“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, for most Westerners that was irrelevant because "communism" was anti-Western, and thus Muslims, whether in Iraq or Indonesia, made bad choices (another 'fundamentalist' choice!) during the so-called Cold War.
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 citation 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 other Western academics! A western academic cites anther Western one about how the poor Arab is not represented!
I just finished reading a piece that describes itself as “critical anthropology” that criticizes anti FGM workshop trainers in Egypt for not talking about circumcised women’s agency (yawn). The piece doesn’t have a single cite from an Egyptian scholar, Egyptian feminist activist, Egyptian workshop activist, or circumcised Egyptian woman for that matter. 
They came, they took a picture of us,and they departed.
—Lama Abu-Odeh, 27 November 2018
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.



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) atrocities on the part of the rebels, the response of British moralists was to blame “native fanatics”. Charles Dickens wrote that he would like to address the rebels with this threat: “it is my intention, with all possible avoidance of unnecessary cruelty and with all merciful swiftness of execution, to exterminate the Race from the face of the earth, which disfigured the earth with abominable atrocities’.”
When the British bombed Egypt in 1882, in response to anti-British riots, Gladstone argued that they at least ensured that “the fanaticism of the East” would not be able to kill Europeans “with impunity”. The same trope of native “fanaticism” was used to justify the war against the Mahdist insurgents in Sudan. And again in Iraq during the British Mandate, when Churchill called for the gassing of “uncivilized tribes”.
One could go on, and on. Of course, ISIS does not stand in some sort of relationship of succession to anticolonial movements. The so-called ‘Islamic State’ is, among other things, a pathology of the imperialist system, its symptom. However, it is simply not as accomplished at killing as the Assad dictatorship, and its imperialist backer. The logic of such displacements, in which ISIS embodies all of the intolerable excesses, the violence, irrationality and dysfunctionality of the Assad regime and the imperialist systeminto which it is integrated, is not difficult to discern. This simple gesture of moral-splitting and projection, is a constant feature of imperialist ideology. It allows one to side with the most relentless torturers, bombers and military despots. It allows one to call for more murder, and soon, sooner, soonest. It allows one to externalise evil, to say “kill them all”, with full confidence that the other side has a monopoly on barbarism.
Above all, by refusing to acknowledge a genuine Syrian opposition, by denying agency to anyone but ‘head-chopping fanatics’ and the dictatorship and its backers, it denies that there could be any rational, socially grounded reasons to wage a military struggle against the regime. The unconscious fantasy at stake here is that the regime has a matchless, unchallengeable right to rule; and the right to any means in its suppression of opposition.

