The picture above is from the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey. I have used it because hours after the referendum in Turkey, people who voted No (Hayir) had already begun to compare the mood of resistance to the days of Gezi. I like the picture because it echoes the great Delacroix painting of 'Liberty Leading the People'.
Some people - right after the referendum victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan - began to say that Turkey's democracy has now expired. RIP Turkey was the signal phrase. It is an erroneous sentiment. Half of the Turkish people - despite immense voter suppression - voted against the changes desired by President Erdoğan. They have now offered the sentiment that they will resist his claim to transform Turkish politics into the presidential system. The hashtag that appeared was #HayirDahaBitmedi - It is not over yet is the sentiment. Keep an eye on the protests and their implications.
In The Hindu, I have a short report on the referendum, which you can read here. The last few sentences carry the despondency - and the buried parallel with India, for example - 'Turkey feels more and more socially divided. Mr. Erdoğan will not govern to unify. That is not his style. His policies ? like that of other Strong Men in the Age of Angerr — will more ferociously tear at the social fabric of this fine country'. Pankaj Mishra will find his book mentioned in these sentences (The Age of Anger). I will be reviewing it at length soon.
Between my last newsletter and this one, the United States dropped a massive bomb in Afghanistan. The picture above is from the US Department of Defense. It is the clinical depiction, from the aircraft, of the explosion in Afghanistan. This came just before the high drama over a potential military strike on North Korea. There was great tension, with the war of words from Washington and its allies as well as from Pyongyang getting very heated.
Paul Jay of the Real News and I spent about seventeen minutes right after the MOAB bomb was dropped on Afghanistan talking about the implications of that bombing and the missile strikes in Syria. We talked about these attacks as demonstrations of US power more than as attacks of any real military strategic value. You can watch our conversation here.
Over the past two months or so I have been writing a great deal about the way in which the media in too many countries has been adopting a strange narrative to understand world conflict and violence. I had shared a long essay called 'Violence Theirs And Ours', which was published in the fine website Jadaliyya. For my column this week at Alternet, I return to these themes around the question of the rogue state and historical amnesia. Is North Korea the threat to the world order or is it responding to a history of violence to which it has sustained? The research of Prof. Charles Armstrong of Columbia University - my contemporary at graduate school - is very valuable here. He documents the immense violence visited upon North Korea by the United States air force during active phase of the American War on Korea in the early 1950s. His research guides me to make some observations about rogue states and global threats, which you can read here.
A few years ago, I asked a retired Iraqi Air Force officer what it felt like to be bombed periodically by the United States in the 1990s. Whenever US President Bill Clinton felt irritated, I joked, he seemed to bomb Iraq. The officer, a distinguished man with a long career serving a military whose political leadership he despised, smiled. He said with great lightness – ‘When our leadership said something threatening those words itself were taken to be terrorism; when the United States bombs, the world does not even blush.’
Hope you find it useful.
We, at LeftWord Books, are gearing up for our annual May Day festivities. The bookstore is closed till the 24th for renovations, but our website is up.
At the website, our LeftWord Books blog has several new posts, which we hope you will read.
Please visit the LeftWord Books blog. We have a few new blog posts and more coming. We're happy to let you know about some of our new books that are out or on the way:
(1) Will the Flower Slip Through the Asphalt: Writers Respond to Capitalist Climate Change. I still love the blurb from the actor Emma Thompson, 'With the earth and its inhabitants under more pressure than ever before, and with bona fide climate change deniers in the most powerful positions on the planet, reading this book is essential. It informs and inspires the actions that we all need to take to protect ourselves and our homes. Read it, and after you’ve wept, act'.
(2) Rehearsing Freedom: The Story of a Theatre in Palestine, edited by Johanna Walin.
(3) K. A. Manikumar, Murder in Mudukulathur: Caste and Electoral Politics in Tamil Nadu.
(4) B. R. Ambedkar, India and Communism, with an introduction by Anand Teltumbde.
Don't forget to visit us on a regular basis. Tell your friends about us!
On that note, I hope you have an excellent week, one which makes you laugh at least one a day.