We Need to Talk About Women: The Problem With Western Liberal ‘Feminists’

femen-not object-2.jpegToday (March 8) is International Women’s Day. No doubt there will be numerous articles about women’s issues, women’s struggles and women’s triumphs. In this article I take a different route and address an issue that is rather taboo and off-limits, but ought to be discussed. Before I do, I want to stress that women in the west have come a long way and have a lot to be proud of. Western women have fought hard and bravely for rights and privileges that were denied to generations of women before them and have made vast strides towards greater equality and representation in society. For this, western women and traditional feminism should be applauded.

At the same time, the version of feminism that presently functions in the west—liberal, consumer, mainstream feminism—has become problematic. That is what I wish to address in this article. I want to honestly address the issue of women. I don’t mean “women’s issues”; those have been discussed at length. I mean the issue with women, meaning the problem with certain segments of the female population in the west, namely: liberal, mainstream, consumer feminists. Before you bring out the PC (politically correct) lynch mob, please read on to understand what I mean by this.

There is a segment of the female population in the west today that is very puzzling and frustrating, especially to traditional or former left-wingers, such as myself.1 I am referring to the slut marching, pussy rioting, liberal consumer feminists that fancy themselves progressive or liberal or “left wing,” today. These are the women that fight the sexual objectification of women by sexually objectifying themselves (topless FEMEN protestors anyone).2 Or the women that talk about ‘girl power’ then turn around and applaud when a Woman of the Year Award is given to a male-turned-female woman. Or the women that think revering and emulating cheesy, female pop stars—like Madonna or Beyonce or Niki Manaj—makes them ‘fierce feminists.’

While they may think themselves politically avant guarde, many of these women come off as rather apolitical and seem to have purchased ‘feminism’ as a media constructed/promoted lifestyle; hence the term consumer feminists. Their ‘feminism’ or girl power is reflected largely in the products they purchase or the lifestyle choices they make. These consumer feminists mistake buying Activia yogurt (a product marketed solely to women) or practicing yoga (in stylish and expensive yoga outfits) for being political or “progressive.” Newsflash ladies: these are lifestyle choices, not political acts or movements.

Western Liberal Feminism and the US Presidential Election

And when these liberal, consumer feminists do attempt to tackle politics or political issues, it is often done through reactionary identity politics, which substitutes the personal—personal identity, personal feelings, etc—for the political in a manner that negates broader politico-economic understanding and analysis. For instance, women that support candidates like Hillary Clinton simply because she is a woman—despite her many political and geopolitical crimes and blunders. Mired in identity politics, their femaleness forces them to support a female candidate simply because of her sex, while ignoring her political actions and behaviour; however heinous it may be.

This reflects one of the many follies of identity politics: It excuses the crimes of people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–which includes the slaughter of innocent women and people of colour all over the world–based on their gender or race. As I argue elsewhere, it is not rational to support a president or presidential candidate simply because they are a racial minority or a woman. And I say this as a female racial minority.

Nor is it constructive to build a “political” protest movement centred mainly on feelings of personal offense.  A few days ago I was offered a pink hat with cat-shaped ears on it (the “pussy hat,” as it is being called), to wear as a symbol of “women’s resistance to Trump.” The pussy hat is part of the Pussyhat Project, a project begun by two American women following the 2016 US election. According to Business Insider, the hat’s name was inspired by Trump’s 2005 comments in the Access Hollywood audio leaked in October 2016, “in which he bragged about grabbing women by their genitals.”3

pink march.jpgAccording to one of its co-founders, the Pussyhat Project is “about women refusing to be erased from political discussion,” reports Business Insider.  While I am not sure exactly what she means by this, it seems to suggest that given that Hillary Clinton is a woman, and given that she lost the election, women—especially those women that voted for Hillary Clinton—are now being “erased” from political discussion. That does not make much sense. Are we to believe that Hillary Clinton lost the election because she is a woman? Last year in the UK, a female Prime Minister, Teresa May, was voted in and replaced the former male Prime Minister, David Cameron. Does that mean that men in the UK are being “erased” from the political discussion?

While there is a disproportionate amount of men in western politics in general, this did not begin with the 2016 US election, and statements about women being erased from political discussion need to be politically and historically situated and qualified. The Pussyhat Project and the sea of pink at the “Women’s March on Washington D.C.” on January 21 (the day after Trump’s inauguration), with thousands of women adorned in fuzzy pink ‘pussy hats,’ served to confirm something I have thought for many years now: That western women—especially liberal, consumer ‘feminists’—are extremely conformist and easy to manipulate as well as contradictory.

Where was the female indignation during the eight years of the Obama administration, when Obama and a female Secretary of State (in the first four years) repeatedly and systematically war mongered and deployed drones to kill scores of innocent people overseas, many of them minorities and women? Where was their women’s march on Washington, D.C. then? It simply did not exist. There were no mass women’s marches or female protest movements against the previous US administration, despite its myriad political, economic, and geopolitical crimes and atrocities.

