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BREXIT_HKEXIT_room-for-escape_2019b

BREXIT & Hong Kong EXIT = HKEXIT
is there ROOM for escape?
Leaving the European Union…
Leaving the People’s Republic of China…
Apart from the question: WHO IS FLEEING FROM WHERE?
there is the question: WHERE CAN ONE FLEE?
– In the news-picture flow of these days we may see British Union Jack flags waving both in the UK and Hong Kong, while REMAIN partisans wave EU and PRC flags with more than one star, one having a blue, the other a red background.

“The red background symbolizes the revolution and the golden star colors ‘radiate’ on the red background representing one of the Five Elements of fire and earth. The big star represents the unity of Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (…) the four smaller stars that surround the big star symbolize the four social classes (the working class, the peasantry, the urban petite bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie) of China’s New Democracy mentioned in Mao’s ‘On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship’. [wiki]
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The EU (European Union and European Council) flag has “the blue sky of the Western world” with 12 stars that “symbolize the peoples of Europe in a form of a circle, a sign of union. Their number is invariably twelve, the figure twelve being the symbol of perfection and entirety.” [wiki]
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I have taken out one of the twelve EU stars in this picture… to symbolize the ‘disunity’ when the UK leaves the EU. Will it be a loss of ‘perfection’ and will what is left of the EU be eternally ‘incomplete’?

The official Union Jack Flag of the United Kingdom may shed some of its constituting parts soon. “The present design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag combines aspects of three older national flags: the red cross of St George for the Kingdom of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland (which two were united in the first Union Flag), and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland. Notably, the home country of Wales is not represented separately in the Union Flag, as the flag was designed after the invasion of Wales in 1282. Hence Wales as a home country today has no representation on the flag.”

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A demonstrator waves a Union Jack flag in front of police during protests that have once again raised issues of identity as well as hostility towards Beijing among young people in Hong Kong. VINCENT YU/AP [The Times June 14 2019]

SO WHO IS FLEEING FROM THE ‘PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP’ IN HONG KONG? Which star should be taken out? Is it the ‘urban petite bourgeoisie’? Is it the ‘national bourgeoisie’? Or both?
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Will the Brits float their island away to the West across the Atlantic? Or will the USA conquer one of the former colonial motherlands, as many are suggesting depicting Boris Johnson as the trickster that plays the Trump-card.
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Is there any option for drifting away for the tiny islands and some bits of connected mainland territory? It is hardly imaginable that Hong Kong can catapult itself to the Western hemisphere… it can drift a fair bit south-west toward Singapore or a rather long way east toward Taiwan, or even further to Japan.
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All of this seems far beyond the doable… especially for the HKEXIT plan. Can any nation in the world ESCAPE the globalizing market forces? There seems to be NO ROOM for it anymore. Still in this perspective one may argue that the main HKEXIT actors maybe not the inhabitants of that former British Crown Colony, but those in Beijing who are responsible for keeping the ‘peoples dictatorship’ up and running. Is it not so that by limiting what is called ‘ the free market economy’ (wrong term in fact but let’s use it here to avoid too long an exposé about the un-freedom of it) and limiting the formal separation of the law-system from the state apparatus (‘rule of law’) in Hong Kong, the People’s Republic of China is the one that forces the Hong Kong – as it is still now – OUT: EXIT HK?

 

Once more IS THERE ROOM FOR ESCAPE in this world?
I think there is not. One has to face up to the political and military power realities of where one lives now, seek for no relief from the past, but instead face up to the future. There is No glorious past to go back to, not for the Brits and their infamous colonial empire, not for the people of Hong Kong. Their status of voiceless subjects without a parliament in a British Crown Colony – that developed into a modern day piracy nest for the big finance – has remained unchanged, better said worsened. Hong Kong’s actual status of “Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China” protocoled as “one country two systems” has seen the quality of civil rights eroding and promises for more democracy, made before the hand-over to China by the UK, thwarted. This has lead some to long for a a past that was supposedly better, but at best – only at the end of British reign – one may speak of some gestures of ‘belated enlightened top down’ delivered measures of empowering Chinese Hong Kong citizens. Before British rule of law was strongly geared toward the expatriate business community.

