• 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 ...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"How could Germany of all countries have become a paragon, politically stable and economically successful, of democratic capitalism in the 1970s – ‘Modell Deutschland’ – and later, in the 2000s, Europe’s uncontested economic and political superpower? Any explanation must have recourse to a Braudelian longue durée, in which destruction can be progress – utter devastation turned into a lasting blessing – because capitalist progress is destruction, of a more or less creative sort. In 1945 unconditional surrender forced Germany, or what was left of its western part, into what Perry Anderson has called a ‘second round of capitalist transformation’ of the sort no other European country has ever had to undergo. Germany’s bout was a violent – sharp and short – push forward into social and economic ‘modernity’, driving it for ever from the halfway house of Weimar, in a painful dismantling of structures of political domination and social solidarity, feudal fetters which had held back the country’s capitalist progress and which, in locally different manifestations, continue to block capitalist rationalisation in many other European countries."

Playing catch up (subscription required)
Note: there is no single word about media ownership in the country. For example, 80% of newspapers are owned by 5 families. Two papers, at least are owned by a Russian oligarch. 
Freedom of speech!
UK slips to 40th in press freedom ranking
The article implies that France, unlike Spain and Germany, has not carried out enough market reforms thus the clash will happen when 
Macron will try to slash here and cut there. The Socialist Parti in France has been timid in implementing "neo-liberalism": "the public sectorbis still big, the unions are powerful, the social benefits are too good ..." 
Despite of what has happened, the leading business and mainstream media defend the continuation of the "neo-liberal" project. For them the "centre" has to hold. In the case of France, Macron is their best candidate to save the Centre and implement the reforms the ruling class has been pushing for.

"Social unrest is France's biggest risk"

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Andy Merrifield’s The Amateur is a quite different beast. Merrifield is a leftwing “urbanist” whose thinking has been influenced both by obvious figures (Marx and Weber) and more unexpected ones (Baudelaire and Kafka). The Amateur is an old-style polemic arguing that many ills of the modern world (inequality, rising levels of stress and depression) stem from the increased specialisation of knowledge — or what Merrifield calls the “professional” mindset. He advocates instead a return to amateurism — which he defines as the pursuit of ideas for their own sake, and the freedom to roam promiscuously between disciplines."

See also this FT article on the 'gig economy'

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How mainstream racism, the racism of the establishment, in France, made Le Pen's racism manistream, and helped her get into the second round of the elections.

"Go back to September 1984, when the Socialist prime minister, Laurent Fabius, told a TV interviewer that the elder Le Pen, a card-carrying racist and neo-fascist, was posing the right questions but giving the wrong answers. A few years later, the Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand, declared that France had reached a “threshold of tolerance” in terms of the impact of immigrants.
In 1991, after clashes broke out between French police and youths of Arab and North African descent, politicians from the left, right, and center fell over one another to denounce immigration and bash French Muslims. In June of that year, for example, it wasn’t the elder Le Pen who decried an “overdose” of immigrants who brought to France “three or four wives, some 20 children,” plus “noise” and “smell.” It was former center-right prime minister (and later president) Jacques Chirac. A month later, it wasn’t Le Pen who announced that the French government would charter planes to forcibly deport undocumented immigrants. It was then-Prime Minister Edith Cresson, a Socialist. Just a few months later, in September 1991, it wasn’t Le Pen who warned of an “invasion” of immigrants and called for French citizenship to be based on “the right by blood.” It was former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing.

