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The Globalist Endgame in Turkey Manifested itself in Football Long Before Economic Crisis Hit the Markets

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Bloomberg quoted an Istanbul-based broker saying “God help Turkey” on 21 May 2018 as the Turkish Lira fell to a record low against the U.S. Dollar and Euro. While Bloomberg, like so much of the main(lame) stream media, enjoy fanning the flames of crisis when covering countries whose leaders they do not like (Syria’s Assad is a good example of this), the Turkish financial crisis has been a long time in coming.

I have written on this coming crisis multiple times before (in 2014 and in 2017), since the pace of privatization—and the selling off of Turkish assets to foreign ownership—was never going to end well. Unfortunately for Turkey, however, the country has been run by a globalist leader who never truly cared for his citizens any more than fellow globalist leader Barack Obama cared about the American people during his eight year tenure. While Bloomberg author Benjamin Harvey seems to connect this crisis to the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan alone, his analysis misses the mark. No, the problem is not specifically the leader; the problem—rather—is a globalist power structure which privileges international capital over human lives. Having made a deal with international capital (or, perhaps, the devil?) in 2002 to stabilize the Turkish economy in the wake of a 2001 currency crisis—which saw the dollar’s value double in Turkey overnight—Mr. Erdogan, from the beginning, was used to following the dictates of international capital. As Mr. Harvey writes:

 

When Erdogan’s party swept to victory in 2002 on pledges to open markets and liberalize institutions, Turkey’s economy was on life support, requiring an international rescue package that topped $20 billion. The lira had collapsed, along with a handful of banks and government efforts to contain raging inflation.

 

Over the course of the last fifteen years, bolstered by steady support from its base, Mr. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party has gotten complacent. They believed that, regardless of what they did, they would continue to get votes while selling away the country.

Mr. Harvey, while rightly seeing the Gezi protests of 2013 as a turning point, conveniently ignores some major qualities inherent in the globalist style of rule. Mr. Harvey claims that, following Gezi, “The sense of optimism, the belief that Turks of various stripes and ideologies were all in the same boat, was replaced by a relentless divisiveness in political culture, exacerbated by a sense of grievance emanating from their uncompromising leader”. What is important to note is that this “divisiveness in political culture” was present long before Gezi; indeed it was what cemented Mr. Erdogan’s power in the first place. Identity politics, like in the United States, is the key to creating the kind of mass movements that globalism feeds on. In order to get the masses behind a movement, the populace must first be “massified”. This “Massification”—for lack of a better term—is best achieved by dividing the population against itself; in Turkey, it works by dividing religious from secular, Kurd from Turk, and urban from rural. The end result is a mass population unable to see that their beloved leader cares more about money than about the average citizen’s well being. And that is a very real problem.

In The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen recognizes that

 

The tendency of the pecuniary life is, in a general way, to conserve the barbarian temperament, but with the substitution of fraud and prudence, or administrative ability, in place of that predilection for physical damage that characterizes the early barbarian. This substitution of chicanery in place of devastation takes place only in an uncertain degree [. . .] The conventional scheme of decent living calls for a considerable exercise of the earlier barbarian traits (Veblen 1953[1899]: 161).

 

In simpler terms, Veblen is saying that—in the modern world—the barbaric instinct of humans does not manifest itself in out and out violence, rather it manifests itself in fraud and chicanery; in a word violence becomes deception. In Turkey, Mr. Erdogan’s style of rule shows that Nietzsche’s will to power is alive and well in the modern world, there can be no doubt about it. This fact was most recently made clear following a football match in late April.

According to a recent OdaTV story, Mr. Erdogan himself encouraged Besiktas to play out the second leg of their Turkish Cup Semi-final tie with Fenerbahce in late April after the match had to be rescheduled following crowd violence. While Besiktas chairman Fikret Orman said that the decision not to play was not his but that the fans wanted it, Youth and Sports Minister Osman Bak responded that “the sir wants it this way”, implying that Mr. Erdogan wanted Besiktas to play. While Mr. Bak told Mr. Orman to “do what is necessary”, Besiktas still did not come out to play. Regardless of whether one believes this was a right or wrong decision in sporting terms, it is clear that Mr. Erdogan—from the beginning—had a desire to see the match played out. Indeed, his first response was that the violence—which marred the first attempt to play the game—was a “set up”. Of course, the fan’s behavior was unacceptable. And—were there a semblance of rule of law—perhaps Fenerbahce would have been punished and Besiktas would not have had to even make the decision to not come out for the match. But the rule of law matters little when it comes to globalized extreme capitalism. Indeed, Mr. Erdogan knew that there was money to be made from the Istanbul derby, as televisions across the country would tune into it and make money for A Spor, the pro-government channel which holds the rights to the Ziraat Turkish Cup (A competition which has been a money maker for pro-government media figures in the past). Football here just represents another avenue where improper behavior (and the rule of law) can be ignored when it comes to securing profits for those who are close to the Turkish ruling class.

