Arab uprisings

Could Morocco be next?
This is what "left" means according to the BBC.

A mother of two, she came to power with a traditional centre-left focus on stronger welfare policies but also a promise to be tough on immigration.

Last year she announced plans to place a cap on "non-Western" immigration including refugees and family reunions, to be voted on every year in the Folketing.
She also proposed sending asylum seekers to reception centres outside the EU, for example in North Africa, for their requests to be processed.
Denmark has taken part of the American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One needs to add the economic policies Mette is advocating.
"As Jews move to the right, they become more sympathetic to Zionism, British foreign policy and US imperialism. That has nothing to do with anti-Semitism."

Let's be honest about Britain's obsession with "anti-Semitism"
Warning: the following may infect you with anti-Semitism, it may may sound/felt/interpreted/read as an attack on Israel and therefore anti-Semitic.

"Manoeuvres must be understood in the context of the ways that Iran has functioned as an obstacle to US ruling class goals in the Middle East, a view shared by the Israeli ruling class for its own interests."

"Why Israel wants Iran destroyed"
Via Michael Roberts

The US economy may still be chugging along, and the official unemployment rate may be near an all-time low, but many Americans are struggling to afford the basics of life.
Nearly 51 million households don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study by the United Way ALICE Project. That's 43% of households in the United States.
The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in official poverty, as well as 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE -- Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what's needed "to survive in the modern economy."
ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.
German chemicals delivered to al-Asad regime

The most important bit in the news is not that the chemicals were delivered at the height of the war (after all the German company might have thought/had the good intentions as a company making profit that the chemicals would help save Syrian lives), but that shares in the company have fallen, which is almost a disaster for some Germans!

While the lawmakers and human rights institutions investigate the matter, my solidarity go to those shareholders who have been affected.
A liberal view on migration, i.e. one that avoids to deal with the structure of global capitalism, the nation state, power relations between states, and capitalism under/uneven development. And at the present situation a major factor is the low growth of the economies of the advanced capitalist countries and its impact on the power relations at home, including the rise of the far-right. Thus the usefulness of an external enemy: the monstrous alien.

How the West is withdrawing into a bunker of its making
This cannot be accurate, for these kind of surveys do not show the wide difference between classes in major issues. 

Such a survey is merely a snapshot that refletcs the blockage towards full capitalist  "development" and therefore the dominance of bourgeois norms (e.g. sexual and gender norms), the failure of modernisation of the 1950 and 1960s, the development of rentier economies, especially in the Gulf, instead of industrialisation on the one hand and the defeat of the 2011 revolution on the other.

As for the threat of the US and Israel, the Arab world is still a very strategic battleground where local ruling classes and international ones have major and common interests in restructuring or preserving the existing order.

Major questions that could be included in the survey, and that could   provide a picture beyond the symptoms, are the type of politcal regime and economic system the Arab countries need, and how should the wealth be exploited and distributed, etc. These questions could not be added because the regimes would not have accepted them in the survey or because the surveyors themselves might not be intetested in including them.

Here is the what, but one needs to examine the why since the nationalist revolutions of the mid-20 century.

"The Arab world in seven charts"
Do not allow public issues as they are officially formulated, or troubles as they are privately felt, to determine the problems that you take up for study. Above all, do not give up your moral and political autonomy by accepting in somebody else’s terms the illiberal practicality of the bureaucratic ethos or the liberal practicality of the moral scatter. Know that many personal troubles cannot be solved merely as troubles, but must be understood in terms of public issues – and in terms of the problems of history making. Know that the human meaning of public issues must be revealed by relating them to personal troubles – and to the problems of the individual life. Know that the problems of social science, when adequately formulated, must include both troubles and issues, both biography and history, and the range of their intricate relations. Within that range the life of the individual and the making of societies occur; and within that range the sociological imagination has its chance to make a difference in the quality of human life in our time. 
— Charles Wright Mills 1959
Britain

Via Michael Roberts


The economic ideology of the man [Boris Johnson] who is likely to be Britain's prime minister by next month.
“I can’t think of any other politician, even Conservative politician, who from the crash of 2008 onwards actually stuck up for the bankers.
“Can you think of anybody who stuck up for the bankers as much as I did? I defended them day in, day out, from those who frankly wanted to hang them from the nearest lamppost.”
I believe passionately in UK business and as foreign secretary I spent a lot of my time promoting UK business, both in this country and abroad. I will continue to do so, if I’m lucky enough to become Prime Minister.”

