Concrete web-magazine

5Jan/140

The Magic of Things

A fetish (derived from the French fétiche; which comes from the Portuguese feitiço; and this in turn from Latin facticius, "artificial" and facere, "to make") is an object believed to have supernatural powers, or in particular, a man-made object that has power over others. Essentially, fetishism is the emic attribution of inherent value or powers to an object.

-Wikipedia

Tuning in on TV or radio, opening a newspaper or magazine or just plain taking a stroll through the city, one can not evade the omnipresent advertising of goods and products we are promised will enrich our lives, if only we purchase them. So far, so bad. The sensoric terror of consumer society can not be evaded and therefore we have adapted to often not even consciously register the advertising messages anymore.

How else to explain the seeming obliviousness to the inherent absurdity of many ads?

Many products promise plain supernatural qualities: margarine is no longer just nutritional, it's actively helping you lose weight by the power of magical ingredients whose name you can't remember, but which sounded just scientific enough to buy it. Yoghurt is no longer a tasty dessert or snack, it's a potent potion to improve your health. And deodorants don't just mask the natural stench of your armpits; those days, it's making you literally irresistable to the opposite gender.

It's easy to mock such claims and deem yourself above falling prey to ridiculous promises, but we have to note that this form of advertisement must strike a nerve. If it weren't succesful, it would have vanished from the tools of manipulation the great advertising agencies use. It didn't. To the contrary, the attribution of traits to products they, according to common sense, just can't possess, is hegemonial in the world of advertisement.

This goes beyond outright claiming certain properties, like the food industry likes to do with imaginary health benefits of their products. Often, the association is more subtle and implied. Try finding a car advertisement that is actually about objective qualities of a car and not about associating a desired lifestyle with it. You'll be hard pressed. A sports car will subconsciously promise you vitality and power, a family car will promise you a happy family.

Entire business models rest on such attributions. There are plenty of myths about organic products that just don't stand up to the actual conditions under which they're produced. Organic food and fair trade promise you to make the revolution purchaseable. You can safely continue your saturated middle-class consumer lifestyle, all that matters is that you buy the right products. This is fundamentally the same assumption that may lead others to buy a fast car to get laid - just with more pretentious, smug moralism to back up your choice.

It works the other way round, too. Certain producers have managed to acquire such a bad reputation or get their products associated with moral qualities, that buying them makes you a bad person yourself. Try, for example, to argue with a common left-winger about the question why Coca Cola is bad, but buying a competing brand is seemingly acceptable. Or take the German clothing retailer "KIK", whose customers have become synonymous with uneducated, poor and anti-social losers to most of the German public - which happily shops at stores that sell essentially the same clothers, sometimes from the very same factories in Bangladesh.

Even those who think they have "opted out" of consumer society and are not affected by advertisement and the mass produced goods it promotes will believe in this very same "magic of things", just from a different angle. Take the obsession with hand-crafted products - which are, as a matter of quality, often worse than their mass produced counterparts. The entire premise of the DIY subculture is that products you made yourself have some inherent quality that makes them morally superior to those bought in stores. No matter the real advantages or disadvantages of a certain design, they are said to have a greater "authenticity".

Human attributes are expressed through goods.

This goes to show that the problem lies deeper than manipulation through advertisement. It's not a great plot to make us buy products. Advertisers merely pick up on a way of thinking that we have already absorbed since day one of our lives as capitalist subjects, that we are nothing but the sum of our accumulated property and our value on the market. It is only consequential that individuals, which mainly interact with each other through the things they have to offer on the market, will project parts of their humanity onto material possession.

That is the essence of fetishism in capitalist society: we have become so emotionally hollow that we have to supplant our own humanity with magic objects.

5Dec/130

Irans nuclear ambitions – Unsafe at any speed

»The enrichment of uranium will proceed as before. [...] The Worlds powers have recognized Irans right to enrich uranium on Iranian soil.«

-Hassan Rohani following the conclusion of the talks with the USA

If the reactions of the European public were anything to go by, the deal with the Iran must have saved the world. There seemed to be a general consensus that ending the sanctions on the Iran is the goal to be achieved and Irans nuclear ambitions are generally ignored despite being at the center of the debate. German media in particular have attributed the new Iranian president Rohani almost saintlike qualities, painting the picture of a fundamental change in Iran.

However, if voices from the region itself are anything to go by, things look wildly different.

Israels opposition to the deal with Iran is well known and, considering Israels role as "jew amongst the nations", it' not too far-fetched to believe that the coverage of Israels opposition to an end of the sanctions is actually used to reinforce the positive image of the deal with the general public. If Netanyahu opposes it, it must be a good thing. To drive this point home, German journalists even resorted to anti-semitic imagery, portraying Netanyahu as the archetypical poisoner, who intends to kill peace itself.

What is commonly ignored is both Israels reasons for its outspoken opposition to the Iranian nuclear programm and the fact that other nations in the region have shown similiar strong opposition to the deal with Iran.

From all available information, we can probably conclude that Iran wants the atom bomb. Many parts of its nuclear developement would make no sense for a civilian, energy-producing goal. Iran is not only enriching uranium to a point only needed for the developement of weapons, it is doing so in underground vaults intended to inoculate the industry against foreign attacks. It furthermore has in the past rejected solutions that would have allowed it to develope a civilian nuclear industry but taken away the possibility of constructing nuclear weapons, for example the Russian offer to take over the task of uranium enrichment for Iran completely.

Israel fears a nuclear Iran because it is a threat to its own existence. The Iranian state doctrine is fundamentally antisemitic and the destruction of Israel remains an ideological and strategic goal of the government. While President Rohani has avoided openly anti-semitic remarks in the recent months, as those would have endangered the talks with the United States and the European Union, there was no fundamental change in Iranian government policy - its brutality evidenced by the more than 300 death sentences carried out since Rohani became President - and Irans Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini continued threats towards Israel which have a long tradition. Worryingly enough, this tradition includes a very specific argument for nuclear war with Israel:

"If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world."

- Chairman of Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani during a Quds-Day speech in 2001

But will the Iran risk its own destruction by the hands of Israeli nuclear bombs in retaliation for such an assault? One can only speculate. Public speeches of course do not reveal the full truth about a governments ambitions and the words may have been meant for the public, not as an actual intention for nuclear war with Israel. Despite the irrational elements of antisemitic ideology, the "all or nothing"-attitude which already had been Nazi Germany's downfall, the Iranian leadership is comparable to other Islamist movements in the sense that it is quick to sacrifice millions of its people for the ideological goals, but also very concerned with preserving its own status and power.

Still, Israels worries are understandable. Even the faintest possibility is still a threat to the millions living in a country so small that, indeed, one or two bombs could lead to the thorough destruction and the death of most its population. One or two bombs, that won't necessarily be fired from Iran itself and could just as easily be handed over to one of the Shiite militias under indirect control of the Iran, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.

But, as noted before, Israel is not the only country panicking in the face of Irans nuclear ambitions. Saudi-Arabia has publically announced its intention to acquire nuclear bombs of its own from Pakistan, should Iran go nuclear. Pakistan possesses a sizeable nuclear arsenal that had been developen with Saudi-Arabias help.  Egypt and Turkey are likely candidates for developing nuclear bombs in response the Iranian ambitions as well. Furthermore, it was Saudi-Arabia that informed Israel of the talks held between the USA and Iran without consultation of the Israeli government. A remarkable event, considering that Israel had been the United States' most important ally in the region during the past decades.

As a consequence of the deal with Iran, the region will become less safe and the possibility of regional war is increasing - no matter how many times the negotiations with Iran are called "peace talks". Iran has strong hegemonial ambitions and ongoing imperialist designs for the arabic world. Next to Turkey it is the only country with the material base to do so: Israel is too small and too much of a Pariah for the Arabs to exert much influence over regional affairs. Saudi-Arabia and Qatar are both trying to influence political movements in other countries, for example by funding political groups or governments, but they lack the population for grander designs. Egypt, while a large state, is tied down in internal and economic unrest.

Irans national ideology and predominantly shiite religion adds a religious dimension to the hegemonial struggle with the Sunni states. It had been unable to bridge this divide by invoking Israel as common enemy. Iran is fighting covert wars in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq by funding militias and terrorist activity. While it has thusfar shunned open engagements with any regional powers, this may change if the country developes nuclear weapons that would shield it from repercussion for expansionist policies. Bluntly said: which country would want to assault a nuclear Iran, even it were to invade Iraq?

The Obama-administration meanwhile is pursuing a policy of disengagement in the middle east that, from a national perspective, has been long overdue. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been costly and yeilded no practical benefits for the US government while costing it large amounts of legitimacy. Its tightly knit alliance with Israel demonizes the USA in the eyes of anti-semites throughout the world and has jeopardized business opportunities with the Iran.

Likewise, Germany leads Europe into appeasement of Iran for very solid reasons. Much of the Iranian nuclear programm - just like other countries before - has been developed with German technology. While formally sticking to the sanctions of Iran, German industry had reportedly felt encouraged by politics to illegally evade the sanctions long before the talks with Iran started.

Iran is a large market, much larger than Israel and Saudi-Arabia. Furthermore, re-approachment with Iran may spoil relations with these countries, but it will not cause them to turn against their powerful, if unreliable, partners in Europe and America. Business wil proceed undisturbed. Indeed, it may actually improve, if the destabilized situation in the middle east prompts regional partners of the NATO to expand their arms-purchases.

