Wednesday, March 31, 2010

British imperialism and Israel/Palestine

A good article at OpenDemocracy on the afterlife of British colonialism in the Israel/Palestine conflict: Forgotten lessons: Palestine and the British empire, by James Renton.

The assumption that state-sponsored violence followed by agreements between political elites can make peace lives on to this day. It betrays the old assumptions of British colonialism — that a reputation for being firm must be maintained at all costs, that colonial state violence prevents future anti-colonial violence, and that peace can be achieved by elites re-drawing maps, and making constitutional agreements.
The British government did not understand, nor did they want to understand, the concerns of the average Palestinian. Neither did they comprehend the post-holocaust sensibilities of rank and file Zionist Jews. But suffering cannot be undone by academic agreements crafted by politicians and officials. And it is precisely the experiences and expectations of regular people, be they Palestinian or Israeli, that will make or break peace in the long-term.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Again on the new realism

We've talked a little about Mark Mazower here quite recently, a great writer whose work has delved into some of the most inhumane episodes of modern human history. So I note with interest his claim that "A new era of pragmatism seems to be in the making, and the concept of humanitarian intervention is dying if not dead." He is making, I think, exactly the same observation I made here, but draws the opposite conclusions.

Norm replies well, and here is an extract from his response:
the fact that assaults by a state on its own citizens are one of the more terrible fates that can befall people, a fate that usually leaves them with nowhere to turn, and the related fact that in certain circumstances humanitarian intervention is the only recourse, the only means of rescue - these two facts leave me puzzled over why Mazower should see fit so to talk down the importance of the problem in question: of 'the way leaders treat their people'; more particularly, of how to deal with situations in which governments commit crimes against humanity on a mass scale. 'Maturity' isn't the word I would choose to describe the attitude Mazower for his part is welcoming.[...]
Mazower also invokes the shadow of imperial ambition to cast doubt on the validity of the universal principles in light of which humanitarian intervention is justified (when it is). Yet these principles are not - or not just - the principles of the West. They are embodied in international conventions and legal instruments designed to protect all peoples from their own governments, as well as from the depredations of external enemies and invaders. At the end of World War II, after the horrors of Nazism, establishing these principles in international law was held to be a task of some priority and urgency. That it should now be thought immature to uphold a doctrine in which they are taken seriously is a remarkable testimony to the way in which a wide cohort of today's liberal intelligentsia has been knocked sideways by current political animosities it is unable to control.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Is Tom Cruise a homosexual/dead/Jewish/a Freemason/infertile/a Rangers fan?

Blog notes
Peter Risdon (ex of Freeborn John) has moved aptly named site, "Peter Risdon, Weblog"(note to self: update blogroll). Also, I was shocked to notice that neither of my regular reads Mick Hartley nor Adam Holland are on my blogroll (note to self: sort it out). I am very pleased to be included in the small but perfectly formed blogroll of James Horrox, possibly the coolest list of websites I've ever been included him (note to self: reciprocate). From his tweetage, this gem (Bob Black attacking Chomsky, among others), which might get a post of its own one day (note to self: write that post, cherrypicking the bits I agree with and leaving out the bits I don't). I've also been reading some of the posts at Obliged To Offend, which sits somewhat to the Harryist side of me but which I plan to keep reading (note to self: think about adding to blogroll).

Is Tom Cruise a homosexual/dead/Jewish/a Freemason/infertile/a Rangers fan?
An enjoyable post by the CST on Google's alleged Islamophobia and the public's Jew/not a Jew obsession. (Apparently, by the way, I am the go-to site for these phrases: use hubris in a sentence, black pastors who are not voting for barak obama and  female circumcision bme.)

Mad Men: a Foucauldian reading
From Potlatch.

Digital Economy Bill 
Bad, bad, bad.

Beating a strawman to death?
BenSix on Kenan Malik on "diversity" and "multiculturalism".

Tory madness
Kamm on the conspiracist crank who inspires the so-called Red Tories.

Zionism/Anti-Zionism, continued
British ortho-Marxism, the Boer war and finance capital. Opposing Israel Lobby is Not Same as Supporting Palestinian Rights. Robert Fine and Colin Shindler opposing the forces of ultra-nationalism in the Guardian and in Israel.

