Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

The Very Political Nudity of Golshifteh Farahani.

leave a comment »

La comédienne a été chassée d'Iran en 2008.

The Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, has posed nude in the irregularly published  French photography magazine, «Égoïste».

Libération has just published the picture.

This gives some background.

Exiled Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani has sent a message of defiance again to the ruling Ayatollahs in Tehran by appearing completely naked on the cover of French magazine Egoïste, French media reported on Thursday.

“France has liberated me,” the 31-year-old actress told the magazine, according to the daily 20 minutes daily newspaper.

Paris “is the only place in the world where women do not feel guilty. In the East, you are that [guilty] all the time. As soon as you feel your first sexual impulses,” she added.

The winner of Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival in 2009 was reportedly informed by Iranian authorities in 2012 that she was not welcome home anymore.

Days after the video was released an official of the supreme court of the Islamic Republic reportedly called her family in Tehran and shouted at her father, telling him, according to The Guardian, that she would be “punished, that her breasts would be cut off and presented to him on a plate.”

Her ban from returning to Iran came after she revealed her right breast in a black-and-white video with 30 other French cinema “young hopes” to promote the Césars, considered the “French Oscars.” Farahani had been nominated for her role in “Si Tu Meurs, Je Te Tue” (If You Die, I’ll Kill You). The Iranian actress has also posed nude for French magazine Madame Figaro.

“I was told by a Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guide official that Iran does not need any actors or artists. You may offer your artistic services somewhere else,” Farahani said, according UK daily The Telegraph.

Farahani is known for her role opposite American stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in “Body of Lies” and is the first Iranian woman who starred in a major Hollywood movie since the country’s 1979 revolution.

Al Arbaiya News. 

In Libération, the Iranian sociologist Chahla Chafiq, author of Islam, politique, sexe et genre (PUF) is cited.

She states” The obligation to wear a veil symbolises sexualised boundaries. It confirms in this way the body of a woman as a place upon which the community places its honour, denying the freedom and autonomy of women. Golshifteh Farahan’s act has broken that wall. “…l’obligation du voile symbolise les frontières sexuées. Il confirme par cela la conception du corps de la femme comme un lieu où s’inscrit l’honneur communautaire, niant ainsi la liberté et l’autonomie des femmes. L’acte de Golshifteh Farahan vient casser ce mur).

More from Egoïste.

Wikipedia (English): Golshifteh Farahani.

Islamic Human Rights Commission, Charlie Hebdo, Richard Seymour and the Indigènes de la République

with 5 comments

Indigènes de la République Against Free Speech at the La Fête de l’Huma.

This will be held shortly:

What now for Europe? The instrumentalisation of the Paris attacks

Saturday, 24 January at 4pm to 7pm.

Speakers:

Houria Bouteldja - a French-Algerian political activist and blogger. She is also the spokesperson of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR) – (Indigènes de la République.)

Kevin Cobham – Cambridge educated criminal defence lawyer and people-centred human rights advocate.

Ramon Grosfoguel – professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate of the Maison des Science de l’Homme in Paris

M’Baïreh Lisette – Activist for almost 50 years and an expert in crisis management. He is a spokesperson of the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR) and also the former Secretary General of the Association of French Overseas Elected Representatives. (1)

Arzu Merali - co-founder of IHRC and Head of Research

Richard Seymour – author and broadcaster.  He writes for The Guardian, and appears on Telesur.  His most recent book is Against Austerity (2014), and he is completing a PhD at the London School of Economics.

There are therefore 2 speakers from the Party of the Indigenous of the Republic (PIR) – (Indigènes de la République.)

From the statement of the Indigènes de la République on the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the killings at the Jewish supermarket.

“… like most Muslim organizations, we have condemned in the strongest terms the deadly shootout against Charlie Hebdo, in the same way that we mourn the five new victims of this blind folly.”

….

But….

Like delighted maneuvering vultures, our accusers jumped at the chance to pin the “moral responsibility” of the attacks on the struggle against islamophobia, because Charlie Hebdo’s drifts towards islamophobia were criticized in a social and political context of unequal treatment of Muslims, a context favourable to all sorts of violence. Some among these accusers are certified islamophobes. In this way they may try to clear their own responsibility, but more importantly they aim to mobilise state repression against our respective and common struggles, or in other words they aim to silence them, in the name of a selective “freedom of expression”, one which is strictly subordinate to their privileges. We witnessed this selectivity during the summer of 2014, with the repression of pro-palestinian marches, and before that with the banning of Dieudonné’s shows, and at this very moment with the trial of Saïd Bouamama and Saïdou Zep concerning their book and their song both entitled “Nique la France” [Fuck France].

