Friday, 30 November 2012

''The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."

''The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."  General William West(wants)moreland

Orientalism , of course, is a well known colonial construct. A construct  that justified  and made easy the grabbing of 'other's'  lands. The Oriental did not value life  The Oriental did not feel the pain. The Oriental could be killed without  any remorse. 

The quote from WestMoreLand  popped up this morning in an article  about  a controversy that the NYT chief in Israel  has got into.  She  crossed a barrier  and is paying a price.  Freedom of the Press just does not exist . Does it? Certainly not when it involves Israel and the American Press

That said, it is certainly understandable that her comments prompted anger. For one, the idea that the primitive enemies of the west - those whom the west dominates - do not grieve their dead as intensely as westerners do has long been a grotesque trope of the colonial mindset. Gen. William Westmoreland infamously said in the 1974 documentary "Hearts and Minds" about the Vietnam War (the difficult-to-watch video ishere):
"The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."

palestine israel and the west

Now that Palestine has won it observer state status at the UN with a well over 2/3 majority of the General Assembly. The usual suspects voted against the resolution or just abstained.

 A deeper look at Israeli issues and their connection to the West.

For the past forty-five years the state of Israel has been dispossessing millions of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, confiscating their lands, destroying homes, bulldozing orchards and setting-up ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements serviced by highways, electrical systems and water works for the exclusive use of the settlers and occupying soldiers. The process of Israeli territorial expansion throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem has greatly accelerated in recent years, converting Palestinian-held territory into non-viable isolated enclaves – like South Africa’s Bantustans – surrounded by the Israeli soldiers who protect violent settler-vigilantes as they assault and harass Palestinian farmers at work in their fields, beat Arab children on their way to school , pelt Palestinian housewives as they hang their laundry and then invade and defecate in Palestinian mosques and churches.

The parallels between the pronouncements and actions of Nazi Germany and Zionist Israel are overwhelming. The bloodlust in Israel goes far beyond psychopathic raving of a few deranged rabbis and marginal politicians: it extends from the top Cabinet members to the average citizen.
In Israel, almost an entire people – over 80% of Jews – support, with varying degrees of intensity, the terror bombing and slaughter of the people of Gaza. Setting aside the profound sociopathic disorders of the raging and racist multitude in Israel , what is politically more significant are the totalitarian rants of leading Israeli public figures, published as editorials, in such newspapers as the respectable Jerusalem Post: “We need to flatten all of Gaza . There should be no electricity in Gaza , no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing,” writes Gilad Sharon and the statements of prominent Knesset members, like Michael Ben-Ari , “There are no innocents in Gaza … mow them (all) down”. These outbursts reveal Israel ’s strategic goal: Genocide at the service of Greater Israel – the bloody purge of 5 million Palestinians, the creation of a 100 percent ‘pure’ Jewish State. Overseas (mostly US) Zionist-Jewish media moguls, Ivy League university academics, billionaires, US Congress people and government officials finance, underwrite, propagandize for and promote with single-minded perseverance the defense of Israel’s most heinous war crimes, its violations of international law and its ongoing crimes against humanity.
During the entire period of the recent Israeli blitzkrieg, Israel ’s Fifth column, the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, the New York Times and the rest of the major US press rose to the dirty task of giving unconditional support for Israel ’s war crimes. Vocal support from the US White House and by extension the leaders of the European Union echoed Netanyahu’s lies. In order to grasp the media white wash of these ongoing crimes against humanity one could compare the US press reports on Israel’s bombing of Gaza to those which would have appeared in the leading fascist newspapers at the time of Hitler’s ‘defensive’ attacks on Poland and Belgium and the bombing blitz of civilians in London.

