PSA: Danny K!


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Dear world: I’ve decided to rebrand as Danny K, my original title. I do this for my Creator, for my family, and for my home countries, Syria & Armenia [The Middle East at large – Falastin], for my grandfather’s legacy of ingenious, and finally, perhaps selfishly, for myself.

From now on you can follow me on all social media outlets [Twitter, Instagram & Facebook] via @dannyk1988/@dannykrikorian.

New album coming SOON.

It will be available via Spotify, TIDAL & Apple Music/iTunes – this September.

Stay tuned for more updates. Show dates TBA. Visit the store to purchase new shirts for the upcoming album & to preorder a physical copy of the album itself.

One love,

Danny K.

 

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Who Partakes in Political Violence?


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Terrorism is a tactic adopted by particular groups for a political objective. The individuals that partake in this violence often exhibit common characteristics. One of these characteristics is impoverishment (Lee 2011). In parts of the world where state capacity to serve the public is low, terrorist group participation is more likely. In other words, these individuals come from poor backgrounds. But contrarily, individuals from higher economic classes, also tend to be involved. This suggests that the middle class is least likely to join in, while the lower middle and upper class are more vulnerable (Kavanagh 2011).

On the other hand, terrorism has a different motive. In this case, terrorism is analyzed from the individual perspective, versus the structural perspective. Concepts like emotion and humiliation are considered here to be powerful motivators towards violence. The underlying belief is that, particularly in the Islamic world, a sense of humiliation drives individuals to terror. This humiliation stems from cultural factors such as shame-based traditions as much as it does from a history of subordination to outsiders such as Europe and America, through arrangements like Sykes-Picot. Humiliation can be exacerbated by internal inequalities within nation-states (Fattah & Fierke 2009). Perhaps a less romanticized perspective argues that existential factors like desire and glory motivate individuals among other factors that are political to engage in terrorism (Cottee et al 2011).

The most compelling argument seems to focus on the political orientation of terrorism through the individual lens. This is because it considers the cultural dimension of politics which drives individuals to retaliation or aggression. Social factors like poverty and authoritarianism cannot be separated from the external powers at play, and their influence historically and in today’s world on regions where terrorism is most prevalent. Equally, we cannot ignore the complicity of national governments in worsening conditions and enabling terrorism.

 

Cottee, Simon and Keith Hayward. 2011. “Terrorist (E)motives: The Existential Attractions of Terrorism.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 34: 963-986

Fattah, Khaled and Fierke, K.M. 2009. “A Clash of Emotions: The Politics of Humiliation and Political Violence in The Middle East.” European Journal of International Relations 15(1): 67-93

Kavanagh, J. (2011). Selection, Availability, and Opportunity: The Conditional Effect of Poverty on Terrorist Group Participation. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 55(1), 106-132.

Lee, A. (2011). Who Becomes a Terrorist? Poverty, Education, and the Origins of Political Violence . World Politics , 203-245.

New America


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Its been more than 150 years since we were blessed with the gifted authorship of American transcendental author Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Emerson, Thoreau and their school of transcendentalists represented the first school of America spiritual individualism without attachments to any organized religion. Furthermore, their emphasis on the Overlord, or rather, the existence of a spiritual supreme being, or God, resonated with the American tradition of monotheism, evidenced by the constitution. It furtehrmore resonated with the secular community in that it placed less emphasis on superstitions and dogmatic narratives.

The point of this is to emphasize the individualist foundation of America.

My greatest infatuation with America as a first generation immigrant was with Thomas Jefferson. His theories which echoed social libearlism, secularism, education and rational deism, appealed immsenly to me.

I also came upon other theories of individualism like Ayn Rand, which are much more extreme. Ayn Rand, like other philosophers, unfortunately confuses her brand of individualism. It is in fact a theory of racist privilege. Rand was a zionist who depended largely on welfare and aid from the israeli government.

Ideas like socialism and fascism are both becoming popular in america. definitions for these terms are changing day by day because of lower educational levels among constituents. Youtube video comments are becoming the hotbed of american education.

Since the assassination of JFK, we have witnessed America fall into a trap of populism. You are either a neoconservative or a neoconservative; democrat or republican, you support foreign invasions. Both parties are populist. Both parties seek to appeal to the ideological fanaticism of constituents, which is the product of ignorance (passive) and arrogance (active). the republicans appeal to the mass-minded religious nuts; the democrats appeal to the animal loving, overly environmentally paranoid, Wall Street hipsters.

Both social groups, the democratic left wing and the republican right wing constituencies share one thing – economic insecurity. This makes them vulnerable to the forces of collective-group-think and propaganda.

Americans are pawns of a grand puppet scheme strung together by a coalition of religious fanatics who can’t let go a historical grudge and bitter past, ideological fanatics who can’t separate their delusions from their imagination, corporate-cults that can’t survive without income exploitation, and politicians who are the business on this grand stage, selling us their “business models” — though poorly designed. But if the constituency is too dumb to notice, why not?

Economic insecurity has been exacerbated in America, though it always existed. The struggle between America’s colonial past and its desire to form a national identity is evident in the early conflict between those who wished to extend the tradition of capitalist exploitation, and those who wished to balance open markets with a strong state capable of regulating abuses by political and economic elites. This conflict was waged between the federalists and the anti-federalists. Slavery would come into question very late in this conversation of power-sharing and power-limits, to the misfortune of the African-American population, whose grievances remain largely unaddressed even today, 40 years after the civil rights era, and the deaths of both Malcolm and Martin. Today’s Jim Crow is police brutality.

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Back to the subject. Economic insecurity. Why? The colonialists won. America was founded on colonialism, so it is only right that capitalism, that is, the benefits of exploitation, took precedence over the need to form a national identity and cater to the welfare of the general American public, in the list of priorities of the American elite.

Today, this struggle continues. But the conflict is more ambiguous, because the manipulative tactics have become more devious and difficult to detect. The masses are in a trance. The individual is dead.

Is this the fate of democracy? The struggle between democracy and republicanism ensues.

The American constituency has grown less patient than ever, and has become more vulnerable to mass-media, propaganda and ideological inconsistency than ever before. Perhaps this is a reflection of America’s desperate attempt to colonize and control other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, Latin America, Central and Southeast Asia. The government has utilized all mechanisms available to manufacture consent for war and arbitrary conflict to secure the elites grasp of power, and to preserve the current political system in place, in the words of Noam Chomsky.

What is that political system?

The majoritarian system of democracy divided us and portrays ideologies as competing against one another. Instead there needs to be a recognition that majoritarianism can often trump the rights of individuals, political, social or economic. What is more important, that majority rules, or that individual rights are preserved? The extent of individual rights are hotly debated, but this is often a tactic too. It should be simple. But politicians want to justify poverty and institutional disenfranchisement so they encourage tensions, racism, and xenophobia. They strip us of our rights to tax funds, and to self-investment. A poor constituency cannot have power. Perhaps that is what the elite desires.

Is majoritarianism the problem? No, the problem is our cultural values have begun to diminish. If they didn’t then the majority would rule in favor of righteous policies, not ones that encourage war and unrest, domestically and abroad.

America is learning to heal from its past, but the scars run deep. The individual still exists, but he is striving perhaps more than ever, to secure his place in the world.

What we are demanding, is a New America.

 

Democracy?


Marble statue of  the ancient greek philosopher Plato. Image shot 03/2009. Exact date unknown.

As a deist who recognizes the existence of an eternal Supreme deity, I take issue with the reality that much spirituality and religion is held hostage to the dogmas of compulsion, strict adherence & fanaticism. While not all religions espouse this, as an Arab-Armenian, I am forced to witness the consequences of religious fanaticism everyday.

