Immanuel Wallerstein, writing for Al Jazeera, argues that the spirit of 1968 flows through Arab Spring and Occupy movement, but warns that its counter-current is attempting to suppress real change.
Wallerstein, co-author of Anti-Systemic Movements, argues that the Arab Spring is composed of "two quite different currents" that are "going in radically different directions," - something that has not be been fully analysed. Understanding this division is key to negotiating a sustainable resistance.
Wallerstein identifies one of these currents as "the 1968 current", or the "second Arab revolt" which aims to "achieve the global autonomy of the Arab world" that was prevented by Franco-British measure during the "first Arab revolt". Arguing that the Arab Spring is the heir of the "world revolution of 1968," Wallerstein points out that both movements are rooted in anti-authoritarianism and rejection of corrupt power systems. He writes that, like the rebels in the Arab world,
the revolutionaries of 1968 were protesting against the inherently undemocratic behaviour of those in authority. This was a revolt against such use (or misuse) of authority at all levels: the level of the world-system as a whole; the level of the national and local governments; the level of the multiple non-governmental institutions in which people take part or to which they are subordinated (from workplaces to educational structures to political parties and trade-unions).
More troops - 13,500 - will be deployed to cover the London Olympics than are currently stationed in Afghanistan. This frightening statistic opens Stephen Graham's powerful and harrowing piece on Olympic 2012 security for the Guardian. Arguing that the London Games will see the largest mobilisation of military and security forces since the second world war, Graham, author of Cities Under Siege, warns that the effects "will linger long after the athletes and VIPs have left."
As estimates of the Games' immediate security costs double (from £282m to £553m) Graham highlights the hypocrisy of spending on this scale,
All this in a city convulsed by massive welfare, housing benefit and legal aid cuts, spiralling unemployment and rising social protests. It is darkly ironic, indeed, that large swaths of London and the UK are being thrown into ever deeper insecurity while being asked to pay for a massive security operation, of unprecedented scale, largely to protect wealthy and powerful people and corporations.
Graham points out that the total security force could number anything between 24,00o and 49,00o. He writes in disturbing detail of the intricate security arrangements underway,
During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence.
The January/February 2012 edition of the New Left Review is out now.
This issue includes a fascinating and intellectually rigorous debate on Europe and the European Union in the form of a three-part critical symposium on Perry Anderson's The New Old World, with essays on the book by Phillipe Schmitter, Alain Supiot, and Jan-Werner Muller. These are followed by a reply from Anderson and a stand-alone essay by Wolfgang Streeck. The stated aim of the symposium is to, "broaden the debate on the nature of the institutional tensions within the Union, and the historical background to them." As the introduction puts it,
The zone that only yesterday was congratulating itself on combining prosperity, civility and democracy in a synthesis no other region on earth could match, has become a danger to the global stability of capital, watched not with envy but with anxiety by its partners and rivals in the rule of the plant.
The issue also includes Alan Cafruny and Timothy Lehmann on the ideological, military and economic legacy of US involvement in Iraq, and Pierre Brocheux on the Vietnam of his childhood and the cultural and political changes the country has undergone since. There are fascinating contributions from Julian Stallabrass on the 'Hockney industry', Ismail Xavier on the documentary movement in Brazil, and Mario Tronti on the Italian operaismo of the 1960s.
Visit New Left Review to read the essays in full.
Writing in the Independent, Avi Shlaim, author of Israel and Palestine, argues that Barack Obama must stand up to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Nayanyahu, not only to save the fragile stability of the Middle East, but to protect the interests of the United States, and his own credibility as leader of the free world.
Shlaim describes Netanyahu's government as the most "aggressively right-wing, diplomatically intransigent, and overtly racist" in Israel's history, and Netanyahu himself as "a bellicose, right-wing Israeli nationalist, a rejectionist on the subject of Palestinian national rights, and a reactionary who is deeply wedded to the status quo."
Reading Savage Messiah, Roz Kaveney finds moments of “inchoate skinhead anarchism,” sitting alongside moments of mixed-media art that, “approach the condition of poetry.”
Kaveney admires Savage Messiah for its ability to, “see in the scruffy and semi-derelict a sort of beauty, a prophetic apocalyptic sublime,” but worries that Laura Oldfield Ford’s London is,
a city of white working-class resistance; it is an able-bodied, exclusively heterosexual world in which the only ideology is a sort of inchoate skinhead anarchism devoid of theory.
Kaveney, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, describes the content of Savage Messiah as a series of, “collages, fragments of text, dingy-looking photographs, sketches of buildings, deliberately stylized portraits. She interprets Oldfield Ford’s low-tech approach as, “in part a deliberate rejection of the sort of psychogeography she associates with Iain Sinclair and Stewart Home, and sees as a deliberate packaging of the bizarre for middle-class consumers.” She highlights the ways in which the apparently derelict and run-down areas of London that are depicted in Savage Messiah become symbols of struggle against urban and political hegemony, writing that
[Oldfield Ford] sees temporarily occupied drinking dens, factories where alienated workers sabotage the machines that fill cheap chocolates with nasty fondant, high streets full of kebab and pound shops, as sites of resistance to the squeaky clean consumerism of contemporary Britain.