31.7.05

Since the invasion began, 1,785 American soldiers have died in Iraq, 348 of them since the 31 January elections. About 5,500 US troops have gone absent without leave since the beginning of operations in 2003.

A letter to the editor of the observer...

A letter to the editor of the observer...

Nick Cohen's recent article "Long live Grammars" included a bit at the end entitled "beating your head against a wall of hate" that wouldn't have been out of place in the Sun or Daily Mail. I was shocked to read it today, I have read a lot of Nick Cohen's articles and his book "Cruel Britannia" and have generally found them to be excellent.

When he cites Mohamed Naseem, the chairman of the Birmingham central Mosque, saying he wasn't sure if the Islamist atrocities were Islamist, as evidence that we are "up against totalitarianism" he alienates almost every Muslim in the world who renounce terrorism and do not consider it "Islamic" or "Islamist" in any way apart from the fact that these deranged people claim to be doing it in the name of Islam. Do we judge Christianity by David Koresh? No. You cannot allow your paper to encourage the idea that Islam is somehow inherently related to terror.

The other comments Cohen quoted, where Mr. Naseem states that he is not sure if Al Qaeda exist, as the main source of information is the CIA, which is not an entirely trustworthy source of information. This is really beyond doubt. Or is at worst, the product of a well founded lack of faith in the government (lies over WMD and Iraq), the intelligence services (very poor information, secretiveness), and the mainstream media (for failure to properly expose all the lies and deceit). It is a sad lack of trust, but it is not, unfortunately, unfounded. How Cohen is so sure of the information he has got, I do not know, unless of course he trusts entirely the information we get from our government and security services, in which case I am shocked by his naivety.

Using the fact that Mr Naseem donated money to George Galloway who "saluted the murderer of thousands of Muslims" to prove Mr. Naseen's totalitarian credentials is a really cheap shot too. Mr. Naseem's donation to Galloway is another sad reflection of our political system. Galloway is seen as someone who speaks out against Islamophobia, so it is not surprising that Muslims who feel unduly persecuted for their faith support him. Many politicians 'salute' or congratulate murderers of hundreds of thousands of Muslims or others, hey does it matter if the murdered are Muslims or not? What about Tony Blair and George Bush? Is everyone who salutes them, either out of genuine respect or for political expediency or protocol a ‘totalitarian’?

Having labeled anyone who is skeptical about the official version of the London bombings, the honesty of the CIA, or the Islamic credentials of the bombers as ‘totalitarian’. Cohen goes on to say that “the totalitarian mind needs conspiracies”, well what we have going on in London now is certainly some kind of conspiracy, someone is planting bombs on our underground and killing innocent people, who is behind it all and why they are doing it are shrouded in mystery. Nobody “needs” this kind of conspiracy, (apart from journalists of course) and nobody appreciates being labeled as a totalitarian or extremist or loony for daring to question the established version of events.

Nick Cohen should be ashamed of himself, first for this hate inspiring article and secondly for his blanket criticism of anyone who tries to question what we are being told, or the trustworthiness of official intelligence sources, who we are all aware, are economical with the truth at best. We are genuinely beating out head against a wall of hate and Nick Cohen is rapidly becoming a brick in that wall.

Yours, Benjamin Zeitlyn

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit,
Sattar Bhaban, 4th Floor, 3/3E, Bijoynagar, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh

Beating your head against a wall of hate

"Oh dear. The worthy attempts by Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Police to be multi-cultural and inclusive were rewarded last week with complete contempt. The city fathers realised it was time to give-up when Mohammad Naseem, chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, didn't just blame the Islamist atrocities on Tony Blair, but announced that he wasn't sure if the Islamist atrocities were Islamist atrocities.

'Where is the evidence that four youths whose pictures were caught on CCTV camera were the perpetrators?' he asked. 'How did we reject the possibility they were just innocent victims of this terrible happening?' Like the producers of the BBC's The Power of Nightmares, he wasn't at all sure al-Qaeda existed. 'The only information about this organisation is coming from the CIA. Now, the CIA is not known for telling the truth.' All he was certain of was that the murders were being used an excuse for 'Muslim bashing'.

His outburst is yet another sign that what we are up against is totalitarianism. Naseem has given thousands of pounds to Respect - the party which encapsulates the delirium on the liberal-left by combining Marxism-Leninism with religious fundamentalism. More telling than his willingness to back George Galloway, a politician who 'saluted' the murderer of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, was his refusal to admit the obvious.

