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L'Ordre

L'Ordre

Return of the “Assad gassed his people” lie?

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Qui ne sent point assez ferme de memoire, ne se doit pas mêler d’être menteur.

Who is not sure of his memory should not attempt lying.

Michel de Montaigne


The hole in this latest conspiracy theory is that Bashar al-Assad doesn’t have chemical weapons.

The Syrian “opposition” (more like the American-invasion fetishists) isn’t interested in peace because peace would leave Assad in power

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Some people view the only solution to the intractable Syrian conflict as the elimination of Assad. An obsession that started the war in the first place, and if anything is the sole reason it is intractable.

Assad has de facto won the Syrian civil war. The only reason the pathetic “rebel” groups hold any ground is because the lunatic fringe governing US foreign policy is still obsessed with continuing the war. Like Hitler, they simply refuse to accept that the war is lost and that the “rebels” are surrounded, hopeless, clinging to the idea of miracles descending from the sky.

Assad has got everything he needs to win the war and the rebels are fixated on foreign support, obsessed with the idea of the US Air Force coming to save them. To their dismay, the US Air Force is actually too busy bombing them, as it has been conducting airstrikes endlessly for months not against Assad’s armies but against the Islamist militants seeking to remove Assad. The US military, unlike the delusional US political elite, has got no interest in saving Syrian rebels and wants to see them all dead.

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As for the Assad chemical weapons crisis, that occurred in 2013. Roughly at the start of that year, Assad’s military was accused by the grand judges, juries and executioners of America that he had tried to gas his people in the East Ghouta pocket – a dwindling pocket of rebel forces near Damascus that is completely surrounded and in a state of absolute hopelessness and despair. You can see it on maps of the present conflict, usually shrinking each month.

It is odd enough that the one place Assad was seen to be “desperate” enough to use chemical weapons was a place where he was winning anyway.

The claim that Assad gassed his own people in 2013 was a lie, a mere proclamation from the US State Department to justify war, exactly like the mere proclamation that Saddam Hussein was building weapons of mass destruction in 2003. It was no secret that the US State Department believes the American people are so stupid that they will fall for the same lie every ten years after forgetting the previous one. It was not known that they believed the American people to have the memory of a fish.

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Lying is painful and damaging in the extreme because it entices one to continue to lie in order to save face. US politicians and foreign policy commentators were dragged along by their lies and mistakes in 2013 on Syria, so they kept repeating a lie. They repeat it now, hoping that they will be vindicated by successfully starting a new war.

There is a term for this called the maxim of the Big Lie: the technique used by Hitler and Goebbels, the dictate that if a lie is big enough and is repeated often enough, it is impossible to defy it. People will continue to repeat it, even though they know it is a lie.

Unfortunately for Obama and company, people didn’t buy the lie about Assad gassing his people – and that was back in 2013 when Assad actually was sitting on a tremendous quantity of chemical weapons. The most terrible error in repeating the chemical weapon lie now is that the US personally destroyed Assad’s chemical weapons. Obama made promises that Assad’s chemical weapons would be dealt with. Will he now ruin one of very few promises he ever kept in his entire political career? Will he ruin himself by succumbing to foreign policy hawks who have nothing but contempt for him, and become a puppet of those who in the first place consider him inept?

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Indeed, for the US to go back to repeating the lie that Assad is gassing his people now, which the government has wisely not chosen to do yet, would ironically humiliate Obama and serve to reassure no-one about his wisdom. He was the one who promised to have eliminated Syria’s chemical weapons. Were the State Department now to revert back to 2013 talking points and the old case for war against Syria despite the elimination of the chemical threat, once again based on hearsay and rumor, it would be bumbling, idiotic and hypocritical of them.

For the dull media and certain Twitter users to dig up a worthless turd of a news story from 2013 that was never widely believed in the first place and run with it like some kind of magical talisman that will win the war for them in 2015, should have made them a laughing stock.

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Those who assert Assad gassed his own people every day – every single day since the lie first appeared in 2013 despite it falling on deaf ears – expose their mentality. They are each depraved liars and sore losers who will invent any pretext to end the war in Syria on those terms. The end they have in mind is what happened in Libya – a gungho US-led war based on sketchy evidence that eventually leads to Western leaders posing in the war-torn country with terrorists, dirt-bags and dictators while claiming that democracy has been served, before promptly evacuating their staff from the country and leaving it to drown in its own blood as the civil war continues.

The goal to get rid of Assad has nothing to do with ending the war and simply cannot produce that result. It is an attempt to prevent the war from ending with a rebel defeat – something that can and should happen. Insisting that Assad must go simply ensures that Syria will be doomed to an endless cycle of war. War, war, war. That’s all the Syrian so-called rebels talk about and all that they understand, and it is why they have blocked every attempt at a negotiated settlement to the war on the constant threat that they won’t stop the bloodshed unless they come to power. They will continue to hold the country hostage, beg for Americans to bomb their country for them, and get everyone killed until their appetite for power has been satisfied.

