The Arab poet who worshipped wine

and fornication with women and boys.
I am reading Debt, the IMF and the World Bank by Éric Toussaint and Damien Millet. It is an indictment of the IMF as an international criminal organisation of enslavement.

"Following the exigencies of the governments of the richest companies, the IMF, permitted countries in crisis to borrow in order to avoid default on their repayments. Caught in the debt's downward spiral, developing countries soon had no other recourse than to take on new debt in order to repay the old debt. Before providing them with new loans, at higher interest rates, future leaders asked the IMF, to intervene with the guarantee of ulterior reimbursement, asking for a signed agreement with the said countries. The IMF  thus agreed to restart the flow of the 'finance pump' on condition that the concerned countries first use this money to reimburse banks and other private lenders, while restructuring their economy at the IMF's discretion: these were the famous conditionalities, detailed in the Structural Adjustment Programs. The IMF and its ultra-liberal experts took control of the borrowing countries' economic policies. A new form of colonization was thus instituted. It was not even necessary to establish an administrative or military presence; the debt alone maintained this new form of submission." 

— Toussaint and Millet, 2010, p. 83

At universities there is "Post-colonial Studies", a misleading name for neo-colonial studies.

"Modern high-tech warfare is designed to remove physical contact:  dropping bombs from 50,000 feet ensures that one does not 'feel' what one does. Modern economic managemnet is similar: from one's luxury hotel, one can callously impose policies about which one would think twice if one knew the people whose lives one was destroying."

 — Joseph Stiglitz, Gobalization and Its Discontents, 2002. Quoted by Toussaint and Millet, p. 84
In Iraq, as in the Philippines, as in U.S. occupied Haiti in 1914, we hear echoes of the words of Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop. The English had come to expropriate native land and resources, but somehow convinced themselves that their presence was benign. “So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts…have put themselves under our protection," said the Pilgrim-in-Chief.

Throughout the Middle East and in spreading regions of the globe, the U.S. invites the natives to a “feast” of “democracy” – at the point of a gun. Frustrated at native unwillingness to dine on the corpses of their own national sovereignty, the Americans threaten to punish those who demonstrate such “unthankfulness.”

In these times, we should remember the unthankful Pequot women and children roasting in the flames of their village, and the Wampanoag man, murdered by the Pilgrim saint Miles Standish, whose spiked head was displayed for years in Plymouth, the founding site of the national narrative and celebratory feast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have just discovered some powerful and intriguing ideas by Andrea Micocci. Micocci has  just passed away, unfortunately.
Two of yesterday's bbc headlines:

Black Friday bonanza and a shooting in Oxford Circus, London (Britain)
230 people shot dead in a mosque (in Sinai, Egypt)

The one on the shooting in Oxford Circus is the main headline with a large photo. Next to it a small phone of the shooting in Sinai.

 The BBC after all is a national corporation of a nation state. Local news, however minor they are, are more important. What happens in other countries, especially in places where the victims are not Westerners is of a less importance. Another legacy of what the nation state has made of us.

The same conclusion persists: Some lives are more precious than others.

Black Friday bonanza is also significantly important because it reflects "our way of  life".
Part 3 follows an international solidarity caravan to the third stop of the trip: Oum Laarayes, another polluted and marginalised town in Tunisia's phosphate mining basin. Several issues were discussed in this episode – from the neocolonial nature of mining to the urgency of the requests sought by social movements including jobs, better infrastructure and access to water: 

"But la transición, as it is known, was left unfinished. Spain’s democracy, in contrast to much of postwar Europe, was not erected upon an anti-fascist consensus. Instead, its foundation required a pact of silence. In exchange for returning to democracy, Francoist elites kept positions of social and economic privilege; the dictatorship’s crimes went unpunished as a blanket of amnesty and amnesia extended over the civil war and the systematic repression that followed it. After the 1982 Socialist (PSOE) landslide victory, Fraga and his followers consolidated as the leading opposition party.
As a result, the PP became a peculiar conservative party. Unlike their French, German or even British counterparts, Spanish conservatives have never had to worry about electoral competition on their right flank. The party contains everything from center-right liberals and Christian democrats to far-right nostalgics for Franco’s dictatorship.
In 2007 parliament passed a law for historical memory which made it easier to find civil war graves, remove Francoist statues and open up archives. It was a long time coming—Spain remains second only to Cambodia in number of unearthed mass graves, according to Amnesty International. But the PP fought hard against it, arguing that remembrance of the dictatorship’s crimes unnecessarily divided the country. A minority of PP leaders have gone further, providing explicit support for Francoism.

