Saturday, July 30, 2005

LBO-talk list conversation snippets/samples

all the following posts from:

We have now published a streaming video version of our documentary from 2003 onto our website. It is in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.

To watch it, click here:

Jerusalem 72% - 28% Living Apartheid

Since the occupation and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967,Israel has implemented a series of apartheid measures in order topreserve a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. With the construction of theSeparation Wall, Israel is now cutting Jerusalem off completely from thesurrounding Palestinian cities and villages.

A team from the Alternative information Center (AIC) met with residentsof East Jerusalem and the surrounding Palestinian areas to film therealities of the Israeli apartheid system. This film captures thecourage of Jerusalem residents and Palestinian and Israeli activists asthey engage in the daily struggle for the basic human rights ofPalestinians in Jerusalem.

The film was made from July to August 2003.

Director: Eran TurbinerDuration: 22 minutesProducer: The Alternative Information Center

The film was made in cooperation with the Basque Government/PTM

Also, I notice that the audio interview with Media Studies Prof. DanielDor of Tel Aviv University that I sent to the link for last week changed, so it is now here:
Best wishes, Bryan ---- I wasn't impressed with that.

>>Patrick Cockburn :>>Iraq has descended into chaos way beyond West's worst-case scenario>
It was a little surprising to see two stories in today's NYT that concede >things are getting really bad:>> < + ../weekinreview/24burns.html
If the official organs of reassurance are saying this, it must be getting really bad.

---------I was stunned to see those articles and would have posted them to the list but was already too overpostal re London developments.
Yes, the wheels really seem to be coming off the imperial Humvee in Iraq. What with repeated terrorism in London -- precipitating public *and* official panic -- plus the Sharm el Sheik bombs, world events appear unusually volatile now. History seems to have entered one of those speeded-up periods.
BTW, I think John Pilger had an excellent column on the linkage between the London bombings and Iraq: >

Pilger bilge on Iraq contested by marxist scholar on war,
-- Michael Pugliese

Michael Pollak however, post confirming info from: Freely accessible copy:
Defense NewsJune 20, 2005

Chuck Grimes wrote: >To a certain extent this is a distinction without much of a >difference. The current US-Euro imperialism via globalization of the >corporatized and western secular life is a concommittent to the >material and concrete processes of exploitation in foriegn lowest cost >labor markets. The social consequence of these economic processes must >be fairly destructive of the fragile societies they impact. The >fragility (and hence cheap labor) comes from the evident poverty and >loss of social cohesion that was already at work from prior >westernized impacts (some long list of dower historical events).

But if the causes of terrorism were poverty and globalization, why aren't Africans, Latin Americans, and East Asians the major perps? Why is it fairly educated people from Saudi Arabia and Leeds? -- DougWhy was the Cuban revolution led by a Columbia educated lawyer, and a dentist( his homeland that's "doctor"). Because they had the time and resources to do it? Because, when you are impoverished, simple survival takes most of your availabe time when you're digging through that garbage dump on the outskirts of town for something to eat? --

.yup... the rise of modern islamic fundamentalism (in the 70s and 80s) was driven by university students just as was most revolutionary maxism in latin america. see the works of nikki keddie for example. sociologically, these movements arise not in response to static poverty per se but from frustration set by rising expectations and so tend to be initially supported by middle class youth. --

.The J-curve theory of social movements. But it goes only as far as explaining why people join ANY movement challenging the status quo (i.e. the "push-factor"). They do not explain, however, why people join a PARTICULAR movement (i.e. the pull-factor). Why did Latin American students were attracted to radical Marxism, while Arab students to radical Islamism? Or for that matter, why are the frustrated US students attracted to anything from Christo-fascism to rap and to anarchism? I think that the resource mobilization approach, which concentrates on the supply-side of social movements (i.e. agents whose goal is to mobilize a particular constituency) does a better job. Islamism became popular because it was popularized by mobilization agents - e.g. Islamic clergy with access to Saudi money and Western communication resources.

Jenny deals the Puggal a severe blow: I'll google global+wave+of+democracy right after I get finished reading the 10568 results from domestic+tsunami+of+reactionary+weasels. another good woj post in the 'identity war, fartback' thread this one however shows woj completely distorting the evidence; hamas is to a large extent a charitable institution and agitates on the side in much the same way woj argues the Us does (with the significant difference that hamas does not hypocritically pretend to have/aim for low coll. damage figures).