While the Obama administration was among the most imperial and war mongering in US history, continuing and intensifying many of the policies of the George W. Bush era, and while Obama failed to keep any of his campaign promises, such as his promise to close Guantanamo Bay or to end the war on terror, there was no mass female uprising against him and his administration. Of course, during the Obama administration, the mainstream media were its biggest cheerleaders. The media was not helping to “trigger” women and rile them up as they are at present.

But protesting topless or wearing a pink hat does not, in and of itself, make you political. At best it makes you a cliché and, at worst, it makes you controlled (or fake) opposition. For there is nothing genuinely political or oppositional about following a herd trend, even if that trend is said to be a political statement or a “symbol of political resistance.”

Identity Politics is a Diversion From Bigger Issues

Identity politics is a form of political capitulation that gives into the establishment. It is a distraction from, and substitution for, a failed economy and a failed political system. Identity politics replaces political and economic power and choice, or lack there of, with personal choice and personal empowerment. The personal freedoms granted under identity politics—for instance, the freedom to choose among the ever-growing number of genders, etc—can mask how politically and economically un-free and powerless we are.

Under the present global neocon/neoliberal politico-economic mono-culture, people are increasingly politically and economically disenfranchised and dis-empowered. Rather than focus on the ever-creeping economic collapse, escalating unemployment, political dis-empowerment, the growing police and surveillance state, and the general economic despair that plagues much of the world’s population, identity politics (and contemporary progressives in general) points our attention towards differences, personal identity and personal choice. How convenient for the global power structure/elites. This is especially true among that segment of the western female population—liberal, consumer ‘feminists’—that I describe above.

Western Liberal Feminists are Largely Apolitical

pussyhat

While Donald Trump’s misogynistic comments may  warrant criticism, the problem with pussyhat wearing mainstream/consumer feminists is that they protest against him largely because they are personally offended. These women are apolitical in the broader, general sense. While they are raging against the pussy-grabbing Trump, they are silent on—if not oblivious of—the myriad other political, economic, and geopolitical problems and crises that plague humanity at present.

If these women were truly politically or critically minded, they would not have rallied behind the likes of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. This is not about “defending Trump,” but about pointing out that a lack of political perception and critical analysis makes many ‘feminists’ blind to the crimes of the previous US administration as well as to the globalized, militarized, neoliberal/neocon politico-economic power structure in general.

Western, liberal mainstream/consumer feminism is different than radical feminism, socialist feminism, and, especially, third world feminism. This topic is too complex to address here. For now I merely wish to note that much of what passes for ‘feminism’ in the west today would potentially be questioned by veteran feminists and/or more political and class-based understandings of feminism as well as by third world feminism.

For instance, unlike many western feminists, who tout gender neutrality and the “anything you can do, I can do better” mentality, “African feminists do not attempt to rob the man of his value and worth. They simply want to be given value and worth, as well.” As Dr. Hildra Tadria of Uganda, member of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and co-founder of the African Women’s Development Fund explains, “For us, the fight is to dignify what the African woman does, not to try to get her to do what the African man does.” 4

For African feminists one of the most curious aspects of western liberal feminism is its emphasis on “sexual liberalization” or hyper-sexuality. Most third world feminism is not about sexual freedom but freedom from over sexualization and over objectification. While mainstream western feminists often use the term “rape culture” to describe the west, there are many countries in the world wherein women do indeed live under the constant threat of rape–where rape and sexual violence are rampant and ignored by the state. For these women, feminism includes the desire and struggle to be less sexualized.

Ironically, while contemporary western ‘feminists’ also claim to oppose the sexual objectification of women, they often employ sexual objectification as a tool to fight or denounce it (see the slim and sexy FEMEN protesters in the picture above). While this tactic may be aimed at reclaiming the female form and female sexuality, it is ultimately counter-productive in a society where the naked form (both male and female) is still seen as sexual. Protesting topless or naked takes attention, especially media attention, away from the issues these women are protesting, and focuses it instead on bare breasts and naked bodies. Here, the image ultimately distracts from—and upstages—the message.

I am aware that criticizing these types of women may be seen as catering to the divide and conquer tactics of the power establishment on some level; since we should seek to unite with others, not criticize them. But the liberal feminism of the fake left has reached a point of absurdity and counter-productiveness that simply cannot be ignored. And western women have to have the courage to call it out.

While wearing a fuzzy ‘pussy hat’ or slut marching topless may be said to be a symbol of ‘resistance;’ I ask, resistance to what? It most certainly is not resistance to globalist power or the US establishment. Let us not forget that, prior to Trump’s victory, there was very little anti-government dissent among so-called feminists and progressives in the US. Nor was there much resistance or opposition among them to the imperial war machine and western interventions abroad, which was as robust as ever—if not more robust—under the supposed feel-good regime of Barack Obama and his sidekick, Hillary. Indeed many on the new/fake left (including liberal feminists) support these imperial, regime change interventions, in the name of liberating oppressed women or protecting human rights,etc.