So we should not be surprised that by taking advantage of the circumstances, the new found motto of “freedom of speech” is being used to impose a single way of thinking, to the benefit of the social order that it supports, by radicalizing the arsenal of symbolic violence and repression against its opponents.

In response to those who have criticised the Indigènes.

” it is they who, by their excesses and their encouragement to Islamophobia, have fueled this unhealthy climate for many years, while, conversely, we kept warning against fatal outcomes of this sort. In pointing a finger in our direction, they hope to keep people looking away from their responsibility or their passive complicity. In other words, they are hitting early, so they will not have to account for the heavy consequences of a policy in which they are deeply involved.”

In other words the imperialist French republic is responsible for the slaughter.

And Charlie had it coming…..

We further note (from here),

Houria Bouteldja (see above), porte parole du mouvement « le mode de vie homosexuel n’existe pas dans les quartiers populaires “

The homosexual way of life does not exist in working class and deprived areas. – says one of the speakers at Saturday’s event.

They certainly seem to have a problem with gays, as this, part of the continuing campaign against feminist and lesbian writer Caroline Fourest indicates,

La journaliste et essayiste Caroline Fourest a été prise à partie samedi à la Fête de l’Humanité par une trentaine de militants qui l’ont contrainte à annuler une intervention sur le thème «Comment faire face au FN» Libération 2012.

That is Fourest was shouted down and prevented from speaking – amid a confrontation during which Communists and leftists yelled, “Le Fascisme ne passera pas” at the Indigènes thugs and their allies.

Charlie Hebdo.

Now they announce that the millions strong demonstration in support of Charlie was against them, “cette mobilisation se faisait contre nous.”

This is what they say about the murderers,

A Kouachi et Coulibaly, ce qui a été transmis c’est l’expérience de l’humiliation, la privation des biens matériels, de la culture et de la langue, c’est aussi les non-dits, les viols, les tortures et l’esclavage ; héritage psychique de l’histoire de nos ancêtres

Koucahi and Coulibably, they have had the experience of humiliation, of materiel deprivation, of cultural and linguistic deprivation, there are rapes, tortures and slavery, unsaid, in their background: the psychological inheritance of our ancestors.

Charlie vu par les Arabes et les Noirs des quartiers

So the killings were all about the assertion of the ‘Other’ faced with the Colonial French State (Frantz Fanon). No doubt their violence was a cry to assert their dignity….

The Indigènes de la République may only be a small group of university educated enthusiasts for Fanon. Grosfoguel also uses Franz Fanon’s theory of the zones of being and non-being (???) to explain Islamophobia as a form of ‘racism‘ – tracing it back to the Reconquista in Spain.

No doubt medieval Islamic empires were not colonial…..

They may only be the political wing of post-colonial studies…..

But we observe that this event is a bit more serious.

Where does this ‘Human rights’ group come from politically?

The commission organises the annual Al-Quds Day demonstration in London, initiated by Ayatollah Khomeini.”

These are the people Richard Seymour, responsible for much of Left Unity’s ‘anti-racist’ policy,  is now associating with.

 Update:

Ex-Head of M15 agrees with the Indigènes, the Islamic Human Rights Commission and Seymour.

Charlie Hebdo: Publishing cartoon of prophet Mohammed was an act of provocation, says ex head of MI6.

The publishing of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of  the Muslim prophet Mohammed was an act of provocation, showing a lack of respect of other peoples’ religion in the West and the backlash which came should have been expected, the recently departed head of MI6 has stated.

In his first public appearance since standing down from the post of ‘C’ Sir John Sawers declared his support for Pope Francis who had spoken out against “provocateurs” on religious matters and warned that they can expect violence in return.

Independent.

