Palestinian Independence

I think that Palestinians will definitely achieve independence, if not extremely soon. I come from a country that fought for its independence for centuries, so I understand the power of the Palestinians’ liberatory drive.

In Ukraine, we were so concentrated on the dream of independence that the question of what would happen after it was achieved was never answered in a very realistic way. As a result, we have what we have: a deeply corrupt, extremely poor, mafia-ridden country whose citizens predominantly have a single dream, namely, to move to the former colonial power, Russia. None of this means that the independence was not worth achieving, of course.

So now I suggest we imagine what independent Palestine will look like. I see a piss-poor (no resources, no help from anywhere, ravaged by the decades of war) country, led by a fanatically fundamentalist regime that grows more extreme as the poverty deepens. Do you see any alternative to this scenario? (I mean, realistic alternatives that do not include US and Israel offering financial assistance to Palestine.)

I’m not presenting this scenario to suggest that the independence is not worth having for Palestinians. It is always worth having, no matter what the cost. The only reason why I’m writing all this is to ask: are you still wondering why the US opposes Palestinian independence? Do you believe it would be a rational thing to do for a country that pursues its self-interest to support an emergence in a conflictive region of yet another piss-poor country, led by a fanatically fundamentalist regime?

I see so much naivete in the discussions (among intelligent, extremely well-educated people) of the US foreign policy that it scares me. On the one hand, people will riot if the price of gasoline goes up to the level of what Canadians pay for theirs. On the other hand, those same people – who get into hissy fits of major proportions when I suggest they could give up their cars – insist the US should get out of the Middle East. They probably expect the president of the US to be able to piss gasoline.

And then there are all those folks who detest the security measures at the airports yet are appalled by drone strikes and kill lists. I even heard one well-fed overgrown Momma’s boy complain in a tone of a spoiled brat that the killing of Osama bin Laden was not carried out to his satisfaction and that bin Laden should have been captured alive and brought to trial instead. The hilarious thing is that this same guy and I had had several discussions where he expressed his extreme annoyance at how entitled the lay public felt to criticize the work of college professors without even knowing what that work entailed.

None of us are even remotely willing to sacrifice our self-interest. I am yet to meet any people who are likely to sacrifice their levels of consumption, their feelings of security, their entitlements, their routine, or pretty much anything of value to benefit Syrians, Palestianians, Ukrainians, or even their neighbors down the road in some major way. Yet those same people condemn the very policies that give them their levels of consumption, their feelings of security, their entitlements, and their routine. How is this approach different from that of my former colleague who was a passionate Marxist as well as a factory owner?

I have lived in very different countries and one thing that my fellow progressives share in all of them is this frustrating insistence on the slogan of “let everything be good and nothing be bad” that is infantile, unrealistic, and dangerous. I am shocked at the feelings of self-righteousness all of these Chomskys and Co experience when they condemn the foreign policy of the US while feeling completely entitled to enjoy the fruits of that same policy.

Palestinians fight for their independence because, as rational people, they pursue their self-interest. But the US also does the rational thing by pursuing its self-interest. Hence, the only valuable argument for why the US should not oppose Palestinian independence is to demonstrate how it would benefit the US more than the alternative.

If such an argument exists, I would love to hear it, I seriously would. Everything else is just childish.

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84 comments on “Palestinian Independence

  1. I still suspect that if the U. S. cut our military spending to about one third of its present level, and diverted the freed-up productive capacity to improving the situation of working people here, we would all benefit, save for the few who own defense industries.

    • I think most Iranians aren’t religious extremists either, but look at their regime. And then look what is already happening in Gaza:

      Hamas Enforces Islamic Dress Code In (entire) Gaza (for BOTH genders)

      http://globalmbreport.org/?p=1678

      On TV the Hamas spokesperson talked against Western cut clothing (for both genders) and for forcing all wear Islamic clothing.

      I think Clarissa is right about religiously (& otherwise) extremist regime. I foresee they’ll continue not recognizing Israel and talking of its’ destruction. Also getting help (but only in weapons!) from some Middle East countries & terrorist organizations (*), and relieving domestic tensions (bad economy, enforced religious extremism, etc) by attacking Israel. This time with more serious weapons: missiles, tanks, etc. Than Israel will react, but still somehow be the guilty party.

