Showing posts from December, 2018
انتظرها محمود درويش
I hate New Year's Eve and I hate New Year's Day
A book review A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (The book is currently half price on Verso website and even cheaper as an e-book)
“Many people in the West don’t understand that there is nothing “natural” or ahistorical in the fact that Islamic fundamentalism is nowadays the most visible political current among Muslim peoples. They ignore or forget that the picture was completely different in other historical periods of our contemporary history – that, for instance, a few decades ago the largest nongoverning communist party in the world, a party officially referring therefore to an atheistic doctrine, was in the country with the largest Muslim population: Indonesia – of course, until the party was crushed in a bloodbath at the hands of the US-backed Indonesian military starting in 1965. They ignore or forget, to give another example of the same kind, that in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the most massive political organization in Iraq, especially among the Shiites in Southern Iraq, was not led by some cleric but was here, too, the Communist Party” —Gilbert Achcar and Noam Chomsky, 2007 Yes. true. However, fo
State and Religion in Islamic Societies
Fortress UK A headline on The Telegraph " Return boat migrants to France or face a humanitarian crisis, says ex-Home Office chief" We cannot afford having them, these 1 million plus (non-oligarchic) refugees, probably most of them Muslims): we are a poor country, running out of space, houses have already been taken by (unskilled) immigrants (many of them come here for our "generous benefits" system), we don't have money (we have just sold half of our second biggest airport), we are a loving people that cannot afford more hate !
When will Western academics who write about our region start citing our work, us, the academics and public intellectuals OF the region, the one they are writing about and claim to be experts in and are awarded academic jobs accordingly? When will this Western orgiastic discourse about us stop? When will they consider our own writings about our own families, our own states and governments, our own cultural practices worthy of their consideration? When will this incestuous cita tion fest where Westerners cite other Westerners about the Arabs come to an end? When will this “anti-enlightenment patronizing bullshit stop? When will they think of us as intellectuals worthy of their consideration and not just Westernized dupes and they, the Westerners, know what is good for us better than we do?  The crazy ass part about this is that those who write are constantly fretting about how our own “subjectivity” is not represented in this and that project and to establish the point they cite oth
Capital Versus Peace in Mexico
What is the value of the economic reforms imposed on the Arab world?
Race and class in the UK / "our values" You are not only exploited, you are more exploited than others See also Ethnic academic minority pay
Celebrating 70 years of "Human Rights"? “Above all, we note the fact that the so-called rights of man, the droits de l’homme as distinct from the droits du citoyen , are nothing but the rights of a member of civil society – i.e., the rights of egoistic man, of man separated from other men and from the community ... This fact becomes still more puzzling when we see that the political emancipators go so far as to reduce citizenship, and the political community , to a mere means for maintaining these so-called rights of man, that, therefore, the citoyen is declared to be the servant of egoistic homme , that the sphere in which man acts as a communal being is degraded to a level below the sphere in which he acts as a partial being, and that, finally, it is not man as citoyen , but man as bourgeois who is considered to be the essential and true man.” — K. M.
"Revolutionary" practices in Tunisia
Syrian prison being emptied by mass murder
I have just finished reading The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura, in its English translation. It is a great novel. I wish I could read it in Spanish.
From the archive An unabashed mobilisation of ancient colonial binaries, with Russian imperialism cast as the guardian of secular, modern, liberal civilization against a barbarian ISIS.  Its author has stated the upshot  of this perspective quite explicitly: “kill them all”. Or, to put it another way, exterminate the brutes. One is reminded of peak Hitchens, and of the traditions of imperialist apologia that he more or less deliberately evoked. And one is impressed by how deep this goes in parts of the left. Of course, Russian imperialism is not defending secular liberalism; that’s not how imperialism works. And its targets are demonstrably much broader than ISIS. Of course, the Assad dictatorship is much more steeped in blood than ISIS at this point. The colonial unconscious, even if it has no history, should be placed in historical context. In the aftermath of the Great Indian Rebellion in 1857, in which the British press reported (usually invented and embellished) atrociti
The neoliberalisation of (sex) work in the UK
The ghosts of Christmas present Christmas is always a time of heightened emotion in Britain. The airwaves are filled with pop songs specially composed for the festive period and the same irritating tunes are endlessly looped in supermarkets and department stores. Short of total isolation there is no escape from the Christmas vortex. Families get together again and work colleagues get drunk at office parties as the country winds down until the New Year. It is a time for relaxation and excessive eating and drinking. However, as happiness is on the order of the day and enjoyment is in great demand such heightened expectations also produce their opposite, as the lonely, the excluded, and the poorest are confronted by the stark contrast between hype and reality.  At London’s busiest shopping intersection in Oxford Circus, Danny, a former Speakers’ Corner regular wields a megaphone. He stands self-confident and righteously appeals to the bustling mass of passers-by not to buy any Chris
Some good arguments, but "liberalism in theory" itself has to be questioned. "In theory, modern liberalism is a set of ideas about human freedom, markets, and representative government. In practice, or so it now seems to me, it has largely become a political affect, and a quintessentially conservative one at that: a set of reflexes common to those with a Panglossian faith in capitalist markets and the institutions that attempt to sustain them amid our flailing global order. In theory, it is an ideology of progress. In practice, it has become the secular theology of the status quo; the mechanism through which the gilded buccaneers of  Silicon Valley , Wall Street, and multinational capital rationalize hierarchy and exploitation while fostering resignation and polite deference among those they seek to rule." Liberalism in Theory and Practice
Note: Gandhi's racism is mentioned in S. Thahroor's book Inglorious Empire . What did Mahatma Gandhi think of black people?
