Polina Barskova, a talented Russian poet ( living in the States) writes about a new Russian turn to the literature and archives of Leningrad blockade.
In the Russian city of Tver', a presentation of a roman-a-clef A Conspiracy of Apes (Khodorkovsky is supposed to be the real referent of the book) was canceled, after a phone call to the regional library from the regional ministry of culture, reports openspace.ru. The publisher is a Czech VT-World Communication Agency. Print run is just 3,000. The author, Tina Shamrai, is listed as a resident of Tver', but that name is supposed to be a pseudonym.
On Feb. 4, there was a break in into the office of Cyril Tuschi, director of a film about Khodorkovsky. The film is about to premier at the Berlin festival. The film itself was not taken, but all additional materials were deleted from Tuschi's computer. (Reported by openspace.ru, based on information from the livejournal blog of Irina Yasina, a member of the Presidential commission on human rights).
Meanwhile, the artist Andrey Loskutov is to be prosecuted for offending a cop in Novosibirsk.
Feb. 8, 2011. Paul Amar at Jadaliyya: "...as if America’s puny $1.5 billion in aid (which all must be recycled back as purchases from US military suppliers anyway) really dictates policy for a regime that makes multi-billion dollar deals with Russia, China and Brazil every month, and that has channeled an estimated $40-70 billion into Mubarak’s personal accounts". Amar's Feb. 1 post is very informative on the emerging configurations of power in Egypt.
A politically motivated attack on intellectuals in Hungary. If Agnes Heller was not involved,
this probably would not have made as much of a splash outside of Hungary.
Some prehistory. And some more developments.
A fact to be aware of: in Hungary, various scholarly institutes are bureaucratically subordinated to a mandarin Academy.
Names: József Pálinkás (senile authoritarian, Orban's stooge); György Gábor (an honest philosopher of religions at the Philosophy institute); János Boros (a provincial outsider, Palinkas' man); M. István Fehér (right-wing philosopher).
The disgusting thing is that, with all its anti-Communist talk, and the very excessive veneration of Hungarian suffering during Soviet era, Orban's program, under the guise of pragmatism, is reproducing the worst features of a, o well, police state.
More on Egypt. A friend forwarded me this interview with Gilbert Achcar. Some high points.
...most of the Egyptian opposition, starting with the Muslim Brotherhood, have been sowing illusions about the army and its purported “neutrality,” if not “benevolence.”
The model they aspire to reproduce in Egypt is that of Turkey, where the democratization process was controlled by the military with the army remaining a key pillar of the political system.
The regime conceded a lot to <Muslim Brotherhood> in the socio-cultural sphere, increasing Islamic censorship in the cultural field being but one example.
Rached Ghannouchi's Tunisian Nahda movement "has much less influence in Tunisia than the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt" because"the Tunisian society is less prone than the Egyptian to religious fundamentalist ideas, due to its higher degree of Westernization and education, and the country's history."
Here's Joshua Stacher at Foreign Affairs about the army:
The regime remained cohesive throughout by pursuing a sophisticated strategy of unleashing violence upon the people and then saving them from it. Sophisticated!? Stacher's pessimism, when combined with such placid neutrality of language, is a questionable proposition.
He mentions two Egyptian activists, who drew attention to Mubarak's (or is it already Soleiman's?) game: Hossam el-Hamalawy and Mahmoud Salem.
Interestingly, he says that those who met Soleiman on Sunday broke ranks with the protesters.. He may have something there.
In Tunisia, Slim Amamou, a web activist and a member of the Pirate Party has received the post of a State Secretary of Youth and Sports, a semi-ministerial position in the new transitional government. Reported by torrentfreak. Meanwhile, the emir of Kuwait is handing out $4 bilion in cash and free foood for 18 months to its citizens (80 % of Kuwaiti workforce are employed by the state, making an average of $3,500 a month), ostensibly in celebration of some upcoming jubilees. The food will probably be used to feed a variety of household slaves (Kuwait employs 2 million of mostly South Asian migrant workers). James Traub, at Foreign Policy, sees this as a reaction to recent events in Tunisia. Obviously, Egypt is a place to watch. There have been self-immolation there in recent days. The unemployed youth is a demographic that these authoritarians are reluctant to engage with, and events in Tunisia remind the aging dictators that the new generations must be taught the fear, or temporarily placated. Hilary Clinton, as can be expected, warns Arab leaders that 'extremists' will fill the void of political power, thus coloring the image of Tunisian uprising with the hues of terrorism. While it might be more instructing to compare what's happened in Tunisia with the riots in France a few years ago, or with the disturbances in Moscow last month. In both cases, it was a death of a young man, an iconic martyr, that served as a trigger for general uprising. Obama's problem now is how to deal with autocratic governments of those states which are the supposed allies of US in its 'war on terror'. But radical militant Islam is only one of the agents of reaction to the unjust social state in these countries. US finds it easy to criticize just that, because suggesting to the Arab leaders that democratization a la USA is what's needed there can only be taken ironically by those leaders, who know full well that USA has only a sham democracy. Everywhere it is the rule of the rich. This is what Obama administration will try to preserve, most likely. It would be nice to hope for something different, but foolish to actually expect it.
Meanwhile, in Lebanon, the Druze leader decided to side with Hezbollah on the issue of UN tribunal to investigate the death of Harari the elder in 2005. On January 18th, the tribunal passed its sealed indictments to a pretrial judge. Hezbollah denies involvement and condemns the commission as working against Lebanese unity. Here is one Lebanese woman's take on the tribunal and other matters.
(Which may well be true: the idea of international law is premised on the idea that there are laws and goods which transcend nationhood. But law is not a science: there is no equivalent in it for the universally binding mathematical formulas. Until there is no such equivalent, an insistence on universal human rights is open to two types of criticism: on the level of critique against a particular person who propounds it; or on the more fundamental level, where one simply doubts that such global discourse of human rights is possible at all. However, the latter may turn out to be be only a way of pessimism, of the stupid reconciliation with reality. It is stupid to reconcile not because resistance is futile, but because it is only most likely futile. Individual life is too short for us to not feel drawn to those who would decrease their own chances of comfortable life by fighting universal battles.
Wow, i feel impressed with myself. But I should, at least, state my own preference, my own view. be suspicious of heads of repressive states drawing the nationalist card. And watch out: try to catch them when they end up justifying as part of national character something that turns out to be a European importation of the colonial era. ( at this point I should write only after having read this. The book is worth $150 bucks on Amazon, so it is bound to have some correct answers, right? One of its editors is A Sorbonne law prof. Pierre Legrand, whose name pops up in the table of contents for this.
"When Preval came out of hiding, he set up shop at a police station that backed directly onto the airport runway", writes Associated Press' Jonathan Katz about the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. (In that story, note the picture of a cramped, pressurized line of people waiting to get some parcels of aid, and recall recent deaths in India at a religious stampede). Fucking Sean Penn: relocated people to a camp, poorly built on private company's land. Thus government had to pay Nabatec Development instead of spending money on food and water.
Remember Kars? Coelho's Iranian editor proudly admits to having been one of the first few doctors who rushed to Kars in 200.???????
Our favorite South African blogger Mbambi likes Ithiel de Sola Pool.