Sunday 26th of June 2016

muzzling knowledge...

revolution

Servile Academia vs Revolutionary Philosophy

by Andre Vltchek, Counterpunch

Philosophers have been muzzled by the Western global regime; most of great modern philosophy concealed from the masses. What has been left of it, allowed to float on the surface is toothless, irrelevant and incomprehensible: a foolish outdated theoretical field for those few remaining intellectual snobs.

Philosophy used to be the most precious crown jewel of human intellectual achievement. It stood at the vanguard of almost all fights for a better world. Gramsci was a philosopher, and so were Lenin, Mao Tse-tung, Ho-Chi-Minh, Guevara, Castro, Frantz Fanon, Senghors, Cabral, Nyerere and Lumumba, to name just a few.

To be a thinker, a philosopher, in ancient China, Japan or even in some parts of the West, was the most respected human ‘occupation’.

In all ‘normally’ developing societies, knowledge has been valued much higher than material possessions or naked power.

In ancient Greece and China, people were able to understand the majority of their philosophers. There was nothing “exclusive” in the desire to know and interpret the world. Philosophers spoke to the people, for the people.

Some still do. But that whoring and servile Western academic gang, which has locked philosophy behind the university walls, viciously sidelines such men and women.

Instead of leading people to the barricades, instead of addressing the most urgent issues our world is now facing, official philosophers are fighting amongst themselves for tenures, offering their brains and bodies to the Empire. At best, they are endlessly recycling each other, spoiling millions of pages of paper with footnotes, comparing conclusions made by Derrida and Nietzsche, hopelessly stuck at exhausted ideas of Kant and Hegel.

At worst, they are outrightly evil – making still relevant revolutionary philosophical concepts totally incomprehensible, attacking them, and even disappearing them from the face of the Earth.

Only the official breed, consisting of almost exclusively white/Western ‘thought recyclers’, is now awarded the right to be called ‘philosophers’.

My friends in all corners of the world, some of the brightest people on earth, are never defined as such. The word ‘philosopher’ still carries at least some great theoretical prestige, and god forbid if those who are now fighting against Western terror, for social justice or true freedom of thought, were to be labeled as such!

But they are, of course, all great philosophers! And they don’t recycle – they go forward, advancing brilliant new concepts that can improve life on our Planet. Some have fallen, some are still alive, and some are still relatively young:

Eduardo Galeano – one of the greatest storytellers of all times, and a dedicated fighter against Western imperialism. Noam Chomsky – renowned linguist and relentless fighter against Western fascism.  Pramoedya Ananta Toer – former prisoner of conscience in Suharto’s camps and the greatest novelist of Southeast Asia.  John Steppling – brilliant American playwright and thinker.  Christopher Black – Canadian international lawyer and fighter against illegal neo-colonialist concepts of the Empire.  Peter Koenig – renowned economist and thinker.  Milan Kohout, thinker and performer, fighter against European racism.

Yes – all these great thinkers; all of them, philosophers! And many more that I know and love – in Africa and Latin America and Asia especially…

For those who insist that in order to be called a philosopher, one has to be equipped with some stamp that shows that the person has passed a test and is allowed to serve the Empire, here is proof to the contrary:

Even according to the Dictionary of Modern American philosophers (online ed.). New York: Oxford University Press:

“The label of “philosopher” has been broadly applied in this Dictionary to intellectuals who have made philosophical contributions regardless of academic career or professional title. The wide scope of philosophical activity across the time-span of this Dictionary would now be classed among the various humanities and social sciences which gradually separated from philosophy over the last one hundred and fifty years. Many figures included were not academic philosophers but did work at philosophical foundations of such fields as pedagogy, rhetoric, the arts, history, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, religion, and theology.”

