Tuesday, December 27, 2005

cultural metaphore

On Christmas eve with a friend of mine, we went to join some student-mates in the hostel and it didn’t take very long until the entire room was dragged into a closed conversation, and no matter how hard all of us in the room tried to change the conversation topic we ended up talking about poles and poland and we were going round and round, reiterating ourselves and making no sense.

I happen to see the folks again and inevitably the same thing; we talked about Poland with the same ultra-subjective critical scrutiny.
Sometimes these conversations make you wonder and think where it’s rooted; and I think it’s the sweeping generalization. This one is the stereotyping which is a cognitive need to schematize and interpret with a negative tendency.

To escape from the seemingly no-exit situation of interpretations I do think we need to sacrifice our perspectives- a seeing through of those structures which, by their very nature, tend to resist being seen through. Through this radical sacrifice, "The multiplicity of actual human empirical spaces for man’s [woman's] interaction and communication may be made possible. However, I do realise this solution only applies to a very limited number of people, specifically in the case of our student community, quite significant number of individuals are ready for this radical sacrifice, but even within this group a substantial number of them needs an external jolt or force to direct/help them break the resistance of the structures confining them seen through.
Openness is not just enough to achieve this; academic students are often open just for the sake of openness. There is an obsession of openness and freedom. But quite often this openness restrains individual from sacrifice; the popular misunderstanding is that freedom of choice and open conscious do help in making radical sacrifice. Open communication with locked perspective scares off foreigners. I’ve noticed when western students are being open with students from Far East it really doesn’t help to build trust and other forms of cultural capital. It’s perhaps because there is no shared perspective.
The driving force and jolt for this sacrifice is crisis quite often. This program of emancipation requires that we not only acknowledge crisis as an element of man's life, but that we uncover its presuppositions. Crisis, in this view, may lead either to despair or it may engender a radical reorientation or the kind of orientation/activity which will make knowledge transparent to itself.
Obviously, crisis is not the only medium for cultural communication emancipation, or we would have had very rare intercultural communication; as we are building a conservative view here in Europe and typically enough conservative societies do not fancy crisis.
Like I said before, we are open in Europe for the sake of openness. There is an increasing lack of knowledge and imagination. Europe’s socio-economical problems are directly linked with its intercultural and perception problems. In countries like Italy and Germany people are accustomed and habituated to good standard of living, where social costs and wages are high, but the productive outcome is usual; in an economy which is generated more than 70% from export. This makes it hard for Europe to compete with other emerging nations in Asia which produces the same product for local markets in a way lower cost.
Coming back to radical perception; it’s hard for Europeans to make radical changes, which goes against it’s tradition of building on existing intercultural communication knowledge. It’s supposedly the best and Europe has been exporting it for centuries. I want to point out that 'other' ways of knowledge becomes the possibility for emancipation and radical constitution. I’ve noticed with imaginative and emancipated students one could talk about anything and do anything and they are relaxed enough to grant you such a climate.
It is principally through dialogue and communication, that crisis can become a catalyst for change, because it involves, "fundamental realignments of value and perceptions among the participants." This means that cross-cultural communication can become part of a systematic effort to desensitize one's embodied/invariant ways of knowing- the way out of the no-exist world of interacting with one's projections.
Authoritative and confirmative cultures where variety is doomed unacceptable, one is expected to maintain habitual conversational behavior and gestures. Usually, hierarchical culture is this kind of invariant way of cognizing or imagining.
Programs for emancipation are not concerned with individual’s socially dominant cultural background; emancipation is not targeting mainstream intercultural communication.
It’s so when we have to communicate in an intercultural space we don’t have to change and communicate on there frequency, where concepts are unilaterally perceived and humor is not shared. The danger is the predominant context for interpretations and interactions with other cultures is your own standards; this is another discussion where and how to promote communality and where and how to maintain differences for building a pluralistic environment through communication.

I have also noticed that international students in a multi-cultural environment over along period of time are less keen to communicate cross-culturally. This creates repetitive humans. I’ve noticed some of them; there are some with whom you could only drink and some other nerds with whom you could be intellectual. Some of them get habituated to one place, the TV room, kitchen or corridor, others get habituated to each other and they stick together as they were glued together from top to bottom.