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By Harry J. Bentham

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“Black Pride” vs. “White Pride”?

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Une société sans religion est comme un vaisseau sans boussole

A society without religion is like a ship without a compass

Napoleon Bonaparte


Should anti-racists condemn Black racism (where it can legitimately be proven to exist) against white people?

Above: historic defiance: an African American woman defies state authorities by taking down the Confederate flag

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My simplest answer is no, don’t bother.

This post continues from my previous foreign policy commentary on Third Worldism vs. neoconservative ideology.

It is absolutely not hypocritical that we condemn white racists while viewing Black racists (for example, America’s Malcolm X or Algeria’s Frantz Fanon himself) as liberators. Nor is it hypocritical that we spell white without a capital while we spell Black with a capital. It is not hypocritical if everyone will hate White Pride and love Black Pride. On the contrary, all symbols and rhetoric referring to Black liberation are emancipatory: these speak of a people that has been chained and oppressed and still languishes in the oppressive American prison system. All symbols and rhetoric referring to White nationalism or White Pride are displays of indulgent reactionary behavior by a culture that has enjoyed privilege and supremacy and tries desperately to sustain it. The rhetoric of liberation is right no matter how ugly or guttural it is, and the rhetoric of reaction is wrong no matter how attractive or sanitized it is.

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By the same token, feel free to celebrate the cause of indigenous Pakistani or Iranian nationalism, or Syrian nationalism, or Palestinian nationalism, and continue to separately condemn the vile and reactionary nationalism of settler regimes such as Israel or the United States. One category of nationalisms and power ideologies is absolved because these nationalisms and power ideologies are pursued in the causes of non-white or Third World liberation. The other category is intellectually vapid, false, and serves no cause of liberation but the perpetuation of misery and oppression.

To put it another way, there is no valid American or Western exceptionalism but the exceptionalism of the other – the exceptionalism of the oppressed and disenfranchised who are right no matter what evil they are accused of. That is an exceptionalism that I accept and help to cultivate with every fiber of my being.

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By Harry J. Bentham

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Third Worldists vs. Neoconservatives

posted by Harry J. Bentham

Le colonialisme n’est pas une machine à penser, n’est pas un corps doué de raison.

Colonialism is not a thinking machine, is not a body endowed with reason.

Frantz Fanon


Should antistatists and anti-nationalists in the West condemn, ignore or support small nationalist causes in the non-Western world?

Frantz Fanon: political theorist and key influence on countless Third World nationalist causes (including ones who fought against each other)

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This is an issue that has been on my mind recently because of a slight dispute that I had with a fellow political commentator whom I continue to have the utmost respect and admiration for. His view likened nationalists in Pakistan with the neoconservative movement in the United States, and basically put forward the view that someone who refuses to condemn Pakistani nationalists might as well support the neoconservatives in the US on the grounds that small imperialist or nationalist causes are as lethal as the bigger ones. This is a theory that was never unknown to me or a great many sociologists who are more qualified than I, and I had in fact been rejecting that very theory for years. As cold as it sounds, I don’t care if a theory is killing people: I am solely interested in whether it is effective in weakening hegemony.

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It is not an oversight by me that causes me to not bother condemning nationalism in Pakistan and countless other countries while I condemn it in my own country and more so in the US. It is a well-informed principle, as I shall explain.

The essay to go to on this subject would be Immanuel Wallerstein’s brilliant piece, “Culture as the Ideological Battleground of the Modern World-System”. I believe it repudiates everything that can be said against the diversity of causes – nationalist and anti-nationalist – that I and other combatants against hegemony have expressed support for.

One of the great thinkers who inspires much of the non-Western world is Frantz Fanon, the ideological father of postcolonial political theory and the concept of the national liberation struggles that shook the world in the post- World War 2 era. Without the aid of this man’s ink, there would probably have been no Palestine Liberation Organization, no Baath Parties, no Muammar Gaddafi, and possibly no cause of national liberation and pride in the majority of nations today labelled “Third World”. Many of these ideologies stemmed from Algerian national liberation from French colonialism, for which Fanon was a great agitator.

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I will not lie about small nationalist causes in the Third World. My own Western sensibilities and internationalist, hyper- modernist leanings mean that I personally find Third Worldist rhetoric inane, its causes often misguided. But in the rare junctures where their rhetoric aligns with true liberation struggles and confrontations with hegemony, they stand vindicated. It is in those moments that these regimes, often labelled tyrannies by Western states, become the knights so desperately needed by the world’s oppressed. Gaddafi may have been a monster to the nuanced political elites of the world, but to the peoples of Africa he was universally loved and viewed as an icon. Hence, the elimination of Gaddafi by NATO was in essence an act of racism, a rejection of the values and common destiny felt by the peoples of Africa at the hands of a dismissive and arrogant power.

