• 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 ...

Monday, May 30, 2016

من خلال التجربة التاريخية نرى أن حالة اشتداد ظاهرة التدين في مجتمع ما تعبر عن عسر مواجهة هذا المجتمع لتحولات عظيمة يجد أنه لا مفر منها، لكنها في نفس الوقت مؤلمة وتهدد الاستقرار الذي عاش عليه لعهود طويلة. فأما الطبقات والفئات الاجتماعية التي مازالت تحافظ بهذا الشكل أو ذاك على مصالح في الوضع القديم فانها تحاول ما أمكن أقلمة الدين ليستوعب تلك التحولات في نفس اطار النظام الاجتماعي السائد، اي اصلاح الدين كتعبير عن اصلاح النظام. وأما الطبقات والشرائح التي تجد أن وضعها ميؤوس منه ولا أمل لها في التحرر ضمن الأوضاع القائمة، فانه اما أن تأخذ ردة فعلها طابعا ثوريا وتتخلص شيئا فشيئا من الأوهام الدينية أو تحويل الدين الى مجرد طقوس اجتماعية شكلية، واما أن تكون ردة فعلها من خلال استعادة ظلال الماضي المؤسطرة في شكل عصور ذهبية غابرة وجب استعادتها، وردة الفعل الرجعية هذه لا تعبر عن حالة اجابية، اي أنها حالة انكفائية تتقلص شيئا فشيئا بتطور الحركة الثورية، وقد تستغلها الطبقات السائدة مؤقتا لبث الفوضى وافتعال الحروب والنزاعات الطائفية من أجل التعمية عن حقيقة الصراعات الاجتماعية وتحويل وجهتها

محمد مثلوثي، تونس 27 مايو 2016
This analysis was published in 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2016

ملاحظة: معظم الحوار لا يتعلق بـما يسمى الربيع العربي
"Almost half of European Union (EU) member states have flouted an EU-wide suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, risking complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture..."
Risking complicity? Oh, that impartial Amnesty!
EU Member States Complicit in Killing and Torture

Here is the bigger picture:

"Thanks to ... three kingdoms – Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran – the policies of the powerful international powers have prioritised stability: thus effectively sponsoring the states’ transformation into security agencies, and permitting them to eradicate their subjects if they get out of hand, and not interfering with the internal matters of the dynasties and juntas which rule over their citizens’ lives. This prioritisation of stability has benefited despotic regimes, including the Assad regime, and has never been in the interest of the populace and their demands and political activities.
Isn’t this, rather, the most important source of the antiquated, which controls all other sources?
Overall, the fast-moving current of antiquation that is engulfing us all appears to be a result of three springs merging into one: the spring of religion, which offers legitimacy to existing and soon-to-exist despotic authorities; the spring of despotic states that receive assistance and legitimacy from a world system centered around stability; and the spring of this world-system itself, which acts as a pillar for different forms of discrimination, privilege and prejudice. The antiquated is a mixture of discrimination and prejudice protected by force, which in turn protects privilege. It is the face of rising reactionarism in today’s world.

I am referring to the interlacing of three factors. The US and the West more generally, including Israel, dominate the world system; it is Syria’s bad fortune that Russia too is a partner in this domination. I am inclined to consider the world system as the dynamic source of antiquation in our lives; the source of reactionary tendencies, including religious brutality and states’ despotism. That is because the strongest archaic is the archaic of the strongest. The democratic West is the patron of Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is largely thanks to the democratic West that al-Qaeda was established (which emerged from jihadi movement in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in 1980s), and the West is the structural supporter of state despotism, even when it may make the political choice to not support some such states."

— Yassin Al-Haj Saleh (born in A-Raqqah in1961) is a Syrian writer, intellectual and former political prisoner. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

يوما ما عندما كنت طالبا في الجامعة وناشطا نقابيا وسياسيا تم إيقافي وأنا في طريقي إلى المعهد وزج بي في سيارة الشرطة. وفي الطريق إلى مركز الشرطة قام أحد رجال البوليس من تفتيش محفظتي ومصادرة هذا الكتاب. لم يتسنى لي بعدها قراءته

Monday, May 23, 2016

"The belt-tightening legislation, outlined in a 7,500-page omnibus bill, includes measures that range from the taxation of coffee and luxury goods to the creation of a new privatisation fund in charge of real estate assets for the next 99 years. Under the stewardship of EU officials, the body will oversee the sale of about 71,500 pieces of prime public property in what will amount to collateral for the €250bn in bailout loans Greece has received since 2010."