The Zionist Academic –Journalist Propaganda Complex
The Israeli academic-journalist propaganda complex in the US has pushed the entire US political narrative even further to the fascist right. It has perverted our political vocabulary, equating mass slaughter with national defense; equating the ‘anxiety’ of Israeli Jewish civilians with the homeless, jobless and traumatized widows and children emerging from their devastated densely-populated urban neighborhoods.
The tribal scholars and mass media pundits excel in transforming executioners into victims and victims into executioners. The Liberal-Zionists, peace-time critics of Israel, remove their peace buttons and pick up scripts defending ‘just wars’, as soon as Israel starts bombing another Arab population or adversary. For the liberal (human-rights-spouting) Zionists, bombing civilians is always illegal – except when it is Israel launching the missiles. Propaganda zealots for Israel saturate the media attacking any human rights activist critical of Israel with charges of “anti-Semitism”. They smear, threaten and blackmail each and every dissenting voice daring to oppose their narrative.
The entire mass media and the most prestigious universities censor any mention of Israeli crimes against humanity. As bombs rained on Gaza not one single Congressional voice denounced the odious American President Obama when he defended Israel’s eight-day “Guernica” against a defenseless population. Unlike the citizens in Nazi Germany, we, in the US and Western Europe , cannot claim that we did not know about Israeli war crimes as they were happening. On the other hand, how can the mass of semi-literate TV viewers in the US really ‘know’ what is going on when Israel-Firsters have so thoroughly ‘framed the context’ – claiming it’s all defensive, that only Hamas “terrorists” are targeted …despite the images of children being frantically pulled from the wreckage of their homes. However, the educated classes in the US do know about Israel ’s tradition and practice of mass civilian bombings; they do remember Lebanon 2006 as well as Gaza 2008-2009 (and countless Israeli massacres in the late 20th century). At the same time, they also “remember” the vicious reprisals and vitriolic attacks the Zionist ideological attack-dogs launched against the critics. Having ‘learned their lessons’ from the Zionist ‘thought-cops’ they conveniently remember … to forget and walk away… from the whole ‘Middle East mess’. Worse still, they sanctimoniously blame the Palestinians for their efforts to retaliate in the face of Israel ’s blatant murders of their most prestigious leaders as well as their stubborn refusal to surrender.

During the last three years the Palestinian cause was neglected and pushed to the side due to what is claimed to be an Arab Spring. The Israeli latest attack had brought the Palestinian cause back to the front attention of the whole world. The demonstrations around the world in support for the Palestinian had shown again that occupied Palestine is the core issue for the Arab world, for the Islamic world, and for all international humanitarian organizations.
The victory of Gaza Palestinians in this round of military conflict ushers an important turning point in the Zionist/Arab conflict. Since its illegal establishment on usurped Palestinian land, the Zionist Israeli state used brutal force against Palestinians. All Palestinian concessions, giving up 82% of Palestine proper to Israelis, their acceptance of the two state solution, and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative were met with brutal Israeli military force. Force is the only language Israelis understand and live by. Armed resistance is the only solution left for Palestinians to protect their lives and to achieve their human rights. Hezbollah’s armed resistance had defeated the Israeli army and liberated Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000. In 2006 Hezbollah had shown again that popular armed resistance, rather than diplomacy, is the only deterrence that put a stop to Israeli aggression. Now Palestinian armed resistance in Gaza had also defeated Israeli aggression, protected Palestinian lives, and achieved some political gains.
Thank you … Gaza.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Glass Teat justifies state Terrorism.

  "24" turned me off.  Totally!  It also  made crystal clear,   the creation of  justified torture. Produced by Murdoch's Fox TV, it was not a surprise.    That we now have a new  demonisation process  playing out its ugly,  brainwashing game  is , again , no surprise.   Hollywood created  and sold Demonisations  are the ugly reality of  "popular" infotainment. The Glass Teat terrorises and justifies  State led Terrorism. 

 The Muslims Are Coming … No, They Are Here
Phew. Where to start? How about with the positive. If there is any, it has to do with the fact that while two of the show’s key writers hail from Fox’s 24, the series that right after 9/11 allowed Americans to vicariously torture Muslims every week through the broadly drawn everyman hero Jack Bauer, that show’s conservative producer,Joel Surnow (friend of Rush Limbaugh), is nowhere in the credits. Homeland is written by a committee of older writers who do not appear to have the right-wing impulses of 24.
As a result, there is some effort to suggest that drone strikes that kill innocent civilians can create blowback, and that the government is taking full liberty (no pun intended) with the Patriot Act and is spying on everyone, all of the time.

None of this ever happens in the so-called “real world.” Remember, aside from Richard Reid, the “underwear bomber,” and the doughnut who tried to blow up a car on Times Square, all of the big busts of so-called terrorists have been sting operations in which the FBI used informants to suck vulnerable jihadist wannabes from mostly poor neighborhoods into fake plots using phony weapons. The closest the government has gotten to exposing a “cell” was nabbing a used car salesman who was supposedlyplanning to kill the Saudi ambassador by enlisting the aid of Mexican drug goons. He never got further than the mailbox. Not exactly Nazir and a truck load of dynamite.

Plus the critics love Homeland. It’s not the first to dramatize real events and caricature the enemy for the sake of entertainment: James Bond did it all through the Cold War and is still doing it.

