Bir soru bir sonuç

Bu sabah karga geldi, kondu, “Mübeccel” dedi, “Samiye” dedi, uçtu gitti. Biz bu söylediklerinden şunları çıkardık:

Bir trafik kazasında hayatını kaybeden altmış yaşındaki gencecik oğlu Selahattin’in yasını tutan, daha önce hiçbir seçimde oy vermemiş Mübeccel nine bir sabah kalkıyor ve “HDP’ye oy vereceğim” diyor, daha sonra görüştüğü bütün ahiret arkadaşlarına da “HDP’ye oy vereceksiniz, yoksa iki elim ahirette yakanızda olur” diyor. Niçin? Çünkü bu kararını aldığı sabahtan önceki gece uykusunda yıllar önce kaybettiği eşi İsmail Hakkı dede ona “Mübeccel, oyunu Selahattin’e vereceksin”, demiş.

SORU: Kestane pazarının girişinde, yerde, kaldırım üstünde satılan yazarı belirsiz “Rüya Tabirleri ve Tefsirleri” kitabından dahi habersiz Mübeccel ninenin eylemi mi devrimcidir, yoksa HDP’ye oy vermememin haklı olduğuna kendini ikna etmek için aylardır kendi kendine konuşan, aylardır kendi kendine yazan, sanki bugünlerde bir seçim yokmuşçasına, mezarlıktan geçerken ıslık çalar gibi aylardır abuk sabuk yazılarıyla okurunu kandıran, eğitimi için emdiği devasa boyutta toplumsal kaynağı sadece ve sadece, küçük ama küçücük kariyer hesapçığı için çarçur eden bir oportünistin eylemi mi devrimcidir ?

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İlk oyunu 1950 seçimlerinde Adnan Menderes’e karşı İsmet İnönü için kullanmış ve o gün bugündür, kapatıldığı dönem hariç, her seçimde CHP’ye oy atmış olan 84 yaşındaki Samiye nine, hiç kimse kendisine tek bir sözcük dahi söylemediği halde dupdururken bugün “Kılıçdaroğlu tamam, ben Demirtaş’a oy vereceğim, yoksa bu adam gene kazanacak” dedi.

SONUÇ: Recebin komünistlerine layık oldukları küfürü bulabilmek olağanüstü bir hayal gücü istiyor. Onlar için, “artık bu kadarını da haketmiyorlar” denebilecek düzeyde bir hakareti bulabilmek olağanüstü bir hayal gücü istiyor. Ne yazık ki o da bizde yok.

What are the costs (social and environment) of divesting from fossil fuel companies? A personal view from “climateer”

Introduction

While opening Café Politique on Tuesday 28th April 2015, Holly Flynn-Pierce noted that this event had been solely organised by a graduate student of Ustinov College, namely myself, a PhD student in Political Geography and affiliate researcher of the Durham Energy Institute. In my opinion, this discussion was a landmark debate — all three speakers gave an excellent account of three similar opinions about Divestment from fossil fuels. It is true that intellectual curiosity as an academic has been the main reason for investigating so-called ‘discourse’ on the Divestment movement. I also feel a responsibility to perform a role — as an academic, as a poet, and as a global citizen.

This blog appears exactly one month after the Café Politique event for a few reasons. I hope that this blog post acts as a follow-up to discussion about Durham’s Divestment from fossil fuels campaign; to pick up the discussion from where ‘we’ left off; to offer further clarity about the arguments raised. This blog also appears exactly one month before I perform poetry at the Empty Shop, Durham, on 28th June 2015 on the theme of global fossil fuel use and climate change. This live performance will take place as part of the Footprint Modulation initiative hosting live commentaries, performances and debates exploring climate change, global justice and human displacement.

Finally, this is a blog post by me; not representative of the entire Divestment from fossil fuels campaign; not a representation of the ideas of the three academic speakers at Café Politique; not a voice on behalf of others in Durham who are either a part or yet to become a part of the general debate — although many of these camps might agree with me. I aim to raise awareness on this debate and call for others to continue raising the profile of the campaign in Durham, which is a city not only historically of huge significance to ‘energy politics’ in the UK but home to a leading academic institution in both physical and human fields of geography.

Divestment at Durham a month ago

One month ago I introduced my research briefly on European imaginaries of Arctic space, which I explore through analyses of energy and climate change discourse. The exploration of ‘discourse’ — in the popular sense of the meaning — is interesting because it indicates the significance of politics in relation to energy and climate security issues that everyday people face as highly influential actors like national governments and fossil fuel companies seek to address them. With regard to energy and climate security, many agree that the stakes are unbearably high as the human population continues to grow and ‘develop’ at an unprecedented pace while growing carbon emissions lead to rising degrees of global warming and climate change.

With regard to Durham and the UK, the stakes are no different. This is why I organised a panel of speakers to discuss the Divestment from fossil fuels movement, which had originally spurred attention in the USA but thereafter gained momentum across the world and strongly in the United Kingdom. All three speakers were aware of the importance of popular discourse in the run up to the next major United Nations intergovernmental conference on climate change. Many participants were excited to hear that the Divestment from fossil fuels movement has been promoted by the UN itself, while media companies like The Guardian newspaper in the UK contribute to popularising the movement.

One month ago the stage was set for a discussion on whether Divestment at Durham University could lead to social and environmental costs. Most interestingly, the three speakers constituted a plethora of public positions: two professors; two Durham University graduates; one former oil industry exec; one ordained priest; and all writers of published material on the theme of energy and climate change. Thus presentations were varied and included Professor Jon Gluyas’ on energy production; Mr James Leaton on carbon financing; and Professor Michael Northcott on the political theology of climate change. Presentations were followed by questions from the audience in an informal setting comprising members of the public, climate change financiers and academics such as the Principal of Ustinov College, Professor Glenn McGregor, a respected climatologist.

