Showing posts from July, 2017
" Nolan’s every film, from  Following  (1998) to  Dunkirk  (2017), reverses the anti-tradition of Roberto Rossellini, whom Jean-Luc Godard, in  Godard on Godard , celebrates as a great artist because he trusts chance. “To trust chance is  to hear voices ,” Godard wrote, by which he meant the voices of other people. If Christopher Nolan hears any voice, it’s Margaret Thatcher’s from 1987." Tory Porn / The Hobbesian anti-art of Christopher Nolan
Louis Proyect: "All me cynical but my take on the middle-class protests in Venezuela is that it is less interested in democracy than it is in ratcheting the Gini coefficient back towards one. I remain a committed Marxist but when it comes to Maduro versus Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader who was a key figure in the 2002 coup attempt, I’ll stick with Maduro—warts and all. Or I should say Boligarchs and all."  Yes, but also have to be very critical of Maduro.


"It was the deadliest single attack on a military installation in the entire 16-year history of the Afghan conflict." 170 Afghan soldiers killed. Last year a record number of Afghan forces were killed - 6,800 in total. That is three times the losses of American forces during the entire 16 years of this conflict."  — the BBC website
Nicely put. "That, however, was only part of the story. There are those who see modern history as an enthralling tale of progress, and those who view it as one long nightmare. Marx, with his usual perversity, thought it was both. Every advance in civilization had brought with it new possibilities of barbarism. The great slogans of the middle-class revolution—"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"—were his watchwords, too. He simply inquired why those ideas could never be put into practice witho ut violence, poverty, and exploitation. Capitalism had developed human powers and capacities beyond all previous measure. Yet it had not used those capacities to set men and women free of fruitless toil. On the contrary, it had forced them to labor harder than ever. The richest civilizations on earth sweated every bit as hard as their Neolithic ancestors."
       حدوتة مصرية 
The British Empire's hidden history is one of resistance, not pride Further reading The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation by Ian Cobain and In the 1950s, the distinguished American sociologist Edward Shils decided that the explanation lay with a ruling class that was “unequalled in secretiveness and taciturnity”, whose members were so close and comfortable with one another that they had little fear of hidden secrets. Cobain largely supports this view. Class deference combined with a relatively benign and trusting view of the state’s behaviour may explain “why the peculiarly uncommunicative nature of the British state does not provoke greater resentment and unease among the British public and media”.  Quoted by Ian Jack, the Guardian
War is here: The Lebanese political elites unite again
I cannot disclose who said the following, but the arguments about the US and British armies today sound very interesting. "The peasants [of the Russian army prior 1917] in uniform weren't mercenaries, but conscripts. The US and British soldiers [today] aren't conscripts, not the historical equivalent of the Russian imperial army, but the historical equivalent of Hessians or the Swiss guard. There's a huge difference between those two. Only a conscript is a worker in uniform - all the others are bourgeois cops with bigger or smaller guns. Edit: I can't find any historical example where a revolution was won with the aid of professional soldiers - it was always won by defeating them, be they Hessians, the Swiss Guard or Cossacks...and some US soldiers are OK and have resisted imperialism - still doesn't change the US military's role as a whole... I never said a soldier "can't act in favour of the masses because he wasn't conscr
A historian with an Islamophobic approach and poor historiography, and a journalist with good arguments, but a partial take.  Lacking in Osborne's perpective is violence in historical "Islam". There is no "Islam, religion of peace" or violent "Islam". There is historical Islam with both peace and violence like historical Christianity, Hinduism, "capitalist democracy", etc. "No, Channel 4: Islam is not responsible for the Islamic State"
"When Russia is involved in a strategically important conflict, RT becomes a tool of war communication, as CNN did for the US during the Iraq war. It then turns into a willing international conduit for the official version of events. In Syria, where RT has often given a platform to Bashar al-Assad, the outcome of the battle of Aleppo crystallised the deep antagonism of the war of information between Russia and the West: after the Syrian army retook the city, RT showed people celebrating in west Aleppo, while most of western media focused on the humanitarian situation in the eastern districts (see Hélène Richard,  Covering Aleppo ). RT invited a former British diplomat to comment on the ‘inevitable civilian losses’ during the liberation of Mosul by US-backed Iraqi forces." "RT, Russia's Voice to the World"
One more confirmation that the US imperialist, criminal regime has never planned a 'regime change' in Syria. First it called for "a Syrian regime without al-Assad, then gave limited support to the rebels, which could not even defend itself against the killing machine of the Syrian regime and its Russian backers. 