Much of the middle-east has been rendered useless for the global economy. The unemployed and unproductive populations of countries like Syria may die in protracted civil wars and the rest of the world will sit idly, as long as the governments in the region and the many militias participating in the wars compensate the loss of civilian consumer demand with demand for military products and as long as the access to ressources like oil remains secure. Considering its their only source of income, warring factions will likely ensure it does in order to pay the bills of their arms dealers.

3Dec/130

Fortress Europe – Castle Keep Germany

As much, as the state of the world must depress anyone, who wishes for social progress and moving beyond the constraints of the capitalist society, sometimes there are things that make hopeful not all is lost yet.

In particular, the tenacity, with which refugees and their supporters in Germany stem themselves against the tides of the racist mainstream, is impressive. This is all the more praiseworthy, considering that throughout this year, Germany seemed to be headed back to the dreaded times of the early nineties. Back then, a wave of nationalism caught the German public in the aftermath of the reunification and quickly found its expression in a series of pogroms against asylum-seekers. Media and politics fanned the fires with slogans such as: "the boat is full" or complaints about "asylum abuse", implying the refugees headed for Germany only intended to leech of social security.

Racism in the early nineties culminated in the Rostock-Lichtenhagen riots in 1992. Government sided with the rioters, interpreting these riots as an expression of justified worries and used them as a pretense for a de-facto abolishment of the (constitutional) right to political asylum.

In many ways, 2013 reminded of 1992. The public debate was heated, many politicians on the right (including the German minister of the interior Hans-Peter Friedrich) warned about a rise in the numbers of asylum-seekers and especially the upcoming integration of Romania and Bulgaria into the open labor-market of the European Union was cause for panic. There have also been large public protests against several asylum-seeker homes, including the "Lichtelmarsch" in the small Saxonian town of Schneeberg, and in one case against a housing-block populated mainly by impoverished Roma in the city of Duisburg.

The slogans reminded us of the early nineties, including the parole of the reunification "Wir sind das Volk" - "We are the people", which had quickly acquired a nationalist meaning during the reunification in the sense of "Wir sind EIN Volk" - "We are ONE people". The subtext is that anyone not part of our blood and soil community by birth is not deserving of a life within these borders. Furthermore that the German government is not representing the national interests of the Germans as a unified and monlithic people, but foreign interests. The proximity to Nazi propaganda about the enslavement of the German people by foreign countries or a sinister jewish conspiracy controlling government and media is not a coincidence.

Comparing the pogroms of 1992 and the protests of 2013, even the participants looked the same.

Therefore, the way in which the organisation of the refugees themselves and their protests resonated in parts of the German public must be considered all the more impressive. In particular in Hamburg, large protests have repeatedly criticised the refusal of the local government to grant asylum to a group of refugees from the war in Lybia who are currently sheltered in a church in the district of Sankt-Pauli. Arriving through the island of Lampedusa, Italy had already granted these people political asylum but then urged them to move onwards, considering the desastrous conditions for refugees in the country.

The city of Hamburg insists that the refugees apply for asylum again, at the same time signalling that this would be the first step to deportation. Officials of the social-democratic government in Hamburg consider themselves and their city not responsible, considering the Dublin-II agreements which define that refugees can only seek asylum in those countries of the European Union in which they first arrive. The Dublin-II agreements have been harshly criticised in the past as a way for countries in central and north Europe to rid themselves of the responsibility for refugees at the expense of the poorer (and now: crisis-ridden) countries along the European borders.

There is not enough room to give a full chronology of the protests in Hamburg, but they first started with smaller protests in May this year and a first demonstration drew roughly 600 people at the 8. of June. The group, calling itself "Lampedusa in Hamburg" gathered further public attention when the sinking of a ship overloaden with refugees at the coast of Lampedusa (resulting in the death of about 390 people) was widely reported in the media. Meanwhile, police started a campaign of racial-profiling in the district of Sankt-Pauli with the explicit goal of identifying the refugees and forcing them to leave the country.

From here on, protests intensified. The refugees found allies not only, but very prominently, in the "Rote Flora" and the activist groups organized within the structures of what is perhaps Germanys most prominent Squat. A first illegal protest of about 1000 people at the 15. October was stopped violently by the police, gathering additional attention for the cause as pictures of the clashes were sent on German television (riots are a surefire way to get good audience ratings).

At about this point, protests started to spread throughout Germany. Many smaller towns saw people gather in solidarity with the refugees in Hamburg. Furthermore, a campaign of militant protest flanked the demonstrations, causing property damage to a variety of targets, but popularily the beuraucratic institutions responsible for the treatment of refugees in Germany.

The largest protest (thusfar) occured at the 2. Novemberg, gathering something between 10.000 and 15.000 individuals. The significance of this protest (and the one following a football match some days before that which saw 9.000 participants) is the realization that the refugees found supporters far beyond the "usual suspects" of the radical left and a few humanitarian organizations. Furthermore, their supporters seem to possess quite some stamina, as there are at least weekly protests and the last one, occuring last weekend at Saturday, still had about 1.000 participants. There is also the upcoming large protest march on the 21. of December, planned as a march in support of the "Rote Flora" squat, which will likely become a large solidarity march for the refugees as well.

Of course, Hamburg isn't the only city in Germany where refugees protest. Munich and Berlin both saw groups of refugees camp out on public spaces and start a hunger strike for their demands to be granted basic human rights. However, the notable difference here is, that neither enjoyed public support anywhere comparable to what is currently happening in Hamburg. In fact, large parts of the German public likened the hunger strikes to "blackmail".

There is, no matter how hopeful the events in Hamburg may make one, still a growing racist sentiment within Germany. In times of capitalist crisis, especially when lacking any answer pointing beyond the constraints of bourgeoise society, many individuals will resort to violently defending what little privilege they had been granted. The recent wave of racism in Germany therefore often has a very prominent social-chauvinist aspect, insisting that refugees are just here to get social security and that they are just plain too expensive to be granted aid when unemployed Germans have to suffer cuts to social security themselves. Of course, in such a world view, impotence of the individual is a very prominent factor: to complain in such a way, I must first accept the cuts to social security as some sort of unstoppable fate and (super)natural in origin.

Finally, one word of warning: following the riots in Rostock-Lichtenhagen and the numerous assaults on migrants in Germany in the early 90s (resulting in numerous gruesome deaths) several large, publicity-gathering protests occured where Germans held light-chains against racism. The practical effect of these protests was no reversal of the anti-asylum politics of the government or any kind of improvement for migrants or those perceived as foreigners by virtue of their "un-German" looks. The practical effect was merely a restauration of Germanys image in the eyes of the rest of the world which had looked with worry at a reunited and powerful Germany where racism ran as rampant like this.

The goal must be an end to the discrimination an the European isolation from refugees. To achieve this, we all must be wary not to let ourselves be instrumentalized for the sake of Germanys foreign policy, clouding the worlds view at how racist German society really is.

29Sep/130

Syriana

The world rejoices, the UN security council has reached an agreement on Syria, condemning the use of chemical weapons - without stating any responsible faction - and demanding their destruction. Syrian dictator Assad has voiced his support for the destruction of his chemical weapon stockpiles and experts, which have warned that this is an almost impossible operation during a civil war and that the massive task leaves many loopholes for the Syrian army to hide a part of the weapons are generally ignored.

In short, we have witnessed yet another act in this grotesque theater play called Syria. The weeks during which an American air-strike seemed imminent had already created truly obscure situations. Most notably the anti-war demonstrations, touting the slogan "No war on Syria" - begging the question what exactly has been going on in Syria during the last months. It was a kneejerk reaction by the political left, stuck in an ideological dead-end in which any action by the US is wrong and imperialist by default - and in turn, their opponents justified.

The facts at hand, however, tell us that there is a war on Syria - and it is fought by the Syrian government with direct support from both Iran and the Hezbollah Militias. Where are the anti-war activists demanding "No war on Syria" in direction to the Iranian government, that trains pro-government troops on its soil and supplies military aid, or in direction to the Hezbollah, that has openly intervened in support of Assad and thus provoked the war to cross borders into the Lebanon?

It gets worse.

If we may recall, the civil war in Syria started with peaceful mass-demonstrations against the government, inspired by the events in Tunisia and Egypt that had been dubbed "Arab Spring" in the west. Assads regime reacted with massive violence, to the point of provoking open rebellion by a myriad of different armed groups. It is indeed quite difficult to gain a complete overview of the confusing power-structures in Syria right now, but a few things are certain: there are Sunni Islamist groups, massively supported by the NATO-allies Saudi-Arabia and Qatar. They are, however, a minority, at least if voices of Islamist groups themselves are anything to go by. A Chechen Islamist, for example, voiced his opinion about the Free Syrian Army that there were too many members fighting for "freedom and equality". Organizations like the Arab Reform Initiative or IHS Janes support the conclusion that, as of now, the majority of the FSA fights for a democratic government and human rights.

These fighters receive pretty much no outside support at all. The ongoing war is threatening to marginalize their positions, as they can not compete with the monetary support and professional training which both Islamist groups and the government forces can muster. Already the violent response to the mass-protests had pushed aside many of the more progressive demands, has marginalized certain groups within society, especially women, and brought to the forefront of the battle many groups whose lack of political expertise and civilian agenda is replaced with military skill.

