It was “the strange God” who perched himself on the altar cheek by jowl with the old Gods of Europe, and one fine day with a shove and a kick chucked them all of a heap. It proclaimed surplus-value making as the sole end and aim of humanity." —K.M.
"Lopéz Obrador is a bigger threat to liberal democracy than Bolsonaro," says an FT headline.
For the defenders of capital nowadays even a social democrat, an Obrador in Mexico or a Corbyn in the UK, is a threat to capitalism. It shows how fundamentalist the bourgeoisie has become. It also demonstrates that despite the recent events since 2006 and a possibility of an another recession, the global bourgeosie feels triumphant.
In an interview with Al Jazeera in October last year, he said: "It was such a different world then. Britain was a different country. It was a country with a heart. We have lost some of our early love for each other.
"And today, 'immigrant' is a dirty word, it's ridiculous."

Harry Leslie Smith
What is better, robbing a bank or founding one?

The Deutsche Bank
"The failure of modernization theory to explain political, social, economic, and cultural processes in the Middle East and Muslim countries beyond it seemed to US establishment scholarship as less related to the theoretical fallacies of modernization theory itself and more a function of the exceptionalism of Arab or Islamic cultures more generally. While the rest of area studies and anti-establishment Middle East scholars were turning to dependency theory to underdtand socioeconomic and political processes unfolding in Africa, Asia and Latin America (Samir Amin, who is primarily Middle East scholar, is a pioneer theorist of dependency ...), mainstream Middle East Studies was turning to Islam and culture, ignoring the central attribute of imperial connections to the region that are primarily defined by oil, it was not the nature of US imperial interest in and control of oil production that was seen as "exceptional" about the region, regulating the types of its ruling regimes and the kinds of resistance they generated, but rather the facile notion of Islamic and Arab "culture."
—Jospeh Massad, Islam in Liberalism, 2016 ed. pp. 39-40

From Leonardo Padura's The Man Who Loved Dogs, pp. 220-21

Tunisians to the Saudi Crown Prince: "Tunisia is not for sale", "No to the murderer", and "Our land is not a destination for you to wash off your sins." A charge has been filed to a high Tunisian court against Bin Salman and the Saudi crimes, including the ones committed in Yemen.

US, UK and other "democracies": hand-shaking and hugs, arms deals, hundreds of billions of dollars,  and decades of support of the Saudi autocracy.
"All colonial wars for the last twenty-five years have been fought in the interest of capital; fought to ensure markets that would guarantee more profits for European capital. Capital has become very powerful, all-powerful. Capital decides the fate of humanity." — Jean Marais in This Earth of Mankind, a novel by Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Bernardo Bertolucci (1941-2018)

Bertolucci's epic Novecento


Could an eccentric group, born out as a reaction to state violence, now ineffective, be 
"our" new born-again "freedom fighters"?

At the annual “Free Iran” conference that the group stages in Paris each summer, dozens of elected US and UK representatives – along with retired politicians and military officials – openly call for the overthrow of the Islamic republic and the installation of Maryam Rajavi as the leader of Iran. At last year’s Paris rally, the Conservative MP David Amess announced that “regime change … is at long last within our grasp”. At the same event, Bolton – who championed war with Iran long before he joined the Trump administration – announced that he expected the MEK to be in power in Tehran before 2019. “The behaviour and the objectives of the regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself,” he declared.
The main attraction at this year’s Paris conference was another longtime MEK supporter, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, now Donald Trump’s lawyer. “The mullahs must go. The ayatollah must go,” he told the crowd. “And they must be replaced by a democratic government which Madam Rajavi represents.” Giuliani also praised the work of MEK “resistance units” inside Iran, that he credited with stoking a recent wave of protests over the struggling economy. “These protests are not happening by accident,” he said. “They’re being coordinated by many of our people in Albania.” (Giuliani, Bolton and the late John McCain are among the US politicians who have travelled to Albania to show support for the MEK.)

In 2009, the UK delisted the MEK as a terror group. The Obama administration removed the group from the US terror list in 2012, and later help.