It’s time to find another enemy to kick around on television. That’s why I liked the X-Files, where the real monsters were the federal government and E.T. A lot of time they were one in the same. Sounds about right. But those times are gone. Now Hollywood thrives on the dichotomy of mostly good (government) and all evil (Muslims). It’s the enemy we know, or at least the one Hollywood writes for us.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

freedom of the press? the kazami caper -continued

The arrest of Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi on March 6 this year had left many stunned. A well-established journalist, accredited with the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB), and someone who regularly interacted with top politicians, he suddenly came to be described as a player in an Iranian plot to attack Israeli diplomats in India. Convinced he was being framed because of his harsh and vocal views on American and Israeli policy, many had rallied around Kazmi to campaign for his release. He was finally granted bail by the Supreme Court on October 19 and stepped out of Tihar after spending seven months in jail. His first interview since his release, questions related directly to the case were answered by his lawyer (see accompanying story), but Kazmi himself told Debarshi Dasgupta that he was threatened in order to make him confess. He also spoke of his social isolation since his release and claims he was targeted for his critical views on India’s foreign policy. Excerpts:

On the whole, I have lost the social status that I once enjoyed. I was made a scapegoat just for my professional background.
Do you think you were picked up for your harsh political views on India’s close links with US/Israel and their role in global affairs?
You can judge it yourself from my television appearances. In this changing scenario, people do not like the truth. Probably, this was one of the reasons....

You are viewed as a very harsh critic of Israel...

What do you mean by a critic? If you read just 60 years of Israel’s history, you’ll become a harsh critic of the country...just read it and analyse it. People do not want to question the way the state of Israel was created and ignore the way it’s being expanded illegally into Palestine every day. How much time do you need to undserstand the history and geography?

For investigating agencies, no greater nightmare comes alive than one of their cases falling apart. And the loss of face is deemed even greater if the case is as high-profile as that of Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi. The senior Urdu journalist was arrested on March 6 this year by the Delhi Police Special Cell. Subsequently, the nation’s premier anti-terror agency has been pulled up for its questionable policing methods while human rights activists have highlighted how their cases most often do not hold up to judicial scrutiny.
Kazmi got bail—and relief from his protracted ordeal—on October 19 by the Supreme Court. In fact, according to the apex court’s order, Kazmi became entitled to a bail on July 17. He spent the extra months in jail because the hearing for his appeal was kept pending in Delhi’s lower courts, and refused even by the high court, a tactic the police employed, say his family. “A free and fair trial is a constitutional guarantee, and there are safeguards to ensure one,” says Mehmood Pracha, Kazmi’s lawyer. “Almost all of them were flouted.”

 Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi’s case, as one who was branded a “terrorist”, will definitely not be forgotten in a hurry.

Monday, 26 November 2012

of bias, balance and the baby killed in palestine

The bias, the bowing to Jewish  pressure , is  pretty visible,  even in this ombudsman's defense   of the publication of a photograph I had blogged earlier.  That there was even a need to defend that photo says a lot about the  huge pressure  that is applied on Western Media by  Israel and its  supporters. Look at  how the Palestinian rockets are deemed " reprehensible" and "aimed at terrorizing Israeli civilians".  Look at the talk of one sided  "balance" that is desired by the   defenders of  Israeli doings.  A balance that  I have rarely seen  as far as the Palestinian point view is concerned . Not in mainstream western media .    

A photograph may be worth a thousand words, but even at its most revealing it never tells an entire story. It is the capture of a single moment, a split-second version of the truth. But if it is an effective photograph, it moves the viewer toward a larger truth.
That’s certainly the case for a front-page photograph published Nov. 15, an image of a man’s anguish as he held the shrouded body of his 11-month-old son, who was killed in a bomb strike on the man’s house in Gaza.
That the man is Palestinian — not a terrorist but a journalist — and that the bomb was dropped by Israelis, to my mind, is almost beside the point. This photo depicted loss and pain, the horrific cost to innocents on both sides of the violence in the Middle East.
But many Post readers saw it differently. Jewish groups and American Jews in large numbers wrote to the ombudsman and to Post editors, protesting the photo as biased.

Post staff then authenticated and verified the facts behind the Associated Press photo. The dead baby was real. The bombing was real.
Many readers asked why The Post didn’t balance the photo of the grieving father with one of Israelis who had lost a loved one from the Gaza rocket fire. That’s a valid question.
The answer is that The Post cannot publish photographs that don’t exist. No Israeli civilian had been killed by Gaza rocket fire since Oct. 29, 2011, more than a year earlier. The first Israeli civilian deaths from Gaza rocket fire in 2012 did not take place until Nov. 15, when Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, began firing more accurate and deadly missiles in response to the Israeli offensive that had begun the day before. There were no recent photos of Israeli casualties to be had on the night of Nov. 14.
Still, on an inside page Nov. 15, The Post ran a photo of an Israeli mother taking refuge in a bomb shelter with her young children. That reflects the truth of life in southern Israel.

more on the neo colonial game - in congo this time

I wonder if Blair is secretly dreaming of becoming a  newer and  bigger  King Leopold- the royal  Belgian owner/exploiter of  the earlier colonial version of  Congo.  He seems to be playing a smarter, updated, version of the  neo colonial   game. From Iraq , the Middle East  to  Africa  the man just keeps showing up.  Much to the despair of  the millions that  the neo colonial games are effecting.  

