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Friday, 19 October


Mr. Gay Syria "IndyWatch Feed"


No attribution needed. .

  ""     "Mr. Gay Syria" .


" " Mr. Gay Syria Mr. Gay world 2016. " ".



Catalonia and Spanish nationalism "IndyWatch Feed"

Our only answer to self-serving nationalisms of every kind is a popular sovereignty that empowers everyone, collectively, to take control of matters of state, whatever its name.

lead Pablo Casado (front right) attends Spanish National Day military parade in Madrid, October 12,2018. A.Perez Meca/Press Association. All rights reserved.

Manuel Nunes Ramires Serrano, in a forthright but often vague response to our earlier article in Open Democracy, accuses us of a lot of things.  We are not bona fide journalists, we bend the truth and we fail in making an argument that goes beyond ideologies, and values accurate and intelligent debate.

Surprisingly, there are actually very few factual challenges to us here (though he does assert that we have distorted Francos connection to the Spanish flag and the day of the race, and that we do not recognise recent promises to establish a truth commission regarding Francos crimes). 

Given the lack of challenge to the substance of our arguments or the material evidence we use, the reader would be forgiven for thinking that this is not the thing that has wound up our critic. The real reason is revealed close to the end of the article, where he asserts: The purpose of the article is to discredit Spain as a democracy.

Spanish democracy

On this we can certainly agree. It is by no means the only purpose of our original article, but certainly this purpose is at the heart of what we are trying to explain. In fact, we would argue that this discredited Spanish democracy is our starting point. We think that the mass arrest of politicians (remember that an astounding total of 712 town mayors were charged with assisting the referendum), the violent attack...


Policing Islamism: a fatal disconnect "IndyWatch Feed"

Britain needs to broaden its thinking about the appeal of "the west vs Islam" message.

lead Anjem Choudary outside a bail hostel after his release from Belmarsh Prison. David Mirzoeff/ Press Association. All rights reserved.

The radical preacher Anjem Choudary was released early on 19 October from Belmarsh high-security jail in south-east London, having been moved there from Frankland prison in Durham, north-east England, where he had served two years and nine months for "inviting support for a terror group", in this case ISIS. (The full sentence was five and half years, but after half of this term the prisoner is entitled to be freed on parole). Choudarys financial assets have already been frozen, and he is being placed under strict conditions aimed at blocking him from proselytising anew for extreme Islamist movements.

Before his arrest and sentencing, Choudary, who has a law degree from Surrey University, was widely regarded as one of the most effective preachers in support of such movements. He was active for the best part of twenty years, yet avoided imprisonment by being very careful in what he said. His legal background was part of the reason, but so was his subtlety in implying a message rather than explicitly declaring it.

Within the UK, the police and security agencies regarded him as one of the most effective and dangerous influencers in the country and there was considerable relief in those circles when Chaudary went just too far in his support for ISIS after it had been declared a terrorist threat. This fear of his abilities does much to explain the severity of the post-custody restrictions placed on him.

The financial controls mean that Choudary's opening a bank account or moving money will immediately alert the relevant monitors. In addition he will b...


Proscribing National Action: has it been effective? "IndyWatch Feed"

The first British ban on membership of a far right group appears to be working but the danger is other far right groups are learning to adapt.

Image: Police separating National Action and anti-fascist demonstrators, Liverpool 2015. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Images, all rights reserved.

Shortly after National Action were proscribed in December 2012, I questioned whether banning the group would be effective. Given the number of arrests and convictions made over the past year or so the most recent being earlier last month when West Midlands Police arrested five people on suspicion of terrorism offences over their suspected membership of the banned group - it would seem that it has.

National Action were proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000. At the time, Amber Rudd the then Home Secretary - described National Action as a racist, Antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology. Rudd added that it has absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone and that it was concerned in terrorism. The ban was the first time in British history that membership of a radical-right group had been outlawed, and meant that it wold become a crime to be a member of National Action, to invite support for the group, to be involved in the organisation of group activities, to wear clothing or insignia linked to it, or to carry its symbols.

Prior to its proscription, there was little information about National Action. While groups those such as Britain First and the English Defence League had been courting public and media attention, National Action were mobilising largely under the rad...


