Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
Monday, April 18, 2005
The death of the opposition;a[very] short autopsy
Is it an exaggeration to say that our opposition is bankrupt,dead ?
In my opinion ,no. The problem is that unlike humans, there is no official death certificate for political parties ,they can keep on haunting the people like ghosts for as long as they can pay for the rent of their offices and the wages of their “cadres”. Take the POCT of “camarade” H.Hammami, a Marxist-Leninist-Trotsky st-Stalinist party which should have been buried long time ago but is still persistently trying to find a suitable “proletariat” to lead. It simply refuses the passage of time. Yes, the opposition is dead but its rotten corps is still laying on the ground ,decomposing in the mids of the living and waiting for a benevolent coroner to write its epitaph and bury it. Unfortunately there are no “volunteers” who are willing to remove the “carcasse” from public display. Thus aggravating the risk of disease and widespread contamination among the populace,especially the young which represent 70% of the population.
But what were the reasons behind this un dignifying end?
It is tempting to blame the regime for this horrible “murder” as it tries to silence and kill any microscopic spark of dissent,even within its own ranks. but the reasons which led to the death of the opposition are more innate than external(the regime), for it reflects the broader apathy among the “people”for what the now defunct opposition stood for:
-a)its detachment from the politics of confrontation[thus loosing the respect of the public],and its foggy political agendas,as opposed to the regime's. This opposition has never been able to move from the politics of mere protests (often for jailed “camarades “ of other movements! ) to that of targeting real power. Politics is about power (to put into effect the desirable changes )or it is nothing.
b)the never ending internal scheming,positioning and re positioning,creating in the process very bizarre coalitions,swinging in all directions,as if the end of dictatorship was imminent,but in the end it was their pendulum which stopped swinging,not the regime's,at least not for now.
c)the opposition was run by five people,appearing as modern leaders but were in no sense modernizers. all of them were mini-dictators with a marked disdain for their own parties and followers, speaking the language of Parisian salons (l`opposition caviar!)with little in common with their working -class base , fiercely defending their names and positions as leaders against anyone who dare to question the legitimacy of their longevity, unconsciously mirroring the methods of the man they tried to “dethrone”. To this gang of 5, loyalty to the leader was more important than loyalty to the party,and to this end they had shown a remarkable survival mechanisms,adjusting to political defeats,social upheavals,discontents within their ranks..etc. they were the geniuses of survival and adaptability,but now it's over,they`ve reached a dead end,or as we say in the Tunisian dialect:وقفت الزنقت لسارق(this include Ben Ali too,for in his crazy drive to obstruct any meaningful expression of different views he ended up smashing the only “facade” (no matter how “facade-like” it was in reality)of democratic governance which was represented by the now dead opposition).
Tunisia is still crying out for a “real” opposition that listens and responds to its people,but until then,the RCD remains the “natural” party of government .
Not to be continued,
Monday, March 14, 2005
Opinions (in memory of Ben Kheder)
Zou, I don't know what to say about your sudden[.................],it is just not fair,but I know that we must go on. that's what you would have wished us to do.
I don't know if this is the right way to break the ice, but it is my way to honor a friend and everything he stood for .
Goodbye dear Zou.
(in memory of Ben Kheder)
what's the problem with this opposition?
Well, it is boring,as the late Ben Kheder put it before leaving this world, and leaving us with no answers to what he meant by that. perhaps he left this “space” blank so that you and I would have something to do with our pens. Yes,the opposition is boring,plastic,out of line,watery,but most of all impatient with intellectuals off talking to “themselves” in their own private language, that is too blasphemous. this behavior makes the opposition unconscious participants in the regime's efforts to silence all those “subversive voices” and to make them “invisible”,their crime is self defeat. there is no interest,no sympathy(or a very plastic one!),no support and definitely no effort to “communicate” with the “present”, with the tools of the present. Does the opinions/ideas/issues discussed on tunezine or nawaat represent something that Si Marzouki,Si Ben Jaafar,Si Chebbi and others would like to join??? no.
well, that is why,Si CH/M.M/BJ, no one under thirty five(70% of the population!) find your “politics” appealing, to say the least!
