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Showing posts from January, 2017
"The Arab uprisings were followed by a great deal of bitter violence, repression, counter-revolution, and cynical regional and international great power manipulation. On the other hand, these uprisings showed that ‘presidents-for-life’ and parts of regimes could be overthrown or substantially threatened by ‘people power’ – a fundamental innovation on the post-colonial stage in the MENA region. They have exposed the bankruptcy and violence of command and control structures that rely solely on violence and coercion. They have drawn attention to the importance of trans-local, transregional and transnational forms of politics. They have also underlined the importance in the MENA region of the question of radically democratic, de-centralized, and leaderful organizing — its possibilities and limits." — John Chalcraft The Middle East: an interview with J. Chalcraft
This is really poor by the Washington Post Why are so many Tunisians joining ISIS? A better ethnographic study by a Tunisian wasn't satisfying, either. I still recommend it though.
" It is critical to recognize and fight against the unique elements of Trump’s extremism, but also to acknowledge that a substantial portion of it has roots in political and cultural developments that long precede him. Immigration horror stories — including families being torn apart — are nothing new. As ABC News  noted last August , “The Obama administration has deported more people than any other president’s administration in history. In fact, they have deported more than the sum of all the presidents of the 20th century.” And the reason Trump is able so easily to tap into a groundswell of anti-Muslim fears and bigotry is because they have been cultivated for 16 years as the central fuel driving the war on terror. There are  factions on both the center-left and right  that are primarily devoted to demonizing Muslims and Islam. A government can get away with bombing, invading, and droning the same group of people for more than 15 years only by constantly demonizing and dehuman
بعد ست سنوات ... لماذا تعثرت الثورات العربية؟
EU academics no longer welcome in England
Russia plans Syrian name change in draft constitution
Keynes's economic theory voted most influential academic book on British life. A public vote to decide which scholarly book has had the greatest impact on Britain has chosen The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money "Keynes knew what he was on to when he wrote The General Theory. In a letter to playwright and socialist George Bernard Shaw, he wrote: “I believe myself to be writing a book on economic theo ry, which will largely revolutionise – not, I suppose, at once but in the course of the next few years – the way the world thinks about economic problems.” WAS HE RIGHT ABOUT ITS INFLUENCE? "The book formed the basis for Keynesian economics, which has been a hugely influential economic model in the UK since the Great Depression, and, thanks to Keynesian advocate Gordon Brown, played a key role following the 2008 crash. Brown’s famous quote “no more boom and bust” was a direct reference to The General Theory’s central thesis. WELL, THAT DID NOT WORK O
Why we are all anxious
Italy Striking the Startups Ukraine Transport workers face attcaks on rights
Beware the zombies
Photos from Egypt's 25 February Revolution
Yemen: DNO must pay its workers
Nicos Poulantzas: "The inability of any class or class fraction to impose its hegemony is what characterizes the conjuncture of fascism; that is, ultimately, the inability of the alliance in power to overcome its intensified contradictions of its own accord."
England's corporate education: tuition fees
Angela Davis's speech Restoring King "There is no figure in recent American history whose memory is more distorted than Martin Luther King Jr. "
“Toward the end of 1951, Secretary of State Dean Acheson formed a special committee on the Arab world under the chairmanship of Kermit Roosevelt, from the newly established CIA. The committee suggested the need for “an Arab leader who would have more power in his hands than any other Arab leader ever had before, ‘power to make an unpopular decision’ … one who deeply desires to have power, and who desires to have it primarily for the mere sake of power.” This recommendation was made more explicit in a British Foreign Office minute on December 3, 1951, which described the joint American-British view as follows: “the only sort of Government with which we can hope to get an accommodation is a frankly authoritarian government … both ruthless and efficient … We need another Mustafa Kemal [the Turkish officer who led a modernizing coup in 1921, and assumed the title Atatürk, the father of the Turks], to secularize and Westernize his country … Even though Egyptians are not Turks, and men like
Iran's Revolutionary Guards reaps economic rewards in Syria
Textile firms paying UK workers £3 per hour "Free market democracy"
Late Victorian Holocausts: The Origins of the Thirld World
Class and Politcs in Post-Revolutionary Iran A brief introduction
Photos from pre-1979 Iran Culture and Imperialism
Davos: responsible capitalism
Departing Obama tearfully shoos a loyal drone
Mechanisms of imperialism
Patriotism "I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community-and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.... Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined.... Finally, [the nation] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately, it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willing to die for such limited imaginings.”  — Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, pp. 25-6, Verso 2006 ed. " No one can be a true nationalist who is incapable
Sadly, last Friday Mark Fisher took his own life "The first configuration is what I came to call the Vampires’ Castle. The Vampires’ Castle specialises in propagating guilt. It is driven by a  priest’s desire  to excommunicate and condemn, an  academic-pedant’s desire  to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a  hipster’s desire  to be one of the in-crowd. The danger in attacking the Vampires’ Castle is that it can look as if – and it will do everything it can to reinforce this thought – that one is also attacking the struggles against racism, sexism, heterosexism. But, far from being the only legitimate expression of such struggles, the Vampires’ Castle is best understood as a bourgeois-liberal perversion and appropriation of the energy of these movements. The Vampires’ Castle was born the moment when the struggle  not  to be defined by identitarian categories became the quest to have ‘identities’ recognised by a bourgeois big Other. The privilege I certainly enjoy
This is a good long read.  I have a thought though on the last parargraph: the writer delves into what formed Fanon, especially the context of colonization and how it shaped the mind, pshycology and plight of the colonized. The author, I think, fails to use the same method when it comes to "Davos" and "Dabiq" or Globalisationa and the so-called Islamic State. Is not the latter a product of globalization (global capitalism and imperialism). Davos is the context, Dabiq was spawned by Davos like the violence directed by Algerians against the colonizers and the settlers was born in the context of colonisation. Is it not the context of global capitalism and its functions that creates wars, invasions, dictatorships, neoliberalism, power struggles, geopolitics, "civil wars", uneven-development, neofascism etc? Where Life is Seized
Capitalism and gay identity
"In the context of young parenthood, societies in Eastern Europe, in the Soviet era, were different from Western Europe in two important ways. Firstly, early parenthood in Eastern Europe does not carry the same social stigma that it tends to have in Western countries, as it was much more common. Secondly, Soviet countries had pro-natalist policies and tended to put greater investment into state resources available to families. This meant that relative to Western Europe, socio-economic differences, usually described as levels of inequality, were smaller and in particular young parents suffered fewer relative disadvanatges." The mother of all problems?
No Separate Queue for Cubans
The Perfumed Garden or  (a pdf format here) Also In Arabic: "Homosexuality in Poetry" (Abbassid and Andalucian poetry)
Egypt Independent union under attack
56 years ago Patrice Lumumba was assassinated
Culture and Imperialism
From the archive Daraa, Syria T. E. Lawrence 'made up' sex attack by Turkish troops
" As well as former Labour MP Mr Straw, the case brought by Mr Belhaj and his wife is against former senior MI6 official Sir Mark Allen, the UK security services, the Foreign Office and the Home Office - all have denied liability." The rendition programme was/ has bren a well-known criminal, terrorist programme. The terrorist states of the US and Britain and others in collaboration with others states, inlcuding Arab and non Arab ones, have been involved in this programme. Denying any involvement is not a surpriss; history is full of such examples. Denial also demonstrates cowardliness. For a background of the story, see September 11 and the functions of the 'war on terror"
"Aid in reverse: how poor countries develop rich countries" A good article. Useful data. In his 2013 book Globalisation in Africa Daniel Offiong mentioned that in every $1 that goes into Africa $10 leave the country. I don't think the author's suggestions as a solution would work though. It is because the motive force of the capitalist system (led by corporations and especially Western governments and international instituions) is ignored. Corporations seek profit even if that happens at the account of people and the earth. A high enough rate of profit makes the system greased. Otherwise stagnation or crisis takes place. One should add of course the context of neocolonialism and the way it operates in making other countries dependent. The author, or probably the Guardian editor, has not used the appropriate terms to describe the situation: capitalism, imperialism (through institutions or violence), and neocolonialism, support of the status quo, including supporti
" As [Walter] Benjamin pointed out, fascism gave the masses an opportunity to “express themselves,” but only by abdicating themselves. This is true not only of fascism, but is endemic in modern politics."
" No one would accuse this incumbent of want of humane feeling: tears for the death of schoolchildren in New England have moved the nation, and appeals for gun control converted not a few. If a great many more children, most without even schools, have died at his own hands in Ghazni or Waziristan, that is no reason for loss of presidential sleep. Predators are more accurate than automatic rifles, and the Pentagon can always express an occasional regret. The logic of empire, not the unction of the ruler, sets the moral standard." — Perry Anderson, "Predator drone: American foreign policy under Obama"
Predator drone: American foreign policy under Obama "Under Obama, drones became the weapon of choice for the White House, the Predators of “Task Force Liberty” raining Hellfire missiles on suspect villages in the Northwest Frontier, wiping out women and children along with warriors in the ongoing battle against terrorism: seven times more covert strikes than launched by the Republican administration. Determined to show he could be as tough as Bush, Obama readied for war with Pakistan should it resist the US raid dispatched to kill Bin Laden in Abbottabad, for domestic purposes the leading trophy in his conduct of international affairs.   Assassinations by drone, initiated under his predecessor, became the Nobel laureate’s trademark. In his first term, Obama ordered one such execution every four days — over ten times the rate under Bush. The War on Terror, now rebaptized at presidential instruction “Overseas Contingency Operations” — a coinage to rank with the “Enhanced Interr
—  Turkey has long prioritized  fighting Kurdish forces  over deposing Assad. —  ISIS gained a foothold in the city in 2013, but was kicked out in early 2014 thanks to massive popular mobilizations and armed opposition groups linked principally to the FSA. Jabhat al-Nusra next faced this democratic opposition to its reactionary and authoritarian practices. —  Residents also established popular organizations and put together democratic, social, educational, and cultural activities. Local radio stations and newspapers sprang up. Many campaigns opposing both the regime and Islamic fundamentalist forces emerged. —  Other liberated Syrian areas look a lot like eastern Aleppo. As a result, they have been the Assad regime’s and its allies’ primary targets. Aleppo suffered under a stream of fire since the summer of 2013; Russian air forces joined the assault in October 2015. —  Between March 2011 and June 2016, 382 medical facilities were attacked, killing more than 700 medical workers. A
"It is a peculiarity of capitalists and the bourgeoisie to think that we workers have no culture," adds the novelist, whose many tattoos include one of Karl Marx on his left arm. Argentine cleaner's double life as prize-winning novelist
Book review: The Political Economy of Hezbollah
Why are some people expats when the rest of us are 'immigrants'?
A bit repetitive in the beginning, but it's generally good. Syria and the Left
The Gulistān (Rose-Garden) of Saʿdī of Shiraz. The book was written in 1258. The most recent translator of the Gulistān says: 'Saʿdi’s Gulistan must be one of the most widely read books ever produced. Almost from the time it was written it was the first book studied by school children throughout the entire Persian-speaking and -reading world—from Constantinople to Bengal and from Central Asia to East Africa.' "The story of the Qāḍī of Hamadān appears in the chapter of the Gulistān on “Love and Youth.” For those readers unfamiliar with the story, I will present it here in summary, mainly in my own words, but also sometimes in Saʿdī’s— very much, one might say, in the manner that the story might have been narrated to largely illiterate audiences down the centuries in various social settings. The story goes thus (any phrase in full quotation marks, or for which I provide a Persian transliteration is a direct quotation from Saʿdī; also, any direct speech in si
الحركات السرية المعارضة في الإسلام
" Da’esh is a degeneration that storms our society, due to prolonged political and religious manipulation by aggressive international powers, and regional powers with no cause or principle." It is a good analysis on the whole, but I don't think describing "Daesh" as imperialist is accurate at all. The Genealogy of Daesh
"It’s Brechtian, yes, but more than that, it opens up narratives into multiplicity and uncertainty." Winter Solstice
“I unhesitatingly identify myself with the just cause and the pain of those whom the state of Israel (and cousins of mine) are afflicting to a degree that is tragically totalitarian.” —  writer and art critic John Berger A story-teller and a friend of Palestine
In  Ways of Seeing ’s final episode, Berger discusses how the goddesses of art became the models of contemporary advertising, and suddenly it was no longer only men looking at images of women lustfully. Advertising tells us that buying a product will transform us by showing pictures of those who have already been transformed by it – these are people we should aspire to be like or be with. An image of an underwear model is desired by men and envied by women. “This state of being envied is what constitutes glamour, and publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour,” Berger says. “Glamour is supposed to go deeper than looks, but it depends upon them, utterly,” he says. Why we still need John Berger's Ways of Seeing
John Berger reads Ghassan Kanafani's letter from Gaza
The cruel experiments of Israel's arms industry
“The [Charlie Hebdo] cartoon simply fails as satire, because it is indistinguishable from straightforward racist graffiti.”  Charlie Hebdo , The Poverty of Satire " Whatever the variety of causes we could discuss, the fact is that the Muslim – from Mohammed to our own time – became  Charlie Hebdo ’s ‘bad object of desire’ . Mocking Muslims and making fun of their mannerisms became this declining ‘comedic’ magazine’s stock in trade, a bit like how a century ago  Bécassine  made fun of the poor (and at that time, Christian…) peasants who came from Brittany to wipe the arses of the children of the Parisian bourgeoisie."
Journalist: M. Ben M'Hidi, don't you think it's a bit cowardly to use women's baskets and handbags to carry explosive devices that kill so many innocent people? Ben M'Hidi: And doesn't it seem to you even more cowardly to drop napalm bombs on defenseless villages, so that there are a thousand times more innocent victims? Of course, if we had your airplanes it would be a lot easier for us. Give us your bombers, and you can have our baskets.  — The Battle of Algiers The BBC bunkruptcy in equating two completely different attacks of two completely different contexts .
He concedes he did not want to spend the rest of his life in a “militaristic” and “racist” society, but Germany was a practical choice. His grandfather was a German Jew who was forced to escape from Berlin when the Nazis came to power. On that background, Dayan was able to obtain German citizenship, an irony, he points out, considering Germany’s position on the Palestinian right of return. “Germany is a big supporter of denying Palestinians their right of return. But I got my documents very quickly,” he said. A Palestine documentary stirs controversy in Germany
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What do the states and the rulers of US, Britain, Russia, France, Iran... have in common?
Tunisia "80% of men and 50% of women have had sexual relationships outside marriage" الجنس خارج الزواج في تونس
Western imperialism, financed, supported and used some of them. Stalinism repressed them. They were, and still have been, part of the geo-political chess board. "How the USSR’s effort to destroy Islam created a generation of radicals" Sleeping With the Devil: How U.S. and Saudi Backing of Al Qaeda Led to 9/11 A Special Relationship "CIA roots of Islamic fundamentalism" I don't agree with the title though and everything in the analysis, but there is a good background.
Against Diversity This was written in 2008. It is good to remember what has produced Trumpism.