Mujahidin e-Khalq
"There is no state in Lebanon"

There is a state in Lebanon. It is present in other spheres, but obviously it is not there when it comes to social inequality. In fact it perpetrates social inequality like in many other countries, including rich ones (look at poverty in Britain or France, for example). Labaki, the director, does not criticise the state. A critique of the state in the review is Ms Naggar's addition. Also, there is a lot of "emotional extortion" instead of including a bigger picture of the state structure and social relations which spawn such social diseases. I have found this review (in Arabic) much better. 
"Opposition Labour Party plots overthrow of Capitalism" —Reuters

Note the use of the verb "to plot", which is defined by Oxford Dictionary as "a plan made in secret by a group of people to do something illegal or harmful."

It is scary: we have just discovered that there is "a plot", "a secret plan", that Corbyn, McDonnell and their guerrillas have been organising a parallel underground organisation and an armed wing of the Labour Party in order to overthrow the system, possibly with the support of Cuba and China, with promises from North Korea that she will send advisors once the new regime is estabilshed.
"Nine in 10 UK adults (91%) said that having sex with someone other than their partner was cheating,"

The following survey might not be accurate, but there is some truth in it: Deep conservatism in the so-called liberal society.

"Street and sexual life in the UK"
Enlightenment! The London School of Economics has just named a building after Emmeline Pankhurst.

From John Stuart Mill to Emmeline Pankhurst.

J. S. Mill: The gigantic "federation" albeit "unequal", that was the British empire "has the advantage, especially valuable at the present time, of adding to the moral influence, and weight in the councils of the world, of the Power which, of all in existence, best understands liberty—and whatever may have been its errors in the past, has attained the more of conscience and moral principle in its dealings with foreigners than any other great nation seems either to conceive as possible or recognise as desirable."
—Mill, Utilitarianism, London 1972 ed. p. 380

E. Pankhurst: "Some talk about the Empire and Imperialism as if it were something to decry and something to be ashamed of. [I]t is a great thing to be the inheritors of an Empire like ours ... great in territory, great in potential wealth...If we can only realise and use that potential wealth we can destroy thereby poverty, we can remove and destroy ignorance." (Sources: wikipedia and The Telegraph)
Just finished this interesting novel

Social progress in England

Health and social care spending cuts since 2010 are linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England, with the over 60s and care home residents most affected, finds new University College London research.

Collateral damage?
"Such terms as “proletarian literature” and “proletarian culture” are dangerous, because they erroneously compress the Culture of the future into the narrow limits of the present day. They falsify perspectives, they violate proportions, they distort standards and they cultivate the arrogance of small circles which is most dangerous." — Leon Trotsky, Revolution and Literature, 1924
In post 9-11 the U.S. spent $6 trillion, killing half a million people

The price was worth it!

I live in a town with a statue of Richard Cobden, an English capitalist and "liberal. In the mid-nineteenth century, Cobden exclaimed,

"We have been the most combative and aggressive community that has existed since the days of the Roman dominion. Since the Revolution of 1688 we have expended more than fiften hundered millions of money upon wars, not one of which has been upon our own shores, or in defense of our hearths and homes ... this pugnacious propensity has been invariably recognized by those who have studied our national charcter." 
Quoted in Daniel Pick, War Machine, 1993, p. 21
"Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action. Do not allow those whose magical thinking got us into this mess to tell us what can and cannot be done."

"The earth is in a death spiral"

