About OUFI

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London, United Kingdom
Welcome to my Blog. This Blog provides a platform for free expressions on issues of importance that appeal to the independent mind. Matters of political, moral and social concern, that may agree with or contravenes our free and well-intentioned thinking, have free reign on this blog. Friends and colleagues can express and respect different opinions on current or historical issues that at times may run counter to established worldview. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” - Voltaire

Sunday, 20 October 2019

What does it mean to be white?

What it means to be White? “It means many things, but it means not ever having to bear witness to the pain of racism on people of colour. It means not being held accountable for the pain that you cause people of colour. It means not knowing the history of this country [USA} and being able to trace that history into the present. It’s being relentlessly reinforced in superiority and then not ever being able to admit that” - Robin DiAngelo.



There is a global rise in white Nationalism and none more so than in the United States. The belief that non-white immigrants and refugees are "invaders" who pose an existential threat to the white race. The wide-scale attacks that resulted in killings include Muslim worshippers at mosques in Canada, Britain and New Zealand. Black Americans in church, in South Carolina; Jewish Americans in synagogues across the United States and Germany. Not spared are left-wing politicians and activists in the US, UK, Greece and Norway. Most often translated as vindictive 'whitelash' fuelled by racial hate towards people of colour or people who are different but happen to be non-white. A revolt by some restless white people asserting their dubious cultural values in whiteness, a race still undefined but is uncritically accepted. Placed as a benchmark by which to judge the claims and define the rights of non-whites.   Oblivious to the fact colour of the skin is only a part of the human being not to be closed in a world of its own and deny its universality. 

So where does that power comes from, a culture of white domination? An armoury that serves the white supremacist to insist their white colour is the default colour.  Where did this idea of white race come from, God, nature or human-made? If so, why, did anybody configure such an approach and for what purpose. How did the meaning of white change over the centuries? Discussions on race and ethnicity always tend to be on people of colour and whiteness remains invisible. Racism is like talking about a disease. Whiteness is just there, institutionalised, forming the structure of racial relations. I try, in this essay, to deconstruct these toxic human violations and racial fetishism. Unpack this phenomenon that mostly exists in Western Countries but has a special place in the United States of America. It is there I concentrate on to pick up my sources.  The way it is perceived in the US, and its caustic application there makes it that much more visible. Visible to people of colour but invisible among White Americans those who never have had their racial role challenged. A nation with growing diversity but remains generally dominated by white people and remains a society that is so separate and unequal by race.  

An attack at a Walmart superstore in El Paso, Texas, a majority-Hispanic city, on August 3, 2019, left 22 people dead and more than two dozen wounded. A shooting the previous weekend at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California, packed with families with young children, left three people dead and 15 wounded. A mass shooting that occurred at the Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 27, 2018, eleven people killed and seven were injured. The alleged shooter, a 46-year-old white man, reportedly shouted: “All Jews must die!”. On June 2015 June 2015 Nine people killed during Bible study at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, US.  Also elsewhere in the world. In Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, 2019, two consecutive terrorist attacks on two Mosques left 51 people dead. In January 2017, Six people killed during evening prayers at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. The shooter prompted by Justin Trudeau’s tweet that refugees were welcome in Canada, and that “diversity is a strength”.  

All these attacks were perpetrated by white people gunning down others for merely being different. More often these gunmen are inspired by two ideologies. One of far-right politics or extreme nationalism emboldened by authoritarian tendencies. The other is white supremacy. 

In America, many subscribe to racist beliefs that white people considered superior, a superior race and therefore should be dominant over other races. Their white colour preserves them privilege in the same way they believe it a privilege being American.  They refuse to see people as individuals but associate them with anything negative because they are not white. A self-acquired power to sit in judgments over people's capacities and worth, what they look like, where they come from, and how they speak. A racial understanding that says unless otherwise specified Americans mean Whites. Continually fail to realise that such political polarisation is fuelled by aversion, exploitation and denigration. 




The imagery of race in the United States is hardly ever out of play. A long history of Affirmative Actions for racial fairness during Antebellum South, following the Emancipation of January 1863, the Reconstruction and since have failed to dislodge the pernicious concept of racial prejudice. 

Deconstructing Racism
To deconstruct this prejudice, it is essential to go back in history to show how it was constructed.  In the colony of Virginia, a Tobacco growing region in 1630, three indentured servants, two white and one black decided to escape but caught almost immediately. The white men were sentenced to four additional years of servitude whereas the black man was ordered to serve in perpetuity. Thus, the law came to be interpreted differently for a white person, a gift to wealthy landowners in a profoundly unequal society. The plantation class, Tobacco growing was labour intensive at the time, needed a reliable and consistent supply of labour force. For the first time, the slavery of black people became officially accepted. That different treatment between the black people and the advantaging of the White poor, of European descent, became ongoing. That coalition of white people encouraged an anti-black culture. 

From left to right clockwise.  Typical sailing ship slave traders used.  Hungry Sharks trailed the slave ships. Those seriously sick were thrown overboard. The Lining up of slaves for the journey across the Atlantic. Ota Benga, a human exhibit. At the primate house at the Bronx human Zoo, September 1906. 

 In 1619 a Dutch ship brought 20 slaves to James Town brought over from Angola, specifically for that purpose. Hardcore chattel slavery of people of African descent and Anti-black laws Distinctive and cruel soon took hold. In 1656 the Laws that followed Elizabeth Key success in gaining her freedom further hardened the boundaries of slavery. Being a Christian did not exempt one from bondage as it was in Morocco and the Ottoman Empire, winning freedom by converting to Islam. This cruelty also meant that white men could go ahead and rape a black woman and any child born to an enslaved woman will also be a slave. Further laws passed in Virginia exempted a master from gilt or liability for killing his slave. By 1680 The English House of Burgesses, in Virginia was debating the definition of the White Man - Who will be a citizen and who has the right to own land. Virginia at the time was giving away land in 50-acre allotments only to Europeans. In 1691 for the first time, White became a defining term bounded and defined by state laws. If any White man, a constructed race, was to marry a woman of colour shall be removed from this dominion and banished forever. Since the early days, White people have the right to own black people, to buy and sell as live livestock.  The Anti-black Brutal society did not just spring out or imported.  A totalitarian framework of slavery was born and constructed in the United States. 

Capitalism at its cruellest.  King Cotton White Gold. Virginia was renowned for Tobacco.  South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi where eventually home for the Cotton Plantocracy. Louisiana specialised in Sugar.

Skipping forward about two hundred years, to Oregon State, North of the State of Nevada. In 1844, the local government passed a law banning slavery, but at the same time required any African American to leave the State. Those Black people that remain would be flogged publicly every six months until he left. In 1857, its constitution banned black people from coming to the state, residing in the state, or holding property in the state. During this time, any white male settler could receive 650 acres of land and another 650 if he was married. This, of course, was land taken from native people who had been living there for centuries. Over the next hundred years, further laws and numerous censuses, and naturalisation act, the young US continued to deny citizenry to black people. Since argued, it was neither Bigotry nor of Right or Prejudice, but it was all about Power. Until late into the twentieth century, Race was an identity, and despite the Natural Rights laid down in the Constitution, White became written about as American national identity.  