“They are with the exception of the Acropolis selling everything under the sun,” said Anna Asimakopoulou, the shadow minister for development and competitiveness. “We are giving up everything.”

"At the behest of the EU and International Monetary Fund, the government has agreed to adopt tighter austerity in the form of an automatic fiscal brake – referred to as “the cutter” in the Greek media – if fiscal targets are missed."

Greece pushes fresh austerity drive through parliament

Sunday, May 15, 2016

"By its nature, The Apprentice exists to bring out the very worst in people. It’s a series about avarice, about stiffing people over in a suffocating kill-or-be-killed corporate environment. It’s a get-rich-quick-and-damn-the-consequences show. It might not have caused the 2008 banking crisis, but it probably didn’t help."
Stuart Heritage, The Toxic Political Legacy of the Apprentice

Saturday, May 14, 2016

"A year ago — well before most of the current refugees arrived in Austria — polls in Upper Austria estimated the FPÖ’s support at around 30 percent. Earlier this year, before the refugee situation dominated headlines, elections in the southern province of Styria saw the FPÖ skyrocket from 10.7 to 28.8 percent, finishing just 2.5 percent behind the Social Democrats.
And perhaps most importantly, at the federal level the FPÖ has led comfortably in every poll since April; the most recent surveys put them at 33 percent — a “comfortable ten point lead” over both the SPÖ and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP).
The idea that the FPÖ is merely profiting from anxiety about migration therefore conveniently overlooks the far right’s strength before the refugee crisis."
In LRB Letters

  • Crisis in Brazil
  • Putin in Syria
  • Iraqi Healthcare

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Via Michael Roberts' blog

America's infrastructure is literally falling apart,according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The American Society of Civil Engineers yesterday projected a $1.44tn investment funding gap between 2016 and 2025, warning of a mounting drag on business activity, exports and incomes.
Without radical surgery, the decay in tunnels, railways and waterways will cost the US economy nearly $4tn in lost gross domestic product by 2025 as costs rise and productivity is impeded, according to estimates from the ASCE, dragging on a recovery in output that is the shallowest since the end of the second world war.
Inadequate infrastructure is far from unique to the US. Public investment has been trending lower as a share of GDP in economies including Japan, Germany and France in recent decades. 
The debate is being inflamed by a number of scandals involving decaying infrastructure, at a time when mounting demands are being placed on it by a population set to grow by 60m over the next 25 years. 
Last year US public capital investment, which includes infrastructure, was just 3.4 per cent of GDP, or $611bn, according to the president’s Council of Economic Advisers — the lowest in more than 60 years.
For more on the failure of capitalist investment in basic infrastructure needs, see my post.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Being anti-Zionist “more than is necessary” means failing to stress, alongside these legitimate views, that the struggle against Zionism is not intended to destroy Israel, but rather, among other things, to save it from itself."

Sand has made good points, but blundered it when qualified a criminal, colonialist, imperialist, racist, and apartheid state as a "democracy."

Sunday, May 08, 2016

"Asef Bayat (AB): If we look carefully to all of these experiences, all of the protests, including those in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, they were at first remarkably peaceful and civil. In both Syria and Libya, the regimes’ reaction was brutal and extraordinary. The protests suffered a lot of casualties, but they were still non-violent until the foreign forces got involved: NATO and Qatar in Libya and a host of countries ranging from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the Unites States to Iran, Hezbullah, al-Qaeda and then Russia. Their involvement militarized the bulk of the uprisings, turning these countries into a theatrical stage for settling geopolitical accounts. It is remarkable that despite the brutality and violence by the regime and the armed opposition, the ordinary Syrians have shown that they still wish to protest peacefully when opportunities arise as we have seen in recent episodes."

Most of the interview is not about the Arab uprising.
The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

"The prospect of such controversial measures being passed so urgently unleashed a wave of civil unrest with a 48-hour general strike by private and public sector unions bringing Greece to a standstill. Unionists said the measures were a “barbaric” eradication of hard-won rights and would be “the last nail in the coffin” for workers whose salaries have already been savaged by relentless rounds of gruelling austerity."

