integrity amidst the parliamentary discussion that resembled a particularly vulgar episode of Jerry Springer.

The new, "democratic" government has more cabinet posts than it used to under DOS, tailored to fit party leaders and trusted cronies. Now, if the powers of the Serbian government were properly limited, none of this would be an issue. Unfortunately, and even under the new Constitution, the state is still near-omnipotent at home (circumscribed only by the wishes of its imperial overlords). In two fields that one might argue are legitimate domains of the state - foreign affairs and defense - Tadic cronies and Imperial lackeys are now firmly in charge. I never thought I would regret the political demise of ex-Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic, but his replacement beggars belief.

To paraphrase ex-Reichsmarschall Rumsfeld, you make the government with the parties you have. It is just depressing that in today's Serbia, the only alternatives to this pathetic collection of lackeys, quislings and fools are the fist-pounding populist Radicals (who'd rather have Serbia be a Russian province, if at all possible), or the even greater quislings, lackeys and fools, ex(?)-Communist "liberal democrats."

Serbia desperately needs a party - or better yet, a movement - that would seek to limit the power of the state in matters domestic, and ensure that in matters of actual national interest (defense of territory, lives and property of its citizens; foreign relations), elected representatives serve the people of Serbia, rather than the governments in Washington, Brussels, or even Moscow. Most people around the world would take these things for granted. In Serbia, they remain in the realm of fiction.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Quisling's Cause

John Laughland has an excellent and informative piece in the most recent Spectator, revealing that the idea of European unity was championed vocally by none other than Vidkun Quisling, the infamous Norwegian collaborator during the Nazi occupation. He also uncovers some interesting tidbits about Nazi flirtation with "Europeanism."

This isn't to say that today's Eurocrats are Nazis; they are more Soviet in their statist zealotry, if anything. But it is a good counter-argument to the oft-repeated canard that the EU arose as a reaction to Hitler and the second world war.