Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tony Parsons at the battle of Lewisham and other South London stories

Some news items from My lewisham:

Parsons and Burchill fight Nazi thugs

Tony Parsons in interview mentions his relationship with Julie Burchill: 'They didn't become lovers immediately. Parsons dates their relationship from the Lewisham riot in 1977 - they were there together. "I gave her a flickknife and my telephone number. I think she threw away the number and kept the knife."'

The Lewisham riot (or Battle of Lewisham, as we anti-fascists like to call it) actually took place in New Cross. It was a key victory in the physical fight against the fascist resurgance of the late 1970s. See an account here and this Guardian article from the time.

Brockley councillors fight globalization

Socialist Party councillors support MSPs suspended after G8 riots

Steve Bloke fights thugs in hoodies

Bizarrely, Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock will be debating whether or not we can "impose respect", with Polly Toynbee amongst others, at the Progress annual conference.

No blood for oil

The Surrey Advertiser reports that Star Energy might soon be drilling for oil on Blackheath - they're asking to build a 120ft drilling derrick.

Previous: Loafin in Brockley, London blogs, Deptfordism 2
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Little putz

Via Jogo: Christopher Hitchens: Cut It Off - Another disgusting religious practice

Hitch hates all religions, so not a suprising view from him. As Marc Mulholland says, there's still "something of the Trotsky era Red Army about Christopher Hitchens... "

Original NYT article: City Questions Circumcision Ritual After Baby Dies - New York Times

Another blogger's views: dcat: The ignorance of Christopher Hitchens

Previous: Sensible anti-war left

Sensible anti-war left

Todd Gitlin writes:

The Sheehan vigils are reminiscent of a moment in the fall of 1969 when the anti-Vietnam-war Moratorium organized thousands of events across the country. There were big demonstrations in the usual locations, but the striking thing was the turnout in small and medium locales and places not noted for hippies or cosmopolitanism. Then too, the media caught on to the scale and diversity of the turnout. The demonstrations were in synch with public opinion. Around that time, according to Gallup, 49 percent supported some troop withdrawal, and 78 percent wanted it faster than Nixon’s pace.

Now too, as with Vietnam, the public has long since concluded that the Iraq war was a blunder in the first place. Moreover, now the hawkish side of the spectrum is much weaker than the withdrawal side. But this doesn’t mean the public knows what it wants done. In polls, a lot depends on the question asked, and the results, though not splendid for Bush, are not automatically running toward withdrawal. According to last week’s AP-Ipsos poll, 60 percent say “American troops should remain until Iraq is stable,” as against 37 percent who preferred immediate withdrawal. (Foolishly, Ipsos offered only these two choices.) Early in August, Gallup found 56 percent for either total or partial withdrawal (as against maintenance or increase),
with the largest single bloc, 33 percent, going for total withdrawal.

Here’s the rub about 1969: As the war became less popular, so did the anti-war movement. It was hated, in fact—by the end of the decade, the most hated entity in America. In the 1969 Gallup poll I just cited, as Harold Meyerson reminded his Washington Post readers in June, “77 percent disapproved of the antiwar demonstrations, which were then at their height.” To what degree this was because the movement was reputed to be against the troops, to what degree because of confrontational revelries and symbolic anti-Americanism on the left, to what degree because of psychic projection, who can tell? But all this was a gift to Nixon, and it has been the gift to the right that keeps on giving.

Perhaps mindful of this inauspicious history, one unnamed correspondent during a ecent Washington Post chat wrote the following:

'The anti-war movement really has to learn about behavior. The candlelight vigil thing was great. That's the sort of action that makes sense, actually makes for good PR, and draws in the mainstream….But sadly, too much of this has been run by the ‘Giant Puppet,’ ‘Bongo circles for peace,’ and ‘Street Theatre’ crowd. For example, the upcoming ‘United for Peace and Justice’ rally is going to protest the war, the World Bank, Israel, and demand unilateral Nuclear Disarmament. All accompanied by Trustafarians with bongos and Giant Puppets.

When the mainstream sees that idiocy, they start considering that the pro-war side may have a point. I opposed this joke in Iraq from day one, and I find these folks silly and counterproductive. The anti-war movement needs more adults in charge, not folks trying to pretend it’s 1968 all over again, without all the drugs.'

The September 24 Washington rally referred to above is co-sponsored by International ANSWER, which along with “Stop the War in Iraq” offers these slogans: “Support the Palestinian People’s Right of Return,” “U.S. out of the Philippines,” and “U.S. out of Puerto Rico.” (Somehow help for Darfur is missing. That must not be anti-imperialist enough.)

Cindy Sheehan has already been Swift-Boated, and there’s probably more coming. With their poll numbers sinking, Bush and Karl Rove need reinforcements. They’ll go down and dirty, as usual. Those who rightly want to dissent from the whole awful Bush war will have to decide, once again, how to do so in such a way as to increase their leverage and avoid getting painted into a corner.

The Hitch with Jon Stewart

Watch Christopher Hitchens on Comedy Central [Media Player] // via Reality Cafe

Good news from Iraq, no.34

Just found this [via Myopic Thoughts]

Chavez again

Read what Johan Hari has to say:
Footnote, from HR at Modblog:

I'm a big fan of Johann Hari - but hey! - this sentence is ridiculous:

"But all across Venezuela I keep finding the polar opposite of massacres in the missions: people mown back to health with medicine-bullets."

