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Avigdor_lieberman_minister

I recently mentioned the German word Gleichschaltung – one of the most typical words in the Nazi vocabulary.

“Gleich” means “the same”, and “Schaltung” means “wiring”. The long German word means that everything in the state is wired up the same way – the Nazi way.

This was an essential part of the Nazi transformation of Germany. But it did not happen in any dramatic way. The replacement of people was slow, almost imperceptible. In the end, all important positions in the country were manned by Nazi functionaries.

We are now witnessing something like this in Israel. We are already well into the middle of the process.

Position after position is taken over by the far-far right, which is ruling Israel now. Slowly. Very, very slowly. (more…)


Jeremy_Corbyn_Global_Justice_Now

During the campaigns for and against Scottish independence, the leadership of the Unionist ‘Better Together’ campaign comprising both Labour and Conservative parties embarked on an offensive privately dubbed ‘Project Fear’ by the organisers. The idea was, rather than selling the benefits of the Union, to terrify Scottish voters with visions of political and economic chaos should they vote to leave the UK. At its peak, Project Fear brought together leading figures in the state, business and media operators. The Financial Times reported that the government twisted the arms of business leaders – 85 per cent of whom supported the Union – to go public with a series of warnings about economic disaster in the event of independence. Meanwhile, the civil service abandoned its customary pretence of neutrality, as the head of the Treasury Sir Nicholas Macpherson argued that there was no need for neutrality when ‘the very existence of the British state was at stake’. Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, drafted the Queen’s intervention in the debate, while the Treasury published unusually partisan advice. Research showed that the main broadcast media, above all the BBC, were on board with the fear campaign, overwhelmingly publicising negative claims about independence.

A remarkably similar pattern was to emerge in the case of the Left’s capture of the Labour leadership. During the leadership election, three Labour MPs from the party’s right-wing – John Mann, Barry Sheerman and Graham Stringer – called for the process to be halted, claiming to be worried about infiltration by the far Left and Tory trolls. They argued that the new rules under which the election was being conducted made it impossible to vet participants. As Stringer put it, with the influx of registered supporters, ‘We do not know and could never know whether these people support other political parties.’ Sheerman likewise contended that among infiltrators, only a few of the ‘usual suspects’ could possibly be detected by vetting measures. Mann suggested that ‘long-standing members’ might be ‘trumped by people who have opposed the Labour Party’, invoking the danger of a return of the old Trotskyist faction, Militant. (more…)


us flag gun

[Media Advisory: the following program contains substandard language, violence, sexual imagery and the archetype of a psychopath. Viewer discretion is advised.]

Yous wuz new ‘n’ I wuz ol’
I cross’d da sea in surch o’ gol’
Yous gave me corn, squash ‘n’ beans
Ma response wuz cruel ‘n’ mean!

Bang, bang – I shot yous down!
Bang, bang – yous hit da ground!
Bang, bang – ma fav’rit sound!
Bang, bang – da worl’ in blood diz drown’d!

Injun red ‘n’ yous wuz dead
If yous wuz black, I whupped yer back
De yellor race ain’t got no case –
White iz right o’ I brek yer face!

Bang, bang – I shot yous down!
Bang, bang – yous hit da ground!
Bang, bang – ma fav’rit sound!
Bang, bang – da worl’ in blood diz drown’d! (more…)


communism

There are several essential messages literally shouting from the screen, whenever one watches ‘The Last Supper’ (La Ultima Cena), a brilliant 1976 film by a Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea.

The utmost one: it is impossible to enslave an entire group or race of people, at least not indefinitely. Longing for freedom, for true liberty, is impossible to break, no matter how brutally and persistently colonialism, imperialism, racism and religious terror try to.

The second, equally important message is that the whites and the Christians (but mostly the white Christians) have been behaving, for centuries and all over the world, like a horde of savage beasts and genocidal maniacs.

At the end of April 2016, on board Cubana de Aviacion jet that was taking me from Paris to Havana, I couldn’t resist opening my computer and watching La Ultima Cena again, for at least the tenth time in my life. (more…)


dilma rousseff

By now it is old news that there is a coup afoot in Brazil and that the right-wing is using extraordinary political measures to overthrow Dilma Rousseff.

What is little discussed amid all the talk of impeachment and corruption in Brazil is the larger context: how international finance capital is working with Hillary Clinton and other U.S. political elites to reassert the Washington Consensus in Latin America; how the right wing throughout the region is collaborating in this project; and how this is manifesting in the targeted countries. Though the pieces of this puzzle may be partially concealed, it is time to put them all together to see the big picture.

Brazil and Argentina: Case Studies in Wall Street Meddling

As the world waits for the next episode of the unfolding Brazilian drama, it is critical to note why the spectacle that is this “impeachment” process is happening. Having been elected, and re-elected, four times in the last four elections, Dilma Rousseff and the Workers’ Party are undeniably the single-most popular political formation in Brazil, a country known for its deep divide between a wealthy right-wing elite, and the masses of workers and poor people who predominantly support the left, including the Workers’ Party in recent years. (more…)


city college

After one frustrating year of union bargaining, AFT 2121 faculty at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) conducted a one-day unfair labor practice strike “of all classes at all eleven campuses” on April 27 because the administration has not been bargaining in good faith as it proposes “to shrink classes by 26% and lay off more than a quarter of the faculty.”

These cuts are staggering. But, as labor educator, author and AFT 2121 executive board member Joe Berry pointed out to me, it’s all part of a decades-long national attack against community colleges to shrink their budgets and limit their mission to a technical and vocational curriculum. A genuine school failure and “student ‘unsuccess’ plan,” said Berry.

As it is, CCSF has approximately 1500 faculty members serving around 70,000 students who are primarily working class, immigrants and people of color. It is the largest public community college in California and remains one of the largest in the nation.

However, Berry explained, “it was only a few years ago that our faculty was over 2000 serving 100,000 students.” This downsizing is the result of methodical funding cuts and, most troubling, drawn-out attempts begun in 2012 to actually close the school. (more…)


VirginiaWoolf

The assistant looked at me with an amused, vaguely ironic expression: better not to do than to do, better to meditate than to act, better his astrophysics, the threshold of the Unknowable, than my chemistry, a mess compounded of stenches, explosions, and small futile mysteries. I thought of another moral, more down to earth and concrete, and I believe that every militant chemist can confirm it: that one must distrust the almost-the-same (sodium is almost the same as potassium, but with sodium [no explosion] would have happened), the practically identical, the approximate, the or-even, all surrogates, and all patchwork. The differences can be small, but they can lead to radically different consequences, like a railroad’s switch points; the chemist’s trade consists in good part in being aware of these differences, knowing them close up, and foreseeing their effects. And not only the chemist’s trade.
— Primo Levi, The Periodic Table (1975)

In the current American climate, while Donald Trump lunges for the White House by ranting from platforms, screens, and newsfeeds against the women, the immigrants, the refugees who must be identical with his contempt for their differences from him, as if a word matched its referent, always without slippage, I talk to the dead. To two long gone, especially: to Virginia Woolf and Plato, their resonances stretched across the millennia separating them. They are tough to hear, those echoes, but the listening can be earned, so long as any hearer balks at the sameness that lives on the other side of Trump’s disdain for the differential. Part of our human trade, as Levi sketches out, ought to involve defying the effort to squeeze persons into our vision of them, to batter down two into one, whether or not we are mindful of the consequences of such an act, its potential explosions. Together, Woolf and Plato help their listeners to resist equalizing the seer and the seen, or at least to understand that the consequences of resistance, as well as its failure, are ours. (more…)


Bernie_Sanders

I am not one who thinks that Bernie Sanders is the perfect candidate. At the same time, Sanders is the candidate most fit to play the role of president in the 21st century. And, unlike so many in the media, I believe he must and will win nomination over Hillary Clinton. Here’s why.

First, the nation and world face a political turn to the far-right. Europe is rattled rightward by immigration from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere in North Africa. German prime minister Angela Merkel can no longer guarantee political stability in Germany or decisive leadership in Europe. British exit from the European Union looms. China is imposing stricter controls on its population’s access to information. Brazil and Argentina are moving to the right. A Hindu nationalist party controls India’s state. Russia is flexing its muscle.

The recent agreement with Turkey shows just how vulnerable to violence Europe is. Turkey is pounding Turkish Kurds and committing broad human rights violations in the name of national security. The Europeans are willing to countenance Turkey’s bloody authoritarianism and even suggest Turkey’s inclusion in the European Union, just to slow the flow of immigrants and the potential violence associated with it. If the U.S. and its allies carry out attacks against the Islamic State in Libya in the near future, the likelihood of more Islamic State strikes in the West before the U.S. presidential election is high. (more…)


binyaminsalman2

One of the most famous lines in German poetry is “Don’t greet me under the lime trees.” The Jewish-German poet Heinrich Heine asks his sweetheart not to embarass him in public by greeting him in the main street of Berlin, which is called “Unter den Linden” (“Under the Lime Trees”).

Israel is in the position of this illicit sweetheart. Arab countries are having an affair with her, but don’t want to be seen with her in public.

Too embarrassing.

The main Arab country in question is Saudi Arabia. For some time now, the oil kingdom has been a secret ally of Israel, and vice versa.

In politics, national interests often trump ideological differences. This is so in this case.

The area referred to by Westerners as the “Middle East” is now polarized into two camps, led respectively by Saudi Arabia and Iran. (more…)


fjords

Angels

We are one another’s mainstays: angels, fjords,
Flashlight’s evanescence, halcyon bodies of water,
Love everlasting: song cycles, bond asseverations.

Spectacles

Is it brain, despite these words, that makes a vain attempt?
I am that tired. And do I marry a memorial to diremption,
Losing the cantilever meaning on which it rests or pivots?
The question’s merely a shortcut to chalcedony’s heresy.
Morning is not given for nostalgia, for looking backward,
With no time – now or never – for the will of never mind
(Whose evil is the delight of men, whose barn raising …
Whose beeing, brainstorming envelops those who mourn).
What of my seas, senses, inchoate experience? High-rises,
Turnstiles, lenses, impediments to bodily housing eager
To figure obstruction: mental strikes against the sanctum
That will out on fairground days – the release for plenty.
You will know what you have to do when you wake up,
Take place (let it take place), assume attitude in our time. (more…)