      (*) Another example of “help” being helpful to the giver’s goals (here: attacking Israel), and not what’s best for the receiver (economic help).

      A question: Clarissa, you wrote about pursuing self-interest by all sides a lot. So, what is the self-interest of Israel’s enemies, who aren’t Palestinians? Except anti-semitism, using Israel as the enemy to relieve domestic pressure and possibly as a way to take a stance against US / West. Israel doesn’t compete in Who Will Rule Middle East contest f.e. It can’t do so among Arab countries.

  2. Well, this is a sensitive topic for me since I do have personal ties to it. My father is of Palestinian descent, as are his relatives, obviously. (He’s the only one who of them who doesn’t live somewhere in the Middle East. No, there’s a nephew who lives in Norway. But that’s it.) His family is not composed of religious extremists; it’s the horror stories I hear about how they were driven out that get to me about the topic. That, and the fact that they can’t gain citizenship in any of the nearby countries.

    This is probably a naive way of looking at things, but why does something have to benefit America for us to support it? What about the greater good? Although I can see that’s obviously not practical in swaying most people.

    The point you do bring up that I’d never thought about before is what’ll happen to the Palestinian people once they do achieve independence. How would the conditions be worse than now, though? Then again, for independence to be fully work, it should improve the residents’ lives in some way. Hmm. That is a quandary I have no answer to. It changes my perspective a little.

    • “This is probably a naive way of looking at things, but why does something have to benefit America for us to support it? What about the greater good? Although I can see that’s obviously not practical in swaying most people.”

      - How many things do you do as a person that are to your detriment in a big way because you think that will serve something as vague as “the greater good”? To be honest, I still can;t make myself to sacrifice plastic bags consistently, which is a very tiny little sacrifice to make. As for bigger things – I don’t know.

      “How would the conditions be worse than now, though?”

      - I never said they will be worse for Palestinians. Things will get worse for the US.

      “Then again, for independence to be fully work, it should improve the residents’ lives in some way.”

      - I think it will improve the lives of Palestinians. The question is whether this should be the decisive factor in how othr countries act.

      • // Things will get worse for the US.

        Could you write how in practice? A tiny country, what will it do to US? To Israel, sure, but to US?

        One idea: Pal attacks Isr, Isr reacts and UN once more condemns Isr, while US doesn’t and is in a somewhat unpleasant position. More attacks than now – US has not to condemn Isr more often.

        Would Iran become more influental, using Pal as its’ new base on the Middle East?

      • Another bunch of unhinged religious fanatics in power – what can be more detrimental than that? The region is already very unstable. This is like throwing a huge bunch of dry twigs into a smoldering fire.

      • Yeah, I know you didn’t say some of those things; that was just me meditating on the issue, lol.

        I have actually done quite a few things to my detriment in order to choose the higher road. I’m trying to think of a specific example. Hmm. Well, I find that using my own bags rather than plastic bags is more convenient for me, so the bag example wouldn’t work as one. All I can think of right now involves things I did before I was 18, so I don’t think they’re good examples. Here’s a minor one: Let’s say I buy a plastic bottle of soda. When I finish it, I will hold on to that bottle all day until I find a recycling bin. This could be for hours. It’s inconvenient, but I still do it.

      • // When I finish it, I will hold on to that bottle all day until I find a recycling bin. This could be for hours. It’s inconvenient, but I still do it.

        That’s great. But I and other Israelis are afraid to get much more missiles on our heads, after Palestine is completely recognized.

        And I sure hope US and Israel even will help the new country, if it’ll prevent them to some extent from attacking Israel too much. Don’t I sound servile here? But it’s the sad truth.

    • My question is what “America” is and what “benefiting America” (or another nation-state) means. Current policies benefit certain industries and sectors, not all of which are configured in terms of nations or bound by states; what benefits a “country” may not benefit its citizens, and the meaning of benefiting citizens is a matter of debate. I would reformulate the question to what sectors of the world system benefit or not by having nations take certain kinds of action.

