Showing posts from February, 2019
A liberal account of 'humanitarian intervention' The Liberal Defense of Murder
Tureky's position on Venezuela I wouldn't describe the current Brazilian regime as fascist though. It is a racist, far right regime with fascistic tendencies, but it is not fascist .
The nurses in Bulgaria are rising up!
Making the Economic Political in Jordan's Tax Revolt
Yugoslavia, Argentina, Egypt, Tunisia, Greece ... Venezuela How to depen a crisis and accelerate conflict or how to make a killing The example of Yugoslavia Basil Davidson's review of Susan Woodward's The Balkan Tragedy
Venezuela The liberal BBC is not only putting the blame mainly on Maduro, but ignores any alternative.  If it is not about a regime change to replace the current regime with a pliant U.S. ally and open the country to privatisation for more local and foreign capital, why don't other countries (which are not subordinate the the American hegemony), or international agencies negotiate with the Venezuelan government to create a "humanitarian zone" to provide aid in both Venezuela and Colombia? What the U.S. and  the opposition are trying to do now is to split the Venezuelan army or push a faction in it to overthrow Maduro. And we all know what that might lead to. One does not have to look at Syria and how army defectors did not tilt the balance for those who rose up against al-assad's repressive machine. Worse, this is not an uprising or a revolution in Venezuela.  We have been here before. The day the current situation escalates to an armed conflict, more media a
From the archive Iraq 2003: was it... Blood for oil?
My favourite article on Venezuela (so far). Excerpts (an individual or institutional subscription is required to read the full piece) "Beset by five-digit inflation, food shortages and rising poverty and unemployment, the economy contracted by more than a third between 2013 and 2018, and has slid even further since. This has wiped out the real gains made by most of the population between the mid-2000s and the time roughly when Maduro succeeded Hugo Chávez as president in April 2013. There is no doubting, either, that Maduro has failed to address this crisis. Hampered by the razor-thin margin by which he won his mandate in 2013 – 1.5 per cent – he has governed with a combination of bluster and repression. He stuck to a disastrous exchange-rate policy even though it was visibly making things worse for most of the population. The effects of this were made even worse by the US sanctions that started under Obama, who in March 2015 declared Venezuela an ‘extraordinary threat’ t
Jordan New labour law must recognise workers' rights
The prophet perverted
Britain "I find it hard to believe that the government would have made the decision to strip a British born subject of their citizenship and the media and public being so supportive of the decision if Shamima Begum had been a 15 year-old impressionable white girl who had made the same foolish and immature decisions. If this was a young BRITISH white girl she would be sitting on a Breakfast TV sofa recounting her traumatic adventurous experience with book deals and film scripts piling up at her door and with Newsnight and Dispatches competing for an exclusive interview. Such is the subtlety of society’s unspoken racism, the nature of our warped reality and the power of the state to manufacture and manipulate public opinion to serve their own nefarious desires."   —Ishmahil  Blagrove, 22 February 2019 "I think that she should be returned to face an investigation and for justice. That a court of law should decide what happens from there, rather than a court of Fac
