Friday, September 25, 2009


I said I'd be blogging less but blogging better in 5770. As a prelude to that, here are all the places I lingered on the web this week. I'll try harder to surf less next week.

Fascism and anti-fascism
Mind the gap, New Labour! Something about the EDL doesn’t add up. A socialist view of the BNP threat (and, if you read that, please read Duncan's comment on it). Back to 1980, when things were simpler: Skinheads - the cult of trouble.

Sarf London
Francis walks the Thames with Iain Sinclair. Freedom for Brixton! Victory in the battle of Lewisham Bridge (background here). Blackheath has survived the climate camp. Where I'll be tomorrow night, and where I went out in the late 1990s.

Noam Chomsky, Kosova and genocidal causality.

Ruling class watch
Hiring a cleaner is like buying a porn mag - or why the liberal elite like illegal migrants to clean up for them. Remembering the real Alan Clark: a Tory toff with a taste for Hitler.

Working class watch
I recently linked to Walter Benn Michaels' criticism of the Runnymede Trust's Who Cares About the White Working Class? In the latest issue of LRB, the editor, Kjartan Páll Sveinsson, has a rather week reply (scroll to the bottom), which I post here for the sake of completeness. I think a better defence can be made. (For other pro-Michaels views, see Just Left and Unambiguously Ambidextrous. For a related theme, reached via here, see Michael Lind.)

Iz/Pal, Middle East
More on the TUC targeted boycott: AWL, Benny Weinthal and Eric Lee, Gene, OneVoice, Jewish Labor Committee, Hugo Rifkind. Meretz UK on the Goldstone report. James Baldwin on Richard Falk on Richard Goldstone (well, not exactly, but the James Baldwin quote is totally spot on). Gershon Baskin on the right of return. Ahmed Badawi on Palestinian recognition of the Jewish state. Fred Halliday on the Libyan kleptocracy.

Iranian revolution
I was planning no Iran links, because you can get them from Kellie, Jams or Entdinglichung, except this one from Adam Holland on Juan Cole's belated but welcome change of heart about the Iranian president. (This, for reference, is the longest post I ever wrote about Professor Cole.) And this one from Michael Ledeen, on Groucho Marx and the death spiral of the Iranian dictatorship. And on Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial: Stroppy/Coatesy. And Stuart Applebaum speaking at the Stand for Freedom in Iran rally.. Listening again to the 1970s Iranian funk linked to here, I couldn't help but think maybe the Shah wasn't so evil after all, certainly compared to what came afterwards...

TNC's blog round-up post which includes stuff by me, but also some good stuff too.

Bob's beats
First up, Matiyahu's "Struggla", social justice reggae or unauthentic Zionist minstrelsy? Follow the discussion at Kasama. I join in at no.42.

The version of Leonard Cohen singing his classic "Chelsea Hotel", at the bottom of this post, live in Israel in 1972, is truly sublime. The shaky amateur YouTube, from Valencia last week, with the great man singing "Bird on a Wire", then collapsing from food poisoning, is rather disturbing.

At almost the opposite end of the musical spectrum, I enjoyed the second of the two mp3s here, East London's Dizzee Rascal singing "We can't tek no more", produced by the great Shy FX, whose masterpiece is, of course, UK Apachi's "Original Nuttah", one of the best songs ever. I once saw Apache UK with Shy FX in some municipal festival in a dusty field in South Bermondsey, at the begining of the golden age of the original UK junglists, and it changed my life forever. Listen to Dizzee endorsing "Original Nuttah" here. I was a bit shocked to see that UK Apachi, aka Abdul Wahab Lafta, does not have a wikipedia page. Someone, go write one! I've been thinking a lot recently about Prevent and Engage and about Britishness - but, really, just watch this and that's all you need to know. (This paragraph dedicated to Courtney - where are you geezer?)

Finally, and in another stark contrast, I'm still on a Sufi music tip, and last week's video seemed to go down well, so here is Niyaz, a US-based band fronted by Persian exile Azam Ali. Thanks to Jams for introducing me to Niyaz. (I was going to embed this, but realised Jams did it ages ago.)


ModernityBlog said...


Thanks for the pointer to the Ahmed Badawi post, it is an intelligent piece.

jams o donnell said...

Have you heard of an album called Madman of God by US-based performance artist Sussan Deyhim.

You might like this song:

Jenny said...

I dunno, Benn Michaels makes me uneasy ever since I came across the article described here:

I understand what both you and Girbaldiare getting at, but I do think Benn Michaels ought to learn that anti racism and pro working class equality campaigns can go hand in hand( I.E. Dr. Martin Luther King's poor people campaign)

Will said...

Not on HP Sauce or here you don't see:

I have been thinking for some time now that the 'window of opportunity' for a just and equitable two-state settlement is closing. The shenanigans of these millenarian fuckwits confirms it.

