Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekendness

Fascism/anti-fascism
Duncan on premature obituaries for Nick Griffin's BNP. A report on the Scottish Defence League's Edinburgh mobilisation and the divided anti-fascist response (my comment here). (See also AWL and http://slackbastard.anarchobase.com/?p=14239.)

English antisemitism
Keith Kahn-Harris at CiF on Anthony Julius: "the book will be read like an issue of Playboy: the equivalent of the articles on classic cars – the majority of the book that deals with pre-second world war antisemitism – will be skipped as readers rush to the "juicy bits" that deal with contemporary anti-Zionist antisemitism."

Gita Sahgal/Southall Black Sisters
I have continued to update my Gita Sahgal post, but will stop doing so now. Here are some more things, and my next set of updates may also appear here.
Eric Lee  is standing for the Amnesty International UK Section Board. He has set up a new website to promote his campaign. His manifesto is here. If you are an AI member, please support him, not just because of the Gita Sahgal issue but also because he is a very good and experienced person who would make a good board member. If you haven't heard of him, you may be familair with the excellent trade union site he created, LabourStart.
Also: My kind of secularism: Secularist of the year prize goes to Southall Black Sisters.
[Update: More on this from Eve Garrard, Seismic Shock.]

Anti-Germanism, Bahamas, the English Defence League, and the Gates of Vienna
AGT clarifies the controversy which simmered at Contested Terrain.

Anarcho-Zionism?
Does it exist?

Other elsewheres
Poumista. 


15 comments:

Judeosphere said...

I visited the site you linked to...As always, I wonder: Isn't it inherently contradictory to have a Zionist Anarchist Youth Organization?

TNC said...

Hi Judeosphere,

Since "organization" is in italics I presume you are talking about an inherent contradiction between anarchism and organization. This is a common belief but it is not accurate. In fact, anarchists have a fairly long history of organization, including involvement in the labor movements of Spain, Italy, France, the United States and many other countries. There is even a specific strain of anarchist unionism called anarcho-syndicalism that was particularly influential in Spain and Latin America, and to a lesser extent France.

There were also some anarchists who felt that formal organizations like unions were authoritarian, but they still managed to create their own groups. The Italian-American anarchists associated with Luigi Galleani come to mind.

IMHO, the greater contradiction is between Zionism and anarchism. After all, political Zionism aims to create a Jewish state and one common thread of all the anarchist schools of thought is anti-statism.

As far as Bob'd question, does it (anarcho-Zionism) exist? Well, that depends on who you ask. If you ask self-identified anarcho-Zionists, I think Bob knows the answer to his question.

But if you attempt to place them in the larger anarchist scene (I don't think anarchism qualifies as a movement today) you will quickly discover that the vast majority of anarchists--whether of the mutualist, collectivists, syndicalist, communist, or individualist variety--all consider Zionism as "imperialism and racism".

bob said...

IMHO, the greater contradiction is between Zionism and anarchism. After all, political Zionism aims to create a Jewish state and one common thread of all the anarchist schools of thought is anti-statism.

As far as Bob'd question, does it (anarcho-Zionism) exist? Well, that depends on who you ask. If you ask self-identified anarcho-Zionists, I think Bob knows the answer to his question.

But if you attempt to place them in the larger anarchist scene (I don't think anarchism qualifies as a movement today) you will quickly discover that the vast majority of anarchists--whether of the mutualist, collectivists, syndicalist, communist, or individualist variety--all consider Zionism as "imperialism and racism".


The key contradiction is indeed statism, if Zionism is defined as for a Jewish state. In that case, Zionism and anarchism are fundamentally incompatible. However, if you define Zionism as for a Jewish nation and/or as a Jewish national home(as with e.g. Ahad Ha'am or Martin Buber), then the immediate contradiction falls away.

Most anarchist thought historically rejects nationalism of every kind, but many anarchisms historically and today are comfortable with the idea of national feeling or national self-determition (e.g. Rudolf Rocker). In fact, some anarchists today associated with the "platformist" tradition (e.g. the website anarkismo) are quite pro-nationalist, if it is an "anti-imperialist" nationalism.