******
I don't see there is something new or strange with this if one looks at the British history and spirit. Business is highly valued (as valued as the rhetoric of "human rights"). The business of Britian is business. 

One should look at how much the shareholding "indusrty" is cherished, the housing industry is structured, the privatising-everything "ideology" is rampant, the amount of tax-payers money have gone to save businesses from collapse in the last few years ... how often I hear people in London talk about money and money-related issues ...

Johnson reflects a social category shaped by the form of capitalism of the last 4 decades or so. It is also a system and an ideology that fostered acquiescence and consent to an extent that even liberals oppose a social democratic change.

People tend to tolerate extremism by businesses/banks/governments as long as they see their socio-economic conditions improving or at least not threatened. It is true that there is more insecurity today, but the situation in a wealthy country is not unbearable and the dominant ideology (individualism, the alternative would be worse, the bourgeois concept and practice of "freedom", fear, etc) is still convincing.

Futhermore, politcally the general population is atomised; there is no a coherent social group/a cross-class social group that seeks a real change. What we see is a crisis in the main parties, and other parties are gaining members but not to the extent to effect real change, for the main theme is Brexit, not the type of the socio-economic system that should run oir lives.
"Submit, surrender, commit suicide"


Trump warns Iran of "obliteration"

To obliterate means to destroy utterly; to wipe out.
Do we really need Iran?

What have the Iranians done for us? A revolution and women in black? Why don't just have friends ruling Iran like those in Egypt?

At least the Americans have brought us Elvis and Michael, Jeans, Sharon Stone and porno, Hollywood and Schwarzenegger, Marlboro, MacDonald's and Donald Duck, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates...

Putting aside geopolitical economy, protecting allies (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel), having control (not the need) over hydrocarbons, limitng the expansion of China's and Russia's spheres of influence, capital expansion and markets... one should look at it in another way:

It could be that a new spectatcle is in the making. Imagine how many people will be watching, even discovering where Iran is! Imagine how many discussion will take place and how many articles will be written! 

And let's shout with the pacifists: "Stop the War", "Peace Now!" And in a year or two we go to the ballot box so that we maintain our democracy.

When they use force/bombings/sanctions/ they call it war, stopping the development of nuclear weapons, defending an ally, democracy, even liberating women and gays...When others use force they call it terrorism.

Warning: you should not read this poem or show ot to someone. You should not even look at it or let other people utter its title. You might be accused of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

I am with terrorism

and 

America, America
(Note that the poet mistakingly took James Bond as American)
It is good to remember that it was through struggle, an uprising-like action, including the use of violence, that gays won theirs rights, not because "our Liberal" regime granted them those rights as many today think. 

It was through people's own struggle, not like today's missionaries touring Asia and Africa, lecturing gay people about "their identity" as gays.

It was withinin a context of the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, and the influence of other militant groups such as the Black Panthers'.

It was within socio-economic conditions of a fully developed capitalist relations, not a Uganda-like one or a dictatorship. Historian John D'Emilio provides good insights on the subject.

***


The BBC calls it "a fury years in the making", i.e. a movement. But it chose a title that reduces it to a "riot"!!

Broidy thinks something has been lost in the process. "I think it's much more powerful without the floats and without Citibank and American Airlines. Yes, it's a sign of progress but in a distinctly capitalist market."

A fury years in the making


Fortress Europe

A recent press release from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) quotes Frédéric Penard, director of operations of the NGO SOS Méditerranée: “The reality is, even with fewer and fewer humanitarian vessels at sea, people with little alternatives will continue to undertake this deadly sea crossing regardless of the risks.” Penard continues: “The only difference now is people are nearly four times more likely to die compared to last year, according to the International Organization for Migration.”

