Showing posts from February, 2016
" Attempting to ‘save’ the national economy to make things better for its inhabitants, for example, by calling for import controls or other forms of government regulation, is a reactionary policy. Firstly, it endorses the existing power of the national capitalist state to determine what will happen. Secondly, it raises national salvation above solidarity with people in other countries who are facing similar problems. This is particularly an issue for progressive people in the imperialist countries that have a dominant position in the world economy. If radicals make any concessions to those who are seeking to defend their privileges in a bankrupt system, rather than to show how the system is indeed bankrupt and must be overthrown, then they have only a short step from this to supporting imperialist aggression. The records of many wars stand in evidence." — Tony Norfield, author of The City: London and the Power of Global Financ e . (Verso 2016)
'Deschooling Society'
'Democratic Confederalism' or 'Counter-revolution'?
Chomsky and his Critics " I have read Noam Chomsky for years and translated a book of his after my release from prison. I also helped translate a book about him. Not once have I seen in all his abundant work anything in reference to the Syrian people’s feelings about the Assads’ colonialism. He may have mentioned in passing something about the brutality and tyranny of the Assad regime, but that was it. All his views revolved around the United States and Israel. He doesn’t see us. He sees the Palestinians to some extent. Three years ago a few Syrian and Lebanese friends met with him in Beirut. The man knows very little and didn’t seem compelled to listen to his mostly young interlocutors. And it looked like he was irritated with them after the meeting because, instead of them listening to his views, they expressed theirs. I am talking here about a man with indisputable courage and morals, but the traditional Western left is incomparably less courageous and ethical than that in t
Aleppo is our Guernica — and some are cheering on the Luftwaffe
Meet the volunteer taking care of hundreds of lost children in the Calais Jungle
On this day in 1991
Yemeni photographers fight despair and trauma of war
"...  I wrote an article analysing the state of Arab culture before the Arab revolutions. It appears that the Arab world and its culture are facing three major problems or problematic situations that are amorphous and ambiguous. These problems pertain to state, religion, and the West (which, in this context, includes Israel), each of which I call an ogre – because by definition an ogre is a ferocious monster that is not bound by form or rules of conduct. And that makes living amongst ogres a constant struggle for today’s Arabs, especially Syrians, Palestinians, and Iraqis. I think that constructing forms – of rules, concepts, and principles – to discipline those entities is what we hope to achieve through literacy and public service. Let it be clear that I do not mean that the state is in itself a monster, or that Islam is a monster, or the modern West is one. I mean that, in this context, these are transformed into formless and lawless entities which now wield power in our regio
The Fall of the Turkish Model: How the Arab Uprisings Brought Down Islamic Liberalism
"The Bank of England’s governor points out that, in this situation, all you can do is for individual countries to try and restart their economies through structural measures, not monetary ones. Since they can’t borrow and spend their way out of the crisis, they have to “reform” their way out of it. But how? Carney does not spell out the details but in the G20 parlance, the main tools in the toolkit of “structural reform” are ripping up labour protections, privatising public assets, cutting business taxes, boosting state investment – and direction of investment – into the major industries and projects, and privatising education. Naturally, in all countries where this is tried it provokes resistance, and is therefore done gradually. But Carney points out doing things slowly does not work, because austerity, low growth, high debts and falling wages feed off each other." Paul Mason blogging for Channel4
Morocco: Reinstate Said Elahirech, stop attacking union rights
Iran: Release teacher union leader Esmail Abdi
Chomsky: Trump’s rise fueled by same societal ‘breakdown’ that birthed Hitler
The Two Zizeks   "The Other Zizek asserts the very specific European experience of modernity as the norm to be emulated; colonialism as the cleansing force that brought this modernity to benighted and backward societies, and Revolutionary Terror as sacred and unavoidable."
Ogres and Orientalism
Abraham Lincoln: "Labor Is the Superior of Capital" "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital.  Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.  Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration..." 
"[I]f  it is argued that England, the very heartland of imperialism, is also that national terrain which seems to have been the least propitious for the development of any indigenous modernism,  then that is surely also relevant for our present topic ."