Efforts for Social Construction following the emancipation of 1863 prompting the introduction of the Civil Rights Bill, ended in resentment, hatred and further discrimination against people of colour.   Violence became everyday life.  In 1866 a Memphis riot broke out following a collision of horse-drawn hacks.  It resulted in 46 black people dead and five black women raped. In the New Orleans massacre when Blacks were assaulted indiscriminately, and despite raising, white flags of surrender 34 Black people were shot down in cold blood. Whipping coloured men went unabated and "shot down like wild beasts", one witness said.  As a Texan put it "the destiny of the negro race can be summed up in one sentence   - subordination to the white race.  Riots and Killings were not exclusive to the South.  The New York riots of 1863 burned Asylum for Coloured Orphans and "committed acts of unimaginable cruelty upon the City's black population." according to Mattie Griffith, an eye witness. Throughout the twentieth century, racial riots were never far away.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth century saw the Jim Crow laws mandating racial segregation in all public facilities. Later upheld by the supreme court grounding its ruling on 'separate but equal'. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson's Affirmative Action signed the Civil Rights Act, which legally ended discrimination and segregation that had institutionalised social and economic, educational, and social way of life for African Americans. Prejudices and discrimination over race still exist, albeit a little more varnished. Who gets what jobs, access to health care and education and who gets loans to buy their houses and at what interest rates all graded on the colour of people's skin. 


In the United States, more than any country, it is Race identifies the imagery of a person of colour. But a white person escapes such racial objectification and rationalisation. White people are within a system and shaped by it.  A system where the individual does not need to be conscious of intentional racial prejudice. Some in the US admit there is a black-white dichotomy in society. There are bookends. White is on one end, and black is on the other. The experience of prejudice and discrimination depends on where one is positioned on the scale. The closer you are to white, the more benefit and the closer you are to black, the least benefit and more disadvantaged. Also, racial profiling, acceptance of habits and ethnicity are scaled up and down depends on what white people value, moral code of law and the vagaries of politics.   A case in point for such haphazard interlocking is found in how the Arab people perceived pre 9/11 and the present.  

It is argued that since 1635, racism, not race has been the central force in American history and ever since the country’s failure to confront and defeat it. As Richard Dyer in his 'Essays on Race and Culture' suggests that the symbolism of the colour white – e.g. purity, health, cleanliness, light, knowledge, and goodness has become part of the cultural construction of “whiteness” as a race. Along with that, all of the symbolism associated with blackness becomes associated with “blacks” as a race. Each individual who is a member of a “non-white” race has his or her nature defined by their race. They are defined in relation to the “universality” and “normality” of whiteness. Such as a black writer, black Doctor or Black something giving colour to a profession? Other people are raced, white are just people who are not usually racially seen.   In ordinary speech, they mention the blackness of people they know but do not mention the whiteness of the people they know.  This is not far off from saying that whites are people and people of colour are something else.  As a visible category or signifier, whiteness is granted, ideologically and socially, a position of power. At the same time, whiteness as a racial category is invisible: whites are never marked or viewed as being determined by their race. Until more Browning of the population, White remains the default colour in the United States.  




The political vocabulary inherited from the Antebellum which distinguished sharply between natural, civil, political and social rights is still restrictive.  To some extent, and despite the multicultural country it has become, the US constitutional rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not equally shared.  The hurdle as I see it, institutionalised Whiteness is a structure and a system established by the White settlers - “we built this country.” All those who came after are mere immigrants. Their inward prejudice of many Americans bars them from accepting parity shunning equality with those whom they enslaved. They exercise widespread discrimination to guard on that privilege mistaking it for superiority. White supremacy granted to them by nothing else but the colour of their skin.  A constructed culture endorses a right to privilege they turn into the power of invisibility. It so remains mandatory for the Black Man to know white behaviour, white history, and white sociality and to accept, as in all cases of minorities, that is never reciprocal. 


Sunday, 25 August 2019

Racism in the United States


These days Racism and Anti-semitism are issues that make most of the daily on-line and press headlines.  Europe and America fed with a regular diet of conflicting interpretations and denials as to what constitutes either.  As a consequence, the political and social implications taken by the two sides of the argument producing embittered hatred across a swathe of society and polarising opinions. The daily reports point to an inherent cultural antagonism and a widening set of principles.  Despite Government efforts to temper this hostility by targeting racism, Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, and bring peace to social order, all three remain immune.   

This week I try to zoom in on Racism in America.  As trends go, most of them start in the United States.   This time, however, the source of this pattern can be pinned down.  Like clockwork, and, what has become what the doctor prescribed, is a must daily diet, President Trump can be a bitter pill to swallow.  He has a knack of stoking-up the fires, but undeniably he makes the talk of the world. 

The White Man's Flag - a video production.



Sunday, 28 July 2019

Europe in Crisis



Europe is facing an existential threat within its borders; Its very unity is under strain by marginal actors pulling at the seams; putting pressure on its principles, its interests and priorities.  It makes it imperative for Europe to take stock and to reform its strategies and to rethink how its union ought to work.  The crisis and conflicts beyond its borders, while internally harbouring an increasingly fractured identity, are beginning to affect it directly.  The British decision to withdraw from the Union is a further threat to its economic and security potentials.  These are forces that can undermine its strategies within the global sphere.


With limited tools at its disposal, it is not entirely sure whether it is strategically placed or Economically capable of dealing with its problems.  The Lisbon Treaty that frames its constitutional markers is a massive agenda to achieve at this rate since it requires it to optimise its strategic autonomy. This ambition works around an international system of rules and multilateralism. These rules, are now skewed by the current American President who has pulled away from a rule-based International order. His announcement of a radical shake-up of US alliance with Europe further weakens its hopes to nurture such ambitions. Along with other world leaders who follow in his footsteps, further undermines Europe's principles and values.  It is unnerving, therefore, that with reduced confidence in multilateralism, where ideas for reforming and modernising global governance in critical domains, is on the wane, the concept of a ‘rules-based international order’ any longer makes sense. Also, in short to mid-term, to achieve peace and autonomy by building on independent military power as opposed to soft power could be an illusion. 

Moreover, China's ascension to the position of global influence with its Belt and Road Initiative is ushering in a challenge to the western system of values and soon to affect every level of society in Europe. Increased pressure on Europe's Liberal Democratic based infrastructure, mean China, with its overbearing communist and Dictatorial based regime, could dampen Europe's optimism. Besides, there is the United States, attempting to cut down on its NATO contributions obliging Germany et al. to contribute more for their defence. New strategies and alliances are essential and urgent. Clearly, Europe needs friends: a go it alone policies are not only nostalgic as they are anachronistic in concepts. We are now seeing the dwindling power of Europe on the world stage. It is increasingly becoming a theatre rather than an active member. 

