Showing posts from January, 2018
"Over the past thirty years [add nine years since these words were written], capitalist realism has successfully installed a 'business ontology' in which it is simply obvious that everything in society, including healthcare and education, should be run as a business. As any number of radical theorists from Brecht through to Foucault and Badiou have maintained, emancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of a 'natural order', must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable. It is worth recalling that what is currently called realistic was itself once 'impossible': the slew of privatizations that took place since the 1980s would have been unthinkable only a decade earlier, and the current political-economic landscape (with unions in abeyance, utilities and railways denationalized) could scarcely have been
Because of depression Mark Fisher took his life last year. A friend of mine sought counselling. She told me they had never asked her about work and her working conditions. I have recently heard that a colleague of mine is away because of stress. Personally, I narrowly escaped depression 18 months ago. Here is the context: "The ‘rigidity’ of the Fordist production line gave way to a new ‘flexibility’, a word that will send chills of recognition down the spine of every worker today. This flexibility was defined by a deregulation of Capital and labor, with the workforce being casualized (with an increasing number of workers employed on a temporary basis), and outsourced. Like Sennett, Marazzi recognizes that the new conditions both required and emerged from an increased cybernetization of the working environment. The Fordist factory was crudely divided into blue and white collar work, with the different types of labor physically delimited by the structure of the building it
"It is impossible to conceive of fascism or Stalinism without propaganda - but capitalism can proceed perfectly well, in some ways better, without anyone making a case for it. Žižek's counsel here remains invaluable. 'If the concept of ideology is the classic one in which the illusion is located in knowledge', he argues,  'then today's society must appear post-ideological: the prevailing ideology is that of cynicism; people no longer believe in ideological truth; they do not take ideological propositions seriously. The fundamental level of ideology, however, is not of an illusion masking the real state of things but that of an (unconscious) fantasy structuring our social reality itself. And at this level, we are of course far from being a post-ideological society. Cynical distance is just one way ... to blind ourselves to the structural power of ideological fantasy: even if we do not take things seriously, even if we keep an ironical distance, we are sti
"For most people under twenty in Europe and North America, the lack of alternatives to capitalism is no longer even an issue. Capitalism seamlessly occupies the horizons of the thinkable. Jameson used to report in horror about the ways that capitalism had seeped into the very unconscious; now, the fact that capitalism has colonized the dreaming life of the population is so taken for granted that it is It would be dangerous and misleading to imagine that the near past was some prelapsarian state rife with political potentials, so it's as well to remember the role that commodification played in the production of culture throughout the twentieth century. Yet the old struggle between  detournement  and recuperation, between subversion and incorporation, seems to have been played out. What we are dealing with now is not the incorporation of materials that previously seemed to possess subversive potentials, but instead, their  precorporation:  the pre-emptive formatting and shapin
The Middle East and Henry Kissinger's "grand strategies"
"The “Houthis are Shi‘a” narrative should be seen for what it is—a carefully crafted piece of political rhetoric devised to gloss over important differences between religious denominations, to reinforce the false image of a war between those who identify as Sunni versus those who identify as Shi‘a, and to encourage foreign—and particularly US—military intervention in Yemen. It provides a dangerously simplistic mental short cut for policymakers who are unfamiliar with Yemeni history and politics. In so doing, it diverts attention from the massive humanitarian crisis caused by years of civil war and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition’s ongoing blockade and bombardment. The cynical use of sectarian language casts the conflict in Yemen as part of an epochal, region-wide struggle rather than a local civil war made more deadly for Yemeni civilians by Saudi and Emirati intervention." How the Houthis became "Shi'a"
" Deleuze observes that the Control societies delineated by Kafka himself, but also by Foucault and Burroughs, operate using indefinite postponement: Education as a lifelong process... Training that persists for as long as your working life continues... Work you take home with you... Working from home, homing from work. A consequence of this ‘indefinite’ mode of power is that external surveillance is succeeded by internal policing. Control only works if you are complicit with it."  Mark Fisher, Capitalist Reaslism  
"By contrast with their forebears in the 1960s and 1970s, British students today appear to be politically disengaged. While French students can still be found on the streets protesting against neoliberalism, British students, whose situation is incomparably worse, seem resigned to their fate. But this, I want to argue, is a matter not of apathy, nor of cynicism, but of reflexive impotence . They know things are bad, but more than that, they know they can’t do anything about it. But that ‘knowledge’, that reflexivity, is not a passive observation of an already existing state of affairs. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Reflexive impotence amounts to an unstated worldview amongst the British young, and it has its correlate in widespread pathologies. Many of the teenagers I worked with had mental health problems or learning difficulties. Depression is endemic. It is the condition most dealt with by the National Health Service, and is afflict
Edward Said London Lecture 2018 An event in one of the most expensive areas of London for some middle class intellectuals!