Fortress Europe is Sociopathic

Related:
Scott Daniel Warren
Britain

"I work in the civil service – and it will resist a Corbyn government"

Note: "Where will you be when Labour wins the next general election?" It should be "if", not "when".
Provided the economic basis of the social order is not called into question, criticism of it, however sharp, can be very useful to it, since it makes for vigorous but safe controversy and debate, and for the advancement of “solutions” to “problems” which obscure and deflect attention from the greatest of all “problems,” namely that here is a social order governed by the search for private profit. It is in the formulation of a radicalism without teeth and in the articulation of a critique without dangerous consequences, as well as in terms of straightforward apologetics, that many intellectuals have played an exceedingly “functional” role. And the fact that many of them have played that role with the utmost sincerity and without being conscious of its apologetic import has in no way detracted from its usefulness.

Ralph Miliband pledged himself to the socialist cause at Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery as a sixteen-year-old, shortly after fleeing the Nazis in Belgium. It led him to study with one-time Labour Party Chairman Harold Laski at the London School of Economics, where he himself was later appointed to teach in 1949 when he was only twenty-five. Despite the Cold War and his own critical perspective on Stalinism, Miliband would come to embrace Marx.

Miliband's Masterpiece
The more I know, the more angry I get. 

"Oh, what a sweet and soft and healthy pillow is ignorance and incuriosity, to rest a well-made head!"
—French philosopher Michel de Montaigne
The International Trade Union Confederation is releasing to the world the results of its annual Global Rights Index:
  • Trade unionists were murdered in ten countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe. 
  • 85% of countries have violated the right to strike. 
  • 80% of countries deny some or all workers collective bargaining.
  • The number of countries which exclude workers from the right to establish or join a trade union increased from 92 in 2018 to 107 in 2019.
  • Workers had no or restricted access to justice in 72% of countries.
  • The number of countries where workers are arrested and detained increased from 59 in 2018 to 64 in 2019.
  • Out of 145 countries surveyed, 54 deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly.
  • Authorities impeded the registration of unions in 59% of countries.
  • Workers experienced violence in 52 countries. 
Full report:
The Astounding Eyes of Rita


The British government might have broken the law? 
Oh, please, give me a break! 

On a 2016 trip to Yemen, the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell visited a school in the capital. It had been built, he said, with British aid – only to be destroyed, in all likelihood, by a British bomb. “I asked my host what the children were chanting,” he recalled to me in his Westminster office. His host translated for him: “‘Death to the Saudis’, ‘Death to the Americans’ – and in respect for your visit today, they have cut out the third stanza.”

'The Saudis couldn't do without us'
Egypt

Mohammed Morsi was not a revolutionary. On the contrary, the Muslim Brotherhood made deals with SCAF during the heyday of Tahrir Square mobilisation, he and his movement did not have a programme for the development of Egypt, he embraced Obama and co., he attacked the workers movement, etc. But he was not a "terrorist", nor is the MB. 

He did not die; he was slowly killed by the military.

The nation state and civilisation

Just one of the absurdities that characterises our "civilisation".
If a stray dog crossed a border and was sheltered, given food and water by a caring American, it would have received a million+ likes on facebook.
"In almost every national situation where counterrevolution has triumphed, it has been allowed to do so without any hindrance by the democratic West – in fact, in many cases it’s with direct or indirect support from it.
One came to realise that it didn’t matter how many times the dynamic proved itself to be, no matter the various contradictions, one of democracy versus tyranny. There was never any true support for democracy from those who pretended to be its bastions and patrons, all while powerful foreign anti-democratic forces, such as Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, mobilised viciously on the side of counterrevolution to crush nascent democracy.
In the shadow of the Iraq war, anti-humanitarian intervention has come to define the modern era."
It has to be within the socio-economic transformation that produces industrialisation and modernity in Africa. And there has to be a social forces/social forces who have interests in such a change. Cultural, educational and intellectual life breaks away from neocolonial studies in parallel/following a break away from economic hegemony and backwardness.

A white curricula in Western universities is a useful tool to foster superiority and ideological legitimation. Hence the dominant paradigms, the belief in NGOisation, international aid, etc.