This is where the empirical rather than theoretical contradiction lies, because empirically the anarchist scene does indeed see Zionism as "imperialist". They are, of course, in my view wrong about this. It may or may not be worth arguing with them about it!

Waterloo Sunset said...

Sorry Bob, but I don't think AGT's 'explanation' goes far enough.

There are strong parallels with the Jenna Delich incident. While AGT has at least gone further in expressing regret at doing so, it's very notable that he has in no way examined what lead to this serious fuckup. And he "regrets" linking to far right sites, as opposed to apologising for doing so. To try and break the issues down.

1. AGT reproduced, without qualification, far right attacks on Antifa. While I accept Hanlon's Razor applies here, that's still a serious matter and one that should be a sign that AGT needs to do some serious political soulsearching.

2. How the hell does someone who claims to be an antifascist not recognise SIOE and Gates of Vienna for the nasty racist populists they are? They aren't subtle. Why precisely did AGT not Google them before reproducing their smears? Are all of his posts this badly researched?

3. I notice that AGT only mentions Will in his 'clarification'. (For the record, while Will may have been his usual intemperate self, he's the good guy here. Calling someone a "cunt" is not on the same level as giving support to fellow travellers of the EDL). Actually, Duncan pointed out in this first post that the sites in question were far right ones. And AGT's response to this being pointed out was

I consider myself an antifa, and disassociated myself from the position of Gates of Vienna in the intro to the post. I am strongly against the suggestion that antifas can be equated to Nazis. However, there is a Nazi-like current within the antifa movement, which is a dominant current within the European “anti-imperialist” movement. This current can only see oppression against Muslims and therefore sees anyone associated with the project of Israel as a fascist, and fair game for militant anti-fascist tactics. In more than one incidence, this has actually translated into racism against Jews, as in the example described by Diana West. Thus we can see a morphing of certain antifas into the enemy they claim to fight.

In other words, "I don't agree with them, but I see them as a legitmate source". This also applies to Sackcloth & Ashes and Vildechaye who posted attacking Will, but without even a minor protest about AGT using fascist sites as a credible source. All three of those need to explain why they didn't think it was worth considering Duncan's allegations seriously.

Because, actually, in this case, the quote from AGT applies to him. He has moved to a position where he's finding common ground with fascists, without realising it. I'm not prepared to take lectures on how antifa should conduct itself from someone who's in that position. And Vildechaye's comment is particularly telling:

More carefully thought out words of wisdom from Will. I strongly suspect you didn’t even understand the meaning of the original post, did u? or why terry linked to it in the first place.

"You don't understand the meaning of fascist websites or why we should take them seriously".

To be clear, I'm not suggesting the three people that mentioned are active fellow travellers of the far right. Merely useful idiots.

4. Finally:

From Entdinglichung I learn that Bahamas has celebrated the English Defence League!

STOP FUCKING LINKING TO THEM THEN.

Bob, I know you probably consider him an online comrade, but this is beyond the fucking pale.

The reason I haven't commented much recently is because I've been doing anti EDL stuff. That's a dangerous enough situation as it is. I absolutely don't need to have to be dealing with supposed antifascists giving them passive support, even if that's through not knowing their antifascist arse from their elbow.

(If AGT turns up here, I won't launch personal attacks, as is your commenting policy. I'm warning you now though, I'm really not feeling particuarly civil on this. FFS).

Waterloo Sunset said...

On a less abrasive note.

TNC:

As far as Bob'd question, does it (anarcho-Zionism) exist? Well, that depends on who you ask. If you ask self-identified anarcho-Zionists, I think Bob knows the answer to his question.

True, but then we're in the whole "are anarcho-capitalists actually anarchists" quagmire.