Venezuela A disaster caused by  - the economic policies of the government,  - the sanctions imposed by the US,  - and the control of what is left of food and foreign aid by the "mafia" food. ويرجع عدد من التقارير المتخصصة أسباب هذه الأزمات إلى سياسات الحكومة الاقتصادية، إلى جانب الحصار الاقتصادي الذي فرضته الولايات المتحدة على فنزويلا، إضافة إلى سيطرة "مافيا" الغذاء والدواء  على ما تبقى من مواد غذائية أو ما يصل من مساعدات خارجية. ماذا خلف المساعادات الإنسانية لفنزويلا "Aid groups on the ground worry, however, that a political operation thinly padded with humanitarian objectives could send a precarious situation down an even worse path—disastrous American efforts to intervene in Latin America from decades past serve as a reminder of how badly things can go. Even some liberals tell us that The examples are numerous. The United States  sought to overthrow  Chile’s socialist president Salvador Allende in the 1970s, a move that eventually le
In 2002, Abrams  reportedly  “gave a nod” to the military coup that attempted, ultimately unsuccessfully, to remove the democratically elected Hugo Chavez from power. The Observer, which broke the story, called Abrams “the crucial figure around the coup.” Abrams has had his eye on toppling Venezuela’s government for some time. When Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, Abrams, then the point man for George W. Bush’s Middle East policy,  helped implement a scheme  to nullify the results by fomenting a Palestinian civil war which, they hoped, would remove Hamas from power. When the plan backfired, with Hamas emerging victorious and in full control of Gaza, Abrams accused Hamas of staging a “coup.” Elliott Abrams: a criminal record
The cosmopolitan project for unifying humanity through the agency of the dominant capitalist states—on the normative basis that we are all individual global citizens with liberal rights—will not work: it is more likely to plunge the planet into increasingly divisive turmoil.  There is another version of cosmopolitanism abroad today, which places at the centre of its conception of a new world order the notion of a democratic global polity. This comes in a number of different editions, some scarcely distinguishable from liberal cosmopolitanism save for more voluble democratic piety. But in its most generous version, exemplified by Daniele Archibugi’s essay in these pages, this is a programme with the great merit of seeking to subordinate the rich minority of states and social groups to the will of a global majority, in conditions where the bulk of the world’s population remains trapped in poverty and powerlessness. Yet even its best proposals suffer from two crippling weaknesses. They
"[T]he extraordinary support for Israel among the U.S. political class isn’t all about the Benjamins. If AIPAC and the dozens of political action committees (PACs) whose contributions it coordinates were trying to convince politicians to adopt a policy that did not contribute to maintaining and expanding the American empire in the Middle East and beyond, then we would be hearing comments like Kevin McCarthy’s truly antisemitic tweet quoted above with great regularity from across the political spectrum. It’s the confluence of imperial interests, political money and the popular Jewish and non-Jewish understanding of Israel as the moral legatee of the victims of Nazi mass murder that have combined to shut down debate on US Middle East policy." — Joel Beinin, merip, 18 February 2019
The Sicilian
He caused the killings of hundreds of thousands of people, more than what Pinochet, Mubarak, Suharto or Al-Assad did. He overthrew an ally of the free world. He imposed a decades-long embargo on his own country and starved his own people, driving them to drown in the ocean. He tried to invade Miami many times in order to establish a system against human nature in the United States, but failed. He established an illegal prisoner where he held his enemies without charge, torturing them and depriving them of fair trials, because they were against his way of life. He supported dictators in many countries, providing them with hundreds of doctors in order to spread his evil ideology all over the globe and help friendly regimes maintain their authoritarian powers.  He poured them with arms and financial assistance. More fundamentally, he outlived 10 U.S. presidents, without being democratically elected once. For that the CIA made many attempts to assassinate him . 