Friday, December 09, 2005

we suck - big time

- morning mate, how is it going?
- Yako tako. Aren’t you deported yet?
- I’ve been, wankers didn’t give me a chance to say ‘bye’; sorry, and have a good life
- Are you in Afghanistan
- Yeah
- How is Usama?
- Between us, he is doing quite well. I think he is having breakfast with his master, mr.bush... Have you got a number for Urzand?
- No, but let’s talk later….
This was the conversation I had on Friday with Sonya, a friend, who is on the same program from Moscow while she was riding in a public auto-bus.
As the conversation finished, she noticed she was getting bad eyes from the occupants, who witnessed charismas eve bombs in Warsaw tram stations a couple of days ago; and there is a picture of the perpetrator with description and alert behind her.

In a few seconds she realised the entire bus was suspicious of her phone call, and were steering at her as though she was djabel (the polish devil).
She decided to jump out of the bus in the next stop, before she is arrested by police for having an allegedly suspicious phone call and eventually not having a quite valid visa or at least kicked out of the bus by the occupants.

We both received three month visas for Poland, unlike 62 other people on this program. Who received a one year visa for the full duration of the program. It was two days before our visas expire. Getting deported was a very ‘plausible joke’ among us, and it was quite likely to happen.

When coming to Poland the university recommended that we apply for a one year visa and that is the easiest arrangement to make. But Sonya and my request for a one year visa was turned down without giving us a good reason and we were issued three month visas.
When in Poland our team-mates dubbed us Al-qaida and Mafia as they couldn’t see any other reason for us not getting equal civil benefits.

When meeting with minister of foreign affairs, we brought this up with him and asked him if he could reimburse us the 130 euros we pay for residency card as this only applies to two people, out of hundreds who receive scholarships and this is not fair. But he said he couldn’t help said it’s our problem and he is sorry in a very political way.

As our request for residency in Poland faces more obstacles set forth by the authorities I start to believe my teammates’ conspiracy. It seems like polish government applies bureaucratic restrictions on citizen of the countries, who are not considered friendly and positive bilateral relation doesn’t exist. If you follow the news you can see restrictions on individuals are imposed when relation exacerbate with Byelorussia, after the expulsion of polish diplomats or on Russian band over polish farm products.

On the other hand civil freedoms have been bestowed such as easy visa access and passage to Western Europe without transit visa to Ukrainian citizens after diplomacy was tighten between the governments.

In other words individuals are not really respects as human beings but as a political tool.
In a post conventional war era national states play with individuals to achieve political objectives.

I find this particularly interesting, I was always thought that democratic countries has respect for people as individuals and human beings; I guess my contemplation was rooted in the universal declaration of human rights which we recognised more than half a century ago and the EU essence. Let me quote you article1, part1 of the EU treaty for the draft constitution “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. These values are common to the Member States in a society of pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination”

All this stuff is part of the truth and not the whole truth. There is not much respect for individual and human being as we claim, but that’s ok, what bothers me is we are not being honest about it. We claim all these great values, while we are miserable. I have a new clause for universal declaration of human rights and EU treaty ‘WE SUCK – BIG TIME’ it’s rude but honest. I do believe honesty is the only conduct to avoid all sorts of hypocrisy.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Alexis de Tocqueville

“The scope of human perfectibility should be particularly feared in the democratic age”
Because it thrives on the obsession with self and one’s own security which equality fosters.
Alexis de Tocqueville

dictatorship vs democracy

“I happen to be one of those people who do not believe in multi-party democracy” Yoweri Museveni has written “in fact, I am totally opposed to it as far as Africa today is concerned …… if one forms a multi-party system in Uganda, a party can’t win elections unless it finds a way of dividing the ninety-four percent of the electorate and this is where the main problem comes up: tribalism, religion or regionalism becomes the basis for intense partisanship”
This explains why SNTV (single non-transferable voting) system, which resulted in a parliament without political parties, was opted in Afghanistan.
Museveni came to power in 1986 and postponed elections, until he saw that they took place in a manner that ensured his victory. Most important reasons were economical growth, coming hard on tribalism and attempts and promises to restore stability.
Museveni’s election terribly resembles Karzai’s.
There is not much difference between self proclaimed democracy and dictatorship, except dictatorship explains itself better