In the Hong Kong turmoil of the last months local social economic issues have hardly been mentioned and there are many to tackle. The exploitative housing market being one of them, as well as the impunity of aggressive capitalist ventures that are based in Hong Kong, “free” to develop their predatory practices in the Asia Pacific and beyond and are  – how paradoxical – allowed to exploit the mainland workers population of China as well.

There is an aspect of ‘unholy alliance’ in the fight of Hong Kong people against the Moloch of the People’s Republic of China. All social classes in Hong Kong seem to unite, from students to bankers. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ goes the saying. Not something that can be escaped. Still, something that must be kept in mind actively. This point is proven by the support of the USA voiced by Donald Trump for the demands of the Hong Kong people’s movement. A mean and menacing gesture in the globalist power game called the ‘US-China Trade War’.
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The BREXITers practice their own ‘unholy alliance’ by joining the ‘free-marketeers’ based in the UK whose interest is to free themselves from EU tutelage and enter into Atlantic and global joint ventures, not giving a damn about the social economic effects that will have for the less fortunate part of the British population, ready to even massacre what is left of the famous British National Health Service.
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National states and associations thereof are means and no ends in themselves. Local communities form the basis of any state. Local level interests can only be furthered by local level changes and the national and supra national state bodies need to be forced to get geared to that.
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The one who flees the local-level social state of affairs becomes a refugee. Refugees going elsewhere will in the end land in yet another local situation.
It is there… that change must be wrought. The actual sentiments of Britishness and Hongkongness are more products of a shared opinion of what is ‘not wanted’ than an expression of  of a ‘national unity’ in the 19th and 20th century sense. It is the unwanted partnership with a supra-national conglomeration that makes people aware of their local  identity, but once that partnership is broken and a single unit chooses to stand on its own, that sense of ‘togetherness’ will fall apart. Internal contradictions will take over.

The Balkanisation of Former Yugoslavia may serve as an example, whereby a federal state with multiple nations has been forced apart and some of the new nations have sought refuge in a far bigger federation of nation states (the European Union), while others stayed ‘alone’, thus losing their former close social, economic and cultural ties and markets, restraining their national identity to a single one, where it was plural before. In most cases creation and disintegration of unions of nations and states are marked by violent acts. There are exceptions like the split up of Czechoslovakia into two separate sovereign states Czechia and Slovakia in 1993 (both new states remained in the European Union), or the dissolution of the 1814 Union between Norway and Sweden in 1905 (it went into history books as a peaceful settlement, only when one neglects the suffering of  the border populations). Most other cases throughout history have been bloody affairs, some of the most deadly being the result of failed imperial rule in the British empire (the partition of India and Pakistan with a death toll that has never been formally established ranging between 200.000 and 2 million and 14 million displaced persons).

Thus, the  positive option is REMAIN, and adapt the rules of the supra-federation to local needs (in my view the PRC is a supra-federation which is too much centralised now).

The negative option is to leave and the hardship of confronting social-economic barriers produced by these supra-federations, which will start of with a few decades of revenge for those who have left. Of course in the global power reality Hong Kong does not stand a chance to leave the PRC. Hong Kong  will not be “sold back” to Britain or what ever it is that will be left after BREXIT of the UK. Also, Hong Kong will not become a ‘City Free State’ like Singapore. Hong Kong is bound to be a ‘special region’ of that – seemingly – big state-unit and ‘unity’ called China. How ‘special’ and for ‘how long’ depends on its will and capacity to keep kicking.

NO MORE ROOM FOR ESCAPE.

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oorspronkelijk gepubliceerd i op 16 november 2013 op mijn Flickr web-pages. Deze prent had daar 11.407 views. De route is anders in 2018, maar de hier uiteengezette betekenissen zijn nog onveranderd. Sinterklaas/Zwarte Piet Amsterdam 2013. Geen racisme maar klasse-uitbuiting: KOOPSLAVENOPTOCHT & WERKSLAVENKADOOTJES

Koopslaventocht-Sinterklaas-intocht-Amsterdam_2013

Mijn commentaar op Zwarte Piet = Racisme Discussie:

Ik zie niet in waarom nu plotseling er meer RACISME in Nederland is/zou zijn dan voorheen. Je ziet hetzelfde in Frankrijk, waar ditmaal de regering de mond vol heeft over een golf van racisme die het land overspoelt.