My point is that it would be a gross distortion of facts to judge countries like the US solely on the basis of the war on Iraq - there is much much more to this country than this war - which is an unfortunate episode, but an episode nonetheless.
It would also be a gross distortion of facts to judge the jihadist bombers on the basis of anything else than their terrorist acts, because there is not much into their entire cause but mad bombing. The few lines from Quaran are but an insignificant window dressing, a mere footnote to their activity.

.. . . . . .

But the scale of the crime, you see, is so immense that it casts a very a battering husband who, despite whatever interesting and laudable character elements he may possess, is known mostly for his terrible brutality.
So I agree there's much more to the US -- which is, of course, my home, the place that shaped me from birth and which I both enjoy and fear to varying degrees on a weekly basis -- than "episodes" such as Iraq.

I also agree that Jihadis do not enjoy a similar sort of complexity andmultifacetedness. They are not revolutionaries (at least, not in any productive sense) but delusionally fixated on achieving purity-via-violence. Origins can be reasonably debated, but the present form is what it is. I don't want to die horribly because I was unfortunate enough to sit in a cafe targeted by a suicide bomber. No one else should have to die this way. So, no romanticism of the mad bomber from me.

But these American "episodes", as you put it, dating from the founding, have been dramatically destructive and there's little indication there won't be future such episodes (indeed, there's a sizable domestic constituency rooting for just that). The tendency to do tremendous damage becomes, over time, certainly not the only feature but the one which makes others increasingly difficult to accept with unalloyed appreciation.

No, I'm not talking about naive liberal guilt but something else...a profounddiscomfort, a deep unrest caused by the knowledge that missiles are hittingtargets and bombs are pulverizing lives to dust...often...and my complex, lovely, ugly, generous, hateful, foolish, creative motherland is the source of this woe.

That's very odd. You set aside the tens of thousands ofdeaths caused by a policy formed by a complex politicalprocess as "an episode" that cannot be used to judge the US.Yet you insist that the jihadist bombers -- responsible forfar fewer deaths -- must be judged solely "on the basis of ...their terrorist acts, because there is not much into theirentire cause but mad bombing." But we know that the views ofthe 9/11 terrorists (opposition to Iraq sanctions, Palestinianoppression, and corrupt US-backed governments in the Gulf) --and probably those of the London bombers -- are shared by manypeople who condemn their crimes. --CGE

You're leaving out the whole restoration of thecaliphate, restoration of an idealized version ofshraiah, and that 99% of all Muslims since the deathof Muhammed are basically apostates which is why theMuslim world is in such a mess, views of the 9/11terrorists.

Chris Doss:
Those ideas are the conceptual ground of the wholeideology! It's as if people were focusing on theanti-Versailles aspect of the Nazis and ignoring thatwhole "Jews must die" thing.
Nu, zayats, pogodi!
___________ 'flolow' up .. . 'Western states have created the biggest wars in history ( was fartback)'
a rather heavy thread, not for the timid. . and that's not bycause of posts like this one:
And CB has of coarse looked at scholarly sources on this.And readup on the 2-3 million killed in the Congo in the 90's, 800,000 inRwanda, slaughter in Algeria, Clodfelter, Michael Warfare and Armed Conflict: A Statistical Reference to Casualty andOther Figures, 1618-1991

Clodfelter Vietnam in Military Statistics (1995)

Correlates of War Project at the University of Michigan[]: Online summaries for inter-, extra-and intra-state wars after 1816. (correlatesofwar site file) Singer, J. David, and Melvin Small (1972).
The Wages of War,1816-1965: A Statistical Handbook. New York: John Wiley.Small, Melvin, and J. David Singer (1982).
Resort to Arms:International and Civil Wars, 1816-1980. Beverly Hills, Calif.: SagePublications.Harff, Barbara & Gurr, Ted Robert: "Toward an Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides", 32 International Studies Quarterly 359 (1988). Has a table of 44 genocides committed between 1945 and 1988.
Dan Smith, The State of War and Peace Atlas (1997)(previous editions, co-edited by Trotskyist Michael Kidron. CB won't like it.)
-- Michael Pugliese----------

Lance: I'm not sure how dumb Pugliese thinks the people he is trying topeddle this on are. These are all countries which are poster childrenof what happens as a result of western imperialism. The Congo wascolonized by Belgium, and Mobutu was put in place by Belgium (and theUS). How about the 1964 massacre in Stanleyville? Rwanda is anotherbasket case - the German and Belgian's local overseers, the Tutsis,tried to overthrow the government in 1990, and the Hutus attempts toprevent this subjugation is called a "genocide" for defendingthemselves against this attack. In which the west took the side oftheir former overseers, what a surprise. Do I even have to go intoFrance and Algeria? There could have been a slaughter in France overAlgeria in the 1950's over Algeria, forget Algeria.
And you're trying to use the political troubles decades after moredecades of colonialism (which continues in a more subdued form rightup to the present) as an example of what can happen in countries nottouched by western influence? Please.