Defence

There has never been a time since the end of the Second World War a need for Europe to acquire Power- Military and Economic. In the face of American adversities towards its political policies and below bar military contribution towards its share of the NATO budget. Over the years, it has almost lost its partnership status with the United States. In world affairs, it has become freelance, an also-ran military power as seen by recent examples of the Russian annexation of the Crimea.  But, more than anything before it, the inability of standing up to American pressure over Iran has exposed a crisis in Europe’s weakening power. Over the last seventy-odd years Europe has become complacent, and today it finds itself marginalised, alone and placed outside the American orbit and an unreliable ally. Despite its advocacy and rhetoric for a strong Europe, it has not gone beyond Finance and Economics. In 1991 Mark Eyskens, then Belgium's foreign minister summed it up as an economic giant, a political dwarf and a military worm.

Member States’ Spending dedicated to Defence.

It is all very well for Europe to focus on Economics while its individual countries rely for their security on NATO and the protection of the United States. That arrangement lasted until the breakup of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War. But, now seeing America increasingly going isolationist that protection is on the wane. Europe's geopolitical position is increasingly shaky. To its north, Russia is led by belligerent powers under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, and an authoritarian Tayyip Erdogan at its edges. The Middle East a more violent mess than ever. Faced with the inevitable loss of Britain, present policies are proving far from adequate. Europe has become more unstable and insecure, and the union needs to recognise these threats and to meet its challenges, time to proceed with a shared vision towards its security. In the words of Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; “make our partnerships work only if we act together, united. This is exactly the aim of the Global Strategy for European Foreign and Security Policy.”

Contribution to NATO figures in Billions

Unfortunately, the story so far does not bear this out. In short, the U.S. contributed more funds to NATO than Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Canada combined. To the point when President Obama called Europeans “free riders” in his interview with the Atlantic.  Europe today is faced with a distant if not hostile Trump administration. Embarking on Strategic independent defence policies need to embody a new status quo- and recognise the new normal. Trump’s “America first” foreign policy is now unavoidable; the new pattern is set to continue with the untethering of the US from Europe. Europe ought to find comfort in whatever crumbs that remain in US liberal democracy can still be a binding force against a rising China, dictatorial Russia and meet threats from a growing populism within its borders.

The Mighty Dollar
At long last in the face of bellicose America, recently, Europe in the shape of France, Germany and the UK in an unlikely unity is showing some resilience.  A show of force it may be, but unfortunately, that’s where it starts and ends.  A strong sovereign Europe it is not; the economic power imbalance has in many recent instances sketched this out by the domination of Dollar effect on world markets.  Even though the EU is one of the world’s largest economies, 22% of world GDP, the world has no confidence in the Euro to recognise it as a reserve currency.  More than anything, the Iran crisis has exposed this weakness. As Tom Tugendhat, U.K. Parliament’s foreign-affairs committee, explains; “U.S. sanctions determine our policy, and unless there is a new global currency and banking system, it will remain so.”


The de facto global currency


The EU has maintained a measured response following the US withdrawal from Iran Nuclear deal; Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and the imposition of sanctions. In a bid to keep an agreement negotiated between the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany alive Europe are faced with tremendous obstacles because it lacks the tools to respond to American hegemony.  The EU appeals to the US not to impose further sanctions and to return to the negotiation table have largely been ignored.
Undoubtedly, the Euro needs to be revamped and radically reformed to stand up to American pressure.  More urgent now than ever before, with Britain’s imminent exit by 31 October 2019.   To develop an alternative, however, is no easy task. But, to stand up to the Dollar domination, the EU needs to have a federal monetary policy.  Merkel has given the cold shoulders to Macron’s effort towards that end. Giving in to the 'Yellow Jersey’s' recent demonstration pushes France beyond the accepted threshold deficit of 3% maximum: an EU rule to ensure against the buildup of imbalances caused by fiscal deficits. This has put paid to any further discussions.  To the French, it was an attempt to tame the economic might of Germany, and the power of the Bundesbank but it backfired. Charles Grant, a preeminent expert on Europe and the Franco-German relationship, explains Europe’s inability to exert itself in the Iranian crisis gets to the heart of Europe’s own crisis of direction. “The problem is France wants Europe to be a power; Germany does not,” he says. “If you want to be a serious power, you need a serious global currency. France wants that; Germany does not.”



Germany’s stand on such firm grounds is for two main reasons.  Briefly; Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is concerned, to create a true rival to the Dollar would increase Euro’s value. That would hurt Germany’s export drive and eventually see the dwindling of its huge export surpluses.  Secondly, it would mean taking on the responsibility for the EU debts of the nineteen member states which uses the currency, peculiarly still operating independently.  Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa program at the London based international-affairs think tank, Chatham House, says: “The U.S. has shown they have leverage over Europe as well as Iran.” Hence the development of the special purpose vehicle (SPV), to maintain non-dollar trade with Iran has mostly been ignored by Washington.  The joint efforts taken by France, Germany and the United Kingdom without breaking the US sanctions have proved ineffective.

Remodelling the Euro

The realisation of such weakness could be the wakeup call needed to reform the Euro currency.  The tectonic shift in continent’s power imbalance and Europe’s diminishing global power in challenging powerful US global leadership is also impacting internal divisions encouraging extremism and fuelling the far right.  Nathalie Tocci, a special adviser to the EU’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, says:  “This Iran story is far greater than Iran, […]It really epitomises a structural turning point in the transatlantic relationship.” 

Ever since the Marshall Plan, kick-started the European economy after World War II, European nations began exploring the idea of a single currency. On the premise that “Nations with a common currency never went to war against each other,” said Helmut Kohl, Germany’s chancellor at the time. Quixotic thinking maybe, but peace has lasted and so does the Euro after nineteen years. The Euro is a survivor: backed by the size of the EU economy as my figures point out above, run in Trillions of Euros.  Nevertheless, the Euro, desperately needs remodelling, A need for closer economic integration between individual Nations' banks. Starting by crossing borders in their lending habits, as well as redefining their relations with their sovereigns.   

The yawning gap in the transatlantic relations between the US and Europe, however, though still at its early stages, is profoundly worrying and just having a common currency between European member states clearly not enough. A long, drawn-out explanation of this subject will go well beyond my remit for this essay.  Suffice it to say, a more significant economic and financial integration is needed. A restructuring and shoehorning their national economies to fit one another and to stabilise debt crisis across borders.  But to briefly touch on the subject, as the divisions stand, foreign debt in one country could not be rolled over, but the burden of adjustment falls on a member state.  Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus, for instance, had to deal with their fiscal problems when they were already stricken.  They were forced to either monetising their debt or bailed out, but either way conditional on strict austerity measures placed on their individual governments.  Had Italy gone ahead with its intended welfare reform, would have meant the collapse of the value of its bonds. Italy's economy is far too big for the EU to bail out, a situation Brussels could not accept. Any attempt at a bailout would have meant the total collapse of the Euro. The banks of these countries saw the values of governments bonds they held were collapsing, but their government could not borrow to help them out.  For those interested in a more detailed look at this subject go here, or here.

In my opinion, Europe security should not be solely concentrated on building a strong economy but distributed across to defence.  As we have seen the United States use of sanctions and the abruptness of casting its European alliances aside has shown more than ever before the vulnerability of the so-called European Union. The effective weaponisation of US economic power has brought home the realisation of the fragile nature of the transatlantic alliance and the economic imbalances.  The ad hoc responses to the Union’s financial crisis undermines any trust of international investors and its long term future.  For Europe to establish a reserve currency, Germany and France need to unite and address the Euro’s competitive edge and to secure its place in the global market as a reserve currency and safe haven.  Quite likely, such unity could also bring together those nationalists and integrationists, Macron of France for example, to build a Europe as truly united in every sense. A good place to start is with a cultural unity. To provide a European Nationality status rather than Citizen of the European Union. To continually speak of German, French or say Italian nationality is the de facto separation of the European people. Until such disparities of nationalities are addressed economic, political and strategic autonomy remains in the distant future.











Sunday, 23 June 2019

On the Brink of War



In the event of a war with Iran, to which the pro-war Neocons in the Trump administration are vying for, and desperate to provoke, the Middle East finds itself on the brink of disaster.  War in the region can blow it apart and send it to smithereens.

The question is this: How many the US lives if any, the American administration is willing to sacrifice for Israel?

Going to war, even with no land invasion, but aerial bombardment could mean the start of a proxy war against American interest around the world that would almost inevitably hurt the US.  Innocent civilian lives are at risk from all kinds of insurgents to render American interests vulnerable to attack.

The scenario of what follows can be deadly.  Indeed if not in the first hour but in the next one, American superpower can destroy Iranian nuclear and industrial basis together with a large swathe of Iranian infrastructure.  Although it would be achieved probably without American lives lost but it will undoubtedly cause many innocent Iranian lives lost; surgical bombing or otherwise.  That is not to say, however, what the aftermath could be since the will to retaliate will be fired up, and that could prove costly to US human lives from state-sponsored agencies, such as its Quds forces or rogue operators.  American troops in Iraq, Syria, Qatar beside American interests are spread throughout the Middle East all becoming targets.

Europe as weak as it is, yet it is not supportive of American actions nor are they convinced of Israel's efforts to sway them towards its PowerPoint "proof" of Iranian nuclear build-up.  In the meantime, neither the FBI nor the CIA or British Intelligence agencies could prove that Iran is engaged in atomic military activities.

Now America has backed down and pulled back from the abyss.  Humiliated, apparent foreign policy failure and reputation dented, Trump has finally shown sense.  At this last hour, surely dialogue is of the essence.  Sanctions eased if not lifted altogether.


Sunday, 5 May 2019

Brexit: Righting a Wronged Democracy




The call for the EU referendum on 23 June 2016 had all the good intentions but was naively based.  Such requests for direct democracy hardly ever work; hence their outcome is never binding but alas not so this time.  A promise made by David Cameron, the British Prime Minister at the time; a pledge to leave but not how to leave.  The consequent arguments that won most votes were based on false slogans, exaggerated claims, fear and outright propagandist reach to the masses.  The after effects have been immense not only in terms of damage to the British economy but for many the 51% decided in favour to opt out to 48% who chose to remain, has proved divisive and polarising. It has drawn a clear, uncompromising red line; a marker, for either side the divide, for brother, sister and friends, none of whom are willing to cross.   And all because Brexit chief architects brought us here on a lie.   Just need to look up the publicity that circulated before the referendum. The Red bus plastered with false slogans for starters one of many claims that I go on to outline below.

We need a new Referendum and here is why? The thrust to my claim is that the populist platform the demolishers (architects too generous) went for, was falsifiable or at best unverifiable. As politicians holders of high positions in the hierarchy, with facts and figures at their disposal, they undeniably bent these to base their argument on sentiments rather than facts. It worked. Their main target was the NHS.  We all know too well, the NHS is untouchable, increasingly seen what come to identify Britishness.  It has become almost a centre stage ideology that has superseded religion in this country. It has become ideologically ingrained, part of British culture and is therefore deemed sacrosanct and untouchable.  They created a myth it was under attack instilled a fear, especially among the older generation.

The slogan "Taking back control" a free-floating and empty headline but useful nationalistic call. 
Constitutional pluralism, one of the foundations of the EU, does not erode the power of the UK Parliament nor does it weaken the sovereignty of the British people. Our constitution built layer upon layer over the centuries will never go away. The point to remember here is that British greatness no longer anchored on its past imperialism but its modern technological replacement; progressive know-how and active voice in world political and economic affairs. Britain has for centuries been a nation of innovators standing at the vanguard of new inventions and technological achievements and none less so today. It is all very well appealing to "we want to take back control" is nothing more than smart packaging. Well, Britain had control of 25 per cent of the world population and directly nearly over one billion people (India), but it lost them - Imperialism. Britain didn't control it well.  Paradoxically, some Brexiteers today shout out they don't want to be a colony to the EU.  Rightist imperialistic language, a lingering thought.

Many of the initial claims, specifically NHS and the infamous £350 million a week paid to the EU, were demagoguery.  The claimants stood on anti-tickets propagandist agenda mainly playing on fear, false claims dressed up as facts. The fear factor is hugely important here since it is our instinct to cover or to protect; a natural no brainer reaction.  If putting an 'X' in a box on a ballot paper to ensure that outcome so be it.  These two factors more than anything else swang Brexit in their favour and my opinion, the unverifiable claims went a long way in corrupting democracy.

It may not occur to them that leaving the EU is likely to fracture the fragile United Kingdom? Scotland voted to remain in the EU at the June 2016 referendum.  What swayed its pull to stay in the United Kingdom was its expectation for England to remain in the EU. If that is out of the equation, it is more likely SNP, a nationalistic party with a mind bent on secessionist motivation could easily vote to break away. Same applies to Northern Ireland, where 44.2% of people in voted to leave the EU, while 55.8% voted to remain.

Immigration? Britain, since the Dynastic Union of 1707, has been a multicultural, multiethnic imperial State.  Brexiteers now want it to be a Nation State.  In 1940 it had 800 million people who were CITIZENS of the United Kingdom.  British Nationality Act 1948 made that so until fear of deluge from the colonies could swamp the British Isles.  The result was, the Act was repealed between 1962 and 1971, as a result of widespread opposition to immigration by Commonwealth citizens from Asia and Africa. The United Kingdom gradually tightened controls on immigration by British subjects from other parts of the Commonwealth. There was a deluge of entrants from the 'other'; creating fear and measures were taken to address the imbalance.

In an expression, the Referendum of June 2106 we saw direct democracy in action, it emphasised, with a close margin, the leave factor but did not tell the nation the course of how to deliver.   The narrow margin also meant that the Remainers' vote needs to be respected.  Towards that end, whether the translation to deliver, by some MP's, are meant to frustrate the vote is anybody's guess, but what is at stake are the likely adverse consequences.  Conscious, Responsibility, Principles and Moral imperatives have all kicked in each with different interpretations to ward off possibilities.  We have ended up with as many ideas as there are MP's bickering on the best possible means.  They represent an unpixelated view, within one chamber, of how British society thinks Britain ought to go.  Britain is hurting badly, yet these personal demonstrations are proving far too insensitive.

Here is another catch.  I think it is crucial for the Brexiteers among us to bear in mind that their decision to opt out of the EU has profound implications.  The magnitude of their choice needs to be framed within multi-dimensional considerations.