Every time the established politicians and parties hardened their stance on immigration, or on Islam, the FN became less fringe, more mainstream. Perhaps the biggest boost to the LePenization of French politics came from Nicolas Sarkozy. As president of France between 2007 and 2012, he actively courted FN voters and helped dismantle the “Republican pact,” under which the two main parties had pledged to work together to defeat the FN at a national and local level. Remember: It was Sarkozy who launched the “Great Debate on National Identity” in 2009; who ordered the ban on the face veil, worn by only 2,000 out of the roughly 2 million adult Muslim women in France, in 2010; who absurdly declared halal meat to be the “issue which most preoccupies the French” in 2012. And it was Sarkozy who called the FN “a democratic party” and deemed its values “compatible with the Republic.”
The French left, however, also has a lot to answer for. Manuel Valls, Socialist prime minister between 2014 and 2016, defended a ban on the burkini and said the “most important thing” is not unemployment but “the identity battle, the cultural battle.” Marine Le Pen herself could not have said it better. Valls’ Socialist colleague Laurence Rossignol, France’s minister for women’s rights, compared Muslim women who choose to wear the headscarf to “American negroes who were in favor of slavery.” And the far left presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who came fourth on Sunday, condemned the candidacy of a headscarf-wearing female Muslim candidate in the local elections of 2010."
Source: theintercept

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Here is what Tony Benn said about the Guardian newspaper
(slide to read)
"The ruling class supports Macron because he can help transform the Fifth Republic’s political-institutional system and preserve its capacity to dictate government policy in the years ahead. Macron’s election would radically realign French politics, clearing the way for a reform agenda that has faced numerous obstacles over the past twenty years. 

Macron belongs to the inner circle of the French ruling class, what Pierre Bourdieu dubbed the “state nobility.” A number of sociologists, from Ezra Suleiman to Pierre Birnbaum, have demonstrated that these high-ranking civil servants constitute the most powerful social group in France."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said nearly 19 million people, or two-thirds of Yemen's population, needed emergency aid. One child under the age of five dies of preventable causes every 10 minutes, he said." (Reuters)

It is more exciting to follow the French elections!
Or
Their children and ours
Britain and other states sells weapons to Saudi Arabic. The latter is using them in Yemen.
AS: I take your point, and clearly Europe to did see, as you call it, a great ‘sorting-out’, but of course that term as you’re using it describes a set of different processes – or, I should say, historical events and catastrophes – ranging from the Final Solution, the extermination of European jewry to the ethnic cleansing that took place at the very end of and in the aftermath of the Second World War. But what all these events share is that they’re are not a sorting-out of primordial identities so much as they are political events, driven by war, state interests, racial ideology, etc. And so to bring the conversation back to the Middle East, I think there is, unfortunately, a danger in the West’s conversation about sectarian warfare, to treat these identities as if they were primordial and as if this conflict that we’ve been seeing in Iraq and Syria is somehow natural, this sorting-out is a natural process, when in fact Syrian and Iraqi Sunni and Shia Muslims and Christians lived together for centuries with only episodes of internecine conflict. What we’re seeing now is actually quite exceptional.

JL: You’re absolutely right, Adam. This should not be mistaken for primordialism. These identities, religious identities, had been accommodated in the Ottoman Empire, as they had been in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, where you see cities like Jerusalem, Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad, have very distinct quarters for Armenians, Shi’ites, Sunnis, Jewish Quarter, Catholic, Orthodox – all these different quarters, where people lived cheek by jowl. Now, that didn’t necessarily mean that they saw each other as equals, but they had much more in common than separated them. There might be walls between these different sections of town, but the Ottoman Empire was able to contain the centrifugal forces of these many different groups, and keep them. And that was the power of the Ottomans – that’s why the Ottoman Empire lasted for 500 years; it’s one of the central arguments that every historian makes, is that the Ottoman Empire was more successful than Spain, than much of medieval Europe, because it accommodated these different identities and peoples in a happy empire – and Jews fled Spain, where they were evicted, and came to Istanbul, where they were protected. And so it’s nationalism – it’s a very modern ... notions of community and difference that turn these identities into something completely different. They’re radically changed, and, unfortunately, these religious differences, which had sat more lightly on people, get turned into very important differences, and that’s why we’re seeing Shi’ite and Sunni, all of a sudden, recognising who they are – people who didn’t even know the difference, really, are now ... they’ve become profoundly important, in the same way that Czechs and Slovaks, or so forth ... in a way, religion has become the new ethnicity in the Middle East; and that’s a great danger, because it does rip people apart, and it leads to things like the Armenians being ... the holocaust of the Armenians, with the rise of Turkish nationalism; the driving out of Palestinians, with the rise of Jewish 
nationalism. Nationalism is a very brutal force, and ... I guess the point of my argument is that we shouldn’t look at nationalism as something that’s not important, that doesn’t reorganise people – because Americans think that they can shape the national identities of the peoples of the Middle East much too easily, where it’s much more difficult to get an Arab–Israeli peace, or to get Sunnis and Shi’ites to sit down together in Iraq, after something like, you know, retaking Mosul. We shouldn’t underplay the difficulties, because we will make mistakes that lead to further violence.
By Joshua Landis and Adam Shtaz
A very interesting book. And what has made more interesting is this review in the Financial Times (and on a revolutionary socialist website).