Left-right convergence
Nick Cohen on left meets right. Adam Holland and Gene on Cynthia McKinney, now on Press.TV with George Galloway.

Imperialist feminism/reproducing horseshit
Ophelia, via Mick, on postcolonial feminism and Afghanistan.

Chomsky's buddies
The Srebernica massacre's apologists and deniers. The Chavez regime, a threat to Venezuelans.

Bob's beats
From LGF, who sez:
This is a rare 1976 video of Keith Jarrett’s European quartet, with Jan Garbarek (sax), Palle Danielsson (bass), and Jon Christensen (drums), playing the abstract yet oddly lyrical tune “Mandala,” from the absolutely exquisite album My Song. (iTunes Store.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Walt and Mearsheimer: Kissinger's disciples?

In a recent post, I called Stephen M Walt and John J Mearsheimer "Kissinger's acolytes". As BenSix pointed out, this is somewhat hyperbolic. So, what is the relationship? Click the title of this post to read my response.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I miss your sad Morecambe whisper, I miss the voice that caught my heart

Quote of the week, from Rosie Bell:
My guess is that the Hamas groupie, dictator dick-sucker and eager hireling of the propaganda arm of a repressive regime has been rattled by Harry’s Place and hurt in his most sensitive place, i.e. his vanity. The impression Mr Galloway gives is of a man with a rich fantasy life – the revolutionary hero, the modern Saladin adored by 1.2 billion Muslims, the brave speaker of truth to power. However recently in his guise as the fearless agitator who faces down the tyrannical police state he was made to look like a complete arse.
The runner up, from La Brigada, with added hyperlink:
I don't listen to 6 Music or the Asian Network, probably to my cultural loss. But I object to them being cut to placate scumbag plutes like the Murdoch clan. And if people don't object to this loss then they will in all probability find Radio 3 is next up for the chop. There is a good argument in morality as well as in economics for the BBC cutting some fat from overpaid and underworked 'presenters', 'comedians', 'interviewers' and bureaucrats. And not being browbeaten by the dregs who run the Sun and The News of the World and their Old Etonian lickspittles.
The EDL and police brutality in Bolton
Dan's first hand account. Good analysis from Dave Osler and from Waterloo SunsetMore links from Mod.

And not forgetting the BNP
Eddie Ford in the Weekly Worker against judge-made bans on the BNP (via Danny O'Dare).

Memories of Militant
As an addendum to my post on the police infiltration of Militant last week, here's Michael Ezra on what a lovely organisation it was.

Memories of the NUS
The Engage take on the 1980s banning of JSocs - read the comment thread.

Forgotten conflicts
OpenDemocracy has a promising new series on "forgotten conflicts", highlighting the less sexy wars, like the one in the Central African Republic. Here, Noah Bernstein explores why these conflicts are forgotten, while others (Izzy-Pal) are so prominent in the Western media gaze.

The Truth Cult
A very good guest post at Third Estate on the conspiracy theory movie Zeitgeist, including an excursus on the creepy Lyndon LaRouche.

A disgrace to Catford?
Reuben on Lucy Mangan's middle class depreciation of the English working class.

Comment trail
At Mick's on Charlie Gillett, z''l. The song below is for Charlie. At Mick's on multculturalism versus diversity.

Ian Dury: Sweet Gene Vincent
Uploaded by mrjyn. - Family events, birthdays and parenting videos.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The backlash and where it will take us

On both sides of the Atlantic, we are witnessing a backlash against the deeply flawed idealism in foreign policy which dominated the final years of the Clinton administration, the post-9/11 Bush II years and the Blair era. The backlash is palpable in the Blairhate-fest surrounding the Chilcott Inquiry, with the tabloid right and the liberal left joining up to pour scorn over Blair’s military-humanitarian hubris, the families of the (British) dead of Iraq and Afghanistan as their mascots.

