Discourse on Colonialism: Aimé Césaire

Aime Cesaire June 17 2014

Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) was a poet & politician from Martinique, which was & still is a French territory in the Caribbean Sea. He is of that generation born in the first few decades following WWI. Despite the “war to end all wars” & “make the world safe for democracy” propaganda, WWI was primarily a conflict between major colonial powers over colonial booty & dividing up the world & it also signaled a crescendo in anti-colonial struggles everywhere. Many of today’s conflicts have their roots in that era.

Writers & activists like Césaire, including Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, C.L.R. James (to name just a few) were among the most prominent anti-colonial thinkers & were influenced by socialist ideas. Walter Rodney & Edward Said are of a slightly later generation. They are all rooted in the carnage of European colonialism.

The problems addressed so cogently by these writers remain the central political problems of our day & their writings remain essential reading on colonialism & its consequences. What is neoliberal capitalism anyway but colonialism writ large!?

Reading them is not like reading Zizek or Homi Bhaba or Jacques Derrida or Frederic Jameson. There is nothing obscurantist in their writings at all. You’re not buried knee-deep in adjectives without a verb in sight. These were people of action who wanted to make their ideas understood because they wanted to end colonialism & change the world.

This piece called “Discourse on Colonialism” by Césaire could not be more timely as the US plots a major escalation in Iraq, as US-NATO continue their barbarism in Afghanistan & elsewhere, & as Israel conducts a massive bombing assault in Gaza & crackdown in the West Bank. “Discourse” was first published in French in 1955 & not in English until nearly 20 years later. It’s power has inspired generations from Africa to Asia to Latin America & the Caribbean, & including Civil Rights, Black Power, & antiwar activists in the US. It is a classic call to arms against colonialism & against tyranny by a man with a powerful vision of social transformation.

It’s a bit long but worth it’s weight in gold: http://www.studyblue.com/notes/note/n/aime-cesaire-discourse-on-colonialismpdf/file/368019

(Photo is Aimé Césaire)

Phil’s birthday: 93 years of mooching off the body politic


One simply cannot let the day pass without acknowledging the 93rd birthday of Phil Mountbatten, Betty Windsor’s consort whom she affectionately calls her “anus horribilis.” Our man actually has several last names in German & Greek because no one was willing to claim this unfortunate child even as a newborn–though it doesn’t really matter which name you call him since they all go back to the same set of trolls in the Black Forest. European moochocracy is an incestuous thing which has not belied the warnings of science in any way.

Phil is remarkable in that he’s been able to make it through over nine decades without accomplishing a damn thing. There are garden slugs who exhibit more initiative. They say he speaks a few languages but Betty & her privy council prefer he stick close to English where his guttural obscenities can be mistaken for a phlegm condition.

He does have a military record during WWII but it’s best not to ask much about it. In handling the searchlights & stoking the boilers on a battleship, he nearly brought down the the combined allied navy. He’s in the annals of naval history–& not in a good way.

After he married Betty, who was smitten with his venality at a young age, the privy council tried him out on diplomatic duty, traveling to all the former colonies (now called the Commonwealth). After he was deported several times in chains for unseemly comments & conduct the privy council decided it best to keep him under close supervision in Buckingham Palace & just keep stuffing his face with whiskey.

Betty has remained steadfast in her affections for Phil despite his chronic flatulence problem & this is not at all touching but deeply regrettable. They have spawned four children together, one more corrupt than the next & with that streak of venality Phil is so renowned for.

These gunners from one of Betty’s elite artillery troops fire a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, London to mark Phil’s birthday. Think of the artillery discharge as symbolic–& please don’t embarrass yourself by asking, “symbolic of what”?

(Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

War criminals never die; they just stink away

Bush- dead or alive June 16 2014

They say you ought not to make fun of dead people but that’s an old saying from feudal days when doing so could get you beheaded. Under capitalism, the practice of pissing & dancing on graves became common. Under neoliberal capitalism, when the world is run by creeps like Henry Kissinger, Omar Suleiman, Ariel Sharon, Augusto Pinochet, the two Clintons, & the mutant clan of Bushes, ridicule is the only thing that sustains in our darkest hours since the courts won’t let us near them to extract justice.

They made a big deal about Bush Sr. skydiving on his 90th birthday. What they didn’t tell us is they strapped his corpse to some military special forces guy who they had to pay big bucks since no one else could tolerate the stench.

The obituary for the old boy has long been written, just waiting for the day of delivery. But judging from the decay evidenced here it’s several months belated.

(Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP taken by a long-range zoom lens since Bukaty wasn’t paid to stand the stench)

The false narrative in media about Israeli ethnic cleansing in Gaza

Gaza June 16 2014

The caption to this photo in the LA Times is a classic illustration of media narrative on Palestinians & Israel. It reads: “A Palestinian girl walks past the rubble of a destroyed Hamas site after Israeli air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli military said it carried out airstrikes on five weapons & militant sites in Gaza, following overnight rocket fire from the coastal strip into Israel.” It’s only a caption but it doesn’t exhibit the honesty considered de rigueur to most second-graders. Why all the media flap over plagiarism by journalists when they won’t even tell the straight story? What’s cribbing even entire paragraphs compared to making up the whole story?

Let’s parse that caption a little because whatever their political failings, Hamas is the elected government of Gaza. So is that “destroyed Hamas site” where they store municipal supplies like shovels? Did they store court files in there or toilet paper for the government buildings? Or was it an arsenal as the Israeli military claims? And an arsenal of what? Here’s where that “integrity in journalism” thing comes in: would intrepid reporters with an ounce of integrity simply accept the word of the aggressing party for why they bombed? Or is that shyster journalism of the same kind where media accepts Pentagon press releases as oracular? In other words, is it BS? Can they provide one shred of documentation that those rockets were actually set off or that they came from Gaza? We’ll take even a shred of documentation.

Originally when the bombing began this weekend in Gaza, reports said the forays were over the Khan Yunis region south of Gaza City but later reports indicate they also included Gaza City. There are no final reports yet on fatalities & property damage.

Support Palestinian justice & stand against ethnic cleansing by boycotting all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); support the cultural boycott of Israel; & demand “No military aid to Israel!”

(Photo by Mohammed Saber/EPA)

No new US war in Iraq!

Iraq June 16 2014

The situation in Iraq is very bleak as a result of nearly 25 years of US military operations. Despite Obama’s elaborate pretense of a military withdrawal in 2011, the US maintained thousands of soldiers & mercenaries in the country & certainly a small army of undercover operatives fomenting religious, political, & sectarian conflict.

Now the US, which encircles the country with aircraft carriers, destroyers, & bases with 35,000 military personnel, is planning airstrikes including drone assaults. Whatever the problems of the political movement in Iraq, US bombing is not the solution.

The antiwar movement was massive & strong until the Gulf War began in 1990 & for several reasons, including the extreme barbarity of the assault against Iraq, began a decline in strength & numbers. The people of Iraq have paid a terrible price for that, including hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.

There will be antiwar rallies & picket lines around the world starting this week demanding “No new US war against Iraq.” You don’t have to be able to explain the politics of ISIS or how they’re different from Al-Qaeda to protest; you only have to oppose continued US barbarisms in Iraq. If you can’t locate a rally, make a placard & stand on any busy corner. After the first five minutes, you won’t feel weird anymore & you may be surprised at how many passers-by support you.

This small refugee boy is fleeing the city of Mosul with an estimated half a million other residents. Keep his sweet face in mind as you head out to protest.

(Photo by AP)

Israeli military strategy in bombing Gaza

Khan Younis June 9 2014 (Mohammed Salem)

Israeli bombing forays over Gaza are now a constant, punctuated by recurrent operations that last for days taking out farm lands, homes, schools, hospitals & killing hundreds of men, women, & children. Israel gives these operations names like Operation Summer Rains, Operation Autumn Clouds, Operation Returning Echos, Operation Pillar of Defense but they’re just poetic expressions for ethnic cleansing. You can make it rhyme but you can’t stop it from stinking.

Gaza is a small territory (139 sq miles/360 sq km) so every round of Israeli airstrikes is worth it’s weight in terror. The forays are not at all indiscriminate but a calculated strategy targeting the two most developed urban areas–Gaza City & Khan Yunis. Both areas are also militarily pivotal. Israel always claims the forays are in response to rockets sent from Gaza into Israeli territory. There isn’t much documentation of these steady barrages–unless you consider IDF press releases sufficient evidence. But to chide the Palestinians for defending themselves defies not only international law but elementary good sense. If they used sling shots instead of rockets, they’d still get bombed because ethnic cleansing is the agenda, not Israeli self-defense.

Bombing this week was again over Khan Yunis, only a few miles from the Rafah crossing between Gaza & Egypt. Khan Yunis has been a conflict zone in Gaza politics, partially due to its location, since Zionist paramilitary forces took over Palestine in 1948. It then became the site of a refugee camp which today houses between 38,000 & 72,000 people (the figures are disputed between the UN & Palestinian Bureau of Statistics). In the 1956 Suez War, Israeli soldiers entered the town & refugee camp & massacred 275 people without provocation. Gaza then came under direct Egyptian military occupation until the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel when Khan Yunis was occupied by the Israeli army.

In 1968, Israel began building the Gush Katif complex of 17 settlements in the region with settlers from Nahal military brigades–that is, settlers who combined military service with setting up agricultural settlements. (Many kibbutzim were originally Nahal settlements.) The location & entire layout of Gush Katif was military–primarily to isolate northern Gaza from the southern region & Gaza City from Khan Yunis; to take Israeli control of the area to use as a buffer zone between Palestinians & military bulwark against Egypt (before it began to collude with the US & Israel as a result of the Camp David Accords in 1978).

Israel claims Gush Katif residents, who were fortified by the Israeli army, were targeted by Palestinians during the First Palestinian Intifada of 1987-1990 against Israeli repression which included extrajudicial killings, mass detentions, house demolitions, land expropriations, & deportations. Israel lodged the same complaint during the Second Intifada (or Al-Aqsa Intifada) of 2000-2005, saying Gush Katif residents sustained frequent stonings & violent attacks. According to Israel, it’s permissible for farmers armed with AK-47s & Uzis to land-grab Palestinian lands but if Palestinians resist with stones, they’re terrorists. Who can reason with such crap?

In 2005, Israel’s prime minister Ariel Sharon launched a disengagement plan which forcibly removed the 8,600 unwilling Zionist soldier-settlers & relocated them to the West Bank–another place they don’t belong. When they left, Israel moved in demolition crews to destroy all the buildings. They claim they only destroyed the homes & left all public buildings (schools, libraries, community centers, office & industrial buildings, factories, & greenhouses) intact. What are the odds of that!?

Gaza is considered an occupied territory by the UN & other international agencies like Amnesty International. Activists liken it to an outdoor prison. Apparently the way Israeli military strategists view it, it’s a case of shooting fish in a barrel. That’s how cavalier Zionists are about ethnic cleansing.

For some reason, before the recent bombing of Khan Yunis started, several media sources published photos of Palestinians at the Khan Yunis refugee camp & squatting in the rubble of the former Gush Katif settlements. These photos depicting the squalor of occupation should stand as the historical record of Zionism, not an archive of a people ethnically cleansed.

Support Palestinian justice, stand against apartheid & boycott all Israeli products (barcode beginning 729); support the cultural boycott of Israel; & demand “No military aid to Israel!”

Photo is Palestinian women cooking inside her makeshift housing at the former Gush Katif settlement (on June 3rd 2014).

(Photo by Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Child immigrants to U.S. warehoused like cattle

Chilld immigrants June 14 2014

The immigration of unaccompanied minors from Central America is now so massive on the southern US border that it is making international news & shaming the Obama regime. The estimates of child immigrants don’t add up: some media report 400 children a day (146,000 a year); others estimate 60,000 to 80,000 a year. Either figure is staggering. Only a few years ago, it was staggering at 10,000 a year.

What’s making news is the squalid conditions traumatized, malnourished, often sick children are placed in by homeland security. Thousands are incarcerated in overcrowded facilities often on abandoned army bases, forced to sleep on the floor with aluminum sheets for blankets. God knows what the hell they’re fed–or how often. Hundreds are being deported back to Central America & dumped.

There is of course no shame among US politicians; the right-wing blames lax immigration enforcement by the Obama gang & claim children are coming because of his promise of amnesty–a promise which has not materialized in the several years of his presidency. The Democrats (let’s not play folly with language by calling them left-wing) are using the squalor to rope in the Latino vote in upcoming elections. One local politician toured facilities & released some of the damning photos showing children & other immigrants being warehoused like animals. This situation has prevailed for a long time but the upcoming elections have poked whatever he has of a conscience into high dudgeon.

The truth of the matter is US capitalism is completely dependent on undocumented immigrants for maximal profits. And not just agribusiness but manufacturing & construction. Biden laid that out quite clearly when he recently blithered (that’s his rhetorical style) to a meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers. US capitalists & politicians have to jockey the unstable ground between the economic imperative for immigrant workers, the political expedience of scapegoating them, & the need to rake in the votes.

What’s that Bible phrase about a “child will lead them”? In this case, children forced into a perilous diaspora from their home countries as a result of neoliberal barbarism are exposing the whole shebang of them for the ruthless monsters they are. When hundreds of thousands of children are not just victims but pawns in this treachery, then it’s high time to take action & demand entry & amnesty to all.

Immigration is a human right. Open up the damn borders! Tear down the wall!

(Photo of undocumented children with border patrol at Laredo, TX from AP)

Another International Day against Child Labor passes without much action

Cambodia child labor day June 13 2014

Yesterday was the ceremonial commemoration of International Day against Child Labor initiated in 2002 by the ILO, a UN agency. In the promotional material, it’s to “highlight the plight of millions of children worldwide.” Golly that’s touching.

A lot of NGOs use the day for raking in funds; a few pull grandstanding stunts like “raiding” a sweatshop to free child workers. All of them address it solely as a human rights problem. That it is! But it is also a labor rights issue because under neoliberal barbarism, child labor is used primarily to weaken & undercut adult labor. But it has many other advantages, primarily that it is so damn easy to bully children into working fast, furiously, & without rebellion.

Nothing exposes neoliberalism more powerfully than the growing millions of tiny children working in mines, factories, brick yards, sweatshops. Neoliberalism shows itself as a system with no shame, with no respect for anyone or anything except profiteering. Child workers stand as the indictment beyond dispute.

This little guy is scavenging recycleables from a rubbish heap in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Keep in mind the rubbish heap has decayed food with bacterial growths, animal & human poop, used unmentionables like dirty diapers & sanitary napkins, tons of chemical waste. It’s a stinking mound of diseases waiting to happen. When children become both the chattel & the offal of the system, it’s long-since time to trash the system.

(Getty Images)

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