Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Deptford's new overlord (or, The new Chinese imperialism)

Li Ka-shing is the man buying Deptford's Convoys Wharf.

According to Bloomberg:
Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has sunk $25 billion into his two-year-old high-speed mobile-phone unit. The result so far is $8.7 billion in losses.
Li, 77, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., built an empire valued at more than $100 billion. For all his success in real estate, ports and oil, he has failed to make money in high-speed telecommunications. Hutchison is struggling to turn around a wireless unit dogged by price wars in Italy and the U.K., and some investors are skeptical about initial share sales Li plans in those countries...
Li, dubbed "Superman'' by such Hong Kong Chinese-language newspapers as Apple Daily, told reporters in Hong Kong yesterday that he'd sell a stake in Hutchison's Italian 3G unit in an initial public offering this year. He said on March 31 in Hong Kong when announcing 2004 earnings that an IPO of the U.K. operator would follow...
Profit for Hutchison as a whole rose to HK$11.8 billion from HK$10.8 billion, helped by gains at its port unit. Li's holding company, Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd., said yesterday that first-half profit rose 52 percent to HK$10.37 billion, boosted by real-estate gains and Hutchison's higher earnings. Cheung Kong benefited from surging property prices in Hong Kong, where the average value of a small apartment rose 34 percent last year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. Cheung Kong, Hong Kong's largest property developer by market value, owns 50 percent of Hutchison...

Li Ka-shing is a man who profits from misery, turning political tragedy into economic value:
Risky bets have paid off before for Chaozhou, China-born Li, who swept factory floors after arriving in Hong Kong as a refugee in 1940. He made his first fortune in 1967 by buying Hong Kong real estate after prices collapsed following riots tied to China's Cultural Revolution. He did the same in 1989 after China's Tiananmen Square crackdown caused prices to tumble again.
The story so far:May: Sarf London and global capital 2, June: Convoys Wharf Update (South London and global capitalism), July: Deptfordism, August: Deptfordism 2

See also: Li Ka-shing, Cheung Kong Bought $200 Mln of PetroChina Shares, Hutch lords over 12 mn Indians, Caribbean Net News: China buying political dominion over the Caribbean!

Other Deptford news: Give it to us sexy, shiny, and in public!

Food for Thought: Multiculturalism, Social Capital and Community

Some bits of intellectual stimulation I've recently come across.

First, the proceedings of a conference on The Future of Multicultural Britain have been partially published.

Regular readers of this blog might find this up their street: "AntiSemitism and other forms of racism: Continuities, discontinuities, (and some conspiracies….)" Dr. Susie Jacobs. There's also material on chav culture, gypsies, European enlargement and the Parekh report.

Second, The Battle of Ideas: an annual festival of social, political, scientific, academic and cultural debate. Check out the further reading sections, especially this one on community, which gives links to texts on the putative tension between social capital and diversity.

Third, another initiative of the Institute of Ideas is the Pfizer Debating Matters Competition. Check out the background reading available in the topic guides. For example, Jonathan Freedland and Iqbal Sacranie on religious hatred, Michael Lind, Cherie Booth and David Goodhart on civil liberties, and Victor Davis Hanson and Tony Judt on trans-Atlantic politics. You can also find pdfs of Institute of Ideas debates here, including a couple on muliculturalism and the politics of recognition, featuring Kenan Malik and others.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sarf London songs

At My lewisham I learnt that great New Cross rapper Blade is releasing a new single.

"Gripper The Pitbull" is one of the best South London songs of the 1990s (along with Carter's "The Only Living Boy in New Cross", Remarc's "Sound Murderer", Alabama 3's "Old Purple Tin", and the Galliano song that mentions the number 2 bus).

While we're here, check out the video of Alabama 3's beautiful "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash", featuring Jerry Dammers standing in queue I think.

Extra Link: London songs at I can hear music

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Pakistan and Israel: Apartheid states?

Reality Cafe has an excellent 'contrarian' post on Pakistani-Israeli relations. He looks at M Shahid Alam in CounterPunch (General Musharraf and the Recognition of Israel), noting that Pakistan's history is based on the dispossession of some of its 'natives' and that its structure has 'apartheid' attributes that Israel is criticized for.

Fuck Al Qaida

So, the google search that reached me yesterday doesn't seem to reach me today, but by investing a bit of google energy, I managed to work out the motivation for the search - the above piece of artwork at London's Old Street. By Banksy? I'm not sure, but it covers up a Banksy peice with the Pulp Fiction Jules et Jim wielding bananas for guns. It appeared after the July bombings.

Vaguely related on-site: Brockley MOT Centre graffiti art, Banksy in Israel, Fuck You Osam
Vaguely related off-site: The Shoe bomber as Brockley tagger, Cllr Andrew Brown: The Environment Portfolio (busting graffiti in Lewisham)

Jewish lefties hit Brighton

If you happen to be a Labour Party member or live in the Brighton area, check out this Fringe Meeting at Labour Party Conference in Brighton on the 27th September, hosted by the Jewish Labour Movement and Engage. Jonathan Freedland, Louise Ellman and David Hirsh are speaking.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

George Galloway and Oona King

Oona King's diary in the New Statesman is worth a read. The final words:
On Monday my constituency office formally closed, exactly four months after the election. Bizarrely, thinking of the count always makes me smile. It was a memorable night and I love memorable nights. Even now, constituents still knock on the door and stop me in the street to ask if I'll help with their cases.

"But you've got to help me. You helped me for years."

"I'm not your MP any more. I lost the election."

"What election?"

God bless 'em all. And they can contact Mr Galloway via the House of Commons switchboard.
Whatever you think about her politics, Oona was an excellent constituency MP, doing a huge amount of case work in one of the poorest places in Britain. Whereas George never turns up in Parliament, and turns up in Tower Hamlets even less. In this Parliament, George has managed to attend 13% of votes (he couldn't make the Islamophobia debate, for example) and has asked one written question. He last turned up more than two months ago, asking a question about fire engines.

There is also an interview with Oona in the Guardian a couple of weeks back. Money quote on George:
"It's rational to be incredibly angry about what's going on in Iraq, and there are many principled arguments against it. Having said that, my opponent possibly wouldn't know a principled argument if it hit him over the head."

Links: The truth about George Galloway, Lerterland: Just so we're clear, Lerterland: Hitch/Galloway, the aftermath, The Christopher Hitchens Web (lotsa links on The Grapple), Baggage Reclaim Galloblog, George comes Sarf, Nav Purewal: Chasing George [a democratic left critique, found via Eric the Unread]

Red Julia

I seem to be getting a huge amount of visitors because of my post way back about Julia Bonk - BobFromBrockley: Julia Bonk: Better living without Nazis (or, Another political babe) - but I made a factual error in that post, calling her a Social Democrat. In fact, (Red Julia was elected initially for the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which emerged from the Communist Party - officially the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the ruling party in the old Stalinist GDR. But the PDS was a de-Stalinized "Euro-Communist" party. Here's wikipedia:
"The grassroots democracy movement that forced the dismissal of East German head of state Erich Honecker in 1989 also empowered a younger generation of reform politicians in the East Germany's ruling Socialist Unity Party who looked to Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union as their model for political change. Reformers like authors Stefan Heym and Christa Wolf and human rights attorney Gregor Gysi soon began to re-invent a party infamous for its rigid Marxist orthodoxy and police-state methods. By the end of 1989 the last hardline members of the party's Central Committee had resigned, followed in 1990 by 95% of the SED's 2.3 million members. A new name, "Party of Democratic Socialism," was adopted to distance the reformed party from its communist past (after a brief transitional period as the SED/PDS). By early 1990, the PDS was no longer a Marxist-Leninist party, though neo-marxist and [C]ommunist minority factions continue to exist."
The PDS has subsequently become the main part the Left Party, joining with the Labor and Social Justice Party (WASG), a left group formed by dissident Social Democrats and trade unionists. Two more interesting facts from Wikipedia: (1) Two of the Left Party's leaders, Gregor Gysi and Lothar Bisky, are Jewish. (2) A Left Party Member of the European Parliament, Feleknas Uca, was the world's only elected Yezidi politician until three were elected to the Iraqi legislature in 2005. The Left Party has done OK in the latest elections, outdoing the Greens. Julia, incidentally, was not standing - she is in Saxony's regional assembley.