The totalitarian mind needs conspiracies. If you believe that the working class, the Aryan race or the faithful are the true inheritors of the earth, you can't accept contradictory evidence. Crimes and defeats have to be the results of plots by the bourgeoisie, Jews, infidels, Freemasons, MI5 or the CIA. Admit doubt and the dogma crumbles. Our future security depends on how widespread totalitarian instincts have become. All I know is that my colleagues who talk to MI5 say it is getting virtually no cooperation.
"

30.7.05

oh dear (via). very embarrassing. or as it puts it:

"Making use of the time-dishonoured rhetoric so beloved of anti-intellectual columnists (a tautology, to be sure), namely, "I know this stuff so you don't have to", Liddle meanders his way through a lazy stream of putrid unthought, with the sole purpose of making himself look like someone who is clever enough to know what "dialectical materialism" is, and, even more "intelligently", how to dismiss it."

Let’s have Marxist Love Island
Rod Liddle

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together, please, for Mr Karl Marx, the sage of Trier, who has scooped the top prize in Radio 4’s exciting competition, Who’s the Bestest Philosopher Ever, Ever, Ever? Step this way, Karl, and collect from Lord Bragg your prize — a fabulous, all-expenses-paid trip through time to visit the Soviet gulags, Mao’s fabulous Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot’s wacky Year Zero, three days in a Düsseldorf basement with Ulrike Meinhof fiddling about with gelignite — and ending with the complete and utter defeat of every philosophical, political and economic idea to which you owe your reputation.

The trip is called — guess what? — the Historical Inevitability Tour. Pack your bags, dude.

I don’t know how much can be read into Karl’s momentous victory; there may well be, as the recently deceased French thinker Jacques Derrida would have put it, a multiplicity of meanings. Or it might be that Marx is the only philosopher most British people have heard of.

Karl once foresaw a time when the working classes would spend their many hours of leisure happily reading Plato, but he had not envisaged the competing attractions of, say, watching Rebecca Loos offer manual relief to a pig on Five’s The Farm.

If the Brits were given a choice between debating the complex issues raised in Henri Bergson’s Duration and Simultaneity and watching Midsomer Murders, my guess is that John Nettles would beat the plucky French challenger every time.

Nor do our home-grown philosophers, with maybe the exception of Hume, really punch their weight in the international arena: they pass the ball around nicely, but they lack that killer punch in the penalty area and are sometimes suspect at the back.

British philosophers tend to fall into two equally alienating and hostile camps. On the one hand there are those who are not entirely certain what a table is. And then there’s a whole bunch of rather forbidding Scottish people, stereotypically terribly worried about money, who have spent too many interminable Saturday evenings, friendless, in the granite and drizzle of Aberdeen or Leith.

I suspect that the rest of us, despite the unwelcome presence of Ikea on the edge of many of our teeming conurbations, are perfectly content with our understanding of what is meant by the word “table”, those bloody flatpacks notwithstanding.

In fact, it may be that Karl Marx won this daft competition because he is not, actually, a philosopher at all. In so far as the reputation of his work remains, or has been rehabilitated (by Lord Desai, among others), it is as a flawed economic critique of global capitalism. The abstract stuff of Marx, the bits he nicked from Feuerbach and Hegel and Vico — that is, the philosophy — we are no longer familiar with, or no longer credit to him.

And, of course, he was himself famously disparaging about the nature of philosophical discourse — in an agreeably British way: philosophers have debated the nature of the world, he said, “the point, however, is to change it”.

This Anglophile impatience with esoteric abstract debate may well have endeared him to the Radio 4 audience rather more than that bothersome business about dialectical materialism. Even the most intellectual of us have tended to weary of continental — and especially Gallic — pontificating: remember George Orwell once called Jean-Paul Sartre a “bag of wind”.

Philosophy, for us Brits, is nothing more than the airy-fairy, unwanted middle bit of that famous Oxbridge degree course, PPE — something a little wet sandwiched between the laudable pragmatism of politics and economics.

Radio 4, though, you have to say, has done its best to engage the intellectual sensibilities of its audience through that tried-and-tested tabloid formula: the top 10. We await with interest a tie-in CD — Now That’s What I Call Manichean Dualism! — and the TV spin-off, Celebrity Marxist Love Island, wherein Desai, George Galloway and the Manic Street Preachers vie for the attentions of Abi Titmuss, nationalise the top 100 companies and win a Fiat Punto.

