No 1110

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The compromiserin-chief
The US president was elected to deliver change, but may not have intended to supply it. He was elected to fight, but prefers to negotiate. His staff despise the left and liberals who elected him. Where do we go from here?

MARK ROTHKO – ‘White Cloud Over Purple’ (1957)

arack Obama told his supporters as he clinched the Democratic nomination in June 2008: “We will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth” (1). But if ever a president proved Mario Cuomo’s adage that candidates “campaign in poetry but govern in prose” (2), it was Obama. Many liberals expected that the former community organiser might transform the presidency by mobilising the grassroots in support of the political ideas and programmes that provided the foundation of his campaign. This was always a mutual over-promising between the realistic man running for office and his idealistic, but naive, supporters. Despite his rhetorical flourishes, the pragmatic Obama was never likely to entertain the idea that community organisation plus a vision of strong, civic democracy could transform a twocentury-old representative democracy corrupted by the power of money and entrenched special interests. Barack Obama is a dealmaker, not a worldshaker. No matter what he promised his constituents, when it came to the negotiating table, nothing was off-limits. His opponents sensed this weakness and used it to their advantage. Obama felt there was no need to fight, just to work out an agreement among adults. His speeches, and his legislative strategy, were directed toward inclusiveness, consensus building and passivity. Obama often complained that Republicans were taking hostages. Over and over he paid their ransoms, sometimes with a generous tip. But Republicans were not interested in the bipartisanship he believed in. Asked in 2010 what he wished for in 2011, Obama replied: “All I want for Christmas is an opposition I can negotiate with” (3). He never got one. Obstructionism proved the rule rather than the exception, and Democratic super-majorities in both Houses of Congress, until November 2010, seemed meaningless as liberal priorities were never raised, or defeated. The labour movement’s key priority, passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, had only tepid administration or Congressional support. Nothing was done to reform America’s broken (and exploitative) immigration policies: deportations increased.
Eric Alterman is distinguished professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College, New York, and author of Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post Bush America, Penguin, 2008

Tunisia: democracy year one
he dictator has gone, so is the Tunisian revolution over? There are more than a hundred, mostly unknown, parties seeking a place in the Constituent Assembly, and anything is possible. The assembly to be elected on 23 October will have impeccable democratic credentials: proportional representation, gender parity (even if 95% of the leading candidates are men), strict regulation of campaign finances, opinion polls and political advertising. The assembly will be representative, and also powerful. It will determine the balance of power, the form of government (presidential or parliamentary), the place of religion in the country’s institutions and, if it wishes, even the state’s role in the economy. There is the excitement of novelty, the hope of establishing an Arab and Muslim democracy. “If it doesn’t work here, it won’t work anywhere,” said a woman from the Pôle démocratique moderniste (PDM), sure of Tunisia’s ability to remain the regional torchbearer. The polling stations in Bizerte will need many, or very big, tables: voters will be invited to choose between 63 lists of candidates, almost half claiming to be “independent” (see How the voting will go). How to choose among the manifestos with their variations on the same old platitudes: “Arab-Muslim identity”, “social market economy”, “regional development”, “the state as policy-maker”? “The key to the revolution is the centre left”, says Nicolas Pouillard of the International Crisis Group, which has published several reports on



Tunisia (1). Kamel Morjane and other former big shots in Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s party, the Rassemblement démocratique citoyen (RCD), claim to belong to the centre – and so do their old opponents in the Parti démocratique progressiste (PDP), regrouped under the leadership of Nejib Chebbi. But the Islamists of Ennahda (Renaissance) say they are centrist too, and so do their main secular opponents, the former communists of Ettajdid (Renewal) and the socialists of the Forum démocratique pour le travail et les libertés (FDTL), even if the latter both claim to belong to the centre left. Even the Tunisian Labour Party (PTT), founded by leaders of the main trade union (UGTT), takes the same position, although the unions have just played a major part in a social uprising. Confusing? Yes. And here too, Ben Ali’s influence lives on: the RCD was neoliberal in economics, pro-police in politics and a member of the Socialist International. At least, the political identity of the main parties – unlike the character of their leaders (2) – is clear. The same cannot be said of the shadowy Union patriotique libre (UPL) founded in June by Slim Riahi, a businessman in London who made his fortune in Libya and who is opposed to limits on political budgets, which he regards as designed to prevent the emergence of new forces – including his own, which does not appear to be short of funds. His chosen spokesman, a company chairman with a
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Funding the Arab Spring: economic policies for more equal societies Page 5 Syria: the regime has lost its way and repression keeps getting worse Page 6 Service economy: the Philippines’ export boom in housemaids Page 8 Germany’s Green party has cheerfully embraced a growth agenda Page 10 Outsiders: how and why do people turn to terrorism? Page 12

Reproductive rights for women were diminished. Money grew ever more powerful, as campaign finance laws were weakened and Bush-era tax cuts extended. Obama showed remarkable calm over these regressive developments and did nothing that would have conflicted with his unbreakable commitment to bipartisanship. In his inaugural address he had promised: “The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its costs. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.” Before the 2010 midterm elections Obama and company (frustrated with their inability to reverse the polls which predicted disaster) chose to worsen their relations with the liberal left, complaining about ingratitude. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called liberals “fucking retarded” when they threatened to withdraw support over Obama’s cave-in on state insurance (the Public Option) during the health care fight. (He eventually apologised to retarded people, but not to liberals.) The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, deriding what he termed “the professional left”, whined: “They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon.” Obama mocked liberal disappointment at a $30,000 a head fund-raiser: “Gosh, we haven’t yet brought about world peace and – [laughter] – I thought that was going to happen quicker.” Beating up your base before an election is rarely a good idea and the Democrats got the shellacking that polls promised: they gave up 63 seats in the House, had their Senate majority reduced and lost 10 governorships. At local level, where state and federal redistrict maps would be drawn to shape national elections for the coming decade, Republicans picked up 680 state legislative seats, smashing the previous record of 628 by the Democrats in the post-Watergate election of 1974. This was the Democrats’ worst
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Russia’s bureaucrat-oligarchs have no need for democracy Page 14 Calcutta: trailing in the wake of India’s economic miracle Page 14

Twitter’s non-stop news cycle: a minute’s a long time in politics Page 16


is poor. who continued the negotiation process unperturbed. But the failure of its armed struggle. but the ICC offers the possibility of prosecuting Israeli leaders. and the right of the Palestinian people to decide their own future without interference from Arab regimes. (2) Israel’s attack on Egypt. There is no reference to the 1967 lines – again the Israeli position. a year later. The PLO’s new strategy had key elements: armed struggle (an approach favoured in what was then known as the third world). or when. despite US and European pressure. to be controlled by the PA. before the situation was recognised as dangerous and calls for compromise were heard.org . Henry Siegman. the European Union said. Now. drawing strength from the Arab revolutions and the mobilisation of the Palestinian people (11). And the Quartet says nothing about what will happen if the timetable is not met – nothing happened when previous deadlines went unmet. it is clear that the road chosen by the PLO has led to a dead end. The PLO’s main success was in uniting all Palestinians. what prospect can there possibly be for an acceptable peace accord to emerge from the peace process?” (7). Its proposal has many shortcomings. (11) Many Palestinian leaders believe this mobilisation should be peaceful. (5) The Oslo accords divided the West Bank into three zones: Zone A. even if Israeli or US reprisals are unlikely: reprisals would weaken the only Palestinian representative that Israel and the US recognise and would threaten a cooperation on security issues that is to Israel’s advantage. this constitutes a war crime (10). The numbers of Jewish settlers in the West Bank have risen from 100. The PLO’s inability to obtain anything through negotiation alone and the turmoil in the Arab world have prompted Abbas to appeal to the UN. (4) Adopted in November 1967. Arafat confirmed this position at the UN General Assembly in Geneva on 13 December Alain Gresh is vice chairman of Le Monde diplomatique SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES T BY ALAIN GRESH Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas presents Palestine’s application for statehood to the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 1988. officers.000 to 200. where the PLO gained observer status the following year. traumatised by the second intifada and conditioned by propaganda. under full Israeli jurisdiction. from engineers working in Kuwait to peasant farmers in Hebron and refugees in the Burj al-Barajneh camp in Lebanon. In 2003 the Quartet (the US. And its authoritarianism rivals that of Abbas.000 in 1993 to nearly 300. Will the Palestinian leadership choose this route? TRANSLATED BY CHARLES GOULDEN (1) The Greek philosopher Zeno (c 490-430 BC) proposed a paradox in which the hero Achilles raced against a slower runner. Commenting on these statements. overlooking the fact that the problem is above all one of illegal occupation. with talks frozen. whatever the outcome of the UN vote. Shelly Yachimovich. the new leader of the Labour Party. www. but the US was still not satisfied. which is the Israeli position. economic and political privileges granted to it by the EU. and the refusal of even its allies (especially those in the socialist camp) to subscribe to the destruction of Israel. Abbas has submitted his request to the UN Security Council. East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. 12 September 2011. in East Jerusalem they have risen from 150. soldiers and settlers (some of whom have French and European passports) for “war crimes” – and even of challenging settlement itself since. prompted it to try the diplomatic approach. as long as it has the support of the US and continues to enjoy the trade. Disappointment with Obama’s inability to pressure Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is growing.dohainstitute. 12 September 2011. See the B’Tselem report “Show of Force: Israeli Military Conduct in Weekly Demonstrations in a-Nabi Saleh”. The crisis could have continued. recognising that its past strategy had effectively failed. Because of this long history of broken promises. that it was prepared to consider recognising a Palestinian state “in due course”.000. Hamas has been shaken by the uprising in Syria. 11 September 2011. on 13 September 1993. But a veto would undermine US influence in the Middle East. which was supposed to be under full PA jurisdiction. he has said he will veto its admission. the further there is to go. with Fatah and Hamas clinging on to power. (6) See Sandy Tolan.org/Home (10) For an analysis of the positions adopted by the various parties and of the possibilities opened up by appealing to the UN. seemed to herald a new era. Brussels. there is order in the West Bank. english.) If it had not been for international sanctions. The Palestinians have no sovereignty in the West Bank or Jerusalem: even in Zone A (5). It took many more years. In 1974 Yasser Arafat had been welcomed at the UN General Assembly. Is it a change of strategy? Or a way of securing better conditions for restarting talks? The Palestinians are sceptical about the initiatives proposed by their leadership. according to the ICC. EU. especially as they know that. International isolation has few drawbacks for Israel. This would mean abandoning the narrow framework of the Oslo accords and adopting a strategy that would change the balance of power. Will it lead to any real change in the balance of power? he Palestine Liberation Organisation’s quest for a Palestinian state is like Zeno’s paradox of Achilles’s race (1). Prince Turki al-Faisal. But the significance of this appeal is hard to assess. This would open the way to membership of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) (9). After lobbying by the US. A week later the US insisted that Arafat read out a statement (drafted by the US government). “Curb your enthusiasm: Israel and Palestine after the UN”. The fall of the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes and Turkey’s firm stance on Israel have weakened the US and Israeli positions and also deprived Abbas of a major ally in Hosni Mubarak. Le Monde diplomatique. and Netanyahu looks almost moderate next to his foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. which confirmed that the PLO had renounced terrorism. It would then have to go to the General Assembly to gain the status of non-member state at the UN (Switzerland had this status until 2002). strengthening their national cohesion and expressing their desire for independence. and that only a very small group are benefiting (6). but the Arab Spring has changed the game. giving him a head start. April 2010. has said that such a veto would jeopardise the special relationship between Riyadh and Washington (although the claim may be exaggerated) (8). But it is not clear whether the Security Council will discuss the request. The PLO had already had diplomatic successes: it had put Palestine back on the political map – the fate of the Palestinian people was no longer a refugee problem. the refusal of most Israelis to believe in a democratic Palestinian state. In 2007. meaning that settlement will continue. The New York Times. but its authoritarian rule recalls that in neighbouring Arab countries. have rallied to their intransigent government. which refused to negotiate with a “terrorist organisation”. Egypt. (3) In exchange for this. Israeli incursions are frequent and any Palestinian citizen may be arrested. In 2002 the UN Security Council declared its support for a Middle East in which the states of Israel and Palestine would exist side by side. but experience shows that the Israeli army uses just as much force to break up peaceful demonstrations. South Africa would never have ended apartheid. (Israel recently gained observer status at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern). Syria. negotiations and the start of the first intifada in December 1987. Mahmoud Abbas presented his application for the recognition of a Palestinian state to the UN on 23 September. But Hamas has shown itself to be no more capable than the PLO of offering the Palestinians a credible strategy. The signing of the Oslo accords and the image of Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin shaking hands on the White House lawn. Gaza. Russia.btselem. in front of President Bill Clinton. like that of the fedayeen groups after 1967. and demonstrated why Achilles would never catch him up. asking for a return to the negotiating table and a timetable of one year. with another condition to be met. In 1969. The only way forward for the PLO is to go to the Security Council and force a vote (and a US veto). recently declared that Israel’s settlement project was “not a sin or a crime” since it was initiated by a Labour government – which is true – and was “a completely consensual move”. another concession to be made. accepted UN Security Council resolution 242 (4) and recognised Israel. Syria and Jordan (in the Six Day war of 1967) ended in Israel’s occupation of the Sinai Peninsula. It calls for unconditional discussions. backed by Europe. The Quartet has reacted promptly. former executive director of the American Jewish Congress. if these are the views of candidates for Labour Party leadership in today’s Israel. Russia and the UN) published their roadmap for the creation of a Palestinian state by the end of 2005. in March 1999. the West Bank. then had their victory snatched away by the “international community”. former Saudi ambassador to the US. the Palestinian leadership has appealed directly to the UN and disengaged from bilateral talks “without preconditions”. Lose an Ally”. Jews and Christians would coexist peacefully). but a matter of the right to self-government – and it had been recognised by the Arab League as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”. The economy of the Palestinian Authority (PA) is being stifled and reports on the “boom” in these territories fail to point out that per capita GNP is lower than in 2000. President George W Bush brought the EU. see International Crisis Group. (9) The issue of Palestinian accession has raised a lively debate.2 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique THE ENDLESS QUEST FOR A PALESTINIAN STATE Tomorrow. In his address to the UN General Assembly in 2010. isolation and a mobilisation of the domestic population. even from within Israel. Eighteen years on. the next day they will still be under occupation.000 today. Why should Israelis reject the status quo? Thanks to the collaboration of the Palestinian Authority. President Barack Obama said he hoped to see Palestine join the UN in 2011. allied with Mahmoud Abbas. ousting the leadership which had failed by aligning itself with Arab regimes. But these advances always encountered obstacles – Israel and the US. probably as a reward for its military nuclear programme. but where Israel was (or “is”) responsible for security. the Palestinians and the Israelis together for a meeting. Zone B. The goodwill of the white population would never have been enough. Foreign Policy. Their communiqué after the meeting predicted the goal would be reached by late 2008. after the Arab defeat of 1967 (2). “Ramallah is not Palestine”. English edition. In 1999 the PLO announced that it intended to proclaim the establishment of a Palestinian state at the end of the transitional period of self-government prescribed for the West Bank and Gaza by the Oslo accords of 1993. the fedayeen armed militias took control of the PLO. It claims to be committed to armed struggle. the US agreed to open a dialogue with the PLO. Does Obama have the political will to do so ahead of a US presidential election whose outcome is more uncertain than expected? Despite signs of opposition to the neoliberal order most Israelis. but not today Despite pressure from the US. The PA may be collaborating effectively with the Israeli occupiers to combat “terrorism”. The decisions of the ICJ may be of little consequence (it condemned Israel’s building of its security wall in 2004. 11 September 2011. For nearly three years it has imposed a ceasefire with Israel on all Palestinian organisations in Gaza. The Palestinians punished the PA for this failure by voting for Hamas in January 2006. See “Palestinian Membership at the United Nations: All Outcomes are Possible” Doha Institute. to no effect). 15 September 2011. after the Six Day war. the liberation of the whole of Palestine (and the destruction of Israel’s Zionist structures and establishment of a democratic state in which Muslims. In November 1988 the Palestinian National Council proclaimed the establishment of a Palestinian state and agreed to the partition plan adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 1947. and Zone C. (8) “Veto a State. The main problem with this analysis is that it refuses to take sides. said: “Leaving aside the bizarre notion that the consensus of thieves legitimises their theft. the nearer the PLO seems to get to its goal. but its record. the resolution denounced the acquisition of territory by war and referred to the Palestinians solely as “refugees”. (7) “September Madness”.

But developments in Palestine could not be ignored. Columbia University Press. (3) 4 May 1948. “The power balance in the Near and Middle East has been radically altered. which processed Iraqi oil through Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) pipelines. The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the US Secretary of State. There was no attempt to block Aramco. No 210. Alain Gresh. Evelyne Pieiller. destroyed the existing relations between Palestinian and Jewish workers. see Zohar Segev. Egypt has suffered recently from strikes and disorders. US officials denounced the treatment of Palestinian refugees and called for their repatriation. Jealousies between Saudi Arabia and Syrians. 1999. The fear expressed by US corporate leaders that the Saudis might decide to abrogate their oil contracts soon disappeared. (2) Ibid. On 3 May 1948. 1945-1958. United States Intervention in Lebanon. V. the US regarded the prospect of an Israeli declaration of independence as a threat to its interests in the region. Marshall warned: “This does not mean. above all. the corporate US oil giant that controlled oil in Saudi Arabia. Jerusalem 1979. It was clear from the fight between Jewish and Arab militias that force would be necessary to implement it. although not always aware of the nature of Truman’s private communications with high-level Jewish Agency officials. If Jews follow the counsel of their extremists who favour a contemptuous policy toward Arabs.uk Website: www. The re-evaluation of the new state was based on many things. World Zionist Organization Central Zionist Archives. Middle Eastern Studies. numerous indications pointed to its extremely short life in the face of Arab League opposition. December 1947-May 1948. and has demonstrated by force of arms its right to be considered the military power next after Turkey in the Near and Middle East” (8). encouraged Epstein to try to meet US oil executives. Philippe Rekacewicz (maps). The same calculations led to the (implicit) re-evaluation of US policy on the question of Palestine. “Struggle for Cooperation and Integration: American Zionists and Arab Oil. The US director of the oil and gas division of the US department of the interior. Syria has neither arms nor army worthy of the name and has not been able to organise one since the French left three years ago. Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). 1940s”. part 2. part 2.. This did not preclude recognising its dependence on external support or the need to resolve the Palestinian refugee problem. FRUS. and a member of the Presidium of the Zionist General Council (the main organ of global Zionist movements) (6). had already met with Eliahu Epstein (later Elath). and what it has is needed for police Irene Gendzier is professor of political science at the University of Boston and author of Notes from the Minefield. from extending its control over offshore oil. (5) 13 March 1948. But what kind of order? Haifa was known to the British and Americans for its oil refinery. Soviet influence in the new state be blocked. supportive entourage. Lebanon has no real army while Saudi Arabia has a small army which is barely sufficient to keep tribes in order. 1948. interested in finding oil in the Negev. the Jewish paramilitary force. part 2.” McClintock observed that if Arab armies entered Palestine. Renaud Lambert. London. and especially after. and the State Department. and the Hashemite governments of Transjordan and Iraq. London. speculated that the Security Council would soon be confronted by the question as to “whether Jewish armed attack on Arab communities in Palestine is legitimate or whether it constitutes such a threat to international peace and security as to call for coercive measures by the Security Council. September 2006. of the US delegation at the UN. France Editorial and general enquiries: Tel: +331 5394 9601 Fax: +331 5394 9626 Email: english@monde-diplomatique.fr Subscription enquiries: Tel: +44 (0)1795 414910 Fax: +44 (0)1795 414535 Email: lmdsubs@servicehelpline. is likely soon to become a member of the United Nations. no 5. vol 42. State of Israel Archives. Its takeover. That year. who pointed out that the Egyptian army’s lack of equipment was the result of a British refusal to provide the Egyptians with it. The Transjordan military was dependent on British officers. With Haifa as example of Haganah military occupation. FRUS.com English language director: Wendy Kristianasen ©1997-2011 Le Monde diplomatique Printed in the United Kingdom . p. which justified rethinking US policy. Mona Chollet. Israel has now been recognised by the United States and the United Kingdom. JCS 1684/27. 1977 AFP/GETTY IMAGES T BY IRENE GENDZIER Members of the Haganah. At the time the state of Israel was forming. reputed to be among the best informed officials on US and international oil. On 7 March 1949 a memorandum by the chief of staff of the US Air Force to the joint chiefs of staff on “US strategic Interests in Israel” affirmed the need for such a reassessment. p 354. ORIGINAL TEXT IN ENGLISH (1) 3 May 1948. we expect Jews will overrun most of city upon withdrawal British force” (1). Clark Clifford. pp 894-895. Le Monde diplomatique Board of directors: Serge Halimi (president). Ball. and recommended that military training and assistance be considered and that. Within a year of Israel’s establishment. and his small. US Secretary of State George C Marshall provided select diplomatic offices with his assessment of the condition of Arab regimes: “The whole government structure of Iraq is endangered by political and economic disorders. Bruno Lombard Editor: Martine Bulard Deputy editor: Pierre Rimbert Editorial: Laurent Bonelli. the US foreign policy elite warned of the possible risks of support for Tel Aviv to US interests in the Middle East. (4) 13 May 1948. In March 1948 US officials at the UN learned that the Saudi position was that the “Palestine conflict was civil one and it was most important [for the] Arab states’ own interest not to do anything which would give the SC [Security Council] occasion to use force in Palestine” (5). including the vice presidents of Aramco and Standard Oil of New Jersey and the director of Socony. McClintock observed that if Arab armies entered Palestine. St Martin’s Press and St Antony’s. defence department and CIA were worried about such an outcome. The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices. 11 days before Britain’s departure from Palestine.” and the US would be obliged to intervene (3). however. 1948. 75013 Paris. and the Iraq Government cannot at this moment afford to send more than the handful of troops it has already dispatched. the Jewish Agency leaders in the US sought to tackle the oil companies’ and US officials’ concerns that supporting the Jewish state risked endangering those interests. a member of the Jewish Agency political advisory committee and its principal representative in the US.mondediplo. FRUS. Philippe Rivière. delaying but not entirely abandoning partition.co. the US military was prepared to concede that Israel had altered the balance of power in the region. the volte face was complete. (7) For a discussion of the earlier experience of American Zionists and Arab oil. From then on US officials conceded that. This is a reversal of history: in 1948. The US consul reported that the British and others agreed in May 1948 that “Jews will be able sweep all before them unless regular Arab armies come to rescue. prevent the Arabs from making the best of the existing forces” (4). pp 983-984. It was President Truman’s special legal counsel. Memorandum for M Shertok. the US administration had been close to abandoning support for the UN plan for the partition of Palestine and creation of a Jewish state. Its army has insufficient equipment because of its refusal of British aid. 1948. that over a long period a Jewish State can survive as a self-sufficient entity in the face of the hostility of the Arab world . (8) 7 March 1949 Memorandum from the US Air Force chief of staff to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on US Strategic Interest in Israel. Within a few months. and more generally Uri Bialer. Draft Memorandum. it would lead Jewish forces to claim ‘that their state is the object of armed aggression [and they] will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside Palestine which is the cause of Arab counter-attack’ Marshall’s remarks were corrected by the US ambassador in Cairo. Alain Gresh (vice president). Clifford argued that the Jewish state already existed and the US should recognise it before the Soviet Union did: he got the independence proposal through the White House. Israel’s declaration of independence. any Jewish State to be set up will be able to survive only with continuous assistance from abroad.L MD IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS OIL: PALESTINE 1948 Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 3 Why the US recognised Israel The US only reversed its position on the establishment of the state of Israel when it realised that Israel could help guarantee Washington’s hold on Middle Eastern oil supplies he United States and Israel have both been intent on forestalling the appearance of the Palestinian Authority before the United Nations. He also called for a study of “US strategic objectives touching Israel”. Washington supported a ceasefire instead: a truce and temporary trusteeship. the US Consul in Jerusalem reported on the collapse of Palestinian government with the warning that “unless strong Arab reinforcements arrive. V. Political and Diplomatic Documents. who endorsed recognition of Israel as in line with US interests. Oil and the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1948-1963. US commercial interests did not suffer. (6) 18 February1948. Max Ball. while Arab public opinion and the declarations of the region’s leaders were openly critical of Washington’s pro-Israeli stance. in case it succeeded in winning support for its unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence.. salute their victory after breaking the Allied Arab lines defending Jerusalem in April 1948 duty at home. as laid out in resolution 181 of 29 November 1947. among them the US military’s conclusion that Israel could be a significant asset in “holding” the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East and its oil interests. unacceptable to the Iraqis. V. Recognising the influence of the Zionist movement in the US. Robert McClintock. However. p 181. V. it is possible their operations will restore order” (2). In April he had reported the steady advances of Jewish forces in “aggressive and irresponsible operations such as the Deir Yassin massacre and Jaffa” and the evacuation of the Arab population from Haifa. Developments proved them wrong. p 889. the position of the State and defence departments changed from criticism to an appreciation of Israel’s potential in supporting US interests. Because of the importance Washington attached to its oil interests in the Middle East (7). 1948. Some 10 days before the British departure.719. including Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann.” Before. The Minister in Saudi Arabia (Childs) to the Secretary of State. Such qualifications aside. it would lead Jewish forces to claim “that their state is the object of armed aggression [and they] will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside Palestine which is the cause of Arab counter-attack. The meeting took place when the US House of Representatives was conducting extensive hearings into “petroleum in relation to national defence”. Anne-Cécile Robert Editorial office: 1 avenue Stephen-Pichon. Despite such conditions. part 2. increasingly reduced to a simple refugee problem disconnected from the future of the Palestinian state.

houses.” The UPL will take care to “preserve the country’s Arab-Muslim identity”.587. Tunis. one of them does not wear a veil. seek refuge when he fled from Ben Ali’s repressive regime? In the UK. broadcasting religious programmes only. Its religion is Islam. explains to us: “They have been leading lights for a hundred years. and that includes Laaridh. and later imposed. We should have faith in ourselves. If not. work must be resumed. Sheikh Rashid Ghannoushi. One of the Ennahda leaders. Italy. almost everyone has a mobile phone. leader of the FDTL. They start projects that never come to anything. So he adds: “The party is not against religion. not a principle transplanted from the western rationalist tradition. He does not dispute what has been gained in the past 50 years but claims it should have been achieved “at less expense”. a separation of politics and religion.4 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique ‘IF IT DOESN’T WORK HERE. bought a large estate and named every road on the property after one of the Prophet’s 99 names. is a strong country. toward “Islamist” investors and tour operators from the region or the Gulf. Ali Laaridh. This does not pose a problem. Their programme tackles the question with skill: “The identity of the Tunisian people is deeply imbued with Arab-Muslim values and enriched by successive civilisations. 28 April 2011. We have lived in 50 different countries. The Islamists seem to hold the best cards. representing the monarchists and the party of law and order. The water problem could be solved with less than 1% of the money Ben Ali stole’ Hammami is asked to state his position on religion. 678 independent lists (42%).” That is greeted with laughter and applause. making the Qur’an a source of public law. 11 September 2011. Everybody talks about democracy. with due regard to its “identification with universal values” (3). Canada. close to the Baath Party in Iraq. he insists “the revolution must continue”. Some farmers still live in crowded conditions in poor. Germany.” A country as strong as this might even perhaps be able to provide water to Sidi Bouzid sometime soon. the Islamists backed down. Some people have the means to travel all over America. Habib Bourguiba) favoured. SERGE HALIMI TRANSLATED BY BARBARA WILSON (1) See “Popular Protests in North Africa and the Middle East (IV): Tunisia’s Way”. The question is whether the election of a constituent assembly will enable Tunisians to punish the corrupt authorities of the old regime. Talking to us. Le Quotidien. mutters a militant. Ben Ali wept when he visited Mecca [on his pilgrimage in 2003]. 10 months after the Republic was proclaimed. some of those who had no part in bringing down Ben Ali’s government and who profited from his sinecures will come to the fore again. The region is rich (olives. the writer and former foreign minister stood as a candidate in the presidential elections. is worried about “Ennahda meetings where there are banners proclaiming ‘No voice may be raised above the voice of the Muslim people!’ . The water problem could be solved with less than 1% of the money Ben Ali stole. who argues that the constituent assembly must have “complete freedom”. grey stone. He founded the Zeitouna Islamic bank and a radio station with the same name. until his grievances are interrupted by a call on his mobile and his neighbour is distracted by a text message from his son who lives in Paris. The comparison is illuminating.” Article 1 of the present constitution is the subject of much controversy. ‘The revolution must continue in order to secure the wellbeing of the majority. “It’s a trick question”. good roads. has just presented the party programme: “Our development model is based on participation by the people. on the party list system (largest remainder method). . sometimes explicitly. Where did the Islamist leader. a lawyer representing members of the opposition persecuted under the old regime. even drawing on western rationalist sources. no infrastructure – from any government since 1956 [the date of independence]. dismantle the bloated police force. See how we live. 7. and introduce the “positive territorial discrimination” recommended by the leader of the Congrès pour la République (CPR). independent and sovereign state. us and our families: my wife works. And where did the secular Ben Ali seek refuge when he fled from the revolution? In Saudi Arabia … Facts are better than theories. The UPL is only one of many changing. “it must be able to draw on Arab-Muslim religious sources. pistachios. the leading UPL candidate for Tunis. does not rule out a similar restoration So. indeed forced. Omeyya Seddik. freedom of faith. my daughters study. others haven’t enough to pay for an aspirin. We defend individual freedoms. the voters will no doubt know what they have to do. The authorities may have done nothing since 1956. a Marxist-Leninist and a socialist. The audience is predominantly male. Paris. In both countries. Ennahda has little to fear in a debate with westernised “radicals”. So the excitement of the elections provides an opportunity for people to demand tokens of development. or in a year. freedom of expression” – causes a stir. closing a meeting at Sidi Bouzid. The cafe has a high-speed internet link. but change has come to Lassouda. a secular state. others haven’t enough to pay for an aspirin. Tunis/ Brussels. He won 21. one for men. constantly cite the “Turkish model” of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. a dispensary. In the light of these wonderfully precise commitments. its language is Arabic.” On 10 September Mustafa Ben Jafar. which stood firm when a war was being waged on its borders. The reply – “Tunisians are Muslims. former footballer Chokri el-Ouaer. Chebbi was one thing after another. when the constituent assembly’s work will probably be done. should get their votes. The proper response was to ask: ‘Why do you want to stress that Tunisia is Muslim? What for? To enforce sharia law? To challenge equal rights for women?’ Whenever these questions were raised. When they defend the code on personal status. delivered another hopeful message: “Those who refuse to accept that the country must change are trying to frighten us with bogeymen. and its type of government is the Republic. heal the regional and social divisions. it reads: “Tunisia is a free. 1. Many Tunisian Islamists seem to consider that Bourguiba de-arabised Tunisia just as Atatürk de-easternised Turkey: he tied it too closely to Europe. a secondary school.600 lists of candidates (as of midSeptember). (3) Interview with Mohsen Hassen. His relations with the Islamists have also changed and appear to have deteriorated in the past three months. He made the point on 9 September at Lassouda. Political orthodoxy: a crowd of young men sing verses from the Qur’an after a demonstration in front of Tunis’s National Theatre The political rally is held under a blazing sun and onlookers shelter under awnings. IT WON’T WORK ANYWHERE’ ALFREDO D’AMATO/PANOS Tunisia: democracy year one Continued from page 1 diploma in management from Paris University. nor against mosques. How the voting will go T he Constituent Assembly elections will take place in Tunisia on 23 October. while Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. 77 coalition lists. They need only explain – as they are already doing – that order must be restored. 218 parliamentary seats are to be filled. a market economy with more social equality. who are in a difficult position. We know what the violation of human rights means. The farmer explaining the water problem to the PCOT delegation looks like an old engraving. Social standing is at stake here.” Particularly when the Islamists are expected to be the most important party in the constituent assembly.. a charismatic leader (Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. (4) The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood seem to have appreciated his advice rather less. They will be completely sidelined.” Seven thousand people depend on a single water main along the road. most of the young and some of their parents use Facebook. We are free to speak out now.” Is this enough to dispel doubts about Islamist doublespeak? Radhia Nasraoui. artificial parties that hope to be rewarded by a democratisation that owes them nothing. 33 constituencies. Laaridh’s reply was not reassuring: “You can never be sure that any party will do all it said it would. it proposes a shift away from western investors and tour operators. But he was a thief.” Though it was reasonable. it is fundamentally modern and open to world cultures. admitted that experience of police repression and exile had affected the views of his comrades: “We have suffered abuse. And we have learned about democracy and women’s rights. In Hammami’s opinion. to define what it means could upset the secularists. which is constantly failing. polled 5.759. including 6 abroad (Marseille. the militant human rights advocate Moncef Marzouki.5 million potential voters (in Tunisia and abroad). including 845 party lists (52%). that is.” The Socialists in the FDTL also refuse to be trapped on the issue. The French revolution of February 1848 is associated with Alphonse de Lamartine. A country as small as Tunisia. a small farming community near Sidi Bouzid. they present this as a fundamental feature of national identity. So while the Ennahda programme does not question neoliberalism or free trade (see Privatising the Arab Spring by Akram Belkaïd). The wording will most probably be retained. Abu Dhabi).032 votes. But it could also be interpreted as meaning that this religious outcome could be mandated. Drafted with considerable care by Bourguiba. (2) A long time opponent of the dictatorship.” He bemoans the fact that under Bourguiba “the state imposed. a leftwing activist and former member of the PDP. with businessmen close to the old regime pulling the strings. but life has not changed.” A farmer had spoken about water: “We have had nothing – no drinking water. the other for women and children. while the social networks are buzzing with rumours of the machinations of a “shadow government”. which – save for inheritance – grants women equal rights with men.. So we should be judged by the long way we have come. recently welcomed in Tunisia (4). a very long way from the charming dwellings of La Marsa and the stately homes of Carthage. on the ground. There is no guarantee that. To remove the religious reference would incense the Islamists. before joining the neoliberal centre and cosying up to the business community. within a month of the election. everything has already changed and it is enough that the tyrant has gone. The revolution must continue in order to secure the wellbeing of the majority. dignity and employment for all. it confirms that Tunisia is Muslim. Sure of the impact a moral message will have in a country where fortunes were stolen by the Ben Ali clan.” Deliberately equivocal. “The Islamists started the debate on article 1 to set a trap for the secularists but they have fallen into it themselves. Drilling on a promising well was stopped and the top sealed when the authorities realised they would have to drill through rock. Hamma Hammami. There is a big difference between what the leaders say and what some of the members do. anxious to prove their democratic credentials. and regional development. where the fuse that started the Arab uprisings was lit last December: “Tunisia has been robbed. almonds) but the people poor. as they fear Turkish domination in the Middle East. sleeping on foam “mattresses” three centimetres thick. Sakhr el-Materi. a seaside resort north of Tunis. evolution in the direction of rationality” under a quasi “Soviet system”. They commissioned ‘studies’ but there was no investment. International Crisis Group.” Some Ennahda leaders. Some people have the means to travel all over America. Hammami adds: “Ben Ali’s son-in-law. leader of the Parti communiste ouvrier de Tunisie (PCOT).

