Object: ON A COLONY IS A COLONY IS A COLONY IS A COLONY IS A COLONY IS . . . .
27 November 2009
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Have you ever bicycled against a strong wind until you could move forward no longer? And the bicycle falls if it cannot advance. This is the collective situation of all of us now living the capitalist political economy. The economy must expand, the next cycle of investment and profitable production must occur, or all economic activity will come to a standstill. Capitalist tactics against countervailing market forces for more than half-a-century has been War Production --all cultural, educational, and social developments follow this axiom.
President Harry S Truman (his middle initial "S" stood for nothing, and therefor is not followed by a period) is credited to have once said: "The only thing new under the sun is the history I didn't know." It sounds suspiciously wise to have actually been the words of the 33rd president of the United States, but nevertheless these words have been attributed to him, and in a mean sort of way they may actually have been his own idea. Studying history is indeed a method to discover "new ideas," i.e. old ideas applied to new situations. Take for example, the Senator Truman's suggestion to an American journalist in 1940, when Nazi Germany launched its military conquest across the borders of the inferior Slavs in the Soviet Union. What should the U.S. do in response to this invasion? asked the journalist. "We should first provide military aid to Germany to kill as many Communists as possible," Truman responded without missing a beat, "and when we see the Russians are about to be defeated, we should provide military aid to the Soviet Union to kill as many Fascists as possible." This would weaken America's enemies and, at the same time, help rescue the American economy from the depression.
The advice of this blunt-speaking midwesterner from Missouri, is part of our historical record, and it was picked up by none other than that great American strategist and refugee of Nazi Germany, Henry Alfred Kissinger (1923 - ), who after serving as National Security Advisor (1969-1975) and Secretary of State (1973-1977) in the Nixon and Ford administrations, reproduced for President Reagan this same strategy that would perpetuate the longest war in the 20th Century, the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988, when U.S. weapons (including poison gas) and U.S. military intelligence (including satellite photographs of enemy troop formations) were shared with both sides of the conflict to increase the carnage in Iran and in Iraq in order to create a political power vacuum which only the United States could fill in this oil-rich area. U.S. capital investors were again the big winners.
Another lesson from history is the economic strategy to maintain political order by mobilizing non-productive labor. The influential British economist, John Maynard Keynes wrote in his book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), that the capitalist plague of over-production could be corrected in a variety of ways, some ways being more friendly to the owners of capital than others.
In his book, Man and Woman, War and Peace (1987), Anthony Wilden writes about diverse strategies for human liberation and the different tactics they require.
We know from the experience of millions upon millions of subjugated peoples –untouchables, Africans, blacks, Hispanics, Jamaicans, Filipinos, Catholic Irish, Indians, Chicanos, and others- that colonization cannot exist without the active (if only partly conscious) support of most of the colonized who suffer under it. Similarly, male supremacy cannot exist without the active (if only partly conscious) support of most of the women it oppresses.
Although the role of armed force and physical fear in colonization is not to be neglected, the secret of colonization does not lie simply in the physical power of the colonizer to force the colonized to accept the pain, humiliation, and degradation of their inferior position. Force alone is not enough; it must be supported by an ideology that proclaims the superiority of the colonizer over the colonized.
But again, it is not enough for the colonizers alone to believe the myth of their God-given, “natural,” innate, and hereditary superiority; the colonized must be taught to believe it too, and just as fervently, if nor more so.
The reason is that if the colonized were not taught from birth to death to collaborate in their open oppression, physical force alone could not be guaranteed to quell the mutinies, revolts, and rebellions that would result.
The colonizer must control and conceal the strategy of colonization. The colonized must be taught to respond to this strategy, not by a countervailing strategy, but by a variety of tactical behavior that serves to maintain and reinforce it.
The colonized must come to believe that they are with few exceptions exactly what their colonizers say they are: stupid, lazy, inferior, deceitful, promiscuous, unfaithful, selfish, ignorant, greedy, dirty, “uncivilized,” savage, barbaric, violent, “primitive,” “animalistic,” and even the essence of evil itself.
In this way the colonizer not only controls the economic, social, and political life of the colonized, but he also controls their sense of identity as well –and with that, their self-esteem, the most important of personal values. The colonizer so convinces the colonized of their inferiority that they come to think, act, and live out their lives as if they really were inferior.
In Damned Whores and God’s Police: The Colonization of Women in Australia (1975, p.247), Anne Summers writes:
Divide and rule is the technique employed by the colonizing powers
to ensure the allegiance of a strategic majority of the colonized, to
convince them that colonization is beneficial to them, and to persuade
them to collaborate in the task of pacifying or punishing the more
recalcitrant of their sex who refuse to accede to the demands of the
By encouraging divisions among the colonized, and by allowing privileges to the favoured group of hated collaborators,
The colonizing power is able to prevent the colonized from forming
a united opposition and from refusing to perform the labor required
of them by the invaders.
The respective roles of the Damned Whores and God’s Police in Australian history are summed up in two quotations at the beginning of Summers’ book.
On sighting the Lady Juliana coming into Sydney Harbor in June 1790 with over two hundred female convicts aboard, Lt Ralph Clark exclaimed:
No, no –surely not! My God –not more of those damned whores!
Never have I known worse women.
In 1847, in Emigration and Transportation Relatively Considered, Caroline Chisholm wrote:
If Her Majesty’s Government be really desirous of seeing a well-
conducted community spring up in these Colonies, the social
wants of the people must be considered. . . . For all the clergy you
can despatch, all the schoolmasters you can appoint, all the churches
you can build, and all the books you can export, will never do much
good, without what a gentleman in that Colony very appropriately
called “God’s police” –wives, and little childrengood and virtuous
Once again the women’s choice is either wickedness or virtue.
I argued in The Imaginary Canadian in 1980 that colonization is the common principle underlying most if not all kinds of oppression, and especially oppression by class, race, and sex. Summers, whose book I came across more recently, shows why colonization is such a useful explanatory principle in the case of the oppression and exploitation of women. She summarizes the “classic colonial situation” (p.198) as follow:
1. the invasion and conquest of a territory
2. the cultural domination of its inhabitants
3. the control of the territory’s inhabitants by setting them at each others’
throats (divide and rule)
4. the extraction of profits from the colonized territory
Colonization also requires the more or less violent destruction of the original inhabitants’ culture and way of life, damping potential revolt and forcing or persuading them to believe that their culture is inferior and that they should adopt that of the colonizing power. Every ideological weapon is brought into play, whether it be associated with religion, health care, philanthropy, treaties, commercial exchanges, or the “civilizing mission” of the invaders as they seek to pacify the colonized and convince them that their colonization is for their own good.
Using the term “colonization” to describe the situation of women ceases to be a metaphor, says Summers (p. 200), once it is recognized that in the case of women the conquered colonial territory is the body:
Women are colonized by being denied control over their own bodies.
We have already seen from Susan Brownmiller’s Against Our Will (1975) that over and over again in cases of rape –notably in the rape, mutilation, and murder of captured enemy women, but also in the assault and humiliation of women by the typical police blotter rapistthe woman’s body is being used as a message in the discourse of the Other.
We saw also from the young paratrooper’s account in St Michael and the Dragon (1961) that eclectic torture by the French in Algeria became the ultimate invasion of the body, the universal act of rape, the forcible entry of agony at every bodily orifice, at every nerve.
Looking now at Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth (1961), p. 268 of the Grove Press translation by Constance Farrington, where Fanon (1925-1961), the black psychoanalyst and radical political philosopher from Martinique, recounts his obligation as a therapist to treat not only Algerians surviving torture during the war of independence (1954-62) he supported, but also the mental and emotional problems of the Frenchmen doing the torturing, we find the following account by a 30-year-old European police inspector who had begun to threaten people who crossed him and cruelly assaulted his wife and children in “fits of madness”:
The fact is that nowadays we have to work like troopers. . . . The thing that
kills me most is the torture. You don't know what that is, do you? Sometimes
I torture people for ten hours as a stretch. . . . You may not realize, but it’s
It is true, continues the inspector, that he and others take turns, but the question is to know when to let the next man have a go. No one wants to go to all the trouble of softening up a subject and ten have him “come” in the hands of someone else, who would then get all the glory.