Divestment of fossil fuel industry stocks

Professor Jon Gluyas was the first to mention how, in 2014, Glasgow University became Europe’ first university to divest its fossil fuel stocks. Glasgow is one of 800 organisations to do the same on the basis that emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels has raised the atmospheric content from 260 particles per million (ppm) to today’s 400 ppm with consequent climate change. Thus, he concluded, the fossil fuel industry is considered to be at blame and the aim of the movement joined by Glasgow is to remove the mandate for business of multi-national fossil fuel companies.

However, the movement raises important questions: is Big Oil (gas and coal) to blame? If the campaign is successful, will emissions be reduced? Will national energy security be compromised? Will energy poverty increase? Climate science demonstrates that emissions from fossil fuel burning have increased atmospheric CO2 while studies of the geological past have also proven that high atmospheric CO2 content drives mass extinction. Many would therefore ask, if continued use of fossil fuels would appear suicidal, why continue? Firstly, fossil fuels are energy dense and humankind craves fossil fuels’ cheap energy for purposes of development and future sustainability. In other words, the use of the short term use of fossil fuels brings huge benefits.

One other key argument by the Professor is the geopolitical fear of restricting the power of multi-nationals corporations in the face of competition to control the world’s fossil fuel markets. The general sentiment for this argument is stopping the production and supply of fossil fuels from multi-national companies would lead to the further monopolisation of the industry by ‘unscrupulous’ nationally-owned companies that already own rights to around 90% of global oil and gas reserves. In other words, Gluyas believes that the emasculation of companies like those targeted in the UK will have no effect on carbon emissions because supply will continue under demand and power will shift to companies uninfluenced by scientific evidence or public concern, which will decrease energy security and increase energy poverty.

As citizens hoping for a transition to a future dominated by renewable energy the Professor argues that we must use the technology of the big oil and gas corporations to geo-store CO2 and develop near zero carbon geo-thermal energy. Based on his own research at Durham University, Gluyas estimates this could cut 40% of of the UK’s emissions in twenty years and possibly even go carbon negative in 50 years. Gluyas voiced these arguments earlier this month in University World News, namely that the human race is dependent on fossil fuels and that multi-national corporations are essential to our own British society, both to address the balance of power in the world energy markets and to ensure research goes ahead to curb future carbon emissions.

How to make capital flows fit within the carbon budget

James Leaton from the Carbon Tracker Initiative, London, draws on discourse in fields of economic and climate science, which tells us that the remaining carbon budget to give the planet a chance of limiting warming to 2°C clearly exceeds the coal, oil and gas in the ground (see Carbon Bubble report). Even optimistic projections of CCS application only increase the carbon budget by 14% to 2050. If this can be implemented economically to new emissions sources it moves the dial but does not change the fundamental conclusion that some fossil fuels must stay in the ground compared to business as usual projections of consumption.

This climate logic has prompted those investing in fossil fuels to start questioning who the winners and losers will be. This discourse founds Leaton’s presentation on ‘how to make capital flows fit within the carbon budget,’ which argues that all fossil fuels are not equal in terms of cost, carbon intensity, potential substitution, and geographic distribution, which is why the energy transition towards a low carbon future is a complicated financial challenge we must all work hard to address. Such a provocative economic analysis is much needed today, especially with regard to forcing governments and other influential institutions to take seriously the repercussions of investing in an industry that contributes towards a ‘carbon bubble’ about to go bust.

Leaton’s presentation explored coal and oil, which are two of the most productive forms of energy with the highest output of carbon emissions. Both energy sectors provide insight into understanding the implications of the fossil fuel industry on the rest of the world in terms of economic growth and stability while also factoring climate change reduction. Regardless of whether Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a viable solution to carbon emissions it is still ‘late to the game,’ Leaton says, because the cost of applying this technology to new streams is too expensive. Essentially, the most challenging assumptions about the current status of fossil fuels relates to the future of the energy sector: does this include electric vehicles? Is storage technology viable?  What are the costs of renewables? How do we factor international developments like Chinese peak coal demand on oil volatility, climate change reduction or GDP growth rates?

With regard to the cost of Divestment at Durham from an economic perspective the movement appears logical as governments and other influential institutions have shown signs of moving away from high cost carbon projects and collectively aiming to meet carbon emissions reduction targets. As demonstrated by the Bank of England putting climate change on its research agenda, regulators are starting to recognise that the financial system is crucial to make a smooth transition in the public sphere but is this must be complemented by other positive changes. The economic logic behind the ‘carbon bubble’ discourse thus favours an active Divestment from fossil fuels.

A political theology of change

Professor Northcott’s presentation depicted the energy and climate change discourse occurring on different levels of political awareness and activism. Northcott’s  main theoretical claim is that national and international politics and modern political theory are ill suited to the global emergency that is humanly caused climate change. Those nations most responsible for causing it have become rich on the back of fossil fuel extraction and use while nations already suffering from human-influenced extreme weather have had few of the fruits of this great twentieth century economic bonanza. This inequality of gains from the fossil fuel industry is most evident in countries like Somalia, Eritrea, Syria and Mali, which are home to major sources of migrants to Europe in the wake of experiencing dramatic declines in crop productivity due to enduring drought and raised temperatures.

However, fossil fuel owning nations refuse to consider restraining fossil fuel extraction. Instead the UN framework convention on climate change process around climate change focuses on emissions, which Northcott likens to ‘shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.’ With regard to Divestment at Durham, Northcott agrees that the movement rightly understands the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. On the other hand, the movement targets private multi-national corporations and investors as if they are the sovereigns of fossil fuels. The Professor’s presentation argued vehemently for the need to see the reality of politics of energy and climate change, which in reality is governed by nation states licensing fossil fuel extraction within their territories.

The theoretical point Northcott argues is worth noting with regard to the Divestment movement, namely that targeting fossil fuel stocks and companies as opposed to government licenses to extract fossil fuels colludes with a larger neoliberal tendency to downgrade sovereign power. Discourse on neoliberalism is used by nations like the UK to promote private capital and consumer decisions, which divert attention from the true essence of their sovereignty. As noted in A Political Theology of Climate Change, this misidentification can be traced back to the political theology of John Locke who identified the nation state’s core role to protect productive use of ‘nature’ by farmers, miners and others.

The neglect of the spatial aspect sovereignty is now endemic in national and international politics as Carl Schmitt first argued in his important book Nomos of the Earth. Climate change reveals again the wisdom of the ancients in linking sovereignty with territory by Previous identifying sovereignty of nation states with rule over a boundaried terrain. One must therefore exercise caution when naming and shaming multi-national corporations only because in a world where neoliberal development has become the status quo governments should be held accountable for private activity in the energy sector and not the other way around.

One month later

The most relevant points raised on the 28th April 2015 can be divided into three core discourses: the need to work with the fossil fuel industry (to use its technological expertise, its political influence on the international stage and its will to facilitate sustainable growth in the developing world) versus the need to cut our losses with the fossil fuel industry (to stop investing in an unviable economic project, to start investing in carbon neutral technologies) versus the need to address the real culprits of the great carbon emissions (i.e. nation states). All of these embody a ‘contested terrain’ in the public sphere.

As Professor Gluyas mentioned in reference to Durham as an historic contested terrain in its own right, the coal industry used to be taxed by the Prince Bishop whereas during the peak in coal combustion in 1991 over three hundred million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted from the UK, which amounts to the equivalent of Saudi Arabia’s total oil reserve. Combined with Professor Northcott’s political theology critique of the Divestment movement it seems that although there is a huge will to act on climate change it seems prudish not to assert that nation states are to blame for the current situation the developing world find themselves in.

Ethical considerations call for direct action against fossil fuel corporations that seem to sanction ‘Tar Sands,’ ‘BP blowouts’ or other scandals concerning the destruction of local environments and indigenous communities. With due respect to these controversial issues the Divestment movement is a worthy cause, indeed, but governments must also be held accountable. Moreover, Leaton and other experts in the financial, insurance and business sectors are right in calling for Divestment from the fossil fuel sectors in light of climate change reduction targets — though a huge portion of investment logic is influenced by government intervention.

In a world where capitalist growth and social welfare are depicted by governments as complementary policies the Divestment movement adds a sharper critique to nation state itself by calling for direct action from across a plethora of positions within the public sphere. So far these have included the academic sphere, faith sphere, financial and business sphere — and, as we will hopefully see by the end of the year at the COP21, the political sphere. Solutions vary according to contested understandings about the fossil fuel industry and its role in energy and climate change politics. However, what is certain is that climate change is a problem we need to solve together, which is why global Divestment movements are important in raising awareness of an alternative position to the existing status quo and applying pressure to intellectuals, policy-makers and investors in our collective future.

One month from now

In about one month Durham will host the Footprint Modulation, which comprises a bunch of exciting talks, performances, live film screenings and poetry readings organised local artists, transition activists and academics from Durham University. Academic discussions about forced migration due to climate change and the  effects of a steady increase in climate change follow a similar initiative called Ice and Climate, which was held this month in Newcastle as a collaborative project between the Life Centre and Durham University. This level of scientific engagement with the public  is essential to raise awareness of climate change using a wider platform of interactive forms. Similarly, Divestment at Durham as a social movement requires the same degree of curiosity to understand the likely repercussions of breaking financial ties between the public sphere and the fossil fuel industry, which equates to heeding the climate change problems we face across the world.

Being a poet and a scientist in the field of energy and climate politics I would argue that my own perspective on ‘social change’ remains steadfast within ‘discursive formations’ or ‘social structures’ that emerge from an understanding about problems different groups face. Thus Café Politique, Ice and Climate, and Footprint Modulation    projects have a great deal in common — they rope different subjective views together in order to harness the greater understanding of the problem that is atmospheric climate change. Sitting in our own ‘academic silos’ is not beneficial in the long run, the Academic Director of Kaleidoscope once told me at Ustinov College. And academic structures are no different to those existing in the public sphere at large, which is why calls for public engagement is vital to legitimise science, policy and decision-making with regard to investing in the fossil fuel industry.

The poem that I am writing and performing in one month explores one hundred years of fossil fuel use and its subsequent impact on the natural and social world. The syllabic structure mirror the growth in years and metaphorically reflects the carbon particles per million amassing polluting the atmosphere as the world ‘develops’ under the weight of its threatening need for growth. More importantly, my work features alongside other contributions from a rich multitude of artists, academics and leading public figures who want to connect the public sphere in a collective movement  to solve climate change. I am therefore very pleased to be among those who will be present in Durham throughout the Footprint Modulation project and encourage any future projects dedicated to raising awareness.

Community Food Growers Network Summer Gathering

CFGN Summer Gathering 2015

Organiclea, Hawkwood plant nursery, 115 Hawkwood Crescent, Chingford, E4 7UH (Directions here)

Sunday 28th June

12-4pm

For more information/questions email cfgn@riseup.net

www.cfgn.org.uk

www.organiclea.org.uk

– – – – – – – – – –

The Community Food Growers Network has four seasonal gatherings a year where growers meet to garden together, share skills, have lunch, see different food projects, and discuss ways to act together on relevant issues.

This year’s summer gathering will be held by one of the network’s founding members-  Organiclea at their 12-acre Hawkwood nursery site in the Lea valley.

The summer gathering is the most social one of the year- and a great chance to meet community food growers and find out more about how the network supports each others projects whether you’re looking for land or an old hand!

*** Growers are invited to bring produce to sell on the market stall as it is the monthly Organiclea open day.

Please contact Kristen on 020-8524-4994 or kristen@organiclea.org.uk by Thursday 25th of June to find out more and express interest. ***

The plan for the day is:

12-1.30pm: 10 year salad rotation skill-share

Ru from Organiclea will lead a session on considerations for designing a salad rotation leading into a practical task on the Hawkwood salad terrace.