***

In his brilliant upcoming book Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest, my friend John Steppling quotes, Hullot-Kentor:

“If art – when art is art – understands us better than we can intentionally understand ourselves, then a philosophy of art would need to comprehend what understands us. Thinking would need to become critically imminent to that object; subjectivity would become the capacity of its object, not simply its manipulation. That’s the center of Adorno’s aesthetics. It’s an idea of thought that is considerably different from the sense of contemporary “theory”, where everyone feels urged to compare Derrida with Nietzsche, the two of them with Levinas, and all of them now with Badiou, Žižek and Agamben. That kind of thinking is primarily manipulation. It’s the bureaucratic mind unconsciously flexing the form of social control it has internalized and wants to turn on others.”

Western academia is rigidly defining which lines of thought are acceptable for philosophers to use, as well as what analyses, and what forms.

Those who refuse to comply are ‘not true philosophers’. They are dilettantes, ‘amateurs’.

And those who are not embraced by some ‘reputable’ institution are not to be taken seriously at all (especially if they are carrying Russian, Asian, African, Middle Eastern or Latino names). It is a little bit like with journalism. Unless you have an ‘important’ media outlet behind you (preferably a Western one), unless you can show that the Empire truly trusts you, your press card is worth nothing, and you would not even be allowed to board a UN or a military flight to a war zone.

Your readers, even if numbering millions, may see you as an important philosopher. But let’s be frank: unless the Empire stamps its seal of acceptance on your forehead of backside, in the West you are really nothing more than worthless shit!

***

After all that I have witnessed and written, I am increasingly convinced that Western imperialism and neo-colonialism are the most urgent and dangerous challenges facing our Planet. Perhaps the only challenges…

I have seen 160 countries in all corners of the Globe. I have witnessed wars, conflicts, imperialist theft and indescribable brutality of white tyrants.

And so, recently, I sensed that it is time to revisit two great thinkers of the 20th Century, two determined fighters against Western imperialist fascism: Frantz Fanon and Jean-Paul Sartre.

The Wretched of the Earth, and Black Skin, White Masks – two essential books by Frantz Omar Fanon, a Martinique-born Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer, and a dedicated fighter against Western colonialism. And Colonialism and Neocolonialism, a still greatly relevant book by Jean-Paul Sartre, a prominent French resistance fighter, philosopher, playwright and novelist…

I had all three books in my library and, after many years, it was time to read them again.

But my English edition of Colonialism and Neocolonialism was wrapped in dozens of pages of prefaces and introductions.  The ‘intellectual cushioning’ was too thick and at some point I lost interest, leaving the book in Japan. Then in Kerala I picked up another, this time Indian edition.

Again, some 60 pages of prefaces and introductions, pre-chewed intrusive and patronizing explanations of how I am supposed to perceive both Sartre and his interactions with Fanon, Memmi and others. And yes, it all suddenly began moving again into that pre-chewed but still indigestible “Derrida-Nietzsche” swamp.

Instead of evoking outrage and wrath, instead of inspiring me into taking concrete revolutionary action, those prefaces, back covers, introductions and comments were clearly castrating and choking the great messages of both Sartre and Fanon. They were preventing readers and fellow philosophers from getting to the core.

Then finally, when reaching the real text of Sartre, it all becomes clear – why exactly is the regime so determined to “protect” readers from the originals.

It is because the core, the original, is extremely simple and powerful.  The words are relevant, and easy to understand. They are describing both old French colonialist barbarities, as the current Western neo-colonialism. God forbid someone puts two and two together!

Philosopher Sartre on China and Western fascist cultural propaganda:

“As a child, I was a victim of the picturesque: everything had been done to make the Chinese intimidating. I was told about rotten eggs… of men sawn between two planks of wood, of piping and discordant music… [The Chinese] were tiny and terrible, slipping between your fingers, attacked from behind, burst out suddenly in a ridiculous din… There was also the Chinese soul, which I was simply told was inscrutable. ‘Orientals, you see…’ The Negroes did not worry me; I had been taught that they were good dogs. With them, we were still among mammals. But the Asians frightened me…”

Sartre on Western colonialism and racism:

“Racism is inscribed in the events themselves, in the institutions, in the nature of the exchange and the production. The political and social statuses reinforce one another: since the natives are sub-human, the Declaration of Human Rights does not apply to them; conversely, since they have no rights, they are abandoned without protection to the inhuman forces of nature, to the ‘iron laws’ of economics…”

And Sartre goes further:

“Western humanism and rights discourse had worked by excluding a majority of the world’s population from the category of humans.”

I address the same issues and so is Chomsky. But the Empire does not want people to know that Sartre, Memmi and Fanon spoke ‘the same language’ as we do, already more than half a century ago!

Albert Memmi:

“Conservatism engenders the selection of mediocre people. How can this elite of usurpers, conscious of their mediocrity, justify their privileges? Only one way: diminish the colonized in order to exult themselves, deny the status of human beings to the natives, and deprive them of basic rights…”

Sartre on Western ignorance:

“It is not cynicism, it is not hatred that is demoralizing us: no, it is only the state of false ignorance in which we are made to live and which we ourselves contribute to maintaining…”

The way the West ‘educates’ the world, Sartre again:

“The European elite set about fabricating a native elite; they selected adolescents, marked on their foreheads, with a branding iron, the principles of Western culture, stuffed into their mouths verbal gags, grand turgid words which stuck to their teeth; after a brief stay in the mother country, they were sent back, interfered with…”

***

It is actually easy to learn how to recycle the thoughts of others, how to compare them and at the end, how to compile footnotes. It takes time, it is boring, tedious and generally useless, but not really too difficult.

On the other hand, it is difficult to create brand new concepts, to revolutionize the way our societies, and our world are arranged. If our brains recycle too much and try to create too little, they get lazy and sclerotic – chronically sclerotic.

Intellectual servility is a degenerative disease.

Western art has deteriorated to ugly psychedelic beats, to excessively bright colors and infantile geometric drawings, to cartoons and nightmarish and violent films as well as “fiction”. It is all very convenient – with all that noise, one cannot hear anymore the screams of the victims, one cannot understand loneliness and comprehend emptiness.

In bookstores, all over the world, poetry and philosophy sections are shrinking or outright disappearing.

Now what? Is it going to be Althusser (mostly not even real Althusser, but a recycled and abbreviated one), or Lévi-Strauss or Derrida, each wrapped in endless litanies of academic talk?

No! Comrades, philosophers, not that! Down with the sclerotic, whoring academia and their interpretation of philosophy!

Down with the assassins of Philosophy!

Philosophy is supposed to be the intellectual vanguard. It is synonymous with revolution, humanism, and rebellion.

Those who are thinking about and fighting for a much better world, using their brains as weapons, are true philosophers.

Those who are collecting dust and tenures in some profit-oriented institutions of higher ‘learning’ are definitely not, even if they have hundreds of diplomas and stamps all over their walls and foreheads!

They do not create and do not lead. They do not even teach! They are muzzling knowledge. To quote Fanon: “Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand.” But “they” don’t want people to understand; they really don’t…

And one more thing: the great thoughts of Fanon and Sartre, of Gramsci and Mao, Guevara and Galeano should be gently washed, undusted and exhibited again, free of all those choking ‘analyses’ and comparisons compiled by toxic pro-establishment thinkers.

There is nothing to add to the writing of maverick revolutionary philosophers. Hands off their work! Let them speak! Editions without prefaces and introductions, please! The greatest works of philosophy were written with heart, blood and passion! No interpretation is needed. Even a child can understand.


Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.


 

bullshit economics from trump and romney...

 

Paul Krugman explores the rift in the Republican Party that was exposed by Mitt Romney's strongly worded attack on Donald Trump in Monday's column, and finds that, surprise!, both men are "talking nonsense"  when it comes to economics.

On the bright side, at least they are having a real debate, unlike the reality show embarrassments that have passed for debates during the Republican primaries.

Trump earned Romney and other members of the Republican establishment's ire by deviating "from free-market orthodoxy on international trade," Krugman writes.

Attacks on immigrants are still the central theme of the Republican front-runner’s campaign, but he has opened a second front on trade deficits, which he asserts are being caused by the currency manipulation of other countries, especially China. This manipulation, he says, is “robbing Americans of billions of dollars of capital and millions of jobs.”

read more: http://www.alternet.org/economy/krugman-destroys-junk-economics-trump-and-romney

 

the fabrication of news to promote political outcomes...

On 29 August 2013, as the UK House of Commons vote on possible military intervention in Syria was underway [1], BBC News at Ten broadcast a report by Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway which claimed that a Syrian fighter jet had dropped an incendiary bomb containing a “napalm-type” substance – possibly thermite – on the playground of an Aleppo school.

The report contained harrowing scenes of teenage boys and young men, their skin apparently in tatters, racing into what the report describes as “a basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for burns. In one particularly disturbing scene a tableau of young men writhe, drool and groan, seemingly in great distress.

On further viewings, however, this scene in particular is strikingly odd. The young men are initially quiet and static. The central figure (Mohammed Asi) looks directly into the camera for several moments before raising his arm, at which point the group instantly becomes animated and starts moaning in unison.

Asi begins to stagger and lurch; the boy in the black vest suddenly pitches onto his side, briefly looking up again in the same direction as the others before ultimately slumping onto his front; the boy in red (Anas Said Ali) raises his head and peers quizzically around, while the boy in the white shirt rises effortlessly to his feet before pulling up a chair. [2] As the camera pulls back a boy in a yellow ‘Super-9’ t-shirt (Lutfi Arsi) rises from an odd kneeling position, flailing his head and torso and rolling his eyes as a team of medics sweeps in. The medic to the right of screen immediately begins attending to Said Ali’s foot, without examining it. 

read more: https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/

the conception of humanitarian wars...

“The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention” by Rajan Menon

March 16, 2016

by Graham E. Fuller • Blog • Tags: Graham Fullerhumanitarian interventionismliberal interventionismRajan Menon •

“The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention” by Rajan Menon

Graham E. Fuller (grahamefuller.com)

15 March 2016

Rajan Menon’s new book, “The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention,” (Oxford) launches a timely argument against a dominant argument lying behind so much of modern American foreign policy—“humanitarian intervention” or “liberal interventionism.”  We are, of course, well familiar with Republican and neocon readiness to go to war, but the reality is that many Democrat Party leaders have been no less seduced into a series of optional foreign military interventions, with increasingly disastrous consequences. Hillary Clinton is today one of the leading exponents of the idea, but so are many of the advisors around President Obama.

Menon offers powerful argumentation skewering the concept of “humanitarian intervention,” demonstrating how it operates often as little more than a subtler form of an imperial agenda. Naked imperial ambitions tend to be recognizable for what they are. But when those global ambitions are cloaked in the liberal language of our “right to protect” oppressed peoples, prevent humanitarian outrages, stop genocide, and to topple noxious dictators, then the true motives behind such operations become harder to recognize. What humanitarian could object to such lofty goals? Yet the seductive character of these “liberal interventionist” policies end up serving—indeed camouflaging—a broad range of military objectives that rarely help and often harm the ostensible objects of our intervention.

Professor Rajan Menon brings a considerable variety of skills to bear in this brief and lucid book. Despite his first class academic credentials in the field, he also writes in clear and persuasive language for the concerned general reader. Second, Menon is no theoretician: he has worked closely with policy circles for many years and understands the players and operations as well as anyone outside government. 

In rejecting the premise of “liberal interventionism” Menon is not exercising some hard-minded, bloodless vision of policy—quite the opposite. He is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of peoples and societies abroad—who are often among the primary victims of such liberal interventionism. He argues not as an isolationist but rather as an observer who has watched so many seemingly well-minded interventions turn into horror stories for the citizens involved. From a humanitarian point of view, can the deaths of half a million Iraqis and the dislocation of a million or so more be considered to have contributed to the wellbeing of “liberated Iraq?” As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said, she regretted the death of 500,000 Iraqi children who, in Saddam’s Iraq, had been deprived of medicines under a long US embargo, but, she concluded, “it was worth it.” One wonders to whom it was worth it? Where is the humanitarian vision behind such a comment?  Libya too has been transformed from an unpleasant but quiescent dictatorship under Qadhafi into a nightmare of raging militias, civil war, anarchy and a breeding ground of ISIS and al-Qa’ida. Afghanistan is still mired in conflict. So Menon is arguing not for a hardening of hearts, but for questioning the real-world outcomes of such seemingly “well-intentioned” wars. 

Ultimately the case for “humanitarian intervention” is justified by the quest for international justice, protection of civilians, and the broadening of democratization and human rights. The US has regularly invoked these principles in justifying its ongoing— indeed nonstop— wars over the past several decades. Yet the sad reality is that the selective nature of US interventions raises serious questions about the true motivation behind invoking such “universal” values. US calls for  “democratization” more often operate as punishment to its enemies (“regime change”) but rarely as a gift to be bestowed upon friends (“friendly dictators.”)

Menon argues, buttressing his case with striking examples from around the world, that such selective implementation of “universal values” by a global (imperial) power ends up tarnishing and diminishing the very values they are meant to promote; as a result they create broad cynicism around the world among those who perceive them as mere instruments of aggressive US global power projection. Yet when many genuine humanitarian crises do burst forth, as in Rwanda or in the ongoing agonies of the Congo (five million dead and counting) Washington has opted not to intervene because it did not perceive its immediate national interests to be threatened. 

In short, the selective and opportunistic character of liberal interventionism ends up giving a bad name to liberalism. And it cruelly deceives many in the West who seek a more “liberal” foreign policy and yet who find that, in the end, they have only supported the projection of greater American geopolitical power—and usually at considerable human cost to the Iraqs, Afghanistans, Somalias, Libyas, and Columbias of the world. 

Any reader of the book is eventually forced to confront a deeper question: when is war in fact “worth it”? Few would respond “never,” but many might respond “rarely.” Yet Menon is not arguing against war as such, so much as forcing us to acknowledge the faulty “liberal” foundation of our relentless quest for enemies to destroy—in the name of making the world a better place.

The title of the book, “The Conceit of Humanitarian Intervention,” suggests that at the very least such policies are self-deceiving, in other cases perhaps deliberately meant to obfuscate. Menon here poses the question whether, for whatever motivation, great powers can ever sufficiently master the complexity of foreign societies to truly engineer a better life in the countries we target for remodeling. And whether we can afford an enterprise that might take decades at the least. 

In the end we become aware of the unhealthy nature of combining broad ideals married to global power. In the case of the British Empire, and now the American, this combination readily leads to the manipulation and then corruption of those ideals—discrediting US prestige and credibility and damaging the lives of those living in troubled areas. 

None of this is to say that there is never room for international intervention in arenas of horrific depredations against civilian populations. But it is only when such intervention is truly international (essentially UN-sanctioned and not a mere maneuver to insert NATO into another global hotspot) that it can it take on a measure of credibility and international respect. Otherwise it ends up perceived as a US proxy move against Russia, China, Iran, or some other adversary.

Menon’s book constitutes essential reading for anyone troubled by the ugly character of so much of the international scene these days, and yet dismayed by its exploitation by policy-makers who cloak invasion, power projections and military operations in the garb of humanitarian effort. Here is a cogent critique of the recent decades of US foreign policy misadventures in which our military has become the primary instrument of US policy—and justified in the name of humanitarian goals. We rarely get to hear these arguments so clearly presented. 

Graham E. Fuller is a former senior CIA official, author of numerous books on the Muslim World. His latest book is “Breaking Faith: A novel of espionage and an American’s crisis of conscience in Pakistan.” (Amazon, Kindle) grahamefuller.com