Thursday, May 05, 2016

"There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism." — Walter Benjamin

Colonial ruins are a fitting epitaph for the British empire

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Bahrain's Uprising: Resistance and Repression in the Gulf

"A very strong theme that emerges in the book is the internationalization of both repression and resistance. The book really stresses how the ambitions and foreign policy objectives of outside powers have shaped contentious politics in the country. Bahrain, trapped between the rivalry of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and geopolitically important for the US and UK, has only nominal sovereignty. Yet the role of non-state actors is explored and stressed too. Foreign companies and states, from Korea to France, benefit from selling weapons, spyware, and other products to Bahrain. Deterritorialized and despatialized, repression has become a big global business, and we are increasingly seeing the transnational repression of local protest, especially in the realm of surveillance technologies or the supply of arms and advice. Conversely, the same is true of oppositional movements and the human rights turn, where we see more and more the transnational protest and lobbying over local issues."
On this day in history

The May Fourth Movement was the first mass movement in modern Chinese history. It began with about 5,000 university students in Beijing protesting the Versailles Conference's decision to transfer former German concessions in China to Japan. Demonstrations and strikes spread, and a nationwide boycott of Japanese goods followed. The movement began a patriotic outburst of new urban intellectuals against foreign imperialists and warlords and is often cited as the seminal event that led to what?

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

"Einstein publicly stated reservations about the proposal to partition the British Mandate of Palestine into independent Arab and Jewish countries. In a 1938 speech, "Our Debt to Zionism", he said: "I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. My awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power, no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain—especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight strongly, even without a Jewish state. ... If external necessity should after all compel us to assume this burden, let us bear it with tact and patience.". His attitudes were nuanced: In his testimony before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in January 1946 he stated that he was not in favour of the creation of a Jewish state, while in a 1947 letter to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru intended to persuade India to support the establishment of a Jewish state, Einstein stated that the Balfour Declaration's proposal to establish a national home for Jews in Palestine "redresses the balance" of justice and history. Einstein remained strongly supportive of unlimited Jewish immigration to Palestine."

Albert Einstein Letter to The New York Times. December 4, 1948 New Palestine Party. Visit of Menachen Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed

الإرهابي الصغير
ذاك الذي أطلقوا عليه الرصاص
لم يسقط منذ أول طلقة
بل جثا على ركبتيه
ونظر إليهم
حيث كانوا يختبئون
خلف أسلحتهم
وربما كانوا يخشون
أن يكشف وجوههم الملثمة
وحين تلقف رشاشه
كما يتلقف الأطفال ألعابهم
كانت الرصاصة الأخيرة
تستقر حذو فكرته الأخيرة
لم تكن فكرة عن الجنة
ولا عن الله
ولا الملائكة
بل عن صديقته الصغيرة
عن رضابها
وحلمتيها الرقيقتين
ولحسن الحظ
أنهم أخطؤوا التصويب
ذلك أن صورتها لم تكن
في رأسه
بل بين يديه
وحين ارتطم وجهه
بالأسفلت الساخن
مررها بين فكيه
وبينما كان يمضغها بهدوء لذيذ
كانوا يفككون قنبلته الصغيرة
تلك التي لم يسعفه الوقت

محمد مثلوثي، تونس

Sunday, May 01, 2016

"An integral nationalism that never flinched in exterminating Armenians, expelling Greeks, deporting Kurds and torturing dissident Turks, and which still enjoys wide electoral support, is not a force to be taken lightly. The Turkish left, consistently among its victims, has shown most courage in confronting it. Politically speaking, the ‘generation of 78’ was cut down by the military coup of 1980, years of imprisonment, exile or death killing off any chance of a revival of popular attraction or activism on the same scale. But when the worst of the repression lifted, it was this levy that produced a critical culture without equal in any European country of the same period: monographs, novels, films, journals, publishing houses that have given Istanbul in many respects a livelier radical milieu than London, Paris or Berlin."
After Kamel

What kind of political discourse, with what social and po­ litical effects, is contemporary tolerance talk in the United States? What readi...