1-1.30pm: Wholesome Food Association workshop

Established in 1999, the Wholesome Food Association is a network of growers, processors, suppliers and distributors of authentic, locally-grown, wholesome food. Our ethos is based on affordability, good growing practice, trust and common sense.

Come and talk to Tess of the WFA to find out more and see if the WFA is right for you.

Welcome

1.30-2.15pm: Lunch

Growers often bring food to share and celebrate harvests!

2-2.30pm: Introduction to CFGN & Community Food News

A short discussion about why and how the network of community gardens works, how to get involved and future plans.

Sharing news from different community food project and introduction to members.

2.30pm: John Clare site tour

A tour of the 12 acre site around the orchard, bee hives, salad terrace, greenhouse, vineyard with a John Clare twist! John Clare was a 19th century poet who has the acclaim of, “the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self”. (Jonathan Bate)

3pm – 4pm Slam poetry session

A first for a CFGN gathering; bring a poem to share if you fancy!

East London Rising

AANThe Anarchist Action Network is appealing for funds to help it put on a temporary anarchist space in East London during the first week of August 2015.

The network, which consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield, says: “During the first week of August we plan to rent a space in East London, give away free food every day and hold workshops, talks and discussions about anarchism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, feminism, ecology, housing, austerity, workplace and claimant struggles.”

The event follows the AAN’s Newport Rising event last year – see this report on indymedia.

To donate what you can to help make East London Rising happen, go to http://gogetfunding.com/east-london-rising

The fight is on to save Dorset County Hospital’s children’s ward; updated.

Sabo CatA group of around 30 mothers came together today for a flash demo at Vespasian House, Dorchester, outside a meeting of the Clinical Commissioning Group. The protest, which was self-organised through social media, is over a plot to close the Kingfisher children’s ward and Special Care Baby Unit at Dorset County Hospital and move the service to Poole or Bournemouth They were supported by a member of the local Unite community branch and the driver of a bus stopped to show his support.

The protesters were met by someone calling himself an ‘engagement director’, who suggested a small delegation might be admitted to the meeting – and get fobbed off by a gang of suits – but the women were having none of it. The Unite rep told him: “Looks like you’ve got a Spartacus situation on your hands”

Picture from Dorset Echo
Picture from Dorset Echo

We hope the campaigners will stick to their guns and not allow themselves to be split up, intimidated, or worse, co-opted by political interests. The most effective movements come from the ground up. More on this as it develops.

The hospital’s website says: “We have a philosophy of family–centred care in which we see each child as an individual as well as being part of a family.” And: “We encourage parents to stay with their child and there are no restrictions on visiting times.”

Residents in West Dorset are suffering from cuts to their bus services that make it hard enough to get to Dorchester let alone Poole or Bournemouth, there is no longer an evening service and some villages have only two buses a day.

A recent attempt to flog off the pathology service at the hospital was foiled after a public outcry.

West Dorset’s M.P. Oliver Letwin is the author of ‘Privatising the World’ and Britain’s biggest enterprise; his blueprint for selling the NHS.

A fair writeup from Dorset Echo

SMT respond to staff survey with inaction plan

Commitment to providing clearer misdirection and avoidance

As part of the 2014 staff survey, (one member of) staff said they wanted SMT ‘to have one voice and provide clear directions and guidance’; Led by Learning had provided a list of soundbites but staff wanted more detail about the direction of travel along the corridors and avoidance of the real problems.

As a result, over the past few weeks in particular, the SMT has spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how to prevaricate and dodge. I’m pleased to say we now have a plan of inaction that we intend to develop and grow over the coming weeks and months and seasons and years and years and years …

Part of this plan will involve SMT providing obfuscating information about the future ambition of the University and developing the University’s vision into strategic themes and other meaningless phrases. More frequent updates will update senior and executive staff process updates. The plan will also involve SMT doing things differently; facilitating better two-way communication so that staff remain too scared to say what they really think. This means providing more opportunities to ask innocuous questions of the SMT but also providing different forums so that staff can sound off amongst themselves without ever getting anything done.

We will be developing a wide-ranging range of broadspread activities but we also hope staff will want to organise their own, join in with activities organised by their local Staff Group of Yes-men/women (find your local poodle), or perhaps volunteer to sit quietly and behave yourself on the University’s Senate.

Here’s a poison taster of what’s coming up but keep an eye on StaffSpace for more empty promises:

Monthly open meetings with SMT 

Starting in June different members of the SMT will be holding a monthly open meeting so that interested staff can come and be told how grateful they should be. The first meeting will take place from 10-11am in the Clattern Lecture Theatre on Tuesday 30 June. Both Ratty and I will be hosting this first meeting but other rat-faced members of SMT will take it in turn from July.  More details will be available on StaffSpace nearer the time.

Learning at Work Week: 18-22 May 

For the first time ever in the history of the world, the University is taking part in a national week of despondency at work and organising a series of activities under the theme ‘Screwing your Future’.  On Wednesday 20 May, I’ll be leading a session at Kingston Hill and then encouraging staff to be good and tell each other how happy they are down the caff. Set up in a networking exhibition format, staff will be able to move around the Business School at Kingston Hill discussing and learning how Ron Tungnutter will make the University a hellish place to work.

Welcome to the Hell of Kingston University 

Human Resources will continue to run quarterly indoctrination programmes for new staff to help them settle into the University, network with colleagues they would normally be too overworked to come into contact with, and to better understand the University’s propaganda. In future the Vice-Chancellor plans to hold small 6am breakfast meetings with new joiners and in June we will start moulding staff ambassadors to spread the fear.

As I’ve said before, the SMT recognise we can’t change things overnight and we are avoiding doing so. We pretend we’re keen to hear your views and, if you want to be singled out, please email me at swept-under-the-carpet@kingston.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can send any ideas or comments direct to the Vice-Chancellor by emailing TheRat@kingston. He might roast you alive at a Dissenters’ Dinner!

 

Matthew Hitman
Deputy dumb manager and University enforcer

 

Is Islamic State Now Evolving Into A Transnational Movement?