finally ended this May. PPPs require not a strong state but a competent one. They have opposed big strikes by the working classes and the peasants’ struggles to retain ownership of their land [especially in the past decade]. former foreign ministers Hervé de Charette and Hubert Védrine. In France. or 3% of the cost of German reunification in 1991 (2). Pollution. strong Islamist parties will not undertake major economic revolutions. planned since 1995. pénurie. Will future administrations in Egypt and Tunisia be up to this task? To the business community and international institutions. Popular revolutions must not become the foundation for an all-powerful capitalism that undermines the social cohesion of Egyptian and Tunisian society. which are hard to set up and even harder to run BY AKRAM BELKAÏD unisia and Egypt face economic challenges besides the difficulty of achieving political stability. Despite its reserves of $150bn. they will not be extravagant. for a fixed period a company finances. According to the first estimates from the Tunisian Central Bank and the Egyptian economics ministry. 15 April 2010.” and quoted François Lichère. Political Islamism is inclined to favour neoliberal policies and oppose any redistributive policy that uses taxes.europe-solidaire. which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Conscious of how high the stakes are. established for that purpose. Although the world’s richest nations promised Tunisia and Egypt $20bn over two years at the G8 meeting in Deauville in May. The first concerns the state of the banking sector. As the Egyptian economist Samir Amin showed with the Muslim Brothers. Even if the arrangement is temporary. an economic option that is neither headlong liberalisation nor a return to the planned economy of the past. the countries will need between $20bn and $30bn over the next five years to improve their standards of living and open up regions through investment in transport.coop (5) See Marc Laimé. The collapse of the previous systems of sinecure will release individual energies and initiatives. Libya etc). October 2009. So Tunisia and Egypt hope to improve their national futures through public-private finance deals. Les Notes Ipemed. 18 May 2011. (2) “Un plan économique pour soutenir la transition démocratique en Tunisie”. Daniel Cohen and El Mouhoub Mouhoud. www. 24 May 2011. the French financial paper. pays only passing attention to social issues: “The Muslim Brothers are in favour of a market-based economic system which is totally externally dependent. (4) On the state of the banking sector in the southern Mediterranean. corruption (The Water Report: Poverty. mercantilist theories and. The instrument is therefore designed to work under favourable banking conditions” (3). “L’espace financier euroméditerranéen” (The Euro-Mediterranean financial space). In Tunis and Cairo. The Arab countries are hardly rushing to help their neighbours towards democracy. This explains why Islamists have never tried to reach an understanding with the global justice movement. Unable to count on aid to meet their economic and social needs. “Partenariat public-privé: un mauvais outil de reliance” (PPPs: a poor tool for [economic] revival). Paris. pollution. “2011: Arab spring? Egyptian Reflections”. where there were hopes of a Marshall plan like the one that the US financed in Europe after the second world war. which borrow 90% of the funds. That makes them useful allies for Washington (is there a better US ally than Saudi Arabia. but these will go nowhere unless the new administrations find the financial resources to make up for lost time and achieve more egalitarian development. as long as they do not threaten the basis of the democratic order. Without casting doubt on their commitment to the free-market Akram Belkaïd is a journalist and author of Etre arabe aujourd’hui. It is reasonable to suppose that. They belong to the compradore bourgeoisie (6). which has given them a certificate of democracy” (7). where many institutions have dubious debts and lack the expertise to take part in complex financial arrangements (4). Will future administrations in Egypt and Tunisia be up to this task? If there is a middle way. Jean-Marie Chevalier. Since the early 1990s the IMF pressed President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia for economic reforms.L MD FINANCE FOR DEMOCRACY IN NORTH AFRICA Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 5 Privatising the Arab Spring The US and Europe won’t pay. this overlooks the fact that they are defending a fixed order and refuse to contemplate or develop policies to reduce poverty and inequality. 2003. Le Dossier de l’eau. So. the Brothers’ patron?). Will future democratically elected governments yield to calls for still greater economic liberalisation? And are PPPs really the answer? PPPs require not a strong state but a competent one. Paris. Other Arab countries won’t pay. in a sector such as water supply. The US and EU have made plain that their coffers are empty and that. Its influence is such that it prevents the creation and development of indigenous economic activity which could compete with these imports. they don’t question reactionary neoliberal policies) and in which they also accept de facto submission to the demands of existing US control in the region (and world). considered impious. constructs and then derives profit from a public service such as water. Islamism is happy to align itself with liberal. invest in Tunisia”. except for zakat. Paris. capable of working out a solid legal framework and guaranteeing that the terms of the partnership are fulfilled. Ensuring this will have to depend on new economic policies that prioritise the social dimension and the reduction of inequality. see the research paper by Guillaume Almeras and Abderrahmane Hadj-Nacer (in collaboration with Isabelle Chort). Saudi Arabia. A PPP requires low interest rates and healthy banks. Algeria has only allocated a few tens of millions of dollars to Tunisia. 2011 FERNANDO MOLERES/PANOS T Private enterprise: the Coptic zabbaleen have always collected Cairo’s rubbish. This calls for two qualifications. Les Echos. capable of working out a solid legal framework and guaranteeing that the terms of the partnership are fulfilled. municipalities are obliged to prove they are vigilant so as not to incur additional costs and so that the terms of the contract are not flouted by the private contractor (5). and want greater freedom of movement. including the complete convertibility of their currencies. (6) The expression “compradore bourgeoisie” denotes a class that derives its income from overseas trade. Le Seuil. So Tunisia and Egypt face a search for the “third way” that the former eastern European bloc was unable to find after the fall of the Berlin Wall. local institution or other public body must have the necessary competence and expertise to back and evaluate the PPP. contrary to popular belief. Will the new Egypt seek to modernise refuse collection? economy. these dictators were careful not to go too far along the road to market liberalisation for fear of accentuating social inequality. explained: “The ever more frequent recourse to public-private partnerships still has not proved its profitability. energy and technological infrastructure. especially in import-export. www. The EU’s plans for a Mediterranean Bank. Corruption). power or health on behalf of the state or its proxies. view the option of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a miracle solution. during a public debt crisis. Under PPPs. International financial institutions are asking new democracies for the same as they used to demand from the previous dictators. this has come as a great disappointment – all the more so since economists estimated that such a plan would cost the equivalent of funding the war in Iraq for two months. it is a privatisation. So the Muslim Brothers aren’t moderates except in the sense in which they have always refused to formulate any economic or social programme (in fact. The second qualification relates to the public operator’s ability to ensure that its interests – and those of the taxpayer – are being served.ipemed. Les Echos. and parliamentarians Elisabeth Guigou and Denis McShane. which they consider a new manifestation of communism. (3) Catherine Sabbah. Le Monde. and have launched an appeal. calling on the West to give Tunisia financial aid. with the IMF and the World Bank. or just from imports in the case of numerous Arab countries (Algeria. this consists of loans scheduled before the revolutions. There is much talk about the charity work of Islamist organisations. Carnets Nord. it will not come from religious political parties. Unlike eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. including seeking development money from multinationals. the compulsory giving of a set proportion of income to charity. prominent Arab and European figures (1) have supported the slogan “Invest in democracy. International lenders and western multinationals that already have a foothold in the southern Mediterranean. TRANSLATED BY GEORGE MILLER (1) These include the economists George Corm. the principal lenders will be the European Investment Bank (EIB) – which is offering loans of $6bn between now and 2013 – and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Egypt and Tunisia have been encouraged by the IMF and World Bank to go further with market liberalisation. This means that the state. the countries of the southern Mediterranean will not have their own bank of reconstruction and development. the 200 Manifesto. a law professor and legal consultant on PPP contracts: “The financial risk is borne by the project companies. an “improvement of the business environment” – more facilities for foreign lenders – an accelerated withdrawal of the state from the economic sphere and a liberalisation of public services. Yet their implications are poorly understood. (7) Samir Amin. and that the private-sector partners are carrying out their responsibilities effectively.org . PPPs seem a natural instrument for financing infrastructure development in the southern Mediterranean. Neither of these conditions applies to Tunisia or Egypt.

for example. Any increase in the size of Greece’s debt can only be financed by public lenders. If Greek national debt could be stabilised at 200% of GDP. armoured tanks and the navy against them.000 civilians (in particular in the Military Housing Establishment.. and not a split within the entire military. the ministry of defence employs more than 60. Within a few years.75% in real terms. According to the prevailing line of thought.75%. An inexperienced Alawite officer might have a flashy new car. Paris. Saving Greece is supposed then to be good for the Greeks and for the rest of Europe. that equates to an interest rate of 0. Don’t expect this army to give the slightest support to the demonstrators. To understand how this happened. and it is this that the current revolt (2) has swept away.000 in the police and intelligence. that means preventing Greece from defaulting and keeping it in the eurozone. It has been involved from the beginning in the repression at Deraa. and the feared Air Force Security. Crimes by different officers received different punishments. Alawite and Sunni [by Sunni. which have deepened the recession. The distribution of headquarters in the army is organised in such a way that even if a Sunni officer gave a dissident order. so they burnt down the building. All the decisions made in the repression of the revolt were taken by security service officers. but the regime is not willing to give ground. with 40. all Alawite.” Since our conversation. it seems. And the army’s leadership seems preoccupied with other things. Christian etc. Fear is the cement of the security edifice. the security services. When a commander is Sunni. the debt currently amounts to nearly 160% of GDP and the budget deficit between January and August 2011 was 18bn (or 9% of GDP). 100. It wouldn’t be agreeable. Meanwhile. The Alawite minority came to political power and the army dominated the Ba’ath Party. clan. saving us all There is a way out of the current rush to the precipice. the regime has announced a telephone number for people to call to denounce government critics. (4) The name given to militias armed by the state. soon only EU institutions will have an appetite for holding this debt. That’s why the repression keeps getting worse’ Wasn’t it the job of the army to defend the country? Muhammad said: “Of course. They lose their jobs if they do not assist in state repression. The most important is the fourth division. Given that lenders reckon on an inflation rate of 2%. and probably criminals freed at the start of the revolt. run by Assad’s cousin). In Jisr al-Choghour. the party. but think about it: since the 1990s a large proportion of the national budget has been spent on the army. “All security service officers come from the army. and it may not be agreed upon BY LAURENT CORDONNIER aving Greece is. but the regime is not willing to give ground. or make it look like one. The combination of religious connections and an obsession with security allowed the Alawites to dominate the army and security services. his Sunni superior would drive an old jeep. Let’s accept this premise. The only possibility in terms of the military is a split within the leadership of the security services which could spread to sections of the army. he finalised this authoritarian system.000 – 400. When Hafez al-Assad (father of Bashar) seized power in 1970 in the last coup. it would be catastrophic for the Greeks to fail to meet either objective. The 21% reduction of Greek debts that European banks accepted “voluntarily under pressure” in an agreement on 21 July could help to make the 200% threshold plausible.000 men. and the most sophisticated military equipment. commanded by Maher al-Assad. The Syrian army is made up of seven divisions. who were rewarded with civil service jobs.. These isolated dissidents cannot deliver a strong message to the regime. Raisons d’agir. The economy is projected to contract by 5% in all by the end of the year. each led by a commander. the current annual cost of France’s national debt is around 2. He told me there were more than 700. TRANSLATED BY STEPHANIE IRVINE (1) Not his real name (2) Thawra in Arabic can be translated as revolt or revolution. it is equivalent to the baltaguiyya in Egypt during the revolution. If European states managed to borrow on the markets at 3% or less in real terms.” What about religious affiliations in the army? Muhammad said there was a “symbolic situation. It is hard for a Sunni to rise to be general. bearing in mind it could become a revolution. 2010 S of GDP. and vice versa. The demonstrators are determined not to give in. Men like Assad can’t imagine a day when they won’t be in power. The Syrian army is the executive arm of the security services. He has few hopes that the demonstrations will succeed in bringing change BY ZÉNOBIE “T he Syrian army is the army of the Syrian security services”. but it has no military capacity. If we define revolution as a revolt that has succeeded in changing the political regime. “Sectarianism is widespread.” What about the officers and soldiers killed in the revolt? Muhammad said: “No Syrian soldier would doubt that the security services would eliminate anyone who didn’t carry out an order. It may even be the case that Alawite elements within the 100. but unspoken. administration and army have all come under the direct control of the security services. and ask what would make it possible. which are in the hands of the Assad family. which for Greece would be the equivalent of half of its public sector wage bill (2). The same principle governs the allocation of ministerial posts in the government: every non-Alawite minister is overseen by an Zénobie is a journalist Alawite deputy who makes all the political decisions… Decisions in the army and security services are always made by Alawites – Sunnis have no influence. Within the logic of the regime. That is not a foregone conclusion. not even tanks. . banks and other financial institutions will approve of the European Central Bank (ECB) – going against all its doctrinal instincts – buying up sovereign debt to lessen the burden on them more quickly. which is completely Alawite. said Muhammad (1). stopping Damascus men from doing military service. they would be able to finance Greek debt without it costing them anything. tightly weaving Syrian society around the army. the real interest rate on the national debt would have to be under 3% to stay within this limit. “These are the men you often see standing outside mosques with electric batons or iron bars. But it’s possible that all the soldiers sent out to suppress the revolt were Alawites. Under Bashar al-Assad. These form the battalions of the shabbiha (4) and the irregular forces. The shabbiha are made up of people from the countryside. Sunni officers might be watched or investigated to check their loyalty. the security services would happily kill several Alawites to provoke a sectarian conflict. As a financial organisation put it: “We do not imagine that investors will return to buy” (1). while there is much swift coverage of the deaths of demonstrators.000-50. Political Security.” What are the prospects for the uprising? “It’s difficult to say they are anything but bleak. which operates throughout Syrian society. But most army units have not had any new equipment. That’s much more productive for the regime than killing a Sunni. The sectarian make-up of each military unit prevents the Sunnis acting together [but not Alawites. the private sector will leave the task to the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the International Monetary Fund. tens of thousands more serve in the army and the presidential guard. Men like Assad can’t imagine a day when they won’t be in power. in power since 2000. So the question then is: can any country carry such a long-term debt without society asphyxiating? Without compulsory measures.000 Alawites work in the security services. The regime has lost its way. and not the chief of staff. We still don’t know what interest rate Greek society would find acceptable. Military Security. who together make up 90% of the population]. with only two religious denominations.6 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique THE MILITARY ARE THE EXECUTIVE ARM OF THE SECURITY SERVICES How Syria works A senior Sunni army officer explains how Bashar al-Assad uses the Alawite minority in Syria to control his authoritarian regime. The army and the regime have declared war on peaceful protestors and civilians. By way of comparison. An estimated 100. Greek debt will be fully owned by the public. it would be blocked at various levels by Alawite officers or those loyal to the regime. and devastating for the rest of Europe. regional and sectarian loyalties to form a clientele. But the deaths of soldiers or members of the security services could also be linked to individual acts of revenge. and tens of thousands employed part-time by the security services.000 in the regular army. That’s why the repression keeps getting worse. he meant everyone else – Sunni.” Muhammad said. We might suppose that a developed nation – if it is to avoid popular revolution.000-strong police or security services were dressed as soldiers and sent out to beat Sunnis . when the current political structure was created during four coups. local initiatives. It would therefore be possible to finance the whole of Greece’s debt sustainably in conditions that avoided asphyxiation. His most recent book is L’Economie des Toambapiks. Bashar’s brother [who also runs the presidential guard]. dictatorship or the end of its civilisation – could not bear a cost of more than 6% of its GDP. I asked Muhammad how many men there were in the army and the security services. but there are very few officers from Damascus. It is the security services that tell the army chief of staff which officers to appoint and promote. as the fourth division demonstrates].3% of GDP. the budget deficit is still increasing as a result of Greece’s exceptional austerity measures. the EFSF raised 5bn (over 10 years) to fund Portugal’s aid package at a nominal rate of 2. his second in command is Alawite. using helicopters. Druze. and as securities fall due for renewal. And far from coming down. About 50% of civil servants work for the security apparatus. but that is unlikely. In 2011 Alawites were 10% of the population. a senior Sunni Muslim army officer. The demonstrators are determined not to give in. you have to go back to the 1960s. so where has all the money gone? They created a brigade for the Israeli border. (3) There are four organs of the Syrian security service: State Security. They are also called on to take part in pro-government demonstrations. Syrians consider the Ba’ath Party as the fifth organ of the security services (3). In mid-September.” (There are no pictures of dead soldiers. The regime also used family. working. a matter of urgency. In Deraa last March people spotted a sniper on the roof of a building. even down to moving a tank. A young Sunni from Damascus can pay an official every month to validate his service papers while he remains at home. WHEN INFLATION SEEMS LIKE THE WAY OUT Saving Greece. so that its debt rises no higher than 200% Laurent Cordonnier is an economist. we must use revolt here. for the time being. All religious denominations are represented in the security services. Let’s suppose that Greece does manage to restore its public finances in the next three or four years. the party and the administration.” ‘The regime has lost its way.) Could the army divide? “What we have here are individual dissidents. people attacked the police station with a bulldozer.

and 4.huffingtonpost. (7) See Ben Smith. among students and minorities who have been known to stay home on election day if they fail to fall in love with their party’s chosen candidate. (2) Kevin Sack. New York. Le Monde diplomatique. “Tense moments at common purpose meet”. The defiance of the markets will grow. As with both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – the only other Democrat presidents since the 1960s – Obama had found it necessary to become a far more conservative president than he had been a winning candidate. so as to bring the deficit back into line with the golden rule. Women are angry about the concessions on will no longer be able to renew their debt securities when they fall due. Upon signing the debt deal. which leads them to increase the risk premium for the state that borrows – which pushes the interest rate up and makes the risk of future default more likely. 1 September 2011. or the Bush-like expansion of presidential power. an arrangement that is as fair as it is bold could come into effect: an automatic increase of the income tax rate to 90% on income above 35. No president has ever been re-elected with such catastrophic numbers. New York Times. With 440bn. 7 August 2011.com. an honorarium there”. it offered the nowTea Party-dominated Republicans. “A few more comments on the pending deal”. and with the conviction of acting with sufficient resolution. as the economist Michel Aglietta is currently proposing (4). even if they are going in the right direction. Instead he embraced the unpopular “compromise” leaving his advisers to complain that liberals did not show enough appreciation for how much worse everything might have been (7).thedailybeast.fr/. 1 August 2011. 27 July 2011. interest rates will again begin to tighten on Italian and Spanish debts. is elegant and politically ingenious (3). Robert Boyer. 30 December 2010.4 trillion in future cuts in government programmes and not a dime in revenue-raising measures. And the relaxation of the 2% inflation target to 4% or 5%. (8) Drew Westen. and the US economy.lesechos. Because mixing all these public debts in the same bond will produce a result reminiscent of subprime loans. “Cuomo the orator now soliloquizes in book form. Geithner has no intention of leaving them at the mercy of a default by Greece. First black candidate to lead a major party ticket”. That will cost him on election day. Though one would not blame a European social democracy for setting a more reasonable rate of 85%. as House Speaker John Boehner bragged. the EFSF has just enough funds to buy up Greece’s debt. not so much out of affection for the Old World as for the banks. National unemployment. www. Disclaiming greatness. but his stories virtually always lack one element: the villain who caused the problem. New York Times. As devotees of Trotskyiteliberalism. English edition. the EFSF would find itself unable to raise money on the markets on the favourable terms of today. “Obama clinches nomination. 13 September 2011. Holland and France. the president is a brilliant and moving speaker.000 net annually. which would not yet qualify for rescue. The fear engendered by the craziness of the current Republican candidates. .2% the day Obama signed the bill. All it will take is one wayward alarm from the credit agencies to begin sovereign debt rating downgrades and for the self-fulfilling prophecy to begin again. European leaders would have to reach agreement on it. Hispanic activists are said to be “unsatisfied”. 2010. but because of interest rate hikes. he labors on: An embryonic idea here. And who could disagree? When the emergency has passed. Given the urgency of the situation. Once the ECB’s programme of buy-ups has ended. who cannot believe how weak he has been for whatever reason in negotiating with Republicans. Obama has dampened enthusiasm with his casually insulting attitude to those who merely demand that he fight harder to keep his campaign promises. 4 June 2008. If European leaders engage in two-steps-forward-one-step-back. 1 August 2011. Greece is in line with most OECD countries. consolidated. That’s besides the war in Afghanistan. (4) See John Nichols and Robert W McChesney.1%. says: “The only hope on the horizon is that China runs into labour shortages and also social conflict. according to a reasonable timetable. Mediapart.) So it is interest rate rises that make debt unsustainable because repayments put a strain on a state’s budget.” Obama has dampened enthusiasm with his casually insulting attitude to those who merely demand that he fight harder to keep his campaign promises. as if the cause of others’ misery has no agency and hence no culpability. has said it might be a “good idea” if the president were to face a primary opponent: “There are millions of Americans who are deeply disappointed in the president. Revival: The Struggle for Survival Inside the Obama White House. quoted in Les Echos. What will this mean for the 2012 election? It will not mean a challenger for the Democratic primaries. civil liberties. Republicans blamed Obama and Obama blamed no one. and something has to be put aside for possible relief – rather than bailout – for Italy or Spain.31% two days later. blogs. And environmentalists are giving him a grade of F for the first term. where 10 to 12% is the norm. or described in passive voice. (3) Marcus Baram. This deliberate decision to take the left for granted – when not insulting its members – has already proved foolish.jaredbernsteinblog. according to some orthodox suggestions. With the understatement that would become a trademark. since the burden of guarantees applied to these loans would grow more onerous for countries such as Germany.com (10) “Why Obama’s base won’t revolt”. As usual. interview with Ludovic Lamant. The Daily Beast. www. That would provoke a return to inflation led by Chinese wages. adjusted by a clever manipulation of interest rates. The European rescue plan would then resemble two rotten planks which only remain standing because they are propping each other up. as they would have to borrow at exorbitant rates. (6) CBS Evening News. particularly its new frontrunner. On the economy.000bn) is probably a reasonable estimate of what the EFSF intervention fund should be. they will look panicked into action by uncontrolled events. (5) Quoted in Richard Wolffe. That would be a splendid scenario” (5). “98%” of what he had demanded (6). On paper the formula. From a political standpoint. they may think good solutions will not emerge unless the crisis reaches its peak. 21 August 2011. “Alter’s ‘The Promise’ Epilogue: Obama team’s Dysfunction prompted lack of focus on jobs. ERIC ALTERMAN ORIGINAL TEXT IN ENGLISH (1) Jeff Zeleny. Obama bragged – actually bragged – that it would result in “the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was president” (9).com Without compulsory measures. That will cost him on election day. But that still leaves Portugal and Ireland to bail out. (3) See the study by the corporate and investment bank Natixis. The US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner explained this to European leaders at the recent Wrocław summit. as well as a carbon tax at European level. “US democracy sold out”. Gays wish he would endorse gay marriage. An accurate headline from The Onion on 3 August 2011 reported Obama’s take on the deal: “Tough concessions from Democrats and Democrats alike. 3 August 2011. But that sum won’t produce results unless it is put into action quickly. it would be no bad thing if European employers gave a little push to wage negotiations. Europe should adopt a golden rule. (9) Quoted in Jared Bernstein. www. New York Times. these solutions can be conceived more calmly: at long last. and without an adequate borrowing limit. Politico. The final deal in August to prevent default contained an (alleged and ill-defined) $2. and the EFSF would have to be given a borrowing limit much higher than its current 440bn. Not even Wall Street liked the deal. (Let’s remember that a debt with a 0% interest rate costs nothing. but in my view it should be a more rigorous and serious one than that currently being discussed: every state could be forbidden to exceed a 3% budget deficit and have a target for sovereign debt that is below 30% of GDP. In this atmosphere of panic. which would allow inflation in China. This confirms lenders in the idea that the debt has become unsustainable. is a strong corrective. Obama depends on this fear of the far right to repeat 2008: turn out voters on the left. theocrat Rick Perry. Nobody on the left is happy with Obama. “Whatever happened to Obama”. So a trillion euros ( 1. be rotten planks. The hardest thing will be to generate inflation. If either threshold were exceeded. September 2011. quoted by Isabelle Couet in “Un Eurobond qui profitera à tous”. Paris. (2) With a public sector wage bill of 12% of GDP. Among self-described liberals and minorities. 27 September 1993. a tax on financial transactions. The political psychologist Drew Westin called attention to Obama’s unwillingness ever to blame his opponents. That may be the solution European leaders are looking for. the eurobonds solution wouldn’t be much better. But it would still choice to get his health care plan passed. which would reduce the debt burden worldwide. a mutualisation of sovereign debts. As another expert. And then the worst will become inevitable. 15 September 2011. Ultimately their debt will become unsustainable. (5) “La crise est plus grave que celle de 1929”. the only independent socialist member of the US Senate. Next came the first-ever cut in the nation’s credit rating from Standard and Poor’s. who believe that with regard to social security and other things. as of September. or even admit he had opponents: “When he wants to be. Paris. Because he has made so little effort to deliver on his campaign promises. To help it along. he said one thing as a This emergency scenario requires three other conditions to be met: the plan would have to be conceived with this explicit objective. And finally. the only solution would be to force the banks to take on the entire sovereign debt of the countries under was 9. structured and securitised – deliberately designed to mix bad debt with good. and there’s deep disappointment. Bill Clinton annoyed at White House”. As one financial organisation put it: ‘We do not imagine that investors will return to buy’ threat. (4) In an interview with Les Echos. Obama cannot point to a record of achievement over the most important concern – jobs. The affected countries Many who flocked to Washington for Obama’s inauguration in 2009 are bitterly disappointed by his performance in office candidate and is doing something very much else as a president. described in impersonal terms.L MD REPUBLICANS BLAME OBAMA: HE BLAMES NO ONE Continued from page 1 ROBYN BECK/GETTY IMAGES Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 7 The compromiser-in-chief performance in history. Bernie Sanders. not as a result of their size. no matter who he is facing on the Republican side He suggested that “one of the reasons the president has made the move so far to the right is that there is no primary opposition to him” (10).” Liberals were the losers. A rise in the cost of borrowing for the EFSF would have repercussions on sovereign debts throughout the eurozone. Whether that reflects his aversion to conflict [or] an aversion to conflict with potential campaign donors … is unclear” (8). The Dow Jones fell by 2. For that reason. TRANSLATED BY GEORGE MILLER (1) Nomura. Obama admitted that he “had spoke of a need for unity” and a “period of post-partisanship” that “didn’t work out so well” (5). An economic Europe emerging from debt chaos into budgetary federalism is a touching myth. Obama’s approval rating remains high. no matter who he is facing on the Republican side. soon only EU institutions will have an appetite for holding this debt. Crown Publishing Group/Random House. who is always left out.

approached her fictitious boss and asked: “Would you like some soup. They add $80 a month for food. Like most of them. President Ferdinand Marcos (1965-86) started exporting manpower in 1974. A large picture has pride of place above the computer. She wanted to train domestic servants “in the language of their employers” and educate them. based on at least 10 hours’ work a day. In Hong Kong I would earn twice what I earn here as a teacher. washing the floor. prompting it to professionalise the industry. Many domestic workers don’t dare complain because they only get 14 days to find a new placement. delivering a key point of the super maid programme. her French husband Paul. indicating that future maids are tested less on their medical. The Philippines has become a factory producing workers. “It’s $144 more than the minimum wage for maids in Hong Kong. because Paul does not want Leonora helping herself from the fridge. “We now say ‘domestic helper’. but 35 years later this trickle has turned into a flood.5 per transaction]. It was meant to be temporary. “We are usually not free to come and go in our employers’ homes. she lowered her eyes and put the tureen down on the sideboard. Gloria Arroyo. Most of the permanent and temporary diaspora (of whom a quarter are illegal) are in the US. described them as “modern heroes”. Ventenilla validated the test and Talabis went back to the kitchen.” said Michelle Ventenilla.000 candidates per year to take the National Certificate II exam. “We don’t use the term maid any more. and he saw an opportunity in the rapid development of the Gulf states after the 1973 oil crisis.” In her little room she has a computer connected to Julien Brygo is a journalist PHOTOS BY JULIEN BRYGO B In Manila. “It’s in their genes. This is the fourth highest number of foreign remittances after China. 41. she said. at the Uno school) or serving at table (below. Indicating the table. Here we try to get them used to the excitable temperament of Hong Kong employers. should she take the tureen back to the kitchen. “Contact your agency whenever you have problems and don’t rely on your friends”. but it didn’t surprise her: “It’s to make sure we complete our contracts. to pay my three children’s university fees. a frail-looking woman. The aim was to do away with agency fees. a quarter of the cost of such help in France. the food is rarely enough and we have to be completely dedicated to the family. but she came back “to bring [her] skills up to standard”. and filled his glass three-quarters full. and glasses. They’re destroying the market for the rest of us. India and Mexico.000 complaints a year). as it was a few years ago. Above the aquarium (symbol of social success within Asian families) is written the college slogan: “Cleanliness is next to godliness”. one of four teachers at Abest. while the “Things Not To Do” section lists “Don’t count the work you are doing”. “Do not talk to other maids”. when the economy was derelict. And they love children. Talabis hesitated – after serving him from the left.” . She is still surprised when the maid dries her swimsuit as soon as she returns from the beach. a former primary school teacher who became a maid to support her family. was one of around 100. Since 2007 Abest has “exported” 1. but the promise of basic rights for Filipino overseas workers has proven empty. Her current employers are good to her.” said Michelle Ventenilla. Leonora Santos Torres looks after the children. fish and meat knives. but does humanitarian work for a French NGO. That’s what they enjoy doing. You have to be patient. mostly women – just under 10% of the population and 22% of the working age population. cleaning the aquarium.” said Leonora. “Filipino women are very good with people. “Every day the bodies of six to ten Filipinos who have died working overseas are repatriated.500 domestic workers to Hong Kong. since 2005. Facebook and Yahoo!. sir?” Ventenilla nodded his head and grunted. leaving her fisherman husband and two children. then by a Chinese family she was with for six years. candidates for the Household Services National Certificate must pass tests such as cleaning floors (above. Lea Talabis. a senior executive with a French bank. 47. a baby monitor. lives in the gated community of Stanley Knoll. respectful. “Welcome to Little Hong Kong. They may be verbally or physically abused. In 2006 (after Israel’s bombing of Lebanon. The inspector from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).600 foreign maids currently working in Hong Kong. sent all over the world into domestic service to support their children back home. explaining her employee’s devotion.” Like many Filipinos. “Always be punctual”. She left three of her five children in the village of Calatagan in 1999 to work in Hong Kong to support her family. It was the day of the final exam. “Every month I send four-fifths of my salary. says chapter six of the manual. Rommel Ventenilla (5). where 30. It’s in their culture to be devoted. western-style bathrooms and bedrooms with pink curtains and bright green walls.” She acknowledged that the college taught her to obey and submit to the boss’s rules. patient and quiet.5 million Filipinos. “Do not show a temper or long face when scolded by your employer”. Lea Talabis. ensure that every maid earned at least $400. There is no chance of socialism here: no union. Some expat families pay $860-$1.8 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique ‘ALWAYS BE PUNCTUAL AND DON’T COUNT THE WORK YOU ARE DOING’ Filipino maids for export Twelve percent of the Philippines’ GDP comes as remittances from nationals abroad. laid out for a typical middle class Hong Kong family with three placemats. Leonora is a devoted Christian. “$650 is a good salary. ironing clothes or washing the car. a poster distinguishes winners (those who “look for solutions” and say to their bosses “let me do it for you”) from losers (those who “look for someone to blame” and “always have an excuse” for not doing what they are asked). Her moral code fits in well with her employers’ rules: “I listen to the Lord. She. housekeeping or cooking abilities than on their capacity to obey the rules. 20% theory and 60% behaviour. which allows her to work overseas legally. minus the Western Union transfer charge [$3. “These schools are a disgrace to our country. he asked: “How much water do you pour into the glass?” Talabis moved to his right hand side carrying a carafe. ill treatment or sexual harassment (25. Leonora was badly treated by a Hong Kong family (“They wanted me to give up my day off ”) before she walked out after six months. and reduce the structural violence (economic as well as physical) affecting women. and photographs of her own children. and work from the heart.” said Susan de la Rama. chair of the NGO Migrante International in Manila. where the grandmother used to beat and insult her. The Philippines government is even training them in servitude BY JULIEN BRYGO éatrice. A million are in Saudi Arabia. infringement of contract. cooks and cleans. She does not have a job. We don’t want the Philippines to be labelled a country that exports maids. Many of my compatriots live in terrible conditions. She had resolved to go abroad again. which is only two hours away by plane. and has a diploma in telegram transcription. The final part of the exam could include making the bed. According to the World Bank.3bn in remittances (3). She is one of the 290. watched the candidate as she performed the table service test. The school’s fees are $212. and says she feels “liberated” by not having to do domestic tasks. Education in the Philippines is so expensive we have to make sacrifices. or leave Hong Kong once a contract has terminated. no political meetings. foreign workers contributed 12% of the Philippines’ GDP in 2010 with $21. half an hour from the heart of “the most free economy in the world” (1). the former Philippines president (200110). The small brick villa resembles a typical upper middle class home in Hong Kong. “That’s the law in Hong Kong. swims in Stanley Bay and plays tennis. The Code of Discipline stipulates: “DO NOT ARGUE with your employer”.” “Sacrifice” is a word you hear again and again when talking to Filipino maids. through a national diploma. because we get into debt to become maids. “The final mark is made up of 20% skill. and their four children have lived here. involving more than 8.” said Béatrice.” Leonora. sweated as she carried a porcelain tureen in both hands to the table. an aquarium with rare fish.000 Filipinos go abroad to work in the service industry. According to the Hong Kong Labour Department.000 a month. “I’m doing it for them.” The second definition of a Filipino woman in the 2005 Merriam-Webster dictionary is “maid”. in Manila. or leave it for him to help himself? Confused. named after the explorer Henry Morton Stanley. subjected to their employers’ whims. and candidate number five. after 216 hours of training. and to get National Certificate II. she lives in a room measuring less than five square metres. Five years later there are training colleges all over the country.” said Ventenilla. and it is linked to a recruitment agency. Canada and the Middle East.” said Béatrice. Béatrice and Paul pay Leonora $650 a month to be available 24 hours a day. This angered the Filipino government. a Franco-Belgian expatriate. The examiner gave her a second chance with the question and answer part of the test.” says Béatrice. no strikes. one of the Philippines’s 364 registered private training centres for domestic servants. 10% of domestic workers lodge complaints against their employers every year for non-payment of wages. is from the northern Philippines province of Luzon. Béatrice has not set foot in a supermarket for four years. and then mimed serving a bowl of soup. What keeps Lennie going is her involvement in the parish. in a house that overlooks Hong Kong Bay.” Every year more than 100.” Ten years ago Talabis worked as a maid with a middle-class family in Hong Kong.000 Filipinos found jobs abroad. In 1974 35. at the Abest school) Skype.” said Béatrice (2).000 Filipino workers lived) she launched the “supermaid” programme (4).” said Garry Martinez. They need a maid to help with their house and children. On the classroom wall. “Many employers are looking for domestic workers who are polite. who does not distinguish between rich and poor. “Lennie is so devoted. head of the programme. Many of those are maids. who “draws strength from her relationship with the Lord”. even though it announced a ban on Filipino and Indonesian maids last July. Talabis. in the use of household appliances and first aid. six days a week. on call day and night. no questioning the basis of servitude. because their lives are not much fun. with a saloon car. with the words: “Give thanks to the Lord for His love endures forever. underpaid and exploited.

