History doesn't have to be told by the victor. Sometime the best accounts come from the mouths of ordinary people who've been at the sharp end of extraordinary events.Article on Dave Eggers' fascinating oral history project.
History doesn't have to be told by the victor. Sometime the best accounts come from the mouths of ordinary people who've been at the sharp end of extraordinary events.Article on Dave Eggers' fascinating oral history project.
The difference between Blowfly and Barack Obama is like the difference between Public Enemy & Eminem: Back when Flavor Flav couldn't give a fuck about the Grammys, it was because he couldn't have imagined winning one. When Eminem recycled the reference, a decade down the line, he'd already scored two of them.The second half is about the Leiber and Stoller song "Only in America", which is a footnote in the endless history of black/Jewish relations in America.
So one thing that'll happen if Obama goes the distance is, a long tradition of African-American songs - rooted in the notion that no black man will ever occupy the office - will grind to a halt. (An old joke, along the same lines: "I firmly believe that, one day, a man in a kippa and prayer shawl will sit in the Oval Office.... Unless, of course, he's Jewish.")
Gay and lesbian asylum-seekers can be safely deported to Iran as long as they live their lives “discreetly”, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has claimed.
In a letter to a Liberal Democrat peer, seen by The Independent, Ms Smith said there was no “real risk” of gay men and lesbians being discovered by the Iranian authorities or “adverse action” being taken against those who were “discreet” about their behaviour.
"To be sure, in our world there remain outposts of tyranny, and America stands with oppressed people on every continent, ... in Cuba, and Burma (Myanmar), and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe," .But let's take a look at this list.
"The human rights situation in Burma remains appalling. Burma is the textbook example of a police state. Government informants and spies are omnipresent. Average Burmese people are afraid to speak to foreigners except in most superficial of manners for fear of being hauled in later for questioning or worse. There is no freedom of speech, assembly or association. State TV and radio are merely a crude propaganda tool of the regime, merely recounting what the top Generals did on any given day. To read the the English language “New Light of Myanmar” is to understand what George Orwelll feared when he wrote “1984.”... Torture continues to be routine in Burma. Disgustingly, rape has been documented as a political weapon in Shan state, with thousands of reported cases."The mention of Orwell is apposite, as Burma is a totalitarian country in the strict sense of the term, as used by Hannah Arendt, who defined totalitarianism as rule by terror, which aims to expunge freedom as such by systematically destroying the boundaries between public and private, destroying the space for individuality and action. So, we must support Rice in her determination to stand by the oppressed people of Burma.
"Radios and televisions come with government-approved frequencies locked in. Possession of a radio capable of picking up South Korean, Japanese or other foreign stations is a capital offense as is ownership of a cellular telephone."Some Stalinists actually think North Korea is a beacon of freedom and hope in the world. Leading US anti-war group, ANSWER, is closely connected to the regime. ANSWER was set up by the International Action Committee (an outfit dominated by Ramsay Clarke, one of Saddam Hussein's defence lawyers). Deirdre Griswold, an IAC executive, declared that North Korea was a socialist success story because there was no poverty, famine, or homelessness in North Korea. The IAC in turn is a front of the Workers World Party, which supports the North Korean regime. Brian Becker is a Director of ANSWER and the IAC and a member of the Secretariat of the WWP of the United States. He denounced the U.S. during a press interview held in Pyongyang in 2002. The UK's Stop the War Coaltion (StWC) works closely with ANSWER. John Rees, of StWC, sits with Elias Rashmawi of ANSWER on the international committee of the Cairo Conference, sharing the vice-presidency of the International Campaign Against US Aggression which emerged at this conference. The London demonstration on March 19 this year is designed to co-ordinate with ANSWER's day of action in the US.
"The government of Belarus failed to ensure free and fair election in 2004, in large part by attacking the independent media and undermining freedom of association. The situation worsened in the months leading up to October 2004 parliamentary elections and a simultaneous referendum to remove presidential term limits. Several independent newspapers were closed, and journalists jailed on libel charges. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and independent trade unions were given warnings or closed. Many opposition politicians were prevented from registering as election candidates. Some were arrested on trumped-up charges."
"During the 2002 election the government enacted laws sharply curbing freedoms of the press and public assembly, citing national security. Now, with new national elections looming in March, new laws and other measures promise to silence the remaining independent press and activist groups that have been vehicles for dissent. In November alone, Zimbabwe's Parliament enacted legislation mandating a two-year prison term for practicing journalism without a license. A second law made it illegal to conduct voter education without government approval, requiring most election workers to register and clear electioneering materials with the state. A third law, passed in early December, effectively places nongovernmental groups, churches and charities under state control, empowering the government to investigate their finances, to restrict their activities and, in many cases, to disband them at will. A fourth proposal would impose prison sentences of up to 20 years for 'materially false' statements or writings that impugn the state. Earlier this year, the government installed equipment on Zimbabwe's Internet service providers to monitor and censor e-mail messages. In July, it tried to bar the one cellphone company outside state control from routing calls outside the country, saying unsupervised foreign telephone calls were a national security threat."(Some interesting articles on Zimbabwe: Land Invasions and lessons for the working class, Reading by Paraffin: Cracks in the Zimbabwean Mirror, Africa, neo-liberalism and anarchism)
A few changes on the links list to reflect changing times - it's goodbye to "Pickled Politics", it's one thing opposing government policy, but proclaiming "it's time for "brown" people to vote Conservative" gets you off my endorsed list.Sunny (of Pickled Politics) rephrased himself a little the next day.
The left complain about SWAT teams, but doesn't see that the progressives bear a lot of responsibility for their rise. If you confer the task of social invigilation and protection to professional janissaries--cops -- and deny the right of self and social protection to ordinary citizens, you end up with crews of over-armed thugs running amok under official license, terrorizing the disarmed citizens. In the end you have the whole place run by the Army or the federalized National Guard, as is increasingly evident now with the overturning of the Posse Comitatus laws forbidding any role for the military in domestic law enforcement.I happen to more or less agree with him on this. As Green Anarchist used to say, "Only guns give us rights." (Actually, that relates nicely back to the Magna Carta item doesn't it?)
The murder rate in NYC has decreased 50 percent from the 1980s. But in low-income communities, shootings and other violent incidents are not treated with the same severity as in middle-class communities. Crimes that simply would not be accepted by the police or community are getting more frequent. It is in this context that a black Bernhard Goetz may potentially emerge.I have to confess, I sometimes feel like that in inner city South London too.
we refuse to abandon our ideals of justice, freedom and equal rights for all. Some Western "realists" believe rather cynically that the "stability" Khartoum could bring about by force is preferable to our continued fight for freedom. What these people are really saying is that democracy is a Western prerogative and that we Sudanese should feel grateful for merely being allowed to live. We beg to differ.Now, I am not exactly uncritical of the SLA, but this is surely right.
A state is not necessarily either a client state of the US or purely anti-Imperialist - it's clear that Iran shares some interests with the US and they are at logger heads over other things. Surely not a difficult position to grasp and this idea that the US is at the root of all evil is, it seems to me, slightly disrespectful to the rest of the world who should be credited with being social actors in their own right too.Completely unrelated:
Eamonn McCann? Check. Students? Check. 60-something men and women wearing Che Guevara t-shirts? Check. Unimaginative placards lampooning President Bush’s intelligence? Check. Some local Muslim bloke to make everyone feel all diverse and right on? Check. Yup, all the ingredients were there for yet another thinly attended anti-war demo in Belfast featuring all of the usual suspects from our city’s lunatic fringe. Not even nice weather and the US President himself coming to town could bring out the crowds. Things must be bad in no-blood-for-oil land. [READ THE REST]See also this post, on the anti-Americanism of the Stop the War crew, and their love of feeling good about themselves by imagining Bush is dumb.
Gosh, that’s exciting! I wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t pointed that out. No.233, a big step above my previous high of 99th best left-wing blogger.
I notice I am down 21 places since May, which doesn’t suprise me, as I’ve felt palpably less influential this month. Still, I’m a good 60 points ahead of Transpontine, although he might be creeping up as he has gone up 4 points since last month.I also got some good press from Darren:
Going by Bob's selection I'm guessing that he is a bit of a muso. Has been known to subscribe to Record Collector magazine, and has index carded his record collection. Back in the day he was more of a Charlie Gillett groupie than a John Peel groupie. Been known to not only buy CDs that have been reviewed in the New Internationalist, but he's also been known to listen said CDs voluntarily.