Final Thoughts

It appears that second and third wave western feminism has degenerated into something that is at once apolitical (or faux political), consumerist, and a service to the global establishment. In the midst of the feel-good, reactionary spectacle of contemporary western feminism, there seems to be very little that is political or left wing in the traditional sense, meaning politics and protest that is critical of hegemonic power, Empire, imperial wars, economic collapse and despair, unemployment, and class issues.5 You know, all those “old fashioned” and un-hip issues that the left used to care about before identity politics took over and/or forced its way in.

It also appears that contemporary ‘feminists’ have been manipulated through marketing and mainstream media and sold a clichéd lifestyle as politics and political opposition. Yet, as mentioned above, their form of politics—i.e., identity politics—actually serves the establishment inasmuch as liberal feminists, and liberals or ‘progressives’ in general, readily support imperial wars, policies and interventions. In this way, these groups have (unwittingly) become pawns and proxies of the global politico-economic power structure.

While the personal may be political, it will never be more political than actual politics and political consciousness. In reality, identity politics is the opposite of politics, in that, traditionally, politics or public engagement dealt with common issues, whereas identity politics further fragments consensus and is extremely divisive. Identity politics–women competing with men or racial groups pitted against one another–reflects the divide and conquer desires and strategy of the elite, since the masses are always weaker when they are divided. It forces a false polemic that stands in the way of consensus building, collective identity, and unity. As the old activist saying goes, “the people united will never be defeated.” Identity politics flies in the face of this and does the exact opposite; it divides people at a historical juncture when unity is most urgently needed.

Western liberal feminism has succumbed to the divisive and diversionary agenda of identity politics. I for one am not moved by the media-driven, diversionary spectacle of women in pink hats or topless FEMEN protestors, which is reactionary and provocative but lacking in deeper political thought and analysis. Like so much else on the establishment or fake left, it reeks of simulacra, or, put another way, it is more spectacle than substance.

So you can keep your pussyhat, ladies, this woman has more on her mind than what’s between her legs.

 

 

 

 

 Notes

1 I no longer use the term left wing due to identity politics. It should also be noted that I do not identity as a feminist. If I had to use a label it would be anti-imperialist humanist.

2 I am not “shaming” women for going topless but simply pointing out the contradiction of doing so in order to oppose the sexual objectification of women.

3 While misogynistic comments—such as those made by Trump—may warrant criticism, he made those comments privately. As Hillary Clinton once told a group of Wall Street banking executives in an email exchange leaked on wikileaks, “you need both a public and private position.” I’m sure Hillary’s husband Bill’s private “position” on women would be even more shocking than Trump’s. Bill is a notorious womanizer and his private comments on women and their bodies would likely leave many horrified.

4 http://www.newdmagazine.com/apps/articles/web/articleid/76478/columnid/default.asp

5 Today class is not just about money or income, nor is it simply about the means of production. Today class it is arguably equally about, if not more about, similarities in the way people live and the things they do.

The Roots of the Refugee Situation: Rising Above the Forest to See The Trees

This post is a follow-up to my previous article on the refugee situation in the United States. For me, this is not about Trump. The fact that I even have to say this shows how anti-intellectual and devoid of rational dialogue our society has become, especially among the so-called left. Accusing someone of being a “Trump supporter” simply for being analytical is not a PC scare tactic I respond to.

It is because the majority of so-called progressives were sleep walking in an identity politics, feel good la la land during the foreign policy disasters of the Obama administration—which the mainstream media was completely silent on—that the current situation has come as such a rude awakening to so many.

But for those of us that have a political memory longer than nine weeks, the refugee situation can be interpreted within the context of a much broader geopolitical and foreign policy landscape that includes several previous administrations, including and most notably the Obama administration.

At the risk of feeding into the false and diversionary duality of good administration/bad administration, I wish to point out the following two things. First, in the wake of the arrest of two Iraqis in Kentucky on terrorism charges in May 2011, the FBI suggested that dozens of terrorists might have entered the US posing as refugees. This led the Obama administration to reexamine the records of 58,000 Iraqis that had been settled in the US and to impose more extensive background checks on Iraqi refugees, limiting intake for up to six months, according to the Washington Post. I do not mention this simply to point out that previous administrations were already scrutinizing and limiting refugees from certain Muslim countries—that is just a side note and something that has already been noted by others.

Continue Reading

On Donald Trump’s Syrian Refugee Ban: From A Muslim Immigrant in North America

trump-bans

Article Published on globalresearch.ca  

On Friday (Jan 27) President Donald Trump signed an executive order to halt all refugees to the US for 120 days and to indefinitely ban refugees from Syria until “extreme vetting” measures could be put in place. It also limits VISA issuance to individuals from six other predominantly Muslim countries. While humanitarian groups are up in arms, this action needs to be given some serious politico-historical context. I say this as a Muslim immigrant in North America.

Like all incoming presidents, Donald Trump has inherited the mess of previous presidential administrations. Arguably the biggest mess is that of the US led ‘global war on terror,’ which was begun by George W. Bush and continued under the Obama administration, notwithstanding promises to the contrary by Obama.

Despite its supposed fight against terrorism and terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda—the reason this war on terror was purportedly initiated in the first place—it is now known that the US has been supporting certain terrorists groups in countries like Syria, Iraq and Libya. While the US has long claimed to be opposed to Islamic extremism and Islamic terrorism, it has been directly or indirectly fostering it in the Middle East for decades. For everyday people in the US, this might be confusing. Why would a secular country that claims to be opposed to radical Islam and Islamic terrorism actually support these things? Because it serves its political, economic and geopolitical interests, that’s why. I have written on some of these interests elsewhere.

Here I simply wish to state that despite its rhetoric about combating religious extremism and terrorism, previous US administrations have actually promoted terrorism and Islamic extremism in the Middle East while targeting secular Muslim leaders, such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and, presently, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The same is true of Lebanon, a secular mixed-religion country that has suffered decades of western meddling and sectarian destabilization tactics. Part of the reason these countries and governments are targeted is that they do not comply with the US’ (and Israel’s) imperial agenda and policies in the region. Rather than supporting moderate, “modern” and secular Middle Eastern states, the US has hitherto declared war on them while allying with the most backward and extremist countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia.

So What Does Any of This Have to Do With Syrian Refugees?

When the US (and its western and Middle Eastern allies) fund and support Islamic extremists and violent terrorist groups against these secular countries, there are people internally that will opportunistically join forces with them, either as paid mercenaries or for ‘ideological’ reasons or other personal or political reasons. Many join the terrorist groups and kill and plunder alongside them, as has happened in Syria, Iraq and Libya. These are not the type of people any population would want to welcome as refugees and immigrants. Yet, without strict vetting practices, it is possible that such individuals could enter countries like the US and Canada under the pretense of seeking refuge or asylum.

This becomes more likely as terrorist fighters lose ground and are forced to retreat, as they currently are in Syria. With the many terrorist groups in Syria presently being defeated by Syrian and Russian forces, one can imagine that thousands will be frantic and eager to evade capture and escape the country. One way to do this is to leave the country as a refugee and head for the west, especially to sympathetic countries like the US, which were indirectly funding and arming these groups (until very recently) in the first place!

Anyone capable of historical-political analysis, and anyone with a critical and nuanced understanding of the current mess in Syria, and the US’ role in creating this crazy mess, should be capable of understanding this. It is naive to believe that not a single terrorist fighter could be among the thousands of Syrian refugees entering the US. While I do not support a permanent and indiscriminate ban of Syrian refugees, especially for children and women, it may be necessary to implement vetting and screening practices to try to ensure that none of the western-backed terrorist fighters and murderers find their way into the US. This would be a form of blowback that no one would benefit from.

In November 2015 at least 27 states—represented by more than half the nation’s governors—opposed letting Syrian refugees into their states (this was before Obama approved the intake of 10,000 refugees). The reason for this is not simply that they are racist, Islamophobic xenophobes, though this possibly could be said of some of them. The larger reason is because, whether they are willing to publicly admit it or not, these governors understood that part of the blowback—military speak that basically means when our actions abroad come back to bite us in the ass at home—of America’s duplicitous policies in Syria (i.e., supporting and arming terrorist groups while claiming to be against terrorism) could include some of these terrorists fighters/Obama-era proxy mercenaries entering the US later on as refugees.

Of course, the current executive order is far too sweeping and will impact people genuinely effected by US-initiated conflict and destabilization zones abroad, including in the other countries named in the order. The executive order prohibits entry to the United States for nationals from six other Muslim-majority counties — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — for at least 90 days, Reuters reported. The US created many of the crises in these countries and continues to turn a blind eye to the plight of the people of Yemen, where the Saudi offensive has resulted in near famine. While the order may be aimed at limiting entry of (US-backed) terrorist fighters and hardcore Islamists, there are people in these countries in actual need of help or refuge. One can only hope that following the initial ban, a screening system will be worked out that helps those that genuinely need it.

In the meantime, one has to remain cognizant of the context that led to all of this. To summarize the main points above, under previous US administrations, murdering lunatics were propped up in the Middle East, including in Syria as part of a US-led effort to oust Bashar al-Assad and completely destabilize that secular Muslim country. Now that this mission has failed, it is not unlikely that some of these murderous US cronies/terrorists could end up in the US as supposed refugees. This is a situation that would benefit no one; and makes a vetting process necessary. And I say this as a Muslim immigrant. [1]

While Trump’s sweeping executive order is likely to create serious upheaval and uncertainly for refugees and migrants already en route, it is borne of an even greater mess and chaos begun by previous administrations and their radicalization and destabilization campaigns in secular countries in the Middle East. In order to understand the current situation, one must have a critical understanding of that larger context.

