Monday, September 29, 2014

Of Terrorists and Referenda

What a convenient word ‘terrorist’ has become! Until 9/11 the word was reserved for anarchist types in long black coats who set off bombs in public or assassinated heads of state. But when the World Trade Center was brought down, the word became a convenient designation for any individual who showed any sign of opposition to any government on the planet, democratically elected or not.
It’s nothing short of a miracle that the Occupiers were not dubbed terrorists, although some language came pretty close, as I recall. Even so, the word was handily picked up by Mubarak before his downfall, then by Assad - legitimately - and is now applied by Poroshenko to an entire swath of the country he purports to govern.
The banalization of the word ‘terrorist’ goes hand in hand with a sudden rash of referenda: the mainly Russian speaking majority in Crimea held a successful one to secede from Ukraine, the Scots had a failed one to secede from Great Britain, Catalonia will hold one soon. Egyptians, once again safely governed by a military man, overwhelmingly approved their new constitution in a referendum, even after the judicial system condemned hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood ‘terrorists’ to death. Governments rarely make use of referenda, however that of multi-lingual Switzerland held no fewer than seven this year with more to come.
Is there a link between these two phenomena?  I think so: leaving out the Swiss tradition, both point to a disintegration of the liberal-parliamentary nation state system and its replace-ment by global fascism. Though purporting to hold aloft the ancient principles upon which the nation-state rests, globaliza-tion signals the end of the nation-state as an entity regulated by laws applicable to all, its sole task now being to pass laws dictated by corporations for their sole benefit. 
In a message that appalls citizens but seeks to reassure the stock market, the US and its allies have announced a long war against ISIS. In reality, this is a three-way standoff between fascism, its magic bullet, and an opposition that has yet to realize that ISIS - the most shocking of all terrorists whose followers behead single individuals (as opposed to a machine obliterating three thousand) - created to save the Western economy, will be kept alive as long as that crisis is deep, because there has never been a referendum about war.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Good News From Sweden - Sort Of

If I often write about fascism, it’s because it is the lynchpin of current events. Fascism comes in many stripes and colors. The old fascism, which revolved around anti-Semitism, is still represented by Ukraine’s Right Sektor and its wolfangel-wearing associated thugs. With the new fascism, Israel is officially Washington’s junior partner, in practice often wagging its tail. Europe’s centuries-old anti-Semitism has been reinvigorated by Israel’s attitude toward the Palestinians, while a more recent one targets immigration. 
As ISIS’s thirty thousand strong army - a ridiculous number compared to the approximately 150,000 that the U.S. had in Iraq - continues to take and hold territory, beheading Westerners along the way, today’s fascism piece is inspired by the Social Democrats’ win in Sweden that was accompanied by a rise in its anti-immigrant party, putting Sweden in league with France and Greece. Sweden’s ‘Democrats’ garnered 13%, a figure similar to those of other European extreme-right parties that marked take-offs soon boasting a fourth of the electorate.
It’s certainly good news that the party that pioneered the Nordic welfare state in the early twentieth century (yes indeed!), is back in power after ten years of despicable center-right rule by the people who accused Jullian Assange of sex crimes and refused to guarantee that he wouldn’t be extradited to the U.S. for Wikileak’s revelations. (Assange’s announcement a couple of weeks ago that he expects to soon leave the Ecuadoran Embassy in London where he has been holed up for over two years may have been inspired by his anticipation of this election result…)
The far-right parties original supporters come overwhelmingly from the center-right, but their ascension is typically marked by defections from the left. They are defined by their anti-immigrant stance, hence the title of this article: this particular fascism that we see spreading across Europe is centered on the ‘threat’ posed by an on-going flux of immigrants, mainly from Islamic and Black Africa. When I was living in France in the eighties and nineties, I had already remarked that these parties’ followers had failed to do the simple math: with Europe representing about 300 million inhabitants at that time, Africa counted about 800,000. Now an enlarged Europe has 500 million, while Africa tops 1.1 billion, the second growing faster than the first, (while China is leveling off at over 1.3 billion, having been just under 1.3 billion in the nineties…).
These figures should give anyone pause. But Europeans apparently believe that their centuries of culture evidenced as well in their well-tended landscapes as in their monuments, guarantee a superiority that ‘barbarians’ will never be able to challenge. By the time they wake up, it will be too late, and that is where the significance of the Swedish vote comes in.
Responding to the rightward drift of the electorate, the victorious Social Democratic Party stressed its commitment to Sweden’s ‘inclusive’ policy toward immigrants. The Nordic countries have for decades had a robust pro-Third World stance that staffs UN development organizations as well as NGO’s on the ground. But devotion to the idea of equity between black, brown and white in what has always constituted a minority of the world’s total population is unlikely to affect an overall rightward drift. The North’s technological and cultural achievements will continue to blind it to the fact that the Caucasians are a minority in the world, which with each passing day becomes more ‘absolute’. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Why are Westerners Joining ISIS?

Worried comments on Westerners joining ISIS tend to overlook the fact that this is an all-volunteer army.  Surely that has some significance when trying to explain its success. Fifty-five year old Senator Bob Casey has declared that he expects the campaign against Islamic terrorism to last beyond his lifetime, implying that we are dealing with a clash of civilizations. However, it’s a different clash from the one Samuel Huntington wrote about in the nineties.