Moscow is solving its waste problem by sending it to Russia's regions "IndyWatch Feed"

Waste disposal has become a political problem for Russias capital, and the authorities are now looking to transfer it to the regions. RU

Shiyes station. Image: Viktor Kokarev. The railway station in Shiyes, on the border between Arkhangelsk Region and the Komi Republic in Russias far north, used to be part of a village of the same name. But no one has lived here since the timber camp was closed down in 1974. Occasionally, hunters or foresters get off the train here. And it was two hunters from the neighbouring village of Urdoma, Nikolai Vorontsov and his brother, who noticed at the end of July that there were felled trees, foundation trenches and building equipment around the station. The brothers spread the information on social media and wrote to the local Lensk district council, asking what was going on. The officials there had no idea, so the residents of Urdoma set up a small committee and set off for Shiyes.

The foresters told us straight away that they had been ordered to clear five hectares of forest for industrial development, Nikolai Viktorov, a member of the Clean Urdoma public campaign tells me. I talked to them. They were in shock at the very idea that such a large area of forest had to be cleared in a short time every tree has to be marked for felling, after all. We then discovered the scale of the project: millions of cubic metres of domestic rubbish were due to be transported here for dumping. The builders were quite open about it, they told us that yes, there would be a landfill site and Moscows rubbish would end up here.

In early August, there were already 80 workers and 40 pieces of equipment at the station, and by October nearly three times as many people were at work there. In August, protest meetings began to be organised at a number of places in the area, and one action in Urdoma at the end of the month attracted about 1,500 protesters, over a third of the population of the village. By...


Fascism and Brazil "IndyWatch Feed"

Jair Bolsonaro and his volunteers envision a state of war for Brazil: that is the experiment they are hoping to deliver to the world. Portugus

Flash MOB style demo to distribute street signs in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday March 14. Photo: Cortesy of Liv Sovic.

Extreme right-wing presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro, poised for victory in the run-off on October 28, was not the most surprising winner in the first round of Brazilian elections. Christian Democrat former judge Wilson Witzel won 41 percent of the vote for governor on October 7, more than twice as much as Eduardo Paes, the bon-vivant former mayor of Rio de Janeiro, who governed before and during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games and oversaw an enormous flow of money for urban reforms and building projects.

Paes is a consummate professional politician who has somehow emerged unscathed from Operation Car Wash, the judicial investigation of federal government corruption that began in March 2014 and is still under way. He was by far the best debater among the candidates, he had ample television advertising time and vastly more name recognition than any candidate other than footballer Romrio.

But Witzels resounding victory in the primary let the cat out of the bag: something odd was happening in these elections. The surprise was accompanied by the question, Who is Wilson Witzel?

The answer about Witzel soon circulated on social media: he was a third, pudgy figure, fist in the air, microphone in hand, initially absent from a widely distributed photograph of two beefcakes in the national colours, celebrating because they had taken down and broken a street sign purporting to rename a square in Rio de Janeiro in homage to Marielle Franco, the human rights activist and town councilwoman shot to death on March 14 this year.[1]

Bolsonaro runs a social media campaign, focusing especially on WhatsApp groups. In a country of 2...


Irish Studies in London "IndyWatch Feed"

W B YeatsIt was a pleasure to be at the Irish Embassy last night to celebrate the launch of the M.A. in Irish Studies offered at the London campus of the Irish Institute of the University of Liverpool in Finsbury Square. As well as looking the work of writers from W.B. Yeats to Seamus Heaney (and my own favourite, Oscar Wilde, I hope), the course also examines what it calls hidden histories ranging from the immram voyage narratives about heroic sea journeys to modern forms of writing about the past known as history. Students will explore modernity, identity and diaspora in terms of understanding the cultural history of emigration, exile and the transnational as they have been expressed through a range of plays, films and TV programming. Inevitably controversy and conflict in Northern Ireland will feature, but so too the histories, people and culture of Irish diaspora cities. As the Irish Ambassador, Adrian ONeill pointed out in his welcoming remarks last night, London is the worlds fourth largest Irish city. The M.A. course can be completed in one year or else staggered over two. I only regret that my busy life precludes such a commitment, otherwise I would be very tempted to sign up myself!


#MeToo in a country that worships God as woman "IndyWatch Feed"

During a festival celebrating the Goddess who kills a demon menacing Gods, scores of educated Indian women have unmasked their tormentors and sparked a mini-revolution.

lead Detail. Durga slaying the Buffalo Demon. India, Karnataka, 13th century. Wikicommons/Los Angeles Museum of Art. Some rights reserved.