Such is the cycle of despair in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – scene of massacres, of mass rape, of children forced to fight, of families fleeing in fear again and again, so many sordid events that rarely make the headlines. It can seem a conflict of crushing complexity rooted in thorny issues of identity and race, involving murderous militias with an alphabet of acronyms and savagely exploited by grasping outsiders. But consider one simple fact: right now, there is the risk of another round breaking out in the deadliest conflict since the Second World War.

The west bears some responsibility for the latest act in the Congolese tragedy. Not just because the ethnic divisions that cause such fear were inflamed during dark years of Belgian misrule. Nor simply because we gobble up those minerals that fund the warlords. But because at the heart of the horror in a country the size of western Europe is the tiny nation of Rwanda, darling of western donors seeking to assuage their guilt over inaction during its own genocide.
Britain and America in particular have lionised a regime guilty of ghastly internal repression and gruesome foreign adventurism, with catastrophic consequences for millions of Congolese. Admirers of Paul Kagame, the despotic Rwandan president, praise his country's economic development, ignoring that it is part-financed by trade in minerals plundered and pillaged from a ravaged neighbour. As far back as 2001, a Congolese rebel leader admitted such theft was Rwandan state policy.
Yet western leaders hailed Kagame as the modern face of Africa and pumped vast aid into his arms. Britain is the biggest bilateral donor; we directly funded agencies of repression, then led moves for Rwanda to join the Commonwealth. The links between our two countries are alarmingly close: Andrew Mitchell, our former aid minister, invited me last year to meet Rwanda's head of intelligence, a regular visitor to his Whitehall office. Meanwhile, Tony Blair advises Kagame on "governance", even while swanning around seeking peace in the Middle East.

Rwanda is far from the only villain in this drama. Uganda, another western ally, is also linked again to the latest unrest, the president's own brother accused of backing the M23. But Rwanda is the cause of much of the trouble. The truth is that six times as many people have died already in the Congolese wars as died in the Rwandan genocide. Time to say never again – or does the blood of Congo not count?

the end of history? start at the beginning of the knowledge economies

Knowledge was,  and still is, about control. The management of the masses. Looking at just the stories on  Beeb website  about the "Knowledge economy"  was an eyeopener to the new control system being set in place to control  that Knowledge within a  well set  paradigm. 

The interview with Blair  needs to be read more than once if one is to get what he really means.  If the outsourcing  of western education system works the way  it is supposed to  one can forget the idea that the increasing number of  chinese and Indian graduates  will make much of a change  to the world's systems of  managment and control. 

The advent of writing is generally viewed in terms of its significance as a cultural advance — less attention is given to its political implications. Yet it looks like the most important function writing originally served was in the management of slavery and the regulation of society.

For inequality to develop we had to stop moving around and start acquiring property and the maintenance of property required writing: a kind of spell-keeping through which an audacious idea — this is mine — could be invested in objects that lay outside the owner’s physical grasp. Writing constituted proof of ownership and the power of writing to codify inequality was no doubt enhanced by a separation between the literate and the illiterate — those who used writing and those who were used by writing.

Is the globalisation of higher education part of this battle of ideas, in a kind of arms race of values and cultures?
"I would say it is not only part of the battle, but in fact the frontlines. When I am asked to define the leading characteristic of today's world, I say: It's speed of change. We adjust or we are swept away.
"Gone are the days of ideological disputes between political systems. With the fall of the Soviet Union, we have seen economic ideology recede into the background.
"No one today disputes the power of capitalism - the only question anyone is asking is to what extent does government regulate otherwise free markets.
"Instead, the debate has become focused on how open or closed our societies should be - how understanding we are of differing opinions, cultures, and customs both inside and outside of our respective communities.
'Fight ideas with ideas'
"This is also where religious ideology comes to the fore. The role of religion has been both enormously positive, which a lot of people fail to appreciate, and negative, which more people are aware of. But the nature of the debate in both the secular and religious areas are ideological.
"You fight ideas with ideas. It is now up to institutions of higher education to engage directly on these issues - not only their students, but current world leaders in politics, finance, and international diplomacy, along with the general public.
"If universities begin to foster this kind of dialogue in the public sphere, they will create a safe and objective space for these questions to be addressed and explored, which will not only produce a better informed public but also force advocates of exclusive political or religious ideologies to support their positions with rigorous and convincing arguments - no small feat."
How much will the economies of the future depend on the international competition between university systems? I'm thinking of how global firms such as Google and Facebook have grown so quickly from higher education.
"It already depends on competition between university systems. If you look at the world's current and emerging superpowers, nearly all have either well-established or are currently establishing university systems that will help them compete in the global economy.
"The three largest higher education systems in the world are in the United States, China and India."

