• 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 ...

Monday, August 21, 2017

"Last month in Germany, for example, lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage (and adoption) in a historic vote. The anti-Muslim populist party Alternative for Germany opposed the measure on ideological grounds, while all six Muslim members of parliament voted in support of the bill. Incidentally, Chancellor Angela Merkel, now widely seen as the pre-eminent guardian of western liberal values, voted against the bill."

How the 'homophobic Muslim' became a populist bogeyman

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"I've seen people share a photo of a MLK statue with the caption "Martin Luther King was against gay marriage should we take down his statue?" For some reason it's disproportionately annoyed me so I need to spell out why it's a stupid question.
Like I say, you people don't need to hear this I just have an abiding urge to say it.
MLK's life's work was for justice. He fought with every fiber of his being to right a world historic injustice knowing that he may well pay with his life - which he sadly did - but his contribution advanced his cause and allowed society to take real steps towards becoming a civilisation.
The life's work of various Confederate generals whose statues are under threat was to defend and extend slavery. They were willing to see millions die to keep millions in horrific conditions. Unlike MLK they lost and their legacy of hate is ashes.
People aren't advocating taking down those statues because they once said something they didn't like but because those statues glorify the worst aspects of a horrific chapter in American history. You can still read about them in books and fly their rancid flag if you like, but if we're giving out honours it should be to people like Tubman, Douglas, Brown and many, many others not those who literally fought for the right to enslave people.
I'm sure MLK said and did many things in his life that we could criticise (although at the time he died who *was* in favour of gay marriage? Almost nobody. There were no campaigns for it, no campaigns against it, no one thought really about it. It's hardly a surprise that a committed Christian in the 60's didn't share 100% the sensitivities of 21st century liberals). It's a non-issue. MLK is not celebrated because he was a saint but because he was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.
He made the world a better place than when he found it. Confederate generals were murderers for an evil cause. No one cares about a tight textual analysis of their opinions - it's what they did in life that means we should remember them but never, ever honour them. Taking down their statues seems fine to me - drawing a moral equivalence between them and MLK? Well that just seems laughable." — Jim Jepps

Thursday, August 17, 2017

How the elite is created

Malala Yousafzai to study politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford University. One day, she will probably join the elite of Afghanistan.

What is PPE?



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the-called  "communist" countries,

Women Had Better Sex (The New York Times)
"At the start of the 18th century, India’s share of the global economy was 23 percent – the size of all of Europe combined. By the end of nearly 200 years of British rule, first under the proto-multinational corporation East India Company and then, after 1858, direct governance by the British crown, India’s share had dropped to just over 3 per cent, following the deliberate destruction of thriving local industries by the British.

Perhaps most shocking is the section detailing the 30-35 million Indians who needlessly died in the series of famines under the British Raj, the most recent of which was the 1943-4 Bengal Famine. Tharoor calls these ‘British colonial holocausts’, comparing them to the 25 million people who perished in Stalin’s collectivisation drive and political purges."

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lenin's eco-warriors  (The New York Times)
Like the carving of the Arab countries, here is another criminal legacy of the British Empire:


"British judge Cyril Radcliffe was brought in to draw up the border between India and Pakistan.
It meant cutting two of India's most powerful and populous provinces in half; Punjab and Bengal.
Radcliffe had never been to India before and never returned.
This rushed partition would have repercussions for decades to come."

The Partition of India and Pakistan
Long live the middle class!

"only 25 black Caribbean students entering medicine or dentistry courses in 2014-15."

UK higher education: class and race

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is an interesting discovery. I have never heard of Leonardo Padura before. His words in this interview are of a very intelligent man, especially what he says about Stalinism and socialism.

"Robin Yassin-Kassab examines the axis of useful idiocy that responds to the rise of torch wielding fascism in the U.S. with whatabout-Hillaryisms, that defends British chauvinism as a tactic to combat globalism, and that defends the genocidal Syrian Regime as a hedge against 'Zio-Wahhabi' imperialism.
"It isn’t surprising that the right sees every Syrian refugee as a potential terorist when the left has spent years opining that the Syrian revolution is run by al-Qaida (or American imperialism, or Zionism). These beasts feed each other. The greatest threats today are rising authoritarianism, whether it calls itself leftist or rightist, and the preference for ideology over human reality, for simplistic conspiracism over complicated facts.
This is going to get a lot more messy. We need answers to the politics of austerity and the undoubted tensions of a globalised and increasingly technologised economy. Nostalgia for the social compositions of earlier decades, and the era when national borders were impermeable, is by no means an answer. Yassin argues that democracy “retreats everywhere as soon as it stops progressing anywhere”. He speaks of a progressively “Syrianized” world.
It’s no suprise that today Western ‘realists’ think the regime which started the Syrian war should remain in power for the sake of stability; or that a childish and bullying reality-TV star is president of the world’s most powerful state; or that fascists are again gathering for torch-lit rallies. That’s what happens when you ignore human suffering in favour of stirring grand narratives." — 
Jonathan Hendrixson


A Syrianized world
A book review

Good Communist Homes

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Adolph Reed: "[Identity] politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature.
An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people.
It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class."
Ellie-Mae O'Hagan: "If 7% of the population goes to private school, then it seems only fair that 7% of Britain’s elite jobs should go to privately educated individuals. This would include chief executives, barristers, journalists, judges, medical professionals and MPs"

How Global Entertainment Killed Culture 
From Notes on the Death of Culture by Mario Vargas Llosa

Llosa is one of Latin America's best novelists, who moved from the left to become an advocate and enforcer of neoliberal policies in Peru.
"Identitarian politics"

The incident of the decade: a Canadian jouralist saw "religious women with headgear" shopping for lingerie and did a report on it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

I have read the Introduction and it sounds a very interesting book.