Speaking of military skill: one of the most popular stories revolving around the chemical attacks in Syria is, that these may just as well have been commited by the rebels themselves. There is a few indices that speak out against this version of the story and in favour of the Syrian military as perpetrator. Firstly, there is little evidence that rebel forces had captured any of the governments stockpiles, which are well guarded for obvious reasons. Considering the political gain that Assads regime already had from the vague story of the possibility of a rebel chemical attack, we can be certain such an event would have been made public. Secondly, the Syrian opposition is generally doubted to have the skill necessary to transport and handle chemical weapons safely, something that can not be said about the government forces. Thirdly, from all available information we can conclude that the rebels do not possess weapon systems capable of firing chemical weapons.

All reliable foreign observers have come to the same conclusion: the chemical attacks were an act committed by the Syrian government. They were the most massive of a series of incidents, during which the Syrian government had obviously been testing out how far it can go in terms of violence against its own population to win the civil war. Apparently, the Syrian government saw some necessity in extreme measures, because the war had turned into a stalemate throughout the last months. Neither side seems strong enough to win now.

The prospect of air-attacks, even just very limited ones, had created hopes amongst the rebels that in its wake, some strategic gains could be made. This possibility is now off the table, the opposition to US-air strikes amongst the civilian population in the west was large and the diplomatic protection of Syria by its allies in Russia was too strong. Syrias government may no longer use chemical weapons against its enemies now, but it will certainly consider its conventional warfare, which was just as cruel.

However, the political left in the west will now lean back and pat itself on the shoulder: "job well done", as if an US air-strike on Syria would have made anything worse for the people in Syria and by averting it, there is now pretty much peace in the middle-east. If the political left and the peace-movement in the USA, Europe and beyond were to be taken serious, however, it would try to understand the situation in Syria, try to do what it can to stop the war waged by dictator Assad and its allies Iran and Hezbollah.

And even if it would have to confess that the situation in Syria is too complex and chaotic for it to choose sides, there is still an monumentally vital task that any self-respecting left should adress: the plight of the refugees.

An estimated 1,5 million people have fled Syria to escape the war and they have mostly made it into desolate camps in neighbouring countries, half a million of them made it to Lebanon alone - a country that has less than five million inhabitants itself. This is a truly massive strain on the populations of neighbouring countries, but western governments do little to nothing to help. In fact, their main concern seems to be to make sure that as little Syrian refugees as possible end up within their own borders. Russia granted a whooping 500 (!) refugees asylum. Germany has granted permission to a measly 8000 Syrian asylum requests since 2012. That's the amount of people that left Syria in february this year alone.

Many of the refugees take to extreme measures to ensure their survival and child marriages amongst Syrian refugees have drastically increased, as families sell their daughters to feed themselves. If only the rest of the world would take its responsibility serious, these would be completely unnecessary acts.

27Sep/130

The Minimum is a Wage

Following the recent elections in Germany, the parliament is now made up entirely of parties which have voiced their support for the introduction of a legal minimum wage in some shape or another. The last bastion of vocal opposition to this demand that had initially been introduced to the public by the ex-communist Left Party a few years ago, the Free Democracts, have failed to win the necessary amount of votes to cross the 5% threshold barring minor parties from access to the German parliament.

But if I were asked to make a prediction, I would state with great certainty that this measure, which numerous capitalist countries seemingly have no problem with, will not be introduced to Germany. A general, legally binding minimum wage for all jobs within Germany is too much of a contradiction to German economic policy.

Within Berlins political strate, many seem to have realized throughout the last years that the campaigning for a minimum wage not only joined the Left Party and the Labor Unions together in one front - in a Republic where all parties have categorically ruled out a coalition with said party under any circumstances - but also earned them popularity with the general public.

This is not surprising, considering that Germans have suffered from an overall negative trend in terms of income. Over the last decade, Labor Unions have generally failed to negotiate wage raises that even just meet the inflation rates, leaving even those with secure jobs with de facto less money to spend. And this does not account for those who found their full-time, insurance covered jobs replaced with so called "mini-jobs", contracts that allow for a maximum income of 450 Euro per month and are not covered by social insurance - which saves employers a fair share of their profits.

The restructuring of unemployment benefits in the Federal Republic has enacted further pressure on the working classes, as unemployed Germans now find themselves in an almost surreal machinery geared towards forcing them to accept any kind of job, no matter the conditions. Germany's "Agency for Work" is quick to hand out punishments and cut payments to anyone not meeting application quotas, refusing to accept work offered to them or offend their beuraucrats in any other kind of way. Combined with a omnipresent "any kind of work is better than no work"-ideology, this has massively eroded the function of unemployment benefits as lower limit for wages. It's not an option in Germany to rather be unemployed than to work for a wage that is insufficient in covering your expenses.

A minimum wage is appealing under such circumstances. Indeed, it is an almost revolutionary idea, considering that Germany's entire export-oriented economy rests soundly on the fact that it has managed to keep its labor unions in check, maximize pressure on the unemployed a create a de facto negative trend for its wages, while the rest of the Eurozone did not. Germany is the manufacturing center of Europe, its industry geared towards exports and neglecting the domestic markets in order to achieve as positive a trade bilance as possible. This had devastating effects on the remainder of Europe once the economic crisis hit, but it has stabilized the German economy, at least for now.

But this is also the reason one should doubt the willingness of anyone outside the Left Party to really introduce a legal minimum wage, no matter their public statements. The ruling Christian Democrats are the party of the austerity-regime, the Social-Democrats and the Green were in a coalition when the groundworks for Germanys current economic modus operandi were laid, when unemployment benefits were cut and the force-to-work policies known as "Hartz 4" were enacted.

If there were any sincere intention to introduce minimum wages, we would have already seen them become reality. In fact, whenever such a measure was introduced to parliament in the recent years, minor difference about its height or its implemention were cited to turn it down. The debates are ludicrous and often just revolve about measly fifty cent differences. But these debates are also a strategy to postpone the implemention of a legal lower limit to wage cuts as long as possible, without raising the ire of the German public, as admittedly harmless as this ire usually manifests.

We may soon see the rest of Europe try to challenge Germany's low wages with cuts of their own. When that happens, Germany will probably turn the downward spiral on the labor market they started even further. Without a minimum wage, it is well prepared to do so.

24Aug/130

Permanent Crisis

Spiegel Online, Germany's most popular news website, was jubilant: "Euro-zone overcomes recession".

Reason for this headline was the reported growth of 0,3 percent in the Euro-zone during the second quarter of the year 2013. For those whose ideological outlook dictates that capitalism has always been and will always be, this naturally has to indicate an end to crisis, which is thought only as a kind of work-accident that can be repaired and after which capital-accumulation proceeds undisturbed - business as usual.

However, there are a number of problems with this assesment, some of which had ironically been stated in another article in the business-section of the same Spiegel Online. "Whoever seeks income return must increase his risk". The most notable reason for this is the presence of an inflation-rate well above the current economic growth figures: 1,6 percent.

In effect this means that all the news of economic growth in the Euro-zone are a scam, as the devaluation of the Euro proceeds at a faster pace, effectively shrinking incomes of the working classes and the corporations alike. High inflation rates are a necessary consequence of the policy of the European central bank, which is effectively handing out money for free to banks - a modern version of printing excess money. The very same policy, meanwhile, drives much of the economic growth in the Eurozone, because if loans are cheap, it reduces the risk for investors who request these loans. This has created a deplorable situation where, to stop the inflation, one would have to curb the economic growth and return to recession.

Furthermore, the growth in the Eurozone is not distributed evenly across its memberstates: Germany and France are largely responsible for the positive figures, other states are still deep in economic recession. A closer look at this situation can reveal looming problems, that may become the source of a renewed recession cycle. Especially Germany has founded its current economy on social policies that have created a continuous trend towards decreasing wages and massive pressure on unemployed stratas of its own population. Much of the Eurozone is a mere market for exports in the eyes of German business and politics. However, such a business model becomes unstable if the rest of the Eurozone remains in recession and the purchasing power of its customers is quickly vanishing into thin air.

Another, very serious aspect to consider is, that much of the positive growth in these comparetively stable European countries is purely speculative. Cheap loans have fired up renewed growth of the financial markets and, especially noticeable in Germany's largest cities, a massive speculative bubble on the housing market. In other words, it becomes increasingly evident that the establishment does not have any answers to the crisis of the last years and we are currently witnessing an attempt at returning to pre-crisis business models.

It may be prudent to actually analyze the nature of the economic crisis - a term which the dominant neoclassical school of economists has banned altogether from its works - and for this task I want to field the German theorist Robert Kurz, who has spent much of his work analyzing the inner limits of capitalist growth. To make things short, it is wrong to think that speculative growth on an unrestrained financial market is the source of the current economic crisis: to the contrary, a ballooning financial sector is by itself a sign of a capitalist market in crisis.

Kurz has termed the neoliberal policies that have become hegemonic since the 1980s "the continuation of Keynesianism by other means". To understand this we have to recall that the fordist growth cycle that has started with the end of World War 2 had entered a continued phase of stagnation by that time and the old Keynesian policies of deficit-spending that were supposed to kickstart the economy during periods of crisis were no longer working: the economy was stagnating, but inflation rates were high - a combination that had been unthinkable before.