(1) Involved in an ‘alternative’ anti-colonial genocide day. Zionism, to this group, is (citing Edward Said), a ” fléau raciste, colonial et déshumanisant.”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Artists Support Kobane.

leave a comment »

“Artists (Musicians) come together for Kobane – Quimantu, one of Britain’s finest South American bands are joined by the singer Paula Darwish and Kurdish musicians Serpil Kilic and Koma Sersi. Join us not just for a great musical evening but to show solidarity for Kobane. The people who fled their homes to escape the attacks of the Islamic state (ISIS) now face a new enemy – Kurdistan’s harsh winter! It is once again a struggle for life for the vulnerable people who had to leave their homes in Kobane. let’s get together and help these people, who have already experienced enough suffering and loss of lives, survive winter – All proceeds of the evening will go to people in refugee camps to buy winter survival supplies and food for children being threatened with malnutrition to prevent more serious consequences.”

Tickets: £15 (can be purchased at the door)
Place: KCC fairfax Hall, 11 Portland Gardens, london N4 1HU
Quimantu: www.Quimantu.net

That our Latin American friends are joining is really heartening.

The solidarity that the comrades are carrying out is magnificent! 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 2, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Kurdish Women Fighters: the light of the World.

with 3 comments

Olympe would have been proud of you: beloved comrades.

“Je n’ai qu’un moment pour les faire, mais ce moment fixera l’attention de la postérité la plus reculée.

I have but a moment to spare, but this moment will hold the attention of the  most distant posterity.

Olympe de Gouges. The original Declaration of the Rights of Women. 1791.

 

By Zîlan Diyar, a Kurdish guerrilla fighter

This piece originally appeared in Yeni Özgür Politika in Turkish with the title ‘The time has come.’

The whole world is talking about us, Kurdish women. It has become a common phenomenon to come across news about women fighters in magazines, papers, and news outlets. Televisions, news sites, and social media are filled with words of praise. They take photos of these women’s determined, hopeful, and radiant glances. To them, our rooted tradition is a reality that they only recently started to know. They are impressed with everything. The women’s laughter, naturalness, long braids, and the details of their young lives feel like hands extending to those struggling in the waters of despair. There are even some, who are so inspired by the clothes that the women are wearing, that they want to start a new fashion trend!

They are amazed by these women, who fight against the men that want to paint the colours of the Middle East black, and wonder where they get their courage from, how they can laugh so sincerely. And I wonder about them. I am surprised at how they noticed us so late, at how they never knew about us. I wonder how they were so late to hear the voices of the many valiant women who expanded the borders of courage, belief, patience, hope, and beauty. I do not want to complain too much. Perhaps our eras just did not match. I just have a few words to say to those who only now begin to notice us, that’s all.

Now one half of us is missing. If there is no past or future in your environment, one feels like a sound, an upsurge that gets lost in the black holes of the universe. The excitement and beauty of today can only be measured by those who were able to carry it to this day and their ability to carry it further to the future. In the cry of Zîlan (Zeynep Kinaci), who detonated herself in 1996 is the breath of Besê, who threw herself off the cliffs in the Dersîm uprising in the 1930s, saying “You cannot catch me alive” and that of Berîtan, who surrendered neither her body, nor her weapon to the enemy, when she threw herself off the mountain cliffs in 1992. It is the reason why YPJ fighter Arîn Mirkan made a mountain wind blow through a desert town, when she detonated herself rather than surrendering to ISIS, in order to cover her retreating comrades in Kobanê this October.

In the hearts of the Yezidi women, who take up arms against the men with the black flag is the homesickness of Binevs Agal, a Yezidi woman, who joined the guerilla from Germany in the 1980s and crossed continents to return to her country. In the words of Ayse Efendi, the co-president of the Kobanê people’s assembly, “I will die in my homeland,” is hidden the odin of the rebellious Zarife, who fought in the Dersim uprising. In the smile of the YPJ fighter, who poses with her child while carrying a rifle, is the hope of Meryem Colak, a psychologist, who chose to fight in the mountains and who often shared with us her longing for the daughter she left behind. Deniz Firat, a Firat News journalist, who was killed by ISIS in Makhmur in August, learned to search for truth from Gurbetelli Ersöz, a journalist and guerrilla fighter who died in clashes in 1997. Sema Yüce (Serhildan), who set herself on fire in protest in a Turkish prison in 1992, whispered the secrets of the fire to Leyla Wali Hussein (Viyan Soran), who self-immolated in 2006 to draw attention to the situation of Abdullah Öcalan.

