Turkish translation of “The Politics of the Imperfect: Building a Different World”
Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution
O my brothers, not long will it be until new peoples will arise and new fountains rush down into new depths.
For the earthquake—it chokes up many wells, it causes much languishing: but it brings also to light inner powers and secrets.
The earthquake discloses new fountains. In the earthquake of old peoples, new fountains burst forth.
Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ‘On the Old and New Law Tablets’, 25.
Lu Xun – On ‘China’s Nietzsche’
Lu Xun was nineteen when Nietzsche died in 1900. He had already begun to write poetry, in classical Chinese style, and came into contact with Western literature in Nanking, where he attended a mining school. It was not until the following year however that he, with a government stipend to study mining in Japan, intensified his relationship with the available threads of world literature, European, British, and Russian – and Nietzsche. The work of which he had the most access was Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Japanese renditions of his thought, including the Untimely Meditations. Lu Xun travelled to Japan at the right time – amid the chaos of the post- war years, the reformation toward modernity, Japan sought to become an industrial and military power with the aid of Western, i.e. ‘Modern,’ science, including Western medicine and literature.
Lu Xun immediately recognized the political and cultural significance of literature, especially that of the English Romantics, Byron and Shelley (to the exclusion of the more introspective poets Wordsworth and Keats) in their individuality and defiance of a corrupt and oppressive cultural and political order. He found a similar though deeper message in Nietzsche, one simultaneously of a poetic and philosophical order. Yet, it is the meaning of this influence, and of Nietzsche’s message, that has remained controversial.
This current writing will be an attempt to dissolve this controversy through the exposure of the intellectual and artistic affinities of Lu Xun and Nietzsche upon their own respective and overlapping topoi. It could be argued that Nietzsche had his most immediate impact in Japan, which already by 1903 (at a time which Lu Xun was already in Japan) had a ‘Nietzsche Dispute’, and had experienced ‘Nietzsche fever.’ Such an intellectual event could hardly have been missed by Lu Xun, and his first essays of 1907 and 1908 mention Nietzsche, echo Nietzsche, yet, from the perspective of a Chinese radical democratic ‘Mara’ poet.
Lu Xun is not served well by the name of ‘China’s Nietzsche’ – unless, that is, it is clear what we mean by ‘Nietzsche’. Such clarity seems to have been lacking in many of the early receptions of Nietzsche, especially in regards to the notion of the Übermensch, which in the context of the early Japanese reception resembles more closely Zarathustra’s ape, a caricature of Zarathustra, of which Nietzsche had already anticipated, and which he warned would be due to poor reading, in his own prophesy of widespread mis-understanding of his philosophy. In this light, I will cast into the light the caricature of Nietzsche in order to exorcise it from our subsequent discussions.
To read the rest of the essay, please visit Daggers and Spears: Lu Xun and Nietzsche on Cultural Revolution.
Hysterical: South African press throws temper tantrum over new finance minister
South African press loses plot over finance change
President Zuma’s routine change of Minster of Finance meets with an embarrassing hysteria
For most countries, Cabinet re-shuffles are routine and are the prerogative of the elected leader.
Yet, the reaction of the South African press to President Jacob Zuma’s perfectly normal change of the Minister of Finance seems nothing less than sheer hysteria and crass unprofessionalism.
An impression was intentionally generated in the press of recklessness, that Zuma’s decision was un-announced and un-explained – even un-democratic. Yet, Zuma is constitutionally discharged to make such decisions and he promised detailed information to follow. A detailed statement was released two days later explaining the entire situation. But, by then, the media had already decided to use this decision as a pretext for what was essentially a farce – but one that was revealing.
The detailed press statement was not even mentioned in their hysteria – indeed, the hysteria could have been avoided if they had bothered to wait for more information ‘in due course.’ This is to act in a professional manner and wait for the statement of the president. Instead, they created a false event and disseminated a distortion of reality. Yet, this false event had real consequences which have damaged South Africa.
The Star led with “maelstrom of unreason’; News24: “No obligation for Zuma to tell Cabinet about new appointments – Presidency”; Mail and Guardian: “Nene’s firing: Who will stop the wrecking ball?”; Independent Online: “Zuma ‘out of control’”; Rand Daily Mail: “Welcome to the Jacob Zuma soap opera: Episode 4323;” Eyewitness News: “OPINION: Zuma’s ‘grotesquely irresponsible’ gamble with SA economy.” This is only a sample of the permanent smear economy is a 24-7, 7 days a week project. The private media is an echo chamber, creating its own schizophrenic world.
Strangely enough, as I have mentioned, the president released, amid the hysteria, as a promised follow-up to his initial statement of Nene’s re-deployment (not sacking) on 9 December, a very detailed press statement on the change at the Ministry which clearly stated that Mr. Nene would be South Africa’s candidate for the BRICS’ New Development Bank and details of the next few weeks. It is in this context of the historic FOCAC event in Johannesburg that Zuma announced a new finance minster. These events are intrinsically tied together: FOCAC, BRICS (which, as I have said, was not mentioned in the hysteria) and the new opportunity for Nene at the New Development Bank.
While it was clear to those focussed on the events in Johannesburg that Nene would have a direct role with the BRICS bank, the South African press lurched into high gear, not having the patience to simply allow the political process to unfold. In the detailed and lengthy press statement, Zuma detailed the ‘new deployment’ two days after his original announcement.
The urgency of the changes in the leadership of the National Treasury was occasioned by the need to send nominations to Shanghai, of the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank/BRICS Bank, to be based in Johannesburg. Mr Nene is our candidate for this position. (Press statement, South African Presidency, Dec. 11, 2015)
To underscore the normality of the situation, Zuma wrote later in the statement:
The economic cluster will meet on Tuesday, 15 December as announced by Minister Jeff Radebe to prepare for a special cabinet meeting on the economy, which will take place on Friday 18 December.
None of the newspapers in question could be bothered to wait for or when it did arrive even mention the president’s own statement, which is very clear on the meaning and the impact of his decision. Indeed, contrary to the “shock and bewilderment” expressed by some “commentators”, Zuma opened his statement with a note that a prudent fiscal policy will be maintained. He said:
His appointment as Minister of Finance does not signal a change in the government’s fiscal stance.
Government will not abandon the fiscal path that we have chosen in the last few years. Maintaining a prudent fiscal position remains one of government’s top priorities.
The new Minister will strengthen the path and continue to support all efforts aimed at improving the lives of ordinary South Africans.
The very fact that the president’s own timely statement is never mentioned (even in the many days following the ‘crisis’) is symptomatic of a radically biased media which has abandoned its right to be called journalism. The press exists to report news, not make news. Instead, the South African media created the impression of a crisis, and dominating the international news markets and search engine placements, disseminated the impression of a ‘crisis’ world-wide. Yet, there was no crisis, only an impatience with the reality of having to wait for elaboration from the leader of the government.
Moreover, the failure – was it intentional? – to make the connection between the historic Johannesburg FOCAC gathering and the change at the Ministry underlines the lack of interest of the South African press for facts and critical thinking. Such a lack is underscored by the cheer-leading exercise for a Twitter hastag #ZumaMustFall, which as the protests fell flat, clearly did not have the support of the vast majority of the population – outside the parochial shell of entrenched elites. Ironically, Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF – a favourite of the tabloids – even rejected the protests, called them a conspiracy of ‘white capitalists.’
To this extent, the South African press is not only failing its responsibility to enlighten the public, but has also shown itself to fail to understand the current geopolitical and domestic situation. Such “journalism” deserves its proper name: propaganda. It does not serve the people.
Indeed, as suggested, such mock over-reaction, exaggeration and outright hysteria is not a new event with the South African press. This is business as usual and these new sources understand their audience and their advertiser’s desires – right-wing extremism sold to a captive audience of people who throw temper tantrums since they are not in charge.
The shameful treatment of President Jacob Zuma by the privately owned media and its readers – a standing president who has four more years in his term and won with an overwhelming majority – is an embarrassment to South Africa in the face of the rest of the world.
Only America’s Fox News could applaud the bile of such “journalism”. Indeed, Fox has become a model for right-wing and Neo-liberal news organisations all over the world, representing privileged suburbanites and entrenched elites.
The failure of the South African privately owned media to contribute to a positive transformation of South Africa exposes its reactionary and merely negative character. It lives in denial, refusing to accept that it is no longer in charge.
Such was made possible, of course, by the de-regulation of media markets and the general Neo-liberal premise of the IMF controlled “democratic transition” in South Africa, one which has benefited the wealthy who are incidentally the primary consumers of the bile of the private media.
Yet, as Van Rooyen explained in his address at an appointment ceremony attended by the president, the focus of his tenure will be the expansion of opportunity to all South Africans, “not just the few”.
Such talk does not play well with the elites of South Africa, who hide behind their walls, never truly experiencing the utter deprivation of millions of their fellow citizens. Instead of visiting the townships and offering a helping hand, a kind word, they repeat the party line of faceless “commentators.”
Bordering on the brink of sedition, they pray at night for the perfect storm, one that will never come. In such a situation, a legislative introduction of a “Fairness Doctrine” would be appropriate for these private companies.
In the end, Zuma decided to calm the markets, their “animal spirits,” disturbed by the false crisis, one generated by the media, by replacing Van Rooyen with the former finance minister Pravin Ghordan. This decision, it is no surprise, has also been latched on by the press as a symptom of Zuma’s alleged indecisiveness. Yet, such ‘indecisiveness’ is as real as the ‘crisis’ generated by the media and is essentially the same. In fact, Zuma responded decisively to counter the mischief of the media and its fantasies of the fall of the ANC.
As Jackson Mthembu, National Spokesperson for the ANC, has outlined in his article on this fiasco, “Media lose its veneer of objectivity with #ZumaMustFall”, the architects of the crisis were the journalists and media outlets themselves. Their hysteria and opportunism is to blame for the persistent obstructionism of the new South Africa. Their journalism is merely propaganda.
Turkish translation of ‘The Politics of the Imperfect: Building a Different World.’
Published 8 April 2015 in Daily Wales: News for a Sovereign Nation
The Fourth Reich
American Hegemony and the Question of European Democracy
Europe is an invalid who owes her best thanks to her incurability and the eternal transformations of her sufferings; these constant new situations, these equally constant new dangers, pains, and make-shifts, have at last generated an intellectual sensitiveness which is almost equal to genius, and is in any case the mother of all genius.
Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book 1, Section 24 
In a recent article in Spiegel, “The Fourth Reich: What Some Europeans See When They Look at Germany” , attributed to Spiegel Staff (Nikolaus Blome, Sven Böll, Katrin Kuntz, Dirk Kurbjuweit, Walter Mayr, Mathieu von Rohr, Christoph Scheuermann, Christoph Schult), a stunning admission was repeated, in which Angela Merkel laments, defiantly, ‘I am rather alone in the EU, but I don’t care. I am right.’ The article claims her lament was shared with ‘a small group of advisers during a discussion about the role of the IMF.’ The article continues: ‘Later, she said: “We are in Europe what the Americans are in the world: the unloved leading power.”’
The article offers context for the current situation of Europe, arising at the end of WWII:
After the end of the Third Reich, German dominance on the Continent appeared to have been rendered an impossibility for all time. West Germany and East Germany both were initially tentative states that more or less willingly subordinated themselves to their big brothers, the US and the Soviet Union. They ceded to the dominance of others.
The rehearsal of the historical context of the current situation culminates in the fateful question: ‘Which is why the “German question” has returned. Is the new Germany too big and powerful for the other European countries or is it too small and hesitant?’
To read the rest, please visit The Fourth Reich: American Hegemony and the Question of European Democracy
Go to: “They Destroy, We Create: The Anti-Austerity UK Alliance” in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist
Athens Without Slavery:
The Battle for Europe
Syriza the the New European Left
‘First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin’ – Leonard Cohen
‘First We Take Athens, Then We Take Madrid’ – Syriza with Podemos
‘First We Take Athens, Then We Take London’ – Anti-Austerity UK
‘A Spectre is Haunting Europe…’ – Karl Marx
European Democracy and the Limits of American Hegemony
A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Greek democracy.
We have been here before in Greece, of course… at least four times.
First, there is the celebrated original emergence of democracy millennia ago; second, the Greek War of Liberation from the Turks (1821-1832), immortalised by the poet Bryron; third, the attempt by Leftist partisan organisations (EAM, KKE, ELAS) to form a Provisional Government in 1946 (in the stead of the Right-Monarchist government, returned from exile, and elected in 1946 in elections which the Left had boycotted), but defeated by the intervention of the United States and the United Kingdom, thus beginning the Greek Civil War (1946-1949), which ended with thousands of deaths and Greek membership of NATO; and fourth, the re-emergence of democracy in 1974 after the fall of the US backed military junta installed in the 1967 pre-elections coup d’etat, the so-called ‘General’s Coup’, eventually replaced by the government of exiled Constantine Karamanlis, which put the monarchy up for a referendum, and with its rejection by the people, negotiated a new presidential constitution, and inaugurated the Greek Republic in 1975.
And, now, fifth, with the people’s mandate, Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, has taken power in Athens – not ironically with the help or participation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), who were re-legalised in 1974 – promising the people of Greece not only the ‘end of austerity’, privatisation, unfair strike laws, among other transformations, but also, and more fundamentally, the end to the system of oligarchy, propped up by seventy years of external intervention and centrist-conservative governance (New Democracy or PASOK).
Indeed, as we have repeatedly seen in recent modern and contemporary histories, democracy, the vote, the pebble (psḗphos) of the people does not often seem sufficient to challenge the hegemonic narrative of the victor of the war of Europe, the United States.