By the end of this decade, four out of every 10 of the world's young graduates are going to come from just two countries - China and India.
The projection from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows a far-reaching shift in the balance of graduate numbers, with the rising Asian economies accelerating ahead of the United States and western Europe.
The forecasts for the shape of the "global talent pool" in 2020 show China as rapidly expanding its graduate numbers - set to account for 29% of the world's graduates aged between 25 and 34.
The biggest faller is going to be the United States - down to 11% - and for the first time pushed into third place, behind India.
The US and the countries of the European Union combined are expected to account for little more than a quarter of young graduates

recolonising the rest.

Want more proof of the  West's aim to recolonise  the Rest ???

It is not just France that wants to do regain control of its old colonies. The Western colonial masters, as a whole, sees colonial control of  the Rest  as the only way to  revive their collapsing economies. Just selling arms for wars the west has a major role in promoting,  will not be enough . Actual physical control through a new comprador class of collaborators is the  only way to  control  the  resources the  rest of the world still has. The resources that  created a wealthy West in the first place.

However, France continues to entertain its dreams of re-colonising Syria. At the UN, François Hollande had requested that the Security Council give him a mandate to administrate "the zones liberated by the rebels", on the model of the mandate awarded to France by the League of Nations for the whole of Syria, between 1923 and 1944. According to this same logic, France and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf recognised the Syrian National Coalition as "the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people" accredited to "set up a provisional government". Moreover, Paris asked the European Union - which recently received the Nobel Prize for Peace - to lift their arms embargo in order to supply the "liberated zones".
It seems that the French officials, swept along by their dreams, have not realised the gravity of their proposals if they were to be put into effect. They propose no more or less than challenging the sovereignty of Nation States, a principle which has been the foundation of international law since the Peace of Westphalia Treaties of 1648, and which became universal in 1945 with the United Nations charter and the decolonisation which resulted.

Whether or not we approve of Bashar al-Assad, it must be recognised that he currently governs the whole of Syria with the support of the majority of the Syrian people. But France chooses to ignore this reality and wishes to define, arbitrarily, who should constitute the Syrian government. On this basis, France wants to assume the right to administrate and arm the "liberated zones", over which flies the three-starred flag that she had once imposed on the country. This procedure was accepted before 1945 in order to justify certain forms of colonisation, but was recused in those regions of the world where the principle of Nation-State sovereignty was applied.

 In 1970, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 2625, which defined the principles of International Law set out in its Charter. This text proclaims - "Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of inch acts, when the acts referred to in the present paragraph involve a threat or use of force." As President of the French Republic, François Hollande must guarantee the respect of these principles.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

internet war against wikileaks and ------

It is Internet War against any who challenge  and expose not just  US  government  wrong doing.

Whatever one thinks of WikiLeaks, it is an indisputable fact that the group has never been charged by any government with any crime, let alone convicted of one. Despite that crucial fact, WikiLeaks has been crippled by a staggering array of extra-judicial punishment imposed either directly by the US and allied governments or with their clear acquiescence.

Over the past two years, then, this group - convicted of no crime but engaged in pathbreaking journalism that produced more scoops than all other media outlets combined and received numerous journalism awards- has been effectively prevented from functioning, receiving funds, or even maintaining a presence on US internet servers. While it's unproven what direct role the US government played in these actions, it is unquestionably clear that a top US Senator successfully pressured private corporations to cut off its finances, and more important, neither the US nor its allies have taken any steps to discover and apprehend the perpetrators of the cyber-attacks that repeatedly targeted WikiLeaks, nor did it even investigate those attacks.
The ominous implications of all this have never been fully appreciated. Recall that all the way back in 2008, the Pentagon prepared a secret report (ultimately leaked to WikiLeaks) that decreed WikiLeaks to be a "threat to the US Army" and an enemy of the US. That report plotted tactics that "would damage and potentially destroy" its ability to function. That is exactly what came to pass.