"So long as we persist in our tendency to hive off the study of economics from politics, philosophy and journalism, Marx, will remain the outstanding example of how to overcome the frangmentation of modern social thought and think about the world as a whole for the sake of its betterment." 

— Mark Mazwoer, Columbia University, reviewing Gareth Stedman Jones's book Karl Marx, Greatness and Illusion, the Financial Times, August 5 2016

My comment: the fragmentation of social thought is not an accident; it is part and parcel of the substance of the dominant ideological thought which manifests itself, for example, in the academic sphere and how subject of studies have been fragmented and delivered. That has a lot to do with the capitalist market and its relationship to reproduction of ideas and commodities.

Monday, April 24, 2017

This is very good!

From Somerdale to Skarbimierz
This will repeat in other places,” Dr. Monzer Khalil, a health official in rebel-held Idlib, said a day after treating victims of the recent chemical attack. “If Europe and America are honest, to preserve the values they are defending, they should fight this oppression. There should be political pressure on the regime.”

>> One of many ways to perpetuate oppression is for "the oppressed people" themselves, consciously or unsonciously, to believe in crap.
"Populism in Iran shares much with populisms elsewhere in the world. It looks radical from outside, but its inner core is conservative. The obvious difference between present-day populism in the United States and in Iran is that while the former is a threat to the whole planet, the latter is a detriment mostly to its own people."

Iran's Past and Present: An inteview with Ervand Abrahamian

Sunday, April 23, 2017

France
The best dissection I've read so far:

Landscape of treason
Afghanistan

When ones mentions Taliban, it seems that almost everybody has heard of them, but very few people would know how many times Western imperialist armies, and other armies, have interefed in Afghanistan, and the scale of destruction and instability those powers have left in the process.


The British now have been defeated for the fourth time (incompetence of the "civilized to civilize" the recalcitrant?

The Russians were also defeated, very badly. A defeat, let's not forget, that was helped by the Americans.
The Americans and their allies have been defeated after the longest oocupation by the US imperialism, without establishing "peace", "democracy", or "liberating women", dogs, and the unfit in general.

"For many decades during its recent past, when it was left alone, Afghanistan was one of the most peaceful and stable countries. History shows that what Afghanistan needs is less foreign interference, not more of it." (A BBC analysis)


Geopolitical interests will not leave Afghanistan alone. If the "Western powers", trying to rival others using pretexts, including "civilisational" ones, do not come back again in force, they will continue their proxy wars, and others will get more involved, using their own justifications.



"Colonialism as a form of violent foreign rule was legitimised by a racist ideology of European superiority,’ says the board that greets you at the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin."