      • Not just that. The high standard of living. Cheap food, cheap gadgets, cheap clothing, good working conditions, lots of leisure – compared to how the majority of the world lives, of course, not compared with Norway.

        I refuse to pretend that my opportunity to read and write about Spanish literature while being very well-paid and having a lot of leisure – which is something that would not be accessible to me in any other country on the planet – is not owing to the foreign policies that the US has been promoting for over 100 years.

        Hey, at least I’m honest.

      • ” I would reformulate the question to what sectors of the world system benefit or not by having nations take certain kinds of action.”

        - I think that’s too vague. The real question is, “What benefits me?”

        “Current policies benefit certain industries and sectors, not all of which are configured in terms of nations or bound by states”

        - I see this as a way of removing all individual responsibility. “It’s the defense industry and the oil industry who benefit while I’m just sitting here with zero involvement.” Yeah, right.

      • “It’s the defense industry and the oil industry who benefit while I’m just sitting here with zero involvement.”

        What? Sorry you believe that…

      • The real question is, “What benefits me?”

        – Sad when people cannot think beyond this, or find that a valuable way to operate, or cannot imagine anyone would operate differently.

        – Do remember that many things done individually do not make a difference: picking up trash makes a piece of land pretty but does not stop pollution. You have to have collective action, have to organize.

      • “Sad when people cannot think beyond this, or find that a valuable way to operate, or cannot imagine anyone would operate differently.”

        - Without answering this question, we cannot elaborate a non-hypocritical vision of geopolitical issues. What I’m protesting against is the willful blindness of people who say “Oh, I refuse to consider how this might benefit me because I’m so above these petty considerations” while making daily, hourly use of the benefits they pretend do not exist.

      • //The real question is, “What benefits me?”
        – Sad when people cannot think beyond this, or find that a valuable way to operate, or cannot imagine anyone would operate differently.

        Have countries ever behaved differently? Isn’t it always about “national interests”, which in the best case improve the lives of the country’s people? In other cases, even this doesn’t happen.

        Give example/s to the opposite.

      • “Give example/s to the opposite.”

        - Unless we join the school of “US only invades to bring democracy and benefit the invaded”, I don’t think such examples can be found.

      • What I would say is, nations do this but at present, while they are powerful actors in world system, they may not always be the strongest forces in it. The arms industry, for instance, is more powerful than most national governments, individual politicians and so on. National governments police their citizens and act for their own survival, but these actions are not necessarily in the interest of the people.

        On the question of “individual responsibility” I apparently run in different circles but immediate material benefit isn’t the only kind of benefit there is; lots of people have other values. At the same time, using only organic bug spray, having a low carbon imprint yourself, living lower on the food chain, and so on, are good and would do a lot of good if we all did it, are insufficient as individual actions — they don’t do enough as such and they don’t get you off the hook; nothing changes without concerted, collective action.

        I find the current cant of “individual responsibility” as panacea incredibly naive.

      • “I find the current cant of “individual responsibility” as panacea incredibly naive.”

        - It’s a panacea to hypocrisy, which is all we are discussing. Do you see how the predatory policies of the US benefit you personally? That’s the only question here.

  3. No, Palestine has no chance of being ruled by a bunch of crazed religious fanatics. None at all:

    The Ministry of Religious Affairs launched a “virtue campaign” in January in the Strip’s central districts. The campaign targeted low-waist jeans, female abayas that show jeans underneath and veiled women who show the front of their hair beneath their headscarves. Although the campaign was not forceful, it reinforced Hamas’ desire to see stricter social etiquette in Gaza in line with sharia.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/02/hamas-islamization-gaza.html#ixzz2KWkO0Ecv

    “Women’s rights in Gaza are regressing. Many decisions are being passed in secret and only become public by chance, such as the decision to destroy curriculum books that are thought to be morally corrupting, in addition to the imposition of the hijab in schools and the prohibition of female participation in folklore dancing. When Hamas officials are asked about these matters, they always end up finding shallow justifications,” said feminist activist Dunia al-Amal Ismail.

