revolutions are messy

As the world burns. We are long removed from those utopic socialist ideals of revolution, the magna cartas of romanticism, where naive complacency was quickly subjugated by a new variant of the exploitation of nature and of the proletariat it was supposed to serve. Walter Benjamin saw in revolution signs of the messianic zero hour, that small opening, the little vessel that could be filled, the slim chance in the struggle for the suppressed past. The burst of now time that would decimate time out of its preordained trajectory, hitherto governed by the mundane laws of gravity, the homogenized course of history. In the Arab Spring, the various “rebel” oppositions would be the wiser to Benjamin’s own perception which led to an abandonment  naive revolutionary demand for justice, which could be sated satisfied in stripped down form by substituting the present laws with others designed and idealized as being more just. To Benjamin, these styles of demands   appeared as a mythical, destructive contentions, antagonistic to the divine.

It was pure violence. The sanctity of chaos, but far from the reality of boots and corpses on the ground.  Walter Benjamin: The French Revolution viewed itself as Rome incarnate. It evoked ancient Rome the way fashion evokes costumes of the past. Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger’s leap into the past. This jump, however, takes place in an arena where the ruling class give the commands. The same leap in the open air of history is the dialectical one, which is how Marx understood the revolution.

— A crazy golf course has sparked controversy by featuring a model Adolf Hitler which gives a Nazi salute whenever a player hits a shot on target.
Visitors to the Grundy art gallery in Blackpool have been left stunned at the brown-shirted statue which raises its right arm and shrieks ‘No, No, No,’ every time a ball passes underneath.
The Hitler obstacle, which was created by visual artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, is part of a playable nine-hole crazy golf installation with each hole designed by a different artist.—Read More:

For Hannah Arendt, she differentiated between American and French revolutions, albeit or in spite of her own condescending bourgeois bias, through an understanding of the ensuing reign of terror in the latter. Talleyrand as the piece of shit in the silk stocking. To Arendt there was a distinction between liberty and freedom, the upheaval supplying the energizing juices to create a pluralistic system that would provide functional governance. Essentially, she asserted that  liberation is  the freedom from tyranny whereas freedom is a more arduous pursuit, a winning of the peace, the active engagement  in public affairs through uncensored free speech,free thought,free association, and assembly.Theoretically then, this expanded and comprehensive concept of freedom, charged with the revolutionary drive, is then enacted and manifested in the public sphere;  the creation of a new, out of the box structure,  in which individuals are active in political life….

(see link at end)…Fear abounds, too. “The security forces have always been so strong here that many people just don’t believe Assad will go,” says Mustafa Ahmad, a local village leader. Having seen the violence tearing nearby Aleppo apart, with Raqqa city now home to thousands of displaced people, many here on the vast swathes of bronzed, sun-parched land do not want the battle to be brought to their doorstep. “Bashar Assad is a dog, a murderer,” says a mother of eight. “But we don’t like the fighters either. We are tired and want peace.”

—About 50 Buddhist monks protested in front of Yangon’s Sule Pagoda on Thursday, holding posters of Buddhists allegedly injured by Muslims. Popular opinion in Myanmar, including among Buddhist monks, is weighted against the Rohingya. One well-known monk, U Pyinar Thiha, said that if the government gave in to the Muslims he would leave the monkhood and join the army.
This week’s flare-up is reportedly the worst since June, when more than 80 Muslims and Buddhists were killed in clashes after an alleged rape, forcing at least 75,000 people from their homes. Many remain in makeshift camps.—Read More:,0,1063509.story

Opposition leaders have little truck with these concerns, however. They are focused more on making pacts with other rebel groups than with mollifying the local civilians, and are pushing on down to add villages, towns and fields in Raqqa to the list of liberated areas. “Revolutions are messy,” admits Abu Azzam, the local rebel commander, with a shrug. For Raqqa, things may get far messier yet. Read More:

(see link at end)…As Syria’s civil war intensifies, Abdelke reflects the feelings of much of the country’s intelligentsia. Strongly critical of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, they deplore the way the peaceful uprising—which they eagerly supported last year—is being transformed. Its character has become increasingly religious, and foreigners rather than Syrians are driving the change….

—-“The fact that Qatar is overturning one of the key tenets of its foreign policy by antagonizing Iran is a surprising and forthright move by the Qatari elite, which clearly does not accept conventional limits on what is and what is not possible in the Middle East.”
A Reuters analysis suggests that Qatar could help soothe divisions between Hamas and another major Palestinian political group, Fatah: “Analysts think Qatar, building up a leader’s role in the Sunni Muslim world and influence beyond the Gulf, hopes to tame Hamas, get it to reconcile with the Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and perhaps advance the cause of Middle East peace.” It’s a long way from Palestinian unity to Middle East peace, but the former would still be a step in the direction of the latter, in part by making negotiations easier for Israel.
That may explain why some analysts believe Israel and the United States gave Qatar the go-ahead for this trip,… Cash-strapped Palestinian groups such as Hamas must prove to Palestinians that they can provide for them, which costs money.—Read More:

“More and more weapons are coming in, and not just basic ones. The Gulf states are paying enormous sums to provide arms, and they have a completely different vision from most Syrians. Even worse, groups of Salafis linked to Al Qaeda are arriving with an outlook on life that is even more closed than that of the Gulf states,” Abdelke says. “We’re moving toward a war between Sunnis and Alawites [the minority offshoot from Shiism to which the Assad family belongs]. We could be facing a real danger of Syria’s fragmentation.”…

—Wealthier residents have sent food and water to those who have returned. Atareb has not had electricity or running water in more than a month.
Many blame the army, but others accuse the rebel Free Syrian Army for bringing them trouble.
“Everywhere these rebels go, they bring destruction,” says a woman swathed in black, cradling her baby in the doorway, surrounded by rubble. Houses on either side ha

oppled onto hers like dominos.
“The situation speaks for itself. It is up to God’s will now. Any moment, we could be next,” she says. “But I won’t leave my country, and I won’t leave home. We are half-dead already. At some point, your hope is just to die with some dignity.”—Read More:

Abdelke is a longtime critic of the Assad regime. A member of a left-wing party, he spent two years in prison from 1978 to 1980 before leaving for Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1983 he was told he could not come home. His exile lasted a quarter of a century, but in 2008 he returned to Damascus with dreams but no real hopes of change. On his studio wall is a Parisian slogan from the anti-Sarkozy movements. “Rêve générale” (general dream), it says, a pun on the more familiar call for a general strike (grêve générale)….

—After dusk, pilgrims will head to the plain of Muzdalifah to spend the evening there in preparation for the ritual stoning of the devil in Jamarat.

Saudi authorities have spent billions of dollars in recent years improving haj infrastructure to avoid a repeat of accidents which have killed hundreds of people. But with nearly three million Muslim pilgrims descending on Mecca, disaster is a constant fear.
The last big accident was a stampede in 2006 at Jamarat causing 380 deaths. Two other stampedes at the same place in 1994 and 2004 killed more than 500. In other years, the pilgrimage was marred by deadly fires in the massive camp city.
Hundreds of cameras and other monitoring devices are fixed around the main sites of the haj, including the Grand Mosque, Mount Arafat and Jamarat Bridge, to monitor crowd levels.—Read More:,0,7722904.story

Abdelke blames the Syrian government for the escalation of the crisis. It was Assad who provoked the switch to armed rebellion and violence by rejecting dialogue with the opposition when the protests began. But the issue has gone way beyond that, in his view. “The situation is no longer in Syrian hands. The conflict has become regional and international. We are pawns in a big game,” Abdelke says. He hopes Russia and the United States can reach some sort of agreement to end it, but he has little optimism.Read More: a

—The only people underwhelmed by the Qatari visitor were Gazan residents. Crowds did not pour onto the streets; the emir cancelled a scheduled open-air address after only a few hundred filled a stadium which could hold tens of thousands. Gaza’s have-nots have heard promises of development money before, not least from Qatar, only to see the cash disappear. Many expect Hamas alone to enjoy Qatar’s largesse, an impression accentuated by Hamas’s security guards pointing their guns at the few people who had came to see the emir. Some fear that the Gaza visit is merely the latest in a series of bold takeover bids by the gas-rich but underpopulated Gulf state following its strong support for Islamists among the revolutionaries in north Africa and Syria.
On paper Gaza’s transformation under Hamas in recent years is impressive. It has faster rates of growth than Mr Abbas’s West Bank fief, despite copious foreign support for the latter. As Mr Haniyeh noted in his welcome address, holy warriors have in some cases turned into house builders, converting the rubble left behind by Jewish settlers into high-rise blocks. In a sign of how Hamas, a movement that once sent suicide-bombers to the next world, is adapting to comforts in this one, Mr Haniyeh kissed an unveiled girl after she entertained the emir with a song.—Read More:


Hannah Arendt: No doubt this form of government, if fully developed, would have assumed again the shape of a pyramid, which, of course, is the shape of an essentially authoritarian government. But while, in all authoritarian government we know of, authority is filtered down from above, in this case authority would have been generated neither at the top nor at the bottom, but on each of the pyramid’s layers; and this obviously could constitute the solution to one of the most serious problems of all modern politics, which is not how to reconcile freedom and equality but how to reconcile equality and authority.”

(see link at end)…Arendt attributes the loss of the spirit of the revolution – what she calls the revolutionary treasure – to one overriding cause. The problem is that the republics that the revolutions created – one after another, whether in France, Russia, or America – left no space for the very freedom that constituted part of the revolutionary treasure. The question Arendt asks is: what kind of institutional spaces could, potentially, preserve a place for the revolutionary spirit of freedom within a republic?

I mention Arendt’s double characterization of the revolutionary spirit now in the shadow of the Arab Spring, the Israeli Summer, and the American Fall. In Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, rebellions liberated the people from oppressive regimes, and rebellions continue to seek liberation in Syria, Sudan, and Bahrain. Around the globe, however, revolutionaries are struggling with Arendt’s question of how to find a revolutionary spirit of freedom within a political order. Amidst the sense of utter disenfranchisement and powerlessness that gave birth to these movements in the very heart of democratic states, we need to work to restore spaces and possibilities for the experience of freedom. Read More:

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