See also how
Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals
The Brexiteers assert that the myth has been enacted (‘We killed the dragon!’). The Remainers deny the myth (‘You lied, there was no dragon!’). This makes it an argument about myth, and here the Brexiteers are on stronger ground. Every myth has two facets, the story that is told to make events or states of being comprehensible to people, and the underlying events or states that provide the material for the myth; a stylised, simplified dramatisation of change, and the change that demands dramatisation. Reckless, hypocritical, deluded, mendacious and chauvinist as they are, the Brexiteers found a real set of circumstances, and misapplied a popular, off-the-shelf folk myth to it. By simply rejecting the Brexiteer myth, without offering another, better one, the Remainers appear to deny the underlying changes. ‘Look,’ the Leave voter says to the Remainer. ‘Look at the abandoned coal mines, the demolished factories, the empty fishing harbours. Look at the old people lying sick on trolleys in hospital corridors and how there aren’t enough school places to go round and how you can’t afford a roof over your head. Look at my debts. Look at the low-wage work that’s all that’s left. Look at the decent jobs that have gone abroad. Look at the foreign workers we have to compete with, where did they come from? Who are all these strangers? If the problem isn’t the EU, what is it?’ The Remainer struggles to answer. Why?

A belief in the imperative to conserve the traditional, authentic and distinctive in local cultures clashes with a fervent promotion of universal rights and freedoms. This is the liberal bourgeois dilemma: the irreconcilability of the desires for universality and particularity. 

Brexit and Myths of Englishness
Social progress!

Homeless teens in England
 "The British bourgeoisie do not spare any money as far as this institution is concerned, and that is as it should be." — Lenin, impressed by the British state's commitment to the British Museum library.

London's role in the Russian revolution
By 1900 the Victorian empire upon which the sun never set included 11 million square miles and 390 million people.2 7 In the course of European expansion, the Andean and Mesoamerican civilizations were effectively eliminated, Indian and Islamic civilizations along with Africa were subjugated, and China was penetrated and subordinated to Western influence. Only Russian, Japanese, and Ethiopian civilizations, all three governed by highly centralized imperial authorities, were able to resist the onslaught of the West and maintain meaning­ ful independent existence. For four hundred years intercivilizational relations consisted of the subordination of other societies to Western civilization.

The causes of this unique and dramatic development included the social structure and class relations of the West, the rise of cities and commerce, the relative dispersion of power in Western societies between estates and monarchs and secular and religious authorities, the emerging sense of national conscious­ ness among Western peoples, and the development of state bureaucracies. The immediate source of Western expansion, however, was technological: the invention of the means of ocean navigation for reaching distant peoples and the development of the military capabilities for conquering those peoples. "[I]n large measure," as Geoffrey Parker has observed, " 'the rise of the West' de­pended upon the exercise of force, upon the fact that the military balance between the Europeans and their adversaries overseas was steadily tilting in favour of the former;. . . the key to the Westerners' success in creating the first truly global empires between 1500 and 1750 depended upon precisely those improvements in the ability to wage war which have been termed 'the military revolution.' " The expansion of the West was also facilitated by the superiority in organization, discipline, and training of its troops and subsequently by the superior weapons, transport, logistics, and medical services resulting from its leadership in the Industrial Revolution. The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do. [my emphasis N. M.]
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilisation and the Remaking 
of the World Order, 1996, p. 51

What imeprialism reproduces while dominating a local uncivilized population

"Max Ginsburg painted Torture Abu Ghraib (oil, 46×32) from life, except for the dog, which came from one of the photographs of prisoners tortured by American soldiers. The models for the figures are wearing costumes from an Army-Navy store. Ginsburg was influenced, while he was working, by Caravaggio’s Flagellation of Christ. 2007. Iraqis will never forget. My students have no idea about this."
— T. Swedenburg, November 2018

On the 9th of March Noske ordered the Reichswehr to shoot on the spot anything that moved. Then the butchers set about their work. While the facades of houses collapsed under the fire of machine guns and mortars and whole families were buried under the rubble, the proletarians were herded with live fire and bayonets into the schoolyards and stables. Alone, by twos, by threes, in groups: against the wall and shot. At night on the river Spree, the revolvers touched workers’ temples and shot. For weeks the Spree washed up corpses onto the shore. Again and again: “A Spartacist nest has been dug up” and eight human beings shot, thirty shot, thirty four shot, and so it went hour by hour, day and night.