Huntington and contemporary commentators inspired by him see it as a clash between ‘freedom’ and a religious dictatorship. But if that were the case, why are hundreds - and perhaps thousands of young people from the ‘free’ West flocking to join ISIS ranks?  Why did they come - the technicians who help them pump and sell their oil on the black market, the financial geniuses who enable them to make sophisticated money deals around the world, the doctors who presumably treat their wounded, not to mention the writers, photographers, video streamers and other technicians who run their recruiting websites, etc. etc.?

There must be a very compelling reasons why Westerners would overlook medieval beheadings to join the campaign for an Islamic Caliphate. (One commentator argued yesterday that beheadings are not necessarily more shocking than death by drone, but that explanation doesn’t suffice.) They do so for the same reasons that others join their national armies to fight organizations like ISIS: a belief in the values those armies defend. For Westerners, it’s about the freedom for individuals to develop to their full potential without too much government interference. But that freedom has increasingly been manipulated by a Madison Ave that gets the 99% to acquire all sorts of 'things' in order to fill the coffers of the 1%. That relentless campaign uses men, women and children as props, trivializing and often degrading them, as well as the lifestyles as those who are taken in by it. If you doubt this argument, consider that German cities are seeing ‘Sharia Patrols’ in their streets, ( while Iran’s president Rouhani seeks to soften restrictions on women’s dress

ISIS’s black-flagged campaign against the West is not so much about God as it is about life-styles. Its Western recruits likely range from puritanic men who want all women to wear the hijab, to men and women who reject the emptiness of the consumer society and have come to the conclusion that speaking and writing about it will have no effect on a system that can crush all enemies. Considering that the priority is to overthrow the Behemoth, in the absence of Western revolutionary movements, they join ISIS, seeing it as the enemy of that enemy.

I do not believe there will ever be another Caliphate because the world has changed too much for that to happen: but part of what underlies the North/South divide is a radical difference in visions of the good society. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, like most leaders of the developing world, condemn the barbarism of radical Islam, while disagreeing with the Western model of society. Together with a growing number of Western thinkers such as no-growth advocates like Serge Latouche, or essayists like Pankai Mishra, they see the lifestyles the consumer society promotes as empty and degrading. Their vision is of a capitalism that would not replace 'backwardness' with emptiness.

But that story doesn’t make good headlines.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NATO Post-Mortem

In my book ‘Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’, and in other works since its publication, I have noted that the world needs not only a coordinating body that would be akin to a world government, but also, and urgently, a rapid deployment force  - to use the NATO terminology - that could respond to natural disasters as well as military attacks anywhere, at short notice. Thus, when Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who just stepped down as NATO Secretary General in a blaze of glory at the biggest ever summit in Wales, announced the creation of such as force albeit without the natural disaster component, my first thought was that the infamous organization had finally done something useful.  
This week's ‘Crosstalk’, on RT, discusses NATO’s reasons for depicting Russia as its enemy, affirming that a Rapid Response Force on an enemy’s borders was purely defensive.  Alexander Mercouris, an astute political analyst, argued convincingly that NATO’s campaign against Russia is in fact about eventually taking on China. Rather than simply ‘defeating’ Russia, as most Western analysts believe, Washington wants to fold it and its vast resources into a Caucasian empire in order to defeat the much more threatening China, with its 1.3 billion plus inhabitants and roaring economy.
Mercouris’ analysis implies that the struggle is once again between two world views: not ‘capitalism vs communism’ as in the long post-World War II period, but between efforts to build a cooperative world community by the world’s multi-colored majority, joined by Russia, and a prolonged battle for global hegemony by the minority Caucasian world. In this analysis, Russia is the lynchpin: straddling the Eurasian continent, it is turning away from Gorbatchev’s aspirations for a ‘Common European Home’, to assume its Eurasian ‘destiny’ (a heavy word, but appropriate here), that will eventually include Europe when Europe’s leaders gather the courage to free themselves from American tutelage - perhaps as a long-term result of the botched Ukrainian adventure combined with the economic crisis. (Even Germany is balking at poneying up 2% of its GDP for military adventures, not to mention the countries hit by Wall St imposed austerity (to put it telegraphically). 
Putin’s Eurasian vision is not a land grab: much more meaningfully, it places Russia firmly on the side of ‘The Rest’ together with China, in opposition to the Caucasian versus ‘The Rest’ worldview represented by NATO. Come to think of it, that aspiration sees Putin-the-judoist overseeing a tectonic shift away from the legacy of Peter the Great, who brought European technology to a Russia that was the victim of its geography: with the Eurasia project Russia assumes its destiny within a multi-colored and multi-cultural continent. 
Western politicians and the media claim that: “Russia seeks to recreate the Soviet Union, whereas we want the former Soviet Republics to be independent, democratic countries, freely choosing their governments and alliances”. The reality is that in the twenty-first century, as opposed to the ‘Enlightened’ eighteenth, ‘democratic’ does not mean government of, by and for the people, but acquiescence to rule by a worldwide corporate oligarchy. 

With more and more people coming to this realization across the five continents, NATO’s Rapid Response Force will eventually be taken over by a successor to the United Nations. In lieu of the pipe-dream of indefinite hegemony, the Caucasian world minority should be adopting policies that will result in fair representation in a world government whose structure and functioning will be determined by ‘The Rest’.