 

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Ugly Scenes During the First Leg of the Ziraat Turkish Cup Semi-Final Between Fenerbahce and Besiktas on 19 April 2018. Images Courtesy Of: http://www.haberturk.com/fenerbahce-besiktas-derbisinde-olaylar-cikti-olaylardan-goruntuler-1927395-spor/9

 

As I said at the outset, Turkish football has long been a harbinger of economic crisis in Turkey. Reuters reported in February of 2016 that “ambitions to secure a place at international soccer’s top table have come at a high cost for Turkey’s leading clubs”. Indeed, according to the story, “the 18 teams in Turkey’s top league [in 2016 were] saddled with 4.2 billion lira ($1.4 billion) in debt, around half owed to banks”. Again, according to Reuters, Turkey’s big clubs were in big trouble as far back as 2015:

 

Galatasaray reported a net loss of 87.5 million lira in the year to the end of May 2015, while Fenerbahce lost 181.2 million. Besiktas and Trabzonspor lost 140.5 million and 104 million respectively, according to stock market filings.

Galatasaray’s short-term liabilities – debt due within one year – stood at 527 million lira, Fenerbahce’s at 477.5 million lira, Besiktas’s 338 million lira and Trabzonspor’s at 220 million lira at end May 2015.

 

But the big names and big new stadiums put football fans to sleep, just like the shiny shopping malls of Istanbul have many believing that the current currency crisis will pass sooner rather than later. As American Sociologist C. Wright Mills once said, given the “ascendant trend of rationalization, the individual ‘does the best he can.’ He gears his aspirations and his work to the situation he is in, and from which he can find no way out. In due course, he does not seek a way out: he adapts. That part of his life which is left over from work, he uses to play, to consume, ‘to have fun’” (Mills, The Sociological Imagination 2000[1959]: 170). It is this kind of blind consumption—this acquiescence to the status quo created by extreme capitalism—which has people in Turkey (and all over the world) consuming beyond their means and, eventually, results in economic crisis; it is part and parcel of the periodic “crises of capitalism” which Karl Marx pointed out over a century ago.

This is also why Mr. Erdogan can ignore his people during a currency crisis in order to benefit those close to him. Since construction is the major source of income for the Turkish rentier state, Mr. Erdogan was reluctant at first to raise interest rates (the main path to keeping the Lira competitive, and a move eventually taken) since it would threaten the construction industry. At the same time, with many of his supporters keeping their money in foreign currency, Mr. Erdogan is—in effect—making his supporters richer through arbitrage with every day that the Turkish Lira loses value. It is a classic example of a leader enriching himself and his supporters at the expense of the average citizen. No, it is not about Mr. Erdogan. It is about the structure of the entire globalized economy. Even Hillary Clinton can even claim (incredulously) that “Democrats rescued the American economy”. Globalist figures like this have such little respect for their people that they lie to them day in and day out; globalist figures like this are also why it is imperative that people put identity politics aside and truly come together in order to take back their countries from the globalist abyss.

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Football Shirts and Nationalism

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As an avid collector of football shirts, the headline “How a soccer jersey sparked the latest Germany-Turkey spat” of a 15 May 2018 article by Siobhan O’Grady in The Washington Post immediately caught my eye. As a dual citizen of a Western country (the United States) and Turkey, I felt the tensions that the footballers in question—both Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan—must have been feeling themselves. Especially because I study the intersection of football and nationalism in Turkey, I know that this event is about much more than just football shirts and Turkey’s fraught relationship with Germany; in fact, this small event is indicative of both the failures of globalism, as well as the crisis of modern—and “Western”—liberalism.

On the surface, the decision by Manchester City’s German-Turkish footballer Ilkay Gundogan to present a jersey to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with the inscription “With great respect for my president” seems to be a minor issue. In years past it may have been but a footnote in the day’s news. Yet, in this age—when it seems as if most people are all too willing to be “offended”—something as innocuous as the gifting of a football shirt has become grounds for outrage. Indeed, as French Sociologist Michel Foucault said, “modern society is perverse”.

 

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From Left Mr. Gundogan, Mesut Ozil, Mr. Erdogan, and Cenk Tosun. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/05/15/how-a-soccer-jersey-sparked-the-latest-germany-turkey-spat/?utm_term=.c36280ce21f4

 

And it is this event which so clearly demonstrates just how perverse modern society has become. Should Mr. Gundogan have called Mr. Erdogan “my president” while playing for Germany’s national football team? The president of the German football association (DFB), Reinhard Grindel, did not seem to think so, and politicians from both the right (Beatrix von Storch of the Alternative for Germany Party) and left (Cem Ozdemir, a former leader of the Green Party and himself of Turkish descent) seemed to agree. As a representative of the German national football team, Mr. Gundogan would have done well to recognize that it is the German—and not Turkish—football system which built him into the world star that he is today; as such, he should have recognized that his president is German (and that his country) is Germany. Had Mr. Gundogan wanted to embrace his Turkish side wholeheartedly, he could have rejected Germany (and all of the privilege that comes with playing for one of the best national sides in world football) and chosen to play for Turkey, similar to Manchester United’s talismanic Ryan Giggs who rejected England in favor of his native Wales despite the corresponding lack of international prestige that went with choosing the Red Dragons. In Giggs’ words:

 

It still bugs me when people ask if I wished I’d played for England. It’s the question that’s bugged more than any other over the last 10 years. I’m Welsh, end of story. My parents are Welsh, my grandparents are Welsh. The mix-up came from the fact that I played for England schoolboys. That’s what confuses people. But I’d rather go through my career without qualifying for a major championship rather than play for a country in which I wasn’t born in or one that had nothing to do with my parents. That’s just stupid.