Richard Seymour, 07 October 2015
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 Christmas presents. Videos of his antics go viral. But the wheels of consumerism march on despite his surrealist performance. 
According to English folklore, Dick Whittington escaped from servitude in a lower class family in London. But as he fled the city, the chimes of the church bells of Mary-le-Bow triggered a vision that he was destined to become the Lord Mayor of London. This medieval tale is the origin of the phrase the streets of London are paved with gold. Fables of meritocratic advance, where a pauper, by a combination of luck and opportunistic genius becomes rich and influential are part of the popular psyche. They reinforce the idea that anyone can make it. The real Richard Whittington (1354-1423) was a wealthy merchant who served as Lord Mayor of London four times. However, he did not rise from penury to become wealthy, rather he used his wealth, at least partly, to help the poor. And he left his mark by financing philanthropic works: a hospital ward for unmarried women; swamp drainage in poor districts; public toilets, libraries and similar charitable deeds. 
Temperatures in London rarely fall below zero, but its damp winter weather seems to seep through the thickest clothing. In the main shopping districts, sleeping bags and cardboard boxes litter the streets, where, clustered together in sheltered nooks and crannies, the rough-sleeping homeless continue to follow Dick Whittington’s dream. However, at least 554 of them died on the streets of Britain over the last year.
London’s street sleepers are made up of a wide variety of humanity. Ghost-like creatures wander around Piccadilly and Soho pleading with each passing stranger for money for food. Some have weather worn and decaying faces, which reveal that their endless begging is dedicated to their addiction to Crystal Meth. These poor souls resemble the undead. They struggle daily to contort their miserable descent into the abyss into a facial expression that can appear, in the eyes of their potential donors, as hunger. And hunger it is. Hunger for an ecstatic escape that blanks out their miserable existence.
Whole families of Roma migrants from Romania also inhabit these spaces. They sleep in groups for self-protection. Ideally, they find spots that afford some shelter from the rain. Despite not being locals, these people are certainly imbued with Dick Whittington’s energetic and entrepreneurial Geist. However, they tend to be more grounded in reality. Thus, rather than aspiring to becoming rich merchants and Mayors, they beg and rummage through rubbish bins. They play accordions, sell homeless newspapers, and are prepared to scour the more outlying districts of the city for an abandoned garage to sleep in, if only for a few weeks, unnoticed. They rapidly learn to identify the most bountiful rubbish bins, and they assiduously return to reap its fruits. 
The zombie drug addicts and the Roma are just the most visible archetype of street sleepers. Begging, after all, is an entrepreneurial art. It requires constant innovation and an unending search for new markets. No one gives to the same beggar every day, or to beggars who use the same pitch for money that they have heard many times before. It is an old, outdated and unfashionable profession. The fact that it is thriving is a sign of decay. 
Central London hollows out at Christmas, as British and European migrants return to their families. This year, the usual fears that forgotten family tensions will spill into the open over Christmas dinner, will be combined with the inevitable family Brexit argument, creating conditions for the perfect storm. Such tensions over the Brexit Xmas table are likely to generate irreparable animosity and conflicts. 

Everything indicates that Prime Minster Theresa May cannot win a majority for her Brexit deal with the EU, either in her party or parliament. This political paralysis comes as the deadline for Brexit on 29 March 2019 draws near. As a consequence the views of the whole nation on the issues are reaching peak tension, and they have no outlet except in arguments with family and friends. No resolution from above is coming. Indeed, the dominant trend amongst parliamentarians is now leaning towards asking the people to vote on the same issues again! 
A couple of days ago I noticed a woman staggering down the street late at night. She was totally inebriated. However, with considerable determination, she attempted to march on to reach her destination. But her unstable legs and wobbly ankles balanced on two-inch stiletto heels, struggled to follow her will. Also worrying was the fact that her handbag was wide open, so any passer-by could dip in and help themselves to her wallet or phone. My friend and I helped her to get to the nearest underground train station. There she sat down on the floor and rummaged through her handbag to find her travel pass. And, to our surprise, she pulled out her work ID card, which revealed that she is a police officer. After helping her up she once again attempted to march off towards the platform, all the while staggering from side to side and in danger of falling down the stairs or worse. This comical representative of state authority was unable to coordinate her mind and body to do the most elementary things. She was a real danger to herself, yet nevertheless she swore that she was certain of her ability to get to where she wanted to go. I put her on a train going towards her rather distant destination, and asked a young East European woman if she could keep an eye on her. She agreed. Afterwards, I could not help thinking that the state of this police officer, unable to walk or think straight, yet declaring to the world that she is sure of where she is going, bears an uncanny resemblance to Theresa May and her government this Christmas.
—Heiko Khoo, 21 December 2018
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?
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 working there, has handled about 2,000 projects, working with market leaders in oil, gas, banking and retail, as well as the mining of diamonds, gold and coal. One of its senior partners is the son of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn."

McKinsey and authoritarian regimes


"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 to recover the dimension in which people actually live, because it is only there that any good outcome is possible."
—Raymond Williams, 1961

"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."

"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?"
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?
"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." (Credit Suisse report 2018, p. 10)
"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
Good!

Unsurprisingly, one of the most significant impacts of the Guardians 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, declarations and promises."

From the threat of "Islam" to the threat of "populism" to the threat of "sandwich makers". The latter cannot see the marvels "neoliberal capitalism" might bring to France.
I wonder what position the "Je suis Charlie" people have.






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

 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".
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

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty