Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘book review

“The most beautiful History of Man”

Apparently, we are not permitted to look at our ancestors, 100,000 years ago, with condescendence:

we are the same in nature, in heredity, in intelligence, in behavior, in mode of life, in our imaginary,…

We have the same identity and we didn’t change much from prehistorical mankind, before he moved up one step in the ladder toward settling down in urban centers (the neolitic phase, 10,000 years ago)

Note: “The most beautiful History of Man” is a French book, a collection of three interviews with Andre Langaney, Jean Clottes, Jean Guilaine, and Dominique Simonnet…

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/part-3-how-living-organisms-were-created%e2%80%9c-from-a-short-history-of-nearly-everything%e2%80%9d-by-bill-bryson/

How Neoliberal expatriate Contractor Class is managing the contracted national debt in Lebanon?

How neoliberalism is applied in your country?

Neoliberalism is not a difficult concept to comprehand: Just observe its applications and consequences on your survival instinct.

The best way to understand neolibralism in the western developed nations is to witness how developing States are applying it.

Particularly, new small States recognized in the UN that were under direct mandated powers for many decades, and now are appeasing their former “masters” in order to enrich the oligarchy ruling class these under-developped “nations” are sustaining.

How neoliberalism is applied in Lebanon?

Together with the governor of the Central Bank and the Prime Minister, the minister of Finance is a crucial player in the management of government debt.

From 1992, late Rafik Hariri PM, and later the Hariri clan hoarded the control of these three institutions.

The policy adopted in 1993 pegged the Lebanese currency to the US dollar. What that means?

The State borrows on behalf of the government large sums of loans that are not needed to finance the deficit.

The borrowing mechanism is basically a political decision to get the State tightly linked to outside multinational financial institutions… Institutions that the ruling class has invested in and wants to generate quick profit in this globalization era… at the expense of the people they claim to work for their benefit…

This scheme drove up the demand for the Lebanese currency, raised the interest rates on government debt, and high interest returns for depositors (reaching 30% at determined periods as the Future Movement spread the words among its elite class to deposit) and the new expatriate Contractor wealthy class of billionnaires…

Leading the country into a dept trap.

A debt ever increasing ($60 bn) and absorbing a third of the government budget, every year since 1992.

Servicing the interest of the debt has one purpose: Keeping the new neoliberal Contractors class in control of the management of the financial and economic institutions.

The main benefiaciaries were commercial banks and their wealthy depositors: Lebanon financial and economic elite classes (new expatriate contractors, warlords, oligarchic politicians…) have the necessary savings to invest in government debt instruments.

The notion of neoliberalism is that, as long as the government maintains the confidence of the elite classes in the soundness of the financial policy, the situation can remain in control, precariously in control, and relying mainly on foreign support for the policy.

The IMF working paper from 2008 mentions that the continuous rollover of Lebanon debt depends on an “implicit guarantor” from donors and international financial institutions.

And who is the main donor guarantor? It is Saudi Arabia absolute wahhabi monarchy.

This Saudi Kingdom

1.  Bought up Lebanon government bonds when investors refused to buy the bonds

2. It provided the largest chunk of concessionary loans at Paris 2 donor conference in 2002, and Paris 3 in 2007

3. It transfered One $bn to the central bank during Israel preemptive war in June 2006.

Consequently, the governor of the central bank, PM and finance minister must satisfy Saudi Arabia confidence!

The Hariri clan main objective was to deepen neoliberal economic “reforms”.

Former Fouad Seniora PM reiterated the neoliberal program, including privatization of State-controlled entities, welfare “reforms“, politically aimed at curtailing patronage opportunities of political rivals to the Future Movement…

However, Seniora could not pull off his wishes of abolishing the Council of the South (a Box of money controlled by Parliament chairman and worlord Nabih Berri) or the Central Fund for the Displaced “sandouk al mouhajjareen” (controlled by the Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt)

For over two decades, the Hariri clan attached a dozen public institutions to the Prime Minister, controlled the municipality of Beirut, extendit building permits to its elites and the foreign investors and dropping any resistrictions when convenient, assigning public contracts to the “Future Elite contractors” and entrepreneurs at manyfold the proper cost, extending their hold on Solidere for 75 years, never accounting for the bids on Sukleen which collect waste in Beirut at $100 per ton while costing $30 in Zahle for example…

The current “national debt” has skyrocketed to reach $70 bn, even after 2 decades of paying high interest rates. In addition to funding the warlord “reconstruction chests”, part of the loans were used to paying the tribute to the Syrian oligarchy, since lebanon was under Syria mandated power till 2005.