The reason for this must be searched for in the progress of the capitalist system itself and one of its fundamental inner contradictions: it sets human labor as the source of its value, but at the same time creates massive incentives to remove human labor from the production process. As long as the product innovation (the invention of new goods for humans to consume) consumed larger amounts of labor than were made obsolete by the process innovation (the invention of technologies that replace human labor in the production of these goods) all was well in fordist capitalism. However, the microtechnological revolution of the last decades crossed a fundamental threshold. Ever since, technological progress has made more labor obsolete than are needed in the creation of the goods it introduced to human society.

Inflationary growth on the financial market was the logical consequence of the fact that the real economy was not providing sufficient rates of profit any longer. And while massive inflation rates in the real economy are considered undesirable, they do not disturb anyone on the financial markets. Quite to the contrary, there is a whole financial "industry" built upon the exploitation of these sudden inflationary spikes in the value of shares. What was new and revolutionary wasn't just the extent of this fictional growth, its massive size dwarfing past escapes of capital into the financial spheres during periods of economic crisis. The real innovation was that this fictional growth trickled back into the real economy and, while causing occasional disturbances, seemed stable enough to carry the entire economic system on its back.

That was, of course, a folly, as we know in hindsight. The massive speculation on future growth had created a snowball system, where the revenues made by speculating on future income were themselves invested in speculations on income even further in the future - until the whole absurdity of this system came crashing down. At this point, the administrators of capitalist normality, the states, their beuraucrats and politicians, had two options, which boil down to either a continued Keynesian deficit-spending policy - as we are currently observing in most states - or an austerity policy similiar to the one Germany is currently forcing upon Greece.

Neither are good options: Keynesianism can't fix the underlying problems. No matter how much free capital is pumped into the economy, it won't find profitable investments in the real economy, meaning that we will either face recurring economic bubbles that will leave the world looking worse after each crash than it did after the one before, or it will create a prolonged period of economic stagnation and high inflation rates.

The other option is even worse: it would mean a drastic programme of economic extermination of large stratas of human society which have been rendered useless by the capitalist market, leaving them stranded without any source of income and no means to survive. Imagine austerity-policy Greece on a global scale.

In other words, the crisis is far from over and we have to anticipate a capitalist world in a state of permanent unrest. There are three possible source of a renewed and intensified global recession, namely the European deficit cycle based on the German export economy and the Eurozone as its debtors; the far larger Pacific deficit cycle, with Chinas export economy and the USA as its debtor; and the inflationary bubbles created on the financial market and the housing sector by cheap loans. Imaginable is also a prolonged period of relative stability, but economic stagnation and economic inflation, leading to a "silent recession". And, of course, there is also the worst option of them all: the austerity regime, that removes all the "excess" population from social participation and cuts costs by ending the redistribution of wealth to people in need - a policy that can only be feasibly implemented by force.

A sound political strategy must adress the real reasons of the crisis, develope alternatives to the capitalist system as a whole, not dwell on Keynesian policies and daydream about a "tamed" capitalism - and it must oppose the austerity regimes by all means as the worst of all these bad. options

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14Aug/130

What a Bunch of Nice Guys

Israel and the Palestinian authorities have agreed to renew peace-talks. Criticism towards Israel is abound, because it has recently granted permission for several hundred new homes in existing settlements in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have managed to force the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, who were cheered on as heroes as the first of them arrived in Ramallah. Even in western media, they have been termed "political prisoners".

That's hardly the case. I will not rant on much and just post a list of the released prisoners and the crimes they had been convicted for and leave the judgement to you.