“Race & Class” Rasse en Klasse heette het neo-marxistisch tijdschrift uit de zeventiger jaren waarin gepoogd werd de toenmalige situatie te analyseren. En de titel van dat blad zegt al wat een betere insteek in dit debat is: hoe verhoudt zich rasse tot klasse. (1)

Het jaarlijks spektakel dat de grootwinkelbedrijvers met in hun gevolg de middenstandwinkeliers en de opkomende klasse van e-winkeliers op straat brengen is bedoelt om de kooplust aan te wakkeren en natuurlijk is de klasse van kooplustigen (en dat is het merendeel van de bevolking) er niet van gediend om dit ceremonieel – dat de aanvang van het grote inslaan markeert – verstoord te zien door enkelingen die niet zozeer de kooplust, maar enkel de wijze waarop die gestalte geven wordt, willen bestrijden. In het huidige ‘anti-racisme debat’ is de essentiële factor van ‘klasse’ en ‘klassenmaatschappij’ steeds minder te vinden. Hierdoor wordt vaak meer aan het verleden gerefereerd dan aan het heden getoetst.

Waar zijn de demonstranten tegen de cadeautjesdwang, de overconsumptie gebleven? Die waren er ook in het verleden. Zal nog maar eens zoeken naar hun pamfletten, want naar mijn mening raakten zij de zaak van Zwarte Piet beter en in de kern. “De zak van Sinterklaas… o tsjonge, tsjonge wat een baas, daar stopt hij, daar stopt hij blij van zin, de hele, de hele de wereld in…” Heden ten dage gaat het letterlijk zo.

Eeuwen terug al hebben Protestantse regenten geprobeerd om een plaatselijke Sinterklaasverbod uit te vaardigen (de goedheiligman was immers tot lid van de Katholieke Kerk gebombardeerd). Maar het gewone volk dat zich het genot van ‘suikergoed en marsepein’ ontzegd zag, revolteerde! Wat was toen de rol van Zwarte Piet? Eerder die van een voor-christelijke duivelsknecht dan van een een Moor of Neger uit koloniale dagen (die woorden werden toendertijd onverbloemd gebruikt).

Alle culturen kennen de rituelen van ‘vraatzucht’, heden ten dage vermeerderd met de ‘koopzucht’, het afnemen van de onstuitbare stroom aan goederen die van de lopende band fabrieken in verre landen met zie ginds komt de stoomboot uit China weer aan, aangevoerd worden.

Rasse en Klasse, denk ik dan weer.

Wie heeft het over het lot van de uitgebuitenen in de Aziatische zweetfabrieken die onze Sinterklaascadeutjes produceren? Kijk maar naar het labeltje in al die kleding-op-een-koopje: Bijenkorf, C&A, Diesel, Esprit, H&M, HEMA, V&D, ZARA. (2)

Waarom maakt de Goede Sint geen omweg over de Amsterdamse haventerreinen langs de loods vol met cacaobonen van het Hedge Fund Amajaro, die 15% van de wereld-cacaoproductie in handen heeft en dat uit speculatieve overwegingen overal in de wereld opslaat in grote loods, zoals ook in de Amsterdamse havens. Waarom niet een wagenspel toegevoegd aan de stoet waar het verdrijven, de landroof, van de kleine cacaoboeren van hun akkers in Afrika en elders verbeeld wordt? Dat zou helpen om het chocoladeletter-volk te doordringen van de betekenis van hun eigen bij Dirk of de A&H gekochte initialen en de bittere nasmaak die die zouden moeten hebben. (3)

Wie heeft het over de expeditiemedewerkers hier ten landen die overuren maken? Wie geeft er extra suikergoed aan de vuilnismannen die al die dozen en al dat verpakplastic mogen opruimen op 6 december? Hoe ervaart het op de schopstoel zittend winkelpersoneel die inkoopwoede?