Those who today wonder about why the “Girl with the Red Scarf”, a Turkish girl, who was disillusioned from the state after the Gezi-Park protests, would join the mountains, would have known the answer if they had known Ekin Ceren Dogruak (Amara), a Turkish revolutionary woman in the PKK whose grave stone says “The girl of the sea who fell in love with the mountains” and Hüsne Akgül (Mizgin), a Turkish guerrilla fighter of the PKK, who died in 1995. Those surprised at the US Americans, Canadians joining the YPG are those who do not know Andrea Wolf, a German internationalist in the PKK, who was murdered in 1998 and whose bones were thrown into a mass grave, and whose memorial could not be tolerated by the state.

Our calendar did not run parallel to the world’s calendar. These women’s gaze was focused on the depths of the far distance, their steps were fast. In order to bring the future closer, they were so impatient that they did not leave a single bridge behind. These two reasons kept us apart from the realities of the world. That is why the world did now know the women in the mountains, tens, then hundreds and later thousands of them, in the same time frame. Now it’s time to combine calendars, to set clocks. It is time to tell these women’s life stories that swung between dream and reality, their happy moments that sound like fairy tales, the ways in which loss has proven to be our most egregious teacher in our quest for truth. Now is the perfect time to entrust what I was able to carry from the past to this day. In order to join the world’s calendar, I will carry our past to the present. May my past be your present.

I wake up on a cold spring morning of Cirav in 1997. I throw the nylon, moistured from the frosty night, off me and I see a face, different from those of the swarthy warriors, in front of me. As if the sun had only mildly radiated on this face. As if her hands, her smile described elegance and nobility. I am happy that a warrior who is newer than me had arrived, that I had become a little old. I later find out that I had a five-year guerrilla in front of me. At the time, I knew only her code name; Zinarîn… If it wasn’t for the white strings in her hair or the way sorrow sometimes carried her smile away, you would not understand that she had been a guerrilla for five years. I am unaware of the pains she experienced, the sacrifices she made in her quest for truth. I am going crazy, being curious about what she is writing into her notebook, as she takes refuge under the shadow of a tree. The feelings that she felt in the short life that I shared with her, I later read in Zinarîn’s diary after her martyrdom.

I am in autumn 1997. A day on which the weary feet of autumn try to drag us towards winter. A day in which sorrow does not conquer Haftanin, but our hearts. I learn about Zinarîn’s martyrdom months later. I’m still vulnerable to the pain of loss. As I wander around with unchained rage, Meryem Colak reads on my face how my soul boils with pain. As I stopped talking to anyone upon Zinarîn’s death, she asks “Are you mad at us?” and answers the question herself “Don’t be angry at us, be angry at the enemy”. From that day on, my immunity towards loss increases. A few months later, I learn that Meryem Colak, when heading towards Metina in order to exit the operation field with a group of women on her side, was killed in a tank ambush. I learn from the witnesses of the moment that she spent her last energy to speak not to send greetings to her daughter, but to entrust her companions with her weapon, cartridge belt and codes.

It is 1999. I am in the Zagros mountains that did not permit Alexander’s army passage, but where the guerrilla managed to open paths. We are halfway through a long journey that would last a month. With me is the 22-year old Sorxwîn (Özgür Kaya). Our Sorxwîn, who allows the mountain conditions to rule over her body, but who will not allow her child’s heart to submit to the laws of war. A commander, a companion, a woman, and a child. Each one of her identities adds a different beauty to her. The best part of the one-month long arduous journey is her cheering us on to keep marching. Of course it was this child called Sorxwîn that invented children’s games to give us strength. Mischievously laughing, she says “This is nothing. I can carry a BKC with 400 bullets on my back, so I will climb this hill in four hours without a break”.

These women could not catch up with our time because they rushed towards the fire like butterflies. But they have been living on for three generations. Three generations grow up with their stories, carry their names, listen to the burning songs dedicated to them. They pick up the riffles that these women left behind and take off to Shengal, Kobanê, Botan, Serhat. They leave to bring light to the world that the men with the black flag want to darken. And their names are Zinarîn, Berîtan, Zîlan, Meryem, Sorxwîn, Arjîn, Amara, Viyan, Sara…

Kurdish Question.

I have no long words to express my deep feelings for our beloved comrades.

I simply want to say: love and utter solidarity.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 27, 2014 at 11:23 am

Isis: ‘Manufactured” by US, says Counterpunch.

with 5 comments

From US ‘Tool Box’ Says Counterpunch. 

