A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: colonised intellectuals

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I was chatting with an old student the other day who is currently doing his MA thesis. He described his thesis supervisor as someone who is “great politically,” though “only in private.” Nothing insults my intelligence more than this oxymoronic phrase. So often I have heard how much Third Way intellectuals, who oppose the opposition but call for Assad’s overthrow, secretly support the Assad government’s struggle— views which they only dare utter in private. Or academics who privately support the resistance yet insist on sounding “balanced” when writing or speaking publicly about Hizbullah. 
Let’s get one thing straight, whether we are talking about Syria, Palestine, Hizbullah, resistance, or any other controversial political cause: your privately held, publicly unexpressed thoughts and feelings count for nothing. A political position is an activity, not a state of being; it entails an active and substantive role, not a passive point of view, otherwise we would call it an opinion and not a stand or position. Either keep it real or keep your deepest, darkest, radical views you are too ashamed or afraid of declaring, to yourself. If you are too scared to get out of your comfort zone by articulating a controversial anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist position, then do us all a favour and stop trying to market your undeclared opinions as a principled stand in your private conversations with a trusted few. It is not. 
If every intellectual behaved as you did, the truth would remain forever hidden and there would be no anti-imperialist movement to begin with.

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Ok so what do you get when you cross a Zionist-loving, colonized, House Arab with the liberal pseudo-feminism of Russia’s Pussy Riot? A Mona Eltahawy pornographic pseudo-poem entitled "Sekhmet’s Tits" no less. A poem even more degrading to women and Orientalist than her controversial piece "Why Do They Hate Us?"

We don’t just hate you Mona because of your autosexual prose or your sad attempt at porn, or simply because you heart Israel and dare call yourself an Arab. We hate you because you are really very stupid and trite. 

A brilliant response to her poem below by my bad-ass friend, Roqayah Chamseddine, who is a total G:

Sekhmet Weeps

After much debate and tiring back and forth it seems as though doctors have finally come to agree as to the definition of ‘brain death’; it is to enjoy reading anything by Mona Eltahawy.
Mona Eltahawy, self-described “columnist and international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues”, seems to have ‘poet’ to add to her long list of ego-stroking monikers. “Sekhmets Tits“, a poor attempt by Eltahawy at what one may only assume is erotic poetry, looks to be part of another piteous attention seeking ritual by Eltahawy; the poem is ghastly – no poetic structure, clumsily narrated with rushed, elephantine references to her alleged personal adventures: the breaking of her arms by Egyptian security forces, her spray painting over Pamela Geller’s NYC Islamophobic “hate ads” etc. alongside what one believes to be Eltahawy’s typical claim to fame – her rebellious adventurism. Afterall, an Arab, Muslim woman using the words tits, pussy, fuck, cum, cunt and orgy? She is breaking barriers, proving once again that she is liberated, unconstrained and able to do and say as she pleases. Unlike the cloaked and ‘faceless’ women of colour Mona constantly berates and attempts to release from bondage she epitomizes what it means for one to be ‘free’.

“I’m the proud savage” writes Mona. “Savage”, the pejorative colonialist word, used to refer to a barbarian, one seen as uncivilized is worn high-handed in this ‘poem’. Instead of removing the violently imposed crown of thorns that is the colonial word “savage” Mona has decided to decorate it and make it more appealing for her readers. This coincides with the latest exploits of Ali-al-Mahdi who is heralded by colonial feminist groups (the white liberators of the oppressed women of colour *warning: embedded link contains nudity) as a savior of sorts, applauded for her bold nude activism work. Most recently Alia al-Mahdi stood alongside other women in Stockholm, naked, holding (respectively) makeshift copies of the Qur’an, Bible and Torah over their genital regions (warning: embedded link contains nudity). The very concept, that the less clothes one wears the more ‘free’ or ‘democratic’ they are and that the more clothing one wears the more ‘oppressed’ and ‘subjugated’ one is happens to be archetypal of orientalist arguments.  Alia al-Mahdi is publicized by Femen as an Egyptian woman who has stunned the entire world, her place of origin is intentionally exhausted over and over, the intent being to utilize her background and make her action that much more scandalous – afterall, Arab women are covered from head-to-toe by their male partners/relatives, i.e. abusers, in the despotic “Arab world” and al-Mahdi has defied the very values her authoritarian culture demands of her. She is naked, for all the world to see, and for this she is a revelation. These actions are an orientalists deepest, darkest fantasies come to life; whether they be Eltahawy’s use of coarse language meant to shock and leave one wide-eyed or Alia al-Mahdi’s nudity, comically described as “apocalyptic” by Femen, the group orchestrating the nude protests.

And if it was not enough, that this poem seems to lack even the most integral part of any sort of writing, poetic or otherwise, that being something called meaning, Eltahawy uses references from music by Oasis, Um Kalthoum, Massive Attack and The White Stripes, thanking them at the well-awaited end of this poetic disaster. The lyrics are made victims, casualties of sorts.

Critics of Mona’s “poem” are branded by her bedazzled fan base as being ”misogynistic” or not courageous enough to handle the blunderous context and by Mona herself as being part of the “right wing” or as being too cowardly to take part in such brave proceedings. Afterall, coming from a society where “koss” (or ‘pussy’) is used freely in curses it must be extremely daring for Mona to remind us of the existence of this word, or even that she has one.

“…my pussy fought for the revolution from my bed”, writes Eltahawy. I am not sure nor can I confirm or deny that her “pussy” was doing any figurative (or literal) fighting from her bed but many Egyptians have suggested, and continue to suggest, that Mona Eltahawy uses the Egyptian revolution to ‘fight’ (i.e. publicize herself) from her activist armchair.

“Does Sekhmet cry when she cums?”, asks Eltahawy. Sekhmet, the Egyptian deity, warrior goddess, may be crying, but not due to her experiencing any sort of sexual euphoria, or sexual climax, instead her tears may be due to the use of her name in this haggard, bumbling collision of words marketed not as a comical train wreck but as a ‘poem’.


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Lenin versus the early Lukács

While highly theoretical, this essay traces the thinking of imperialist-enabling leftists like Counterfire to the Marxist thought of Georg Lukács.  Lenin’s critique of Lukács, as well as his central ideas on history and revolution as found in his  "Left-Wing" Communism – An Infantile Disorder (a MUST READ btw in the context of the so-called Arab “Spring”), in addition to other cited works, offers profound insights into the very flawed theoretical premises upon which many western and Arab leftists have based their current political positions vis-a-vis Libya and Syria  in particular. 

Some excerpts which are of particular relevance to Third Wayers’ position on Syria:

For Lenin the ‘subject’ of the revolutionary process (that which acted, that which needed to achieve class consciousness) was naturally the proletariat. But Lenin pointed out that what the proletariat needed to understand and therefore to act on, that is the ‘object’, was not only itself but the interrelation of ‘all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses’ – i.e. the whole of society. ‘Subject’ and ‘object’ therefore were not the same and consequently could not be identical.

This is, for example, precisely the meaning of Lenin’s insistence that even if oppressed classes are completely unwilling to go on in the old way this is not at all sufficient for a revolution. Only if in addition the ruling class is also unable to go on in the old way could a revolution occur. As we already cited, in Lenin’s formula: ‘The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph’ (Lenin V. I., 1920a, p.84).

The Marxist concept of totality necessarily means that a political line can only be derived from the analysis of ‘all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses operating’. It cannot be derived only from one element – that of the situation of the working class itself.

But a second, wrong, idea is that Marxism is only the study of the ‘below’ – i.e. precisely the concept, paralleling Lukács, that all that is required by the working class is knowledge of itself, or more loosely, all that is required by the oppressed is knowledge of the oppressed. This, as we have seen, is not a Marxist concept. The Marxist concept of history, as of politics, is not to replace the knowledge of ‘the above’ with the knowledge of ‘the below’ but to understand the relation of ‘all the forces, groups, parties, classes and masses’ – that is the totality of society.

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Oh goodie, a Third Way petition I can tear to shreds. But not now, will save for my later articles….

http://www.antiimperialista.org/preamble_syria_initiative

31/05/2012

Preamble to the Int’l Solidarity Initiative with the Syrian People after the massacre of Houla

Carlos Varea, Santiago Alba, Moreno Pasquinelli, Wilhelm Langthaler

The Annan plan is not able to stop the repression and the killing – as the last massacre in Houla has shown. The political responsible for this is the Assad regime as it continues to negate the legitimate democratic demands of the Syrian people. It is targeting all political expressions including peaceful demonstrations and all expressions of popular organisation.

Thus the Assad regime is pushing the country into sectarian civil war. With its marauding Shabiha militia it is lending political ground to armed sectarian forces backed by the Gulf States which search to retaliate in the same way and are calling for a foreign military intervention.