It has led to resignations in the media world, boycotts in the film industry and the closure of a famous film company. Junior foreign minister M J Akbar was made to resign. During a festival celebrating the Goddess who kills a demon menacing Gods, scores of educated Indian women have unmasked their tormentors and sparked a mini-revolution. A journalist has compared these #MeToo revelations to the eruption of a volcano.

These women had for years suppressed their trauma with silence, but when a visiting US-based Indian woman opened a can of worms, dozens of victims spoke out causing quakes in the worlds of films, journalism, sports and literature.

Akbar, an editor-turned-politician, brazened it out for days and filed a criminal defamation case against one of the 16 women journalists for naming and shaming him by describing his alleged misconduct in the work place. Akbar denied all allegations. But finally, he had to resign as minister. The Prime Ministers silence and the ruling partys wait-and-watch policy failed to protect him politically for more than 10 days. The Prime Ministers silence and the ruling partys wait-and-watch policy failed to protect him politically for more than 10 days.

Banner headlines

Akbars resignation got banner headlines. The Indian Express, having demanded days ago his exit from his work place, said it marked a new benchmark in politics of women, by women, for women and men. The ministers exit was hailed as a watershed moment and a seminal moment in Indias history.

One of the victims had alleged that when she knocked at Akbars hotel room door, he opened the doo...


Why UK trans rights debates are so frustrating, but I wont give up hope "IndyWatch Feed"

Proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act have led to a vile backlash in the media. But we all deserve freedom.

Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year. Supporters of trans rights at a Pride parade in Scotland last year. Photo: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images. All rights reserved.Anyone following the debate about trans rights in the UK will have heard about the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Given the amount of energy and time spent debating this in the media, I wouldnt blame you for thinking this is the single most important trans rights issue in recent times.

While reform opponents go on about how they will impact the safety of cis women, creating avenues for abusive men to pretend to be women, the GRA is just about trans people being able to get new birth certificates. The reforms are about updating the current intrusive, outdated, bureaucratic process.

The proposals would create a new legal process for people to sign a statutory declaration in order to get a new birth certificate. This process already exists in other countries including Malta, Argentina, Denmark and Ireland.

The sky hasnt fallen in these places, nor have abusive cis men seized the opportunity to put on a dress and lipstick and march into womens toilets to abuse women. All that has happened: a handful of trans people have got new birth certificates without having to prove to complete strangers who they are.

Reforms, not revolution

GRA reform will potentially include legal gender recognition for non-binary people as well, who are not currently recognised under the l...


Brazil at a climate crossroads "IndyWatch Feed"

Brazils bid to host international climate talks in 2019 (COP25) made significant progress, just as the country seems poised to elect extreme right-wing climate change sceptic Jair Bolsonaro. Espaol

A pro-Bolsonaro rally in So Paulo (image: Mdia Ninja)

Brazils candidacy was proposed last November, and last week it received the support of the presidency of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC), an essential step in the process.

The group represents the region at the UN. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro has threatened to withdraw not only from the Paris Agreement, but from the UN itself, and to eliminate the Ministry of the Environment. 

Brazils host status is not guaranteed. The country is in political turmoil as it faces the most important election in recent history. Bolsonaro, a retired military officer who came close to winning the election in the first round and will now run-off against Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party (PT) on October 28, has made statements on environmental protection and indigenous groups that have shocked environmentalists.

He has stated that Brazil pays too high a price to be a signatory of the Paris Accord in promising to maintain millions of hectares of preserved forests.

If this continues to be a condition, I will withdraw from the Paris Accord, he told journalists during a meeting with businessmen in Rio de Janeiro last month. If our role is to hand over 136 million hectares of the Amazon, Im out.

Haddad was a former education minister under president Luiz Incio Lula da Silva. During Lulas term, Brazil registered its lowest rates of deforestation in recent decades.



The Bolsonaro effect "IndyWatch Feed"

It sounds like a distasteful joke, but Brazilians are on the verge of electing a far-right president (Jair Messias Bolsonaro) and it is difficult to estimate what this means to progressive forces in Brazil. Espaol Portugus

It sounds like a distasteful joke, but Brazilians are on the verge of electing a far-right president. After winning the first ballot on 7 October, candidate Jair Messias Bolsonaro (Social Liberal Party) now leads the polls for the second ballot enjoying 58% of voting intentions (considering only the valid votes). It is difficult to estimate what this means to progressive forces in Brazil.

Much more than a controversial figure, Bolsonaro has become famous for expressing openly homophobic, unapologetically misogynist, shamelessly racist and hysterically anti-communist views. The presidential candidate represents the ugliest and most violent face of the global far-right movement, currently on the rise in all corners of the world.

Bolsonaro stands out as the messiah of what many have dubbed a conservative counter-offensive in the making after decades of leftist governments.

A former military officer Bolsonaro remained a marginal figure within Brazilian politics for the good part of his 27 years as a congressman. Only recently has the far-right candidate experienced a stratospheric rise in notoriety. Bolsonaro stands out as the messiah of what many have dubbed a conservative counter-offensive in the making after decades of leftist governments.

His radical anti-leftist rhetoric (accusing progressives of corrupting Brazilian democracy) and hyper-liberal agenda (in defence of property and minimum state interference) seems to be especially appealing...

Thursday, 18 October


What came before #MeToo? The himpathy that shaped misogyny "IndyWatch Feed"

Kate Mannes Down Girl describes the origins of a punitive social system that keeps women in their place by rewarding compliance and punishing resistance.

llustration by Fran Murphy for YES! Magazine. All rights reserved.

The #MeToo movement has brought unprecedented attention to sexual harassment and assault. Its revealed just how many women feel besieged by sexually predatory behaviorespecially in the workplace. The wave of women coming forward has shown that sexual harassment is the rule in many institutions.

And #MeToo has only revealed a small piece of a much larger problem. Although the most high-profile #MeToo stories have focused on celebrities or executives, most victims are disproportionately young, low-income, and minority women. Also less evident in the #MeToo movement have been cases of sexual violence: where shaming, trolling, threats, and unwelcome advances have given way to rape, physical violence, and even forms of tortureof which choking is the most common.

In its most extreme cases, it can literally be a matter of life and death, and yet sexual harassment and violence remain largely hidden by an elaborate system of denial, gaslighting, and retraction of accusations by women. Meanwhile, unrepentant abusers are often comforted or excused while victims are blamed.

How did we get here? Moral philosopher Kate Mannes book, Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, helps explain. Thanks to Manne, the undue comfort that men receive now has a name: Its called himpathy. And, together with how she defines misogyny, Manne provides a useful framework for understanding not just the present #MeToo moment, but what came before.

For Manne, misogyny is not simply men who hate women. Thats far too simplistic, she says. Rather, its a far-reaching, punitive social system that keeps women in their place by rewarding

Himpathy, a term destined to become part of the feminist vocabulary, names a problem previously unrecognizedand perhaps thats the first step in solving it. Manne defines himpathy as the excessive sympathy sometimes shown to male perpetrators of sexual violence, in the attempt to preserve their reputation, power, or status. Accused men, especially those with privilege, are broadly treated with deference by the media and the public, and if theyre brought to court are given lenient...


Would more time bring us closer to chaos or breaking the backstop deadlock? "IndyWatch Feed"

Will more time do it for Theresa May and the rest of us? The option of a longer transition is intended to provide more reassurance that special measures would not be needed to avoid a hard  border even if the UK and the EU fail to implement a new trade deal by the end of 2020.   Because the EU is mildly encouraging,  the chorus of opposition  in Westminster is all the louder. Remainers are as dead against as Leavers  at the suggestion of a take it or leave it motion to approve any withdrawal agreement that might yet be struck before the end of the year.  The 250 or so middle of the roaders fear deadlock and collapse the longer it stretches out.

But Danny Finkelstein, shrewd veteran campaigner, sees strengths in Mays weaknesses and a homely precedent in how to square circles over the backstop remember the diamond table?

 I will never sit down with Gerry Adams, said the founder of the Democratic Unionist Party in 1997. Then, in 2007, Ian Paisley did. Which produced another problem. Where should the two men sit?

Tony Blairs negotiator, Jonathan Powell, relates that a crucial meeting, which ten years of talks had been building up to, was nearly scuppered by a dispute over where the two men should sit opposite each other (Paisleys demand, to show they were still rivals), or next to each other (Adamss demand, to show that they were equals).

Finally an official had a brilliant idea: a diamond-shaped table. The two men could sit at the apex, both next to each other and opposite each other at the same time. The meeting went ahead.

On Mays strengths

The Brexiteers cant get rid of her. The hardliners are perfectly well aware that if they did get (enough MPs letters  to force a leadership challenge) Mrs May would win the resulting vote of confidence. In other words, the sword of Damocles hanging over her is made of rubber.

If they did get rid of her it wouldnt make any difference anyway.

If there isnt a deal, there may not be a Brexit. This is leverage over the hardliners ironically provided to Mrs May by last years terrible general election result.

Parliament might force either a second referendum or a general election if the alternative is a no-deal exit that arises entirely from the stubbornness of the Brexiteers. This appreciation underpins Michael Goves decision to back the prime minister, and may shift other hardliners as the threat to their project becomes apparent.

Four. There is a dilemma ahead for Labour MPs. If Mrs May secures a deal, Labour will want to vote it dow...


Christian right and some UK feminists unlikely allies against trans rights "IndyWatch Feed"

New analysis shows that groups that traditionally disagree are now on the same side against reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London. Women opposing trans rights reforms protest in London. Photo: Sophie Hemery.Christian conservatives have become the unlikely allies of womens groups mobilising against trans rights reforms in the UK, openDemocracy can reveal.

There is no evidence that they are actively working together. But our analysis of responses to a Scottish consultation on potential reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) found that opposition came from these two groups.

Roughly half of the anti-reform submissions came from Christian conservative groups, which traditionally oppose abortion and same sex marriage; the other half were submitted by womens groups that fight for these rights.

Some of their arguments in response to the consultations questions were also markedly similar: that reforms would threaten women-only spaces, marriages, families, and the safety of women and children.

The UK government is considering reforms to the 2004 law, which enables people to change their gender on legal documents, after a survey found the current process too bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive.

A public consultation on these reforms in England and Wales closes on 19 October. A separate consultation in Scotland earlier this year attracted an avalanche of more than 15,500 submissions.

Our analysis of more than 150...


the contention that a backstop is necessary does not mean it has to be part of this exit agreement "IndyWatch Feed"

There are jitters everywhere. Some, but not all of it, driven by the proximity (or otherwise) of a Brexit deal. The Eurosceptics are talking up the possibility of a no deal. John Redwoods interview on Morning Ireland welcoming the prospect wont have done anything to calm southern nerves.

Domestically, the Irish government had a torrid time, losing an independent member of the cabinet over failures in the rural broadband tender process. With Dr Michael Harty saying withdrawing support of the governments finance bill, its majority is now razor thin.

However, Micheal Martins offer of support until the Brexit process is completed (whenever that will be) has pulled the government out of the oven.  It was a necessary minimum to get the Republic through and an offer the Taoiseach could hardly refuse.

Underneath, theres little complacency and some considerable concern that the backstop arrangement stuck before last December may block a deal. Brexit sceptical lawyer/commentator, David Allen Green wonders if relying on a clause with no legal force may turn out to be a miscalculation:

There is a powerful case to be made that the backstop was a reasonable request, given the impact Brexit would otherwise have on the Irish border. There is certainly force in the contention that the UK had shown it may renege on commitments and it was right to tie down Britain on this. There should be no sympathy for UK ministers who supported the joint agreement without knowing or caring what the document said.

The UK has agreed to this backstop and should not complain now. But all this said, if the price of the insistence on a backstop is a disorderly Brexit, then normative or accusatory arguments do not have much traction. Nor is the fact the UK once agreed to it a complete answer. Even the contention that a backstop arrangement is necessary in some form does not mean it has to be part of this exit agreement.

The brutal truth is that the EU27 may now fail in their objective to strike a withdrawal agreement in time for the UKs departure, because of this one matter. If the backstop was something the EU had insisted on from the beginning, then perhaps it should have been a non-negotiable demand.

But it was not it was a proposal adopted some way in to the process and was adopted as a means to an end, rather than an end itself. [Emphasis added]

And he notes:

in view of its sheer importance, a backstop should be a distinct agreement between the UK, Ireland and the rest of the EU, and not something shoehorned into an agreement intended for exit issues...


Agenda 2030 marred by MDG mindsets on steroids "IndyWatch Feed"

Business as usual is bad news for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, arguably the greatest human endeavour ever attempted to create just, equal and sustainable societies.

Clarke Gayford, partner of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, holds their three-month-old baby at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 27, 2018. (Xinhua/Wang Ying/PA Images. all rights reserved

This years United Nations General Assembly had its usual share of highs and lows. Headlines contrasted between the drama, nervous laughter and pessimism of US President Trumps speech and hopes of a new kind of political leadership offered by New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern who urged renewed commitment to gender equality and multilateralism.

Now that the motorcades have departed, its back to business as usual at the UN.

But business as usual is bad news for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, arguably the greatest human endeavour ever attempted to create just, equal and sustainable societies. As is the norm, several new initiatives were launched by billionaire philanthropists and the UNs leadership.

Decision makers and technocrats still appear to be stuck in a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mindset, albeit on steroids.

Notable among these is a new partnership initiative involve youth in Agenda 2030. Nonetheless, decision makers and technocrats still appear to be stuck in a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mindset, albeit on steroids. Too many of them continue to see poverty and exclusion as economic problems to be solved rather than as governance failures and grave human rights violations.   

Conspicuously, three th...


Its time to talk about what a lack of access to safe abortion means "IndyWatch Feed"

This year, something has changed about the way we talk about abortion. You can feel it on the street, on Twitter, in the media.... Something has changed, and theres no turning back. Espaol

Mural in Ireland in favour of abortion. Wikimedia Commons. All Rights Reserved.

This year, something has changed about the way we talk about abortion. You can feel it on the street, on Twitter, in the media.... Something has changed, and theres no turning back.

In May, the vote on the Irish referendum to legalize abortion filled me with hope. Thanks to the energy of young Irish people, a major victory was won for womens rights.

The causes are many, but the effects are the same in countries where abortion is outlawed. Poor women die from unsafe clandestine abortions, while rich women go to clandestine abortion facilities or travel abroad to get abortions in private clinics. 

A few short months later, the decision by the Senate of Argentina, the country of origen of my family, plunged me into a state of mourning and disbelief. How could 38 senators fail to grasp the impact that a lack of access to safe and legal abortion has on the lives of women and their families? 

Womens rights advocates know all too well the consequences of decisions like that of the Argentine Senate. We see it again and again in countries where abortion is outlawed or access to abortion services is limited. Simply put, when women lack access to safe and legal abortion, they die.

In Ireland, those who voted to overturn the ban understood that the choice is not between abortion and no abortion, but between safe abortion and unsafe abortion. Between life and death for thousands of women.

And yet there are still so many people,...


Iranian pseudo anti-imperialism "IndyWatch Feed"

The first prerequisite of fighting imperialism is to fight the imperialist relations at home.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses tens of thousands of Iranian voluntary forces (Basij) at the Azadi Stadium in the Iranian capital Tehran, Iran, on October 4, 2018 . Picture by Parspix/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images. All rights reserved.Anti-imperialism comes in various shapes and forms in Iran, ranging from hard-nosed to soft-bellied. However, with the rise of reactionary forces, the history of anti-imperialism in post-revolutionary Iran has been the triumph of the latter. The 1979 Revolution in which the religious forces seized the power and tried to redirect the anti-imperialist discourse, brought the long-term Iran-America honeymoon to an end. It led to a misconception among western intellectuals that the Iranian government is at the forefront of resistance against American imperialism. There were also some people among the secular Iranian intellectuals who endorsed this anti-imperialism most importantly Tudeh Party (Party of the People) that was the admirer of imperialist discourse of the Islamic Republic, until the regime imprisoned and executed its main leaders in 1983.

The hostage crisis in 1979 marked a turning point in Iran-United States relations. It derailed the leftist anti-imperialist discourse and turned it into shallow rhetoric against the so-called Great Satan with the unifying slogan Down with America.

Thirty years later, when Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad took power, even some western intellectuals fell for a misleading vision that considered him a leftist fighting against the dominant global system.

Cartography of a revolution

In order to understand the history of anti-imperialism in Iran, a retrospective reflection on the 79 Revolution is necessary. To cut a long story short, the Revolution happened at the dawn of the neoliberal counter-revolution, which brought Thatcher and Reagan to powe...


Meet the editors of a new journal challenging prejudices about eastern Europe "IndyWatch Feed"

The Bucharest-based Kajet journal was founded to challenge cliches about eastern Europe a region that can be more than a sheer pile of debris awaiting reconstruction.

Source: Kajet Journal.  

Read the latest in our ongoing Unlikely Media series. As part of this series, we profile new independent (and independently-minded) publications from across the postsocialist space, interviewing editors who are trying to make spaces for alternative journalism, political commentary and reporting.