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/02/islamization-in-gaza-eroding-wom.html#ixzz2KWkjv7zT

    Following a recent outbreak of swine flu in the West Bank, which later spread to Gaza as well, ‘Issam Shawer, a columnist in the Hamas daily Falastin, wrote that women are the worst transmitters of diseases because they tend to gather in groups and to move from place to place. He advised them to wear a niqab, saying it protects them from infection, and called to limit their movement in the next few months in order to curb the spread of germs.

    http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/hamas-columnist-claims-women-must-wear-burkas-because-they-spread-disease/

    As for the current Ministry of Culture’s approach towards cinema, Aeraar stated that, “In the Gazan mindset, the word ‘cinema’ is associated with something bad. It is considered a violation of the community’s traditions and corrosive to its values. It is viewed as a waste of money which only inspires bad behavior in children and teenagers. Thus Gazan citizens do not miss the cinema nor do they sense its absence, especially considering that it is a society that often lacks essential resources for day-to-day living.”

    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/02/cinema-gaza-demise.html#ixzz2KWlawlgt

    Hamas decrees segregation of women and men and imposes a “modest” dress code for schoolgirls. The punishment for “honor killings” of women is a mere 24 months.

    http://www.socialism.com/drupal-6.8/?q=node/2101

    • If secular, western oriented, (comparatively) educated Tunisia couldn’t stand up againsy the Islamist whackjobs then what hope do the less western oriented, less educated and less secular Palestinians have?

      By and large, people don’t vote on issues or policies, they vote by identity (pretty much in all countries at all times). If a people’s identity is poorly educated, overly religious and supertitious then that’s who’ll they’ll vote for (see Egypt).

      • “If secular, western oriented, (comparatively) educated Tunisia couldn’t stand up againsy the Islamist whackjobs then what hope do the less western oriented, less educated and less secular Palestinians have?”

        - Exactly!

        “By and large, people don’t vote on issues or policies, they vote by identity (pretty much in all countries at all times). If a people’s identity is poorly educated, overly religious and superstitious then that’s who’ll they’ll vote for (see Egypt).”

        - Oh, the balm to my wounds! Finally, somebody who sees this the way I do. Yes, people vote based on identity and not based on policies. This bears repeating because it is very very true.

  4. The US should broker a settlement between Palestine and Israel that is conditioned on 1967-equivalent territorial boundaries and a written guarantee of peace for Israel from all Arab countries. The US should then trade freely with both Israel and Palestine. If Palestine cannot function as an independent nation – and its people are so dreadful, I suspect that they cannot live without handouts from the UN – then let its people rot. It will be their deserved problem.

    if anyone, including Palestine, should attempt to interfere with Israel, the US should bomb that country or that group into devastation. But not invade. No boots on the ground, just massive bombing raids until they retreat to their borders..

    That is a cost-effective solution to an intractable problem.

    • // then let its people rot. It will be their deserved problem.

      People don’t rot quietly. The biggest modern example: Germany after WW1.
      Palestinians will get Iran’s help (and from other countries) and attack Israel.

      // a written guarantee of peace for Israel from all Arab countries

      I don’t believe it’s possible, even were Israel to retreat to 1967 borders.

      Which guarantee can Syria give now, anyway? Nobody there to rule internally even. Even were Syria stable, the demand for any recognition would be the return of Golan heights, which Israel won’t do because of it being THE military strategic place (height) with water, and we have no reason to believe the peace will hold.

      Some people are sad we returned Sinai to Egypt, claiming that the peace agreement with Egypt is currently in place only because of US $ help to Egypt and won’t last long even with it. While Sinai is terrorists’ nest now and Egypt gas pipes don’t function because of them. So, after Egypt revolution, we are without Egypt gas. Thankfully, Israel found its’ own gas. :) Personally, I have a dream. Of Israel finding a lot of oil in the Negev f.e.

      //if anyone, including Palestine, should attempt to interfere with Israel, the US should bomb that country or that group into devastation.

      Please, bomb Iran. :)

      • “Palestinians will get Iran’s help (and from other countries) and attack Israel.”

        - Yes, because it has been so easy for them to get anybody’s help so far.

        “Please, bomb Iran.”

        - And how will it be in the US’s self-interest exactly?

      • // – Yes, because it has been so easy for them to get anybody’s help so far.