Catalonia is full of German and Italian agents working desperately to reorganize the rebellion against the People’s Front government...German and Italian agents, who poured into Barcelona ostensibly in order to ‘prepare’ the notorious ‘Congress of the Fourth International’ had one big task. It was this: they were - in cooperation with the local Trotskyists - to prepare a situation of disorder and bloodshed... a situation in which the Italian and German governments could land troops or marines on the Catalan coasts...The instrument for all this lay ready to hand for the Germans and Italians in the shape of the Trotskyist organization known as the POUM.”*Of course, the POUM, an independent Marxist party, was not Trotskyist (Trotsky criticised it for being too anti-Soviet). Far from being pro-fascist, it was consistently active in militant anti-fascism.
“In the past, the leaders of the POUM have frequently sought to deny their complicity as agents of a fascist cause against the People’s Front. This time they are convicted out of their own mouths as clearly as their allies, operating in the Soviet Union, who confessed to the crimes of espionage, sabotage and attempted murder against the government of the Soviet Union.”As Kevin Keating writes:
"His reference to confessions in the Soviet Union is Claud Cockburn’s approving nod to the results of the Moscow Trials, a high point of Stalinist totalitarian delirium, where Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev and other leading Bolshevik bureaucrats confessed to absurd charges that they had long been agents of Hitler, the Japanese Emperor and other malefactors, and were subsequently shot.David Walsh at WSWS puts it even more starkly:
"Claud Cockburn's slanders helped prepare the atmosphere in which [POUM leader Andres] Nin and others were murdered. Moreover, his articles were published in the midst of the infamous Moscow Trials. His lies played an objective role in assisting in Stalin's mass extermination of the Soviet socialist intellectuals and workers."Here is how Cockburn later described his job as intellectual hatchet man for Stalin: I “was what, if one were inclined to pomposity, might be called a section leader of the counterespionage department of the Spanish Republican Government dealing with Anglo-Saxon personalities.”
"[Durruti] spoke to me in French and I realized that he was furiously angry. I banded him my credentials, supposing that this evidence of my having the capacity of correspondent of a "Red" newspaper would immediately appease him. He glanced at, them and threw them on the table and then in a low voice, vibrant with hatred, denounced the Communists and all their works. So far as he, undisputed Anarchist boss of Catalonia, was concerned, I might almost as well have been a Fascist.The bitter irony here, of course, is that it was Communists who were murdering anarchists, not the other way around… And then:
The armed bodyguard standing by could not understand what he was saying but his tone told them this was an enemy. It was a time when enemies were shot quickly. I could feel the atmosphere in that kitchen becoming horribly cold. I had a clear conviction that Durutti was in the judgment seat and pronouncing sentence of death. For at that place and time, to be a member of a rival organization on the Republican side -- to be ideologically at variance with the Anarchists -- was, to the pure Anarchist, not very much different from being on the other side altogether."
"I saw him only once again, on a snowy day inThis is a most outrageous lie. Durruti was killed in combat against fascists, not by anarchists. The Friends of Durruti were formed in March 1937, months after Durruti’s death in November 1936, to fight for the libertarian revolution Durruti fought for, against the alliance of the anarchist leadership with the Communists in the Popular Front. In Abel Paz’s splendid biography of Durruti, The People Armed (badly translated from French by the great Nancy MacDonald, one of my heroes), Paz, a comrade of Durutti’s, presents accounts that suggest the incompetence and political manoeuvring of the (Communist-dominated) International Brigades for placing Durruti in the situation that got him killed.
, soon after he bad brought, against bitter opposition in Madrid Barcelona, the pick of his Anarchist fighters from to assist the defense of the Castilian capital. The day after I saw him he was shot dead in the street -- on the ground that he was about to sign a comprehensive agreement with the Communists-by members of an organization called the "Friends of Durutti."" Catalonia
"But for a bullet in the brain on the Ebro, Rupert John Cornford might have loomed as large as George Orwell in the British left-wing lexicon. Orwell would probably have informed on him to his bosses in British Intelligence. For Cornford was a Communist. Not just a Communist, but a potential leading figure of the party, then rising towards the zenith of its power as the potential nemesis of Fascism, as well as a war poet as brilliant as he is now obscure. Not bad for a man who was killed doing his internationalist duty on his 21st birthday.
John Cornford was the grandson of Charles Darwin, son of the Victorian poet Frances Cornford, and part of the golden generation of the British left who went to fight fascism in Spain. That their memory has been sullied by Orwell's slanders, unfortunately reinforced by Ken Loach's film Land and Freedom, and now lies largely forgotten on the Iberian peninsula by the progressives of the 21st century is the main reason why I am working on an historical novel, Heart of the heartless World at the centre of which is the tall handsome figure of John Cornford."More Stalinist lies.)