Crony capitalism Branson, The Stuntman
" In the absence of unforeseen reversals for ISIS and its many associated groups, the 'war on terror' in its current incarnation is set to escalate and indeed last well into the 2020s." — Paul Rogers,, 19 February 2016 Since "the war on terror" (read the war of terror) has been waged by states, Western and non-Western, for the last 15 years, it is this Terror that is the main terrorism, with its different features, which breeds more terrorism and makes it endless.  "Endless War?  Hidden Functions of the 'War on Terror'" (Pluto Books 2006) by David Keen. Keen explores how winning war is rarely an end in itself; rather, war tends to be part of a wider political and economic game that is consistent with strengthening the enemy. Keen devises a radical framework for analysing an unending war project, where the "war on terror" is an extension of the Cold War. An interview .
The City: London and the Global Power of Finance   (Verso, April 2016)  “Tony Norfield has provided a strikingly original take on the international financial system by placing it systematically within the world imperialist structure of power. He rejects the currently fashionable path of interpreting the ascent of finance by looking at how the leading financial sector agents, operating by way of banks, hedge funds, private equity firms, and the like, manipulate the political-economic game to increase their own personal wealth, while downplaying any useful economic functions they might be fulfilling. He insists, on the contrary, that finance be understood as a form of power deriving from the economic-cum political capacity to compete at the highest levels of global capitalism, which simultaneously endows a limited group of countries and corporations disproportionate access to the world’s resources and operates as the system’s indispensable nerve center. Norfield’s unusual clarity as
Was Tagore anti-national? Will India not disown him? " And know that what is huge is not great and pride is not everlasting."
The late Umberto Eco: " Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old "proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority."
Yes, a historian can be an apologist for state crimes
Une lettre d'un journaliste américain à Kamel Daoud
لماذا يتواصل المشروع النيوليبيرالي في المنطقة العربية؟
"Thanks to ... three kingdoms – Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran – the policies of the powerful international powers have prioritised stability: thus effectively sponsoring the states’ transformation into security agencies, and permitting them to eradicate their subjects if they get out of hand, and not interfering with the internal matters of the dynasties and juntas which rule over their citizens’ lives. This prioritisation of stability has benefited despotic regimes, including the Assad regime, and has never been in the interest of the populace and their demands and political activities. Isn’t this, rather, the most important source of the antiquated, which controls all other sources? Overall, the fast-moving current of antiquation that is engulfing us all appears to be a result of three springs merging into one: the spring of religion, which offers legitimacy to existing and soon-to-exist despotic authorities; the spring of despotic states that receive assistance and legiti
Imperialism must be seen, and systemically analysed, within the problematic of a coordination between political phenomena - violence, domination, control, state power, class - and economic phenomena - the market, investment, exploitation, capital expansion and profit, finance, crisis.
Syria and the World: Reactionarism is Back and Progressing It is a good piece, but saying reactionarism is back is not accurate. It has never left us. In fact, the last 40 years or so have seen reactionarism by the big powers, which has laid down the socio-economic conjuncture and the geopolitical context of more reactionarism.
The Birth of Boko Haram
Honourng Britain's past? Which past? " It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria." — Hilar Benn, 02 Decemer 2015 The arrogance of the imperialists who are nostalgic to the empire in competition with the Americans, the Russians, the French ...
Britain: the war on the elderly
Ruthless and Sober in Syria
"In Turkey, the Regime Slides from Soft to Hard Totalitarianism"
San Francisco tech worker: 'I don't want to see homeless riff-raff' "The residents of this amazing city no longer feel safe. I know people are frustrated about gentrification happening in the city, but the reality is, we live in a free market society. The wealthy working people have earned their right to live in the city. They went out, got an education, work hard, and earned it. I shouldn’t have to worry about being accosted. I shouldn’t have to see the pain, struggle, and despair of homeless people to and from my way to work every day. I want my parents when they come visit to have a great experience, and enjoy this special place."