Ik denk nog steeds… rasse en klasse…

Die hele Zwarte Piet discussie is om te doen vergeten, dat het niet zo zeer gaat om ‘racisme’, als het aanwijzen van mensen met een andere huidskleur, maar over de combinatie van uitbuiting en huidskleur. Uitbuiting van mensen met een andere huidskleur als die van de uitbuiters (hoe bespottelijk en miniem ook dat verschil mag wezen; denk aan de trend in vele delen van de wereld om een lichter gekleurde huwelijkspartner als aantrekkelijk te zien).

Wie is de slaaf van tegenwoordig? Kunnen we haar, hem herkennen aan de huidskleur? Mij lijkt van niet.

Wel denk ik dat die hele route waarlangs Sinterklaas dit weekeinde zal paraderen, omzoomd is door slaven’…

… slaven van de grootwinkelbedrijvers, slaven van de kleinwinkeliers, slaven van de ewinkeliers…

Vrijwillige slaven? Gemanipuleerde slaven? Verslaafde slaven?

Wie zal daar tegen protesteren?

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(1) ‘Race & Class’ Journal, had a change of editor in 1974, with Ambalavaner Sivanandan, taking over the longer existing British academic journal ‘Race’ and changing its publishing policy. Sivanandan was a Marxist, but not of the communist party type… he had his own way of using Marxism as a tool for his idea of emancipation. Though, now and at the time I was often wary of the form of their kind of marxism, as it often failed – historically – to see the shortcomings of state socialsm as practised in may countries at that time, the fundamental position on ‘class and race’ they had, I did and do agree with:

“For the black man, however, the consciousness of class is instinctive to his consciousness of colour. Even as he begins to throw away the shackles of his particular slavery, he sees that there are others besides him who are enslaved too. He sees that racism is only one dimension of oppression in a whole system of exploitation and racial discrimination, the particular tool of a whole exploitative creed. He sees also that the culture of competition, individualism and elitism that fostered his intellect and gave it a habitation and a name is an accessory to the exploitation of the masses as a whole, and not merely of the blacks. He understands with Gramsci and George Jackson that ‘all men are intellectuals’ or with Angela Davis that no one is. (If the term means anything it is only as a description of the work one does: the intellect is no more superior to the body than the soul to the intellect.) He realises with Fanon that ‘the Negro problem does not resolve into the problem of Negroes living among white men, but rather of Negroes exploited, enslaved, despised by a colonialist, capitalist society that is only accidentally white’. He acknowledges at last that inside every black man there is a working-class man waiting to get out.”
[Sivanandan, Ambalavaner. 2008. Catching history on the wing race, culture and globalisation. London: Pluto Press. ; p.17; original article published in the year 1974; ]
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The same idea expressed in poetry, republished in one of the standard works of Franz Fanon, ‘Black skin, white mask’:

“I want to be of your race alone
workers peasants of all lands . . .
. . . white worker in Detroit black peon in Alabama
uncountable nation in capitalist slavery”

Hereby these lines in their full context:

“Africa I have kept your memory Africa
you are inside me
Like the splinter in the wound
like a guardian fetish in the center of the village
make me the stone in your sling
make my mouth the lips of your wound
make my knees the broken pillars of your abasement
AND YET
I want to be of your race alone
workers peasants of all lands . . .
. . . white worker in Detroit black peon in Alabama
uncountable nation in capitalist slavery
destiny ranges us shoulder to shoulder
104 BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASKS
repudiating the ancient maledictions of blood taboos
we roll away the ruins of our solitudes
If the fl ood is a frontier
we will strip the gully of its endless
covering fl ow
If the Sierra is a frontier
we will smash the jaws of the volcanoes
upholding the Cordilleras
and the plain will be the parade ground of the dawn
where we regroup our forces sundered
by the deceits of our masters
As the contradiction among the features
creates the harmony of the face
we proclaim the oneness of the suffering
and the revolt
of all the peoples on all the face of the earth
and we mix the mortar of the age of brotherhood
out of the dust of idols.

( cited by Fanon from Jacques Roumain, “Bois-d’Ebène,” Prelude, in Anthologie de la nouvelle poésienègre et malgache, p. 113)”
[Fanon, Frantz. 1967. Black skin, white masks; p.103]

(2) “Bangladesh and the Ethics of Sweatshops”; July 14, 2013 by Rashad Seedeen
www.inourworld.org/bangladesh-and-the-ethics-of-sweatshop…

(3) “Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa
The price of a lunchtime Twix can have a devastating effect on farmers in west Africa.” By Jeremy Harding
www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jan/29/chocolate-nations-c…

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Grotesque and hypocrite the new Libyan Government statement on the persecution of the alleged killers of Gaddafi. Stating that these could not have been regular opposition groups and that the new government knows the rules of war… and taking prisoners.

“With regards to Qaddafi, we do not wait for anybody to tell us,” NTC vice chairman Abdel Hafiz Ghoga.

 “We had already launched an investigation. We have issued a code of ethics in handling of prisoners of war. I am sure that was an individual act and not an act of revolutionaries or the national army,” the top interim official said.

 “Whoever is responsible for that (Qaddafi’s killing) will be judged and given a fair trial.”

What a lie, as both NATO and the insurgents – that became the army of the new Libyan government – have thrown tons of munition on any spot they thought Gaddafi would be at a certain moment. A fair trial of Gaddafi has never been on the agenda of neither NATO nor the insurgents, who became the new government. Only the International Criminal Court in The Hague lent itself to suggest that such a trial was a viable option, never protesting in public against the repeated attempted killing of their indicted trial candidates, Gaddafi and his close circle.

Photograph published in The Independent 2011/07/24 with this caption: "Nato planes bomb a Gaddafi compound in Tripoli last month. Air strikes by allied forces have become increasingly ineffective"

NATO and insurgents were out to kill all those months, but failed in spite of all the high tech devices put to the task. Now a few hot heads – which are necessarily part of any insurrectionist forces – finished Gaddafi’s life by hand, and they will be made into culprits, to wash the virtual bloody hands of NATO and the new  government.

Photograph published on the web site of the Daily Mail 2011/10/21 with the following caption: "Celebration: Rebel fighters carry a young man holding what they claim to be the gold-plated gun of Colonel Gaddafi which was taken from him."

It is sad that such distortions of reality  are published in the international press without any direct rebuttal.

Gaddafi should have been put on trial. His murder will hamper any attempt to cleanse Libya of decades of dictatorship.

It is most disturbing to notice that – apparently – distant killing by regular armies using state of the art guided missiles airplanes with remote sensing, and the like, is not conceived as murder and somehow a civil way of getting rid of an adversary, whereas traditional lynching on the spot or firing a gun at a victim at close range is perceived as a barbaric act that can be classified as a crime of war or murder.

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Two additional sources that give details on other summary executions of pro-Gaddafi forces  in the same town of Sirte, less in the picture than the person of Gaddafi:
– Media Lens: “Killing Gaddafi” 2011/10/27
– Human Right Watch report on Libya: “Apparent Execution of 53 Gaddafi Supporters” 2011/10/24

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A picture today in Aljazeera of the Green Square (1) in Tripoli struck me, it had a caption “People gather near a portrait of Gaddafi in Tripoli’s Green Square on Friday, before the explosions [Reuters]”. This news picture showed a huge street painting or print of Gaddafi and what seems to be a dwindling crowd around it. There is a fence around the picture that must be something like 50 by 250 meter in size. On the inside of the fence once sees guards posted at regular intervals. The picture shows Gaddafi in one of his hundreds of outfits, possibly the uniform of an air marshall  he wore when visiting the Italian president Berlusconi in June 2009. On the right side of his uniform jacket Gaddafi wears a gallery of medals and on the left the a photograph has been pinned on his uniform. The photograph shows the martyr of Libyan resistance Omar Mukhtar, the “Lion of the Desert”, on the day before he was hanged by his Italian colonial masters in 1931. A provocative statement for his host Berlusconi, who hugged  him nevertheless as he was about to make some big business deals with the Libyan leader.

The people around the fence at the Green Square in Tripoli in July 2011 look at the picture of this moment of theatrical revenge on the former colonial power, a picture that shows the leader completely, from his golden adorned cap to this shoes, with a saintly light blue glowing aura all around him. If one would not trust the strict editorial rules of Aljazeera and Reuter’s photo agency,  it could have been a photoshopped picture.