 

Had Mr. Gundogan been as straightforward as Mr. Giggs—and perhaps sacrificed fame and fortune for family ties—it is likely that there would have been very little backlash as a result of his actions.

Yet, in the globalized world, it is not so simple; indeed Mr. Gundogan—as discussed above—owes much of his sporting pedigree to the German system. During my childhood I myself often toyed with the question of which country I would represent in international football (thankfully, I was never a good enough footballer to actually have to make this decision) and I am aware that this is a difficult choice for anyone to make. Having not grown up in the (extreme) globalized age, however, I was able to make my own judgements and have been able to wholeheartedly embrace both of my nations. In the modern world, however, the push for “diversity” and “multi-culturalism” has attempted to create a meaningless mélange of cultures; far from making people “multi-cultural” or even “bi-cultural” it has instead made people confused, and Mr. Gundogan’s case is a perfect example of this confusion.

Judging by this case, Mr. Gundogan still identifies with his Turkish background. This may be due in no small part to the fact that—as the 15 May 2018 article notes— “many German Turks say they still face discrimination because of their ethnicity and religion”. Indeed, the German state might not have been as successful in assimilating its sizable Turkish immigrant population as it would like to believe. And this is the main point. There is nothing shameful in Mr. Gundogan’s inscription to the Turkish President itself, and it is not helpful to applaud—or disparage—Mr. Gundogan’s choice without being cognizant of the fact that many factors outside of his control likely went into his decision to call Mr. Erdogan “my president”. As an individual citizen, Mr. Gundogan has every right to express his admiration for any political figure that he desires. This is because footballers are not robots; they are human beings with very real human emotions. Despite the rationalizing tendencies of the modern world (in Weberian terms), emotion still plays a major role.

Many scholars of nationalism recognize the deep emotive bond created by national identities. And despite the emphasis on means-end rationality in our societies and the growing importance of capital interests in modern football, nationalism remains a major force in our world. There is no “global village”, despite what post-modern globalists may believe. If national bonds and cultural identities were as unimportant as the proponents of globalization claim, then it is likely that Germany might have been more successful in integrating its Turkish community. By the same token, it is also likely that the German FA would not have expressed their concerns with Mr. Gundogan’s actions in such overtly nationalist terms. For instance, the president of the DFB, Mr. Grindel, said that “football and the DFB stand for values that Mr. Erdogan does not sufficiently respect”. Similarly, the coach of the German national team, Joachim Low, said that “when you play for Germany you represent German values”. Were it not for Germany’s distaste for Mr. Erdogan, it is unlikely that the jersey would have been an issue; indeed, it is the two-faced nature of modern liberalism which has caused this event to become overblown: according to modern liberals, multiculturalism is good to a degree…but when it begins to threaten the nation’s values, it becomes a problem. Yet these are two irreconcilable positions.

Just as Edward Said noted that “orientalism” said more about the West than it did about the East, so too does this small event tell us more about Western “liberalism” in Germany than it does about Turkey and its supposed Eastern “despotism”. We see that the utopian visions of “multiculturalism” and “pluralism” in the West are—in reality—very difficult to achieve in practice. Despite the continuing attacks on nationalism throughout the world, the emotive connection that individuals feel towards their national identities, cultures, and values are shown both by Mr. Gundogan’s actions, as well as by the DFB’s response to those actions. By bringing in the concept of values, the DFB is making a judgement on Mr. Gundogan’s moral character which may be unwarranted; Mr. Gundogan could have been merely expressing his affinity for the Turkish nation rather than for a leader specifically. Yet this alternative interpretation is not provided by the main(lame)stream media which prefers to spread messages of division.

 

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Mr. Gundogan, Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place in the Midst of a Geopolitical Struggle. Image Courtesy of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/05/15/how-a-soccer-jersey-sparked-the-latest-germany-turkey-spat/?utm_term=.c36280ce21f4

 

In short, ignoring the emotive aspects of national identity may be doing the world more harm than good by encouraging divisions and the creation of a dangerous double standard. The world would do well to recognize that, as scholars like Anthony D. Smith and Walker Connor have noted, nationalism will not be going away any time soon.

 

The Real Face of “Globalism”: A Road Trip Through the American South

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In my writing I have argued before that travel is an important tool for understanding the modern world. Travel provides first-hand knowledge (as opposed to the second-hand knowledge often taught in schools) about different cultures and nationalities. In short, travel makes the meaningless catch words of “diversity” and “tolerance” much more meaningful because the “generalized other” (to borrow George Herbert Meade’s term) to whom we are being told to be “tolerant” of is actually a living, real, human being, rather than a caricature of an individual who merely looks phenotypically different. It is one thing to teach me about, say, “Egyptian culture”; it is a wholly other thing to travel to Cairo and actually converse with—and hang out with—Egyptians in their everyday lives. This is the real job of Sociology; it is to understand and bring people together; it is not to socially engineer—and divide people—further from one another.

In the spirit of some of my recent Memorial Day posts, I will tell the story of my most recent travels which took me through the original United States, tracing a route through most of the original 13 colonies of the Untied States: Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia (and West Virginia, once part of the original Virginia colony), Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. With each small southern town I stopped in, visiting antique stores, I could not help but think about my K-12 education. It had painted a picture of the American south as an area that is intolerant, racist, and underdeveloped (along with a slew of other—mainly insulting—adjectives). Yet, in reality, the American south is none of these things. In fact, it is a much more inviting place than, say, the urban sprawl that characterizes so much of New Jersey and Connecticut; a drive on I-81 through Virginia and up to Pennsylvania is a welcome respite from the stresses of life, while a parallel drive on I-95 through Virginia to the New Jersey Turnpike is a masochistic endeavor.

 

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I-81 in Virginia. Images Courtesy Of the Author.

 

A trip through the small towns of the United States tell the story of a geography which has been gutted by globalism. In the United States, we have become unable to take care of our own middle classes. This, in itself, is a major problem.  Jobs have been outsourced to China, and to Mexico, while illegal drugs flow from both countries into the United States—and they are drugs targeted at those who have most been affected by globalization: the unemployed in rural areas (Indeed, Fentonyl—a major killer—is being sent to the United States from China; in effect China is killing America’s most vulnerable people both economically and chemically). Our country is rotting from the inside, and no one seems to care enough to save it. To those on the coasts, they are just uneducated rednecks. To those in the heartland, they are just pretentious yuppie liberals. But in the end, both groups consume the same drugs produced in Chinese laboratories and suffer the same tragic consequences.

 

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Small Southern Towns, Gutted by Globalism’s Attacks on Domestic Industry as a Result of Policies Favorable to International Capital. Images Courtesy of the Author.

 

Despite the fact that our society is so clearly failing, in the universities the supposed “educated” portion of the population is finding it “cool” to hate America because of “injustices” committed in the past. But, of course, this begs one serious question: Can you really make something better if you hate it to begin with?

With these points in mind as I drove through the pastoral beauty of rural Virginia, I had to ask myself: If we do not change our own collective perspective, are we—as Americans—not in danger of becoming heirs to a “failed state”? While the term “failed state” is often thrown around at will by main(lame) stream media networks in defining foreign nations, could the same term not be used to describe the future of the United States if we are not careful? It is certainly an important question to ask, while we still have time to turn it around.

 

Is American Society Becoming Failed State?

Like Failed States, The United States Cannot Control the Border: At the end of April 2018, an immigrant “caravan” streamed towards the U.S. Border from Central America. The sight of these individuals, straddling the border fence, gives the impression of a country that has little to no control over its own borders. If this were to happen in another country—like, perhaps, Afghanistan—it is quite likely that the main(lame) stream media would brand it a “failed state”.

 

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An Absurd Sight. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/members-immigrant-caravan-asylum-process-180501065056337.html

 

Like Failed States, there is no Rule of Law in the United States: Unfortunately, since 2016, the number of police officers killed in the line of duty has reached record heights. In the first five months of 2018, almost forty members of American law enforcement have been killed while supporting their communities. Regardless of what one thinks about law enforcement, no well-meaning citizen should have to go home from work in a body bag.

Like a Failed State, the Education System is in Shambles: As an educator myself, I can see just how deep the crisis goes in American higher education. There is censorship—I have been rebuked multiple times for even daring to voice some of the opinions found on this blog—but the crisis goes much deeper than just my own experiences. Indeed, the United States has become a country which offers college degrees in “gender studies” while other countries still focus on developing real and tangible skills, like engineering. I liken going into debt for a gender studies degree to paying a scalper 5,000 dollars for a ticket to a sold-out football game only to be given a seat with an obstructed view behind a column. In both scenarios, the consumer ends up paying more than the original price for a very inferior product.

Like a Failed State, the Healthcare System is in Shambles: The United States cannot seem to agree on a working healthcare system, and that is something that—it seems—Americans can agree on regardless of their own ideological positions. Yet, after centralized healthcare showed its negative sides in the United Kingdom during the Alfie Evans case, the Washington Post chose to fan the flames of political sectarianism by publishing a piece by a graduate student (!) connecting the unfortunate death of a child to the bogeyman of 21st America, conservative ideology. That no constructive debate can be had regarding something as fundamental to humanity as healthcare shows just how dangerous the American situation has become.