I should be so snide. Six years ago I ran a competition on the Today programme for listeners to vote on who was the greatest Briton of the millennium. If I remember rightly, it ended up neck and neck between Churchill and Shakespeare. The Bard won.

It is our predilection for these interminable lists that defines us these days — and this is, you might argue, a philosophy all of its own. A sense of order and a sense of place are more important to us than musing about whether or not a “table” exists as a “table” regardless of what use we might put it to.

Just as we now know, through popular vote, that Only Fools and Horses is a better television comedy than Are You Being Served?, we also now have it confirmed that Karl Marx is almost twice as good as Wittgenstein. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it, all you boring logical positivists.

28.7.05

btw - but this time without adorno's material. after all, who wants to bother mr. reemtsma [1] with his property dealings [1] on behalf of the Hamburg Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Culture?

the irony lies in the fact, that reemtsma's first reading of the dialectic of enlightenment will have been through a raubkopie. but this somehow seems legitimate, since the first querido edition of 1944 wasn't readily available and, incidentally, wasn't "intellectually owned" by any of his affiliations:

[taz]: Ist das nicht hart? In den Siebzigern kursierten Adorno- Raubdrucke en masse.

[JPR]: Das war übrigens eine andere Situation. Die "Dialektik der Aufklärung" von Horkheimer/Adorno gab es lange Zeit nicht im Handel und kaum in Bibliotheken. Da konnte einer argumentieren, dass man anders den Text nicht würde lesen können. In dem Fall des Internetpiraten ging es aber um Schriften, die überall zu haben sind. Der "Jargon der Eigentlichkeit" und die "Dialektik der Aufklärung", die zu den illegalen Internetkopien gehörten, gibt es seit Jahrzehnten als Taschenbücher und Paperbacks. Auch alles andere ist zu haben.

shame on the academy.

26.7.05

A swastika painted on a US flag flashes across the screen. Out of sight a voice proclaims: "Let's recover our memory and history from the claws of the Empire ..." The voice is replaced by anti-imperialist chants and metallic sounds, then the screen goes dark.

Welcome to Telesur, Latin America's answer to CNN and the BBC World Service.

Telesur: A Counter-Hegemonic Project to Compete with CNN and Univisión

25.7.05

Tony Blair has spent more than £1,800 of taxpayers' money on make-up and make-up artists over the past six years.

The figures were disclosed in a parliamentary written answer last Thursday - the final day before MPs and peers broke for their summer holiday.

It revealed that between 1999-2000 and 2004-05, Downing Street paid out £1,050.22 on cosmetics for the Prime Minister's media appearances. No figures were available before that date.

In the past two years, No 10 spent a further £791.20 on make-up artists to make him look his best.

By comparison, the average British woman spends £195 a year on make-up and skin care.

23.7.05

REMEMBERING HERBERT MARCUSE


interesting, with some excellent links esp. video Herbert's Hippopotamus

22.7.05



NINETEEN EIGHTY BORE - Crass

who needs lobotomy when we've got the itv
who needs ect when there's good old bbc?
switch on the set, light up the screen
fantasise and dream about what you might have been
who needs controlling when they've got the cathode ray
they've got your f*****g soul, now they'll fuse your brains away
mindless f*****g morons sit before the set
being fed the mindless rubbish they deserve to get
can't switch off big brother, they've lost all will to act
lost in drab confusion, was it fiction, was it fact?
another plastic bullet stuns another irish child
but no-one's really bothered, no, the telly keeps them mild
they've lost all sense of feeling to the every hungry glow
drained of any substance by the vicious telly blow
no longer know what's real or ain't, slowly going blind
they stare into the goggle box while the world goes by,
behind the angels are on t.v. tonight, grey puke f*****g shit
they army occupy ireland, but the boot will never fit
was it coronation street? or was it londonderry?
oh it doesn't f*****g matter, paul daniels'll keep us merry
yes, i've heard of bobby sands, wasn't it emmerdale farm?
yes, that's right, he was kicked by a cow i hope it didn't do him no harm
and wasn't the holocaust terrible, good thing it wasn't for real
of course i've heard of h-block, it's the baccy with man appeal
deeper and deeper and deeper, layer upon layer
illusion, confusion, is there anyone left who can care?
yes, the abbey national cares for you nat west, and securicor
well brings out the branston bren-guns let's spice it up some more
the sweeney are cruising brixton, created another belfast
and j.r.'s advising thatcher on lighting, make up and cast
a thousand camera lenses point at the people's pain
as millions of mindless morons watch the action replay again
action replay again softly, softly, into your life, you're held in it's brilliant glow
softly, softly, feeding itself on the you you'll never know
you're life's reduced to nothing, but an empty media game
big brother ain't watching you mate, you're f*****g watching him

14.7.05

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper reported an unconfirmed incident of police shooting a bomber outside the HSBC tower.