I admit I have always preferred being waited on than doing things myself. containing almost $60. seems to be roaring with pleasure.” Joseph Law. All week we are alone.378 Filipinos abroad worked in America (33. 12. freedom from corruption.ofwguide. opened the door to his 13th floor apartment on Elegant Terrace. while at the bottom. having a Filipino maid. trade and fiscal freedom. 11 November 2010. Don’t you agree?” “I would say 15% sir. but it’s a lie.ofwguide. 24 August 2006. 7.” she said. They get an employment contract. sir.” He flopped on to his leather sofa: “Do I like being waited on? That’s a good question.” “Many employers claim to have a good relationship. “To the Chinese. and put a tray with two cups and a teapot on the table in front of her boss. we can free ourselves of our employers. That’s a lot of money.L MD She had to use her savings to pay the agency fee of $1. come on. After acknowledging a complaint from Law (“Next time I have guests. We don’t want the Philippines to be labelled a country that exports maids. (4) “Housemaids to Supermaids soon!”. “Julien is a French journalist.” TRANSLATED BY STEPHANIE IRVINE (1) The Index of Economic Freedom measures 10 criteria (business. Mr Law. “If it weren’t for us. after she had arrived in Hong Kong. 28. “I don’t want to be a maid all my life. For some Chinese. because it represents our hard work.” she said. Stitt.” Law dismissed these schools (“They are the biggest joke. She entered the room wearing cropped trousers and a t-shirt wet from doing the washing up. And the government has created training centres to train them. government spending. property rights. and my favourite by far are the Filipinos. “I pay her the legal minimum: HK$3. ‘We don’t use the term maid any more. then said: “No sir.579. Chinese New Year. Elena. “Why are salaries so low?” Law continued. “I’m going to pray for my family. then once a week. (6) In 2009.’ said Susan de la Rama. (8) The British authorities in Hong Kong declared an embargo on Chinese domestic workers in the 1970s. but he said giving small gifts helped to even things out: “Every year I give her presents.” He interrupted her: “Hong Kong is paradise for foreign maids. she perched on the edge of the sofa. 15%?” said Law. They speak better English. 65. has a serious expression.” Joseph showed me his shirt: “I like them well ironed.2% in the Middle East (13. He’s writing an article about the daily life of Filipino maids in Hong Kong. such as Joseph Law (above left). has an 18-year old daughter in the Philippines. He PHOTOS BY JULIEN BRYGO Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 9 In Hong Kong. thanks to Elena’s hard graft.. Three weeks later. Isn’t that right Elena? No qualifications. has eaten well. It’s a proposal that angers Law: “I warn the Philippines and Indonesia: if they carry on adopting such stupid policies. like 10% of her fellow expatriates (6). cleaning their apartments. The lion. and it intends to introduce a minimum wage of $400 for its 10 million overseas workers. www. The whole package costs employers an average HK$5.isn’t that right. At New Year.000. The lion on the right.” said Law. Filipino women in their 40s and 50s – nurses. like you and myself do. because it is impossible to count hours in this kind of work. plane tickets. and has been a maid for more than 16 years. The theme was “women as daughters. Stephen. a fashionable part of Hong Kong. representing the bank’s founders AG Stephen and GH Stitt.839. former assistant manager of the Hong Kong fire brigade. it is still below the 1999 figure of HK$3.” said Gorgogna. employers who do not feed their maids are required to pay them a food allowance of $96. Elena?” Meredores recalled getting a brown envelope at New Year. She laughed. after 22 years in the country. That week a fashion parade had been organised by the federation of Filipinos from Benguet province in the northern Philippines to celebrate Mothers Day. a maid is indispensible has cause to be nervous: both the Philippines and Indonesia – who are the most aggressive defenders of overseas domestic workers – announced in June 2011 they intended to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s convention on decent working conditions for maids. In 2011 Hong Kong was rated number one. and on top of that they get room and board. as it was a few years ago’ Early next Sunday morning. investment and financial freedom. www. now chairman of the official Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association. monetary.” He conceded that most employers were upper class. (5) No relation to Michelle Ventenilla. such as Elena (bottom). You mustn’t be selfish in your faith.5% in the US. with a crease down the middle.” She lowered her eyes and agreed: “That’s right. symbol of employers and their wealth. “Elena!” he shouted to the maid. I think 50% of foreign maids in Hong Kong enjoy a peaceful and harmonious relationship with their employers. They say that just to show off. is a mark of social distinction for some expats. The agency is approved by the department for Filipinos working abroad.” she replied. Tens of thousands of maids like Meredores meet at the foot of this steel and glass skyscraper every Sunday. university graduates.1% in United Arab Emirates).5% in Asia and 8. but was raised in June 2011 to $3.. thousands of maids waved their Western Union flags: the company that handled most of the $21bn sent in remittances in 2010 had organised a concert of Filipino singing stars for the Fiesta at Saya festival. the equivalent of six months of her salary as a teacher. and his maid’s salary. a minimum wage.500 [$705] a month.580 ($459) between 2009 and 2011. but they were clear – take it or leave it. I’ve been hiring foreign maids for the last 35 years. between the Bank of China and Van Cleef and Arpels jewellery. head of the programme. “Be fair. health insurance and long-service payment after five years. “It’s because Filipinos like Elena have no qualifications and low skills. where Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) has its headquarters. are less risky than the others and are generally much more devoted to their job. Law told Meredores to speak “freely”. Elena Meredores is 51. Many of my fellow maids are doctors. (7) The minimum wage was frozen at HK$3. and demanding higher salaries. I had to pay the fee if I wanted to work in Hong Kong.” Sensing that she felt obliged to agree with him. But the best thing was that the house had Wifi: “Every evening I can use the web cam to talk to my children and husband.4% in Europe.7% of the 8. he got angry.” said Gorgogna. housemaids – paraded across the podium. Go and make us some tea with milk. such as Béatrice (top right). Meredores went to the Catholic church. Paradise!” When I drew a comparison between his monthly income of more than $14. (3) “Remittances to PH ranked 4th biggest in world”.580 [US$459]” (7). At the end of 2010 the Philippines’ government announced that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) would have to pay HK$200 ($25) insurance. you can’t explain our low salaries by saying we are under-qualified or have few skills. thousands of domestic servants savour their day off. Fifty metres away. president of the Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association. Over the years it has become a favourite meeting place for expatriate Filipinos.” His apartment and his appearance are impeccable. and looks up towards the top of the HSBC tower. but they are obliged to become maids to support their families. she said she was delighted because her employers told her to think of them as her second family. 41. bring a bigger tray”). Not like you. the enemy of the six maids’ unions in Hong Kong. “I like having my photo taken in front of the laughing lion. and the biggest source of dispute between employers and employees”) and asked: “Elena. teachers.com/. Two bronze lions flank the HSBC tower.” Afterwards she went to the big weekly gathering of Filipino maids in the financial district. who is a maid on a low salary. “I paid cash and got no receipt. ‘We now say domestic helper. I will call for the embargo on Chinese maids to be lifted” (8). “We meet here because we have nowhere else to go on our day off. opposite Bank of America. Her eventual aim was to go to Europe. a building with caretakers and a swimming pool in MidLevels.” She hoped her husband and children would join her later. For the moment I’m very happy.5% in Saudi Arabia. “No. Source: Commission on Filipinos Overseas. That gives us our dignity. 7. wives and mothers”. “Hong Kong is their dream location. labour freedom) in 183 countries. and also for Law’s family. irritated. while the other one. (2) In fact.860 ($495) (pre-financial crash value). This promotion of women in stereotyped gender roles has led millions to become domestic servants. hoping to win titles such as “most beautiful secretary”.4% in Canada). . it wouldn’t be so well fed.com/. “We employers are strongly opposed to this convention. said Law. the lion symbolises money.740 ($480).

on the island of Sylt. The German press celebrates him as “the most popular politician in the country”. the Greens established themselves as the second political power after the CDU.7m.000 people and home to 12. He has since been reemployed by EnBW.” Fischer prefers to submit his accounts to Madeleine Albright. European Green Capital 2011.000 square metre headquarters. from 19% support in Berlin in December 2009 to 30% by October 2010. and “without them. (They cost an average 3. Sitting in Carl’s with a plate of pickled herring (which he favours over the other house speciality. Müller made no secret of the fact that he has voted Green since 1997. an engineer who lives and works in HafenCity. general secretary of Hamburg’s Greens. Or does he?” If Germany’s most sought-after Green is hard to convince. pedestrian streets and cycle routes. went into freefall following the fall from grace of its golden boy. She is currently an independent consultant working with big health companies. who was Green health minister in the Schröder government. But he doesn’t want to run. also praised the “almost Biblical qualities which Joschka Fischer demonstrated as a leader”. Michael Vesper. playground of Germany’s jet-set. By doubling their share of the vote (from 11. OC . but the lots already completed are buzzing with senior managers nibbling Thai tapas on café terraces or drinking mediocre wine in expensive bars. In an editorial entitled “Are the Greens also capable of producing a chancellor?”. which lobbies for the pharmaceutical industry. became a national star. minister for foreign affairs in the Merkel government. overtaking their allies in the SPD and becoming senior partners in a coalition which is no longer “red and green” but now “green and red”. By the time the building work is complete in 2025. it’s not out of modesty or indolence. Guido Westerwelle. a concert hall that the city is financing to the tune of 351m. The Greens didn’t conceive Olivier Cyran is a journalist CARSTEN KOALL/GETTY IMAGES H Will he. The Greens also benefited from sustained attention in the media after the former prodigy of German political life. “The whole building has been designed to the strictest environmental standards. the Greens’ former secretary general in the Bundestag and former minister for housing in North Rhine-Westphalia last year participated in a seminar organised by Sponsor’s magazine and the online gaming industry. Her reinvention coincided with that of Rezzo Schlauch. presents renewable energy options on behalf of RWE. but that makes editorial writers want the “wise old man” (and gourmet) even more. she explained when she was hired. the Greens’ spokesman in the Bundestag from 1995 to 2004) include BMW. When asked how many millions his expertise earns. “With its geothermal heating. a Green member of the Bundestag for 11 years and frequent contributor to German TV discussion programmes on energy issues. the FDP (Liberal Party). His earnings there remain confidential.” However Margareta Wolf. the discount supermarket chain. Even the street names bear their mark. Until 2005 he was minister for consumer protection in Schröder’s government. with offices and apartments slotted in alongside the brick warehouses of the old Speicherstadt on the banks of the Elbe. Her colleague. there’s no salvation. He has sworn that he has ruled out a return to politics. For the first time in German history. “The party of wellbeing” (Stern). The followers of Fischerism – the “Golden Greens” – will try anything. Hamburg’s 155 hectare business district. Iraq and Turkey – the perfect retirement job for the former head of foreign policy. joined the PR firm Pleon. The ground floor atrium has even been fitted with a heat recapture system. especially to the leaders of Turkmenistan. doesn’t mean it runs counter to the principles of sustainable development. it’s really a pioneer development in terms of sustainability. the district certainly wouldn’t have this ecological dimension”.2% of the vote in Baden-Württemberg. this Dubai of the north should be a workplace to 40.) A love of nature isn’t obvious either at the nearby offices of Unilever. On television he was described as a “bearer of hope” and the “political sensation of the year”.” said Harald Müller. The direction that Fischer’s career has taken doesn’t shock his fellow Greens. The Greens have twice participated in coalitions that ran the city. which runs nuclear power stations. We got a guarantee that the ground floor of the Unilever building would be open to the public. truffle risotto). certainly has environmental credentials. but the agri-food and cosmetics giant has fitted low-energy light bulbs in its new 25.000 members of the “creative classes”. low-pollution building materials. few seem to have noticed that they’ve already been a substantial part of its regional governments for 59 years BY OLIVIER CYRAN amburg’s most fashionable district is also its greenest. but are unlikely to be less than a chancellor’s salary. The cranes are still at work in some places. nutrition and sustainable development” department. The US company Mars Incorporated put the former Green member of the Bundestag Mathias Beringer in charge of its “health.7% in 2006). as was London’s Docklands. For the past year they have also been promoting the Nabucco gas pipeline. Their impact is nowhere more evident than in HafenCity. That’s the advantage of my latest job change. Hamburg. following the example of his friend Gerhard Schröder.” said Katharina Fegebank. formerly in charge of fund-raising and relations with business for the Greens. the Greens insisted that names given to public places should respect gender equality. Germany’s second biggest provider of nuclear power. First the self-reinforcing effect of constant opinion polls helped their stock throughout 2010. Die Welt. The Greens’ habit of using their CVs as a passport to the business world has become commonplace. On 27 March 2011 the Greens won 24. Michaele Hustedt. What was important to us when we were in government was ensuring that the district was open to all the people of Hamburg so that they could walk there. he said. the richest and third most populous of Germany’s 16 states. according to the project’s promoters. a Green assumed the presidency of a regional government. which was traditionally CDU. said: “On the whole a it’s success. The rise of the Greens in the past few months is spectacular: “a mixture of Blitzkrieg and the Long March” according to their critics’ jokes. a Green member of the Bundestag for 13 years. But appearances can be deceptive: just because the “biggest urban development project in Europe” is part of the reclamation of the waste land by bankers and city whiz kids. but the buildings are very creative and I think it’s great for the image of the city. with the Social Democrat SPD (1997-2001) and the Conservative CDU (200810). though this is not immediately apparent from the foot of the Marco Polo Tower – 16 storeys of luxury apartments that look like a sliced loaf. The press enthused over the “green miracle” (Der Spiegel): “The Greens are more popular than ever” (Die Zeit). Fischer retorts: “I’m only accountable to the taxman. though back in the 1970s he was an active member of Revolutionary Struggle and was photographed striking a Frankfurt policeman. It concluded with a coy appeal: “Apart from Fischer. now lobbies on behalf of Germany’s Tobacco Industry Federation (DZV). formerly the Greens’ greatest orator in the Bundestag. Would she work for the nuclear industry? “That’s totally out of the question. Siemens and REWE. joined the staff of the communications specialists Deekeling Arndt Advisors in 2008 and consults for the nuclear industry. who sings in a church choir on Sundays. he told me. Even rightwing newspapers flatter him. 53. The Marco Polo Tower and the Unilever headquarters are the pride of HafenCity. It’s because he is in retirement. Culture will be catered for by the Elbphilharmonie. a member of the Bundestag from 2002 to 2008. Anja Hajduk. “Yes. 62. Defending smoking is a “really exciting” cause. it’s a district for high earners. and the former vice-chancellor and foreign minister of the Schröder era is the best-placed candidate on the left to succeed Angela Merkel. won’t he? German media are already debating former foreign minister Joschka Fischer’s prospects of becoming Germany’s first Green chancellor the project but they backed it all the way. who joined the Russian Gazprom group just after he lost the 2005 election. Joschka Fischer and Co (the “Co” being his associate Dietmar Huber. though: the consultancy set up by Bill Clinton’s former secretary of state has employed its German counterpart to facilitate dialogue between investors and political leaders the world over. In 2006 Andrea Fischer (no relation). Quite the reverse.” said the receptionist. big pharma’s trade body. Marianne Tritz. pointing at the glass ceiling.” Is this low-energy community of millionaires an early gain in the green revolution sweeping Germany? Leader writers have begun assessing the possibility of a Green chancellor in 2013 (see Green and golden). Fischer is “monetising” the address book he compiled during his years in office. Her colleague Norbert Schellberg is both spokesman for the Berlin Greens and defender of the interests of the Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (VFA).10 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique GREENS NOW JUST ‘NEOLIBERALS ON BIKES’ Germany goes for sustainable capitalism The Greens are likely to be a major part of the next German government. Green and golden T he recent electoral successes of Germany’s Greens and their amazing poll ratings have provoked speculation that Joschka Fischer may enter the legislative elections in 2013. flagship of the conservative Axel Springer group. the biggest area ever so equipped. “Greens already dreaming of the Chancellery” (Die Welt). green spaces. Winfried Kretschmann. The clients of his consulting company. even if the prices are high.

