Friday, February 24, 2006
(For those of you lucky enough not to know, SWSS - usually pronounced swiz - stands for Socialist Worker Student Society, the studental arm of the British Socialist Workers Party, not to be confused with the American Socialist Workers Party, who they hate... And for those of you even luckier not to know, BNP stands for British National Party, a fascist (or as the SWP like to say "Nazi") party.)
For more background on the SWP's appeasement of Holocaust denier, see these earlier posts at NewerLabour: 1, 2, 3.
Previous: As soon as this pub closes, SP v SWP, Aaronovitch v Atzmon 1 & 2, AWL v SWP, Who I hate
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The Dershowitzian right comes out with predictable views, with which I basically sympathise. Thomas Sowell, in "Another academic casualty" writes:
"Students are getting half an education at inflated prices and learning only how to label, dismiss and demonize ideas that differ from what they have been led to believe. Their "educated" ignorance is a danger to the future of this country."Sploid says:
"Cornell West called [Summers] "the Ariel Sharon of American higher education" for his "bull in a china shop" approach. (Being fat and Jewish probably helped, too.)"In "Prejudice Wins", The Washington Post weighs in with suprisingly iliberal hefty attack on political correctness. Final line: "in university politics as elsewhere, loud and unreasonable minorities can trump good sense."
Other views go beyond the usual-suspects culture war positions. Margaret Soltan, Easily Distracted and Grad Student Madness give plenty of reasons to be against Summers, regardless of your position in the kulturkampf, such as his cronyism. Left Center Left similarly goes beyond the culture wars.
Keith Boykin tells of the Larry Summers he knew: a man who eats all the M&Ms. James Traub, in Slate, talks of his affection for the "barely socialized" Summers.
This thing lets you wikipedize text, to it looks like this: "Blog about trans-Atlantic translation, Jews and Jew-haters..." (Doesn't work that well, in my opinion, but a good idea.)
FlickrLilli: a "nice way to search flickr". Here's some pictures of Brockley.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
February 21 is Language Martyrs' Day in Bangladesh, and International Mother Language Day by proclamation of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).
Language Martyrs' Day (also known as Shahid Dibas or Ekushey) commemorates the demonstrators who died in the effort to have the Bengali language recognized (alongside Urdu) as an official language of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). On February 21, 1952, a large group of protesters gathered in Dhaka to urge the Pakistani government to recognize their language. The organizers of the prostest were students at the University of Dhaka, but the protesters were from all walks of life. The protesters were fired on by the police, and many were killed. However, the proponents of Bengali language rights ultimately prevailed.
File under: heroes of freedom
Discourses of Disobedience: Power, Politics and Legal Structure in the 2003 Israeli Conscientious Objection Trials
Seminar presented by Dr Hadar Aviram, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University. When? 4-6, 1 March. Where? Room 1204 (12th floor), Warmington Tower, Goldsmiths College, University of London. A Unit for Global Justice Event.
For further information about this event, please contact: Kirsten Campbell e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Links: Abstract of paper, more abstracts, Hadar Aviram's book reviews and Amazon lists (including the books that got her thru her military service in Israel - nice list), Where have all the women gone?
Thursday, February 16, 2006
1. Two statements on the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conference on boycotting Israel. Important reading for anyone concerned about the battle over academic freedom (and, indeed, the battle over the meaning of the term "academic freedom") and for anyone concerned at the continuing pariah-fication of Israel.
2. A link to Jeff Weintraub's blog post on the Mohammed cartoon furore, thoroughly fisking the liberal Islamophile "double standard" argument.
3. A piece by Nancy Tenenbaum on the Guardian's Israel=apartheid "report". I didn't have the energy to blog about the article, but this response seems about right to me.
