referendum in Latvia: Russian language – to be or not to be

there are as many Russians living in Canada as in Latvia; does it mean now that Russians living in Canada will also initiate a referendum there to make Russian language as the third official language like they did in Latvia?

Personally, this referendum today in Latvia about having or not having Russian as Latvia’s second official language felt somewhat humiliating. It was requesting to reconfirm the obvious and self-explanatory – Latvia is the one and the only home of Latvian language being spoken by about 1.5 mil people (1/11 of Moscow) worldwide. Moreover, Latvia’s constitution defines Latvian language as the one and the only official language. Full stop.

With my full respect to Russians, but Russian language is not dying out, so it does not need extra protection. It can be freely used in Latvia as any other language, except public sector for obvious reasons (like in any other countries). the fact that many Russian speaking people are not able for whatever reasons to learn/ speak Latvian, is not a problem of Latvia and native Latvians. This is one’s individual choice. It is a manifest of one’s attitude and loyalty, preferences and needs.

Also, just because Latvians apparently are better at learning languages and among others can speak Russian, does not mean that therefore Russian should become an official language.

We have been and are enough tolerant to those who choose to distance themselves from anything Latvian despite living in Latvia for ages. But, then equally, they should accept some difficulties and, with respect to Latvian language in public sector, can hire a translator if necessary etc.

it feels like many Russians are still having a chronic hangover from old ages and days of imperialistic power era. They cant get over the fact that the Soviet train is gone and you cant catch it again. forget about it. Wake up. You live in an independent Latvia with clear set of rules (read – Constitution) and just simply take it or leave it. If you cant go anywhere else (and your mother Russia is not actually bothered about you and doesn’t want you back), then be grateful for being where you are; appreciate the country where you live in and which asks from you only one thing – be loyal.

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Occupy London, 29 October 2011 – there ARE alternatives and it is possible!

There has been way too much negativity in the media about this campaign, but it’s serious and just wait or better – do act as well, if you care about the world you live in! it wont stay the same and it must not. water in the kettle is boiling hotter and hotter… and when those 99% will reach the 100% temperature the world (read – mainstream politics) will just have to change. And dont believe those who say those campers are just vagabonds or fribbles or just people who have nothing else to do. there is serious talk going on (i actually spent today an hour discussing all these crisis/ socialism/ capitalism/ neoliberalism/ growth/ cuts-related issues with random people in the camp) and a great level of keenness to change and do changes is in the air. i have captured just some of the ideas spread around there and if you disagree with these, i’m afraid, you are among the 1% and you gonna be in trouble soon 🙂 cheers.

P.S. before writing my own reflections on this subject, i found this article about Neoliberalism and Occupy Movements and thought that for time being i would want to share it as a deeper insight into this Occupy issue as i strongly agree with the arguments explained in there.

food crisis is a man-made constructed phenomenon

what’s been clear and has been re-empahasized by this recent World Disasters report by IFRC is that food crisis is man-made constructed crisis and a side-effect of this sick system we live in. How else one can interpret the fact that currently there are more obese people than starving people.

“The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said hunger existed not because there was a lack of food globally but because of poor distribution, wastage and rising prices that made food unaffordable.” Access to food has been politicized to the extent that millions have been made dependent on receiving food from governments or international donors and been disabled to become self-sufficient in terms of production and buying/ selling of the food stuff. It may sound as a conspiracy, however in some food-crisis hit countries one can find a linkage between chronic shortage of food and election cycles which means access to food may often be just a tool of manipulation of masses to gain keep the political power.

In one part of the world the most powerful organizations and individuals function and enrich themselves by making people want to eat more than they need, whereas in the other part of the world the most powerful organizations and individuals benefit from keeping people in hunger thus maintaining the power and attracting external aid.

dark clouds above Latvia’s head?

As a subscriber of weekly AKE Risk Updates which highlight the most important security and political risk developments worldwide from the previous week this morning i found a section on Latvia being included in this update (as far as i am aware, for the first time ever) due to the Parliament election results.

Though in principle there should not be anything wrong with having a centre-left party as a winner in elections, it is clear that in case of Latvia this fact means so much more in terms of country’s already fragile sovereignty and independence.

London riots: let’s dig a bit deeper..