The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ which was apparently intended to usher in democracy into the Middle East proved to produce negative results. In Egypt the fanaticism of the Muslim Brotherhood took hold. The majority in this case was not tolerant of social liberalism and therein caused a religious mess. A military coup followed resulting in the restoration of the non-democratic tradition of Middle Eastern political culture.

But to suggest that democracy is a perfect concept is not only irrational — it is by definition, un-American. In today’s world, the so-called global police of all democracies, isn’t even, by definition, a democracy. America is a federal republic. The founding fathers often held democracy in disdain because it allowed for the possibility of instability.

The idea that democracy is an end would suggest that it is universal, absolute & self-sufficient. But just as China’s shift from robust communism to mixed economics proved the inefficiency & inhumane nature of adherence to absolute communism, so to has the US, since FDR really, drifted further away from robust democratic-capitalism to leftist-inspired mixed economics. Never has the US, or any major western hegemony for that matter, exhibited a state of pure democracy, precisely because of the power and influence of religious fundamentalism on the political process and on society altogether.

Is Democracy just?

It is rationalism which manifested the philosophy of democracy, the idea that the majority should rule and that order would ensue. But choice is an enigma, as is human nature, and reducing humanity to statistics results in collective totalitarianism. Who is to say that the majority of human beings would choose what is right or moral? The assumption that numbers do the talking may work for basic creatures of animalistic instinct but the complexity of human nature requires that we consider the possibility that individual rights, self-reliance, experience & self-determination are often compromised by democracy and ensuing collective ideological movements.

Are there limits to how much democracy should be exhibited?

If the majority of a country consistently elects leaders who legislate unjust policies, doesn’t this suggest a flaw in relying strictly on majoritarian politics? Is majoritarian democracy the problem? Switzerland exhibits what is called proportional-representation; that way minority groups aren’t disenfranchised from the conversation of representation. In the US however it seems democracy has been a tool in rallying support for non-democratic policies, from tax breaks for the 1% to full-fledged arbitrary invasions of foreign countries.

What is holding America hostage is the elitist mentality of the 1%. But does democracy encourage this? The free market exists, but is it stifled by elitism & industrial monopoly?

There is an association between free markets and democracy, what we call here in the West, democratic-capitalism. How much do these values really ensure individual & collective rights?

Realistically I would argue that every nation will realize its need for mixed economics in order for survival. Empires which have relied on dogmatic-ideologies have eventually run themselves dry, from ancient pagan empires to modern twentieth-century totalitarianism.

So perhaps the problem in the international community is not the absence of democracy or republicanism but rather an absence of ‘moderate’ forces which do not threaten national sovereignty and do not enable colonialism.

The Democratic Index of 2012 compiled by the Economic Intelligence Unit lists the US 21st on the list. Israel, supposedly the Middle East’s only democracy, is not included. This isn’t to suggest that these countries are not democracies, but rather, that the level of democratic rights which are instituted are relatively low compared to the ideal of democratic representation.

Poverty and ego are the main causes of ideological fundamentalism. The solution to the Middle East is not democracy. It is the opposite. It is the end of foreign dogma in the region. Neither democracy, capitalism, communism or Islam are going to solve the socio-economic crises of the Middle East; and in reality, the push for democracy by the West during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ had neither democratic values nor the interests of the Middle Eastern people in mind, but rather, another pseudo-revolution aimed at distracting the world from the behind-the-scenes oil-for-weapons trades going on.

Measuring a country’s morality or integrity based on its level of democracy is one thing; but to suggest that a country IS NOT A DEMOCRACY, is foolish — because no country ever has or currently exhibits pure democracy. The idea that the majority is infallible is foolish and arrogant. Furthermore, the idea that West understands more than the East what constitutes an acceptable level of democracy is self-righteous and hypocritical, given statistical data from the Economic Intelligence Unit which suggests that democratic values are not upheld completely by any western hegemony.

That brings me to Israel. It was, on the contrary, included on the list of flawed democracies, with India, Brazil, Russia & Argentina beside it.

Israel claims to be “A” democracy. It couldn’t be further from the truth on two notes: firstly, that no country has ever exhibited absolute democracy; and secondly, in that it is a ethno-religious entity…by nature it cannot be egalitarian. Furthermore, Israel represents a minority in the Middle East. Still, it maintains close ties with dictatorial regimes in order to ensure its control over the media, because facts are on the side of the Arabs, which show that the Arab & Muslim world are completely disenfranchised from the conversation of justice and values of democracy. Israel is not infallible; it is not secular; it is not egalitarian; and it is essentially a product of classic gerrymandering. Israel, like the Republican Party in the US, is perpetually in a race against time, desperate for occupation, constantly propagating dogma & hypocrisy.

The self-righteous attitudes of Republicans, pro-Israelis & neo-conservatives only exposes their hypocrisy. They rely on forces of religious fundamentalism, usury & imperialism in order to protect themselves from criticism and being brought to justice.

Whether democracy is the moral or best form of government, I cannot say for sure. I will say however, that if by democracy we mean the assurance of human rights, I am not exactly sure how well the US fares in that regard; neither the US, nor any of its supposedly democratic allies.

I recently came across a comment by a pro-Israeli which read that Palestine was a roman creation. So too, was Israel. The idea that the Roman Empire & the Jewish Kingdom were never in agreement is at odds with history. Furthermore, was it not the pagan emperor Darius & the following Persian emperors who helped rebuild the Second Temple? The ties between Israel, imperialism & global empires goes back quite far. Today, instead of Rome we’ve got the UK & the US. Quite appropriate, given the greco-roman cultural foundations of both societies. Perhaps this is what Nietzsche was referring to when he mentioned the political order of the Judeo-Christian monopolization of monotheism & socio-economics. Before we deem critics of western society as atheists or fanatics, let us apply the same criticalness to ourselves. How moral are we, really, America?

Communism, fascism, democracy, republicanism, ultra-nationalism, theocracy all serve the agenda of Imperialism and work coercively against national sovereignty and human rights. An article recently published by Business Insider received insight on Middle East politics through the eyes of an Arab billionaire who requested that his identity remain anonymous to protect his name and family from danger. In the article, he made many interesting points, one of which caught my eye the most. The following is a quote from the article:

Israel doesn’t want peace because Russian immigrants have taken over its political system and moved it rightward.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/an-interview-with-an-arab-billionaire-2015-2#ixzz3RxpZsE00

This shows the close association between the state of Israel and imperialism. The vast immigration of Russian jews to the Middle East largely makes up the majority of Israel’s population. Imperialism & elitism have a longstanding tradition in Russian history. It was the Bolshevik communist revolution which brought the tradition to a sudden halt, thereby pinning Russia and the USSR against the West in a global conflict for the balance of power in a bi-polar stand-off called the Cold War, which lasted nearly half a century. Israel was largely the product of an agreement between various imperial forces. The Bolshevik revolution, like the Nazi movement, appeared to have been anti-semitic and violently hostile to Judaism on the surface; but in reality, both of these forces served as catalysts for the creation of Israel in 1948.

The point here is that Israel’s history and its policies are reflective of its practically absent democratic attributes. In the 21st century it is looking more and more like the apartheid regime which ruled South Africa from 1948 (the irony) till the end of the millennium.

The engine of industrialization and capitalism is often understood as freedom and individual innovation, but never as a product of government nepotism and imperial exploitation versus genuine free trade. Israel & Saudi Arabia are products of this reality. It is not the free-market culture but rather the culture of American Exceptionalism which has contributed to the successes of Zionism & global imperialism.

