Mar 18, 2008

THE BOILED FROG SYNDROME VAKAVITI

Today ragone while we wait anxiously for our late night Fiji One TV to broadcast the happenings today in Court , this Bubu has been thinking about why this case is so important for us not only in Fiji but for people everywhere that may one day be caught up in something as tragic as this.

PART I

Hannah Arendt wrote about the "banality of evil,"(a fascinating concept and if you wish another source of information please look at this link) and the reality is that really we sometimes find ourselves in a situation where we simply can't see what is happening to us.

There is a strange phenomenon that biologists refer to as "the boiled frog syndrome".

Put a frog in a pot of water and increase the temperature of the water gradually from 20oC to 30oC to 40oC…to 90oC and the frog just sits there. But suddenly, at 100oC, something happens: the water boils and the frog dies.


The point is that what is happening to our Constitution being dismantled and the encroachment upon our civil liberties is the same as the idea of a frog being boiled in water.

The frog doesn't realize, until it's too late, that the temperature just keeps rising.

And it dies.

To the average person, what is happening to us in Fiji is it just too much to comprehend, too much to think about, it's not what we're concentrating on, so in the end WE ARE the frogs being boiled.


We're busy looking after ourselves ourselves, or working, or being with our families, or going out to church and to drink grog with friends. It's only people who take an interest, or people who really follow whats happening, who are aware that we're being boiled.


Naomi Wolf, modern philosopher and writer, looking back through history says she found that the the practice of crushing an open society was essentially invented by Mussolini. It was then developed and elaborated on by the other great tyrants of the twentieth century, and then they studied each other. Hitler studied Stalin. Both of them studied Mussolini. Subsequently, the other dictators all over the world go back and look at what works. Basically these methods became a blueprint. Tyrants all over the world take the same basic steps.


In her book on libertarianism Ms Wolf says, " in Thailand the coup took a week.
This is what they did -- boom, boom, boom.

It's like they had a shopping list (the blueprint of 10 steps) , and, really, they did, because, by now, people who want to crush a democracy know what to do.

The people who live in a democracy don't know what these ten steps are. Otherwise, we would absolutely be thronging the streets right now. We might realize that we're in a state of crisis."

"People are so accustomed to their democracy and in their mindset, democracy is so much the resilient rule, they really don't understand how easy it is to close down a democracy, once certain checks and balances are dismantled, and certain pieces are set in motion.

Democracies are like babies - they take nurturing but they are easy to pull down and harm."


Stalin and Goebbels both developed the notion that criticism is unpatriotic and bordering on treason.

And as part of the State cracking down on this one starts to see broader and broader use of accusations of treason and espionage, you start to see the expansion of the term traitor, treason, espionage. (And in Fiji's case, the extreme use of the word "incite" and Teletubbies new word "inciteful" - big fool) . "


"All these things including dismantling parliamentary democracies and constitutions, and crushing pro-democracy uprisings are like part of a game plan, all part of a blueprint. "


She takes Berlin 1931 as an example. ' It was a perfectly normal society with a Parliament and a Constitution. Society functioned with lawyers, accountants, people going to work everyday. People went to the markets and caught buses etc. etc.

People were leading their normal everyday lives as the pending catstrophe tightened around them.


In Italy, in the early 1920s, people just couldn't believe it. And in Germany, from 1931-1933, they just couldn't believe it.

You read the memoirs, and people were saying, surely, no one's going to go for this. Surely, this can't last. Surely, no one will put up with these thugs goose stepping in the streets like this. Surely, we will all come to our senses.


History asks the question what would have happened if the people of Germany had risen up then and confronted the abusers of parlimentary process and of the Constitution at the time?"

"In a modern society a fascist shift , or a shift to a closed society doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen even in a clear line on a graph that's left to right diagonally.

It happens in what Malcolm Gladwell would call tipping points.

You can chart it, and there may be pressure, pressure, multiple assaults, and, then, a key event that would be like a vertical line on that chart. And then you're looking at another reality.

The really important thing to understand, in the way democracies can really curve down, is democracies can reach a point of no return.

And it's sudden when that happens.

And it's disorienting."

Ms Wolf is making the point that , we need to realize that the day we made it legal, essentially, for the state to legalise that "might is right" , this will become one of those vertical lines on the chart.

The day the President of this country gets to decide that we are enemy No. 1 because of our differing opinion to him, then this is going to be another one of those vertical lines as dissent will close down pretty quick as people are just not that brave when they start to get physically hurt or their families are threatened.

"And that's how society is closed down."

Suddenly, there's news of someone getting arrested or deported or being at risk or being threatened. Or someone being taken in to be paraded in front of a Court of Judges , or in front of someone calling himself the Attorney General. Someone getting sued under the "Inciteful" Act for publishing something in the Fiji Times.

