• 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 ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How accurate is this?

"Backward economies can be 'modernized' more or less on their own, but this seems to require dictatorial regimes which will sweat out of a generation or two the primary accumulation of capital goods needed. Backward economies can also be modernized, perhaps more slowly, without dictatorial regimes, but this seems to require that they be greatly and intelligently helped by industrially advanced nations. There do not seem to be other alternatives" (The Causes of World War III, 1958, p. 75).
So basically we are struck but epidemics. Two of these epidemics are narcissims and identity politics.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Via Joey Husseini Ayoub


Middle East Eye asked me to write an op-ed on what's become an all-too-familiar theme following some of the (ongoing) exchanges between the folks at The Electronic Intifada and folks active in the Syria solidarity movement.
To be quite honest with you, I got tired of writing the same thing. I think this is the 3rd or 4th time I write this - in fact you can see it as an extension of my piece for Raseef22 رصيفــ22 - and I know people who have written more than I have - emphasizing especially the work of Leila Al Shami and, obviously, the folks over at الجمهورية al-Jumhuriya like Yassin Al Haj Saleh and Yassin Swehat, all of whom have done infinitely more than I have. 
It's frustrating, but here's one more. 
I added quotes by Jesse Williams given that so much of the power narrative is being dominated by Americans (as usual, making this even more annoying) in the hope that American comrades would be able to challenge the narrative from within.
"There is a significant portion of the Western Left today that has adopted a nativist framework which started to exclude the voices of Syrians as soon as their revolution became inconvenient. Without naming names, many of us can think of a number of commentators - including so-called “experts” whose credentials revolve around them being white males - who were initially supportive of the revolution but ended up disavowing it or even, in some cases, supporting the fascist and imperialist forces slaughtering their way to victory with the deafening silence of a spineless “international community”. This is made all the worse with the participation of notable figures and parties of the so-called Old Arab Left - that same “Left” which happily colludes with fascist parties under the guise of a tired “anti-imperialist” narrative." 
The question at the bottom of this whole debacle is: what does “fighting imperialism” mean if “imperialism” is what might save your life and that of your loved ones? Is it actually fighting imperialism to effectively condemn the countless Syrians who have called for a no-fly zone since at least 2013 (and some as early as 2012)? Where is the anti-imperialist fighting occuring and who is fighting whom? I’m reminded of Jesse Williams’s powerful recent BET Awards speech which, discussing the struggle of African Americans, can be said to have some universalist principles, namely that “the burden of the brutalised is not to comfort the bystander”. He then formulated a sentence that should be a basic principle whenever human suffering is concerned: “If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression.
I’m not arguing for or against a no-fly zone here. There are legitimate concerns to be had with the idea of a no-fly zone in Syria, concerns which I know for a fact have given Syrian comrades sleepless nights. It does, however, raise the question of who is opposing it, and why? The least that can be said of most of those who support the idea is that it is a reflection of popular - read: desperate - feelings on the ground and that it is proposed in the hope of preventing that which we know is behind most of Syrian suffering: the regime’s aerial bombardment of civilian areas, now worsened by the Russian government.
Beyond Syria, the inability of many to see past outdated narratives has galvanised the rise of right-wing reactionary nativism in the West. Discussions on Syria ignored Syrians for so long that it became easy to dehumanise and demonise them when large numbers reached Fortress Europe’s shores.”
"LF: You make the argument that we’ve been sold on this 
idea that there’s just one kind of love: monogamous heterosexual love that makes a baby.

MW: Yeah. Kant has this goofy German definition of marriage where it’s a mutual contract for the reciprocal use of someone’s genitals. That exclusive-genital sexuality is great if it’s with the right person, but we focus on how much it sucks not to have that; we rarely talk about how often it also sucks. Like, marriages are often unhappy—the No. 1 source of harm to a woman is her intimate partner."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Headlines on foreignpolicy.com, 26 August 2016

"BAN THE BURQA?: Eight in ten Germans favor banning the burqa in public spaces." 
"THE BURKINI'S WILD RIDE: A judge in France ruled that municipalities cannot ban women from wearing a certain kind of swimwear."

Culturalization of social antagonisms, identity politics, etc.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Corruption and plunder in Britain: the example of Branson

"What all this resembles is a looking-glass version of capitalism. The public are handing money to private businesses for them to take a clip and pay us back the rest. Just in case that wasn't ludicrous enough, remember that Virgin's parent company is listed in British Virgin Islands, a sunny tax haven that is a stop pretty far from Wigan. And as we've seen repeatedly with the east coast line, the ones who don't make a profit can simply walk away, dumping their service back in public hands. Heads they win, tails you lose.
Branson is not the sole offender here; he's simply the most flamboyant representative of a completely rotten system for siphoning money from the public into private hands. The entire industry, as Treasury adviser Shriti Vadera put it in 2001, is peopled by "thinly capitalised … profiteers of the worst kind". And as a former investment banker, she'd know what those looked like."

See also

Crony capitalism

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"When, as happened recently in France, an attempt is made to coerce women out of the burka rather than creating a situation in which a woman can choose what she wishes to do, it’s not about liberating her but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. Coercing a woman out of her burka is as bad as coercing her into one. It’s not about the burka. It’s about the coercion. Viewing gender in this way, shorn of social, political, and economic context, makes it an issue of identity, a battle of props and costumes. It’s what allowed the US government to use Western feminist liberal groups as moral cover when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Afghan women were (and are) in terrible trouble under the Taliban. But dropping daisy cutters on them was not going to solve the problem." — Arundhati Roy (see extract from her book here)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Egypt

This is how a Chatham House fellow reminds us of Rabaa's massacre.
No mention of the military and financial support of the Egyptian regime.
No mention of the Muslim Brotherhood role in working with the regime and especially with the US and the SCAF from days one so that Mubarak goes, but the regime stays.
And calling those criminals in the imperialist camp as "a democratic club" that Egypt is far from is just adding insult to injury.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sometimes you find surprises in the gutter press

"But not every part of the resistance was grateful. De Gaulle’s supporters in Paris feared either a communist seizure of power or a mirror of the bloodbath that was befalling the August 1944 Warsaw Uprising. Through the Swedish consul they negotiated a truce with the German military governor on 20 August, but this was not observed by the insurgents who threw up barricades in a revolutionary reflex and continued guerrilla warfare, seizing weapons from the panicking Germans."

The forgotten heroes of Paris, 1945

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Headline on foreinpolicy.com, 19 August 2016

"The most disturbing thing about notorious British hate preacher Anjem Choudary is that his terrorism conviction is for something he said, not something he did."

How can I be safe from persecution from what I say on this blog? After all, I have been blocked by the Economist comments admin and seen my comments removed by the liberal Guardian!
Beware the Extremists

Friday, August 19, 2016

To understand where the so-called liberal democracy stands since ots inception and why the BB has just called one Islamist preacher "one of the most dangerous men in Britain", one should read a historical account.

"From the 1970s, however, liberal revolution revived on an unprecedented scale. With the collapse of communism, bourgeois liberty once again became a crusading, force, but now on a global scale. In the twenty-first century, the armed forces of the United States, Britain, and NATO became instruments of 'regime change', seeking to destroy dictatorship and build free-market democracies. President George W. Bush called the invasion of Iraq in 2003 a 'watershed event in the global democratic revolution'. This was an extraordinary turn-around, with the middle classes now hailed as the truly universal class which, in emancipating itself, emancipates all society. The debacle in Iraq, and the Great Recession from 2008, revealed all too clearly that hubris still invites nemesis."

Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear (OUP)
"The Worst Place on Earth": Inside Assad's Saydnaya Prison

The liberals have again 'discovered' a new torture compound. They want to raise awareness. Where were they when people like me, and thousands of others were tortured, deprived of their rights, and even killed in the jails of their allies? Is it only when an ally is no longer an ally that we 'discover' their brutality?

“For years Russia has used its UN security council veto to shield its ally, the Syrian government,” says Amnesty’s Philip Luther..." Yes, like what the US, Britain, France, etc have done in Tunisia, Egypt, Latin America, Indonesia, Greece, Uzbekistan, etc. They shielded, and still do, their allies. And like how the US using the UN security council veto to shield the Israeli state barbaric actions.

Amnesty, according to Aljazeera Arabic website, is an independent organisation and away from any idelology! What about the Amnesty's support of one of the biggest criminal organisation in history?