"Does Nicola Sturgeon really want to break with centuries of Scottish tradition by standing with the oppressor and backing an apartheid regime which is hell-bent on the oppression of Palestinians through a brutal military occupation in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem?" Scotland's First Minister backs Israel's dark arts
This was written before the wiping out of UK Independent Party, for example, but a lot of it is still relevant if you add the future water wars and environmental disasters. The coming global civil war: Is there a way out?
Like in Rwanda and other wars, we, "the civilized", watched the spectacle and enjoyed "the peace" at home. The battle of Mosul: "Kill them all"
It is still embedded in their psychy The British Empire is "something to be proud of" Also One of the causes of Brexit is that there is " our country’s post-imperial reluctance to let go of the idea that we are a great nation, combined with our post-second-world-war delusion that we were still a great power. That was why we refused the chance to join the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, and our infatuation with our own greatness was sufficiently undamaged by Suez in 1956 to make us refuse to join the EEC when that got going with the Treaty of Rome in 1958. If we’d committed ourselves to Europe early, with everyone else, we’d now have a much deeper understanding of our real relationship to the continent, namely that we belong there." — Philip Pullman
"In school, boys who play war games with model soldiers aren’t viewed with suspicion by their teachers, whereas boys who carry knives into the playground are likely to be reported to the police. This may be wise, but the boys with knives understand something about war that the boys with model soldiers don’t: war is an intimate business. Some of the nastiest things happen close up, between individuals. Sometimes they don’t involve weapons. At dinner parties, journalists back from war zones are occasionally asked what it was really like. Perhaps the most accurate answer would be to rape the hostess, murder the host, cut the children’s throats and set fire to the house, without any explanation. There is much talk of war crimes, as if all war was not a crime." Nuremburg rally, invasion of Poland, Dunkirk
On capitalism, class and race Does David Roediger disagree with Ellen Meiksins Wood?
Forgetting Fanon, remembering Fanon
Towards the end of the British Empire, the British ruling class suddenly became humane. How Britain supported the early release of Rudolf Hess
The chemical attack at Khan Sheikoun
"It imperative that loyalty to a state be secured, and the nation is the means. Workers have often been asked to accept rises in interest rates, cuts in wages and services, or participation in imperialist wars, but never for the benefit of capitalism, always for the benefit of a particular nation, for “the national interest”. It is not only the state which makes such appeals. The organisations of the working class themselves reinforce reformist class consciousness within a national context. At the most elementary level this is because such organisations are unwilling to challenge the nationalism within which political discourse is conducted, for fear of being labelled unpatriotic. More importantly, however, it is because they seek either to influence or determine policy within the confines of the existing nation-state. Typically, therefore, nationalism is invested with the contradictory character of the reformist world view." The National Question, Class and the European U
“A lot has changed in the past 300 years,” Captain Picard explains to a cryogenically unfrozen businessman from the 20th century in an episode of a later “Star Trek” franchise, “The Next Generation.” “People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We’ve eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy.” In The New York Times 'Star-Treck" and its debt to revolutionary socialism
My brother loves dogs. He's git a huge dog. My mum doesn't like dogs. She prefers cats. We have always had cats in our house. Dogs in Ancient Islamic Culture
An open letter to Emmanuel Macron
"Muslims were always ready to learn from other cultures, and in the late fifteenth century they did so from the heirs of Genghis Khan. The Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor, the Middle East, and North Africa, the Safavid Empire in Iran, and the Moghul Empire in India would be created on the basis of the Mongol army state and become the most advanced states in the world at the time. But the Mongols also unwittingly inspired a spiritual revival. Jalal ad-Din Rumi (1207–73) had fled the Mongol armies with his family, migrating from Iran to Anatolia, where he founded a new mystical Sufi order. One of the most widely read Muslims in the West today, his philosophy is redolent of the refugee’s homelessness and sense of separation, but Rumi was also enthralled by the vast extent of the Mongol Empire and encouraged Sufis to explore boundless horizons on the spiritual plane and to open their hearts and minds to other faiths. But no two people will respond to the same trauma identically, howev
Making sense of China's global ambitions