Counterpunch published over the weekend these latest wise-guy revelations…

ISIS: the Useful Enemy

by ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

The dark force of ISIS is apparently an invincible and unstoppable war juggernaut that is mercilessly killing and conquering in pursuit of establishing an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In reality, however, it is not as out of control as it appears. It is, indeed, carefully controlled and managed by its creators and supporters, that is, by the United States and its allies in the regions—those who now pretend to have established a coalition to fight it! 

Plumbing the depths Hossein-Zadeh tries to make political capital out of Kobane and the brave Kurds fighting there,

While the Kurdish city of Kobani in Northern Syria is being attacked by the disproportionately better armed forces of ISIS, and thousands of its besieged residents face certain mass killings if it falls, the forces of the “coalition to fight ISIS” are watching—in effect, playing a game of hide-and-seek, or perhaps trick-or-treat, with ISIS—as the outgunned and outmanned Kurdish forces are valiantly fighting to death against the attackers. Only occasionally the coalition forces carry out bombing missions that seem to be essentially theatrical, or just for the record.

Further,

The inaction or half-hearted action of the United States in the face of the preventable slaughter of the Syrian Kurds, which makes it complicit in the carnage, can be explained by its political horse-trading with Turkey in exchange for the Turks’ collaboration with the pursuit of its imperialistic interests in the region.

It is self-evidently true that the Islamist government of Turkey is viscerally hostile to the PKK and those in Syria allied to it. But Hossein-Zadeh does not propose any measures to alleviate their plight, or indeed express any solidarity with the people of Kobane.

How one could help them – leaving aside the inconvenient truth that the Peshmerga are actually there – are not his concern. He simply wallows in it.

The ‘argument behind all of this?

That, the US and its tentacles are at work. If  you thought Seamus Milne’s Theory of why the USA is against the ‘multi-polar world’ is half-baked read this:

The U.S. approach to ISIS would be better understood when it is viewed in the context of its overall objectives in the region—and beyond. That overriding objective, shared and reinforced by its client states, is to undermine or eliminate “the axis of resistance,” consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and, to a lesser extent, Shia forces in Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Achievement of this goal would also be achievement of another, even broader, goal: undermining Russia’s influence and alliances in the region and, by extension, in other parts of the world—for example, its critically important role within both the Shanghai Cooperation Council (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

And one doubts if many would go as far as this

To intervene in order to achieve these goals, the U.S. and its allies need pretexts and/or enemies—even if it means inventing or manufacturing such enemies. Without ISIS, resumption of U.S. military operations in Iraq and extension of those operations into Syria would have been difficult to justify to the American people. A year or so ago, the Obama administration’s drive to attack Syria was thwarted by the opposition from the American people and, therefore, the U.S. congress. The rise of ISIS quickly turned that opposition to support.

Viewed in this light, ISIS can be seen as essentially another (newly manufactured) instrument in the tool-box of U.S. foreign policy, which includes “global terrorism,” the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, weapons of mass destruction, Iran’s nuclear technology, Al-Qaeda, and many other radical Islamic groupings—all by-products of, or blowbacks to, imperialistic U.S. foreign policies.

Let us, generously, assume that this article is not the famous Hope-Tipping (Hat-tip Rosie) famous for saying the opposite of what everybody else believes (accusing”D H Lawrence of showing  a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life).

So it is not to strike a pose the author claims, “Just because everybody thinks that Isis is virulently anti-US means….that the US created it……”

No we will not claim this. Counterpunch has published extremely well-informed material on the origins of Isis in the Iraqi and Syrian Matrices.

Well, okay,l one that I can find quickly:  The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War Tariq Ali talking to Patrick Cockburn.

…..they come most immediately from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was at the height of its influence in 2006 [and] 2007 when it was an element–but not the only element–in the Sunni resistance to a Shia government and the American occupation. Ideologically, it comes out of the Jihadi movement and actually its religious beliefs are not that much different from Saudi Wahhabism, the variant of the Islam which is effectively the state religion of Saudi Arabia with its denigration of Shia as heretics, [along with] Christians and Jews.

It’s just carrying these beliefs to a higher and more violent level but it’s very much in the context of the Jihadi movement. …. ISIS has a number of different kinds of support. It has support of the alienated Sunni community in Iraq and also in Syria.

That at least their victors, after all these people have been defeated – they were defeated in ’91 by the Americans, they were defeated again in 2003, they were marginalised, persecuted – so victory is important to them. I think also they appeal to jobless young men, I mean sometimes referred to as the underclass, but actually just the poor, poor young men.