 

Notes

[1] As a nonpracticing  person that was raised by Muslim parents.

Trump is Officially In…And It’s Still Not Really About Him?

Donald Trump Is Sworn In As 45th President Of The United States

Since Trump’s presidential victory in November I have been speculating back and forth about what a Trump victory and presidency might mean. Right after his win I commented that it was odd that a man who claimed to oppose the establishment was able to win in the first place. I found it strange that the deep state—the financial, corporate and economic powers that actually run the US, using the military and politicians for their own interests—actually “let him win,” given his campaign rhetoric. I commented that the fact that he won might suggest that there are divisions within the larger establishment with some seeking to change the agenda. One of the first questions I asked was “…is that what Trump represents, the division within the global power structure? Does he have friends in high places that wish to revamp the current global militarized corporate…oligarchy? Or, is he but its latest iteration.” [1] Those questions remain. Since then I have entertained both possibilities: that Trump may have friends in high places that want him in power and helped him get there; or, that he may indeed want to change or challenge some of Washington’s policies.

I have been criticized for the latter, for being ‘naïve’ enough to wonder whether policy might shift under Trump. But Trump has voiced intentions to make changes to economic policy and foreign policy, by moving towards a more protectionist trade economics and improving US-Russia relations, respectively. [2] The question that arises is who or what will such changes serve if they are put into motion? If the elites are “fractured,” then Trump may represent particular factions that want policy changes, such as improved relations with Russia and other changes, for whatever broader reasons.

Noted analyst and journalist Pepe Escobar makes references to possible behind-the-scenes power divisions in a recent article.  Escobar maintains, based on an inside source, that, among many other things, there is a new or competing elite agenda to bring industry and production back to America. [3] This could explain Trump’s emphasis on economic protectionism and making “America great again.”[4] If Trump’s win does represent some type of ‘competing establishment,’ with a new agenda; we may be in store for a clash of the titans.

So where does this leave everyday people– the little guy? If the elites and/or political officials that support Trump wish to see a return to Fordist economics (i.e., American production with “decent” wages) it could mean more jobs. But who knows what else it could mean.[5]

Trump’s popularity had much to do with his ability—genuine or otherwise—to galvanize a type of economic populism among the droves of Americans plagued by unemployment and economic despair. During his campaign, Trump made claims and promises about standing up to corporate power and creating jobs; things people were desperate to hear and issues the identity politics (aka divide and rule)  “liberal left,” which John Pilger aptly points out is neither left nor liberal, [6] has continuously failed to address.

It may be said that Trump was able to fill the vacuum created by the so-called “liberal left.” Years of refusal to address larger common issues—that unite people across the gender and racial spectrum, such as class and unemployment—allowed for the type of economic populism (genuine or not) that Trump tapped into. Many, including ardent Trump detractors, have argued that it was economic populism and a desperate desire to be saved from corporate power that drove most of his supporters. As I’ve argued elsewhere, when interpreted economically, even some of Trump’s racial statements speak to an unemployed population—many of them working class whites—that sees outsourcing and illegal immigration as contributing to joblessness in the US.[7] I’ve been accused of being a racism apologist–by identity politics types–for calling this out (even though I’m a brown immigrant). But that’s okay.

The reality remains that Trump tapped into the economic grievances of large segments of the population. What, if anything, he will do to actually help them, and for what larger purpose, remains unknown.

 

UPDATE: Two days after this article was written Trump issued an executive order removing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that would have worsened the plight of the middle and working class. Bernie Sanders commended his actions, stating: “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him” –https://www.rt.com/usa/374852-sanders-trump-tpp/

 

Notes

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/donald-trump-wins-us-presidency-a-blow-to-the-global-establishmentor-its-latest-iteration/5556323

[2] http://www.globalresearch.ca/what-to-expect-from-the-trump-administration-a-protectionist-and-pro-corporate-america-government/5569054

[3] https://popularresistance.org/heres-how-the-trump-presidency-will-play-out/

[4] While global and domestic elites all tend toward globalism, it might be that some are more nationalistic than others and benefit more from “domestic friendly” policies.

[5] If this is some sort of power struggle among elites, the people, as always, will be pawns for their game. Unless, of course, we stop allowing them to divide us and unite, regardless of who is in the White House.