By the way, the Left's Sevim Dagdelen should probably join Julia Bonk in political hotties category. // German-speaking readers should check out Red Julia and Pizza-Socialism. Maybe pizza socialism should join muscular liberalism as one of the watchwords of this blog? // Blog link: Blue in a Red State, Andy Lang's Blog: Left Party gains votes across political spectrum // At Daniels Counter Blog: Schroeder = Hitler?, Election Campaigning German Style.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

As Soon As This Pub Closes 2

September 1986 TUC Conference: Lunchtime

The entrance to the conference hall is nearly deserted. The delegates have retired to adjacent hostelries to sink enough pints to allow them to sleep through the afternoon debate, so most literature sellers have taken a break.

Only two groups remain. One (the Spartacist League) are chanting "General Strike Now", while another (the International Communist Party) try to drown them out with "Build the ICFI" (International Committee of the Fourth International to the uninitiated). Do they hope to convert each other? Or myself, the only other listener? Surely not, but each feels that the first to leave would be chicken. I am glad my daughter is not in sight as she is probably warm and dry – on the other hand she has my coat. Resisting the temptation to raise my own slogan (Smash neo-Kantian revisionism!) I leave both groups to the sardonic screaming of the gulls. The rain drizzles from a lead grey sky as I walk to the station. "So what", you may say, "I never did care for Brighton." However, the two groups, and their rivals who have gone to lunch, form the core of organised British socialism. If a bureaucrat temporarily wakes from his slumber during the afternoon and feels any guilt about applauding the hypocritical rhetoric coming from the platform, he has certainly in his youth been a supporter of one of the socialist groups. This work is to be commended for providing the uninitiated with a guide through the labyrinth.
Congratulations to Raven for winning the challenge set in this post. (I'll have to have a think about the prize.) As Soon As This Pub Closes... is a pamphlet that had iconic status amongst lefties and trot-watchers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, getting passed around in samizdat form - usually around pub closing time.

Its author, John Sullivan, sadly passed away a couple of years ago.

(P.S. I haven't heard the folk song by Alex Glasgow and Henry Livings "As Soon as this Pub Closes, the Revolution Starts", mentioned by the great Keith Flett.)


Completely unrelated (I think): A welcome to A World of Barmcake to the Axis of Bob - will be added to the blogroll when I have a moment (suffering from dodgey computer today).

Links: Gauche, Ten Blokes That Failed to Shake the World, One Trot Party, The Early Days of a Better Nation, John Sullivan's homepage

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

As Soon As This Pub Closes

Found my way from Hak Mao to Comrades Reunited. I'm not sure if I'm part of this demographic, as I cannot claim a "fierce Labour Party loyalty". But I was a member of the Young Socialists back in the day (branch chair I think) (moving way to the left as the John Smith years wore on), but these are three of the core values of this blog:
- A strong commitment to post war solidarity with Iraq
- Disgust at the "anti-imperialist" left
- A growing unease at creeping leftwing anti-Semitism

Other former comrades: Richard of bagrec, David T and Mugged By Reality.

P.S. A prize for the first person to post to comments with the correct answer to the why I've entitled this post "As Soon As This Pub Closes".

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Muscular liberalism

Madeleine Bunting's Guardian article yesterday, "The muscular liberals are marching into a dead end", was one of the most irritating and incoherent things I've read in a while.

Bunting is attacking the "significant section of liberal and left-leaning opinion has signed up with such relish to the 'clash of civilisations' argument". I don't know whether I want to defend the muscular liberals, as I don't know who she means. As Harry says, "Bunting does not name who her 'Muscular liberals' are but we can take a rough guess at who she is talking about (mostly people who are quite flabby actually)" - presumably the likes of Johann Hari, David Aaronovitch, Christopher Hitchens and Nic Cohen, in other words people who don't actually support the Clash of Civilizations thesis.

She asserts that "Scruples about the unsavoury rightwing company they are now uncomfortably lodged with - such as the American neocons - have been easily squashed." And then she urges us to take up instead the company of presumably more savoury Islamic clerics... She calls for us to abandon the Enlightenment pretense of universality - and then she urges us to learn from Muslim religious fundamentalists who, more than anyone, have absolute faith in their values' universality...

