• Books: Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, Endless War: Hidden Functions of the "war on terror" by David Keen, Capital Vol. 1, Tin Drum by Günter Grass, What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed, Desiring Arabs by Joseph Massad, Spies, Soldiers and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil, La Condition Humaine by André Malraux, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Imagined Community by Benedict Anderson, Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Noli me Tangere by José Rizal, Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, ذهنية التحريم لصادق جلال العظم, Karl Marx by Francis Wheen, وليمة لأعشاب البحر لحيدر حيدر, Candide by Voltaire, النزعات المادية في الفلسفة العربية الإسلامية لحسين مروة, Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich ..
  • Films: Alexanderplatz by Rainer Fassbinder, Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, The Battle of Algiers, films by P. P. Passolini, Persepolis, Midnight Express, 1984, Papillion, Gangs of New York, Sophie Scholl, Life of Brian, Ivan the Terrble, Battleship Potemkine ...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I think this is a very good interview.

"And we get our delicate fiction and our sophisticated analysis of identity without mentioning caste, without mentioning Kashmir — the upholding of this nation as the land of Gandhi and yoga and nonviolence, when in fact there has not been a single day since August 15, 1947, when India was declared independent that the Indian Army has not been deployed “within its own borders, against its own people.” Whether it’s Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Hyderabad, Punjab, Goa, Bastar, you know? It’s just a nation that is nailed together by military might, and we try to avoid thinking about it."

Arundhati Roy on literature, India, Kashmir, violence, Ghandi, Dalits, resistance, Obama, Trump, and more

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"The problem of pseudo-choice also demonstrates the limitations of the standard liberal attitude towards Muslim women who wear the veil: acceptable if it is their own free choice rather than imposed on them by husbands or family. However, the moment a woman dons the veil as the result of personal choice, its meaning changes completely: it is no longer a sign of belonging to the Muslim community, but an expression of idiosyncratic individuality. In other words, a choice is always a meta-choice, a choice of the modality of the choice itself: it is only the woman who does not choose to wear a veil that effectively chooses a choice. This is why, in our secular liberal democracies, people who maintain a substantial religious allegiance are in a subordinate position: their faith is ‘tolerated’ as their own personal choice, but the moment they present it publicly as what it is for them—a matter of substantial belonging—they stand accused of ‘fundamentalism’. Plainly, the ‘subject of free choice’, in the ‘tolerant’, multicultural sense, can only emerge as the result of an extremely violent process of being uprooted from one’s particular life-world." 

— Slavoj Žižek, "Against Human Rights", New Left Review 34, 2005

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I usually do not read the "gutter press" as Oscar Wilde called it, but I should make an exception this time of attractive headline on The Sun's front page: PM's ultimatum to MP's - BACK ME OR BACK BRUTALITY."

One needs to learn that in life there are only two options: "You are either with us or with the terrorists" (George W. Bush).

Here is how that great German novelist, Thomas Maan, would have replied to Theresa May, Trump and Macron who have been "foaming at the mouth monotonous catchwords".

"This fantastic state of mind, of a humanity that has outrun its ideas, is matched by a political scene in the grotesque style, with Salvation Army methods, hallelujahs and bell-ringing and dervish-like repetition of monotonous catchwords, until everybody foams at the mouth. Fanaticism turns into a means of salvation, enthusiasm into epileptic ecstasy . . . and reason veils her face."
— Thomas Mann, “An Appeal to Reason” in The Berliner Tagg, October 1930

And did we get afterwards, an action of face-saving of imperialist powers who could not challenge the Russian regime, so they staged strikes for a show. Strikes hailed as "successful and perfect" and would save the "dignity of Europe". In fact, Western imperialism's option are very limited and almost paralysed not only because of Russia, but alos because if internal contradictions and crisis. In that context, we understand that Western imperialist violence is unable to stop or undemine the violence and the barbarity of the Syrian regime and its backers. 

Unlucky are those Syrians who will get killed in the coming days and months. That's one of the ironies/predicaments of our age.
The early days of imperial decline

I doubt it. I have commented on this article. I think it does not cover some other crucial areas of the war and the players involved: the nature of the Russian regime, Iran and Israel as regional players, the defeat of Western imperialsim in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ideological reasons of that section of the Western and Arab left that supports Al-Assad either actively or passively...
Like that hypocritical discussion about whether the recent airstrikes on Syria were "legal" or "illegal", here is another hypocrisy.

