Viewing posts tagged revolution

We are the Borgias. You will be Excommunicated. Renaissance is Futile.

It's good that TV dramas have become more complex and ambiguous, particularly with regards to morality.  But there is a tendency for them to lose any moral compass in their eagerness to show us the dark sides of the characters with whom they want us to empathize and to care about.

The Borgias wants us to follow Cesare's career with sympathy, but also shows him having people tortured into madness.  What is the show's position on this?  Oddly, it tries to whitewash him even as it revels in his dark side.  It makes his victims into rapists and murderers.  It depicts him as personally involved in tormenting Savonarola, but makes Savonarola a fanatic (of course) and a vicious homophobe.  Now, it's true that Savonarola instituted strictly puritanical laws in Florence, including against sodomy... but that was applicable to hetero sex as well as homo.  Of course, I wouldn't want to defend Savonarola's views in their entirety.  He was not a modern democrat.  But he and people akin to him - Munzer, Cromwell, the Levellers, the Diggers... the p/Protestant revolutionaries of the era of transition from ...

Amnesia Day

I don't wear a poppy.  Laurie Penny has written a very good article, expressing many views that I agree with, here.  I don't engage in the silence at 11 o'clock either.  I know that most ordinary people who do observe the silence and wear the poppy do so for sincere reasons.  But I myself cannot stomach it.  I think my reasons are less intellectual and more to do with the sheer, physical revulsion I feel at the hypocrisy on display in images like this:



What's the collective noun for warmongers?  A troop?  A collateral?  Well, whatever.  There they stand, doing their best sincere and sombre faces.  All guilty of sending people off to fight and kill and die and maim and be maimed in order to protect the interests of the American empire and neoliberalism's access to markets.  And wrapping it all up in the rhetoric of 'sacrifice' and 'freedom'.  The poppy, the cenotaph, the silence, the 'Ode to Remembrance'... I can't help but see it all as cynical and calculated.  As ideology.  As an attempt by a warmongering, imperialist ...

The Commodity Strikes Back

Thoughts on 'Planet of the Ood'


A very beautiful episode to look at. A stark pallet of whites and blues and greys, the exterior scenes harshly bathed in cold light... counterpointed by the dark warehouses and the red haze of the Ood rage.

Series 4 continues its apparent intent of readdressing moral lapses on the part of the Doctor/show. The inexcusable laxity of the treatment of slavery in 'The Satan Pit' (and the invisibility of the issue in the preceding episode) gets repudiated here. Big time.

Some would rather have had a story about a race that actually did crave servitude... but J. K. Rowling has already given the nation that sort of thing with her innately and happily subservient House Elves. And I don't believe a sentient life form could evolve that wanted to be a commodity.  Indeed, to even suggest such a thing may be to fundamentally misunderstand what consciousness is.

This may be a straightforward polemical tale, but there's nothing wrong with that. This is about ruthless, corporate capitalism exploiting people that it sees as nothing but a resource to be used. Sentient beings cut and sliced and spliced into shape as customisable ...

Revolution Dog























(With thanks to Richard Pilbeam.)

Wooooo Hooooo!!!!!!!

Mubarak falls!  The bloody dictator ruled for 30 years, backed by and representing neoliberalism and Western imperialism.  The bravery, determination, organisation and moral force of the Egyptian people brought him down in just over 2 weeks.  This leaves the torturer Suleiman in power, backed by the military...

But this is just the start. 

Life and Taxes

Here is George Monbiot, on possibly the most scandalous domestic story of the year (which, in the age of the ConDems, is really saying something).  Please read this.  In a sane country, this issue would trigger an Egypt-style revolt.  It's essentially a government conspiracy to help massive corporations and banks (you remember how helpful they've been to the world in recent years?) defraud the country of perhaps unprecedentedly vast amounts of money.  It may even amount to the effective abolition of taxation upon the wealthiest organisations in society.

Here's a sample:
At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don't get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.

Foreign means anywhere. If these ...

Empires Toppling

There is a long and venerable tradition in Doctor Who of portraying revolutions sympathetically.  It does this many times.  It isn't an unbroken run of support... but for every 'Reign of Terror', in which the French Revolution is given the full Baroness Orczy treatment, there is a 'Sun Makers', in which a full-scale workers' revolt topples a corporate tyranny.  For every 'Monster of Peladon', where reform is touted as a solution to chaos created by extremists on both sides (right-wingers in government and looney-left wingers amongst the miners), there is a 'Happiness Patrol' in which the Doctor and Ace encourage a united rebellion by factory workers, aboriginal aliens and dissidents.  Fantastical, they may be... but these depictions are also surprisingly candid about the amount of mess, pain and trauma involved in popular uprisings, while retaining a forthright sympathy.

As far as I know, this track record is unique amongst television programmes.

In light of interesting and inspiring things going on in the world at the moment, I thought it might be fun to post some of my favourite televised revolutions....


The Ood kick some sorry corporate ass.


Street protests, in which dissidents defy the security ...

Workers of the Whoniverse

(This was originally written for May Day.)


Some people think Doctor Who is inherently left-wing. This is bullshit. But… like much bullshit, there’s a fibrous grain of truth in there somewhere if you don latex gloves, break the crust and delve deeply enough into the contents of the pat.

Doctor Who started just before the worldwide explosion of dissent and protest that represents the real point of what is called (inaccurately) “the 60s”. It ran through the years of the Vietnam war, the end of the post-war economic boom, the worldwide wave of protests by students and workers, France in ’68, the Prague Spring, the height of the civil rights movement, the ascendancy (and murder) of Martin Luther King Jnr., the rise of the women’s movement and feminism, the rise of the gay liberation movement, etc. It ran during interesting times. It reflected the massive changes in social attitude that were transforming Western culture – how could it not, being a product of Western culture? It reflected something amorphous and overhyped (but real) that we call “the liberal consensus”, which is easy to take for granted now but which was a drastic change in the whole nature and consciousness ...

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