"He supported the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan on the basis that it was a lesser evil to the misogynist fundamentalism of the village chieftains. He probably was influenced on this score by the CP politics of his father, another famous journalist, Claude Cockburn. But Alex was not a plain vanilla Stalinist. He also extolled the newspaper of the Trotskyist Spartacist League. This I found much more disturbing than his old-line Red Army apologetics. The Sparts, who also supported Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, were--to put it bluntly--nuts. During the Vietnam war, they raised the slogan "Drive the GI's into the sea!" As somebody who had leafleted draftees and knew how important tactful formulations were, I would found have found this slogan an invitation to a broken nose."In 1998, the William Keach of Socialist Workers Party described him fairly accurately thus:
"Cockburn's personal history links him to the politics of the Communist Party, and there are still moments in his writing - debating the number of people estimated to have perished in Stalin's gulags, claiming that 'the Brezhnev years were a Golden Age for the Soviet working class',** when aspects of his father's convictions can be glimpsed."David Walsh provides other examples, from The Golden Age is in Us: “He suggests at one point, for instance, that Stalin had no choice but to sign the Nazi-Soviet pact. He places principal blame for totalitarianism in eastern Europe on the emergence of the Cold War. He cites figures to prove that the US incursions in El Salvador and Guatemala resulted in far more casualties than the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia.” In 1989, when Christopher Hitchens was still at The Nation and on the left, Cockburn defended Fidel Castro from Hitchens’ attacks.
“The Soviet Union defeated Hitler and fascism. Without it, the Cuban Revolution would never have survived, nor the Vietnamese. In the post-war years it was the counterweight to US imperialism and the terminal savageries of the old European colonial powers. It gave support to any country trying to follow an independent line. Without it, just such a relatively independent country as India could instead have taken a far more rightward course. Despite Stalin's suggestion to Mao that he and his comrades settle for only half a country, the Chinese Revolution probably would not have survived either.”***Keach writes:
"Every sentence of this paragraph belies Cockburn's political intelligence and represents a barrier to his asking the most important political questions. In what sense had either the Cuban or the Vietnamese revolutions survived by 1991? Was the Soviet Union a 'counterweight to US imperialism' or a rival imperialist power in its own right, imposing its own regimes of repression? Did the Soviet Union encourage or block the development of genuine socialist politics in India? Caught up in the terminal crisis of Stalinist Russia, and obviously appalled by a world increasingly dominated by US style market capitalism, Cockburn retreats to a backward looking defence of mythical Russian accomplishments.Cockburn clearly felt in August of 1991 that the world had entered the era of 'post-communism'. Just where this left him politically is indicated by his quoting a from Vietnamese intellectual Nguyen Khac Vien: 'If a world front of capital is being founded, its counterweight, the democratic popular front on a world scale, is also in formation'.**** This is where Cockburn was left by the collapse of the Soviet Union, with a nebulous global popular frontism."
"I remarked that there was one bit of proliferation that seemed to me indisputably okay, which was when the Soviet Union acquired the know-how to make A and H bombs, thus ending the US monopoly on Armageddon, and in my view making the world a safer place. (My position, very shocking to Jonathan Schell, is that every country should have at least one thermonuclear device, if necessary donated by the World Bank along with the "national" flag.)"In 2005, he relatavised away the totalitarian Soviet Union’s vast spy machinery by comparing it to Israel’s:
"I'd reckon that when it comes to agents of influence the USSR back then [in the Alger Hiss period] couldn't hold a candle to Israel today (or then, for that matter, though in that distant time Zionist and Communist were often hats on the same head)."This, to me, is like describing what Israel is doing today as a Holocaust: a comparison that at once trivialises the crimes of Hitler and Stalin, while demonising Israel in an offensive way. (The claim also echoes his father’s “Spies and Two Deaths in Spain”, published by CounterPunch, which suggests that spies were not all they were cranked up to be in the Cold War imagination.) This continues the denialism that defined his earlier period (Cockburn’s “Purging Stalin” in 1989, for example, sought to defend the Soviet experiment from those – like Roy Medvedev – who sought to reveal the extent of its murderousness, condemning them as spouters of State Department propaganda).
"Why is the history of the Cockburn family franchise--now operated by the son--of political importance? Primarily because of the light it sheds on the New Left, a movement with which the younger Cockburn is closely identified.It is not accidental that the middle class radicalism of the 1960s passed on such a meager intellectual legacy and produced so few revolutionists. At the heart of the New Left's political weakness lay an avoidance of the basic historical questions posed by Stalinism and the fate of the Soviet Union. In certain cases, such as Cockburn's, these issues cut too close to the bone. For others, who justified their ideological indifference on "practical" grounds, the problems were simply too complicated.
Lobster Quadrille Magazine says:
One of the biggest (guilty?) pleasures in the music blogging world is to be the first ones to pick up on some hot new band, to be able to say I was there first. Here’s someone I’m confident will be absolutely huge in about six months or so, and I’ll get to be smug at the annual music blog dinner dance.
Ed Tracy... used to play under the moniker Chopper Harris, and has been tooling around the toilet venues of London for a while. He also occasionally played live saxophone, naked, for now-defunct white 2-step/dub outfit Crack Village alongside Akira The Don and one of Ray Winstone’s female sprogs. Via a chain of command involving former members of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Prefab Sprout his demo got him signed to Parlophone...
His stuff is classic British guitar pop with a creamy layer of white soul, and vocals that chew their way happily around juicy non-sequiters and vaguely slapstick imagery... ["Foxes of New Cross"] is one of his earlier efforts with some very nice guitar-hero soloing, and a catchiness that ruled my summer about three years back. Check out his myspace for some of his excellent new songs (including “Too Much Money” which WILL be #1), and his blog featuring tales of Keith Flint eating apple crumble amongst other topics. [Read the rest, and listen to the mp3]
The splendidly vibrant Foxes of New Cross is reminiscent of Blur's best stuff circa Modern Life Is Rubbish. A joyful blend of stretched-out vocals, sharp Coxon-esque guitar, pipey organ and saxophone embellishments. It also has an amazing fuzzbox solo. (I hope that doesn't sound like a euphemism for something.) In any case, why can't all bands make music this good?Listen at Last.FM
the debut album by Yaron Pe'er, an Israeli multi- instrumentalist, which also features musicians from Sudan, Egypt, and India.2. Spring Cleaning:
The text is from Psalm 17: 8, one translation of which reads: "Keep your eye on me; hide me under your cool wing feathers."
[mp3] Yaron Pe'er: Keep Me
from the album Orian
The album is also beautifully packaged, by the way, and comes with 10 postcards with inspirational messages and artwork drawn by Pe'er in Hindu and Persian styles. The entire project, Pe'er says, "is bestowed with the hope of reawakening the higher spirit within. To perform the mitzvah or good deed, 'love thy neighbor like thyself'; that a man shall not be built from the destruction of his fellow man."
Artist website: www.yaronpeer.com
Label website: www.magda.co.il
Israel, remixed: SoundRoots doesn't have the power to remix the politics of the Middle East, but we can point out some Y-Love remixes, including a rap infused version of this Idan Raichel tune
In recent months I have found myself being drawn more and more into the new wave of indie music coming out of Israel. But nothing has captured my attention quite like Israeli singer/songwriter Noa Babayof. On June 17, her debut album, From a Window to a Wall, will be released on Drag City imprint Language of Stone Records. Babayof’s haunting voice brings to mind Joni Mitchell, Nico and even Marissa Nadler. She is writing some of the saddest songs this side of Leonard Cohen.Listen to the tracks "Marching Band" and "Mary" at Israeli indie blog, עונג שבת.
Barack in my opinion is one of the whitest black politicians that have been out there, making it hard to see a fiery black nationalist in his statements. In fact, he voluntarily, not with prompting from the media but voluntarily, has distanced himself from radical black ideas that before he was elected to Congress, as a Senator, he may have supported. He's a uniter, not a divider.All Barack Obama posts
But you know, he's running for the President of the United States not the President of black America. If he wants to be a real President he'll have to appeal to all Americans, not just black supporters who will vote for anyone black who's to the left of Alan Keyes and rich white Yuppies who listen to NPR and are liberal to the point of idiocy.
*on edit: it looks like there are two contradictory things going on here: Obama being a really white Black politician and him not connecting with white people although he's been straining to broaden his appeal there. The solution is that the white folks that Obama has been reaching out to aren't regular people but the upper middle class yuppie set that reads the Daily Kos. While he's done a lot to prove that he can order complex espresso drinks with the best of them he hasn't done anything to prove that, yes, he would possibly have a beer with a shot of whiskey or something.