Modernism and Imperialism " But such is not the only restriction on the present topic: it also involves some restrictions that concern its other term — imperialism — which must also now be delimited. I take it, for instance, that only those theories of imperialism which acknowledge the Marxist problematic (in however heretical or revisionist a fashion) are of concern here, since it is only within that problematic that a coordination between political phenomena (violence, domination, control, state power) and economic phenomena (the market, investment, exploitation, underconsumption, crisis) is systematically pursued. Exclusively political theories of imperialism (such as Schumpeter’s) slip not merely towards moralizing, but also towards metaphysical notions of human nature (the lust for power or domination), which end up dissolving the historical specificity of the thing itself and disperse the phenomenon of imperialism throughout human history, wherever bloody conquests are to
Tsai Ming-liang talks about ‘Stray Dogs’
Unmasking Global Capitalism
Investment, investment, investment
A letter from under Russian bombs in Aleppo
"'I'm not a great fan' of Netanyahu, Sanders admits; as a Jew, he had always admired a different Israeli leader, David Ben-Gurion, the social democrat."  David Ben-Gurion: "A partial Jewish State is not the end, but only the beginning. … I am certain that we well not be prevented from settling in the other parts of the country, either by mutual agreements with our Arab neighbors  or by some other means. . . [If the Arabs refuse] we shall have to speak to them in another language. But we shall only have another language if we have a state ." —  As quoted in   Chomsky, Noam,  Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (Updated Edition) (South End Press Classics Series) . "If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the histor
Top academics including Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler condemn Centre’s action at JNU
The list of those who have been involved in the big crimes is long...  Blood Traces: Bernie’s Iraq War Hypocrisy
Robert J Gordon and the rise and fall of American capitalism "[A]re we entering a new industrial revolution like the early 19 th  century that will give capitalism a new lease of life in developing the productive forces, even if it means loss of jobs for hundreds of millions and rising inequality of income and wealth?  Or are the new ‘disruptive technologies’ just a mirage that will change little in increasing economic growth and productivity, as Gordon argues?"
Toward a Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings (Part One) Toward a Political Economy of the Arab Uprisings (Part Two)
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine President Franklin D. Roosevelt (enough time before the actual cleansing of Palestine)   put it in December 1942 ,  “I actually would put a barbed wire around Palestine, and I would begin to move the Arabs out of Palestine…. Each time we move out an Arab we would bring in another Jewish family…” And this was exactly what happened with planned massacres !! Also , The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine   (e-book)  My interview with Ilan Pappe  (audio)
From the archive: my  comment on an old article on the Economist A good piece. The Economist mentioning class and classes is interesting. Some hint to the failure of modernization and its consequnces. A cleverly woven arguments to put some of the causes on "socialism". At the end of the day, the Economist should tell us that neither "socialism or "Islamism" is the solution and should not tell us how the development of international capitalism impacts on the level of developments of the Arab countries. Mentioning China is very interesting although it is meant to serve the editorial line. China has achieved what she achieved not because "it embraced capitalism", but because of revolution, opening to the world market but with control of the commanding heights (see the Economist itself a couple of years ago). I consider the following as facts which the Economist (for idelologically reasons) cannot mention.  1. The general structure of the Ar
The Goldman Sachs Theory of Capitalism Goldman Sachs economists are questioning the efficacy of capitalism — but for all the wrong reasons.
The enemy is at home
"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." — George Orwell
There are countless examples of imperialist hypocrisy... Here is the latest one: " Italian ministers claim they seek the truth—but which one? The truth about the man who dealt the killing blow or the system that is built on that blow?" Hollow Words: Egypt, Italy, and Justice for Giulio
The Phantasies of Kamel Daoud Also Cologne: Three out of 58 men arrested over mass sex attack on New Year's Eve were refugees from Syria or Iraq
Kamal Daoud and the Sexual Misery of the Arab World " Politicizing Arab and Muslim women’s sexual tragedies and the cultural mores that lead to violence and inequity as props for popular consumption is not advocacy. It’s not even an act of vulnerability. What is an act of vulnerability is an understanding that that patriarchal oppression here and social mores as they relate to sex are inextricably linked to other exploitative practices found in authoritarianism, colonialism, liberalism, religion, or yes, even secularism."
What would T E Lawrence do?
How the BBC Abandoned Investigative Reporting Investigations aim to hold power to account, and one of the most powerful institutions is the government. People ask me is the BBC biased, and my answer is that the fundamental corporate bias is pro-government, regardless of party. It’s the licence fee – stupid. Of course, not every story will be pro-government but the overwhelming narrative will be.