One could develop further from this that the group has an internal totalitarian dynamic,  a machine of “disciplining and punishing” grounded in Islamism, that represents,as Cockburn suggests,  not a radical break with other forms of Islamism, but an extreme exaggeration of their repressive efforts to shape human beings according to Divine Law. Or, failing that to cage them within it.

We can discuss for a long time the geopolitics, the Invasion of Iraq, and at present, the Syrian civil war, the stand of Turkey’s government, that have favoured these developments.

The contradictions within the Iraqi Kurdish power  and the various Kurdish  movements (including their own Islamists) and the complex issue of the Kurdish movements, the PKK’s inspiring programme of egalitarian social measures, decentralised power, secular freedom and sexual equality would fill pages.

But the point now is to mobilise support for the Kurdish fighters against Isis/Islamic State.

All this is blown to the winds by Hossein’s ramblings. – more than typical of the contributions on the site.

Is this deliberate?

That the real wish is to pile all the misery of the beloved peoples of the Middle East on the ‘West’s’ back?

Who can be certain?

Counterpunch – just when you thought unpleasant conspiracy theorists had had enough.

The Fate of Iranians as Regime Continues to Crack Down.

with one comment

Ghoncheh Ghavami

I have just finished the fine Iranian novel by Parinoush Saniee   the Book of Fate.

It is the story, that begins in the 1970s,  of Massoumeh, a young woman from a pious family (originally based in Qum). She meets  Saiid, an assistant at the local pharmacy, and falls in love, or has a crush, on him. When their letters are discovered her  brothers, in a rage, beat her. To remove the ‘shame’ and keep their family’s ‘honour’ she is forced her into a face-saving marriage.

Her family are not monsters, they can be loving and kind. Father and Mother allow  Massoumeh to turn down unsuitable partners. She is wed  to  Hamid, a graduate, who respects women, and encourages her to continue her education (in night school and later in university). Hamid is involved with a communist group that is deeply involved in the movement against the Shah. They have high hopes.

Massoumeh reads poetry and novels and, the revolutionary tracts and books circulating in Hamid’s circle. When Hamid is imprisoned, she manages to bring up two boys and a daughter independently by working in an office.

The coming of the Islamic republic does not free Massoumeh: she is purged from her work and prevented from completing her university studies because of her husband’s background (and one of her sons, who is linked to the Mojahedin-e-Khalq) . She herself is seen as “un-Islamic”.

Saniee does not hide the faults of the Iranian left, who thought they would take power violently from the Islamists, or the  numbing effect of the fall of the official Communism on those who placed their faith in the Soviet Union. It is, in the best sense, a humanist novel, which people can read in many different ways.

I stop there (the novel sweeps gracefully over a whole life, friends and family)  because one thing struck me in the report below: under the Shah Hamid is sent to Evin prison to be starved, beaten and humiliated. 

 Ghavami has been sent to the same gaol.

A British-Iranian woman detained in Iran for trying to watch a volleyball game has been sentenced to one year in a notorious prison, according to her family and lawyer.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, a law graduate from London, was found guilty of spreading “propaganda against the regime” following a secret hearing at Tehran’s revolutionary court.

Ghavami has been detained for 127 days in prison since being arrested on 20 June at Azadi (“Freedom” in Farsi) stadium in Tehran where Iran’s national volleyball team was scheduled to play Italy. Although she had been released within a few hours after the initial arrest she was rearrested days later.

…….

Iman, from London, said he hoped his sister would be moved to another wing of the notorious Evin prison, where she has been held since June in relative solitary confinement in a jail known for housing high-profile political prisoners and activists.

He said: “She will be in the same prison but we hope she’s going to be transferred to a general section of it where she can interact with other people because now she’s being held in solitary confinement. It’s hell for everyone who is kept there.”

Guardian.

This is the Iranian Islamic Republic.

This is Islamic ‘law’.

The  ‘honour’ of Massoumehes is  protected…

And they even dare to say this,

After acid attacks and execution, Iran defends human rights record.

“Iranian officials attacked the latest United Nations report on its human rights record Friday, blasting what they called efforts to impose a Western lifestyle on the Islamic republic.” (November the 2nd)

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Seumas Milne and the ‘Multipolar World': Clutching at Straws.

with 2 comments

‘s Multipolar World. 

On parts of the left a theory has gradually developed that an emerging “multi-polar world” is the best defence against American-led imperialism.

This view, taken from academic studies of international relations, and given a political edge, is behind many apparently bizarre positions.

Such as backing Beijing, Moscow, or even Tehran ‘against’ the ‘West’.

The tiny entrist faction, Socialist Action, has taken this to mean that the left should defend countries, like China,

In a conflict between the world’s greatest imperialist power and a former colonized and dominated country the most elementary position should be clear: anyone on the side of progress and justice defends semi-colonial, emerging China against the offensive of imperialism and its allies.

It is not even necessary to believe China is a socialist country to form this conclusion. It is simply necessary to take the same principled position that the left would take if the USA and its allies were to organize an assault on any other semi-colonial country whatever the character of the economic or political system in place.

Socialist Action, 14th May 2014. Jude Woodward.

An even less influential groupuscule, the Global Revolutionary Alliance,  carries this article,

John Morgan:  I’m not certain about a return to the bipolar model anytime soon. While we have seen the rise of new powers capable of challenging American hegemony in recent years – China, India, Iran, and of course the return of Russia to the world stage – none of them are capable of matching the pervasive influence of the American economy and its culture, nor of projecting military power around the world as NATO has been doing. At the same time, we can plainly see now that America and its allies in Western Europe have already passed their economic limits, now racking up unprecedented debt, and their power is beginning to wane.

Rather than the return of a bipolar world, I think we will see the emergence of the multipolar one, as Prof. Dugin has suggested, in which several nations wield significant power but none reigns supreme above all. In order to protect their interests, stronger nations will need to forge alliances with weaker ones, and sometimes even with other strong nations. But I think the era of the superpower is rapidly coming to an end.

The Morning Star frequently gives voice to similar arguments.

In that daily reviewing a book on the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya Carlos Martinez allows himself to claim,

Thus Libya is a boon for Nato in the geostrategic context of the Project For A New American Century, the US’s desperate attempt to maintain its hegemony and prevent the emergence of a multipolar world order. 

This is a strategy of  “divide and ruin” — violating national sovereignty, creating civil wars and removing states that refuse to play ball, all in the interests of creating an unstable global political environment that only the Western powers have the military weight to control. 

It is a thread that runs through the wars in Libya and Syria, the Nato and EU-sponsored boiling pot in Ukraine, the “revolt of the rich” in Venezuela, the CIA-funded social media campaigns in Cuba and Barack Obama’s so-called Asia pivot. It’s the duty of all progressive humanity to recognise and oppose such a strategy.

Rarely however are the actual policies of the Russian Federation celebrated as a progressive side to these developments.

Nor expressed them clearly in the mainstream media.

Until, that is,  the Guardian journalist  has given them an airing in this week.

A real counterweight to US power is a global necessity is a strange ideological concoction.

Milne makes a number of sweeping claims.

He begins by blaming everything that has gone wrong in the Middle East on the US-led ‘world order’.

The results of the invasion of Iraq are certainly a major factor in the chain of events that have led to the present – multiple – crises in the region. The US and its allies bear a heavy responsibility. The invasion was wrong wrong and wrong.

But there is nothing on the politics of post-invasion Iraq, the rise of the Mahdi Army, the conflicts between Shiism and Sunnism, and a host of other developments that have flourished in the aftermath of this “shock”.

Most seriously he ignores  any internal causes for the steps beyond the traditional repression and intolerance of Islamist politics: the genocidal Isis/Islamic State. That’s as if, to give a comparison, as if Hitler could be explained in terms of the Versailles Treaty and the manoeuvres of the 1920s Great Powers.

For Milne it is not necessary to go further than geopolitics to account for the growth of an Islamist  totalitarian movement, based on ‘micro-states’ policies of ‘discipline and punish’, and killing, have their own life and own responsibilities. Why the Arab Spring has largely failed – outside of Tunisia – is another ‘non-US led’ issue.

For Milne there is one important topic: NATO (the ‘West’) is a  diabolical force that has been challenged – however partially – by Russia.

 But if the Middle Eastern maelstrom is the fruit of a US-dominated new world order, Ukraine is a result of the challenge to the unipolar world that grew out of the failure of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. It was the attempt to draw divided Ukraine into the western camp by EU and US hawks after years of eastward Nato expansion that triggered the crisis, Russia’s absorption of Crimea and the uprising in the Russian-speaking Donbass region of the east.