For the generation of western European journalists writing about post-Socialist Europe after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, eastern Europe was a often exotic land of hopeful optimism.

Twenty-five years and dozens of tabloid headlines about Romanian immigrants later, much of the regions exoticism to western European audiences has disappeared and in post-Socialist Europe, so has a great deal of the hope. Today, this Europe is making headlines again, whether as a testing ground for illiberal democracy or a battleground between Russian and the EU/NATO. Yet the region is still written with as the same paradigms (a Europe in imitation that is struggling to become Normal) or as the frontline between liberal democracy and revanchist Putinism.

Some eastern Europeans are speaking out against this binary between the west and the rest, and seek to salvage the regions post-socialist identity as a potential source of transformation. Take the editors of Bucharest-based Kajet Journal, who flaunt an unapologetically post-socialist identity and put western cliches about the region under a microscope. The journal, which has just released its second issue, is the brainchild of Founding Mother Laura Naum and Founding Father Petric Mogo.

Naum is a writer and graduate in Cultural Economics from the Erasmus University of Rotte...


Colonialism cant be forgotten its still destroying peoples and our planet "IndyWatch Feed"

From the population decimation of the first colonies to the recent murders of environmental activists in Honduras, the arithmetic of cruelty and destruction is still unfolding.

Image: Tar sands, Alberta. Credit: Dru Oja Jay/Flickr, CC 2.0.

The consequences of colonialism and imperialism, in all their forms and across all their epochs, defy our imagination. Unspeakable cruelties were inflicted, their scars and agonies are unspeakable.

Colonialism was, and remains, a wholesale destruction of memory. Lands, the sources of identity, stolen. Languages, ripped from mouths. The collective loss to humanity was incalculable, as cultures, ideas, species, habitats, traditions, cosmologies, possibilities, patterns of life, and ways of understanding the world were destroyed. Countless ecological traditions involving diverse ways of being with nature were swept away.

As formal colonialism came to an end, the process of erasing its crimes from public memory and effacing history began. The forces of forgetting crafted and promulgated mythological narratives of innocent imperial greatness, unblemished by enslavement or genocide. When forced to give away the Congo, King Leopold took to burning all documents associated with his brutal rule. I will give them my Congo, but they have no right to know what I did there, Leopold said. His palaces furnaces burned for eight days (1).

There are many such shredded chapters that we will never reconstruct. Every death count, every statistic, every fragment of history, is bitterly incomplete. But the preliminary arithmetic of cruelty is enough to illustrate the sheer magnitude of destruction.

So catastrophic and widespread was the decimation of human life in the Americas that nine-tenths of its original population was extinguished through war, epidemic diseases, enslavement, overwork, and famine (2). Most of us have heard the simplistic story of a genocide by germs, where populations were wiped out by diseases to which they had no immunity. But the vulnerability of communities to maladies was not just a product of biological misfortune. Malnutrition, exhaustion, ab...


What went wrong in eastern Europe? "IndyWatch Feed"

A new book sheds light on the early warning signs of illiberalism and gives some modest hope for the future. 

25 November 1989: people walk from Prague cathedral to Letn Plain. Photo CC BY-SA 3.0: Wikipedia. Some rights reserved.

A review of John Feffers Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europes Broken Dreams.

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of 1989, one could be forgiven succumbing to pessimism following the news coming out of Eastern Europe. Apart from the alarmism about a resurgent and aggressive Russia, it is the rise of illiberalism, for instance, in Hungary and Poland, or instability in the Balkans that has captured the imagination of media commentators and political scientists.

Students of the regions history can read about that we-the-people moment in which the nations of eastern Europe took to the streets demanding freedom and democracy. In a seemingly ironic twist of history, merely a generation later, conservative, populist and far-right parties are capitalising on the same we-the-people slogan to advance nativist and xenophobic policies. What has gone wrong? is the question now asked about a region once thought by some to have heralded the end of history.

John Feffers Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europes Broken Dreams is a book that ventures into this question from a unique perspective. Based on an impressive number of in-depth interviews collected over nearly a quarter century and spanning a geographical scope from the Baltic coast to the Balkans, Aftershock unlocks a plethora of personal stories and experiences from the region, showing the complexity of the post-1989 transition and political trajectory of eastern Europe.

Illiberalism as a transnational phenomenon...

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