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LOGIE

De-democratization

“What has happened in Hungary since 2010 offers an example—and a blueprint for would-be strongmen. Hungary is a member state of the European Union and a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights. It has elections and uncensored internet. Yet Hungary is ceasing to be a free country.

The transition has been nonviolent, often not even very dramatic. Opponents of the regime are not murdered or imprisoned, although many are harassed with building inspections and tax audits. If they work for the government, or for a company susceptible to government pressure, they risk their jobs by speaking out. Nonetheless, they are free to emigrate anytime they like. Those with money can even take it with them. Day in and day out, the regime works more through inducements than through intimidation. The courts are packed, and forgiving of the regime’s allies. Friends of the government win state contracts at high prices and borrow on easy terms from the central bank. Those on the inside grow rich by favoritism; those on the outside suffer from the general deterioration of the economy. As one shrewd observer told me on a recent visit, “The benefit of controlling a modern state is less the power to persecute the innocent, more the power to protect the guilty.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s rule over Hungary does depend on elections. These remain open and more or less free – at least in the sense that ballots are counted accurately. Yet they are not quite fair. Electoral rules favor incumbent power-holders in ways both obvious and subtle. Independent media lose advertising under government pressure; government allies own more and more media outlets each year. The government sustains support even in the face of bad news by artfully generating an endless sequence of controversies that leave culturally conservative Hungarians feeling misunderstood and victimized by liberals, foreigners, and Jews. Outside the Islamic world, the 21st century is not an era of ideology. … What is spreading today is repressive kleptocracy, led by rulers motivated by greed rather than by the deranged idealism of Hitler or Stalin or Mao. Such rulers rely less on terror and more on rule-twisting, the manipulation of information, and the co-optation of elites. …

The United States is of course a very robust democracy. … Donald Trump, however, represents something … radical. A president who plausibly owes his office at least in part to a clandestine intervention by a hostile foreign intelligence service? Who uses the bully pulpit to target individual critics? Who creates blind trusts that are not blind, invites his children to commingle private and public business, and somehow gets the unhappy members of his own political party either to endorse his choices or shrug them off? If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled. …

Donald Trump will not set out to build an authoritarian state. His immediate priority seems likely to be to use the presidency to enrich himself. But as he does so, he will need to protect himself from legal risk. Being Trump, he will also inevitably wish to inflict payback on his critics. Construction of an apparatus of impunity and revenge will begin haphazardly and opportunistically. But it will accelerate. It will have to. …

Trump is poised to mingle business and government with an audacity and on a scale more reminiscent of a leader in a post-Soviet republic than anything ever before seen in the United States. Glimpses of his family’s wealth-seeking activities will likely emerge during his presidency, as they did during the transition. Trump’s Indian business partners dropped by Trump Tower and posted pictures with the then-president-elect on Facebook, alerting folks back home that they were now powers to be reckoned with. The Argentine media reported that Trump had discussed the progress of a Trump-branded building in Buenos Aires during a congratulatory phone call from the country’s president. (A spokesman for the Argentine president denied that the two men had discussed the building on their call.) Trump’s daughter Ivanka sat in on a meeting with the Japanese prime minister—a useful meeting for her, since a government-owned bank has a large ownership stake in the Japanese company with which she was negotiating a licensing deal.

Suggestive. Disturbing. But illegal …? How many presidentially removable officials would dare even initiate an inquiry? …Venezuela, a stable democracy from the late 1950s through the 1990s, was corrupted by a politics of personal favoritism, as Hugo Chávez used state resources to bestow gifts on supporters. Venezuelan state TV even aired a regular program to showcase weeping recipients of new houses and free appliances. Americans recently got a preview of their own version of that show as grateful Carrier employees thanked then-President-elect Trump for keeping their jobs in Indiana. …

Trump will try hard during his presidency to create an atmosphere of personal munificence, in which graft does not matter, because rules and institutions do not matter. He will want to associate economic benefit with personal favor. He will create personal constituencies, and implicate other people in his corruption. That, over time, is what truly subverts the institutions of democracy and the rule of law. If the public cannot be induced to care, the power of the investigators serving at Trump’s pleasure will be diminished all the more. …

Whenever Trump stumbles into some kind of trouble, he reacts by picking a divisive fight. The morning after The Wall Street Journal published a story about the extraordinary conflicts of interest surrounding Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Trump tweeted that flag burners should be imprisoned or stripped of their citizenship. That evening, as if on cue, a little posse of oddballs obligingly burned flags for the cameras in front of the Trump International Hotel in New York. Guess which story dominated that day’s news cycle?

Civil unrest will not be a problem for the Trump presidency. It will be a resource. Trump will likely want not to repress it, but to publicize it – and the conservative entertainment-outrage complex will eagerly assist him. Immigration protesters marching with Mexican flags; Black Lives Matter demonstrators bearing antipolice slogans – these are the images of the opposition that Trump will wish his supporters to see. The more offensively the protesters behave, the more pleased Trump will be. …

In the early days of the Trump transition, Nic Dawes, a journalist who has worked in South Africa, delivered an ominous warning to the American media about what to expect. “Get used to being stigmatized as ‘opposition,’ ” he wrote. “The basic idea is simple: to delegitimize accountability journalism by framing it as partisan.”

The rulers of backsliding democracies resent an independent press, but cannot extinguish it. … Modern strongmen seek merely to discredit journalism as an institution, by denying that such a thing as independent judgment can exist. All reporting serves an agenda. There is no truth, only competing attempts to grab power.

By filling the media space with bizarre inventions and brazen denials, purveyors of fake news hope to mobilize potential supporters with righteous wrath – and to demoralize potential opponents by nurturing the idea that everybody lies and nothing matters. A would-be kleptocrat is actually better served by spreading cynicism than by deceiving followers with false beliefs: Believers can be disillusioned; people who expect to hear only lies can hardly complain when a lie is exposed. The inculcation of cynicism breaks down the distinction between those forms of media that try their imperfect best to report the truth, and those that purvey falsehoods for reasons of profit or ideology. …

Populist-fueled democratic backsliding is difficult to counter,” wrote the political scientists Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz late last year. “Because it is subtle and incremental, there is no single moment that triggers widespread resistance or creates a focal point around which an opposition can coalesce … Piecemeal democratic erosion, therefore, typically provokes only fragmented resistance.” Their observation was rooted in the experiences of countries ranging from the Philippines to Hungary. It could apply here too. …

If people retreat into private life, if critics grow quieter, if cynicism becomes endemic, the corruption will slowly become more brazen, the intimidation of opponents stronger. Laws intended to ensure accountability or prevent graft or protect civil liberties will be weakened.

If the president uses his office to grab billions for himself and his family, his supporters will feel empowered to take millions. If he successfully exerts power to punish enemies, his successors will emulate his methods.

If citizens learn that success in business or in public service depends on the favor of the president and his ruling clique, then it’s not only American politics that will change. The economy will be corrupted too, and with it the larger culture. A culture that has accepted that graft is the norm, that rules don’t matter as much as relationships with those in power, and that people can be punished for speech and acts that remain theoretically legal—such a culture is not easily reoriented back to constitutionalism, freedom, and public integrity.

What happens in the next four years will depend heavily on whether Trump is right or wrong about how little Americans care about their democracy and the habits and conventions that sustain it. If they surprise him, they can restrain him.

Public opinion, public scrutiny, and public pressure still matter greatly in the U.S. political system. In January, an unexpected surge of voter outrage thwarted plans to neutralize the independent House ethics office. That kind of defense will need to be replicated many times. Elsewhere in this issue, Jonathan Rauch describes some of the networks of defense that Americans are creating.

Get into the habit of telephoning your senators and House member at their local offices, especially if you live in a red state. Press your senators to ensure that prosecutors and judges are chosen for their independence—and that their independence is protected. Support laws to require the Treasury to release presidential tax returns if the president fails to do so voluntarily. Urge new laws to clarify that the Emoluments Clause applies to the president’s immediate family, and that it refers not merely to direct gifts from governments but to payments from government-affiliated enterprises as well. Demand an independent investigation by qualified professionals of the role of foreign intelligence services in the 2016 election—and the contacts, if any, between those services and American citizens. Express your support and sympathy for journalists attacked by social-media trolls, especially women in journalism, so often the preferred targets. Honor civil servants who are fired or forced to resign because they defied improper orders. Keep close watch for signs of the rise of a culture of official impunity, in which friends and supporters of power-holders are allowed to flout rules that bind everyone else.

Those citizens who fantasize about defying tyranny from within fortified compounds have never understood how liberty is actually threatened in a modern bureaucratic state: not by diktat and violence, but by the slow, demoralizing process of corruption and deceit. And the way that liberty must be defended is not with amateur firearms, but with an unwearying insistence upon the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of American institutions and those who lead them. We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”

aus: David Frum: How to Build an Autocracy. The Atlantic Monthly, March 2017 issue [im Internet].

02/17

03/02/2017 (13:44) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Humanities

“Educators for economic growth will campaign against the humanities and arts as ingredients of basic education. this assault is currently taking place all over the world. …

Democracy is built on respect for each person, and the growth model respects only an aggregate. …

What structures are pernicious [for democracy]? …

  • First, people behave badly when they are not held personally accountable …
  • Second, people behave badly when nobody raises a critical voice …
  • Third, people behave badly when the human beings over whom they have power are dehumanized and de-individualized. …

We probably cannot produce people who are firm against every manipulation, but we can produce a social culture that is itself a powerful surrounding ‘situation’, strengthening the tendencies that militate against stigmatisation and domination. …

What schools can and should do to produce citizens in and for a healthy democracy?

  • Develop students’ capacity to see the world from the view-point of other people …
  • Teach … that weakness is not shameful …
  • Develop … genuine concern for others, both near and distant
  • Undermine the tendency to shrink from minorities of various kinds in disgust …
  • Teach real and true things about other groups …
  • Treat … each child as a responsible agent …
  • Promote critical thinking

Knowledge is no guarantee of good behavior, but ignorance is a virtual guarantee of bad behavior. …

The task of teaching intelligent world citizenship … requires understanding immigration and its history … All good historical study of one’s own nation requires some grounding in world history. … We cannot understand where even a simple soft drink comes from without thinking about lives in other nations. … Curricula should be carefully planned from an early age to impart an ever richer and more nuanced knowledge of the world, its histories and cultures. …

Responsible citizenship requires … the ability to asses historical evidence, to use and to think critically about economic principles, to assess accounts of social justice, to speak a foreign language, to appreciate the complexities of the major world religions. …

Citizens cannot relate well to the complex world around them by factual knowledge and logic alone. The third ability of the citizen … is what we can call the narrative imagination. … Play teaches people to be capable of living with others without control … It is all too easy to see another person as just a body … which … we can use for our ends … It is an achievement to see a soul in that body, and that achievement is supportes by poetry and the arts, which ask us to wonder about the inner world of that shape we see – and, too, to wonder about ourselves and our own depths. … The role of arts in schools and colleges is twofold. They cultivate capacities for play and empathy in a general way, and they address particular cultural blind spots … Music and dance, drawing and theater … supply both children and adults with … positive ways of relating to one another, and joy in the educational endeavor. …”

aus: Martha C. Nussbaum: Not for Profit. Why democracy needs the humanities, Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press 2016 (Erstausgabe 2010), S.24, 43, 45, 46, 81, 82, 83, 93, 95, 101, 102, 108

12/16

17/12/2016 (2:01) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Institutions

“Discussions about institutions are usually plagued with some basic misconceptions. …

[1] The first misconception is, that institutions are collectivities. They are not. Institutions are collectively shared and enacted modes of acting, thinking and feeling … One can join collectivities, whereas institutions are internalized and enacted. …

[2] Secondly, the concept of institution is not equivalent to that of organization … the concept of organization refers to functional rationality, to differentiations of power, to formal structures. … The concept of institution refers rather to substantial rationality, to authority, and to ideological values and norms. …

[3] Thirdly, institutions as traditional patterns of behavior are often held to be structures that curb creativity and stifle individual freedom. … institutions can and usually do create a space … of liberty. … institutions set creative energies free precisely because they liberate us from the time and energy consumed in tasks to plan and design our actions, thoughts and feelings each time we set out to act in and upon the world …

Institutions … are traditional and collective patterns of behavior (of acting, thinking and feeling) which ‘existed’ before we were born, and in all probability will continue to ‘exist’ after we have died. Institutions change, … sometimes slow and gradual, sometimes rapid and revolutionary. … At some point in our cultural evolution individuals must have started them but it is impossible to trace back these historical origins. …

It is quite hazardous to employ concepts such as ‘the law’, ‘the family’, ‘marriage’, ‘state’ etc. as metaphors when describing and analyzing pre-industrial, non-Western societies and cultures. … What is universal is not the monogamous, heterosexual marriage and the nuclear family based upon it … but the fact that people somehow mold their intersexual and procreative activities and relations in an institutional pattern. …

Institutions as universal behavior patterns cannot disappear since they are the very foundations of the human species. … They will change their structure, their meaning and maybe even their composition but continue to be fed by their … roots. …

In a traditional, rural society questions about the meaning and utility of institutions like the church or marriage are never raised. They are taken for granted, they are relevant, useful, valuable and meaningful simply because  they are enacted and therefore exist. In fact, they are held to be ‘natural’ …

The impressions and stimuli which in an industrial society continue to grow in number and in intensity, pour in incessantly and massively, and impinge on the impulses and desires which, left to their own devices, are chaotic and unstructured. This, of course, contributes to insecurity, mental confusion and psychological stress and instability. The institutions are no longer able to drain these tensions and confusions away. …

[Nevertheless,] social life and economic transactions are impossible without institutions. … In a radically anarchistic, de-instutionalized community people would have to debate and to negotiate each step, each decision, each conclusion, and they would have to do so each day, each moment of the day …”

aus: Anton G. Zijderveld: The Institutional Imperative. The Interface of Institutions and Networks. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univerisity Press 2000, S.22, 30, 38, 39, 55, 58, 73.

11/16

11/11/2016 (0:35) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Anti-institutionalism

“The traditional institutions of the Western world – the state, the church, marriage and the family, the university, the [trade] union, the political party, the voluntary association, etc. – are being castigated as … structures that inhibit individual liberty, creativity, and authenticity. It is a kind of non-rational mood that has a deep, often unconscious, influence on many individuals in the affluent Western world. …

The philosphies and theories of Western subjectivism have some sort of anti-rationalism in common. … But there is a strong paradox at work here. … Indeed, it is a strange sight to observe businessmen, who in their daily activities are rationally inhibited and mentally constrained, throw themselves at the mercy if an organizational guru, who relentlessly strips them of their individual and personal dignity. … The whole wellness business is a rational business firmly based on rational techniques of psychological manipulation, and on equally rational economic considerations of making profits …

This anti-institutionalist subjectivism … is a dangerous mood … human beings are dependent on well-functioning institutions for their survival as a species. … An anti-institutional mood floating about in subjectivism must affect man‘s capacity to act and interact, and eventually reduce man to resignation and passive, esthetic quietism. … Anti-institutionalism and subjectivism … can only be indulged in by well-off people, who are blind to the inherent dangers … [It’s] a decadent phenomenon. … ”

aus: Anton G. Zijderveld: The Institutional Imperative. The Interface of Institutions and Networks. Amsterdam: Amsterdam Univerisity Press 2000, S.13-15.

11/16

11/11/2016 (0:20) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Mediterranization

“The old city centres have been flooded with people in recent years. … In London especially … the centre has been taken over entirely by masses of tourists. At the same time, however, the new masses are made up not only of foreign tourists – in London perhaps, but certainly not in Lille or Brussels. Day-trippers, suburbanites and local residents are also joining in a trend to stroll en masse around the old city centre. …

The scenery is fake and can become a scenery of consumption only through artifice. … Christine Boyer: ‘The contemporary visitor looking for public urban places is increasingly forced to stroll through recycled and revalued areas … urban tableaux that have been turned into gentrified, historicized, commercialized and privatized places.’ …

Boyer writes: ‘City after city is discovering that its abandoned industrial waterfront or out-of-fashion downtown contains a huge tourist potential and redesigns it as a leisure spectacle and promenade. …’ This process can be termed as mediterranization of the city … While coastal resorts of the late nineteenth century plopped the city on the seaside – Brighton could have been called London-on-the-Sea, Ostend Brussel-Bad and Le Touquet Paris-les-Bains – the reverse now takes place; the ersatz urban quality of  the sea-side resort is re-exported to the city. … Humanity is adapting … to global warming. …

Mediterranization is not so much a sign of … a new public life, but rather an injection into the city of the archetype from the dream world of advertising: the universal beach party. … The neo-theatrical city is the city in the era of transcendental tourism, an age defined by tourism as one of the basic forms of our existence. … Tourism … is one of the vital economic functions of the old city …

The culture of the outdoor-café is the new sociability. … And the poor, the immigrants, the Fourth World? They will have to make way and bite the bullet, as always. … There is a very real possibility that this balancing act will fail. … One has to think in terms of a dual movement. Encapsulation versus mediterranization. …

An outdoor-café culture and the reconstruction of historical areas turn the city into a theme park … The city has always been a theatre … the theme park was invented in Athens or Rome … There is no culture without simulacra … Just as the critique aimed at the artifice of urban scenery is probably as old as philosophy, which posits being versus seeming, and critique (judgement) versus myth (story).”

“It is precisely the point at which the city dweller is relegated to the merely passive, assimilating role of the (anonymous) spectator and the consumer of a spectacle that is decisive. … It all comes down to keeping the dividing line – between spectacle and everyday life, between stage and auditorium, between audience and players, between the city dweller as actor and as spectator, between active and passive – blurred, open. For a more absolute division threatens the city.”

aus: Lieven De Cauter: The Neo-Theatrical City. On the Old Metropolis and the New Masses. In: ders.: The Capsular Civilisation. On the City in the Age of Fear. Rotterdam: NAi 2004, S. 30-36 (Erstveröffentlichung 1999).

10/16

20/10/2016 (0:32) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Realists

“Those who call themselves realists – realism meaning a technocratic acceptance of the status quo, whether with good humour, sarcasm, cynism or conviction and, therefore, a frequent collaboration with the status quo – are often as dangerous as prophets of doom or radical do-gooders who renounce the world as it is and thus, in reality, want to abolish it. For realists abolish the world while laughing.”

aus: Lieven De Cauter: The Rise of the Generic City. Rem Koolhaas’s Flight Forward. In: ders.: The Capsular Civilisation. On the City in the Age of Fear. Rotterdam: NAi 2004, S. 22 (Erstveröffentlichung 1998).

10/16

19/10/2016 (23:57) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Airport-City

“The city … begins more and more to resemble to an airport. Like international airports, the new cities are the same everywhere. … The new city has no identity: it is a city without a past, without individuality or particularity – a generic city. … The airport is the paradigm because we are all in transit … The Generic City is a settlement for people who migrate, hence its instability. …

In a generic city, everyone is a tourist or a shopper. ‘The only activity is shopping.’ … The generic city is dominated by reverse gravity, by evaporation, by the centrifugal attraction of the void and the periphery, with centreless agglomerations as the final product. … The place where the new, evacuated urbanness becomes visible is, according to Koolhaas’s description, the atrium. …

For the Romans it was a hole in a house or other building that injected light and air, the outdoors, into the interior. Now it is ‘a container of artificiality that allows the occupants to avoid daylight forever – a hermetic interior, sealed against the real’. … [Koolhaas] is more conscious than anyone that the atrium produces a surrogate urbanness. … The analogy with an airport is striking: security is the key concept. The outside is once again dangerous. …

The nineteenth-century arcade into which Benjamin read the dream of a new public domain, one that would jettison the bourgeois distinction between the private and the public realms, has been transformed into the air-conditioned nightmare of hotel atria, of closed, artificial spaces and esplanades accessible only via car parks (as in La Défense or in L.A.) …

People seem to have given up on the street, on the world outside. …

In Koolhaas’s book, the absence of violence is striking. …  Perhaps Virilio can help us here. He was the first to point out the transformation of the city into an airport. But in his view violence is, on the contrary, ubiquitious. … The worst of all catastrophes may well be evaporation. … The atrium, the mall, the artificial plaza, the Internet and the television screen as virtual survival space.

The city, the public space, is being abandoned. For Virilio, the politics of space (territory, defense, urbanism) is being replaced by a politics of time (transport, communication, speed, networks. … Space no longer really matters, this is why the city is becoming everywhere the same. …

According to the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben … more and more people are falling outside the ordinance of social life … and into the ordinance of mere existence … . This mere existence is beyond the law, and hence without rights. It is governed by the logic of the camp … a territory outside the law … where anything can happen. … Transit zones are … duty free … They are potential camps (like the camps for illegal immigrants). …

Once we consider the airport in its totality – not only its lobbies and lounges, catering services, cargo companies and tour operators, but also the transit camps associated with it – we see the true face of the generic city.”

aus: Lieven De Cauter: The Rise of the Generic City. Rem Koolhaas’s Flight Forward. In: ders.: The Capsular Civilisation. On the City in the Age of Fear. Rotterdam: NAi 2004, S. 11-23 (Erstveröffentlichung 1998).

10/16

19/10/2016 (23:44) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Wellness

[DE]

“… The slow collapse of the social contract is the backdrop for a modern mania for clean eating, healthy living, personal productivity, and “radical self-love” … The more frightening the economic outlook and the more floodwaters rise, the more the public conversation is turning toward individual fulfillment as if in a desperate attempt to make us feel like we still have some control over our lives. …

Can all this positive thinking be actively harmful? Carl Cederström and André Spicer, authors of The Wellness Syndrome, certainly think so, arguing that obsessive ritualization of self-care comes at the expense of collective engagement, collapsing every social problem into a personal quest for the good life. ‘Wellness,’ they declare, ‘has become an ideology.’ …

As part of Cameron’s changes to the welfare system, unemployment was rebranded as a psychological disorder. … in the teeth of the longest and deepest recession in living memory, the jobless were encouraged to treat their ‘psychological resistance‘ to work by way of obligatory courses that encouraged them to adopt a jollier attitude toward their own immiseration. …

The wellbeing ideology is a symptom of a broader political disease. … We are supposed to believe that we can only work to improve our lives on that same individual level. …

The isolating ideology of wellness … persuades all us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. … Society is not mad, or messed up: you are. … [This ideology] prevents us from even considering a broader, more collective reaction to the crises of work, poverty, and injustice. …

It would be nice to believe that all it takes to change your life is to repeat some affirmations and buy a planner, just as it was once comforting for many of us to trust that the hardships of this plane of existence would be rewarded by an eternity of bliss in heaven. There is a reason that the rituals of wellbeing and self-care are followed with the precision of a cult (do this and you will be saved; do this and you will be safe): It is a practice of faith. …

With the language of self-care and wellbeing almost entirely colonized by the political right, it is not surprising [on the other hand] that [with] progressives, liberals, and left-wing groups … positive thinking has become deeply unfashionable. …

Anxious millennials now seem to have a choice between desperate narcissism and crushing misery. Which is better? …

The problem with self-love as we currently understand it is in our view of love itself, defined, too simply and too often, as an extraordinary feeling that we respond to with hearts and flowers and fantasy, ritual consumption and affectless passion. Modernity would have us mooning after ourselves like heartsick, slightly creepy teenagers, taking selfies and telling ourselves how special and perfect we are. This is not real self-love …

The harder, duller work of self-care is about the everyday, impossible effort of getting up and getting through your life in a world that would prefer you cowed and compliant. … Real love … is not a feeling, but … an action. It’s about what you do for another person over the course of days and weeks and years, the work put in to care and cathexis. That’s the kind of love we’re terribly bad at giving ourselves, especially on the left.

The broader left could learn a great deal from the queer community, which has long taken the attitude that caring for oneself and one’s friends in a world of prejudice is not an optional part of the struggle – in many ways, it is the struggle. … The ideology of wellbeing may be exploitative, and the tendency of the left to fetishize despair is understandable, but it is not acceptable – and if we waste energy hating ourselves, nothing’s ever going to change. If hope is too hard to manage, the least we can do is take basic care of ourselves. On my greyest days, I remind myself of the words of the poet and activist Audre Lorde, who knew a thing or two about survival in an inhuman world, and wrote that self care ‘is not self-indulgence – it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’

aus: Laurie Penny: Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless. On negotiating the false idols of neoliberal self-care The Baffler, July 08, 2016 [im Internet]

07/16

20/07/2016 (0:29) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

Decolonization 1

“The colonial state was not about being of service to the colonized. It was about exploitation and extraction of resources. The post-colonial state is exactly the same. … They are building a system of apartheid in which the poor are separated from the rich and the rich are connected to the West, to the metropolis. … Decolonization was a neccessary step but not a sufficient one. … I don’t think that we are going through a process of recolonization because we never really went through the process of decolonization. … Globalization has increased the number of buyers and sellers in our countries. Nothing else has changed. …”

aus: Eqbal Ahmad: Confronting Empire. Interviews with David Barsamian. Cambridge, Mass.: South End 2000, S.112/13.

03/16

13/03/2016 (2:42) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

PLO

“There was a big meeting organized by Arabs living in the United States, soon after the emergence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) [in 1967]. … Some Arab students invited me to give the keynote address at this conference… I argued that armed struggle was supremely unsuited to the Palestinian condition, that it was a mistake to put such an emphasis on it. … A successful armed struggle proceeds to out-administer the adversary and not to out-fight him. … This out-administration occurs when you identify the primary contradiction of your adversary and expose that contradiction … to the world at large, and more important, to the people of the adversary country itself.

I argued that Israel‘s fundamental contradiction was that it was founded as a symbol of the suffering of humanity … at the expense of another people who were innocent of guilt. It’s this contradiction that you have to bring out. And you don’t bring it out by armed struggle. In fact, you suppress this contradiction by armed struggle. The Israeli Zionist organizations continue to portray the Jews as victims of Arab violence. …

If I hadn’t gone through the Algerian experience, I wouldn’t have reached this conclusion. After seeing what I saw in Algeria, I couldn’t romanticize armed struggle. … The Algerians lost the war militarily, but won it politically. They were successful in isolating France morally. … When I had finished, there was considerable discomfort on the part of the young Arab students. They were shocked, the expert on guerilla warfare, the man from Algeria, the anti-Vietnam War leader is arguing the exact reverse of what we believe in. …

Obviously, you couldn’t morally isolate the regimes of Hitler or Stalin. A strategy of moral isolation assumes that the adversary has based its own legitimacy on moral grounds. … Between 1967 and now, Israel society has in some ways worsened. Likud [and its coalition partners] … are much less susceptible to moral arguments. [In 1967] centrist Zionism’s primary contradiction was its principles of legitimacy were moral and its practices were immoral. And it is that which had to be fully used. Opportunites were lost in the 1970s, once the PLO had become a quasi-state in Lebanon. …

But if you don’t have a leadership, than what do you do? I have spoken to Arafat about this line in great detail probably five or six times. He always took notes, always promised to do things, always did nothing …

It’s hierarchical, but not Leninist. Once we use the word ‘Leninist’ other images come in, such as discipline, austerity, and genuine sacrifice. The PLO took on the slogan of armed struggle, understanding it merely as the use of arms. They took on the slogan of political organization or parallel hierarchy only to distribute patronage. It’s a traditional political Arab organization … Political bosses stay in control by distributing patronage, using gun-toting as a method for legitimation. Their gun-toting stopped once it stopped serving their purpose. …

In 1975 or 1976, several leaders of the PLO … were in New York for a UN session … the PLO delegation to the U.N. called me and Chomsky and asked if we would come to talk to these leaders. … We talked about the importance of … reaching various wings of American civil society. … There was one man there … who understood and agreed with us. The rest justified their positions. Some gave lectures that were essentially ignorant. … I was beyond depression by that time. I had seen enough. They defeated themselves more than the Israelis did. …

In 1980, I had made a second trip to the south of Lebanon, where PLO forces were concentrated … the PLO posture in Lebanon was much too tempting for an organised army of adversaries. I had written to Arafat saying ‘The way you are organized you will not be able to resist for more than five days.’ …

After the PLO had been driven out of Lebanon, … I argued with him that his single biggest need was to deveolp a clear-cut position … Anounce that you have no problem recognizing the state of Israel. but ask which Israel you are being asked to recognize. Is it the Israel of 1948? … Is it the Israel of Israeli imagination? Because Israel is … the only member of the United Nations, that has refused to announce its boundaries

The violence they were practizing … fundamentally lacked the content of revolutionary violence. … It had no mobilizing content to it. … It was more an expression of a feeling that an expression of a program. … The PLO was not a revolutionary organisation. … [Finally] the PLO went to surrender. The most tragic point about the PLO is that Israel has not accepted its surrender.”

“Israel is a small country, 5.5 million people. The Arabs are many. … Someday, the Arabs will have to organize themselves. Once they have done that, you will see a different history beginning again, and it won’t be a pretty one. In fact, I’m scared of it.”

aus: Eqbal Ahmad: Confronting Empire. Interviews with David Barsamian. Cambridge, Mass.: South End 2000, S.29-35, 98, 57.

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13/03/2016 (2:07) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::
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