Friday, July 15, 2016

Nice - Urgent

The Nice attack, more so than any terrorist act before it, is bound to change the way the fear of Muslims will circulate in everyday life in the West.  More so than bombs that are specifically designed to kill, have no other usage, and need to be hidden from view, and more so than the planes that were used in the 9/11 attacks on New York, trucks are everyday objects that we encounter at every moment of our day. The attack will therefore inevitably accentuate the feeling that the ‘Islamic danger’ lurks anywhere at any time. There is no need to smuggle illegal substances, to learn how to technically build bombs, or how to use them, anything can be used to hurt people as long as there is a Muslim willing to hurt you. One cannot help trying to imagine how much ‘willingness to hurt’ that truck driver had in him to continue zigzagging and killing people for so long.

The space of suspicion will now become wider. It will no longer be someone-looking-Muslim on a plane, or someone-looking-Muslim with a backpack. Now the bearded man driving their truck from the wholesaler to the local shop, the someone-looking-Muslim who made an extra noise while driving his motorbike, etc… all of them will be looked at suspiciously. And the space of suspicion will not only be restricted to ‘trucks’ but will extend to any object that can potentially be transformed into something that hurts people. Terrorists are succeeding in making our societies become more and more nervous, more and more paranoid, and this always means more and more venomous and fascistic. And that is without the likelihood of achieving much else.

Today’s Islamic fanatics are operating with a well-established and understandable warring logic. They understand that wars always involve two boundaries. The first boundary is the one created at the point of contact that separates friends from enemies. The second, equally important, is the one separating the space of war from the space of peace. Each society that is at war aims to protect its citizens not just from the enemy but from war itself. That is, it aims to create a space where its citizens don’t even experience a state of war. It is that space that the terrorists try to infiltrate. They see the West as waging a colonial/religious war against the ‘Islamic world’. But they also see that this war is always being fought in ‘Islamic’ territories while westerners can enjoy a peaceful life on their own lands. They think that it is a major achievement to disrupt that state of peace. From their perspective it appears as a just re-distribution of violence but it joins a long history of practices of collective indiscriminate ‘revenge’ in being anything but just.

Fanatic terrorists are not going to ‘learn from history’ anymore than anyone else has done so before them. But if they were open to learning they would recognise that what they are trying to achieve on a world scale has been tried by Palestinian terrorists in their war of liberation against Israeli colonialism. And that is a struggle that has far more legitimacy and roots in popular struggles than their’s.

The Israeli government tries to protect Israelis from Palestinian warriors, but it also tries to protect them from the very idea and fact that there is a war between Israelis and Palestinians. The more successful they are the more Israeli citizens are capable of happily sipping wines and coffees in Tel Aviv oblivious to what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank. This is also true in a certain way of the Arab citizens of Israel despite all the discrimination against them. They might not be oblivious to what is happening elsewhere in Palestine but they are nonetheless capable of benefitting from the Israeli success in carving out a space which is not a war zone. They are capable and they do benefit from such a space. When terrorists strike, they indiscriminately strike in that space.

Whenever Palestinians succeed in hurting Israelis through an act of terrorism, some Palestinians still rejoice feeling that as long as there is a will to fight and as long as there is a capacity to hurt, there is a hope of liberation. But over sixty years of this petty kind of hope at the sight of revenge attacks that have taken variety of forms, including ploughing trucks through crowds, many Palestinians are wondering if such violence-derived hope in the face of the formidable violence of the Israeli machine can actually take them anywhere. They are looking for alternative paths. The Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement is an expression of such an alternative path.

Thus, it can be said without a shadow of a doubt that today terrorism is the least useful part of the Palestinian struggle. It might have brought recognition at some point in history. It might have given Palestinians a sense of purpose and disallowed them to feel entirely defeated. But in the last analysis it has outlived its usefulness and failed to achieve its goal. All it is now doing is contributing to give legitimacy to the inevitable and continuing drift of Israeli society into increasingly fascistic forms of Zionism.

This ‘French Tunisian’ truck driver is a hater in a way that is way more vile than all the racist haters of western society that are raising their heads everywhere are. All he has done is given them reasons and alibis to hate more and perhaps to hate like him. He has assassinated more than eighty people and driven us more inevitably than ever towards the Israelification-to-come of our societies and our souls.
Those who see themselves engaging in progressive politics can no longer simply ‘critique’ the government drift to the right, the curtailing of freedoms and the racist profiling that anti-terrorist legislations have institutionalised. They urgently need to engage with, formulate and push for radically different anti-terrorist policies themselves. What does a non-discriminatory anti-terrorist policy look like? Does it even exist? How can it be implemented? How can it be articulated to a foreign policy animated by an alter-colonial desire? Is that remotely possible? I have always operated with a sense that such questions are impossible to ask without serious radical change. But perhaps the urgent need to fight the global Israelification-to-come that we are facing makes it urgent to ask them and make them yield practical policies ‘before’ rather than ‘after the revolution’ as it were.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why I don't give an eff about and will not 'debate' the 'findings' of the Chilcot inquiry