Benjamin's Critique of Violence “For a cause” Benjamin writes “becomes violent, in the precise sense of the word, when it enters into moral relations” (p. 236). Benjamin is thus not interested in force or violence of nature ( Naturgewalt ); but the violence present within the framework of the society, and ultimately, the state. If violence as a means is directed towards natural ends—as in the case of interstate war where one or more states use violence to ignore historically acknowledged laws such as borders—the violence will be lawmaking. This violence strives towards a “peace ceremony” that will constitute a new historically acknowledged law; new historically acknowledged borders. The distinction between lawmaking violence and law-preserving violence is however deconstructed in the body of the police and in capital punishment, whereby the “rotten” core of the law is revealed, namely, that law is a manifestation of violent domination for its own sake.  In both capita
The British curriculum sanitises the history of slavery by isolating it as an aberration of evil. Slavery built the west. Acknowledging that is the first step to undoing its damage. "The (optional, rather than required) teaching on transatlantic slavery freezes its horrors as a past phenomenon of more barbarous times. In doing so, it provides a framing that allows white liberals to fondly reminisce about Britain’s heroes of abolition. The same logic is at work when ‘modern day’ slavery is described as the legacy of the African holocaust. Instead of addressing the actual legacy of the system of slavery – the continued oppression and structural disadvantagement of black populations in the west and the disconnection caused between the diaspora and African continent – this framing permits white liberals to embrace the abolitionist spirit of the past. It allows them to fight the good fight against ‘human trafficking’, perpetrated by those supposedly (and conveniently) coming from th
Shunning Israeli goods to become criminal offence for public bodies and student unions "Evidently state involvement in economic decision making is acceptable for an ostensible "free market", provided of course such involvement goes some way to shoring up British relations with a colonial, criminal entity called Israel. The latter also being an important customer for British weapons exports." — Daniel Read
Scams we are still paying for T he big short , based on the best-selling book of the same name by Michael Lewis, is up for an Oscar this month. " The big short  makes no attempt to look at the wider picture: why did the housing market become a massive credit bubble that went bust and why did it spread across the globe into the worst economic slump since the 1930s."
India: The New Casteism
Researcher illegally shares millions of science papers free online to spread knowledge The UN Declaration of Human Rights  states that  "everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits".
Walter Benjamin in Palestine " It was impossible, for one thing, to forget how far the suffocation of Palestinian intellectual life that Israeli policy has aimed at does have effects, as surely as the neo-liberal economic and political regime of the Palestinian Authority has so visibly collaborated with the destruction of the environment, or as steadily as the influx of NGOs has sapped the grassroots organizations that sustained Palestinian resistance in previous moments of resistance."
"This isn’t about Sanders, per se, though nobody who funds or justifies colonization should be reduced to symbolism. It’s about an American tradition of subsuming the wretched to the practical needs of a corrupt electoral system. We have to consider ways to undermine notions of pragmatism that pretend to be innocuous and neutral while stifling the aspirations of multiple communities at home and abroad. Sanders has done important work, but his foreign policy platform, as exemplified by  his feeble position on Israel , gets in the way of his domestic program. Sanders also has  a record  of funding or rationalizing terrible violence. We shouldn’t whisk away that record. It’s a material example of Sanders’s performance as a senator and has direct consequences on the  lives of millions in the Middle East."
Can We Avoid the Oncoming Recession? "For Keynesians, you can create extra spending through money creation.  This leads to increased employment and then to increased income and growth and thus to more profits.  But the reality of the capitalist system is the other way round.  Only if profitability is sufficient, will investment increase and lead to more jobs and then incomes and consumption.  The demand for money will rise accordingly.  Artificial money creation by fiat from the government does not get round this – as the experience of ‘quantitative easing’ has already shown. Instead, we must look at what is happening with profits and profitability.  And as  I have shown in several previous posts , the profitability of business capital in the major economies is near historic post-1945 lows and the limited recovery in profitability since 2009 has come to an end.  Indeed, global corporate profit growth has ground to a halt and is now falling in China, the UK and most importa
Ellen Meiksins Wood obituary Democracy Against Capitalism (1995) dissected the conflict between capitalism and democracy. Ellen showed that by legally relegating issues of property, ownership and work to the private sector, capitalism confines public power to electoral politics. In so doing, it empties democracy of its original meaning as the power of the common people, leaving workers precariously exposed to market forces. In order to counter this, she advised that we need to reimagine democracy as containing freedom from the dictates of the market. This would require democratic control by those who produce the wealth over the conditions of its production and distribution."
Capitalism: Competition, Conflict and Crises
Awled Amreeka? "It seems  Awled Moufida  provided a glimpse at gender and socioeconomic power in Tunisian relationships through popular media. Tunisia’s social ills are seen, however, through that familiar lens of Western appropriation. The topics Fehri chose to address in the series are of substance and pertinent to Tunisia’s social growth; however, when Fehri could have chosen to reject the notion of  hogra , he chose to endorse it. When he could have chosen to abandon damaging patriarchal gender roles, he, instead, chose to reinforce them.  Awled Moufida  gives a dim view of Tunisian society and turns mediocrity into sensationalism that ultimately serves imperial interests by diverting attention from the real issues facing the people of Tunisia: social and gender inequality and economic despair."
