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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fateful distinction between history and prehistory

Latest of evidence of human life goes back to at least 80,000 years back and much farther if we include neanderthal and other earlier specie such Australopithecus as one of our ancestors. 

Human history is indeed a history of progress, a quest for mastery over nature. Its simultaneously a history of growing consciousness, of accumulated knowledge and its imitation. This is as old as humanity itself and this process will live as long as humanity lives.  

While talking about history, scholarly circles divides whole period of human history into two categories. History and Prehistory. Briefly history is the period that covers the time spam from first human settlements which emerged in area we call Levant(its arc which connects Iraq, Syria, Lebanon into Israel, what we also Fertile Crescent) in modern world. In fact in its much tighter and acceptable  definition, it covers the time period from first civilization, which emerged in modern day Iraq approximately 4000-4500 years back(Mesopotamian Civilization). All that happened before is dubbed into a second category, prehistory. Prehistory has this comprehensible negative connotation as age of wilderness and barbarism, for if history is a history of material progress and growing consciousness, breaking prehistorical period from historical period, make it a period, that seems like static, which not much happening in it, as it happened in history. 

The fact that only a chapter or two is entertained to prehistory in history of the world books, and how the whole scholarly attitude towards that period directly or indirectly conspire to associate such notions as backwardness and barbarism with prehistory has one fateful consequences. There is genuine political fall out of it. 

Man lived without any institutional authority for thousands of years before civilization. All institutionalized authority is the product of civilization. It started when some of our ancestors tempted by the growing wild grains and other crops, and how this mode of food was much easier to obtain and secure, felt it more in their interest to settle down than to chase animals. Eventually, as agriculture progressed, and man started producing extra food, what we can call surplus wealth, because food was only wealth at that time, it led to social differentiation. First was the differentiation in occupations. As some people got free from managing for the food  because food was in surplus and could be stored, started doing other type of work, which eventually led to the creation of crafts and other works etc. Al though this was indeed a  tremendous success of mankind but it did not come without a cost. It came at the cost of liberty. The increasing surplus eventually led to the creation of classes within human society. Those who could control more food could also control people and impose their will.

 Such a hierarchy which has been the hallmark of human politics and political consciousness of last 5-6 thousands years came with civilization. We live in a world where hierarchy feels natural as the only suitable political order. This is because we don't really know if man has ever lived without authority. We are unaware of the fact that for thousand of years, man in hunter gathering societies, and even in early small settlements was very much living in an egalitarian non hierarchical social and political order. By consigning prehistory to a category of redundant field, as something to be considered as exotic not to take inspiration from,  and with negative connotations attached to it has caused this massive lapse in people thinking about imagining alternative political order. Man takes inspiration from history. History that we study does not let us take any anti authoritarian inspiration. For all history we read is history of kings, conquerors, aristocrats, statesman  etc. All history is the history of authority told by authority. 

The fall out from this hegemonic status of history against prehistory is real. We just can not imagine the world in any other way than the way we know it has existed. The fact is that the man has indeed lived in a very different way and for a very long time. And such world was not barbaric nor was it essentially of life in it short brutish and nasty. The longest phase of art took place in prehistory during the time of second ice age from 20,000 BC to 10,000 BC. This is  longer than the life of civilization itself. How can we say that world was without any art so there is no inspiration we can take from it? That world did not have most of the diseases that we have. Indians who lived in Americas were pretty much in prehistory when Columbus arrived there. Interestingly they did not have most of the diseases which civilized man had and approximately 80 percent of Indians died due to such transmitted diseases because they had no immunity against them. And one can take so many pages to write about things which were part of the social and political lives of our ancestors and have very positive consequences for human life and its still relevant to take inspiration from them.  

Purpose of this writing is not to elevate one phase of human history over the other. Our history is one. Al though man has made tremendous material progress in last 6000 years. But it did not come without a cost. And most importantly, looking at so much material progress that has taken place, it does not necessarily means that what happened before settled life by default  becomes a "negative" thing  we are not supposed to take take inspiration from. My inspiration from freedom come from prehistory. For when i say life without authority is possible, its prehistory which provides me a living example for it. Something which study of history, with all its material development, would not let you image. For, along with material development, history of last six thousand years is also a history of war, murder and genocide. 

Errico Malatesta : About my trial: Class Struggle or Class Hatred?

