OGH Comments

Feb 22
Libya defiant

How many people should die in the streets, before the world stops the killing? Where is the UN, stopping potential genocide in Libya? Is a revolution for democracy just a matter for a country on its own and isolated? Should a ruler be allowed to bomb his own people, Guernica style? Are we powerless to stop current-day fascism?

The revolutions in the Arab world requires the ability to speak with – even – the old dictators, the old fractions of power.  They are not “mad dogs”. However if they want to participate at the speaking table, rather than stay in prison, they must stop their repression – right now.

Feb 14
Two ways for policemen in the street

One way, harassing, persecuting, levelling law and order, keeping to a power regime, with the ultimate expression of dictatorship. Other way, demonstrating for their rights. Way one, well known. Way two, less well known, but seen now also in Egypt.

The problem with police work is that it is entangled in keeping power in the most strategical sense, and yet, has the greatest need for not being kept hostage, to keep a professional distance on its own. I am a policeman, a dictator orders me to torture once in a while, I wont give up my work, I see no possibility to protest, yet who do I select as victims. As science fiction author Gene Wolfe has examined, in one way or the other, we are all part of the torturer’s game.

Feb 11
Democracy won – Egypt is free

Amazing news, after having seemingly lost the momentum, the opposition in Egypt gathered again, and has won, the dictator has resigned. A great message of hope for everyone. Egypt with democratic fire in her eyes has come through. Whatever happens next, the democratic greatness of this moment of history will always be remembered. People rose against dictatorship and filled the streets even if some were shot and tortured, they did not give in.

This is like a cure for cancer, for human society. It tells of medicine for the future. Egyptians followed Tunisians, but in a sense, also following the Americans two hundred years before, creating a revolution from the English, and more recently, trying to create a new change policy.

Basically Egypt has lived up to the lessons of World War II, the need for democracy to avoid slaughter and holocaust. Democracy is risky, everyone knows that, but I am ashamed of some “western” messages to Egypt over the last weeks, as if democracy counted for little, expedience for all. Turn your love lights on, recognize that even for “Western” interest, democracy is what works best, in the longer run, recognizing some typical short term costs. If a regime allows or creates violence, target this as criminal activity across honour and politics divides, don’t give in to stereotypes like “wars” or the abhorrent “zero tolerance” sloganeering, instead, be constructive and realistic. Forget tabloid macho language, focus on real solutions. Learn from the pioneers in Egypt 2011.

My heart is with Egypt today, the way is opened towards democracy and prosperity.

Feb 02
Egypt with fire in her eyes

It may be strange to post to this section through a kind of extended “beat poem”, but OK here it is.

Egypt with fire in her eyes

Home is where the heart is
But when there is no work, no food, no future – there is no home

Egypt has arisen with fire in her eyes
So-called apathy and lethargy, but now, banners in the streets

People showing up, we want human rights, and we will not yield to dictatorship
We don’t flee, we don’t give up to fear, we won’t use violence, and we stop looters and violence
I bow deeply in honour, as I watch street demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and other places in Egypt

It is not the sword of Islam, it belongs to all religions
It is not the superiority of Marxism, Liberalism or any other -ism
It is not the voice of any single belief

Instead, it is the big voice of all, of democracy, the experience of history
A power of old, a sister and brother, an ancient parent, a deep prayer
Learning from the best, South Africa not just for the black man, not the killing, but peacefully, together

Many things can come out of this, and for a poor country, it won’t be easy
Yet nothing can stop the forwards momentum, if people hold on to justice and democracy
People power is old women, not just young men
People power is a critique of those who have traditionally represented people
People power is an old power, like the power of cancelling debts, freeing labourers, letting the Jews go, equalizing beliefs
People power is a new power, women as much as men, peace before violence
Egypt has arisen – and the fire in her eyes gives hope to the whole world

I am just a European watching Egypt’s revolution on TV
I am just exposing my troubled mind
I am steeped with killing solutions, my history is full of it, even in small Norway, like the persecution of the Sami people
The west has blood on its hands – how can it help, making things better, from now on?
I am tired of the north African world being a despotic world, why can’t they get a chance like everyone else?
When I was young, South East Asia was a poor and war-torn region, now it is prospering
South America had dictatorships, now it has democracy
Now is time for Africa to move

My mother barely escaped the Nazis, fleeing to Sweden in World War II
My father fought with the British marine, securing convoys to Murmansk
My uncle was in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, and barely survived
My other uncle fought in the Norwegian resistance

Egyptians, unite for democracy, and you will have the victory on your doorstep
Develop democracy for all, in everyday life, and it will lead to the developments you want, for all the people
We Norwegians united, to create a democratic state from 1814 onwards
We resisted colonialism and occupation, and won
We have some fire too

As world citizens, we were all betrayed by the horrendous 20th century killing solutions
Nazism especially, but also Stalinism
I was born in 1952
Seven years after the gas chambers
The gulags still ongoing
The two worst horrors humanity has yet seen

Why did these horrors happen?
Capitalism did not work out, not for the people, only for the rich
Reactions appeared, these were misused, catastrophies followed
Capitalism’s antidotes, its vaccines, like Marxism. were initially good, but were misled and became killing solutions instead

Why could such beliefs be misused?
They missed a central point, democracy
It was so weakly developed, that power people could take the front instead
The first holocaust, before the Nazi execution of Jews, was the Stalinist killing of revolutionary opponents
My uncle told me, German communists were the first inmates in Sachsenhausen
It all started with imprisonment of the opposition, breaking the first democratic principle
“Freedom is the freedom of the person that disagrees with me”

This is why I look into the eyes of Egypt and see a fire that is different
How can the democratic fire of street demonstrations remake a nation?

It is the spirit of democracy that makes people rise, the need for dignity, not the right belief
Perhaps there is a greater historical purpose, to get the message across, to get the old power to work
Don’t give in to factionalism, split interests or fundamentalist causes

Just get the little gold ring in place in the middle
Gold not for its value but for its prophecy
The voice of wisdom
To unite, to make democracy work
Women, as much as men
Is the ring whole?
At first it seems broken, but you can find the missing parts, they are there

The fire creates the ring
The fire in her eyes

Home is where the heart is
Egypt is our home today

Nov 25
A well meaning man

Today, Norway’s largest newspaper Aftenposten published the following debate article from the Conservative party’s (Høyres) leader, Erna Solberg, celebrating former prime minister Jan P. Syse, who would have been 80 this day, 25 November 2010.

Syse, Solberg remarks, was very much located in the conservative tradition. Syse argued that the private property is the fourth right (beyond the French revolution values of freedom, equality and brotherhood), securing the right of the individual against the state. Solberg also describes Syse as a cooperation man, and notes his idea of “co-property democracy” (medeierdemokrati).

This blog is for research, not politics, but these ideas are interesting for research. The co-property democracy idea strikes a broad chord for example in working life research, although it is hard to achieve.

Honours to a good man, and to a woman for making the point.