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Showing posts from October, 2016
"The Assad regime has become a representative of the internal First World in Syria, the Syrian whites. I think the elites in the West find Bashar al-Assad more palatable than other potential interlocutors. He wears expensive suits and has a necktie, and, ultimately, these elites prefer a fascist with a necktie to a fascist with a beard. Meanwhile, they don’t see us, the Syrian people. Those who are trying to own the politics of their own country have been rendered invisible." Syria's "Voice of Conscience" Has a Message for the West
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 perpetuating 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 ins
In a foundational work of medical literature, The Welfare of Bodies and Souls (Kitāb maṣāliḥ al- abdān wa al-anfus) of Abū Zayd al-Balkhī (849–943), we find the author stating:  "The best drink that humans, through their reason and understanding, have devised a means of producing, is the refined grape-drink among whose properties is that it intoxicates [al-sharāb al-ʿinabī al-raqīq alladhī min ṭabʿi-hi al-iskār]. It is, of all beverages, the most noble in essence, most superior in composition, and most beneficial—if taken in moderation, and not to excess." Abū Zayd is, of course, speaking of grape-wine. "The benefit of a substance to the body lies in what the substance provides the body by way of health and strength, whereas its bene t to the soul lies in what the substance provides the soul by way of happiness and ani- mation: for these two things—I mean: health and happiness—are the end to which all people strive in this world; and they are not found together in
Britain: The party of war " For the past 18 months, Britain has been complicit with mass murder as our Saudi allies have bombarded Yemen from the air, slaughtering thousands of innocent people as well as helping fuel a humanitarian calamity" How Britain's party of war gave the green light to Saudi in Yemen and A Brief History of the Yemen Clusterfu*k How U.S. and Saudi Backing of Al Qaeda Led to 9/11   (The Washington Post) " 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?
Hizbollah, Syria, and the Arab Uprisings
" Though it was originally published before the iconic events of 9/11, now more than a decade ago, S. Sayyid’s  A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism  (1997) has assumed even more timely significance since its first appearance. In this pioneering book, Sayyid provocatively suggests, and one can still see the logic of his proposition, that we must see political Islamism as a particular phase of decolonization of Muslim political cultures. Sayyid took the rise of Islamism as a challenge to ‘Western’ political hegemony, and particularly its self-congratulatory declaration of the End of History. That proposition still demands attention." Islamism — A Eurocentric Position?
لأن الشيوعية قد أصبحت، بفضل المنظرين الماركسيين، في نظر الشغيلة وعموم الفقراء والمهمشين مرادفة للعلمانية أحيانا، للإلحادية حينا آخر، للتقدمية عند البعض، للتنويرية عند البعض الآخر، وحتى أنها قد أصبحت تظهر في الوعي العمومي (الشيوعية كمرادف للماركسية) كفرقة سياسية أو ايديولوجية تنازع الايديولوجيات الأخرى (الشيوعية في مواجهة الدين)...فمن الطبيعي أنه حينما تظهر الشيوعية كشيء واقعي، كشيء بسيط يمكن أن تصل اليه الجماهير بنهوضها الثوري التلقائي، وبدون الحاجة للمذاهب النظرية والايديولو جية، بل ضد المذهبية نفسها، فإن تلك الجماهير التي تباشر الشيوعية في حركتها بمستويات وأشكال متنوعة لا ترى فيما تقوم به أية شيوعية....وهذا طبيعي، لأن الجماهير لا ترى في حركتها حركة علمانية أو حركة إلحادية أو تقدمية أو تنويرية، فهي لا تواجه سوى شروط حياتها المادية المباشرة، ولا تستهدف غير تغيير أسلوب الانتاج الرأسمالي الذي يدفعها الى حضيض الفقر والبطالة والمجاعات والحروب وقمع أجهزة الدولة وتسلطيتها. لذلك فهذه الجماهير لا تتجه لعلمنة الدولة (فتلك مهمة العلمانيين، أي أولائك الذين يطمعون في تحرير الدولة من كهنوت الدين
Tunisia: A social experiment against state policies
How to Understand the European Union
" The fundamental problem with the EU these days is that it needs a federal state structure simply in order to exert its basic functions. The EU 28 is a dysfunctional mess in virtually everything it does. The eurozone is stuck in a perma-crisis. The EU is pathetically weak towards Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, and largely absent in Syria. Now we know that it cannot even do trade deals. My overall conclusion is that the next phase of European integration — which will happen eventually — will have to be preceded by a period of disintegration. Brexit was only the start." — Wolfgang Münchau, the Financial Times After creating such a crisis and plunder, that is probably how neo-liberal EU will restructure itself, but with more plunder  (privatisation and robbery), more attack on the living standard of the workers, more nationalism and xenophobia at home and abroad. I think Stratfor.com analysis regarding the future of the EU is more sound than the above o
The Birth of the American International Relations
" A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists. Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argues that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power. Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters."
"This is the importance of Ngugi. Born in 1938, the son of a tenant farmer in rural, British-occupied Kenya, Ngugi grew up working the pyrethrum farms that were once the property of his ancestors. He came of age during the Mau Mau rebellion, followed by the Churchill government’s violent ​response, which included​ the detention of 150,000 Gikuyu people in concentration camps where they were electrocuted, whipped and mutilated. He vividly describes this period in his novels “ Weep Not, Child ,” the first East African novel published in English, “ A Grain of Wheat ” and “ Petals of Blood .” "Such a rich body of work [Wizard of the Crow] is of potentially tremendous importance to our understanding of how the world came to be as it is. Ngugi captures the progression from the raw plunder and violence of colonialism to the corruption of national Third World elites by the predatory forces of global capitalism, which he cheekily represented in “Wizard of the Crow” by the fictional
Power, violence, dominantion A decade after his death, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu still stands tall
Of course refugee children should face dental  tests – we need to make sure we’re getting the ones we ordered and British hospitality
"If you're not angry, what kind of person are you?"  — Ken Laoch
" 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
" 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?
Protests erupt in the Egyptian city of Port Said
Benedict Anderson on 'mapping the terrain' of nationalism
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 foreignpolicy.com 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".
The Alt. University Reading List
Bob Dylan's embrace of Israel's war crimes
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.
Stability for whom and for what? Syria and the World: Reactionarism is Back and Progressing
" 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 sinc
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 in
A reminder How U.S. and Saudi Backing of Al Qaeda Led to 9/11 (The Washington Post) Related How the US fuelled the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq
"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 degr
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
The Great Libya War Fraud Analysis by Hugh Roberts  Who said Gaddafi had to go?
Henry Kissinger  How One Man Laid the Groundwork for Today’s Crisis in the Middle East
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."
"Putting a stop to the far Right’s advances and the furious referendums would demand a break with the social-demolition policies that feed… the far Right’s advances and the furious referendums. Yet these are neoliberalism’s very policies!" An Oligarchy Aggrieved
" What I have in mind here is to take seriously the fact that the historical record of “capitalist” foreign policy – the structuring and management of spaces of capital – is so incredibly diverse: from the Peace of Utrecht that left a specific political geography on the Continent regulated by British power-balancing, via the Vienna Settlement and the Concert of Europe, the construction of the Western Hemisphere through the Monroe Doctrine, formal and informal imperialisms in the late 19 th  century, the American interwar strategy to break up the old empires and replace them at Versailles by pushing mini-state proliferations through the principle of “national self-determination,” based on liberal and republican state forms and tied into notions of collective security, German and Japanese notions of autarchic regional orders – Carl Schmitt’s “greater spaces” – to US hegemony and the European Integration Project. The political geographies of historical capitalism cannot be derived f
Some years ago, I a ended a dinner at Princeton University where I witnessed a revealing exchange between an eminent European philosopher who was visiting from Cambridge, and a Muslim scholar who was seated next to him. The Muslim colleague was indulging in a glass of wine. Evidently troubled by this, the distinguished don eventually asked his dining companion if he might be so bold as to venture a personal question. “Do you consider yourself a Muslim?” “Yes,” came the reply. “How come, then, you are drinking wine?” The Muslim colleague smiled gently. “My family have been Muslims for a thousand years,” he said, “during which time we have always been drinking wine.” An expression of distress appeared on the learned logician’s pale countenance, prompting the further clari cation: “You see, we are Muslim wine-drinkers.” The questioner looked bewildered. “I don’t understand,” he said. “Yes, I know,” replied his native informant, “but I do.” — Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam?, 2016
"Perhaps the central function that meritocracy plays — complete with SAT exams and other presumptively objective testing mechanisms — is in normalizing the growing class disparities in money, power, and resources. Top universities have been the essential building blocks of our new Gilded Age, facilitating the transfer of wealth and opportunity from one privileged generation to the next — and doing so while cloaking the extent to which today’s meritocratic elite are really the beneficiaries of a modern version of an "old boys’ club." And this applies to elite universities in general, "[H]igher education is a profound instrument of social power, one that can project values independent of state and corporate demands and offer its students and community members a space for their own cultivation. The dilemma is that our universities, in particular our elite ones, are doing less of this work and far more of the invisible work of class reproduction. " Meritocra
Verso Feminist Classics
"It is Turkey’s tilt towards Russia and, to a degree, Iran, which is the main change in the strategic equation on the crowded battlefield of north-west Syria. During five years of civil war that has killed up to 500,000 Syrians and displaced half the population, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, sought to topple Mr Assad, backing rebel forces against him and allowing jihadi volunteers to use Turkish territory as a launch pad into Syria. That sharp focus is fading out as Ankara has turned to more pressing considerations — especially since the violent attempted coup against Mr Erdogan in mid-July. Turkey’s main goal in Syria now is to prevent Syrian Kurdish fighters from consolidating an autonomous territory below its border.  One element in this new equation is that Moscow and Tehran were quicker to condemn July’s attempted coup than Washington and most European capitals, even though Turkey is a Nato ally and EU candidate member." — David Gardner, Financial
Algeria:  The political economy of regime survival
It's funny, but it isn't English humour "Many" regret their Brexit vote because they are losing Marmite
How has Islamic orthodoxy changed over time?
In this times of barbarism, absurdity and mediocrity, I wish Dario Fo, who has just left us forver today, could give me some of his wit. Angelina Jolie and William Hague are now visiting professors at the London School of Economics, London. They have joined the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security. William Hague and peace! Remeber that scene in Life of Brian? Peace? The man who supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq (and thus was complicit in the destruction and the consequnces of that war) and who came out recently to reitrate that support by standing with Blair. Blair himself became a peace envoy to the Middle East, didn't he?  Regarding Angelina, here is a good dissection of the "ideology" of charity and the hypocrisy of it. Against Charity
I recommend The Accidental Death of an Anarchist  by Dario Fo
Britain May emerged as the preferred candidate of the Tory establishment. Her job, it seems, is to organize the transition to a new form of Conservative politics with less emphasis on austerity and economic competence and more on racist populism. Amid a record period of declining living standards and economic stagnation, the currency of politics today is resentment; it is never just “the economy, stupid.” Theresa May's Le Pen Moment
"I think that anti-war activists and socialists should condemn the actions of all states which commit acts of aggression and war crimes, not only those of Western powers or states aligned with the West"  " I think we should oppose Britain when it's doing things which are not good for the civilians of Syria, and its support for Israel and its backing of Saudi Arabia in its attack on Yemen, but we can also protest other countries when they're carrying out other barbarisms. It's just political consistency and speaking to principle." — Mark Boothroyd, a Labour Party activist
From the archive:  Egypt's new interim government is not a leftist coalition
Postwar West German ministry ‘burdened’ by ex-Nazis, study says " Up to 76 per cent of officials in the post-1945 West German justice ministry were former Nazis, according to an official history published on Monday that highlights how party members protected each other long after the second world war." 
The global debt hangover
"From the start  of the  hideous Saudi bombing campaign   against Yemen 18 months ago, two countries have played active, vital roles in enabling the carnage: the U.S. and U.K. The atrocities committed by the Saudis would have been impossible without their steadfast, aggressive support." US and UK have participated in Saudi war crimes
Why Kibbutzism isn't Socialism
"What feeds the hatred towards the West has nothing to do with Donald Trump. It has to do with with the 1,000lb fragmentation bombs, the cruise missiles, and 155mm artillery shells that are being dropped all over areas that ISIS controls."  — The Real News Network
" When Obama states that it is “the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization,” he is articulating a liberal version of Islamophobia, according to which Islam is culpable for violence committed by Muslims, even if most Muslims are “peaceful.” Thus, following every controversy, the range of debate remains restricted to right-wing and liberal variants of Islamophobia, although with an overall steady shift to the right. Hence, just as it is correct to point out that Republican denunciations of Trump’s rhetoric wring hollow, given their strong support for the logic that underpins it, the same applies to Democratic denunciations of Republicans, and for the same reasons. While the Right views all Muslims as a problem and as a fifth column in Western nations, the liberal establishment sounds more reasonable in that it differentiates between terrorists and the majority of Muslims. But it nevertheless holds an entire group of pe
" Many of the arguments used to defend the Syrian regime’s devastating attacks on rebel-held cities are eerily similar to those used by U.S. politicians, in their public statements and in a series of bipartisan Congressional resolutions, to defend Israel's massive assaults on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. By combining segments of these statements and resolutions supporting Israel’s “right to self-defense” with certain anti-imperialists’ writings on Syria, I was able to put together the ultimate guide to defending war crimes." A Handy Guide for Defending War Crimes
What the American Left Doesn't Understand About Fascism
Insecurity and the New World of Work " Since 2007*, almost all the aggregate increase in employment in the UK is accounted for by ‘ non-standard jobs’ , according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These included low-pay self-employment, ‘flexible’ and zero-hours contracts and part-time work."
Apparently, Tunisia is the only Arab country where women have the legal right to abortion.
Just another news item "As the rescuers approached, they found overloaded wooden vessels and rafts that evoked scenes of the slave trade."
The Wikileaks Files: The World According to U.S. Empire
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A new YouGov poll  has found the British public are generally proud of the British Empire and its colonial past.
The Great Libya War Fraud
The Secret History of Colombia’s Paramilitaries and the U.S. War on Drugs
The Structure of Modern Imperialism
Did Human Rights Watch Sabotage Colombia’s Peace Agreement?
This is an  edited extract from Neil Davidson's forthcoming book  Peregrine Worsthorne, then associate editor and columnist with the ultraconservative London Daily Telegraph wrote in response to a survey conducted on the centenary of Marx’s death: “Being very conscious of the existence of the class-war, I have to admit to being very influenced by Marx without whose writings this idea would never have become so all pervasive. ... I am a Tory-Marxist, in the sense of accepting the need to take sides in the class war, even if, so to speak, on the other side.” More recently, Niall Ferguson has commented in an interview: “Something that’s seldom appreciated about me...is that I am in sympathy with a great deal of what Marx wrote, except that I’m on the side of the bourgeoisie.” However–and where conservatism becomes interesting–in so far as it supports the existence of capitalism, it embodies a contradiction which has from time to time produced intellectually fruitful results. Al