So this was a case where the US government - through affirmative steps and/or approving acquiescence to criminal, sophisticated cyber-attacks - all but destroyed the ability of an adversarial group, convicted of no crime, to function on the internet. Who would possibly consider that power anything other than extremely disturbing? What possible political value can the internet serve, or journalism generally, if the US government, outside the confines of law, is empowered - as it did here - to cripple the operating abilities of any group which meaningfully challenges its policies and exposes its wrongdoing?

Last year, the FBI arrested 16 people in the US in connection with similar attacks on Master Card, Visa and Amazon, and charged them with crimes that carry 10-year prison terms.
The issue here is not whether Anonymous activists can be rightfully prosecuted: acts of civil disobedience, by definition, are violations of the law designed to protest or create a cost for injustices. The issue is how selectively these cyber-attack laws are enforced: massive cyber-attacks aimed at a group critical of US policy (WikiLeaks) were either perpetrated by the US government or retroactively sanctioned by it, while relatively trivial, largely symbolic attacks in defense of the group were punished with the harshest possible application of law enforcement resources and threats of criminal punishment.
That the US government largely succeeded in using extra-legal and extra-judicial means to cripple an adverse journalistic outlet is a truly consequential episode: nobody, regardless of one's views on WikiLeaks, should want any government to have that power. But the manifestly overzealous prosecutions of Anonymous activists, in stark contrast to the (at best) indifference to the attacks on WikiLeaks, makes all of that even worse. In line with its unprecedented persecution of whistleblowers generally, this is yet another case of the US government exploiting the force of law to entrench its own power and shield its actions from scrutiny.

for the mind. the politics of art.

The  second Kathmandu International  Art Festival opened today.  I had been a part of the first edition -  in 2009.  Came back and came across this essay. Good food for thought - material for the Mind ,which is the last  part of  a Festival that is about  Earth  Body  Mind .

The Politics of Art

Tolerance toward that which is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence or more affluence. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda…the impotent and benevolent tolerance toward outright deception in merchandizing, waste, and planned obsolescence are not distortions and aberrations, they are the essence of a system which fosters tolerance as a means for perpetuating the struggle for existence and suppressing the alternatives.
—Herbert Marcuse, Repressive Tolerance, 1965
Reviewing current art, both locally and globally, it appears that much of it has or purports to have a political content. One reason for this focus is that technological advances encourage snatching digitized fragments from reality that document the persistent global nightmare of human inhumanity. This process thus duplicates in art the same nightmare we see every day on TV or the Internet. Very little of this work, whose apology is that it is “consciousness raising,” amounts to more than superficial agitprop, often executed in the same slick style as the publicity and propaganda it presumably criticizes.

However, today subversion as a tactic no longer works as museums compete to do exhibitions of earthworks, installations, conceptual art, et. al. that seemed so radical at the time. Art can no longer be politically or culturally subversive because we live in a society of such absolute tolerance that the Mormon Church made no objection to the obscene and scatological satire of its practices in a tawdry Broadway musical.

This is not to say that contemporary art can have no valid political meaning. At the opposite end of the spectrum from Sierra’s manipulated pornography is Alighiero e Boetti’s collaboration with the Afghan weavers who produced the beautiful and complex tapestries and carpets exhibited in his recent MoMA retrospective. The Arabic phrases embroidered into their borders are in fact highly subversive to Western values but integrated as they are into the aesthetic texture of the works they are not simply slogans but expressions of a cultural identity opposed to them. As much as Santiago Sierra denies and obliterates the aesthetic dimension, Alighiero Boetti exalts it, incorporating a political theme within poetic imagery that reconnects the Western conception of a decorative style with its Islamic roots. 

Disillusioned with art as politics, Marcuse separated himself from his now much quoted Viennese colleagues. He suggested that the authentic artist may escape being penned in by the velvet ropes of the illusion of liberty through poetry and the aesthetic dimension. Art which aspires to this difficult, complex, and elusive level of achievement may thus elude the increasingly effective techniques of accommodation and neutralization employed to repress any genuinely dangerous dissent by the society of total tolerance.

instant wars - instagrammed into instant propaganda.

Social media and smart phones are revolutionizing photography.  Together they've radically democratized photography, making it easy for billions of people to make photographs that can be seen by billions more all over the world.  Most of these photos are about parties and pets and matter only to the people who made them and, maybe, their families and friends.  But some are about much bigger things.  Some are about war.

Instagram War Gaza 04
[Click on any image to see a larger version.]
This revolution is no secret.  Stephen Mayes, the managing director of the VII photo agency, made these points just this week, in an interview posted on Wired's Raw File blog.  And he's certainly not alone.
As fast as the changes have been, over the last decade or so, they've accelerated madly over the last few days.  As any historian will tell you, war changes everything.

