Archive for the ‘Globalisation’ Category
In 2004 Seamus Milne, an Editor at the Guardian wrote,
It is the insurgent spirit of political Islam, however, that has brought the issue of how progressive movements should relate to religion to a head. Modern Islamism has flourished on the back of the failures of the left and secular nationalists in the Muslim world and has increasingly drawn its support from the poor and marginalised.
In 2008 he developed this theme,
Just as the French republican tradition of liberation came to be used as a stick to beat Muslims in a completely different social context from which it emerged, so the militant secularists who fetishise metaphysics and cosmology as a reason to declare the religious beyond the liberal pale are now ending up as apologists for western supremacism and violence. Like nationalism, religion can play a reactionary or a progressive role, and the struggle is now within it, not against it. For the future, it can be an ally of radical change.
In this spirit Milne, who has a problem with French republicanism and secularism, wrote in 2011,
“The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (which) won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.”
Few would now describe the conservative, anti-secular, pro-free market Islamists of Ennahda as progressive”.
But Milne has not given up.
Woolwich attack: If the whole world’s a battlefield, that holds in Woolwich as well as Waziristan
Denying a link between western wars in the Muslim world and the backlash on our streets only fuels Islamophobia and bloodshed
“Leave our lands and you can live in peace,” the London-born Muslim convert told bystanders. The message couldn’t be clearer. It was the same delivered by the 2005 London bomber, Mohammed Siddique Khan, and the Iraqi 2007 Glasgow attacker, Bilal Abdullah, who declared: “I wanted the public to have a taste” of what its government of “murderers did to my people”.
To say these attacks are about “foreign policy” prettifies the reality. They are the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands of dead. Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven’t been more such atrocities.
Mainstream Islamic teaching supports the right to resist foreign occupation, while rejecting violence against non-combatants or outside the battlefield. But it is the US and its closest allies in the war on terror who have declared the whole world to be a battlefield, in which they claim the right to kill whoever they deem to be a threat.
Nobody on the left would make excuses for the actions of the US and its allies in attempting to impose their ideas and power on the rest of the world, least of all their violent methods.
But is this what is at stake here?
Milne complains about the reaction to what he admits was a brutal murder.
What on earth would he have expected in any country in the world?
And is it just foreign policy that motivated these killers?
This is a report of Michael Adebolajo’s speech at Harrow Central Mosque in 2009.
Wearing a white skull cap and a traditional black Islamic robe, he says: ‘You are here only to please Allah. You aren’t here for any other reason.’
The demonstration was organised in response to a nearby protest by the English Defence League and a group called Stop the Islamisation of Europe.
During the 80-second clip, Adebolajo says that the Prophet Muhammad fought against ‘way worse’ opposition.
‘They are pigs,’ he shouts. ‘Allah says they are worse than cattle. Do not be scared of them. And do not turn your back to them. Don’t be scared of them, or police, or the cameras.’
A witness at the rally said of Adebolajo’s address: ‘After the speech some of them started running around. An imam even came out at one stage and told the hotheads to calm down and get inside the mosque, saying that they should be praying.
So the “filthy non-believers” are also a problem.
But Milne disregards evidence of pure religious hate, and tries to give a political lesson on foreign policy without considering that this loathing has its own ideological causes.
He focuses on Western actions,
They are the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands of dead. Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven’t been more such atrocities.
It goes without saying that this is a feeble explanation for the violent atrocities taking place every day in Syria, the sectarian violence in “Muslim countries”, and the murders of Africans, Christians and Muslims, by Islamists.
When will Milne ever admit that Islamism is a problem in itself.
The claim that “Muslim’s” have their, “our” lands, is on to begin with.
It is clear in fights over these countries the poor and marginalised are the victims of Islamists
That, in conclusion, it is the duty of progressives, that is, the Left, to fight Islamism.
The whole world is indeed a battlefield, and Milne is not on the right side.
The Silence of Animals. John Gray. Allen Lane. 2013.
“If a lion could speak we could not understand him” Wittgenstein tersely commented.
John Gray claims by contrast that, “if you turn outside yourself to the birds and animals and the quickly changing places where they live – you may hear something beyond words. Even humans can find silence if they can bring themselves to forget the silence they are looking for,”(Page 165) What cannot be spoken if of the greatest significance. Max Picard, in the World of Silence (1948), described the importance of these moments. About them does The Silence of Animals have anything to say?