Two things you should read today

Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays For WAR: Anticapitalism (sponsored by Carling)

A Councillor Writes: Orwell, war and the loss of meaning

Friday, August 26, 2005

Lionel Bart

Very interesting BBC Radio 2 documentary, narrated by Barbara Windsor: Lionel Bart

Previous: Jewish East End event, Tribute to Robert Moog, Yiddish Radio Project, Groucho Marx, Bagels and Bongos, Pearl Williams

What the Presbyterian Church (USA) Has in Common With al-Qaida

James Likeks comments


This is about right (from Damian McNicholl's Blog):
"I should say, I do not pretend to have a firm grip on the state of Venezuelan politics but I understand Chavez is an avowed anti-globalist as are many people in Europe and the United States, that his country's government was awash in corruption before he came to power,... and that he enjoys the support of the majority of impoverished Venezuelans who happen to have brown skin but has little or no support among the ruling class who're descended from European ancestry. Moreover, I do find it quite odd that President Chavez has a penchant for wearing military uniforms in public, likes to associate with Fidel Castro and has a spotty record of success."

Killer ladies

The Heretik asks what women of the past would make killer bloggers? My suggestions: Sylvia Pankhurst, Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt.

Juan Cole, Steven Vincent and Lisa Ramaci-Vincent 2

Additional links re my post yesterday:

And a sensible comment on Cindy Sheehan versus the Hitch: Demosophia: "Ventriloquizing the Dead"

More on the Ministry of Reshelving

(Following up this post: BobFromBrockley: 1984 The Ministry of Reshelving.)

Reality Cafe

Blog recommendation: Reality Cafe, fresh views from Pakistan. Posts on Musharraf and the Jewish Congress, the idea of an American Taliban, the Pope and the Nazis, and the idiocy of ANSWER.

Marx without Marxism

Out of the Driver's Seat: Marx without Marxism

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Something more important and more interesting than Pat Robertson or Hugo Chavez

Another guest blog from La Empanada
Something more important and more interesting than Pat Robertson or Hugo Chavez [or, adds Bob, Cindy Sheehan]

Although the number of chronically undernourished people in developing countries fell from 816 million to 777 million during the 1990s, this net decline hides two important facts: first, most of the progress (66 percent of the gain) was made by a single country -- China; second, over the same period, a dozen or more countries registered increase in undernouishment totally more than 77 million, including India, which enjoys positive economic growth and a significant "surplus" production of food grains.

George Bush can read

Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Hope you like my book, Mr Bush
A nasty little piece in the Grauniad by the historian Mark Kurlansky. Kurlansky is the author of some fine, readable, scholarly popular histories - of Salt, Cod and the Basques. It turns out that Salt is on George Bush's holiday reading list, which disquiets the elitist liberal Kurlansky...

Nice fisking of Kurlansky at L'Ombre de l'Olivier (found via To the Tooting Station: A Gallery Of Nincompoops, which I found via new Axis of Bob member a General Theory of Rubbish)

From Marcos in the Jungle

Irlandesa's library: Zapatista Translations


The Head Heeb: The other victims

TLB: //

Anarchism (another daft quiz thing)

You scored as Anarcho-Communist. Anarcho-communists seek to build a society based upon a decentralised federation of autonomous communes and a moneyless 'gift economy'. The movement first emerged in the late 19th century and has had a large influence particularly in Spain, Italy and Russia. Key thikers include Peter Kropotkin and Errico Malatesta.











Christian Anarchist


What kind of Anarchist are you?
created with

{I'm also 45% American, a Liberal Democrat voter, a cultural creative and ignorant.)

Chinese Imperialism

China and Hong Kong

Fighting Chinese Imperialism

Monbiot, Ken Clarke, Harry and Uzbekistan

the Disillusioned kid: Bringing the discussion back to the subject...:
I happen to be quite a big fan of George Monbiot, but of late I've begun to worry about the poor guy. Last week he was explaining how he found comfort in his own death and today he's going after Kenneth Clarke in an column which leaves me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with this fellow. Now if Monbiot were going after him about his involvement in Uzbekistan (which he mentions only in passing), that'd be a different matter. A possible discussion point for next week?

Also see:

1984 The Ministry of Reshelving

Subversive Book Group Brings the Revolution to a Bookstore Near You:
"If you walk into your local bookstore looking for a copy of George Orwell’s 1984, you may just happen upon a cryptic note in its place from a group called The Ministry of Reshelving.

Though they may sound like a gang of vigilante librarians, the Ministry, which was founded only 12 days ago, is in fact made up of people looking to make a sly political statement in a playful way. Their goal is to generate discussion and thought about the oppressive nature of the current United States presidential administration by moving 1,984 copies of George Orwell’s novel, 1984—the classic cautionary tale of “Big Brother,” an authoritarian government that rules by invasively monitoring its citizens—from its usual spot in the fiction section of bookstores to somewhere more “fitting,” like “Current Affairs” "
Check out the photos at the Ministry's Flickr blog, such as this nice one ("True Crime") and the one I've put in this post (The blue book is called "Finding George Orwell in Burma", and the handwritten white card below it reads, "George Orwell is alive and well. 1984 comes true in Burma. Is there anyone who cares?").



Jewish East End event


Sunday 4th September at the Nelson Street Synagogue, 30-40 Nelson Street, London E1.
6pm - 8pm Tickets - £10 (£7 concessions)

“An evening with Bernard Kops - one of the greatest playwrights to have emerged from the Jewish East End.”

The evening will feature Bernard Kops, reading from, and talking about, his literary and dramatic works.