There's always been more to war than bombs and bullets.  Words and images are weapons, too.  They're the raw material of the propaganda that's designed to strengthen friends and undermine enemies.
Propaganda has been a part of every war that history knows anything about, and creating and disseminating it has largely been the job of professionals -- war doctors, priests, reporters, photographers, politicians, bureaucrats.
Social media and smart phones have let amateurs in on the action.

People are using these images in a variety of ways.  It's not about reasoned discourse -- that's not something at which images excel.  Instead they're about emotions -- anger and grief -- about demonising the enemy and about justifying the actions of one's own side.

Africa - amending the story of the last frontier

"Time to make amends' for centuries of  plundering  Africa  ?  The only amending that will happen will be the amendment of Africa Narrative .  The story of rape and plunder will be  retold and rewritten  to suit the new  needs and desires of the old colonial masters. 
The "Civilizing" caper has had its day. Time to move on the next alphabet - D.  D for Democracy. Democracy at  missile point - delivered from the skies  by death dealing Drones. Drones that will deliver new flashes of  Darkness to the  Dark Continent.  
The brutal murder of  Gadhaffi, the one that the new Caesar, Hillary Clinton (of the "we came,  we saw and  he died" fame) was not really the  beginning of the Africa Wars for  the American's  Africom. The Africa Command that seeks  to command Africa and hark it back  into a new Heart of Darkness, is just continuing  the western Africa wars. The wars that  had never really stopped.  

Africa is wealthy in oil, gas, iron, aluminum and rare metals. By 2015, countries in the Gulf of Guinea will provide the US with 25 percent of its energy needs, and Africa has at least 10 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. South Africa alone has 40 percent of the earth’s gold supply.  The continent contains over one-third of the earth’s cobalt and supplies China—the world’s second largest economy—with 50 percent of that country’s copper, aluminum and iron ore.
But history has stacked the deck against Africa. The slave trade and colonialism inflicted deep and lasting wounds on the region, wounds that continue to bleed out in today’s world. France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal sliced up the continent without the slightest regard for its past or its people. Most of the wars that have—and are—ravaging Africa today are a direct outcome of maps drawn up in European foreign offices to delineate where and what to plunder.
But over the past decade, the world has turned upside down. Formerly the captive of the European colonial powers, China is now Africa’s largest economic partner, followed closely by India and Brazil. Consumer spending is up, and the World Bank predicts that by 2015 the number of new African consumers will match Brazil’s.
In short, the continent is filled with vibrant economies and enormous potential that is not 
going unnoticed in capitols throughout the world. “The question for executives at consumer packaged goods companies is no longer whether their firms should enter the region, but where and how” says a report by the management consultant agency A.T. Kearney. How Africa negotiates its new status in the world will not only have a profound impact on its people, but on the global community as well. For investors it is the last frontier.

There is also the problem of who are the” terrorists.” Virtually all of the groups so designated are focused on local issues. Nigeria’s Boko Haram is certainly a lethal organization, but it is the brutality of the Nigerian Army and police that fuel its rage, not al-Qaeda. The continent’s bug-a-boo, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Meghreb, is small and scattered, and represents more a point of view than an organization. Getting involved in chasing “terrorists” in Africa could end up pitting the US against local insurgents in the Niger Delta, Berbers in the Western Sahara, and Tuaregs in Niger and Mali.
What Africa needs is aid and trade directed at creating infrastructure and jobs. Selling oil, cobalt, and gold brings in money, but not permanent jobs. That requires creating a consumption economy with an export dimension. But the US’s adherence to “free trade” torpedoes countries from constructing such modern economies.
Africans cannot currently compete with the huge—and many times subsidized industries—of the First World. Nor can they build up an agricultural infrastructure when their local farmers cannot match the subsidized prices of American corn and wheat. Because of those subsidies, US wheat sells for 40 percent below production cost, and corn for 20 percent below. In short, African needs to “protect” their industries—much as the US did in its early industrial stage—until they can establish themselves. This was the successful formula followed by Japan and South Korea.
The Carnegie Endowment and the European Commission found that “free trade” would end up destroying small scale agriculture in Africa, much as it did for corn farmers in Mexico. Since 50 percent of Africa’s GNP is in agriculture, the impact would be disastrous, driving small farmers off the land and into overcrowded cities where social services are already inadequate.
The Obama administration should also not make Africa a battleground in its competition with China. Last year US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described China’s trading practices with Africa as a “new colonialism,” a sentiment that is not widely shared on the continent. A Pew Research Center study found that Africans were consistently more positive about China’s involvement in the region than they were about the US’s.

