Discovering Fred Halliday

Blogger’s note: I’m using this space to place a number of quotes from the late international relations professor, Fred Halliday, on a bulletin board of sorts. My plan is to add my own thoughts and comments, as well as other quotes from him and those in dialogue with his ideas, as I continue to process these ideas. By placing this content here I am not implying agreement or endorsement of these views – only a strong interest in learning more.

Selected Quotes I am studying:

One should not accept at face value what people who are struggling say: they may well be committing atrocities of their own. At the extreme end you have the PKK, the Shining Path, the Khmer Rouge and so forth. They may often be involved in inter-ethnic conflicts where they use a progressivist language to conceal what is in fact chauvinism towards another community. It goes for both Israelis and Palestinians. It goes for the IRA in Northern Ireland. It goes for the Armenians and the Azeris in Nagorno-Karabakh, and other cases. So solidarity should not be taken at face value. Solidarity should be critical of what people say and do, while also being guided by the longer-term evaluation of people’s interests and rights and material social progress.

One should not accept at face value what people who are struggling say: they may well be committing atrocities of their own.

Prof. Fred Halliday

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

You got away from the stuff about which one was there first, or who was massacred most, or what their holy books say, or who were collaborators with imperialism—all such questions were secondary. The key question is, you have two communities which meet minimal criteria of self-determining peoples. And on that basis, you accord them equal rights. And secondly, you critique the chauvinism and the fake justifications and the violations of the rules of war of both sides.

The level and tone of polemic in the U.S. and in Europe on the Palestine question has degenerated enormously since the collapse of Camp David and the rise of the second Intifada. I find that much of the stuff put out in the name of Palestine is so irresponsible and sometimes racist. I also find the degree of anger and the one-sidedness of Israelis, and from pro-Israel people in the West, very disturbing.

Source: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/who-is-responsible-interview-with-fred-halliday/

What the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968 were to the cause of international communism, the US enterprise in Iraq in 2003 was to the ideals and legality of humanitarian intervention.

The war over Lebanon of July-August 2006 offers an example. The crimes of the Israelis (in wantonly attacking the infrastructure of Lebanon, and denying Palestinians their national rights) and those of Hizbollah and Hamas (in killing civilians, placing the lives and security of their peoples recklessly at risk, hurling thousands of missiles at civilian targets in Israel and fomenting religious and ethnic hatred) do not require particularist denunciation: that the one killed Arabs or Muslims, and that the other spilt Jewish blood. They are crimes on the basis of universal principles – of law, decency, and humanity; and should be identified as such. Particularism undermines the very basis of the denunciation, which presupposes universal principles.

Continue reading “Discovering Fred Halliday”

C’mon dudes this could be a great year progressives…

So, in the midst of this pandemic, those of us deeply hoping for a Democratic White House win this November have been reflecting on Bernie’s recent announcement that he has ended his campaign, leaving Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee.

If Bernie can help Biden and Dems win a big wave election, there are A LOT of very progressive young Dems running for literally everything downballot, and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with at every level of government.

I no longer engage with my FB or other social media the way I used to back in 2016, when I spent hours and hours reacting to comments by pro-Bernie friends who hated Hillary and, unbeknownst to me at the time, often re-posted Russian-troll generated fake news about her. I don’t do that anymore, so I don’t know whether the intensity of that kind of thing is as bad as it was then. I know there’s a pro-Bernie / Biden-loathing constituency out there, but I am not interested in debating people about my determination to support whomever is the Dem’s nominee, so I have no sense of what that whole situation looks, sounds, or feels like, and I don’t intend to find out.

And Then There Were Two: Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden | The New Yorker

What I am aware of, however, is that there’s an incredible opportunity that could be brewing, if Bernie, Joe, and a bunch of other Dems and progressives figure it out.

Here’s what I see: if Bernie leads by example and focuses on defeating Trump and maximizing the influence of his core supporters on the Dems’ platform and Biden’s agenda, and if Biden and all the other major figures in the D party seek to meet them halfway and show that their top priorities will be part of the overall D agenda, 2020 could be an unparalleled year of progressive gains.

By dropping out at this stage, so much earlier than he did in 2016, Bernie has already changed his behavior from four years ago. Right now he has leverage to influence a center-left nominee and (I hope) administration. I hope Bernie will focus on that goal and stay engaged with and identified with the party. If he leads in this way, he can continue to move his core ideas forward and build up the progressive wing of the party. He’s in a strong position to play the role of the father of a progressive renaissance within the Democratic party – one that works with center-left Dems to defeat neo-fascist Republicanism at every turn, while simultaneously promoting and popularizing progressive policy ideas. Part of this strategy should include Bernie elevating young Dems who can be the future of his agenda.

If Bernie can help Biden and Dems win a big wave election, there are A LOT of very progressive young Dems running for literally everything downballot, and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with at every level of government. That’s the key. 2020 could be a great year for progressives if Bernie and Joe both see the opportunity for what it is and work for common goals.

Focus on building a strong, enduring progressive majority (there are no shortcuts – part 2)

With the redacted Mueller report about to drop, it’s tempting to get sucked into the news and spin cycles that are sure to follow. I plan not to do that today. But I also plan not to go politically inactive and abandon the field of action to others. I am going to keep doing the activist thing I’ve been doing lately – sending personalized postcards to Democratic voters urging them to vote in various local, state, and special Congressional elections. (https://postcardstovoters.org/)

I am also going to continue using the wonderful online tool, ResistbotScreenshot 2019-04-18 at 08.03.54, to easily write and send letters and faxes to members of Congress demanding that the full, unredacted report be made public, and keeping the pressure on about other important issues.

And I’m going to look for opportunities to keep hammering away at the long term enduring work needed to win local, state, and federal elections for Democrats, by checking on Indivisible’s work in my area and keeping up with a great activist organization in my state, Turn PA Blue.

We can’t count on good luck with news cycles and the unfolding of events. If the eventual contents of the full Mueller report see the light of day, and if those contents actually bring Trump down or decrease his chances of re-election, huzzah – bonus – yay! But we all know that things might play out very differently, justly or not.

Continue reading “Focus on building a strong, enduring progressive majority (there are no shortcuts – part 2)”

Cracks

This may be misplaced optimism, but I am feeling it in my gut, and I’m going to express it. I’ve been a fool before in trying to read politics and social trends, so if I end up being wrong, welp… it is what it is.

That caveat stated, methinks some chickens may be coming home to roost for the right wing neofascists in both Israel and the U.S.

Let’s start with Israel. Much to my surprise, the two leading centrist parties,

tweetled by former army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, and former TV news journalist, Yair Lapid, have agreed to form a joint bloc in the upcoming, April 9 Israeli election. The two men have agreed to rotate as prime minister, with Gantz taking the first 2 years, and Lapid the second 2 years, should they win the election. This is a massive blow to Netanyahu’s plans for setting up this election in such a way that he is almost guaranteed to win.

Meanwhile, any day now we’re likely to hear the decision of Israel’s Attorney General on whether or not to indict Netanyahu on bribery charges.

neener neener

Now it’s not like a Gantz/Lapid led government would suddenly shift Israel hard to the left, but it would topple the corrupt, arrogant, and toxic order that Netanyahu and his acolytes have created in Israel for a decade now.

Continue reading “Cracks”

Visualizing Trump’s 2nd Term

This is the sinking feeling I get when I check my favorite news and politics websites. Talking Points Memo. Daily Kos. My WaPo subscription. Even my favorite folks on Twitter.

So many stories pointing to growing trouble for 45. Mueller’s comin’. People are flippin’. Documents are being filed, with intensifying and worrying accusations for the Donald’s friends and fans.

And yet, there’s one data point that hasn’t budged. That won’t budge. Presidential Job Approval rating over 40 – possibly as high as 44. With a job approval rating in the 40s – anywhere in the 40s – it will take a great Democratic candidate to win. Because all Trump needs to win is a second-tier Democrat to be the nominee. All he needs is 48% of the vote, maybe 49%, and the right combo of states.

All he needs is good economic numbers and a divided center-left coalition (enter Bernie and his followers) to get to that tipping point in our arcane, illogical, electoral system. Enough to tip Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania into his column. Florida? They just went extra-Red in these midterms, so don’t count on a blue wave there. DT can lose by even bigger margins in California, in Illinois, in New York state – he can lose the popular vote by even more the second time around and still win.

He has a floor somewhere in the low 40s. He only needs to get to 48. Unless the Dems find someone with Obama-like skills, they’ll go into the thing in the mid 40s. It’ll come down to how the 5 or 8 percent in the middle break. But the Dem will need to get them to put him/her/them up over 50, maybe well over 50. Trump may only need to get to 48 and run the table electorally in the same upper midwestern states plus PA.

I read a story that featured interviews with GOP bigwigs speaking on condition of anonymity so they could be completely candid. On the one hand, they said that they’re all bracing for the possibility that the stuff that’s gonna come out of Mueller’s reports or some of the other court filings is going to destroy 45 and it’s gonna be a Hindenburg level disaster. On the other hand, they’re also prepping for the possibility that the most serious legal problems that these investigations end up attaching to Trump himself are some violations of campaign finance laws before he even took office. These GOP insiders said that if that’s what happens, they think DT is so effective at bending media narratives to his will, and at ginning up his base, that they actually think he’d be the odds-on favorite to win re-election. And they’re simultaneously preparing for that possibility too.

Image result for election 2020

The uncertainty drives me nuts.

So what do I do with my little self? With the energy, time, money, words, actions that I can do something with.

I feel like I need to make a list that’s based on preparing for both of these possible political outcomes. I’ll think about it and possibly return with said list.

 

In summer 2012 I wrote an essay proclaiming that America-the-diverse had prevailed over America-the-white-supremacist. I don’t know any more if that was right. Here’s the essay…

Fearing the Change That Has Already Happened

By Maurice Harris

June 2012

Recently I saw Romney on TV warning that Obama is on a mission to change America into a country that we hardly recognize, and that this election represents our last chance to stop him before we lose “the America we know. Echoing this message of cultural paranoia, last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC provided a platform for the most extreme versions of this thought, including panelists associated with white nationalist and anti-immigrant groups. The GOP’s core campaign message so far appears to be “Obama is dangerous because he isn’t really one of us.

In the first couple years of Obama’s presidency, the right promoted this message in the form of “birtherism” and the “he’s a Muslim” claim. Now they’re pushing it in the form of the he’s a European socialist” canard. In the space of three years, right wing paranoia has moved the geographic location of Obama’s Otherness from Kenya, where he wasn’t born, to Mecca, towards which he doesn’t pray, to Western Europe, whose fully socialized medicine he didn’t promote. Republicans are going to need a GPS navigation system to keep the American people up to date on the geography of their fictional portrayals of Obama.

The truth, however, is not that Obama is trying to change America into a country we won’t recognize, but rather that the GOP’s leaders don’t recognize the country that America has already become. America has already changed into, and will continue to become, an ever-more-diverse nation of many cultures, religions, and ideas. Before anybody knew who Barack Obama was, this change had already taken root. Obama is an American with mixed racial heritage and family ties to Kansas, Hawaii, Kenya, and Indonesia. He also has Muslim, Christian, and even Jewish relatives. He is a walking American melting pot who could only have become president long after the death of Jim Crow America. What the fearful right doesn’t see is that Obama is an awful lot like most people in this country – mixed heritage, ties to different strands of the weave of this nation, and a values system that has tolerance and respect for all these different cultural elements. Continue reading “In summer 2012 I wrote an essay proclaiming that America-the-diverse had prevailed over America-the-white-supremacist. I don’t know any more if that was right. Here’s the essay…”