[6] http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/17/the-issue-is-not-trump-it-is-us/

[7] http://www.atimes.com/significance-trumps-victory-little-trump/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Syria’s Continued Resistance, Russia and the Threat to Western Power

Putin-Assad.jpg

As a new year begins I wish to reflect on the Syrian government’s continued resistance and impending victory—with the help of the Russian military—against western backed terrorist forces. The defense of Syria, after an almost six-year-long proxy offensive against it, has served a blow to the western imperial agenda while greatly strengthening Russia’s position globally. 

The western imperial machine has failed miserably in its regime change agenda in Syria. The US-led failure to oust Bashar Al Assad’s secular government is a global game changer that may decidedly tip the balance of power away from the US and its western and Mid East allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and, until very recently, Turkey). Syria’s withstanding would not have been possible without Russian involvement, firmly placing Russia as a counter to western power as we move into 2017. As Argentine journalist and analyst, Pedro Brieger, aptly maintains, Russia has emerged as the key actor in global politics, in recent years: “Russia proved that it has become the key player in the international arena. If you want to understand that just look at what is going in Syria,” Brieger told Sputnik News.

It was Russia’s direct involvement in Syria and its provision of crucial military and strategic support to the Assad government that allowed Syria to resist the dirty proxy war that has been waged against it for the almost six years. It was also Russia, in cooperation with Iran and the purely opportunistic Turkish regime, that brokered a nationwide ceasefire between anti-Assad terrorists and the Syrian government, which came into force yesterday (December 29, 2016). One of the biggest turning points has been the recent liberation of the strategic and once most-populous city of Aleppo from Daesh/IS control and occupation. With instrumental help from Russia, the Syrian government has been able to take back the city. In mid December the Russian Reconciliation Center evacuated 50,000 civilians from eastern Aleppo. The evacuation of 5,000 ‘rebels’ and their family members from eastern Aleppo, via a humanitarian corridor, began around the same time.

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The Electric Universe Theory… And The Coming Paradigm Shift

electric-sun

This is the final article in my series on the appeal of the electric universe theory (EUT) to non-scientists, such as myself. In previous posts I discussed the historical appeal and the structural appeal of the EUT. In this post, I explore the final category—discourse. For me, one of the main draws of the EUT is that it has the potential to change and redefine certain existing paradigms, thereby possibly altering our meta-discourse or meta-narrative about the universe, our world, and our place in it.

As I have stated elsewhere, cosmology is the mother of all science and philosophy. It tells the “big story” of our universe and deals with the big questions. It addresses our concept of life, the world, and our place in it—past, present and future. Fundamentally, cosmology tells the story of what is. What is this thing we call the universe? What is the structure of the universe? What is its driving force? How and why did it develop the way it has? Is it isolated or connected, is it finite or infinite, does it have an origin, does it have an end, etc? Continue reading

The “New Left” and the Limits of Identity Politics-Revisited

identity-politicsToday is the two-year mark of this blog site. The very first post was entitled “The ‘New Left’ and the Limits of Identity Politics.” I thought it fitting to revisit that topic on its anniversary, especially in light of the recent US presidential elections, which I argued in a recent post may represent the decline of liberal identity politics in the US.

When I was a young student, protesting economic globalization/empire and global politico-economic power, our views and actions were considered that of a fringe anti-establishment minority. Today, the new liberal “left” activism, with its obsession with personal feelings and personal identity and its almost non-existent broader politico-economic analysis, seems oddly to represent a pro-establishment “majority.” I use the word majority in parentheses here because, while the mainstream media would have us believe otherwise, the majority of people are probably sick to death of liberal identity politics and stifling political correctness.

While identity issues such as gender and race are important, without a larger politico-economic analysis and fabric to hold it all together, identity politics and special interest issues can quickly break down into diversionary and even trivial issues. Over the past decade, many young, middle class and or economically privileged liberals took on, or appropriated, the label ‘left wing’ to describe their feelings over a host of increasingly inconsequential personal issues. Oddly, the previously radical mantra of “fight the power”—which used to mean literally fighting the system—morphed into fighting the social stigma of various personal issues. Basically, the contemporary liberal identity politics ‘left’ reflects a moment away from the political to a focus on the personal (personal identity, personal feelings, feelings of personal offence, etc)

While it’s okay to believe that “the personal is political,” in the contemporary liberal left/identity politics world, the personal has become the only thing that is political! But what about the political—meaning the process and practice of political power—or the geopolitical or the politico-economic, aren’t these things also political? Aren’t they much more political? To a contemporary social justice warrior, maybe not.

When I was a student dissident, the issues we were protesting (on and off campus) were things like imperial wars abroad, Big Business and corporate greed, the institutions of economic globalization (such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank), etc. But even within that movement—i.e., the anti-globalization movement—individuals with an explicitly anti-Empire stance and or analysis were a minority. Many anti-globalization groups and individuals were concerned with single issues or identity issues—such as race, gender, sexuality, and the environment. But this tended to occur within the context of a broader analysis of militarized global capitalism/Empire and how it creates and or exacerbates issues such as race, gender and environmental injustice. In other words, while earlier dissidents may have dealt with single-issues or identity politics, they still named a global system of power.

