Thursday, October 08, 2009

You gave me ears so that I can hear And record the sounds day and night of Crickets, canaries, factories, dogs barking, The rain falling...

Continuing the issue of identity politics versus class politics, here's a new statement from the IWCA, or read the summary and some discussion at the bar. Red Star Darren posts a link to an old post of his with an even sharper critique of multiculturalism.

Browsing around Meanwhile at the Bar, I found this excellent summary of "dog shit politics" today, which is the type of politics I advocate (originally from Practically Insurgent). This post from Phil on campaigning against the BNP in Stoke, and its comments thread, is good for thinking about dog shit politics.

I already mentioned the British fellow travellers of fauxialism with Chinese characteristics the other week, or, as Dave Osler puts it, "soft sinophilia". David T's nice use of illustration speaks volumes on that sorry subject. I cannot believe that someone sane can actually celebrate, even conditionally, a regime which has slaughtered so many people. In the Great Leap Forward, the death toll was well over 20 million (some say 40 million); in the three years of the cultural revolution, over a million were killed and perhaps as many as three million, with the same number again maimed; hundreds or even thousands were killed in the clampdown on the June 4th movement. But, as Dave Osler rightly says,
"Marxist accounts of China have long been underpinned by conflicting theoretical frameworks. But those debates are now of historical interest only. Whatever China once represented, there is nothing about an authoritarian nationalist sweatshop for which anyone on the left should rationally seek to cheerlead."
As Kellie has noted, it seems impossible for some people to talk about Israel without talking nonsense. For a nice change, listen to Eamonn talking sense.

Two sad deaths to record this week: those of Marek Edelman and Mercedes Sosa. I hope to write something soon about Edelman, the Bundist and Solidarnosc activist whose account of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising inspired me considerably when I read it. This week's YouTube is from Mercedes Sosa, who sadly died on 4 October. I've taken this from Entdinglichung, who has many other videos, but this is my favourite song she sang: "Gracias a la vida". It was written by her friend Violeta Parra, who wrote it before committing suicide in 1967, and expresses a gratitude for life that is so much more poignant in light of her death. The lyrics in English (from which this week's title is drawn) can be found here. Sosa recorded a tribute to Parra in 1971, which included this song. Incidentally, Eamonn notes that "last year she resisted pressure from the boycotters and performed in Israel. From that tour, you can see her singing in Hebrew here."


kellie said...

I do like these long,long titles. Did Blogger clip this one? P'r'aps you'll have to start breaking the title into more than one post!

Hope you're keeping well,
- k

bob said...

Hmmm. I am not sure. I pasted it into the title from the page of lyrics of Gracias a la vida, and only just realised now that it cut off the end.

I'm having a blogging crisis, as I used to do these sorts of posts at the end of each week (accumulating all the links through the course of the week) and name them something like "weekending". Now, I don't have time to post proper things in between. I'm not sure whether the big posts mean each link gets lost, or if it means that the post sticking to the top means stuff doesn't get lost as it would if I did more shorter posts. Any advice welcome!

bob said...

(Edited the title slightly so it is less mad)

Matt said...

There are sympathetic critics of multiculturalism who make some of the same arguments Darren does but who don't reject it wholesale. The book I'm most intrigued to read, this (introduction here, if it's available to all) appropriately starts with the French denial of multiculturalism, "It is necessary to refuse everything to the Jews as a nation and grant the Jews everything as individuals."

bob said...

Looks interesting Matt. I agree with you. I am not a wholesale rejector of multiculturalism, only of some versions of it.

Basically, I am against the simplistic official policies of multiculturalism that have taken root in the British body politic, especially at a municipal level.

I am wholly in favour of the fact of multiculture: of mixed, multiple world, of culture as multiple.

And I am in favour of some of the isms that see cultures as internally mixed up and not just as different from each other, and which see them as fluid rather than neatly tied off from each other, and which also favour equality and cohesion rather than simply celebrating difference.

That's a rare Bob from Brockley policy statement. I normally like to let folks read between my lines!

kellie said...

And very well put too!

Matt said...

Yes, well put. The problem is implementation, and, from what I've read, Britain has indeed been terrible on that.

ModernityBlog said...

What, nothing on the GDR!

Soft fawning for old fashioned Stalinism at SU blog,

That takes the biscuit.

schalomlibertad said...

thanks for the Sosa song! i stumbled upon a funny video of her performing and dancing with a kaffiya in her hand, swinging it around, and having a grand old time.
that´s not meant as a criticism. really did find it funny. sad that she is gone.

Bob said...

Thanks Mod. Truly disgusting. Thankfully a very large number of negative comments - currently 311, pretty high.

And thanks SL. That's quite weird.

Anonymous said...

Of crickets and canaries: in 1958 Mao declared war on birds because, he said, they were eating grain. All China was ordered to beat pots and pans to prevent the birds from landing. They died of exhaustion in such numbers that there was a plague of locusts the following year.

Persecution of humans in China and elsewhere your readers know and care about. Animals also count, although they are missing from accounts.

Transpontine said...

The IWCA statement makes some interesting points but sets up a version of 'multi-culturalism' that nobody much has held since the early 1980s - i.e. the notion of fixed identities and communities each with its own defined leaders. I am afraid that I see much of this discourse as being a retreat from actually tackling racism in working class communities - OK they don't actually used the racialized term 'white working class' but they do go on about the 'majority' and generally have nothing to say about migrants and asylum seekers who are actually a significant proportion of the working class in London and many other cities. The IWCA are right that much of the left neglects the reality of working class life on estates etc. They are wrong in suggesting you can tackle the BNP by doing community work and ignoring the racist elephant in the room.

bob said...

Transpontine, I think you are absolutely right. A good example of a way forward is the Kingsway estate in Glasgow, as in this 2008 report.

Flesh, that's a shocking story. I know that animals count, but I still have trouble with the idea that they might count as much.