Canadian Brendan Spinks, who works on the 18th floor of the tower, said he saw a "massive rush of policemen" outside the building after London was rocked by the bombings.

13.7.05

An article I wrote on The Rise of Islamic Radicalism Among British Bangladeshis has been published (totally unbeknownst to me) by the Journal of Peace Studies, published by the International Centre for Peace Studies

The Journal is not available on line, but you can see the article on my articles page

10.7.05

This strange Israeli story that i posted on my blog about yesterday wont go away...

If we take the original leaker at his (or her) word, Netanyahu was told "minutes before" the first explosion. However, even if we believe Minister Shalom’s account, it still points to a weird anomaly: It took a full hour for the rest of London to find out that they were under attack, and yet Netanyahu was privy to this well before anyone else – including Prime Minister Tony Blair.

and yet more bizarre ... "coincedences"

A consultancy agency with government and police connections was running an exercise for an unnamed company that revolved around the London Underground being bombed at the exact same times and locations as happened in real life on the morning of July 7th.
On a BBC Radio 5 interview that aired on the evening of the 7th, the host interviewed Peter Power, Managing Director of Visor Consultants, which bills itself as a 'crisis management' advice company, better known to you and I as a PR firm.
Peter Power was a former Scotland Yard official, working at one time with the Anti Terrorist Branch.
Power told the host that at the exact same time that the London bombings were taking place, his company was running a 1,000 person strong exercise which drilled the London Underground being bombed at the exact same locations, at the exact same times, as happened in real life.

transcript

7.7.05

fuck blair.

"It is particularly barbaric this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa and the long term problems of climate change and the environment."

no tony. this would have been barbaric on any day. one thing has nothing to do with the other, you moral halfwit. what is barbaric is your immediate exploitation of the bombings for political capital (alongside the illegal und unjustified slaughter of at least 100k innocent civilians in iraq).

"particularly barbaric" is the fact that the ordinary people who were affected today are innocent targets, a good half of which opposed your dirty crusade in iraq and took to the streets to demonstrate against your lies and support for american imperialism. the guilty targets, yet again, were lodged away in a luxury hotel, hundreds of miles away...

4.7.05

"The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance. To go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes. A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist, and then to offer a resume, a commentary . . . More reasonable, more inept, more indolent, I have preferred to write notes upon imaginary books..."

Jorge Luis Borges, from the introduction of 'Collected Fictions'
Marcuse writing to Heidegger about his silence regarding National Socialism

1.7.05

Anarchists from around the world are planning to cause chaos at next month's G8 summit in Gleneagles as a row broke out last night between Bob Geldof and DJ Andy Kershaw over the absence of black musicians at events staged to benefit Africans.

With police fears mounting over Geldof's call for one million people to protest at the summit, Kershaw last night condemned the almost exclusively white line-up for the pop concerts to coincide with the summit. "If we are going to change the West's perception of Africa, events like this are the perfect opportunity to do something for Africa's self-esteem," he said. "But the choice of artists for the Live8 concerts will simply reinforce the global perception of Africa's inferiority."

But The Independent on Sunday can reveal that anarchist groups that have rioted at previous G8 gatherings are planning similar disruptions in Scotland and plan to hijack Geldof's "long march to freedom" on 6 July and the Make Poverty History rally on 2 July.

Anarchist groups will encourage protesters to "Make Capitalism History" instead.

geldof phoney cock twat-

Geldof has ordered show organizers and producers to redouble all efforts to keep LIVE 8 performers "on message" during the July 2 event, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

"Please remember, absolutely no ranting and raving about Bush or Blair and the Iraq war, this is not why you have been invited to appear," Geldoff said to the manager of a top recording artist, who asked not to be identified. "We want to bring Mr. Bush in, not run him away."