And so does interventions (military or otherwise today). They are ligitimised by "defending our values and way of life", "liberating women", "figting terrorism", "defeding gay peopleand "reforming Islam"


Besides the colonial legacy, fundamental features of global capitalism are being avoided by those who point to colonialism. Uneven and combined development, exploitaion, domination of finance capital and class, international institutions, debt, aid, NGOs, etc are playing crucial role in perpetuating national domination as well as the global one.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"[W]ith Macron the void is not in contradiction with fullness of content, even if at the present moment when he does have to show something to the outside world, the void is greatly preferable. For the substance is the oligarchy’s: this is the fullness of a class’s project to persevere, in the very moment that everything condemns it, testimony to an era that has perceptibly reached its tipping point. In these conditions, for the oligarchic substance to maintain itself in the face of — and against — everything else, it needed an empty candidate, a candidate who said nothing, for what truly had to be said would be too obscene to present openly: the rich want to remain rich, and the powerful to remain powerful. That is this class’s only project, and that is its candidate Macron’s raison d’être. In this sense, he is the spasm of a system pushing back its own death. He is its final response, the only way of disguising a continuity that has become intolerable to the rest of society, beneath the fakest of semblances of discontinuity, wrapped up in the competitive modernity in use among the half-witted columnists.

The situation has thus become so crude that even the most rudimentary instruments of thought are enough to succeed in explaining it with flying colours: on the one hand the mobilized class of oligarchs, on the other the bulk of society. Between the two, it is true, is the bracket of fantasists: the group of those dreamers of varying degrees of unrealism who tell themselves that they have a chance, if not to join the first bloc, then at least to stick close enough to it, even if only in their own imaginations, to have the impression of being with it. In reality this is a decisive population bracket, which allows the blurring of the violence of the basic antagonism. It allows the real domination by the oligarchy to be wrapped in the rags of democratic legitimacy. And these are indispensable. In consequence, this is the bracket toward which all the empty candidate’s efforts are directed, all his evacuations of his substance, all the heartening comedy of the "rupture," of the "anti-system," of the "freshness of life" necessary to covering up his real line, whose true slogan ought to be "More of the same." It is true that we cannot accuse "En marche" of itself being dishonest, for it prudently omits to say precisely what it is "On the Move" towards…

"Caught up in another flush of belief that he is Jesus, that is what Emmanuel Macron thinks, declaring himself the candidate of the great resolution — the candidate whose election will push back the Front National. This is a singular promise, indeed coming from he who not only already expresses, in his own person, all the historical causes of the rise of the far Right, but proposes to raise them to a higher point of perfection. Right on time, the second round polls give him a 60-40 victory over Marine Le Pen. There is no special reason to delight in this, however; rather, they are even reason for worry, when a simple comparison with Father Chirac’s 80-20 victory gives some idea of the loss over the last fifteen years. And allows us to anticipate that the next wave will come too, once the "dam" candidate is elected: for under his watch the water will build up even faster.

— Frédéric Lordon
Emmanuel Macron, spasm of the system
Should we vote? 

"Fundamentally, we should be indifferent to this demand, coming from the state and its organisations. By now, we should all know that to vote is but to reinforce one of the conservative orientations of the existing system.

Brought back to its real contents, the vote is a ceremony that depoliticises peoples..."


— Alain Badieu

Friday, April 21, 2017

By the author of Fields of Blood — Religion and the History of Violence.
The myth of religious violence

and

An interview with Karen Armstrong
The other side of/the contradiction in "civilisation"

Agriculture had also introduced another type of aggression: an institutional or structural violence in which a society compels people to live in such wretchedness and subjection that they are unable to better their lot. This systemic oppression has been described as possibly “the most subtle form of violence,” and, according to the World Council of Churches, it is present whenever “resources and powers are unequally distributed, concentrated in the hands of the few, who do not use them to achieve the possible self-realization of all members, but use parts of them for self-satisfaction or for purposes of dominance, oppression, and control of other societies or of the underprivileged in the same society.” Agrarian civilization made this systemic violence a reality for the first time in human history.

