Agency has become a catch word. In a way, this intoxication with ‘agency’ is the product of liberal individualism. The ability of individuals to fashion themselves, to change their live, is given ideological priority over the relation within which they themselves are actually formed, situated, and sustained.
—  Talal Asad, “Modern Power and the Reconfiguration of Religious Traditions" Interviewed by Saba Mahmood

In memory of the “Earth’s voice” (August 11th), this is an honoring graffiti of the late Talal Maddah (1940-2000) on a wall in Al Nuzha District, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The words of this Arabic graffiti are from the lyrics of his song “Zaman Alsamt” meaning “Era of Silence”.

Saudi owns major stake in FOX. Wonder why you never hear about radical Islam funded by Saudi Wahabbist on FOX? Wonder why you hear about Benghazi as a means to destabilize Obama 24/7 on FOX? Geo-political turmoil creates higher oil prices ring a bell? 

If this same Saudi had owned a major stake in MSNBC you would never hear the end of it from conservatives if MSNBC were critical of Bush.

Obama is more articulate than Bush, but they both talk of war not as a way of settling a particular dispute (of war as its resolution) but of maintaining sovereign peace through a continuing process of extermination.

In this respect both administrations are similar, and their similarity derives from the fact that they are both embedded in the same political-financial-military system. Their ability to move independently is therefore limited - but by no means absent.

Do you believe me or must I take an oath?

My tongue has become incompetent to describe to you

The bliss of love you connect me to

And you are the generous one in your entity

Do you see my heart on my sleeve?

It is my most prized possession

You want more love from me?

Then tell me where I can get another one. 

[طلال مداح - تصدق ولا أحلف لك]

I don’t think, in principle, that just because a movement declares itself to be religious, it should be made the object of special suspicion. In my view, one shouldn’t trust anyone who hankers after state power, whether they call themselves religious or secular. The modern state is at once one of the most brutal sources of oppression and a necessary means for providing common benefits to citizens. Whether it is secular or religious seems to me much less important than the fact that it is a state. If we look back over the twentieth century and this should become obvious. […]

I have felt for a long time now that we have gradually—and when I say “we,” I mean everybody in the modern world, and I’ll say more about that—worked ourselves into a situation that is truly tragic, in the Greek sense of having no real resolution. There are the most awful prospects before us, with the kind of technological warfare we now have, with the fantastic extension of consumerism and money, with the consequent growing gap between the very poor and the very rich, with the destruction of the environment, and with the ramifications of climate change and nuclear energy. I really hope that this is simply a sign of my being old. It may well be, because I don’t see things in the way that a younger person would, I’m sure. I see it all as being absolutely disastrous. But people will try to resist, and they should.


I remember talking once a long time ago with Edward Said about empire and how it might be defeated. We were just sitting and having coffee, and at one point I responded to some of his suggestions by saying, “No, no, this won’t work. You can’t resist these forces.” So he demanded a little irritably: “What should one do? What would you do?” So I said, “Well, all one can do is to try and make them uncomfortable.” Which was really a very feeble reply, but I couldn’t think of anything else.