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Photo: Islamic State in Iraq. Source: Flickr|Day Donaldson.

Paul Rogers Monthly Briefing, 18th May 2015.

Introduction

The February ORG briefing (Is Islamic State in Retreat?) analysed the view that the organisation was in retreat after six months of air strikes and considerable losses. It concluded that the movement remained reasonably coherent in Syria and Iraq, was gaining some allegiance in other countries and had the possibility of increasing its support among disaffected communities in western states. Last month’s briefing (Is Islamic State Here to Stay?) extended this discussion to examine two driving forces that increased its support, the issue of marginalisation across significant parts of the Middle East and the ability of the movement to present itself as the vanguard in the protection of Islam under attack, this last element aided by the long-term support for the Wahhabi tradition by Saudi Arabia, especially in South West Asia and the Middle East.

This briefing is the final contribution to a three-part series and extends the analysis in two ways. One is to review recent developments in the war between the US-led coalition and Islamic State, including some setbacks for the movement but also some significant developments in Afghanistan, and the second is the increasing support for the movement in western states. The conclusion is that Islamic State shows signs of considerable resilience while also beginning to make a transition to a transnational phenomenon rather than a movement concentrated almost exclusively on seeking to establish a territorially defined Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

The Continuing War

The war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is primarily an air war mounted by the United States at the head of a substantial coalition of western and regional states. It has now been under way for nine months and has involved many thousands of air strikes and armed drone attacks, primarily against Islamic State units in Iraq but with US, Canadian and occasional Jordanian operations in Syria. Israel is also involved in the latter, especially against targets linked to Hezbollah, but there is no officially acknowledged coordination with the coalition. As of early February, US military sources were claiming at least 8,500 IS personnel killed but it is not possible to corroborate this, nor to get reliable figures of civilian casualties. By early May, 6,000 targets had been hit, including 791 in the six weeks to 7 May. In spite of the intensity of the war, it has received very little attention in the western media.

The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was reported to have been seriously injured in a US air strike in April and may be incapacitated, but reports of a recent leadership struggle have not been confirmed. Given the capacity of the organisation to handle leadership losses it is unwise to put too much confidence in these reports, especially as there are indications that a temporary leader, Abdul Rahman al-Sheijlar, has already taken charge.

More generally, there have been claims that Iraqi Army units, backed by US airpower have made gains that IS in Syria and Iraq has lost a quarter of its territory since the air war started. Other reports cast doubt on this in that they do not allow for IS gains elsewhere in Syria, nor for successful recent attacks in Anbar Province of Iraq. Perhaps most significant of all is that IS paramilitaries have successfully gained control of a substantial part of the key Baiji refinery to the north of Baghdad and the Iraqi Army is finding it extremely difficult to take back control. Because Baiji has not been operating since last year it is not hugely significant to either side, but the ability of barely two hundred IS paramilitaries to maintain control is symbolically important, even if the unusual urban combat environment of a large oil refinery is advantageous to them.

Furthermore, the occupation of the centre of Ramadi, the administrative centre of Anbar province is a major setback for the Iraqi government and a marked counter to the claims of overall success. Even the considerable publicity around the Delta Force strike into Syria that killed Abu Sayyaf is misleading since his main value would be as a subject for interrogation given his status as a significant organiser within Islamic State – a bureaucrat – rather than a paramilitary leader. His death in the raid was not the intended outcome.

Perhaps of greatest note is the overall state of the conflict after nine months of air strikes. In summary, the movement simply cannot be said to be in retreat and appears to have adapted readily to a changed environment in which it is possible to limit the effectiveness of air strikes. This should not cause great surprise since the middle-ranking paramilitary leadership of IS gained considerable experience of combat operations against strong coalition forces in Iraq in the period 2004-08, including surviving extensive operations by US and UK Special Forces. Given the lack of success of the US-led operations, there have been calls to expand ground force engagements with IS, even if primarily involving Special Forces. This, though, remains unlikely given the considerable reluctance of the Obama administration to become embroiled in yet another ground war in the region although the Delta Force raid does suggest that the US Department of Defense may see little alternative to some escalation.

Developments in Afghanistan

The April briefing pointed to groups in other countries pledging allegiance to Islamic State, including elements of Boko Haram in Nigeria, militias in Sinai and coastal Libya, and also to the growth of IS-linked paramilitaries in Yemen. In the past month attention has moved to Afghanistan and the end of April saw a sudden surge in Islamic State involvement in operations against Afghan National Army units around the northern town of Kunduz. In protracted fighting over two weeks the ANA sought to regain control against Taliban units that had been strengthened by paramilitaries linked to Islamic State.

Being clear as to the extent of IS involvement is not easy since it may be that the Afghan government is exaggerating this to ensure that the United States maintains its forces in the country and also its considerable financial and personnel commitment to training and equipping the ANA. Even so, there is substantial evidence that there is a growing IS involvement, and among those killed around Kunduz were a number of foreign nationals, including Uzbeks and Chechens. Reports suggest that while IS paramilitaries may be directly involved in combat, their more important role has been in training Afghan Taliban, suggesting that the relationship developing with the Taliban leadership, at least in some parts of Afghanistan, is substantial.

As the Islamic State presence in Afghanistan has grown, western analysts have on a number of occasions suggested that the Taliban and other armed opposition groups, being primarily motivated by ethnicity and nationalism, would tend to come into a degree of conflict with the more religiously-motivated Islamic State. This may well be the case but the indications from the actions around Kunduz do suggest that there is an increasing commonality of action.

A Transnational Trend?

At root, the distinguishing feature between the al-Qaida movement and Islamic State is that while the former has sought the creation of a Caliphate through the overthrow of existing regimes, however long that might take and so far with little success, Islamic State is far more territorially orientated. In this context, Baghdadi’s declaration of the Caliphate in Mosul last July was the key event. What we are now seeing in Afghanistan suggests a further development beyond the territory of the Syria/Iraq Caliphate, in that IS paramilitaries are linking up directly with Taliban elements, a transnational trend that is at a different level to local groups pledging support for the movement. On its own, this may have some significance, but it is another emerging trend that may be more important to watch.