    • Agbariya Hassan Mohammed, Agbariya Mustafa Mohammed Yehieh, Jabarin Mohammed Tawfik Suliman Yosef, Agbariya HassanMahmoud Ibrahim - Infiltrated an army base and murdered three soldiers and seriously injured an additional soldier. In addition, planned to carry out the murders of soldiers and theft of their weapons.
    • Halaf Juma'aMustafa Ahmed - Whilst a minor, stabbeda citizen in his back andalso in a number ofcases set fire to vehiclesand buildings.
    • Younis Abdel Latif Abdel Kader Maher, Younis Younis Fadel Fadel Karim - Together kidnapped a soldier, shot him, stole his gun and left him at the side of the road. (Note – the victim died a few days later)
    • Al-Khatib Abdallah Kaid Bashir - Carried out a murder in order to allow Fatah to make use of the murdered man's body for the purpose of a prisoner exchange deal.
    • Abu Moch Ibrahim, Biadsa Abdel Razak Ahmed Ibrahim, Abu Moch Hamdoun Mohammed Rushdi - Together planned to kidnap a soldier for use as a bargaining chip. In practice, kidnapped a soldier and took part in his murder.
    • Dakah Nimer Assad Walid - Commander of operation to kidnap a soldier for use as a bargaining chip. Ordered the soldier's murder should the transfer process not go as planned. Was not present at the time of the kidnapping and murder.
    • Abu Jaber Ali Hussein Ahmed - Took part in the murder of a soldier. In addition, together with accomplices, shot at the house of another victim, with the aim of dissuading him from taking part in the trial of the prisoner's brother.
    • Shakir Al Afu Musbach Nofel - Took part in the murder of a soldier.
    • Jabarin Otman Ibrahim Mahmoud - Murdered a man suspected of being a collaborator with the security forces.
    • Sarsawi Tsalah Taha Samir - Ordered the throwing ofa grenade at a crowd of civilians which caused injuries to many people. In addition, set fire to parked buses and threw petrol bombs at travelling buses.
    • Abu Hadir Mohammed Yassin - Together with accomplices, stabbed two civilians. In addition, purchased a weapon which was used to murder another civilian and instructed members of the (terror) cell in its use. Also tried to murder another civilian and was in possession of four hand grenades.
    • Abu Hasin Ahmed Yusef Bilal - Whilst serving a sentence for blocking roads and arson of a vehicle, murdered (together with his three cell-mates) a prisoner whom they suspected of collaborating with the authorities.
    • Da'agna Nofel Mohammed Mahmoud - Initiated, planned and encouraged his accomplices to murder a civilian
    • Baroud Ahmed Mohamed Fares - Murdered a civilian by stabbing. Attempted to murder two more civilians, causing grievous bodily harm, and kidnapped an additional civilian. Whilst in detention, also – together with accomplices – caused grievous bodily harm to another prisoner.
    • Jaradat Mohammed Anis Ayman -With the help of his cell, murdered two civilians in order to steal their weapons. Also, kidnapped, interrogated and murdered two additional civilians whom he suspected of collaborating with the authorities. Also murdered a man he suspected of being a collaborator, attempted to murder another person and also killed a man he had kidnapped with the aim of interrogating him. Tried to kidnap - and caused grievous bodily harm to a person suspected of collaboration. Kidnapped, interrogated and assaulted 13 people whom he suspected of collaboration. On a number of occasions fired shots and threw stones at security forces. Also fired shots at civilians.
    • Amer Massoud Issa Rajib - With the help of his cell, murdered a civilian with an axe. Also, kidnapped, interrogated and murdered three civilians suspected of being collaborators. Assaulted three people who, according to him, carried out 'moral crimes'. Also, attacked IDF forces and aided the general activities of the terror organisation with which he identifies
    • Riad Issa Sayid Abed Aziz - Supplied a vehicle to his accomplices which in practice was used in the murder of a civilian. Was not aware that he was aiding the murder.
    • Abdel-Aal Sayid Ouda Yusef - Together with his cell, threw 2 grenades – which did not explode – at Border Police forces. On a different occasion, placed a bomb next to a Border Police facility but the explosion did not cause damage. Also, knew about the intention to harm a civilian and aided the process of his murder by passing information to the perpetrators regarding the absence of soldiers in the area. Also, together with his cell, tortured a local resident suspected of collaboration. After he left the scene, the victim was murdered by his two accomplices. On a separate occasion, intended to murder a local resident suspected of collaboration.
    • Faluji Zcharia Shacher Dia'a - Whilst a minor, beat a civilian to death with a hoe. Has not expressed regret for his actions.
    • Sualha Bad Almajed Mahmed Mahmed, Sualha Fazah Ahmed Husseini - Whilst minors, together  stabbed to death a youth who sat near them on the bus, and also tried to murder three additional (female) youths
    • Sabbag Ahmed Mahmud Mahmed - Whilst a minor, tortured and brutally murdered three local residents suspected of collaborating
    • Turkeman Yusef Suleiman Mahmed - Shot and killed a citizen who got out of his car near a convenience store and also shot and injured the deceased’s wife who got out of her vehicle to help her husband
    • Abu Hanana Zakariya Udia Usama - Served as a guard and accomplice in a murder and in the injury of the deceased’s wife after throwing a grenade at her
    • Abdel-Aziz Said Kassam Ahmed - Planned, initiated and carried out the attack that that led to the victim's murder and his wife's injury
    • Silawi Khaled Kamal Usama - Took part in the violent interrogation of local residents suspected of collaborating with the authorities and responsible for the death of three of them. Also took part in the murder of the deceased and the injury of his wife. In addition, fired at security forces at a number of times.
    • Flana Fauzi Salamah Mahmed - With an accomplice, laid an explosive device on the road leading to the settlement and caused the death of a civilian and the injury of six additional civilians
    • Nasser Salah Abdel Samad Mazlum, Abed Geni Abdallah Hashem Hamida - Criminals: In the course of a robbery, killed the victim by strangling
    • Al-Haaj Othman Amar Mustafa, Damara Ibrahim Mustafa Bilal - Took part in the murder of a Jewish hiker, after having stolen the deceased’s knife
    • Baroud Mustafa Ahmed Ibrahim - Together with his accomplice, placed three bombs in separate incidents: At the Holon Interchange, laid a bomb that lightly injured five civilians, in Tel Aviv a bomb exploded but did not cause injuries and at the Erez Crossing a bomb was discovered and detonated in a controlled explosion
    • Damouni Saad Mahmed Ahmed, Nashabat Jaabar Yusef Mahmed - Took part in a lynch of an IDF soldier. After they threw rocks at the soldier, they poured gas on his vehicle and ignited it, when the soldier was inside. It was noted that they did not express regret for their acts.
    • Gandiya Yusef Radoun Nahad, Hamdiya Mahmoud Awed Muhammed - Whilst minors, stabbed to death a Jewish building contractor with whom they were previously acquainted. At the time of their sentencing, they attempted to escape from jail, but were caught before able to.
    • Muhammed Ahmed Abdallah Halbi, Mahmud Ahmed Abdallah Halbi - Brothers; murdered seven people, for unclear motives. One of the female victims was likely killed following a financial dispute between her and the perpetrator. In addition, they were convicted of two murder attempts.
    • Ahmed Mahmed Jameel Shahada - Lured a 13-year-old boy, brutally sodomized him and invited his friend to take part. When the boy tried to flee, the perpetrator beat his body and cranium with an iron bar, causing his death. He then hid the body.
    • Hussein Husseini Said Atallah - Criminal: Together with three accomplices, robbed an acquaintance who had in his possession a weapon as part of his work as a guard for a bank. As a result of the victim’s resistance during the course of the robbery, the perpetrator’s friend shot the victim, killing him. In the course of his imprisonment, he escaped from jail, until he was returned six years later (2000-2006)
    • Abed Alhag Yusef Abed A’Rahman - Stabbed to death a female civilian walking on the street, and attempted to kill three additional civilians
    • Alafandi Mahmed Yusef Adnan - Stabbed two civilians with a kitchen knife with the intention to kill them because they were Jewish. He moderately wounded them.
    • Kour Matwah Hamad Faiz - Established a Fatah cell numbering 20 people which acquired weaponry. In addition, suspected of the murder of a Jewish civilian and the attempted murder of a collaborator.
    • Arsheed A’Hameed Yusef Yusef - Murdered five residents suspected of collaborating with authorities, after he brutally stabbed them. Also indicted for several counts of attempted murder of suspected collaborators.
    • Usama Suliman Fayad Abu Gidan - Criminal: With three relatives, murdered in order to steal a car. Wrapped a cable around the victim's neck in order to strangle him
    • Asor Masbach Khalil Mahmad - Together with two friends, murdered their Jewish taxi driver out of a nationalistic motive. The prisoner shot the victim. While in prison he was involved in the assault and injury of another prisoner.
    • Ahmad Mahmad Ahmad Ulad Mahmed - Criminal: Together with his uncle, murdered the victim who apparently owed the uncle money
    • Said Ahmad Mahmad Ulad D Muhamad - Together with his nephew, murdered a man who apparently owed him money. While in prison, he stabbed to death another prisoner. His appeal to the Supreme Court was accepted and he was convicted of murder of the prisoner.
    • Sha'at Azat Shaban Atat - Took part in the murder of a Jewish female resident of Gush Katif. Drove his accomplices to and from the scene of the crime.
    • Samarin MustafaKalib Asrar - Commanded a Fatah unit that was being trained to kill soldiers. Failed in his first attempt to murder a soldier, but was succesful in his second attempt. In addition, on repeated occasions abducted and interrogated [Arab] residents, set fire to cars and manufactured molotov cocktails.
    • Kra'an Azat Musa Musa - Drove an accomplice who intended on carrying out a terror act. After stealing a car by threatening the driver with a gun, he drove his friend who tried to murder a man and in his secondattempt murdered a soldier
    • Yacoub Muhammed Uda Ramdan, Afana MustafaAhmad Muhammed - As part of a group, they murdered a prostitute using an axe. They lured her to a neglected part of the city of Holon. After she died, one of them placed a letter in one of the cuts in the victim's body in which they claimed responsibility for the murder in the name of their organization
    •  Kamil Awad Ali Ahmad - Was part of a unit that carried out a shooting attack and a murder of a soldier. Also, he was part of a group that abducted, interrogated, tortured and murdered 15 local residents that were suspected to be collaborating with the authorities
    • Abu-Alroub MustafaMahmoud Faisel - Shot and murdered a soldier. Also, beat to death a Palestinian civilian who was suspected of collaborating with authorities. Also killed four other Palestinians who he suspected to be collaborators.
    • Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mugdad - Broke into a hotel in Netanya, hit the guard on his head with a steel rod and killed him. Also stole a television from the hotel.
    • Mahmud Ahmed Abu-Mamer - Criminal: Together with an accomplice, robbed the victim and strangled him to death. While in prison he was convicted of possessing heroine.
    • Salah Ali Hader Razak - Placed two explosives next to a patrol, killing a soldier and injuring two. In addition, he also repeatedly hurled firebombs at Israeli cars
    • Gnimat Amar Mahmad Mustafa, Gnimat Mahmud Mahmad Ziad - Together murdered two Israeli citizens who were sitting in their car in Masua forest
    • Tus Ahmad Abdel Hamid Mahmad - Commanded a terrorist group that carried out five attacks on civilian buses, injuring 16 passengers. In addition, under his command, the group murdered three civilians in two separate incidents. Also, he took part in the murder of two other citizens.
    • Isa Musa Isa Mahmud - Took part in the abduction and killing of a soldier who was on the way from his home to his base. Took part in the running over of two soldiers with the intention of killing them. The attack injured one of the soldiers severely. In another incident he also shot at a police car and killed two policemen that were in the car. In another incident, he took part in the shooting at a police car and seriously injured one of the policemen in the car. While in prison, he was part of Hamas and organized a terrorist cell which aimed to abduct soldiers and carry out terror attacks.
    • Abu-Dahila Hasan Atik Sharif - Stabbed to death his employer of 18 years then stole his weapon. He also carried weapons and shot at a military vehicle.
    • Ramahi Salah Abdallah Fraj - Killed a senior citizen from the Sharon region with a hoe. Also, whilst in Israel without a permit, he broke into a car and stole a gun. While in prison, he tried to obtain a weapon for another prisoner in order to kidnap a soldier
    • Nasser Ibrahim Mahmed Mahmed - Was apparently involved in two murder cases - no legal documents
    • Maklad Mahmud Zaid Salah - Stabbed to death his Jewish employer, shot at an army post, tried to murder a local resident.
    • Muamar Atta Mahmud Mahmud - With an accomplice, stabbed to death a Jewish citizen in the Emek Hamatzleva area in Jerusalem. Caused the death of a local resident who threatened his accomplice with informing the military authorities of his whereabouts. He also attempted to kill two Jewish civilians while they were sleeping in their home.
    • Salah Khalil Ahmad Ibrahim - With an accomplice, stabbed to death an elderly Jew in the Emek Hamatzleva area in Jerusalem. Broke into the home of a Jewish civilian, stabbed and strangled him to death. With his accomplice, stabbed to death a local resident whom he suspected to be a collaborator. In two separate cases, he tried to murder Jewish civilians in their homes but backed out fearing discovery.
    • Al-Shalvi Yusef Ahmad Nuaman - Planned, initiated, organized, and carried out three murders on his own.
    • Haga Salim Mahmud Mo'id - As part of a group/unit/team, swam from Jordan to the shores of Eilat armed with numerous weapons in order to harm as many civilians as possible. Upon arriving on the shores of Eilat a civilian guard noticed him and the accused shot him to death.
    • Tzou'afta Sudki Abdal Razak Muhles - As a minor, murdered together with his friend a Jewish civilian whom he knew. The accused and his friend arrived at the victim's apartment where they murdered him by stabbing. They then stole his personal belongings in order to prove their crime. Furthermore, they left a note claiming responsibility for the crime because of nationalistic motives.
    • Gasan Muhamed Barkat Zariki, Nadal Yosef Abed Al-Fatah Zbara - Criminals: together they beat to death their neighbour -an elderly woman with whom they had a dispute. After the murder, they stole items from the elderly woman's home.
    • Abun-Muhsan Halad Ibrahim Jamal - Together with his friend, murdered an elderly man from Kadima by stabbing.
    • Sh'hada Farid Sh'hada Ahmad - Probably took part in a murder. Not enough information for indexing
    • Abdal-Nabi A-Wahab Gamal Jamil - Assisted his friend in a shooting at IDF soldiers in the Tomb of the Patriarchs (was the escape driver). As a result of the shooting one soldier was killed and a second was wounded.
    • Asarka Mahmad Ahmad Haled - Stabbed to death a French tourist who ate at a restaurant he worked in.
    • Kraja Farhud Muhamed Rafa - Murdered a soldier.
    • Abu-Harbish Salam Saliman Mahmud, Adam Abrahim Guma Juma'a - Threw a Molotov cocktail on a passenger bus which resulted in the death of a mother, her three children and a soldier who tried to save them.
    • Abu-Na'ame Abrahim Mahmus Samir - Together with his friend prepared two explosive devices, put them in a bag together with a packet of nails on Bus No. 18 in Jerusalem. As a result of the explosion 6 civilians were killed and 50 were injured. Furthermore, planned an additional attack.
    • Abu-Srur Gamil Hasan Mahmud, Abu Srur Hasan Abed Hamid Naser - Were accomplices in the planning and executing of the murder of a Shin Bet officer who was the handler of one of their partners.
    • Na'anish Na'if Abdal Jafer Samir, Taktuk Lutfi Halma Ibrahim - Took part on the murder of a soldier in Nablus. Part of the group goaded a soldier in order to lure him into an alley, where the rest of the group waited with a stockpile of stones which they threw at the victim, resulting in his death.
    • Yosef Mahmad Haza Haza, Beni-Hasan Abdalla Mahmud Otman - Together murdered two Israeli hikers in a JNF forest in the Gilboa Mountain.
    • Haled A-krim Ismail Shani - Criminal: murdered his Jewish neighbor in Ramallah because she aroused suspicion that he's a collaborator. During incarceration, ran away while on parole until caught after three and a half years (1997-2000). Additionally, stabbed another prisoner while incarcerated, which seriously injured him.
    • Mukbal Mahmad Bedwi Najah - Together with his friend, murdered his employer.
    • Ziwad Muhamed Taher Taher - Together with two of his friends, decided to grab a weapon from a soldier or policeman and if need be, kill him for this (the accused carried a gun). While threatening, they took over a vehicle and looked for a potential victim. When meeting the victim, his friend shot the victim and injured him in all parts of his body. When seeing that he had no weapon, they left him and ran.
    • Daoud Adal Hasan Mahmad - Murdered two civilians (pregnant mother and son)
    • Al-Azrak Daoud Ahmad Khaled - Took part in the planting of a bomb in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem which led to the death of one civilian and injured nine. Additionally, took part in an additional attempted bomb attack in the Mahane Yehuda market, and planned the planting of a bomb in the Carmel market.
    • Ahmad Ragah Mahmud Musa - Criminal: strangled his wife to death, because he suspected she was having sexual relations with other men. Additionally, he used to beat her and even tried to drown her a few hours prior to the murder.
    • Sa'adi Muhamad Sharif Ra'ad - Initiated, organized, took part in and was the dominant figure in the murder of a Jewish civilian.
    • Abed al Raba Nimr Jabril Issa (= Issa Abed Rabbo) - Stole from his workplace an envelope of cash, a knife and a rifle which he used to murder two hikers.
    • Shabir Kassam Taher Hazam, Abu-Musa Salam Ali Atia - As an initiation rite into a terror organisation, together murdered a work colleague with an axe.
    • Mansour Omar Abdel Hafiz Asmat - Whilst a minor, found out during his work about the intention of his friends/colleagues to murder a civilian. During the murder helped the murderers to overpower the victim and after his death, placed the body in the boot of his car.
    • Tamimi Rushdi Mohammed Sayid - Together with his accomplice, murdered a civilian by stabbing whilst exploiting the familiarity and trust of the victim. Afterwards, put the body of the victim into his car and set fire to the vehicle.
    • Barbach Faiz Rajab Madhat - Together with accomplices, stabbed his employer to death.
    • Alkraki Fahmi Fahd Alaa Aldin - Together with accomplices, stabbed to death a civilian who was on his way to the Machpelah Cave (Hebron).
    • Abu-Sitta Taleb Mohammed Ayman - Together with accomplices, broke into an apartment in Ramle and murdered two people. Afterwards, mutilated the bodies and cut off their ears as proof of the action.
    • Abu-Sitta Ahmed Sayid Aladin - Together with accomplices, broke into an apartment in Ramle and murdered two people. Afterwards, mutilated the bodies and cut off their ears as proof of the action.
    • Ra'aei Ibrahim Salam Ali - Murdered a pensioner with an axe and afterwards stole the victim's gun.
    • Mortja Hasin Ghanam Samir - Took part in the abduction, interrogation, torture and murder of four local residents suspected of collaboration with the authorities. (His actions were limited to abduction and guarding, but not the murders). Also, abducted local residents suspected of 'moral crimes' for interrogation.
    • Mazeh Hasin Abed Kahlot - Criminal: murdered his friend after 'catching' him trying to kiss his wife.
    • Mutslah Abdallah Salameh (also spelt Muslah) - Together with an accomplice, caused the death of a civilian – the owner of a mini-market in Petah Tikva – after robbing him, beating him up and pressing a towel against his face, left him in the shop.
    • Amawi Hamed Alabad Halmi - Together with an accomplice, lured the victim with a request for help and stabbed him to death.
    • Massalha Awad Mohammed Yusuf - Together with an accomplice, caused the death of a civilian – the owner of a mini-market in Petah Tikva – after robbing him, beating him up and pressing a towel against his face, left him in the shop. In a later incident, together with an accomplice, lured the victim with a request for help and stabbed him to death. During his imprisonment, together with another, caused grevious bodily harm to a prisoner suspected of collaboration with the authorites.
    • Braham Fawzi Mustafa Nasser - Stabbed his employer to death.
    • Shamasna Yusuf Jawad - Together with accomplices, stabbed to death two Israeli youths who hitch-hiked a lift in his car. Also, together with an accomplice, shot to death a taxi driver who was driving them to Abu Gosh. Also, shot to death a soldier who hitched a ride in his car.
    • Shamasna Yusuf Jawad Mohammed - Together with accomplices, stabbed to death two Israeli youths who hitch-hiked a lift in his car. Also, together with an accomplice, shot to death a taxi driver who was driving them to Abu Gosh