Our problem is as follows: are you able to make this fellow talk? It’s a question
of personal success. You see, we’re competing with the others. In the end your
fists are ruined. So you call in the Senegalese. But either they hit too hard and
destroy the creature or else they don't hit hard enough and it’s no good (p.269)
Torture is gang rape taken to its pathological conclusion. The torturers are competing with each other over who has control of the victims’ bodies and what they do with them. Here again someone’s body is being used as a medium of communication between men, as a channel of the discourse of the Other.
You have to be “intelligent” to make a success of this kind of work, explains the inspector, you have to have a flair for it. Above all, he explains,
what you mustn't do is to give a chap the impression that he won't get away
alive from you. Because then he wonders what’s the use of talking if it won't
save his life. . . . He must go on hoping; hope’s the thing that'll make him talk.
Once he talks, however, the French have no more use for him and usually kill him anyway.
The inspector could not see his way to stop torturing people –he would have to resign. So he asked Fanon straight out “to help him go on torturing Algerian patriots without any prickings of conscience, without any behavior problems, and with complete equanimity” (pp.269-70).
It suddenly dawns on me, long after the event, that the theme of the body as the discourse of the Other is the theme of Franz Kafka’s parable In the Penal Colony, written in 1914 and published in 1919. Prisoners in the colony are slowly put to death by an apparatus whose vibrating needles write their sentence in the flesh over and over again and ever deeper: “Whatever commandment the prisoner has disobeyed is written upon his body by the Harrow. This prisoner, for instance” –the officer indicated the man “will have written on his body: HONOR THY SUPERIORS!”(pp.207-214)
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Anonymous :
Date: 20 November 2009
Subject: The Nation magazine's coverage of the U.S.-led invation of Afghanistan.
The nov 30 issue of The Nation which I have just received today has an
investigation "How the US funds the Taliban" by Aram Roston about
military contractors bribing insurgents not to attack supply lies for
US troops, which is the same story as the ne on Moveon which I read
yesterday in the message you sent me. The Nation has an another
article The fifty year war which recalls another article, "Kilcullen's
Long War (an influential Pentagon strategist plans a 50 year
counterinsurgency campaign) by Tom Hayden.
For more articles from The Nation magazine on U.S. forces trying to conquer Afghanistan, please see:
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 27 November 2009
Subject: Colonial resistance to Imperialist forces in Afghanistan.
The people that want their country liberated from the West have nothing to do with Al Qaeda," Baer says. "They simply want us gone because we're foreigners, and they're rallying behind the Taliban because the Taliban are experienced, effective fighters.
from Alan Hart :
Date: 24 November 2009
Subject: Israeli Chutzpah in Washington, D.C.
Netanyahu knows who he is – another Israeli prime minister who, with the assistance of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress, has got another American president by the testicles. At least for the time being.
Returning To A Secret Country
by John Pilger
from ZMag :
Date: 25 November 2009
Subject: The future of Israel . . .
Federation? Why Not?
by Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery's ZSpace Page
These days mark the 5th anniversary of the murder of Yasser Arafat, and bring back to me our last conversation in his Ramallah compound, a few weeks before his death. It was he who brought up the idea of a threefold federation - Israel, Palestine and Jordan. "And perhaps Lebanon, too. Why not?" - the same as he did at our very first meeting, in Beirut, July 1982, in the middle of the battle. He mentioned the term Benelux - the pact between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg that predated the European Union.
Lately, the term "federation" has come into fashion again. Some people believe that it can serve as a kind of compromise between the "Two-State Solution", now a world-wide consensus, and the "One-State Solution" that is popular in some radical circles. "Federation" sounds like a miracle: there will be both "two states for two peoples" and a single entity. Two in one, one in two.
THE WORD "federation" does not frighten me. On the contrary, I was already using it in this context 52 years ago.
On June 2, 1957, my magazine, Haolam Hazeh, published the first detailed plan for an independent Palestinian state that would come into being next to Israel. The West Bank was then under Jordanian and the Gaza Strip under Egyptian occupation. I proposed helping the Palestinians to get rid of the occupiers. According to the plan, the two states, the Israeli and the Palestinian, would then establish a federation. I thought that its proper name should be "the Jordan Union".
A year later, on September 1, 1958, there appeared a document called "the Hebrew Manifesto". I am proud of my part in its composition. It was a comprehensive plan for a fundamental change of the State of Israel in all its aspects - a kind of complete overhaul. In its readiness to re-examine the fundamentals of the state and in the depth of the thinking involved, it has no parallel from the founding of Israel to this very day. Among its authors were Nathan Yellin-Mor, the ex-chief of the Stern Group, Boaz Evron, Amos Kenan and several others.
I was responsible for the chapter on Israeli-Arab peace. It proposed that a sovereign Palestinian state would be set up next to Israel, and that the two states would establish a federation, which would gradually assume more and more jurisdiction. I had to invent a Hebrew word to replace the foreign term "federation": "Ugda" (grouping) and suggested that it should be called "the Jordan Federation" - "Ugdat ha-Yarden" in Hebrew and "Ittihad al-Urdun" in Arabic. (To my sorrow, this use the term "Ugda" did not take root. Instead, the army adopted it for a division, which is a grouping of regiments or brigades.)
On the morrow of the Six-Day War, after which the entire country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan was under the control of the Israeli army, a new political movement called "Israel-Palestine Federation" called for the immediate creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel. The founders were, more or less, the same people who had composed the "Hebrew Manifesto".
When this historic opportunity was missed and with the occupation becoming gradually more and more oppressive, I abandoned the use of the term federation. I sensed that it frightened both parties. Israelis were afraid that the word covered a plot to establish a bi-national state - an idea that is rejected by the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis. Palestinians were afraid that it would serve as a disguise for a permanent Israeli occupation.
It should be remembered that the original partition plan adopted by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947, did envision a kind of federation, without using the term. It provided for the establishment of a Jewish state and an Arab state, and a separate entity of Jerusalem, administered by the UN. All these entities were to be parts of an economic union that would cover customs, the currency, railways, post, ports, airports and more. This would have, in practice, amounted to a federation.
THE MAIN problem with the word "federation" is that it has no agreed and binding definition. In different parts of the world, it describes wildly different regimes. The same is true for "confederacy".
No two countries in the world resemble each other completely, and no two federations are the same. Every state and every federation has been shaped by its particular historical development and specific circumstances, and reflects the people that created it.
The word "federation" is derived from the Latin "foedus", treaty. Basically, a federation is a pact between different states which decide to unite on agreed terms. The USA is a federation, and so is Russia. What do the two have in common?
The United States is, theoretically, a voluntary association of states. The states have many rights, but the federation is headed by a single president with immense powers. In practice, this is one state. When in 1860 the Southern states tried to secede and set up a "confederacy" of their own, the North crushed the "rebellion" in a brutal civil war. Every morning, millions of pupils in the United States swear allegiance to the flag and to "One Nation Under God".
Russia, too, is officially a federation, but their use of the term has a very different content. Moscow appoints the governors of the provinces, and Vladimir Putin rules the country as a personal fief. When Chechnya tried to secede from the "Russian Federation", it was crushed even more brutally than the confederacy in the American civil war. (This does not hinder Putin from supporting two seceding provinces of neighboring Georgia.)
Germany defines itself as a "federal republic ("Bundesrepublik"). It is composed of "Länder" that enjoy a large measure of autonomy. Switzerland calls itself a confederation in French and Italian ("Eidgenossenschaft" or "Oath Association" in German) and its cantons enjoy their autonomy. But it is also a very unified country.
It is generally supposd that a "federation" is a tighter association, while a "confederacy" is a looser one. But in reality, these differences are very blurred. It seems that Americans and Russians, Germans and Swiss, identify themselves first of all with their united state, not with their own particular province. (Except for the Bavarians, of course.)
The new Europe is for all practical purposes a confederacy, but its founders did not name it thus. They chose the less definite "European Union". Why? Perhaps they thought that terms like "federation" and "confederacy" were outdated. Perhaps they considered such terms too binding. The term "union" does not commit its members to anything specific, and they can fill it with whatever content they all agree on and change it from time to time. If the "Lisbon agreement" is finally ratified, the union will change again.
IT MAKES no sense, therefore, to discuss the idea of an Israeli-Palestinian "federation" in general terms, without defining right from the beginning what is meant by this. The same word, used by different people, can express completely different and even contradictory intentions.
For example: I recently saw a plan for a federation here in which every person would have the right to settle anywhere in either state while holding the citizenship of one of them. I can hardly imagine that many Israelis or Palestinians would embrace that. The Israelis would be afraid that the Arabs would soon constitute the majority within Israel, and the Palestinians would worry that Israeli settlers would take possession of every hilltop between the sea and the Jordan.
In any discussion of federation, the matter of immigration looms large as an ominous bone of contention. Would millions of Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to Israeli territory? Would millions of Jewish immigrants be allowed to submerge the State of Palestine?
The same is true for the matter of residence. Could a citizen of Palestine settle in Haifa, and an Israeli citizen in Nablus, as a Pole can now settle in France, a New Yorker in Miami, an inhabitant of canton Zurich in canton Uri?
EACH ONE of us who considers the idea of federation must decide what he or she wants. To draw up a beautiful plan on paper, which has no chance at all of being realized because it ignores the aspirations of both "partners" - or to think in practical terms about real options?
In practice, a federation can come about only on the basis of a free agreement between the two parties. This means that it can be realized only if both - Israelis and Palestinians - consider it as advantageous to themselves and compatible with their national aspirations.
In my opinion, a practical way to realize the idea could look like this:
Stage 1: A sovereign Palestinian state must come into being. This must precede everything else. The occupation must end and Israel must withdraw to the Green Line (with possible mutually agreed swaps of territory.) That goes for Jerusalem, too.
Stage 2: The two states establish a pattern of fair relations between them and get used to living side by side. There will be a need for real steps towards reconciliation and the healing of the wounds of the past. (For example: the creation of a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" on the South African model.) On the practical level, fair arrangements of matters like movement between the two states, the division of water resources etc. are put into place.
Stage 3: The two states start negotiations for the establishment of joint institutions. For example: the opening of the border between them for the free movement of people and goods, an economic union, a joint currency, a customs envelope, the use of ports and airports, coordination of foreign relations, and so on. There will be no automatic right for citizens of one state to settle in the other. Each state will decide for itself on its immigration policy.
The two parties can jointly decide whether to invite Jordan as a third partner to the proposed treaty.
Such a negotiation can succeed only if the population in each of the partner states is convinced that the partnership will bring it positive benefits. Since Israel is the stronger economically and technologically, it must be ready to make generous proposals.
Stage 4: The more trust between the parties develops, the easier it will be to deepen the partnership and to widen the powers of the joint institutions.
Perhaps, at this stage, conditions may be ripe for the founding of a wider association of the entire region, on the lines of the European Union. Such an association may include the Arab states, Israel, Turkey and Iran. The name I suggested for it in the past was "Semitic Union". (Turks and Iranians are not linguistically "Semitic" nations, but Islam is a Semitic religion and plays a major role in their culture.)
This is a vision for the future, and it can be realized. To paraphrase Barack Obama's slogan, even if it has lost some of its luster: Yes, we can!
From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives
from GRITtv :
Date: 26 November 2009
Subject: Debate on "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel."
Earlier this year, we had a discussion in studio about the strategies of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) in pursuit of a just peace in the Middle East. BDS was used successfully against South Africa under apartheid, and the call for a similar campaign against Israel stems back to at least 2005. But is it a productive strategy, or will it do more harm than good?
Those were the questions posed to Omar Barghouti, Palestinian human rights activist and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and of the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. and George Fletcher, Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia Law School and author of Rethinking Criminal Law, at Columbia University last month, where Laura moderated a debate sponsored by the Middle East Institute. Although the debaters had difficulty sticking to the topic, it was an interesting and heated exchange, revealing the barriers not only to peace in Israel & Palestine, but to even discussing the topic. We bring you some of the footage of the night’s event.