A reminder to those who oppose Trump's camcellation of the CIA programme in Syria. Against amnesia and not to forget the criminal role of US imperialism. "The main role of the CIA, from the time it first intervened in 2012, was to block the anti-Assad opposition forces from acquiring the arms necessary to bring down the regime. The most the CIA was prepared to allow was for the opposition to put sufficient military pressure on Assad to force the regime to accept a negotiated settlement. "The rationale for the arms program was, from early on, muddled. It wasn’t supposed to make rebels win outright. ... instead, the U.S. government tried to use a remotely managed proxy war to force an extremely delicate, negotiated political resolution." So much for your fantasies about "regime change". After Daesh took Mosul in 2014 even that limited support was increasingly withdrawn, as the US tried to push the opposition into abandoning the struggle against Assad and
“Political economy, in the widest sense, is the science of the laws governing the production and exchange of the material means of subsistence in human society. Production and exchange are two different functions. Production may occur without exchange, but exchange — being necessarily an exchange of products—cannot occur without production. Each of these two social functions is subject to the action of external influences which to a great extent are peculiar to it and for this reason each has, also to a great extent, its own special laws. But on the other hand, they constantly determine and influence each other to such an extent that they might be termed the abscissa and ordinate of the economic curve. The conditions under which men produce and exchange vary from country to country, and within each country again from generation to generation. Political economy, therefore, cannot be the same for all countries and for all historical epochs. A tremendous distance separates the bow and a
The Life and Death of Yugoslav Socialism
Morocco: Despotism, neoliberalism and climate change
Not just being right, but getting free
"The climate movement made an enormous mistake. We focused all our attention on fossil fuels, when we should have been pointing to something much deeper: the basic logic of our economic operating system." Indeed . Clean energy won't save us
Pour François Burgat, les islamistes ont toujours raison
France, "anti-semitism", the state, the left A good dissection. "First, it is important to establish some of the political and ideological conditions in today’s France. Aside from Germany, France is the European state in which it is most difficult to criticize Israel explicitly. It is the country in which it is possible to be prosecuted for articulating a pro-Palestine position — even a relatively moderate, two-state position. The prosecutions of the journalist  Daniel Mermet , the philosopher  Edgar Morin , the political scientist Samir Naïr, the novelist Danièle Sallenave, to cite a few instances, make this clear." The Anti-Zionism of Fools
Surprised to see this on the BBC website Austerity is over 
" Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals" For "neoliberalism" just read capitalism or a phase of it.
Deen Sharp, who works at the Centre for Advanced Urban Research, said the situation on the island demonstrates how, “like many states around the world, the Egyptian government is focused on constructing its cities around the needs of financial capital and the powerful rather than those of its citizens”. Cairo islanders fighting violent state evictions
"Environmental defenders being killed in records numbers"
Robespierre sans masque
"Clearly the so-called “sectarian civil war” in Yemen is a recent permutation of the self-declared Sunni monarchies’ geostrategic rivalry with the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as those ruling dynasties’ discrimination against their own Shi`a populations. Overall, ample evidence is presented that the problems that provoked Yemen’s Southern Movement ( hirak ) and the 2011 popular demonstrations, respectively, are rooted in militarism and corruption rather than religion, and that the Gulf’s royal families have for decades feared mass mobilization in the most populous, least prosperous, perennially restive part of the Peninsula." Arabia Incognita: Dispatches from Yemen and the Gulf
I hear now and then that this or that person is on the left, this or that university is leftist, Le Parti Socialiste Français and the Spanish Socialist Party are socialists, etc.  The term " left" has become very loose and misleading over the last decades, and the blurring of the distinction has been deliberate.  What it means to be on the left
Michael Roberts reviewing Jonathan Portes' Capitalism: 20 Ideas You Really Need to Know
Between fine art and comic art On the Arab page
When Nasser [the Egyptian leader] nationalized the canal [the Suez Canal] , Eden erupted with egotism, bluster, and outrage. “What’s all this nonsense about isolating Nasser,” Eden berated his foreign affairs minister. “I want him destroyed, can’t you understand? I want him murdered, and if you and the Foreign Office don’t agree, then you’d better come to the cabinet and explain why." — Stephen Dorril, Inside The Covert World Of Her Majesty's Intelligence Service, 2002, p. 613


Is Morocco headed toward insurrection?
Orwell and the language of dystopia


Statement of solidarity with the protests in norther Morocco
Lebanese army accused of torturing Syrian refugees
Inside the Gulag
"In Volume 3 of  Capital   Marx had described Venice and Genoa as urban republics where the merchants ‘subordinated the state more securely to themselves’, and implicit in some combination of Ruthven’s argument with my own is the further crucial thesis that this singularly failed to happen anywhere in the Islamic world. This ties in with a second and to me even more self-evident explanation , which is the one Mielants proposes in his book  The Origins of Capitalism and the “Rise of the West” , namely, that the failure of commercial capitalism in the Islamic world was essentially a failure of mercantilism. It is a striking fact that there was never any Islamic counterpart of the West’s violent mercantilist expansion. Again, the decisive factor here is the very different ways in which commercial capital and the state were linked to each other. The powerful state backing that English merchants received from the monarchy, what Brenner calls the ‘Crown-company partnership’,  had absol


Labour and migration

Religion and Femonationalism

"The point I try to make in that article is that the debate on whether Jews should be accorded full political rights in 1840s Prussia presents some striking similarities with the debate on Muslims’ integration into French society today. More precisely, my point is that the French state’s demand that religious minorities (and let’s be frank, Muslims in particular) respect the principle of secularism in the public space is reminiscent of Bruno Bauer’s position on the Jewish Question. Bruno Bauer believed that the Jews deserved to be granted political rights only if they stopped being Jews and embraced Enlightenment thought. In other words, he conceived of political emancipation as a kind of award that individuals receive only if they renounce their own religious identity and embrace the identity that the secular state deems as appropriate. Likewise, the French state demands that Muslims get rid of their religious/cultural practices if they want to show willingness to integrate into
The Guardian's "progressive" Macron "During Netanyahu's official visit to Paris on Sunday, the French president condemned anti-Zionism as the new form of anti-Semitism. But what is the zionist project and how did it all begin?" Where it all began 
Le double jeux de la classe moyenne
The Singing of Marseille
Haft Tapeh sugar workers in Iran
A cartoon by Dan Murphy
The Jew Who Helped Invent the Modern Islamic State
An interview with Silvia Federici
"The scandal is that Lula's personal and political trajectory suggests it is impossible for anyone in Brazil, no matter how well-meaning, to get elected to public office and govern from that office without actively playing the corruption game.  Dilma Rousseff , it appears, refused and  was impeached for it  by a bevy of Congressmen busy lining their pockets. The tragedy of Lula is not just that a good man was brought down so low, but that there seems such scant chance that the system which forced him to kneel at the trough of corruption is likely to meaningfully change any time soon." Lula's corruption conviction
"[M]any of the arguments against Islamophobia in anti-racist circles turn out to replicate rather than subvert the underlying logics that attack, demonize and dehumanize Muslims. Challenging the Islamophobic far-right cannot simply be about upholding the same capitalist and imperialist — even if slightly less racist — stances that have destabilized much of the Global South in recent decades, furthering war and displacing Muslims who have travelled to Europe’s shores only to be met with an explosion of nativist hatred." The Problem with Liberal Opposition to Islamophobia Note: the 8% of the UK's Muslim population is inaccuarte. I have checked a few sources (BBC, wikipedia). In fact it ranges between 5% and 5.5% of the total population.
TeleSUR's trajectory The south is our north
Pitfalls of Radical Feminism
Will reversing austerity end the depression?
France "In the first round of the elections this year, the number of workers who voted for it [the Front National] was far ahead of any other party—37 per cent; in the second round, 56 per cent. As inequality of income and insecurity of employment steadily increased under the system of collusive alterna- tion, so have those willing to cast their ballot for the fn : 4.8 million in the Presidential election of 2002, 6.8 million in the regional elections of 2015, 7.7 million in the rst round in 2017, 10.6 million in the second round—the last gure, however, an arti ce of the distortions imposed by the double tour . Its real level of support is about a fth of the elector- ate, less than those—mainly workers too—who abstain, vote blank or spoil their ballots. 12 There was never the slightest chance that Marine could win the Presidency. Far from being a deadly threat to the system in place, the fn is an eminently functional part of it, clasping together all respectable opinion
Some interesting arguments from a liberal: "Even when they did empirical analysis, Leontief said economists seldom took any interest in the meaning or value of their data. He thus called for economists to explore their assumptions and data by conducting social, demographic and anthropological work, and said economics needed to work more closely with other disciplines."