In February 2003, millions of us around the world demonstrated against the Iraq war. Most of us were not 'pacifists' nor were we 'pro-Saddam' but we thought that the very idea of a western invasion of Iraq was pure madness. The Sydney Morning Herald graced me with some space on its Opinion page to say just this (click below for the 'historical record')
We all knew our leaders and many of our journalists were not misguided or misinformed. We all knew they were just lying. And they went ahead and did what they did. And they got what they wanted to get. which was no different from what other colonialists before them got in the past. and they caused the horrors that we are still living today. which are no different from the horrors that colonialists before them have caused in the third world in the past.
It is very tempting to participate in the debates following Chilcot's 'findings', to get some satisfaction from saying 'I told you so' and to have some grounds on which to incriminate Blair, Bush and that other globally forgettable entity that no one is mentioning except for us here in Australia - whatever that Western arse licker's name was. But from past histories of 'inquiries' nothing much of consequence will happen. Quite the contrary, it is the colonialists who will end up getting all the satisfaction from discussing the 'findings'.
White (ie,white colonialist) inquiries into white evil are cleansing rituals in which white people routinely forgive themselves for the evil that they have done. they do so precisely by participating in a cleansing 'debate' around the 'findings'. And in the process they also manage to re-assert their racial superiority over the barbarian other. For let us not forget: White Inquiries are technologies of racial distinction: 'The inquiry, as with the innumerable Israeli inquiries into the interminable massacres in Gaza or the inquiry into the Sabra and Shatila massacre during the Lebanese civil war, always works to project a sense of ‘distinction’ from the barbarians whose worst sin is not that they behead people but that they do so without having inquiries afterwards.' (from Alter-Politics, p.21)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

White Nation’s Conclusion

For anyone following the White media's fascination with Pauline Hanson, it does not take long to realise that this fascination is well beyond the ordinary. The amount of exposure Hanson personally received after her election was well beyond any attention given to a newly emerging politician. Her political views were presented and represented at every possible opportunity — more so than any other new member of parliament. The rise of the One Nation Party received more attention than the rise of the Democrats or the Greens ever received. What is the secret of this obsession?

I'd like to suggest that there is a good dose of infantile narcissistic fascination here. The White media and the White public are seduced by an infantile projection of themselves. There is more than one psycho­analytic interpretation among many in this hypothesis. To develop my point, however, I'd like to begin by relating an incident from my youth in Beirut.

I was born in a middle-class, Maronite Catholic and culturally conservative environment. I often heard around me racist and derogatory remarks directed against Muslims. Like most Christian families in Beirut, however, my parents and their friends had to deal, by necessity, with Muslim people.

I remember one day a Muslim merchant visiting a neighbour's house on some business. I and the neighbour's son were six or seven years old at the time, and we had already learned enough derogatory remarks about Muslims to last us a lifetime. Unfortunately, we had not learnt the art of recognising the appropriate time and place where such remarks can be made. When the guest picked up my friend and started teasing him in a common adult–child mode of play, my friend instinctively unleashed a number of venomous anti-Muslim remarks, telling him exactly what he has been taught to think of Muslims. Needless to say, his remarks caused severe embarrassment in the ‘salon’. I particularly remember how we were unceremoniously dispatched from the lounge room, with his father sternly telling him, 'Shame on you.'

But this is not the end of the story, for I also distinctly remember what happened after the guest had left: how everyone was laughing and saying how cute my friend has been and 'Ho ho ho! Did you see how the guy's face went red' and 'Good on you, Georges, you show them.'

When I look back at this event, I realise that my friend's unchecked and 'immature' abuse performed the 'Christian tribe' a function. Not having carried out the abuse themselves, the respectable Christian families continued to benefit from the relationship of proximity and 'business as usual' they maintained with the various Muslims with which they had dealings. Nevertheless, they also benefited from the many incidents of open abuse to which the Muslims were constantly subjected, for 'business as usual' also meant keeping the Muslim as the inferior partner — the marginalised and the not-too-comfortable party in this relationship of proximity. This was important for ensuring the Christian middle classes’ position of dominance vis a vis the Muslim middle classes before the civil war — a position they have now lost.

I want to suggest that the respectable side of White Australia today relates to Hanson in the same way my friend's family related to his 'unchecked extremism'. Whether they are in the media, in politics, in academia or in any other workplace (they can be spotted as soon as they talk about having no problem with multiculturalism as long as migrants put the interest of Australia first), behind every White multi­culturalist affecting a position of respectability — and a willingness to condemn `Hansonite extremism' in the nation's lounge room — there is another White gleefully grinning 'Good on you, Pauline. You show them' or another amusedly saying: 'She's so naughty', as if saying it to one's own child after he or she has misbehaved.

This is not a mere sentimental issue. It is a self-interested politics of domination. In much the same way as the story above, those respectable White Australians have an interest in someone else perceived as 'irrational and/or immature' doing the exclusion for them. They benefit from both this marginalisation and from the relationship of proximity and dominance with the already marginalised that they are able to maintain thanks to, but also by distinguishing themselves from, the 'extremists'.
For White multiculturalists today, White neo-fascism represents the latest technology of containment and problematisation of Third World-looking migrants. Pauline Hanson has enabled White Australians to unleash a new phase in the dialectic of inclusion and exclusion, aiming to transform the increasingly demanding and 'arrogant' migrants into decent `debatable problematised objects', safely positioned in the liminal spaces of inclusion/exclusion. The relation between the dominant White multiculturalism and White national exclusionism, which has always been a relation of affinity based on a shared fantasy structure, has evolved today into an active relationship of complicity. This is the fundamental basis for what has clearly become the more general Hansonisation of White culture.

In the face of this destructive White tendency, some questions need to be asked: Are Whites still good for Australia? Have they been living in ghettoes for too long? Are they dividing Australia? Do we need to have an assimilation pro­gram to help ease them into the multicultural mainstream? Clearly, it's time for Third World-looking Australians to do the 'worrying about the nation' number. And let's face it, there's plenty to worry about.