The opposition is moribund, its leaders are aging veterans from a bygone era of lost struggles and humiliating defeats. yet it resist the passage of time,anachronistically clutched to the political habits of the 70s.its “autonomy” has survived practically “unchanged”,reproducing itself in inertia ,and that's exactly what is so sad about it. It never really succeeded in creating a political alternative that goes beyond the limits set forth by the RCD, they accepted the “ faits accompli” ,as one PDP spin-doctor (Si Touzri) put it in his feuille de route, and tried during the last decades to evolve within those limits,but they didn't sold out. for even though they continued to believe that “political life” was possible within the narrow spaces of their headquarters, they ,nevertheless, kept the flame alight and refused to die. for this honorable deed they deserve all respect. But then they refused to change too , and this is the source of their misfortune(s). it is true,having the misfortune to live in Ben Ali`s Tunisia where the sword rules, it is easy to say that our misfortune are “explicable”, but what about our pens? Some say that the pen is mightier than the sword, especially in our context,but has it been in use? To my knowledge no,or very little. Those who used the pen as a sword were marginalized and ignored . That bad habit is still “alive” and well,despite the Internet!
But what can we do with our only WMD:-) ?
Well, if the pen is mightier than the sword,as one friend of mine told me this morning(Omar.k), then I guess we have a lot of work to do. the pen in opposition need to create its own logic of refusal,its line of flight* with its own positive content( by which I mean our collective capacity to create and envision new alternatives),what are we against and why? What do we want?
We want to be free don't we? If so,then I think we should begin by trying to “write” ourselves out of Ben Ali's jail,We should replace his logic of the sword with the logic of democracy,....We should...
is there any one out there who would like to add something?
*Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
A new dawn?? (this text is dedicated to M.Abbou)
from my perspective,the “unthinkable” broke out of a glorious early spring morning(28th of Feb),which “inexplicably” turned into something close to a revolution.
like the rest of the diaspora I followed the event unfold on the net. but I was there by way of the heart.
not since the bred riots of 84 has there ever been such electrifying moments of hope ,enough to power a powerless people,events that may lead to a genuine change. this burst of energy is not accidental nor coincidental, it is the culmination of many decades of dictatorship and the collection of millions of tiny drops of anger floating in the air which ultimately rained down like a torrent on February the 28th. No , this is not an accident, it is rather the beginning of the end of an era and the dawn of a new one,or so I would like to believe!
Yes, I believe in our ability to make this transitional change to democratic rule( so many times delayed by “circumstances”)a true reality not the regime's manufactured one. it is up to us how far we want to go.
but Trying to make sense of the contradictory messages emanating from the opposition can be a dispiriting experience. Seeking the demise of Ben Ali and at the same time participating in his electoral show is such an experience ,which necessarily involves the act of analysis,or perhaps of psycho-analysis. and the results, at least in my case, are intimidating,frightening and confusing .no wonder that we so often feel small,disoriented and on the defensive when confronted with challenging experience like the one we are living these days. Charon's visit and The recent turn of events in Sfax, Tunis, Gafsa and elsewhere involves unexpected tests and challenges for the opposition . In this context, talking about elections means lowering the expectations of students and others who took to the streets in a show of defiance to Ben Ali(the invitation to Charon is just a pretext. even Ben Ali knows this fact).Therefore I think it is ill suited to talk about elections in these circumstances for three simple reasons:
--it is impossible for any party to develop an electoral strategy or program three months prior to the elections and win,only Ben Ali can do that!
--the election are municipal,thus of little interests to most people, especially in this context of public uproar following the invitation of Charon to Tunis. not to mention the divisions it may cause within the ranks of the opposition and the impossibility to use the visit as a leitmotiv in a municipal election,it is ludicrous and stupid.
--participating in the elections will give a signal to the regime that the opposition is after all not “opposed” to his peculiar way of governance ( I mean dictatorial!) and that they just want to remind him that they “exist” and wants to be invited to his show,that's all! Nejib Chebbi will not drop dead,followed by all members of “ kataib Nejib Chabbi”, as soon as Charon's plane hit the ground,that is too bombastic a threat to be taking seriously.
So, where from now?