Here is something hot from the pan:






Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It is not the first time, but it always makes me laugh

"The evidence now shows that Anjem Choudary is one of the most dangerous men in Britain."

When we do it it is fighting for "freedom and democracy", when they do it is radicalism and terrorism.

We advocate and impose economic and political policies on backward people, in an alliance with the Saddams, Assads and Ben Alis, championing it as "freedom, democracy, way of life, etc" in order to maintain stability so that capital thrives and our geopolitical interests and preserved. 

We organise wars and mobilize Muslim and non-Muslim leaders who we define as moderates because they work for our interests and the interests of their respective classes at home an globally, we mobolize our resources and troops to spread our way of life by dismantling the social fabric of fragile societies, causing the deaths and dislocation of millions, and when those very same economic policies, social relations of power breed resistance against the barbarism of the Western powers (including the Russian one), we call that resistance, whether progressive or reactionary, a danger to our civilisation. 

We control most of the media, some of it is owned by oligarchs, but we remind you everyday that that we live in a democracy. We plunder our public resources and give them to the bankers, we preside over the biggest inequality, and probably, the biggest shiphoning of money through tax havens, we continue to perpetrate the plunder and 
subjugation through global institutions as well as the so-called NGOs and our local clients and friends who also buy our weapons. 

That is what amuses me. A state that has engaged in terrorism for at least the last two hundered years and on a 
daily basis, with almost full sanction or passivity of its own subjects, calls anyone which tries to rival its terrorism a terrorist. 

If you have read this and you think I am an extremist, I would say to you fuck off.

Note: two small examples of this "liberal democracy" they repeat as nauseam: 1. In some chains in Britains, you are not allowed to join a union. You sign a contract that stipulates that before you commence work. 2. Between a third and a half of my my own pension is invested in corporate debt. 
That is the criminality that people every 4 years sanction through their vote besides the biggers crimes of course (the wars, the bailouts, the cuts, the privatisation, enslavement through loans and debt of students and of poor countries, etc. etc)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Since the beginning of the Arab uprising the defenders of the status quo helped co-opt and domesticate the uprisings. Here they have twisted marxist and socialist ideas/ideals to try to absolve themselves and the criminal role they have played in aborting a meaningful change in the region. 

In the case of Egypt we have seen how the US, a fact this article unsurprisingly ignores, supported a power-sharing between Mubarak's regime without Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood and how later, when the latters were ousted, the US regime continued its financial and military support of the Egyptian army and the Egyptian regime. 

We also saw how the leadership of the MB, like its sister Al-Nahdha in Tunisia, hurried to Washington to kiss the hands of US imperialism and show that they could be reliant upon in maintaining the status quo: new faces, the army in the background, elections, but no changes in the fundamentals, i.e. the socio-economic structure that determines the daily bread and butter issues. That is what the writer of this NYT article mean by "moderates" and "democracy". 

I like the coclusion though that radicals should never trust liberals. In times of acute social crises, generally liberals side with repression and counter-revolution to maintain the status quo.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

I have read the Preface of this long piece and I have found it revolting, disgusting and sickening to say the least.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Britain: A report
Evidence suggested the biggest cause of the "acute" disadvantage felt by Muslim women is their religion, it said. 
"The impact of Islamophobia on Muslim women should not be underestimated," it went on. 
"They are 71% more likely than white Christian women to be unemployed, even when they have the same educational level and language skills." 
They face particular issues of discrimination when applying for jobs because of the clothes some of them they wear because of their religion or culture, the MPs suggest.
Married women in Muslim communities are often expected to be home-makers while their husbands are the breadwinners, the committee heard from expert witnesses. 
"The impact of the very real inequality, discrimination and Islamophobia that Muslim women experience is exacerbated by the pressures that some women feel from parts of their communities to fulfil a more traditional role," the committee said. (source: the bbc)

Monday, August 08, 2016

"A careful assessment of the Bolivarian Revolution reveals that Chávez’s socialism only ever manifested itself rhetorically: real gains like income redistribution proved compatible with the global capitalist order."