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Were Bashar al-Assad not on the frontline against US aggression, he would likely not be endorsed and admired by so many millions of people throughout the world. He likely would not be in power today. The American government’s very obsession with eliminating al-Assad has made him more powerful than they could possibly have intended.

All of this has to do with the theory of the world-system as an ideological battlefield. Those who are perceived to triumph causes of national liberation, whose apparently reactionary slogans and statements align with actual liberation and the battle against hegemony, are only superficially reactionary: the actual cause they represent for a marginalized and oppressed country or people is surely not reactionary.

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Samir Amin presents almost exactly the same views in his conclusions that popular nationalism of the Cuban type is actually the most effective ideological vehicle for many oppressed people, and that power ideologies originating in the Third World simply cannot bear the same shame as rhetorically similar ideologies that influenced true imperialism as it was exported from Europe. In sum, Western liberals are not hypocrites to exclude the nationalists, religious extremists or even racists of the Third World from our condemnation of such ideology in the West itself.


By Harry J. Bentham

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Is “Internet” spelled with a capital “I”?

posted by Harry J. Bentham

La première maxime de votre politique doit être qu’on conduit le peuple par la raison, et les ennemis du peuple par la terreur

The first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people’s enemies by terror

Robespierre


Should we be capitalizing the word “Internet” in our writing?

Could the Internet be seen as a place, or even as a body of people?

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Wikipedia has an informative article on this subject, notably explaining that a number of noted publications including The New York Times capitalize the word.

In actual fact, as explained by the Wikipedia article, the word Internet used to be capitalized by everyone – which seems an odd fact in itself because the idea of a single global Internet must have arisen after the practice of using computers to create “an internet” emerged. The article states as its only comparative case study that the Internet is much like other popular communication media, such as “telephone”, which was once apparently capitalized in many publications.

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I believe the Internet is more significant than other technologies like the telephone, and I believe that whether or not we capitalize the word is a much deeper question than it at first appears to be. I began capitalizing the word Internet after reading two of Julian Assange’s books and following the drama of Edward Snowden’s disclosures. The idea that Edward Snowden was motivated by a perception of the Internet as his home – not as a mere utility but as a place (and a sacrosanct one) – and Julian Assange’s revolutionary claims that the Internet is giving rise to a new demos or body politic transcending national borders – raise, for me at least, the idea that we should address the Internet as a place, with at least the same respect that we might show towards a sovereign state.

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On this point, however, I should note that Julian Assange himself does not bother to capitalize the word Internet, and yet I consciously decided to start capitalizing the word based on what I read into a theory largely preached by him. In Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide, which talks at length about Edward Snowden’s philosophy and the ethos of the Internet, Greenwald does in fact capitalize the word Internet, all the while showing a reverent attitude towards it, much as I believe it deserves.

I would also like to point out while we are on Beliefnet, that similar ambiguities exist about spiritual or metaphysical spaces, as we find about the Internet or the “space” of (C)yberspace. Should heaven be spelled with a capital? The King James’ Bible would seem to disagree. Its very first verse claims that God created no Heaven, but “the heavens” (we now know that as space).

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In fact, the Bible is ambiguous about whether there is a heaven at all, often speaking of “heavens” or suggesting that the word is not a supernatural reference but purely a reference to the “skies” (should it be “sky”, or perhaps “the Sky” at that?) just as it often is in everyday discourse. Hell is similarly undefined. Whether there are hells, or a single physical realm known as Hell, has never really been confirmed within the Christian religion. It is also possible that hells does not refer to anything other than its everyday usage as the states of torment that we humans bring upon ourselves while we are still alive, or the torments of conscience that gnaw upon a guilty person.

In my own view, the Internet should be capitalized, and the word “the” should be placed before it wherever possible. The Internet should be capitalized because the people on the Internet are a polity or a body politic. They are “netizens” or citizens of the Internet. Many have spoken of citizens of the world, but  no technology has made such a notion more factual than the Internet. Save for “the World”, or “Humanity”, these terms being capitalized for the same reasons in this context of human wholeness, there is scarcely any other label that can be used to represent the people and their interests than making reference to the Internet, capitalized.

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Whether this reasoning is sufficient for us will be proven in whether or not others choose to capitalize the Internet themselves, or continue to risk trivializing the single greatest revolution in human communication and encounter by reducing it to a mere utility like the telephone. The Internet is a place, as real as any library or hall of power you have ever passed through.


By Harry J. Bentham

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