One of these is the intergenerational justice and generational sovereignty.

The issue, as I see it, is the generational dimension mainly encircles the question of legitimacy.  The impact on one generation brought about by the decision of another generation. There is one generation which will be most affected and one less affected.  If the generational issue is not considered it will question the desirability of the output.

Within this framework, which I think remains central to the argument, if Brexit was meant to determine national sovereignty; it would be reached in breach of the generational sovereignty of the future of the British people because one generation had voted on something that would not affect them. The question, therefore, is to differentiate between national sovereignty and generational sovereignty.

Those under 25 are twice as likely to vote to remain and those above 65 the picture is almost the opposite.  Sixty-four per cent of those over 65 voted to leave while 61 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 years voted for the UK to remain within the EU.  One needs to question, on the interpretation of these figures whether it is legitimate for Britain to leave the EU?

What it means that the young people will have to live with a decision made by the older cohorts to which they object today and to which they will be likely opposed in 30 years and into the future.  In contrast, those who agree with Brexit today would have a shorter time to live in the consequences.

Another question arises; what gives the right for the older generation, probably based on volatile period effect, to violate the future of a young generation?  The implication here is a life cycle effect in contrast to a cyclical election effect.

Bexiteers, also need to take into account to what I referred earlier; the illegitimate nature of the referendum illuminating the corruption of the democratic process is at least one of the aspect to which why the dilemma facing our representatives in Parliament.   Opting out is anything but linear.

My conclusion, therefore, is that the government should have prepared the ground before going for the referendum taking account of all the dimensions necessary. I would go for another but restructured referendum with multiple dimensions in mind.  To prepare the ground beforehand or at least, given my argument, for one thing, to give more weight to every vote by those between 18 -24.  Intergenerational justice must be seen to be fair one effective measure to correct a wronged Democracy.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Israel: Nationalism and the State



"Israel is not the state of all its citizens.  According to the nation-state basic law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people - and of it alone."
- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel and leader of the Likud Party


I do not intend to go into the contentious argument for a 'two-state' solution or 'the right to exist', Wars or annexations or to indulge in conspiracy theories that have proved time and again political impasse to peace.  Nor do I want to concern this essay with political implication of the growing new Anti-Iranian trend, and rapprochement between Israel and the Arab Gulf countries.  This endeavour is about Nationalism, in Israel's case ethnonationalism. Its primary focus would be an attempt to invalidate or at least assess the right of that claim; Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.  And, to argue why in attempting to legitimise their new found name the country stops short from calling itself the Israel Nation.  As such, the state defines itself as a possible protector of rights but not a bearer of them so long as it refuses to recognise its heterogeneous makeup.  Surely, a democratic country, what Israel stresses to be, cannot claim to be for only a portion of its citizens.


Of course, Likud can claim Israel for the Jews they would be adopting a very narrow definition,  but to chose to declare an 'Israel Nation', segregated and exclusive for Jews would at best ring hollow, unrepresentative of secular Zionists, fragmented and anachronistic.  It can not go further than 'The State of Israel'.  The pity of it, that by their religious exclusiveness they deny social cohesion and the adamant refusal for civic liberal nationalism.  In my opinion, so long as only the Jews remain sovereign, they also deny themselves the status of a modern 'Israel Nation' and membership of the family of Nations.  This stands in complete contrast to the diasporic Jews who claim for themselves as the Jewish Nation. In their case, they dissociated their religion from their nationality, so borders and territorial references are, in a metaphysical sense, ignored mainly to preserve the purity of the race/religion.  They remained an internationalist race without an organic connection to the "soil of nationhood." For these purposes coupled with a strict custom of non-assimilation, they rightly claimed, as people, the Jewish Nation, to project their Jewish identity.  That notwithstanding, they are still in so far as loyalty is concerned, they remained bonded to the territory of their nationality.

Leading up to the forthcoming Israeli election there are increasing signs, for many Jewish Israelis, to use words 'Palestinians' and 'Arab' as derogatory terms; battering rams held up for insulting purposes.  The incessant hammering of the wedge the deeper the fractures would run in an already divided society.    Such inflammatory language by the Nationalist elite such as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and by Oren Hazan, are attention-grabbing that such populist anti-language propels them ahead of their rivals.  How far these racially charged abuses are a reflection of public sentiments conditioned by the present rightist divisional policies will show in the outcome of the election.

Israel and its ruling Likud party, in particular, is pushing hard against any criticism of its repressive and Arab hating policies.  Out of imagined ideas of political anxiety, they attempt to use world sympathy associated with the horrors of the Holocaust to their political advantage.  Forcing the notion that any criticism of its policies is deemed anti-semitic while ignoring the possible implication that such motives could easily backfire; interpreting the Holocaust a repressive tool.  By proclaiming the state of Israel as the Jewish Nation-State, therefore, aside from a propagandist ploy, is an inward, separatist and nationalistic step.  It is a defensive wall to ward off criticism and to protect its imagined legitimacy which fashions its rightist racist agenda.  The hope of combining 'Jewish with 'Israel' and for both to be identified with Zionism, is tantamount to a shield-forming label. A term that has hitherto has been universally levelled against derogatory remarks specifically pointed at Jewish people. In so far as concerning Zionism, its alliance of religion with nationalism and the imagined ancient state, this only appeals to nationalist historians and has no place in Jewish culture.

A Nation, nonetheless, is not dependent upon its religious makeup but has to originate from a multidimensional construct.  The same is true for those Arab countries that identify their republic with the word 'Islamic' which at times, dressed up in Islamic nationalism, used as a repressive tool against minority rights and marginalisation of non-Muslims. Language, ethnicity, historical homogeneity and of course, harmonising the present conflicting nationalistic politics, literacy and education combined are essential ingredients for the construction of a Nation. For our model, let us take a look at the first three starting with language.

The new Hebrew language is different from the old traditional ‘sacred’ Hebrew and differs more so in pronunciation. The new modern Hebrew spoken today in Israel is not the ancient Hebrew, as in the sacred text of the Jewish religion but an edition of it and for this argument, motivated by linguistic Nationalism, subjective, self-identifying purposes. Nothing more than an adaptation from the ancient Hebrew rather than the then widely spoken literate language especially among Ashkenazi Jews- The Yiddish language, which is no longer in use because its roots lie in the medieval German language.  Important to bear in mind, because one Wills it, or voluntarism, would not create a nation unless of course, by learning Hebrew they want to read themselves anachronistically into the past.

What about Ethnicity?   The ethnic conception is not a free-floating idea but needs to be socially, historically and locally rooted.  Proclaiming an ethnic Jewish nation with almost 2.5 million of its population Arab Israeli (Palestinian), mainly Muslim Arab or 21% of the total population is nonsense.  A need for the political and national to be united and harmonious and both must be congruent to satisfy the term Nation State.  Faced with the present conflict manifested in deep, painful divisions, that is not hard to see the opposite. Therefore, to claim a country is only to a particular and exclusive is invalid. According to Eric Hobsbawm, a prominent Jewish Historian, "for purposes of analysis Nationalism comes before Nation, not the other way round." It is all very well constructing it from above but must vitally essential to understand conditions from below - hopes, needs, and interests of its people's collective belonging are essential criteria.

As for religion, it is not a sufficient criterion for Nation building but merely for grouping identification.  In so far as the triumphalist attachment to the ancient land of Israel to present Israel; is a cultural appropriation of the past and atavistic, a distinct evolutionary fossil and has no place in modern culture.  And, the idea to group all Jews to have reserved the ancestral land of Israel for welcoming the return of the Messiah, enough reason to settle and proclaim it as their land, is akin to all Muslims on a pilgrimage to Mecca, decide to settle there and therefore claim Saudi Arabia as their ancestral land. As for the migratory Jew, European and Arab, out of a theoretical attachment to claim an intrinsic connection to this land justifies him or her called Israeli while denying it to a Palestinian, indigenous holder of the land, is disingenuous and immoral. To further defend their claim by denying him citizen rights where to live or a choice of school for his children is tantamount to racial discrimination.  The ethnicity of an American Jew is American, so is a Russian, a German, or Polish. As in the UK, a person is British before he or she is a Jew after all.  To that effect, the Israeli legislative council has taken a disparaging, and malevolent action "A Nation-State of the Jewish People" discrediting the Palestinians from their intrinsic values has lead to dire consequences.




To that end violence and intimidation used by the present ult-rightist authorities, in exercising their ethnocentric and egoistic nationalism, are causing hatred and divisions, creating ever-deeper fissures in an already divided society.  I have several books about the Nazi party war machines when it overrun its neighbouring borders and continued to overwhelm Europe, in the years between 1939 and 1945. One of them is ‘The Third Reich’.  In it,  Professor Sir Richard Evans describes the brutality exercised by the German occupying forces entering, the Sudentland,Czechoslovakia (following the infamous Munich Pact), Belgium, Poland and elsewhere that led to segregation of ethnic Germans, and be encircled under the protection of the German Reich, separated from the local inhabitants and finally the Third Reich annexations of their conquests.

To me, it clearly shows an analogy between then and now, as defined by the current leaning one-kind tribalist Likud led Israeli government. Equally, in our model, there is a substrate of political sidelining, economic marginalisation and racial alienation of the Palestinian people. Among the book's chapters, there is one that specifically deals with how the Gestapo secret police flushed out the Jewish populations from all areas under their control, rounded them up and sent them to concentration camps by an overcrowded, foul-smelling, rat-infested cattle trucks guided by the military forces, a more fitting synonym: instruments of terror. It's personnel trained out of manuals produced by the high command to achieve racial utopia. The manuals to train these Israeli soldiers and those used by Nazi concentration camps officers must have idioms which overlap.

We have here, not only harsh dominating imperialism at work but a settler colonialist State hell bent on power without compromise, their occupying forces riding roughshod, over mainly Muslim inhabitants. Whom incidentally increasingly seen as guests, therefore, must abide by the laws of hospitality.  Instead of badges, they are identified for incarceration by their level of resistance to authority and to state land confiscation, rather than their genetical makeup or ancestral belonging. A war of attrition between the heavily armed group insulated by State power while the other side feeling intimidated for complete lack of power, alone, abandoned and hostage-to-fortune. In most cases, dignity is all that remains of their nationality.

Yes, I agree this other side are no angels but be that as it may compromise and tolerance stands as a duty to each state institution to exercise its moral imperatives.  For permanent consolidation of peace, equality and justice, to prioritise its aim for a clear understanding of cultural values contained in Islamic ideology and its close link to national consciousness.  That said, it is also important to bear in mind, that large sections of Palestinian people taken up western education and values to a greater extent than other Arab groups.  But, their relationship to national consciousness grows closer the more sidelined they are; from minority ideology to a mass force. I also agree the mainly less educated Arabs are prone to emotional intoxication, an agency often mistakenly used for judgments.  Understanding the Arab psyche to flare up instinctively can also be a positive asset, an opportunity towards harmony.  Part of the aims is to resist the idea that advancing the notion of one Nationalism should entail the retreat of another.  Maybe an idealistic thought, but we are short of options, but with enough resilience, the human artefacts of the Israeli intelligentsia must be tuned to cross implanted artificial borders.

From a social point of view, the alternative of pulling up the draw-bridges and to let emotions become the driver is to head towards dystopia.  Nor, such dehumanisation as I point to above is an ideal way for a sophisticated and civilised society to propel it forward.  We have run out of this bumpy political road it is time to turn an imagined, mythical democracy into a reality.  Similarly, on the political side, a one-sided peace is not peace but submission.  Instead, allow a Palestinian to have Israeli rights just as a Jewish person has with British nationality.  Though these rights are formally equal according to Israeli law, they do not translate, in fact, but contradicted in the real world, much evidenced and confirmed by the Basic Law proclaiming Israel is for the Jews only.  To take heart from the proximity that existed for centuries between the two religions of the one race. And, staying with the nineteen century, the words of Massimo d'Azeglio, come to mind, the pioneer of Italy's unification. They ring true today as they did in 1865 - 1871, during the unity of the Italian state- The Risorgimento.  "we have made Italy; now we must make Italians." Well, now we have made Israel; let's make Israelis.

Nation = State = People


In compiling this essay, I have mined some of the best brains on the subject of Nationalism. Any mistakes in my narratives or argument are entirely mine.

Sources: They come from different backgrounds in the fields of Philosophy, History, Anthropology, and Sociology:
'Nations and Nationalism since 1780', Eric.J. Hobsbawm
'Nationalism', Elie Kedourie
'Imagined Communities', Benedict Anderson
'Nationalism and the State', John Breuilly
'Nations and Nationalism', Ernest Gellner




Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Trumpism



The Wall

It is a political call for civic and racial nationalism, identifying his territorial rights by skin colour. White Nationalism comes in many shades: racism, walls, tariffs, prejudice etc. lumped together to protect rightist deluded ideas of purity of the race and white supremacists outlook.  Also, in this case, vital protection against possible tipping of the voter scale heaven forbid, should this 'other' vote or dare to breed more Democrats.

For the white supremacist outsiders or the 'other' are classified under headings of invaders and according to Trump Jr's recent description as animals.  Many it seems among the American white people, including those considered hillbillies among the rural communities and hardcore section of Evangelicals believe in trademarking ethnicity, religion, language, of those darker shades as a primitive society, soiled and as corrupting influences. They would rather subscribe to such a catalogue of bigotry triumphing in their ignorance.  No allowance is to be giving to tolerance for a pluralistic multi-culturalism or diversity; instead, they would rather borrow from Trump Jr's, a rather repugnant language, better to leash or tamed them into subordination. Such is the acerbic doctrines and themes of Trumpism serving as a requisite framing device for holding his followers together. "Ignorance has many forms and all of them are dangerous."

Besides, there are other unsettling issues to be sorted out.  Should the ‘other’ is accepted in the white American Nation, for the next barrier is class prejudice. It is no exaggeration to say, Trump’s white supremacist ideology stuck in a groove of ethnic Nationalisms and eugenicist reasonings. Insofar as in this case, the racist overtones emanating from the mainly White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASP) community does not transcend the prejudices of religious undertones.  More or less a purposeful effort to revive tribalism but on a much larger and artificial scale.

If one happens to be a Muslim or a Christian, Arabic speaker with Mulato colouring or for that matter a South American, easily identifiable by colour and or religion, you better stay this side of the fence. Linguistic uniformity or class pretentiousness is not enough to save you.

American citizenship gives a right to belong to a group of common people but to white supremacists, those newcomers especially those of darker shades remain foreign and alien only accepted conditionally.  Holding  US nationality does not buy an automatic entry to the American (white) Nation nor is it an open entry to their social club.

Inalienable right; a constitutional right no longer a hedge against prejudice. What is at stake here is the white chauvinistic nation as a political entity trying to protect its genealogical purity and any other colour is defacto disfranchised. It is evident that this America has forgotten its roots distinctly profligated among what has become over the last couple of centuries a multiculturalist society.  For the modern state, as I profoundly accept, American union is one and indivisible, its sovereignty comes from its people of all shades and colours as rightfully phased out in its constitutional principles. Its constitution is enshrined in these principles as well as in the mix of its people. For those who advocate the inequality of races are the ones becoming a hybrid or at best possessors of a confused identity.  Cultural, ethnic, social or other differences are not there to be subtracted since equality means identical leading to a unitary and homogenous relationship.  I firmly believe John Adams, Thomas Jefferson et al. in their attempt at Liberty, they intended to raise the individual above religious, ethnic and other forms of communal consciousness but unfortunately, we now see a blurred image of these courageous presuppositions.

What seems to be happening today is a redefinition of the Modern State by introducing features set in prejudice, discrimination and political bigotry.  It represents a dangerous trend for a new  American cultural identity more in line with a model fifteenth-century feudalism when states were beginning to emerge out of the darkness, only distinguished by its way of life as a primary object of loyalty.  While modernity as the greater part of American society undoubtedly represents and enthralled by its progressiveness holding its racial doctrines within the scope of its evolutionary civic nationalism and multi-culturalism.

Two years ago one would never believe it possible for anyone could describe this side of America in the tone as I have done.  Unfortunately, the malignant signals that emanate today from an adverse party of the Presidency make it so.

An unacceptable but sad chapter in US history.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Iraq; A Stillborn Nation


Modern Iraq covers almost the same area as ancient Mesopotamia, which centred on the land between the Tigress and the Euphrates.  Mesopotamia, also referred to as the Fertile Crescent, was an important centre of early civilisation.  Iraq was the name of an Arab province that made up the southern half of the modern day country. Today's Republic of Iraq, where Islam is the state religion and claims the beliefs of 97 per cent of the population, the majority of Iraqis identify with Arab culture. That is not necessarily true of the Kurdish, Turkmen or some Christian community occupying different provinces and who make up at least a fifth of almost forty million people.  Baghdad, was the name of a village that the Arabs chose to develop; it was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate.  In the early twentieth century, the region was reformed and redrawn along geographical, political, economic and strategic lines.  People’s demography mattered very little, neither their ethnicity nor religious beliefs.  Kurds, Assyrian, Turkoman, Chaldean, Armenian, Yazidi, and Jewish Plumbed together de facto later became Iraqi citizens.

Sharif-Ali was chosen by Britain' Lawrence of Arabia fame to help in the Arab Revolt.
Ibn Saud,  recommended by Captain W. H. I. Shakespeare (known to Arabs as “Skaishpeer”)
would have a made a better choice.

The making of Iraq under the British Mandate in 1923, was a mistake that need not have happened, it stands contrary to an ideological blueprint for country formations at the time when it had no unified nation to call its own.  It was a collection of debris from the fallout of the Ottoman Empire early in the twentieth century.  Made up from a selection of Ottoman-inspired ‘vilayets’ or provinces, largely ignoring people's unique cultural and religious affiliations. Britain inherited land with a tapestry of people to whom they gave a hollow label. A combination of people living in different and alien provinces to be grouped together under an umbrella called Iraq who were utterly devoid of national identity.  It was an imperialistic adventure.  A highly camouflaged White man’s burden but principally motivated by a high-minded desire of whites to uplift people of colour, including Arabs who were seen as too primitive to rule by themselves.  That may have a ring of truth; when viewed through the light of chaos in today’s the Middle East. As it happened, it was to Britain’s interest to control and add to its burgeoning Empire.

It was a case of Realpolitik bastardised and strictly Machiavellian to suit the powerful; one for me and one for you and none for them.   As the seams of the Empire were beginning to fray, and in the face of religious backlash, Christian Britain felt it was time to relinquish or at least release the reigns for its domination of a mostly Muslim population.  In 1932 Iraq gained its independence, but that did not diminish people's bitter hostility towards the British or to one another, but in fact, it marked the beginning of political and social turmoil leading to a dysfunctional state Iraq is today.  The modus operandi was ‘unity in diversity’ or ‘unity in fragmentation’, both on a flimsy veil of tolerance.
King Faisal I, son of Sharif-Ali.  A foreign import advocated the wearing of the
'Sidara' to bring unity.  It did not work.

This essay will underline the process on countrification that in design achieved a dislocated society or at best very little in harmonising the different ethnic groups and the fragmented tribes across the country to bind into one whole robust nation.  The existence in a lack of cohesion in a society that has paradoxically proved time and again intolerant of its shortcomings but ironically wishes to remain ignorant of its salvation.  Although different ideologies abound, they mostly concentrate on privilege and wealth accumulation and preferring to live on the right side of superstition; belief in the evil eye in preference to reason. A most comfortable way out from any sign of civil strife or political trouble has come to mean attaching the blame on external pressure and interference instead of reaching out to a demographic curriculum from within.   Aside from wishing to posit political turbulence for social action to curb flourishing personal avaricious tendencies, a significant reason for distrust between its citizen,  and reason to blame for imploding the country today, I ask why Iraq has not intellectually studied the ideological connection of causes. An inductive argument can help to give some insights on reasons and conclusions for such chronic disunity In the least, it will undoubtedly create chances in uniting the different religious and tribal division that has effectively left Iraq a State without a Nation.

King Ghazi, not a British sympathiser, loved speed, killed in road accident driving his flashy car
along with his two girl companions.  The British were suspected of manufacturing the accident.

Looking back at the sociological layering of Iraq it is evident that although the different cultures were quite distinct under the foreign Ottoman rule, nevertheless there was, by the Turks, an emphasis on the cohesion whether through pan-Islamisation or other in uniting these cultures.  It is therefore in the interest of this essay to establish reasons for disunity present when new borders created after WWI that had gravely come to underline sectarianism as manifested by the stream of savagery that has escalated in recent years. Given this opening summary, I stress, the coming of Iraq was a stillborn birth, its formation lacked the necessary cohesiveness within a demographic structure, and British political efforts at reconciliation were severely wanting.

Iraq: A State so wealthy that could have put the 'Gardens of Babylon' to shame.
An unlucky country!
It is interesting to note the reasons for such divisions.  Is it because as we will see below developments in communication and transportation; attempts at homogeneity that must have brought regions and towns closer together only to see cultures overlapping and prejudices exposed. Objection to them may have triggered a rift exposing cultural cleavages hitherto unknown.  Or was it culturally imbued by British imperialism, their emphasis on class structure overshadowed local customs inevitably caused class resentment?  Or was it during the period of Saddam Hussein’s 35-year rule which had not only exposed and exaggerated the differences but used them as instruments for suppression, thus pushing them to the forefront of ideological thinking?

Prince Regent Abd-Al-Illah, (on the right) he was more English than the English. He loved his Saville Row suits and
to cruise the Baghdad streets in his Rolls Royce with a string of mistresses attached.
Educated in a British School in Cairo where Omar Sharif (the actor) schooled at a later date.

On the other hand, it could also be an inherent characteristic within the people of the area, stems from insecurity to distrust one another.  This latter point on individual citizens, if it stands, makes it even more impossible to bring about a political compact which Iraq desperately needs to eradicate sectarian identities.  It is also possible these dogmatic ideas and rifts between the populations had always been a natural phenomenon that recent experiments in Democracy unleashed with such ferocity.  Level of animosities hitherto unknown but remained latent during the Ottoman period in the 1860s or during Saddam Hussein's authoritarian rule.

King Faisal II with Queen Elizabeth.  Assassinated on 14th July 1958 at the age of 23.
The year marked the coming of The Republic of Iraq.

It is therefore not surprising for the Ottomans to realise the area was difficult to govern because of the various distinctive cultural and ideological ideas embedded within the psyche of the populations.  The developments of roads and communication, a sign for progress was undertaken under great financial strains with the aim of bringing some unity and some semblance of homogeneity.  The backlash, of course, as I have shown to have worked the opposite way.  The population then and now cannot accept a difference.
Nouri Al-Said, Iraq Prime Minister.  He was assassinated in 1958,
and the frenzied crowd dumped his mutilated body in the Tigress river to swim with the fishes. 
In the 1970s an educational campaign was launched to influence a national consciousness based on Iraq's history, including the pre-Islam era and the former glory of Mesopotamia and Babylon. The goal was to focus on a new cultural life for modern Iraq and to emphasise Iraq's uniqueness, especially in the Arab world. Archaeological museums were built in several cities, which held exhibitions and educational programs, especially for children so that they were made aware of the historical importance of their culture and nation. To promote this centre of attention on history, several ancient sites from the city of Babylon were reconstructed, such as the Ziggurat of Aqarquf, the ruins of Babylon, the temple of Ishtar, the southern Iraq fortress of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Greek amphitheatre. Unfortunately, such aesthetics failed to serve any purposeful outcome.

Rashid Ali Al-Ghelani, Prime Minister of Iraq in 1941, Nazi sympathiser seized control following
a coupe despatching the British contingent along with this writer's father, Kamel Oufi to prison in Mosul.
Released a month later which saw the annihilation of the Iraqi forces by the British. 

The area called Iraq has suffered a cruel history under the relentless watchful eye of tyranny. The span of centuries after the Mongol invasion, that destroyed Baghdad in 1258 and Turkish conquest and rule that soon followed, coupled with lawlessness in the region left the inhabitants vulnerable and insecure.  The insecurity of the Shia community was bad enough until efforts of Pan-Islamisation in the nineteenth century, trialled after centuries of oppression eased their plight.  In this context, it was even worse for the Jews and Christians and other minorities identified as second class citizens.  Throughout the Ottoman period, they were deemed subordinate defined by a mode of dress to tell them apart. Then and now suffering a string of violations, hardly ever enjoyed a sense of belonging.  The Ottomans did exercise freedom of religion, the mode of which not far off those tinpot gulf states that flag wave the same today, only to see their constitution is enshrined by Sharia laws.  Freedom was and is no more than what it says on the tin.    Such levels of mistrust created over the centuries stretched their insecurity beyond reason.

The whole population fared no better under the British with Nouri Al Said as Prime Minister nor during the thirty-five-year rule of Saddam Hussein.  Throughout the period since independence, the Iraqi government have been guarded against subversive activities by spying on its people.  Such actions were taken to an extreme under Saddam Hussein.  The oppressive regimes over the centuries have left the Iraqi people with vulnerability, so ingrained their empathy today hardly reaches beyond the filial core.  Thus with such a frame of mind, it is hard to imagine if there can be a unity among the citizens to weave into the fabric of a nation any time soon.  

Abu-Ghraib Prison showing suffering Iraqi detainees. Human Rights violations at the hands
of American forces 

On the grand scheme of things, nothing much matters to Iraqi people today except looking after your own. In consequence, Iraq is housed by people not by society made up of individuals each an island ocean apart from one another. Instinct is their only guide, they are driven by their own inertia fuelled by desire rather than by causes. A land where help for one another and philanthropy is mainly left to aliens.  It could be their instinctive repulsion of one another more potent than the nearness brought about by communication; tried over a century ago to encourage if not guarantee cohesion.  Years of oppression, denials and marginalisation have taken their toll.  For such people abandoning hope comes easy and delving on wishful nostalgia is easier still.

A naked Iraqi detainee at the Abu Ghraib prison is tethered by a leash to prison
guard Army Pfc. Lynndie Rana England. In 2012, following her release, 
after only three years in prison, she stated that she did not regret her actions. 
           “They’re trying to kill us, and you want me to apologise to them? 
                                    It's like saying sorry to the enemy."

However, from such a rock-bottom level of negativity, progress needs to evolve.  Time to reach out for reconciliation and to extend the reach of loyalty beyond family, self-interest and avarice.  The country is endowed with a rich heritage around which to build on a Nation with a common culture.  The rivers of Babylon from the distant foothills of Turkey, share a rich history with their people they go back together thousands of years sharing innovations and achievements.  Also true, the multi-ethnic society that grew around them are brutally and culturally divergent averse to accepting a difference but time reaches a point, however, when they have to meet.

The Poverty is existing in Iraq mainly due to the failing infrastructure a
result of chronic political instability.
A failed nation is lacking in honesty and empathy of its people towards
one another. 

Similarly, the Tigers and the Euphrates eventual confluence at Al-Shat Al Arab, so one would hope the differences have ebbed and would converge as trust grows.  For its survival as a Nation State, Iraq depends on unity, faith and accommodation.  The Greeks named the land Mesopotamia, the area of two rivers, and left them separated but the flow of time should erode the mistrust.  And staying with this metaphor, Iraq people should learn to cultivate the rich and fertile sediment to create the nation fit enough to claim Babylon's greatness as a significant chapter in their great history.

Ishtar Gate, Pergamon Museum, Berlin. From Babylon,
the ancient Mesopotamian city in what is today Iraq. 

Idealist, I may be, but that is an outlook hardly ever failed to be the first step to reality.  So, time for new Politics of National Identity to flag up, to proudly claw back, 'Gate of the Gods'; Babylon, the source of civilisation that they can rightly claim as theirs.  Time to reconnect to the country's history and time for Nation Branding.