This tract praises the birdspotter J A Baker, who preferred “deanthropmorphising himself” in the study of peregrine falcons of the fields near Chelmsford – places he described as ancient countryside – to human society. It ends with an appeal to “godless mysticism”. Does it merit any attention? Or should we be like the apes that appear in its pages, who pass life, and obviously books, blithely by?
That the Silence of Animals figures on Books of Year lists indicates an audience for interested in sallies against the “unique value” of human beings. We are treated (if that’s the word) to broadsides against the illusions of progress (the title of a pre-Great War book by the syndicalist contrarian Georges Sorel that Gray, otherwise the literary magpie, seems to have passed over). There are lurid references to the mass murders, totalitarian dictatorships and capitalist crises, of the twentieth century, and beyond.
In what could be described as an extended exercise in logorrhoea, (a polite way of describing verbal incontinence), the progressive claims of humanity, “highly civilised apes”, are torn to shreds. Progress, we learn is a legacy of Christianity, “a Socratic myth of reason and Christian myth of salvation,”(Page 80) Science shows that this is false, “Human knowledge increases, while human irrationality stays the same.”(Ibid)
From the Enlightenment onwards humans are wedded to an explicit faith in progress and the growth of liberty. History shows however shows repeated “mass killing, attacks on minorities, torture on a larger scale, another kind of tyranny, often more cruel than the one that was overthrown – these have been the results. To think of humans as freedom loving, you must be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.”(Page 58)
Progress as Flying Fish.
Gray cites Alexander Herzen (1812 – 1870), the 19th century Russian romantic socialist. Herzen, in his darkest moments, criticised the belief in ‘humanity’ (Consalito Paris. 1849). He described as ‘ichthyophils’ people who think humans long to be free. There can be no deduction of the “possibility of a better world” from our potentials. This ponderous term – a reference to a drawn out analogy with those who deduce the possible capacity for flight in all fish from the existence of flying fish, is employed to dam all reformers, all Enlightenment hopes, and all of the Left.
Every one of the believers in these ideas is “devoted to their species as they believe it ought to be even not as it actually is or as it truly wants to be. Ichthyophils come in many varieties – the Jacobin, Bolshevik and Maoist, terrorising humankind in order to remake it one a new model; the neo-conservative, waging perpetual war as a means to universal democracy; liberal crusaders for human rights, who are convinced that all the world longs to become as they imagine themselves to be.”(Page 60)
Humanity, in short (or at length), is “a fiction composed from billions of individuals for each of whom life is singular and final.”(Pages 6 – 7). Or, rather later, after much pondering, humanity is a selection of “fragments”, which are “as unknowable to humans”. “The settlements they have made for themselves can be as impenetrable as the deepest forests.”(Page 168) Yet, we inhabit this world of our own “fictions”.
Gray thinks then that we are creatures caged by our own myths. Unlike Georges Sorel (cited above) this gives no emancipatory quality to our innate mythic projections of the better future. They are the bars that contain us. And the ‘us’ are “cracked vessels”. We are Devils, not even worth the effort, as Kant advocated, of Taming to bring out our innate rationality.
Gray’s reflections lead from recognition of absolute finitude and meaningless back to something “beyond”. “Admitting that our lives are shaped by fictions may give a kind of freedom – possible the only kind that human beings can attain, Accepting that the world is without meaning, we are liberated from confinement in the meaning we have made. Knowing there is nothing of substance in our world may seem to rob that world of value. But this nothingness may be our most precious possession, since it opens to us the world that exists beyond ourselves.”(Page 108)
What this beyond is the Grail of the Ontology that nobody has yet discovered, the Kantian Noumenal, that has driven so many, from Roy Bhaskar onwards, to the strangest sides of the flux of Being, is a matter of worship for Gray. He considers letting things go, letting the World Be.
Our most “precious possession” – this “Nothingness” is illuminated by Negative Theology. Yet such “Godless mysticism cannot escape the finality of tragedy, or make beauty eternal. It does not dissolve inner conflict into the false quietude of any oceanic calm. All it offers is mere being, There us no redemption from being human. But no redemption is needed.”(Page 208)
Or, one would add, possible. We cannot possibly imagine what payment we could make to be liberated from what we are, and becoming what humans could be, if our premise is that we want to consider what being free from our humanity could be.