CB: This seems patently and grossly false. The main western government, the U.S., is more terroristic than the petit terrorists, because the U.S. has bigger and more bombs. Shock and awe is the biggest form of terrorism right now. Surely you don't buy that guff about "limiting collateral damage"."Considerable restraint" ?! You must be trippin' !@ The U.S. indulges inmass slaughter more than anybody. ( Although it keeps egging others on to match them, endangering me and mine).
The U.S. military budget is not marginal. The U.S. has terrorist military bases all around the world. "Join the Navy. See the world. Meet new and interesting people. Learn how to kill them. "
I realize Wojtek gets the list prize for ruthless criticizer of all thatexists, but it causes him to take reactionary positions sometimes. I can't tell whether he is serious or "it" is serious. Anyway , gotta call him on it when he does it. ---CB

WS, CB, et al,The comparison of the relatively feeble efforts of "terrorism" to the exercise of power of organized nation states and globalised corporate business is pathetic. Political volunteerism [Gramsci's terminology] is the surest sign of the political military weakness of a movement and systematic martyrdom the refuge of the militarily and politically incompetent. The reduction of global opposition to the inordinately and irresponsibly powerful to self-immolating volunteers moved largely by magical belief in the metaphysical justice of their cause is a sad commentary on the state of progressive leadership at the beginning of the 21st century.
While the critics and activists engage in melodrama, and like it or not 9-11 and most of the actions like it, are just drama, the truly powerful focii of productive and political force develop and employ ever more effective means to practical control of world conditions. The impunity with which powerful nation states such as the US, France and Russia employ the most coercive forces on the nearly leaderless masses in the interests of irresponsible elites, local and global is completely disproportionate to the violent thrashings about of political absurdities like the International Jihad, the anti-globalisation movements, and others like them. Nor should we expect it to be otherwise. He who can overcome the obstacles to realisation his objectives will do so.To discuss the exercise of power, and particularly the military projection of power, in terms of who is more or less awful is at best a fruitless exercise in advanced scholastics. The exercise of power is held in check only by countering power, and power resides in united and organized forces with relevant and clear objectives. It is the critical work of organizing the opposition to unchecked and irresponsible exercise of power that the progressive leadership has discarded in favour of melodrama and moral criticism, and it is their preference for drama (the activists) and moral criticism (the theoreticians) that has played a most central role in bringing them and the people whom they claim to represent to the distressing situation of their current powerlessness.

Dwayne, I am glad that you (and Chris) picked the not-so fine point of myargument that it pertains to liberal democracies rather than a-historical"Western states" (whatever that is) - which is commendable in the light ofthe apparent reading comprehension problems others seem to be having. I canonly say that I am well familiar with the Third Worldist trope wanting us tobelieve that the world lived in peace in prosperity until the emergence ofWestern Europe and the US, which introduced war, poverty and misery. I alsounderstand that this is a religious belief that is immune to empiricalrefutation, so why bother.
I would thus want to limit my reply in this thread to the point youspecifically raise, namely that liberal democracies failed to completelyeradicate violence and poverty within its borders and the to the existenceof the vast military force created by these democracies that is capable of alarge scale destruction.
Both points are factually true, but in order to evaluate their gravity weneed to put them in the proper comparative perspective. If judged againstsome abstract ideal of democracy and prosperity that never have of willexist - then yes, liberal democracy is a failure. But if judged against anyother empirical societies and political systems - liberal democracy scoresmuch better in eradicating poverty, income inequality, interpersonalviolence, and international conflicts and wars. Not prefect - but better.
What is more, liberal democracies are far better in showing restraint inusing force than any other social or political form. By your own admission,the destructive capacity of the liberal democracies is unprecedented inhistory - yet that capacity has never been used to the degree coming evenclose to its full potential. That in sharp contrast to other that liberaldemocracy states or political entities that not only were more likely toengage in an armed conflict or violence, but also more likely to use theirfull destructive potential - nut just military but paramilitary genocide aswell.