Mind you that Syria, after 2001, began a neoliberal policy for its oligarchic elite class, and privatizing new public institutions such as the mobile telecommunication and oil extraction and grandiose Real Estates development in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus…

Note 1: The oil boom increased the number of Lebanese workers in the Arab Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia within a decade from just 50,000 in 1970 to well over 210,000 in 1980, or one third of Lebanon work force.

Note 2: Post inspired from two chapters written by Fabrice Balanche and Hannes Baumann in the book “Lebanon after the Cedar Revolution

Note 3: A wealthy international neoliberal club requires from its members to extract profit from their own country, as a proof of allegiance to global neoliberalism, in order to facilitate the infusion of unwarrented loans to their corresponding State.

Have you witnessed that almost all current prime ministers, finance ministers and governors of central banks in Europe, the USA and many other countries were “employees” at the IMF, the World Bank , World Commerce institutions and international financial corporations?

Note 4: Basically, the expatriate billionnaire contractors initially got the blessing of the former civil war warlords (Nabih Berri, Walid Jumblatt, Samir Jagea… supported by Syria, Saudi Arabia and the US neoliberal financial institutions) who were brought back to power, and then managed their financial porfolio and financed the election campaigns as political allies…

Doppelganger? Or what promise of exclusive love does to you…

Do you believe in magic? Like the possibility of your shadow gaining autonomous existence and turning against you?

It was 1915 in Berlin. Hermann Blocklin is a master clock maker, and a perfectionist who decided to build the most exacting universal watch.

Andreas Corelli is a mysterious client who wants his watch to turn counter clockwise. Why?

Corelli’s time is counted: He is terminally ill and wants to to observe how much time is left for him on earth.

Lots of gold coins convinced Blocklin to pour in his soul on the fabrication of this special order clock. Two weeks later, Corelli is satisfied with his order.

The next morning, the miror is reflecting an older Hermann. The energy and power of Hermann are fainting quickly by the hours.

Hermann is about to lose his mind in terror when Andreas shows up and reminded Hermann that the body cannot stay young when the soul is gone: Hermann body must show signs of getting older, unless Hermann promise Andreas to extend him a favor.

“I’ll offer you back your youth in exchange of handing me your useless shadow” And a deal is struck.

Andreas captures the shadow of Hermann in a perfume bottle and close it tightly.

The watch instantly reversed its course and started running clockwise.

The next day, Hermann is getting much younger, but he found his adored cat hanging from the lamp string, all his furniture torn apart, and all his working equipment destroyed…

And Hermann saw an obscure reflexion of himself, diabolically observing him: Hermann’s shadow has turned against him.

For the next 25 days, a murder was committed every day, and witnesses claimed that they saw Hermann in the vicinity of the crime scene.

Hermann was in jail, and yet, the crime victims continued unabatted. It could not be Hermann, but Hermann knew better what was happening.

On jan. 12, 1916, Hermann was found dead in his cell with a dagger in his heart, and the crime strings stopped completely.

Did Hermasnn committed suicide to end the fatalities?

Did the shadow lost it and forgot that its existence depends on its master’s body.

The shadow cannot survive his master’s death.

Is that what happens when you promise a person exclusive love? Being the shadow of the other person?

Is that what is referred to as soul mate?

Or an entity pressuring you to promise exclusive love?

Note: This gothic story was taken from “The lights of September” by Cartlos Ruiz Zafon.

“Are you sure, comrade Aliide”?

The interrogator asks Aliide:” Where is Hans”? (the husband of her older sister Engel and an Estonian nationalist)

Aliide: “Hans is dead. Killed by roaming gangs in the forest…”

Are you sure, comrade Aliide?”

“Hans is dead”

The tchekist (Soviet security agent) said: “I have done all that is possible to help you. I can do nothing now”

Those people in long chromed leather boots and leather black coats attached the hands of Aliide behind her back, and dropped a jute bag over her head.

She could see nothing. Water dripped on the floor of the cave beneath the municipality. The odor of the humid cave spilled out the door.

Aliide shirt was torn apart and her chest bared. She was transformed into a mouse in a corner, a fly on a lamp, a rusty thumbtacks on the wall..

Blood under the skin of her chest, the hematoma of her tits were inflated. As the skin of the naked woman touched the floor, she didn’t move. This body with a bag over her head was now a stranger, she never existed, she was a root going deeper under the soil.

Aliide was spit on the leg of the table, by a hole for termites. She was a mole digging away. The courtyard smelt of rain and wind, the humid dirt breathed. The head of Aliide was dipped in a trash bucket.