The German revolution, 100 years ago

Those who now talk about the atrocities of the First World War and patriotism are the same people who would tell you "get over it" and "you have a chip on your shoulder" when you mention the British empire and neo-colonialism.
America, America

By the Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef, Damascus, 1995
How "liberation" is brought about. A dictator was toppled and killed 7 years ago with the help of imperialist powers. Hypocritical powers, which sometimes opposed him, other times befriended him, turned "humanist". Hypocrisy that would manifest itself more openly with the very same powers towards the Assad regime. A Syrian regime which reacted towards a peaceful uprising with much more brutal force.

Although the summary below is called "the big picture", it does not include any geo-political background: the charecteristics of the relationship between the major Western powers, namely the US, Britain, France, Italy, Russia, and the Gaddafi regime. "The big picture" does not include the nature of the regime and the place of Libya in Africa and among the Arab countries, its oil, etc.

Why did the major imperialist powers protect the Egyptian regime, but not the Libyan one? 

The Death of Gaddafi
"Benevolent dictatorship"

When one hears students advocating a "benevolent dictators" for the Arab countries, one not only understands that the Arabs are unfit to carry out a change because that change may bring about undesirbale consequences for some, but one also understands that those students are echoing the enlightened French liberal Alexis de Tocqueville in his "reconstruction" of the outcome of the French Revolution. 

It would have been better if, "instead of being carried out by the masses on behalf of the sovereignty of the people, [it] had been the work of an enlightened autocrat ... [a]n absolute monarch would have been a far less dangerous innovator."
—Alexis de Tocqueville, The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution, London, Fontana, 1966, p.187.

I am with terrorism

Niza'r Qabbani, London 1997 
Qabbani was a Syrian poet, diplomat and publisher.
War has been the most convenient pseudo-solution for the problems of twentieth-century capitalism. It provides the incentives to modernisation and technological revolution which the market and the pursuit of profit do only fitfully and by accident, it makes the unthinkable (such as votes for women and the abolition of unemployment) not merely thinkable but practicable.... What is equally important, it can re-create communities of men and give a temporary sense to their lives by uniting them against foreigners and outsiders. This is an achievement beyond the power of the private enterprise economy ... when left to itself.

—Eric J. Hobsbawm, London Observer, May 26, 1968

Reviewing The Age of Catastrophe by Henrich Winkler

Metaphysicking the West
"Not so long ago, socialism in the USA was equated with Communism, which in turn was equated with Stalinist Russia, which in turn was equated with the Evil Empire, which, as we all know, was equated with the sinister realm of Satan, the Antichrist and everything that was contrary to apple pie, motherhood, and every other well-known American value."

Trump's advisors slander socialism
"While climate change is a major global concern, the rush to link climate change with recent upheavals in the Middle East, such as Egypt’s 2011 revolution, is both simplifying and depoliticizing. The link between climate, bread, and protest erases important social, material, and cultural nuances, distorts the allocation of responsibility, and ultimately, obscures more than it illuminates."

Overstating Climate Change in Egypt's Uprising
In Europe's richest country

"There’s the conversation at the bakery where an old woman complains about the “bad” foreigners, and the woman serving her agrees. There’s the conductor on the tramway who deliberately checks only the tickets of the black passengers. And there are the attacks on leftwing cultural projects or community centres – stones thrown, beatings, the violence you experience when you try to get involved. And there’s the passivity of the so-called civilian population – locals who stand by when a black person is beaten up in the town centre. Racist, fascist normality sets in."

I live among the neo-Nazis

“The problem with the Houthis,” he said, “is that they are a reaction to others’ behavior.”

How the war in Yemen became a bloody stalemate and the worst humanitarian crisis in the world
In its latest report the National Crime Agency said "around 4,600 serious and organised crime groups existed in the UK and their activities affected more citizens than all other national security threats combined."

I thought Muslims were the biggest threat to national security! Hang on! May be these group are run by Muslims!

Organised crime in the UK
Lawmaker Khawla Ben Aicha expects to propose changes to Article 230 of the country’s penal code, a remnant of French colonial rule which punishes same-sex physical relationships with up to three years in prison, in early November.

Anal tests could finally be banned in Tunisia

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty