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L'Ordre

L'Ordre

Erdogan’s war on Kurds and everyone else

posted by Harry J. Bentham

According to a credible analysis from Vijay Prashad for The Hindu, which concurs with the views of many other writers, the Erdogan government in Turkey restarted the conflict with the Kurdish people and is responsible for killing many civilians. It jeopardises the lives of hundreds of thousands more by doing so. This is the fault of Recep Erdogan’s personal craving for power, military glory and victory, for which reason he has chosen to wage war on his own country’s territory.

As Prashad states, “The Turkish government believes it can score a military victory against the PKK, which is why it has been striking PKK camps inside Turkey, Iraq and Syria”.

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The Erdogan regime, which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) pledges Britain, America and other “democracies” to defend militarily, is at war with its own people, using tanks and artillery to shell its own predominantly Kurdish cities. It is shelling the heroes who have repelled ISIS in Northern Syria. Even more scandalously, the Turkish regime has managed to conflate the opposition People’s Democratic Party (HDP) with the banned PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) which is the national liberation movement striving for an independent Kurdish state. In fact, the PKK was committed to peace with Turkey, until Turkey violated the ceasefire. There is surprisingly little coverage of Turkey’s open war against Kurds and opposition figures, the result of Turkish regime censorship and additional censorship by its NATO allies.

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The Erdogan government is acting irrationally within Turkey, calling everyone a “traitor” who criticizes its policies. It has already been under fire from many commentators for its air war against anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters in Syria, which has led to airstrikes essentially backing up ISIS attacks. It has almost started a war with Russia by downing a bomber aircraft that was attacking ISIS positions. Why has NATO not suspended Turkey’s membership in the alliance in response to its aggression? It seems that in this case, NATO is more committed to harming Russia and other geopolitical enemies than supporting democracy or human rights, but was that ever not the case?

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If this is not enough to convince you that Erdogan’s Turkey is not irrational and dangerous, consider that Erdogan is trying to gain more authority for his office and recently cited Adolf Hitler’s government as an example of an effective presidential system. At an earlier date, he made similarly Hitler-like remarks when he threatened Russia with a military invasion, promising that NATO would be ready to back him up with an endless supply of men and materiel. This is still a character the Western “democracies” are sworn to defend. He is also someone who has essentially been on the front-line of the West’s campaign to get rid of Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, and the most vocal advocate in the world for “no fly zones” and “safe zones” for people to escape the apparent tyranny of Assad (total madness considering the Syrian Air Force is now striking terrorists with impunity alongside the Russian Aerospace Forces, who cannot be threatened without risking devastating escalation with Moscow).

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The situation in Turkey is almost a civil war, and with Erdogan surrounded by hostile actors and people he has betrayed, the future looks very gloomy for him in this growing conflict. It would be very surprising if Russia did not seek revenge on Turkey by recognizing and supporting claims to national independence by Kurdish groups. It would be surprising if Russia was not seeking alternative ties within the Turkish political system and military to find someone capable of reason rather than Erdogan.

Most people today outside of Turkey are starting to acknowledge that Turkey is run by a maniac who intends to become a dictator, if not a king. He is leading Turkey into disaster, just like his role model Hitler led Germany into disaster. At this stage, anyone other than Erdogan and his clique would be a more suitable government in Ankara.

Erdogan’s war on Kurds needs to stop. The dispute with the Kurds needs to be resolved by giving the Kurds more autonomy or a nation-state of their own, rather than waging endless wars on them.

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Saudi Arabia’s not-so-Sunni world

posted by Harry J. Bentham

More than ever, the monarchical government of Saudi Arabia is portraying itself as the saviour of the Sunni world (the Sunnis being the largest denomination of Muslims, for readers unfamiliar with this topic).

Don’t buy into the idea that a narrow, unrepresentative monarchy can possibly represent such a vast community. The regime in Saudi Arabia is deeply unpopular with the people, more so than many of the regimes that have been overthrown or rejected as illegitimate by much of the world during the so-called Arab Spring. This only goes to show how outdated and outbound the Saudi monarchy surely is.

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Such as it is, I only live in a country that is a “friend and ally” of Saudi Arabia and sells massive quantities of weapons and tear gas for it to suppress its own people’s aspirations and dictate the interests of the Sunni world at the barrel of a gun. Of these interests, there is Saudi Arabia’s commitment to oppose Iran – a country that did it no harm – apparently on the grounds of demagoguery towards another denomination, the Shia. Demagoguery that comes out of Riyadh and has no adherents anywhere else. Saudi Arabia loves the idea of causing a sectarian war or regression to the medieval era, because it doesn’t really have much else to do other than rot in the ground with other dead monarchies.

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The Saudi monarchy is in fact not opposed to Iran because it is Shia, but because Saudi Arabia knows it is a rotten, corrupt monarchy whereas Iran is a sovereign republic. The Saudi monarchs have always been desperately afraid of the Islamic Revolution that took place in Iran, because they know it is the best thing that could happen to their own country and the most likely type of regime-change that will come to their country. Why does the Kingdom that claims to defend the Sunni world not believe in the right of Sunnis to govern themselves in Saudi Arabia?

Of course, by saying the Islamic Revolution will happen in the Arabian Peninsula, I am not saying Saudi Arabia will somehow be conquered by Iran, Shia, or Iranians. Quite the opposite. Saudi Arabia needs to be conquered by its own cherished Sunni world, whose destiny is in fact to establish their own republics – perhaps also on an Islamic basis because this appeals to the sensibilities of the vast majority of its population. Interestingly, Iran has actually reached out to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that genuinely do have great influence over the Sunni community. The Iranians showed no opposition to the Morsi government when it came to power in Egypt, and Iranian media were not not at all happy with the coup that installed the Sisi government in power or the subsequent mistreatment of political prisoners. Maybe the Iranians were reminded of the dark days under the Shah, which is what they see every time they look at Saudi Arabia’s unjust monarchy.

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Saudi Arabia’s portrayal of Iran as plotting against Sunnis is completely absurd. Look at the facts. It was Saudi Arabia itself that plotted to undermine and politically impoverish Sunnis in most cases. Remember, it was Saudi Arabia that conspired to overthrow the representative Sunni government of Egypt, not Iran. By all accounts, Iran was in fact overjoyed by the rise of an Islamic revolutionary party to power in Egypt, seeing a potential ally. This was despite obvious differences in the background over one issue, Syria, concerning the future of the Assad government (the Muslim Brotherhood had grievances against Hafez al-Assad and his government for decades before the 2011 violence began). Iran might have completely backed down from supporting Assad, and accepted some kind of Egyptian-led axis with respect to Syria, if it had believed the uprising there was anything other than a cynical scheme to install a pro-US dictator and encircle resistance movements opposed to Israel in Lebanon. Unfortunately for Iran, the Morsi government had been betrayed and overthrown by another pro-US dictator too quickly for Iran to come to any alliance with the now powerless and evicted Brotherhood. Now, Iran’s interest in the Muslim Brotherhood has evaporated because Saudi Arabia destroyed it, along with the political hopes of many Sunnis.

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Iran or Saudi Arabia? Tally up which country has done more to suppress the political aspirations of the Sunni world, and you will find that Saudi Arabia is far guiltier than Iran. Saudi Arabia’s guilt in this area extends far beyond a single country like Syria but to a whole host of countries including Egypt and Libya, where Iran displayed no influence. There is no example of Saudi Arabia actually giving power to the Sunni community anywhere, and only examples of it taking this power away, because Saudi Arabia is fundamentally opposed to republics and opposed to revolutionary parties in all cases, including Islamist parties.

It is high time that the remaining monarchies in the world reform or are replaced. The world has seen enough dynasties, enough self-obsessed kings aspiring to gain more power for their own families rather handing over governance of their country to the people. If Saudi Arabia is too inflexible to stop talking about bringing democracy to Syria and instead talk about bringing democracy to their own country, their hypocrisy will bring an even worse pattern of escalating violence, executions, revulsion and eventual uprisings inside Saudi Arabia. Barack Obama has even alluded to the Saudi regime possibly coming to an end through a new armed uprising in the region, and ultimately everyone gets tired of a regime as ridiculous and embarrassing as this one – even its allies.

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There are, of course, dedicated defenders of the Saudi regime as there are of any regime. They portray the Kingdom as being the object of their apparent patriotism, and portray opponents as “interfering” when they comment on its illegitimacy. The wars Saudi Arabia is prosecuting against innocent Sunnis in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere are based on groundless accusations that they are working for Iran, and in fact demonstrate how Saudi Arabia fails to stand up for the Sunni world and consistently stands against it and undermines it.

Nothing Saudi Arabia has said about Iran has much to do with genuine religious allegiances or decency, and everything it has said is about waging cowardly wars for the benefit of a few moldy rulers, whose families should have been thrown out of power decades if not centuries ago. While it is correct to oppose regime-change against republics and developing countries, Saudi Arabia is neither. It is a corrupt monarchy devoted to subverting justice and development in other countries, and it is not just my wish but the will of history that it should be thrown out. It is also a fact that republics are sovereign, according to modern requirements of statehood, whereas kingdoms are not.

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Armed militants took over, nothing to see

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Although many unfortunate happenings are taking place in the world at this very moment, and I cannot possibly manage to talk about them all, I want to focus on a more bewildering one in this post tonight.

It has come to a lot of people’s attention that a group of armed militants took over a so-called US government facility with no-one in it, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Oregon as I am told. Who cares, right? I think it was probably a publicity stunt, an attempt to make headlines (they succeeded even at my blog!) and disappear while claiming that the US government is too scared to face them, when in fact the US government was just too slow to get to their location or did not care, before they voluntarily left whatever place it is that they have taken over.

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As well as finding the event bewildering and getting the view from others that the militants were just “nut cases” and nothing to take seriously, I hear also this view being put forward that the militants can get away with their antics without being hunted down as terrorist vermin, just because they are “white”. If the militants were “Muslim” those Tweeters claim, they would have been branded as terrorists and maybe have been captured or killed. This is basically going to confuse people. Being white and being Muslim are not mutually exclusive, unless converting to Islam makes people “non-white” (some sociologists like Wallerstein argue that it actually does, although the rest of the media has not caught up with their theories yet).

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Certainly, in the mind of most Americans, it doesn’t help to look somehow “foreign” if you are an armed militant patrolling around the place, and being “white” helps a lot in not looking “foreign” to the majority of Americans, who think of Americans as people who look like themselves. However, being “non-white” isn’t the only thing that makes many Americans think you must be a criminal or terrorist who can be shot with impunity. They will also think it is okay if you are dressed differently or speak a different language, and in most cases those things are more important justifications than actual skin colour.

“White” is not so important anymore, and it is written about in media and academia much more than it is thought about in daily life nowadays. Most Americans don’t think that you have to be white to be a “good guy”. American movies and television shows are filled with Black protagonists. Americans willingly voted a Black man to be their President. I doubt the claim that, if these militants in Oregon were Black armed men, they would have been shot dead or called terrorists by the government. There are plenty of Black armed men and women serving in various departments of the US government right now, and America has had plenty of Black militants who were not shot dead or designated as terrorists. It has had plenty of white militants who were indeed shot dead and a whole Civil War to that effect. So I think the race issue is irrelevant to this incident and other incidents with US “white male” militias being accepted groups by the government and the public whereas other groups are considered terrorists.

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The idea that converting to Islam makes people “non-white” needs an example. I would call your attention to this report in which a “white Muslim couple” were harassed and called terrorists by members of the public over social media. I myself can swear that people have looked at me as if I was a terrorist just for wearing certain types of scarf like the keffiyeh, which some people associate with violent activism similar to balaclavas. Because of this, I think the issue of the “terrorist threat” mentality in the US, and in the West in general, is now more related to clothing than skin colour, and more related to any sign or suggestion of “otherness” or things apparently foreign. Westerners are very attuned to the way their heroes and villains behave on television, and when someone dresses like villains they have seen in movies or news reports, they make up their mind very quickly and would even be ready to shoot you.

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While race-based stereotypes have actually been reduced or rendered harmless in the vast majority of Westerners’ minds, attention to aspects of fashion and symbolism or even architecture as indicators of a foreign threat have increased. People are hostile to minarets in Europe, more so than they are hostile to people with a darker skin tone. Nevertheless, people will often simplistically say that prejudice against minarets, or the hijab and other attire, is racism. While it is not correct to say that wanting to ban the burqa or halt the construction of mosques is a racist sentiment, it is always true that the people saying these things also happen to be racists or hold closeted racist views. They are still proponents of genetic-cultural superiority, although they focus more on culture now to hide their continued irrationality.

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I think the conversation needs to shift away from terms like “white” when we are talking about why some people are allowed to be violent and others are considered terrorists for it. There is no white supremacy anymore in the classic sense, but there is a regime of Western supremacy, in which anything considered foreign or different is automatically deemed inferior or perverse, or oppressive in some way. In that sense, Islamophobia is no different than Russophobia, all being attempts to demonise other peoples for their geographic origins and equate them with ancient barbarian hordes. The Greeks and the Romans excelled at this.

Much of the new new model of prejudice supported by the media is not really “racism” in the Twentieth Century fashion of demonising people for their skin tone or some other pseudoscience, but it is still just as deadly and just as destructive to society.

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Media disintegration

posted by Harry J. Bentham

I want to back up a recent opinion put forward by Steve Topple, a British blogger who emerged from almost complete obscurity to become a very articulate op-ed writer.

Steve appealed against the formation of new media elites. A new centre-left consisting of very tame bloggers starts to overrun the mainstream media, as can already be seen. Examples of those personalities are people like Owen Jones. They seem radical, usually throwing their support in the direction of the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and talking endlessly against austerity, but taking a very austere and civilised path to power and influence that could ultimately see them merely become defenders of the establishment rather than real opponents.

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The tendency to pay lip service to the themes of decentralisation and disintegration brought about by digital technologies since the 1990s, while actually still conglomerating around authority and institutions of choice (papers like the Guardian and organisations such as the Labour Party) can only lead to disappointment. This is because the people who want to preserve power and wealth inequalities will use this weakness of gravitating to authority to once again simply preserve themselves as authorities.

I think this threat  fits with the theory of the di Lampedusa strategy, and was explained by Immanuel Wallerstein in his short book Utopistics. Wallerstein warned that the media and political elite behind a powerful central regime or economic model can simply co-opt “a lot of the terminology of the discontented” to abort a revolution and keep themselves in power. The essence of the di Lampedusa strategy is that the elite are in a war of maneuver to steal the rhetoric of anyone who might overthrow them, and become their own opponents so that anyone who replaces them will simply be them again.

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In the case of Britain, which Steve was addressing, the di Lampedusa strategy might see the economists, civil servants, institutions and authorities behind austerity measures alter the phraseology and theories of austerity, and then reapply them. If a “socialist” party such as Corbyn’s Labour were to be in power, those institutions would simply try to repackage austerity in socialist-like language and reapply it again, using any means possible to corrupt people like Corbyn or have him replaced with someone corruptible. They will try to repackage war in the language of stopping war.

However, there is also the genuine possibility that even if the institutions behind austerity are dismantled and all the politicians and journalists who supported war and pestilence for their own financial gain are imprisoned, whoever replaces them may be just as selfish and contemptible. That may ensue, if some new hierarchy formed to replace the old one, but there is also the technological trajectory away from hierarchy. That inevitable technological trajectory is more responsible for the proliferation of anti-austerity, anti-authority and alternative media movements and viewpoints than any particular leftist political faction or strategy you can identify and blame.

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What of all the tech-empowered bloggers from a background of powerlessness – that group Steve offers himself as an example of? What of media disintegration, the formation of the OffGuardian and the thousands of other OffGuardians that are tearing readers away from the Guardian? What about all the small Alex Joneses tearing people away from the real Alex Jones. These hundreds, perhaps thousands of independent radicals (the kind the Mont Order has intended to gather and support) have no real strategy but they corrode and disintegrate the more authoritarian media environment. There are no authorities on the web.

There are no “esteemed” journalists and newspapers anymore, there are just points of view. If anything has any authority, it’s the combined chorus of independent bloggers and sources challenging the old papers and broadcasters. Those bloggers are the essence of media disintegration and collapse of press authority.

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