“But don’t a majority on both sides support the two-state solution?”

The two state solution is supported by both sides only insofar as both sides are allowed to believe that it means something different. Saying most agree on it is like saying a Frenchmen and Englishmen agree to buy a car, while the Frenchmen is unwilling to buy anything cheaper than a Bentley and the Englishmen refuses to buy anything more expensive than a honda civic. But, since they don’t speak the same language, quite a lot of talk of support for the “car buying solution” can occur before any notion of agreement breaks down when they bring in a translator.

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Thoughts on Love, Relationships and the Structure of Revolution

I’ve been thinking a lot about love this weekend. Partially because it was Maria and Scott’s wedding (congratulations!), which I performed at. And partially for personal reasons.

Love is something which is quite important to me, both personally and politically. Genet’s Prisoner of Love was very influential on me. So, I wanted to share with you a few of my rough notes on love and revolution.

Love, in fact, has the same structure as revolution. Unrequited love is revolutionary – it demands that the world fit a prescription. But the revolution is won only by those who are willing to sell it out – by those who compromise and institute some of the genuine values of the revolution into a state bureaucracy, because only the professional revolutionary wants to fight all the time. And the lover, the lover needs to institute his or her love into a relationship which is not a pure fidelity but a living organism. This organism is in the first case a ritualization of interactions between two people and has a social reality. In a secondary case, we might say that the child of lovers and the formation of a family extends the concretization, and this why a couples words ring a Hegelian tune when they say “look out there our love is walking”. But just as a revolution which does no turning is but a failed revolt, a love which does no loving, which does not bring the emotional anticipation of the fall into a structure which transformers and preserves the feelings, is but an empty carcass, a grand painting of a non existent prize. A foolish aspiration. And on this basis we can call unrequited love not only tragic, but pathetic.

Luckily, love, unlike revolution, is much easier to achieve – and more importantly, a failed love just means passing onto the next attempt, taking another chance. True Revolutionary love transcends the needs of a specific time and place, and is able to hold in itself at a single time the contradictory thoughts which are absolute commitment to the cause/person, and willingness to transform the demand or cause in order to better pursue the struggle for justice and for love. This is not then absolute commitment to a specific person, or a specific cause, but rather commitment to persons and causes in general, and to continue to pursue the next revolution, the next love, until concrete gains are achieved – until the world is made slightly more tolerable. And then in the love the revolutionary may take leisure, because no one can struggle all of the time.

Eat Local? The Pioneer and the Colonizer

Sitting eating some tomatoes and blue potatoes from my friend’s farm, I started wondering what it would take to grow all one’s own food. After looking at a few pages on the blogosphere addressing this question, I realized – this is what pioneers/homesteaders did. In other words, colonizers. And I realized that the ideal of self-sufficiency is one of the primary myths used to justify (and green-wash?) colonization, and then it cemented – the western myth of the decontextualized individual, which often goes by the name of “Freedom”, is not just colonial because peoples were displaced and destroyed in order to make room for Lockean liberty, but because it as an idea disavows the primary importance of community. And maybe it did that because communities at that time were pretty unhealthy, socially pathological, not religiously tolerant, etc… (Or maybe that’s a myth, but what matters is how the story functions). So it’s never going to be enough to talk about personal sustainability, personal ethical judgements, personal choices about how to respond to contemporary ecological catastrophes – the problem is precisely that we try to respond to moral challenges alone, by separating ourselves from communities. If we stand any chance at decolonization, and at environmental survival, it will be by focussing on the spaces between us – our communities, our social-bonds. Without concretization inside social bonds, morality remains unconcretized, abstract.

Hypocricy in Western Anti-Colonial attitudes to Traditional Knowledge: North American vs the Arab World

Last night I attended two anti-colonial events. The first was “She Speaks”, an event organized by one of my favorite organizations “No One Is Illegal”, and the second was the Toronto premiere of “Roadmap to Apartheid”. The clash between them shocked me a little, provoked me to think about the racism that is implicit and complicit in the way we think about anti-colonial struggles.

I want to premise what I’m going to say next by saying I wish to express solidarity with the struggles of all North American indigenous peoples for self-determination, for the restoration of their national rights, and for their desires to have healthy communities and fulfilling lives according to whatever values they choose. However, I want to emphasize that this solidarity does not have to be connected with agreement on issues of tactics, or absolute support for fundamentalist religious attitudes of colonized peoples.

The first thing is we need to look at how some of these terms work.

Traditional Knowledge

Pre Colonial Faith

Traditional Governance

Traditional role of women

When we hear these terms in the context of a leftist atmosphere, spoken by a north american indigenous speaker, I want to assert that we have a very positive  disposition towards these concepts. Last night it was actually said that only indigenous people, because of their connection with the land and because of their legal situation with treaties, can lead the climate struggle in North America. Personally, I’m disposed to agree – I have a very positive attitude towards these concepts, and towards the idea that indigenous people should lead the resistance, both legal and otherwise, against the power of big oil and against the Canadian and American states which are controlled by private, short term interests and care nothing for the survival of the land or the planet. But as much as those might be my sentiments, why don’t we look at another set of concepts

Religious Orthodoxy

Religious Science

Theocracy

Traditionally defined role of women

 

This set of concepts is largely semantically equivalent to the set above – the difference is here I’m trying explicitly to evoke a way we might think if Islamic knowledge in relation to colonization, and how our biases don’t line up at all with the way we think about north american indigenous knowledge.  Continue reading “Hypocricy in Western Anti-Colonial attitudes to Traditional Knowledge: North American vs the Arab World”

TPFF Review: Roadmap to Apartheid

Tonight I was among the fortunate 200 who saw the premiere of “Roadmap to Apartheid”. I have been excited about this film since I saw the trailer on kickstarter. And then I was even more excited when I saw the extended trailer, which is just the first ten minutes of the film.

Why was I so excited? Two reasons. First reason: Alice Walker. Alice Walker is the most famous Black American writer on the topic of slavery – her book The Colour Purple is about as famous as American literature gets, the film was directed by Spielburg, loved by Oprah – Alice Walker has about as much moral authority as anyone in the United States. So the fact that she endorses the apartheid analysis and respects the BDS call, which she does by actions like refusing to have her book published in Israel, really can’t be overstated in its importance.  Continue reading “TPFF Review: Roadmap to Apartheid”

A different kind of film about Hebron

Tonight at TPFF there is a screening of “This is my land, Hebron”. If you want to watch it, (and I don’t feel bad about posting this because it’s sold out), it’s on youtube.

If you don’t know about Hebron, then watch the film. Or, pretty much any film about Hebron. They are all similar.

Hebron is important. It’s the most brutal example of the occupation of Palestine, and it’s unifying because almost everyone agrees that it’s horrible – even liberal zionists.

But I’m bored with every film about Hebron. Maybe it’s because I’ve been there three times. Maybe it’s because everything about Hebron, at least if it’s presented this way, is super-depressing. And pretty short on redemption, prospective or otherwise.

I have an idea, however, for a film about Hebron which wouldn’t be depressing, which wouldn’t be boring, and which wouldn’t present the Zionist-Palestinian conflict in the same old way. You’d need the co-operation of anti-zionist orthodox Jews, and you’d need pretty much to be a historian, and you’d need to be able to talk to Palestinians in Hebron who had a good and relatively unbiased memory of what life was like there in the 20s.

The idea would be to trace the real history of the Jews in Hebron during the Zionist colonization of palestine, primarily focussing on the 20s. I’ve written about this before, and I think it’s super-important partially because of the political need to oppose the settlers, but also because of the need for that opposition to be grounded in a genuinely anti-colonial politics, rather than a politics of fake peace and fake reconciliation. To speak honesty about the old Yishuv in Hebron, the way the zionists used money and political smarts to associate the religious community there with zionism, which precipitated the 1929 riots. And to talk about after the riots – where the reality is many Jews returned, although left again in ’36 with the great Arab revolt. These revolts and riots need to be understood in the context of colonization, as violence directed against a force which would take the people’s land and displace them. The settlers retrospectively use the anti colonial violence of 29 and 36 as a justification for the Nakba and the settlers in Hebron – but this is perverse, and people should understand that.

We should come to understand that the western model of reconciliation, which says that “both sides have committed sins”, and that peace is based on mutual forgiveness, is in reality a way for power to cover up the conquest it has undertaken and justify it retrospectively. A truly liberatory film about Hebron would need to show not simply that Hebron is a problem and the settlers are crazy, but that Hebron is the truth of the Zionist colonization of Palestine – and what is expulsion there is present everywhere, and most of all in the expulsion and dispossession of the refugees. And it would show on the basis of any moral dogma – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or Humanist – that colonization is a political wrong, and dealing with injustice at the level of state power, conquest and borders are at least as important as an emphasis on psychological niceness, and on “peace”.

Thoughts on the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Revolution, and the admissibility of disciplinary violence

We can easily enough attribute the fact that the PA is forced to use political violence to maintain its position of dominance and control to its failure to carry a revolutionary line; its failure to speak for the will of the people. This failure is materially exemplified by the rise of Hamas, the defections from the PLO following the Oslo agreements, and perhaps contemporary protest movements which oppose the PA’s neoliberal policies such as “Palestinians for Dignity”.  Continue reading “Thoughts on the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Revolution, and the admissibility of disciplinary violence”