Lili from Belgrade

Pacifist remake of Lili Marlene

I am just a girl
from outskirts of Belgrade
all my loving goes
one day it’s gonna end
while I despair
of you my friend
your tender hand
your loud brass band
I m waiting in our land
your Lili from Belgrade

You march in the world
conquering all the lands
fighting like a hero
killing all your friends
I’m just a girl
from outskirts
from other times
and other worlds
your darling from Belgrade
your Lili from Belgrade

While you’re in a ditch
you call all women bitch
when your soldiers rape
a bitch cannot escape
think of your girl
of outskirts
of tender words,
of sweetest booze
your darling from Belgrade
of Lili of Belgrade

Belgrade under siege
invador’s uniforms
slavic girls to please
whatever comes their home
you don’t protect
me here my friend
my tender bed
our loud brass band
your girl from outskirts
your Lili from Belgrade

Lovers under bombs
by the barrack gate
I am not waiting there
because you ‘re full of hate
t’was there I told you
come back home
to your homeland
don t be madman
because I will not wait
I’m Lili from Belgrade

Internet Crimes

Recently I saw a movie on the life and death of Aaron Swartz, who is nowadays often called a martyr for the freedom of the Internet.

People, nations and governments like martyrs. They love them, they need them. Martyrs are part of our bipolar, black and white society constructed from good and bad guys, who always do good and bad deeds. Martyrs are those who have escaped our human condition, of being judged by people as people. Martyrs are beyond judgement, they become the scapegoats for our biggest failures, for the banality of evil, as Hannah Arendt phrased it.

I don’t believe Aaron Swartz ever wanted to become a martyr. He just wanted to live within a world that he believed he could fix, a world that was technically malleable and hackable, where he could be active and ingenious, even if that reform effort might involve a few false steps.

I find it unjust, unfair, maybe even outrageous to treat his suicide as a martyrdom. The legal machinery that crushed Aaron Swartz could have crushed any of us, at least if we happened to get apprehended and charged within the USA. We need to pay due heed to the fates of those who get singled out as examples. The system by its nature represses hackers, freelance thinkers or Internet activists. Some will die of that mistreatment, especially if they are neglected, or shunned, or met with public indifference and numb stupidity. The exaggerated honor we pay to “martyrs” is a guilty, posthumous reparation for our failure to keep them alive.

More “Internet martyrs” are clearly on the way for a host of nations. Aaron Swartz was a particularly brilliant MIT “burglar” and was therefore repressed with particular vigor by an ambitious American prosecutor. But America has a huge prison system with millions of people behind bars — everyone but bankers, basically. If Aaron Swartz was still alive today, having pled guilty and gone to American prison for a felony, how much effort would we spend to get him out of jail, or to help him once he was free?

Prosecutors of all nations will always play fast and loose with computer crime laws, if they think that nobody is watching or cares. Recently, three bloggers in Serbia were condemned to one year of prison with a particular ingenious prosecutorial scheme. These bloggers, who were writing under their online nickname pseudonyms, made some sarcastic wisecracks about a right-wing filmmaker who is a darling of violent right-wing Serbian nationalist goons. They bloggers were promptly charged and convicted with hate crime and death threats of this author.

This is the exact sort of behavior that the EU would most like to see out of Serbia: vigorous defense of an imperiled author. They probably didn’t expect to see this kind of hate law applied in a vigorous defense of the government’s own apologists and some street-fighting right-wing extremists. However, the current Serbian government demonstrates a true genius for stealing the opposition’s clothes. So here is a case of online dissidents and university teachers being promptly condemned and sentenced as hooligans.

Most anything said or written can become a verbal crime, if the rule of law doesn’t mean much. Back in the Yugoslavian Communist regime, a poet could go to prison for a single word, if it was the wrong one; singing politically non correct song could land a private in court. No Communist ever wrote laws or doctrine to make that situation entirely clear. Legality would have defeated the entire purpose of a totalitarian atmosphere.

You just had to know what was sayable or unsayable, sense it, feel it. If you did not feel it, then you were either hopelessly stupid, or an enemy of the state. Both the stupid and the enemy were entirely expendable. They provided good practical examples for the others, to learn the everyday behavior for a society devoid of rules.

