Friday, August 7, 2015

On Facebook Democracies

On Facebook Democracies

While buying my morning coffee, a conversation over something in the morning paper, to which I commented that I don't read the morning paper but go on Facebook for my news, led to me being lectured, as if I had no idea, that it's facile to make radical statements on Facebook, that even a thousand likes doesn't mean your views are having an impact on 'reality', that you're only talking to people who agree with you, that you end up occupying a bubble if you don't realise there's a whole world out there. 
I started by saying that I knew all this but that writing for long hours is a very solitary occupation and I find that a bit of Facebook socialising, solidarity, letting off steam, and articulating and sharing my thoughts does me the world of good. 
But then it struck me and I asked: so, where is it that you have a space where you make 'difficult' as opposed to facile radical statements, where your views have a greater impact, where you are talking to people who don't agree with you and where you are not in a bubble? He looked a bit trapped and repeated unconvincingly 'there's a whole world out there'.
It made me think more clearly something I've been trying to articulate for some time. Perhaps Facebook has a scandalous dimension to it in that it lays bare a public secret about the nature of all democratic public conversations in our societies whether happening on TV or in newspapers. they are all happening in a bubble, in a world parallel to where all the decisions about policy, investments, mining, land development, war, immigration, etc… and are having no effect whatsoever on those. Perhaps then Facebook is the prototype of our democracy rather than an oddity. 
Is that Facebook-like dimension not the problem with Israeli democracy: nowhere will you get more publicly voiced critical and hyper radical critiques of zionism, settlers, colonialism, etc…. but nothing said no matter how radical it is stops the expansion of settlements.
Indeed, one can say the road towards the expansion of settlements is paved by views opposed to them just as much as by views supporting them. That is why BDS is so necessary as it has a 'Enough with impotent radical statements and declarations. what are you actually doing to even remotely try to stop the settlements' - dimension to it.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiroshima in the Constellation of Western Racism

I am not sure if others have put Hiroshima in such a context before, but I think it should be considered as one of the four major horrors initiated by the West that still define our lives and that are hard to imagine happening without one form of racism or another coming into the mix. And needless to say, the desires for extermination and exploitation behind these events are not Western/White specific. We see the same desires everywhere on a small scale. What marks their importance is the fact that they become large scale global events as part of the process of western/white global domination. These four horrors are:
a) slavery: the capacity to institutionalise on a mass scale the commodification, possession and exploitation of others. (impossible without a racialisation that includes objectification and inferiorisation). although there are non-racial forms of slavery in history they were different phenomenon all together that did not involve the same kind of objectification, commodification and over-exploitation.
b) colonialism: the capacity to control mobility, labour and resources by claiming sovereignty over somebody else's territory (here the other fluctuates between being useful/exploitable or nuisance/exterminable).
Note: I am in two minds sometimes whether Islamophobia is merely a variant of this racism or quite distinct from it but I think I am more comfortable treating it as a mere variant which has become globalised)
c) The Holocaust: the capacity for contemplating and enacting genocide. The kind of consciousness needed to think and enact this is mind-boggling and yet it has become a routinised form of consciousness.
d) The use of nuclear weapons in Japan: the capacity to eradicate masses of human beings in a blink of an eye. I know that Europeans massacred each other in great and horrific numbers  but I would still maintain that to have 70,000 people killed 'just like that' is not possible without a racist component. It required a specific kind of racist consciousness to make a governmental decision to explode such a bomb.