I would argue that free-markets and capitalism are completely different and in fact mutually antithetical. Capitalism is an attitude of supremacy, where as free markets are a philosophy of openness, self-reliance and innovation. Capitalism requires forced labor, slavery, ownership of natural resources, and enables oligarchy. Imperialism is an extension of capitalism, both of which are rooted deeply in white supremacy, orientalism and colonial exploitation.

The reveals the culpability of Israel and western neo-cons in the occupation of palestine and the propagation of nazi-esque white supremacy. It is this culture of racism which is responsible for the trans-atlantic slave system which practically built the United States. It is this culture of racism which enslaved South Africa, and continues to oppress Palestinians. It is this racism which ethnically cleansed the Armenians in a still unrecognized genocide by the Turkish government in the early twentieth century, paving the way for future genocides to be unheard of.

The Arab Spring: Legit or Not?


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The question of whether or not the Arab Spring is a legitimate movement against corruption and tyranny requires addressing the following assumptions regarding the culture of the Middle East as well as the nature of democracy as a political philosophy; and the credibility of global power like the US, Europe, Russia & China in policing the world and/or crusading for democracy.

Obviously we cannot throw all uprisings in the Middle East into one category because each country is different culturally and circumstantially. The main scene of protest in the Middle East in what would be called the Arab Spring includes Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria & Bahrain. It wasn’t much before the Arab Spring when the Lebanese people orchestrated a one-million man protest in Beirut which would eventually force the Syrian government to withdraw completely.

Protests also erupted in neighboring countries of influence and significance, namely Iran & Turkey.

Some might argue the Arab spring inspired movements in Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba & Ukraine where extreme forces are already threatening to take grip — amidst uncertainty and the vulnerable state of a country during a transitional phase of government.

As I stated before each of these countries is different. The type of reforms necessary, the culture of the people, the grievances of the people. They are not all the same. What was common among all participants of the Arab Spring was a sense of discontent with the social, political and economic conditions of the Arab people. But what exactly is the cause of the misery of the Arab people? Is it the tyranny of their own governments, or the tyranny of global powers?

Take a look at Syria for example, where the government has been ruled by a close-knit group of Assad-sympathizers. 75% of the Syrian population is Sunni, which has remained largely unrepresented in the political and economic aspects of Syrian life. The Alawites, a minority religious sect of Shiite Islam, have been largely in control of the political process in Syria, operating from the stronghold of Damascus. Despite disparaties between the elite rich and the impoverished lower classes, largely Sunni, the majority of Syrians were content with their state of affairs. The irony is that it was the Alawites who were disenfranchised from Syrian society before the coup which ushered in the presidency of Hafez al-Assad in 1970. The Alawites were regarded as heretics and second class citizens. It was Assad’s rise to prominence which elevated their social status, seen by many Syrians as their way of avenging their history of oppression. The Correction Movement, initiated by the Assad government, aimed to socialize the Syrian economy and redistribute wealth more fairly so as to guarantee universal prosperity. The outcome? While major advancements were made on a national level in terms of infrastructure and self-sustenance, the economy was largely controlled by the Assad government. How was this different from the Sultan-esque elitist economic model that ruled Syria prior to Assad’s Corrective Movement? Similar efforts were attempted in the realm of Socialism in Egypt and Libya for example, by Gamal Abd Nasser & Muammar al-Gaddafi, respectively. All three of this historic figures were regarded as threats to global hegemonies and the tradition of capitalism which had been the foundation of the international political system for centuries. None of their socialist policies brought openness and prosperity to the economy except for those in power, essentially just fortifying the system of stagnation in place before.

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Assumption: democracy is the universal road to justice; democracy is compatible with Arab & Muslim society; democracy is a guaranteer of social equality; that the global police actually exhibit democracy.