I remember that in early 2001 there were only a couple of brothels left in Soho. London. They had been made illegal. 

But could you really make selling sex illegal in a society where everything is commodified and for sale? In fact, "brothels" and prostitution have been legal, but operating under other names and a lot of that is monopolised by "escort" agencies and other kind of agencies. 

Louise is British, has a diploma in marine biology and £20,000 of student debt.

See also

Rent for sex

Raped, beaten and exploited in Sicily, Italy

Prostitution in Germany

Saturday, April 14, 2018

1. This is a 7-year war with half of the population either displaced or made refugees, and with about 400,000 killed (93% of them killed by the regime).

2. This is a brutal regime which crushed an uprising and a revolutionary prospect, supported by one regional power, which was the main winner from the destruction of Iraq, a furure winner in Syria and "a threat" to Israel, and an authoritarian state, which is a  big global power, but not a super-power, and it is in a geopolitical power struggle with the big imperialist states for spheres of influence. It used to be a friend of the main imperialist powers when a drunkard man opened the gates to "free market" and sold half of the country to foreign capitalists and newly-born local 
ones, some of them now live in London. It is a regime that waged a 
brutal war on the Chetchens and his "democratic" friends of the time looked the other way.

3. On the other side, known imperialist states, agents of global structural violence and inequality, with a record of wars, domination, support of dictators (Algerian and Egyptian) and autocrats (e.g. Saudi, Emirati, Qatari), anti-socialist, anti-progressive, sometimes back these type of Muslims (Mujahidin), other times back other types of Muslims ('moderate', 'secular', 'liberal'), their multi-national companies are leaders in plunder, exploitation, and destruction of the environment, their international financial institutions  enslave other countries, coopting any hope of revolutionary change (2011), their universities teach about "spreading democracy", "empowering women", "developing the poor countries", "democracies retaliate against terroristm", their friends include autocrats from the Gulf, who buy large amounts of weapons from them and who also sell oil and invest large sums of money in the northern metropolis. They often talk of "human rights" and "our values", imposing austerity on their populations 
and enriching the 1%. They have lost Iraq and they have lost Syria geopolitically, and more. Now they have reaslised that it is time they staged a PR and "save the Syrian people from chemical weapons", and leave more Syrians get killed by other weapons.

4. Also, Western and Arab leftists, suddenly stood up and opposed an attack on Syria by those who want to "save" the Syrian people. These are the very same leftists who have either openly supported Al-Assad regime's killing machine for seven years or have chosen silence. 

The fact is that this is a series of proxy wars in a context of a counter-revolution and a global crisis. Big and regional powers are in a fierce war in defending or carving their own spheres of influence. All talk about "International Law", a poisoning of a spy, "fighting terrorists", etc are not the underlying factors and reasons. 
“Idiot is a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs ("a private citizen", "individual"), from ἴδιος, idios ("private", "one's own"). In ancient Greece, people who were not capable of engaging in the public sphere were considered "idiotes", in contrast to the public citizen, or "polites". An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs."
The conflict in Yemen is not really about Iranian influence, as is often claimed to and in Western capitals. It’s certainly not about legitimacy or democracy, nor yet about sect, creed or colour. It’s about filthy lucre, and the corrupt access to it via state-capture. The Arab Spring—a rising up of the “street” against the kleptocracy—was co-opted and corrupted in Yemen by political factions (and their foreign sponsors.) The UN-sponsored National Dialogue Conference supposed to be a national fresh start after decades of corruption, nepotism and misrule, was itself corrupted by those very factions it sought to replace: many of the ancien regime were able to retain and leverage ill-gotten political and financial resources, despite those being the major cause of the 2011 uprising. And the West stood idly by.

Radix Malorum est Cupiditas
"Greed is the root of evil"
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said in the aftermath of the 'Western' attack on Syria that "The US president, UK prime minister and the president of France are criminals."
So are him, Bashar al-Assad and Putin. 

Leila Ahmed