A historian asks: "Should Britain apologise for Amritsar massacre?" (the BBC Viewpoint) That is a dangerous question that might open a floodgate: Should Britain apologize for massacres against those who resisted or rose up against British rule: -the Mau Mau in Kenya) -the Zulu in South Africa -the Mahdists in Sudan -the Arabs in Iraq Should Britain apologize to -the Irish -the Bengalis (the engineered famine) - the Iraqis (1990 to the present) -the Greek resistance -the Palestinians (for her long support of Israel) -the Egyptians (for her long support of Mubarak and El-Sisi) -the Saudis (for her long support of the monarchy) -the Yemenis (for her supply of weapons to the Saudis) -'Third World' countries (for her IMF-backed restructural adjustment programme and its consequnces, debt enslavement, etc) ... I am sure I have missed a few more. The massacre in context
Arab Cinema Ahla'm Al-Medina (Dreams of the City) See also Middle Eastern Cinemas
An interesting, but timid analysis that is afraid of calling global capitalist policies (from inequality and wars to underdevolopment and imperialist designs), the breeding ground of reaction against state violence, as extremists and radical. "The Chinese detention centers’ goal of ideological transformation is also central to CVE [Countering Violent Extremism]. CVE began in Britain in the early 2000s and has since spread to  innumerable countries, including the United States, the UK, and various Muslim majority states. It’s also been uncritically embraced by multilateral and intergovernmental institutions, like the UN . CVE is based on a theory of “radicalization” that holds that in order to become  ”terrorists,” individuals must first embrace a way of thinking inclining them toward violence; that this “radicalization” can be predicted, in part, by theological and cultural factors; and that identifying these factors can help governments prevent terrorism . According to this ph
UK "Campaigners estimate that last year, at least 58 veterans took their own lives .  The Ministry of Defence spends £22 million pounds a year on mental health for veterans, while the NHS has dedicated around £6m annually since 2016." But it is worth it. They have died as heroes, "defending our values" and stopping "terrorists" from coming to our country.
Venezuela and disaster capitalism
"As a university lecturer I often find that my students take today’s dominant economic ideology – namely, neoliberalism – for granted as natural and inevitable. This is not surprising given that most of them were born in the early 1990s, for neoliberalism is all that they have known. In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher had to convince people that there was “no alternative” to neoliberalism. But today this assumption comes ready- made; it’s in the water, part of the common -sense furniture of everyday life, and generally accepted as given by the Right and Left alike. It has not always been this way, however. Neoliberalism has a specific history, and knowing that history is an important antidote to its hegemony, for it shows that the present order is not natural or inevitable, but rather that it is new , that it came from somewhere, and that it was designed by particular people with particular interests."  —Jason Hickel, 2012 Hickel is a lecturer at the
A book review  "In one of No Enough's most important insights, Moyn suggests that the gradual abandonment of equality in favour of a minimalist focus on securing a basic minimum has made human rights unthreatening in a neoliberal age. Moyn’s account of the compatibility of human rights and neoliberalism is powerful and astute. Human rights did little to alter the course of neoliberal reform, offered no real alternative to it, and did not demand egalitarian distribution either at the national or transnational level, he argues. Moreover, human rights and what he terms their “economic rival” shared the same moral individualism and the same suspicion of collectivist projects such as nationalism and socialism. Consequently, even social and economic rights became adjuncts to humanitarian philanthropy, which viewed global poverty through the lens of humanitarian suffering, not structural inequality.  
Moyn provides a strikingly original account of the ways in which demands for a
Inside China's crackdown on young Marxists The Financial Times
Venezuela What Vice-President Pence could not say in public when he spoke about helping the Venezuelan "people" get their "freedom". "There is no room for any outside influence other than ours in this region [Latin America]. We could not tolerate auch a thing... Until now Central America has always understood that governments which we recognize and support stay in power, while those which we do not recognize and support fall."— Robert Olds Quoted in Peter Baofu's The Rise of Authoritarian Liberal Democracy , Cambridge 2007, p. 85 Recent interventions aside, Mark Rosenfelder (1996) counted, for instance, that between 1846 and 1996 alone, there were more than "79 U.S. military interventions in Latin America and Haiti..."