Why Twenty-First Century Socialism Failed
"But for every Syria or Iraq there is a Singapore, Malaysia or Tanzania, getting along okay despite having several “national” groups. Immigrant states in Australia and the Americas, meanwhile, forged single nations out of massive initial diversity.
What makes the difference? It turns out that while ethnicity and language are important, what really matters is bureaucracy. This is clear in the varying fates of the independent states that emerged as Europe’s overseas empires fell apart after the second world war.
According to the mythology of nationalism, all they needed was a territory, a flag, a national government and UN recognition. In fact what they really needed was complex bureaucracy."
Is there an alternative to countries?

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Arabic literature

I haven't read Zaat, but it souns a good novel. 

"Zaat by Sonallah Ibrahim

Sonallah was born in Cairo, became a Marxist in his youth, and spent several years in prison during the 1960s for his views. His novel Zaat tells the tale of modern Egypt though the eyes of its heroine, Zaat, during the periods of the three presidents Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. It goes from the optimism of the early years following the revolution to the full-blown capitalisation and corruption of Egypt in the 1980s and 1990s of the last century.
Expertly crafted, each of the chapters narrating Zaat’s life, marriage, work and social life is interspersed with a series of newspaper clippings and photograph captions detailing the political and economic events of the day – corruption cases, financial scandals, torture, foreign debt – that graphically lay open the banal thuggery of the rulers and the greed and stupidity of the nouveau-riche.
Poignant, yet darkly hilarious at times, the novel chronicles the struggles of the decent, honest and long-suffering Zaat as she navigates the vicissitudes of contemporary life, modernisation, consumerism and the ever-present mirage of new wealth.
The novel provides a wonderful insight into what happened to the Arab world over the second half of the 20th century, and where all the dreams went. It is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand why the Arab Spring came about and why, in many cases, it soon turned into a dark winter." (the British Council)
I recommend another good novel:  Banquet for the Seaweeds by Haydar Haydar, but, unfortunately, it is not translated to English yet.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Review of The Happiness Industry, a book by William Davies

"What Davies recognises is that capitalism has now in a sense incorporated its own critique. What the system used to regard with suspicion – feeling, friendship, creativity, moral responsibility – have all now been co-opted for the purpose of maximising profits. One commentator has even argued the case for giving products away free, so as to form a closer bond with the customer. Some employers have taken to representing pay increases they give to their staff as a gift, in the hope of extracting gratitude and thus greater effort from them. It seems that there is nothing that can’t be instrumentalised. Yet the whole point of happiness is that it is an end in itself, rather than a means to power, wealth and status. For a tradition of ethical thought from Aristotle and Aquinas to Hegel and Marx, human self-fulfilment springs from the practice of virtue, and this happens purely for its own sake. How to be happy is the chief issue that ethics addresses, but “Why be happy?” is not a question it can answer."

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Middle East and North Africa

"Why do governments last? What kind of governments last? Increasingly, studies on the stability of regimes in the Middle East/North Africa region focus on how elites enfold the middle and working classes into socio-political orders. Such enfoldment happens through turning the state into not merely an instrument of violent class rule through extraction, but also part-and-parcel of everyday social reproduction."
Critical Readings in Political Economies: Resilience

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Britain 

Via Michael Roberts

The Keynesian economic advisors to the British leftwing Labour opposition leadership are ditching Corbyn and McDonnell as fast as they can. Several Keynesians resigned in June from the economic advisory council, including Thomas Piketty. 
Now Keynesians David Blanchflower and Simon Wren-Lewis have come out in support of Owen Smith, the MP running against Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election. Apparently they reckon Corbyn is 'unelectable'.
David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, and Simon Wren-Lewis, a professor at Oxford University, were both members of Labour’s economic advisory committee.
Blanchflower said Smith had been better at "consulting businesses and economists" in three weeks than Corbyn’s leadership had over the last nine months.
Wren-Lewis, who was still a member of the committee until meetings were suspended in June, wrote on his blog: “What seems totally clear to me is that given recent events a Corbyn-led party cannot win in 2020, or even come close."
Joining these rats jumping a (sinking?) ship was Richard Murphy, the tax justice campaigner and architect of the People's Quantitative Easing that Corbynomics originally espoused, but has gone very silent on recently. 
Politics is more important than economic policy so Corbyn-McDonnell continue to advocate left Keynesian policies while their Keynesian advisers ditch them - and even the support of political commentators like Owen Jones has become dubious.

Forgetting Fanon, remembering Fanon