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“Punching the Nazi in the face was the only way that Améry could resist being reduced to a mere body, a passive object, a thing. ”–ERIC ANTHAMATTEN revisiting philosopher Jean Améry's case for violent resistance, featured in #CHAROLOTTESVILE: WHITE SUPREMACY, POPULISM, AND RESISTANCE from TANK Magazine

March 22, 2019
Punching Nazis in the face: a philosopher makes the case for violent resistance
As white supremacist Richard Spencer was being interviewed on camera, a masked protester punched him square in the jaw. Many conservatives looked at this as evidence of cry-baby liberalism: when unable to handle alternative points of view, leftists resort to violence to stifle free speech. Fifty years ago, philosopher Jean Améry made a sustained argument for punching Nazis in the face, not only as an acceptable action, but one that might be required. A victim of torture by the Gestapo and a survivor of the Holocaust, Améry described his disturbing experience of torture at the hands of fascism, and defended, contra Nietzsche, the role of resentment (ressentiment) as an essential element of human identity, dignity, will, and freedom, including its manifestation in violence, as in the time he punched a Nazi in the face. Punching the Nazi in the face was the only way that Améry could resist being reduced to a mere body, a passive object, a thing. He had to punch to restore the boundary between his personhood and the intrusion of the torture, the fascist, the racist: the boundaries of my body are also the boundaries of myself. My skin surface shields me against the external world. If I am to have trust, I must feel on it only what I want to feel. Améry’s argument for Nazy face-punching isn’t a version of the argument for defence, however. Crucially, he acknowledges that his punch was not only futile, but would lead to even more pain being inflicted upon him, perhaps even death. In this way, Améry’s argument cannot be seen as a mere act of self-preservation, but as something that was demanded of him, as a human being, to preserve the integrity of the human world. His reasoning for Nazi-punching moves beyond ethical discourse into an ontological justification: what is at stake is not his individual body, but all of our bodies, and, perhaps, our world itself.
ERIC ANTHAMATTEN's essay from #CHARLOTTESVILLE is featured in TANK Magazine

Read ERIC ANTHAMMATEN's essay featured in TANK Magazine here.

#CHARLOTTESVILLE: WHITE SUPREMACY, POPULISM, AND RESISTANCE is available for purchase. Order your copy here.

“When you’re in such a warped mindset, it’s natural you’re going to call a piece of Jewish art antisemitic” –ELI VALLEY, author of DIASPORA BOY in conversation with Shuja Haider for Popula

March 15, 2019
Eli Valley, author of Diaspora Boy on recent controversy with Meghan McCain for Popula
HAIDER: Right. I mean, a drawing of someone who is not Jewish, by the son of a rabbi, she called the most antisemitic thing she’d ever seen. How does that work? VALLEY: I think she identified so much as a victimized Jewish person under the onslaught of the supposed terrorist Ilhan Omar that any criticism of her is a criticism of the Jewish people. So when you’re in such a warped mindset, it’s natural you’re going to call a piece of Jewish art antisemitic. HAIDER: What did you think of Ilhan Omar’s statements themselves? VALLEY: Honestly, I think there is room for nuance here in the discussion. Let’s establish this first: she didn’t make antisemitic remarks, she criticized monolithic support for Israel. In America, that’s led by mostly rapture-thirsty Evangelical Zionist antisemites, and to equate Israel with Jews is itself antisemitic—à la Trump’s insistence that Israel is “our” country, and American Jews aren’t exactly American. Having said that, and knowing the discourse will be tainted from the start by bad-faith assholes, it’s worth the trouble to be sensitive about the language. Don’t give them an open! Some people, especially among older generations, will be triggered by certain phrases even if you’re not talking about Jews. So with that in mind, ideally she could have phrased things to avoid any unintentional or momentary overlap with the historic vernacular of antisemitism. But what she said doesn’t make her an antisemite. People are making it a big deal because they’re pretending Israel equals Jews, and antisemitism is now defined as criticism of AIPAC and Likud. When talking about fealty to Israel, by, let’s be honest, mostly fucking Evangelicals, okay, the language can unfortunately overlap, or be confused with, this mythology. And if we were operating in good faith—and I’m thinking especially of Democrats here—we could have her back and help her understand these nuances instead of appeasing right-wing creeps with show trials.

Read the full article here.