Over the past twelve months there has been an increase in interceptions of potential attacks in western states, notably Australia, the UK and the United States. On 7 May, the FBI Director James Corney reported the FBI view that there were “hundreds, maybe thousands” of people across the United States receiving new social media messages from Islamic State encouraging them to join the movement. A common route is that recruiters in Syria initiate contact with possible supporters and then feed them through to secure encrypted sites to continue the process. Corney reported hundreds of individual investigations under way right across the United States.

A particular feature of people recruited to the cause of Islamic State in a number of western countries is the prevalence of recent converts to Islam, the indications being that IS recruiters put considerable effort into this cohort. Moreover, the process of moving from conversion through to espousal of an extreme agenda can be very rapid, making it particularly difficult for even close family members, let alone counterterror forces, to counteract the change.

Conclusion

The question that arises from this briefing is whether Islamic State is in transition from being a primarily geographical entity focused on a distinct Caliphate that serves as a beacon to would-be recruits and a bulwark in the defence of its version of Islam, to a more transnationally-orientated movement. The current evidence does not provide a conclusive answer but does indicate the beginning of a trend.

If so, this raises the question of whether this was always seen by the IS leadership as a natural development of the movement or whether it is in response to the nine-month old air war. There is a connection here in that the singularly vigorous use of new social media by Islamic State to spread the message of the extent of the “crusader attack on Islam” is actually aided by the very intensity of that air war. Moreover, even if the movement is experiencing setbacks, the ability to point to its expansion overseas, both by groups pledging allegiance and especially in its recent direct involvement in Afghanistan, can be useful in continuing to spread the message of a movement capable of withstanding the worst that the “crusaders” can throw at it.

About the Briefing

AuthorPaul Rogers is Global Security Consultant to Oxford Research Group (ORG) and Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. His Monthly Briefings are available from their website at <www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk> where visitors can sign up to receive them via a newsletter each month. These briefings are circulated free of charge for non-profit use, but please consider making a donation to ORG, if you are able to do so.

Fighting capitalism on every front – a lesson from France

Book review: Sivens sans retenue: Feuilles d’automne 2014

Of all the many projects opposed by protesters in France in recent years, the small dam planned for the rural southern valley at Sivens was hardly the most important.

But it quickly became a milestone battle in the growing struggle against industrial capitalism, thanks to the determination of the participants and the violence of the state’s repression.

On October 26 2014, student Rémi Fraisse was killed by a sound grenade fired straight at him, at point blank range, by military-style gendarmes.

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Rémi Fraisse

The fact that the authorities lied through their teeth about the incident – suggesting for a while that he had been killed by something thrown by his fellow campaigners – only fuelled the anger unleashed by his death.

There were protests across France about his murder – “killed for economic growth” as one widely-circulated text had it.

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“Cops, pigs, murderers!”

But the significance of the protests lay perhaps more in an absence than in a presence – the absence of the massed ranks of the “left” who would normally be expected to turn out in reaction to the police murder of a youngster.

If the incident had taken place under a “right-wing” government, the reaction would have been different. But with a “left-wing” government and a “left-wing” local administration backing the barrage, opposition from those who consider themselves “left-wing” was muted.

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By leaving the response on the ground to anarchists and radicals, this “left”, including the French Greens, revealed itself for what it was – a force for reaction. From now on, it was clear that the fight against industrial capitalism was going to have to come from below, from the streets, squats and rural hideaways of a new generation pushing for a radical, confrontational version of the significant French décroissance (degrowth) movement – a rejection of the whole neoliberal concept of “progress” and the assumptions that help bolster it.

However, it was not by chance that the Sivens struggle became the catalyst for a further radicalisation of an anti-industrial movement which had already spawned the full-on autonomous protest settlement, or Zad, at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in opposition to proposed new Nantes airport.

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A book published in the wake of the high-profile conflict – Sivens sans retenue: Feuilles d’automne 2014 [Sivens without reservoir/restraint – papers from Autumn 2014] – reveals a deep radicalism embedded within the movement there, and expressed through various texts written on site, notably a daily bulletin from which the book gets its title.

An important part of this radicalism is a rejection of the limits enshrined within mainstream environmentalism – the book’s authors say that the anti-dam movement was “often weakened by a widespread and persistent trust in the state and by a desire for credibility in the eyes of the media”.

They characterise this environmentalist argument as being over-dominated by figures and statistics, mirroring the “scientific” vocabulary of the system it is supposedly fighting.

It also liked to frame the fight against the dam as being entirely peaceful, under any circumstances, a restrictive attitude which others could not accept.

“Our opposition therefore goes both beyond environmentalism and against it if necessary – against all its language borrowed from technocrats, administrators and politicians. Our opposition carries within it, admittedly in a rather unformed way, the dream of another way of living, free from commodities, free from the state and free from industrial work. A life which can only develop from below and which can, necessarily, only be realised through conflict”.

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There is also a clear rejection of the idea of the threatened land as being a “zone”, labelled and protected by human beings who stand outside and above it.

Instead, the book uses as chapter heading a slogan that has appeared at Notre-Dame-des-Landes and elsewhere: “Nous ne défendons pas la nature, nous sommes la nature qui se défend” – “We are not defending nature, we are nature defending itself”.

Des échauffourées et situation très tendue à Sivens alors que le déboisement commence

As far as the Sivens project is concerned, the book makes it clear that it is a scam for the benefit of the local agri-industrialist farming establishment, designed to use public money to artificially stimulate economic activity and the private profit that goes with it.

Or, as one anonymous online article put it: “The real reasons for the project are simple: there is a local mafia who are, simultaneously, promoters, decision-makers and beneficiaries, and who have got together to grab 10 million euros from the public purse and divvy it up between themselves later. No need to look any further”.