"Down with neoliberalism ... as a concept"
"There is usually a noisy crowd who deride any such review with shouts of “Lighten up! It’s only a movie!”–as though popular culture is neither popular nor culture, the soundtrack to our lives that slowly shapes our assumptions and our values, and does so at a level we rarely examine critically." Wonder Woman: The hero of The military-industrial complex See also My 2006 interview with Lina Khatib: Filming the Middle East My interview with Johnathan Cook: Blood and Religion
The crimes of Winston Churchill I recommend Churchill's Empire by Richard Toye Britain's Gulag by Caroline Elkins
The Syrian government is essentially a family dictatorship rooted in the anti-leftist military wing of the Ba'ath Party. Virtually the only "liberalization" that has taken place under the younger Assad has been economic, privatizing once-public assets to various crony capitalists who pledge fealty to the regime. Just because the United States and other Western governments oppose a particular leader out of their hypocritical imperialist interests doesn't thereby make that leader "progressive." How Syria Divides the Left
Alexey Navalny: Russia's Trump
Some fucking Italian hispters
It is to precisely such contradictions that Collins was drawn. “He was bound to the system in a way that a lot of us are,” he says. “His resistance within the system is very familiar. There is no anterior position now, no position outside the system. You take an easyJet to an environmental conference. We are all compromised by the system and articulate resistance within it. He’s a perfect reflection of our problems today.” Why I took a Soviet statue of Engles across Europe to Manchester
" In the last twenty-five years (since when, in February 1991, a ship loaded with 26,000 Albanians entered the port of Brindisi) we have known that the great migration had began. Two paths were possible at that point. Opening its borders, starting a global distribution of resources, investing its wealth in a long lasting process of reception and integration of young people coming massively from the sea. This was the first path. The second was to reject, to dissuade, to make almost impossible the easy journey from Northern Africa to the coasts of Spain Italy and Greece. Europeans have chosen the second way, and they are daily drowning uncountable children and women and men. Auschwitz on the beach." Is Bifo being harsh on the "civilised Europeans"?
Ignoring US intervention in Syria ...
Being complicit in mass murder is legal, court rules After all the business of England is business. " The sales contribute to thousands of engineering jobs in the UK, and have provided billions of pounds of revenue for the British arms trade."
Arab autocrats and their foreign sponsors ...
Six Questions about Islam Chapter 1 from What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic by Shahab Ahmed
I have just read a review of Gareth Stedman Jones' book Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion.  Then I've found a good comment. Timothy Shenk quotes Gareth Stedman Jones as saying that ‘the left ought to give up the idea that there’s some other system waiting in the wings instead of capitalism’ and that ‘there’s going to be some end of history where there’s some magical transformative solution and a completely different system takes over’ ( LRB , 29 June ). I will shortly be 68 years old and have been a Marxist all my adult life, yet I have never heard anyone on the left express these ideas. Stedman Jones is using an old ploy: attribute to the target of your criticism a viewpoint that they don’t actually hold, then proceed to knock it down." — John Cunningham The review itself requires a subscription (institution or university one).
Marx, Capital, and the madness of economic reason
Hamburg G20 summit
A zombie world
The Metamorphosis at 100
A new book I have read Life as Politics. This one too looks good.
Pro-Israeli 'gatekeepers" at California University
This is a fantastic documentary. I watched it during a flight with Air France, but apparently it is not available free online. I guess it can be viewed using a " free trial ". Tea War: The Adventures of Robert Fortune
“We see it as a class issue rather than a race issue.” It is both, and the retreat from race  and class will get us closer to addressing neither. The retreat from race and class
Immigrant men are not mentioned here! Sweden: a 'men-free' music festival
England's capitalism's crime against higher education
The Egyptian novel in the sixties
Is there an alternative to countries?
A good analysis, but with a disappointment. Bellamy speaks of the "periphery" and "weak link", but has not touched at all on a major series of recent uprisings which have taken place in "the periphery". The US, Britain, Russia, France with their allies like the Saudi monarchy and the UAE have played a major role in the counter-revolution of aborting or diverting the uprisings (or "revolution") in the Arab countries. The only mention of counterrevolution was half a sentence about the "Islamic State" as a product of geopolitics. Revolution and counterevolution - 1917-2017
Do passports restrict economic growth?
Tunisie: Mouvements sociaux Éveil feminin contre la domination masculine
A Guardian (UK) editorial considers Macron progressive. Yes, that is the real face of this liberal paper.
Morocco DOHA must reinstate 540 dismissed workers
The colonial logic of Grenfell
Maroc, la révolution qui vient
The particular features of the Islamic Repulic's capitalism
"بيروت برايد"
" Contempt is the thread that runs through much of the worst barbarism in today’s Britain." How power operates in modern Britain: with absolute contempt
Couscous, capitalism and neoliberalism in Tunisia
"In the world's best-run economy, house prices keep falling"
US The Vanishing Middle Class
Looks very interesting The Great Leveler
Britain A Conservative councillor has compared Asian people to dogs
How Iran recruited Afghan refugees to fight Assad's war
In support of Houria Bouteldja and politcal anti-racism


Labour and immigration