Has there ever been a democracy? Is the US a real democracy? The French Revolution was hijacked too. Instead of ushering in what was supposed to be individual rights we went from tyranny of the pride to tyranny of the revenge. The American Revolution ushered in the first real modern attempt at democracy to ensure the rights of individuals socially, economically and politically. But how could the US be a democracy if it for 200 years deprived all African-Americans of basic, necessary human rights? Today immigrants, gays, muslims, arabs, atheists, jews and still African-Americans, are the subject of unequal treatment.

Even in the far east, in Russia for example, the public attempt to collective reform Russian society was another revolution hijacked by yet another pseudo-science: Communism. Communism merely strengthened the hold of elitism by placing control in the hands of a political party and cult of personality versus a family or royal name as had been before.

Thanks to movements by honorable leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. the US has made great strides towards a more democratic society; however the 21st century has revealed that 200 years of human rights abuses have consequences that are still to be seen. I am referring to the corruption of the justice and prison systems as well as police brutality and disparaging inequalities in income. The 21st century also ushered in the Arab Spring. In the case of Tunisia, I would say the movement succeeded. In the case of Egypt, Libya & Syria, it is not the same. Syria has become the battleground for the war against fundamentalism as well as a proxy war against Israeli expansionism. The rise of Islamic fundamentalism as well as failure on the international community to realize the human rights of the Arab World, most importantly Palestine, contributed to the hijacking of what was supposed to be an Arab Spring towards democracy.

But who is to blame? Assad of Syria? Sisi of Egypt? Gaddafi of Libya? The US? The West? Russia & China? Religious fanaticism? Israeli expansionism? Colonialism?

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I am sure all of these forces contributed. But as stated before each country is different. In Syria, the people are not as upset with their government as they are with the international community’s silence of the crimes of colonial entities such as Israel. Perhaps this is why Assad has yet to dissolve his government; perhaps his claim that the Syrian people remain united has some validity. It is true, that neither Syria, Libya nor Egypt have progressed towards democracy economically, politically or socially…but to place the blame entirely on Arab leaders is misguided. Furthermore, it is a way of stereotyping…typecasting all Arab national grievances as similar in motive. The West was keen on insisting that Assad leave early on in the conflict. The tone has changed.

Perhaps the Arab Spring did not die. Perhaps the Arab Spring is still alive; but, despite what the media might suggest; that the revolution has in fact another target — not our own Arab leaders — but the dismantling of the expansionist, colonialist apartheid regime of Israel, which has occupied Palestine and destabilized the Middle East for a half-century now, spurring the rise of terrorism and instability in the region.

As pro-Western Arab allies like the King of Jordan and the new Saudi King Salman scurry to improve their reputations; other Arab nations are more keen are continuing the initiative that was begun by the earliest of Arab independence movements that unfolded in the mid-twentieth century against the colonial powers of France and the UK.

Democracy is certainly the end goal of all nations. But the irony which surrounded America’s non democratic history forces us to realize the possibility (and likely reality) that the Arabs are victims of non-democratic tyranny, largely supported and facilitated by Western governments, in the interests of none other than the apartheid regime of Israel, the supposed only ‘democracy in the Middle East’. How can an apartheid government, a theocracy, serve as a role model for democracy? How can a country which tortures men women and children, razes homes, propagates religious extremism and exclusivity, encourages conformity, suppress individuality and human rights, be considered a beacon of democracy?

The real Arab Spring is a continuation of the more genuine revolutionary initiative of the earlier Arab independence movements of the twentieth century. We cannot allow our dignity and revolutionary spirit to be easily hijacked by extremists and elitists. Let us remember who the occupying and oppressive power really is, and the techniques of mainstream media outlets in distorting reality and history.

The miserable conditions of Arab States cannot be addressed or solved until the cause is exposed and removed. Let us not compromise our dignity, loyalty, community and humility for the sake of the instant gratification of temporary and illusory solutions.


Liberalism is truth.

There is One God.

Religion is pointless.

Freedom is in free, secular faith.

Be open minded.

Be kind.

Truth and Justice will be known.