So I would like to reiterate that the world would be a much better place if all countries became liberal democracies Western-style. Far from being perfect, to be sure, but considerably better than the status quo.

Another point, you seem to grossly overestimate the capacity of the United States to influence international politics and events. This, I believe is the flip side of the US exceptionalism - US has to be exceptional;, either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad, but always exceptiojnal. The truth is that while the US has considerable pull due to its sheer size, its capacity to actually control international events is rather limited. Emannuel Todd (_After the Empire_) made that point quite eloquently, and those interested can read his book. What I would like to add is that while the US influence seem larger than that of other countries in absolute terms, this is not true when we control for the size of the US resources (financial and political). I would go as far as saying that the US does not get as much international bang for the buck as some smaller countries.


Michael Pugeliese Quotes: Land and faith --- Arab Human Development Reports 2003 from the UNDP. The report went on to explore the shortage of three essentials. The authors state that lack of freedom, knowledge and women's rights hold the Arabs back from greater development and from reaching their full potential in comparison to more advanced nations. "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development," the report says. The global wave of democracy has barely reached the Arab states In many Arab countries, poverty and illiteracy have reached staggering levels; health care has deteriorated significantly in some countries; human rights abuses are widespread; jails swarm with "prisoners of conscience"; freedom of expression is confined to empty promises; when positive change takes place, it is slow and insufficient. The report concludes that "the global wave of democracy has barely reached the Arab states". Land and faith The authors avoid making the Arab-Israeli conflict either a cause of, or an excuse for, the region's failings. However, the report contains references to the circumstances of the Palestinians living under occupation or as refugees, and its overview contains a section that refers to the paralysis of political and economic life across the Arab world due to the conflict. On another delicate topic, the role of Islam in Arab human development, the report presents two views; the first affirming Islam as championing justice, peace, tolerance and all good things in society. The second claims that previous reaches into Islamism, either by governments (carefully avoiding names) or societies, had so far created counter-productive consequences between inflexible and stifling authority and disempowered publics. --

----- The authors avoid making the Arab-Israeli conflict either a cause of, or an excuse for, the region's failings.

Leigh: That's a good thing because Israel is a client state for western interests and the arabs... Well, what's left of nomadic cultures make an easy target in the 21st century. But that's ok, we'll leave when the oil runs out.

I paraphrase a not so old proverb from the region: My grandfather rode a mule I grew up riding mules and then there were cars My son rides in a car My grandson will ride a mule once again. (visualize an arabic smiley face) Central Asia will be tougher... rare earths, Chromium, Mangese...more We'll be developing client states there and fighting there long after the oil runs out. It's just starting to get hot. If you are looking for solutions... ask "What If". As in "What if I managed to change the national interests of MY country?"

James Heartfield: "What if AQ is just saying: Fuck YOUR definition of democracy, our culture & societies have worked just as well as yours, and you'll leave us alone now... and we might have to kill a few of you to impress you that we mean it, and a certain percentage of muslims in every country in the world believes that... Including Iraqis."

I hope that this is a parody, for your sake, and that I am making a mistake in replying to it. Leigh imagines Osama bin Laden as a kind of Jim Belushi, saying 'FUCK YOU', which just shows that he is projecting his own western adultescent angst onto Al Qaida. <...>

Piling error upon error, he imagines that Al Qaida want to defend 'our culture and societies' when they have been at war with most of the Arab and Muslim world since their inception. Their published ideology promises to overthrow Arab 'culture and society', which is corrupt.

<...> Well... mostly the arab governments ARE corrupt, and you really need to look at those pictures of the gateway to Makka and ask yourself a few hard questions about who represents who's long term best interests. I never said that fundamentalism wasn't anachronism, and the depth of UBL's religosity is unknown to me, and you. Maybe he found the lord... like ollie north, and so many other American military/political scum. GWB thinks their type of christianity is the lord's way. Why shouldn't devout muslims think UBL is just ok with them? Because they're muslims? Because they kill people for reasons the people being killed don't (or don't want to) fathom? No one (normal western psychology) thinks they are deserving of death. Ollie North and his ilk were murderers as well. Western society wasn't screaming bloody murder about him as his goon squads were murdering people alll over latin america... Training people how to drop blindfolded vicitms from aircraft into the ocean. It should be apparrent by now that what the west is doing to counter whatever AQ and the muslim fundamentalists are planning and doing is NOT WORKING. They are saying fuck you with ak47s and bombs. Their "angst" is pretty deadly, not adolecent at all, and pardon me, but perhaps your perception of my motives for speculating is adolecent? You very well should be asking "what if", or you'll be saying WTF! for a long long time. It's not a game... or a movie. They will keep trying to kill you, and me. That's what I do know with some degree of certainty. (but we're still infinitely more likely to get hit by a car in a marked crossing). Everything else I know about AQ, has been filtered through the western perception of muslim fundamentalists and AQ/UBL. You too. Except perhaps UBL's pre-election speech, where he states quite plainly that we, as individuals, are responsible for what our governments are doing in that region of the world. You should read it. Oh I'm sorry.. Charles Brown bowed out of responsiblity for the U.S. government's actions in another thread. Looks good in print. But the reality of the situation is quite different.

