Tony Blair's speech this week at Bloomberg in London reveals a growing support for authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. In his keynote speech on Middle East, he blamed Islamic extremism for failures of western intervention in region:
For the last 40 to 50 years, there has been a steady stream of funding, proselytising, organising and promulgating coming out of the Middle East, pushing views of religion that are narrow minded and dangerous. Unfortunately we seem blind to the enormous global impact such teaching has had and is having.
Within the Middle East itself, the result has been horrible, with people often facing a choice between authoritarian government that is at least religiously tolerant; and the risk that in throwing off the government they don't like, they end up with a religiously intolerant quasi-theocracy.”
Insisting that the west had to take sides, he described Islamic extremism as:
“not about a competing view of how society or politics should be governed within a common space where you accept other views are equally valid. It is exclusivist in nature. The ultimate goal is not a society which someone else can change after winning an election. It is a society of a fixed polity, governed by religious doctrines that are not changeable but which are, of their essence, unchangeable.”
Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims Are Coming! wrote this comment piece on the many hypocrisies of Tony Blair's speech:
Former Tory MP Caroline Spelman has called for the UK to follow the 'Nordic model' on sex trade legislation (criminalising the purchase of sex and not the sex worker), and urged more male politicians to enter the public debate about the reform of prostitution laws. Do we really need to hear from more people who have never worked in the sex trade? In particular, more male politicians? Both Caroline Spelman and Mary Honeyball are doing a good enough job at not representing sex workers, and their basic human rights to work free from danger, as it is.
In response, Melissa Gira Grant (author of Playing the Whore: the Work of Sex Work), wrote this piece for the Guardian:
The vast majority of people who wish to prohibit prostitution through the rule of law have never sold sex, and the most vocal and informed majority of those who oppose anti-sex work laws are sex workers. In a society that truly valued the dignity and rights of sex workers, this would be enough, and such laws would be illegitimate.
The esteemed and widely-loved novelist Gabriel García Márquez has passed away, aged 87.
Here we present a full 1983 interview entitled 'Our Own Brand of Socialism'. You can also read the full interview over at the New Left Review website.
GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ
‘OUR OWN BRAND OF SOCIALISM’
Can we look back over the way your political ideas have developed? Your father is a Conservative. Colombia went through a century of intermittent civil war after its independence from Spain in 1819. Two political parties crystallized in the 1840s: the Conservatives whose traditionalist philosophy was based on family, church and state; and the Liberals who were free-thinkers, anti-clerical and economic liberals. The bloodiest of the wars between these two parties was the ‘War of The Thousand Days’ (1899–1902) which left the country bankrupt and devastated. In Colombia we say being a Conservative or Liberal depends on what your father is, but yours obviously didn’t influence your politics at all because you opted for the left very early on. Was this political stance a reaction against your family?
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That means you can buy recent bestsellers such as Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work for only £4.49/$7.47; Utopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis for £4.49/$7.47; and Arun Kundnani's The Muslims Are Coming! for £7.49/$13.47 - with free postage and packing, worldwide.
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Arun Kundnani is one of Britain's best political writers, neither hectoring nor drily academic but compelling and sharply intelligent. The Muslims Are Coming should be widely read, particularly by liberals who consider their own positions unassailable. "Neoconservatism invented the terror war," Kundnani writes, "but Obama liberalism normalised it, at which point, mainstream journalists stopped asking questions."