I think the opposition should consider alternative ways in dealing with the two main topics on its agenda: Charon and Ben Ali. needless to say that Ben Ali is the problem which will consume all our effort,Charon's visit should, in my opinion, be used as an “intensifier” of public anger to keep the momentum going,he's not the problem .momentum is also about being seen and talked about, and here the opposition is nowhere to be found,there is in fact no public-relation strategy to talk about in the first place. no allies and no source of revenues but a few European radical leftists isolated and broke. In these “circumstances” only a bold action can keep the momentum going,a visit to Beyrouth for example and a meeting with the opposition there[ followed by discussions about “matters of reciprocal concerns”,a joint press-conference...etc],might take the struggle to a new dimension and put the “Tunisian problem” on the global stage. Few days ago, walid Joumblat (moistly eyed and apparently very moved by what he was about to say)said that what took place in Lebanon will soon reverberate throughout the Arab world . a visit to beyrouth by a high delegation(Chabbi&BenJaafar..) from the opposition will promote the interests of both parties,it´s a win-win political move that will open new windows of opportunities for the opposition, new perspectives,perhaps new allies and friends, not to speak of the media frenzy the visit will create ,and that's exactly what we need .
These are the contours of an idea, a bold move to turn the table on Ben Ali and mix up his cards, and an opportunity for the opposition to reaffirm its role ,both nationally and internationally, as the only democratic alternative to Ben Ali.
Friday, February 25, 2005
We deserve it
We deserve it
less than 48 hours since he met with the Iranian “special envoye”(perhaps as a middle man between Tehran and Washington) Ben Ali invites today Moloch in person to visit Tunisia . And why not? He's after all the president of the country, elected by 99,94% of the population!which means dictatorial powers,no checks and balances here,no parliament,no army, no media,no civil society, no political parties, no one to question him as for the righteousness of his diplomatic maneuvering. Ben Ali doesn't need to muddle through those institutions to seek an approval,no debates in the parliament,no demonstrations, nothing, he just needed to pick up the phone and invite Charon(the mask of death for the old Punics)to Tunis.Horrifying isn`t.
not even Dr Frankenstein could produce a more perfect specimen of a political monster,no skilled parodist(inc.Omar.K)in the history I know has ever mastered the vulgarization of politics the way Ben Ali does, It is that simple. what is amazing here is the amazement of almost everyone;how could he do it,they ask themselves? Well, many things could happen while one is sleeping, like having a bad dream and seeing monsters roaming around scaring you with their sinister grimaces.during those nightmares sometimes you can't even move a finger or a say a word as if paralyzed and dumb.
as a matter of fact I did have those dreams when I was a kid. My mother's own esoteric explanation was that I might have been visited by “BOUTILLIS” the king of darkness(her own words) and that I should not worry about him because He's afraid of light and mornings,he hates both.
It is worse with the sleep of reason,and the past two decades has produced monsters galore,some are of course more sinister than others. Fatma bouseha seem merely comical harmless-fun compared with the manifestly evil character of Ben Ali. let there be no mistake on this,Ben Ali is evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical presence,in flesh and blood, of evil spirits (dracula is one!)can understand it. Ben Ali is a scar across the face of the nation,an unspeakable shame, the enemy within,more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty than anything else,including the RCD.
No wonder then that most people regard it as suicidally irrational to get in his way. Yet when Ben Brik did just that few years ago, he was lionized,the “lion” of Numidia roared and Ben Ali almost made it in his pants,that was indeed a moment of splendor,a flash of light, but not a morning.
I need something to drink,
To be continued......... by me or anyone who would like to add something.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
twilight of the middle-minds :the elections debate
twilight of the middle-minds :the elections debate
debate about what?
Dumbing down the public,in this case politically,has been paralleled by similar trends in arts / literature and the media were pundits rule supreme. yes that's a fact,but is it deliberate or is it dumbness “revealing” itself periodically through its agents of dumbness?
Who knows,but one thing is sure;dumbness is here to stay.
Proceeding with the preparation for the coming municipal elections is a real abnegation of reality. as if all of the really big questions had been settled and we are already in the post Ben-Ali period, or so this opposition assume ,and the only thinking we need is how to “ manage” the perpetual care taking of some fossilized political habits like elections and the campaigns that follows with.
As if that will make a difference. but as the record shows, It will not .
if the opposition is to rescue itself from a certain death it must engage the regime head-on with an ambitious political program of its own,different from the IMF dictated and sponsored PAS,it cannot afford to keep saying and repeating the same narratives of prisoners, human rights ,street fights(trayeh machhoura!),Irak, Palestine,no matter how important these issues are. it needs to chance its arm,break out of that suffocating political orthodoxy of the 70`s, and explore “new topics”,not least those it has so far been too “timid” to venture into. But If indeed there is no alternative,as the “records” shows ,then politics ,as we mortals knows it,cannot have any meaning at all . What is left then is an inflation of relatively trivial micro-political proposals ,like the next municipal elections, presented through a de-politicized language more akin to business managers than to political leaders:how to manage THIS situation(sic)!
One symptom of this regrettable development is that political outcomes are quantified rather than valued,it is the %`s that counts ,even tiny miserable 0,01,not what one stands for. it is exactly the kind of politics in which the RCD became champion of the world,though with double digits to the left!
without alternatives, debate becomes empty of meaning.
But to engage the RCD we need to answer two important questions:what do we want NOW and what do we want to achieve later?
The development of political consciousness/ commitment and the exercise of [real]pressure on the regime are ,in my opinion,the most urgent topics for the opposition to tackle. Without an active and effective “militant “ opposition and politically conscious citizens there will be no end to the hegemony of the RCD. only this time we have to do it more wisely than in the past. we must re-engage the public instead of seeking quick-fixes for a deep political malaise,for no one can fool the people. history shows that when people wants to be included in any political “ adventure” of their own choice,they often do a great job in breaking down the “barriers” to their participation. when they believe that “participating”make a difference, they will rise to the occasion and perform their public duty. but how to re-connect with the people remains the Gordian knot to untie for the opposition. It's the people who knows better than the RCD or the opposition how it is with their present being, which they live it, radically, every day . As Hardt/Negri(in Empire) put it :”you cannot change the situation effectively unless you appreciate the depth of the problem;and to do that fully you need to be at the sticky end of it,or at least to have heard the news from there”.
one needs to be in the position to know the “original version” of a given problem in order to position oneself as bearer of an alternative plan of action,because it's when a “credible” alternative to the regime is unlikely to be worst than the present one that people may decide not to carry on as they are doing now. Maybe we are not there yet,maybe the “people” have not falling to the bottom in order to rise again,for strength also flows from the depths of wretchedness :to have nothing to loose is to be formidably powerful,freed from old illusions [and, perhaps, prepared for new ones:-))]. this “freedom” may be destructive, leading to terrorism,or it may (hopefully!) lead to genuine social change. unfortunately , only terrorism is the available alternative,more peaceful alternatives are yet to be developed .
Thus, it's the lack of substance and the manifest decline of the standard of political debate which is the problem and the defining feature of our present political life.
We need to re-invent politics,we need a political renaissance of our own (home grown but “in” the world!)and we need it badly. But as any renaissance of any kind,this too needs visions and visionaries. yes, we have to get back to that, to the very beginning of it : the idea.
unfortunately, The subordination of political creativity; ideas,programs,agendas...... to pragmatic objectives , such as the municipal elections to come ,has helped foster an atmosphere that is unwelcoming for the development of new approaches( my own experience with the FDLT). no fertile imagination is allowed ,as if there is no more to add/think or say about the situation;our fate is sealed and Fukuyama the pundit seems right when he professed the “end of history and the last man”.that's not the case of course,but sometimes one is “tempted” to believe that ,especially in these times of political depressions!
So, to sum up the bla-bla I would say that unless the opposition is able to do some hard thinking about what they want now and later ,it is not certain that they will be around for that much longer in order to evaluate what has been done,that option is not valid anymore. In fact, I believe that death is already stealthily at work in that doomed “body” called the opposition from which reason has already hemorrhaged , and sooner rather than later it will leap upon this opposition and extinguishes its last “soupire”.death is always untimely.
this opposition too will die empty!