The modern Internet jungle quite reminds me of those lost days. Much like the victims of the Communist regime, the victims of the modern Internet can be pretty much anybody who somehow demands too much, in some awkward, embarrassing or disruptive way. The modern Internet is overrun with spies, hacker thieves, intrusive databanks, filters and censors. This is no longer a free and pristine electronic wonderland — any more than late-period Communism was all about being genuinely communal.

Of course Communist societies relentlessly described themselves as liberated and avant-garde, and they even claimed that everything was freely shared even when shops were empty. It took real struggle to realize that this blizzard of official rhetoric just didn’t coincide with people’s lived reality. Today’s Internet users haven’t gotten this far as yet; they still talk about their “free services,” as if not paying for commercial big-data spyware was somehow utopian.

Computer communication systems were not born free. The original freedom of the Internet came as a second-hand unplanned consequence, as the work of brave activists and hackers, and as a glitch.

It’s only when you transgress that you can fully feel and understand the borders, the limits. Aaron Swartz’s big mistake was to believe in the limitless possibilities of a media system, just because he was good at coding for it.

Serbian computer users also thought they could permanently outsmart the technically illiterate police and blinkered Communist court system. That worked, too, for about a generation’s time. However, the current Serbian government isn’t by no means a tottering Communist nomenklatura. Today’s Serbian state system and its enthusiastic majority voters do not consider the Internet any obstacle to their nationalist and Orthodox religious ambitions. If anything, the Internet helps to reveal who their enemies are, not that they had many doubts. The new state needs new enemies, and new martyrs, too.

The Internet was once an oasis for those who thought and spoke differently, a global arena of public opinion in which to demonstrate the power of the powerless. That’s not how it works in this decade. But maybe that is good news of a kind: as we lose our anonymity, that old Internet in which no one knew you were a dog, the chains of the dog’s masters also become more visible to everyone.

Serbia is so small and poor that the NSA could scarcely be bothered to spy on it, the NSA being busy spying on its major NATO allies in the EU. However, living out of the imperial limelight has both upsides and downsides for Serbia. The downside is that the modern Serbian state has all kinds of unaccountable power over virtual Serbian life, but the upshot is that the repressed Serbian bloggers are still alive. Their quarrel was too small to get them liquidated, for there just wasn’t all that much at stake.

Serbia lacks the public conscience of a major third-world player like Brazil, which fought for years for its own, national, internet civil rights constitution.

However, Serbia does have one good thing: genuine activism in the streets. Recently, Women in Black from Serbia had a lynch threat on Facebook. The porte parole of the serbian antiterror police on Facebook, addressing his usual audience of right-wing Facebook hooligans, advised them to beat up Women in Black in the streets instead of uselessly brawling with each other. Women in Black have always been the target of hate and violence and foul language, due to their persistent street presence. However, to have this customary behavior blatantly revealed to everyone on Facebook changed the situation, and the Serbian porte parole will be suspended from duty for his indiscretion. He might even be charged and convicted of something or other,since Women in Black are presssing charges.

There must be some difference between the three Serbian bloggers, who were convicted of death threats and hate speech while meaning no real harm other than sarcasm, and this policeman, an agent of the state who would rather like the state’s opponents to come to some extralegal harm at the hand of thugs. That difference is called “justice.” The more of that you have, the less need you have to loudly exult about all of your martyrs.

Austin Music

Hacker Hymn

In English, In french

Mine eyes have seen the misery of the coming cyber wars
my heart had felt the sorrow of young lives yet to fall
my mind has been corrupted with the garbage cyber trolls
and the Drones come buzzing on

Rolly polly evil google boy
Rolly polly baby facebook toy
Rolly polly spy NSA boy
and the drones come buzzing on

the codes and the drones of the spying internet lords
have trumpled over fields of our software joys
face books google glasses NSA devices trolls
And their lies are marching on

rolly polly evil google toy
glory glory google deserter boy
rolly polly evil Facebook toy
and their lies are marching on

I have seen my boys become the soldiers of warlords
I have lost my cyber sons to patriotic trolls
I am the mother of the victims of the lies
who deserted the wicked spies

glory glory google deserter boy
glory glory Facebook deserter toy
glory glory NSA defector boy
and the truth comes marching on

