Sunday, February 19, 2017

“Dialogue” is one of those words, like “diversity”, that can mean all things to all people. It is often used to define shallow, skating-on-the-surface conversations which give the impression of an exchange but which touch upon nothing substantive. It can also mean proper, dig-deep contestations through which we test each other’s ideas and in which we show ourselves willing to be uncomfortable as we ourselves are tested. In universities, and in society at large, there is today too little of the latter and too much of the former; too little real engagement and too great a desire to stay within our comfort zones.

Are Soas students right to 'decolonize' their minds from Western philosophers?
Well, you can argue for whatever you think as long as you don't question the fundamental context in which, siyasa, fiqh, maslaha, 'democracy', state, etc operate or determined, i.e. as long as you don't question how the socio-economic structure relates to social justice and law, ownership and social relations and powers. Ms Landes, correctly referred to the "Islamic governments" of the pre-colonial era, but ignored the global entrenchment of the capitalist system in today's "Muslim societies". How can one question the euro centric concepts without questioning capitalist "democracy"? 
It's the limit of the liberal thinking.

"How to create an Islamic government — not an Islamic state"
From the Middle East achive

A CIA document (1983)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Forbes or how to save capitalism and therefore humanity

Unless it changes, capitalism will starve humanity by 2050
«La colonisation fait partie de l’histoire française. C’est un crime, c’est un crime contre l’humanité, c’est une vraie barbarie et ça fait partie de ce passé que nous devons regarder en face en présentant aussi nos excuses à l’égard de celles et ceux envers lesquels nous avons commis ces gestes.»
La phrase, prononcée à la télévision algérienne, est d’Emmanuel Macron. Des propos qui ont provoqué de vives réactions, notamment à droite et à l’extrême droite. Même la ministre écologiste Emmanuelle Cosse a réagi ce jeudi matin en niant le terme de «crime contre l’humanité»Pour l’historien Benjamin Stora, les propos du leader d’En marche n’ont pourtant rien de révolutionnaire.
Visualizing Capital

I still think that reading Capital volume 1 gives a better idea than Harvey's illustration.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Young Karl Marx
A film review

"Perhaps due to the academic, middle-class milieu from which many Die Linke radicals emerge, its younger activists in particular tend to accept a false dichotomy of either ignoring people’s concerns or engaging with them at the price of adopting a “right-wing” language and accept an inherently racist framework.
That they are immediately repulsed by the slightest sentiments perceived as racist reflects their commitment to a better world, of course. But that commitment has no practical value if it means shutting themselves off from those who do not distinguish antiracism from “political correctness,” or internationalist solidarity from the undemocratic regime of an increasingly cohesive global ruling class."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It is interesting to read what the intelligent, but worried, liberals from the ruling class think. Krugman even thinks that only "the people" could stop the slide towards "an American-type authoritarianism".  

How hypocritical of one of the defenders of the system.

Krugman is officially known among the mainstream economists as someone who has been critical of this and that policy and how to mangae capitalism and the malfunctions within the system, i.e. a neo-Keynesian. He opposed what others called "the financial terrorism" inflicted upon Greece. He, as the Economist magazine argued, blamed most of the problems on Bush and his administration.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"If, according to Zwemer, the truth that Islam fails to grasp is that “Jesus is lord and savior,” and that he must be chosen as such, liberalism demands that the individual, in order to be an individual, must choose liberalism; this, as Massad notes, is a weaponized “choice,” for the only choice that liberalism can accept as a choice is liberalism. The new choice, then, appears as the liberal form of damnation; Muslims who do not choose liberalism, like those who do not choose Jesus, are the new forsaken, to be converted or killed. It is this structure of liberalism, as an ideology of imperial missionary work in the name of secularism, that Islam in Liberalism demands that we confront."

— Murad Idris
"At its inception, aerial bombardment was a weapon of empire deployed to subdue colonial populations. Soon, during the Second World War, civilians in Europe and Japan came into the bomber’s crosshairs, and ever since non-combatant targets have been at the heart of military strategy. It was a seismic shift in the relations of power: as the state justified the mass murder of civilians, individual combatants, flying high above their victims, were distanced from the act of killing as never before.

The ascendance of drones as an instrument of military power is the latest stage in this cruel evolution, which has led to a perpetual low-intensity war on the global scene. As the technology enabling it spreads through the world, the borders of the conflict will grow in proportion."
"Zionists were demanding Mubarak stay in power back in February 2011 because otherwise extremists were going to take power. No one argues sovereignty to excuse Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen since they were invited in by the Yemeni government. And if anti-imperialism is fine with replacing US imperialism with Russian imperialism, then that’s a bad anti-imperialism. There is also a purposeful ignorance being perpetuated around Syria by those who want us to think the choice is either Assad or ISIS, ignoring the existence of local coordination committees and other grassroots formations that could be an alternative and are need of support.

"The US left for the most part continued to push the regime change narrative, which again ignored all the actions the United States has pursued to preserve the regime despite all the rhetoric. They mocked the idea that there were moderate Syrian rebel groups, claiming everyone fighting Assad was an extremist and then acted all shocked right wingers would smear Syrian refugees as terrorists and want them banned. And most disgustingly is how the US left spent most of the past two years or so hysterically organizing against a nonexistent NFZ instead of the actual US bombs falling on Syria killing over a thousand people.
"This is why I don’t buy into the claim that US antiwar activists should only be concerned with US actions and thus their focus on Syria is about ensuring US military intervention doesn’t happen. The reality has been that many in US antiwar movement have only mobilized around Syria to preserve Assad. In September 2013 there were protests to stop US war on Syria following the Ghouta chemical weapons attack. The US did not bomb Syria then. Since September 2014 the United States has been bombing Syria constantly — in 2016 alone twelve thousand US bombs were dropped, even more than the number dropped on Iraq.
"I have not seen one protest against these bombs by the “Hands Off Syria” crew. The only difference between September 2013 and September 2014 was the target of US bombs. So when antiwar activists are only out in the street protesting proposed US bombing of the regime while being silent about actual US bombing of Syria, don’t be shocked that people will conclude the US left is soft on Assad.
"The US left has an opportunity to redeem itself in the age of Trump. The US backing of regime and Russian war crimes in Syria will become more explicit, there will be no more proposed NFZ to derail the conversation, and solidarity with the Syrian revolution will become a must."

The Syrian uprising - six years on

Monday, February 13, 2017

I recommend

I make it clear in the book (something I also made clear in my previous book Desiring Arabs in the context of post-1967 Arab intellectual debates) that the failure to take political economy seriously in relation to debates about “women in Islam” and the attendant privileging of the idea of cultural determinants can be historicized in terms of the end of the cold war era. Once the USSR was eliminated, the global public sphere becomes dominated by the ideas of West European and US Human Rights and other “development” NGOs, in addition to the expansion of the purview of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to encompass all of Eastern Europe and the disintegrated Soviet republics (not to mention post-Apartheid South Africa and the post-Oslo yet-still-occupied Palestinian territories). It is then that the liberal language of rights achieves something like global hegemony and questions of political economy recede, almost disappear, in the framing of the problem of “women in Islam.”

Farris asks, “Is the economic realm thus ‘excluded’ from human rights’ agendas precisely because it constitutes the very basis of those ‘higher’ realms of politics and culture, to put it in Marx’s terms? In other words, is the discourse of human rights, and consequently, of women’s rights in the East and under Islam, a plea for political equality that only serves to divert attention from economic and social inequalities?” My answer is a resounding yes to both questions. While Orientalism is the organizing epistemology and ontology of human rights work at the level of the representation of Muslim women, the overall strategic goals of human rights work are set by imperial capital (in its neoliberal form) which not only funds and plans the agendas of NGOs but underwrites the very production of imperial culture and policy as a “culture of human rights,” either as alibi or as imagined check on the worst excesses of neo/imperial capital. That what is taken to be human rights is the liberal agenda of Western European governments and that of the United States and is adopted by organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which originate as partisans in Cold War-era ideological battles, is hardly a coincidence. Such a human rights agenda refused to grant any legitimacy to what the Soviets considered “human rights” not only by the Western human rights industry, but even by many of their academic, yet liberal, critics in the Western academy. Of course “Economic and Social rights” remained on the agenda of resistant academics and activists whose voices, however, were not influential in policy circles.

— Joseph Massad

See full discussion here

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"In opposition to the vulgar evolutionist brand of Marxism, Benjamin does not conceive the proletarian revolution as the natural or inevitable result of economic and technical progress, but as the critical interruption of an evolution leading to catastrophe." — Michael Löwy
“One can perceive as one of the methodological aims of this work to demonstrate the possibility of a historical materialism, that has annihilated in itself the idea of progress. Here is precisely where historical materialism has to dissociate itself from the bourgeois habits of thought." 
— Walter Benjamin

Friday, February 10, 2017

think it is a timid article. It doesn't use the term state terrorism to refer to the actions of the imperialist powers.

Also, yes, "the public" is also responsible. The public could be responsible for a positive change as well as for perpetuationg atrocities and the status quo, if not through tacit support, it is through passivity, indifference, silence and acceptance. 

The public votes for the same criminals in again and again. Is not that a responsibility? The public also votes for the same criminals to perpetuate crimes at home (plunder, privatisation, inequality, etc).

Furthermore, the author has not cited "the roots of terrorism" in the plural. He is happy to mention only a couple of the roots.

The roots of terrorism

Thursday, February 09, 2017

"The story of his rise and fall offers a rare insight into how the CIA operated within the confines of President Obama’s halfhearted Syria policy. It reveals how the rivalries between US bureaucracies — and, even more importantly, the growing divergence between Washington and its Nato ally Turkey — exacerbated Syria’s mayhem.

The rise and fall of a US-backed commander in Syria

It is not my government; it is a criminal regime
"It’s a country where civilians are driven from their homes because of US- and British-backed violence, then have their pleas for refuge denied, partly on the basis that they may be terrorists. What is the onslaught from Yemen’s skies if not state terrorism?"

Britain has blood on its hands over Yemen

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

إن الحاضر هو الذي يملك مفتاح الماضي، وليس العكس ... لأن حركة التاريخ ليست استمرارا أو تواصلا وتتابعا، بل حركة تقطُّع تترابط فيها أنماط الإنتاج في قفزاتها البنيوية من نمط إلى آخر بشكل يستحيل فيه قراءة نمط الإنتاج الرأسمالي مثلا في بنية نمط الإنتاج الإقطاعي أو الاستبدادي أو انطلاقا منها... إن فهم  تطور بنية علاقات الإنتاج الرأسمالية مثلا في البلدان العربية في الوقت الحاضر، وفهم أزمات هذا التطور يستلزم بالضرورة الانطلاق بالتحليل من هذه البنية بالذات في شكل وجودها القائم في كل من البلدان العربية، وقد يقود التحليل إلى ضرورة الكشف عن تاريخ تكون هذه البنية. إلا أن  هذا التاريخ، من حيث  هو تاريخ تكون علاقات الإنتاج الرأسمالية في اليلدان العربية، لا يبدأ مع ظهور الإسلام مثلا، أو مع الجاهلية، أو مع بدأ العصر العباسي أو الأموي أو الأندلسي أو عصر الانحطاط إلخ ... بل هو يبدأ مع بدء  التغلغل الامبريالي في النصف الثاني من القرن التاسع عشر.... [إن] نمط الإنتاج المسيطر في البلدان العربية هو نمط الإنتاج الرأسمالي — أو شكل تاريخي محدد منه هو الشكل الكولينيالي ... والرأسمالية في أوروبا ترسخت أسسها في القرن التاسع عشر أو في نهاية القرن الثامن عشر.  فالرجوع في التاريخ إلى الجاهلية أو الإسلام، أو قل إلى ما قبل بدء تكون العلاقات الرأسمالية في أوروبا الغربية نفسها، ليس ضروريا لفهم تاريخ تكون البنيات الاجتماعية العربية القائمة حاليا، من حيث هو تاريخ تكون علاقات الإنتاج الرأسمالية فيها. فلماذا إذن الرجوع بالمجتمعات العربية في حاضرها إلى هذا التاريخ البعيد الذي يفصلها عنه زمان عدة أنماط من الإنتاج، لفهمها في حاضرها بالذات؟ لا شك في ان أشكالا من الإنتاج سابقة على الإنتاج الرأسمالي لا تزال حاضرة في حاضر بنيات الإنتاج العربية. إنما هذا لا يبرر على الإطلاق إتباع منهج الرجوع هذا في محاولة فهم الحاضر، بل إن استمرار تلك الأشكال السابقة من الإنتاج لا يمكن فهمها بذاتها أو بإرجاعها إلى ما كانت عليه سابقا حيث كانت مسيطرة، ففهمها في حضورها الآن في المجتمعات العربية ليس ممكنا إلا في علاقتها ببنية علاقات الإنتاج الرأسمالية في هذا المجتمعات. إن الحاضر مفتاح الماضي وليس العكس، والانطلاق، في فهم الحاضر، من بنية الحاضر نفسه، يتضمن فهما معينا لحركة التاريخ تتقطع فيه الحركة هذه قياسا على حركة أنماط الإنتاج نفسها،  وهو، لهذا، يتضمن أيضا منهجا من التحليل، يستلزم، في محاولة فهم الواقع الاجتماعي، في حاضره وفي تطوره، تحديد بنية علاقات الإنتاج فيه، لأن تطور هذا الواقع تتحدد بالضرورة بتطور هذه البنية بالذات.  فإن مرّ هذا التطور بأزمة، وجب تحديد هذه الأزمة على أنها أزمة هذا الإنتاج المسيطر في هذا الواقع الاجتماعي، وهي بالتالي أزمة الطبقة المسيطرة فيه، أي أزمة سيطرتها الطبقية.
مهدي عامل، أزمة الحضارة العربية أم أزمة البرجوازيات العربية، دار الفارابي، لبنان، ١٩٨٧، ص ١٩-٢١
"Hitler's disdain for the complacency of the 'old' bourgeoisie was life-long. But he honoured thrusting meritocrats. Notably, one of Hitler's early and long-standing heroes was the United States automobile magnate, Henry Ford, whom he lauded for his entrepreneurial brilliance and rabid anti-Semitism. Indeed, the Führer celebrated the entrepreneur as a bearer of racial superiority in any national population, and had nothing but contempt for democ­racy in the economy. For example, Hitler rebuked Otto Strasser, an anti-free-market Nazi, in 1930: 'The capitalists have worked their way to the top through their capacity, and on the basis of this selection, which again only proves their higher race, they have a right to lead.'
Faced with the prospect of social turmoil or even Communist revolution, the German middle classes were willing to be cajoled by Hitler. The Protestant theolo­gian, Paul Tillich, writing in 1933, anxiously observed the bourgeoisie readying 'to betray its past and its principle to National Socialism, so long as the latter appeared to guarantee to the bourgeoisie its class rule'. Nazism was no front for 'monopoly capitalism', however. Half of Hitler's votes came from villages, and while German big business did make contributions to Nazi coffers, the party appears to have been mostly self-financing from members' contributions. The most fervent Nazis came from the prosperous middle classes; small businessmen, civil servants and profes­sionals. Both the 'old middle class' (master artisans, farmers, shopkeepers), and the 'new' middle class (professionals, civil servants, innovative businessmen) voted very heavily for the Nazis, particularly the former……" [Italics is my emphasis, N. M.]
— Marc Mulholland 

زار وفد من الاتحاد الأروبي مدينة سيدي بوزيد أيّام كانت حادثة احتراق محمد البوعزيزي تحتفظ ببعض الألق الشاعري.. قدّموا هبة مالية مقدراها أربعة مليون أورو لبناء سوق خضر وغلال لتجميع كل تجار العربات الذين هم على شاكلة البوعزيزي رحمه الله.
انطلقت الاشغال وسط معاناة كبيرة لعدم قدرة اللصوص المحليين على السرقة، اذ كان أصحاب الهبة يتابعون المشروع...
أخيرا قارب المشروع على النهاية...
سوق ضخم جدا بجمالية واتّساع معماريين لا يوجد له نظير في كل بر تونس بسواحله وقواحله...
ــــــــــــــــــ هذا الصباح شاب صاحب عربة خضار يسكب البنزين على جسده ويهدد بالاحتراق احتجاجا على المحسوبية ونوايا منح دكاكين السوق لأكبر التجار المتحيلين، ومطالبة المعتّرين بمبلغ أربعة آلاف دينار!!!
أقسم بالله العظيم هذا الصباح رأيت غضبا في عيون الشباب المقهور المهدور، من جنس غضب عام 17 ديسمبر.
سيدي بوزيد لِسّه في قبضة اللصوص والقوّادين... كل مسؤول يحلّ بالمدينة، اِمّا يكون مصيره الطرد أو "يطيّحوه" للسرقة والفساد الذي يتعوّذ منه اِبليس.
- الأمين البوعزيزي-
According to a report by Amnesty

13,000 secretly hanged in Saydnaya military prison

Monday, February 06, 2017

"British young people are more rightwing and authoritarian in their views than preceding generations, according to research that contradicts the widely held view that younger people tend to be more progressive."

"Although younger people are more socially liberal on matters of equality and women’s rights than preceding generations, they are “more consumerist and individualistic” on issues such as the welfare state, according to one of the paper’s authors Will Jennings, a professor of political science and public policy at the University of Southampton.

"Both the Thatcher/Major and Blair/Brown generations are “even more economically rightwing” than people who grew up in the years before the second world war, when Britain faced extreme inequality and had not yet instituted the welfare state as part of the postwar consensus, according to the researchers."

But their vote against Brexit was a continuation of their socially liberal attitudes, Mr Jennings argued."

Full article on the FT


"UK home to 80% of top-earning European bankers
Business as usual
More than 4,000 City-based financiers were paid more than €1m (£850,000) in 2015 – including one who received nearly €34m.
The latest data from regulator the European Banking Authority shows that 80% of the financiers across the EU who were classified as high earners – receiving more than €1m – were based in the UK.
Across the EU, 5,124 of financiers – bankers, fund managers and compliance experts – received €1m, of which 4,133 were based in the UK, the EU’s biggest financial centre.
The EBA, currently based in London but which will vacate its Canary Wharf office after Brexit, published data showing that 279 financiers in Germany received more than €1m, the highest receiving just under €14m. In France, 178 received more than €1m, with the highest receiving under €5m."

Sunday, February 05, 2017

"At this critical moment in history, three questions need to be answered: What does the latest scientific evidence tell us about the approach of climate catastrophe? How is today’s monopoly-finance capitalism—with Donald Trump as its authentic representative—contributing to this impending planetary catastrophe? And what possibilities remain for humanity to avert an Earth-system calamity?"