Many of today’s young dissidents—including many of those that support Hilary Clinton simply because she is a woman—don’t really seem to be aware that there is such a thing as a militarized, global system of politico-economic power. Otherwise, they would not be have backed one of its premier members, Hilary Clinton!

While it remains to be seen whether or not Donald Trump will live up to some of the anti-establishment hype surrounding him, [1] one thing that may come out of his victory (a.k.a Hilary Clinton’s defeat) is a movement away from identity politics. The fact that Trump claimed to be for things such as scaling back economic globalization—and the unemployment it creates—and US interventions abroad, and the fact that many in the US voted for him, suggests that these are the issues on people’s minds. It also suggests that the public imagination is moving away from stifling political correctness and the divide- and-conquer trap of identity politics[2] and towards the more universal issues of economics and the despair wrought by economic globalization/Empire.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

[1] While Donald Trump is no doubt part of the elite by virtue of his immense wealth and corporate power, as I point out in another article the elite are not a monolith and there may be factions within the global elite that wish to take the global establishment in a different direction. Whether that direction is good or bad or worse, remains to be seen. Trump’s place in it also remains to be seen.

[2] While identity politics is presented as being an agenda for equality, in practice it represents the movement away from politics and political capitulation. In focusing solely on difference, identity politics pits people against one another, placing us into individual camps (men vs. women, blacks vs. whites, heterosexual vs. homosexual, etc) that can be manipulated, exploited and/or co-opted by elites. While this may or may not be the intention, it is the outcome; and what results is a movement away from unity–realizing that we share much in common (especially economic despair and class issues) regardless of our differences–in the name of so-called equality.

What Will the Media Do Now that “Worse than Hitler” Trump is President?

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This post is not about Donald Trump, it’s about the mainstream media (MSM). Had the media done the same thing to Hilary Clinton–or any other candidate–and had Clinton won, I would be asking the same question: What will the media do now?

Trump is president. And one of the many burning questions is: What will the media do? Oh to have been a fly on the wall in many a media press room right after his victory was declared. Some in the twitter-verse have hilariously joked that prominent CNN news anchors must currently be on suicide watch. But in all seriousness, what will the media do, now that the man they loved to hate is president? It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

For months we watched and listened as the establishment media carried out a full on witch hunt and hate campaign against Trump: Trump will start WWIII, Trump is worse than Hitler, etc.[1]. That Trump is a big, bad, uber-evil dude was the official mantra and it was literally everywhere. The hype was so prevalent and so pervasive that I heard it repeated by everyone, from my local bank tellers and grocery store clerks to my nine-year-old nephew. Everyone. And when I asked them why they thought that was the case, few gave rational or intelligible answers; just media sound bites. The nine-year-old gets a pass.

While I watched the spectacle and mass hysteria play out, I kept thinking that it was very strange. I mean here is a man that was once a media darling—have we forgotten that Trump hosted the reality show The Apprentice and has been interviewed by every show from Howard Stern to The View—suddenly being treated like public enemy number one. At first I thought it was all for ratings. Trump is a controversial guy that says outrageous things (even before the campaign) and highlighting this makes for good ratings. But this was way more than shock and controversy for the sake of ratings. Something much bigger and far deeper was at play here. When you compare a person to Hitler that is pretty deep stuff; it’s full on character annihilation.

Why they did this is a topic for another post. But the Trump victory begs the question: Will the mainstream media do a 180 degree turn and be supportive of Trump now that he is the “leader of the free world”? If they do, does this prove just how subservient (to power) the various media are? Or does it simply mean they are fickle opportunists?  Or both? And if they don’t change their tune on Trump, if the MSM continue to deride him after he is president, then will it make us wonder who or what is really running the show? For who or what could be even more powerful than a billionaire that is also the president of the United States?

Some might argue that if the mainstream media continues its anti-Trump posturing, then it is proof that the MSM have integrity and principles, and that this, in turn, suggests that the media is autonomous. Sure, maybe. But if that’s true, where was this media integrity and autonomy when they “turned on him, ” en masse,  in the first place? Lets not forget that in the public portrayal, Trump went from a totally okay, controversial-yet-funny and acceptable dude to…HITLER, almost over night.

And it was uni-vocal; all the mainstream media outlets were on board with the Trump is evil mantra.

So again, now that he is president, what will the media do?

Just some food for thought…

Notes

[1] To be fair, there were not a lot of news outlets that compared him to Hitler outright (though I did find a few! ), but the fact that this was even implied (i.e., he is gong to start WWIII, etc) is still too drastic and quite irresponsible.

[2] So far, major media outlets like CNN and the New York Times are sticking to their negative Trump stance.

It’s the Economy, Stupid: Will Trump Be the End of Economic Globalization?

