Algeria

Critical voices in critical times: Fanon, race & politics - an interview with Mireille Fanon-Mendès France (part 2 of 2)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/10/2017 - 8:52pm in

Mireille Fanon-Mendès France, activist, scholar, and daughter of Frantz Fanon, talks about the enduring relevance of his ideas and passions in contemporary political life.

Mireille Fanon-Mendès France standing by statue of her late father-in-law, Pierre Mendès France. By Linda Herrera, Paris, 2017In part 2/2 of her interview with Mireille Fanon- Mendès France, Linda
Herrera asks about the post-2011 migrant issue in Europe. This topic
bursts open a rich discussion about the politics of race,
neo-colonialism, parallels between Muslims in France and
African-Americans in the US, Black Lives Matter, the need for critical
education and the scope for more concrete forms of global solidarity.

The work and life of
Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), whose incisive and visionary work on
revolution, liberation, race, emancipation, and decolonization,
continues to resonate in these “interesting” times. Who better to
talk about the enduring relevance of Fanon’s ideas and passions in
contemporary political life then his formidable daughter, Mireille
Fanon-Mendès France. In addition to being an authority on Fanon,
Fanon-Mendès France is a scholar of decolonialism, UN expert on
people of African descent, legal advisor in a law firm in France, and
human rights activist
on Palestine

and other places where the right to self-determination is in
question. She also works on issues of land tenure in countries where
people were enslaved and indigenous people annihilated after
colonization. She is a member of the Frantz
Fanon Foundation
.
Her most recent article is, “Charlottesville,
un rassemblement, une question allant bien au-delà des Etats Unis.

Watch part 2 of the interview here:

 


The post-2011 wave
of migration is changing the political landscape in Europe. Do you
think any positive alternatives are coming from this phenomenon?

If we [make parallels
between] colonization and globalization, we could also make parallels
between enslavement and migrants. The migrants are the new slaves of
the globalization system, regardless of the reasons why they leave
their own countries. They are forced to leave due to war, famine,
lack of work, ecological disasters, or simply because they dream of a
different life. What is common to all migrants, is that they are
unwelcome in the host countries, and they are expelled from place to
place. In Paris, if you go to the 18th or
19th arrondissement
in the northeast you could see the police fighting the migrants every
day. They try to destroy all their belongings. Why do you think they
need to destroy their belongings, their modest belongings?
What do they have? One backpack with shoes and a shirt, that’s all.
They have nothing else. And they try to destroy everything as the
former slave [owners] had done with the enslaved. They
destroyed all their life as they were trying to flee. In a certain
way, these people are considered by this country as non-Beings. They
are dehumanized by the system.

It
is enough to listen to the national anthem "La
Marseillaise
."
Take these lines, for example:

Quoi!
des cohortes étrangères

Feraient la loi dans nos foyers!

What!
Foreign cohorts

Would
make the law in our homes!

And,

Que
veut cette horde d'esclaves,

De traîtres, de rois conjurés?

What
does this horde of slaves,

Of traitors and conspiratorial kings
want?

These
lines help us understand that French society has been built on a
xenophobic and even a violent perception of the Other. It has never
denied this construction. In this regard, it should be stressed that
in 2017, beyond the extremist attacks, the migrant has become part of
the “foreign cohorts" denounced in the Marseillaise. They are
the ones about whom the French ask, "What does this horde of
slaves want?” Because behind this xenophobia there’s a fear that
these “foreign cohorts would make the law in our homes!”

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights lies in tatters on the floors of national parliaments eager to restrict their obligations under the post-WWII achievements.

Just
remember what Marine Le Pen [in France] or Trump [in the US] said
about migrants during their campaigns. But it’s not only [the
populists on the right] who express this xenophobia. Everyone in
France forgets, or prefers to forget, that the government that
strengthened the laws against the migrants was a socialist
government. It was under François Mitterrand (1981-1995) with Daniel
Vaillant, who later became the
Minister of Interior (2000-2002).
We shouldn’t forget that. They began to stereotype the figure of
the migrant for problems of unemployment and security. These
policies reinforced the ideology carried in an anthem like La
Marseillaise
.
The demons of colonization, buried under France’s “official”
history, were brought into the light of day.

Above
all, the Western world should be ashamed that its so-called “first
world status” means nothing (and certainly not a descriptor of
enlightenment or humanity) in light of the treatment of those who
need the greatest help. Children drown in the Mediterranean,
“fortress Europe” closes its borders and members of the European
Union opt for militarized responses. All these acts will render
future generations aghast. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights
lies in tatters on the floors of national parliaments eager to
restrict their obligations under the post-WWII achievements. Do the
great legalistic and human rights achievements of post-war Europe now
apply only to those with white skin? For shame.

You
have headed the United Nations Working Group on people of African
descent (PAD). Can you explain the approach of France and other
countries towards PAD?

In
France they want to integrate African people into French society by
force, saying we are “métisse
(mixed race/ half-breed). This is when African people have children
with European people; the children are “mixed,” what they call
métissage
(crossbreeding). What does it mean to be métisse?
This is ideologically, philosophically and politically disgusting
because we are not “métisse.
We are who we are with our background.  The
richness of the world lies in encounters, in the approach of the
other, in the gaze of one to the other crossing in a perpetual act of
discovery and understanding. What the Americans, Europeans and other
people [who espouse whiteness] propose, is to maintain a system with
minimum connections. They want to control the skin color, they want
others to bleach their skin, follow their religion, and accept
Eurocentric modernity as the single cultural reference.

For them, using this
new category métissage
is a way to whiten “race.” Race is itself a socially constructed
concept that exists neither as a category of science nor nature. It
has even less validity as a legal category. The more “race” is
whitened, the more we forget the origins and cultures of different
people as we construct a narrative of “humanity.” This becomes
yet another way to render a portion of humanity invisible. Moreover,
the way métisse
is used, precludes an epistemological difference between those
descendants of the enslaved who have been “mixed” for
generations, and those who are “mixed” by means of [consensual
coupling] and marriage. It’s towards the latter that the nation
looks. They don’t want to reflect on a history of enslavement,
crimes against humanity, and the genocides committed against the
enslaved and their descendants. Here again, we are faced with
categories that separate people into “non-Beings” and “Beings.”

The more “race” is whitened, the more we forget the origins and cultures of different people as we construct a narrative of “humanity."

Take my background
for
example. My father is of African descent and my mother is from
Europe. That’s all. But I’m not “métisse.” 
My background is partly African and partly European. I personally do
not encounter problems because of the level of pigmentation of my
skin. For these people I’m like a white person, a “Being.” My
parents were doctors, I went to the university, I live in a bourgeois
way, etcetera. But for these people my African origin is invisible,
they ignore it. This is the perfect example of the structural racism
that begins to change your history. Thus, they change the narrative
of the structural racism by saying there is no longer structural
racism and hence, they can affirm, “We are not racist. We are in
favor of the metissage.”
But at all levels of the society we see the expression of
structural racism.

For example, laws are
differently applied according to whether you are in the French
metropole or in a French territory like the Antilles, Mayotte or la
Reunion, countries which are still under French colonization. There
are laws that specifically stigmatize people of the Muslim faith. And
really, that is a problem. But when you say that, people reply, “What,
are you crazy! It’s not true. You are an anti-white racist!” And
this is now the new ideology. If you criticize white supremacy it’s
because you are an “anti-white person.” If
you criticize the ideology of European-centric domination, you can be
accused of wanting to destroy society, or even risk being labeled a
potential terrorist.

But
it is the reality, and it is not new. Look for example at Brazil and
how they tried to whiten the people with
their many entreaties for the Afro-Brazilians to classify themselves
[as white].
At
first, many people were defining themselves as white, the conclusion
being that Afro-Brazilians were in a minority.
However, after
policies put in place by the government of Luiz
Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011),
and the installation of structures like the Special Secretariat of
Policies to Promote Racial Equality (SEPIR) and other positive
actions, Afro-Brazilians claimed their African origins in the 2011
census. Brazil woke up with an Afro-Brazilian majority population.
They accepted and recognized Afro-Brazilians, whether of African
descent and/or descendants of the enslaved.

This
was also done in Columbia and in different parts of Latin America
where white people in the minority have tried to minimize and ignore
the blackness of the people. And it is exactly what they tried to do
here [in France]. This
hierarchy of races that resulted at the time of enslavement, that
said that black would be less beautiful than white, continues in
different forms. The most terrible thing is that people have ended up
internalizing such false beliefs and have become the ideological
carriers of these beliefs in many societies. Some westerners maintain
an Afrophobia, and some Africans and people of African descent (PADs)
are willing to follow them for the sake of assimilation and
integration. This
is why they tried to develop the ideology and new philosophy of
the métissage.
It is not only a stupid policy, but a dangerous one because
they try to make Africans and PADs invisible.

Does
this concept of
métissage
apply to Arabs and Muslims of North African descent, or is this
strictly connected to people of sub-Saharan African descent?

People
of Muslim origin [from North Africa, West Asia, and the Levant], that
is something different because the dominant groups cannot invent a
new category for them. They are stigmatized regarding their
religion. And I think this Islamophobia is coming from the history of
Europe, and it is particularly true in France. We need to look to
France’s history of colonialism, its war in Algeria, and place in
Morocco. People of Muslim origin have been growing as part of French
society for a long time, but [the government was] not paying
attention. 

In
the past, about twenty years ago, I was a literature teacher in a
school in a suburb close to Paris. More and more people with migrant
or refugee backgrounds were in the classroom. Some of them were born
in France and a lot of them have gotten French citizenship. And of
course all these people grew up. Now they are adults. Some of them
are parents. They are French. The profile of the French population
has changed, totally changed. Suddenly they discovered, “Oh my God!
We are not anymore des
français de souche,”

or a country with French roots. In fact, it
means white roots, European white.

The recognition of the damned can only be carried out by the damned.

Look
around us. We are here in the Luxembourg Garden. I’m sure if we ask
anybody, if we make some inquiries, a lot of [people] will have Arab
or Muslim surnames. This is France now. It’s our face and we
cannot act as if nothing has changed. We have evolved and we have
been enriched by the cultures and traditions of each other. We are
open to the world, even if it happens with hostility.
And
they refuse to see that. They want to keep the white supremacy, but
we cannot go back. By producing laws against migrants and against
non-native French, they only reinforce nationalist and populist
sentiments and deepen the epistemic gap between groups of people they
consider to be unequal. Their main concern is to keep white
supremacy intact. But all of these people are French. They were
born in France and at this moment they can get French citizenship by
birthright, “droit
du sol
.”

These
people came [originally] from outside of France with their own
traditions and knowledge. The different French governments
ignored these traditions. It’s not like in India where if you go to
one part of a city you see one tradition, and on another side you see
another tradition. It’s possible to live side by side with
different traditions. But here, they don’t see the French
population in a way other than white Christian with a Eurocentric
perspective and culture. They cannot admit that because they see
themselves as the first Nation in the evolved world. There
is nothing else besides them. And even if they agree to say we are
all coming from Africa,  that is all. For them Africa does not
exist as culture with traditions and knowledge. Africans just emerged
to the modern world when the colonizer arrived. 

It’s
terrible, but these notions are deeply rooted in the minds of the
people. They refused to see the change, and now they’re surprised.
All these [different] people are there. And they want their place.
They want work. They want to have fun. They want to buy. They want to
live. They want to have a lot of things. They are very energetic,
very powerful people, but they are targeted for their religion. Now
they consider all these people not as French citizens, but through
their religion. And the Muslim religion is targeted as the enemy. And
for that, they give the reason of terrorism. But they don’t ask who
is building the extremism, and for what? It is better to speak
about extremism rather than terrorism. We have to refuse their own
wording.
These
people are exhausted. They will be in the street someday, and there
will be no mercy. I will use the expression, “they cannot breath”
in this country. They cannot breath. They are not allowed to live. 

Do you see parallels between the
situation of Muslims in France and African Americans in the US?

We
could make some parallels, but not completely. I know the situation
pretty well as we made a country visit, a mission for the United
Nations Working Group of People of African Descent. The situation for
African Americans is really more violent and difficult in the US.
Of
course we have police violence here. We have the death of young
people, but not at the same level as the US. We never had Jim Crow
laws, we never had segregation. I read the book by Michelle
Alexander, The
New Jim Crow
:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 
(2012).
We don’t have such laws. Of course, we have some laws affecting
parts of the society, but not at such levels as in the US. It’s
really terrible, absolutely terrible. Here
in France we can ask if we’re ready for such a movement, because
the level of violence is not the same as it is in the US. It’s
similar to the US but not at the same level. But
what is identical is that in one way or another the system protects
those agents of the State who commit these crimes.

In the US, there is
really institutional violence against African Americans due to
structural racism. Here, when they see a black person in the streets
they are suspicious. But they don’t arrest systematically. This
could [possibly] happen in France later down the line, but it’s not
the case now. That’s why I think it’s not really fair to try to
compare the African American situation and the African descent in
France. It’s something not similar. But
having said that, I wonder if I am assessing the situation correctly,
because
the situation of Muslims in France is something different.

Regardless
of
the level of violence, state violence exists in the two cases. In the
United States it particularly affects African Americans, and in
France it affects people of the Muslim religion, or people who are
perceived to be Muslim. Here again we must understand that this is
the consequences of the colonial wars and particularly that of
Algeria which has profoundly transfigured France.

Whatever
the differences we have, it is not a reason not to try to build an
international movement.
Since the rulers refuse to acknowledge us and our rights, we “others”
must build the movement for our “Being.” The recognition of the
damned can only be carried out by the damned.

Mireille Fanon-Mendès France, portrait by Linda Herrera
Frantz Fanon artwork by "Egyptian Leftist" https://www.gaberism.net

Do you consider
Black Lives Matter a political movement that can lead to social
transformation?

The foundation of Black Lives Matters is
very important, but I’m not sure it will become a political
movement. Right now, I don’t think it’s a political movement. But
I am rethinking my position. The
fact is that it’s an important movement because for the first time
in a long time, the primacy of the right to life of African-Americans
is being restated with clarity, as something non-negotiable. No
exceptions to this basic principle will be accepted, whatever the
reason. BLM has succeeded in creating a powerful relationship which
obliges the dominant powers—at the level of the nation and the
states—to recognize the need to inverse the policy of domination.
It is changing the power dynamics by bringing to the forefront people
considered by power as “non-Beings.” These are the people who are
killed without any reason or legal justification.

In
this sense, we can say that BLM needs to move forward, to go beyond
being a movement that
awakens people and raises
consciousness, to becoming a political party. The
determination shown by the organizers must be transformed into a
political force to question and change the paradigm of domination. It
should make proposals to achieve social transformation. These
initiatives would be carried out by
members of BLM and by their network of alliances which continue to
be built. It’s in this sense, for example, that an alliance
between BLM and the Frantz Fanon Foundation can be envisaged. We
should be doing projects together around the deconstruction of the
coloniality
of power
and knowledge, around political,
cultural and social relations, not forgetting our relationship with
nature. Frantz
Fanon invites reflection and action on these matters when he
questions the conditions of the emergence of the new human.

This
is the only way for all the damned to leave the peripheries, the
ghettos. We have no alternatives except to build zones of resistance
and to think of political and social alternatives to hegemonic,
imperialist, financial, military and elitist policies that exclude
more than three quarters of humanity. In this sense, we need to build
ourselves politically and it is this expectation that created the
emergence of a movement like BLM, well beyond the borders of the
United States.

In
your work and travels, do you see movements talking to each other in
the effort to build an international movement? 

Yes,
they are talking to each other.  Sure. And they discover some
similarities. I know many of them are willing to work together but
it’s complicated. But maybe we could see a global movement
against structural racism. Because really, if we don’t
defeat the racial racism, and therefore the structural racism, we
will never get the opportunity for social transformation. 
Because it is the basis of the system. Not only in France, also in
India. In India, it is expressed as caste. It’s exactly the same
thing. Race, class, caste, or ethnicity in Africa. If we don’t work
on that, on how “race” impacts class, gender and their
intersectionality, we will really miss the point. 

We have no alternatives except to [...] think of political and social alternatives to hegemonic, imperialist, financial, military and elitist policies that exclude more than three quarters of humanity.

Knowing
that this false concept of race has existed only relatively recently in
human history, it is time to deconstruct, at several levels, the
social organization of our societies in which "race" and
class are superimposed. I
recall here a quote from the critical sociologist Felipe Lagos Rojas
for whom race is « 
la première catégorie moderne, car elle permet de classer la
population à partir de différences phénotypiques, la couleur de la
peau en particulier, la différenciation et la subordination sociale
de certains groupes apparaissant comme l’effet d’un processus
naturel 
» (the first modern category, it allows the classification of populations according to phenotypical differences, in particular the color of the skin. The differenciation and social subodination of certain groups appear as the effects of a natural process.) [1]

Thinking
about the role of education, what authors do you recommend who can
help us understand our condition and find affirmative avenues for
change?

I
think the work done by decolonial studies—not postcolonial
studies
but decolonial
studies—is important. But of course it’s very small. Enrique
Dussel, Walter Mignolo, Aníbal Quijano Boaventura
de Sousa Santos, Frantz Fanon, of course, Nelson Maldonado-Torres and
Lewis Gordon​.
Let’s
see, did I miss someone?

What about Aimé Césaire?

Aimé Césaire
yes. Discourse
on Colonialism
 (Discours
sur le colonialism
,
1955) is really a huge masterpiece. But, Césaire
also participated in the “assimilation movement,” particularly in
Martinique and Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean French islands. When he
was member of the French national Assembly, he worked in 1946 on
drafting a law for departmentalizing. That law, (LOI no 46-451
adopted
19 March 1946), classified
Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and French Guiana as French
departments. Since then, these departments have been under colonial
rule and have not yet liberated themselves.

Since this time,
these islands have had a direct relation, deeper than before, with
the French metropole. The people became more and more alienated. And
now if you are going there it’s like a postcard. You can see the
people with a lot of cars and so forth, but they don’t have a good
life because they are excluded from the system. … It is French now,
an overseas département 
and région (DOM-ROM).
The French civil service used to send white people to this island. Of
course, we cannot say it’s explicit, but their project is to whiten
the population of the Caribbean island. It is a perfect example of
post-colonial colonization and it is related to what I tried to
explain about métissage.

For
all that, Aimé Césaire remains an important thinker of
decolonization and negritude. He is also a magnificent poet and man
of letters. I dare say that unfortunately, as an anti-colonialist, he
did not go far enough in his decolonial action. This may be the
difference with Frantz Fanon. 

Regardless of the level of violence, state violence exists in the two cases. In the United States it particularly affects African Americans, and in France it affects people of the Muslim religion.

But
getting back to education,
I think it’s not only students we have to educate, not only young
people because the problem is not coming from them. The problem is
coming from the elites, from political, intellectual and media
elites. And they are responsible for the place where we are in now. It
is them we
have to educate. And when you see how this Emmanuel Macron is
coming—he has an education, he’s a technocrat, but he
is not educated
.
I’m sure he never read Césaire.
I’m sure he never read about the decolonization of knowledge, about
the poor, of being poor, the problems of the globalization system,
this violent system.

How, on the
epistemological level, can we build a real [human] Being, not a
non-Being. Because right now we have [in the global system] some
people who are “Beings,” and a large part who are
“non-Beings”—for different reasons. And our work at the Frantz
Fanon Foundation
 is
to work, to think, and to make visible, the reason why it is so
difficult to build a “Being” regarding the system we have in
front of us. As we work with others on the same topic who take a
similar approach, we learn how to build solidarity and a thinking
movement oriented
towards building the world of the Other, of the dignified human.​

Gloria Anzaldúa
​ has written, “We
are all wounded, (​...) we can connect through the wound that
alienated us from others. When the wound forms a scar, the scar can
become a bridge linking people who have been split apart.[2] 

Let
us be the healing of the wound.

 

[1]
Felipe
Lagos Rojas, “Hegemonía, heterogeneidad, clasificación social:
hacia un programa latinoamericano de sociología cultural”,
in: Persona
y Sociedad
,
vol. 22, n°3, p. 45-65, 2008, p. 60-61.

[2] In The
Gloria Anzaldúa Reader
,
edited by AnaLouise Keating, 303-317. Durham: Duke University Press
quoted by Nelson Maldonado Torres, in Outline
of Ten Theses on Coloniality and
Decoloniality,
 October 2016; http://frantzfanonfoundation-fondationfrantzfanon.com/article2360.htm

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Critical voices in critical times: Fanon, race & politics - an interview with Mireille Fanon-Mendès France (part 1 of 2)

Critical voices in critical times: the partition of India – lessons learned, an interview with Rajmohan Gandhi

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Richard Coughlan Refutes the Claim that Muslims Will Outbreed White Europeans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/09/2017 - 12:00am in

This is another excellent video from the vlogger and stand-up comedian, Richard Coughlan. In this one he utterly destroys the video that has been going around, and been promoted by the far right, that within a few years Muslim immigrants will outbreed the traditional western European inhabitants of Europe. This is part of the general ‘Eurabia’ scare, again heavily promoted by the racist and Islamophobic right, that due to the massive disparities between White European and Muslim birthrates, Muslims will soon become the dominant ethnic group in Europe, with Whites a minority in their own countries.

Coughlan goes through the statistical claims made in the video, and refutes them with the real statistics. At one point he shows that instead of Muslims immigrants to France having eight children for every one White French child, the real figure is much lower. Most Muslim immigrants to France come from Algeria, where the birthrate is actually 2.1, which isn’t far off the European average birthrate of 1.6 or whatever.

He also demolishes the claim that Muslims will soon outbreed ethnic Germans. The video does this by cherrypicking bits from an official demographic report compiled by Herr Rademacher of the German statistics department. Rademacher’s now joined the EU statistics department, and has made a statement about the abuse of his statistics in the video. He states that the real figures are much less, and that there is absolutely no chance of Muslims overtaking Germans. He is also understandably quite angry about his figures being so abused.

He also makes the point that rather than having just arrived in Britain fifty years, Muslims have been around for a very long time. He states that the first record of a Muslim in Britain dates from the 8th century.

Coughlan’s an atheist, and concludes the video by pointing to the video’s own ending, where it urges its viewers to share the Gospel. It is, according to him, a piece of fundamentalist Christian propaganda. He does this to attack those right-wing atheist vloggers and pundits on YouTube, that have promoted it, and criticizes them for using such a Christian piece of religious propaganda to support their anti-Muslim bigotry. As an atheist, he considers one equally as bad as the other.

I am very definitely not an atheist, and have absolutely no problems with any Christian wishing to share the Good News. However, this video is not about spreading the Gospel. It’s about creating a sense of impending panic and racial fear, a fear that can only lead to more extreme nationalism amongst White Europeans, religious and ethnic friction and violence.

I have therefore put this video up, because these pernicious demographic lies have been circulating for several years now, and are at the heart of much EDL and BNP propaganda. Both of these groups have claimed that due to the rise in the European Muslim populations, there will be a race war in the next decade as the Muslims seek to impose their dominance on the country by force. At the last election one of the Kipper politicos in Wiltshire had to resign because he repeated this vile lie.

‘Bomber’ Fallon and the Merchants of Death Arms Fair in London

Mike today has put up a piece over at Vox Political commenting on Michael Fallon’s speech yesterday at the DSEI arms fair in London. Fallon, who earned the monicker ‘Bomber’ because of a speech in which he declared that Britain had a moral duty to bomb the peoples of the Middle East, now went on to say that, thanks to Brexit, Britain’s future as the world’s leading arms exporter looked good. And that we should try to sell armaments to anyone in the world, regardless of morality.

Mike makes the point that Fallon’s comments are insensitive, coming as they do when Britain is selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which is using it to kill innocent civilians, including children in schools and madrasas, in Yemen. And Saudi Arabia has no qualms whatsoever against using such armaments against us. 17 of the 19 people involved in the 9/11 hijacking were Saudis, and the trail of responsibility for that atrocity goes right up to the top of the Saudi government itself.

http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/09/17/warmonger-fallon-wants-the-uk-to-sell-arms-to-anyone-who-wants-them/

This weekend’s Counterpunch also carries an article by Michael Dickinson, ‘Stop the London Death Fair’, about the DSEI trade fair and its dealings with some of the world’s most evil and repressive governments. It begins

Roll up! Roll up! Ballistic missiles and hand grenades! Drones, helicopters and warships! Rocket launchers, tanks and assault rifles! Welcome to the biennial London Arms Fair! Showing now until 15th September at the Excel Centre in Docklands, the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEI) – “a world-leading event that brings together the defence and security sector to innovate and share knowledge” – presents one of the world’s biggest arms bazaars, displaying the latest high-tech arms and surveillance technology, crowd control and weaponry. This year the exhibition is split into five key zones: air, land, security and joint, all showcasing the latest equipment and systems. DSEI is organised by Clarion Events, with extensive cooperation from the British government.

Military personnel, politicians, private defence contractors and consultants mingle as they shop. Countries accused of war crimes and human rights abuses, Algeria, Angola, Colombia, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, the UAE, and Ukraine are among the invited. Although not an official guest, the Israeli arms industry has special pavilions at the venue, where over 34,000 visitors are expected to view the latest in killing weaponry for sale, exhibited by more than 1,600 arms companies, including the US and UK giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and BAE Systems.

With authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and Azerbaijan among the official UK government guests in attendance, this year’s keynote speakers at the opening day conference included British Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and many of the top brass in the UK military establishment. Fox said that overseas governments had an inaliable right to defend themselves and that if they could not buy the equipment they required from developed countries with effective controls, like the UK, they would look elsewhere. Last year Britain’s arms export industry turned over 3 billion pounds.

