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Karen Bespalov
Karen Bespalov

The Civil Wars Tip Of My Tongue

Hwang consciously sets out to depict the conflict in HwanghaeProvince as one element of a civil war, a brutal internecinebloodletting. In this sense he is intervening in one of the importantdebates of modern Korean historiography. While official discourse inthe North has always claimed that the Korean War was one of Americanimperialist aggression, successive governments in the South have,somewhat predictably, called it a war against Communist tyranny.

The Civil Wars Tip Of My Tongue

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On his 2006 album Identité en crescendo, French rapper Rocé ruthlessly dissected the French republic's "single and indivisible" self-image, revealing the jagged edges of exclusion and hypocrisy that fracture the country's cities and society. His songs also, not coincidentally, and just as vigorously, denounce the voluntary amnesia that envelops aspects of his homeland's recent past: "Memory trouble, I've got bad memory trouble, History tastes bitter, learning hurts my head, I can't do it, It makes me mad, History makes me bitter [...], Questions that keep coming back, Left too long in the dark, History doesn't tell the whole story, Only half the facts, They've cut out the tongue from the other half, Its silence is deafening [...], People are like trees, They have roots on their soles, For some of us they reach far off, And it makes us sick [...], The assimilation system that makes us problem people, Identity shot through with absence, Orphaned of our memory..." (Problèmes de mémoire). The Parisian banlieusard son of an Argentine Jewish father of Russian origin and an Algerian Muslim mother, Rocé self-consciously embodies the complexity of intersecting histories that makes up contemporary French society and its relationship to its own past and to the rest of the world. His uncompromising refrain is not for a cosy, liberal multiculturalism that would erase difference while ostensibly fêting it. Even less is he making an "identitarian" - or, the new vitriol-word in French politics, "communitarian" - claim to rights on the basis of minority specificity.

The publication in 2001 of the memoirs of Paul Aussaresses, one of that war's cloak-and-dagger protagonists - he commanded an army torture-and-death squad during the battle of Algiers in 1957 and subsequently rose to the rank of general - contained little that was new to historians (or Algerians) but inconveniently obliged the French political class to confront the public airing of some of its dirtier linen. Aussaresses was subsequently prosecuted, not for murder and human-rights abuses during the war, but for "apology for war crimes": his real crime was not to have killed and tortured for, and with the knowledge of, the French state, but his unashamed, and unrepentant, publicisation of the fact. At the same time, a series of challenges to ambient amnesia has come from both the university and civil society. The liberalisation of archive access and the growth of interest in colonial history during the 1990s led to new work by a new generation of French historians. The resulting debate, alongside the gradual success of a series of long-running campaigns for recognition by casualties of colonial history - especially the former "native" soldiers of the imperial army, whose long-ignored story made headlines in Rachid Bouchareb's 2006 film Indigènes - suggested that a more subtle, multifaceted recognition of France's imperial history and post-imperial society might be under construction.

The important thing is that the colonisers "believed they were fulfilling a civilising mission, believed they were doing good. They were wrong but they were sincere." And "sincerity", apparently, covers a multitude of ills. The faults of colonialism were, indeed, many (it "disenchanted Africa" of its "soul [...], the sacred ties that men had forged over millennia with the sky and the earth, [...] the mysteries that came from the depths of the ages"), but since "colonisation is not responsible for all the difficulties of Africa today" (a banal truism that only the most vulgar misreading of all the critical literature on colonialism could justify as a worthwhile assertion), it is held responsible for nothing. Rather, "that part of Europe" that rests in Africa is not a difficult and profoundly ambiguous inheritance of dislocation and oppression but "the call of liberty, of emancipation and justice and of equality between men and women; it is the call to universal Reason and to consciousness." Sarkozy's rhetoric, in seeking an ostensible acknowledgment of the "wrongs" of colonialism and slavery without attributing responsibility for them or continuing significance to their legacy, mired itself in contradiction and evasion: elevated to a "crime against all Humanity", slavery becomes a crime not against its actual historical victims but "a crime against Man" - and therefore against no one in particular. The legacy of slavery remains "an open wound in the soul of all men", and so one that cannot (or ought not to) be healed, since "no-one can ask today's generations to expiate the crimes of past generations": another banality that dodges, rather than addressing, more serious questions of historical responsibility.

"Co-development" and "interdependence" were buzzwords then as now, their unspoken real meaning being the preservation of unaccountable and lucrative French commercial, financial and political interests in Africa - which, since the 1980s, have lubricated the wheels of all sides of the French political machinery as well as underwriting various African dictatorships, their civil wars and institutionalised practices of corruption. This was the basis of what became known, to critical observers of Franco-African relations after formal independence, as Françafrique. A network of commercial and political relations between French political parties and big business, on one side, and partner regimes in the former African colonies, on the other, Françafrique is what philosopher and critic (and openDemocracy contributor) Achille Mbembe has called a "system of reciprocal corruption tying France to its African feudatories." This "scandal" has drawn fire for years from lobby groups, intellectuals and NGOs calling for a reform of France's African policies, but only broke into general public consciousness with the "Elf affair", Europe's largest-ever corporate and political financial-crimes investigation, undertaken between 2001 and 2003, and in which several leading political figures were implicated before being eventually acquitted. (Several of the oil company's top executives were sentenced to prison terms.) Sarkozy's resurrection of the original Eurafrique notion might be billed as a rupture and an ouverture - as indeed he suggested, during his presidential campaign, that the end of Françafrique would be on his agenda. But it provided an alarmingly (if characteristically) blunt exposé of the original claim to metropolitan dominance that has underalin France's post-colonial relationship with its former colonies all along. As most observers quickly recognised, Sarkozy's African trip revealed the limits of rupture and ouverture: in the ex-metropole's view of its ex-colonies, as at home, the radical rhetoric of blunt "sincerity", the "opening-up" of the ruling sphere and its ostensible break with the institutions and practices of the past, is a thin cover for a retrenchment of the established order. Just as Sarkozy's own political network is a glittering array of establishment power and wealth, the "revolutionary" new right is a bastion of entrenched nationalist myths and prejudices whose promise of renewed French grandeur rests on a firm facing-down of the "masochistic" liberal treachery of "repentance" that would have the republic make amends for its various past crimes and face up to its present deficits of freedom, equality and fraternity.

Changing oil in a car can either be a 1-2-3 process that gives you an instant feeling of afternoon achievement. Or a painful and miserable endeavor that leaves stains on your clothes, oil slicks on your driveway, and cuss words on the tip of your tongue.

Like other international civil society organisations (ICSOs), World Vision has been investing in alleviating poverty and responding to emerging disasters and crises, mostly in rural, stable communities. Over the past 10 years, as an organisation, we have been forced to direct our attention to understanding the new trends of poverty and humanitarian crises, not least because children are the first casualties. Urban contexts are complex and challenging: there are multiple layers of governance; inequity can be seen with informality and extreme poverty present at very close proximity to high-rise buildings and rich financial institutions; the number of key urban players and influencers is massive.

Our aim is to highlight and explain how innovations can benefit the civil society sector and be used to tackle common challenges. In 2019, we looked at populism, and how civil society tools and tactics are evolving and innovating in response. We included a huge diversity of organisational missions, profiles and experiences from across our events and networks and around the world, highlighting universal practical tips and inspiring insights.

These diverse organisations and people may never have had the time or the resources to bring to a wide audience their stories of innovation. Yet the wealth of diverse experience generated a fantastic resource for the civil society sector.

The definitive work of literary journalism on the Arab Spring and its troubled aftermathIn 2011, a wave of revolution spread through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption, and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new ethos of common citizenship. Five years later, their utopian aspirations have taken on a darker cast as old divides reemerge and deepen. In one country after another, brutal terrorists and dictators have risen to the top. A Rage for Order is the first work of literary journalism to track the tormented legacy of what was once called the Arab Spring. In the style of V. S. Naipaul and Lawrence Wright, the distinguished New York Times correspondent Robert F. Worth brings the history of the present to life through vivid stories and portraits. We meet a Libyan rebel who must decide whether to kill the Qaddafi-regime torturer who murdered his brother; a Yemeni farmer who lives in servitude to a poetry-writing, dungeon-operating chieftain; and an Egyptian doctor who is caught between his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his hopes for a new, tolerant democracy. Combining dramatic storytelling with an original analysis of the Arab world today, A Rage for Order captures the psychic and actual civil wars raging throughout the Middle East, and explains how the dream of an Arab renaissance gave way to a new age of discord. 041b061a72


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