K. Armstrong, 214, pp. 13-14
"Percy Schramm a montré comment les cérémonies du sacre étaient le transfert, dans l’ordre du politique, de cérémonies religieuses. Si le cérémonial religieux peut se transférer aussi facilement dans les cérémonies politiques, à travers les cérémonies du sacre, c’est parce qu’il s’agit, dans les deux cas, de faire croire qu’il y a un fondement au discours qui n’apparaît comme autofondateur, légitime, universel que parce qu’il y a théâtralisation — au sens d’évocation magique, de sorcellerie — du groupe uni et consentant au discours qui l’unit."

La fabrique des debats publics

Thursday, April 20, 2017

One-third of the deal would be paid by German tax-payers as defense aid to Israel.




German-Israeli submarines deal
"War makes the world understandable, a black and white tableau of them and us. It suspends thought, especially self-critical thought. All bow before the supreme effort. We are one. Most of us willingly accept war as long as we can fold it into a belief system that paints the ensuing suffering as necessary for a higher good, for human beings seek not only happiness but meaning. And tragically war is sometimes the most powerful way in human society to achieve meaning. 


Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversation and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us a resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble."

— Chris Hedges, What Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, 2003 

"The warrior in battle may feel connected with the cosmos, but afterward he cannot always resolve these inner contradictions. It is fairly well established that there is a strong taboo against killing our own kind—an evolutionary stratagem that helped our species to survive. Still, we fight. But to bring ourselves to do so, we envelop the effort in a mythology—often a 'religious' mythology—that puts distance between us and the enemy. We exaggerate his differences, be they racial, religious, or ideological. We develop narratives to convince ourselves that he is not really human but monstrous, the antithesis of order and goodness. Today we may tell ourselves that we are fighting for God and country or that a particular war is 'just' or 'legal.'

— Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood, 2014
 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"As I listen I am so conscious that for me this is just one more terrible thread in a pattern I am still learning how to read. For them it is a nightmare that will never go away, an inescapable agony at the very centre of their lives. How must it be to wake every day into the knowledge that they, along with their whole society, have no place of refuge, nor expectation of respite, from these deep injustices and horrific crimes."

"All that is human in me recoils from this"

A background note:
"By the beginning of the ninth millennium BCE, the settlement in the oasis of Jericho in the Jordan valley had a population of three thousand people, which would have been impossible before the advent of agriculture. Jericho was a fortified stronghold protected by a massive wall that must have consumed tens of thousands of hours of manpower to construct.38 In this arid region, Jericho’s ample food stores would have been a magnet for hungry nomads. Intensified agriculture, therefore, created conditions that that could endanger everyone in this wealthy colony and transform its arable land into fields of blood. Jericho was unusual, however—a portent of the future. Warfare would not become endemic in the region for another five thousand years, but it was already a possibility, and from the first, it seems, large-scale organized violence was linked not with religion but with organized theft." (my emphasis)

— Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood, 2014, p. 13
 

I thought that Paul Mason's focus was "Post-capitalism". "Post-capitalism" or barbarism should be accurate if one always keeps in mind how human society moves. Being thrown into barbarism on a bigger scale than in Syria or Rwanda, is thinkable.
Is Mason kidding himself when he hopes that Theresa May should abide by the non-proliferation treaty? I think he knows better than me how national interests to be protected and how geopolitics necessitates having a monopoly or near monopoly of the means of violence.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A reminder from the aftermath of the Paris attack

This article, which I had reposted before, mentions state terrorism in passing without making it a fundamental point besides/part of/a determinant "in the nine truths". Instead, it calls state terrorism "counter-terrorism". 

That is aside,  the arguments ("the truth") are quite valid and accurate, I think. 

