Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A very good analysis that avoids economic determinism.

"But the truth is sometimes uncomfortable. Cultural attitudes aren’t always "caused" by anything else in some immediate or obvious sense. To explain how people "got" to believe in racist and xenophobic status hierarchies is to explain hundreds of years of Western history and the complicated story of how race and national identity were made in the West.

As a result of this history, many people value their culture and identity as much as they value economic security. When their vision of the way the world should work is threatened, they see it as a personal threat. They’re racist because race and hierarchy and group identity have come to play integral roles in how humans understand the world.
To deny that is to deny that both identity and the past matter, to assume everything is reducible to some kind of material or economic ultimate cause. History has shown, conclusively, that this is a mistake."


"Western governments can’t simply ignore the far right. Brexit proved its ability to destabilize major Western institutions and the global economy. Most importantly, these parties threaten the most cherished values in Western society: our all-too-recent embrace of equality and tolerance."

The author seems to have quickly forgotten that those very same governments he appealing to to do something to stop the far-right, are the one that have laid the ground for the wave of immigration through their wars and caused economic instability in the first place. They are the very same intolerant governments which have bombed a score of countries and imposed economic policies for decades in a post-colonial set 
up. "Equality"? Well, the author himself has cited evidence of the unprecedented level of inequality.

White riot
I am almost certain that the 21st century battle for the Middle Earth will be fought between the Burkinis and their allies and the nudists and their allies.
Context: there will a park for nudists in Paris soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Beyond the racist and exclusionary borders of Tower Europe, there are other insiduous ways of silencing and marginalising the voices of people from the Global South, namely the Eurocentric framing of discussions, hearing from one or two voices from the Global South at the end of the day (after dinner and wine), not giving enough time to discuss important questions of colonialism and race, etc. I am becoming very pessimistic with everything coming from Europe (or almost). Fanon has been right after all: let's leave this Europe and its ways!" — Hamza Hamouchene

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"This inclusion of Islam in the Nietzschean catalogue of more 'honest', pre-, non- or even anti-European societies offers two further points of interest: first, that Nietzsche's remarks do not greatly differ from the kinds of observations a whole century of European Orientalists were making about Arabs and Muslims in general — that Islam is incapable of democracy, that is fanatical and warlike, that it is Frauenfeindlich and socially unjust, etc. Nietzsche's only difference, ironically, is that he affirms these prejudices instead of lamenting them. Nietzsche, who had never visited a Muslim country and whose closest brush with the 'Orient' was the 'southern' sensuousness of Naples, had to rely on an extremely unreliable canon of Orientalists for his information about Islam and Arab culture. The fact that Nietzsche's opposition to 'progress' led him to react positively to the kind of racial and generic defamations attributed to the Middle East by these 'experts' leaves us with an interesting dilemma: how do we interpret Nietzsche's anti-democratic, mysogynistic but nevertheless positive characterization of Islam? Do we condemn it for conforming to a whole set of nineteenth-century stereotypes concerning these cultures, or do we interpret it as an anti-colonialist gesture, turning around the heavy machine of European orientalism and using it to launch an itonic asault on the very modenity which produced it?

Nietzsche says very little about what Islam is, but only what it is not. Nietzsche's Islam is ultimately vacuous: a constructed anti-Christianity, admittedly associated with some figures and places, but fundamentally built on a certain Gefühl, one which feeds on anecdotes lifted out of Orientalist texts or gropes for symbolic figures like the Assassins or Hafiz in order to justify its assertions...

... Nietzsche seems not so much to be disagreeing with European Orientalism, as rather to be affirming and celebrating the very aspects of Islam they purport to deplore."

Ian Almon, The New Orientalists - Postmodern representation of Islam from Foucault to Baudrillard, 2007

Friday, September 23, 2016

"A major problem is that global warming, as with the associated environmental problems, can’t be solved within the capitalism that has caused, and is accelerating, the problem. All incentives under capitalism are for more growth and thus more greenhouse-gas emissions, and there is no provision to provide new jobs for the many people who would be displaced should the heavily polluting industries in which they work were to be shut down in the interest of the environment. The private capital that profits from environmental devastation is allowed to externalize the costs onto society, an inequality built into the system. The concept of “green capitalism” is a dangerous chimera."

Systemic Disorder

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"A fractious Europe, a failing currency, a challenged economy, populist parties on the rise, a divided left, migration from the east, an atmosphere of fear combined with social and sexual liberalism. The parallels between Britain today and Germany in the 1920s may well make this a compelling moment to revisit those postwar German thinkers who gathered in what was known as the Frankfurt school for social research – something akin to a Marxist think tank, [...] Little wonder, given the history of the 20th century, that the Frankfurt school gave us intellectual pessimism and negative dialectics. Jeffries’s biography is proof that such a legacy can be invigorating."  

– Lisa Appignanesi, Guardian

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

From the BBC

If he [Jeremy Corbyn] beats Owen Smith, he said he would be "the same Jeremy Corbyn that I've been through the last year and the last 30 years in Parliament", and that he would invite his critics "to come on board to work together".

"I have taken it on board, understood what they're saying and asking them to behave in a decent and responsible way and come together so that we do have an ability to take the fight to the Tories.

He expressed a hope that some of the front bench MPs who resigned would return, saying "we need to bring in many other talents" to the shadow cabinet.

My comment
No, and no. Corbyn is ready for a compromise with the Blairites and their allies although he is in a strong position.

Corbyn has the support of the majority of the Labour Party members. If he really has a long term view, he shouldn't compromise with the criminals, i.e. those who presided over the domestic and foreign policies, including wars, occupations, support of oligarchs and dictators, privatisation, austerity, tuition fees, banks' plunder, housing crisis ... You name it.

Corbyn should encourage more polarization not compromise. Compromise suggests weakness and invites defeat in today's British context. Such a compromise is undoubtedly advised by the like of Varoufakis. 
A book

The Poisoned Well - empire and its legacy in the Middle East

I think it is worth reading this book. 

My questions to the author after reading the review:

“He also briskly dismisses the fashionable ISIS/Daesh-driven exaggeration of the significance of the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement and other post-WW1 ‘lines in the sand’ to focus more sharply on the dismal shortcomings of the post-colonial era. Just one niggle: the ruling family of Saudi Arabia is (still) the Al (upper case, no hyphen) Saud, like the Al Thani in Qatar, and not to be confused with the more common Arabic definite article.”

Does that mean the authors dismiss two fundamental aspects of the historical process: the artificial nation states in the region and the economic factors, i.e. the uneven development of capitalism and the core’s interests for stability in the region, a stability which guarantees the status quo and thus economic and geo-political interests? 

Does the author also dimiss the West’s role in co-pting the latest uprisings through support of the groups and organisations which do not challenge its interests (see the example of Egypt)? In case of Tunisia socio-economic demands where confined to almost one bourgoies element: freedom of speech, and its weak parliament. 

Does the author ever mention a single instance where the Western regimes ever supported a progressive or a socialist movement or party in the Middle East and North Africa? Obviously, imperialist regimes are by its nature reactionary and cannot support a progressive movement.

Does the author mention the role of the so-called NGOs in maintaining stability of the regimes in the region?

Does the author mention how likely an organisation like "Daesh" would have emerged if there had been no invasion and occupation of Iraq and the destruction of the Iraqi state? How likely was it? 1%? 10%? 50% 90%?

This is suppoed to be a discovery.

How the sugar industry shifted the blame to fat