The event will also feature a performance of the songs composed by David Burman for Bernard Kops’ stage play, Dreams of Anne Frank. The songs will be performed by students from Goldsmiths College (London): Lina Johnsson, Nathalie Chalkley, Camille Maalowy, Roslynne Topping, Matthew Winkworth and Mikey Kirkpatrick, who will also perform a further group of songs composed by David Burman to the poems of Bernard Kops.

Enquiries to Clive Bettington 020 7364 4447 or visit Jewish East End Celebration Society events

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


A guest blog, by La empanada, on Hugo Chavez, a propos of the furore over Pat Robertson's remarks.

First, I don't want to appear to be defending Chavez, who I feel ambivalent about. It annoys me that everyone makes sweeping generalisations one way or the other about Chavez, and it is just not that simple. He's not a goody OR a baddy, to either side.

Is he a communist? No, he doesn't exactly fit in any single political paradigm, but why does it matter to the U.S. at this point if he redistributes land (badly, most of the time, to be honest)? It's not as if he's implementing gulags or executing opponents.

Is he a threat to the United States? He's in control of an oil-producing country, which has consequences for the world's biggest oil guzzler. He is anti-U.S., and allies with other anti-US states. This is hardly surprising given there's already been one U.S.-backed attempted coup against him.

Could Venezuela be a haven for Islamic terrorists? It's unlikely, but not impossible. Made more likely by statements like Robertson's, which increase the whole 'with us or against us' polarisation of the world. I don't think Islamic terrorists need South America when they've got so many other countries to go. And I think they have their own networks to get guns and money. Although it's always possible that anti-U.S. solidarity could link them in to marxists. But I don't see Chavez giving them guns - that's more common with other armed groups.

Robertson is making anti-U.S. feeling worse with his comments. People around the world will take them as a representation of the U.S. government stance, and will be angry and upset at the hypocrisy of a state that promotes 'democracy' while being prepared to assassinate foreign leaders in its own interests.

Do I know enough to be commenting on this? Not really.

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Lisa Ramaci-Vincent v Juan Cole

"It's called courage" at Murdoc Online contains a long letter from Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, the widow of the murdered journalist Steven Vincent, killed in Iraq, probably by Shi'ite theocratic thugs. Ramaci-Vincent is replying to Juan Cole. Cole had written a cavalier paragraph in an article retailing rumours of her husband having an affair, and then giving a moral relativist/pseudo-academic explation/excuse for the murder. [Hat tip: DSTP4W]

Stories that Vincent was having an affair with his interpreter, Nour Weidi, also shot during the attack, surfaced shortly after his killing. This article by Colin Freeman in the Telegraph, for example, raised the story, which seems to have come from the Iraqi "investigators". An "investigator" said
"There is the possibility that this was an attempted 'honour killing', related in some way to the relationship he had with his interpreter. But it does not fit the pattern of honour killings as it is usually the woman who dies."
Juan Cole responded in his mis-named blog Informed Comment, citing the Telegraph article:
"Was American journalist Steve Vincent killed in Basra as part of an honor killing? He was romantically involved with his Iraqi interpreter, who was shot 4 times. If her clan thought she was shaming them by appearing to be having an affair outside wedlock with an American male, they might well have decided to end it. In Mediterranean culture, a man's honor tends to be wrought up with his ability to protect his womenfolk from seduction by strange men. Where a woman of the family sleeps around, it brings enormous shame on her father, brothers and cousins, and it is not unknown for them to kill her. These sentiments and this sort of behavior tend to be rural and to hold among the uneducated, but are not unknown in urban areas. Vincent did not know anything serious about Middle Eastern culture and was aggressive about criticizing what he could see of it on the surface, and if he was behaving in the way the Telegraph article describes, he was acting in an extremely dangerous manner."
Cole is an academic, writing as an expert on the Middle East. But this piece of writing is profoundly un-scholarly. For example, he makes all sorts of assumptions about Ms Weidi, who he does not even name and about how her "clan" will react, without the slightest bit of knowledge about her.

In contrast to his own purported expertise, he abusively claims that Steven Vincent, who spent some time in Iraq, "did not know anything serious about Middle Eastern culture".

In her letter, Ramaci-Vincent thoroughly scotchs the rumours, and everything else Cole says.

There is just one thing to add to her onslaught, which is the way that Cole falls into a kind of left-Orientalist trap of making out that all Arabs constitute one single homogeneous "culture" (in this article called, alternately, "Middle Eastern culture" and "Mediterranean culture"). In fact, as a real expert would know, Iraq, and the region it is part of, is incredibly diverse. But, more importantly, to explain evil away by reference to culture is morally repugnant.

Blog link: Cole-ture shock (Martin Kramer's Sandbox)

Logged at PirateBallerina
Previous: Patronising Muslims, Homophobic killing in Iran, Against the idea of a "Muslim world", Opposing patriarchal murder is "orientalist", says anti-Zionist, Putting terrorism in scare quotes, Thomas Sowell's culturalism, Is it fascist to be against multiculturalism?, Ward Churchill and race theory, Chomsky and Israel, The identititarian logic of multiculturalism
TLB: Iraq
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Stumbled Upon 3 (mostly Jewish)


Alanis Morissette Lyric Generator - tribute to the worst lyricist ever.

Apostrophe Protection Society - something I feel very strongly about.

Jewish etc

Nextbook: Among the Holy Schleppers - Jennifer Bleyer regrets Heeb. Rootless Cosmopolitan responds.