In 1619, a Dutch ship dropped anchor in Virginia and exchanged its cargo of Africans for food, thus initiating a trade that would rip the heart out of a continent. No one really knows how many Africans were forcibly transported to the New World, but it was certainly in the 10s of millions. To this day Africa mirrors the horror of the slave trade and the brutal colonial exploitation that followed in its wake. It is time to make amends.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

"disgust" and "genocide" words with lopsided agendas

In the dark of night, on 14 November, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. As elections in Israel are on the horizon, the Israeli Defense Force conducted an extra-judicial assassination of Hamas’ Ahmad Jabari, who only hours beforehand had received a draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel (according to Nir Hasson at Haaretz). Jabari’s assassination was followed by a barrage by Israeli aircraft and warships. A few rockets were fired from Gaza, but these have had a negligible impact. The war on Gaza is not between two armed forces, even matched, each flying the flag of a country; it is a war between a major military power and a people that it has occupied, whose means of warfare used to be the suicide bomber and has now devolved to the erratic rockets (propelled by sugar and potassium nitrate, a fertilizer, and made deadly by TNT and urea nitrate, another fertilizer). Most of the rockets fired over the past two days have been intercepted by Israel’s sophisticated Iron Dome system. No such luck for the Palestinians, who have faced US-designed F16 jetfighters and Apache helicopters and have no defensive systems.
Morocco and Egypt, on behalf of the stateless Palestinians, hastened to the UN Security Council, wanting to stop the violence and condemn Israel for its disproportionate use of force. The Council’s President, India’s Hardeep Singh Puri said, “All the statements that I heard resonated with one message – that the violence has to stop. There has to be de-escalation.”
The United States defended Israel. Susan Rice put the onus on Hamas. “There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel,” she said. “Israel, like any nation, has the right to defend itself against such vicious attacks.” The sentences sting with contradictions. Israel is not just a nation in this conflict, but an occupying power, who has violated a string of UN resolutions and the Geneva Convention in its treatment of the people it has occupied since 1967. Furthermore, while the United States has listed Hamas as a terrorist organization, this same political party also won relatively free and fair elections in Gaza in 2006 (at which point the Hamas leadership sent US President George W. Bush an unanswered letter with the proposal that they would accept Israel on the 1967 borders). 

Selective Outrage
The moralism of Rice and Power does not extend to the victims of Atlantic imperialism. Genocides are only those when the perpetrators are not among the Atlantic powers. The long finger is pointed at the Eastern Europeans and the Africans – never at the United States government or NATO and never Israel. Thousands certainly died in Kosovo, but hundreds of thousands died in Iraq and East Timor – two states where the US was either the perpetrator or the benefactor. The word “genocide” has been sequestered to US imperial ends, with Rice and Power disgusted with the violence of others but not of themselves.
There is no disgust at the consistent egging on by the US of the Pakistani military to act against its own people, the most egregious being the campaign in the Swat Valley where hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives and were rendered displaced. An Amnesty International briefing pointedly noted, “The Pakistani government’s response to the rise of insurgents in the NWFP’s Malakand Division (mainly in the Lower Dir, Buner, and Swat valley) and in the Tribal Areas fluctuates between launching often indiscriminate and disproportionate military operations that harm mainly civilians and abandoning Pakistani citizens to abusive militant groups. Security forces deployed in government operations often fail to differentiate between civilians and militants and use disproportionate force, causing civilian deaths and injuries and destroying civilian property. Such disregard for civilian life and civilian infrastructure, such as homes and schools, is common throughout the region.” It is not just the Pakistani government that came in for criticism by Amnesty, but its “international backers – notably the United States,” who have said that the aim is not to protect civilians but to pursue “military and counterterrorism objectives, with often fatal consequences for civilians.”
There was no disgust either in the US policy in Central Africa. While a Senator, Obama sponsored a bill (PL 109-456) that called on the US government to withhold aid to neighboring countries that destabilize Congo (the co-sponsor was Hillary Clinton). US allies Rwanda and Uganda are serial destabilizers. When Rice was Assistant Secretary for African Affairs in the Clinton administration, she elaborated the idea of African Renaissance leaders, with two in particular to be celebrated – Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Both of them have invaded Congo twice (1996 and 1998) with US backing. The International Court of Justice has found Uganda responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Congo, and the Spanish Courts have issued arrest warrants for forty top Rwandan officials for similar crimes. The US has remained tight-lipped, despite the millions dead.

Rice was not disgusted. Her disgust is not moral. It is calibrated to the interests of US foreign policy. No wonder Obama wants her as his Secretary of State. She would articulate perfectly an imperialist foreign policy in the language of human rights and outrage