Monday, October 24, 2016

"It is difficult to apportion blame accurately, but it is not an intractable puzzle, so long as we consider history and common sense. On the one hand, and at the most basic level, how could one absolve the regime? It was not Jabhat al-Nusra or Qatar that ruled Syria with an iron fist the past four decades. It is one thing to hold external actors responsible for playing a fundamental role in weakening the opposition by hijacking it and encouraging militant elements in the push to overthrow the regime. It is another thing to cling to this narrative as cover for the regime’s decades of repression, its damaging neoliberal economic policies, and other ills. The killing and destruction we are witnessing today in Aleppo and elsewhere is being perpetrated by all sides, but overwhelmingly by the Syrian regime. This destruction is not a break with, but rather a manifestation of, the essential tenets of its rule under different circumstances.

The regime in Syria would react in the same manner to any threat to its rule. It is not as though Assad would have tolerated a locally grown and independent, secular, anti-imperialist, pro-Palestine, leftist opposition, militant or not. The only difference today is the identity and character of the forces behind the opposition. It is this difference that gives the conflict a geopolitical dimension, from which the regime is poised to benefit by deftly identifying and manipulating the opposition’s multi-layered contradictions.

Furthermore, there is an instructive history that fuels cynicism vis-à-vis the external supporters of the “pure and consistent revolution” narrative. What do we make of the decades-long support the Syrian regime received from some of the same oil-rich Arab countries that have bankrolled the militarization of the uprising? Or the extensive cooperative economic plans drawn up between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Syria’s Assad on the eve of the uprising, as though it was a match made in heaven? And what to make of the early US interest in supporting the Syrian opposition, when Washington supported crushing its equivalent in Bahrain only months before, all the while overseeing the mayhem unleashed next door in Iraq with its brutal and fraudulent 2003 invasion?

The basics are not a puzzle. There can be no return to the pre-2011 rule of Syria—whether or not Russia or the almighty wills it. Similarly, the opposition will not overthrow the regime and build a secular, democratic, and socially equitable Syria, because neither its external supporters nor its strongest internal militants desire it. Those who do actually desire a secular, democratic, and egalitarian Syrian society exist on both sides of the divide, but their voices are drowned out."

The full piece:

The deabte over Syria has reached a dead end

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"These days, Canada is the second-largest arms exporter to the Middle East. Our Alberta oil sands produce more carbon emissions each year than the entire state of California. Our intelligence agency is allowed to act on information obtained through torture."

Think Canada is a progressive paradise?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Britain’s university system now “serves a renewed patrimonial capitalism and its ever-widening inequalities.” 
— John Holmwood’s 2014 valedictory message as British Sociological Association president.    
The Rise of the Corporate University in the UK
"Donald Trump can’t undermine American democracy because it barely even exists."

That is a headline on

I think I should update my radicalism in calling the US a capitalist, imperialist democracy. Probably a better qualification would be "the US is a capitalist, imperialist plutocracy".

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When we condemn and oppose the Western barbarism of the war and invasion of Iraq and the "liberal defense of murder" we are anti-American and supporters of Saddam Hussein. When we condemn and oppose Russian and Assad's barbarism we are dupes of US propaganda. When we condemn Israeli barbarism we are anti-semitic. When we condemn torrorist attacks in France and the US saying that is a product of state terrorism we are called apologists for terrorism. I guess we must be anti-semitic, anti-Russian, anti-American, CIA agent, Trotskyite socialist, Anarchists.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Lorna Finlayson’s book has the deceptively simple aim of showing that there is no distinction in kind to be drawn between the methodology of political philosophy and the philosophy itself. And, she suggests, since the methodology is in turn really just a way of trying to sustain the distinction between political philosophy and politics, the collapse of this distinction also supports the claim that the political philosophy/politics distinction is itself untenable. Political philosophy—or, it turns out, mainstream analytic political philosophy—has a mistaken understanding of itself as standing outside or above the messy power-ridden realm of actual politics, Finlayson argues; this misunderstanding is ideologically motivated, and the methodology of political philosophy serves to exemplify and buttress it. Showing that the distinction between the methodology of political philosophy and political philosophy is ideological, in the pejorative sense familiar from critical theory since Marx, will help to emancipate us from this misunderstanding and allow us to see that political philosophy is political all the way down. Thus emancipated, we will be better placed to see that much of what we have taken to be neutral philosophical virtues—constructiveness and charity are her examples—have been serving the ideological purpose of bolstering liberalism, while what presents itself as dissent from the primacy of analytic liberal political philosophy is already disciplined by this methodological buttressing in ways that mute its ability to challenge the dominance of liberalism."