Unsurprisingly, these authoritarian legacies condition the party’s approach to the Catalan question. As Juan Linz wrote in the 1970s, Spain is “a nation-state for a large part of the population, and a state but not a nation for important minorities.” Under Franco this complex reality was repressed through a brutal, centralizing drive.

As journalist Enric Juliana points out, adopting a hard line on the Catalan crisis has endowed the Rajoy government with a stronger raison d’être than its claim to preside over economic recovery in a country where many struggle with joblessness and austerity. The “Catalan challenge” allows the PP to justify its hold on power and deflect attention from systemic corruption scandals—in which Rajoy himself is deeply entangled.

The roots of Spanish rage
"Libya doesn’t want them, Europe doesn’t want them and even their own countries don’t want them."

Apart from the smugglers, Libya, the EU and their "own countries" do not think that there is any profit to make out of these people at the moment.

The migrant slave trade
"The only politics that offers a way out of the dilemma of contemporary Third World sovereignty is an internationalism that recognizes that its subjects are political actors, not just suffering subjects; that the repression launched by struggling secularist regimes undermines secularism just as it invites intervention; that the beneficiaries of Western intervention are to be found in Moscow, Riyadh, Arlington, and Islamabad, not Homs and Benghazi; and that the struggles of global refugee diasporas are coextensive with the domestic political communities they were forced to leave behind."

How humanitarianism became imperialism
Beijing was particularly alarmed by an “indigenisation” law effectively seizing majority control of foreign-owned businesses and companies, many of them Chinese. “China’s political and economic stake in Zimbabwe is high enough to demand a close watch on developments,” Wang wrote in a prescient commentary in December last year.

Was Mugabe's fall a result of China flexing its muscles?
Part 2 follows an international solidarity caravan to the second stop of the trip: the polluted and marginalised town of Redeyef in Tunisia's phosphate mining basin. Back in 2008, it was the site of the longest popular uprising in Tunisia's modern history, violently repressed by Ben Ali's regime.

Watch Episode 2 of Web Documentary Series "Paradises of the Earth" - Tunisia
Regaining imperial power and glory has already proven to be a treacherous escapist fantasy – devastating the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa while bringing terrorism back to the streets of Europe and America – not to mention ushering Britain towards Brexit.

We can no longer discount the “terrible probability” James Baldwin once described: that the winners of history, “struggling to hold on to what they have stolen from their captives, and unable to look into their mirror, will precipitate a chaos throughout the world which, if it does not bring life on this planet to an end, will bring about a racial war such as the world has never seen”. 

How colonial violence came home

'Justice?' The colonel was astounded. 'What is justice?'
'Justice, sir –'
'That's not what justice is,' the colonel jeered, and began pounding the table again with his big fat hand. 'That's what Karl Marx is. I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning. Garrotting. That's what justice is when we've all got to be tough enough and rough enough to fight Billy Perolle. From the hip. Get it?
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22
"The administration of President Hassan Rouhani, elected in 2013 and re-elected last summer, has been rocked by repeated rounds of teachers’ demonstrations. Teachers in Iran have a long history of protest reaching back to at least 1961. Yet, in terms of geographical breadth, the current round of protests appears unprecedented in the Islamic Republic. The 2009 Green Movement, which constituted the largest popular demonstrations since the 1979 revolution, as well as an earlier wave of teachers’ demonstrations in the early 2000s, were largely restricted to Tehran and a handful of major cities. Not so this time."

Protesting Education in Iran

"The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city.

A convoy included some of IS’s most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey."

The liberals and all the other hypocrites of different colours have always opposed, resented and despised me when I call the US and British regimes criminals. 