This made me think of the frontispiece of the book by Thomas HobbesLeviathan” published in the mid 17th century during the English Civil War, which describes the necessity of a sovereign authority to be accepted by all, to avoid ‘the state of nature’, everybody for themselves, a ‘war of all against all’ (Bellum omnium contra omnes).

For the sake of peace, the people, so did Hobbes argue,  had to make a social contract with an absolute ruler, best in the form of a king. The ruler in 1651 is depicted as an embodiment of ‘the people’. There is a crowd that marches from a landscape into the body of the ruler. The ruler has a sword in one and a crosier s used by priests in the other hand, showing he is in command both of state and church.


The display of the picture of the ruler as if he was a landscape, one could walk in, at the Green Square in Tripoli, has a similar function: Gaddafi as embodiment of the Libyan nation. Only, the aerial photograph unveils that it is but a meagre crowd assembled around their leader. It expresses how the maximum leader has inflated himself disproportionally to the feelings of embodiment by ‘his people’. In mathematical terms one can even speak of an ‘inverse proportionality‘, the more his popularity shrinks, the bigger his pictures.

The 17th century theory of state of Hobbes can still be used today, to understand the prolonged rule of dictators. There is some form of common interest, expressed in a social contract, by the ruler and his subjects. (2) How such a two dimensional state of affairs – ruler and ruled – may become a more diverse structure where more people can participate in the affairs of state, is apparently not well understood. The attempts of outsiders – like the Western coalition forces under NATO command – to kill the ruler have failed until now. Aerial bombing, even under the title of a UN mandate to protect civilians from attacks by their own ruler, are counterproductive. To deliver the idea of democracy to a nation does not work, or at least it takes many generations to wear off the effect of long distance destruction perpetuated by outside forces in one’s own country. (3) Interventionist regime change – as we witness for a few months now – does do little to empower the common people. Meanwhile, the ranks of the opposition forces are more and more filled with former supporters of the Gaddafi regime that try not only to evade the eminent purges after Gaddafi’s downfall, but also are preparing to continue the old rule, hidden under new revolutionary slogans.

The inflated picture on the pavement of the square of revolution in Tripoli of  the dictatorial ruler Gaddafi, serves more than one purpose. It glorifies him and at the same time it shows him as an ancient non-heriditary king who knows his days are counted when he hears the song in the streets: “the king must die“. (4) The ruler as scapegoat to cleanse the history of a nation. The ‘effigy of Gaddafi’  may serve an extra purpose, as a painting to be trampled on by thousands of feet in a direct release of anger , thus avoiding or diminishing the acts of revenge that accompany any change of regime.

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(1)  Green Square named so after the Green Revolution coup d’état of Gaddafi in 1969 (Arabic: الساحة الخضراء‎ As Sāḥah āl Ḥaḍrā), also known as Martyrs’ Square (Arabic: Maidan Al Shohdaa‎); a downtown landmark at the bay in the city of Tripoli. Mainly constructed during Italian colonial times. Named Square of Independence during the short lived Libyan monarchy (1951-1969). On February 20th an anti-Gaddafi demonstration took place here, which was harshly suppressed. One source, a mortuary orderly from Tripoli who fled to Tunesia, later told the BBC that he saw hundreds of dead and wounded be brought into the hospital where he worked: “Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.”

(2)  This phenomenon is explained in another way one century earlier (1548) – and with more foresight – by Etienne de la Boétie in his “Discours de la servitude volontaire” (The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude). Boétie notes  that “…the best and most virtuous man would not remain so if he ruled alone…” See also the study of David Lewis Schaefer “Freedom over servitude: Montaigne, La Boétie, and On voluntary servitude”, page 40, partly available at GoogleBooks.

(3) Incendiary carpet bombing of Germany, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, imprecise precision bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(4) See the famous chapter of Frazer in his book the ‘Golden Bough’: “Kings killed at the end of a fixed term.”

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‎”Kennis Nederlandse trainers over Kunduz lijkt beperkt” (knowledge of the Dutch trainers about Kunduz seems limited) is the headline of De Volkskrant daily this morning and I imagine how an ignorant Royal Dutch Marechaussee (military police) officer instructs the local Afghan police force: “Look that is how we do it in Holland!”


