Thursday, June 10, 2010

Noam Chomsky - The Real Threat Aboard the Freedom Flotilla

Juan Cole: Iran’s Green Movement: One Year Later How Israel’s Gaza Blockade and Washington’s Sanctions Policy Helped Keep the Hardliners in Power,_israel's_gift_to_iran's_hardliners/

Roger Cohen: Modern Folly, Ancient Wisdom

Two previous posts/quotes on Marx

The British philosopher John Gray on Marx

Cornel West on distinguishing between Marxist thought, Marxism and Marxist theory

Tariq Ramadan on Economic Resistance/Critique

Universes of resistance to the dominant economic order remain divided or remain in ignorance of one another. Muslim thinkers hardly seem to have studied or integrated Western criticisms of the system produced by the West itself: it is as if, to acknowledge criticism as relevant, one needed to ask about the faith of the woman or man who had written them. Thus, the "atheistic" critique of the capitalist economy has almost been dismissed because of its intellectual origin, without its fundamental interest and historical achievements receiving proper attention. Yet, nothing serious can be thought and achieved in terms of resisting the dominant model without resorting to a critique "from within" that works out the stages of an alternative "from within." We should integrate [interrogate?] the system to try to free ourselves from it and not, in an arrogant or utopian manner, consider ourselves as standing apart on a margin that is or should be protected. [23]
-Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation by Tariq Ramadan, pg. 248.

Haroon Moghul - Why Turkey Voted No (And What Brazil Doesn't Have to Do With Neo-Ottomanism)

UN approves new Iran sanctions

via Professor Dabashi

Tony Judt: Israel Without Clichés

Arab League Chief Accuses Israel of Atrocies

Madrid gay pride march bans Israelis over Gaza flotilla raids

Gain for anti-Islam party in Dutch poll

Artists’ Boycott Strikes a Dissonant Note Inside Israel

Pixies, Gorillaz, Elvis Costello, Klaxons Cancel Israel Shows as Political Protest

via Yusuf

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chris Hedges: This Country Needs a Few Good Communists

Cornel West on Religion and Marxist Theory

The classical Marxist understanding of religion is more subtle than is generally acknowledged. Crude Marxist formulations of religion as the opium of the people in which the religious masses are viewed as passive and ignorant objects upon which monolithic religious institutions impose fantasies of other-worldly fulfillment reveal more about Enlightenment prejudices and arrogant self-images of petit bourgeois intellectuals than the nature of religion. Contrary to such widespread crypto-Marxist myths about religion, Marx and Engels understood religion as a profound human response to, and protest against, intolerable conditions. For Marx and Engels, religion as an opium of the people is not a mere political pacification imposed from above, but rather a historically circumscribed existential and experiential assertion of being (or somebodiness) by dehumanized historical agents under unexamined socioeconomic conditions. Marx and Engels characterized religion as alienation not primarily because it is "unscientific" or "premodern," but rather because it often overlooks the socioeconomic conditions that shape and mold its expression and thereby delimits human powers and efforts to transform these conditions. In short, the classical Marxist critique of religion is not an a priori philosophical rejection of religion; rather, it is a social analysis of and historical judgment upon religious practices.
For Marx and Engels, religion often overlooks the socioeconomic circumstances that conditions its expression, principally because the religious preoccupation with cosmic vision, ontological pronouncements on human nature and personal morality hold at arm's length social and historical analysis. Hence religion at its worst serves as an ideological means of preserving and perpetuating prevailing social and historical realities and at its best yields moralistic condemnations of and utopian visions beyond present social and historical realities - with few insights regrading what these realities are and how to change them. The Marxist point here is not simply that religion alone is an impotent and inadequate form of protest, but also that without a probing and illuminating social and historical analysis of the present, even the best-intentioned religionists and moralists will impeded fundamental social and historical transformation. In stark contrast to crude Marxists, Marx and Engels do not claim that only a substitution of a rigid Marxist science of society and history for false religion and glib moralism can liberate humankind, but rather that a Marxist social and historical analysis can more effectively guide transformative human praxis motivated, in part, by moral and/or religious norms of human freedom and democracy.
-The Cornel West Reader, pg. 372-3

Lift the Siege of Gaza by Patrick J. Buchanan...

"No, Turkey is not going anywhere"

via Necmeddin :)