Raqqa's dirty secret

"La force et le consentement sont les deux fondements de la conduite des Etats modernes, les deux piliers d’une hégémonie. Quand le consentement vient à manquer — comme ce fut par exemple le cas en 2011 dans le monde arabe —, les conditions sont réunies pour le renversement du pouvoir en place."

Gramsci, une pensée devenue monde
"Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.

Faced with manpower shortages, British imperialists had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly 500,000 troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina. Nearly 400,000 African Americans were also inducted into US forces. The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants. 

Ho Chi Minh, who spent much of the war in Europe, denounced what he saw as the press-ganging of subordinate peoples. Before the start of the Great War, Ho wrote, they were seen as “nothing but dirty Negroes … good for no more than pulling rickshaws”. But when Europe’s slaughter machines needed “human fodder”, they were called into service. Other anti-imperialists, such as Mohandas Gandhi and WEB Du Bois, vigorously supported the war aims of their white overlords, hoping to secure dignity for their compatriots in the aftermath. But they did not realise what Weber’s remarks revealed: that Europeans had quickly come to fear and hate physical proximity to their non-white subjects – their “new-caught sullen peoples”, as Kipling called colonised Asians and Africans in his 1899 poem The White Man’s Burden.

A long read
"What Assad needs in order to survive ...  is, someday, the end of resistance," says Valerie Szybala, executive director of the Syria Institute. "The only way he can get that, in certain places — certainly strategic ones like Damascus — is by repopulating them with people who will not oppose him."

"Plan to rebuild Syria could be a recipe for another war"
We are hearing and reading a lot just now about a war for civilization. In some vague, ill-designed manner we are led to believe that the great empires of Europe have suddenly been seized with chivalrous desire to right the wrongs of mankind, and have sallied forth to war, giving their noblest blood and greatest measures to the task of furthering the cause of civilization. 
James Connolly, A War for Civilization, 1915

Armistice Day

How the civilised celeberate slaughter, selectively.

Western-centric, arrogant and even xenophobic. The elites that sent millions to their death for the ruling classes geopolitical and imperialist interests, organise show annually every 11 November. Other people make money from selling poppies.

It is also about how much the nation-state and nationalism have made us immune not only in front of barbarism (carried out by "the civilised" or by "the backward people"), but also towards human solidarity with the dead.

Those who were killed in Iraq, Vietnam, Rwanda, Syria, Yemen ... are not worth a minute of silence; they were not our sons and daughters.
"The regime's parties, in the hands of the EU" have dismantled "social rights, through labour reforms, gag laws, attacks on the Catalan language". Independence of Catalonia would provide a chance to cope with "unfettered capitalism". However, independence alone would not be enough. A struggle would revolve around the "constitutional process". A struggle for a Catalan constitution in the interest of the working class. A struggle against "certain Catalan economic elites who intend to implement a constitutional process from a conservative base". And a struggle against the European Union itself.

Catalonia: A Democratic Opportunity

The so-called impartiality of a liberal.

"Churchill held opinions that would disbar him from political office today - despicable yes, but surely massively outweighed by the scale of his accomplishments."
Seeing the dismantling of the empire against his will, killing of the Greek resistance, advocating the use of poison gas against recalcitrant tribes, praising Mussolini for being the greatest legislator in Europe, his racism, etc were just opinions and very small things compared to his "accomplishments".

"If we were to denude Britain of all the statues of dead politicians and soldiers who held a few views we now find problematic, the country would be littered with unoccupied plinths."

Does that mean there is a lack of people who could have statues, people who were progressives? There are only representative of a bloody and colonial past. "Pity the country that needs heroes."
Statues like those of Churchill, Rhodes and Havelock celebrate the British Empire and having the faces of those people in public places or on bank notes means glorifying that past; it means being proud of it.
No to statues whether of Lenin or Churchil or Jefferson. Pull all of them down. 
Labour movements and popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt
Joel Beinin explains what happened. He begins with the dire situation in Egypt today.
Celebrating empire: that woman on the ten-pound note.

Jane Austen
"Unfortunately, the revolution in the West did not materialise.  While the planned economy succeeded in transforming the lives of millions, Russia was isolated, surrounded and very quickly the regime itself degenerated into a totalitarian dictatorship and finally into a corrupt capitalist autocracy far from the aims of the revolution of 1917."