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Behind this immediate reality, the book suggests, lies a deeper gulf between the system that wants to plough ahead with such schemes and the people who want to stop them: “In the end, the story of the dam, which only involves a little reservoir covering some 40 hectares, tells us that this is not just an issue around grands projets inutiles [big useless projects] but about something much deeper; we haven’t got the same perception of life. The fortresses which they impose on our valleys, in our villages and in our towns are not invincible – the real dams are those in people’s heads”.

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Here, thus, is a conflict of civilizations. On the one hand there is the neoliberal system, enshrined in the local and national political elite, which is always happy to sacrifice the land for the benefit of growth, development, profit. On the other hand there is another way of thinking, a peasant way of thinking, a much older way of thinking which is paradoxically now often represented by the youngest generation.

I use the word “peasant” because it is important to realise that, in France, being anti-industrial does not automatically make you a “primitivist” as it seems to in the English-speaking world. In a country with a much stronger and more recently-threatened rural tradition than the UK, the collective memory of other ways of living is still relatively fresh.

France is also twice the size of the UK, with much the same population, so the idea of vast open spaces lightly inhabited by people living close to the land does not have to be borrowed from visions of pre-colonial America – it is much more of a realistic possibility than it is in crowded, urbanised, degraded England, where the countryside is often the luxurious private preserve of those who have become rich by working for the global capitalist system.

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This spirit is brought across throughout the book, for instance in the texts written by a collective of shepherds and shepherdesses whose opposition to industrialism is built around resistance to the compulsory microchipping of their flocks.

Here is a nice example, worth quoting in full:

“Capitalism’s domination of our lives has to be fought on at least two fronts. One of these is today clearly seen and understood by more and more people – it’s opposing all those infrastructure projects which manage areas so that commodities can circulate and various industries can function. This means the construction (or the extension) of high-speed rail lines, airports, power stations (whether nuclear, solar, wind or biomass…), commercial centres, the mass production of toxic foodstuffs, the sinking of fracking wells. In a very obvious way, all this destroys the countryside and covers farmland and forests with concrete.

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“But there’s also another front which hasn’t been clearly identified and activated by enough people yet: opposing the colonisation of our lives by hi-tech devices. PCs, tablets, iPods, iPads, iPhones and the networks that support them cause colossal amounts of pollution and energy consumption, which put the effects of industrial agriculture in the shade. Pollution through microwaves, pollution through manufacturing and disposal, power consumption by the devices, by search engines, by data centres…

“We would need Zads [anti-industrial protest camps] in China, Africa and Bolivia to stop the extraction of rare earth metals needed to manufacture all the wonders of technology. We would need Zads in Ghana to stop the burial of all our junk made of plastic and toxic metals – last year’s novelties discarded with the arrival of the latest new product. We would need Zads in Mali and Niger to fight against the mining of uranium to feed the nuclear industry (which in turn feeds the internet in France). We feel a sense of solidarity with all every one of those Zads… even if, unfortunately, they don’t exist!”

(Collectif Faut pas pucer, October 2014)

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Homage to Rémi – killed for defending nature

The anti-industrial analysis presented by numerous contributors to the book understands that the role of machines in our society is not to “make life easier” for people, as the old lie suggests, but to enslave us. Our world becomes a machine. Our normality, our reality, becomes a machine. And it becomes unthinkable that this machinery should be impeded in any way.

Bertrand Louart, a local carpenter and cabinetmaker involved in the Sivens struggle, writes: “The general organisation of this enormously complex and intricate society has tied us in to a regulated sort of existence, to a tightly-policed way of life, to a level of activity that never stops, and which picks up speed the more it is regulated, policed and interconnected. Any interruption of this machinery, any intrusion of something unexpected or the unforeseen, something out of the box, out of the norm, is now regarded as ‘violence’.”

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The real violence in our society of course comes from this machinery itself, in the form of a “legal” system which awards itself the unilateral right to use force against any opposition to its total domination.

The murder of Rémi Fraisse by this system necessarily focused minds on this aspect of the state/capitalist infrastructure, and the need to confront it.

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An anonymous leaflet published three days after his death declared: “So that Rémi’s death resonates everywhere and sparks a real movement, we suggest that we organise locally and nationally against the infrastructure of the forces of order. It is this infrastructure which is behind the state terrorism with which are confronted in working class neighbourhoods and in our social struggles. It is this infrastructure which co-ordinates the police occupation of our land and of our existences. And it is this infrastructure which springs into action if ever a protest or opposition movement strays beyond the authorised paths of powerlessness”.

The leaflet sets out the whole mechanism behind “the armed gang known as the national police” and which could be paralysed by determined opponents. “The factories which make police’s grenades, uniforms and equipment, their vehicles and their TV propaganda, the logistical platforms that organise their supplies – for us, these are all targets”.

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“They kill us for their profit – death to the Sivens dam”

Not long after the murder of Rémi Fraisse, and the national publicity which surrounded it, the Zad was evicted by a combination of local fascists linked to landowners and a police force happy to turn a blind eye to their violence.

But the struggle is not over here – neither at Sivens nor, of course, further afield, and the book makes it clear that is the neoliberal system which ultimately has most reason to be afraid.

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“It is fear that is spreading throughout the French oligarchy at the moment: fear that it will no longer be possible to launch infrastructure projects anywhere in the country without the emergence of a well-informed, determined and freely organised opposition. Fear that it will no longer be possible to keep the money machine rolling without humble members of the public loudly asking annoying questions: ‘What is the point of this project? Who stands to gain from it? What will be the impact on the place we live?’

“This is why it is so important, for the state, that a youth movement does not emerge that questions both the means (police) and the ends (capitalism) of its behaviour. Where would we be if schoolkids and students started calling for the disarming of the police, condemning with one voice the racist crimes frequently committed in our cities and the brutal repression of anti-capitalist protests? Where would we be if the various Zads against insidious industrial and commercial developments continued making links with each other, co-ordinating, coming together in words and action?”