— David Owen

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Dr.  preaching neo-orientalism, imperialism and patronizing other countries, brandishing an empty term ("democracy) of the West, i.e. the capitalist, imperialist democracy of the Western powers that we have seen in practice not only in wars and occupations, but in IMF adjustment programmes, in global capitalism's uneven development, in plunder by corporations, in NGOs working with repressive regimes and perpetuuating power structure, in Western powers working with local regimes in aborting, diverting or co-opting uprisings or confining it to the parliamentary capitalist democracy, oppression within the undemocratic European Union itself, level of corruption on an unprecedented scale, driving down wages, undermining unions (even banning people from joining a union), gambling with pensions, corporatization of education, undermining academic freedom, a development of an oligarchy and a mediaocracy, depolitization, passivity and narcissism, a plague called identity politics instead, the rise of the far-right as a consequence of neo-liberalism and a crisis of the nation-state.

Monday, October 17, 2016

"It should never be forgotten that joining a “school,” or associating oneself with a certain theoretical perspective, means associating oneself to an intellectual field, where there is an important struggle for access to the dominant positions. Ultimately, calling oneself a Marxist in the France of the 1960s — when the academic field was in part dominated by self-identified Marxists — did not have the same meaning as it does to be a Marxist today.
Concepts and canonical authors are obviously intellectual instruments, but they also correspond to various strategies for becoming part of the field and the struggles over it. Intellectual developments are then partly determined by relations of power within the field itself.
Also, it seems to me that relations of power within the academic field have changed considerably since the end of the 1970s: after the decline of Marxism, Foucault occupied a central place. In reality, he offers a comfortable position that allows a certain degree of subversion to be introduced without detracting from the codes of the academy. Mobilizing Foucault is relatively valued, it often allows his defenders to get published in prestigious journals, to join wide intellectual networks, to publish books, etc.
Very wide swaths of the intellectual world refer to Foucault in their work and have him saying everything and its opposite. You can be an adviser to the MEDEF and edit his lectures! [A reference to François Ewald, adviser to the main French business federation; see above.] I would say that he opens doors. And you can’t really say the same of Marx nowadays...
... We’re heading towards a much more authoritarian kind of liberalism, with a return to family values, a return to a total fantasy of national culture, and the good old pre-globalized capitalism…

Concerning Violence ends on a powerful note bound to leave you with a knot in your stomach. Lest our daily brush with the news, with the forces of globalisation, consumerism and capital, with all this new inter-connectedness and our (however valid) criticism of the United States’s imperial ambitions distract us, Fanon reminds us that Europe is at the root of all our problems today, and it is Europe to which we are ideologically and materially enslaved.
The camera moves swiftly through the centre of a massive gathering of people in tattered clothing, emaciated, looking expectantly into the camera – the wretched of the earth, literally – as Fanon’s most damning words appear on screen:

"From all these continents, under whose eyes Europe today raises up her tower of opulence, there has flowed out for centuries toward that same Europe diamonds and oil, silk and cotton, wood and exotic products. Europe is literally the creation of the third world. The wealth which smothers her is that which was stolen from the under-developed peoples. 
The ports of Holland, the docks of Bordeaux and Liverpool were specialised in the Negro slave trade, and owe their renown to millions of deported slaves. So when we hear the head of a European state declare with his hand on his heart that he must come to the aid of the poor under-developed peoples, we do not tremble with gratitude. Quite the contrary; we say to ourselves: 'It’s a just reparation which will be paid to us'."
 Fanon documentary confronts fallacies about anti-colonial philosopher

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Via Joey Ayub' blog

"The inherent contradictions which have plagued Syria and the world should give rise to deeper realizations, eloquently expressed by Kurdish activist Dilar Dirik in a Facebook post: “It is the capitalist-statist-nationalist-patriarchal system that forces people around the world and at the moment especially in the Middle East to choose between lesser evils in the name of freedom. Forcing millions of people to pick between ISIS or Assad; religious fundamentalism or secular militarism; monarchy, caliphate or racist nation-states; women's pornification or complete veiling; Sisi or Morsi; Atatürkism or Erdoğanism; etc are not choices but perfect weapons of breaking the people's will. To force people to settle between death by drowning or by burning is the perfect way to make them lose the most fundamental human power: hope."