The Rabbi's Cat - post on a lovely comic.

For Whom there is No Kadish, Genocide report - beatutiful illuminated manuscripts


Rootless Cosmopolitan - very nice blog. Yidishkayt, Sammy's Roumanian, Zi-curious..

The Wandering Jew - also very nice.

People of the book - literary group blog.

CAMERA Snapshots - the truth about the Middle East.

bookish - adj. of a literary bent - defending the semi-colon.

The Jewcy Bits Blog - "Scarlett Johansson's cleavage, Zaydie's Magic 8-Ball, and Ari Goldman, 'The [Kosher] Bachelor'."

Velveteen Rabbi - another very nice blog.

Marshall Fellows - a thoughtful chap.

Wherever You Are - we are the non-entity bloggers!

Apikorsus on Gaza

Nice post from Apikorsus Online:
"It is becoming difficult not to say anything about the Gaza pullout, even though I have little to add. I am not attached to the 'greater Israel' idea, and I support efforts to create a democratic Palestinian state, but it is still unclear whether this move will bring us any closer to peace, or even Palestinian statehood. It has already resulted in tremendous suffering and a few depraved acts. One can only hope and pray that the ultimate outcome is positive.

I pray for the evacuees. May those who remain to be evacuated prevail over their evil inclinations, and may they all succeed at building new homes and resuming their lives with minimal trauma.

I pray for the soldiers. May they remain unified, strong, and safe.

I pray for the Palestinian residents of Gaza. May they eschew violence and succeed at building homes and constructive institutions from the rubble of the Jewish settlements.

May the One who creates peace in the heavens create peace for us, and for all Israel, and all the inhabitants of the world."
Also see: Myopic Thoughts: After The Withdrawal

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TLB: Israel

South London blog round-up

This is kind of a weird one. Some gems from Brin's Blog: The 94 bus and the 47 bus.

This is one I'm adding to the Sarf London links on the right - Viewfinder - some nice SE London photography, including the Brockley skyline. More photography: Deptford creek industry at night.

This one is a bit off-topic but had a nice sentence: bleep bloop: Trains Pt. 3: "In the centre of the floor of this room were dozens of grimy conceptual pushchairs. Like Lewisham Centre's playground come 3.30, only dirtier. " (Also: SE Chip shop and There was a woman on the bus with 10 rings on.)

This one is not a blog, but a forum, about one of South London's greatest institutions: Free A3 - The unofficial Alabama3 forum & home of the Converted

Previous: Loafin in Brockley, London blogs, Deptfordism 2
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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tribute to Robert Moog

Kofi's hat: An Electric Friend Dies - Farewell, Bob Moog

Yiddish Radio Project

Yiddish Radio Project

Sound Murderer (Loafin' In Brockley)

Just came across this great mid-90s drum'n'base track by Remarc.

MP3 links: Sound Murderer (Loafin' In Brockley mix) (from Juno records) // Sound Murderer (Loafin' in Brockley mix) (from Let It Roll - check out other great South East London jungle too: UK Apache "Original Nutter" and General Levy's "Incredible")

In the mix: JFunk's Hardcore Peckham Junglist 1 hour mixtape (from Breakbeat Forum - alongside the tracks that define the mid-90s for me: Ron Size's "Jazz Thing", Firefox's "Warning", Shy FX's "Gangsta Kid" and Ray Keith's "Yes Yes" - the sound of summer in Deptford)

Blog link: S/FJ: El Crispy's. On West Broadway: 'That classic '94 sound—"Amen" breaks cut up and strung from every light fixture, some 808 kicks for a bassline and straight ragga yelling. That's all you need. But Remarc sprinkles some extra sugar on the hot-as-fuck griddle of the beat, and lets it crystallize and smoke: someone whistling "If I Were A Rich Man," strings from an old soul record. A bit more than the track needed and so welcome. I can't get enough of this moment in production. It sounds, as it always has, like a big orange Gerber daisy forcing its way up through the topsoil and punching you in the face on its way towards the sun.'

45% American

Apparently, I am 45% American, according to this daft on-line quiz:

You Are 45% American
America: You don't love it or want to leave it.
But you wouldn't mind giving it an extreme make over.
On the 4th of July, you'll fly a freak flag instead...
And give Uncle Sam a sucker punch!

By the way, I'm also a Liberal Democrat voter, a cultural creative and ignorant.

Previous: The American Revolution, Let's Bomb Texas 1 and 2, Americanism (Flag Day post), The Greatest American


Over at Engage:

AUT/NATFHE Merger and the prospects for a renewed boycott - Jon Pike
From next month the two British unions which represent teachers in higher education will be holding ballots of their members on proposals for a merger. The Association of University Teachers (AUT) represents members in the older pre'92 universities. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) represents members in both new universities and in Further Education colleges.
Read the rest of this entry »

Sue Blackwell's "anti-Zionist" campaign against LabourStart - Jim Denham
In the poisonous miasma that envelopes the overlap between proper concern and anger over the plight of the Palestinians, and hysterical rage against all things Israeli, a new cry has gone out: "I feel another boycott coming on" says Sue Blackwell, one of the leading spokespersons of the (defeated) campaign to get the AUT to boycott Israeli academics for being Israeli.
The target of Ms Blackwell's boycotting zeal this time is the LabourStart website and email list, devoted to organising international trade union solidarity. Why Ms Blackwell, a trade union activist, wants to boycott LabourStart is an interesting question, and the answer tells you a lot about the sort of politics that she and her "anti-Zionist" co-thinkers represent. Read the rest of this entry »

