The misery of the Trump years suggests to sections of the population in the United States that a nostalgic look back at George W. Bush's tenure is perhaps appropriate. Bush has a new book out - paintings of veterans of his wars. He has been doing the talk show circuit, talking about his special friendship with Michelle Obama and his views on press freedom.
There is something surreal here. This is the man whose government pushed through the illegal war against Iraq. Last Sunday, Bush was asked about the war on Iraq on NBC's Today - 'I think it was the right decision', he said. About the US veterans, Bush said, 'I regret they got hurt'. Not one mention of the Iraqis.
At Alternet, I have an essay on the 'rehabilitation of George W. Bush,' which contains this section:
- It is one thing to curl one’s lip in disgust at ISIS and to sneer at the Eastern maladies of dictatorship and religion that seem to curdle the social worlds of West Asia. It is another to acknowledge the authorship of the United States in the destruction of nations in the region, and its role in the incubation of groups like ISIS. How does one even begin to consider that Bush?the instigator of the destruction of Iraq?is now considered to be an avuncular figure among liberals? It is a sign of his own anxiety that Bush decided to paint veterans. Perched in his study, he must ponder the cost of the war on those who wear the uniform of the United States. But there are no paintings of Iraqis, civilians, or soldiers. There is no mention of the million Iraqis who died as a consequence of Bush’s decision to conduct what the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called an "illegal war." Not one of the profiles in courage includes the Iraqis who collaborated with the U.S. occupation and now find themselves unable to enter the United States as a consequence of Trump’s Muslim ban.
You can read the rest of the essay here.
I've begun work on a book called In the Ruins of the Present. This will be a journey through the transformation of the world economy in the 1970s around the Global Commodity Chain - with factories broken up and reconstructed in bits and pieces across the planet and with mechanisation driving the process of production. Two competing ideological forces emerge to manage its outcomes of social inequality and joblessness - neoliberal policy and cruel cultural populism. Neoliberal policy was not able to manage the social consequences of inequality or of joblessness. Its own policies produced increased jobless growth or - in the years since 2007 - minimal growth at that. We are now in the age of cruel populism or what Pankaj Mishra in his new book calls The Age of Anger.
I spent twelve minutes on a radio programme recently talking about the first 45 days of the 45th president of the United States - Donald Trump (who is searching for his golf ball above). I tested out a few of these ideas, which you could listen to here. I'll be sharing more of this book as I write it in the months to come.
It was International Working Women's Day yesterday. A hundred years ago, in 1917, the Russian Revolution began on this day. At the LeftWord Books blog, we have short post that commemorates this day, including the translation by Barbara C. Allen of a rare pamphlet calling upon workers to join the protest. Please see it here.
Protests and celebrations took place across the planet - from the Women's Strike in the United States to the protests pictured above in Hyderabad. In Gujarat, three thousand anganwadi (public health care) workers and helpers were on a protest, when they were all arrested. They wanted basic increases in their livelihood and in their work conditions. The government was indifferent to their demands, but seized of the urgency to arrest them all.
In Delhi, a few days ago, Teesta Setalvad released her book Foot Soldier of the Constitution in a wide-ranging conversation with The Caravan's Hartosh Singh Bal. You can watch it here. This comes as the elections in Uttar Pradesh - India's largest state and the most populous province in the world (200 million) - are coming to a close. It appears - as the journalist P. Sainath has been saying - that the winner will be First Past the Post process. Margins are tight and mandates will be hard to claim. Teesta warns about the growing power of the Hindu Right. The UP elections will show whether they will have their power increased or checked.