She was being sniffed by dogs, urinated at… And somewhere you could smell brandy, guess the chromed boots… Somewhere people were mixing the languages of Estonia and Russia, rotten tongued whistling…

The buckle of a belt jingling, a door opening, a glass resounding, a chair scratching the floor…

Aliide was a fly, trying to escape in her mind, but this woman is emitting a moan, a death rattle in a spasm. The bag smelt of vomit, smelt of urine…

The door banged: “It stinks. Get her out”

Aliide is in a ditch. Shortly the sun will be up: She has to drag her sore body home, before anybody see her and recognizes her. She had no socks on.

Her older sister Engel will never forgive her for bearing her legs, no decent woman should show her naked legs…

As Aliide is readying to take a hot bath, she ordered Engel to burn all her clothes.

“They will be back. We have got to be leaving…”

And they were back the next morning: They behaved as the masters of this home, and the 3 women were taken back to the municipality. Aliide was ordered to handle the torture of her 7 year-old niece Linda.

Aliide was to grab the hot lamp dangling in the middle of the table, approach it and burn the pussy of Linda…

Aliide did it. The three women didn’t talk.

Aliide had arranged to hide Hans in a tiny storage room: She would do anything to keep Hans close by, all for herself, not for her sister Engel (the couple was in deep love) or Hans’s daughter Linda.

Aliide waited all her life to hear someone tell her “It was not your fault if you were tortured…”

Aliide waited all her life for someone to do anything to take off a tiny weight off her chest and who would promise her: “Not again. Never again

But Aliide knew that no one would come to her rescue: She could never confide to anyone of what happened to her in the cave in the municipality.

Aliide husband was a staunch dedicated communist among the provincial high echelons, and he cared for Aliide and his daughter Trava.

Aliide never cared for Martin but marriage secured a life of a normal woman and a few amenities.  Aliide had to play the good wife to remain in her house and be near Hans: Who but her could care for Hans as she managed to purge and send Ingel and Linda to Siberia?

And Martin died, and Estonia is back an independent State, and the former “communists” are harassed.

Liide is destroying and burning all traces of the communist period.

And she discovers in a secret drawer of Martin tiny objects, like the brooch of her sister Ingel. Did martin participate in the torture and raping of Ingel or Linda? Aliide married Martin because she was pretty sure that she never heard his voice as she was herself tortured…

Aliide also found the gold watch of a neighbor who was absolved of treason, but rumors spread that he agreed to have his girl raped for an entire night: The girl eventually committed suicide, and nobody knew the reason…

Aliide spent her life avoiding those who were tortured like her: She could recognize these women from their eyes and gaits, and she kept a distance from them, lest Aliide’s secret is compromised.

“Are you sure, comrade Aliide”? was the sentence that harassed her daily life, at every occasion she noticed a potential torturer. (Read note 3 for the entire story)

Note 1: The fiction character Hans Pekk was an Estonian nationalist who resisted the Russians when they occupied Estonia in 1939. He joined Nazi Germany army in 1941 when they entered Estonia on their way to invade Russia. He joined the Finish army as Russia reoccupied Estonia in 1944 and infiltrated to be part of the resistance with the “Brothers of the Forest”

Note 2: An extract from the book “Purge” by Sofi Oksanen

Note 3: The previous review of the Purge https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/i-wont-go-to-tallinn-ingel-would-have-added-more-salt-to-the-sauce-book-review/

Complicating the Class-Divide: New Contractor Bourgeoisie in Lebanon Politics: Rafik Hariri clan, Najib Mikati, Muhammad Safadi, and Issam Fares…

Before the civil war (1975-1989), Lebanon was ruled and controlled by the “comprador” bourgeoisie class (importing from developed nations and selling to the regional States) and their attached commercial/financial banks who manipulated the feudal/tribal/sectarian structure of Lebanon political.social landscape.

During the civil war, Lebanese immigrated in trove to greener pastures and left the space to the sectarian warlords militias leaders. The warlord leaders split the country into sectarian cantons, displacing, transferring and remodeling the mixed communities into “cleansing” de facto closed societies.

The moslem Sunnis preferred to migrate to the new Arab Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia. A third of Lebanon work force migrated there within a decade: from 50,000 in 1970 to over 210,000 in 1980. Those struck wealth were in contracting civil work, basically working as subcontractors to Emirs and princes who had the proper connections.

Late Rafik Hariri PM, Najib Mikati PM, finance minister Muhammad Safadi, and vice PM Issam Fares were among these new contractor bourgeois…

The Moslem Shia migrated mostly to west Africa where they joined relatives and struck wealth through adventurous trade deals.