"And the next day, there are still newspapers. There's still online blogging and news. There are still so many aspects of normal society.

But what there ISN'T is freedom, because people are scared.

And that's why we need to WAKE UP NOW! "

If this seemingly biased court of judges decides that might is right and Baini was justified in doing what he did on Dec 5th 2007, the classic danger signs must ring out and surely deafen us all.

We must realise how dangerous it is to have a leader relegate for himself or herself the power to seize people and to militarize civil society.

Or to declare a state of public emergency or to make it easier to define a threat to public order.

Or to attempt to halt an entire population in its tracks , and engineer societal change in one foul swoop.

"These are classic signposts that democracy activists around the world recognize as flashing warning lights."

"When despots are trying to close down an open society, and Orwell pointed this out, they call something the opposite of what it is.

Goebbels, for one, was a master of saying something the opposite of what it was.

If you read Mein Kampf, and look at Hitler's speeches, he is continually invoking democracy and freedom, democracy and freedom, the rule of law.

He continually said : "I'm upholding the rule of law, and simplifying democracy."

Shades of Bainimarama and his " I'm here to uphold the rule of law and good governance, accountancy, transparency blah blah blah"

Yeah sure BAI.
___________

I will post the next part of these thoughts tomorrow.

6 comments:

Nastur said...

Hannah Arendt is a name I hadnt seen for a long time but she was indeed ahead of her time in her thinking.

Although she never published a book on political morality, she did in the later years of her life think a great deal about the status of morality and the implications of this for politics.

Arendt struggled toward, though never quite reached, an understanding in which politics is moderated by nonabsolutist moral principles and in which the entire range of human relationships is united by friendship and respect for others, providing both public and private life with a moral basis.

I can absolutely see the parallels you are trying to tag onto. Good on you. It is entirely relevant in today's Fiji.

ex Fiji Tourist said...

Bubu, a brilliant article!

Once again you have summed up the situation brilliantly and the graphics; spot on.

I will look forward to reading the next part of your thoughtful expose.

BTW, that reynolds character in court today is clutching at straws with his 'pie in the sky' arguments. He forgot to mention that bananasinpyjamas held a gun to the president's head and the army disrupted society.

Fiji Silenced said...

It's so concise, clear and easily comprehended when you share. Id love to see the general public read and grasp this message.

There seems to be more intelligence and common sense in the big toes of many of the people that i see blogging than in the regime's whole brood of tube-lights.

Vinaka!! for all the thought and research that goes into your messages. I have sent many mass mailings to direct certain individuals to view my pictorials. They have been sent to gov organisations, those in public service and churches along with various media sources. Ive been amazed at those who actually come and view the blog and follow the links to the wonderful blogs that are communicating so clearly the truth.

At this point in time they have been viewed in 23 different countries as well as the office of the likes of Helen Clark. Lots of lurkers out there who are seeing what we have to say.

The very few rejections that i recieved have been met with a creative follow up. For example, those that refused to view the shysters pictorial were sent an email that appeared to come from the shyster herself with a fake link that appeared to be work related, but instead took them directly to her pictorial debut. And I do love that she had to come check it out herself. eheh

view Fiji Silenced

ex Fiji Tourist said...

This 'Queer Customer' reynolds is a babbling baboon.

"" Reynolds said President Ratu Josefa Iloilo was put in an awful situation during the months of December 2006 going into January 2007 where he had to act due to a governmental vacuum.

Reynolds said Qarase did not even contact the President and appraise him on the situation. ""

Maybe someone should tell him that President Bernie wasn't president at the time; bananasinpyjamas had pointed a gun at Bernie's head and 'stepped into his shoes'.

How could the PM contact Bernie when bernie was imprisoned in government house by the green goons.

They are certainly clutching at straws.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds is a lawyer - its a game of wits. He is cognisant of the reality. He simply chooses to seize on any opportunty that might progress his case. He sets aside the reality of what actually happened. He would have to have been resident in Antarctica along with the penguins to have been oblivious to the reality of Qarase's situation. That is the problem with litigation in retrospect - often the context is lost and Reynolds will try his best (and hopefully fail) in taking advantage of that. The reality of the the prospect of a gun being held at your head is lost.
If I were a betting man, I'd have good prospects if I took a bet on whether or not Reynolds, or Gates, or Shameen, or many others that choose to represent this joke of a junta, would squeel like pathetic pigs were I told hold a pistol at their forehead.
In the case of Shameen, I dream that prospect might come true given her curious interest in guns and bullets. I can only assume its a substitute for some sort of phallic enjoyment.

v! said...

you are truly a brilliant writer, bubu. i bow to your incite, clear thinking and thoughtful call to action. the connections made here are true, raising a mirror to our hidden faces, reminding us that it is our behavior that will kill or save us in the end.

v!