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عن جميع الذين تاجروا بالقضية الفلسطينية ماضيا والذين في خندق التطبيع والتواطئ حاضرا

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Joseph Stiglitz

"We must revitalise the enlightenment and recommit to honouring its values of freedom, respect for knowledge and democracy."
Joseph Stiglitz

Stiglitz, a renegade, has been attacking "neoliberalism" and intellectual orthodoxy.

I wonder though which part of "the enlightenment he wants to revitalise." Is it the Steven Pinker's way of cheriching "the enlightenment"?

"Recommiting to honouring the values of freedom." What were these "values of freedom" before the 40 years of "neoliberalism"? What were they in regard to what imperialism inflicted on what used to be called at that time "the third world" or the support of despotism, etc?

If the solution is some sort of a new social democracy, what socio-economic form of capitalism could be the foundation?

North Africa

Extractivism and resistance in North Africa
A paper available in Arabic, French and English

Uber in England

The BBC way of reporting

45,000 Uber drivers in London. Not a word on
Why there is so many unauthorised drivers,
What the working conditions are,
How many hours these drivers work
Whether they are insured or not
What the rate of exploitation of illegal drivers is
How much profit the company makes
...


Blaming Corruption

For decades the dominant view in academia and outside academia has been blaming corruption for the ills and problems in the MENA region. Up until the 1970s, cultural factors had blamed been for the failures of the region to develop. Cultural factors were also used to explain China's underdevelopment from a capitalist perspective.

It's been convenient for the centres of powers in the West and the international institutions to dessiminate such a view so that the structural roots and the form of capitalism (rentier economies) as well as imperialist domination is masked and not questioned.

I am glad to see that an opinion on bloomberg, a hardly Marxist website, that is sceptical of that dominant view. One thus has to think of the class structure in the MENA region, the lack of the political will to pursue a development path based on productivity and acquire the technology to be able to compete globally in a world where technological know-how and markets are monopolised by a handful countries and a few multinationals.

Further reading:

  • Issam Al-Khatib on the failure of state capitalism in Tormented Births (2004)
  • Robert Brenner on the transition from feudalism to capitalism in Europe
  • Currently, I am reading China Transformed by R. Bin Wong, a book where Wong is tracing the path(s) China has taken towards industrialisation and modernisation.

Appeal

Living Arabic, a multi-Arabic dictionary website, is a good source, but it is still a project that needs developing.

Please, try to support it here.

UK 2019 elections

West Bank

Looking at West Bank map, one should observe how cancer has been eating out Palestinian land and their livelihood and stripping them of their dignity, emprisoning a whole people for decades in the biggest prison in the world and kills those who resist with impunity. It is not only about the pace of the spread of this cancer; it is its unstoppable speead and effectiveness. A pace accelerated by an international favourable environment, especially in the core imperialist states led by a gangster and a normalisation pursued by some Arab regimes.

"Irish Famine"

Film review: Black 47

I think it is a bad history or lack of it, reducing the cause to colonial rule. Capitalist and pre-capitalist class relations, absentee landlords, landownership, "laisser-faire capitalism", etc were crucial factors besides colonial rule.

I recall what Shashi Thahroor said abour famines in India. Since the British left India in 1947, there has been no famine.

"As a result of what one can only call the British Colonial Holocaust, thanks to economic policies ruthlessly enforced by Britain, between 30 and 35 million Indians needlessly died of starvation during the Raj. Millions of tonnes of wheat were exported from India to Britain even as famine raged. When relief camps were set up, the inhabitants were barely fed and nearly all died.

"It is striking that the last large-scale famine to take place in India was under British rule; none has taken place since, because Indian democracy has been more responsive to the needs of drought-affected and poverty-stricken Indian than the British rulers ever were." 

