Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Recently, I posted about the 1974 film Hearts and Minds and the racism it documented. I pointed specifically to a quote from a participant in a US Revolutionary War reenactment responding to the startling suggestion that Vietnamese people might comparably be fighting for freedom and against colonial oppression: “Are you kidding? Oriental politics? Don’t put me on!”
It’s too perfect. The setting: A typical reaction piece penned by the US State Depa…uh, Liz Sly at WaPo, about the unilateral, unpopular, tension-deepening, unilateral, fear-raising, complicating, defiant, unilateral, triggering, destabilizing, unilateral, rejected, divisive self-proclamation of a Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federation. It includes the requisite guidance from the Obama administration, great ally to Kurdish democrats: “‘We’ve been very clear that we won’t recognize any kind of autonomous or self-rule, semiautonomous zones in Syria’, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said this week.” (Naturally. Semi-autonomous self-rule? We can’t have that!)
Someone in the comments actually dared to compare the possibilities for a Syrian democratic federation to Canada’s, eliciting this beauty:
Comparing Canadiens to Middle Easterners is like ... well, there is no comparison.The more things change,…
Monday, March 28, 2016
I hope to post more about the Rojava-Northern Syria Democratic Federal System (and various appalling reactions thereto) soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share the Constituent Assembly’s declaration:
To the Syrian, regional, and global public.
In response to the appeal made by the General Coordination of Democratic Self-Administration Areas (Cizîrê, Kobanê and Efrîn), all components of the political forces, parties, and social actors in the cantons of Rojava and the areas liberated from terrorist forces held a meeting resulting in a comprehensive political vision for a Syrian resolution and an agreement on the management system for Rojava/Northern Syria. This can serve as a model for the rest of Syria, providing a solution for the Syrian crisis. We, the representatives of these areas, met on 16th and 17th March 2016.
We commemorate with respect the martyrs of our people, who wrote with their blood the heroic resistance that has brought our people to the milestone they are at today.
This aforementioned meeting resulted in the following decisions.
1. The democratic federal system encapsulates all social components and guarantees that a future Syria will be for all Syrians.
2. All work will be towards establishing a democratic federal system for Rojava/Northern Syria.
3. Co-presidents and a 31-person Organising Council were elected.
4. The Organising Council was assigned to prepare a social contract and a comprehensive political and legal vision for this system within a period not exceeding six months.
5. All assembly committees and documents will adhere to UN resolutions on human rights and societal democratic systems. Furthermore, all attendees of the meeting see themselves as part of the new system being constructed and are aware of the deep ties it has with the people of Syria; they predicate their participation on the fraternity of peoples and peace.
6. Women’s freedom is the essence of the federal democratic system. Women have the right to equal participation and in decision-related responsibilities in relation to female issues. Women will be represented as equals in all spheres of life, including all social and political spheres.
7. The peoples and communities living in the federal system in Rojava/Northern Syria can develop their political, economic, social, cultural, and democratic relations with whom they see fit, or share their beliefs and culture with the people and communities on a regional and international level, provided that this relationship does not interfere with the objectives and interests of the federal democratic system.
8. The peoples of regions liberated by the democratic forces from terrorist organisations will have the right to become a part of the federal democratic system of Rojava-Northern Syria, if they so choose.
9. The goal of the Rojava/Northern Syria democratic federal system on the regional level is to achieve democratic union between all the peoples of the Middle East in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres and transcend national state borders to create a secure, peaceful and fraternal life for all.
10. The creation of a federal and democratic system shall take place within a sovereign Syria.
To all people in Syria, Kurdistan and Rojava and all groups and social classes.
We are going through a historical phase and critical circumstances. Today, Syria is experiencing the worst tragedy in its history. Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, not to mention the immense damage that the infrastructure of Syria has suffered.
In spite of this, a democratic experience has been created and defended in Rojava with the blood of martyrs. Great gains have been achieved in this period. This is a real opportunity to build a federal democratic system. We are sure and confident that this will be a model for a solution to the Syrian crisis.
In the framework of the decisions we have taken, we are calling foremostly on women who represent a new and free life, as well as young people, communities, workers and all other social sectors to join in the construction of a democratic federal system. We are also calling on all progressive humanity and democratic forces to support our efforts.
Long live our people's determination, their coexistence, and their unity.
Speaking of Saudi Arabia, As’ad AbuKhalil posted a link to video of Saturday’s gigantic demonstration in Sana’a, Yemen, against the Saudi regime on the anniversary of the initiation of US-supported Saudi bombing. Wow.
The Saudi Arabia's Bureau of Investigation has announced it is pushing to impose the death penalty for homosexuals who ‘solicit homosexual acts on social media’.
Some social media users have used the Arabic-language hashtag #I’mGayYouWon’tTerroriseMe to express outrage at the proposed legislation and show solidarity with the Saudi LGBT community.
“All the people are angry, but the problem is that they can’t speak. Everyone is scared of being imprisoned…. If the truth comes out it will be the beginning of the end for [the regime].”
Frontline on PBS will be airing “Saudi Arabia Uncovered” this Tuesday, March 29, at 10 PM Eastern, 9 PM Central. People, at least in the US (I’m not sure about other countries), will also be able to watch it online beginning on Tuesday.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Friday, March 18, 2016
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
I’ve seen documentaries so obscure I can’t even find them on the internet, and yet somehow until recently I hadn’t seen one of the best of all time, Peter Davis’ 1974 Hearts and Minds.
The moment that best captures the spirit of US imperialism during the past century or so is a scene at a Revolutionary War reenactment in Croton, New York. A reenactor is asked to think about commonalities, to consider the Vietnamese in terms of revolutionary anti-colonial struggle. The young man responds derisively: “Are you kidding? Oriental politics? Don’t put me on!”
So much of US imperialism rests on this assumption: that people in most of the world have no politics. They can be clients, stooges, pawns, threats, enemies, rebels, savages, primitives, labor, markets, religious zealots, henchmen, fanatics, or victims, but they don’t – and can’t – have genuine politics, understood in the same terms as our own.