الأرشيف النضالي لعمال الغزل والنسيج
Half of London newly-built luxury flats fail to sell This is not big news. I am looking forward to the day when the housing market in England crashes badly.
Pessimist Monbiot?
السياسات الجنسية والجندرية
" Soon, the United Kingdom will consist of Buckingham Palace, the City, some satanic mills in the north and some desiccated farms elsewhere. So, the debate over the Empire has the soothing quality of a dream world in which it seems alive again, brought to life by the question of how bad, or occasionally good, it was." Empire of Ethics
Why attacking Afrin would a major blunder and Solidarity with Afrin, al-Ghouta and Idlib
There is a history there, but I am mystified by such a widespread fear of Muslims among ordinary Burmans, so I throw up my hands. But it’s been fanned and cultivated and whipped up by Buddhist nationalists who have their own particular agenda, and by Rakhine who have their own history and anxieties that are deeply rooted and realistic, and by the military, for whom all this helps to solidify their claims to power and control of the economy and state. These attitudes are there and they are deeply rooted but they have been politically mobilized like no one has ever seen. The Rohingya were quite passive historically but now they have become a point of public mobilization. Yet if one wanted to get upset about an “outside” economic threat in Myanmar then the Yunnan Chinese population, and the Chinese companies that control all of northern Burma, would be the source of a more realistic and palpable concern of economic domination than the Muslims have ever posed." Most resistance does
Iran: Ismail Abdi back in prison
“all the successive governments of Tunisia after 14 January have devoted themselves to the same economic and social choices of the Ben Ali regime, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. (…) We are fed up with false promises and can no longer wait. We can no longer live without social welfare, without free access to healthcare, free education and social housing. We can no longer live without hope for change.” Tunisians oppose the IMF  The IMF in a few words
Societal repression in Egypt The Tentacles of autocracy Yes, a good point about the horizontal repression in society, and the class character of it. It is Freud meeting Wilhelm Reich meeting Weber and Marx. Missing: How long would the current regime and its state repression in Egypt along with the socio-economic structure and power relations last if international capital, Western states, the IMF, the  Paris Club, etc cease their support?  Six months? A year? Two years?
In English and Arabic Alain Badiou on the Egyptian revolution آلان باديو عن الثورة المصرية
"The melancholy songs of Pashaei represent the gloomy mood of a generation that feels it has got the blues. This “blue generation” feels cheated by a corrupt autocracy and has little faith in existing political ideologies. The main distinguishing feature of their political sensibility is the lack of any form of emotional attachment or sense of belonging to the political institutions or culture of post-revolutionary Iran. The blue generation inscribes itself in the short temporality of the last ten to fifteen years, therefore its experience of post revolutionary Iran has been of rampant corruption, lack of social freedoms, government inefficiency, religious tyranny, and curtailment of basic individual rights." A "Blue" Generation and Protests in Iran
Rough sleepers in England rise for seventh year Who owns London?
Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer
India: Minister refuses to retract statement on Darwin's theory
Capitalism realism means "a brutal state of affairs, profoundly inegalitarian - where all existence is evaluated in terms of money alone - is presented to us as ideal. To justify their conservatism, the partisans of the established order cannot really call it ideal or wonderful. So instead, they have decided to say that all the rest is horrible. Sure, they say, we may not live in a condition of perfect Goodness. But we're lucky that we don't live in a condition of Evil. Our democracy is not perfect. But it's better than the bloody dictatorships. Capitalism is unjust. But it's not criminal like Stalinism. We let millions of Africans die of AIDS, but we don't make racist nationalist declarations like Milosevic. We kill Iraqis with our airplanes, but we don't cut their throats with machetes like they do in Rwanda, etc."  — Alain Badiou And as Mark Fisher commented: "The 'realism' here is analogous to the deflation
The New Spirit of Capitalism
"... the strongest evidence that Trump’s electoral victory was not an uprising of the forgotten working class against economic distress brought about by neoliberalism and globalization is the evidence that  Trumpism is a pre-existing condition.  It has unfortunately been with us all along, as the resurgence of atavistic  revanchist white supremacism helps to make clear." Well, this piece has made me question a few things. Trumpism: A Pre-Existing Condition, Not a Response to Neoliberalism and Globalisation
"Although global in its causes and manifestations, left-liberalism found its purest expressions in the United States and Britain. The catchword was inclusion, which came to replace equality. Inspired by sociologists such as Anthony Giddens, the new Anglophone center (New Labor and Clintonism) focused on including more people at the table. Over three decades, inclusion increased in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation — but the table itself shrank. So yes, Black and Latino men and women, even Muslims, got prominent positions at institutions they could previously hardly dream of; but the Black and Latino prison population in the US increased, as did the number of Muslims bombed, embargoed and starved by the United States." The Rise of the Leninist Right
"Carillion is a very graphic confirmation that outsourcing public services and sectors to private companies to ‘save money’ on ‘inefficient’ public sector operations is a nonsense.  The reason for privatisation and outsourcing has really been to cut the costs of labour, reduce conditions and pension rights for employees and to make a quick buck for companies and hedge funds.  But such is competition for these contracts that, increasingly, private companies cannot sustain services or projects even when they have cut costs to the bone.  So they just pull out or go bust, leaving the taxpayer with the mess. It’s a microcosm of capitalist economic collapse." Interesting links about studies on privatisation. Carillion and the 'dead end' of privatisation
With Whites, Jews, and Us, Houria Bouteldja launches a scathing critique of the European Left from an indigenous anti-colonial perspective, reflecting on Frantz Fanon's political legacy, the republican pact, the Shoah, the creation of Israel, feminism, and the fate of postcolonial immigration in the West in the age of rising anti-immigrant populism. Drawing upon such prominent voices as James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Jean Genet, she issues a polemical call for a militant anti-racism grounded in the concept of revolutionary love. Such love will not come without significant discomfort for whites, and without necessary provocation. Bouteldja challenges widespread assumptions among the Left in the United States and Europe - that anti-Semitism plays any role in Arab - Israeli conflicts, for example, or that philo-Semitism doesn't in itself embody an oppressive position; that feminism or postcolonialist theory is free of colonialism; that integrationalism is a solution rather than a
"European countries claim to be at Tunisia's side, yet for years have failed to deliver on that promise. Instead, they prioritise their own  national interests, securing access to Tunisia's lucrative market and  workforce without reciprocating in kind." What a discovery!  January 1978 a general strike was drowned in blood. In December-January 1983-4 the "Bread Riots" also brutally suppressed with more than 80 deaths. December 2010-January 2014 an uprising was met with the police more than 80 people.  Now we are in January 2018 and protests have erupted. The local bourgeoisie with International capital and financial institutions (imperialism's "peaceful" tools) keep countries like Tunisia under their heel. You're on your own
A year ago the critic and cultural theorist  Mark Fisher passed away. Here is one of his pertinent observations: R: How has capitalism persuaded us that it’s the only ‘realistic’ political-economic system? M: "One way of getting to this is by forcing ritualistic compliance, where there’s no other available language or conceptual model for how we understand life, work, or society, except that of business. And that’s one of the key things that happened in that period, particularly with public services – and that’s something I dwell on at some length in the book ‘Capitalist Realism’. It’s the extent to which teachers are now required to go through these self-surveillance procedures, these self-assessment procedures, which have been imported in from business, and the strange subjective disavowal comes with these procedures often - managers who are uncomfortable imposing kind of business rhetoric, business methods, nevertheless will say to workers, say to teachers, ‘You
