JOURNAL OF THE 24TH YEAR
Japan's Fukushima Disaster
The Shura Case
Death Row Inmates Exonerated
NUGGETS FROM THE NUT HOUSE
From Netanyahu to Mladic
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Veterans Support Manning
Double Dip Recession
Iara Lee's Culture of Resistance
Len Weinglass (1933-2011)
Michael Steven Smith
Checkmate In The Great Game
Nicolas J.S. Davies
The Colonial Predator Legacy
Against Corporatocracy Rule
Bruce E. Levine
The Mideast & South Central Asia
Bin Laden and the Arab "Awakening"
From Poppies to Fentanyl Lollipops
The Lacandon Jungle and the Carbon Market
Displacing People for Profit
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Bin Laden and the Arab "Awakening"
The assassination of Osama bin Laden and the twists and turns in the Arab Revolution, rebranded as the Arab “Awakening,” lends itself to reflections on the bipolar positioning of the two struggles, particularly in international media and policy circles. From a communication perspective, bin Laden had always been an easy target. Over the last decade, Muslims, the majority population in the region now being reformed, have been categorized according to their position on violence as a tool for revolutionary change. “Good” Muslims are disassociating themselves from bin Laden’s violent jihad and “bad” Muslims are asserting the necessity of violence to affect change. Writers such as John Esposito, Faisal Devji, and Olivier Roy have played a vital role in explaining bin Laden’s version of jihad in socio-political, ethical, and secular terms, often positioning bin Laden as a neo-Marxist in Islamic robes. However, it can be argued that the environment for hearing bin Laden has always been particularly static prone and is likely to remain as such while the CIA pours over bin Laden’s dairies and videos, collections of pornography, and marijuana plants, leaking information which will further demonize him. This reinvention of bin Laden coincides with assertions that his methodology of radical violence has been proven ineffective by the “peaceful” protests of twittering youths “awakened” to a new pan-Arab struggle.
Recent responses to bin Laden’s death, from liberals to leftists, have unanimously claimed that he is now obsolete and had been for some time. Gilles Kepel, for example, confidently declared in a New York Times op-ed that bin Laden was already dead before his actual assassination, since his message had already been replaced by secular uprisings. After
I want to argue here that these views, though valid to a certain extent, belabor the point that bin Laden’s messages are not opposed to that of the “Awakening” but are, in fact, contained within it. So consumed is interpretation with ticking off political action in the Muslim world as secular or religious and so determined are critics to prove that secular activism works better than religious activism, that some very obvious similarities between bin Laden’s methods and intentions and those of the Arab “Awakening” are ignored.
Let’s begin with the methods: bin Laden asserted that violence was an appropriate response to oppression and vowed to use violent means to rid the Muslim world of both its “near enemy,” its autocratic rulers, and its “far enemy,” imperialist powers. To achieve these ends he approved of spectacular attacks on symbolic targets on Western soil—attacks on oil fields and various symbols of imperial presence throughout the Muslim world. By contrast, the Arab revolution has been spun as a “peaceful” protest with Tahrir square, particularly, as an Arab version of
Mohammed Ali Atassi has noted: “Did not Mohamed Bouazizi commit what—according to traditional Islamic law—is considered the most venal of all sins when he burned himself to inject life back into the veins of the Arab peoples after the tyrants had bled them almost dry? And yet the violation by Bouazizi of such a fundamental principle of traditional Islam was not enough to prevent millions of people from sympathizing with him and turning him into an icon and symbol of the current Arab revolution.”
Likewise, did not bin Laden’s followers commit similar acts of shahid, despite condemnation from numerous Islamic scholars as to whether it was Islamic and were not they, too, much to the distress of pacifist observers, hailed as icons to many across the Muslim world? While both adopted heterodoxical stances, bin Laden’s was considered shameful since he advocated killing others along with the self, while Mohammed Bouazizi killed only himself, making him a hero more acceptable to Western standards of martyrdom. Bouazizi’s hetero- doxical act did not prevent him from being hailed as a “shahid” throughout the Muslim world in a language eerily similar to bin Laden’s. Further, the “revolutionaries”—or “rebels” as the Western media labels them—in
The following is a comment by an Egyptian participant/blogger in the uprising: “The revolution (like any other revolution) witnessed violence by the security forces that led to the killing of at least 846 protesters. But the people did not sit silent and take this violence with smiles and flowers. We fought back. We fought back the police and Mubarak’s thugs with rocks, Molotov cocktails, sticks, swords and knives. The police stations which were stormed in almost every single neighborhood on the Friday of Anger—that was not the work of ‘criminals’ as the regime and some middle class activists are trying to propagate. Protesters, ordinary citizens, did that. Other symbols of power and corruption were attacked by the protesters and torched down during the uprising. Revolutionary violence is never random. Those buildings torched down or looted largely belonged to Mubarak’s National Democratic Party. In a number of provinces like in Sinai and
“Am I condemning this violence? No. Every single revolution in history witnessed its share of violence. The violence always starts by the hands of the state, not the people. The people are forced to pick up arms or whatever they can put their hands on to protect themselves. May all our martyrs rest in peace. Their blood will not go in vain. Revolution continues—3arabawy.”
