‘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.

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. ”

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

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 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

This interview and
accompanying videos is in two parts.




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

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.
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.

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.

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.

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,
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
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]. 

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

(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

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

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.

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

The African continent
is still
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”?

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.

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

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

when there is a demonstration, like the COP21, (global
climate conference in Paris
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

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.

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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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.

Colonial history in the French elections: Algeria, Le Pen, and fascism at the heart of Europe

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/04/2017 - 10:21pm in

Marine Le Pen's declaration that colonialism was a positive thing is not only a denial of France's painful history, but an example of the fascism that we now face in Europe.

Election posters of Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) and Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche. Picture by Alfred Yaghobzadeh/ABACAPRESS.COM. All rights reserved. When we see or hear evil we have a moral imperative to call it out. Otherwise evil seeps into our narrative, our media, our politics and our lives. The words uttered by Marine Le Pen – France’s presidential candidate on the eve of one of the most important elections in Europe – insisting that colonialism was a positive thing, are so fundamentally wrong. To then further precise that in Algeria in particular it was beneficial is an incitement to hatred, a blatant lie and the worst form of fascism that we now face in Europe.

The actual denial of France’s painful history in Algeria goes even beyond the amnesia of British colonialism. For young French people who are denied the truth about their past, actively lied to, this is a crime. And it is particularly so for the descendants of the Algerians in France, including for the pied noir families, who were all victim to this cruel and barbaric regime which ran for 132 years until 1962.

In the May 1945 uprisings following the Second World War, when Algerians who had fought to liberate Europe demanded their basic human rights, the colonial government brutally massacred 15,000 Algerians. 104 Europeans lost their lives. Wiping out entire villages, throwing people out of airplanes in a campaign of fear and brutal repression, the French violence was a turning point in the Algerian struggle for civil rights and justice.

Between 1954 and 1962 over one million Algerians were killed during the war of liberation. The extent of cruelty defies belief. Whether reading Alistair Horne’s seminal A savage war of peace on the sheer barbarism, Henri Alleg’s The Question on the institutional torture centres (he saw the internal workings from painfully close up) or listening to the stories of the descendants who saw their parents brutally murdered, disappeared, tortured at the hands of – no other than – the likes of Jean Marie Le Pen. Like his daughter, Le Pen was a French Presidential candidate, and is a man known to have committed torture in Algeria.

Colonial Algeria was a crime against humanity - from its bloody initial conquest to its brutal end. It is a crime which Algerians – astonishingly – have somehow been able to overcome. When the French left in 1962 there was one university in the country - one in which you would not find Algerians. Today there are 48 vibrant institutions, full of students with whom I have had many interesting debates in recent years.

In the almost impossible conditions of continued French terrorist actions at the end of the independence struggle, which saw the Secret Army Organisation (OAS), a right wing French paramilitary organisation, destroying any infrastructure they could get their hands on, including burning down the national library, Algeria rebuilt a nation. The liberation movement rebuilt the Algerian identity, re-designed an education system and rediscovered their proud and beautiful culture.

Listening to this injustice and Le Pen’s degrading comments will make life more difficult for young French Algerians in particular. It will hurt French people in Algeria and Algerians in France. It will break the bonds of friendship which still span the Mediterranean between the shores of Marseille and the coast of Algiers.

Marine Le Pen is playing a dangerous, deceitful and immoral game. And it is one which will ultimately hurt France and French citizens far more than it will damage Algeria. Algerians know their history, and despite all the pain and bloodshed, can be proud of it. As my Professor Olivier Roy once told me, there is no way we can compete: Algerians have a deep understanding of French and European culture, of the Middle East, of African identity. They can adopt multiple identities, build on multiple allegiances and access a multitude of information sources. This century will be theirs if they can manage a peaceful and democratic progression which includes all of Algerian citizens in a real reflection about the future of the country.

The equivalent unfortunately cannot be said in the context of the French presidential election, tarnished with corruption, racism and lies.

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