Blind Orthodoxies

September 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s always dangerous to declare generalised love for a movement or school of thought – including Sufism, because Sufism can be subdivided into spirit and tradition, into various orders and popular customs, into the sober and the drunk, the vocal and the silent, the revolutionary and the tame. Still, I’ll say I love it for its symbolic, illogical, individualist challenge to literalism and the obsession with rules, and because it smiles, and for its openness and tolerance, and its music and poetry; because, as Adonis says: “Sufism has laid the foundations for a form of writing that is based upon subjective experience in a culture that is generally based on established religious knowledge.”

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Foreshadowing Iraq: The War on “Life Itself”

September 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Residents inspect a damaged church after a bomb attack in central Kirkuk, Iraq (Photo: Reuters -- Ako Rasheed)

American University of Beirut professor Omar Dewachi writes at Al Akhbar English:

Washington’s planned withdrawal of troops from Iraq next December is hailed as a turning point for the country. But the war on Iraq was much more than a military battle under the banner of regime change. It was an attack on the social body of a people that predated the 2003 invasion and will outlast a nominal troop withdrawal. As the world marks the ten years anniversary of 9/11 used as a pretext to invade Iraq, reflecting on the burdens of this war is a reminder that 20 years of violent US intervention will take decades to erase.

George Bush’s declaration of ‘war on terror’ in the wake of 9/11 took place one month after I arrived in the US to embark on my doctoral studies in anthropology. An unending war was unleashed with dramatic consequences on the lives of millions of people in the Middle East and the US. After 2003, members of my own family fell victim to the occupation and the sectarian violence, while others were completely uprooted from the city of Baghdad. The war was being felt in the US, as men and women of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent were subjected to physical, symbolic, and bureaucratic violence through torture, surveillance systems, and the new cultural economy of blame and accusation.

In 2003, I began my research on the effects of years of warfare in Iraq by mainly looking at the exodus of Iraqi doctors and the ‘un-doing’ of the Iraqi health system during the 1990s. I was already familiar with the topic. I had trained and worked as a medical doctor in Iraq during the 1990s, where I lived through the collapse of one of the region’s most developed health systems. As a doctor working under sanctions, I struggled in my everyday with the rapid deterioration of the whole country’s infrastructure, the lack of medical supplies, the migration of the medical staff, the dismantling of the service infrastructure, and the mounting of the regime’s coercive violence. We wrestled daily to stock low supplies of saline solutions, cannulas, disposable gloves, and antibiotics. Hospital structures began failing with the absence of maintenance and supplies, as many were on the UN sanctioned list of ‘dual use.’ This was not merely a war on a rogue political regime; it was a war on the social body in Iraq.

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Ways of Seeing

September 18, 2011 § 1 Comment

Booker Prize-winning author and art critic John Berger’s classic 1972 documentary series investigating the ideologies that are embedded in visual images.

Episode 1

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Ten years too long: What is the True Cost of the Afghanistan War?

September 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Narrated by Tony Benn, with music by Brian Eno. The clip ends with a call to join the Antiwar Mass Assembly in Trafalgar Square on 8 October: http://www.antiwarassembly.org

Haiti: After the Quake

September 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

It is documentaries like this that set Al Jazeera apart from other major news networks. Sebastian Walker examines why a system that was designed to help actually ended up exacerbating Haiti’s misery.

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Showdown in Peru: Indigenous communities kick out Canadian mining company

September 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

(Photo: Shantala Robinson)

by Benjamin Dangl

This article appeared at The Dominion.

Earlier this spring, an anti-mining Indigenous movement in Peru successfully ousted a Canadian mining company from their territory. “In spite of government repression, if the people decide to bring the fight to the bitter end, it is possible to resist the pressure of mining and oil companies,” Peruvian activist and journalist Yasser Gómez told The Dominion.

The David and Goliath scenario of this anti-mining uprising highlights the vast economic inequality that has beset Peru. The country’s economy has been booming for the past decade, with a seven per cent growth expected this year—one of the highest growth rates internationally. Sixty-five per cent of the country’s export income comes from the mining industry, and investors are expected to spend over $40 billion in the next 10 years on mining operations.

Yet this growth has not benefited a large percentage of the population. The poverty rate in Peru is just over 31 per cent; in the countryside, two in three people live under the poverty line. Today, there are over 200 communities organized against mining across Peru.

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The State of Palestine – A Hint of Liberation?

September 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

State of Palestine Stamp by Khaled Jarrar It occurs to me that I can’t address the issue of a Palestinian state without addressing my Anarchism. The national struggle is an issue of inevitable debate for many Anarchists who support the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Truth be told, as a local Anarchist, in a time when Palestine is still occupied territory, when asked about the Palestinian bid at the UN for a Palestinian state, I worry mostly about how more violent the Israeli army could get when we demonstrate with the villages. I worry about being denied entry into the occupied territory, in order to get to the demonstrations. I worry about not being able to see my friends, or being prosecuted for attempting to do so.

Many of us- “on the ground” as they say- Palestinians, Anarchists and allies, have been brushing off the reality of a Palestinian-state-positive vote in the UN , because we doubt it’ll change anything ”on the ground.” To those shot at, holding a flag or holding a stick is at best a semantic exercise.

That said, declaring a Palestinian state is not one of those small issues that can be brushed aside, especially because “state” is an internationally accepted legal term. As an Anarchist the idea of an international general assembly, in which whole populations have their say is remarkable to me. Had the United Nations been fashioned after a participatory society model, rather than a hierarchical, neo-liberal, democratic model, maybe it needn’t have had to hang its head in shame. But for now, one must hold the status of a “state”, in order to be recognized as a people- and consequently a person. So in a bid to understand the repercussions of next week, over our lives, more deeply, I’d like to delve into the legal opinions that have been published about the move.

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