The Ukrainian right-wing has its own responsibilities and we are far from those who put the blame on ‘Russia’ for what has happened in the country.

But Milne makes the interesting claim that the President of the Russian Federation has appealed for a global way out of such crisis .

It fell on deaf ears.

But there is little chance of the western camp responding to Putin’s call for a new system of global rules. In fact, the US showed little respect for rules during the cold war either, intervening relentlessly wherever it could. But it did have respect for power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, that restraint disappeared. It was only the failure of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – and Russia’s subsequent challenge to western expansion and intervention in Georgia, Syria and Ukraine – that provided some check to unbridled US power.

Yet they cannot stem the new multipolar system of powers.

Along with the rise of China, it has also created some space for other parts of the world to carve out their political independence, notably in Latin America. Putin’s oligarchic nationalism may not have much global appeal, but Russia’s role as a counterweight to western supremacism certainly does. Which is why much of the world has a different view of events in Ukraine from the western orthodoxy – and why China, India, Brazil and South Africa all abstained from the condemnation of Russia over Crimea at the UN earlier this year.

This has its limits, but they do not stop Milne’s claims to swell and swell.

But Moscow’s check on US military might is limited. Its economy is over-dependent on oil and gas, under-invested and now subject to disabling sanctions. Only China offers the eventual prospect of a global restraint on western unilateral power and that is still some way off. As Putin is said to have told the US vice-president, Joe Biden, Russia may not be strong enough to compete for global leadership, but could yet decide who that leader might be.

Despite the benefits of the emerging multipolar world, the danger of conflict, including large-scale wars, looks likely to grow. The public pressure that brought western troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan is going to have to get far stronger in the years to come – if that threat is not to engulf us all.

It would appear that there is something of the argument (used by New Left writers amongst others) that the old Soviet Union might be repressive and reactionary at home but by the sheer fact of its presence tilted global politics in favour of the left, bringing fear to capitalists and concessions to social democracy in its wake. More convincingly some asserted that the Kremlin’s support for national liberal movements was decisive. Less persuasively that it was its  saving grace.

Milne studiously avoids (as Shiraz points out) discussing Stalinism and its immediate aftermath.

He effectively asserts (or wishing) for something similar: that the ‘multi-polar world (Russia and China its chief among many heads) can provide £some check” to “unbridled” US power – as if Washington was a war horse needing constant restraint from….war.

How far is this shown by recent events?

Today’s Latin American left cannot have much of a debt to anything remotely resembling this, or to Putin – unless Milne can provide some evidence so far hidden from the rest of us.

Not can Russia be said to have played a role in supporting any left project or holding back the US (and more to the point, international capital) from blocking progressive policies.

China and Russia’s presence, as capitalist powers, suggests that globalisation is proceeding. It can hardly be expected that they will do anything that threatens the interests of …capitalism.

They are indeed both ‘imperialist’ in the classical Marxist sense that they export capital, and influence global politics by virtue of their economic power, not by persuasion. The conflicts they enter into are part of ‘their’ perceived interests in this respect.  Their only ‘challenge’ to neoliberalism is that their political structures are authoritarian and repressive.

Although their super-patriotism and moral conservatism (in Russia above all) appear to attract some European far-rightists and former leftists they hardly act as much of a ‘counterweight’ to a more direct menace to the left: the growth of the  populist and racist far-right in Europe – not to mention the rise of Islamist reaction in the Middle East and elsewhere. 

The existence of competing superpowers is more generally said to have been a major contributing factor to two World Wars in the Twentieth century – at least according to  Marxists.

Lenin, who is not the be-all–and-end-all on this topic, nevertheless  provided a useful  5-point definition of imperialism:

(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this “finance capital”, of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

These terms are contested, and the role of political sovereign nations in a globalised world has altered, not to mention capital flows and the world division of labour.

One thing is also clear: the ‘multipolar’ model gives us little indication of how to support people’s such as the Kurds of Kobane, struggling might and main against the Islamist genociders – that is the  duty of international solidarity. 

But that does not matter for the left supporters of “multipolarism”:  Milne thinks that the “division of the world” between competing capitalist nation states is a progressive thing.

The left should, if we follow this advice, do all it can to favour the “emergence of a multipolar world order.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2014 at 6:10 pm