Riots which spread across London last weekend have sparked off hot debate on media, in government and society why it happened, who to blame, who is responsible for this, what the punishment should be, if police is good enough/ well prepared and equipped to deal with such cases, what should be government’s and society’s response to this etc.

While on community level impressive unity and solidarity can be observed through collective efforts to help the ones who lost their businesses or dwellings or whose loved ones have been killed or injured in result of the riots, there have also been efforts to redefine ‚us‘ and ‚they‘ thus potentially disclosing  ‚hidden elephants in the room‘ (those who we all know but don’t talk about).

Though it was quite surprising for me to see the series of riots around London on such a scale, I did not feel shocked by the fact as such. I think it was like a ticking time bomb, an ‚eye-opener‘, and just an exposure of real, make-up free London/ UK. It could have been predicted.

I don’t defend rioters and looters, I am compassionate with those who died or have been injured and whose businesses or homes have been destroyed. But I will not support the ongoing blaming of rioters who, in essence, I believe, are  simply the victims of the (failed?) system we live in. I believe it is a system which eventually should take the responsibility for these riots and their ultimate consequences, and, more importantly, it should take full responsibility to address the causes. However, I doubt about the ability of this system to take a true introspective look and go beyond blaming of its own victims.

We live in a system whose value system is based almost solely on money and wealth. Nowadays success means money, a lot of money. The more the better. One’s life and opportunities are directly dependent on what and how much one owns, have or have access to. Nowadays the single most important goal of all governments is to promote economic growth. At the end of the day their ultimate goal is trying to increase GDP via promotion of spending (we don’t question if we really need all that stuff we buy, but by having it we are made to feel better and fit in/for the system as well as make the economy running), borrowing (so that we can spend even more), competing (and in name of this the average member of this system should be ready to be low paid in order to keep the costs down and country/ company can be competitive), taxes (taxing poorer people proportionally more than richer people, of course), investments and financial innovations (think of all that banking, investment funds, tax dodging, speculations with currencies, food, oil prices etc). This is so called conservatism or form of neoliberalism which believes that economic growth is an answer to all the needs and problems and can make people happy. UK being one of the richest countries in the world (meaning – having one of the highest GDP) has been thus trying to give an impression internally and externally that this high-growth status is the true sign of success and power. Eventually, this „spend more, own more, compete more, buy more, have more money“ mentality nurtured by guards of this system has spread across all groups of society and has taken now deep roots into people’s perceptions about what a proper life means. If you have money, you are in, if not – you are out. Money is our measure how good life we are living.

Moreover, money means not only success but also power therefore essentially those in power and maintaining the system represent those who has money rather than those who don’t. Money is your ticket not only to success but also to one’s political participation and representation.

Some time ago Mr Cameron sort of surprised me in a positive sense (which is very unusual) by taking into account some of the critique about the current system (it might have been though just a pre-election tactics) and suggested to consider introduction of a new indicator – happiness index – which could possibly eventually replace GDP as the main criteria for government’s policies (he tried to be innovative, a bit revolutionary which was needed in fight with Labor party). Unfortunately, since then I have not heard anything about the development of this idea. My suspicion is that he realized how dangerous the usage of this indicator could be to the system he is part of and should defend as it would discover too nasty things and would just complicate matters.

Current political and economic conjuncture (actually it has been like that since 1980s) is mostly interested in economic growth agenda which serves the mainstream conservative wing and big businesses. In essence, current politics is more dependent on and therefore accountable to business which is financially supporting political parties, rather than citizens, disregarding if they vote or not. Therefore, there is little interest from the system’s side to serve people and put their wellbeing and happiness as the ultimate goal of all policies. System prefers to think that good economy automatically means good life disregarding if you have or dont have any stake in it.

But unfortunately, quality of life has a weak link with economic growth. Good GDP level does not automatically mean that people feel satisfied with their lives. My belief, thus is that ignorance of this fact and therefore the riots last weekend is a price which the system is paying. System can hide for a while behind good-looking statistics and high -growth rates, but sooner or later masks fall.