The threat is already inside
"الاستشراك"


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Let's remember that
"What occurred is the rejection of the political establishment through mass abstention and a protest vote captured by a populist demagogue in a few key states. In other words, Trump signifies an upheaval at the political level, not a sudden, dramatic change in American society (as the Nazi party did in Germany, shifting from 2.6 percent to 37.27 percent of the popular vote between the elections of 1928 and 1932)." 
The nightmare is real
Missing is the role of the economic growth or lack of it in South Africa
Zuma is not the only problem
"[T]his reactionary isolationism represents "a national-selfish attitude that doesn't care about what happens to the rest of the world as long as 'we' are not directly concerned and our well-being is not affected - or (the leftwing version) as long as our 'anti-imperialist' conscience is not troubled by any of the complexities of the real world."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

"My friend is an adjunct. She has a PhD in anthropology and teaches at a university, where she is paid $2100 per course. While she is a professor, she is not a Professor. She is, like 67 per cent of American university faculty, a part-time employee on a contract that may or may not be renewed each semester. She receives no benefits or health care.

In a searing commentary, political analyst Joshua Foust notes that the unpaid internships that were once limited to show business have now spread to nearly every industry."


Written in 2012
The closing of the American academia

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"An economic system is a set of dependent, interconnected economic relationships which, precisely because they are interconnected, arise more or less contemporaneously and disappear more or less contemporaneously, giving way to other relationships. The empirical dating of their emergence and dissolution enables us to fix the limits of a specific economic system in time. To construct the theory of a determinate economic system means to establish (always empirically) the fullest possible totality of dependent relationships present within the system, and to explain the connections between these relationships."

Wiltold Kula
"[I]f grievance led explanations for the timing of the 2011 Arab Spring are correct, then the scope conditions for another mass uprising are seemingly in place."

On the breadline in Sisi's Egypt

Monday, April 10, 2017

"Placing faith in either Putin or Trump as champions of humanity is seen by many in Syria as a losing bet."
And those Arabs and Muslims, and Westerners, who placed faith in Obama and Hilary Clinton?

Why Vladimir Putin won't back out of Syria?

Where are Syrian refugees registered?


Rather than bombing the Assad regime, Gourevitch says, let the Syrian refugees into the United States. What’s being advocated here is clear: no to empire, yes to refugees. Needless to say, I too subscribe to that notion and am against US imperial intervention.
But I fear that these two positions are just not enough. On their own, they constitute an impoverished politics.
In order to explain why, let’s briefly apply the same principles to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. When Israel brutally kills Palestinians, as it regularly does, do progressives in America only say “let those Palestinian refugees who manage to escape come to the US”? Absolutely not. Because they know that this would just aid Israel’s colonial designs and invite Israel to continue behaving with impunity in the region.
Progressives stand in solidarity with the Palestinians, call for an end to Israel’s bombings, and demand that Israel be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. They also push their own imperial state to stop all military aid for Israel, stop feeding Israel’s colonial appetite, and stop shielding it from international justice.
Why is the Syrian case so different? The reality is that the Syrian catastrophe is even more acute. With half a million dead and millions displaced, the scale of the Syrian carnage is vast. Assad’s dictatorship would rather kill, besiege, and starve the population than allow them dignity and democracy. Either live in humiliation and servitude, leave, or die. No people should have to accept these miserable options
Why being against Assad matters too

Saturday, April 08, 2017

"Au fond, Piketty est un économiste bien plus conventionnel qu’il ne le croit. Son élément naturel, ce sont les statistiques relatives aux niveaux de revenus, les projets de taxation, les commissions chargées d’examiner ces questions. Ses recommandations pour réduire les inégalités se résument à des politiques fiscales imposées d’en haut. Il se montre parfaitement indifférent aux mouvements sociaux qui, par le passé, ont pu remettre en cause les inégalités et pourraient à nouveau jouer un tel rôle. Il semble même plus préoccupé par l’échec de l’Etat à atténuer les inégalités que par les inégalités proprement dites. Et, bien qu’il convoque souvent, à bon escient, des romanciers du XIXe siècle comme Honoré de Balzac et Jane Austen, sa définition du capital reste trop économique et réductrice. Il ne tient aucun compte du capital social, des ressources culturelles et du savoir-faire accumulés dont bénéficient les plus aisés et qui facilitent la réussite de leur progéniture. Un capital social limité condamne autant à l’exclusion qu’un compte en banque vide. Or, sur ce sujet non plus, Piketty n’a rien à nous dire."

