DAY 256: The programme

October 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink


Dome of the church of Jacob’s Well

So what have I been doing during this weeks of silence? The question has often struck me, and yesterday particularly as for the nth time I sat waiting in a hospital for more tests, and reading Finnegans Wake on my phone to pass the time. (Yes, reader, you can easily find it, or at least the first chapter, at; and that’ll last  quite a long time even at the hospital. You may notice in particular a great deal of interest in the Qur’an in that many-layered work, as in: ‘Our cubehouse still rocks as earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas but we hear also through successiveages that shebby choruysh of unkalified muzzlenimiissilehims thatwould blackguardise the whitestone ever hurtleturtled out ofheaven. Stay us wherefore in our search for tighteousness, O Sus-tainer, what time we rise and when we take up to toothmick andbefore we lump down upown our leatherbed and in the night andat the fading of the stars!’) I’ve also been reading, as maybe you have, a variety of texts on Syria. In particular (there’s an awful lot to read, even if you stick to texts in English, even if you stick to texts in Jadaliyya, as I tend to do)  by the interview ‘Dissidents of the left’ with Yassin Al-Haj Saleh. Being very long, I can’t begin to give an account of what’s in it, let alone whether I think the author is right. But I was really struck by the following words which I reproduce: ‘The model for new movements could be that of refugees appropriating the world and those conscientious people welcoming and helping them. I feel that states, the richest and most powerful in particular, consider refugees a far more serious threat than terrorist groups. They are right. States are “legitimate” monopolies of terrorism, and those terrorist networks are their “illegitimate” rivals and doubles (they tend to be correlative in a way that you cannot exclude one without excluding the other).’ The relation between the two is an embodiment of the world “stuckedness” in anti-politics, while refugee passage to prosperous Europe represents the alter-politics which ismercury

Mercury, the poisonous planet, patron of thieves [This image was inserted because I found out that Mercury contained an amazing amount of iron. Why?

Why not? And what can we do with all that iron, in the soul of the Solar System as it were. Any reference to Freddie Mercury is purely coincidental.]

becoming a universal necessity (I am referring to Ghassan Hage’s terminology in his book, Alter-Politics: Critical Anthropology and the Radical Imagination). Maybe we have to develop a combination of anti-politics and alter-politics. It is impossible to evade anti-politics vis-à-vis thuggish states like the one we have in Syria, but there is always a need to think of other forms of gathering and organization.

I was struck, as maybe you were, by an article by Owen Jones in the Guardian (a fortnight ago?) suggesting that Europe in general, and Britain in particular, was in a state of crisis from which it could only be rescued by Corbynism; and that people were precisely]y ready for that kind of a solution. Could that be true? I asked a random selection of people on the C11 bus. What things do you see wrong hat you would like to see fixed? The failures which I think of as symbolised by the words ‘Windrush’ and ‘Grenfell’: a  capitalism which has completely lost its self-confidence and can only mouth arrogant slogans proclaiming its ability to perform its duties. It’s time to collect a a list of friends and allies, around a list of what we see as needed. Ranging from the multiple injustices of our legal system (detention, stopping benefits. no housing, rat-infested housing) to the wider field where the UKBA rule and police our borders. The society we have is so obviously not the society we want: what do we want, and how will we get there? Can we? Can we get a society (and I hope this doesn’t only mean Britain) in which everyone can be decently fed, looked after properly treated and not left alone.It’s been the dream of socialists over the ages; the bugger has always been how to get there, and what a lot of junk lie in the way. How many eggs, comrade, must we break to make our precious omelette!

What Mr Jones recommends (quoting from a commission) is that a genuine, higher living wage should be introduced; and proposes that a target should be set to double the percentage of workers covered by collective bargaining – which has been in a state of collapse since the late 1970s – to 50% by 2030. Workers would get elected representatives on company boards; and the self-employed – poorer today than they were two decades ago, and lacking basic rights – would be granted work-related benefits. The report also recommends reversing recent cuts to corporation tax, which have failed to increase investment as promised, and a cooperative development act to encourage the mutualisation of the economy.

What is striking about these demands isn’t just how much more radical they are than only four years ago: it’s who has endorsed them – from the archbishop of Canterbury to business leaders. The IPPR’s polling shows that, from a radical clampdown on tax avoidance to publicly owned investment banks, to borrowing to invest, there is overwhelming support for the

bitejunking of the old neoliberal order. That I should live to see such a day!

Here’s a cheery Kurdish song, by the name of ‘Loy Loy’; the artist is Nazdar (I think)

And here is a poem (without permission) from Kate Clanchy’s Oxford children’s wonderful refugee poem anthology: ‘England :Poems from a School’. Every one is a winner. Read it, indeed buy it.

To make a homeland

Can anyone teach me

how to make a homeland?

Heartfelt thanks if you can,

Heartiest thanks,

From the house-sparrows,

The apple-trees of Syria

and yours very sincerely.


Amineh Abou Kerech (13)






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