And, from a UK perspective, where would we be if the powerful anti-industrial philosophy behind the Sivens struggle managed to spread across the Channel and recombine with the social wing of the anti-capitalist movement with which it shares its ideological roots?

Where would we be if the anti-fracking movement, the anti-climate change movement, the anti-roads movement, the anti-austerity movement, the anti-fascist movement, the movements against police violence and all those who hate this corrupt system looked up from the detail of their particular struggles and understood that their enemy is one and the same and that capitalism must be fought on every available front, in every single part of its ubiquitous infrastructure, if ever it is to be vanquished?

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Sivens sans retenue: Feuilles d’automne 2014 is published (in French only) by Editions La Lenteur, Paris.

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#18 Muhteşem seks öyküsü

ETİK SÜRTÜK, ALIŞTIRMA #18. Hayat partnerinle yaptığın en iyi seksle ilgili bir öykü yaz. Detaylara gir, hisleri tarif et: sesler, kokular, nabız atışları falan. Her ikiniz de öyküler yazın – farklı deneyimleri yazıyor olabilirsiniz, sorun yok – ve birbirinizle paylaşın. O seksi bu kadar iyi kılanın ne olduğu hakkında konuşun.

Bu yazıyı Öyküler bölümünde yayınladım: Beklentiler ve “performans değerlendirme”

Beklentiler ve “performans değerlendirme”

Birçok şart altında başladılar oynaşmaya.

Erkeğin hem ereksiyonunu korumakla sorunu vardı, hem de boşalmakla. Kadınsa yıllardır vajinismusla mücadele ediyordu: Kitaplar okuyor, alıştırmalar yapıyor, doktora gidiyordu.

Ortamın gergin olmamasında anlaştılar sessizce. Maksat başarı değildi (çünkü ikisi de peşinen kabullenmişti başarılı olmadıklarını), maksat keyif almaktı. Erken mi olmuş, geç mi olmuş dert etmeyeceklerdi. Beklentiler arasında penetrasyon zaten yoktu ya, orgazmı da “opsiyonel” kabul ettiler.

Sonra bir şey oldu. Erkeğin kalçası mı, kadının beli mi, tam bilinmiyor. Ama bir şey, ikisinin de  heyecanını dengeledi ve birlikte heyecanlanmaya devam ettiler.

Kokular birbirine karıştı, saçları birbirinden ayırt edilemez oldu. Erkeğin önceliği gerilmemekti. Bu yüzden her şeyi bıraktı, kadından sözlü izin aldı ve onun özellikle hoşlanmadığını bile bile oral seks yapmaya başladı. (“Bunu ben kendim istediğim için yapıyorum, öyle çok çok hoşuna gitmiyor biliyorum.” dedi kadına.)clothes on

Daha yalamaya başlarken, kadının ıslaklığı çekti dikkatini. Hiç beklemiyordu bunu. Hemen ardından, vajinasının ne kadar açılmış olduğunu fark etti. Çok kafa yormamaya karar verdi buna – kadın çok heyecanlanmışsa ve başka beklentiler yaratmışsa da, bunların onun üstünde baskı kurmasına izin vermeyecekti.

Ancak “Bunu ben kendim istediğim için yapıyorum” lafı boş laf değildi. Kadının kalçalarına ve ayak bileklerine dokundukça, o da heyecanlanmaya başladı. Kadının bir bacağını yatağa uzatmasını sağladı ve penisini kadının bacağına sürtmeye başladı. Onun ereksiyonu kadını daha da kızıştırdı.

Erkek bir hamlede doğruldu, yataktan kalktı, bir prezervatif alıp penisine taktı. Kendi kendine “Sadece sürtüneceğim, bunu da sırf güvenli seks için takıyorum.” diyordu, beklentilerini aşağıda tutmak konusunda çok hassas davranıyordu. Kadının ne hissettiğini, ne istediğini ise hiç bilmiyor, bilmek de istemiyordu. (Böyle bir anda kadın ne isterse istesin onun kaygılanmasına yol açacaktı.)

Erkek kadının üstüne çıktı.

Kadının söylediğine göre, penetrasyon sırasında çok dikkatli olması gerekiyordu ve vajinanın alt kısmına (kadının sırt üstü yatarken aşağıda kalan kısmına) sürtünmemesi gerekiyordu. Bunlar hızla geçti aklından, ve “Bana ne, ben istediğim pozisyonda olmak istiyorum, penetrasyonla uğraşamam şimdi.” diye düşündü. Kadının bacaklarını omzuna aldı. Böylece hem onun ayaklarını okşayabiliyor, hem de kadının tüm vücudunu seyredebiliyordu. Bir süre bu pozisyonda sürtünmeye devam etti, sonra kadının bacaklarını açtı, göğüsleri birbirine temas edecek kadar yaklaştı ve onu öpmeye başladı.

Sonra başka bir şey daha oldu. Sürtünürken, hiç beklemedikleri bir anda, rahatlıkla penisini vajinanın içine soktu. Duraksadılar. Derin bir nefes aldılar ve birbirlerine sımsıkı sarıldılar. Kadın usulca “Bu çok iyi bir his.” diye fısıldadı, erkek yanıt vermedi. Çekine çekine, penisini ileri geri hareket ettirmeye başladı. Kadının canını acıttığına dair hiçbir emare yoktu. Erkeğin kafası karışmıştı, ama bir yandan da çok heyecanlıydı.slow but steady

İşte ilk penetrasyonları, ilişkiye başlamalarından üç ay sonra, böyle gerçekleşti.

O gece, kadının değil denemek, değil kendisinin yapabilmesi, herhangi bir şekilde mümkün olduğunu dahi bilmediği birçok pozisyonda seviştiler. Kadın müthiş bir merakla kendi bedenini keşfediyordu; erkek de kadının bedeniyle deneyler yapıyordu.

Uzun bir geceydi, çok uzun. O geceden sonra seks hayatları tamamen değişti.