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NOTE:  I recommend reading my latest article  in conjunction with this

It is not an over statement to say that US-led neoliberal economic/corporate globalization—which ushered in the privatization and downsizing of vast public and labour sectors, the off shoring of jobs to cheaper labour markets abroad, and mass unemployment and underemployment worldwide, especially in the west—has practically destroyed the world, including the United States. It is also not an overstatement to say that the reigning in or reversal of economic globalization, if such a thing is even possible, would greatly benefit the ever-increasing poor, unemployed and underemployed peoples of the world.

What is Economic Globalization?

Prior to WWII and the US’ full ascent to global economic super power, the United States had what is known as a protectionist or isolationist economy, meaning it did not trade much with other nations and production and manufacturing was done mainly in house. Following its victory in the Second World War, the US was in a position of power as much of Europe lay in ruins and in  need of “aid.” The US seized the opportunity (some say it actually created this opportunity, but that is a topic for another article).  The US was able to economically enslave parts of Europe with its Marshall Plan. [1] Part of the conditions for Marshall Plan “aid” was the opening up of European markets to the US and economic restructuring and integration in a manner that favoured the US capitalist model and US banks and corporations.  With this, economic globalization began. With time the US was able to become a full-fledged Empire by (often forcibly) spreading its version of capitalism around the world. This made the US Empire unique in that is was largely economic in nature—what is know as capitalist imperialism. But capitalist imperialism is a highly political and militarized process, and the threat of military force and endless imperial war and invasion has always gone hand-in-hand with US economic empire.

Through economic globalization and its global monetary institutions and banks (i.e., IMF, WTO, World Bank, etc), the US was able to economically high jack the rest of the world while presenting itself—as it always does—as a global saviour. Globalization was presented as the ultimate and obvious remedy for what supposedly ails the world. The vision offered from leading advocates and beneficiaries of this “new world order,” were unfailingly positive, even utopian: “Globalization will be a panacea for all our ills.” [2] Corporate globalization was portrayed as the road to paradise, the inevitable unraveling of history and, indeed, the end of history–the final solution and last good idea. Continue reading

Is The Trump Win the End of Identity Politics?

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Whatever one may think of Donald Trump, if his presidential win, and the post-election liberal democratic freak out, tells us anything– it is that the flawed liberal (not to be mistaken with radical) agenda of identity politics and rabid political correctness may be coming to an end.

Once upon a time, I considered myself left wing. For me, this meant a criticism and resistance to Empire. My femaleness, brownness, “immigrant-ness,” “Muslim-ness,” etc., did not factor into the equation. In other words, my political views were not guided by personal characteristics like race and gender. I was and continue to be acutely aware that, despite certain differences, what the vast majority of people share in common is that the current militarized global economic Empire is screwing us all.[1]

And, once upon a time, the radical left held similar views and points of criticism. But as the radical anti-Empire left morphed into the mainstream liberal “left,” identity politics, political correctness, and the protection of personal feelings came to replace big picture politico-economic analysis and opposition.

Nowhere is this more evident than among western mainstream liberal feminists, whose contemporary “political analysis” seems to stop at slut marching. To these identity politics obsessed individuals, not voting for Hillary Clinton makes you “anti-women.” And now they are literally freaking out over her defeat. All over the Internet, young liberal feminists are threatening to move to Canada in the wake of the US election. Please do not come to Canada, ladies, we don’t need any more clueless people.

In what world does Hillary’s vagina acquit her of her war mongering, criminal behaviour? If anyone was likely to start World War III it was Hillary Clinton. Hillary is a neocon, war machine military industrial complex, and global empire accomplice of the highest order. By comparison, Donald Trump’s stance on foreign war and the military industrial complex has been seemingly critical. How does that make him more likely to start WWIII? It is not rational to think that. And it is not rational to support a candidate simply because they are a woman. This reflects one of the many follies of identity politics, it excuses the crimes of people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–which includes the slaughter of innocent women and people of colour abroad–based on their gender or race. [2]

Anyone who genuinely believes that Hillary Clinton was going to be a positive force in the world—despite her war mongering track record—simply because she is female (a powerful and powerfully connected female member of the elite, but hey, still a woman) needs a reality check.

I will continue this discussion, and will explore the hopeful eventual demise of liberal identity politics (i.e., the “fake left” or the establishment left) in future articles.

Notes

[1] The problem with identity politics is that, while it claims to be about equality, it’s emphasis on difference serves to divide people (men vs women, blacks vs. whites) and distract us from the larger issues and problems that unite us, regardless of our differences. Identity politics–while it may have started with good intentions–allows elites to divide and rule, while also distracting us from issues to do with class and economics.

[2] I should also point out that Trump managed to galvanize a type of white identity politics around issues of employment and illegal immigration. Here, class issues (i.e., unemployment, loss of jobs) were interpreted  as “white issues.” So identity politics is not something that only manifests on the liberal left.