Like a Failed State, the United States is Riven by Divisions Based on Ethnicity, Race, Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Ideology: How is it that our country has become more reminiscent of the so-called “third world” or “developing countries” which the mainstream media so often ridicules? I despise these terms simply because they mean nothing in actuality; there is no quality which makes one country (and more especially one group of countries) superior to another. Rather, these are descriptions used by a globalist intellectual class to institute a divide and rule policy around the world. Domestically, this process manifests itself in poorer countries by dividing different clans against one another (as in the most famous of failed states, Somalia) or different ethnic groups (as we saw in Afghanistan) just as it divides different groups of people in the United States on the basis of such dubious lines as race, sexual orientation, and even sexuality itself! During a conversation with an EMT at a local university, I learned that some students—when taken to an ambulance—object to being labeled by the gender they physically represent because they “identify” with another gender. While this is ok in theory, it does not work so well in practice simply because modern medicine requires knowledge about gender (and sexuality) in order to provide the best care possible. And just like such students may be shooting themselves in the proverbial foot by resorting to identity politics at any opportunity, might we—as a nation—be doing the same?

 

Given that the United States is so close to becoming a failed state—riddled by censorship in academia and the divisions of identity politics—is it not time that we, collectively, make an attempt to turn it around? It is my hope that on this Memorial Day, in 2018, that we start to move in the right direction; we will never be able to erase the wrongs of the past but we—as the people—have all the power to prevent the same wrongs from being repeated in the future. We owe it to those who fought for our country in the past, we owe it to those who aim to build a life in our country in the future, and–most importantly–we owe it to ourselves in the present.

 

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The United States Legalizes Sports Gambling: The View from Veblen

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On 14 May 2018 the United States Supreme Court, in what amounts to a revolutionary decision, ruled 6-3 against a 1992 federal law prohibiting sports betting in most U.S. states. Justice Samuel Alito explained the decision in terms of state’s rights: “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.” While this is a strong blow against the centralizing tendencies of Washington which have become more prominent in the last eight years, it is also a strong blow against the orthodox view of gambling in the United States. Indeed, this was a long time coming.

The absurdity of prohibiting sports gambling in the United States has not been lost on those of us who travel. In the summer of 2016 I was watching the European football championships with a group of British travelers in Seville, Spain, who found it absurd that in the United States Americans, over eighteen, could buy a rifle yet could not wager even a few “quid” on a football match (or baseball game. Or NBA game. Or NFL game). Yet, it seems as if at least five states have recently passed legislation regarding sports betting so–in terms of state’s rights—sports gambling might become legal in a few states in the not-too-distant future.

 

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A State-by-State Breakdown on a Very Technocratic Map. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/22516292/gambling-ranking-every-us-state-current-position-legalizing-sports-betting

 

But why has this change been so long in coming? Eminent Norwegian-American Sociologist and Economist Thorstein Veblen’s The Theory of the Leisure Class might give us some insight into this. Beyond the Black Sox scandal of 1919, Veblen shows that an aversion to gambling is part of modern industrial society. Veblen explains that “the chief factor in the gambling habit is the belief in luck” and this belief is “an archaic trait, inherited from a more or less remote past, more or less incompatible with the requirements of the modern industrial process, and more or less of a hindrance to the fullest efficiency of the collective economic life of the present” (Veblen 1953[1899]: 183). Indeed, this belief in luck is incompatible with industrial society because it threatens its mechanical—and ultimately rational—nature. Veblen explains:

 

The industrial organization assumes more and more of the character of a mechanism, in which it is man’s office to discriminate and select what natural forces shall work out their effects in his service. The workman’s part in industry changes from that of a prime mover to that of discrimination and valuation of quantitative sequences and mechanical facts. The faculty of a ready apprehension and unbiased appreciation of causes in his environment grows in relative economic importance and any element in the complex of his habits of thought which intrudes a bias at variance with this ready appreciation of matter-of-fact sequence gains proportionately in importance as a disturbing element acting to lower his industrial usefulness. Through its cumulative effect upon the habitual attitude of the population, even a slight or inconspicuous bias towards accounting for everyday facts by recourse to other ground than that of quantitative causation may work an appreciable lowering of the collective industrial efficiency of a community (Veblen 1953[1899]: 187-188).

 

In short, Veblen tells us that any belief in luck “counts as a blunder in the apprehension and valuation of facts” for science and technology (Veblen 1953[1899]: 190).

Given that science and technology are the bedrocks of the rational and technocratic society which defines the modern world, luck—like individual creativity and emotions—cannot be celebrated without threatening the basic foundational logic of modern industrial (and especially post-industrial, or digital) society. Perhaps this is one possible reason why the United States has waited almost 26 years to overturn a federal ban on sports betting, giving the decision back to individual states. While this is certainly a victory for states rights—and a blow to the centralization of the American state—it is also a victory for the rule of law. As ESPN journalist David Purdum notes, the black market for sports betting already makes 150 billion USD annually. If the government can tax such betting then it could offer some states an important form of income, even if it threatens the sensibilities of a rational and “modern” society.