Some might go further and say that it perhaps through science and its rationality that we can at least indicate something of the physical ‘beyond’ human culture.
But what of progress and emancipation?
Alexander Herzen’s comments, many will have noted, came in 1849, following the failures of the 1848 revolutions. Yet shortly after these doleful reflections he could assert, “There are periods when man is free in a common cause. Then, the activity towards which every energetic nature strives coincides with the aspiration of the society in which he lives. At such times, which are rare enough – everything flings itself into the whirlpool of events, and in it finds life, joy, suffering and death.”(Omnia Ma Mecum Porto. Zurich 1849).
Against Gray, we remain with Herzen on this.
MacShane Against Western Interventions.
Under the headline, “L’interventionnisme militaire occidental est un échec permanent” Denis MacShane former European Minister under Tony Blair attacks Western interventions. (Le Monde 10.12.2013).
MacShane begins by citing Kipling on the ‘White Man’s burden and reflects that President Hollande is now taking on this weight with his intervention in the Central African Republic.
While wishing him success he notes that,
Depuis l’expédition de Suez en 1956, aucune intervention militaire menée par les forces européennes en dehors de l’Europe n’a obtenu les résultats espérés. Dans tous les pays où elles ont établi une présence, elles laissent derrière elles plus de problèmes que de solutions.
From the Suez Expedition in 1956 onwards no European military intervention – outside Europe itself – has achieved the aims set for it. In every country in which it has established a presence it has left behind it more problems than solutions.
MacShane covers the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and reflects that “Le droit d’ingérence et la doctrine de l’intervention sont des concepts qui remontent à l’ère de Francis Fukayama et sa thèse sur la fin de l’histoire.”, the doctrine of the need to interfere and to intervene (Note, called humanitarian intervention in English) are concepts which belong to the time of Francis Fukayma, and his theory of the End of History. Bernard Kouchner in Paris, Michael Ignatieff at Harvard and Tony Blair argued that this was necessary when countries ignored United Nations norms.
He asserts that interventions failed in Sudan and Rwanda, though worked in Kosovo.
Because of the latter, and the intervention in Sierra Leone, Blair backed the invasion of Iraq.
MacShane observes that far from being just the decision of Bush and Blair 419 left’ MPs in the British Parliament voted for that war.
“Dix ans plus tard, je préfère dire comme Benjamin Franklin que « la pire des paix vaut mieux que n’importe quelle guerre ».
Ten years later I’d rather say, like Benjamin Franklin that “the worst peace is better than any war whatsoever.”
The balance sheet of wars in Afghanistan, the Arab world and in Africa is completely negative. Libya in particular is a disaster, with militias and Salafist warlords in control.
The attitude of the British Labour Party, under Ed Miliband, towards these expeditions, has also changed. They refused to support Prime Minister Cameron, and the French Socialist-led Government, to meddle in the Syrian civil war.
The disgraced former Minister then quotes Churchill, “« Jaw jaw is better than war war »
Sometimes such interventions are justified, as in Sierra Leone.
But while every country should back its army, rare are the occasions when history justifies armed interventions.
MacShane Parliamentary Record.
- Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.
- Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.
Wikipedia says of MacShane, “Denis MacShane (born Denis Matyjaszek; 21 May 1948) is a former British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Rotherham from 1994 until his resignation in 2012. He served in the Labour Government as Minister for Europe from 2002 until 2005.
On 2 November 2012, he was suspended from the Labour Party after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that he had submitted 19 false invoices “plainly intended to deceive” the parliamentary expenses authority. Later that day he announced his intention to resign as MP for Rotherham. On 9 October 2013, MacShane was removed from the Privy Council and stripped of the right to use the title of The Right Honourable. On 18 November 2013 he pleaded guilty to false accounting at the Old Bailey, by submitting false receipts for £12 900.
The re-elect Labour on a Socialist Platform Parliamentary cretins have long abandoned the Red Flag of Revolution for the White Flag of Reformism and have almost destroyed our movement.
Prepare for November 5th 2013 Day of Direct Action for a Bonfire of all Con- Dem Government Vanities.
From Peoples Assembly to People’s War is our call the days of Reformism and Revisionism are over.
“Build an Anti-Capitalist Alternative.”
PS: this does not appear to be a conscious spoof.
Hat-tip to the Father of the Faris.