Including some "black/brown" scholars, journalists, feminists, etc in the curricula is like including a black man as president of the US or a woman/gay as a president of an international institution:  maintaining power relations by diversifying the agents of oppression.

"How truly decolonise the study of Africa"
If you believe that "Communism" had already existed in the Soviet Union, for example, that capitalism goes with our "human nature", and that poverty exists because of laziness and cultural factors, do not read this article.

"We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism"
(An opinion in The New York Times)
Royal Opera House Muscat (Oman) and Budapest Symphony Orchestra (Hungary) led by composer Yasser Abdelrahman


An interesting part in this analysis is "democracy", especially the one that should make you question the constant drumming in the mainstream (Western media) that the Tiananmen Square movement was about "democracy" as the Western liberals define it, inflating the role of students in the movement, and devoiding it from any class content. 

A part which sounds weak for me is the first one about the scope of workers' control, as the writer has not backed his argument by evidence.


The part on the historical process from the 1960s until 1989 is illuminating.


The last part, post-1989, also sounds weak, for it does not take into consideration the industrial revolution China has embarked on since 1978 and its ongoing "tormented birth" in the passage to "modernity".


*****

Students constantly tried to exclude workers, seeing the movement as “their own,” and sought to maintain its “purity.” Walder and Gong pointed out that until the end of May, students had been adamant that workers’ organizations not be allowed to enter Tiananmen Square proper. Students had little interest in communicating or coordinating with workers’ organizations, especially the organization formed by construction workers who were mostly villagers from Beijing’s rural outskirts. Historian Maurice Meisner argued that “in the early weeks of the movement, student demonstrators often marched with arms linked to exclude workers and other citizens.” A student who participated in the movement also recounted that students took great care to ensure that the logistical supplies donated by supporters in Hong Kong went to themselves, not to workers.


Here lies the irony of the movement. Student leaders repeatedly said that they intended to use their actions to “awaken” the masses. But in fact, a significant part of the masses was already “awake” and actively participating in the movement, yet the students showed little interest in talking to them. Students’ inflated sense of superiority and self-importance was in part nourished by the elitism of China’s top universities, and also partly reminiscent of China’s traditional gentry-intelligentsia, which saw itself as the moral mainstay of society, the conscience of the people, responsible for articulating what is right and wrong on behalf of the masses. Indeed, sociologist Zhao Dingxin has pointed out that students in the movement used a combination of Western liberal vocabularies and China’s traditional moralist language.


The Forgotten Socialists of Tiananmen Square
Nation Estate

Nation Estate is a 9-minute sci-fi short offering a clinically dystopian, yet humorous approach to the deadlock in the Middle East.
With its glossy mixture of computer generated imagery, live actors and an arabesque electronica soundtrack, Nation Estate explores a vertical solution to Palestinian statehood. In Sansour’s film, Palestinians have their state in the form of a single skyscraper: the Nation Estate. One colossal high-rise houses the entire Palestinian population – now finally living the high life.
Each city has its own floor: Jerusalem on the third floor, Ramallah on the fourth floor, Sansour’s native Bethlehem on the fifth and so on. Intercity trips previously marred by checkpoints are now made by elevator. Aiming for a sense of belonging, the lobby of each floor reenacts iconic squares and landmarks. 

The story follows the female lead, played by Sansour herself, in a futuristic folklore suit returning home from a trip abroad and making her way through the lobby of the monstrous building – sponsored and sanctioned by the international community. Having passed the security checks, she takes the elevator to the Bethlehem floor and crosses Manger Square and Church of the Nativity on her way to her apartment where she prepares a plate of sci-fi tabouleh.


Nation Estate (2013) from larissa sansour on Vimeo.
Reminding Europe of its responsibility is central to Hirzel’s work. “We should be ashamed. We’re hypocrites – talking about human rights, calling it ‘the boat of innocents’. But if they had survived we would have called it ‘the boat of illegal immigrants’. They’re just doing what people have done for all of humanity – when they need to, they move. 

Sinking Without Trace
Hollywood's flirtation with 1001 Nights
The Aladdin controversy
Summary: An argument for better taxation to reduce inequality. A couple of arguments refuting myths. However, there is no word about exploitation, the real source of inequality, which is also, paradoxically, the source of human advance.