 

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Mr. Veblen Himself. Image Courtesy Of: http://booksyouwillneverread.com/a-review-of-the-theory-of-the-leisure-class/

Beitar Trump Jerusalem and the Absurdity of Modernity

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The “absurdity of modernity” that Michel Foucault refers to should be in the back of all of our minds as the presidency of Donald Trump unfolds; indeed, it is precisely why we should not be too surprised when new absurdities pop up. The latest absurdity is the decision by Jerusalem football club—and six-time Israeli champions—Beitar Jerusalem FC to change their name to “Beitar ‘Trump’ Jerusalem in celebration of the U.S. President’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing the ancient city as the Israeli capital. An announcement on the club’s Facebook page reads:

For 70 years, Jerusalem has been awaiting international recognition, until President Donald Trump, in a courageous move, recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. President Trump has shown courage and true love of the Israeli people and their capital, and these days other countries are following his lead in giving Jerusalem its rightful status.

While this is certainly surprising—and more than a little absurd—the question remains, what does this mean in terms of the future?

 

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Certainly An Interesting Image. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.newsweek.com/beitar-jerusalem-israel-donald-trump-name-change-us-embassy-israel-benjamin-923645

 

As a state which exhibits the darkest side of ethnic nationalism and seems to reject an inclusive form of civic nationalism, Israel has often come under fire by critics. According to a 2017 U.N. report, Israel was classified as an “apartheid state”. Of course, defenders of Israel vehemently denied this characterization of the Jewish state. These contradictory descriptions of the Israeli state—and its actions—will, of course, constrain U.S. President Donald Trump going forward. Is he a “Friend of Zion”, as the banners around Jerusalem announce? Or does he believe in an “America First” policy, as he continually claims?

 

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A Friend Of Zion? But…shouldn’t’ the U.S. President be a friend of the American People First? Image Courtesy Of: http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/israel/2018/may/lsquo-trump-is-a-friend-of-zion-rsquo

 

A short look at Edward Said’s seminal 1978 text Orientalism can offer a few explanations. As Said notes, “standing near the center of all European [and now the American imperium’s] politics in the East was the question of minorities, whose ‘interests’ the Powers, in each its own way, claimed to protect and represent” (Said 1978: 191). Given this background, then, it should not be surprising that American foreign policy is stuck in the Orientalist logic of old—support of minorities—in a classic divide and rule strategy. Indeed, we have seen the same in Iraq and Syria (with the Kurdish minority) and elsewhere to a lesser extent (Yemen, for instance). But just how long can this policy hold, specifically in Israel?

Indeed, given that so few countries (just nine, including the United States and Israel) voted against the UN resolution rejecting the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it would seem that the United States is quickly becoming an international pariah (to use the classic terminology favored by news media).  Despite this, it seems that this process could open the door to a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The first step would be to recognize that the status quo cannot—and will not—help anyone involved. Indeed, the Palestinian entity in Israel has been shrinking for years. Additionally, a few recent opinion polls (like this one, cited by the Jerusalem Post in 2017) seem to point to a plurality of Israeli Jews and Palestinians calling for a two-state solution. Indeed, the days of Apartheid style segregation—and settler colonialism—should be put behind us, since they do nothing for either the Israeli state or the Palestinian entity; rather, such an unstable situation puts both in a constant state of turmoil. Indeed, the fact that over fifty people have died in recent protests—following the embassy opening—attests to the degree of this instability.

 

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Whither Palestine? Image Courtesy Of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/opinions/israel-settlements/?utm_term=.1c0637d70bd4

 

Of course, criticism of the status quo often results in accusations of “anti-Semitism”. Again, Said’s Orientalism is useful in explaining why such criticisms miss the mark. In a lengthy passage, Said explains the rationale behind his book:

 

The life of an Arab Palestinian in the West, particularly in America, is disheartening. There exists here an almost unanimous consensus that politically he does not exist, and when it is allowed that he does, it is either as a nuisance or as an Oriental. The web of racism, cultural stereotypes, political imperialism, dehumanizing ideology holding in the Arab or the Muslim is very strong indeed, and it is this web which every Palestinian has come to feel as his uniquely punishing destiny. It has made matters worse for him to remark that no person academically involved with the Near East—no Orientalist, that is—has ever in the United States culturally and politically identified himself wholeheartedly with the Arabs; certainly there have been identifications on some level, but they have never taken an “acceptable” form as has liberal American identification with Zionism, and all too frequently they have been radically flawed by their association with discredited political and economic interests (oil-company and State Department Arabists, for example) or with religion” (Said 1978: 27).

 

In short, there is a major anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias in American (and Western) presentations of the region and indeed the Israeli/Palestinian conflict more generally; this—in itself—constitutes a form of anti-Semitism given that Arabs (like Jews) are themselves a Semitic people (an argument put forth in Orientalism). And this is another reason why the current status quo—consisting of low level violent conflict between Israeli security forces and Palestinian terrorist groups, and de-facto segregation between Israel’s Arab and Muslim populations—cannot stand for long. Both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs deserve to live with dignity and in peace. And it is clear that the current situation cannot offer this kind of peace.