Cindy Sheehan's Fraught Campaign - David Adler
Cindy Sheehan, the bereaved mother who lost her soldier son in Iraq, has garnered widespread media attention by camping out near President Bush's Texas ranch and insisting on a meeting. But why does she think that the Iraq war was fought for Israel? Read the rest of this entry »

Justifying and Legitimising Antisemitism - David Seymour
In Saturday's Guardian, Naomi Klein makes the claim that "our racism" is the "greatest recruitment tool" for what she terms "radical political Islam". Inherent to this argument is not only a restatement of the naïve anti-globalisation that passes for political thought -- the justification of an unbridled hatred of the USA -- but also a justification of "radical political Islam's" antisemitism (an increasingly staple of contemporary "critical" thought.). Read the rest of this entry »

John Strawson on conditions for academia in the occupied territories
Read what John Strawson has to say about Sharon's plans, conditions in the occupied territories and the situation of Palestinian academia here on the Workers' Liberty website.

Boycotting Israel: a reply to Jacqueline Rose - by Linda Grant
Linda Grant has written this piece on the Open Democracy website responding to Jaqueline Rose's call for a military economic cultural and academic boycott of Israel.
Professor Jacqueline Rose, who teaches literature at Queen Mary, University of London, is interviewed in Open Democracy about her recent book, The Question of Zion, an intellectual-historical exercise in marrying political theory to psychoanalysis. In passing she mentions that she supports a military, economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel as an extension or adjunct to her theoretical work. Read the whole of Linda Grant's piece here.

Engage Needs Money
Engage needs money to help pay for:
* Admin help, to keep the website running
* Web fees, phone bills, travel costs
* Printing and meeting rooms
* The Engage conference in Sep 2006
Here's the plan. There is a website, PledgeBank. Have a look.

Previous: Galloway’s hubris, Radical Islam in the academy, Boycott politics, Redemption in Jerusalem, Patronising Muslims, Fear of the Other, Banksy in Israel

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Stockwell shooting and the police: mistrust the rush to judgement

London blogging

Blog recommendation of the day: B o S h (via Adam Tinworth)

I'm also adding My lewisham (also found via Adam Tinworth) to the Sarf London section of the links on the right. (Even though they decided against Andrew Brown's recommendation of my site... That's the kind of open-hearted guy I am)

Aimless Ramblings of Zefrog: I *heart* the Elephant and Castle - a little less local to me, but still Southside.

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Groucho Marx

Passing Parade: "JULIUS HENRY MARX, 1892-1977: I am told that we've just passed the anniversary of the death of some goy singer, if you're interested in that sort of thing. But tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of one of the greatest singers in the history of American cinema, and here are the lyrics to one of his greatest songs."

Previous: Bagels and Bongos, Pearl Williams, The other Marx

Bagels and Bongos

From jogo, a wonderful website: REBOOT STEREOPHONIC ("Reboot Stereophonic is a non-profit record label dedicated to digging through the crates of the Jewish past and rescuing forgotten gems to tell new, unexpected stories. Sure the Lomaxes searched the South for a dying breed of Delta Blues Delta musicians. Sure Ry Cooder hit Havana in search of lost Cuban legends. But when's the last time a bunch of Jewish kids started raiding their grandparents' record collections and then set out to track down the musicians, in search of buried clues about their own culture?")

Mexican Institute of Sound remix Irving Fields (MP3)

Also see: Funny, It Doesn't Sound Jewish - New York Times

Previous: Yidishkayt, Pearl Williams: For This You'll Need A Glusenshpiegelbaster (MP3s)
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A fascinating story from the San Diego Union-Tribune on the traces carried in highway signs of illegal immigration from Mexico here.

And a nice exhibition of ghost corner stores in former and current working-class Toronto neighbourhoods.

[both via Audra's reviews]

ADDED: Also check out The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit
[via B o S h]

Dictionary of Imaginary Places

Totalitarianism and freedom

[From the parochial to the global...]

I visited Gateway Pundit today, for the first time in a while. Although I often don't agree with the Pundit's politics, it is always an eye-opener. Too often, the media I read is focused on the same issues. How important, really, is Cindy Sheehan, for example, in the global scheme of things? Gateway Pundit brings news from the front lines across the world in the fight between freedom and oppression. For example, the hunger strike if Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji; the struggle in Nepal for democracy and a decent life; the tribulations of the Buddhist Kalmyks in the Astrakhan region settlement of Yandyki, under fire from Chechens..

The site also brings important news of some issues that do get a little more coverage here, like Mugabe's brutality in Zimbabwe, such as the secret video released in "the squalid aftermath of Harare's slum clearances".

Related sites:

File under:

Previous: Against Soviet tyranny in Poland, Understanding Iran, Ukrainian Nazis, Youth uprising in Czech republic, The war on totalitarianism, Zimbabwe: Enough is Enough, Let the Damascus spring flower, The real axis of evil
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Deptfordism 2

Deptford in the news:

Simon Jenkins "Prescott Towers, the height of architectural imbecility": Ultimately, it will be John Prescott who says yes or no to the Convoys development. Here, columnist Simon Jenkins attacks Prescott's role in the fact that the "ever-narrowing Thames will seem like a torrent in a canyon of high-rise."