Tariq Ramadan on "Halal" Consumption

The "halal" market and an economy of "Islamic" products have undergone extraordinary development in the past few years. One can observe the same deviations, which consist in trying to obtain the same results with means and commodities considered as "halal" without questioning the productivist, mercantilist, materialistic points of reference and state of mind produced by such processes. Little thought has been given to the squandering of natural resources, to the exploitation of men, women, and children, to the outrageous treatment of animals. All that matters, at the end of the day, is the lawfulness of the product that is to be consumed or worn and the "Islamity" of the commercial transactions through which it is marketed. Islamizing the means in this way while legitimating an unethical capitalism interested only in end results is the most perverse expression of the counterproductive formalism that acts against the values it claims to defend. This global "Islamized" capitalism, as it can be seen on the African continent, in Arab countries, or particularly so-called emerging Asian countries as in Malaysia, or today in Dubai, results in an Islamized Americanization under a coat of very halal terminology and financial techniques. 
Reform, alternative ideas, and resistance are reduced to market-oriented variations on the theme of Islamized labels. Fast food is profitable, therefore Islamic, halal fast-food restaurants are put into operation, from McDonald's to other famous brands. Coke dominates the soft drink market, so a line of products labeled as "Cola" emerges (Mecca Cola, Zem Zem Cola, Medina Cola) to recall the "taste" of the parent company's product while they are alleged to resist the actions of the foreign country or constitute an alternative! There is no resistance in this, no alternative thought, and indeed no originality: marketing methods have merely been "Islamized" (although not always), as well as brands...and that is supposed to do the trick. Not only is this logic too basic, it is above all dangerous, for behind a veneer of "Islamity" it hides objectives that care little for ethics, sometimes playing little attention about the collateral damage produced by such economic processes. Just as people are satisfied with the mere technical and "Islamic" aspect of slaughtering without paying attention to the way the animals were treated in their daily lives, little thought is given to the way in which workers are exploited, in all the sectors of economic activity, to provide the new "Islamic" products (as is also shown by Fulla, the hijab-clad doll, an Islamized duplicate of the Barbie doll complete with a line of accessories that, like it, is made in China.) Not only are those serious aspects minimized, but in addition, the same attitude and the same logic of all-out profitability and blind productivity are maintained. Where ethical awareness and understanding goals should bring more soulfulness and reflection about the meaning and quality of life, the "Islamic" label is exploited then sullied to enable market logic to work on minds but invested with additional religious legitimacy. Ultimately, the "Islam" label, marketed freely, brings money, loads of money. We have come full circle: the capitalist system has managed to efficiently take over an ideational frame of reference that was supposed to resist it, with the collaboration of its operators and of Muslim consumers themselves.
-Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation by Tariq Ramadan, pg. 249-250

Glen Greenwald: Talking about Israel with Eliot Spitzer on MSNBC

Thanks Necmeddin :)

Egypt's Waning Influence

Barack Obama announces $400m aid package to Gaza

U.N. Security Council Passes New Sanctions Against Iran

Activist walks a lonely path (on Chris Hedges)

via Sadia :)

The Rise of Erdogan and the Fall of the Arabs

via Haroon

Turkey: an honest broker in the Middle East

Dr. Hatem Bazian in SF June 5th 2010

via Yusuf

Feinstein Calls for Inquiry Into Israeli Raid on Aid Flotilla

Stanley Fish: A Classical Education: Back to the Future

Video: Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad (Timothy J Winter) on the Environment

via Mohamed :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Chris Hedges: The Christian Fascists Are Growing Stronger

Turkey: All options are on the table

Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price

Can Obama's Muslim engagement survive Gaza?

Goolam Hoosen Patel “old school sage” (1915-2010)

via Imam Tahir

Poem: The Good Ship Rachel Corrie by Daniel Abdal Hayy Moore

via Fareena

Fawaz A. Gerges - Sweetened poison: How Obama lost Muslim hearts and minds

via Abdul Waheed

Israeli navy kills four Palestinians off Gaza coast

Looking for inspiration in Islamic art by Faraz Khan

via Faraz :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Israel forced to apologise for YouTube spoof of Gaza flotilla

Rashid Khalidi quote - divide and rule via religious and ethnic difference

It is now well established that in the colonial era, one of the most crucial forms of control developed by Britain for maintaining hegemony over a vast empire with relatively modest military forces was the management, and sometimes the encouragement, or even the creation, of religious and ethnic difference. The British did this in a manner not at all dissimilar to that followed by the French in Lebanon and elsewhere. This process was often grounded in existing distinctions within the societies the British ruled over, but it frequently involved the development and refinement of these existing differences, and sometimes even the production of new ones. [44] The net result was often a highly developed and systematized communitarian structure, within which the British could play their favored role of arbiter, and ideally be seen as above or outside a "local" conflict, rather than as part of it, or even the creator of it, as they were in many cases.

Of course official Britain, whether in the nineteenth century or the interwar period, was always pleased to be invisible in these sordid matters, or as close to invisible as was possible. The preferred posture of the greatest power of the age was to pose as the impartial external actor, doing its levelheaded, rational, civilized best to restrain the savage passions of the wild and brutish locals. One cannot read the memoirs or many of the official reports of British officials in mandatory Palestine - an entity that in its then-current form the British themselves had created, and that was riven by political conflicts they themselves had fostered - without being repeatedly struck by this tone of innocent wonderment at a bizarre and often tragic sequence of events for which these officials rarely if ever acknowledged the slightest responsibility. [45]
-The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood by Rashid Khalidi, pg. 50-51

Israel as a Strategic Liability?

Washington Asks: What to Do About Israel?

Israel's seizure of Gaza aid boat Rachel Corrie sparks further condemnation


 via Afroz

Why Religion Still Matters

via Najeeb :)