Thomas Piketty ou le pari d'un capitalisme à visage humain
Trump is just being true to the unclear American imperialist strategy to the Syrian regime:

“I really believe that we should have and still should take out his airfields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.” 
— Hilary Clinton

See also 
American foreign policy under Obama

As long as the Assad regime remains in place, and millions of Syrians remain at its mercy, Isis and al-Qaeda will have a lot going for them.

Friday, April 07, 2017

The Young Marx: film by Raul Peck
The first film ever about Karl Marx
Richard Seymour: "A few things to bear in mind.
First, this bombing in Syria is not a departure from the existing policy. That is because the policy is the one left by the Obama administration, which included a number of lines of escalation and expansion within the terms of the existing strategy: medium footprint, bombing & auxiliary forces. The only major difference is that Trump has relaxed the political oversight exercised by the Obama administration on the military's actions: hence, the major bloodshed in Mosul and Raqqa recently. He has expanded the war along lines indicated by his predecessor, in Somalia and Yemen, and has changed the rules of engagement so that parts of these countries are deemed 'war zones' which can be targeted under the laws of war.
Second, this bombing in Syria is not worse than the bombings in Mosul or Raqqa in terms of its death toll. The major significance is that, by punishing Assad, it is a slap in the face to Russia. But this would be less of a surprise if people hadn't inhaled the laughing gas about Trump being Putin's puppet. (Indeed, watch as big chunks of the alt-centre collapse into support for a war president.) Trump's amateurish pre-inauguration diplomacy with Russia involved urging Putin's envoys to relax support for Iran and Syria. Currently, his team is trying to enlist Russia for a confrontation with North Korea. Indeed, North Korea is notable for being a front of escalation on Trump's part. Whatever connections Trump has to Russian capitalism will be far less important than the extant strategies and interests of the US empire.
Third, Bannon's departure from the National Security Council is not unrelated to this. This was part of a wider shift, putting the old military and intelligence leadership back in charge of the NSC. Trump has accepted the Iran deal. The ousting of Michael Flynn, who was responsible for the organisation of the NSC with Bannon on it and the demotion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, was the first step toward the re-establishment of the traditional leadership's dominance. Many mandarin liberal pundits talked about a military coup against Trump. Such a move would have reflected sheer panic, indicating a complete breakdown of the embedded knowledge, cohesion and technological sophistication of the old state elites. Now, the foreign policy commentariat speaks of Trump 'learning' -- and that's right. The pedagogy has been crude in some ways: a ferociously alarmist media campaign fed by intelligence leaks and more or less open dissent in the apparatuses of state, culminating in Flynn's downfall. But it still showed far more patience and guile than a simple coup. So, what has been achieved on the empire front is not the recomposition of forces at the top that Bannon et al were aiming for, but a consolidation of the Pentagon's priorities.
However. This is the Trump administration. This is not business as usual. The military establishment has succeeded in reining Trump in for now, but Bannon is still his chief advisor, and his team is still dominated by lunatics. The obvious thing to do, as their agenda falls apart on a number of fronts, and domestic support collapses, would be to organise a major war. That would consolidate the chief executive's authority. It would give an organising impetus to the administration, cohering the apparatuses of the state and, if done well, summoning a degree of popular support. It would license a major augmentation of repressive capacities, and justify renewed aggression against the media (21st century fascism finds the diffuse spectacle superior to the concentrated spectacle), and of course filter new loads of racist ideology into civil society. I don't believe we're about to see that war in Syria, but Bannon et al will certainly be thinking about the possibilities."

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