The Christians immigrated to the US and Europe for higher education, and most of them never contemplated to return home to settle. Why?

Most opportunities after the war were allocated to the Moslems, particularly the educated Sunnis who filled the vacant institutions, managed and administered foundations of the new breed of contractors, public civil work, and controlled side institutions attached to the Sunni prime minister

For example, the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR),  communication ministry, internal police force in Beirut, internal intelligence gathering section, Solidere, Sukleen, appointing the governor of the Central Bank and the minister of finance…

This new landscape was an immediate result of the Taif Constitution that expanded the political strength of the Prime Minister at the expense of the President of the Republic.

The business-politicians and neoliberal technocrats in the Future movement network of Rafik Hariri constituted a force for neoliberal “reforms” that appeased the US administration as to the financial policy direction of  the State of Lebanon.

The Hariri clan network had three main purposes:

1. Privatizing State-controlled entities by acquiring them for cheap since they had the liquidity and were backed by Saudi Arabia, and

2. Pegging the Lebanese currency to the US dollar in order to incur far more debt than necessary on the government and insuring total control of the financial condition, mainly to blackmail their rival political leaders into  difficult situation that only the Future movement of Hariri can untangle this volatile condition… (More details in a follow-up article “Applying neoliberal mechanism on Lebanon”)

3. Controlling the city center of Beirut through the chartered company Solidere

For over 2 decades, the Hariri clan were given the financial responsibilities through appointing the governor of the Central Bank, the minister of finance, and controlling the municipality of the Capital Beirut.

After the civil war, Rafik Hariri filled the vacuum of the Sunni leadership, thanks to the total backing of Saudi Arabia, which was the main loan guarantor for the infusion of international lending multinationals. The Hariri network of clientelists and media empires (TV and dailies) strengthened their electoral votes in the Sunni communities.

The Hariri clan was successful in 3 dimensions:

1. Reaching political offices like Prime minister, ministers, deputies, governors of public institutions…

2. Gaining control of public institutions to further their economic agenda, especially creating and controlling side institutions directly linked and attached to the PM

3. Gathering popular following, particularly among the Sunni community, the Druze and a few Christian parties

Saad Hariri, son of Rafik, monopolized the Sunni political leadership and contributed to the widening rift between Sunnis and Shiaas.

Najib Mikati PM and Muhammad Safadi had to climb a stiff road for claiming a political representation of the Sunni communities. Particularly, that the Future movement allied with the Sunni conservative and extremist Moslems like Lebanese Moslem Brotherhood, the extremist jihaddist wahhabi, the A7bash, the Jund al Sham, the Jamaa al Islamiyya

In fact, it was the Future party that financed and covered the many “terrorist” activities of these fringe Sunni organizations, such as in the Sirat Donnieh, the Palestinian camp of Ain Bared, the massacre committed in Halba, and lately what is happening in the large town of Ersal, confronting the army.

The new neoliberal Contractor class is a level added in class interpretation of Lebanon political structure.

How this new Contractor class acquired its wealth in the billion? (To be followed)

Note: From a chapter by Hannes Baumann in “Lebanon after the Cedar Revolution” by Are Knudsen and Michael Kerr.

A song for change may moves you: And the customs continue unperturbed

Dahbia recalls, as she was 9 year-old, the song of her favorite Kabyle (Algeria ethnic group) singer Nouara:

“You have all sang my beauty

You all have lauded my sense of honor

Nobody cared for my rights

As if an animal.

My eyes are wide open now

And I’ll exact my account.

I’ll never forgive my father,

Marrying me against my will.

At the wedding ceremony, I was still playing…”

The women in my home, old and young, were moved by the song.

And nothing changed in this custom.”

Dahbia was retrieved from school at the age of 9: She was confined at home, among the women.

Dahbia was no longer permitted to step outside her home: The younger girls had the chores of bringing in what was necessary from outside the premises.

The grandmothers were free to go outside, anywhere they wanted: At this age, they are not that appealing to succumb to any dishonoring calamity… And not because they demonstrated their traditional sense of “honor”

The job of Dahbia at 9 was to be readied for marriage.

And Dahbia loved to go to school and learn. No crying or knocking at the hearts of aunts and uncles to relent produced any softening to the decision of  being secluded at home. Nobody would listen.

When her dad returned from France to town for a month vacation, all he had to say was: “If tamgharat (the eldest woman) has decided, it will be her will. I can do nothing to change her decision…”

Since that day, Dahbia’s father never looked at her the same way: Her childhood was over and his daughter is to be prepared to become a woman.

Dahbia experienced deep depression, and the tamgharat appeased her mother saying: “Time will overcome her illness.

I remember Yvonne, a young French teacher who failed in her love affair and came to teach in town. Pretty soon, Yvonne succumbed to the same illness of Dahbia. Time is the only cure…

Even in France, Maghrebi immigrant families forbid their girls of 13 to step outside their apartment to play.

Once you resign yourself to admit what was unacceptable, you feel like resuming the “normal” flow of daily life: You eat, sleep and occasionally you laugh.

Dahbia’s lot was to accept becoming a wife, a mother of a large family, unconditionally obeying her husband…

We start to elevate the “Makhtoub”(destiny) to a mythical truth.

Maktoub has very large shoulders that can carry all our failing, a weight as light as feather…

Note 1: An extract from the French book “Our fathers are gone” by Dalila Bellil

Note 2: The favorite Kabyle singers were: Nouara, Idir, Khedidja, Matoub Lounes, Cheikh el-Hasnaoui, Djurdjura, Dahmane el-Harrachi

“I won’t go to Tallinn. Ingel would have added more salt to the sauce…”

That’s what Aliide read in the last diary of Hans , the husband of her elder sister Ingel.

“There are forests and cultivated spaces in the Capital Tallinn (Estonia). There are moments I feel the urge to direct my Walther at Liide. My head is completely clear after so many years of depression…”

Hans had promised Aliide to use the passport under a faked name in order to get established in Tallinn, where no one recognizes people.

Aliide planned it all to the minute details, and she was promising herself to be walking together freely in Tallinn, Hans all for herself, finally.

Aliide had even started to coat her hands with goose fat to soften her skin, and chew on charcoal to whiten her teeth… She was sewing a modern dress…

And Hans decided instead to run away to the forest to join the resistance “Brothers of the Forest“. And he was ambushed, injured and returned home and fainted.

Aliide realized that she was not to go for walks at the Door of Viru, arm in arm with Hans… Hans has promised her. Aliide cried her eyes out: All that energy and effort invested to keep Hans close by…All thesesleepless nights, atrophied life due to the constant fear that Hans will be discovered and executed.

All the inventive and pragmatic schemes she handled to keep the investigators at bay, marrying a high-level communist to facilitate her status as a normal married person, encouraging her husband martin to dispatch her sister Ingel and daughter Linda to Siberia so that she may return to her home and take care personally of Hans, hidden in the storage room and other places in the house…

Cooking for Hans, imitating Ingel’s handwriting and sending Hans faked cheerful letters from Siberia… Ingel and Linda in good health, having some good times, and recollecting the happy memories…

Bringing dailies for Hans to read, baking fresh bread for Hans, securing the necessary brandy, the medicines needed, washing Hans soiled clothes… Every day for years… Hansd having nobody else to care for him and getting him out of the confinement if not for Aliide. All that energy and effort for naught

Hans never looked at Aliide as someone capable of maintaining a family and a house: Ingel was all on his mind.

And Aliide realized that she barely looked straight at Hans’ eyes, and it was reciprocal.

And yet, she was the one who noticed first Hans and fell in love at first sight when she was 12 and Ingel 17.

It was Ingel whom Hans loved, married, begot Linda and never could forget Ingel… Aliide was pretty much invisible to Hans.

And Ingel was the perfect woman, the perfect cook, who smelt fresh, happy, and energetic no matter what.

Ingel was the perfect match, and Aliide almost useless in the kitchen, in the field, in taking care of the cows…

Aliide had to learn everything from Ingel to run a house and prepare for the long winter season. But Ingel lacked this pragmatic mind to resolve dangerous situations…

Ingel had to rely on Aliide to come up with solutions and keep the family safe and sound.

And Aliide suffered tortures from the security services and never talked that Hans is still alive…

Hans had lost consciousness and Aliide trampled his shoulders but he didn’t move. She poured sleeping medicines in Hans’s mouth.

Aliide tied Hans hands and feet. She covered Hans and kissed him on the mouth. She carried him back to the hiding place in the storage area.

She closed the door and glued the door, and she blocked the aeration holes. Returned the cupboard to its place and cleaned the kitchen of blood and...

Thirty years later, Aliide was to meet Zara, the granddaughter of Hans and Ingel, and saved her from the mafia gangsters who used her as a sex slave in Germany…

And Aliide would lay down next to the skeletal of Hans and have the house burned down by the chauvinist adolescents in the town…

Note 1: From “Purge” by Sofi Oksanen, translated in French

Note 2: Read part 1. https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/purge-in-estonia-modern-history/


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