Walter Benjamin: Critique of the State
Proctor explains that ignorance can often be propagated under the guise of balanced debate. For example, the common idea that there will always be two opposing views does not always result in a rational conclusion. “Although for most things this is trivial – like, for example, the boiling point of mercury – but for bigger questions of political and philosophical import, the knowledge people have often comes from faith or tradition, or propaganda, more than anywhere else.” The man who studies the spread of ignorance
"The State is a relation of men dominating men, a relation supported by means of legitimate (i.e. considered to be legitimate) violence." — Max Weber, 'Politik als Beruf' (1919) Note: Weber, unlike Marx ang Engels, substitutes "class" by the individual/individuals.

Britain

An interesting analysis albeit some narrative of politically blaming mainly the Tories.
Like any commodity, she is subject to supply and demand. "In recent decades it has become a trend in China for a man to give his wife-to-be's family a cash sum, like a reverse dowry. But the "bride price" has been rising, particularly  in poorer rural areas  where there are fewer potential wives, reaching more than 100,000 yuan ($14,000; £12,000) in some places." 
After all, big business worked with Hitler. "War is terrible, but is also terribly profitable." The tip of the ice-berg. Lafargue as an example
French farmer on trial for helpng migrants across the Italian border See also Let them drown
From World War II to Vietnam and Syria, drugs are often as much a part of conflict as bombs and bullets
Three Films, a Spectator, and a Polemic
Here is how a terrorist settler-colonial state justifies its actions and portrays itself: " top military figures were quick to say that his actions did not reflect the values of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)." " In their indictment, prosecutors said Sgt Azaria "violated the rules of engagement without operational justification as the terrorist was lying on the ground wounded and represented no immediate threat for the accused or others who were present". The victim is a terrorist and the terrorist upholds the law! Background "Hebron, the Occupation's Factory of Hate" Israel's never-ending crimes
An Aleppo-Like Landscape in a Kurdish Redoubt of Turkey
Women's resistane in Syria
John Berger dies aged 90 A Moment in Ramallah (an extract) Reproductions Distort’: A Note on the Culture Industry An obituary on the Financial Times
كُلُّ الذين ماتوا نجوا من الحياةِ بأُعْجوبة محمود درويش    — All those who have died have miraculously escaped life. Mamoud Darwish
Violences de l'idélogie publicitaire
Perspectives "Though new technologies will not completely erase the benefit of cheap labor, they will reduce the number of opportunities countries have to industrialize, diversify and grow their economies... As advanced, industrialized countries no longer have to rely on low-wage labor in far-off places, they will take advantage of new technologies and start producing low-end goods closer to home. States that have not yet begun to industrialize will have the hardest time; the longer it takes them to develop over the next few decades, the more difficult it will be for them to do so as the growth of advanced manufacturing elsewhere shrinks the opportunities available for emerging manufacturers." One can imagine what the fall-outs are in the "developping" countries: higher unemployment, more erosion of social services, more migration, social unrest, uprisings, coups, wars, etc . The rise of manufacturing marks the fall of globalization
"You sanctimonious philistines, who scoff at me! What has your politics fed on since you've been ruling the world? On butchery and murder!" — Charles de Coster, Till Ulenspiegel
" In relevant part, under the applicable Convention, genocide means "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; or (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part". Each and every one of these sign-posts of genocide has been perpetrated by Israel, seemingly with almost proud boast, and no accountability, for almost 70 unbroken years." Israel's never-ending crimes
Syria "Some harsh lessons for the international left" See also "Standing against barbarism"
" Speaking of the happy new year, I wonder if any year ever had less chance of being happy. It’s as though the whole race were indulging in a kind of species introversion — as though we looked inward on our neuroses. And the thing we see isn’t very pretty… So we go into this happy new year, knowing that our species has learned nothing, can, as a race, learn nothing — that the experience of ten thousand years has made no impression on the instincts of the million years that preceded." — John Steibeck, 01 January 1941 Necessary contradictions of the human nature