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Tag Archives: Politics

Today’s anti-fascist movement will do nothing to get rid of right-wing populism – it’s just panicky posturing

Marx’s formula of religion as the opium of the people needs some serious rethinking today. It is true that radical Islam is an exemplary case of religion as the opium of the people: a false confrontation with capitalist modernity which allows some fundamentalist Muslims to dwell in their ideological dream while their countries are ravaged by the effects of global capitalism – and exactly the same holds for Christian fundamentalism. However, there are today, in our Western world, two other versions of the opium of the people: the opium and the people.

As Laurent de Sutter demonstrated, chemistry (in its scientific version) is becoming part of us: large aspects of our lives are characterised by the management of our emotions by drugs, from everyday use of sleeping pills and antidepressants to hard narcotics. We are not just controlled by impenetrable social powers; our very emotions are “outsourced” to chemical stimulation.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/antifa-populism-white-nationalism-populism-brexit-donald-trump-alt-right-racism-a8097376.html

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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in European Union, North America

 

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Trump’s Willing Accomplices

NEW YORK – On February 20, 1933, a secret meeting took place in Hermann Göring’s palatial residence in Berlin. More than 20 of Germany’s top industrialists, including Gustav Krupp, Friedrich Flick, and Fritz von Opel, listened to a speech by Hitler, who promised them that their assets would be safe under his rule. So they agreed to support the Nazi Party with over two million Reichsmark, an enormous sum that was almost enough to pay for the upcoming election campaign.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-willing-accomplices-big-business-by-ian-buruma-2017-12

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2017 in North America

 

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Left Social Movements: What Electoral Tactics?

The central difficulty for left social movements is determining electoral tactics that will enable them to win both in the short run and in the middle run. On the surface, it seems that winning in the short run conflicts with winning in the middle run.

In the short run, the primary objective of a left movement must be to defend the urgent needs for survival of all the so-called 99% of the population, but especially those of the poorest strata. In order to do this, they have to control state institutions at all levels. This means participating in elections.

https://www.iwallerstein.com/left-social-movements-electoral-tactics/

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Groping and the Paradise Papers are both about men grabbing whatever they want

Are men too fragile for politics? As powerful chauvinists everywhere reverse out of public life to spend more time helping the police with their enquiries, we are being asked to remember that men are fundamentally weak, slaves to their baser impulses. If that’s so, why are they running the country? How else are we to interpret the frantic glossolalia of excuses garbling out of Westminster?

Former defence secretary Michael Fallon, who resigned after it was finally made clear to him that front-line politics is not a free pass to fondle any passing female journalist, claims that he is a victim of changing moral standards, that what was OK ten or 15 years ago is not all right today. No. It wasn’t OK 15 years ago. It has never been OK. The difference is that now there are consequences, and this is an important point. If your definition of what is morally acceptable begins and ends at what is likely to get you fired or thrown in jail, you have no business being intimate with another human being, let alone being a minister.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2017/11/groping-and-paradise-papers-are-both-about-men-grabbing-whatever-they-want

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Do social media threaten democracy?

IN 1962 a British political scientist, Bernard Crick, published “In Defence of Politics”. He argued that the art of political horse-trading, far from being shabby, lets people of different beliefs live together in a peaceful, thriving society. In a liberal democracy, nobody gets exactly what he wants, but everyone broadly has the freedom to lead the life he chooses. However, without decent information, civility and conciliation, societies resolve their differences by resorting to coercion.

https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21730871-facebook-google-and-twitter-were-supposed-save-politics-good-information-drove-out

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia is doomed to fail

About eight or nine years ago, I had an Afghan friend who previously worked for a large US aid agency funding projects in the Afghan provinces. He had been hired to monitor their progress once work had got underway, but he did not hold the job very long for reasons that he explained to me.

The problem for the Americans at the local agency headquarters in Kabul was that the risk of ambush by the Taliban was deemed too high for them personally to visit the projects that they were funding. Instead, they followed the construction at one remove, by insisting that whatever Afghan company was involved should transmit back to Kabul at set intervals detailed pictures of its activities to show that they were fulfilling their contract to the letter.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saudi-arabia-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-anti-corruption-drive-doomed-to-fail-a8047731.html

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Speaking to the Far Right

In our populist age, right-wing ideologues have managed to move in high circles, by muting their overt racism and disguising their bigotry under a lot of smart patter. But they have also benefited from liberal elites’ lofty disdain, which validates their narrative of victimization.

NEW YORK – Something many right-wing populists have in common is a peculiar form of self-pity: the feeling of being victimized by the liberal media, academics, intellectuals, “experts” – in short, by the so-called elites. The liberal elites, the populists proclaim, rule the world and dominate ordinary patriotic people with an air of lofty disdain.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/right-wing-populism-bard-arendt-center-by-ian-buruma-2017-11

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The AfD’s breakthrough shows that parties of the left must get radical

Some of us are beginning to think it is the end of the project.” That was how a senior European social democrat spoke to me of the future of mainstream socialism last week. The German SPD’s abject failure in Sunday’s election will have done little to lift the gloom. After 12 years of mostly playing sidekick to Angela Merkel, it will go into opposition again, bereft of a strategy and rightly worried about the breakthrough of the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

If the leaders of German social democracy are feeling responsible for their own collapse and the far-right’s gain, they can at least take comfort that they are not alone. The French socialist party evaporated in the run-up to this year’s presidential election; the Dutch Labour party saw its vote slump to 5.7%; and the Austrian socialist party is facing defeat in next month’s election – which will likely bring to power the first coalition of mainstream conservatives and neo-fascists in the EU.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/25/afd-germany-sdp-social-democracy-jeremy-corbyn

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2017 in European Union

 

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Why referendums – like with Brexit, Kurdistan and Catalonia – are always doomed to fail

Brexit, Krexit and Crexit: Britain leaves the EU, Kurdistan declares independence from Iraq, Catalonia secedes from Spain – three massive political changes either underway or put on the political agenda by recent referendums. Three very different countries, but in all cases a conviction among a significant number of voters that they would be better off on their own outside any measure of control by a supranational authority like the EU or a nation state like Iraq or Spain.

Referendums have a lot to answer for: no wonder divided governments, demagogues and dictators have such a fondness for them. They have the appearance of popular democracy and give the impression that important decisions are finally being made by reducing complex questions into an over-simple “yes” or “no”. They make public opinion easy to manipulate because what voters are being asked to assent to is most often wishful thinking and what they are opposing is a rag-bag of unrelated grievances. There are a great many unhappy and dissatisfied people in the three countries which have voted in referendums in the last fifteen months, but no reason to suppose that their vote will make them happier or better off.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-catalonia-referendum-kurdish-independence-always-doomed-to-fail-a7986836.html

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Europe, European Union, Middle East

 

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A new shock doctrine: in a world of crisis, morality can still win

We live in frightening times. From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground: it feels like there are a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about our collective future.

To take one example, the Caribbean and southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season, pounded by storm after storm. Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is entirely without power and could be for months, its water and communication systems severely compromised. But just as during Hurricane Katrina, the cavalry is missing in action. Donald Trump is too busy trying to get black athletes fired for daring to shine a spotlight on racist violence. A real federal aid package for Puerto Rico has not yet been announced. And the vultures are circling: the business press reports that the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/28/labour-shock-doctrine-moral-strategy-naomi-klein

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Revolution

 

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