        Help in weapons? They sure get. For example, immediately after the end of the last military operation:

        Report: Israel Identifies New Shipment of Fajr-5 Rockets Headed to Gaza From Iran

        http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/11/25/report-israel-identifies-new-shipment-of-fajr-5-rockets-headed-to-gaza-from-iran/

        //- And how will it be in the US’s self-interest exactly?

        I didn’t say it would. Just reacted to Charles’ proposition how US should behave after the peace agreements.

      • “// – Yes, because it has been so easy for them to get anybody’s help so far.

        Help in weapons? They sure get. For example, immediately after the end of the last military operation”

        - There would be zero point in doing that after Palestine achieves independence.

  5. Call me cynical, but I’d like to wonder whether, in some sense, the leaders of the countries surrounding Israel really “want” the conflict to end. Despite their public rhetoric about “Wiping Israel off the map,” the state of permanent confrontation gives leaders of those countries a convenient enemy to blame their own countries’ problems on. It gives them an excuse to have a vast military an security apparatus, allowing them to suppress dissidents in their own countries and to ignore solving their own countries’ problems. One possible objection is that those leaders could take the same approach with the US.

  6. With the US headed towards self sufficiency with shale oil in the next 10 years or so I see middle east policy changing dramatically. The US will no longer care about stability in that region in fact instability will only disadvantage its trading partners so why not bring it on.

    Israel will not get its current level of financial support, what happens after that is anybodies guess, I cant see it being amicable though.

    • If this were only about oil, then I might agree. But it’s not. As I wrote this week, we are on the brink of a major geopolitical reshuffle of power. Somebody will end up with the world dominance. Among the current contenders – US, China, India – whom do you prefer to win?

    • Energy self-sufficiency is a will o’ the wisp. If someone in (say) Korea wants to pay more than someone in the US for X amount of oil, they should be allowed to do so. Keeping prices artificially low distorts the market, encourages excessive use, and wastes taxpayer money.

  7. I feel it would benefit me greatly to have a national identity I can believe in and I would happily give up consumer comforts for this (gas, electronics, leisure time, whatever–there’s lots of room to give up before being miserable in my case). I also believe that our current national identity is fundamentally damaging in the long run, even if it leads to short-term gain. If giving up consumer benefits would change this, I’m not even sure I would consider it a sacrifice to be honest.

    As for fundamentalist governments, I do not like or support them, but I do believe that the government should be chosen by the people. U.S. foreign policy is based on the ability to control, the level of fundamentalism in the government has nothing to do with whether or not the U.S. supports a regime. However, I also don’t believe that fundamentalist governments will be able to last in the long run in the Arab world, as there are simply too many people for whom this is not acceptable in most countries (including Palestine). Fundamentalism alone cannot combat more serious economic, political, social, etc. issues, and when this is clear things will change again.

    • “Fundamentalism alone cannot combat more serious economic, political, social, etc. issues”

      Of course not, you have to be a functionally illiterate peasnat who believes in a profoundly anti-rational religion to believe otherwise…. oh wait!

      “and when this is clear things will change again.”

      I wouldn’t hold my breath. And the decades/centuries between now an then the primitive, savages among the fundamentalists can do a _lot_ of damage.

      • “Of course not, you have to be a functionally illiterate peasnat who believes in a profoundly anti-rational religion to believe otherwise…. oh wait!”

        - Thankfully, there are almost no people like that left anywhere in the world. :-) :-)

      • Only to the extent you believe that you have choices over everything in your life, since identity negotiation is constant albeit more salient at times. I don’t think individuals have completely free choice (nor that they have no choice) so this extends to identity negotiation.

    • “I feel it would benefit me greatly to have a national identity I can believe in and I would happily give up consumer comforts for this (gas, electronics, leisure time, whatever–there’s lots of room to give up before being miserable in my case).”

      - Since this is one of my major research interests, I’m really curious: why do you feel you need a national identity so much? I personally wouldn’t give 2 cents for one, let alone give up, say, my Kindle for it. :-) I’m just curious. People actually go to die for a piece of painted fabric and I find their behavior to be extremely mysterious.

      ” However, I also don’t believe that fundamentalist governments will be able to last in the long run in the Arab world , as there are simply too many people for whom this is not acceptable in most countries (including Palestine). Fundamentalism alone cannot combat more serious economic, political, social, etc. issues, and when this is clear things will change again”

      - This statement contradicts what you yourself said earlier in the comment.

      • No national identity would of course be preferable, but since we haven’t overcome nationalism yet, and I’m assigned one, I’d prefer to have it be something I agree with. I think it is damaging and condescending for anyone or any country to think of themselves as a superior savior of the unenlightened, so my judgement isn’t limited to America, this just happens to be where it affects me personally due to my passport.

        There is no contradiction in my statement. Think of someone/some country choosing fundamentalism and then becoming disillusioned with it and no longer supporting it. Or fundamentalism winning by a narrow vote (which means lots of people disagree) and not being able to hold onto this advantage.

      • “No national identity would of course be preferable, but since we haven’t overcome nationalism yet”

        - Who are these “we”? I don’t need one.

        “and I’m assigned one, I’d prefer to have it be something I agree with”

        - By whom? And why do you care what some people assign to you?

        ” Think of someone/some country choosing fundamentalism and then becoming disillusioned with it and no longer supporting it.”

        - The only historical examples I can think of show that it normally takes hundreds of years for this process to take place. In Spain, for instance, it took half a millenium. And still, the results are very new and a little tenuous.

        “Or fundamentalism winning by a narrow vote (which means lots of people disagree) and not being able to hold onto this advantage.”

        - Are there any examples in history?

      • I’m assigned a national identity by the American government that gives me a passport, other governments that require it to cross their borders, people who ask me where I’m from, people who know where I’m from and expect certain (and sometimes contradictory) beliefs as a result, people who think I should value the U.S. or U.S. citizens over other people, etc. Since I think of groups of people by nationalities at times, I’m not exempt from this either. It may not be the classic rah-rah, go die for your flag nationalism, but it is still some sort of national identity.

        I care what I’m assigned because it affects my interactions with people. I don’t care in the sense that it matters to me if they like/dislike me or the U.S., but I care in that I know I will always be asked why the U.S. invades countries, or so many Americans are religious, or live far away from their families, or have sex before marriage or do whatever they do in the mind of that person, whereas I will not be asked anything about say Lithuania or any other country unless I develop some claim to that national identity or there is a big news item. National identities are a ridiculous concept if you think about it, but they have real world effects (like most identity categories for that matter). This is, incidentally, also a research project of mine because it is quite interesting. Do you really feel that assumptions about your national identity (whether you agree with them or not) have no effect on your interactions with people (whether you care what they think or not)?

        As for fundamentalists, Morsi is currently engaged in quite the struggle to stay in power, as many who actually voted for him (and of course all those that didn’t) have turned against him. Still too early to tell the result though. Hamas has control in Gaza, but not the West Bank, which would presumably also be part of an independent Palestinian state. Algeria had a civil war when Islamists won the elections and the government canceled the results. Saudi Arabia is facing more and more political dissent and having a harder time paying its citizens off.

      • “I’m assigned a national identity by the American government that gives me a passport, other governments that require it to cross their borders”

        - Paperwork does not equal identity. Identities are “stories we tell ourselves and others,” according to one of the most popular definitions. One is not obligated to create a story to accompany every bit of paperwork. That is a personal choice.

        “people who know where I’m from and expect certain (and sometimes contradictory) beliefs as a result, people who think I should value the U.S. or U.S. citizens over other people, etc. ”

        - How are the thoughts of others your problem? Unless you are a clairvoyant. :-) :-)

        People know I’m a woman and have thoughts and expectations.
        People know I’m from Ukraine and have thoughts and expectations.
        People know I’m Jewish and have thoughts and expectations.
        People know I’m a professor and have thoughts and expectations.
        People know I’m a Russian-speaker and have thoughts and expectations.
        People know I’m married and have thoughts and expectations.
        People know I’m autistic and have thoughts and expectations.

        And so on. But if I start creating narratives in response to all these beliefs and assumptions, I won’t have time to do anything else.

        There has got to be an internal motivation to create a narrative and to put in place all of the emotional attachments that any collective identity necessitates. The internal motivation to endow this specific identity with personal meaning is what interests me. This is not an identity that is based on anything physiological or immutable even, so why do people cherish it so much?

        “Do you really feel that assumptions about your national identity (whether you agree with them or not) have no effect on your interactions with people (whether you care what they think or not)?”

        - My last name made it much more difficult for me to find a job in my field. Employers in any field are reluctant to hire people with Slavic names, and I can’t say I blame them all that much. But knowing this didn’t influence me in any way. It’s their right to hire whomever they feel like, what can I do about it? In any case, most people assume I;m Russian, so it isn’t even my real place of origin they are assuming things about. :-) :-)

      • I use a different definition of identity, which is negotiated between the individual and the context (often other people, but not necessarily). This does not entail individuals building up responses to every expectation or feeling that they care about these expectations though. It just examines how the identities are negotiated, which is interesting and relevant to my research.

  8. Great article. Although, actually, trading what is superficially deemed to be rational self-interest can sometimes be beneficial. I have certainly done this once or twice, although it was in my emotional interests to sacrifice my bourgeois individualistic interests. I needed to restore emotional connections to things, in order to feel normal, so I did that by directing some of my UWA scholarship money to Zimbabwe and going there to experience the situation and teach self-defence.

  9. None of us are even remotely willing to sacrifice our self-interest. I am yet to meet any people who are likely to sacrifice their levels of consumption, their feelings of security, their entitlements, their routine, or pretty much anything of value to benefit Syrians, Palestianians, Ukrainians, or even their neighbors down the road in some major way. Yet those same people condemn the very policies that give them their levels of consumption, their feelings of security, their entitlements, and their routine. How is this approach different from that of my former colleague who was a passionate Marxist as well as a factory owner?(Clarissa)

    By far the most accurate thing you have ever written. :)

  10. Chinese has a more anti-liberty state than USA, even right now. So this is not the model that I want to reproduce. And again, I don’t give a shit about economic growth financed with crime.

    • This is not about reproducing a model. This is about who gets the world hegemony and the resources that accompany it. When the resources go to somebody else, the model becomes completely insignificant.

      Once again, this is not about growth. This is about BARELY preserving what we have now: the 8-hour workday, 2 weeks of holidays per year, 2 free days a week, some sort of a minimal pension. This is what is at play. Is this something you are willing to give over to people who haven’t had a chance to enjoy it yet?

      The population is growing, the resources are dwindling. Let’s be realistic.

      • “Is this something you are willing to give over to people who haven’t had a chance to enjoy it yet?”

        Yes. I don’t want to be a capitalist mafioso that enriches himself with crime and I don’t want to preserve what we have.

      • “Yes. I don’t want to be a capitalist mafioso that enriches himself with crime and I don’t want to preserve what we have.”

        - OK, I appreciate the honesty. Now imagine how many people you would like to convince to follow your example. I bet that there might be 2. Or 3. :-)

  11. We all have our price, its just that some of us want to set it and have the others pay it. David is right but has no chance of being the one who will set it just like the rest of us average individuals.

    • The problem is that disenchantment doesn’t have any practical effects outside the minds of the disenchanted. The fundamentalists handily won the first elections and I doubt if there will be more (that aren’t elections in name only). Chances are the brotherhood (or some retooled version thereof) will rule until overthrown by some other populist uprising.

      It’s worse: There’s also no real indication that the Egyptian public is disenchanted with the idea of a coercive theocratic regime (as opposed to being disenchanted with the particular people running the current coercive theocratic regime).

      As long as most Egyptians self identify as Muslim first (and remain indifferent or hostile toward values like secular public adminsitration, modernity and secular education) they will vote for whatever grouping reinforces that Muslim identity (currently defined as being bound to restrictive and poverty enforcing behaviors). It’s kind of a catch 22.

  12. I think one of the issues with many of the “muslim” nations is the power that the group dynamic presents. I believe the repressive regimes that were supported by the west only reinforced this need and in turn leads to the populations turning a blind eye to their newly elected.

  13. “In Zimbabwe, there is very little enforcement of laws, unless you happen to have a political stance.

    If you’re a rich White, yes. But not to others especially with their Monopoly money.

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