I have seen the rising of the brave NSA spies
I have seen the rebellion for the freedom of their toys
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the
Hacks
and the lies don’t march no more

Glory glory hacker NSA boys
Glory glory hacker NSA girls
Glory glory free internet worlds
and the lies won’t march no more

Hacker Hymn
Mes yeux ont vu la misère des guerres cyber à venir
Mon cœur a senti la tristesse de jeunes vies pas encore tombées
Mon esprit a été corrompu par les âneries des cyber trolls
Et les drones qui viennent bourdonner au-dessus

Rolly polly vilain gars google

Rolly polly jouet de bébé de Facebook

Rolly polly un gars espionnant de NSA
Et les drones qui viennent bourdonner au-dessus

Les codes et les drones des seigneurs espionnant internet
On trompété sur les domaines de nos joies software
Ont fait face aux lunettes de livres google aux stratagèmes de trolls de la NSA
Et leurs mensonges nous coupent les pieds.

Rolly polly vilain jouet google

Glorifiez glorifiez le gars qui déserte google

Rolly polly le vilain jouet Facebook

Et leurs mensonges nous coupent les pieds.

J’ai vu mes gars devenir les soldats des seigneurs de guerre
J’ai perdu mes cyber fils à des trolls patriotiques
Je suis la mère des victimes des mensonges
Qui a déserté les espions vicieux

Glorifiez glorifiez la gars déserteur de google

Glorifiez glorifiez le déserteur du jouet Facebook

Glorifiez glorifiez le gars transfuge de NSA

Et la vérité commence à s’écouler

J’ai vu la montée des espions NSA courageux

J’ai vu la rébellion pour la liberté de leurs jouets

Mes yeux ont vu la gloire de l’arrivée des hackers

Et les mensonges ne marchent plus

Glorifiez glorifiez les gars hackers de NSA

Glorifiez glorifiez les filles hackers de NSA

Glorifiez glorifiez des mondes internet libres

Et les mensonges ne marcheront plus

Italy: The Show Must Go On!

“I am convinced that behind the decisions of Grillo (suggested by his internet guru Casaleggio) exists a true subversive plan in Italy that could take us to a civil war.

If somebody doubts of what I am saying, just go to Youtube and look: ‘Gaia’ by Gianroberto Casaleggio. We are in the hands of two crazy people with secret missions. Mussolini’ s fascism compared to this was just a joke!”

This radical online comment, by some anonymous reader, reveals the fear that commonly generates confrontational extremes in Italian political history.

At this moment, when the Italian government has fallen yet again, the youngest premiere ever in Italy and even the EU is about to form a new government. Another online commentator points out: We had eight premieres in the past twenty years, and only two of them were elected by the Italian people.

The Italian electoral system is the major target of the Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo and Gianroberto Casaleggio. The future premier Renzi doesn’t like it either, although he and Grillo agree on very little else. Italy has a long history of attempts to game the electoral system: populist movements, mafia conspiracies, back room intra-party deals, and maybe electronic “direct democracy” may get a chance.

Even without Berlusconi and his gaudy sex and corruption scandals, the Italian political scene is still a show. The general social climate of the country was obvious at the traditional television fiesta, the 64th San Remo music festival. The usual pop stars, crooners and show girls were elbowed aside by political disruptive banners, while a panoply of good and bad political types crowded together into the first row to seize a chance to be on TV.

On the festival’s opening night, two spectators threatened to throw themselves from the top of the stage to their death, plummeting right into the audience. They demanded that their letter be read out loud by the host of the show in front of millions of RAI television viewers.

These histrionic suicides wanted to draw attention to the plight of unemployed workers in Italy — which they did. This wasn’t the first time that desperate workers have threatened suicide during the music show. Italian viewers are a crowd highly sensitive to social injustice, enthusiastic members of trade unions and people’s movements. Somehow, however, they never form a national government capable of favoring the interests of working people. Why is this, I wonder? Am I missing something?

Many things have changed in Italy since the M5S Five Star Movement unexpectedly became a significant presence in the Italian Parliament. The new movement, which organized through weblogs and street rallies, managed to elect large numbers of youthful political amateurs and women. However, electing legislators isn’t the same as an ability to rule or manage the state. More

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