Once upon a time this vision qualified as dystopic and its message cautionary. But as Thomas P. Keenan makes clear in Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy, we have entered a new Kuhnian paradigm that doesn’t necessarily include a future for the human species—at least as we know it. As Keenan puts it, the digitalization of humanity is now as unstoppable as climate change. Its impact can be reduced with certain uncomfortable adjustments, but the lag in any collective action will make it utterly reactionary and useless.
Keenan lays out the evidence calmly, methodically and without polemics: he lets the evidence speak for itself. This is not to say the book is devoid of humour—far from it! But his wit, like his politics, takes a back seat to the civil and civic-minded purpose of his endeavor. In 15 separate but related areas of human activity, Keenan provides examples of the way technology is bleeding over into the very essence of human life. He makes a convincing case that humans’ capitulation to the Machine has been, like the switch of data transmission from analog to digital, welcome, blind and unstoppable. And we have been hurtling along ever faster since.
Read the full review at The Rumpus.
You heard of ISIS before you heard of ISIS – they used to be called “resistance fighters,” or “anti-Assad forces,” – back when we were providing them with arms and aid. Patrick Cockburn covers the full story of the Islamic State’s sweep across the wreckage of Syria and Iraq in his book The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising (excerpt at CounterPunch.)
Patrick calls into TiH! to set up a broad political context for the history and current state of the ISIS/ISIL, from the internal tensions stoked by Western policies that enabled the group to flourish in Syria and then Iraq, to the region’s religious, political and financial backers operating in the open, and finally the realization that nations can support and combat violent groups at the same time, in a cycle that costs lives but makes certain people lots and lots of money.
Listen to the full interview at This Is Hell!
Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.
One of the major stories of the summer, the takeover of huge portions of Syria and Iraq by a highly organized militant strain of political Islam, came as a surprise to many in the West. But not to Patrick Cockburn. A journalist whose coverage of the Middle East goes back three-and-a-half decades, the Ireland-born Cockburn, whose family Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer described as responsible for some of the most important reporting of the last 50 years (he is the brother of fellow journalists Andrew Cockburn and the recently deceased Alexander Cockburn, and the son of Claud Cockburn), was lauded by colleague Seymour Hersh as “quite simply, the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today.” A look at the reporter’s new book about the region’s latest, most ferocious and conspicuously ambitious pretenders to power will give readers an idea why.
“The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising,” published by OR Books, began to take form earlier this year during Cockburn’s work on a series of lectures and articles. Describing his thesis in the book’s acknowledgements, the author explains that what “seemed a marginal opinion in 2013 and early 2014”—that the stability of post-intervention Iraq was endangered by jihadis overtaking moderates in the struggle in neighboring Syria—was borne out “spectacularly” by the militant group ISIS’ capture of the Iraqi city of Mosul in mid-June. With a quarter of that country and a third of Syria now under its control, ISIS declared sovereignty over a territory larger than Britain and home to a population (6 million) that exceeds some European countries.
Read the full article at Truthdig.
“For two years Iraqi politicians had been warning anybody who would listen to them that if the civil war in Syria continued it would destabilise the fragile status quo in Iraq,” Cockburn writes. “When Mosul fell everybody blamed Maliki, who certainly had a lot to answer for, but the real cause of the debacle in Iraq was the war across Iraq’s border. The revolt of the Syrian Sunni had caused a similar explosion in Iraq.”
If western governments have been blind to the threat represented by groups like Isis, many journalists have also been pleased to fall in with the orthodox narrative about the conflict in Syria.
Cockburn notes that much western reporting of the Arab Spring was informed by a naive belief that technological innovations such as social media had fundamentally changed political realities. “Antagonisms that predated the Arab Spring were suddenly said to be obsolete; a brave new world was being created at hectic speed,” he writes.
Read the full review in The Irish Times.
And in October, OR Books in New York is to publish “Blood Splatters Quickly,” a collection of more than 30 short stories written by Wood, sometimes under the pseudonym Ann Gora, that appeared in 1970s girlie magazines like Gallery.
Wood’s erotic films “are rough and tumble and ugly, and if you can accept them on that level, then good or bad stops being a question,” said Andrew Lampert, Anthology’s curator of collections.
Wood wrestled with notions of dual sexuality in his personal life. A fan of Buck Jones westerns and a decorated Marine who fought in World War II, he was also a cross-dresser with a lifelong fondness for pink angora sweaters...
“These are contradictions I don’t think you ever quite resolve,” said John Oakes, the co-publisher of OR Books. “He deserves credit as an extraordinary original who set his own standards.”
Read the full article at The New York Times.
While the mainstream media trumpet moral outrage and airstrikes, Patrick Cockburn deftly unveils the elephants in the room. At the heart of Western failure since 9/11 is Washington's craven unwillingness to confront the political and financial might of Saudi Arabia.
Not a subject Washington wants to talk about: 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report dealing with Saudi Arabia were cut and never published. It was only thanks to WikiLeaks that a Hillary Clinton cable complaining "that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups" came to light. But Cockburn points to another twist: "Jihadist social media is now openly attacking the Saudi royal family." Is it too late for the Saudi rulers to rein in a jihad of their own making?
Read the full review in The Independent.
But the problem is, we did do something. We aided those who've contributed to the rise of the Islamic State. The CIA delivered arms and other equipment to Syrian rebels, strengthening the side of the ISIS jihadists. Some even traveled to Syria from America to give moral and material support to these rebels even though there had been multiple reports some were allied with al Qaeda. Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the London newspaper, the Independent, recently reported something disturbing about these rebel groups in Syria. In his new book, "The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising," Mr. Cockburn writes that he traveled to southeast Turkey earlier in the year where "a source told me that 'without exception' they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the U.S." It's safe to say these rebels are probably not friends of the United States.
Read Rand Paul's full op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
The chicken that came home to roost from the Syrian debacle is called ISIS. It is not Al Qaeda. But, as the journalist Patrick Cockburn has noted, Al Qaeda “is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case.”
ISIS grew through American weakness — the setting of objectives and red lines in Syria that proved vacuous. But the deepest American and Western defeat has been ideological. As Hussain said, “If you don’t have a concerted strategy to undermine their narrative, their values, their worldview, you are not going to succeed. Everyone in society has to take on the challenge.”
Read the full op-ed at The New York Times.
Eloquently written, passionate, sad, joyous, and above all politically engaged, the book is an epiphany. It shows us how health and disease are socially made, and how disease priorities are set in societies by larger economic and political forces. And that we as people will collectively have to claim our futures. It is compulsory reading for all health workers, public health researchers, and indeed, the general public. My sister was recently diagnosed to have multiple myeloma. She will learn a lot from this book, including courage and daring.
Read the full review in Economic & Political Weekly.
Some smaller publishers have already moved into direct sales. When Colin Robinson co-founded OR Books in 2009, he decided to bypass Amazon and sell directly to readers, printing books on demand. He says Amazon would have taken a 60% cut on the list price, money that can instead be spent on advertising and promotion.
OR Books is "handselling" its books, he says, "like the person who works in the bookstore [and] knows you". It is a model that suits the New-York based publisher, which Robinson says publishes books that are "written, edited, reviewed, bought and read by people with sympathy for ideas that are politically and culturally off-piste".
Recent publications include an account of the rise of Isis (Islamic State) in Iraq, by a veteran Middle East reporter and a collection of short stories by Cuban authors. "The future of the business, especially for small to medium-sized publishers, who have got quite targeted audiences for their books, the future is is to sell direct."
Read the full article at The Guardian.
Has anyone covered this nightmare better than the world’s least embedded reporter, Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent? Not for my money. He’s had the canniest, clearest-eyed view of developments in the region for years now. As it happens, when he publishes a new book on the Middle East (the last time was 2008), he makes one of his rare appearances at TomDispatch. This month, his latest must-read work, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is out. Today, this website has an excerpt from its first chapter on why the war on terror was such a failure (and why, if Washington was insistent on invading someplace, it probably should have chosen Saudi Arabia). It includes a special introductory section written just for TomDispatch. Thanks go to his publisher, OR Books.
Read the full excerpt at TomDispatch.
Either way, the notorious Internet publisher is already gearing up for a speaking schedule to promote his anti-Google book, When Google Met WikiLeaks.
In true WikiLeaks style, the book reveals a private conversation between Google chair Eric Schmidt and Assage. The book asserts that Schmidt (and Google) believe that technology will save the world by helping the United States achieve its foreign policy goals. Assange, ever the anarchist, believes technology will help the world become more “stateless.”
Read the entire article Venturebeat.
Despite these warnings, I was shocked a month or so later when, on the 10th of June, Mosul fell almost without a fight. Every derogatory story I had ever heard about the Iraqi army being a financial racket in which commanders bought their posts in order to grow rich on kickbacks and embezzlement turned out to be true. The ordinary soldiers may have run away in Mosul, but not as quickly as their generals, who turned up in civilian clothes in Erbil, the Kurdish capital. It had become apparent over the previous year that ISIS was run with a chilling blend of ideological fanaticism and military efficiency. Its campaign to take northern and western Iraq was expertly planned, choosing soft targets and avoiding well defended positions, or, as ISIS put it, moving “like a serpent through rocks”.
Read the full excerpt at VICE.
Finkelstein at one point claims that it ‘is child’s play not just to poke holes in but also turn on their head all of Shavit’s propositions’ (p.54), but perhaps he does not appreciate the ease with which those yearning for a redemption of the Zionist cause can be swept away by the propaganda of writers like Shavit. Old Wine, Broken Bottle not only blocks such a redemption, but is also a vital tool in the development of a counter-narrative for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian crisis to that predominantly portrayed in the media. The Jewish-American community’s growing estrangement from Israel may, indeed, not be reversed by My Promised Land. However, with the recent conflict in Gaza yielding over 1,900 dead at the time of writing, what seems more important to focus on is finding the spark that will move greater numbers in Jewish communities, in the US or internationally, to oppose loudly the occupation and current slaughter. As a hugely persuasive challenge to Zionist ideology, which for many underpins their tolerance of the Israeli government’s actions, Finkelstein’s latest critique might just provide that spark.
Read the full review at Counterfire.
The Jihadis Return is an important book. Albeit a bit too brief to cover the ever-changing situation in Iraq and Syria, it does provide a fairly comprehensive look at the non-state forces in the region, who they are backed by, the motives of those backers and the sectarian desires of those Cockburn calls jihadis. The picture that arises from this text is one whose primary characteristic is bloody and uncertain. As Cockburn makes clear, it is also a picture originally drawn by Washington with its support of the current government in Baghdad and now being redrawn by individuals and groups who feel they were left out of the picture. Their perception holds some truth; Washington’s client regime in Baghdad is seen as a Shia regime, in large part because its leaders have not only ignored Sunni demands for funds and fair treatment, but because it has attacked peaceful protests by Sunnis, locking up the participants and killing dozens. Whether or not the latest US-approved regime will continue these practices remains to be seen.
Read the full review at Counterpunch.
After more than a decade of denial and concealment on the part of our government, President Obama's recent acknowledgment that "we tortured some folks" felt like a milestone. Even in its spare, reductive phrasing, the president's statement opened up the possibility, finally, of national reflection, contrition and accountability.
But the president moved quickly to limit that conversation, painting those who authorized torture as "patriots" who were making difficult decisions under enormous pressure and urging the public not to feel "sanctimonious" because our military and intelligence leaders have "tough jobs."
Read the full op-ed at the Los Angeles Times.
The United States is sending 130 more troops to Iraq amidst a bombing campaign against ISIS militants in the north and a political crisis gripping Baghdad. We are joined by veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn, author of the new book, "The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising." Cockburn addresses the power struggle in Baghdad, Hillary Clinton’s claim that President Obama’s "failure" to support Syrian rebels helped fuel ISIS’s advance, the role of oil in the current U.S. airstrikes, and his fears that Iraq is entering a "new, more explosive era far worse than anything we’ve seen over the last 10 years."
Watch the full interview at Democracy Now!
Coming up on today’s show we have Mariame Kaba back on the show to discuss some of the latest examples of police violence including the murder of 18 year old Michael Brown, and the brutality towards Denise Stewart. We also have Thomas Keenan here to discuss his new book, Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy And the Capitalization of Intimacy.
Listen to the full interview on The Matthew Filipowicz Show.
Iraq has disintegrated. Little is exchanged between its three great communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurd – except gunfire. The outside world hopes that a more inclusive government will change this but it is probably too late.
The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them. Iraq is facing a civil war that could be as bloody as anything that we have seen in Syria and could go on for years.
Read the full excerpt on Counterpunch.
Watch the full video on MSNBC.