Bunting says, of the muscular leftists' complaints at Livingstone's courting of the mullahs, that "the idea of submitting all potential interlocutors to an ideological approval rating will mean we end up talking only to ourselves. Is a reminder necessary that this is a symptom of insanity?" Presumably she'd also be happy with Livingstone "engaging" with the BNP.

She blathers on about how we've become apathetic, fatalistic and self-doubting, and this breeds our susceptability to neo-con ideas. In fact, the so-called muscular liberals are also fighting aginst apathy, fatalism and self-doubt, while the liberal liberals like Bunting worry on about completely pointless things. I think the real problem is that so much of the left has forgotten about the core struggle for social justice and equality, and become wrapped up instead with concerns around cultural recognition, identity and sexual politics.

I have to confess I had a hard time knowing how to start writing this post, because Bunting's article was so full of mad non- sequiturs that I didn't know where to start. Here's a couple more:
"The louder Tony Blair expounds "our values" and "our way of life", the more vacuous the phrases sound. How do British values look to an African?"

"[T]he insights of Islam might have a bearing on many of the [core moral] issues and could even contribute to a renaissance in western thought."
Madeleine Bunting: a reminder of everything that was wrong will the old Grauniad.


See also David Ford's sensible reply to Bunting here.
Madeline Bunting, Madelaine Bunting, Madeleine Bunting, Madleine Bunting, Madlaine Bunting
Blog link: World of Barmcake: A Finger in the Salad.
Previous: Loveable Tory?, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent v Juan Cole, Galloway’s hubris, Useful idiots
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Monday, September 12, 2005

RIP Majer Bogdanski

Majer Bogdanski has died.

Majer Bogdanski was so may things: a great East End character, one of the last of the East End's working class Jews, a living witness of the horrors of the twentieth century, a wonderful musician, a keeper of the flame of Yiddish culture and language as a living culture and language, and a keeper of the flame of ethical, democratic socialism. The Yiddishist Heather Valencia has a nice obituary in The Guardian today, concluding with these lovely words: "Majer Bogdanski, tailor, musician and folklorist, born July 14 1912; died September 4 2005."

Majer was involved in the pre-war Bundist movement in Poland, He fought in the war against fascism, in the Polish army and then in the British army in Italy. He spent nearly two years in Soviet labour camps, which honed the anti-Stalinism that he had already breathed in from the Bund. he came to London after the war, which had been the headquarters of some of the Bundists associated with the Polish government in exile, such as the martyred Shmuel Zygielbojm.

Following the Bundist principle of doykayt - hereness, a commitment to the here and now - he remained in the East End long after most Jews had departed, fighting against racism and for the Labour Party alongside Bengali comrades. And he was also a fixture in the Jewish scholarly scene, puncturing the pretensions of academics with his autodidact's wisdom - although often knodding off during more boring lectures in his later years. He was a guiding spirit in Fraynt fun Yidish, Friends of Yiddish, which continues to meet on shabes in Toynbee Hall - inheriting the mantle of the great poet Avrom Stencl and associating with the likes of Kafka's last love Dora Diamant.

He can be heard on some of the records of Oi-Va-Voi and Budowitz (click links for mp3s). He can be seen in the extraordinary film about photographer Sharon Chazan, Not Enough Distance. He had a walk-on part in some of the work of Rachel Lichtenstein and Iain Sinclair. He was a regular contributor to Jewish Socialist.

Mayer Bogdanski, Majer Bogdansky
Related links: Bill Fishman and Rudolf Rocker at Five Leaves Publishing, Joseph Leftwich at Wikipedia, Dia-pozytyw: Marek Edelman, The Musical Legacy of the Jewish Labor Bund
Previous: Hannah Baneth, Bernard Kops, Antonio Téllez Solà, 25 Years of Solidarity, Makhnov and Stalinism
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Management of non-compliance by branch members - A story by Jane Ashworth

At Engage: a not so far fetched story about life under the boycott.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Blog notes

Just to let regular readers know I have updated two recent posts (What's wrong with the left? and The strange, unexplored overlap between homosexuality and fascism); lost and re-created another (Sensible anti-war left); and added a few blogs to the roll (Bloggers4Labour, CAMERA Snapshots, Hak mao (not sure why that wasn't there before!), Out of the Driver's Seat, Katheder Blog, Baggage Reclaim and Students Waving Placards' Journal).