Andrew Smith, a spokesman from the activist group Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said: “DSEI is one of the biggest arms fairs in the world. It exists purely to maximise arms sales. Prime Minister Theresa May and her colleagues may talk about promoting human rights but DSEI could not happen without the full support of government. A lot of the regimes in attendance have been linked to terrible human rights abuses, and events like DSEI only make them more likely in future. It is vitally important to spread as much awareness as possible of this terrible arms fair taking place. ”

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/15/stop-the-london-death-fair/

Conservative governments, including Margaret Thatcher’s, keenly supported the British arms industry, and this policy was taken over, along with just about everything else, by Tony Blair and New Labour. It’s hardly surprising. George Orwell remarked when he finally gave up his anti-War stance in the face of the Nazi threat, and went to work for the BBC writing anti-Nazi and pro-war material, that if you’re a member of the British upper and upper middle classes, you’re bred for war. This has always been true, ever since the modern armed forces emerged from the military aristocracies of the Middle Ages. The officer elite has always been solidly middle class, although there has been some efforts to make it more diverse.

The government has tried to defend its massive support for the arms industry by arguing that arms sales open up foreign markets to British industry generally. After buying some of that ‘wonderful kit’ David Cameron enthused about, foreign nations would go on to buy other British products and services. But they don’t. They buy British weapons, tanks and other pieces of hardware, and nothing else.

And the British ruling class, its politicians and senior civil servants, also stand to benefit personally from the arms trade. Private Eye for decades has exposed the revolving door between the MOD and British defence ministers, and the arms industry, in which British generals and officials find very lucrative places on the boards of defence contractors and arms manufacturers once they retire or leave office.

As for the private military contractors, previously known as mercenaries, that the British government has supported, these have been used by the Tories to give unofficial support to regimes, where it would have been otherwise embarrassing for Britain to send in the regular army. Like Sri Lanka.

It hardly needs stating that the arms industry is a deeply immoral trade, and that by lauding Britain’s role in it Fallon has shown the complete absence of any kind of moral consideration for the victims of these weapons and a complete indifference to the nature of the regimes he intends to sell them to.

As far as he’s concerned, war is a business. And business is good.

Close down the arms fair, and kick out Fallon and the rest of his vile government.

Critical voices in critical times: Fanon, race & politics - an interview with Mireille Fanon-Mendès France (part 1 of 2)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/09/2017 - 6:03pm in

Mireille
Fanon-Mendès France, activist, scholar, and daughter of Frantz Fanon, talks about the enduring relevance of his ideas and passions in
contemporary political life.

The Fanon artwork by Gaber at http://gaberism.net/ portrait of Mireille Fanon-Mendes France by Linda Herrera.

The work and life of
Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), whose incisive and visionary work on
revolution, liberation, race, emancipation, and decolonization,
continues to resonate in these “interesting” times. Who better to
talk about the enduring relevance of Fanon’s ideas and passions in
contemporary political life then his formidable daughter, Mireille
Fanon-Mendès France. In addition to being an authority on Fanon,
Fanon-Mendès France is a scholar of decolonialism, UN expert on
people of African descent, legal advisor in a law firm in France, and
human rights activist
on Palestine

and other places where the right to self-determination is in
question. She also works on issues of land tenure in countries where
people were enslaved and indigenous people annihilated after
colonization. She is a member of the Frantz
Fanon Foundation
.
Her most recent article is, “Charlottesville,
un rassemblement, une question allant bien au-delà des Etats Unis.

We met in the
Luxemburg Garden in Paris on
June 9, 2017 for
a conversation about Fanon, populism, race, migration, policing, new
social movements, and education. Above all, we pondered if and how
the kind of emancipatory movements that rose with such force half a
century ago during the anti-colonial and civil rights movements,
could have a chance in an era of policed and neoliberal
globalization.

This interview and
accompanying videos is in two parts.

 

 

 

How is the work
and writing of Frantz Fanon relevant today?

What
Fanon began to do as an activist, psychiatrist, and journalist, was
to find the way to free the people from alienation, colonial
alienation and, in the case of Fanon, social and mental alienation.
He was not alone. We have to underline, he was not the only one doing
that. In the 1960s there was a movement. We can think of [Patrice]
Lumumba (1925-1961), and also Steve Biko (1946-1977). But he was the
only psychiatrist linking his professional practice to his activism
and his thinking. We can speak of Fanon as
thought in action, this is one of his unique features.

[These figures] tried
to free the people of alienation, but they did not succeed [in
completing] the process of liberation. What they got was the
liberation of people, but not their emancipation.  We have to
think now about how to get the emancipation of people in order to
have a free Being, non-alienated, emancipated, and non-racialized,
non-stigmatized for reasons of skin color, gender, sex, class,
religion, or whatever the reason. And that’s why the work
introduced by Fanon is still relevant. Because in fact, his work is
not done. He thought about the first steps of this process of
emancipation. He was thinking about issues like women, and role of
the veil among Muslim women. He was thinking about what does it mean
to be a Being? The question of universality. Is there a real
universality or a “colonial universality”? Is it a “decolonial”
universality, or colonial? Until now, there is only colonial, not a
decolonial universality. We need now to find answers to all these
questions he raised.  

We [have to be
cognizant] that we are asking these questions from within a
financialized and militarized system that took shape after World War
II. This system tends to [divide humans] into “Beings,” and
“Non-Beings.” This universality we speak of denotes a colonial
perception of the world. In fact, it has become clear that the
capitalist world was built on a series of lies which are being
constantly repeated. They become truths through the international
community and its multilateral institutions, and also by a large part
of civil society.

There has been a
continuous wave of uprisings and popular movements around the world
since the Arab Uprisings of 2010/2011. Do you think we are in an era
of emancipatory movements, or are they something else?

In most of our
societies, people are ready to carry on and work for social
transformation, to break the divide of Beings / Non-Beings [but they
don’t know the way]. The financialization of the world
unfortunately even negatively impacts the way people live and think.
I think now people want to see some change, but I don’t think they
want to have political change. They want to see change for [the sake
of] change, but not for a strong project for social transformation.
[That’s
why I think] people don’t
care about social transformation. I really think they only care about
some small change at the political level. For example, to be able to
watch someone else on the television, [different from] the formal
politicians we have in France, the US, and other countries. We
are no longer in a society that fundamentally values human
emancipation. We are in a society of illusion, built from the past
but with more cynicism.

It
is in this narrowing space, in this time of decline, that populist
movements emerge. It’s very dangerous because these [populists] are
not in favor of the people. They are in favor of a certain part of
the society, and particularly in favor of the Being. Their concern is
with rich people, the powerful people, and how to keep the power
between them. Their objective is not to share the power, to see for
example, a participatory democracy, the application of fundamental
rights or environmental [issues]. They are not concerned about these
things. They give us just some carrots to eat. But just some very
small carrots to say we are happy, and it’s okay. But really, they
are just concerned with how they can keep the money and use the
system to work more in their favor, for their own profit.

You
can take the last US and French elections as examples. A lot of
people voted for Trump. He is a very dangerous person, and absolutely
unpolitical. He knows nothing about fundamental rights, not even
about human rights. Really, he does not know anything. He is very
focused on himself and his family. And in France there’s Macron.
He’s just a technocrat. He does not know about politics either. I
think the people who elected Trump and Macron made a huge mistake.
And for me, I am now hopeless. I don’t see how we can transform
this kind of situation. It will take a long time.

This
type of election has an impact on the mental health of a society. The
members of society feel themselves dispossessed of their intelligence
and of their right to think. The
question becomes, how we can find a space where thought can be
reconstructed and people allowed to think? In the meantime, we are in
a depressed state and somewhat hopeless.

In France, many
people supported Emmanuel Macron for president even if they opposed
his policies. They considered the far right National Front party,
Marine
Le Pen
,
more dangerous.

 I disagree
totally with all these people who were saying we should vote for
Macron because we don’t want Marine Le Pen.  If we decide to
vote for Macron in order to avoid having Le Pen as president, it
could be a solution. But then we [would have needed] to negotiate
with Macron, to say, “We are not in favor of your policies. We
refuse your policies. But we know we need to be behind you in order
to avoid Marine Le Pen.” But without any negotiation, the people
gave Macron the carte
blanche
.
And now Macron considers that the people support him. And he’s very
happy with that. He’s doing political games. Politics now is like
an internet game, [trying to have stories go viral]. 

I’m
sure he’s absolutely not aware about African descent here or what
it means to be racialized in this country where there is this stupid
slogan, “vivre
ensemble

(live together). That means absolutely nothing. They have individual
projects for their own interests, not for the good of the people. We
really shouldn’t wait for anything [positive] from them. Presidents
like Trump, Macron, and many others around the world, are very
destructive.

At the same time
as the rise of “anti-political” populists, we also have the rise
of more left-leaning figures like Bernie Sanders in the US and
Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France. Do you think they represent a
different kind of political project with possible emancipatory
elements?

For
me, Mélenchon is absolutely not at the same level as Bernie Sanders.
I don’t know Bernie Sanders very well, beyond what I read, but if I
make some comparison with Mélenchon, I can say Mélenchon for me is
not an alternative.
I do not see in him any real change of approach, or something
substantially different than what we have had in government for
decades. He’s
a nationalist, a chauvinist, and sometimes expresses curious
understandings of Islam and the Arab world. And even if during his
presidential campaign he took some lessons to appear politer and
[more politically correct], in fact, he has a background of verbal
violence. By this I mean he is
above all oriented by a “white” perception of the world, shaped
by European Modernity.

He’s
not concerned with [suffering] people and he does not know anything
about Africa. He knows of course about politics in South America, but
not about the largest part of the population, those Non-Beings in
South America. And here I’m speaking about people of African
descent. He knows nothing about the continent of Africa and nothing
about Asia, about India. He repeats things like, “China is the
enemy.” No, China is not the enemy. We have to deal with China. We
have to work with China to build a decolonial and social approach,
and not an approach based on hierarchy and domination.  For me,
this moment is really like a nightmare and every morning I ask
myself, “Oh, how is the world today? Is it the end?” Not in terms
of armed war, but in terms of war against the human being.

How has France
remained intertwined with countries of the African cont
inent?

The African continent
is still
under
colonization. We just have to note that it’s a new form of
colonization. It is under colonization not only by former colonizing
countries, but by the IMF, the World Bank, European Bank, European
commission, the European Union. Europe pays the salaries of the
functionaries of the African Union and imposes bilateral agreements
that are unfair and wrong.

One of the reasons
[France] is a rich country, though we have a lot of debt, is because
of the money given by the African states to manage their
own money
.
[This money is] coming from Africa. … And it’s terrible. 
Francophone states in Africa are obliged to pay a kind of tax from
colonial times. If they don’t, they are expelled from the CFA
[franc currency] system.Nobody thinks about that. And there is not
one current president from these 14 African countries ready to say to
France, “Ok, stop now. Enough is enough.” And really, they have
to do that if they want to work for their populations. Because by
accepting [these conditions], they accept that France transnationals
and private funds can plunder Africa’s natural resources without
any redistribution. You can see how transnational capital succeeds
with the help of [African] states to plunder the natural resources
and steal the lands. You see this in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda,
throughout southern Africa. It’s terrible to see how the population
is expelled from their lands in the interest of just a few. This
plundering partly explains the high level of poverty. Europe, the
“white world,” needs Africa’s and South America’s natural
resources to live. It needs to continue to do what it wants and to
exploit the world for its own profit. 

We need a strong
African continent in order to balance political international
relations and to have a real third force. We need a third force. We
cannot leave these [destructive] Occidental countries to do what they
want, to bring war everywhere. Because they put all people in danger
and they push the world to its fall.

Mireille Fanon-Mendes France, 2017 Picture by Linda Herrera.Do
you have ideas about how to build a “third force”?

It’s
always difficult because if there is something on Africa, it’s not
coming from Africans. It’s coming always from abroad, from the
“experts.” If you go to Africa you will find lots of people who
can speak about the future of Africa. They have projects. They have
political ideas. And they’re absolutely able to think about their
future. But the former colonizing countries do not want to see such
people. They don’t care. More or less they are considered as
enemies. And related to that, one of Frantz Fanon’s concerns in
the beginning of 1960s, the main objective and obsession for him, was
how to build African Unity without the former colonizer. Otherwise,
if you maintain the former colonizer in one way or another, you are
still under colonization. And it is the reality now. This continent
is still under colonization.

How can returning
to the work of Fanon help us to tackle some of these contemporary
issues in Africa and beyond?

Fanon is helping us
because he forces us to not renounce the project of emancipation. He
forces us to go further and continue his work. In fact, when you
read, The
Wretched of the Earth

(1961) or L'an
V de la révolution algérienne

(1959) (A
Dying Colonialism
),
there is some thinking on the evolution of the coming world, but via
the African continent. He anticipated that if the African continent
did not build unity, their liberation movements would fail. And this
is exactly where we are [today]. And that’s a problem also because
the African continent is not the continent we need to balance
international relations.

But
now, I don’t know how we can proceed. Really, I don’t know. It’s
a difficult situation. Here in France we are under a State of
Emergency. It means our private and public liberties are really
reduced and anyone can be arrested. For example, if someone here
passes and understands we are speaking about emancipation or
whatever, and he misunderstands something, he can go to the police.
We could be denounced. And we could be arrested under the fiche
S

[as a threat to national security.] And with no access to a lawyer
for 72 hours.

And
when there is a demonstration, like the COP21, (global
climate conference in Paris
in
November-December 2015), a lot of people [roughly 200]  were
arrested, without any reason. Without any tangible proof, just based
on denouncement, suspicion. And people are afraid. The consequence
now is that people are afraid to be engaged. It takes a lot more
courage now to be engaged. That wasn’t the case before, it was much
easier. Today to be active requires
a double commitment: a commitment to solidarity, but also a
commitment to be willing to give up your freedom for the collective
good.

There
is also an anxiety that permeates this elitist and financialized
world order, that of losing one's work or of never finding work to
begin with. And this is especially true for young people. Most
of the people are living with anxiety. And in this way, the dominant
class succeeds to win and to impose the kind of life they want, to
control the people.

I’m
thinking, related to Fanon, what Fanon said about colonization and
how it affects the colonized people. Now, we are in the same
situation but not because of colonization, but because of
globalization. They succeed to maintain in all of us a high level of
anxiety, of fear. For example, walking in the public space we don’t
know if we will have an attack, or whatever. And then there’s the
instability with work, the difficulty to get good healthcare, a
quality education for your children, whatever. At every level of life
you are under anxiety. Because with globalization, if you are out of
the globalization system, you may
be considered or feared to be out,
totally out of life. And for people, the most important thing is to
be maintained inside this globalization system. It’s functioning
exactly like the colonized system. I think really, we have to think
like that—what Fanon said about colonization, how it could be
applied to the globalization system. Really very intelligent
(laughs). It’s just because we have an interview [I came up with
this idea]. I did not think about this before that.

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Critical voices in critical times: the partition of India – lessons learned, an interview with Rajmohan Gandhi

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ALGERIA: Think Tank Proposes Universal Basic Income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 07/08/2017 - 6:19am in

Several Western and European countries have been seriously considering Universal Basic Income recently. Numerous countries already have social programs that supplement individual incomes for select groups, such as unemployment compensation, food stamps, or housing income, but none have a program involving basic income for every individual. The think tank NABNI (French acronym for “Our Algeria Built on New Ideas”) laid

The post ALGERIA: Think Tank Proposes Universal Basic Income appeared first on BIEN.