'Time bomb' incinerators: a scientist warns of the dangers posed to our endz by the
Sidcup, waste incinerators of Dartford and Deptford and the sewage incinerator at Belvedere. (Incidentally, "recycling" is a major part of what the GLA wants to happen on the Convoys site...)

In pursuit of monsters: On "controversial" playwright Dennis Kelly, who writes about thongs like terrorist attacks on London. "I live in Deptford, and it's like the Bible Belt," Kelly says. "You walk up Deptford High Street and it's full of different types of churches."

Shooting on Milton Court: In South Central LA they have drive-by shootings. In South East London, we apparently have the "pedal-by".

Civic Trust says houses don’t build communities: A report based on Pepys, Convoys and Deptford.

Added: Just found this: In the Water: Thursday- Where will you be? (on Hong Kong - see comments by Bill Ellson for Convoys material)

Previous: Deptfordism
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Putting the sex back into politics

The ever politically correct Spriti of 1976 has a top 5 Political Hotties list at Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays For WAR. Luciana Berger came out on top. I just wanted to note that she has featured at brockley.blogspot already, in this post, in the "jewlicious" category. (Ann Coulter, Miri Regev and Mrs Zizek also feature.)

Previous: Paula Abdul, Hijab porn, Pesach porn, Pearl Williams: For This You'll Need A Glusenshpiegelbaster (MP3s), Reasons to hate Gwyneth Paltrow, Looking at frum teens.


Great new word from the Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays For WAR.

Big up Kanye West

Kanye West Calls for End to Gay Bashing

Homophobia in Iran, God hates fags, Gay Israel, Anti-semitism and gay bishops, Homophobia and Four-letter words, Peter Tatchell's opposition to patriarchal murder is "orientalist", Who the fuck is Omarion?.

From Kathe Kollwitz to Cindy Sheehan

Two very interesting posts at Neo-Neocon on Cindy Sheehan and grieving parents in war. Part I here and Part II here.

The other blog, with a very different perspective, for interesting Cindy Sheehan material is Hungry Blues. Most recent here ,

Friday, August 19, 2005

25 Years of Solidarity

This week saw a quarter century of the Polish freedom movement, Solidarnosc. In celebration, I want to quote CLR James, writing in 1986:
“In Poland in 1981 the working class and the people of Poland registered the first basis of the new conception of the emancipation of the working class. The people of Poland formed a socialist party - but this was the party to end all parties. It consisted of ten million Polish people. In fact the able-bodied people of Poland, the men and women, formed a party which did not represent the people, but itself consisted of the people. The people were the party and the party was the people.”
This is from the foreword to the fourth edition of James’ devastating 1950 attack on the Stalinist system, State Capitalism and World Revolution, written with Raya Dunayevskaya. It is no coincidence that the second edition was brought out in 1956, at the very moment of the workers’ uprising against Stalinism in Hungary, and the third edition in 1968, as the Czech people were in turn rising up. James - like EP Thompson, Adam Michnik, Jan Kavan, Miklos Haraszti, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Peter Schneider, Rudolf Bahro and Vaclav Havel - represents the continuity between 1956, 1968, the birth of Solidarnosc and the Velvet Revolution.

Here’s to the continuing struggle against totalitarianism and authoritarianism, for democracy, and for working class self-emancipation.

Bad Subjects

I’m adding Bad Subjects to my list of links to the right - an on-line magazine I’ve been reading for a while, and probably the oldest continuous leftist resource on the net, predating the invention of the World Wide Web.

I bought their paper-and-ink anthology, Collective Action, today. I’m just reading the introduction now and a lot of what they say there serves well as a manifesto for this site too.
“There aren’t many rules at Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life. Nobody gets paid to work on the magazine. Footnotes are a no-no. And showing knowledge of multisyllabic words like ‘polysemy’ or ‘envagination’ is strongly discouraged. But we never draw party lines in the sand…

The purpose of a Bad Subjects article is to take a stand, preferably one which is defiant of conventional leftist wisdom in the service of leftist politics…

While we welcome the decline of both Marxist and multicultural orthodoxy around the world, leftist intellectuals continue to display a distressing herd instinct…. We remain convinced that leftists need more spaces where they are comfortable at taking intellectual and political risks. They need to express themselves without the protective coating of specialized terminology. And they have to want a larger, more diverse audience instead of retreating into the comfort of familiar professional and political circles…

As the American writer Thomas Pynchon makes painfully clear in Vineland, his underrated novel about the backlash against the legacy of the 1960s, desire for purity is the bane of the left. We envision Bad Subjects as a counterweight against the tug of that desire…

Our hope then, as you read [our essays], is not that you will agree with them, but that you will be provoked to the sort of respectful disagreement that keeps both politics and hope alive.”

Previous: Jews hung drawn and quartered, Naked Punch

Galloway’s hubris

Today, I got George Galloway’s I’m Not the Only One out of my local public library (along with James Ellroy’s Destination: Morgue, which I expect to be infinitely better on any conceivable scale). I figured it’s my tax money and overdue fines that have paid for this, so I might as well make the most of it.

And I’ve no regrets. The opening words:
“I decided to write this book because I had a little time on my hands. What with the war, the resistance, the anti-war movement, libel cases, looking after my constituency, suspension then expulsion from the Labour Party, launching a new political movement, fighting the European elections, holding my seat in the House of Commons and writing my weekly column in the Mail on Sunday, I might have become bored otherwise.”

And the end of the Foreword:
“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.”
If anyone was looking for a definition of the concept of hubris, the example of George would supply it. In his programme for capturing Britain back from the conventional politicians, “the boys in the bubble”, this call stands out: for MPs to be paid twice as much. Check this characteristically modest passage: “I have, as a Tunisian lawyer said between sobs after hearing me speak about the bleeding children of Iraq, ‘un Coeur oriental’ - an oriental heart.”

By page 2, I’d come across two political claims that make me angry. The first is the use of the word “resistance” in the passage I’ve quoted above. As he then names the anti-war movement, he can’t mean the resistance to war in Britain; he must mean the Islamofascist/Ba’athist insurrection/terrorism in Iraq. To call that the “resistance” is a moral outrage, as I’ve argued before on this blog.

The second is this line:
“There is no grimmer dictatorship than that of the prevailing orthodoxy.”
Er, yes there is George - the dictatorship of Pol Pot was pretty grim, as have been the dictatorships of your friends Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein…

I have to say, though, that Galloway has a ripping prose style. The style is marred, unfortunately, by a love of alliteration. And an overfondness of the word “mendacity”, which weighs in about every four pages. Here’s an example of both in one sentence: “nothing more than a mendacious, monochrome state of mediocrity” (although with that example I can’t work out from the rest of the sentence he is referring to).

Another stylistic tic he has is following up a morally heavyweight point with a silly pop culture reference. (If you want a definition of bathos as well as hubris, then, George would exemplify this too.) Here’s an example: “More people died of famine in British India in the last fifty years of the Raj than died on all of Chairman Mao’s ‘Great Leaps’ but, as Michael Caine might say, ‘Not a lot of people know that.”

He’s also not strong on consistency. On one page he describes the BBC as “the Bush and Blair chorus”; a couple later he’s praising it for standing up to Alistair Campbell.

Despite these flaws, the first chapter, “The Boys in the Bubble”, is a superb piece of writing, very enjoyably skewering everything that is wrong with New Labour, from their treatment of the firefighters, their lies, their corruption, their snobbery, their hypocrisy and their racism, to their insane privatisation policies.

Even in the second chapter, “New World Odour”, basically a version of Chomsky for the less literate, he does occassionally hit the mark, as in:
“the former Soviet satrapies of eastern and central Europe [are] often led by the same [C]ommunist party apparatchiks who failed their countries in their last guise.”

Well, that’s enough of gorgeous George for today. More to come…

Previous: Galloway - apologist for terrorists, Questions for the new Stalinists, The Egotist, Varieties of left demagoguery, Idiocy, Thy Name Is George Galloway, Galloway's hoodie

Understanding Iran

Iran: Axis of Culture, History, and Geopolitics

Good back ground reading on Iran, including:
- how we (the West) helped create both the oppressive conditions that bred the Islamic revolution and the victory its most reactionary expression, Khomeini.
- a glimpse of an alternative course of history if we hadn’t helped oust Muhammad Mossadeq.
- glimpses of an emerging democratic current in Iran.

Also see: Myopic Thoughts: Thoughts on Iran


Tag: // TLB: Iran

Monday, August 15, 2005

Against the myth of community

The Observer | Leaders | Listen carefully: "There is a tendency whenever there is an incident or an issue which could conceivably be viewed through a prism of ethnic or religious identity for the media or politicians to seek out 'community leaders'. In the rush to talk, few stop to think how representative these people might be. But we should."

Tags: Islam, communitarianism, New Labour, terrorism


"'His mind remained lucid to the end, and in it stirred just one thought: himself and his power'" - Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday [via Jogo]

ADDED: Anyone who reads this and still thinks that Mao - or the wider Stalinist, state capitalist project - represents anything progressive or romantic or heroic or emancipatory… is basically insane.

The harder argument to make - because it’s a subtler argument - is to see that Mao’s evil does not refute Marxism. As Perry Link says, “Mao and his followers never tolerated serious Marxists.” Mao may have professed Marxism, but that does not make him a Marxist. Mao’s true philosophy, it is clear from this review, was his own personal power, and Marxism was simply his alibi for that.

Previous: Class war in China, Chinese imperialism in Deptford

I still fight oppression

Nick Cohen: I still fight oppression

Essential reading

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Who is Daniel?

Between Germany Israel and UK. Trying to stand up!

Stumbled Upon 2

The Evildoers Do Super Mario Bros - The War on Terror's least-frightening video games
Chris Suellentrop at Slate.

Yalta Conference as seen by Diesel

With Eyes Toward Zion: The Political Cartoons of Noah Bee
[both via vko's reviews]

Holocaust Denial On Trial

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Dirty Zionist hand, September 11 a conspiracy, etc

What faculty heads say in Egypt

and what CommieProfs say in Tampa: Jihad Bomber Inspired 'Pride' (University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian) [link from Jogo]

Previous CommieProfWatch posts: Chomsky, Shahak and co, Fisking Chomsky, Messianic thought, Swooning with rapture.

Hannah Arendt - Thinking with an open heart

In this post and this post, I praised my intellectual hero, Hannah Arendt. Here, I will write about one aspect of her thought.
Against the teleological politics of the “isms”, Arendt counterposed “living in the open”, which she claimed she had learnt from the philosopher Karl Jaspers. He taught her, she said,
“that the only thing of importance is not philosophies but the truth, that one has to live and think in the open and not in one’s shell, no matter how comfortably furnished it is, and that necessity in whatever form is only a will-o’-the-wisp that tries to lure us into playing a role instead of attempting to be a human being. What I have personally never forgotten is your attitude – so difficult to describe – of listening, your tolerance that is constantly ready to offer criticism but is as far removed from scepticism as it is from fanaticism; ultimately it is simply the realization of the fact that all human beings are rational but that no human being’s rationality is infallible.” (DKJ 1994:213-4)

There are a number of important concepts here, which clarify Arendt’s politics and philosophy. There is a particular conception of the human which underlies her version of humanism: humanity as a unfinished project, an essay (“attempting to be a human being”), humans as universally rational but also fallible, limited.
There is a sharp critique of the totalitarian political implications of teleological isms and philosophical doctrines of necessity: we live unique lives, rather than playing a role in the grand narrative of Nature or History. (Later, in Eichmann in Jerusalem and essays like “Mankind and Terror”, Arendt would hone the idea of playing a role into the notion of the totalitarian “functionary”, who had not existence outside his function.)

Useful idiots

Here is a very good article by Anthony Browne in The Times:
"Elements within the British establishment were notoriously sympathetic to Hitler. Today the Islamists enjoy similar support. In the 1930s it was Edward VIII, aristocrats and the Daily Mail; this time it is left-wing activists, The Guardian and sections of the BBC. They may not want a global theocracy, but they are like the West’s apologists for the Soviet Union — useful idiots..."
NewsHog comments:
The mere fact that Anthony Browne writing in today's London Times conveniently "forgets" that by far the biggest British cheerleader for the Nazis was the London Times itself says volumes about the rest of the particulars of this piece of idiocy.
Harry's Place says:

By way of context, Newshog points out that Anthony Browne has entered into "friendly correspondence with V-Dare, an online journal of the Center For American Unity where you will find such gems as "black men have on average 3 to 19 percent more testosterone than white men".

Merely corresponding with racists does not make one a racist. As in the case of Neumann's correspondence with "Jewish Tribal Review", what matters is the content of that correspondence. Take this passage, for example:

Reading the emails almost brought me to tears. What came across so profoundly is the deep frustration and anger that people feel about their loss of national identity and the growing social fragmentation of Britain under the weight of Third World colonization, and their utter abandonment by the political class and most of the media which makes any discussion of this all important issue almost a crime.

It is clearly possible to oppose a particular immigration policy without being a racist. Similarly, it is possible to denounce Zionism without being a racist. The fact that racists may oppose either or both immigration and Zionism does not make all those who use such arguments racists.

However bigots usually give themselves away. It is usually a turn of phrase that provides the clue. At some point, the weight of evidence makes it more likely than not that a person is, in fact, a bigot who seeks - as Newshog puts it - to "hide ... bigotry under a smokescreen of faux concern".

I can certainly see Newshog's point in Browne's case. The argument which Browne makes about the fascist nature of radical Islamism appear to be part of a broader argument which he is making about "third world colonization". The case for treating radical Islamism seriously can do without his support.

Jogo, in defence of Browne, says:
Is it a crime to be "against" immigration and multiculturalism? That's what HurryUpHarry seems to be saying. What a sin -- to be against immigration. Holy immigration. "Friendly conversation" with V-Dare. O my god!

Even now, when your multicultural shit has hit the fan and EVERY person of commonsense can see the disaster it has brought upon your country, these leftist fools continue to wear their depraved ideas like badges of honor.

People are not wrong to accuse the Left of being the New McCarthyites. I don't toss around this word "fascism," so I won't use it. I'll say "totalitarians." Every day, as I face the bankrupty of leftist ideas, I go further and further to the right.
I do not think that it is racist as such to oppose immigration or multiculturalism, but I think that some of the imagery and language some of those who oppose immigration and multiculturalism use IS racist. The language of swamping and distorting uses of statistics ARE racist. The emotive language of "invasion" and "colonization" ARE racist. Browne and others like him rarely mention the large numbers of North Americans and Australians who legally and illegally immigrate or work in the UK, including very large numbers of visa overstayers from these countries.

Perhaps if the Stop The War coalition, Respect and the ZLeft are the useful idiots of Islamo-fascism, then Anthony Browne and UKIP are the useful idiots of just-plain-fascism? Their respectable warnings about numbers are of course not of the same order as race atacks, but they need to be treated with great caution.

Other links: The Daily Ablution: More Humiliation for the Grauniad, Media Guardian via The Smirking Chimp, The Devil's Kitchen: Using semantics to obfuscate, Prospect articles on race and immigration (including Nicholas Hildyard's demolition of the numbers game), Catherine Seipp on Immigration on National Review Online (via Clive Davis), Two-thirds of Muslims consider leaving UK, The less respectable face of the anti-immigration lobby.

Tossing around the word fascist, The day after the bombs
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I'm going to get around to adding to my list. There's currently a very interesting piece on the legacy of Cesar Chavez and a good post on the dissenting leftists Cohen and Hitchens. Jonathan Derbyshire and Paul Anderson also discuss this topic on their excellent blogs, which I also ought to add to my list.

A welcome to the Axis of Bob for Bandon Bits of Brilliance.

ADDED: Grim Reaper at SkyscraperCity Forums cites me about Convoys.

From Bloggers4Labour, notice of a new American democratic socialist blog, Fist and Rose.

I've stumbled upon Stumble Upon - relatively effortless sub-blogging activity. It's given me, for example, Mark Twain and the Dreyfus Affair,, Levittown, Pa.: Building the Suburban Dream, The Official Muddy Waters Website and The Makhnovists on the National and Jewish Questions.