Religion poisons everyfuckingthing.

The Jewish diaspora isn't helping things either--in mainstream Jewish newspapers like
the Jewish Tribune and the Canadian Jewish News you'll see editorials
calling for the ethnic cleansing of the occupied territories.

Jewschool had a thing a while back that showed that most of Likud's
funding came from the diaspora. I have no idea how to have a
discussion about this without it playing into the hands of
antisemites either.

There is hope tho but and that.

1. The religious fuckwits are not new, they have been there all along - even from the early days of settlement before the founding of the state. In fact, Israeli rejectionism was more widespread then. The secular left had even more regressive views about Palestinians. Some of the early writings are shocking. They are more visible now, that is all. The occupation after 1967 opened up the national divisions made them explicit and created a large peace camp. These divisions fluctuate with events - and the right are stronger at the moment. But there are also growing movements for cultural and political reconciliation that never existed fourty years ago. This matters and will develop. One blog I read is this from an Israeli in Jaffa it highlights the unity and collaboration developing through the common experience of class and exploitation. Consciousness and identity are changing, the politicians lag behind - and the theocrats on both sides will have to be defeated by the majority - though they are a majority.

2. The two state solution on the table is not just and equitable, it is merely possible. It is based on the substantial dispossession of the Palestinians and a vastly larger Israel than was approved at the UN in 1947. It is possible because majorities on both sides accept it and want it. However, it does mean that the Palestinians accept that they have been defeated and the Israelis that they have actually won - that is why there are groups on both sides that will neither accept defeat nor what they see as only a partial victory. The result is that it is possible but difficult. It will take courage to hold off the loons.

3. The two state solution is the ONLY solution that is possible.

4.If you see psycho-theocrats wandering all over the place, say it. There are a lot of pro-Israel, socialists, democrats, peaceniks, liberals etc. who want people to tell the truth without lapsing into imbecilic apartheid analogies and conspiracy theory. They are fucked off with the Nogas of this world with their blind loyalties that give nothing to the complex conflicts that they experience daily, just as they are by the crazies and their conspiracy-lite (and not so lite) theories. You can always tell the antisemites to piss off with the same vigour when you feel like it.

other than that shite ---

An exclusive Haredi battalion has been created, to accommodate a growing number of ultra-Orthodox who want to serve.

that alone is a sign that the whole fucking project of 'Israel' is fucking doomed and shit.

An idea to solve the 'middle east problem'...

ArM Iran with nuclear weapons. If that was to happen then all the rational secular types and non fuckwitted cunTs wood leave the region and stay the fuck away.

Then the remaining cunTs cood be wiped out by mutually killing the fuck out of each other.

Granted -- the area wood be a radioactive desert for some years but a small price to pay for getting rid of so many utter fucking scum and retarded evIL cunts.

See? I could be a diplomat me i could like. Giz a job.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Perhaps, Will, I see a great deal of complexity where you are not even looking, because you do not give a shit about that.

I admit that I do not consider the I/P conflict all that complex.

What is complex is Israeli society which you probably know only through Max Blumenthal's videos and are perfectly willing to see "wiped out by mutually killing the fuck out of each other."

I suspect people like Will resent the fact that Israeli society continues to evolve and develop alongside, and despite, Palestinian stagnation.

You can see that in his lack of comprehension of what "An exclusive Haredi battalion" means, in Israeli terms. For decades Israelis have been bitching about the Haredim not doing their military service while other boys and girls pay the price. So at long last they come around to contributing their share. A great day for Israeli democracy, I would say. But for Will enough to see sidecurls and skullcaps to conclude they are no better than the Taliban.

What a putz.

bob said...

Will, good to see you back. I agree with some of your points, but, like Noga, I think the rise of the Haredim is a lot more complex than the Globe and Mail article makes out. The demographic rise of the Haredim is real, but they are still at only 20% of the population. The kulturkampf between the Haredi world and the secular majority has become increasingly bitter, and the violence of some of the Haredim is deplorable, and scary. The article makes out that that 20% have become some sort of homogeneous ultra-Zionist bloc, but that is not really true, as very large numbers of the Haredim remain fiercely anti-Zionist, while other sections remain stoutly non-Zionist. Some of the most viscious perpetrators of anti-secular violence are also among the most staunchly anti-Zionist. And there is also a significant anti-Haredi backlash amongst Zionists: the Leiberman vote was partly a vote for secularism, particularly from immigrants from the former Soviet Union, some of whom are ultra-Zionist but also utterly secular.

I agree that the two-state solution is the best solution on offer, but that its health is not great at the moment, and that it is not exactly a just solution. However, at the moment it probably is the only real alternative to the scenario Will describes, which is actually, tragically, of course a very real possibility right now.

bob said...

Jams, I like Sussan Deyhim. Thanks.


Jenny, thanks for comment. I think that Pink Scare is right that Benn Michaels has pretty much recycled his argument from that "Diversity" piece in NLR for the new piece in LRB. I think that Pink Scare is on to something, but oversimplifies Benn Michaels' argument. Similarly, Benn Michaels in the LRB piece oversimplifies the Runnymede Trust's argument...

The Runnymede Trust authors make the correct point that there has been a growing and welcome revival of attention in the UK for the "white working class" [henceforth wwc], who have been revealed as the biggest losers in the socio-economic changes of the last decades. However, a lot of that attention, as the Runnymede authors show, has been based on a wrong idea that the wwc has been losing out TO other groups, notably "ethnic" minorities. Altho there are ways in which certain multiculuralist policies and certain urban regeneration policies have created conditions of competetition between wwc groups and "ethnic" groups, the "ethnic" groups have not exactly been the winners: the winners have been the same as they ever were, the middle and upper classes, who are mostly (if not always) white. Runnymede concede that no amount of race awareness and diversity and race equality policy will ever shift the fundamental class divides in society. In that, they are absolutely right, and this point (which Benn Michaels made in his original NLR article) is very, very important, and represents the limits of equality and diversty policies, and why they are ultimately less important than struggles for real social justice. And why, at times, they do become distractions from struggles for the real social justice, and even justifications for new inequalities. (For example, the Baroness Scotland case, like the Gates case, shows that sometimes now the ruling class is not white.)

In the LRB article, Benn Michaels takes the argument a step further. He says that the Runnymede people, in their attempt to reckon with all this, have come up with the wrong solution: count the wwc as another "ethnic" minority to be protected and celebrated; treat "classism" like all the other bad isms.

To the extent that Benn Michaels is correct in his characterisation of the Runnymede people, this criticism is a valid and important one. The idea of "classism" is dodgy: altho there is real class hate and condescencion from middle clas people (as Bev Skeggs' essay in the Runnymede book shows, for example), I'm not sure that calling it "classism" helps. And removing "classism" won't remove exploitation and injustice. However, I think this is where Benn Michaels oversimplifies the Runnymede authors' position, as what they are saying is slightly more nuanced, which is why they need a better defence than Sveinsson gives them in LRB.


Sorry, got carried away there. Other contributions very welcome on these topics.

The Contentious Centrist said...

The way you put it, Bob, it might appear that being an anti-Zionist or a non-Zionist is a great moral asset to have in Israel. I beg to differ. The moment there is a critical mass of such forces within Israeli society, Israel will cease to exist.

There will be a two-state solution or no solution, because Jews will not longer agree to live under Arab and Muslim yoke as a minority.

Let me remind you there are 22 Arab states, in control of 99.9% of the Middle East, plus the oil. It's not the Palestinians that need to be compared with first nations in America. It's the Jews who have been effectively herded into the reserve, which then clever ideological twists managed to portray as an imperial power. Now this empire, is asked to give up more territory from its meagre reserve. However, no one can guarrantee that what will remain will be safe for long from the voracious hunger of the Arab world. Will cannot do that, so instead of looking where he needs to look, he goes rummaging among the religious population in Israel. Apparently they have no right to exist unless they are secular and anti-Zionist, his kind
of Jews.

One does not have to utter antisemitic nonsense to merit being a disgusting bigot. Reading Will's comment again this morning, I am struck by his hatred for religious Jews.

"all the rational secular types and non fuckwitted cunTs wood leave the region and stay the fuck away.

Then the remaining cunTs cood be wiped out by mutually killing the fuck out of each other."

I suppose it is PC OK to wish for the wholesale annihilation of an entire group of people, if they are religious.

I suppose that Will mourns only for those secular Jews that perished in the Holocaust.

One could easily jump to this conclusion, reading Will's fantasy solution.

bob said...

I misread Will's modest proposal slightly. When I said "tragically, of course a very real possibility right now", I meant that the nuclear annihilation of all Israelis by Iran was a very real possibility. A one state solution under the present conditions would probably amount to the same thing, and it is utterly utopian to argue for a one state solution in the present moment, even if it remains, to me, the right solution ultimately.

I don't see the presence of certain sorts of anti-Zionists in Israel as a good thing. I simply meant to say it is too complicated to say "x good/y bad".

By the way, Sari nusseibeh on the world service yesterday, quite inspiring.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Thanks for the link, Bob.

I am rather amused by the resistance of those talking to Nusseibeh's idea that being a Palestinian or an Israeli can be modified to include compromise with the other without harming or negating one's identity.

Anonymous said...

not sure why you entertain will´s apocalyptic provocations and locker-room macho boy´s club crap. only a complete idiot, or someone totally unconcerned about how the conflict unfolds would make such heinously indifferent statements about people wiping each other out. that smug cyber boy nonsense parading as political critique illuminates nothing but his own impotent "analysis".