 

1Aug/130

“If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”*

Each year, on the last friday of Ramadan, groups affiliated to the Iranian government and opponents of the Israeli state are gathering for Quds Day. For them, it is a display of strength of a global movement against the existence of an Israeli state and Zionism - for us, it shall be an incentive to take a closer look at the Iranian opposition to Israel.

The first Quds Day was called for in 1979, when the Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini was cited by the Iranian newspaper Ettelaat with a call to all muslims and all islamic governments to unite against Israel and "hack off the hands" of the "usurpators" and their supporters. Iranian state doctrine is deeply rooted in antisemitic thought, repeated calls to violence against jews are the more harmless expression of this sentiment, though: Iran funds numerous groups throughout the world who engage in violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens and often, jews in general.

On 18 July 2012, a suicide bomber on a bus in Burgas, Romania, killed six people, five of them Israelis - the bus was carrying forty-two Israelis from the airport, where they arrived in a flight from Tel-Aviv, to their hotels. Early on during the investigations, the Lebanese Hezbollah was implied and the method of assault pointed to an Islamist background. By July 25th of 2013, two Hezbollah operatives had been identified as suspects: Malid Farah (also known as Hussein Hussein), and Hassan al-Haj. The Hezbollah was founded by followers of Ayatollah Khomeini and is, to this day, receiving funds by the Iranian government.

Such deadly attacks on unsuspecting tourists should be evidence enough that not a political opposition to jewish settlement policy or the military occupation of Palestinian territories are motivating Iran and its allies, but an antisemitic hatred on the jewish people themselves. It furthermore unmasks the cynical argumentation brought forward by many of their supporters in the west when asked about the missile attacks on Israel, which are indiscriminately raining down on civilian and military targets alike, that the opponents of Israel merely don't have the money and technology to target the military and government more precisely. The truth is that any jew is regarded as viable target.

If, however, more proof is needed that Iran, Hezbollah and similiar groups are not fighting for the Palestinian people, but for their own ideological goals, that Palestine is a mere front to stage a war against the existence of a jewish state (and the presence of jews on "muslim land" in general) we can take a short look to Syria: last month, Palestinian sources reported of a massacre conducted upon Palestinians by the Syrian army, who reportedly attacked the Al Yarmouk district of Damascus, an area of the city comprised predominantly of Palestinian refugees. Syria is a close ally of Iran and the government forces have been backed up by Hezbollah fighters, whose military wing is said to be stronger than the Lebanese army. Apparently, the lifes of Palestinian refugees count only as a bargaining chip against Israel.

The strength of Irans attacks upon Israel, not just verbally, but even by direct support for acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens worldwide, is not strictly rational. Iran has no border with Israel. Israel is not threatening Irans existence or its citizens, it is not occupying Iranian territories or competing with Iran for ressources or regional influence. In fact, Israel and jews in general tend to appear in only one form in official Iranian ideology: as the great evil. Jews are given the role of powerful manipulators and evil shadow government of the western states, much in the way western antisemites have done it before. This is, of course, a projection and attributing all the damage of capitalism to a jewish conspiracy is a popular ideological explanation precisely because it is so simple - in a world where not even those involved with the financial market understand it anymore.

"If we searched the entire world for a person more cowardly, despicable, weak and feeble in psyche, mind, ideology and religion, we would not find anyone like the Jew. Notice, I do not say the Israeli." - Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Leader

Iranian state doctrine was, from the beginning, deeply antisemitic because it allowed them to tie older, religiously motivated prejudices, with giving an answer to the question "who is to blame" for all the hardships of modernity, of capitalism and imperialism. Antisemitism was furthermore popular, because it tied so neatly into the national rebirthing mythology the Iranian clericals had developed: they sought to unite the muslim people in a reborn Caliphate, invoking a mystified past not unlike Fascists in Europe had done before. Israel and the jews gave them a common enemy, someone who, in the ideological worldview of the Mullahs, threatened all muslims alike.

