• Books: Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, Endless War: Hidden Functions of the "war on terror" by David Keen, Capital Vol. 1, Tin Drum by Günter Grass, What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed, Desiring Arabs by Joseph Massad, Spies, Soldiers and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil, La Condition Humaine by André Malraux, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Imagined Community by Benedict Anderson, Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Noli me Tangere by José Rizal, Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, ذهنية التحريم لصادق جلال العظم, Karl Marx by Francis Wheen, وليمة لأعشاب البحر لحيدر حيدر, Candide by Voltaire, النزعات المادية في الفلسفة العربية الإسلامية لحسين مروة, Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich ..
  • Films: Alexanderplatz by Rainer Fassbinder, Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, The Battle of Algiers, films by P. P. Passolini, Persepolis, Midnight Express, 1984, Papillion, Gangs of New York, Sophie Scholl, Life of Brian, Ivan the Terrble, Battleship Potemkine ...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"... 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 region.

A political or military defeat of these ogres will not be sufficient since they are not just brutal forces. There must be a revolution which gives rise to laws, constitutions, principles, concepts, and meanings, a cultural revolution that takes us from the ogre status to the human status. This is a cornerstone for societies as it provides people with the tools of knowledge, morality, and aestheticism for them to take charge of their reality and build a new, more humane world. Not only is this an antidote to the ogre of religion but it will also – in my opinion – help in confronting the modern West, which manifests itself here in a biased, colonial light, and in facing the ogre of tyranny in our societies.

Of the three the Western ogre seems to be the primary architect behind the devastation in Syria. That is even before it directly intervened – albeit remotely- against the ISIS ogre, and before its attempt to concoct a Syrian mercenary force in its despicable fight against the Islamic ogre but not against the Assad ogre.

Yassine Al-Haaj Saleh, a Syrian writer, activist and former political prisoner

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