Iran 1979-2018 "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." —Ervand Abrahamian, a historian Iran: Past and Present
Gender and Empire Essential readings
Egypt There is an impression that Egypt's authoritarianism under Sisi got worse with the U.S.-led support after Trump assumed the presidency. No mention that it goes back to Obama's administration. "The international community" is evoked as if it was not dominated by the same powers which the author finds complicit in Egypt's new authoritarianism. No single paragraph about the labour movement as if it had disappeared. "There is no other time in Egypt’s modern history when the widespread government assault on rights has been  more severe . The state’s attempt to dominate the social and political field indicates a significant change in the current regime’s view of authoritarian governance in the aftermath of the popular uprising that broke out on January 25, 2011. Eight years later, despite the regime’s tight control of the street and state institutions, Sisi’s public  pronouncements  about the 2011 uprising often  warn  of a determination to prevent
Here is another example of someone who does not know where the interests of "underdeveloped countries" are. Nor does she know that the major Western powers and Western-dominated international institutions have been helping poor countries through aid, loans, and advice on how to run their economies, "liberalise, restructure, plan, adjust, budget, and inject the spirit of entrepreneurship." This article is written by a graduate in economics from Sultan Qaboos University, Oman. An insignificant university in the world. The former student condemns the International Monetary Fund as an instrument of "domination, plunder and enslavement through debt", quoting a Western writer. She also gives the example of Malaysia under Mahathir Mohamad who refused to have the country indebted to the IMF and abide by the Fund's diktats. By contrast, in 'prestigious' Western universities a student believes that the IMF is a force of good in the world, with
Ungrateful, ignorant Tunisians who do not know their interests For decades the IMF has been doing its best to help Tunisia, and other countries, develop a strong capitalist economy and "democracy". It has even had women like Nemat Shafi and Christine Lagarde, help restructring economies to achieve prosperity for all and liberate Tunisian women .... It seems that Tunisians do not get it. Taking on the IMF
From the archive (2016) A good overview on the MENA region. Making and Unmaking of the Greater Middle East
"And, you know, there's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first."  --Margaret Thatcher in 1987 Nine million Britons suffer from loneliness, according to the British Academy
Brexit One form of the fantasy is ‘CANZUK’ — a revival of a white, Christian, trading empire including Britain’s former settler colonies in Canada, New Zealand and Australia. In another form, Britain becomes an enlarged version of Singapore. For a Trump-supporting faction on the right, Britain would be a glorified airstrip for the US in a larger game of great power rivalry. None of it makes sense, but all of it can be pushed to the public, via rightwing media, as a new imperialist ideology. Behind all the hashtags, anger and parliamentary manoeuvring is the existential crisis of a ruling class. Britain is ruled by a super-rich elite with scant material interest in operations in the UK. If necessary it will form an alliance with people in poor, white, low-skilled communities to disrupt the multilateral order. It is an interesting read, but I don't like the silly t-shirt! Britain's impossible futures
The Green New Deal and changing America
"The ease with which parts of the international community have recognised Guaido reflects not principled support for democracy, but a global reconfiguration of power. This includes not only the rise of a multi-polar world - exemplified by Russian and Chinese support for Venezuelan sovereignty - but also a rightward swing across Latin America alongside the warring colonial conceits of the US and Europe."  Some truths in the article, especially that those who defend the Venezuelan leader of the opposition are U.S. subordinates and right and far-right governments, but the author ignores the role of Maduro's government and its mismanagement and mishandling of the situation . He write in defence of the Bolivarian revolution, but with no criticism.  More importantly, there is no mention in the articles I have seen,  and which condemn  imperialism and the oligarchs in Venezuela, of the predicament: that Chavez and Maduro have done little to break the power of capital and th
Education starts at home If you want to know more about socialism, you don't need to look back at the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Look at Venezuela. And if you need to have theoretical and ideological understanding of what socialism is, follow Fox News. I wonder though why the journalist here adds this sentence that demolishes his has arguments against "socialism".  "But no country has ever successfully enacted a system that matches Marx’s vision for the world – a reality even the staunchest Marxist will admit." It is also convenient to call Bernie Sanders, a social democrat, a socialist because it helps the child learn more about the evils of socialism and how to protect the American way of life from it How to get your child say no to socialism
