Saudi Arabia is Going to Execute a Poet

There are few occasions on which the United Nations is able to disgrace itself more effectively than when it comes to making appointments to committees and sinecures. Iraq, for example, was due to take the chairmanship of the special committee on disarmament in 2003; a move prohibited not by any common sense on the part of the U.N. but because the US-led intervention in that same year made such an appointment impossible. Iran has recently been re-elected to a seat on the U.N’s Commission on the Status of Women. Robert Mugabe, the subject of a wide-ranging travel ban, was asked … Continue reading

A Poet’s Prescience

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When the reformist government of Alexander Dubček in Czechoslovakia was stamped out by a Soviet intervention, in August of 1968, it was the death knell for hopes of a democratic socialist alternative to the grey reality of the Eastern Bloc. It was a definitive moment for some, and only a reaffirmation of old divisions for others. The Stalinists would label it (without irony) the liberation of Czechoslovakia, while Trotskyists damned it as further evidence of the degenerated condition of the legacy of October 1917. It had only reaffirmed for many what had been so obvious years before. Heaven was no longer the only fortified structure from … Continue reading