Rare Easter Rising photos show Dublin in rubble
The most bizarre, entertaining history of Japan you'll ever watch
Report on Syria conflict finds 11.5% of population killed or injured The report notes that the rest of the world has been slow to wake up to the dimensions of the crisis. “Despite the fact that Syrians have been suffering for … five years, global attention to human rights and dignity for them only intensified when the crisis had a direct impact on the societies of developed countries.” When the Paris attacks happened a colleague of mine, a white Westerner, called them "terror".  I wondered then she might have said when more than million Iraqi were killed as a direct result of the invasion of Iraq, which itself gave birth to ISIS. "Terror" when it takes place in Western capitals and Western lives are lost. The fact is that even when Western and white people are killed at home, the outrage against the states which have generated the context of terror through their very own terror is almost absent. Instead, anger and violence are directed against the oppressed and
Egypt The same rhetoric by the liberals: "the first democratically-elected president". Elections held under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces with those who had more money 'shared power': the Muslim Brotherhood in Government, but the army controlled the rest, the main levers of power. The liberals in Egypt and the West have participated in the counter-revolution since January 2011. The Western media haild it as a "revolution" supporting the deals struck behind the scenes between the regime, the MB and the Western powers, especially the Americans and the British. They maintain their financial and military support of the dictatorship. No word of that in Reuters blog post . In short, the big powers have never supported a progressive movement in Egypt, or anywhere else in the region. They merely pay lip service to "freedom" and "democracy" while aborting any possibility for real change because it threatens their imperiali
The children of Soviet Africa search for their own identity
‘To each his own weapon, I have my camera’: Iran's 1979 revolution – in pictures It took Maryam Zandi more than three decades to get her photos of the revolution published
Reimagining Architecture and Cities: A Reading List
"Unless It Changes, Capitalism Will Starve Humanity by 2050" Or  Forbes, How to save capitalism from capitalism. 
Exodus and betrayal: How a Syrian Nakba was created
Les racines de l’État islamique
The Dream That Became a Nightmare   " a progressive solution inside the eurozone is impossible."
Books interview: David Harvey
Beyoncé’s capitalism, masquerading as radical change
W hy Are Russian Engineers Working at an Islamic State-Controlled Gas Plant in S yria?
"The war on terror" and our friends in barbarity Tony Wood (NLR 2004): What has been the international response to the ongoing assault on Chechen statehood? As the Chechen foreign ministry official Roman Khalilov dryly notes, ‘the international community’s record of timely, painless recognition of secession is extremely poor’.  [51]  Here Chechnya has been a casualty of the basest  Realpolitik . Western governments gave the nod to Yeltsin’s war as a regrettable side-effect of a presidency that had at all costs to be prolonged, if capitalism was to be successful in Russia. Putin has benefited from a similarly craven consensus. Yet for all the column inches expended on the harm done to Russia’s fragile democracy by the imprisonment of  YUKOS chairman  Mikhail Khodorkovsky, it is in Chechnya that the face of Putin’s regime is truly revealed, and it is above all by its sponsorship of wanton brutality there that it should be judged. The few early criticisms of Putin’s campai
Origins of the Police
From Palestine to the Spanish Civil War: Documentary proposes new reading of Arabs' history
"What happened was what always happens when a state possessing great military strength enters into relations with primitive, small peoples living their independent lives. Either on the pretext of self-defence, even though any attacks are always provoked by the offences of the strong neighbour, or on the pretext of bringing civilization to a wild people, even though this wild people lives incomparably better and more peacefully than its civilizers . . . the servants of large military states commit all sorts of villainy against small nations, insisting that it is impossible to deal with them in any other way." Leo Tolstoy, 1902 draft of Hadji Murat 
“Facebook teaches you how to be a neoliberal agent”. An interview with Philip Mirowski "Under neoliberal pressure the university has been totally transformed. There was a time when people might have wanted some sort of university legitimacy, but that is becoming less and less important since universities are becoming more like think tanks, places for hiring intellectuals. The university doesn’t produce experts today; it produces research programmes for those who want to pay for it, which is exactly what neoliberals want”.  
A great quote from 19th century economist Frederic Bastiat:  “ When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it”. The never-ending banking story continues with the biggest character in this story of greed, recklessness, fraud and criminality being the British 'global bank' HSBC.