Inglorious Empire, 2017, p. 150

Chinese State Violence

Stalinism

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch


Evo Morales

"A tiny bit of advice to Evo Morales' critics on the far left: always remember that he was removed by a police/military operation orchestrated by Washington NOT because of the mistakes but because of all the good things that were done and making Bolivia a country where the majority of citizens won political representation for the first time! Bolivia became sovereign and broke off relations with Israel (together with Venezuela) after one of the numerous massacres in Gaza. This is something that neither Turkey nor Egypt could do. Worth a thought.

With mass mobilisations against the regime-change and the sovereign Bolivian parliament refusing to recognise the new President, the US victory might not last too long."


—Tariq Ali, 16 November 2019

I hope so.

History

Coup in Bolivia

Former President of Ecuador Raphael Correa: 
"Clearly what happened in Bolivia was a coup."

I am puzzeled though when he said there was no corruption in the United States or that he loved the the U.S. What does loving an imperialist and very unequal country mean? A country that is rife with  justice at home and it is policing global injustice!

Bolivia

"A coup is a curious thing. Those who make the coup never admit that they have made the coup. They claim that they are restoring democracy or that they are taking extraordinary means to establish the conditions – eventually – for democracy. This is precisely why the definition of the events are so fraught. But all coups are not the same. There are at least two types of military coups – the General’s Coup and the Colonel’s Coup."

"Bolivia does not exist"

"Human Rights" in UK

My own experience confirms this. 

I recall what a new colleague of mine, a white British man, told me about "human rights" in 2011.

“It’s hard not to feel like the government is doing it deliberately, not just to create a hostile environment for people who are here ‘illegally’ but [also] to make it more difficult for people supporting them … and I think everyone anticipates that at some point there will be legislation deliberately aimed at the organisations that support, for example, undocumented people, to make it more difficult for them to be accommodated and to make it more difficult for people to get advice.”

How UK immigration system is geared to reject

Related:
G4S in Qatar and the UAE

UK Government and Military

"Operation Northmoor was set up by the government in 2014 and looked into 52 alleged illegal killings.
Its closure was announced by the government before Royal Military Police detectives even had a chance to interview the key Afghan witnesses."
This is very interesting. Language and selectivity by a corporate machine are two of the tools that reflect power relations within an imperialist state (e.g. PR) and in its relation to other states.
The BBC article doen't even allude that the British regime and the military were in Afghanistan and Iraq as an ally with the American-led mission to fight "the terrorists" and "liberate" the people (in Afghanistan, especially women).
What happened after that and the chaos left until the present day was not the responsibility of the coalition forces. "We did our bit."
The "illegal killings" or "war crimes" must have occured in "very hard conditions" and "highly stressful situations" that "our boys" (and girls) were going through. "Mistakes were inevitable."
After all, what is 52 killings compared to what ISIS or Al-Asad's regime carried out?
More importantly, we are investigating the killings and trying to prosecute those responsible. We uphold "the rule of law." We conduct operations in making the world a peaceful place and we conduct other operations when things go wrong! 
British imperialism today abide by a different ethos—we are a "good force" in the world and mistakes happen. We have been doing our best in outsourcing violence to other regimes and private companies.

Iran

Sanctions work: One day, "the revolutionary American regime" will be boasting: "we instigated a revolution in Iran to protect our interests, Israel's interests, and Saudi ones, and helped give freedom to the Iranians," the way it has helped the Venezuelans, the Hondurans, the Iraqis, the Afghanis and others.

Chile

When a senior editor of a right-wing magazine argues for "taxing the better off" and "more public provision", it says something about the unease of the (international) ruling class.

Counting the cost of neoliberalism in Chile

German "Reunification"?

The German film-maker Thomas Heise sets out to challenge the official script of events. He recalls that when the demonstrators, overshadowed by Tiananmen Square, shouted “we are one people”, they were speaking not to West Germans — as was later claimed — but to police surrounding the demonstration. “This is the reality they want to suppress”, he says, “this moment in time when ordinary people put themselves on the line to speak about themselves. We’re not meant to remember that. We celebrate the Wall falling but not the fact that a sovereign people took it upon itself to fill a power gap. Nor how, following that, it was more about annexation than reunification. Law and order was re-established by destroying utopia. The Federal Republic could not allow a sovereign people to exist in a part of Germany because it would not have itself survived. The Wall was opened to prevent revolution.”

