AKP Closing Down Pig Farms in Turkey

Time for AKP fans who claim it is moderate and secular to wake up. The real insidious pressure to Islamicise Turkey is shown in a a report on the BBC News website. The BBC has generally gone along with the moderate liberalising reformist line on AKP, so this is important.


As the story reveals, pork butchers associated with the Armenian and Greek communities are being forced out of business on the pretext of hygiene standards on pork farms. Pressures are being applied on pig farmers which are not being applied on other farms and ALL pig farms have had licenses withdrawn. The government is hiding behind the excuse of ‘European standards’ on hygiene to Islamicise society and attack an economic activity associated with Greeks and Armenians. This is an attack on secularism and on the rights of Turkish Greeks and Armeni ans. Time for all you people who claim that AKP is the most liberal reformist party in Turkey to wake up to reality, to the real danger. I’ve been willing to give AKP the benefit of the doubt, but evidence is beginning to accumulate of an insidious step by step attack on secularism. Time to stop all this ‘post-secularist’ nonsense of ‘preferring religious conservatives to laicists. Post-secularism is not exiciting and innovative, it is a cover for giving into backward looking intolerance and social repression.

Habermas and German Nationalism

A very useful collection of Habermas texts on line can be found at: http://www.helsinki.fi/~amkauppi/hablinks.html
It is no doubt rather harsh to link Jürgen Habermas with German nationalism, Habermas epitome of decent rationalist sort of Marxist sort of left-liberal German democrat.  His thought repudiates all Nationalism in favour of cosmopolitan democratic procedures based on the ethics of discourse undistorted by the interests of power.  He devotes himself to Constitutional Patriotism, which rests on loyalty to constitutional arrangements rather than loyalty to culture, ethnicity, race or religion.  
But this becomes another form of German Nationalism?  Who has supposedly provided an example of Constitutional Patriotism? The post-war Federal Republic of Germany of course.  
Which nation reacted most strong against proto-totalitarian Jacobin Terror during the French Revolution, supposedly?  Germany of course, though one might point out that Edmund Burke pointed out this aspect of the French Revolution before it had happened.  Statist elements in Fichte and Hegel are overlooked by Habermas.  What about the consequences of Marxist utopianism in politics: totalitarianism  What about Marx’s anti-semitism in On the Jewish Question?  What about the nationalist element in the thought of liberal thinker and sociologist Max Weber?  Though quite rightly, Weber would certainly think something is missing from the idea of Constitutional Patriotism,which rests on an ideal of passionless depersonalised discourse.    If we look at a great German liberal of that time, Wilhelm Von Humboldt, we find a regret for the passing of constant war in human civilisation and a strong belief in the ‘Nation’ as the source of laws, unified by the interplay of constant dialogue.
Humboldt has some leanings towards militaristic nationalism, along with the limited state.  His emphasis on dialogue provides a source for Habermas’ discourse ethics and democracy of deliberation.  No mention of how that works out in conjunction with Humboldt.  Where is Marx, who turns a Humboldtian emphasis on freedom through dialogue into a socialism/communism where individuals flourish in their freedom from the state? 
Habermas overlooks Naziism and its place in German history while defining Germany as the home land of constitutional patriotism.  Patriotism requires more than loyalty to a constitution.  I do not suppose that Habermas overlooks the complaints mentioned above, but he has no answer other than an idealised public sphere where individuals keep debating detached from anything which makes them individual.  
Of course there is much to admire in Habermas’ thought and in German constitutionalism, but we need material interests and personal perspective in an adequate theory.  We certainly do not want a universalisation to German politics, mirroring the Jacobin universalism which Habernas criticises.  

Safari Browser for Windows might be better than Firefox 3

Safari for Windows can be downloaded from here Download Now Free for Mac and Windows
I’ve been arguing for the merits of Firefox as a browser, and particularly Firefox 3, beta 5.  This reflects my experience on Windows XP on a desktop PC.  I’m switching to Mac OS X Leopard on a MacBook (leaving aside office computers)  next month.  Friends who use Mac computers also use Firefox rather than the native browser, Safari.  I’ve tried out Safari since Apple released the Windows version, it is now on release 3.1.  Earlier versions impressed me with their aesthetics, but were very unstable, crashing and freezing at slight provocation.  I also found that the chat function had disappeared from my Gmail account.  
What is the situation now?  Gmail chat has disappeared on Firefox 3 beta 5, and I’ve had many problems with slow running and crashing.  Very likely my fault for not only using a beta version, but for doing things which made the browser perform worse: add the Night Tester extension which enables existing extensions on the browser that are not compatible with 3 beta 5 to become forcibly compatible.  I suspect also that Windows XP has difficulty running several applications, especially when one is an unstable browser on the 512 mb of ram (memory) I have at present, though that is standard.  Probably best to have 1 gb of ram if running several widgets, iTunes and a beta browser at the same time as I often do, and even more so if I’m running a sweep for spyware or viruses.  I do not see this as outrageous use of the computer.
I’m amazed to see that PCs are being marketed with 1 gb of ram for Vista premium.  Unless users stick to the Vista Basic limit of 2 programs at once, I’m sure they are plagued by slowness, freezing and crashing given that  2 gb is clearly minimal for Vista, and some reviewers claim that Vista is too slow even on that amount of ram.  
Back to browsers.  I’ve downloaded all the upgrades to Safari, and the last version, 3.1 is running beautifully.  No crashes or freezing, just some slowness which probably reflects the tendency of my 512  mb of ram to fill up all too easily.   
I was excited by the flexibility of Firefox, all those themes and extensions, and by the greater sense of aesthetic unity of the page in 3.  Safari does not give much  flexibility  or choice but it has a beautifully integrated aesthetic well beyond Firefox 3.  Like everything else from Apple everything feels seamless and gives you exactly what you need.  At first I was confused by the lack of restore closed tab option, but it can be done easily after clicking on History. At first I could not see how to close tabs, but go to File and the option is there, and I memorised control+w for that operation anyway.  Click on Develop and there are options to ‘open page’ with all the browsers I have loaded on the PC (Firefox, Opera and Explorer).  I was a bit startled by so many links opening in a new window, but right clicking on a link gives a speedy was to choose opening in a new tab or a new window and other options, including ‘Inspect Element’.  It seems less happy with many tabs than Firefox, and opening new Windows causes less slowness than opening many tabs beyond those visible in the tab bar.  
Page loading is indicated by translucent blue bar spreading over url in address window, spell check comes in quickly and automatically.  A beautiful effect of curvature in three dimensions and 
I’ll wait to try it out on my MacBook, and other browsers, properly when the Mac arrives.  So far I’ve just fiddled about on friends’ Mac computers.  I’ll also try out the following: 
Firefox 3 beta 5
Camino (a version of Firefox for the Mac OS which resembles Safari)
If I’m now finding Safari best for Windows, I guess I’ll find it ever better for the Mac OS.  

Claims circulating the Web that PayPal will block Safari Browser are FALSE

The claim has gone round the web that Paypal will block Safari (Apple’s browser for Mac computers and the iPhone which can also be used in a for Windows form) because they believe it does not have enough safeguards against pishing. This claim has been corrected by a PayPal executive. The reality with regard to Safari is that a padlock symbol appears on the the top bar of the Safari browser when entering a Secure site for a recognised merchant, and the lack of this icon when entering pishing site will alert the surfer as much as any other browser safeguards.


Personas for Firefox. Go to link for great new Firefox application

Mozilla Labs » Featured Projects

The link above is for Personas for Firefox. This allows very easy modification of appearance of horizontal bars. Once the add on is installed, you can change themes without closing the browser. May work best on Firefox 3 beta versions, but is compatible with Firefox 2. If you still use Firefox 1, or don’t use a Firefox browser and think 3 beta (beta is a test version) is too big a jump, download Firefox 2 from the side bar on this blog.

The Simpsons deemed unsuitable for children’ in Venzuala. Another victory for the Chavez Road to Socialism

An article in Times Online today refers to a decision of the National Telecommunications Commission that The Simpsons is unsuitable for children and must be taken off morning television.

‘The National Telecommunications Commission said the show pushed “messages that
go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents”’

The Simpsons will be replaced by Baywatch which is certainly popular with adolescents, though not for the purposes of education in the normal sense. For those who don’t know, it focuses heavily on the physique of the actors, male and female who work as life guards on the beach in swimsuits.

This story is intrinsically absurd, but is not just a bit of trivia. This must be seen in the context of Hugo Chavez’ ’21st Century Socialism’. The bizarre decision making must be understood in terms of the irrationality of Chavez belief in the state interfering everywhere, and his own creation of a Cult of Personality which is simply the personalised aspect of a process in which state officials interfere irrationally and unaccountably.

The other aspect is that The Simpsons is an American show. There is a lot of joky criticism of American society in the show mixed with an essentially affectionate attitude towards middle America. It could be said thatthe criticism ends up justifying American society since the end of the show always draws us back to the value of the family life of the main family, who are clealry typically American. In the eyes of Chavez and his followers it probably looks like Yankee Imperialist propaganda. There is some logic to this view, Chavez and his political apparatus need to control the population’s image of the US in order to mobilise them and create an enemy image. Every extreme illibreal movement needs an all threatneing enemy to justify its incursions into individual freedom, some similar comments apply to Vush’s ‘War on Terror’ and The ‘Patriot’ Act, which is a law to weakne the rights of US citizens in relation to the federal government.

Derrida, Schmitt and French Nationalism

I’ve addressed nationalist undertones in Derrida before. I’m reminded of this topic by teaching Politics of Friendship in an MA class.

Derrida deals with Carl Schmitt at length there, including Theory of the Partisan, the sequel to Concept of the Political. Derrida gets quite indignant on a few issues which touch French national pride

1. Schmitt’s emphasis on the origin of the ‘partisan’ (a soldier defending territory without regard to membership of a recognised state army) in Spanish resistance to French occupation under Napolean Bonaparte and then in Prussian resitance to Bonaparte is not well received.

2. Derrida refers to Schmitt’s failure to mention French women participating in the Resistance to Nazi occupation.

3. Schmitt’s emphasis on General Salan who opposed De Gaulle after the independence of Algeria as the example of a partisan and of Catholic thinking.

Derrida does not make nationalistic comments about Schmitt’s choice of the Bonaparatist wars as the context for defining the solider who defends territory without fıyndation in the law of war, but with justice, however, his anxiety is clear.

Derrida wishes to emphasise a feminine French Republicanism against Schmitt’s invocation of friendship and emnity both modelled on fraternity.

In bringing up Salan, Schmitt brşings up a very awkaward moment in French Republicanism. The generals who opposed de Gaulle for giving independence could claim to be defending Republican ideals with regard to the integration of Algeria into France. As Derrida was a colonial in Algeria in origin, there is a lot of unexpressed anxity and ambiguity at stake here. De Gaulle versus the anti-Gaullist generals, not the most comfortable of territory for many left wing Republicans support de Gaulle the conservative or his conservative enemies. De Gaulle himself was an oddly ambiguous figure, half defender and creator of post-colonial republican democratic France independent of the USA and half ultra-conservative aristocrat and autocratic president.

Firefo3 3 beta 5 great, but exe files download problem

Mostly I find Firefox 3, beta 5 a great pleasure to use. Fast and very intuitive user friendly way of working. Established Firefox applications are gradually becoming functional. Today I found Tab Scope works of FF 3 beta 5. This app allows the user to see a small preview of a page by holding mouse cursor over tab.


I cannot download exe files. Yesterday I could not do it on FF, switched to Safari then had to resort to Internet Explorer. Wish I thought of trying Opera first, but I was a bit tired of messing around. FF3 beta 5 is a beta, users are warned that it is only for testing, so I should not complain, and it’s possible that the problem is restricted to my computer, or XP home edition (SP 2). I’ll be switching to Mac X Leopard next month, but XP it is for now, which is the most widespread OS in the world at present.

The Myth of the Liberal Reforming AKP in Turkey: How the AKP blocks competitive procurement in the public sector

Myths 1. The neo-Islamist AKP government party in Turkey began a wave of economic and political reform in Turkey.
Myth 2. The centre-left secularist-republicans have been less reformist than the neo-Islamists.

I was at a seminar today in my university in Istanbul where I work. The paper from a guest speaker referred to developments in political economy in Turkey since 1980. The speaker addressed neo-liberalism and globalisation from a Marxist point of view.

Amongst other things it was pointed out that liberalising-globalising economic reforms began before the AKP government under the arch centre-left secularist republican Bülent Ecevit. This came out of a mixture of the EU adaption process and an economic program adopted after a currency crisis, under the guidance of the fiance minister Kemal Derviş who had been a Vice-President of the World Bank.

I was well aware of the points above. The speaker filled in my knowledge in a very significant way. The Ecevit government had adopted a measure to open up the public sector to competitive award of contracts and all procurement activity. The ‘reformist’ AKP tried to block this measure in power. They found that the weight of pressure from state technocrats and international institutions was too great to resist. However, they found a way around the policy, in order to satisfy their client and cronies in local and medium business. They introduced a minimum amount for procurement contracts to be awarded on the basis of open competition. They then carved up public procurement into chunks below the threshold level so that their friends could continue to benefit.

Defending H.H. Asquith’s Reputation against the Nonsense peddled recently by Andrew Adonis and Martin Kettle

Andrew Adonis and Martin Kettle have recently tried to make points about Gordon Brown through remarkably poor and muddled accounts of Britain’s last 2 Liberal Prime Ministers.

I’ve already put a case for elevating H.H. Asquith about David Lloyd George in the history of British Liberalism. It’s necessary return to that topic since an article by Andrew Adonis in Prospect (a ‘New Labour’ magazine’), ‘A Liberal Tragedy’ (full version is subscribers only) has been taken up by Martin Kettle in The Guardian (left inclined British daily newspaper), ‘In Asquith’s Failure there is a Chilling Message for Brown’. Kettle generally takes a sympathetic line towards the Liberal Democrats, but is clearly New Labour in thinking. Adonis was a Liberal Democrat (I once saw his speak at a conference fringe meeting on liberal history), but jumped to New Labour in a very blatant bit of opportunism which led him to the House of Lords and a ministerial post promoting city academic (self governing state schools).

Both Adonis and Kettle assume that the Liberal/Liberal Democrat tradition in Birtish politics can be subsumed under the Labour tradition as the junior partner in Britsh centre-left or progressive tradition. Before the 1920s the Liberal Party was the largest part of this suppose group, but it clearly suits current New Labour types to emphasises this supposed tradition because since the 1920s the Labour Party has been the largest part. The last Liberal dominated government in Britain (1906-1916) had support from Labour and Irısh Nationalists, and there was a left or social shift in the New Liberalism of that era. Obviously it suits New Labour types to equate New Labour with New Liberalism, particularly if like Adonis they have made an oppotunistic jump between parties. As Adonis was reported to ahve regretted not joing the Conservatives in time for Major’s 1991 victory I think we can discount any ideological principles he claims to have.

On the issue of Asquith, Adonis/Kettle claim that Asquith was a failure compared with Lloyd George on three grounds
1. Asquith opposed voting rights for women
2. Asquith did not solve the ‘Irish Problem’
3. Asquith was responsible for leading Britain (which at that time meant not just the UK but the whole Empire) into the First World War, and was therefore responsible for the suffering of all parties to the war.

1. Only the first claim has much merit. Yes Asquith opposed woman’s suffrage at the time that most Liberals, including LG supported it. In a bizarre mirror image, the Conservative leader Arthur Balfour supported woman’s suffrage while most of his party opposed it. Asquith was very wrong and it’s a major mark against him. However, he did undergo some change of mind during the First World war, as did other previous opponents of female suffrage due to the contribution of women to the war economy and the support given to the war effort by the more moderate parts of the suffrage movement.

2. Asquith was unable to resolve the ‘Irish Problem’ like a series of predecessors. The problem he was faced with was that while most British politicians recognised that home rule for Ireland was inevitable, Ireland itself was divided between Nationalists (mostly Catholic) who wanted the whole of the island to become one self-governing entity and Unionists (strongest among the Protestants of northern Ireland) who wanted the province Ulster in the north of the island to remain a fully integrated part of the UK. The Unionist leader Carson was willing to contemplate violence against Home Rule for the whole of island, and received support from the Conservatives which then existed officially as the Unionist Party. There were considerable doubts about the loyalty of army officers to the government in case of a conflict between London and Belfast over Home Rule. Asquith was faced with an awful situation in which the government could do nothing without provoking violence from either side or violating two plausible sets of arguments for how self-determination should be defined in Ireland. The question went quiet during World War One, though the Nationalist leader John Redmond turned down the chance to become Secretary of state for Ireland in the wartime government, until April 1916, when militant Irish Republicans (in the Irısh context Republicans refers to the more radical part of the Nationalist movement) seized the General Post Office in Dublin and tried to provoke a nationalist war. The provocation initially had little support from the ırish, but the military authorities executed most of the leaders of the uprising, a policy opposed by Asquith, before London could get control of the situation. The executions had a disastrous effect in turning the executed into martyr figures.

What was LG’s solution to the Irish problem? As Prime Minister from 1916 to 1922, he did arrive at a solution in the Anglo-Irısh Treaty of 1922, though this did not bring a final end to violence in Ulster/Northern Ireland and was followed in independent Ireland by a civil war about the Treaty. The Treaty was preceded by an Irish Independence war from 1919 to 1921, in which Black and Tan soldiers recruited, by LG’s government, from World War One veterans behaved with extreme brutality.

There really are no grounds for marking LG above Asquith on Irish policy.

3. Asquith did not ask the Serbian South Slavist Gavrilo Princip to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Nor did he ask the Austro-Hungarian government to issue an ultimatum to Serbia essentially demanding that it accede to major violations of its sovereignty. He certainly did not ask the Veinnese government to mobilise its army after Serbia rejected full implementation of the ultimatum. He very certainly did not ask Germany to invade France as a response to the general moblisation of Europe’s major powers. He very certainly did not ask Germany to invade France through neutral Belgium. The neutrality of Belgium had been considered a cornerstone of the European state system since the 1830s, the German violation of that neutrality confirms amongst other things that the German Imperial Government was aggressive and expansionistic in a manner not shared by the French and British governments. The violation of Belgian neutrality bolstered support in the Liberal cabinet for living up to its treaty obligations to France. Kettle and Adonis both appear to subscribe to the view of World War One in which Britain and France were morally equivalent with Germany. This is simply not the case if we compare their actions and if we compare their systems of government. I will just add that German war aims made clear in 1917, when Germany had the upper hand was to reconstruct Europe and the Middle East to be dominated by Germany and its junior partners. The Kaiser’s government was not the equivalent of the Nazis but it was bad enough. In any case, only one Liberal left the cabinet over the declaration of war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. LG certainly did not leave the cabinet, he took the opportunity to seize the Prime Ministership with Conservative support in 1916. His view of war history, which strongly influenced historians until recently was that he and Churchill led Britain to victory through triumphing over Asquith’s poor war leadership legacy and dim witted army generals. Both claims are less popular with recent historians. In any case, it is a complete nonsense to claim that LG was a greater and more successful Liberal leader than Asquith, because Asquith supported British entry into World War One. LG went onto destroy the Liberal Party by governing with the support of part of the Liberal Party and the Conservatives until the Conservatives got rid of him in 1922. Before then, LG supported the continuation of the War in Anatolia when he supported the Greek invasion of western Anatolia, defeated by the National Assembly and its armed forces, under the leader of Musta Kemal (later Kemal Atatürk).

Kettle’s and Adonis’ claim that Asquith was an irresponsible war mongerer while LG was not is total nonsense.

Both choose to support the Liberal leader who split the Liberal Party by choosing to lead a government dominated by conservatives. I guess that’s the role they would like Nick Clegg to take in relation to the Labour Party, supporting New Labour while abandoning any distinctive liberal vision. No thank you. Clegg is clearly prepared to co-operate with either of the other major parties depending on circumstances, and keeping a distinct liberal vision in all cases.