But if you attempt to place them in the larger anarchist scene (I don't think anarchism qualifies as a movement today) you will quickly discover that the vast majority of anarchists--whether of the mutualist, collectivists, syndicalist, communist, or individualist variety--all consider Zionism as "imperialism and racism".

This may be due to different local conditions (I think you're from the US?), but that isn't my experience.

Certainly, none of the UK feds (Class War, Anarchist Federation, Solidarity Federation) take that position. In fact, the Libcom crowd have a tendency to be very criticial of what they see as the platformist's weakness on nationalism. It's possibly a bit more common in the 'soft' anarchists in the anti-globalisation movement then it is among the anarchist groups though.

TNC said...

Bob:
I was very careful to say *political Zionism* aims to create a Jewish state. I am aware of the history of cultural Zionists but I left them out intentionally. The reason is I think they are largely a historical phenomena at this point in time.

No, I don't think it is worth debating with extremists in general (left-wing or right-wing). At one time I had that fire in my belly but today, not so much. That doesn't mean I won't critique their ideas in my writings, but going to somewhere like Anarchismo to debate anti-Zionist anarchists seems like a big waste of time.

Waterloo:
Yes, I was referring to the U.S. But from what I have read on anarcho websites/blogs based in Europe and elsewhere, the notion that Zionism = racism and imperialism seems fairly widespread. For example, check out the books distributed and published by AK Press.

As far as anarcho-capitalists, if they want to self-identify as anarchists I have no problem with that. But I understand the larger anarchist scene does not consider them as such. I don't see it as a quagmire, just the standard internecine squabbling of marginal political sects.

ModernityBlog said...

Those more familiar with anarchism will be able to tell me, but isn't the symptom of occasional leadership admiration an unhealthy aspect of politics?

Not saying you see it universally, but it even affects some anarchists where they seem to be overly reverential to certain individuals and I think that such an attitude naturally reinforces a hierarchical view of people and the world.

Has any anarchist theorist looked into hero worship, hierarchies and their problems ?

Waterloo Sunset said...

Mod-

Definitely. I'd argue an obvious example of this happening in the UK anarchist movement is some of the more zealous people in Ian Bone's circle. It's a really difficult one to handle. Some people are naturally charismatic and others are therefore prone to following them, where the ideal is obviously that we follow ideas, not personalities.

The other (and I'll admit to being prone to this) issue in this area is the opposite side of the coin. Sometimes people will tip the other way and subject the more prominent anarchists to more aggressive criticism, simply because of their prominence.

As regards your interest in the theory, I'd start with the two essays contained in Untying the Knot. These actually sprang out of the feminist movement, but they've had a massive influence on the anarchists. In my view they're still some of the best essays written on this issue.

Also take a look at On the Uselessness of Heroes which looks at the subject specifically in the context of the Spanish revolution.

Finally, this Libcom discussion may well be of some interest to you. Besides, to only link you to the famous theorists would arguably be falling into the very same trap we're talking about!

ModernityBlog said...

WS.

Thanks for the links.

I'll ponder them, but my question was more why do some contemporary anarchists display that hero worship?

Surely you’d imagine if they were truer to anarchist theory (whatever that might be) that they would avoid that tendency? Or at least see where it leads and the problems

Unrelated but I read AGT stuff, it was a very big mistake, is apologised and hopefully he has learnt from it.

I think a lot of people don't have a blog can't imagine the mistakes that you can so easily make

1) Sometimes we bashed together a blog at 3am
2) Sometimes it reads right, then the next day you realise what a pile of shit it is.
3) Sometimes you get the wrong end of the stick and compose an elaborate post denouncing something, only to read it again and realise you're wrong (I've done at a few times)

4) People that don’t make mistakes are often not human, or at least don’t do much. I think the default mode is that most of us fuck things up some of the time, it depends on whether anyone notices that

5) And that's the problem with a blog (again people should try and have one and see the occasional difficulties), it is very easy to criticise less easy to write on a regular basis and not make a mistake.

I do take your point, to be honest if someone is ever criticising antifascists then I’d treble check and check again.