Doug: "Then imposing sharia, under which I'm sure Leigh would thrive."

I'm not muslim, I wouldn't thrive, thanks. (kosher laws never did much for me either) "Sharia" reads alot better than "islamo-fascist", which reminds me of how the word "communist" and "gook" were bandied about at other times. "Islamo" is a nasty attempt to depersonalize the muslim faith. Keep talking... Keep dying. If you want a holy war you got it... I don't think one single person that lives in the west is capable of planning and executing the the simplest modifications of a culture that is totally, uttery foreign to the basic logic of industrial society and linear time. Even an expat, or a student who lives outside the region is changed, much as many American change when they live overseas for extended perioids in the general population of the country of residence. Expats are the people who wield the secular power in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. The modifications include: Banking & finance Women's rights Government policing. policy, and suppression action against tribal groups that have been autonomous since prehistory... More... I could make a very long list. Look, Bechtel couldn't even build apartment houses fit to live in around Kabul. Too much glass and concrete. Too hot in the summer Too cold in the winter We're supposed to help them build "democracy? We can't even build a house to fit the culture and region. You say we learn from the mistakes? I say that's alright when you are building a house, not a "new" society. The west is kidding itself into thinking it has ANYTHING to offer the muslim world that they truly need, because it's alot easier to kid than face the truth of the matter.

Wojtek Sokolowski proposed: It is an unquestionable fact that Western democracies created unprecedented peace and prosperity, thus ending the state of perpetual war that characterized earlier stages of development. Whatever we can think of the ethical and aesthetic values (or lack thereof) of commercialism and liberal democracy - it is an undisputed fact that liberal democracies are considerably less likely to go to war than any other form of polity. There is a reason for the phrase Pax Britannica or Pax Americana - after all it, it is peace with incidental episodes of war as opposed to, say, 30- or 100- year wars that used to go on. It is also an indisputable fact that everyone, from Meji Japan, to Soviet Russia, to China, Latin America and Africa want to emulate the success of western/northern liberal democracies... Unprecedented Peace, Prosperity... success.

They are beautiful words that apply to a truly miniscule portion of the world population. And it's very very unlikely that the rest of the world will get the peace and prosperity in a manner that's... "holistic", not coerced by circumstance and outside interest. Recent classic example at the G8 ag conference. The west is pushing GMO crops on Africa to help feed people. The African ag ministers said 'We usually don't have problems growing the crops... distribution is the problem. We need infrastructure... roads.' Here a transcript: West: Heh? What did you say? You need GMO crops? We've got those. Africa: No no infrastructure! Roads. Modern secure storage facilities... West: Sorry. We don't have that...(looks around to see if China overheard.) Africa: But that's what we need, GMOs aren't going to help West: Heh? Africa:.... West: How's the price of your coffee and cotton crops doing in our rigged markets? Africa: Neevvermind! West: How about them Yankees! (Arsenal... pick a team) Africa:Heh? West: Neeeveeermind! Africa: (Looks stage left, sees China) Hey China! I heard about that nifty new railroad project in the Phillipines. Care to build some roads for us? China:(Gets cut off rudely by west...) West: Now, now Africa... Be nice... buy our products... hell, take 'em we're givin' 'em away... or else something baaaad might happen to the price of your coffee & cotton and you waon't have a pot to piss in, no less pay china for those shiny new roads. Do we do this deal, or do we supply weapons, logistics and funding to rebel groups in your country that you've never even heard of? (under breath: because we create them)? Africa: That's BLACKMAIL! West: We call it business. =8'> I want to reply to that post on a point by point. Tommorrow overposted.


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