The only way to avoid the scenario of sectarian civil war, which will mainly help Israel, imperialism and its Gulf proxies, is an all out popular revolution involving the broad masses engulfing all confessions. Therefore the latest strike movement shaking Damascus shows the way forward potentially marginalising the foreign backed Taqfirist sectarian forces.

We fully recognise the right to armed self-defence against the regime’s repression but we still believe that the military escalation is to the detriment of the popular mass movement. It does not help to break up the sectarian armour of the regime, to the contrary, which remains its prime safeguard. Only a democratic mass movement can convince all social and communitarian sectors to join the revolutionary camp en masse. To isolate and eventually defeat the Assad regime is first of all a political and not a military question that means to create a broad as possible consensus across the confessions.

No to foreign intervention

No to civil war

No to sectarianism

For a popular revolution to topple the Assad regime

For democracy, social justice, peace and national sovereignty

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http://www.antiimperialista.org/syria_initiative

International Solidarity Initiative with the Syrian People

As democratic, peace-loving and anti-colonial people we are very much concerned with the escalating conflict in Syria and especially with the growing international meddling which could lead into a confessional civil war to the detriment of the Syrian, Palestinian and other oppressed peoples of the world at large.

When the Arab popular revolt toppled the western-backed tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt, electrified the oppressed masses across the Arab world and eventually reached Syria, we all hoped for a quick victory of the democratic movement.

 But soon the Assad regime revealed itself to be unable and unwilling to positively respond to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for freedom and social justice. All promises for more rights turned out to be empty. The only answer has been severe repression, drowning the democratic movement in blood. Thousands have been killed, and tens of thousands injured or arrested.

 Nevertheless, the movement in the streets continued to peacefully face the guns of the regime for many months despite the utmost imbalance of force.

 Sooner or later there came up forces responding by force of arms. While self-defence against ruthless repression can only be legitimate, some tendencies went further, setting in motion a dangerous escalation. It is not only a spiral of violence, but also sectarianism and the call for foreign intervention – a line which used to be taboo at the onset of the movement. While the ultimate responsibility for this degeneration lies with the regime and its refusal to implement the demands of the masses, this line of the opposition has a share in the violent conflict.

 This situation has been fuelled by various foreign forces, first of all from the Gulf, but also by Turkey as well as by the west in order to further their interests. They thus have been pushing the country to the brink of sectarian civil war. The foreign-backed opposition became the objective sibling of the Assad regime.

 But the domestic democratic opposition is still there and out on the streets sticking to its original principles summed up in the three NOs:

•           no to violence and civil war

•           no to sectarianism

•           no to foreign intervention

We wholeheartedly support the popular movement for democratic change because we fully respect the national sovereignty of the Syrian people to decide upon its future. It is the only force able to achieve a democratic, peaceful and anti-imperialist solution.

 Given the growing international involvement from different sides the situation is tending to develop into a sectarian civil war. This is being countered by the democratic opposition who asks for international solidarity. We therefore support the various calls for dialogue and negotiations which require significant and immediate concessions by the Assad regime:

•           stop the killings and the repression

•           release the political prisoners

•           allow for peaceful demonstrations, freedom of expression and the formation of parties

Either the regime will give, at least partially, in to the popular demands or the democratic forces will be able to enlarge their popular consensus necessary to advance the revolution. In both scenarios the popular democratic forces will score points while the categorical refusal of negotiations only helps Assad and the forces striving for civil war as well as imperialism and Zionism.

 At the end, all this should lead to a democratic constituent assembly as proclaimed by the “Damascus Declaration” in 2005, the intellectual precursor to today’s mass movement. Also the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia have been inspired by this demand as a guiding star. Those who rant about democracy and refuse a constituent assembly, will be exposed sooner or later.

 The peaceful advance towards democratic change will greatly strengthen the Syrian people’s ability to defend its national sovereignty. Only the mobilised people can confront the Zionist and imperialist enemy – something the tyrant Arab regimes were never capable of, despite their loudmouthed declarations.

 At the same time, revolutionary democratic change will give a massive push to the Arab popular revolt at large, defeating further western backed dictatorships like in Bahrain, Yemen or Morocco and deepening the already successful uprisings as in Tunisia or Egypt towards the necessary economic transformation against the local and global oppressors and in favour of the popular masses striving for more social justice and equality.

