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Turkey Protest

A striking feature of the aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey are the mass gatherings and demonstrations that have been taking place on a nightly basis in towns across the country. But what has spurred people to take to the streets in such numbers? And how is the government’s narrative of traitors and infiltrators, in opposition to defenders of democracy, likely to shape future developments in Turkey?

Whereas significant incidents, such as the spate of recent terrorist attacks, have generally been met by an immediate media blackout in Turkey, this time the media clearly had a crucial role to play. It was in a live broadcast on CNN Turk that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched his appeal for people to take to the streets to ‘defend their democracy’, as the military coup attempt was unfolding on July 15th. The call was made via mobile application Facetime and was then widely disseminated via social media – an irony given Erdoğan’s well-known aversion to such platforms.

In what may have come as a surprise to those familiar with Erdoğan’s polarising rhetoric, people across the country heeded the call in vast numbers. Zehra Aydoğan, living in an area close to Istanbul’s main airport, reported that within an hour the streets of her neighbourhood were flooded with men and boys streaming towards the airport. In surreal scenes, crowds marched to areas and buildings occupied by the army – among these were the offices of Hürriyet, a newspaper which, less than a year ago, was attacked by supporters of the government, who threw stones and smashed windows, to vent their fury about the newspaper’s reporting of events. This time, some of the same individuals turned up to ‘liberate’ the media outlet, explains a source working for the Doğan Media Group, speaking on condition of anonymity. (more…)


Plato-raphael

The wolf is entitled to the lamb.
The Mountain Wreath (1847)

Hearken unto me, fellow creatures. I who have dwelt in a form unmatched with my desire, I whose flesh has become an assemblage of incongruous anatomical parts, I who achieve the similitude of a natural body only through an unnatural process, I offer you this warning: the Nature you bedevil me with is a lie. Do not trust it to protect you from what I represent, for it is a fabrication that cloaks the groundlessness of the privilege you seek to maintain for yourself at my expense. You are as constructed as me; the same anarchic Womb has birthed us both. I call upon you to investigate your nature as I have been compelled to confront mine. I challenge you to risk abjection and flourish as well as have I. Heed my words, and you may discover the seams and sutures in yourself.
Susan Stryker (1994)

For months now, I’ve seemed to live in a crowd of stories. I have a lot of company there.

The second epigraph to Edna O’Brien’s recent novel, The Little Red Chairs, takes me close to the looming character of these stories, how The Mountain Wreath argues, long before the Yugoslav Wars that burned through the 1990s, that the wolf and the lamb can be joined together by the human claim to entitlement, so that both become our surrogates. The human-wolf enacts what the strong do, propelled by natural law, while the human-lamb succumbs to a victimhood ordained at birth. These enchained performances, looped into a whole by the qualifying vision at which our species excels, even when misaligned, by the effort to conceive of rightfulness, justice, and their costs, will be significant for Nietzsche when he maintains, in 1887, that “the large birds of prey,” tangling “little lambs” between their beaks, show what strength exacts from the beings who must be identical with its exactions. Hearing such tales that appear to represent the family of human and non-human animals, both groups blurred by a metaphorical athletics, I pause. (more…)


Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_8

An attempt to clarify some very general aspects, psycho-social contexts and motifs of right-wing populism as it has manifested across the advanced industrialised world for several decades starting with the end of the post-war boom in the mid-70s and now increasing again after the global financial crisis since 2008: Australian Hansonism, French NF, UKIP, German AfD, Austrian FPO, US Trumpism…

1. The fertile soil of all right-wing populism (RWP) and fascism everywhere is powerlessness.

2. RWP is the revolt of the marginalised and powerless ‘ordinary or little man‘ (and woman) which, although it has the potential, has not yet become militant fascism.

3. RWP and its fascist potential always increase under worsening economic conditions when material standards of living decline and reasons and solutions are being sought.

4. The RWP revolt is ambiguous. Like fascism, it is an unstable amalgam of revolt and conformity, rebelliousness and belief in leaders/authority, left and right policies and resentments. (more…)


brexit

All the wrong people are cheering. Farage, bulbous eyes swivelling and moist, lauded a victory for “the real people, for the ordinary people, for the decent people”. The citrine-tinged Trump, with customary intuition, praises the Scots (who overwhelmingly voted for Remain) for taking their country back. Marine Le Pen, hailing a “victory for freedom,” demands a similar referendum in France. Certainly, George Galloway, having joined Farage in demonising ‘mass immigration,’ is also pleased, and there are a few saps who think that Tony Benn’s democratic socialist dream is on the brink of fruition. But the serried ranks of red-faced, Toryboy rosbifs, delightedly fluttering their Union Jacks while sinking glass after glass of celebratory fizz, know that tomorrow belongs to them.

How did it happen? The Remain campaign had the broadest possible coalition, the most money, and ample media backing. It had the CBI, the TUC, the City, the leaderships of all the major parties and most of the minor ones, the Mirror, the Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Independent, the Observer, even the Mail on Sunday. All the big class battalions were for Remain. Most of the big intellectual artillery was lined up behind Remain. World leaders intervened on its behalf. Ukip, the Tory Right, small-to-medium sized capital, and the ranks of Poujadist patriots out to restore Britishness, surely had little chance. (more…)


Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_8

1.Two Clowns

Kierkegaard tells a nice story in his 19th century existentialist tract Either/Or:

A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.

Although he is perhaps the epitome of the archetype of the sinister political clown, Donald the Trumpet isn’t the warning clown in this essay, I am.

2.Trump in a Nutshell

Like other right-wing populists, Trump speaks mainly to those materially impoverished or marginalised by the march of neoliberal globalization and its new international division of labour, and psychologically overwhelmed by, and resentful of, rapid technological and cultural change and immigration: male white manual workers and others, at least a third of the population.

There is one straight line from Thatcher-Reagan to Marine le Pen and Trump: right-wing populism and proto-fascism are the chickens of neoliberalism and imperial interventionism coming home to roost under multi-critical conditions where people are radically disillusioned with mainstream politics but there is no strong left-wing alternative able to speak to them. (more…)


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…)