Monday, October 11, 2010

No change...for now

It has been a while since I have written a long post on this blog. I have been busy with personal and professional stuff, none of which has eased up, unfortunately. But as I am currently working on the compilation of previous blog posts, in order to curate them into a book which is to be published by Helena Cobban’s newly initiated Just World Books, I find myself compelled to address at least the issue of why I am not writing so much on the blog.

Truth is, both the food and the general political situation in the world, in the region and in Lebanon are worthy of writing about, but only if one does not mind reading old news. This is really what it feels like: nothing has changed.

At the global level, the US under Obama is a continuation of the US under Bush. Not that I did not expect it, but that does not provide any original and novel material to write about. The US still occupies Afganistan and Iraq, and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The “war on terror” of GW has been privatized so that BO does not have to endorse the remote terror games launched by joystick-happy mercenaries in suits. The world is just as unipolar as it was after the end of the cold war, and the US, leading the West behind it, continues its hegemonic drive, using cultural, political, economic and military means. Look at the Nobel prizes. No change there.

On the global economic front, the long awaited collapse of capitalism does not appear to have come about in the wake of the financial crisis, in spite of the predictions of mainstream thinkers on both side of the now blurred left and right and their post modern variations (Ken Cameron qualifies for inclusion in the post-modern right). The hydra has many heads, and its control of governments is now undisputable: the money of the poor and the middle class have gone to bale out the big banks and the corporations, which continue to do what they do best: extract money from the masses. Nothing much to talk about here, except perhaps to pose the question to those who still believe in social justice: what are we doing wrong? I have an answer, but some readers won’t like it.

The climate change talks have collapsed. I never had much hope in them, and I have written this many times on this blog. I don’t think there will be a new beginning. This demonstrates amply the “power” of NGOs and grassroots organizations in making change happen: you have no power. Power is locked where it is, in the centers of power. If you want it you’re going to have to go get it, rather than accepting to be coopted and given a bone to play with. The same applies to other aspects of the environment-resources-people triad: more poverty, more hungry people, more grandiose meetings in New York, Washington or Rome. And the grass root sector is still there, trying to get its voice heard by those who do not have ears, only big mouths to smile at them like that cat who ate the canary. If you want to continue being a canary, please feel free to pluck yourself first so you can be swallowed more easily.

In the Arab World, home of the political pathetic, puppet regimes headed by puppet leaders met at the great puppet show in Lybia to agree on ... staying puppets. Do we really have to talk about that? Ask Mahmoud Abbas. Or Ali Abdallah Saleh.

On the Iran front, lets rest assured, neither the US nor the Israelis won’t enter into a war. Iran will work steadily towards the completion of its nuclear program, and will become a regional superpower, in spite of the embargoes, the computer viruses and all the protection afforded to Israel by the US and its vassal states.

In Lebanon, the attempts to rid the region of its only defiant group, the Resistance, continues unabated, with the help and support of everyone who cares to hedge their bets with the Israelis and the US. The International Hariri Tribunal is the latest weapon, and I have written about this a while ago. The irony is that in Lebanon proper, the players are locked in their silly sectarian games and unable to see the bigger picture and proceeding towards the destruction of the country. Well, some of the players do not see it. Others act for it. But here too, it looks like the Resistance is here to stay, that it is an irreversible process, and while it has to be extracted from its sectarian dimensions, it remains a force of rebellion against a hegemonic superpower. Whether it can be a vehicle for social justice is another issue, worthy of its own post

On the food front, a food crisis unfolds without anyone talking much about it. Mainstream newspaper carry now routinely article blaming both weather and speculations for the increases in the price of wheat. Deadly riots in Mozambique. Demonstrations in Lebanon. This has become old news, and this is classically the way the hydra works: create facts on the grounds, let them become part of the "business as usual" approach, so that they stop raising eyebrows. Al Akhbar carried today its nth article on the protests about increasing bread prices and subsidizing the wheat and flour cartels. But who is protesting? A small group of young leftist activists. The noise? Not even background. Who is affected? The poor from all sects. Kudos to Rasha Abu Zeki from Al Akhbar for the long article about trans-sectarian poverty, but that too has become old news. What is being done? What is to be done? Who will do it? These are the real issues we need to talk about and act on.

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