“Dystopia is already here, and we are living in it.” –Salik Shah on GORDON VAN GELDER's book, WELCOME TO DYSTOPIA: 45 VISIONS OF WHAT LIES AHEAD for Strange Horizon Magazine

March 8, 2019
Salik Shah reviewing Gordon Van Gelder's book Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead in Strange Horizon Magazine
Welcome to Dystopia, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, is a collection of forty-five short stories set in the near future. Subtitled “45 Visions of What Lies Ahead,” the anthology offers contrasting snippets and frightening scenarios of the kind of life we might find ourselves living tomorrow. Indeed, while reading these stories, the reader gets the feeling that they are not so far-fetched visions of what might be: the dystopia is already here, and we are living in it. I don’t intend to review every story in the collection. Instead, I will attempt to introduce you to the stories that struck these chords with me, and have stayed with me even after several weeks. ... If you haven’t read these books, perhaps it’s time to do so before they disappear from the mind-database of the world. And in the coming elections, vote wisely. If you don’t, be prepared to register your vagina or what have you at the nearest Registry. It’s compulsory. If you think I’m joking, read Lisa Mason’s story, “Dangerous.” Welcome to Dystopia is a must-read—and may well be worth adding to your own list of books to pass on to the next generation in any such dystopian scenario.

Read the full article here.

“The repression of BDS shows how the American and Israeli ruling classes are deeply enmeshed” –GREG SHUPAK, author of THE WRONG STORY: PALESTINE, ISRAEL, AND THE MEDIA for In These Times

March 7, 2019
Greg Shupak on how the repression of BDS shows just how deeply enmeshed the the American and Israeli ruling classes really are
The first bill to be considered by the 2019 U.S. Senate defends Israel by giving American state and local governments the legal authority to punish U.S. companies that are participating in the Palestinian-led boycott against Israel. According to the legal advocacy organization Palestine Legal, 26 states have adopted anti-boycott measures. The federal bill strengthens the legal basis to defend those Israel-protecting laws from constitutional challenges. Alarmingly, the bill could be used to punish individuals, given that, as The Intercept recently explained, because “individual contractors often work for state or local governments under the auspices of a sole proprietorship or some other business entity.” The bill would also codify a 2016 deal between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government guaranteeing Israel $38 billion in “security” assistance over 10 years, a provision that would undermine any current or future president’s ability to undo the arrangement. Such a move would hamstring what passes for American democracy by obstructing the population’s ability to stop participating in the mass murder of Palestinian civilians should it wish to do so. Observers could be forgiven for wondering why the U.S. government goes to these lengths to suppress support for Palestinian liberation. In the following essay adapted from my book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel, & The Media, I explain why the U.S.-Israeli alliance is so deep and durable.

Read the full article here.

“We should say no to any coup d’etat, no to any military takeover, no to foreign interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela.” – ARIEL DORFMAN, author of HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK: IMPERIALIST IDEOLOGY IN THE DISNEY COMIC from BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight

February 28, 2019
ARIEL DORFMAN on his lived experience of the 1973 Chilean coup d'état and Venezuela today.
“We suffered a coup d'etat against a government which was democratically elected, a socialist government, but was working within the law. We were also the object of foreign intervention, because the United States had blocked and sabotaged our economy, and they were also constantly interfering by sending millions and millions of dollars for the destabilization. These are not my words, these are the words of Kissinger and Nixon, “to make the economy scream.” We should say, no to any coup d’etat, no to any military takeover, no to foreign interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, but we should also say no to the anti-democratic oppressive measures which Maduro is taking, and the way in which his corrupt regime has really ruined that country. Maduro is giving socialism a bad name. And I have consistently said that Maduro should think also of what he’s doing to the left in Latin America. All over Latin America there’s a nostalgia for dictatorship, for strong men, so I would tell Corbyn that as a man of the left, he should be very very clear, Maduro has problems, serious problems, we should criticize them, we should criticize all the forms of human-rights abuses that he’s got, and at the same time, we have to condemn any form of foreign interference, and any attempt to have a military takeover. ”

Listen to the full radio interview here.

“Valley’s been having a series of good mornings, by which I mean terrible mornings. His career’s going great, but that’s partly because everything else is going to hell in a handbasket.” – Abraham Riesman on ELI VALLEY, author of DIASPORA BOY for Vulture

February 22, 2019
Valley’s been having a series of good mornings, by which I mean terrible mornings. His career’s going great, but that’s partly because everything else is going to hell in a handbasket. As the weight of humanity’s chaos has become more and more unbearable, Valley’s lewdly honest cartooning, fueled by his personal rage at a world gone wrong, has become a staple in the angrier corners of the American left, especially among its Jewish partisans. For well over a decade, Valley has unsparingly attacked political and communal leaders in the United States and Israel for their venality and sadism. Now, with two books on the stands and a devoted online following showering him with likes and retweets, Valley is demonstrating that he’s one of the only political cartoonists willing to enter into a staring contest with the abyss.

Read the article here.

“I wanted to give Baldwin his body back, to reclaim him for myself and many others as the maverick queer artist that drew us to him in the first place.” – HILTON ALS on curating a collective portrait of Queer Black author and activist, James Baldwin, for the David Zwirner gallery in NYC, in The Paris Review

February 21, 2019
HILTON ALS on curating a collective portrait of Queer Black author and activist, James Baldwin for the David Zwirner Gallery
After the Alice Neel show I curated closed in 2017, David Zwirner asked me what I’d like to do next. I immediately said James Baldwin, for some reasons that were clear to me and some that revealed themselves only when I began to meet with artists and see their work. I wanted to give Baldwin his body back, to reclaim him for myself and many others as the maverick queer artist that drew us to him in the first place. It’s difficult to visualize those feelings—complex, almost nonverbal feelings—and, as it turns out, difficult to get the right mix that further articulates those expressions of thought and feeling. But I think what we have here in this show, “God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin” (on view through February 16), is exactly as I wanted, which is to say a myriad portrait of a significant figure. And as everyone knows, when an artist is making a portrait, they are also making a portrait of themselves. So to a very great extent, this is not a group show but, I hope, a new and valuable way of showing artists who are interested in exhibiting aspects of themselves, their thinking in relation to their times and the history that made them. Baldwin certainly helped make me, and in recent years I have been disturbed by the conversations around his work—largely, shall we say, heteronormative conversations that elevate the imitator and plunge the so-called liberal into a very comforting cold bath laced with guilt and remorse. These are reflexes, not thoughts, really, and so in order to help give Baldwin himself, I thought we had to start from the beginning. The first part of the exhibition is rooted in biography, and the second part is about metaphor: artists making the art Baldwin could not make himself.

Read the article here.

“I still call Lula president because he was condemned by a Brazilian kangaroo Supreme Court justice and forced from office.” – Ken Silverstein on LULA DA SILVA'S forthcoming manifesto, TRUTH WILL PREVAIL (WHY I WAS CONDEMNED) , in Washington Babylon

February 7, 2019
“That’s my man right here. Love this guy. He’s the most popular politician on earth. It’s because of his good looks.” — Barack Obama, in a characteristically unfunny and self-revealing remark, about Lula. I met Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in the early-1990s, when he was a union activist and political opposition leader. A few years later I co-authored a book about him and the Workers’ Party (PT) with Emir Sader, which was published by Colin Robinson, then at Verso. So I am pleased to announce that Colin, now at O/R Books with the illustrious John Oakes, have published a book by President Lula, It’s called “Truth Will Prevail: Why I Was Condemned.” I still call Lula president because he was condemned by a Brazilian kangaroo Supreme Court justice and forced from office and then his equally heroic elected successor, Dilma Rousseff, was overthrown in a coup that the U.S. media routinely describes as her legal impeachment. Anyway, President Dilma’s impeachment led inexorably to the “election” of a murderous right-wing fascist — since Lula, who polls showed would have won easily, was barred from running — named Jair Bolsonaro. The kangaroo court “Justice” who led a witch hunt that drove Lula from office was named Sérgio Moro. Right after he was “elected” the blood-soaked Bolsonaro named Moro his regime’s justice minister. You actually can’t make this shit up. All I want to add for now is that everyone should buy Lula’s book as soon as it comes out on February 25th and I’ll be writing more about it closer to its publication date, when I’ll also provide ordering information from O/R Books.

Read the article here.

“Roma is a cinematic triumph. Can it teach Trump’s America the value of compassion?” – ARIEL DORFMAN, author of HOW TO READ DONALD DUCK: IMPERIALIST IDEOLOGY IN THE DISNEY COMIC, in The Guardian

February 5, 2019

Staying in Santiago, Chile, at the moment, I see echoes and reflections of Cleo – the servant at the heart of Alfonso Cuarón’s wondrous film Roma – everywhere. Cuarón’s consummate recreation of his Mexico City childhood in the early 1970s has garnered 10 Oscar nominations and is a favorite for the top prizes later this month – including best picture, best actress, for Yalitza Aparicio who plays Cleo, and best director for Cuarón. I see Cleo, as Cuarón does, in the nanas. This is the euphemistic term here for domestic servants, the word that serves as a way of pretending they are part of the family rather than paid servants who can be fired at the drop of a hat. When we visit Chile, my wife and I stay in a house we own in a condominium for educated professionals. One of the delights is a small swimming pool and its icy-cold water, perfect for escaping the fierce summer heat of the southern hemisphere. One of the rules that govern the use of the pool is that servants and their progeny cannot refresh themselves in it. It seemed unfair to the nanas, who would swelter under the sun while the kids they were supervising frolicked and splashed around. That parents would trust these women with the lives of their offspring but not allow them into the communal water was not only cruel but smacked of something more ominous. For those who are well-to-do, the poor can do the dirty work as long as their dirty bodies don’t sully the supposedly pristine lives of their privileged employers. As the saying goes in the United States: not in my backyard.

Read the article here.

“There's nothing like a good migrant scapegoat to detract public attention from elite pillaging of the country and other unpleasantries.” – BELÉN FERNÁNDEZ, author of our forthcoming HOMELAND (Finding My Way from Lebanon to Honduras and Not Getting Killed in the Process), in Aljazeera

February 1, 2019

Beyond the issue of hypocritical US dependence on so-called "illegal" immigration, it is worth considering how the "great guacamole famine of 2019" stacks up against other border-related catastrophes - like the US vilification and exploitation of Mexicans and Central Americans who were forced to migrate northward thanks in large part to US regional machinations in the first place. Indeed, under normal circumstances, those avocados enjoy superior cross-border freedom of movement compared with, say, the seven-year-old girl who recently died in US Border Patrol custody after journeying from her native Guatemala - a country the US has devoted much time to screwing over politically and financially. Ditto for migrants from Honduras and other locales where the US habit of backing violent regimes and increasing widespread poverty - pardon, "capitalism" - means that daily existence can often constitute an apocalyptic scenario unto itself and has driven entire families in to participate in one of the largest mass migrations in recent history. Anyway, back to serious news and the real existential question: "No guac for the Super Bowl?", as USA Today puts it. But whether the guacamole materialises in time or viewers have to make do with gobs of non-cheese cheese, there is plenty about the current spectacle in the US that should make one sick to one's stomach.

Read the article here.

“The tragic history of U.S. military interventions in Latin America in the last decades... is one of the causes of why the world is in such bad shape right now.” – WOLFGANG KALECK, author of our forthcoming Law Versus Power: Our Global Fight for Human Rights, on Democracy Now!

January 25, 2019

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the global state of human rights right now, as you see it. You generally live in Berlin. You are here visiting the United States. WOLFGANG KALECK: Yeah, I mean, everybody’s talking now about Putin and Erdogan, Turkey’s president, and, of course, also about Trump, and rightly so. They have to be criticized on every level. No question about that. But we shouldn’t forget the former “troika of tyranny”: Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney. And everybody tends now, in the light of, you know, the performances of President Trump, to think of these men as honorable, respectful politicians. They weren’t. They were war criminals. And the only reason why they are not in the prison is because the U.S. is so powerful and avoided any kind of accountability. And that is tragic. And so, like de Zayas, I really think we have to remind what happened after 9/11/2001 here in this country, the serious breaches of international law. And that helped people like Erdogan, like the Chinese and others, to argue, “Why do you remind us of our human rights violation, when you have a prison like Guantánamo and when you’re invading Iraq without any legal justification?” And that is something which is really, really important to consider now. And the other thing is, all these U.S. interventions, military interventions, all these military dictatorships led to really, really dramatic disasters on the level of these societies. Countries like Chile and Argentina have to struggle with their past until now, because torture is not something that happens at some point in the past. It has an impact on the individuals, on their families, but also on the society. And that is really, really important to bridge between the current situation and that past.

Watch the interview here.

“The US government deliberately made the desert deadly for migrants...” - NATASCHA UHLMANN, author of our forthcoming Blood in Our Name: The Case for Abolishing ICE, in The Guardian

January 14, 2019
This month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, died less than 48 hours after being detained at a remote New Mexico border crossing. Felipe Gómez Alonzo, an eight-year old Guatemalan boy, spent his final days in custody before tragically passing on Christmas Eve. Both were brought to the United States by families seeking a better life for their children. In the United States, all they found was death. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have been quick to deflect the blame. “[Jakelin’s] family chose to cross illegally,” Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen asserted. In the case of Felipe, the DHS pointed to migrant shelters in Mexico as possible sources of disease. These desperate attempts do little to obscure the full weight of US culpability.

Read the full article here.

“Dispelling Myths About Iran, Trump’s Bogeyman.” - MEDEA BENJAMIN on the The Real News

December 18, 2018
One of the key elements of the Trump administration’s foreign policy has been increasing aggression against Iran. Trump has cozied up with the Saudi regime, but at the same time, has repeatedly called for the overthrow of Iran’s government. Well, joining us to discuss this is a leading figure in the U.S. peace movement who has been helping to lead the fight to save the Iran Nuclear Deal. I’m speaking with Medea Benjamin, who is a co-founder of the women-led peace movement, Code Pink, and also the author of a book on Iran that expels many of the myths about the country, called Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Read the full article here.

“He’s going to certainly cross swords with Washington, D.C. Now, whether he wants to hit the sword very hard, that’s another issue.” - VIJAY PRASHAD on Mexico's new president at the The Real News

December 13, 2018
A bold transformation of Mexico’s economy is one of the many promises the newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, is promising his people. Some have deemed this the fourth transformation of Mexico. But that won’t be easy for the newly elected president. Joining me now to discuss the challenge is Vijay Prashad. He is the executive director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research. Vijay, good to have you back.

Read the full article here.

“George H.W. Bush Is Alive in His Many Victims Across the Globe, Including Me.” - ARIEL DORFMAN interviewed on Democracy Now

December 10, 2018
George H.W. Bush was the only president in U.S. history to serve as CIA director, a role that would come to define his career and politics. He once described the intelligence agency as “part of my heartbeat.” Bush Sr. was at the helm of the CIA from January 1976 to January 1977. We speak with Ariel Dorfman, best-selling author, playwright, poet and activist, who teaches at Duke University. In 1973, he served as a cultural adviser to Chilean President Salvador Allende’s chief of staff. He says George H.W. Bush was “presiding over the CIA when Pinochet, the dictator of Chile, had concentration camps open. They were torturing people. They were executing people. They were persecuting people. And they were killing people overseas.” We also speak with Greg Grandin, prize-winning author and professor of Latin American history at New York University, and José Luis Morín, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Read the full article here.


December 6, 2018
Greg Shupak, author of "The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel, and the Media," joins the show to discuss his book that sharply critiques how establishment and left-of-center media cover the Israeli military occupation.

Listen to the full interview here.

“George HW Bush thought the world belonged to his family. How wrong he was.” - ARIEL DORFMAN in The Guardian

December 3, 2018
As the world says goodbye to George HW Bush, I am tempted to add my own personal memories to the mix, and illuminate perhaps his legacy by recounting the two intense nights that my wife and I spent in close proximity to the former president at the end of October 2001. It was at the Park Hyatt hotel in Sydney, where I had been invited to deliver the Centennial Lecture celebrating the Federation of Australia. The day after our arrival, the hotel manager – a corpulent, affable man of Spanish extraction – asked us if we wouldn’t mind exchanging our suite, only for the next two days, he said, for another one, just as nice, he promised, elsewhere on the premises.

Read the full article here.

“Privatization is Theft” - Read an excerpt from A NEW HOPE FOR MEXICO in Jacobin

December 3, 2018
In terms of our collective wellbeing, the politics of pillage has been an unmitigated disaster. In economic and social affairs, we’ve been regressing instead of moving forward. But this is hardly surprising: the model itself is designed to favor a small minority of corrupt politicians and white-collar criminals. The model does not seek to meet the needs of the people, or to avoid violence and conflict; it seeks neither to govern openly nor honestly. It seeks to monopolize the bureaucratic apparatus and transfer public goods to private hands, making claims that this will somehow bring about prosperity.

Read the full article here.

“The wittiest response I’ve seen to Amazon’s plans to build one of its two new headquarters in Queens comes from OR Books.” - OR Books and A NEW HOPE FOR MEXICO in the Washington Post Book Club

November 29, 2018
The wittiest response I’ve seen to Amazon’s plans to build one of its two new headquarters in Queens comes from a small independent publisher named OR Books. A faux press release sent out earlier this week stated: “Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced a $3 billion subsidy to persuade feisty independent OR Books to remain in New York.”

Read the full article here.

JOE LAURIA speaks to CHRIS HEDGES about the plight of Julian Assange on RT’s On Contact

November 28, 2018