Perhaps, by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the United States will finally be able to rid itself of the burden to defend Israel—a country the size of the U.S. state of Connecticut—and move forward domestically without becoming embroiled in Middle Eastern conflicts in the future. After all, it is Israel’s responsibility to both its Jewish and Arab citizens to ensure equality before the law; it is also Israel’s responsibility (like any sovereign nation) to enforce their own borders without encroaching on Palestinian lands. Now that the capital has been recognized (and one contentious issue taken off the table), there might be hope that both sides can move towards a reconciliation with both their Arab neighbors (and Arab citizens); there might also be hope that the United States can recede from its current position as an imperial overseer of Israel and tend to more urgent domestic matters.

Time will tell as to what road both Israel and the United States take in the Middle East, as well as if Beitar Jerusalem’s name change will hold. While Beitar’s move is not surprising—given their far-right fan base—it is my hope that the name change will commemorate the transition to a more peaceful, and less belligerent, Israel going forward. Regardless of the football team’s name change, lasting peace in the region is important and it is increasingly clear that the current status quo will not deliver that kind of peace.

 

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Beitar’s La Familia Ultra Group are Known For Their (Ethnic) Nationalist Identity. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.espn.com/soccer/beitar-jerusalem/story/3497455/beitar-jerusalem-announce-they-will-rename-club-after-trump

Beware Mass Media: The New York Times’s Coverage of Turkish Football and Politics is a Veritable Disaster

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The New York Times Looks to Portray Hakan Sukur as the Aggrieved Victim in His Upscale Cafe. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/sports/hakan-sukur.html

 

U.S. President Donald Trump has been much maligned for his criticism of mainstream news outlets like the New York Times; he has indeed repeatedly criticized them for being “fake news” and has described them as “failing”. Of course, as is to be expected, the main (lame)stream media—like CNN—have hit back at Mr. Trump’s criticism with columns like Brian Stelter’s; that this particular column should carry the heading “Reliable Sources” is almost as absurd as the name of the Soviet Union’s main newspaper, Pravda, which was translated as “True”. Interestingly, Mr. Stelter’s claim that the New York Times (NYT) is not failing is based on purely economic concerns; Fortune reports that Mr. Trump’s opposition to the NYT has only served to bolster the periodical, whose stock was trading at a nine year high as of July 2017. Reuters corroborates this claim, as the globalist news outlet reported profits of over 15 million dollars in the second quarter of 2017.

 

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Mr. Trump Tends to Criticize the New York Time’s Poor Reporting. Since Turkish Football is a Subject I Know A lot About, I Have To Agree Here. Image Courtesy Of: http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/02/media/new-york-times-president-trump/index.html

 

What is surprising is that CNN and Fortune do not seem to understand that the “success” of a news outlet is not defined in terms of profit; rather its success is defined by its service to the people. Norwegian-American Sociologist Thorstein Veblen pointed out long ago that the commercialization of both media and education would have negative consequences, since it would mean that both would write for profits and—by extension—for the interests of those who would be providing investment. Taken in these terms, it should be clear that the main (lame)stream media is most certainly failing; they are writing in the interests of the global capitalist elite, but not at all in the interests of the millions of middle and lower class citizens at large.

A recent piece in the New York Times—written by John Branch about famous Turkish footballer Hakan Sukur—is a perfect example of the failing New York Times and, indeed, the failing main(lame) stream media in general. The 3 May 2018 piece makes Mr. Sukur out to be an innocent refugee, escaping an “authoritarian regime”; it is a portrait of an immigrant “trying to build his own American dream for his family”. While this, of course, follows the pro-immigrant and pro-victim narrative of globalism, the truth is a bit more complicated than Mr. Branch admits (or, perhaps, even knows—after all, journalism in the modern era has become a refuge for surface level analyses which often lack knowledge of deeper details). While many of my fellow Sociologists mock “the American Dream”, it is interesting that the NYT is so eager to bring it up—especially when looking to legitimate a famous figure who is being described as an innocent victim.

The reality is that Mr. Sukur was once a close ally of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan—indeed, he eventually resigned from his position as an MP in the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and came under attack from Mr. Erdogan himself, mainly because of his support for the shadowy Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. While it is likely that Mr. Sukur did not have full knowledge of Mr. Gulen’s plans for Turkey, his support for the cleric is undeniable. He was likely a pawn, whose celebrity status could be used in order to sway public opinion in Turkey (similar to the way Lebron James is used in the U.S.), but that does not excuse the New York Times’ atrocious reporting.

 

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A Bizarre Triangle…Mr. Erdogan (Left), Mr. Sukur (Center), and Mr. Gulen (Right). Image Courtesy Of: http://kaanil.blogcu.com/hakan-sukur-fethullah-gulen-le-ne-konustu/18008146

 

In Mr. Branch’s story, he seems to insinuate that the attempted coup of 15 July 2016 was a good thing (after all, authoritarian regimes are “bad” and need toppling). Please see the passage in question:

It was his [Mr. Sukur’s] first interview since he left Turkey in 2015, nearly a year before the 2016 deadly coup that tried, and failed, to topple the authoritarian regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former friend and political ally.