Now, if we look at these riots,

  1. How we can expect people – who feel abandoned by the system,  who have failed to fit in the system, who feel they have no stake in this society, who feel under-represented politically – to tolerate the system?
  2. How one can expect marginalized, segregated, alienated groups to obey the system which instead of giving a helpful hand has criminalized these groups and their failure to fit in the system? By criminalization of poverty this system has excluded tens and hundreds of thousands of people who have been thus forced to find alternative survival strategies;  how can you punish one for trying to survive?
  3. How can we blame people who feel they have nothing to lose by getting involved in riots? Would you envy one for having nothing to lose?
  4. Why we are so shocked about rioters looting trainers, plazma TVs and booze, if greed, consumption, materialism rules the system and consumption is our number one spare time hobby? How can we blame the looters for being so shallowly materialistic if shops have become Meccas of modern society in large?
  5. How can we expect somebody not to use a chance of looting a pair of trainers, a pack of chewing gum or a D&G shirt, if, for example, the ‚fat‘ end of the system is based on looting billions but in a more refined, sophisticated manner? Isnt it terribly hypocritical to jail one for stealing a bicycle meanwhile rewarding banks for losing control over their greed? Can you see here fairness and justice?
  6. If a damage to economy (estimations are around 100mil maximum) is more important than hundreds of thousands of people being hopeless, dissatisfied, entrapped by the vicious circle of poverty and with lack of opportunities and perspectives for better future?
  7. Do these systemic discrepancies and sad side effects really justify the economic growth as an ultimate goal and the system as such?
  8. Is it democratic to criminalize the opposition?  Can you solve a problem by jailing the dissatisfied and shutting their mouth by limiting their access to social media? Does the system actually care what is the root problem of these riots?

Some very simplified analysis of this case have disclosed ‚sleeping‘ racism in this society which insults black community, shames white community and thus increases a risk of creating new walls between them. However, I think, this time in essence this is not so much about race, but more about class and poverty.

It is about this materialized culture, where family and human values have lost their place in the value system.

Instead of equipping police with better resources and methods to deal with gangs, I would want the system to ask why we have gangs? If a system has a problem having gangs, it is system’s failure to find its own deficiencies and deal with them. Society’s behavior is very much a reaction to the system, its positive and negative sides, therefore the root of the problem should be found in the system rather than the reaction of the society.

Instead of discussing how to better support single mothers who are apparently nurturing most of the ‚trouble makers‘, I would want to ask – but what about fathers, where they are and why they are not taking their responsibility to raise their children? What is wrong with the concept of ‚family‘ and why it has become so unpopular? Why there is a such an immense lack of love in society and within families which drive youngsters to look on streets for alternative sources for attention, support, inclusion, appreciation and role models?

If the system is designed around the idea that only those who are successful (read – have money) and belong to certain class can have a stake in it and gain from it, it will never earn respect and approval from the all parts of society. Existence of the current system can be justified and maintained only as long as the majority benefits from it. However, ignorance of those, who can, if lucky, only serve the system but not necessarily gain from it, can lead to a stage when unrealized levels of dissatisfaction and numbers of losers may become a too harmful tumor to  save the system.

end of bin Laden’s life: beginning of a safer world or not?

It came indeed as a surprise this morning to hear about bin Laden’s death and a wide celebration of this fact in the USA. However, I would be cautious to celebrate death of bin Laden. West prefers to think it is a victory over Taliban and terrorist groups. But, equally, it can also be a re-activation of terrorist attacks as a revenge. Do we know what bin Laden has left behind, how powerful is Taliban to take more terrorist actions? Are there now new leaders replacing bin Laden? For the West, a very important question is how it will further justify its presence in Afghanistan?

Moreover, it is still a question if by killing bin Laden the world has become a safer place to live….. All this mystery around Pakistan & Afghanistan and their relations to Taliban (what an irony: we have been fighting, killing people in Afghanistan, while bin Laden was actually hiding in Pakistan) cause more questions and give hardly no answers.

In addition..what is really interesting is ‘utilization’ of bin Laden’s body. Instead of keeping it for a while as a an evidence to prove the truth of the fact (where are the photos or videos of this dead man? or at least a trophy, a chunk of his beard?) they have immediately (why such a rush???) buried bin Laden’s body at sea. If you look in the map, the nearest sea is more than 1000km away form the place he was shot dead. Would they really fly that distance to throw him in the sea?

Level of credibility of this story is somewhat decreasing. I am suspicious…