Thusfar, it didn't work out so well. Common opposition to Israel failed to bridge the gap between Sunni and Shia Islam. In 2010, a suicide bomber from the Sunni Taliban attacked a Quds Day rally, killing at least 65 people. Meanwhile, domestic support for the Iranian governments anti-Israeli policies waned. A year earlier, in the aftermath of the disputed 2009 elections, protestors used the Quds Day to stage anti-government protests. Amongst the slogans used was "No to Gaza and Lebanon, I will give my life for Iran.” Especially the younger generations are turning out to the Quds Day rallies in ever decreasing numbers, with a growing sentiment that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not related to Iran.

Still, this year again, thousands will protest against the existence of an Israeli nation in neatly gender-seperated protest marches. Amongst them in the west, again, will be a self-proclaimed political left, who believes the Iran a viable partner for the sole reason that they, too, are blaming Israel for all the hardships of the middle east. From the Venezuelan government, who is claiming to build a "Socialism of the 21st century" and deems Iran a strategic ally against the US, to anarchist fringe groups in Europe and the US, who simply don't know better because, really, they don't care much about Arabian politics and just seek allies against their own governments.

Either of them would be well advised to stay away from association with the Quds Day, because all it stands for is a renewed attempt at exterminating jewish existence.

*The title is a direct quote from Hassan Nasrallah, current leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

22Jan/130

Good Bombs, Bad Bombs

Another war is fought on the globe and again, all those opinionated journalists who couldn't even have identified Mali on the globe earlier this year, much less lose one word about its politics, now seem to know it all after the first French soldiers touched the ground. The coalition of self-righteous world explainers is, as usual, spearheaded by the speakers of a subcritical left which seeks to press the world into a black and white scheme, no matter what. I will take an article by Stephen Lendman from Chicago to point out many fallacies of the current anti-war movement, because it neatly summarizes all this lack of coherent analysis, ignorance in regards to facts and the tendency to imply wherever it lacks evidence - and it wraps it all in moralizing language.

Lendman doesn't mess around, he gets straight to his accusation: it's all about the ressources, stupid! Not just any ressources, but rich Africa's ressources, with some of the globes largest deposits of oil and gas, ores and minerals. His intention probably is to put the war in Mali into a greater regional context of a new "scramble for Africa", but all Lendman achieves is to reveal his view on Mali as "yet another part of Africa". If war is fought somewhere in Africa, it must have the same reasons as on any other place on that vast continent. Without hesitation he therefore continues to write about Malis great natural wealth and Mali seems truly blessed:

"They include gold, diamonds, phosphates, bauxite, lignite, kaolin, salt, limestone, gypsum, granite, marble, diatomite, hydropower, iron ore, manganese, tin, lead, zinc, copper, oil, gas, and uranium.   Mali is Africa’s third largest gold producer after South Africa and Ghana. It’s rich in uranium. It has an estimated 5,000 tons or more. It’s neighbor Niger is the world’s fourth largest producer."

As Malinese blogger Bruce Whitehouse put it, "the truth of Mali’s >mineral riches< is rather murky".  Mali has potential reserves of oil and gas, its proven reserves are zero. In other words, it may be there, but we're not sure, there may also be nothing at all. The only companies present in Mali as of yet are minor players in the petrol business with a high risk-tolerance, speculating on the big success with a surprise find. Hardly the ones who could muster enough influence with western companies to urge them to fight a risky - and costly - war. There a no known uranium ressources in northern Mali, the only known mining operation is deep in the south-west, at the border to Guinea. Claiming that Nigers uranium riches extend into northern Mali would be pure speculation. Similiar holds true for Malis mining operations in regards to Gold. It's all far in the south, away from the territories currently held by Islamist and Tuareg rebels. All facts considered, this doesn't seem like an invasion to secure untapped ressources on land owned by an unwilling population. What little ressources Mali had its governments had always generously given away in the past, because the country lacks the technology level and infrastructure to develope them on their own and thus is dependent on foreign investors. Africa isn't exploited with cannons aimed, it's exploited with the willing consent of its governments, no matter if left or right, corrupt or honest, because the alternative to leave the ressources untapped does not benefit the increasingly urban population of Africas nationstates either.

But Lendman has found an explanation fitting its scheme and without checking whether his facts match reality, he proceeds to identify the responsible factions. No surprise here, it's the USA. France, former colonial power of Mali - and most of western Africa - is played down to a mere lapdog, used by Obama to "keep a low profile". The question whether France has its own africa policy can't be asked in Lendmans dogmatic worldview and he's probably unaware that the different policies of former colonial powers, including France, have brought them into conflict with the USA in the past. For example, right before the genocide against the Tutsi and Hutu began in Rwanda, France was supportive of the Rwandan government and there are allegations that French special forces proceeded to support the Rwandan military even while it was committing the largest genocide since Cambodia. The Tutsi-Militia RPF - current ruling party of Rwanda after it ended the genocide and won the civil war - was seen as an anglophone takeover.

For Lendman, however, France must remain a puppet of Washington, because he wants the war in Mali to fit into the greater image he constructs. "Washington wants unchallenged African dominance," Lendman writes, without bothering to explain how Islamist fighters in northern Mali are benefitting Russia or China. Worse, Lendmans argumentation comes crashing down on itself when he correctly identifies Russia and especially China as rivals of the USA (and Europe, though Lendman doesn't seem to think of European interests as a factor of their own) for Africas ressources, but doesn't stop a second to consider the implications. If Washington, Moscow and Beijing are rivals in a new scramble for Africa, does Lendman believe that only the first of the three is trying to exploit the continent? And if the insurgents in northern Mali are fighting against the USA, are they allies of China or Russia? Lendmans attempt to transfer the coalitions of Syria into Mali very obviously doesn't work and only serves to reveal that his own kneejerk anti-americanism drives Lendman to the support of murderous regimes such as Assads Syria.

Without intermission, Lendman narrates a tale of the great puppeteers in Washington who send their armies out into the world to build an "Empire" and permanently occupy the rest of the world by force. Consistently, he sacrifices facts for his fiction of a repetition of 19th century policies. He draws parallels between the North-Ireland conflict, the 1982 Lebanon invasion or the Israel-Palestine conflict, to lend weight to his prediction that France seeks permanent occupation of Mali. But North-Ireland is considered a part of its national territory by the UK and the Israeli security situation is a complex issue, its occupation of Lebanese territory in the 80s and 90s more rooted in the fact that it could not find factions within the Lebanese society that were both willing and powerful enough to prevent the Lebanon from becoming a staging ground for Hezbollah warfare against Israel once their troops retreat. Similiar fear haven proven correct repeatedly in the Palestine conflict: once Israeli troops left Gaza to self-administration, Hamas used the new liberty to turn the city into a missile-base from which hundreds of missiles are fired into Israel each year.

Meanwhile, the information that "Permanent Afghanistan and Iraq occupations are planned" is exclusive to Lendman and exists only in his brain. All NATO countries involved in the two countries are feverishly trying to reduce troop strength in Iraq and Afghanistan - and have developed timelines for a complete retreat of forces from the countries - without making it seem as if the protracted warfare against insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan were lost.

"Fighting terrorism, respecting Mali’s territorial integrity, and furthering democracy conceal dark intentions" Lendman claims ambiguously in regards to the French intervention, but reading texts such as this, it seems the part about "dark intentions" holds true more for their authors. The Islamist groups that control northern Mali only appear as "rebels" throughout his article - the Rebels and the Empire, makes you think of Star Wars, doesn't it? He manages to not once mention the acronym AQIM: Al Qaeda in the islamic Maghreb. During their attack on the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, "hundreds of hostages were taken" and it almost seems as if Lendman cheers this on as a success report for the forces of good. What he doesn't mention is that these hundreds of hostages were seperated according to faith - many of the workers on In Amenas were foreign experts, technicians and engineers - and the Islamists then proceeded to kill those of their hostages who were not Algerian muslims.

"Contesting for the country’s north won’t be easy." Lendman predicts with apparent satisfaction. "It’s mountainous, rugged, and vast. It replicates France in size. It’s long enjoyed considerable autonomy. Protracted conflict looks likely. " This is wishful thinking on Lendmans part, because he desperately wants to see his rebel alliance win against the dark empire. Northern Mali is dominated by deserts, even the Hoggar mountains, which partly extend into north-eastern Mali, are relatively open spaces whereas Mali is concerned. Its vast size will work to the disadvantage of the islamic insurgents, because vast open areas, the deserts of the Sahara and the shrubberies of the Sahel, will favour the force that can bring more flexible and mobile units to bear. France fields a modern airforce, helicopters and mechanized ground forces.

Speaking of northern Malis autonomy is, by the way, a cynical joke. Enforced non-developement would be a more fitting description. The reasons for the sudden success of islamist rebels in northern Mali lie in decades long instability in the region due to the discrimination of the Tuareg minority in Mali and its neighbours. Hated for having been deeply involved in colonial forces and slave trade in the past, the independence of former French colonies marked the beginning of a prolonged campaign of impoverishment in the Tuareg areas, worsening in the recent past with the increasing hardships in the Sahel zone due to climate change. Tuareg rebels have long fought unsuccesfully for an independent Tuareg state, "Azawad", land of the Wadi's.

