Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 28, 2007

Monuments of Liberation

When 'western' politicians and media talk about liberation, some still believe the concept be about basic human rights or self-determination.

That is wrong. Liberation is now understood to be an exclusively economic concept. The word used today describes the freedom of rich people to do whatever they want to do, robber barons in the new cloth of neo-liberal junk-science. As far as it is related to lesser persons, liberty is reduced to their capacity to consume.

That description is too radical you say? It isn't - it is pure mainstream. A piece in the Labour friendly British Guardian today makes this abundantly clear.

It is headlined: Shoppers hail new monument to South African liberation.

Nelson Mandela opened Soweto's latest monument to liberation yesterday, but few of the people pouring through the doors of the huge new shopping mall took much notice of the corner reserved for those who died to make it all possible.

The glitzy glass and steel Maponya mall, modelled on a London shopping centre, is the first of its kind in the township, which was the crucible of the uprising that rocked the foundations of apartheid.

Alongside a Woolworths and a Toys R Us, the first toy store chain in the township, there are locally-owned boutiques, hair stylists and a diamond shop among the 200 stores. The £47m complex also has Soweto's first multiscreen cinema.

So while there were past times when people hailed the Statue of Liberty as a sign of throwing off colonial rule, a monument for the liberation of the United States, the new symbols of liberty are malls. The masses hailing the new monument are shoppers.

Woolworth, Toys R Us and a multiscreen cinema - monuments of liberation in the twenty-first century.

Posted by b on September 28, 2007 at 6:56 UTC | Permalink


Hmm, didn't the Red Army "liberate" Eastern Europe? And did the USA not "liberate" Kuwait in 1991 by reinstalling the Sheikh, who had disbanded parliament in 1986?

"Liberation" has truly come to be a subjective term: it often means "replacing a hostile dictator with a friendly one".

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 28 2007 7:04 utc | 1

Just wait until the credit squeeze hits black South Africans. They have amassed huge credit card debt.

Posted by: | Sep 28 2007 9:59 utc | 2

well, at least we know where all the toys coated in lead paint will end up

Posted by: jcairo | Sep 28 2007 11:38 utc | 3

Great post.

In the Western world, the words "liberty" and "democracy" can always be replaced with the interchangeable words "capitalism" and "shopping" -- in either order. Likewise, "reform" means "privatisation."

It's all part of "The Free World Lexicon."™

Posted by: Malooga | Sep 28 2007 11:51 utc | 4

New and noteworthy economic fear mongering all in the service of LiberationTM:

Islamic Economics: What Does It Mean? from none other than the Chief Fearmonger himself, Daniel Pipes -- in the Jerusalem Post.

I also happened upon this piece from January which, while not specific to economics, is a companion fear-mongering piece (and which, by the way, seemed to me to jive with that latest al-Qaeda video threatening Spain, etc) Bernard Lewis: "Muslims About to Take Over Europe".

Something about these pieces really gives me pause. Are we not already up to our eyeballs in filthy criminal confrontations with the so-called evil "other"? Are there other fronts to come that we haven't even yet considered?

I wish these could be dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic fringe, but unfortunately, I don't think they can be...

Posted by: Bea | Sep 28 2007 13:33 utc | 5

Look at that picture in the Guardian and you will see a crowd of black African ladies in the shopping mall milling around beside a display of twenty or so model heads displaying wigs. Not one of the heads is black or curly headed; all are of the white European race with straight hair, in some cases blonde. The ideal form of the human being seems to be the facial features and skin colour of the colonial rulers. So does liberation means freedom to imitate the "master" race?

Posted by: Mike | Sep 28 2007 13:53 utc | 6

Bernard Lewis is an intellectual midget. That some can even consider him the leading expert on Islam and Middle-East shows how deep in the cesspool the US has fallen.
Anyone who thinks Europe will fall to Islam is a complete moron with no notion of what Europe is and what Europeans think.
That whole JPost article is a joke. The only part where they come close to the truth is about the fact that too many Europeans have abdicated in the cultural war. The fact is, they didn't abdicate against Islam, but against the US version of "culture", and US capitalism, with a Vichy right that has betrayed their own (European) countries to US interests again and again for decades.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Sep 28 2007 13:55 utc | 7

bernard lewis is the buffoon par excellence

he doesn't speak he barks

i think they put him in the same kennel as robert novak & by their barking - the other dogs rarely get a good night's sleep

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 28 2007 14:07 utc | 8

it hits me every time, again and again, when I realize how much this view is internalised.

please see this. looks like a riot. its not. peoples desires for how society should be organized was not behind the driving motives to mass. but media markt opened an new store in berlin. people desire to buy special offers. (some guys interviewd dont even know what they want to buy,but when you can save money...). brainwashed.

Adam Curtis made a great BBC-documentation around this topic, The Century of the Self. If you haven't watched yet, absoultely recommendable (like all of his work). Its available for free.

Posted by: | Sep 28 2007 14:14 utc | 9

whoops, above was me.

Posted by: snafu | Sep 28 2007 14:14 utc | 10

john pilgers latest film offers a clear perspective on this

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Sep 28 2007 14:29 utc | 11

When Ikea opened a store in SA, Jeddah I think, there were 3 dead. Trampled by the crowd. The injured were never properly listed or counted afaik.

easy to look up, see the BBC:>link

Posted by: Tangerine | Sep 28 2007 17:16 utc | 12

Neocons are busy setting up the Islamic world as the last bastion of socialism. Funny, because lots of Middle East states are still feudal monarchies.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 28 2007 17:21 utc | 13

Meet the new baas...

Posted by: DeAnander | Sep 28 2007 17:33 utc | 14

a friend sent me this article called Between Imperialism and Islamism

Between the xenophobes of the West and the illogical fundamentalism in Muslim societies, the choices keep getting grimmer. A mutually beneficial disentanglement can only be provided by humane, reasoned and principled leftwing politics.

It reads like something DiD or Malooga or DeAnander might have written. If any of you should take offense at that let me assure you that I mean it as a complement. Might be worth a look, even to debunk it.

Posted by: dan of steele | Sep 28 2007 17:44 utc | 15

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