3arabawy makes a critical point: revolution is always violent, people protect themselves from state violence through violence and they are willing to die in the struggle. Yet, strangely, the Arab revolutions have been packaged as non-violent protests, intent on affecting change peacefully, antithetical to bin Laden’s radical message.
Perhaps this binary positioning in opposition to bin Laden is due to the fact that the revolutions, though they have violently targeted the “near enemy,” the autocratic regimes of the regime, as of yet have not targeted “the far enemy.” Thus, the West feels insulated from the repercussions of the Arab “Awakening.” Will this continue if the “Awakening” threatens the slumbers that sustain the nightmare of American imperialism in the region? A taste of what could happen was felt on May 15 when tens of thousands protested to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. Israeli troops using live ammunition opened fire on protestors demonstrating on
Over the past months, American and European powers have tried desperately to protect imperialist interests in the region to ensure that the revolutions will not turn anti-Western, not threaten American and European capitalist interests, and not threaten the nearest “far enemy” of all, Israel. By positioning the Arab “Awakening” as the antithesis to bin Laden’s jihad, the media has once again drawn an imaginary line between “religious” and “secular” intentions in the region, which, of course, excludes the violence of the non-secular Jewish State of Israel. The message is that a “secular” revolution might not substantially threaten imperial designs on the region, while a “religious” revolution most definitely would. In fact, the theme of “Awakening” evokes early 20th century depictions of Arab unity and reclaiming of identity as envisioned in 1938 by the Palestinian-British intellectual George Antonius in his famous book The Arab Awakening which described the Nahda—Awakening—as a secular, literary, and cultural renaissance, which pre-dated the populist Arab unity movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The original Nahda focused on constructing a collective identity and community, but is that what the 2011 Spring is really about? The revolutions striking various countries have vastly different demands, and it appears the protests are less about identity than they are about authority and economic injustice. There have been no calls in
What all protests have in common is a challenging of the ruling elites, objecting to arbitrary, unaccountable, corrupt, and often brutal behavior, and well as the vast divisions between the rich and the poor. It is unclear whether the goals are nationalist or pan Arab, or even particularly Islamic. To actually look for a goal to the Arab revolutions is to assume that the goals of all the countries under transition, including Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, and Syria are the same—and hold equal value to American interests. This, of course, is not true.
An important indicator, however, of how “awake” the Arab masses are and whether they are willing and capable of mounting a tectonic shift to imperialist and capitalist interests in the region, is the type of mobilization that occurred on May 15 on the Palestinian Nakba. This event was unprecedented in the region and is bound to raise serious questions on the nature of sovereignty in an area where maps have arbitrarily been drawn, creating diverse conflicts. If the Arab masses are now awake, have they been asleep? And for how long have they slumbered? Osama bin Laden would have argued that, yes, not only has the Arab world been sleeping, but so has the entire capitalist world.
In fact, bin Laden often emphasized his intention to jolt the masses from their slumber. In one of his most widely analyzed speeches, “The Solution,” which addressed the American people on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of 9/11, bin Laden spoke at length about the debilitating effects of capitalism. He argued that capitalism and democracy have detrimentally affected the people of
Here, bin Laden posited the Western populations as victims of their political leaders and capitalism, living in a state of false consciousness, or slumber, under a false sovereignty. His call was international and, interestingly, he assured his Western audience that as they managed to free themselves from the false consciousness of their religion through secularism, they can now transcend secular capitalism to engage in a greater morality by sharing in the utopian vision of Islam. In a 2009 statement, he repeated this call for awakening and referred to John Mearsheimer’s and Stephen Walt’s book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, arguing “it is time to free yourselves from fear and intellectual terrorism being practiced against you by the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby.”
The reality is that the political configurations of the Arab world and
Only if we admit that the methods and means of the current “Awakening” and bin Laden’s utopia are not so dramatically different after all, can we come to a better understanding of a region that has been prepared, particularly over the past decade, for such a dramatic upheaval. To truly begin an anatomy of the diverse “Awakenings,” analysts need to glimpse beyond the “good” and “bad” branding that offers prepackaged interpretations and instead deconstruct the faulty Orientalist binaries of the religious and the secular that have hampered an understanding of the region. In this sense, bin Laden is not “obsolete,” but contained and existent in the changes of the present.
Jacqueline O’Rourke is a consultant in research and communications who lives in
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.