How the repeatedly unsuccesful Tuareg rebellions of the past turned into an islamist insurgency that routed the Malinese army and nearly conquered the country needs some explanation - read carefully, Lendman, you can learn something. The Tuareg were long known for living an especially moderate muslimic faith, with comparatively great rights for women. Their rebel groups are secular, but after the war in Lybia and the overthrowal of dictator Ghadaffi, many fighters from Lybia returned to Mali. Amongst them not just the Tuareg that had been hired by the Lybian government as reliable soldiers, but also islamist fighters that had participated in its overthrowal - and weapons from the stockpiles of north-Africas wealthiest oil exporter. Before that event, the suffocating poverty in the Sahel zone had already created a fertile breeding ground for the islamist ideology and especially young men are suspectible to the offers of a life as soldier of Islam, when the alternative is to cope with starvation.

Well armed, experienced and highly motivated the Tuareg-Islamist alliance could quickly overrun the north of Mali. But it remains an unsteady alliance. An agreement about the cooperation in the fight against the Malinese government, which also included a non-enforcement of Sharia law, lasted merely a few days. Their attempts to root themselves in northern Malinese society seem to yeild only mixed results, the majority of islamist fighters are foreigners. Wandering militias who have participated in other wars in the past. This points to another reason why Lendmans portrayal of the war as western invasion is flawed, because in fact, it's an invasion of northern Mali by organized Islamists. Lendmans refusal to even mention the wave of atrocities that followed in the wake of the Islamist advance, much less the broad support in Mali for the French forces.

Images of locals waving the flags of foreign forces to cheer them on are a staple of war propaganda to keep up the moral on the home front. But it would be ignorant to think those are therefore always false. There is a reason why Lendman hesitates to cite even a single voice from Mali itself, because those wouldn't support his view of the French operation in Mali as a forceful occupation. Quite to the contrary, the French forces were requested by the Malinese government and Hollande hesitate long to grant his support. French forces literally arrived on the last possible moment, as any day later, an important airfield that enables much of the current operation would have fallen to Islamists. There is one opposition party in Mali that rejects the French intervention, is the left-nationalist MP22. Only, they, too, support the fight against insurgents in northern Mali, they just believe that Malis army can do it on its own.

People like Lendman don't support peace, much less human rights. They have bloated the American state into the prime evil of the world and care little who fights them, as long as someone does it. Willingly, they lend their support to any group and cloud their intentions with smokescreens of peace-rhetorics and a demonization of one side of a conflict. What he fails to realize is that Islamism is a variant of the political phenomena best described as "fascism". It's the heavily religious version of fascism in the Arabic and broader muslim world, dreaming of the rebirth of a Kaliphate that never really existed in this way. In their attempt to lend importance to their own positions, people like Lendman jeopardize all standards of emancipatory and left-wing polititics for an alliance with islamist fascism. This has lasting consequences, because in much of the developing world, especially in the muslim countries, the left as we know it has ceased to exist. The strata of the local populations that could be reached with emancipatory positions are not just figuratively, but very practically, violently controlled by Islamic groups and their social issues are answered with anti-semitic, anti-feminine and anti-modern rhetorics.

One word of caution though: do not think that Islamism is a backwards, medieval movement. Their rhetorics may be anti-modern, their ideology is not. Like fascism elsewhere they employ anti-capitalist sentiment to direct it against specific groups, mostly jews and westerners, sometimes also christian or other minorities. But they do not challenge capitalism itself, not even in a reactionary fashion. Lendman lends his voice to people like Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, calling them political prisoners as if it's Mumia Abu Jamal we're talking about. Abdel-Rahman was one of the organizers of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Lendman keeps quiet about that. What he mentions instead is, that Abdel-Rahman was previously an ally of the CIA, trained and funded by the American government. Again, his narrative knows no private agenda for Washingtons allies. In Lendmans worldview, they are puppets, used and thrown away.

But Islamists are not puppets of western governments. They are dangerous, militant movements that are handy allies whenever it comes to keeping impoverished populations within the framework of capitalist economy. President Morsi in Egypt, Islamist rebels fighting in Lybia or Syria - western states ally with them, because they are the only groups with both the mass-base and the necessary will to violence to enforce the blind progress of the global market. But Islamism has plans of their own and may turn on the west, not just by allying with Iran (for many Sunni Islamist groups allying with the Shiites in Iran is out of question) but also out of their own volition. Anti-Americanism and Anti-Semitism (in many cases, it's not so easy to distinguish between these two and Islamists will claim the US is run by jews anyways) are integral parts of their ideology, not just as mock rhetorics, but as very real motivations for their actions.

These are the people trying to take over northern Mali.

15Jan/130

Man, Woman and 1.9 Children

Last weekend hundred-thousand protested in Paris against the plans of the French government to open up marriage to same-sex couples. France already allows for civil unions between individuals of the same sex, but the now planned law would create full legal equality between same-sex couples and traditional "husband and wife"-partnerships. Including the right to adoption. It is this aspect that, above all, has driven the masses of French conservatives to the streets. While the alliance of protesters in Paris includes openly homophobic groups, many others maintain that they are not against homosexuals, they just don't want them to raise children.

One can not understand this specific kind of homophobia - the fear of homosexuals raising children - without understanding the nature of bourgeoise family.

At the core of many of the arguments of those opposing same-sex marriage is a thoroughly unjustified biologism which, a typical element of all modern ideologies rooted in liberalism, turns the specific structures of modern society into a transhistorical "human nature". The assumption "it has always been like that" is immediately turned into the belief that this is the way it should be, even before the thought has been articulated. Finally, any attempts to change this perceived human biology becomes a revolt against nature, its implications always the destruction of society by eroding its natural base.

But the family as we know it - husband, wife and their own children - is a very recent developement. It was invented alongside the developement of capitalism and it only managed to become dominant, even in the capitalist center, during the fordist revolution when productivity reached levels that even the working class could send their wifes home, instead of breaking with the bourgeoise ideals of family life out of sheer necessity. Before that a family structure dominated the lifes which was based upon the agricultural subsistence economy of the medieval era, with several generations under one roof and no seperation between domestic work and gainful activity. Back then, usually the oldest man represented the family to the outside, but he was no unquestionably powerful patriarch and while christian beliefs secured men a favourable position, women maintained a degree of independence and influence within the family structures.

Bourgeoise family changed this, not least because the bourgeoise family is a product of absolutism. Philosophers of that age wished for the family to become a mirror image of the state itself, with an unquestionably powerful patriarch at its center. Man became the king of his own small empire and much in the way that soldiers and gendarmes enforced his compliance in greater society, it was his duty to enforce the compliance of wife and children. This required smaller family units and the seperation of the generations into different households. A patriarch would likely not be able to maintain the same degree of authority if his parents stood watch over him still.

The second much needed change for the breaktrhough of the bourgeoise family was the seperation of production from reproduction. Wage-labor and industrialization took productive tasks out of the environment of the private homes and centralized them in factories. Productivity of the workers was maximised by turning women into unpaid slaves of their husbands, responsible for maintaining a functioning household for the man to return to. A place where he could recharge for the next workingday. Capitalism expropriated the labor of women through their men. The only problem was, for most of the history of capitalism, wages were just far too low for women to stay home. They were forced to go out and work to survive, but expected to maintain the household all the same.

To enforce this family structure along with its repressive sexual morals, open violence was used. The history of the creation of the modern family is also the history of witchhunts, of rape culture and domestic violence. It is interesting to note that, despite christianity at the center of its society, the medieval era maintained a certain tolerance of homosexuality. It was early modernity which demonized homosexuality and turned homosexuals into "faggots". If you have ever wondered why a term that originally meant "bundle of sticks" came to be a slur for male homosexuals - it is because in some places homosexuals were tied together and used to fire up the stakes for witches to be burnt.

Claiming to "love all homosexuals" like Virginie Tellenne did during her speech on the protest in France, yet defend an institution that had to begin a campaign of extermination against them in order to settle itself in society is thoroughly cynical. Much has changed in the recent decades and homosexuals have in many places fought succesfully for their rights. Nevertheless, their attempts to reach full legal equality must appear as dangerous attacks on the foundation of bourgeoise society to those who have found their place in it.

Worse, bourgeoise family is failing. No capitalist country where divorce rates have not steadily increased throughout the last years, in some places the majority of children are already being raised by single-mothers and, finally, those families protesting in Paris are themselves not living up to the idealized image created in the 1950s. The women are not happy in their suburban isolation and not content with satisfying the needs and desires of their husbands. The men are not happy with their working lifes and most of them can't satisfy the material needs of their families all on their own. All over the place, the traditional family comes crashing down. At least against the homosexuals the conservatives want to defend their family life.

However, it also needs to be noted that the homosexual mainstream that seeks nothing more than same-sex marriage is falling victim to the same desire for "stable families". It emulates the bourgeoise family but replaces husband and wife with a same-sex partnership. The rest remains the same. If worries arise that two men or two women can't raise healthy children, it ignores that this has never been the job of the traditional families. The traditional family was created to massproduce workers and soldiers for the needs of capitalist society and to maintain discipline through use of force against women and children.