Essential Readings: The Syrian Uprising
Mohamad Malas, memory and life
"Whoever until this day emerges victorious, marches in the triumphal procession in which today’s rulers tread over those who are sprawled underfoot. The spoils are, as was ever the case, carried along in the triumphal procession. They are known as the cultural heritage. In the historical materialist they have to reckon with a distanced observer. For what he surveys as the cultural heritage is part and parcel of a lineage [ Abkunft : descent] which he cannot contemplate without horror. It owes its existence not only to the toil of the great geniuses, who created it, but also to the nameless drudgery of its contemporaries. There has never been a document of culture, which is not simultaneously one of barbarism. And just as it is itself not free from barbarism, neither is it free from the process of transmission, in which it falls from one set of hands into another. The historical materialist thus moves as far away from this as measurably possible. He regards it as his task to brush
NHS England "The number of nurses who leave every year is enough to staff 20 hospitals"
U.S. perspectives: a very short summary "[I]f Trump himself has fallen short of Hayekian ideals of economic reason, the appointment of yet another Goldman Sachs alumnus to the Treasury ensures that neoliberalism will continue  where it counts. Trump’s hyper-reactionary neoliberalism does not constitute a new hegemonic bloc, however. It is, on the contrary, chaotic, unstable, and fragile. That is partly due to the peculiar personal psychology of its standard-bearer and partly due to his dysfunctional codependency with the Republican Party establishment, which has tried and failed to reassert its control and is now biding its time while searching for an exit strategy. On the other hand  to "reinstate progressive neoliberalism*, on  any  basis, is to  recreate—indeed,  to  exacerbate—the  very conditions that created Trump. And that means preparing the ground for future  Trumps—ever  more vicious and dangerous."  — Nancy Fraser *An alliance of mainstream liberal cu
100 years after the Russian Revolution History from Below
Contrary to "value-free" social science (promoted by Max Weber), "The serious and critical reader will not want a treacherous impartiality … but a scientific conscientiousness, which for its sympathies and antipathies — open and undisguised — seeks support in an honest study of the facts, a determination of their real connections, an exposure of the causal laws of their movement." — Leon Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution
Mothering a Muslim
The Real Winston Churchill
One of the recent protests in the Middle East   (in Arabic)  Tunisians in the picture
Workers and Officers in Egypt: The Other Failed Revolution
Britain I've always heard "public is bad, private is good" as one of the tenets of the market fundamentalists. After the criminal activities of the banks, the taxpayers are at the end those who pay at the cost of other things (such as increasing the National Health Service budget). Here is another criminal activity
The latest on London's social cleansing
Essential Readings on Morocco
"Bew is entirely justified in arguing that many of the political stances associated with Blair have deep roots in the party’s tradition. But his belief that this tradition is something to be celebrated and preserved requires him to engage in suppression of inconvenient facts and mealy-mouthed equivocation about the crimes of British imperialism. Citizen Clem was intended to supply Labour’s Atlanticist right with historical ballast. A clear-eyed study of Attlee’s career is all the more important for the Corbynite left as an antidote to rosy-spectacled Labourist sentimentalism for him." Much to be modest about
An interesting story with a rubbish "solution" Bibi's Son
Britain's National Health Service "Patients are dying in corridors" " Since 2010 the budget has been rising at about 1% a year on average whereas  traditionally the NHS got over 4%." Deliberate policies to completely privatize the sector? I think so so. People like Richard Branson have already put a foot in it. They must be rubbing hands. Remember, everything is subject to commodification, especially in the most aggressive neoliberal capitalist countries. Patients 'dying in hospital corridors'
Morocco Justice and/or Development
A Poem by Dareen Tartour
Against the weapons of mass amnesia . Recent studies consider this to be a myth and deception. But even those later studies which disputed the half a million figure, estimate that between 100,00 and 200,000 children died because of the sanctions.    And an article by The Nation
It was only a few months ago when I discovered some of John Berger's ideas. I felt embarrassed of not knowing him before. John Berger ((1926-2017)
The dictatorship with the enslavers Egypt's rising debts
Capitalism's crisis of care and an excellent analysis here From progressive neoliberalism to Trump — and beyond
Nouvelles attaques du gouvernement contre un syndicat indépendant
Victor Jara paid hommage to Salvador Allende Sameeh Shukair paid hommage to Abdel Khaliq Mahjub
The Myth of "Populism"
In August 2011 the Syrian regime’s tanks occupied the city centre of Hama after a month-long siege which claimed the lives of more than 200 civilians. This is the famous revolutionary song  Get Out Bashar,   sung by thousands in mass protests  at the heart of Hama weeks before the tanks rolled in and still popular today. The other videos remind us of how it all was before the counterrevolution (with its internal and external forces) took over. (This subtitled version is not the full version)
Sayyid Qutb was a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s until his execution by Nacer. He was born "to a smallholding family on the outskirts of Asyut in Upper Egypt. Repulsed at a young age by local clerics who failed to 'simplify religion for the public', Qutb snubbed Azhar [University] and embarked on the path of secular education. Qutb graduated to become a primary schoolteacher on 1933, and assumed a few bureaucratic posts at the Ministry of Education between 1940 and 1952. Unlike the vigorous-looking and socially engaging [Hassan] Banna, [the founder of the the Muslim Brotherhood], Qutb was plangued by poor health, always appearing pale and heavy-eyed, and leading the life of a chronically depressed introvert in the then-desolate district of Helwan, outside the capital [Cairo]. He found solace not in religion, but in literature and sensual poetry, and was quickly drawn to a circle of European-inspired intellectualls, patronized by the towe
Iran " Putin, Assad, Hezbollah and all their cheerleaders in the alt-right and Stalinist left are already trying to smear the protests as pro-imperialist. The revolt shows, once again, that Stalinism is not a dead issue in the progressive movement, and that its remaining advocates want only an authoritarian “anti-imperialist” regime to support." Good! I completely agree with that. However, Paul Mason has drawn a fair picture until he messed it up with this: "But their rhetorical support does not delegitimise the mass upsurge, nor does it mean the EU and Western democratic countries should stand back and ignore the repression." Is he appealling to the EU and Western imperialist states to do something? I don't understand these type of leftist journalists who instead of appealing to progressives, trade unions, ordinary people, they talk to the criminal states which have been pursuing criminal, hypocritical policies for their own geopolitical interests. Th
"The Cold War served as a good justification for almost any outrageous action. One could use the Cold War to justify throwing one’s grandmother under the bus." "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." " Economists began predicting the imminent demise of the regime almost as soon as it was installed in February 1979. The main reason their predictions did not come true is precisely because the regime established a fairly comprehensive welfare state. The gradual but consistent shift to the right in recent years naturally erodes this welfare state and thereby undermines the social basis of the regime." I don't agree with the use of the word "populism". Nowadays, liberals and neoliberals use it to describe progressive and leftist movements and leaders in order to vilify and discredit them
Via Michael Roberts A new research paper reveals that over 150 years income and gains from the ownership of capital (property and financial assets) or more exactly wealth is much greater than the expansion of new value (economic growth). Thomas Piketty in his famous book of 2014, Capitalism in the 21st century,argued that if the return to capital exceeded the rate of economic growth, rentiers would accumulate wealth at a faster rate than incomes gr ow. This report confirms that for the last 150 years. The rich get richer from owning things rather than working for it. The only exceptions were in wars or in periods when the rate of profit on capital falls fast as in the 1880s, 1930s and 1970s and in the current depression. The rate of return on everything
Twenty-First Century Victorians
For those near UCLA Understanding the Middle East A conference
Sartre est effectivement resté constant dans son philo-sionisme fondamental. Peur de passer pour antisémite, sentiment de culpabilité devant l’Holocauste, refus de s’autoriser une perception en profondeur des Palestiniens comme victimes en lutte contre l’injustice d’Israël, ou quelque autre raison   ? je ne le saurai jamais. Tout ce que je sais, c’est que, dans sa vieillesse, il n’était guère différent de ce qu’il avait été jadis : la même amère source de déception pour tout Arabe, Algérien excepté, qui admirait à juste titre ses autres positions et son œuvre.  Ma rencontre avec Jean-Paul Sartre
Ahed Tamimi عهد تميمي Western governments are not interested in marketing her!
Iran update The economic problems this creates are serious. Youth unemployment stands at about 40%, more than 3 million Iranians are jobless and the prices of some basic food items, such as poultry and eggs, have recently soared by almost half. “This has started from the bottom of the society, from the less fortunate,” Reza, a Mashhad resident, said. “This is not middle-class protesting, this is lower-class demonstrating, people of the suburbs. Many are fed up with situation. (The Guardian, 31 December 2017) It looks that, unlike 2009 movement, this one is not middle-class-based protest movement.
Pyongyang's brutalist architecture Brutal, indeed.  However, a city with no  visual pollution, no  neons and commercial advertising is not a bad thing. I believe the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, also bans commercial advertising. 
I hate New Year's Day