Rotbuch. Gregor Jaecke. In February the Greens won 9. It’s a good thing that the Greens are taking an interest in economics. The tower was built on a natural promontory in the port that gives residents a bird’s eye view of the landing stage for liners. was sie tun: die Grünen. the tax authorities were able to check up on only 31 of them. 1991-99). nitrogen dioxide and other carcinogenic particles” (6). Their spokesman Anja Hajduk. He is one of the 6. move house if their accommodation is judged too costly and obey a long list of bureaucratic stipulations on pain of losing their allowance. Hamburg’s Greens are a perfect illustration of change during the past 15 years among the party’s members and supporters. but dirty concrete blocks heated with oil. sexy party such as the Greens would not have the same regard for security and law and order as the CDU. four in Bremen (from 2007). “but we still think that it was a good idea to bring together social and unemployment benefits to encourage people back to work. He sits today on the city council as a member of Die Linke. Atom. centre-left or right. But the designers forgot that these floating palaces belch out toxic smoke that the wind blows back on to the balconies and windows of the tower.” Fegebank said.2% of the vote in the affluent Blankenese district. and run-down shops. who leads the Greens in the Bundestag.5bn into HSH Nordbank. (4) In January 2007. where more than half the electorate abstained. “The level is certainly too low. Long anchored on the left. Eberhard Diepgen. Berlin. They say: let’s see what the Greens do. “Hamburg is one of the richest cities in the country. it was different: the Greens then embodied the radical left in a West Germany opposed to communism. who left the party in 1991. When the financial crisis broke. they’re pragmatic administrators. 11 years in coalition in North Rhine-Westphalia (1995-2005 and again from 2010). Back in the 1980s. as if the suspense were unbearable … Those 59 years of experience are never subjected to detailed critical analysis. “We are going to follow the path we promised within a bourgeois society. a co-founder of the Greens. Let them get on with governing. Their combined wealth amounts to 44bn. one child in five lives below the poverty line. then HR director of the Volkswagen group and friend of Chancellor Schröder. though it is two years behind schedule and almost 200% over budget The Greens left local bigwigs of the right with fond memories.” “Anja Hajduk is a typical representative of these new Greens who have the wind in their sails. the black and green coalition collapsed. The responses of Hamburg’s Greens to Hartz IV are sometimes surprising. the Green Alternative List (or GAL. accusing it of supporting armed struggle and anti-constitutional ideas. shares in E. Süddeutsche Zeitung said mockingly (5 November 2010): “Green fever is spreading to conservative circles. or at least not for the Greens.” One of his major complaints against his former colleagues is their lack of action in fiscal matters.” he said. she voted with all her party colleagues to lower taxation for the most affluent households. (6) “Luxusprobleme in Hamburg” (Luxury problem in Hamburg). “Vote Green? Me? Do you take me for an idiot?” said Joachim Riepke. It wasn’t a revolution. You can’t say no otherwise it’s goodbye to your benefit.” The CDU’s Jaecke confirmed that: “We had a fairly strict stance on public order questions. “We asked for 150 additional tax inspectors to be taken on (5). she came out with a decisive argument: “Such a reform could only have been launched by a red and green alliance. On a wave of dazzling opinion poll ratings. centrist” orientation he says he shares (1). by raising nursery charges for example. whom I met as he was mending his scooter on the pavement.” Ditfurth calculates. “Hamburg may be European Green Capital. though that party was in poor shape everywhere else.L MD Kretschmann’s success was important enough to register on the stock market: the day after the Green victory. Krieg. two years before its term was up. None of those promises has been kept. the Greens completely accepted them. the reform (4) now serves as a model to reformers in France and elsewhere who want to replace a system of handouts with a system in which wage earners do without wages. reformulated in the language of budgetary orthodoxy. 26 of Germany’s 300 richest people live in Hamburg.” Leader writers have begun assessing the possibility of a Green chancellor in 2013. Devised by Peter Hartz. but two months ago they called me in to wash dishes in an old people’s home for two weeks.” Driven by the conviction that “the economy and ecology are made for mutual understanding”. “The most drastic cut in social security since 1949” was what the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called it when it was presented (on 30 June 2004). The planned closure of nuclear power stations is their achievement. four in Lower Saxony (1990-94). But radioactive leaks in Japan don’t explain the transformation of a protest group into a “neoliberal party on bikes”. but it also has one of the highest poverty rates. Would you want me to vote for that?” By “that”. 14 April 2011. a “breath of fresh air” for Marco Polo’s residents contains the equivalent of the emissions from “50. and that is a value that we share. If the CDU and the FDP had taken the initiative. Entrepreneurs and the rich are making eyes at the Greens. 11. “Domestic security questions were in the hands of our conservative allies. Working class districts are less tempted. since the less ecological markets soon surpassed their previous level. The number of tax inspectors is inadequate: in 2010. Now BadenWürttemberg’s new head says he is “neither of the left nor the right” and has cordial relations with Erwin Teufel.” said Fegebank. will be Hamburg’s tallest building. envisions herself running the capital and is not ruling out any possible partner. ANDREAS RENTZ/GETTY IMAGES Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 11 The Elbphilharmonie. nine years in Schleswig-Holstein (1996-2005). Even Chancellor Merkel has acknowledged she would not rule out a Green-Christian Democrat alliance after the legislative elections in 2013. In the early 1980s the CDU came close to calling for the disbanding of the Green Party. Here there are no cycle tracks and lofts with geothermal heating. the leader of Hamburg’s CDU. black symbolises the right) – shows that such a relationship is no longer outlandish. the scrapping of a coal-fired power station project and an ambitious education reform to set up a single type of primary school for all.” The list is long: seven years as part of Gerhard Schröder’s federal government (1998-2005). Renate Künast. rushed to aid the Hapag-Lloyd shipping group and took measures to cajole investors. equal to half the city’s GDP. out of 627 taxpayers who declared an annual income of over 1m. We have the same concerns about tomorrow: we have it in the Christian sense of respect for life and they have it in the more modern sense of sustainable development. but poor families don’t vote. the Greens did not have an attractive record. “That’s a total of 59 years of governmental experience. According to the latest league table in Manager magazine. Peter Hartz received a two-year suspended sentence and a fine of 576.” The fat cats who live in Marco Polo Tower may not vote Green in the elections. Hamburg. the Jobcentre is leaving me in peace. Der Spiegel. But Hartz IV set a record that will be hard to beat: its architects fixed the single allowance at such a low level that the constitutional court in Karlsruhe partially outlawed it last October. judging that the families who received it could not meet their children’s basic needs. Here. Was sie reden. It’s an astonishing position given that the Greens have already been in government on many occasions.3%) into power.000 lorries travelling at 130kmph.” When the debate became heated. “The Greens fully understood that a climate of confidence had to be restored. At the moment. when it will be tested in Berlin’s municipal elections. According to an investigation by Der Spiegel. six in Hamburg (1997-2001. (3) Jutta Ditfurth. She is astonished in her new book (3) at the attractiveness of her former colleagues: “Some commentators sound as though they have been living on Mars for the past 25 years. Berlin’s former CDU mayor. under construction in HafenCity. (5) In Germany. Armut. The school reform was rejected by the electorate in a referendum in July 2010. 2008-10). unemployed. four in Saxony-Anhalt (1994-98). That scenario could become a reality next October. BMW and Volkswagen. “I’ve never been convinced by the right-left divide. 2011. the local CDU’s leading light.” Jaecke said. it would have caused a revolution.” In Hamburg last February the electorate punished the incumbent majority (21. TRANSLATED BY GEORGE MILLER (1) Tagblatt Online. but above all it’s the tax evasion capital of Germany. Weren’t there any issues on which they disagreed? Perhaps a young. created by amalgamating the unemployment benefit and social security systems. to quote Jutta Ditfurth. “It’s doubtless in their own interests that the media pretend to regard the Greens as new and inexperienced and hold their breath to see how they will behave now they are in power. “Three hundred and fifty-nine euros a month. Piepke means the SPD-Green majority. The coalition agreement with the right in 2008 contained plans for a tram system.9% voted for the CDU. two in Saarland (from 2009) and two in Berlin (1989-90 and 200102). as did those of Daimler. typifies this change: she had never been an activist “other than voting Green” before she got her party membership card in 1995.” The Fukushima effect undoubtedly helped the rise of the Greens. And you have to work for almost nothing. Apart from walks in the HafenCity.” Kretschmann was careful to reassure them on the night of his victory. recalled: “Being Green means having a taste for life. Middleclass Germany frowned at grüne Chaoten (green vandals) who claimed they were tackling social justice and environmental issues. a psychologist.on and RWE – Germany’s two main nuclear energy companies – fell slightly.000 from the court in Braunschweig for having given bribes to and treated members of the Volkswagen works council to travel and prostitutes. Hamburg – the first German administration to try a “black and green” coalition (in Germany. which monitors the top 10 green investments. but the Greens wouldn’t hear of it. has already begun his courtship: “We have enough in common to make plans for a government with the Greens” (2). The rise of the Greens in the past few months is spectacular: ‘a mixture of Blitzkrieg and the Long March’ according to their critics’ jokes The 2008 coalition agreement attests to that “taste for life”.” said Norbert Hackbusch. with significant quantities of sulphur dioxide.2% for the Greens) and voted the SPD (48. bereft of passion and totally indifferent to social issues. Hartz IV forces those eligible to take “one-euro jobs”. who left the Greens in 1999 after 16 years.7 million Germans within the Hartz IV system. which in 2005 set up the harshest unemployment benefit system in Europe. The lost tax revenues amount to hundreds of millions of euros. The tram project collapsed under budget cuts after the financial crisis of 2008 and the power station construction went ahead following a legal ruling. whose “moderate. “but there weren’t any problems. Following internal tensions caused by this failure. who saw their tax burden fall from 53% to 42% during the Schröder years. They pumped 1. at last able to capitalise on their opposition to a nuclear industry that most Germans don’t want.” He admitted that “a sector of the middle-class electorate which forms the base of the CDU are today tempted to vote for the Greens”. but after examining them. (2) Der Tagesspiegel. Berlin. budget control falls within the responsibility of the Länder. Greens and Christian Democrats immediately agreed to rein in public spending. Elected to the Bundestag in 2002. . Multi-millionaires poisoned by luxury cruises: sustainable development has some surprising twists. 5 March 2010. as the local Hamburg party used to be known) saw some of its long-term members walk out in 1999 in protest at the federal authorities’ decision to approve German participation in Nato’s Kosovo campaign. That’s why the need for a balanced economic policy is acknowledged more by the Greens than the SPD. but only 6% in the poor suburbs of Rothenburgsort. jumped eight points. Germany’s most leftwing party. The ÖkoDAX. 10 years in Hesse (1985-87. 32. The abandonment of pacifism and loss of members left the way clear for a new generation of wealthy and educated activists favourably disposed towards institutions and business circles. 7 November 2010.

In the late 1960s factories (Pirelli. This renewed interest is modest compared with the flood of writings on Islamic terrorism. which united activists fighting against Franco on either side of the Pyrenees. This distance from the field leads to over-interpretation of public statements made by the terrorists themselves. Spain. an individual. Not all the scars have healed. or for which they claimed responsibility. or between the RAF and the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions. It was wrong.” These are the closing lines of La Prima Linea. The prevalent analysis needs to be seen in relation to the positions of those producing it – somewhere between the academic world. when a protagonist has gained sufficient authority for his statements to be considered the official line. There are reports by investigative journalists. the organisations that use it and the careers of the militants who make up those organisations.) Rouillan. You are not unreal to yourself. banned in June 1973 after an attack on a far-right meeting. the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in Turkey. a founding member of Action Directe. like in Greece or in Chile. the far left became weaker. Yet only a few individuals actually engage in violent action. The first acts – destruction of foremen’s cars or kidnapping of senior managers – reflected the social makeup of the armed groups. explosives. But these are not reliable guides to the reasons for involvement in terrorism. Of the 1. one must first question its apparent unity. are perfectly real. Raids. and the media. political and moral responsibilities. La Prima Linea’s membership had a higher proportion of unemployed people and students. a film based on the autobiography of Sergio Segio. marked by antagonism between highly politicised young people who were denied any political responsibilities. for the rise of Hitler. eyewitness accounts by repentant radical Muslims and former intelligence agents. many of those used by Action Directe had belonged to Spanish republicans in exile in France. The situation was different in France. it began a slow decline. In 1977 Napap and Internationalist Groups for Revolutionary Action established Action Directe. but this does not mean they were “joined by a red thread” (controlled by the Soviet Union) or that they were pursuing the same objectives. Their long years in prison and their often critical views of their past actions seem to make it acceptable to empathise with them now. Very few people felt nostalgia for the Vichy regime. money) and competencies available. you become a ghost. Mario Moretti. newspapers). 70% were factory workers. It is more a matter of providing an aid to political decision-making in the face of a threat presented as imminent. But we didn’t know it at the time. Most describe a “new” kind of terrorism. the Communist Party and the Radical Party of the Left in 1972 focused reformist energies and opened the way for individual political conversion. keeping their investigations separate from other social sciences.) Except for a few experts on Muslim society. decided and gave out their sentences. were carried out between 1978 and 1982. 78% in 1975). though the French intelligence services had considered it to be a key factor during the conflict. I bear the judicial. Today. director of terrorism studies at the University of East London. to an army in rags and espadrilles. disbanded in November 1973 after hesitating over more radical action – the kidnapping (then release) of a senior manager of Renault in retaliation for the killing of the Maoist militant Pierre Overney. from an existential point of view. your comrades. Segio confirms this: “I grew up with the idea that they were preparing a coup. The Communist League. a former member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism. This decline pushed some militants towards armed conflict. founding member of the Italian armed group La Prima Linea in the late 1970s (1). I carry all these victims. In Italy it mainly involved factory workers. and the press is no longer afraid to interview them. Interest in terrorism has grown since 9/11. public sector organisations (national or international commissions and thinktanks). It is to others that you must cease to exist’ Italy and Germany had the biggest radical movements partly because. 29 December 1973 press conference by men claiming to represent ETA nine days after the organisation killed Spain’s prime minister Carrero Blanco Laurent Bonelli is a lecturer in political science at the University of Paris-X-Nanterre and a member of Le Monde diplomatique’s editorial team the intelligence services (of which they have been members or with which they have close relations). Egypt and Saudi Arabia). the religious aspect of Algeria’s war of liberation was glossed over once the country gained independence. Radicalisation takes different forms. even the indirect ones. very few French militants engaged in violence. Andrew Silke. On his release in 2004. a new dictator and his cohorts were already waiting for their opportunity. a friend of Salvador Puig Antich. but there were also a high proportion of factory workers among the 923 members who were prosecuted (4). and hundreds of academic books and articles.” Between 1969 and 1975. Mauritania). in the case of the Weimar Republic. and your relationships with them are all the more intense. than of being attentive to the dynamics of conflict. could once again assert itself in [the former West Germany]. the most significant being the assassination of Jean-Antoine Tramoni. Some Maoist-inspired groups emerged: the International Brigades (197477) claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on representatives of authoritarian foreign governments (Bolivia. which helped to familiarise a whole generation of militants with armed combat and made all kinds of resources (weapons. In Germany most members of the RAF were recruited among students and intellectuals from the petty bourgeoisie. There may have been occasional contacts between Italian militants and Action Directe. Many of the Red Brigades’ weapons had been used by resistance fighters during the second world war (including the sub-machine gun that jammed during the kidnapping of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro). most researchers study Islamic radicalism as if it were an independent phenomenon.337 people convicted of being members of the Red Brigades. It would be absurd to suppose that the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Algeria and Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia have the same motivations just because both may have agreed to place themselves under the banner of al-Qaida. Siemens) were riven by social conflict and saw the emergence of “armed propaganda”. behind the façade of their multiparty parliamentary republic. the Armed Cells for Popular Autonomy (Napap) launched a series of attacks in 1977 on public institutions and major corporations. directly or indirectly. The memoirs of former militants are being published. (For instance. They believed that “the tendency to use physical violence that had led. Iran. In fact. one thing was clear to us: they were on the offensive. religious or class) is often determined in retrospect. but the motivations for it are not well understood: the transition from radicalisation to violence is neither systematic nor inevitable BY LAURENT BONELLI “T oday. international jihadists are able to draw on the struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Explanations of recourse to violence as the expression of a pathology or death wish are simplistic. to the establishment of an autocratic regime founded on force. they had already started. Their approach to “terrorist-ology” recalls that of the “sovietologists” who claimed to be able to explain the Soviet Union on the basis of speeches made by party leaders. writes in his memoirs: “As the heirs to three decades of guerrilla warfare.” The bombing gave credence to fears that the Italian government could become more authoritarian. the far right’s efforts to keep Algeria French had collapsed. Interior ministers and their accredited experts have expressed concern over a “return of the radical left”. and their seniors. France’s Action Directe. writes in Brigate Rosse: “After the Piazza Fontana bombing [of the National Agricultural Bank in Milan in December 1969 which killed 16 and injured 100]. I see a person. 20 years after the second world war. 80% of the research is based solely on secondary sources (books. most of the bombing and political violence was carried out by right-wing groups (95% between 1969 and 1973. after 22 years in prison. The Proletarian Left. It would also be odd to put the groups of a few dozen or a few hundred radicalised individuals being discussed here under the same heading as militarised political organisations with a strong social and territorial base. The sociologist Norbert Elias contends that the emergence of an extraparliamentary opposition in the late 1960s owed much to an inter-generational social conflict. only 1% is based on interviews and no systematic investigations have been conducted among jihadists (3). I accept all three. The Common Programme of Government signed by the Socialist Party. The emergence of jihadist groups in the 1990s was linked to the inability of Islamist political movements to attain power (particularly in Algeria.12 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique STRUGGLES THAT CHANGE LITTLE IN THE REAL WORLD The secret lives of terrorists European groups who took part in violence in the 1970s and 80s did not gain the wide popular support they had hoped for. As the uncertainties caused by the events of May-June 1968 dissipated and the political situation stabilised. 85% in 1974. Uruguay. To understand political violence. Ilich Ramírez Sánchez (“Carlos”) and the Japanese Red Army (2). (It became active as an urban guerrilla organisation in 1979. abandoned street confrontations for activism in the factories. … They drew a great part of their reformist or revolutionary determination from the idea that. and that the police of the Federal Republic were the advance guard” (5). behind every death. and their promotions or demotions.” There have also been films about Germany’s Red Army Faction (RAF). the Renault security guard who had shot Overney. the fear of a return to fascism was greater there than elsewhere. who monopolised them. But the content of all this writing is disappointing: according to Silke. The significance of a conflict (nationalist. Segio said: “We thought what we were doing was right. magazines. banned in 1970. In Italy there has been an outcry over Brazil’s refusal to extradite Cesare Battisti. claims that since 9/11 a new book on terrorism has been published in English every six hours (The Guardian. in my heart. The best way to analyse political violence would be to connect the contexts in which it occurs. Compared with the Italians and the Germans. executed by the Spanish dictatorship in 1974. forging identity papers and robbing banks to finance the struggle were well-tested practices. so different from past forms of political violence that few try to compare their mechanisms. to hopes written in powder and lead” (7). too. service industry workers or students. The philosopher AFP/GETTY IMAGES . although the EU considers them to be terrorist organisations. we were still spinning the thin thread that joined us to an epic struggle. 3 July 2007). a senior Red Brigade leader. Because I am one of those who proposed. which disconcerted those members most in favour of violence (6). ‘In the end. Under the new name of Revolutionary Communist League. was revoked after an interview he gave in 2008. In France the semi-freedom accorded to JeanMarc Rouillan. The main reason for the cycles of violence seen in Europe and Japan between the late 1960s and the late 1980s was the decline of powerful social movements. And that they were going to kill us. In Germany the younger generations considered those who held political power to have been responsible. These genealogies conferred moral legitimacy and allowed the transmission of skills. such as Hamas in Palestine. It was only later that armed far-left groups became more active: nearly 80% of lethal bombings attributed to them.

of coercion. are perfectly real. your words go unheeded. 1982). Paris. This legitimises further repression through special legislation. saw the armed resistance as people whose “social behaviour borders on a love of death” (9). and especially the family group. results in the demonisation of clandestine groups and increases the distance between them and the social movements whose support they hope for. This is the case among Basque. This brings violence a step closer. If only … because there was far too much pressure to recant in the conditions of my imprisonment over the last 17 years” (11). (6) Romain Goupil’s film Mourir à Trente Ans (To Die at 30. Our hypothesis was disproved. maintaining one’s dignity would require taking up arms against an illegitimate regime and the violence it perpetrated” (10). In 1975 investigators in Padua discovered a manual with the title “Security Standards and Working Practices”. … from an existential point of view. Sikh. Solidarity among young people who have grown up in the same neighbourhood can hold a group together. Polity Press 1996. often linked. There is nothing left for the militants but flight. As Silke writes in “Holy Warriors”. but they are never able to make it falter. hunted like animals. Small circles of friends who develop shared perceptions of society can also gradually radicalise the individual. … But I’ve no reason to recant. Small armed groups do still have the ability to strike at agents or symbols of the state. says: “I was born into a family of resistance fighters. but the attacks do not prompt them to join the struggle and may also lead to severe repression. your comrades. and is often codified. reconnoitring for a future operation or starting from scratch again after a wave of arrests. La Révolution et l’Etat: Insurrections et Contre-insurrection dans l’Italie de l’Après-68.” The accounts of some of the wives and companions of those responsible for the 2004 Madrid bombings depict a gradual closing-off. Paris. Aux Sources du Terrorisme: de la Petite Guerre aux Attentats-suicides. Agone. the process has almost nothing to do with established jihadists”. at least when they are recruited. but that still didn’t help us see the way forward. This formulation is reminiscent of that used by officials in the service of the Argentine dictatorship who. Their methods encounter the same obstacles as the “propaganda of the deed” preached by late 19th-century anarchists. obtaining something on behalf of those we represented?” Increasing violence. culminating in complete isolation. Urgency can takes precedence over strategy when a group is procuring weapons. “We knew we were stuck. documentary by Pierre Carles and Georges Minangoy (2005). It is relational: foreign policy. Derive Approdi. plays a crucial role. Marseilles. counting on a surge that never came. Rome. The clandestine life requires total commitment: changing one’s name. today via internet forums – and then take action are extremely rare. of torture. These choices are less often the result of manipulation by the secret services than of a mechanism that is almost impossible to escape. Fairly large sections of society may approve of attacks on representatives of the state. Those responsible for the London bombings of 7 July 2005 were not devout Muslims and only asked al-Qaida for ideological support when they were about to execute their plan. Ni Vieux ni Traîtres (Neither Old nor Traitors). are needed. Political violence is almost never the work of a single group. the use of the telephone and even sexual relations. even to the militants’ closest sympathisers. (8) Hélène L’Heuillet. Those whose convictions are less firm drift away as the central core become more cohesive and more strongly united by their shared beliefs. “It is not by the efforts of al-Qaida recruiters that individuals are radicalised. prison or death. In 2006 the Spanish Civil Guard found a similar manual used by ETA. which set out regulations covering every aspect of the day-to-day life of members of the Red Brigades. Buenos Aires. The Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Security becomes a central element of clandestine life.” writes Moretti. They had been naturalised after 1927 and. 28 August 2004. What was the point of our strategy if we could no longer count on being engaged in constant tactical negotiations – imposing this or negotiating that. Action Directe militant Joëlle Aubron summed up this tension: “Many of us were expecting. These groups needed to be selective in their recruitment. a senior security figure in the Communist League. too. According to Moretti: “If you don’t open up a breach in your opponent’s defences. Some of the tactical choices made in haste have seemed incomprehensible. Kurdish and Palestinian militants. 2009. The experience of clandestine existence made it difficult to abandon friends who had been arrested. op cit. film by Koji Wakamatsu (2008). (2) The Baader Meinhof Complex. But these regulations have not always been obeyed: militants have often been arrested following an amorous escapade or after making contact with a sick mother. whether reprisals against the law or attacks on senior government representatives. May 2011. film by Renato de Maria (2009) based on Sergio Segio’s autobiography Miccia Corta: una Storia di Prima Linea. it is common for several generations to take part in armed action. Dagorno. In the end. The first is the actions of the public authorities. by the RAF). even by raising the level of lethal violence. which follows the career of Michel Recanati. replenishing the coffers. So I grew up with the idea that. Moretti writes in Brigate Rosse: “Survival depends on the rapidity with which you are able to move around. It is not the propaganda of clandestine organisations that attracts new members. 2005. as may be seen from the example of ETA in Spain. (11) Libération. (7) Jean-Marc Rouillan. vol 5. cutting all links with one’s past life. The carabineers who attended the scene found electricity and gas bills with addresses in the car. That much is clear. both because of the way they function and for their own protection. TRANSLATED BY CHARLES GOULDEN (1) La Prima Linea. by a nihilist negation that offers them nothing less than the opportunity to take part in the destruction of a hated world” (8). or control measures seen as persecutory or discriminatory count for at least as much as the strategies of radical organisations. gives a fairly good account of this period. Two other factors. as on 9/11. . finding places to hide materials. Confederation of German Employers’ Associations president. You are not unreal to yourself. Cambridge. often to escape the law after minor infractions. suddenly. far in excess of the sentences given to non-political prisoners. from meals to clothing. whether they are fanatics or members of a military organisation. Claude Halfen. “Holy Warriors: Exploring the Psychological Processes of Jihadi Radicalization”. Paris. in 1978. you become a ghost. De Mémoire (2) — Le Deuil de l’Innocence: un Jour de Septembre 1973 à Barcelone. until his suicide in 1978. It is to others that you must cease to exist. a member of Action Directe. forms of war. and this prevented them from reaching the critical mass that would have allowed them to force political negotiations. London. January 2008. Fayard. Le Monde diplomatique en español. in 1941 they found themselves stateless again. Carlos the Jackal. Released from prison in 2004 after developing terminal cancer. 2009. Continuing the struggle is seen as a way to improve conditions for prisoners. the intensification of surveillance measures.L MD Hélène L’Heuillet writes: “Terrorists. at some point. (9) Quoted by Gabriel Rot in “La construcción del sinsentido”. 2000. (5) Norbert Elias. In long-term conflicts. hostage-taking (by the RAF at the West German embassy in Stockholm and during the hijacking of a Lufthansa plane in 1975) or the kidnapping of celebrities (Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades and Hans Martin Schleyer. This was the case for Khaled Kelkal (implicated in the 1995 bombings in France) and for some members of ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) in Spain and the IRA in Northern Ireland. forging identity papers. The group. with which you can permanently change your life. give up their lives in the service of death because they are convinced. (4) Figures from Paolo Persichetti and Oreste Scalzone. The same is true of friendship. (3) Andrew Silke. and your relationships with them are all the more intense. film by Uli Edel (2008). so loyalty demanded attacks on prisons (Prima Linea’s on the prison at Rovigo in Italy in 1982). Involvement in violence is initially collective: individuals who become radicalised in isolation – in the past by reading. European Journal of Criminology. All the hideouts used ALFREDO CALIZ/PANOS Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 13 Ready to shoot: armed Hamas militants pose for a photograph in a house in the Gaza Strip by the Revolutionary Left Movement in Chile were discovered in 1971 when a group of drunken militants were in a road accident. no 1. even from closest friends and relatives. The second factor is the transition to a clandestine life. Familial memory of struggles encourages participation in and legitimises violence. The process by which ideologically radicalised groups turn to violence is neither systematic nor inevitable. United Red Army. Irish. … my grandparents were denaturalised. (10) Witness account in Ni Vieux ni Traîtres. TV mini-series by Olivier Assayas (2010).000 suspected terrorists in 1971 pushed hundreds of young nationalists into joining the IRA. In Northern Ireland the arbitrary internment of nearly 2.

and opinionmakers imagine it. Treisman then covers the same chronological ground again. He defines TMC. Since she was elected chief minister of West Bengal. When I called him to ask about it. since Russia now stood roughly where it belonged in the international Tony Wood is deputy editor of the New Left Review and author of Chechnya: the Case for Independence. “the understudy”. whose programme and prospects remain unclear. Despite that. In The Return. On Mother Teresa Street (7) in the city centre. But flattering an electorate with a broad range of interests may overstretch her.000 jobs. an academic. liberal democracy was being consolidated. deep-rooted bureaucratic tendencies). Lakshmi and her family live under a tarpaulin on the street. with posters. it suddenly made a U-turn in 2001 and evicted poor farmers to make way for industrial projects. So anyone can settle here and feel at home. 42. a reference to the book by Dominique Lapierre (2). the authorities tried unsuccessfully to ban this anachronism. The loss of public goods such as health care. the country seems to have taken a step backwards into the authoritarian past. but managed to improvise policies that held the country together. In Calcutta people are able to start a new life with a new identity. taking disciplinary action where necessary. who comes from a simple background and lives alone with her mother. 2007 T BY TONY WOOD economic hierarchy. While the mismanaged economic reforms of the 1980s – and the reluctance of previous Soviet leaders to overhaul the decaying industrial base – pushed the Soviet Union towards the abyss. his narrative ultimately lines up with the mainstream of western liberal opinion. Sometimes they flee violence. away from social conformity. where they clean. Boris Yeltsin. Now 13. family feuds. “If you’re from a Cédric Gouverneur is a journalist C BY CÉDRIC GOUVERNEUR lowly caste. Treisman portrays the disintegration of the USSR as a contingent process. the economic transformations of the 1990s. improved over the decade. chief TMC member of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly. but man is greater still. as measured by purchases of televisions and domestic appliances. For the past decade this coalition of leftwing parties had adopted neoliberal policies. A banner on the concourse proclaims “Welcome to the City of Joy”. Now. One child is mentally handicapped and another has a nasty eye infection. you can change your name legally for 700 rupees [about $16] (6). who had inherited a “disaster” that was “worse than most people realised”.2 million cram into its greater urban zone and more arrive every day alcutta airport is run-down compared with airports in “India Shining” (1) growth areas such as New Delhi. Treisman seeks to give an accurate portrait of Russia as it is.000 to 6.” A third of Calcutta’s 4. he said the title was meant to express the “courage. in power since 1977. Daniel Treisman’s The Return seeks to fill that gap by charting “Russia’s journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev” (2). which they sell for a rupee a kilo. near the McDonald’s. Makranj. The language is the same. Like many mainstream accounts of Russia since 1991. in 2008. who face the arrogance of corrupt government officials daily. with chapters on the personalities and trajectories of Russia’s presidents: Mikhail Gorbachev. education. employment. “Didi” says she will attract investors and promises to turn Calcutta into a city “like London or Hong Kong”. People in the countryside try to escape economic stagnation in the villages and the pressures of the caste system and religion. and many people’s quality of life. turning up unannounced at hospitals and police stations to observe the mismanagement of public services. Treisman’s book is premised on the idea that under Yeltsin. But there have been relatively few attempts to come to terms with the Russian experience since the unravelling of the Soviet Union in 1991.000 rupees a month back to his wife and four children in the village. She cleans “rich people’s houses” for 100-120 rupees a day. and the infrastructure was enough for a smallish European provincial city. said Lapierre: “Millions of people have been catapulted by wars and climatic disasters to a city built for 300. which argued that post-Soviet Russia. “The Left Front was left only in name. Calcutta’s new idol hen the Communist-led government of West Bengal. I saw a barefoot old man pulling a paunchy young customer. and a bribe to the police will prevent expulsion. In the 2000s. she has been constantly in the limelight.500 slums are illegal (8).000 people. directly or indirectly. For 3. who has been pulling rickshaws for 15 years. he insists. flags and a song. Treisman was co-author of a polemical article “A Normal Country” (3). are not mentioned. He rents his rickshaw for 150 rupees ($3. was not as bad as is often supposed: the steep drop in GDP is an unreliable indicator.” A cult has sprung up around Banerjee.40) a week. shop and tend the garden instead of paying rent. Bengalis. Verso. rather than as western policy. are delighted. But with the market reforms of the 1990s this sense of contingency all but disappears: he argues that there was no realistic alternative to the course adopted by Yeltsin. His own people live in a house in the countryside. it is easy to cross the border illegally. The ideological underpinnings of this approach are clear: the liberalising reforms of the 1990s should be judged a success. He shares a room with three other pullers “in the house of a rich family”. a regional offshoot of the Congress Party. intuitively navigating the political and economic crisis. or Naxalite guerrillas (5). rather than being afflicted with unique historical burdens (the legacy of autocracy. near Calcutta. the wars in Chechnya. The low cost Tata Nano car is now being built in Gujarat. The voters had tired of a fossilised system. The police often chase them away but the family just sets up elsewhere.14 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique ‘WELCOME TO THE CITY OF JOY’ Calcutta: running on empty The megalopolis of eastern India was built for 300. . London. where it has created 10.” The investors also understood that “Left Front brutality was going nowhere”. is known for her strong personality and impulsive nature. but he considers himself lucky. “The people felt betrayed.” Calcutta may have proportionately fewer slums than Mumbai. was elected in 1977 it carried out massive agricultural reforms that benefited millions of farmers. corruption and ballot rigging. as a centre-left party. a human rights activist and member of West Bengal’s electoral committee. Yet there had been nothing Marxist-Leninist about the Left Front. According to Sobhandeb Chottopadhay. resilience and dynamism” of the slum-dwellers whose daily lives he described: “As Tagore (3) once said.2 million for the entire urban area) lives in the slums. “Here the only thing that matters is status. CG POWER IN BUSINESS. The passenger wore western clothes and was tapping away on his smartphone. has a range of developmental problems shared by many middle-income countries: corruption. Treisman seeks to counter the idea that upsurges of nationalism pulled the USSR apart: its citizens only turned to support newly formed nationalist forces after it became clear that the Soviet system was beginning to break down. A minority come from neighbouring Bangladesh. He positions himself between neoliberal ideologues who ascribe Russia’s problems to the idea that market reforms were not pursued vigorously enough and those who blame the reforms for the country’s ills (4). The rickshaw pullers are the most obvious example.” Economic growth has not contained the flow. He begins with a political history of the last two decades. and do not care about democracy he 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 brought many books about the demise of regimes east of the Iron Curtain (1). On 14 March 2007 police shot dead 14 people protesting against a special economic zone in W the village of Nandigram. Sometimes the police extort money from him or clients ill-treat him. repeating the standard story of lonely visionaries pushing the boulder of liberal democracy up the slope of Russian reality. not on a pavement corner in Calcutta. but poor harvests forced him to leave.000. but with no alternative employment the thousands of rickshaw pullers fiercely opposed the move. the ratio is 55% (4). local powers. “People wanted change and in Mamata they found the person to incarnate that change. In Mumbai. The outcome. After telling her (drunken) husband to shut up. and the NGO Samaritans estimates that a thousand new migrants settle in the urban agglomeration every day. POWER IN POLITICS Who rules Russia? What has really mattered in Russia in the past 20 years has been the rise of a new elite who control the government and the money. represented as a flawed hero. and Russia’s relations with the West. told me that he used to be a smallholder farmer in the neighbouring state of Bihar. but attempts broader analytical syntheses: the dynamics driving the Soviet collapse.000 people. the dubious beneficiary of a favourable economic climate. she told me her story. economic vulnerabilities.000 and 4. and Dmitri Medvedev. it was “accidents and bungling responses to them” that tipped it over the edge. Yet though this stance is designed to lend his arguments the authority of an independent observer. More than 3.500 of Calcutta’s 5. When the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Some areas only have one latrine and one water fountain for 5. The only megalopolis in eastern India. but its poverty seems more visible. Banerjee. Having refusing private investment for years. weak institutions. the country’s economic pulse. the liberal media celebrated.000 rupees ($68). One consequence of the farmers’ revolt was that Tata withdrew from a project to set up a car factory in Singur. Treisman’s approach had the merit of trying to make discussion of Russia less prone to cold war stereotypes or appeals to the Russian soul. and the atrophying of social solidarity. lost the elections this May. Many of his conclusions are unexceptional – a chapter is dedicated to the discovery that a president’s popularity correlates closely with the economic cycle – although there are some contrarian moments: he gives a sympathetic hearing to Russian grievances about Nato expansion and the hypocrisies of US foreign policy. Her thin children collect and sort garbage. The post-Soviet transition was a gradual process of alignment with patterns common to other states in Russia’s income bracket. Even leftwing intellectuals voted for Banerjee. It attracted economic migrants and refugees fleeing famine (1943) or war (1947 and 1971).5 million inhabitants (13. “history’s most successful failure”. while under Putin. or CPI(M). Makranj manages to send between 3.” said Patrick Ghose. In the end. Treisman vindicatesYeltsin’s reforms. Bangalore or Hyderabad. She has used farmers’ protests against industrial projects badly handled by the Left Front. and its capacity is exhausted. Calcutta has been a magnet for surrounding rural populations since the British founded it at the end of the 17th century. Any sense of the deeper ideological drive behind the transformations of the 1990s is missing. or “Didi” (sister) as she is known. After that it gradually lapsed into clientelism. however tenuously.” said Biplab Halim. adversity is great. which was why Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress (TMC) seemed to represent the people’s interests far better. “She was able to federate voters from different segments of Bengali society”. Aid workers say that some policemen blackmail woman for sexual favours by threats of expulsion. Vladimir Putin.

and business districts where the call centres and computer companies so typical of Indian capitalism For what was being consolidated in Russia was not democracy but capitalism. (3) Published with Andrei Shleifer in Foreign Affairs. 2001. Cambridge University Press.” said a Samaritans representative. The men. 2009. there seem to be more feasts and celebrations than anywhere else. cobblers. reinforce an image of destitution. Washington. while commercial considerations often dictate the allocation of state assets and offices. Anatomiia rossiiskoi elity (Anatomy of the Russian elite). The strength of the social and human ties there helps to compensate for the harsh living conditions. In Delhi or Mumbai it costs three times as much. “India’s undeclared war”. Moscow. tailors. Ecco. (6) Indian family names often reveal a person’s caste. corporations – whether private or state-owned – have a proportionally greater weight in the local economy.” In 1985 many of Calcutta’s richer inhabitants claimed to have no knowledge of the situation in the slums. Government personnel are recruited from business. India”. But what is striking about the Russian elite today is not any dominance of capital by the state. seen as a symptom of re-nationalisation – the economic counterpart of the increasing presence of security service personnel in government under Putin. “In Calcutta you can get a bowl of rice and vegetables for 5 rupees. and to support Yeltsin’s repeated subversions of the constitution – most notably when he bombed parliament in 1993. the slums are often self-sufficient. That’s a reality that shining India’s middle classes prefer to ignore. Maxim Kantor – ‘State’ (1993) hyphenated term points to the distinctive character of this new elite. Because of their density and low production costs. But the decisive influence. or fish for 16.cityofjoyaid. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. That was one reason the Communists lost to Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) (see Calcutta’s new idol). Robert Service. has been the persistence of high oil and gas prices since 2000. The rouble crash of 1998 shifted the foundations of this elite structure. (6) Olga Kryshtanovskaia. but the interpenetration of the two. 2004. December 2007. Revolution 1989: the Fall of the Soviet Empire. I’d rather not think about what might happen the day a leader of Gandhi’s stature calls on people to revolt. Yukos. focusing on the ways in which the country’s course has been shaped by the class project of its new elite. the fortunes of the entrepreneurs were linked to high-value exports – metals. 2007. asked Aveek Sen. and vice versa. (2) The Return: Russia’s Journey from Gorbachev to Medvedev. Comrades: a History of World Communism. The Yeltsin and Putin Legacies. New York. in office in West Bengal from 1977 to May 2011. English edition. Washington. 2009. their poor record in office having contributed to the city’s decline. While many large corporations in key sectors are majority state-owned. The metro? Too expensive. the Bengali writer. “Well a certain India does project itself to the West the way the West expects to see it. they are run as profit-maximising ventures – not so much vehicles for redistributing national wealth as instruments for the enrichment of a particular member or section of the elite.” said Lapierre. New York. The Rise and Fall of Communism. An alternative reading of Russia’s postCommunist metamorphoses would place these capitalist interests at its centre. weakening banking and finance while strengthening producers oriented to the domestic market. according to Lapierre. “You’ve heard of Edward Said’s Orientalism?” (10). www.” said Lapierre. washerwomen and small retailers. because most slum dwellers do work. Victor Sebestyen. The City of Joy. Then many go off to work. 2000. with ironed shirts. and made into a film in 1992 by Roland Joffé. commemorative plaques and marble-engraved quotes. a nun of Albanian origin. where large . “I’ve seen poor uprooted people really despair in the Bronx slums of New York. (4) Data from the Census of India 2001 and 2011. 1979. unless Russia experiences a popular awakening to match that in the Arab world. (9) Kalpana Sharma’s Rediscovering Dharavi. shoe-shiners. She was criticised for her opposition to abortion and the lack of medical care in her Calcutta hospices. for having failed to change the image. Stephen Kotkin. closely shaved. “Every night 350. Modern Library. This is true at all levels. but especially in Russia’s regions. sitting on a brick with their belongings in a jute bag. “The modernisation of some districts means that they get too expensive for their inhabitants who then have to move elsewhere. a journalist specialising in cultural issues at Calcutta’s The Telegraph. Calcutta has a well-kept metro. administrative power provides crucial tools for business success. Penguin Books India. Constant references to Mother Teresa. This has created a new elite that outshines its 1990s predecessor in wealth: in the words of the Washington-based political scientist Lilia Shevtsova. Archie Brown. despite the poverty. There are few opportunities for skilled labour and the pay is lower than elsewhere.” Many Bengalis blame the Communists. Calcutta is now ignored by Indian and international artists who prefer Delhi or Mumbai. formally or informally.000 people work by the roadside: barbers. “but in Calcutta. The populace will only be summoned to endorse the division of spoils. which embraces both public and private sectors. Institute of Wetland Management and Ecological Design. but also for private operations such as Surgutneftegaz and. Pantheon Books. 2006. Indeed democracy has finished a distant second in Russia whenever the fate of capitalist property relations has been at stake. New York. which has led to massive profits not only for large state corporations such as Rosneft and Gazprom. But thanks to television.” TRANSLATED BY KRYSTYNA HORKO (1) “India Shining” was a slogan used by India’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2004 elections. see his book How Capitalism Was Built. light fires and enjoy the cool of evening Once the cultural capital of India. (4) The leading exponent of the former view is Swedish economist Anders Aslund. For much of the decade. painter and philosopher who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. (10) Edward W Said. Calcutta is now ignored by Indian and international artists who prefer Delhi or Mumbai. who advised the Russian government on privatisation in the early 1990s.000 Indians go to bed with empty stomachs. playwright. until its dismantling in 2003. The western press has focused attention on the expanding role of the Russian state in the economy. p 108. who has traced the shifting membership and fortunes of the elite since the early 1990s (6). London.L MD Life on the streets has a routine. 2007. The “reformers” were content to force through their “shock therapy” without a democratic mandate. United States Institute of Peace. (2) Dominique Lapierre. and that image of their city irritates the elite and middle classes. especially pp 346-66. Doubleday Books. Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment. as well as the increasing overlap between the worlds of business and political rule. Zakharov. the fates of Gorbachev and Mubarak should teach us to mistrust any illusion of permanence. New York.” There is more to Calcutta than poverty. And as for the shopping centres. and was beatified in 2003. The educated Bengali middle classes complain about this lack of dynamism and often move to other cities. Vintage Books. or Mother Teresa (1910-97). is an economic analysis of Mumbai’s slums.org (3) Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). and nothing seems to have changed. ORIGINAL TEXT IN ENGLISH (1) For example. on the elite and the country. 2007. provide no benefits to the poor. (7) Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhia. While there are few signs of this at present. making and consuming their own products and services (9). the traders and artisans wait for customers. Calcutta has not benefited as much as other Indian cities from a decade of high growth. “The case of Kolkota. 1985. March-April 2004. schools and hospital boats. even the poorest of the poor knows how the rich live. Le Monde diplomatique. with photographs. New Delhi. This would require a picture of the composition and character of that elite – who rules Russia? In the maelstrom of the 1990s the emerging elite was composed of former members of the Communist Party nomenklatura and rising entrepreneurial layers. Harvard University Press. and spans business and government. eat at the roadside stalls. Orientalism. But perhaps the best portrait comes from the sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaia. In the run-up to the parliamentary elections this December. Her account points to the rising weight of industry after 2000. Once the cultural capital of India. minerals – or secured through financial machinations or asset-stripping the old Soviet industrial base. and especially the presidential succession next year. New York. (5) Lilia Shevtsova. NGOs estimate that some 250. In the morning people wash at the water pumps. airconditioned shopping centres. Russia: Lost in Transition. The Free Press. (8) Nitai Kundu. the electricity consumption for the air conditioning alone causes city-wide power cuts. Then. devoted her life to the poor of India from 1948. 2009. Lapierre used the royalties to found a network of clinics. carpenters. New York. “the old Yeltsin oligarchy looks like a group of dilettantes in comparison to the new cohort of bureaucrat-oligarchs” (5). See Cédric Gouverneur. she won the Nobel Prize for peace in 1979. Many of its Victorian buildings are falling into ruin – quite often onto the heads of passers-by – which worsens the air of dereliction. Shevtsova’s WILLIAM DANIELS/PANOS Le Monde diplomatique OCTOBER 2011 15 Time to relax: the inhabitants of one of Calcutta’s big slums chat. Perhaps the most substantial version of the latter view is Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinski’s The Tragedy of Russia’s Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy. 2011. (5) A Maoist guerrilla movement that has returned to favour in the poverty-ridden rural areas. we can expect intensified competition over these resources within Russia’s elite. The educated Bengali middle classes complain about this lack of dynamism and often move to other cities flourish but.

sharing photos and videos. By beating the press agencies and TV cameras it enhances its reputation. it had 25 million subscribers. preceded by “RT” (retweet). criticised the country’s royals on Twitter. The point of Twitter is to circulate messages as widely as possible. They drew arrogant responses from other users such as: “Go back to what ever ass hole u came from. fax: +44 (0) 870 220 0290 email: lmdsubs@servicehelpline. It seems to be turning into a public news agency. The tool is most useful on a small scale. and let the elite talk amongst each other. Twitter owes its popularity to the extreme diversity of its users. TRANSLATED BY KRYSTYNA HORKO (1) Dominique Cardon. Companies. “Find your friends on Twitter – no thank you”. and users fear missing something when they log out. has reached its apogee. In 2010 chief executive officer and co-founder Evan Williams defined it as an “information network”. It has created a changed relationship with news. with constant adjustments. but French researcher Dominique Cardon objects to that view. “Nothing on earth goes faster than Twitter. Early this year the Arab demonstrators.net (4) “Twitter investigation uncovers another Middle East Hoax”. op cit. including editorial control.” Twitter users risk becoming chained to hot news in a timeframe with no depth or density. since “making subjective statements. followed in May by the “indignant” Spaniards. A month after Google+ was launched this June. So in November 2009 the company replaced the question with “What’s happening?” Then. being lax about language and humorous with news . gossip and commentary. (2) Dominique Cardon. “Trending” informs users at all times which subjects are the most popular worldwide. or by country or even by city.” Hoaxes and false rumours are rapidly exposed.problogger. immediate circles or (in journalism) to editorials. that allows friends to exchange information. The popularity of social networks such as Myspace (popular with musicians). “Look at yourselves. Kent ME9 8GU. Sittingbourne. thoughts and emotions that flows across our screens. The social internet “allows users with less cultural capital to promote themselves in much shorter. neutral form of digital teletype. Paris. The trick is to fill your bucket without drowning We might look back enviously 20 years to the madness of a period in which people felt condemned to “fax or die”. and enjoy the same virtual sociability. the question on the homepage was “What are you doing?”. Kent Science Park. reaction to current events was limited to the private sphere.mondediplo. tel: +44 (0) 870 787 9871. In February the pro-democracy supporters in Bahrain. 800 Guillat Avenue. ou pourquoi Twitter est désormais indispensable”. emotional dictatorship and a lack of distance – but also a critical vision and a different analysis from traditional media. serious or frivolous. announcing gatherings. The media logic. All content is public: what you tweet. the approach is quite different. Rather than try to re-form circles of close friends and acquaintances on Twitter. they are collectively dissected in real time. blog. Even when they know the person.. were at each other’s throats about the merits of military intervention in Libya. huh?” (5). because users had got into the habit of passing on tweets. lighter and easier ways than by writing a blog” (2). use the same language. A tweet has the same format as an SMS. sickened by violent repression. but some people still cannot grasp that it is a user-created medium. which is disseminated through links. as people can use it to select accounts to follow. Twitter is not a cold. “La République des idées”. leading to warnings about speculative bubbles because of the site’s economic model. news. the Twittosphere unmasked another impersonator claiming to be a female Arab (4). It took Facebook three months to achieve that number. Twitter was valued at $8bn.com (5) See “Bahrain Antoinette: Let Them Eat LOL :)”. commenting on current events (sometimes in real time). comprehension and emotional involvement. users mostly choose to follow those whose content interests them. Mona Chollet is a journalist and member of Le Monde diplomatique’s editorial team I light years away from each other share the same standardised “profiles”. Some people are concerned by the speed.com/ 2011/02/18/bahrain-antoinette-let-them-eat-lol/ (6) Laurent Supply. Seuil. who you follow and who follows you. which often leads to suspicion and contempt from people unfamiliar with it The collective appropriation of information makes the Twittosphere a forum for debate. 2 June 2011. or is it more of a news agency? Its founders have never quite been sure. of general interest or highly specialised. Once launched. especially with the advent of Web 2. last March. The phrasing of its recommendations gives pause for thought: “This article is already one day old. and using rumours and provocation are becoming central to people’s relationship with the media. When it was first set up in 2006. But users can glimpse the chasm that divides them.0 and its user-friendly tools. once distinct activities. but has now acquired a different dimension as well as public weight. once distinct activities. associations. Yet the nature of the internet has become clear. The Grumpy Owl.xsw81340 16 OCTOBER 2011 L MD Le Monde diplomatique What’s happening? Twitter has taken a different approach from the other social media./Valid from Date Le Monde diplomatique Subscription Services. 27 November 2008. Twitter created a retweet button. gossip and commentary. Never before in history have such demands been made on the capacity for attention. militant organisations and media groups can also open Twitter accounts. Source checking used to be done by journalists alone. (3) “Is Twitter a waste of time?”. Is it a social network like Facebook. http://thenextweb. thegrumpyowl. The Twittosphere churns out a mix of news. This August. 18 February 2011.com LMD0611 . Some 40% of users don’t publish and 80% of content is produced by just 20% of registered users (3).” said a journalist from Le Figaro during the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008 (6). Twitter’s goal is to fight off competition while fixing the difficulties new users have. It is now a major internet player but difficult to classify. whereas restricting access is the rule on Facebook. Thanks to blog platforms. redefining itself and validating users’ initiatives. to the net. “Ma soirée Bombay. and Twitter 33 months. and to its strong communitarian codes. But the demand for truth and information is also on the rise. Facebook and Twitter has further extended the number of content producers. faster and more collective than traditional media BY MONA CHOLLET nternet use became commonplace at least 15 years ago. as well as by Twitter addiction. Great Britain. using them as identification badges. The people who. Cardon thinks that’s fair enough. a few weeks after the “Gay Girl in Damascus” blog was revealed to be a hoax. www. Not all its ideas are unanimously approved. and regards the public as passive (1). The web is presented as a convergence of preexisting means of acquiring information. look at us hypnotised by the river of words. The resulting standardisation of websites has disappointed pioneers. Not only are events followed in real time. La Démocratie Internet: Promesses et Limites.uk or subscribe online at www. Very few users activate the “protect your tweets” function. SOLANGE GAUTIER The Twittosphere churns out a mix of news. which brings out the best as well as the worst in a crowd – taunts. are not even mentioning the subject a few months later. and many users connect with their mobile phones. Some users ignored it and devoted their 140-character tweets to producing their own reviews. now it is the domain of all internet users. It is not suited to thematic historical research. Suivez le Geek. 2010. Twitter is reactive. with u just envying us. which alternates passionate interest in a subject with total indifference.” And “Its not my fault u lived a fuked up life :) no moneya. but a year later new functions appeared making it easier to “find your friends”. out in the open. placing small ads. since it is a long way from the creative vigour of the early days. users with no programming skills can self publish. responding to each other’s comments. reproduced elements of the resulting digital Esperanto in their slogans. abuse? Hurts watching ppl like us enjoyin life. but still worth reading. 2 August 2011. After its August capital increase. an important news item is conveyed at speed.” said the journalist Jean-Christophe Féraud.lefigaro.fr Previously.co. which often leads to suspicion and contempt from people unfamiliar with it. he thinks it just applies traditional media models. Twitter has pushed the degree of appropriation allowed by the collaborative internet to its limits. Individuals who may be Subscribe to Save up to 25% off the subscription price UK & Ireland £28/ 41 USA & Canada US$45 Other countries £36/ 57 I enclose a cheque for (please make cheques payable to Le Monde diplomatique) Please debit my credit card Mastercard Visa Switch Delta Name Address Postcode Card number Expiry date Signature Switch issue no.. It improvises constantly.

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