The myth of German reunification

Questioning Then and Now

Free yourselves from the indoctrination presented to you as innate knowledge. My generation lived through war and fascism. Through this experience, we reached the conclusion that there should never be war again. My generation experienced fascism, which at first we accepted. We didn’t know about what was going on in the concentration camps — there were no Jews in my Pomeranian village, and we didn’t know what was happening to Jewish people.
These were all realizations that I had to come to later. It was then that I came to the conclusion that this fascism — which was, of course, also an outgrowth from humanity — had an economic base supporting it. Where did the cannons come from, who built the bombers, who desired this? And who is alive today and profiting from war? Where do new developments come from?
Anyone sitting in their car today with their sat nav should be aware that this is a by-product of the production of weapons for war. So, the only advice I can give is to critically question things. That’s how we can understand the realities of this world and redesign it so that humanity can have a future.
—Hans Modrow, Die Linke, Jacobin Magazine interview, November 2019

Coca-Cola's Violence

11 November 1918

The 'end' of a war that was supposed to end all wars laid the foundations of the biggest slaughter in human history, WWII, when it imposed a humiliating and crippling treaty on Germany, a humiliation that was coupled with the impacts of the Great Depression, spawning the Nazis, who wanted a place under the sun, and propelled the U.S. to occupy a hegemonic place and displace the old empires.

"The structural reality is that the First World War took place over empires, for empires, and between empires. For a clear-eyed portrait of the world that it yielded, there is no better place to start than the opening chapter of Dominic Lieven’s study of Tsarist Russia’s road to war, To the Flame, the latest major contribution to the scholarship of the conflict. In it, Lieven lays out the codes and aims of conduct shared by the ruling classes of Europe, saturated with considerations of honour, prestige and virility, for whom territorial aggrandizement was an automatic criterion of status as a major power. As he shows, in 1914 the British realm bore more than a passing resemblance to the Austro-Hungarian—for Bosnia read Ireland. Even far weaker states such as Italy and Spain were bent on colonial expansion in North Africa. The competing militarism and annexationism of the European system, leading to repeated near misses at a general conflagration before 1914, answered to the logic of Schumpeter’s diagnosis of imperialism, as a reflex product of aristocracies whose values were still largely pre-capitalist. But this was a world of industrialized capitalism whose dynamic detonated the explosion of the system."
Alexander Zevin

Latin America

The Wall and Unification

An alternative analysis to the bourgeois media: an account by the last Premier of East Germany.
The take over of the GDR by the Federal Republic of Germany
"I have come to the conclusion that the economic difficulties in the GDR, as in the Soviet Union, were exacerbated by Perestroika, which was not an economic reform program, but stemmed from Gorbachev’s maxim that more democracy equals more socialism. He never really had an economic conception — he tinkered with democratic developments, the role of the Duma, or democracy within the economy, but did not focus much on the economy itself. It centered around what productive capability was needed to achieve certain social outcomes.
My view is that the developments of the 1980s led to an implosion. That is, there was no revolution in the GDR or in any other Eastern European state. We collapsed in on ourselves, as the relationship between the party and the population was no longer stable. The party leadership did not understand that popular mistrust of the party’s leading role was growing because the economy was being led in an increasingly scattered manner. This context, along with the downturn caused by Gorbachev’s Perestroika, was the final step in a collapse that began not in the GDR but in the Soviet Union."

An interview with Hans Modrow, 
The Last Communist Premier of East Germany

The Berlin Wall

"There is a striking discrepancy between the lack of feeling aroused by the deaths of tens of thousands of human beings—in their majority anonymous, unrecorded by the authorities and denied the dignity of a proper burial—with that excited by, say, the 1,000 lives lost in the crossing from East to West Germany during the Cold War. There is one obvious explanation: an African, an Arab or an Afghani who drowns in the Mediterranean, in flight from war, oppression or extreme poverty, is not seen as a human being in the same way as the Germans who were trying to flee ‘communism’ and were hailed as martyrs for liberty."
—Stathis Kouvelakis, New Left Review, March-April 2018

Today, the same powers that preached "freedoms" and "democracy" for the Eastern Europeans, have erected more and longer walls and fences. Fortress Europe, the American-Mexican border, and the Apartheid Wall built by the Israeli state have killed thousands of people, "unwanted", "undesirable", and even "terrorist hordes." It looks that "civilisation" has got better since the end of the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe.