The argument that huge inequality is a consequence of bad taxation is a myth that the author reiterates. Inequality already takes place and is reproduced through property ownership and during the relations of production, i.e. before taxation itself.


Consent and acquiescence play a role in accepting inequality. Agreed. And that is the power of ideology to legitimate inequality and gloss over exploitation.


"The idea that rising inequality is inevitable begins to look like a convenient myth, one that allows us to avoid thinking about another possibility: that through our electoral choices and decisions in daily life we have supported rising inequality, or at least acquiesced in it. Admittedly, that assumes we know about it. Surveys in the UK and US consistently suggest that we underestimate both the level of current inequality and how much it has recently increased. But ignorance cannot be a complete excuse, because surveys also reveal a change in attitudes: rising inequality has become more acceptable – or at least, less unacceptable – especially if you are not on the wrong end of it."


'Socialism for the rich': the evils of bad economics
"Previous industrial revolutions brought about huge leaps in GDP but real wages stagnated for around 50 years during the first.
This is known as the Engels’ pause, which describes the gap between technology improving and people benefitting personally."


The new political cleavage doesn’t, as many suggest, reflect the distinction between the “elite” and the “masses”. It obscures it, helping conceal the fact that the political interests of the cleaner and the steelworker are far more similar than of either to Cleese or Bilimoria. Whether in south Wales or south London, workers suffer from the casualisation of work, the stagnation of wages, the imposition of austerity.

Class is still the defining force shaping British lives

The Frost Report



Why is there more remembrance by the BBC and similar news outlets of the Chinese regime's crimes in Tiananmen Square than of the Egyptian regime's crimes in Rabaa Square, although, according to HRW, the latter too was "one of the biggest single day massacre in recent history"?

The world has forgotten Egypt's Rabaa massacre

One of the largest killings in a single day

War Crimes in North Sinai: HRW
"This is the Orientalism of an era in which Western liberalism has plunged into deep crisis, exacerbated by anxieties over Syrian refugees, borders, terrorism and, of course, economic decline. It is an Orientalism in crisis, incurious, vindictive, and often cruel, driven by hatred rather than fascination, an Orientalism of walls rather than border-crossing. The anti-integrationist, Islamophobic form of contemporary Orientalism is enough to make one nostalgic for the lyrical, romantic Orientalism that Mathias Énard elegizes, somewhat wishfully, as a bridge between East and West in his 2015 Goncourt Prize-winning novel, Compass
If Orientalism has assumed an increasingly hostile, Muslim-hating tone, this is because the “East” is increasingly inside the “West.” This is a clash not of civilizations, but rather a collision of two overlapping phenomena: the crisis of Western neoliberal capitalism, which has aggravated tensions over identity and citizenship, and the collapse of the Middle Eastern state in war, which has fed the refugee crisis. As a result, two forms of identity politics, both of which reflect a caricatured, Orientalist vision of the Muslim East, are feeding off each other: right-wing populism on the one hand, and jihadist Islamism on the other.
The Orientalism that Said described was an affair of geopolitics, the “knowledge” that the West needed in the age of empires and colonialism. The hard edge of today’s Orientalism targets the fragile fabric of domestic politics, the very possibility of coexistence, particularly in Europe and the US. The Western self, produced by this contemporary Orientalism, is not a liberal who measures his or her freedom or reason by the absence, or weakness, of those concepts in the East. Instead, he is an aggrieved, besieged white man standing his ground, with his finger on the trigger, against the barbarians who have made it through the gates. He is not Lawrence of Arabia, or even the Quiet American; he is Dirty Harry."
'Orientalism' Then and Now
America's Allies in the Middle East:
The Real "Troika of Tyranny"
Eleven Theses on Venezuela

There should be at least one additional thesis: class configuration, the inablity of carrying out industrialisation and radical changes.
"It is thus a combination of economics, culture, religion, resources, and strategic location that drive the current repression of the Uyghur; the economic interests of Middle East countries prevent them from raising this issue with China."

The Ongoing Persecutions of China's Uyghurs

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty