Chile | Kurdistan | Ukraine | Israel

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Evgeny Morozov: The Planning Machine (The New Yorker)

In June, 1972, Ángel Parra, Chile’s leading folksinger, wrote a song titled “Litany for a Computer and a Baby About to Be Born.” Computers are like children, he sang, and Chilean bureaucrats must not abandon them. The song was prompted by a visit to Santiago from a British consultant who, with his ample beard and burly physique, reminded Parra of Santa Claus—a Santa bearing a “hidden gift, cybernetics.”
The consultant, Stafford Beer, had been brought in by Chile’s top planners to help guide the country down what Salvador Allende, its democratically elected Marxist leader, was calling “the Chilean road to socialism.” Beer was a leading theorist of cybernetics—a discipline born of midcentury efforts to understand the role of communication in controlling social, biological, and technical systems. Chile’s government had a lot to control: Allende, who took office in November of 1970, had swiftly nationalized the country’s key industries, and he promised “worker participation” in the planning process. Beer’s mission was to deliver a hypermodern information system that would make this possible, and so bring socialism into the computer age. The system he devised had a gleaming, sci-fi name: Project Cybersyn…
When Beer was a steel-industry executive, he would assemble experts—anthropologists, biologists, logicians—and dispatch them to extract such tacit knowledge from the shop floor. The goal was to produce a list of relevant indicators (like total gasoline reserves or delivery delays) that could be monitored so that managers would be able to head off problems early. In Chile, Beer intended to replicate the modelling process: officials would draw up the list of key production indicators after consulting with workers and managers. “The on-line control computer ought to be sensorily coupled to events in real time,” Beer argued in a 1964 lecture that presaged the arrival of smart, net-connected devices—the so-called Internet of Things. Given early notice, the workers could probably solve most of their own problems. Everyone would gain from computers: workers would enjoy more autonomy while managers would find the time for long-term planning. For Allende, this was good socialism. For Beer, this was good cybernetics.

Stupid wars (RT; Video)

What is Washington’s strategy against the Islamic State? Is the Islamic State a creation of the United States? Is the war on terror really a war on Islam? Will the US make amends with Iran in order to defeat the jihadist militants? What is Washington’s endgame? CrossTalking with Ken O’Keefe, Majid Rafizadeh, and Peter van Buren.

Rafael Taylor: The new PKK: unleashing a social revolution in Kurdistan (Roar)

As the prospect of Kurdish independence becomes ever more imminent, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party transforms itself into a force for radical democracy.

Sergei Kirichuk: Path into darkness (Ліва) / Путь во тьму (Боротьба)

The negotiations in Milan in a sense completed a diplomatic cycle begun by the Minsk Agreement, heralding a still weak hope for de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. It became clear that Russian gas will be supplied to Ukraine this winter and the Poroshenko administration will be able to provide heating to the population without resorting to exotic options like South African coal or Norwegian gas via Slovakia.

Victor Shapinov: Left in fascist Ukraine (Боротьба)

The election results are clear. The bloc of oligarchs and nationalists, who longed for power at the Maidan, have consolidated their power. In this the junta became more homogeneous – the purely oligarchic parties have adopted Nazi rhetoric (Yatsenyuk first and foremost), and among the nationalists Lyashko came to the fore, more clearly elitist than the uncouth fans of SS runes, and not so embarrassing for Europe. Actually the logic of the political process was understandable in the days of the Maidan — the strongest momentum was to the right. And it passes through the strengthening of the neo-Nazi fringe, and the Nazification of moderate “pro-European” politicians.

Tunisie: le discours policé des islamistes d’Ennahda après un bilan controversé (Assawra [at̠-T̠awra])

Les islamistes tunisiens d’Ennahda, arrivés deuxièmes aux législatives, n’ont eu de cesse de polir pendant la campagne leur image éreintée par deux ans au pouvoir et d’insister, bons perdants, sur leur attachement à la démocratie.
Répété à l’envi, “consensus” fut le maître mot des interventions de ses chefs dans les médias comme sur le terrain.
Et une fois les premières estimations publiées, les responsables du parti ont reconnu être arrivés derrière la formation anti-islamiste Nidaa Tounès sans attendre les résultats officiels, qui n’avaient toujours pas été proclamés mercredi matin.

The Two Most Important Things About Malala Yousafzai That Everyone Seems to Ignore… (Political Blind Spot)

In the wake of Malala Yousafzai’s snubbing by the Nobel Committee some have raised important questions like did Malala lose the award because the committed was afraid to confront radical Islam?
Perhaps, but an even more fundamental question is why is no one talking about Malala Yousafzai’s religion or politics?
The Jewish Forward poignantly notes that “As touching as Stewart’s interview with her was, and it was touching, it did overlook a big part of what makes Malala Malala, and that is her religion. Yousafzai is a Muslim, and sees the potential for reform within the context of Islam, and not, like other prominent feminists from Muslim countries, outside of it.”
In all the Western media craze over Malala, there is another key point ignored about her: she is not only a Muslim feminist, she is a socialist with Marxist tendencies. In her own words: “I am convinced Socialism is the only answer and I urge all comrades to take this struggle to a victorious conclusion. Only this will free us from the chains of bigotry and exploitation.”

Jill Treanor: Richest 1% of people own nearly half of global wealth, says report (Guardian)

The richest 1% of the world’s population are getting wealthier, owning more than 48% of global wealth, according to a report published on Tuesday which warned growing inequality could be a trigger for recession.
According to the Credit Suisse global wealth report (pdf), a person needs just $3,650 – including the value of equity in their home – to be among the wealthiest half of world citizens. However, more than $77,000 is required to be a member of the top 10% of global wealth holders, and $798,000 to belong to the top 1%.
“Taken together, the bottom half of the global population own less than 1% of total wealth. In sharp contrast, the richest decile hold 87% of the world’s wealth, and the top percentile alone account for 48.2% of global assets,” said the annual report, now in its fifth year.

Eric Lichtblau: In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis (New York Times)

In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

Asher Schechter: Why Israel pretends Mohammed isn’t there (Haaretz)

Earlier this week, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) released its annual statement for Rosh Hashanah. Filled with tidbits about Israel’s population, such as the official number of Israeli citizens (8,904,373) and how many births occurred during the outgoing Jewish year (176,230), a main attraction in PIBA’s annual publication is the list of most-popular baby names.
The year 5774 saw a stunning upset when it came to girls: Tamar dethroned Noa. Regarding boys, the most popular names stayed Yosef, Daniel and Uri.
But Yosef wasn’t actually the most popular baby name in Israel. That, as reported by Haaretz’s Ilan Lior last week, was in fact Mohammad.

Samir Amin: Contra Hart and Negri (Monthly Review) / Au sujet des thèses de Michael Hardt et d’Antonio Negri. Multitude ou prolétarisation ? (Mémoire des luttes)

The term multitude was first used in Europe, it seems, by the Dutch philosopher Spinoza, to whom Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri explicitly refer. It then designated the “common people” who were a majority in the cities of the Ancien Régime and deprived of participation in political power (reserved for the monarch and the aristocracy), economic power (reserved for property owners of feudal ancestry or for the nascent financial bourgeoisie, both urban and rural—including the rich peasants), and social power (reserved for the Church and its clerics). The status of the common people varied. In the city, they were artisans, small merchants, pieceworkers, paupers, and beggars; in the country, they were landless. The common people in the cities were restless and frequently exploded into violent insurrections. They were often mobilized by others—particularly the nascent bourgeoisie, the active component of the Third Estate in France—in their conflicts with the aristocracy…
We are, then, quite far from a step backward towards a diversification of statuses similar to that which characterized the multitude in the past. In fact, we are in the exact opposite situation. Before Hardt and Negri, Touraine had confused the new segmentation with the “end of the proletariat,” and in that vein, substituted the struggle of “social movements” (in the plural) specific to each of these segments in the new social reality for the struggle of the proletariat (in the singular).

Tunisia | Libya | Iran | Sri Lanka | Korea | Israel | Denmark

Sarah Ben Hamadi: Ennahdha-Qatar-United States: Dangerous Liaisons (MRzine)

Arundthati Roy: We are all Occupiers (Guardian)
Tom Ackerman, Slavoj Žižek: Capitalism with Asian values (Aljazeera)

In his distinct and colourful manner, [Žižek] analyses the Arab Spring, the eurozone crisis, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and the rise of China. Concerned about the future of the existing western democratic capitalism Zizek believes that the current “system has lost its self-evidence, its automatic legitimacy, and now the field is open.”

Nathan Brown: Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi (UCDavis Bicycle Barricade)

Seymour M. Hersh: Iran and the IAEA (New Yorker)

Robert Kelley, a retired I.A.E.A. director and nuclear engineer who previously spent more than thirty years with the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons program, told me that he could find very little new information in the I.A.E.A. report. He noted that hundreds of pages of material appears to come from a single source: a laptop computer, allegedly supplied to the I.A.E.A. by a Western intelligence agency, whose provenance could not be established. Those materials, and others, “were old news,” Kelley said, and known to many journalists. “I wonder why this same stuff is now considered ‘new information’ by the same reporters.” (…)Greg Thielmann, a former State Department and Senate Intelligence Committee analyst who was one of the authors of the A.C.A. assessment, told me, “There is troubling evidence suggesting that studies are still going on, but there is nothing that indicates that Iran is really building a bomb.” He added, “Those who want to drum up support for a bombing attack on Iran sort of aggressively misrepresented the report.”

Hugh Roberts: Who said Gaddafi had to go? (London Review of Books)

Presented by the National Transitional Council (NTC) and cheered on by the Western media as an integral part of the Arab Spring, and thus supposedly of a kind with the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, the Libyan drama is rather an addition to the list of Western or Western-backed wars against hostile, ‘defiant’, insufficiently ‘compliant’, or ‘rogue’ regimes: Afghanistan I (v. the Communist regime, 1979-92), Iraq I (1990-91), the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (over Kosovo, 1999), Afghanistan II (v. the Taliban regime, 2001) and Iraq II (2003), to which we might, with qualifications, add the military interventions in Panama (1989-90), Sierra Leone (2000) and the Ivory Coast (2011). An older series of events we might bear in mind includes the Bay of Pigs (1961), the intervention by Western mercenaries in the Congo (1964), the British-assisted palace coup in Oman in 1970 and – last but not least – three abortive plots, farmed out to David Stirling and sundry other mercenaries under the initially benevolent eye of Western intelligence services, to overthrow the Gaddafi regime between 1971 and 1973 in an episode known as the Hilton Assignment. (…)
Libya was part of the wider ‘Arab awakening’ in two respects. The unrest began on 15 February, three days after the fall of Mubarak: so there was a contagion effect. And clearly many of the Libyans who took to the streets over the next few days were animated by some of the same sentiments as their counterparts elsewhere. But the Libyan uprising diverged from the Tunisian and Egyptian templates in two ways: the rapidity with which it took on a violent aspect – the destruction of state buildings and xenophobic attacks on Egyptians, Serbs, Koreans and, above all, black Africans; and the extent to which, brandishing the old Libyan flag of the 1951-69 era, the protesters identified their cause with the monarchy Gaddafi & Co overthrew. This divergence owed a lot to external influences. But it also owed much to the character of Gaddafi’s state and regime.

Rory Stewart: Because we weren’t there? (London Review of Books)
Martin Chulov: Free Syria Army gathers on Lebanese border (Guardian)
Michael Doliner: Why the U.S. Can’t Do Anything Right: China’s Game (CounterPunch)

Umakant Delhi: Sri Lanka: The Siege Within Continues… (HardNewsMedia)

With more than two decade long Civil War over, annihilation of LTTE, a farce called democracy in the form of Constitutional Dictatorship and amidst growing militarisation the siege within continues in Sri Lanka

Conn Hallinan: Playing With Fire in Korea (CounterPunch)

Gideon Levy: A new Israel in the making / המדינה שבקרוב תהיה כאן (Ha’aretz)
Jonathan Lis: Israeli ministers back bills to limit funding for human rights groups / השרים אישרו את הצעות החוק המיועדות להגביל מקורות מימון לארגוני זכויות אדם (Ha’aretz)

Bills set for preliminary vote in Knesset would cap foreign governments’ contributions to ‘political’ NGOs; EU, U.S. say legislation could harm Israel’s standing as a democratic country.

Jonathan Lis, Ophir Bar-Zohar: Netanyahu is working to limit free speech in Israel, Labor leader says / לבני: הקואליציה סותמת פיות; דנון: השמאל הקיצוני הוא נגע שיש להסירו (Ha’aretz)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has set upon itself to limit free speech and declare war on Israel’s judicial system, Labor leader MK Shelly Yachimovich said on Sunday, adding that a wave of recent Likud bills was pushing Israel away from the democratic world.

Rob Evans, Paul Lewis: Undercover policeman admits spying on Danish activists (Guardian)

The controversy over the [British] undercover policeman Mark Kennedy has deepened after he admitted spying on and disrupting the work of activists in another European country.
Kennedy has admitted that he infiltrated a Danish community centre that had housed progressive causes for more than a century, obtaining intelligence that helped police to storm it and close it down in violent raids. (…)
Details of his deployment in Germany, Iceland, and Ireland have previously been revealed, leading to criticism that British police were interfering in the democratic affairs of other countries.
Kennedy said he went to 22 countries in total during his seven years under cover, pretending to be an environmental activist. The list also includes Spain, Poland, France, and Belgium.

Libya | Tunisia | USA | Greece

Thomas C. Mountain: Who Will Intervene Now? Lynching Black Africans in Libya (CounterPunch)
Seumas Milne: If the Libyan war was about saving lives, it was a catastrophic failure (Guardian)
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and Mahmoud Jibril have been paving the way for NATO’s conquest since 2007 (Rebel Griot)
Ian Black: Qatar admits sending hundreds of troops to support Libya rebels (Guardian)

Qatar has admitted for the first time that it sent hundreds of troops to support the Libyan rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. […]
It also has emerged that now the fighting is over, Qatar is to lead international efforts to train the Libyan military, collect weapons and integrate often autonomous rebel units into newly established military and security institutions – seen by the UN and western governments as the key challenge facing the NTC.
Qatar played a key role in galvanising Arab support for the UN security council resolution that mandated Nato to defend Libyan civilians in March. It also delivered weapons and ammunition on a large scale – without any clear legal basis.

Slavoj Žižek: Occupy first. Demands come later (Guardian)
Andrew Rawnsley: The protesters seem more adult than politicians and plutocrats (Observer)

Communist Organisation of Greece: A thunderous NO to the new occupation! (KOE)
Communist Organisation of Greece: Papandreu’s IMF-EU-ECB govt lost any popular legitimacy (KOE / Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Wilhelm Langthaler: Tunesien: Wahlen zur verfassungsgebenden Versammlung versetzen altem Regime Todesstoß (Anti-Imperialist Camp)

Egypt | Tunisia | Libya

Samir Amin: Egypt: How to overthrow a dictator (Pambazuka News)
Samir Amin discusses the role played by four key components of the opposition to Mubarak – the youth, the radical left, middle-class democrats and the Muslim Brotherhood – and the strategies used to oust the regime.

I don’t agree with the standpoint of the author (a friend of As‘ad Abu-Khalil), but I think the following post is crucial for understanding the rebellions in the Arab world:
As’ad AbuKhalil: Class analysis of Tunisia (Angry Arab)
“The middle and upper-class is pissed at the continuing protests and there is a growing hatred of the UGTT and other leftist groups … There is clear class division between the coastal middle and upper class and the interior working poor and the southern city of Sfax [صفاقس Ṣafāqis], Tunisian’s second city, long shut out from power and now seeking to make their voice heard… And remember that the press and the army are rooted in the middle class, … the middle class is now calling for the UGTT to stop playing a political role. A demonstration took place Feb. 25 attacking the UGTT’s call for strikes.”

Robert Fisk: America’s secret plan to arm Libya’s rebels (Independent)

Tunisia | Palestine Papers | Egypt

Le Parti communiste ouvrier de Tunisie avec le peuple Tunisien qui
s’insurge : La voie du changement s’ouvre en Tunisie

This is a declaration of the Hizbu l-‘Ummāli š-Šuyū‘iyyu t-Tūnisī (Communist Workers’ Party of Tunisia). Rough translation of two paragraphs:

The Tunisian people needs a new national and popular democratic government, created by the will and the representation of its own interests. Such a structure cannot emerge from the current system and its institutions, its constitution and its laws. It can only be created on their ruins by a constituent assembly chosen by the people in transparent and free elections after ending tyranny. The task of a
Popular Council is the creation of a new constitution as the foundation of a democratic republic with its institutions and laws …

The Communist Workers’ Party … renews the invitation to a day-to-day coordination to support the popular movements and its concrete demands, on a local and the national level, so that the movement won’t fizzle out. These are some of the most important and urgent demands: stop the campaign of repression, free all prisoners, and hold accountable those responsible for the repression, the looting and killing. Abolish all restrictions that were imposed in the name of security, abolish all legal and practical restrictions of the freedom of expression, association and demonstrations.

There has been solidarity all over the Arab world.
Le Parti Communiste libanais salue la victoire historique du peuple tunisien (Al-Oufok)

And now there are big protests in Egypt (see Guardian and Aljazeera coverage, for example).

There’s also a lot of anger about the Palestinian leadership after some secret documents were leaked to the media:
The Palestine Papers (Aljazeera) / The Palestine Papers (Guardian)
Seumas Milne: Only authentic leaders can deliver a Middle East peace (Guardian)

It’s a study in the decay of what in Yasser Arafat’s heyday was an authentic national liberation movement. Try to imagine the Vietnamese negotiators speaking in such a way at the Paris peace talks in the 70s – or the Algerian FLN in the 60s – and it’s obvious how far the West Bank Palestinian leadership has drifted from its national moorings. …

What has been highlighted by the documents is not a picture of genuine negotiation and necessary compromise, but of a gross imbalance of power that can’t deliver peace, let alone justice. …

With the large bulk of its income coming from the US and the European Union, the PA’s leaders are now far more accountable to their funders than to their own people. And, as the records of private dealings between US and PA officials show, it is the American government and its allies that now effectively pick the Palestinians’ leaders.

Jean Shaoul: Great power rivalries over oil animate Sudan secession referendum / Großmachtrivalitäten hinter Unabhängigkeitsreferendum im Sudan (WSWS)
Ann Talbot: Sudan: A tale of blood and oil in Africa (WSWS)
Déclaration de l’ACTUS/prpe sur la situation en Côte d’Ivoire (ACTUS)

Max Blumenthal: The great Islamophobic crusade (CBS)
Lawrence Davidson: Show Trials for American Muslims? The New Radicals in Congress (Counterpunch)

Rob: Glenn Beck thinks (about China) outside the reality box (Blackandwhitecat.org)
Rob: Na Ying thinks it’s normal (Blackandwhitecat.org)

John Sexton: G7 set to be eclipsed by E7: PwC; (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Origins of Haitian cholera in Asia: NEJM (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Campaign group ‘disappointed’ with Coca Cola (China.org.cn)
John Sexton: Did cuddly Lang Lang dis the White House? (China.org.cn)