Adam Tooze, a Left Liberal

"Liberalism has always contained different shades, and its dominant version has varied across countries and periods. In the capitalist world, going back to the eighties, the line of division separating a liberal politics from a politics of the left is their respective attitudes to the existing order of things: does it require structural change or situational adjustment?

Between states, the ‘liberal international order’ has for thirty years been the touchstone of geopolitical reason: free markets, free trade, free movement of capital and other human rights, policed by the most powerful nation on earth with help from its allies, in accordance with its rules and its sanctions, its rewards and its retributions. Within states, ‘neoliberalism’: privatization of goods and services, deregulation of industries and of finance, fiscal retrenchment, de-unionization, weakening of labour, strengthening of capital—compensated by recognition of gender and multicultural claims.


The first has reigned far more unchallenged than the second. Very few liberals have seriously contested the principles of free trade, the primacy of the United States, or the rule of international law as enshrined in a United Nations whose decisions the  us  has for the most part been able to determine at will. The liberal international order remains a precious icon."


This is a very good piece.


From Wilson to Bernanke

Or, Situationism á l'Envers?

Immigration

Two weeks ago, an Italian student at an elite university told a language teacher: "immigrants are incompatible with the Italian society." 

I immediately thought of how my iPad port is incompatible with my canon camera's lead. 


Hostile Environment

How Immigrants Became Scapegoats

French Structural Violence

I recall a colleague who a few years ago, pointing to photos of women wearing the headscarf, asked me: "Why are they still like this?"

In an era of globalisation and a triumphing "liberal democracy" "liberating" everybody, my colleague, a white Westerner, thought, and probably still does, that those women are resisting "freedom" and the "free world", preferring "backwardness" and "submission." 

"Today, behind the terrible shaming and violent treatment of a Muslim woman and her son, is the ongoing structural violence against Muslims and other people who speak out against inequality and injustice, couched in the corporatisation of everything (including war, which must be maintained for the secular system to profit)."


French fear and loathing of Muslim women

Finance

"The hegemony of finance—the most fetishized form of wealth—is only maintained by the public authorities’ unconditional support. Left to itself, fictitious capital would collapse; and yet would pull down the whole of our economies in its wake. In truth, finance is a master blackmailer. Financial hegemony dresses up in the liberal trappings of the market, yet captures the old sovereignty of the state all the better to squeeze the body of society to feed its own profits." (my emphasis)

—Cédric Durand, Ficticious Capital, 2017, p. 155 

Saving the Other

The following is a drivel by me, nothing of it gets closer to an analysis aimed at radical readers or intelligent people.
"The coalition task force fighting IS in Iraq and Syria reported on 26 September that it had conducted 34,573 air strikes between August 2014 and August 2019, and that at least 1,335 civilians had been unintentionally killed.
But Airwars believes between 8,214 and 13,125 non-combatants are likely to have been killed as a result of coalition actions over the same period."
But "the price is worth it." "Collateral damage" is inevitable and necessary. Saving coalition forces' lives is crucial. We are helping you to destroy evil, so you must make some sacrifices. I am sure those who lost their loved ones will understand the situation and the difficulty that faces pilots. We will give them some money. 
What about if some of them go and join the "jihadist" groups out of anger and frustration? We strike them... After 9/11 and the London bombing, the official line was it was imperative we went "there" and fought them "there" so "they" could not come here and bomb us again. 

But they came and killed our loved ones in France and England and other places.


Well, I guess because there is something wrong with "Islam"; something ideological that drives them to hate "our values."
But the Arab uprisings of 2011 and the recent and ongoing revolts in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon and Iraq show otherwise. That it is not a religious issue at all. 

Yes, but look at Syria, Libya and Yemen and how they are killing each other over there for almost a decade now. Just look at Libya and how our NATO tried to help them and save lives.
And if we didn't do it, imagine how many lives would be taken by ISIS. Just look how we have destroyed the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, or the "insurgents in Iraq."

And when those people terrorised by ISIS, Taliban, A-Asad, Saudi-UAE air raids... flee their homes and seek refuge in Europe they are "sheltered" in detention centers and treated as aliens who are incompatible with "our culture". 


Because we cannot afford having all of them and because a siginificant number of our population do not accept more foreigners, especially Muslims. It is a hard choice. We cannot upset our people strengthen the far-right.


But over the last few decades all the talk was about a "prosperous" and "tolerant" Europe, a Europe of "liberal values", "human rights", "aid", and even "helping the Other develop".


And we are still doing that, but we have to do it differently today. We have new challenges like climate change and economic stagnation facing us. Also, we should not dismiss the intricacies of geopolitics in a region like the Midle East and North Africa...


........


The circle has not finished. More is yet to come.

Saudi Aramco

Saudi Aramco made almost $47bn profit in the first half of 2019. We know where most of that profit goes.

A genuine revolution means overthrowing a family-regime that has been squandering a huge wealth at home, including purchasing of weapons, and capital flight to the Western banks and using that wealth instead in real development across the Arab region, doing away with nation states.

That would incorporate the Saudi women and other men and women in the Arab countries in the labour market where unemployment in some countries is high and one of the causes of the uprisings and migration.

Two Hitlers

Hitler by Brendan Simms and Hitler by Peter Longerich

And even Adam Tooze, an economic historian cherished by the liberal left, and some revolutionary leftists, has made a blunder.

"Contrary to common belief, Tooze argues, in Hitler’s mind the supreme enemy against which his mobilization of the Third Reich for continental war took aim lay not in the steppes to the east, but across the ocean to the far west. Not the bacillus of Bolshevism but the might of the United States, headquarters of world Jewry, was the existential threat to Germany that obsessed him, and governed his ambitions of aggression. The destruction of Communism and conquest of Russia was just a means, not an end, Operation Barbarossa no more than a way-station—the acquisition of a territorial  and resource platform capable of rivalling the vast open spaces of the American colossus, in the battle for world domination. Historically, then, ‘America should provide the pivot for our understanding of the Third Reich’. Projects of eastern expansionism, along with rabid anti-Communism and anti-Semitism, were generic features of the German right after 1918. What distinguished Hitler, defining ‘the  peculiarity and motivating  dynamic’ of his regime, was the centrality of America in his world-view as ‘the global hegemon in the making’, and ‘fulcrum of a world Jewish conspiracy for the ruination of Germany and the rest of Europe’."

—Perry Anderson, New Left Review, September-October 2019

UK General Election

If despite of what has happened since at least 2008-09, the young voters do not shift the balance and elect a Labour social democratic government, it will be a 'historic' confirmation of how conservative and reactionary the country is.

American state violence

Like with imprisonment, a radical examination of “counterterrorism” shows it fails to work even on its own terms: many more civilians have been killed as a result of the war on terror than the “jihadists” have killed, or could ever have hoped to kill. The wars, bombings, and covert operations pursued by the United States have killed nearly five hundred thousand people in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, according to a Brown University estimate. Families and whole swaths of communities within the United States have been devastated by domestic practices of intensive targeting and prosecution. Like the war on drugs, the war on terror at home does not reduce violence but spreads it; its impacts reverberate from schools to family life to diminished political power for Muslim-American communities. Under the guise of policing “homegrown terrorism,” it has dramatically expanded the politics of fear and suspicion around Muslims and the sphere of law enforcement around Muslim communities.

"Don't expand the war on terror in the name of antiracism"

Global Poverty

The Science of (Not) Ending Global Poverty