The Political Economy of the Kurds of Turkey
The great recession: 2007-2017

“I know of no form of economic organisation based on the division of labour (he refers to the Smithian view of a capitalist economy), from unfettered laisser-faire to oppressive central planning that has succeeded in achieving both maximum sustainable economic growth and permanent stability.  Central planning certainly failed and I strongly doubt that stability is achievable in capitalist economies, given the always turbulent competitive markets continuously being drawn toward but never quite achieving equilibrium”.  He went on, “unless there is a societal choice to abandon dynamic markets and leverage for some form of central planning, I fear that preventing bubbles will in the end turn out to be infeasible.  Assuaging the aftermath is all we can hope for.” — the head of the Federal Reserve Bank (US) Alan Greenspan

My comment: you know in life there are only two options. Yes, that how the global bourgeois ideology has made most of us believe. 

"Central planning" or "free" market capitalism? There is no third or fourth option/alternative. You don't like capitalism, then what do you suggest, Soviet Union-type economy? North Korea? Cuba? What about democratic "central planning" of the main levers of the economy, "free market" for the rest, protection of the environment, a global economy for the needs of humanity rather than a profit-and-consumerism- driven one?

There has been a religious fundamentalism enmbedded in this ideology: you are are either a believer or an infidel.

We now know the consequences of that tinking globally (on social relations, culture, the environment, etc),  and the effects are going to remain with us for a while. It might even get worse.

Monday, August 07, 2017

"Young men in Asia and Africa often joined the army under duress. The war was fought for freedom, but Indian political demands were brushed aside in the 1940s, with nationalists enduring heavy-handed policing and imprisonment.
The British state bungled food supply in its empire. In Britain, wartime food shortages caused hardship and great inconvenience; in India, they caused mass starvation. At least three million Bengalis died in a catastrophic famine in 1943, a famine that is almost never discussed. The famine's causes were a byproduct of the war, but as Madhusree Mukerjee has proved in her book "Churchill's Secret War," the imperial state also failed to deliver relief. Many soldiers signed up as volunteers to fill their bellies."

Dunkirk, the War and the Amnesia of the Empire (NYT)

A new Chinese nationalist action film


Saturday, August 05, 2017

Lack of democracy,
Lack of solidarity, 
Lack of a bold approach to the capitalist state 

From today’s perspective, it can easily be argued that Syriza’s attempt at achieving real change not only failed miserably; it also inflicted a major blow to the Left’s credibility on an international scale

and

"Despite election promises to end military cooperation with Israel, Tsipras maintained and even expanded this cooperation. Tsipras has referred to Jerusalem as “Israel’s capital”, something not even the United States have dared to do and, needless to say, a slap in the face of millions of Greeks in solidarity with the Palestinian cause. The architect of Syriza’s foreign policy, the “left nationalist” foreign minister Nikos Kotzias, is a true practitioner of Henry Kissinger’s realpolitik, constructing strategic alliances with the Israel state, the Egyptian junta and any other regional player perceived to be against Turkey, no matter how vicious and ruthless..."

"Syriza’s U-turns in both domestic and foreign policy are closely intertwined; by avoiding the necessary confrontation with Greek capitalism’s economic power – which flexed its muscles during the week before the referendum, as evidenced by the closure of the banks – it was only a matter of time before Syriza fully conformed to its geopolitical interests."

How Syriza stopped worrying and started loving the status quo

Thursday, August 03, 2017

This is an interesting argumentative essay on "Salafism". However, it is also a disappoitment.
If I was to give a score, it would be 50\100. It is a good essay in terms of arguments and counter-arguments, etc. I have learnt a few things from it. However, I find such a way of writing too horizontal as if ideas emerge from people's minds with no connection to real life in their respective societies. I do not accept the excuse that I often hear: "Dealing with the social, economic, political, class, background of ideas is beyond the scope of this essay." A history which we can learn from is a history that is holistic with its interactive components and ingredients. Otherwise, it is sterile. I recall reading Assef Bayat, for example, analysing the Islamic movements in Iran and Egypt or Karen Armstrong dealing with how "Religion Fights Back" or how "Jihād" went global. There is a background, there is the vertical and the horizental. I have been disappointed here. I will though read the other essays.

What is Salafism?

and this one too confirms the fragmentation of social thought. We cannot see even two pragrapghs about the social and political context in which the people we talk about lived.

Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdu al-Wahhāb brothers

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Varoufakis "speaks of how great it was to have the support of Larry Summers, Norman Lamont, and other figures on the Right, but it was support for whom, for what, and in whose class interests? Class analysis is far from the foreground of the picture sketched out here.

Closed rooms and class war

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

"30 years later, the point of conflict between Said and de Beauvoir is still hotly debated following Western assaults on hijabs, niqabs, burqas and other traditional Muslim attire. The defense of these garments, taken on by thinkers like Saba Mahmood and Lila Abu-Lughod is often deeply indebted to Said’s work on racist Western conceptions of the East."

"A bitter disappointment": Edward Said on his encounter with Sartre, de Beauvoir and Foucauld

and 

Edward Said's diary 
Legalised crime


A couple of years ago, a teacher told me "it wasn't a problem if the bankers, the wealthy, etc engabe in tax evasion and tax avoidance because they create wealth and put it in the economy."
"Perhaps the biggest problem is that tax havens mostly benefit financial elites, including some politicians and many of their donors. Meanwhile, pressure from voters for action is limited by the boring and confusing nature of the problem. 
Sandwich, anyone?" —  (bbc online)

How much of the world's wealth is hidden offshore

" We must teach them a lesson in free trade " — Her Majesty the Queen