 Last but not least the Syrian revolution will succeed to ward off foreign misuse and sectarian civil war will thus massively contribute to the weakening of imperialist influence and predominance in the region and ultimately across the whole world. All those fighting against the ruling global oligarchy thus are on the side of the Syrian democratic and peaceful revolution also for their own interest.

 We therefore intend to compose an international solidarity delegation to the Syrian people with the aim of expressing our support for democratic change from within, including dialogue and negotiations. It is important for us to concretely show to the Syrian people that there is not only the so-called international community led by the neo-colonial powers of the west and its Arab proxies who want to weaken an independent Syria, put it once again under its full control and therefore also risk a dreadful sectarian civil war. Such powers want to help Israel while we want to broaden and deepen the global struggle against Zionism. At the same time we want to strengthen the awareness of the people of the world that the popular movement is not an appendix of the west of the type of the coloured revolutions but that there is a powerful independent democratic, multi-confessional and anti-imperialist wing to which we want to lend a voice by visiting it.

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http://www.antiimperialista.org/endorsers_syria_initiative 

Endorsers Int’l Solidarity Initiative with the Syrian People

Following the list of the first signatories of the International Solidarity Initiative for the Syrian People.

•           Leo Gabriel, journalist, social anthropologist and member of the International Council of the World Social Forum, Vienna, Austria

•           Moreno Pasquinelli, Anti-imperialist Camp, Assisi, Italy

•           Carlos Varea González, university professor and leading member of the “Campaign against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq” (CEOSI), Madrid, Spain

•           Santiago Alba Rico, Spanish writer, resident in Tunis, Tunisia

•           Franz Fischer, Palestine activist and CC member of the Labour Party of Switzerland, Basel

•           Thomas Zmrzly, spokesman of “Initiativ e.V.”, Duisburg, Germany

•           Mustafa Ilhan, journalist, Kurdish activist, Aachen, Germany

•           Wilhelm Langthaler, Anti-imperialist Camp, Vienna, Austria

•           Mohamed Aburous, Austrian Arab Cultural Centre (OKAZ), Vienna, Austria

•           Qais Abdalla, Iraqi activist, Vienna, Austria

•           Imad Garbaya, Tunisian House Austria

•           Leonardo Mazzei, editor of the website www.antimperialista.it, Lucca, Italy

•           Nasir Loyand, foreign relations responsible of the Left Radical of Afghanistan (LRA), Jallallabad

•           Atilio A. Boron, political scientist, Buenos Aires, Argentina

•           Carlos Taibo, writer, publisher and professor of Ciencia Política y de la Administración en la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

•           Carlos Fernández Liria, writer and professor of Filosofía en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

•           Gilberto López y Rivas, research professor at the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

•           Luis Alegre Zahonero, profesor de la facultad de Filosofía de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

•           Teresa Aranguren, journalist and writer, Madrid, Spain

•           Juan Carlos Monedero Fernández, titulary professor de Universidad Departamento de Ciencia Política y de la Administración II Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología Campus Complutense de Somosaguas, Madrid, Spain

•           Jorge Riechmann, poet writer and titulary professor de Filosofía Moral Departamento de Filosofía UAM, Madrid, Spain

•           Javier Sádaba, philosopher, Catedrático de Ética y Filosofía de la Religión en la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid y miembro del Observatorio de Bioética y Derecho de la Universidad de Barcelona, Spain

•           Ignacio Gutierrez de Terán, arabist, professor de la UAM, Madrid, Spain

•           Jaime Pastor, proffesor en el Departamento de Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

•           Samah Idriss, writer and editor, Beirut, Lebanon

•           Sara Hassan, Egyptian activist, Amnesty International, Vienna, Austria

•           Gernot Bodner, Agro-physician, docent at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

•           Fouad Ibrahim, democratic oppositionist from Saudi Arabia, London, England

•           Said Shihabi, leader of the “Movement Free Bahrain”, London, England

•           Anton Stengl, publisher and translator, Munich, Germany

•           Zouhaier Maghzaoui, Popular Movememnt, Tunisia

•           Wolfgang Gombocz, retired University Professor, Graz University, resp. Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Graz, Austria

•           Chihab Krainem, student at the university of Vienna with Tunisian background, Austria

•           Elisabeth Lindner-Riegler, high school teacher, Vienna, Austria

From Syria:

•           Haytham Manna, spokesman of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change (NBC)

•           Michel Kilo, senior democratic activist and founder of the Syrian Democratic Platform

•           Ayham Haddad, MD, activist

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