4. I should have posted this ages ago, but the first issue of the Engage journal is now out. It's excellent. It's got:
- The Rise of a New Anti-Semitism in the UK - Shalom Lappin
- The Right to Exist: anti-Zionism at the United Nations - Ben Cohen
- Hating Science; Hating The Jews: What's Philosophically Interesting About Anti-Semitism - Samuel Fleischacker
- How Neoconservatives' Shift from Left to Right Inspired Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Thinking - Ralph Seliger
- A review of George Galloway's new book - Dave Rich
- Divestment Meets its Waterloo in Somerville, Massachusetts - Jon Haber
- A review of Tsiolkas' 'Dead Europe' - Dawn Cohen
- Academic freedom and the limits of boycotts: some Kantian considerations - Jon Pike
I would have thought that Jogo-istas would like this desciption of the American left:
"The 60-year-old "young" Democrats who have desperately clung to the old formulas of the Kennedy era; the folks of MoveOn.org who have been so great at enlisting people in the electoral lists, at protesting against the war in Iraq and, finally, at helping to revitalize politics but whom I heard in Berkeley, like Puritans of a new sort, treating the lapses of a libertine President as quasi-equivalent to the neo-McCarthyism of his fiercest political rivals; the anti-Republican strategists confessing they had never set foot in one of those neo-evangelical mega-churches that are the ultimate (and most Machiavellian) laboratories of the "enemy," staring in disbelief when I say I've spent quite some time exploring them; ex-candidate Kerry, whom I met in Washington a few weeks after his defeat, haggard, ghostly, faintly whispering in my ear: "If you hear anything about those 50,000 votes in Ohio, let me know"; the supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton who, when I questioned them on how exactly they planned to wage the battle of ideas, casually replied they had to win the battle of money first, and who, when I persisted in asking what the money was meant for, what projects it would fuel, responded like fundraising automatons gone mad: "to raise more money"; and then, perhaps more than anything else, when it comes to the lifeblood of the left, the writers and artists, the men and women who fashion public opinion, the intellectuals--I found a curious lifelessness, a peculiar streak of timidity or irritability, when confronted with so many seething issues that in principle ought to keep them as firmly mobilized as the Iraq War or the so-called "American Empire" (the denunciation of which is, sadly, all that remains when they have nothing left to say)."
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
To politically balance that link, here's Recess Monkey slagging off Tory boys David Cameron (who may or may not be Jewish) and George Osborne for not wanting to go to Lewisham. because "Lewisham is too far away".
"This is quite understandable given that they would have to travel from Westminster, a journey according to http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ that would take 24 minutes by public transport, including changing trains and mingling with smelly commuters, few of whom are freemasons or went to Eton. You do however have to admire their commitment to keeping politics within the Westminster village and away from normal people."Cameron comes under attack from Neil H too, for flip-flopping over Iraq, posing as a dove to appeal to foolish middle class Guardianista liberals.
Also from Recess Monkey, here's a trio of funny posts about buying George Galloway's sweaty Big Brother cast-offs on E-bay and George's occassional genorosity to the people of Britain in making it to Parliament once in a while: 1, 2, 3.
And, back to the parochial Sarf London ting, and back on a Labour tip, here's a couple of nice posts from Andrew B: on Lefties and on Martha Reeves. Even more parochial, this is the Catford man, from a review of local pub The Goose on the Green:
"Not a hotbed of intellectual conversation then but a place to hear the true voice of the Catfordian; smart, silly, sanguine and sad."I also followed his link to these nice Catford photos at Queer Puppy Boy's page, while Chris Bauer has a Deptford photo gallery (a little whiter than the Deptford I know). Meanwhile, I'm eagerly awaiting Brockley Boy's blog.
On a more nationally relevant subject, I'm pretty agnostic on the ID cards issue, but this graphic at Rachel's page is chilling. What else? A great post at Never Trust a Hippy on Mad Bunting and the streets of East London. PooterGeek on Abu Hamza chilling to some banging choons on his IPod.
Friday, February 10, 2006
Beautiful and intelligent words from Bernard-Henri Levy, whom I regret calling a candy-ass. He is certainly not a communist, either, that's for sure.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Here's what smarter people are saying, in no particular order. Huggy makes sensible comments, and sets the issue in the context of Janet Jackson's breast-flashing. Laban sums up New Labour policing. Daniel has good pics and comment. Eric expresses my views better than I could at DST4W. Shuggy cuts through the nonsense. Lock & Load has design skills under his belt to make his points more sharply. ModernityBlog is buying Danish, and passes on a history lesson from ZombieTime. Myopic Thoughts passes on some thoughts from the heart of Islam, wonders where the flag-burners get their Danish flags, and lets us know the sort of cartoons found acceptable in the Middle East (via the ADL and Tom Gross). Sunny at Pickled Politics writes on how the moral high ground was lost. Scribbles writes on
These are some people who don't, I think, get as many nuances as the above: The Hitch weighs in with his fundamentalist version of secularism. Maryam Namazie takes that line even further. As does Andrew Sullivan, taking aim at Bill Clinton. Andrew is too much of a free speech fundamentalist for my liking - I don't think these rights are "non-negotiable". Going even further, The Infidel Bloggers have nothing but the cartoons, and run a Mohammed Cartoon Contest. (They also feature regular images of infidel babes...) I find their corner of the blogosphere pretty distasteful - follow their links if you want to go even further down this line, towards full-blown hatefulness.
Added link: OpenDemocracy has some good stuff, of course. I like Roger Scruton's contribution a lot. Shaida Nabi irritated me hugely ("
“You’ve lived all your life in
, never attended a megachurch or a brothel, don’t own guns, are non-Amish, and it dawns on you that this is a book about the French.” [blogrunner ref for those not registed with NYT] America
“Mr Levy’s regard for
– and his career as a successful writer – began 35 years ago when he answered Andre Malraux’s call to fight for freedom and democracy in America , and flew to witness its bloody war of independence from Bangladesh . Pakistan‘It was a terrible experience of human damnation,” Mr Levy said. ‘Imprinted on my mind were unforgettable images of butchery and horror. drove home to me the importance of free societies – and how the American experience of liberation from tyranny resonated around the world.’” Bangladesh
(I'm aware that the quality of my posting has deteriorated lately. This time I'm erring the other way, with an overly long post. Didn't mean to write so much, just came out.)
Folk Marxism and American political culture
Economist Arnold Kling has written an interesting two-part piece in TCS Daily on how thinkers influence us through the folk versions of their beliefs. Jogo sent me the second part with the simple instruction “blog this”. I’m going to comply with that instruction, because I found the piece wrong on so many levels.
The idealist view of history
It starts with a quote from arch-liberal economist John Maynard Keynes to the effect that philosophers have an immense influence on the world: “it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.” This is a classical statement of idealism – the belief that it is primarily ideas not material interests that shape the world – against materialism. Liberalism is premised on this sort of idealism, hence liberalism’s fundamentalist attitude to free speech: if ideas are all-important, the right to speak is more important than material entitlements, like food or not getting attacked by racist thugs.
Leaving aside for the moment this issue of materialism and idealism, Kling’s argument in the first part is pretty uncontroversial: that some high thinkers’ ideas go out into the world in a more or (usually) less faithful “folk” forms, which then have an impact on the world. Thus we have folk Freudianism, folk Keynesianism, folk Marxism, and so on.
The second part focuses in on folk Locke-ism and folk Marxism, which Kling suggests have been two of the most influential folk beliefs of our age. The Lockean tradition believes in the rights of individuals and the responsibilities and limits of government. The folk version of this is a “jaunty defiance of tyrants” which runs deep in American culture. Although folk Lockeans might not know they are following Locke, Locke would most probably recognise his kinship with them.
Folk Marxism for Kling is the simple belief that oppressors are bad and the oppressed are good, a folk version, he says, of Marx’s view of history as class struggle. Now, I think Kling is right to identify a current of thought that identifies with the oppressed against the oppressor, and that this identification can be dangerous and stupid. It is not the instinct to side with the oppressed against the oppressor that is wrong – the noble instinct of Thomas Paine and George Orwell. What is wrong is when the instinct is channelled through a worldview that only allows you to support the oppressed when they are darker skinned than their oppressors, or when the oppressed are Muslim and the oppressors are Christian or Jewish, or when the oppressors are allied with America. And what is also wrong is when the instinct blinds people to the obvious (“dialectical” as Marx would say) truth that the oppressed easily become the oppressors.
Here’s Kling: “If you think about it, the forces fighting
I’m not sure simply using the word “insurgency” is part of this, as Kling suggests. “Insurgency”, unlike “resistance” or “terrorist”, is fairly neutral and doesn’t romanticise. Only if you accept that “insurgency” romanticizes does Kling’s claim that “the mainstream media” is folk Marxist make any sense.
Marx and ‘folk Marxism’
Marx himself was generally on the side of nations that were championed as oppressed by the radical and liberal milieus in which he moved, but not very enthusiastically. At times he was downright contemptuous of the struggles of the Indians and the Irish and the Poles, and he was not in the least bothered about the oppression of women. This is because oppression is basically not a key part of the Marxist worldview, but rather is a key part of the radical liberal worldview. For Marx, as a materialist, exploitation was more important than oppression, and the “objective antagonism” between capital and labour was more important than moral struggles between oppressors and oppressed.
As for the moral authority of the oppressed, Marx specifically did not see the workers having any moral authority by virtue of their oppression. Indeed, it is one of the problems of Marx’s philosophy that he did not have any language for thinking about morality.
The people Kling calls folk Marxists (e.g. “the mainstream media”) mostly wouldn’t see themselves as Marxists and their views have little to do with Marx, so it seems to me that the designation “folk Marxist” is not at all helpful in the way that “folk Lockean” is. So, it seems fair to indict Marxism for things done in Marx’s name, even where they have nothing to do with Marx’s actual thoughts, but rather unfair to indict Marxism for silly, liberal, romantic notions about the oppressed.
In fact, I might even suggest that the reflex to romanticize the oppressed is a symptom of the ascendancy within the left of thoughtless liberal ideology over rigorous Marxist thought. It is thoughtless liberal ideology that has taken over the academy, not folk Marxism.
I think there is such a thing, however, as folk Marxism, which also has a dangerous hold on the left, which Noam Chomsky has probably done the most to disseminate. This is the “vulgar materialist” belief that everything done in the world is down to material interests, to economics. The most common form of this position is the stupid “No blood for oil” slogan, which sees American foreign policy as nothing but the expression of the interests of robber baron petrocracy.
We’re all Lockeans now
Pushing a bit further, it might be that both the ultra-liberal reflex Kling is attacking and Marx’s philosophy are skewed variants of Lockeanism. The notion of oppression is grounded in the Lockean or classical liberal belief in people’s inalienable rights – oppression is where one body of people more or less systematically deny another body of people their rights. The instinct is basically right, but is dangerous if applied without thought, or when it is applied according to flawed principles about who constitutes the oppressed and who constitutes the oppressor.
Marx’s political economy was also based on Locke’s theories, in quite a fundamental way. It was Locke, as part of his argument for private property as one of the key rights of individuals, who developed the “labour theory of value”, a fundamental plank of Marx’s thought. Locke argued that the process of labour allows something of a person’s self to be “mingled” with things in a way that makes them to a person. Thus, if I take a piece of wood from a tree and fashion it into a chair, my labour has made it mine by “mingling” something of my self with the raw wood.
Locke’s labour theory of value is that the economic value of the chair I have made is created by the labour I put in – that is, the difference between the value of the wood and the value of the chair is the labour I “mingled” with it. Marx took this theory further, and applied it to a situation where I’m making the chair for an employer. The employer makes a profit by selling on the chair for more than he bought the wood for, but the difference in value is all down to my labour – in “folk” terms, profits are just unpaid wages. Marx’s notion of exploitation and the objective antagonism between capital and labour is premised on Locke’s idea that I have put something of my self into that chair, and that the capitalist is thus expropriating something of my self, something in Locke’s terms “inalienable” (hence Marx’s concept of “alienation”, which has nothing to do with existential angst, but simply refers to this taking of the labour I have “mingled” with a commodity).
Keywords: John Locke, Karl Marx, vulgar materialists, liberal ideology, labor theory of value
A guest post from Jogo
Meryl Streep says:
"I'm so demoralised. I want a candidate to come out of nowhere and have no conflicts. I want major campaign reform. I want Jesus to come back and throw the money lenders out."
Leftism in a nutshell. Meryl nailed it with precision. What a sorryass existential cry. A childlike cry, don't you think? Leftism is religion. Why don't leftists admit it, and stop thinking they're better than the Christians?
One of Bush's biggest mistakes -- as President and as a man -- was not to have met with Cindy Sheehan when she first attempted to get his attention in Crawford. He, or someone very close to him, should have seen that Ms Sheehan was no ordinary angry citizen. She meant business. And she was fueled by a righteous fury, a John Brown-level fury, one might say a Sacred Fury.
A deeper and more thoughtful Christian would have seen in her the mysterious relationship between Fury and Grace ... let alone heard her cry and not turned from her.
At that time Ms Sheehan was only a private citizen, albeit a most resourceful and single-minded one. She did not then have, as she has today, the money, power and skills of the Organized Hate America Left behind her.
Of course she would not have permitted from Bush the kiss she received from Hugo Chavez. But Bush might have touched her in some way that she could receive... were he a deeper and more thoughtful man. He might then have risen, in her eyes, to the level of a human being. But as things stand today, he is not even that to her.
In response to this, a Christian friend in
"Yes, I agree that he does not have what it takes to unify our poor broken divided country. I pray that another
could emerge...and be able to speak to and listen to both sides." Lincoln
The millionaire moisturized Leftist wants Jesus... while the Christian schoolteacher prays for another
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
- Rimbaud and homosexual rage on google.co.uk
- "Auberon waugh" muslims trousers (a virtual prize for the reader who can tell me what that's about!)
- Where was the ladykillers filmed? (referring to a rare excursion North of the river for me)
- Academics hate teaching (this is my favourite)
- brockley vegetable (I profit from others' misspellings)
- roto vibrator (and my link was to Roto-Rooter plumbing and draining services!)
- [Added 8th Feb]: Reading is dangerous (they're right - it is!)
Monday, February 06, 2006
From April 2 - 6, The UK Friends of Givat Haviva with the Parish of Putney and Meteorite marketing agency will be bringing a group of 16 writers from
, Israel and Palestine to Jordan . While here they will write for an upcoming issue of the magazine, meet with contemporaries in the local community, as well as politicians and journalists and hopefully have some time left to see the sights of London . London
This is a group of 18 - 20 year olds who write for the bi-monthly magazine Crossing Borders. Through their writing these young people are able to learn more about each other, create shared experiences and find ways to work towards peace and reconciliation within their communities. Due to the geo-political situation and security concerns it is impossible for them to meet in the region. For this reason we are bringing them to
so that they can meet face-to-face and spend shared time together learning and listening. London
There will be a number of fund raising events over the next couple of months to help raise money for this visit. As of Wednesday, February 8th, these events can be checked on our dedicated website. One of the main events will be an online auction which will "Go Live" as of the 8th on this website www.crossingbordersauction.org and will end on February 23rd at a launch evening at the Parish of Putney, when the bids will be closed. There are some unique items up for auction of all shapes and sizes - please take a look!
Please, please help us with this very important visit by supporting our fund-raising and sharing this email with as many friends as possible.
This popped into my inbox last week - looks good:
A Panel Discussion: After 7/7
The Race Forum (British Sociological Association) in collaboration with the new Xenos research initiative (Department of Sociology,
) has organised a panel of leading thinkers to consider the aftermath of the Goldsmiths College July 7 2005bombings in London Wednesday 15th February 2006, Lecture Theatre, Ben Pimlott Building, Goldmiths College, New Cross
• Have anti-war, anti-racist and other progressive critics of a new phase of Western global military hegemony articulated an effective response to the events of 7/7?
• Have progressives adequately considered the nature, reach and challenge of the geopolitics of ´Islamist terrorism´?
• Do existing varieties of anti-racist politics offer anything in understanding and responding to the precarious conditions of a perpetual ´war against terror´?
• What are the challenges faced in rejecting UK government policy and discourse, based on a valuing religious group identities (such as Muslim communities), while forging local and transnational alliances with groups under threat and saturation surveillance?
• What political and ethical spaces are available to critics of both a US-led ´Empire´ and transnational jihadist movements?
Avtar Brah (
, Univesity of Birkbeck College ) - Chair / Discussant London
Chetan Bhatt (
, Goldsmiths College ) Universityof London
Suresh Grover (The Monitoring Group,
) Universityof Leeds
Nira Yuval-Davis (
) Universityof East London
Introduction and Panel Discussion
Launch of Xenos Research Initiative
This popped into my inbox last week - looks great:
is Not for Bolivia " benefit, Saturday 11 February, , Red Star, Sale 319 Camberwell Road. Entry £5 before , £7 after.
This fabulous February fiesta in deepest Camberwell runs from 8pm and features twisted Country from ever-popular south London Outlaw Larry Love (Alabama 3) and friends, the glamorous surf-fuelled Voodoobilly from the fabulous Naked Ruby, kicking bluegrass, gospel-country harmonies and Cajun twin-fiddling from The Rosinators, social surrealist punk poet Attila the Stockbroker, a rare chance to experience Bolivian music, dance, food, & activist videos, plus Latin sounds and DJ's Tattoo John and Mickey Vespre till 5am.
All proceeds are being donated to sponsoring a delegation to
to meet, witness and spread the word and support the Bolivian people's inspirational struggle against privatisation and the progress of the unstoppable Social Movements. Bolivia
More information from the Bolivian Solidarity Campaign.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Cameron's colleague Jack Sayers probably reveals a truer face of British Conservatism in his MPAC-esque claim that "Jews run everything in Britain and practically run America."
Stumbling and Mumbling: Merle Haggard and the decline of the left
Collected Thoughts and Utterances: Merle Haggrd - "Haggard Like Never Before"
Los Fuzzy Dice: You can't spell Grand Ole Opry without the G-O-P