At the same time I imagine the improbable reversed situation of an Afghan military or police functionary training Dutch police officers at the Dutch Police Academy in Apeldoorn: “Do you understand?  That’s how we do it in Afghanistan!”


Should it be rather the Dutch politicians who need such a training before deciding to send a police training mission to Afghanistan? An impossible proposition almost for sure, because who would determine who would be the Afghan trainers for such a mission in the Netherlands, which fraction of Afghan society would such an instructor represent? Now we are ready to reverse this question and think about who has been selected in the Netherlands to train Afghan policemen. Or, can policing be made in something blank and objective non dependant on local standards and social complexities? I doubt it.

Photograph from: ourmediaindymedia.blogspot.com

Surprisingly the military  mission which is presented to the Dutch public by the government as only a civil-police training mission, has been supported by two opposition parties, D66 (Democrats 1966, a mid course party ) and Groen Links (Green Left, a mishmash of christian, ecologists and former party communists). Dutch peace activists protested in February this year by protecting with their own invented ‘Kurduz Police Force’ the Green Left Congress from Taliban intruders.

A photo documentation can be found here and there is also some apparently uncut video documentation at YouTube. A more formal description of the Dutch police mission to Kurduz in Afghanistan is at the Wereldomroep web site, the world wide broadcasting service of the Netherlands that because of its critical tone is now on the government lists of non-supportive media whose budget will be scrapped.

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Nasser speaking in Alexandria in 1956... click picture to see movie

A post by my Hungarian friend Attila Ara-Kovacs on Facebook pointing to an article in The Guardian about the youth of Alexandria protecting the new Alexandria Library against looters (“lawless bands of thugs” according to the librarian), did trigger a whole range of associations:

Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011.

Alexandria the city of popular upheavals for millennia against Roman pagan rule, against Roman christian rule, against French and British imperialists from the landing of Napoleons troops at the beginning of the 19th century to the French and British naval bombardment in 1882 and the Suez War of 1956… at the same time of the rising in Hungary and the Russian invasion. The Egyptians under Nasser where supposedly allies of The Soviet Union in those Cold War days… though Nasser kept local party communist activists neatly in prison.

An ancient obelisks from Alexandria, dating back three millennia, symbol of the all powerful rule of Egyptian pharaohs and – in disrespect of any idea of cultural heritage was given away in 1819 by Muhammad Ali Pasha to thank the Brits – enemies of his enemies for their interference against French Napoleonic occupation. Ali Pasha was a Turk general of Albanian origin of the Ottoman empire who had just declared himself ‘Khedive’ (vice-king) of Egypt and Sudan. The obelisk was taken and shipped  much later from Alexandria and almost lost on its way and can till this day be seen in London at the embankment of the river Thames. Later the Americans also did get their Egyptian obelisk as a gift by the next Egyptian ruler, Isma’il Pasha, in 1877 – the year of the opening of the Suez Canal – who wanted to play the Americans against the now en encroaching powers of France and Britain. This obelisk also came from Alexandria and now stands  in Central Park New York. The French did also get their obelisk from Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1826, this one  was taken from a temple in Luxor, it now stands at Place de la Concorde in Paris.  In a long range view of history, such symbolic gestures of royal gifts to stem imperial strive make sense. Was the founder of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina not one of the generals of another much earlier imperialist, Alexander The Great?

Ptolemaeus (367-283 BC), a Macedonian general, who used the icon of Alexander as a ‘trade mark’ on the coins of his new found Greek kingdom on the soil of Egypt… exploited the split up spoils of Alexanders wars of aggression against other empires, founding yet another one. He named himself pharaoh  and  was also the founder of the most idealised icon  of all libraries the ‘Museon’ with in it a collection of  mainly book-scrolls, later known as  ‘The Bibliotheca Alexandrina’. The new dynasty was expanding over neighbouring countries and held out three centuries to end up as a Roman dependency.

Alexandria has been a most important hub in Mediterranean trade, not only of goods but also a centre where different believe systems both came together and were fighting each other.  Pagans versus Christians and different schools of Christians between each other , while over time Islam took over almost completely and Jewish influence was constant, but marginal.  The history of rulers and upheavals in the town of Alexandria is sheer endless. These associations made me find today a fascinating book on the history of this town by  Christopher Haas “Alexandria in late antiquity: topography and social conflict”,  with several opening chapters freely available on the internet by GoogleBooks.