The on-going coup in Venezuela By Jorge Martin (Hands off Venezuela) Even though the coup has not yet succeeded, the impression one gets is that there is an inexorable march forward in its implementation which is pushed mainly from forces abroad rather than in Venezuela itself. There are now plenty of newspaper reports which detail the way this coup plot was hatched, in the US, with the collaboration of Marco Rubio and top Trump administration officials. The hawks now control the whole operation (having removed "moderates" like Tillerson), Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, Abrams, all of them cold war veterans committed to putting an end to anything which smells of revolution in Latin America. Meetings which have been reported go back nearly two years, but more recently, the plans around Guaidó were discussed in Washington in December, that is BEFORE he was even elected president of the national assembly.  At a rally with reactionary Venezuelans in Florida on Feb 2, Mike Pence p
Absurdity The Stansted 15
The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) "1. The domestic policies of the BRICS states follow the general tenor of what one might consider Neoliberalism with Southern Characteristics. 2. The BRICS alliance has not been able to create a new institutional foundation for its emergent authority. It continues to plead for a more democratic United Nations, and for more democracy at the IMF and the World Bank. 3. The BRICS formation has not endorsed an ideological alternative to neoliberalism. 4. Finally, the BRICS project has no ability to sequester the military dominance of the United States and NATO... The force-projection of the United States remains planetary. If we look into the entrails of the system, we will find that its solutions do not lie within it. Its problems are not technical, nor are they cultural. They are social problems that require political solutions. The social order of property, propriety, and power has to be radically revised..."
Cinema Trailer followed by an interview Capernaum A film by Nadine Labaki 
Britain The Labour council, faced with opposition, is cleaving to its “blame Tory cuts” line, sending out self-congratulatory emails about its successful budgets that don’t even mention these closures, and only talk about the services they’ve managed to protect. In a dynamic that has been replicated all over the country, the Labour council has become the hand-wringing instrument of Conservative austerity. "Left-wing" councils enact Tory cuts
From the achive If no bases for a ‘new nationalism’ have yet disclosed themselves, why are politicians so desperate to assert one? Could it be because nationalism empowers politicians to police culture? Or, more accurately, to culturalise social questions , which are then policed? Labour and new patriotism
"The most powerful states within the capitalist system have historically been the ones which establish the International Political Economy regimes of international capitalism and they establish rules which favour the expansion of their own capitalism."  —Peter Gowan 2005, an unpublished paper " Gabriel Hetland  (, 24 January) is right to highlight how US sanctions have aggravated the economic crisis in Venezuela, perhaps by deliberate policy. US actions follow a predictable pattern. Just over a year ago, another Latin American country riven by economic and social problems descended into widespread street protests and violence following a disputed election, with dozens of people killed by security forces. That country was impoverished Honduras, where the pro-US Juan Orlando Hernández was re-elected president in an election many, including the Organization of American States, saw as fraudulent. The US response that time was to support Hernández agai
New Orientalism This sounds like "a bad history" by a new orientalist. Istanbul: A Tale of Three Cities
From the archive For what Tuck has established is that modern natural-law theory was forged in integral connexion with "the kind of militarist and imperialist expansion in which the Dutch and English writers gloried." The commercial and colonial expansion of the Dutch and English states in the seventeenth century could be considered, from the angle of the European international order at the time, as something of a sideshow. But Tuck demonstrates with great erudition and theoretical acuity that it was absolutely central to the substance of the modern natural-law tradition, out of which contemporary rights-based liberal individualism has grown. His book might more properly be called "The Origins of Anglo-American Liberalism in the Legitimation of Imperial Expansion." The Origins of Atlantic Liberalism
Domestic workers in Britain When escaping an abusive employer is a crime Don't blame Britain. Blame those abusive Saudis and Kuwaitis who are "backwards" and don't know anything about "women rights".
According to wikipedia , proportionally there are more homeless people in the UK than in China or the U.S England: Birmingham homeless living in "ruthless conditions' Like corruption, huge inequality, exploitation (at home and abroad), arms sales, support of dictators, etc, homelessnes is caused by Brussels and the EU. After Brexit these "un-English values" will disappear.
The social fabric of Chavismo
South Korea "Stop the outsourcing of danger"