Errico Malatesta

(Umanità Nova, n. 137, September 20, 1921)

I expressed to the jury in Milan some ideas about class struggle and proletariat that raised criticism and amazement. I better come back to those ideas.
I protested indignantly against the accusation of inciting to hatred; I explained that in my propaganda I had always sought to demonstrate that the social wrongs do not depend on the wickedness of one master or the other, one governer or the other, but rather on masters and governments as institutions; therefore, the remedy does not lie in changing the individual rulers, instead it is necessary to demolish the principle itself by which men dominate over men; I also explained that I had always stressed that proletarians are not individually better than bourgeois, as shown by the fact that a worker behaves like an ordinary bourgeois, and even worse, when he gets by some accident to a position of wealth and command.
Such statements were distorted, counterfeited, put in a bad light by the bourgeois press, and the reason is clear. The duty of the press paid to defend the interests of police and sharks, is to hide the real nature of anarchism from the public, and seek to accredit the tale about anarchists being full of hatred and destroyers; the press does that by duty, but we have to acknowledge that they often do it in good faith, out of pure and simple ignorance. Since journalism, which once was a calling, decayed into mere job and business, journalists have lost not only their ethical sense, but also the intellectual honesty of refraining from talking about what they do not know.
Let us forget about hack writers, then, and let us talk about those who differ from us in their ideas, and often only in their way of expressing ideas, but still remain our friends, because they sincerely aim at the same goal we aim at.
Amazement is completely unmotivated in these people, so much so that I would tend to think it is affected. They cannot ignore that I have been saying and writing those things for fifty years, and that the same things have been said by hundreds and thousands of anarchists, at my same time and before me.
Let us rather talk about the dissent.
There are the “worker-minded” people, who consider having callous hands as being divinely imbued with all merits and all virtues; they protest if you dare talking about people and mankind, failing to swear on the sacred name of proletariat.
Now, it is a truth that history has made the proletariat the main instrument of the next social change, and that those fighting for the establishment of a society where all human beings are free and endowed with all the means to exercise their freedom, must rely mainly on the proletariat.
As today the hoarding of natural resources and capital created by the work of past and present generations is the main cause of the subjection of the masses and of all social wrongs, it is natural for those who have nothing, and therefore are more directly and clearly interested in sharing the means of production, to be the main agents of the necessary expropriation. This is why we address our propaganda more particularly to the proletarians, whose conditions of life, on the other hand, make it often impossible for them to rise and conceive a superior ideal. However, this is no reason for turning the poor into a fetish just because he is poor; neither it is a reason for encouraging him to believe that he is intrinsically superior, and that a condition surely not coming from his merit or his will gives him the right to do wrong to the others as the others did wrong to him. The tyranny of callous hands (which in practice is still the tyranny of few who no longer have callous hands, even if they had once), would not be less tough and wicked, and would not bear less lasting evils than the tyranny of gloved hands. Perhaps it would be less enlightened and more brutal: that is all.
Poverty would not be the horrible thing it is, if it did not produce moral brutishness as well as material harm and physical degradation, when prolonged from generation to generation. The poor have different faults than those produced in the privileged classes by wealth and power, but not better ones.
If the bourgeoisie produces the likes of Giolitti and Graziani and all the long succession of mankind’s torturers, from the great conquerors to the avid and bloodsucking petty bosses, it also produces the likes of Cafiero, Reclus and Kropotkine, and the many people that in any epoch sacrificed their class privileges to an ideal. If the proletariat gave and gives so many heroes and martyrs of the cause of human redemption, it also gives off the white guards, the slaughterers, the traitors of their own brothers, without which the bourgeois tyranny could not last a single day.
How can hatred be raised to a principle of justice, to an enlightened spirit of demand, when it is clear that evil is everywhere, and it depends upon causes that go beyond individual will and responsibility?
Let there be as much class struggle as one wishes, if by class struggle one means the struggle of the exploited against the exploiters for the abolition of exploitation. That struggle is a way of moral and material elevation, and it is the main revolutionary force that can be relied on.
Let there be no hatred, though, because love and justice cannot arise from hatred. Hatred brings about revenge, desire to be over the enemy, need to consolidate one’s superiority. Hatred can only be the foundation of new governments, if one wins, but it cannot be the foundation of anarchy.
Unfortunately, it is easy to understand the hatred of so many wretches whose bodies and sentiments are tormented and rent by society: however, as soon as the hell in which they live is lit up by an ideal, hatred disappears and a burning desire of fighting for the good of all takes over.
For this reason true haters cannot be found among our comrades, although there are many rhetoricians of hatred. They are like the poet, who is a good and peaceful father, but he sings of hatred, because this gives him the opportunity of composing good verses... or perhaps bad ones. They talk about hatred, but their hatred is made of love.
For this reason I love them, even if they call me names.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

INTERVIEW: Dr Mads Gilbert speaks to Middle East Monitor

All Wars Are Unjust” (Jason Lee Byas)

From NL 1.3: “All Wars Are Unjust” (Jason Lee Byas)

The following was written by Jason Lee Byas, and included in the third issue of The New Leveller.
Jason Lee Byas
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have now decided to send at least 750 soldiers back into Iraq, to counteract forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. That these two men both ran Presidential campaigns heavily revolving around opposition to the 2003 Iraq War is all that ever needs to be said about electoral politics.
There are plenty of reasons why this particular military intervention is a bad idea. Yet what I want to make clear in this article is not only why this war or that war is unjust, but why all wars – in so far as they are wars – are necessarily unjust.
There are no good wars. World War II did crush Hitler and Tojo, but it also propped up Stalin and involved the deliberate targeting of civilians in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, and elsewhere. The American Civil War did crush the Confederate slave empire, but it also involved unspeakable acts of total war in Sherman’s March to the Sea, and the caging (without Habeas Corpus) of northern war resisters. The American Revolution did overthrow British imperialism, but it also involved the brutal tarring and feathering of perfectly peaceful British loyalists.
Defenders of these wars almost always acknowledge that these atrocities happened, and sometimes even agree that they were unacceptable. When pressed, they typically just respond “well, that’s war.”
They’re right.
All wars are unjust because they all involve the creation of a space where normal moral standards do not apply. Where people are immediately taken as legitimate targets purely on account of their uniform, which may have even been forced on them. Where, at best, the deaths of unarmed civilians are avoided, but shrugged off as inevitable whenever they actually happen.
The conclusion that all wars are unjust (or even that this or that particular war is unjust) is often resisted because people do not want to accept that veterans such as their loved ones (or themselves) were used for injustice. After all, they know them, and they know they are good people. This is an understandable emotion. However, it should be remembered that people on the other side of a given conflict are people, too. They also have friends, families, and communities that they believe they are fighting for. They have hopes, dreams, and memories just like those of the veterans you know. Of course, if people consistently remembered this, war would be impossible.
All wars are unjust because they all require the mass dehumanization of whomever one’s government judges to be “on the other side.” Racism, religious intolerance, and the most belligerent forms of nationalism, are all necessary to convince ordinary people to kill large numbers of other, equally ordinary people. Any and all pro-social instincts to respect the basic dignity of other people must be turned off.
Along with that racism, wars bring with them a culture of a macho hypermasculinity, homophobia, and general conformity toward violence. The disrespect for the dignity of those “on the other side” leaks over to disrespect for the dignity of even those “on our side” who aren’t judged to be sufficiently committed. The entire country starts seeing red, and that jingoistic fervor creates a pretext for waging a war at home to maintain the war abroad. Because war creates a moral vacuum where everything is permitted as long as it helps the cause, no one is safe.
All wars are unjust because they all involve the regimentation of the entire populace, not just the military. As mentioned before, British loyalists were brutally attacked by mobs in the American Revolution, and war resisters were locked up without Habeas Corpus in the American Civil War. In World War II, over a hundred and ten thousand Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated into internment camps – a decision that even J. Edgar Hoover felt was cruelty without reason. Our current war without end, the Global War on Terror, has ushered in mass-surveillance, the PATRIOT Act, and the targeting of Muslims (both by the government and by racist thugs.)
Even those who refuse to support the war despite that regimentation will be forced to support it with the products of their labor. Because wars are paid for by taxation, they conscript the resources of everyone living within the borders of the warring state. And there is no conscientious objector status that will get you out of paying taxes.
All wars are unjust because they all depend upon mass-theft. Money that free people acting in free association could have used on education, healthcare, food, or any other number of things that actually make life better is taken from them by force and given to the military. That money is then instead used on killing children before they reach the age of four, using weapons that cause birth defects long after wars actually end, starving out the “other side” to break their will, and other acts of destruction. The fortune this creates for military contractors, arms dealers, and other war profiteers is one of the main forces that keeps the cycle of violence going.
These features are not unique to Viet Nam, the first and second Gulf Wars, World War I, or any other especially unpopular war. They are the necessary features of all wars waged by all governments in all places. Each one of these factors is more than enough to unequivocally oppose any given war. It is for this reason that we must be prepared to say that we are “already against the next war,” not as a statement of probability, but one of certainty.

Communal Property; A Libertarian Analysis by Kevin Carson

Kevin Carson of Anarchist Libertarian think thank  Center for Stateless Society discusses communal property using village commune model in this very interesting paper.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fighting jihad for Israel Foreign fighters drawn from Europe and the US contribute to Israel's military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Documentary - Nafeez Ahmed - The Crisis of Civilization

In this, a rather very disturbing documentary, Nafeez Ahmad, challenges the notion of Industrial civilization and very concept of Industrial progress. After years of research on causes of violence, Nafeez Ahmad, a British scholar,  produced this documentary which tells us that violence is not  aberration, like, its not a hangover from man's barbaric part, but a very much part of modern civilization, due to the crisis embedded in Industrial civilization and modern capitalism. The crisis does not come from without, rather, its the very forces of Industrialization, destruction of planet and depletion of resources that is putting people at each other throat.