I think many times you have to sit there and think, what purpose does this post serve?

But it is harder than it looks.

As for Will, he’s his own worst enemy, he’s not stupid and he makes many good political points, but people switch off once they hear him coming out with abuse, any good points he had are lost in his flurry of swearing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob, sorry this is OT but have you seen over on Brockley Central SE4 is all set to enjoy an evening with Gilad Atzmon?

Waterloo Sunset said...

Mod:

On hero worship, I think that's partly down to human nature. People naturally gravitate towards charismatic people. That's arguably more of a problem in the anarchist movement, because of the lack of top down formal leadership. That obviously means it's a lot more likely to revolve, at least in part, round strong personalities. While that's sometimes problematic, it's my view that it's a price worth paying for the benefits of not having enforced leadership. (Which is my only real issue. I don't have a problem with leaders as such, as long as they're voluntary and accountable).

On the AGT stuff. A couple of points.

Firstly, he hasn't apologised. He's said he 'regrets' linking to far right sites. But he's still suggesting that people should be prepared to try and counter the allegations. If Delich had said she "regretted" linking to Duke, but that she still thought that his claims about Israel needed answering, would that have been acceptable? Same applies here.

On the Will stuff, it's worth noting that Duncan had already pointed out that the sites were dodgy in a much more measured way and yet nothing was done about it. In fact, AGT's response was to repeat his support for the claims of the fascists. Even if it had just been Will, if someone accused me of linking to fascist sites, even if they were as aggressive as Will was, I'd damn well look into it. I'm sure you would to. Whatever our political differences, I accept you're entirely genuine in your committment to antifascism. So I query why this didn't happen in this instance.

As well as the attacks on Antifa, some of the blogs linked to contain what is quite obviously attacks on Muslims as Muslims. The fact AGT didn't seem to recognise overt anti Muslim bigotry is highly disturbing to me.

Finally, a hypothetical example. If an anti Zionist had linked to a fascist website, without realising it and had found themselves in agreement with many of the statements made, I'd suggest strongly that it goes further than simple linking. It's a sign someone needs to sit down and work out why their politics has lead to them finding themselves having common ground with fascists.

AGT needs to do that first and foremost. The question needs to be asked whether this stems from his sympathy for the anti-German analysis, as opposed to being separate from it. Particuarly considering the influence of Bahamas on the AG tradition, and their current support for the EDL.

There's more English language stuff around now then the last time we had this conversation. A particuarly crucial fact I was previously unaware of was that there was a split between Anti-Germans and Anti-Nationalists, because the former called for unconditional support for Milosovic. When AGT comes from a tradition that supported ethnic cleansing against Muslims, it means that, even if he doesn't support it himself, he really ought to be particuarly careful not to uncritically reproduce anti Muslim propaganda.

ModernityBlog said...

WS,

No disagreement there, I take your points.

Your comments were very measured and understandable.

I think we all have to do a bit of soul-searching on these issues, but naturally we shouldn't forget that the far right is trying to extend its influence and will exploit any political situation for their own end (War on Terror, 9/11, attacks on Muslims, etc,) and how they effectively do outreach programmes via apparently seemingly "moderate" organisations or fronts, and antifascists have to be extra vigilant.

bob said...

First, thanks to Anon re Atzmon - see forthcoming seperate post.

On anti-German Translation. This is really interesting, and I'm still not sure what I think. I note there are further amendments and comments from AGT as a result of Waterloo Sunset's comments here. Yes, a big mistake. Should probably apologise. Good point about Delich comparison.

A few ill-thought-through comments:

1) Self-proclaimed Antifa infected by what I increasingly think of as the virus of psuedo-"anti-imperialism" have, in a number of unrelated geographically dispersed incidents, stepped away from the core values of the militant anti-fascist movement in their actions in relation to Israel, especially since the Gaza conflict a year ago. For example, Antifa England participated in the "black bloc" at one of the major anti-Israel rallies in London, as documented on another post at AGT - not that they shouldn't have gone as individuals, but they shouldn't have gone as Antifa.

Similarly, as a commenter, Echo, from Contested Terrain, points out in yet another AGT comment thread, AFA in Sweden has similarly actively participated (as AFA) in actions around the Davis Cup which have really nothing to do with anti-fascism. This is a trend that needs to be addresses, and it is not implausible that it might lead to the extremes that are mentioned in the original AGT posts.

2) The issue of the anti-German/anti-nationalist fall-out is very interesting, and not something that I know much about. There was something recent at Shift (again, linked to from AGT) on this. I didn't know until very recently that many anti-Germans supported Milosovic, rather in contrast to Britain's Decentists. Kind of fits with the "Mehr Stalingrad" line I suppose.

But I am not sure that the a-Gs are a cohesive entity - someone told me that Bahamas is no longer considered part of the current, as it is seen as effectively now part of the right. Certainly, there seems a big gap between Bahamas and groups like TOP Berlin or Datacide or Morganland which seem to fit into anti-Germanism but are much closer to where waterloo Sunset is coming from. If Entdinglichung or Schalom Lib are reading they might care to give more information!

3) Back on Milosovic, in light of the radovan karadzic trial, I have read a couple of speculations that a realighnment around Geert Wilders and Robert Spencer and so on might want to rehabilitate the Serbian genocidaires as anti-Muslim heroes, entering a strange alliance with the likes of Lenin's Tomb, Neil Clark and Splintered Sunrise. Not sure if that's plausible either! Not sure where I read this, apart from here: The Debate Link: The Revisionism Starts Now. Sorry, a bit incoherent today. Will return on this topic!

schalomlibertad said...

Entdinglichung or Negative Potential might be better people to consult on it, but it appears to me that the only people who care about Bahamas are anti-Imps, who use Bahamas as a strawman argument to reject any Left opposition to nationalism.

At least in Berlin, it seems to me that Bahamas has absolutely no presence or influence and are in fact anti-Left, by their own admission. TOP has a much larger influence. They don´t describe themselves as anti-deutsch, but with the broader Ums Ganze coalition, are at the forefront of campaigning against nationalism, both in its extremist and mainstream forms.

It is also my perception that anti-national or anti-german critiques have become quite common sense for a broad section of the German left, so that many people adopt anti-nationalism like they do opposition to sexism, without knowing much about the history of the tradition, and the different factions and their positions or statements on Milosevic.

Anti-German critique is being mixed with post-colonial theory, post-structuralism, queer theory, critical whiteness theory, and etc. It takes many forms.

Simultaneously, there are the anti-imps participating in rallies calling for the violent abolition of Israel, or violently preventing film showings of Jewish anti-fascists, and basically calling the entire anti-nationalist milieu some kind of neoconservative fourth column inside in the Left. So, unfortunately, a basic anti-nationalism has not become hegemonic on the German left (despite it´s financial support from the Mossad -- :) as some leftist idiots actually have claimed).

But maybe others who are knowledgeable about the German left have other thoughts on the topic?

antigermantranslation said...

I've been thinking about this a lot, and still not sure what to say.

I am now sorry I posted what I posted. But I am not sure who I should apologise to. My readers (few as they are)? The Muslism of Europe? But I hate it when politicians say "I regret..." as a way of not saying sorry. So: sorry.

Should I remove the original posts? Maybe, but I don't like the idea of airbrushing my mistakes.

I will get back to you all on this soon...

Another thing I regret is the name of my blog. I am not now nor have I ever been an anti-German, and to be honest don't know an awful lot about it. When I started, I had been reading about anti-germanism, and I thought that the British left could have a big dose of it injected into it. This was a period when I was very angry about what I saw as the growing prevelance of antisemitism as the common sense of the British left.

I completely reject the pro-Milosovic line of some of the anti-Germans, and I certainly don't endorse Bahamas' endorsement of the EDL, which has caused me, after very little reflection, to remove them from my blogroll.