ADDED: While we're one the topic, let me also recommend this blog I've only recently found: Adloyada (see, e.g., on Gaza, Holocaust commemoration and Muslim 'spokespersons' and Ken Livingstone).

Last updates: Reality Cafe, London blogging, Meta-blogging, Quick raid 2

Katrina versus the IPods

It says something sad that the IPod Nano and EBay Skype have edged Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans down the most popular searches on Technorati this hour...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Loveable Tory?

David Aaronovitch has a fantastic article in yesterday's Times about Ken Clarke. Europhile liberal infoolectuals love cuddly Ken and his fedoras.

Admittedly, compared to most of today's politicians, he seems like a quite human person - you would rather go to the pub for a pint with him than most Labour politicians.

But, like Jacques Chirac, he is not our friend. Just because he is "anti-war", while Blair is "pro-war" does not mean that he has progressive politics.

Aaronovitch on the Chatham House/Clarkey worldview of the BBC listening classes:
"what would have been the situation had there been no invasion? Saddam would be there, or maybe Uday, or if we got lucky, Qusay. Perhaps we would have continued the baby-killing sanctions on Iraq, believing (as Robin Cook did) that they contained Saddam’s military ambitions, or else — given that the sanctions regime was crumbling — we would have abandoned the measures and faced the prospect of Iraqi rearmament. Maybe Libya would have maintained its WMD programme, maybe the reform movements in the Lebanon and elsewhere — partly energised by the Iraqi elections — would not have been so strong. At the humanitarian level the actuarial calculation is difficult. Continuing subjugation for the Shia (better to live in bondage?) and attacks on the Kurds by Ansar al-Islam. Possibly London wouldn’t have been bombed. Or maybe it would have been bombed for something else...

Condi Rice, however flawed the Administration in which she serves, has learnt something from 9/11, as have most serious American politicians, and most serious British ones. Ken seems to have learnt nothing.

It was appropriate that his stance should have been supported in these pages yesterday by Lord Lamont of Lerwick, British representative of the palaeo-conservative tendency. Lord Lamont urged us to follow the sage advice of Richard Nixon in arguing that we should not seek to spread democracy, or (in Nixon’s words) “presume to tell the people of other nations how to manage their own affairs”. To do otherwise, argued Lord Lamont, was “un-Conservative”.

Lamontian conservatism means letting people have tyrannies if the tyrants want them to. Selling everyone cigarettes, if that’s what they’ll pay for. Standing alongside Chilean dictators, because they can do us a good turn, and who’s to say that they’re not better than the alternative? The reckoning is a long way down the road. And then someone flies planes into high buildings."

David Aronovitch, David Aaronovitsh, Ken Clark, Kenneth Clarke
Previous: Monbiot, Ken Clarke, Harry and Uzbekistan, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent v Juan Cole, Galloway’s hubris, Cheese-eating surrender monkeys, Social justice versus liberal ideology

Hurricane Katrina news

Recommended: Reuters AlertNet - Intense hurricane Katrina

Preachers of Hatred: an interview with Pierre-André Taguieff

At Engage:

Preachers of Hatred: an interview with Pierre-André Taguieff.

Pierre-André Taguieff, a Professor at the University of Paris, philosopher, political scientist and historian, an advisory editor of Engage, has just published "Precheurs de Haine", a book on radical anti-Zionism and on new antisemitism. Observatoire du Communautarisme (Communautarism Watch) has just published an interview with Taguieff, which Alexandra Simonon has translated into English for Engage.

Other links:

+ On the new right:
Origins and metamorphoses of the New Right: an interview with Pierre-Andre Taguieff
From Race to Culture: the New Right view of European Identity
+ On Islam:
Taguieff and Tariq Ramadan

Monday, September 05, 2005

What's wrong with the left?

Bloggers4Labour has picked this up:
Fairly banal post this one, but a more interesting one on Labour activism will follow, time permitting.Anyway, as you can see in the picture, courtesy of Dissident Voice ("A Radical Newsletter in the Struggle for Peace and Social Justice"), and via Bob from Brockley (though I don't take his point that it shows there's something wrong with the Left as a whole), George W. Bush's America is equivalent to Hitler's Germany, the Stars and Stripes having the same connotations as theswastika.
So, I guess I should clarify. I don't think this shows there is something wrong with the left as a whole, but I do think it is a symptom of a sickness that has spread through the left: paranoia, conspiracy theorising, pathological anti-Americanism, moral equivalence.

Large numbers of American and British leftist really think that America is more or less a fascist state. I agree that the American government is increasingly authoritarian, and indeed that all states are inherently oppressive. But that doesn't mean that Bush's government is fascist. The amount of freedom of speech Americans have to attack Bush - and not just in marginal corners of the internet, but in massive media events like Michael Moore's books and films - is proof enough that America has a long way to go before it becomes fascist. If you call America today fascist, what words do you have left to talk about truly totalitarian regimes? If you think the Republican party is fascist, what words do you have left to talk about the like of David Duke and David Irving?

The doctrine of moral equivalence is a cancer doing huge damage to the left.

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The strange, unexplored overlap between homosexuality and fascism

Johann Hari has recently been declared The Gay Destroyer by the Nazis of Stormfront (see here for what a Gay Destroyer might look like). So it's worth reading this article he published a year ago: The strange, unexplored overlap between homosexuality and fascism. [Hat tip: Jogo]


Jogo writes:

I have never cared for the word "gay," meaning homosexual or queer. It sounds like a Victorian euphemism, which I believe it is. I don't know when this word started popping up everywhere. I don't remember it having much currency back in the fifties and early sixties. Or certainly, it wasn't THE word, as it is now.

Maybe it became the word when the Gay Liberation Front formed (immediately post-Stonewall, 1969), and defined, and sort of began, the militant struggle for homosexual rights and acceptance.

"Gay" -- especially if you're hearing the Victorian note -- sounds extremely weird when you read it 53 times in Johan Hari's article about the homosexual/fascism connection.


This quote jumped out at me from Johann Hari's article: "Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than the good bourgeois order." -- Ernst Rohm

Did Rohm come up with a real insight here, or was he just being ironically, self-deprecatingly, clever?

To prefer unrest to "good bourgeois order" (to prefer it as a permanent state of being, that is) has been a dream not only of the political revolutionary mind for the past 157 years, but is also characteristic -- even a defining characteristic -- of the modern artistic mind, beginning with ... what? .... Dadaism, or the Armory Show, or Surrealism ...

Rimbaud was all about unrest set permanently against bourgeois order. Appolinaire -- and all the poets and writers of his ilk -- were deeply, emotional, psychically configured to despise bourgois order, and worked to undermine it, to replace it with chronic "unrest" and a kind of "war." An unbroken line connects them to Ginsberg and Corso, utlimately to Gangster Rap and the Poetry Slam.

The idea of Unrest as a Primal Solution lies at the heart of the ideologies and theories of all the movements of my adult lifetime -- from The Living Theater and UAW/MF to Rage Against the Machine. Unrest is deeply desired, longed for, by the likes of Barthes and Foucault, and by Lynne Stewart, who says things like "I've been fighting all my life." As if there was never a moment, for her, in which peace seemed preferable to war.

So what should we make of Ernst Rohm's statement?
[Bob:] This is a really important issue, and Hari is on to something here. As Daniel notes, this issue has been explored in the important book Male Fantasies, by historian George Mosse and, in different contexts, by Paul Gilroy in his essay "Hitler Wore Khakis" and Ian Buruma in his book Occidentalism.

The key point, I think, is that at its heart, fascism's appeal and core is aesthetic as much as ideological.

Jogo again:
Is Johann Hari very smart, or just averagely smart? He calls Pym Fortun a "fascist," using as evidence Pym's opinion that Islam is "the biggest threat to Western Civilization today." O Horrors! Whether that view is right or wrong -- or partly right -- can't one believe it without being thought a fascist?

Later, Hari writes: Fascism is often defined as "a political ideology advocating hierarchical government that systematically denies equality to certain groups." Well, he doesn't say who defines it that way. I certainly don't. I don't think that's a very good definition of fascism at all.

[Bob:] I think that the definitions of fascism that are used today have lost all clarity. People have made the term stretch so far as to make it almost meaningless. The Wikipedia definition, I think, gets it more or less right, but misses out the importance of race. The idea of fascism simply as authoritarianism or inequality - and, worse, the idea of America today as fascist - reflects the hollowing out of political debate today.

This, along with Hari's political correctness in his over-use of the anodyne, meaningless phrases "gay" - and "gay people" (where there many lesbian Nazis?) - suggests a refusal to think about certain things, which sits uneasily with his insight elsewhere in his writing.
I agree that it is utterly wrong to call Pim a "fascist". Wikipedia again:
"Fortuyn was a focus of controversy for his views on Islam and his anti-immigration positions. He called islam a backward culture and once said "if it were legally possible, I'd say no more muslim should ever enter this country". He was labelled a far-right populist by his opponents and the media, but he fiercely rejected this label and distanced himself clearly from far-right politicians like in Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Blok, Jörg Haider of Austria or Jean-Marie Le Pen of France. Fortuyn could be considered a nationalist, but on cultural, rather than racial grounds."
I think Fortuyn was wrong on most things, but the idea that he was a fascist is another one of those liberal orthodoxies that Guardianistas just take for granted without thinking about it. Again, I expect better of Hari!


One further thing: I think that Hari is wrong about gay skinheads. Hari assumes that skinheads are automatically fascist. Anyone interested in the fascinating history of queer skinheads should read Murray Healey's Gay Skins. In the 1980s anti-fascist movement (as opposed to the liberal "anti-Nazi" movement), we always used the term "boneheads" for Nazi skins.

Pim Gortune, Pym Fortine, Pim Fortuyn, Pym Fortoyn
Johan Harri, Johan Hari, Johann Harri, Johann Hari
Previous: Julia Bonk: Better living without Nazis (or, Another political babe), Mown back to heath: Hari on Chavez, Uniform fetish, Big up Kanye West, Homophobia in Iran, God hates fags, Gay Israel, Anti-semitism and gay bishops, Homophobia and Four-letter words

DiCaprio's Receding hairline

From my referrers list, the best google search in a while: dicaprio "receding hairline". This is beacause of the proximity between a post on Leonardo DiCaprio and Beyonce Knowles (Beyonce Knowles is Jewish) and a post about a Saudi spokesperson's dapper suits and receding hairline.

I won't take it personally.

Often licked never beaten

From kweilo - W.F.M: a nice Brockley image

And more South London blogging: Nurofen: local colour, Fear my Crankypants of Doom - OMG! ZOMBIES! WTF! OMG!.

Previous: Tony Parsons at the battle of Lewisham and other South London stories, Loafin in Brockley, London blogs, Deptfordism 2
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Friday, September 02, 2005

The wisom of Salman Rushdie

Butterflies and Wheels transcribes Rushdie on the BBC Today programme, on Muslim 'leaders' and the Islamic 'community'.

ADDED 3 September:
Just found this Obligatory Rushdie celebwatch at Kitabkhana:
Salman Rushdie is:
a) in form, sort of back, maybe, maximum ophul...
b) overanalysed, says Amit Chaudhuri, who squeezes a review in somewhere along the line
c) tired of being a celeb
d) playing scrabble (or, as this story from The Guardian suggests, Twister?) with Kylie Minogue (damn. Now the Babu and the Partner both have reasons to hate Salman chacha; one worships Bono, the other leers at Kylie, and it's kind of galling to know that Rushdie's met both while we haven't met either. PS: Did Kylie make more triple word scores, the partner wants to know.)
e) at the centre of the Satanic Limericks outrage. (Ok, just kidding, it's the Rockall Times having fun.)
While we're here, Kitabkhana also notes important news about writer Orhan Pamuk's defiance of the official Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide. (Link to Kitabkhana via Chapati Mystery, reached via Reality Cafe, which I've recently added to the blogroll. As you'll see in the comments, the Cafe's blogger Raven is reading Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown.)

Oil wars and the wrong Blackheath

Thanks to Andrew and My Lewisham for pointing out that the Blackheath to be drilled for oil, mentioned here, is not in South East London, but in Surrey, which makes it alright with me.

While we're here, Andrew provides a link to the amazing noise map of the UK, confirming the shocking levels of noise on Brockley's main roads - and the fact that Pepys estate is a lovely quiet idyll. Meanwhile, My Lewisham provides a nice mini-feature on the lovely Telegraph Hill park.

And here's Richard (baggage reclaim) on old Trots in Hither Green (see also comments on DSTP4W).

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