This kind of framing—a topic I have written about in the past—would lead the uninformed reader to believe that a coup deposing an “authoritarian” leader would be a “good” thing. Of course, this is far from the truth—a successful Gulenist coup in Turkey would have been disastrous. Still, this is the kind of shoddy reporting that has come to be the norm in the United States, a place where famous political commentators like Bill Maher openly call for coups to depose leaders they don’t like (such as Mr. Trump).

The most insidious passage—indeed, the most repulsive portion—of Mr. Branch’s reporting, however, comes in his description of Mr. Gulen’s Hizmet movement:

Gulen’s Hizmet movement has, for decades, infiltrated Turkey’s institutions with a moderate strain of Islam, trying to nudge the country from the inside toward democracy, education and cultural openness more associated with Europe than much of today’s Middle East.

I have bolded the most important parts since they are, in my mind, absurd. That the New York Times—one of the leading news providers in not only the United States, but the entire world—should describe a movement which attempted to subvert Turkish democracy by attempting a military coup as one which tried to “nudge the country toward democracy” is a gross misrepresentation of reality. The New York Times seems to think that they can shape public opinion by using catch phrases and catch words like “moderate Islam”, “cultural openness”, and “democracy” in order to shape public opinion. This is, very clearly, an egregious example of an attempt by the media to support a very dangerous man in the name of progressive politics.

Observers should be aware of the duplicitous nature of the globalist mass media which prefers to play on emotions rather than report on facts. Mr. Gulen is no democrat, nor is he a champion of any kind of Islam; rather, he is a capitalist who looks to transform Islam into one more amenable to capitalist ideals (as the sociologist Cihan Tugal masterfully explains in his book Passive Revolution: Absorbing the Islamic Challenge to Capitalism). That the New York Times would support a man who quite possibly ordered the bombing of his own nation’s parliament—and whose purported actions killed almost three hundred innocent people—as a supporter of “democracy” is both absurd and extremely troubling. For those of us who expect veracity from our news media—and despite the fact that ABC news thinks “The Colbert Report” is legitimate news (it is not)—this kind of reporting needs to be called out. It has no place in a country which prides itself on “freedom of the press”. We should all strive to take back our countries, and our free press, in the process.

 

 

 

 

New Teams and New Friendships: Gazisehir Gaziantepspor Congratulates Caykur Rizespor on Promotion to the Turkish Super League

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The final match of the 2018 Turkish Spor Toto First Division, between Gazisehir Gaziantepspor and Caykur Rizespor, saw an interesting scene. The Gazisehir FK players lined up to congratulate the champions, Caykur Rizespor, while the latter entered the stadium with a banner reading “We Wish Caykur Rizespor Succeds in the Super League”. While this is clearly good sportsmanship, it is also a sign of the kind of institutional power which has taken hold of Turkish football.

As I have written before, Gazisehir Gaziantepspor—itself a re-invented form of Gaziantep Buyuksehir Belediyespor (formerly the municipality’s team)—is a cheap replacement for the former Gaziantepspor which, for years, represented southeastern Turkey in the country’s first division. With them now out of the picture (indeed slated to drop down to the third tier of Turkish football just one year after dropping out of the Super League) a new hegemonic football power is rising out of Turkey’s southeast; Gazisehir Gaziantepspor (whose name is conspicuously similar to Istanbul’s similarly invented Basaksehirspor) might well fly the flag for Turkish football in the region going forward.

TRT Sports reports that many high ranking political officials including the Minister for Youth and Sport Osman Askin Bak, the ruling AKP’s [Justice and Development Party] Vice Chairman Hayati Yazici, the Turkish [AKP] secretary General Fahri Kasirga, and the Turkish Football Federation’s Deputy Chairman (and UEFA Executive Committee member) Servet Yardimci attended the match. This suggests that a cultural changing of the guard is underway.

 

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The Global Transnational Capitalist Class In Action As Gazisehir Gaziantepspor Players Congratulate Their Fellow Players on a Well-Played Season. Images Courtesy Of: http://www.trtspor.com.tr/haber/futbol/spor-toto-1-lig/caykur-rizespor-gazisehir-gaziantep-160157.html

 

In fact, the two teams even congratulated one another on their seasons via social media by using local dialects; the two teams–with Rizespor being the team from AKP President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s home town—are both supported by the Turkish political class. The fact that one of the bureaucrats who attended the final match of the season in the Turkish second tier is also a UFEA official is not insignificant. Indeed, it shows the continuing influence of a global transnational capitalist class on local processes—like football—in Turkey; it also shows the degree to which the Turkish state has become connected to globalization and globalism more generally.

 

 

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Gazisehir Gaziantepspor Congratulate Their Friends From Rize: Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/gazisehirfk?lang=en

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