The Political Economic Context of Syria's Reconstruction
Hungary: Stop "the slave law"
Israel's thriving war business in Europe
السودان: لما يطل في فجرنا ظالم
Mike Davis on  "The crimes of capitalism and socialism" I have read Davis' book Late Victorian Holocausts. It is  monumental, and great scholarship.
There is nothing strange or shocking here (it is on wikipedia), but confirms the hypocrisy of "democracy", and capitalist realism. We don't see such reports about The World Bank and the IMF as institutions which prolongue the lives of authoritarian regimes and maintain the interests of the major powers. After all, attacking a well-known and established firm like McKinsey is not good. Shouldn't we have concerns about jobs that might be lost if the firm stop working with some regimes? Wasn't the same concern expressed by the British arms industry when it was told by some activists to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia because the weapons are being used against Yemenis? The High Court ruled in favour of the arms industry and thus saved thousands of jobs! Capitalism realism means both hypocrisy and making fuss out of nothing to sell it to the public. "Mckinsey work in Russia is extensive. Its Moscow office, the largest of the Western consulting firms worki
"There are two dimensions of politics.   There is the dimension in which, because of living pressures, men try to understand their world and improve it. This dimension is persistently human. But besides it, always, is that parading robot of polemic, which resembles human thinking in everything but its capacity for experience. If you step into the robot’s world, you get your fuel free, and you can immediately grind into action, on one of the paper fronts, where the air stinks of pride, destruction, malice and exhaustion. Men need a good society and they need food, and further, in our own time, we know that we are living on the edge of destruction. But the slip into the robot world, so easy to make, is against these needs even when it claims to satisfy them. As I look, now, at the greater part of our political campaigns and periodicals, I recognize, reluctantly, the cancer of violence in them, which is our actual danger. And it is no use, after that, turning away. We have to fight
"Can it be realistic to assume that there will be no major slump in the major capitalist economies over the next ten to 15 years? A slump as the UK economy experienced in 2008-9 would deliver much more long-lasting damage to national income than even a ‘bad Brexit’ deal.  I calculate that the UK economy, like all the other major economies in the Long Depression that has taken place in the last ten years, has experienced a permanent relative loss in GDP – in the UK’s case of over 25%.  In other words, the UK economy has had average growth some one-quarter slower since 2008 than it did before.  Even if it continued to grow at around 2% over the next ten years with no impact from Brexit, that relative loss from the Great Recession would reach 40% by 2030.  That would be four times as much as the worst outcome from Brexit." Brexit: 100 days and after
"Throughout the book — whether on privatisation, “modernisation” of public services, university tuition fees, de-industrialisation and financialisation, Scottish independence, the British Labour Party or “enduring British values” — Brown’s efforts to portray himself as an opponent of neoliberalism are as unconvincing as his attempt to exonerate himself over Iraq. He’s too clumsy not to reveal his true colours. Benjamin Netanyahu is “an old friend and colleague”. British business magnate and billionaire Alan Sugar is “brilliant and inspirational”. The Malvinas/Falklands conflict was a “triumph” worth celebrating. And in the closing pages he approvingly quotes not Thomas Paine or Mary Wollstonecraft, but Edmund Burke, the conservative critic of the French Revolution whose writings spurred Paine and Wollstonecraft to produce their greatest works in reply." Review of Gordon Brown's autobiography
A country with the size of Western Europe,  centuries of exploitation, a Belgian-led Genocide, a CIA-backed coup, plunder by multinationals, 5 million killed in the last 20 years ... Congo An analysis Africa's Leaky Giant
Holding another referendum on the EU would "break faith with the British people", Theresa May will warn MPs. I think it is accurate to use the word "faith".
The top 1% own 48% of global personal wealth Inequality and exploitation? "It's been always like that." "We can't do anything about it." "These people are wealth creators." "There is still progress. We live better today than 50 or 60 years ago." "After all, liberal democracy is spreading all over the world." "What's the alternative?"
At least it is better than Le Monde's and France Info's gutter press of the existing order The gilets jaunes
كيف صنعت أمريكا النسخة الجهادية الخاصة بها
It was good to see the man who had no qualms about dropping "the mother of all bombs" (MOAB) on  Afghanistan  or arming Saudi Arabia to the teeth to slaughter Yemenis had suddenly developed a gentle soul and felt he could not handle hearing the suffering of  a single person being strangled . How do Arabs scream in Arabic ?
Budapest: Anti-Orbán protests
Iran "A wave of killings that shook a nation"
"Pretending that Trump is some grand aberration, some radical departure from U.S. history and values, is simply a deceitful way of whitewashing what we have collectively endorsed and allowed." —Glenn Greenwald, January 2018 So is the rise of the far-right in Europe. So is the huge and obscene global inequality (p. 9). So is the gender pay gap. So is the uprising in France. So is austerity. So is the wars, Islamophibia, racism, proxy-war and migration. So is climate change. So is corruption. So is sexualisation and commodification of women (and men).  They are not aberrations; they are part and parcel of the very same system that builds rockets and high speeds trains and creates I.A. and invents new cures. A certain propagtion of an "economic fact" help perpetuate acceptance. " The number of millionaires in a country and its trend over time is often seen as a sign of a country’s economic health and its ability to generate opportunities for wealth creation.
Revolution and Arab Existentialism in the Era of Decolonization
Books as Revolutionary Objects in Iran
"Ms. Merkel, for all her power and influence, is just one politician. Germany’s new political crisis runs much deeper. It stems from an economic system that has resulted in stagnant wages and insecure jobs. The erosion of Germany’s postwar settlement — a strong welfare state, full-time employment, the opportunity to move up in the world — has created a populace open to messages and movements previously banished to the fringes." It doesn't matter who replaces Merkel. Germany is broken. A background analysis German capitalism
How US billionaires are fuelling the hard-right cause in Britain Koch Foundation and Spiked magazine
Ibrahim Nasrallah on life and literature
Good! Unsurprisingly, one of the most significant impacts of the  Guardian ’ s series is to reaffirm the laziest tenet in the liberal worldview: horseshoe theory. Its adherents hold that the further one drifts on the spectrum, left or right, one is bound to end up at a point which converges with the other extreme. What other conclusion could you draw from this treatment of “populism,” a singular phenomenon that sees in the anti-Roma marches of Hungarian post-fascists Jobbik and the anti-gender violence demonstrations of Spanish leftists Podemos essentially the same thing? The Guardian's Populism Panic
What the liberal BBC and the Guardian call "riots" "If capitalism was not relatively stagnant in the historic Euro-American core, and if capitalist states had not haemhorraged political authority in recent years, and if austerity was not the dominant policy response, it is unlikely that meatspace shitstorms would occur in exactly this format. The scale of street violence -- even to the extent of defacing Marianne, to gasps of liberal horror -- reflects the scale of systemic violence ." France: the undead centre meets the shitstorm
France A good analysis by Frédéric Lordon. I think it is the best take (so far) on what is happening. In English In the original French
Postmodernism Some Virgin Atlantic pilots will strike from 22 December to Christmas Day in a dispute over union recognition, reports the BBC. "Union recognition"? What do you need for in the land of milk and honey? In a society of "our values" and (exportable) "liberal democracy", class struggle is outdated and unions mean socialism and communism! After all, our priority is to invest money in space tourism, Richard Branson and Co wanted to say.
Civilisation "The death comes after it was revealed earlier this year that the Harmondsworth site - the largest detention centre in Europe - had  the highest number of self-harm cases  in the UK." An Algerian man "dies" in a detention centre
Isabelle, 41, a single mother, had never taken part in a protest movement before. She works at a sandwich stand at Toulouse airport for the minimum wage – less than €1,200 a month – and her daily shifts begin at 3am. She was among many who had deliberately spoiled her ballot paper in last year’s presidential election final round, unwilling to choose between Macron or the far-right Marine Le Pen. “This is now about so much more than fuel tax,” she said. “We seem to live in a world gone mad where the rich pay next to nothing and the poor are constantly taxed. We’ve had enough of the elite." – Céline: "He [Macron] gave good speeches and I really believed his promises that he would change  France . But not any more.” – L:   "People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learnt to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, decla
This piece suffers from some problems, in particular the narrow bourgeois definition of democracy in regards to the "Tunisian exception", but it is worth a read, especially the first part of it that deals with the historical background. Failed dream of political Islam 
A glimpse of the sexualisation of women in Egypt Example: the actress Rania Youssef Cairo Film Festival
The "#BloodSausageGate" A bit of sarcasm: Germany's Interior Ministry has apologised for serving pork sausage at an Islam conference in Berlin last week.  These intolerant Muslims, who keep pouring into our country,  cannot even tolerate a piece of pork! How are they supposed to integrate? As a tolerant white English woman said to a Muslim beggar on a London high street yesterday, "Go back home!"
Our values At these universities, the data showed average salaries of: £52,000 for white academics £38,000 for black academics  £37,000 for academics from an Arab background This means that black and Arab academics at the UK's top universities earn an average 26% less than white colleagues. Ethnic minority academics pay These are universities which claim they are defending "equal rights" and "democracy" (even helping others establish democractic institutions and "democratic values").
France "Populism"? Avoid this word and focus on the processes that have led to revolt. "Populism is the liberals, and some leftists, buzzword.  A reaction to the explosion of inequalities between the super-rich and middle classes
Civilisation "Denmark plans to house the country’s most unwelcome foreigners in a most unwelcoming place: a tiny, hard-to-reach island that now holds the laboratories, stables and crematory of a center for researching contagious animal diseases. As if to make the message clearer, one of the two ferries that serve the island is called the Virus." Denmark: Virusing migrants
Iran: Stop jailing teachers now! A Dutch company bashing workers rights in Bangladesh
  Spain's turn "In every [European] country about ten per cent of the population are secretly fascist bastards." — Paul Mason The (neo)liberals (the free marketeers, the war criminals, the So-called Socialists, the technocrats, the "Democrats", etc, have  created some shit and now someone has to clear it away. 
George Bush Snr.:  Death of another criminal موت مجرم آخر: عن بوش الأب Example 1: The Amiriya shelter bombing A piece by the Iraqi Musician Naseer Shamma Example 2:  Highway of death
Warning! Anyone who links to this article or reads it is anti-Semitic. "The holy of the holies" is untouchable
State violence in France "The movement later grew to reflect a range of grievances, including the marginalisation of rural areas, high living costs, and general anger at President Macron's economic policies. The protests have no identifiable leadership and gained momentum via social media, encompassing a whole range of participants from the anarchist far left to the nationalist far right, and plenty of moderates in-between." — The bbc online Welcome to French "neoliberalism"!  Note that the liberal  Guardian called the movement "riots".
Financialisation or profitability?
I have read nothing new in this FT review, but it is a good reminder of key actors and legacies. (I got access to the piece after googling the headline below) Britain, America, and the battle of mastery of the Middle East
Austerity (and "neoliberalism") is state violence that provokes violence. England had it in 2011 . Paris riots
"Pension reforms delaying retirement brought outcry from Russians. But Putin keeps  squeezing lower incomes, exempting a wealthy elite close to the Kremlin." —Le Monde Diplomatique, November 2018
"With ... entrenched notions as background, the United states began to waiver on the Huntingtonian notion of clash of civilisation and adopted a new project of pluralizing the one Islam identified by Huntington and his culturalist predecessors while maintaining Christianity as singular. This pluralization of Islam, as Islams, would allow the US to support the emergence of a new 'Islam,' a liberal form of Islam, that is more in tune with US imperial designs, and which would approximate modern Western notions of religions and religious subjectivities, as well as Western liberal citizenship, so as not to be incompatible with the rhetoric of democracy, while at the same time allowing the US to wage war against that other 'Islam' which continues to resist the Western (neo)liberal order."  Joseph Massad, Islam in Liberalism , 2015, p. 59
Surprise! Surprise! MeToo founder: Campaign now 'unrecognisable' Without addressing power structure and power relation in society as a whole, you won't get that far.
"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”   —Thomas Paine, Common Sense