“The true criminals are the blood suckers… that sucked us dry”, Colonel Nasser is shouting from a balcony in Alexandria just over half a century ago… and I remember the war and the inflamed news of the Cold War  on the radio, from when I was just a boy of 12 years old. The bloodsuckers where the French entrepreneurs that started the construction of the Suez canal and the Brits that were first opposing  this new shipping route – because they had insufficient control of it – but later took over control and endorsed it. Main part of the work was based on Egyptian slave labour (“Egyptian blood ran in the canal before the water of the seas”). Nasser and his rebellious group of young army officers confiscated the Suez Canal in 1956 and send a wave of popular enthusiasm not only through the whole of Egypt, but throughout all of the Arab world. That attempts at canal building and the inclusive slave labour to realize it goes back till the time of the Egyptian pharaohs was left out of the revolutionary rhetorics of that time.

Click picture to see the news reel as a part of a documentary on YouTube

Has Egypt now been colonised by its own ruling class? Or is it only a neo-colonialist conspiracy with Mubarak as a puppet? The last option seems to be the most unreal one… So who are the true criminals now?

It seems that in the end each nation that has freed itself from the shackles of colonialism and even neo-colonialism, has enough exploitive creativity within its own ranks to keep on or recreate whatever forms of group exploitation. What we see is the demise of romantic ‘Third Worldism’, packaged in marxist, leninist, maoist or any other anti-imperialist discourse. The ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ may on the level of Gross National products economically by separate areas of the world, but within each territory this two-fold separation is reproduced once again. Each name of a leader we may know or learn during upheavals like the one in Egypt, is like a bastions behind which whole social layers of society who are profiteers and practitioners, hide themselves. The personal power of the Egyptian presidency from Nasser To Sadat en Mubarak may be comparatively speaking huge, a ruler and his or her rule is always carried by several layers of society, kept in a bond of reciprocal dependency.

Is being wealthy always a crime and poorness a virtue? Or can there be some form of creative connection between the classes to level out their differences, because too much wealth can not be consumed alone and needs to be shared. Is that maybe what democracy in Egypt and elsewhere should be about?

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Een van staatswege gecanoniseerde eenduidige geschiedsrepresentatie is een 19e eeuws idee. Het voorstel voor een nieuw Nederlands Historisch Museum in Arnhem is daarmee een 19e eeuws plan voor de 21e eeuw. Als er iets mis is met het historisch besef in Nederland dan hebben al die honderden al decennialang bestaande musea zich onvoldoende van hun taak gekweten en dienen we eerst uit te zoeken waaraan dat ligt. Een van de belangrijkste knelpunten is volgens mij het ‘huichelhollander’ complex: zich humaanvoelend en vooruitstrevend wanend in weerwil van enkel met de grootste moeite omzeilbare historische gegevens die weinig voedsel kunnen geven aan zoiets als ‘nationale trots’ en daarom verhult worden. De nu bestaande musea dienen eindelijk eens te beginnen om ook de keerzijde van het Hollands heldendom te tonen: de slavenhandel permanent in het Scheepvaart Museum, een aparte zaal over de Oost-Indische slachting en kunstroof op het eiland Lombok in het Rijksmuseum, de ontmaskering van de Batavierenmythe in het Allard Pierson, de gewelddadige aspecten van zowel Christendom als Islam in het Bijbels Museum, waarom Nederland de meeste Joden verloor in het Joods Historisch Museum en het Paleis Soestdijk met 2x de geschiedenis van de Oranjes: in monarchistisch en republikeins perspectief. – Ad Libitum. Kortom, geschiedenis als meervoudige waarheid. Geschiedenis die doet twijfelen. Geschiedenis als aanzet tot zelfstandig denken en handelen. Er zullen heel wat mensen zijn die dat weer ‘een tautologische stelling’ zullen vinden, geschiedenis kan immers enkel meervoudig zijn, maar… probeer dat de initiatiefnemers voor het aankweken van een ‘nieuw nationaal besef’ in de Lage Landen maar eens uit te leggen.

Aankomst der Batavieren in Nederland

klik plaat voor grotere versie

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