The Russian Revolution — some economic notes


The Russian Revolution of October 1917

Should we regret the Russian Revolution?
When the celebrated Saudi-Jordanian novelist Abdel-Rahman Munif was asked why he named his literary masterpiece on the rise of the petro-modernist cities of the Gulf Cities of Salt, he replied:
By Cities of Salt, I meant cities that grew suddenly in an unnatural and extraordinary way, not as a result of a long historical accumulation that led to their expansion, but more as a kind of explosion due to sudden wealth. This wealth (oil) has led to inflated cities that have become like balloons that can explode and end once they touch something sharp. The same applies to salt. Although it is necessary for life, humans, and all creatures, any increase in its quantity  . . . life becomes unsustainable. This is what is expected of the cities of salt.  . . . When floods come to them, when electricity is cut off, or when you experience real difficulties of one kind or another, we will discover that these cities are fragile places ill fit to be modern cradles for human life and betterment. 
Blade Runner in the Gulf 
"Les classes moyennes sont donc structurellement destinées à vivre entre espérance et déception, entre enthousiasme et désenchantement, dans un système qui par nature ne peut qu’engendrer et exacerber des revendications qu’il ne peut satisfaire totalement. La logique objective de leur condition conduit les petits-bourgeois à développer deux sortes d’attentes. Les unes, proportionnées aux capitaux dont ils disposent réellement, les aspirations orthodoxes si l’on peut dire, ont toute chance de recevoir satisfaction, ce qui a pour effet de renforcer l’adhésion et d’alimenter le consensus. Les autres, les aspirations hérétiques, exorbitantes par rapport aux capitaux réels, ont toute probabilité d’être rejetées comme d’irrecevables prétentions, ce qui a pour effet d’attiser la frustration et d’alimenter la contestation."

Le double jeu des classes moyennes
Refugees are a pain, aren't they? They come to our country illegally and they want comfort and be treated as humans! Australians have learnt something: they have not forgotten what happened to German girls when Germany accepted refugees. Plus, look how small and poor Australia is. The country cannot accept more people.
"Who can doubt—after massive demonstrations on two successive Sundays in Barcelona (followed later by a general strike in Sabadell and a building workers’ strike in the capital)—that Catalonia is closer to the ruptura than any other region at present. If pushed to it—by an ‘accident’ or by mass popular pressure or both—the bourgeois opposition parties would certainly be willing to lead it, if only in the end to try to control it. But without such pressure? Of if they fear that such pressure may escape their control?" — Ronald Fraser, 1976
Paradises on Earth

The title “Paradises of the Earth” is inspired by the great Amazigh historian Ibn Khaldoun who once described thecoastal oasis of Gabes as a "paradise on earth.” But Gabes isn’t the only place that used to be a paradise. Many more paradises have been victim of colonial and neo-colonial violence, just like their inhabitants: “the Wretched of theEarth.” Thus, the title "Paradises of the Earth" is a reference to both Ibn Khaldoun and the revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon. You can read more here on Paradises of The Earth Website
Catalonia: all point to a protracted crisis

Barage to Catalonia
It is not only about defending past crimes; it is also going on justifying present ones.

Close to a year ago, on 12 December of last year, PM Theresa May addressed the Annual Business Lunch of the Conservative Friends of Israel in these terms: “On November 2, 1917, the then Foreign Secretary – a Conservative Foreign Secretary – Arthur James Balfour wrote: ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, …’”
The PM read the whole text of the letter I will be getting back to later. She then went on saying: “It is one of the most important letters in history. It demonstrates Britain’s vital role in creating a homeland for the Jewish people. And it is an anniversary we will be marking with pride.”

The PM added: “Born of that letter, and the efforts of so many people, is a remarkable country.” A country, Israel, which the PM described as “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance, an engine of enterprise and an example to the rest of the world for overcoming adversity and defying disadvantages.”

Then they tell us that those who commit acts of violence on the streets of England "hate our democracy and our way of life".

Zionism, anti-Semitism, and the Balfour Declaration

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty