Saturday, August 29, 2009

Class politics versus identity politics, Liberal anti-fascism versus militant anti-fascism

1. Garibaldy, a blog I don't think I've visited before until clicking a link from Johnny Guitar's place, has a good post up about class politics versus identity politics, taking as its starting point a pretty good piece in a recent LRB by Walter Benn Michaels. Michaels' makes interesting points about the recent Henry Louis Gates kerfuffle, and critically reviews the Runnymede Trust's Who Cares about the White Working Class?, a report I was quite impressed by.

2. The so-called Equality and Human Rights Commission ("Trevor Philips' equalities super-quango" as Simon Cooke puts it) has come up with the stupid idea of suing the BNP for discrimination in its membership. What an utterly absurd idea. It's idiotic because it gives them publicity and grist to the mill of right-wing ressentiment, and it's wrong because using the state to repress unpleasant views is just wrong. However, this is only the most ridiculous of many of the idiocies of liberal anti-fascism/anti-racism. Fascism and racism will never be defeated by legislation and censorship. Dave Semple has more, from a similar angle to mine.

34 comments:

ross said...

Give up Anti Fascism (liberal and militant)

ModernityBlog said...

Just skimmed that article at the Bar, seems like part sectarian (digs at Searchlight), part wishful thinking (that existing groups/organizations are going to take up these points, when they are put in such an aggressive fashion), although I think the suggestion of ‘community unions’ is good.

I wonder how that will actually be implemented and by whom?

ross said...

as opposed to the wishful thinking of the dominant liberal anti-fascism of searchlight/hope not hate or the wishful thinking of the orphaned militant anti-fascism of antifa or other physical/street 'solutions'?

the wishful thinking that these approaches are working and have resulted in 'failure' for the BNP? let's face it the 'left' would give both bollocks (if it posessed any in the first place) to achieve anything like the 'failure' that the BNP has managed

personally i'm not really interested in debating sectarianism, i'm interested in looking at what works and what doesn't work and calling it on that regardless of upsetting anti-fascism establisment interests - why should a strategy that doesn't appear to be working not be criticised and a debate had about it, why should that debate be choked off by dismissing it as sectarian?

as for community unions the IWCA pilots have shown that some form of success is possible in this area, however localised and isolated that may have been (so this too has to fall into the bucket of 'not working' at the overall level also), i'm not saying these are a solution in itself but it's a foundation which if built upon/developed and supplemented with other initiatives could offer one way out of the impasse - and however dispicable the policies of the BNP are, there is a lot that could be learned from it's method/organisation/approach - compare some of the practical workshops etc.. run at the RWB to the theoretical/intellectual pontificating you get at marxism as just one of many many examples where they are doing it right and we are doing it wrong, and again politics aside they have established a benchmark as to how advances can be made, and have been successful to an extent in showing that it is possible to split off large elements of support from mainstream status quo politics (regardless of the superficial nature of what they actually offer)

ModernityBlog said...
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ross said...
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ModernityBlog said...

ross

I have already made my comments on beating the BNP elsewhere, and I found the IWCA analysis rather good, but what I find childish and unnecessary is the predictable sectarianism aimed at Searchlight.

Such an attitude is rather middle class and detracts from the otherwise good points.

ross said...
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ModernityBlog said...
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ross said...
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ross said...
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ModernityBlog said...
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ross said...
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ModernityBlog said...
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ross said...
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ModernityBlog said...
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Ross said...
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Bob said...

Moving on... I just had another look at the article, and don't see a sectarian attack on Searchlight. I see a measured criticism of Searchlight, placed alongside a similar amount of criticism of UAF, which is of course a front for the SWP. Saying the article is sectarian in relation to Searchlight is like saying that it Modernity Blog is sectarian against the SWP... ;)

Bob (checking in from an expensive internet cafe, with no web access for a few days) said...

P.s. I'm interested, Mod (and other readers) what you actually think about the substance of the criticisms of Searchlight in the article.

ModernityBlog said...

Bob,

If it ever gave *any* credit to Searchlight then I might agree with you, but does it?

It has a rather predictable poke at them, I doubt if the author(s) could write a paper on the topic *without* having a go at Searchlight.

There is a lot of settling scores on this issue, and it doesn't help.

I would like to see the type of solution recommended implemented, but I can't see that happening, the same old dodgy politicos habits, picked up the SWP and other grouplets, seem to preclude that.

Shame, but it would be good when the Brits get out of the petty bourgeois bickering stage, only been going on for the last 41 years :(

PS: I think Searchlight can be criticized, but they must also be given some credit, not that it will happen. Is anyone blameless?

Anonymous said...

Why aren't you equally outraged by the criticism of UAF? (And your complaints that Searchlight aren't given enough credit would be more convincing if a) you mentioned what you actually think they deserve credit for and b) addressed the criticisms of them directly).

It's great you were nutting fascists 30 years ago. But the BNP are not the NF. And the battlefield is entirely different now.

Waterloo Sunset said...

Oops, that comment was by me.

Bob said...

I think Searchlight deserve some credit for Hope Not Hate which I see as a massive step in the right direction - i.e. in an IWCA'ish direction, but with potential to reach wider numbers.

I can*t think right now of any reason to give any credit to UAF.

Waterloo Sunset said...

I'd say any benefits that could be gained are negated by their overt support for the Labour Party. (Despite the complaints made by Searchlight supporters, they are objectively a Labour front. To the point of posing with Gordon Brown just before the European elections).

Which means we're in a situation where they're arguing that the BNP are growing because of disillusionment with the political establishment (correct) and that the best way to win the battle for hearts and minds is by allying ourselves with that same political establishment (um, what?).

ModernityBlog said...

Well Bob, WS has made my point for me.

I am afraid sneering, as so often found in Searchlight's critics (WS is one of the better examples), is not going to mean that *anyone* doing anti-fascist work now is likely to take these proposal seriously.

Can't you see how those negative attitudes really play into the hands of the fash?

These attitudes are self defeating, but all too common.

Sam said...
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Waterloo Sunset said...

You still haven't answered my question of why you aren't equally outraged by the criticisms of UAF. But if I'm wrong, why don't you show us Mod? Explain why my criticisms of Searchlight are incorrect. Or you could just refuse to addres them, which is what you've done every single time when this subject has arisen before. I think it's fair to conclude you're unable to answer them, having been an antifascist 30 years ago not withstanding. And let's look at you not sneering:

Such an attitude is rather middle class

Well ross, if you are too lazy, stupid or incompetent to find out about your interlocutors, that's your problem.

That's all a bit too complex for you eh?

I imagine with your PR skills you'll be as successful as the Sparts.

Your approach is a sneering lower middle class attitude

You are just a middle class head-banger, no one is interested in your views.


You really are laughably hypocritical. Particuarly considering you have no problem with hanging round with racists like Old Peculiar at HP.

ross said...

"Which means we're in a situation where they're arguing that the BNP are growing because of disillusionment with the political establishment (correct) and that the best way to win the battle for hearts and minds is by allying ourselves with that same political establishment (um, what?)"

it's so ridiculous that a even a child of five would see the utter bankruptcy of such a strategy

send someone to fetch a child of five!

ModernityBlog said...

No Sam/WS,

My attitude is born of working class/under class belligerence, and use to being surrounded by far too many middle class thickos on the British political scene.

But I appreciate how some might be offended being called "middle class" when they are not, and for that I apologize.

As for sneering, I'll stick with that one, because that's how it comes over to me.

Of course, if they didn't mean to sneer, then might I suggest a less of the "let's assume the worst of others" approach, it won't build anything and just pisses people off.

Now if *you* are building an antifascist alternative then you might want to avoid that attitude?

Just a thought.

Waterloo Sunset said...

But I still genuinely don't understand why you consider the article in question unfairly dismissive of Searchlight/H&H when you don't take issue with its comments on UAF- it would seem to me to take a very similar approach to both.

If you want to defend Searchlight's tactics on this, cool. But actually do that, rather then complaining people are being too 'sectarian' to them. Actually explain why you think allying with New Labour is the way forward.

Obviously, I'll still disagree with you. But at least that way we can actually debate the issues raised by the article, rather then get sidetracked by how people keep saying meen fings about Searchlight and making them cry.

ModernityBlog said...

"But I still genuinely don't understand..."

Of course, you don't, that's the problem.

You and other members of the thick middle classes (and their hanger-ons) can't think outside of your own views.

You lack what is called theory of mind, the ability to see things from someone else's point of view.

It is a common trait on British Left, and one which means that people who (like me) might otherwise agree with the thrust of your arguments are put off.

Same old, same.

ross said...

as it doesn't look like there's any hope of sensible/non hysterical engagement from modernity blog, i hope he wont be offended if i just ignore his tantrums and move on to comment that the stupidity of the EHRC's latest move has pretty much been crystalised already

Griffin's realised they don't have the cash to take an appeal through the courts, so realistically what will happen is that they will make a perfunctory redrafting of their constitution so that in a short amount of time the BNP will be able to claim, with the full force of the law and the successor organisation to the commission for racial equality backing them, that they are a non-racist party

with victories like these.........

Dave Semple said...

Bob, are you following the debates in blogoland about the invitation to the BNP to go on Question Time? What do you make of that?

bob said...

1. I agree that the flaw of the Hope Not Hate strategy has been its closeness to the political establishment that is part of the problem. The Gordon Brown photo op was a disaster. I still have an open mind, though, about whether local HnH groups might be able to move out of that impasse.

2. On the EHRC thing, I agree with Ross, an absolute own goal. And so predictable.

3. I didn't know anything the Question Time thing. Comments to follow!