In America, this backlash fuelled an electoral swing to the left, first felt during the 2006 mid-terms and then in Obama’s 2008 victory over John McCain (although it also animates some of the isolationist currents within the conservative “Tea Party” movement). In Britain, it is likely to fuel an electoral swing to the right, and a Conservative victory in this year’s elections. Some signs and portents of the “realist” backlash at various scales include: the attempts at self-rehabilitation by John Major, whose foreign policy was a blend of appeasement and inactivity; the re-emergence onto the geopolitical scene of Zbigniew Brzezinski; the enormous undeserved prestige of right-wing Kissinger acolytes Walt and Mearsheimer among the literati; the assault on Bernard Kouchner and the value of responsibility to protect in the pages of London Review of Books.

“Realism” has played quite a role in Obama’s foreign policy so far, and is likely to play a major role in any post-Gordon Brown administration Britain might be run by.

So, to remind us of what is it stake in the backlash, here is how George Bush I and his sidekick James Baker, the archetypes of “realist” geopolitics, responded to the mass movements against Soviet dictatorship in 1989, from Neal Ascherson in the LRB.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The harder they come

Here are some of the things I read or watched this week:

Who gets it wrong and who gets it right about Iran
Jeff W: Some propagandists and apologists for theocratic authoritarianism in Iran. Includes a useful taxonomy of the regime's useful idiots:
(a) people who actively sympathize with the Iranian regime on ideological grounds, whether those are based on theocratic authoritarianism, pseudo-progressive anti-"imperialism", or some combination of the two;

(b) actual paid employees of the regime's propaganda organs, such as PressTV; and

(c) self-styled foreign-policy "realists" whose whitewashing of and apologetics for the Iranian regime are not based on ideological sympathies (except, in some but not all cases, shared hostility toward Israel and toward real or alleged "Zionists"), but who merely regard the democratic opposition in Iran as a complicating irritation and wish it would just go away.
Against Islamism, for human rights.
Eric Lee's resolution for Amnesty. Gita Sahgal on NDTV. A right-wing libertarian defence of Sahgal. Gilles Kepel's "French Lessons In Londonistan" (via Paul Stott).

Lewisham's fascist  gran
Neo-Nazi Tess Culnane is standing for BNP mayor of Lewisham.

Against liberal multiculturalism
Kenan Malik: "Multiculturalism undermines diversity".

Against the liberal anti-fascism of the SWP and UAF
Slack Andy on the SWP and the EDL in Edinburgh, and the SWP's track record. Durruti02 says Indymedia's liberal anti-fascism isn't working. Launch of Scottish Anti-Fascist Alliance.

Total Politics and No Platform
Paul and co of TCF take Iain Dale to task over his intention to run an interview with BNP fuhrer Nick Griffin in Total Politics magazine. My instinct is to join their boycott, but Phil's post here gives me pause for thought.Also read Paul's interview with Denis MacShane.

Against stupid forms of "radical" politics
Journeyman on why riots are not revolutions.

For global justice
Eric Lee's new blog at Amnesty website.

Clarity and confusion
Nearly a year old, but this post from the Fat Man is highly recommended for anyone concerned with the sort of issues this post relates to.

Police infiltation in the anti-fascist movement
I have added lots of comments to my post on "Officer A".

African clubs in Israel
Via History is Made at Night - which I realise I haven't visited since I changed my layout, and now notice I inadvertantly stole his. I will find a new one!

Soundtrack: Jimmy Cliff "The Harder They Come"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The combination of thinning hair on top and a pony tail at the back would be hard to forget: notes on the police infiltration of anti-fascist groups in the 1990s

From around 1987 to around 2000 I was heavily involved in anti-racist and anti-fascist politics, mainly in the now defunct Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). So I read with interest the account published in the weekend's Observer of "Officer A", who claims to be a former member of the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), a secret unit within Special Branch, who infiltrated far left and anti-racist groups in the mid-1990s, mainly focusing on Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE).(Key links: news article, in-depth account, video, reply by YRE, personal reply by a YRE activist who remembers Officer A, Hannah Sell of YRE replies at CiF.)

The first thing to say about the Observer's coverage is the poor quality of the journalism. Officer A's words are taken at face value. There is no fact checking, no attempt to get alternative accounts or give right of reply to the groups involved, very little context, and a number of minor inaccuracies. (Harpy is very good on how poor the reportage is.)

More seriously, the article raises major questions about the British state's attitude to the far left and to anti-fascism in that period. It is of course plausible that Officer A is a complete fantasist and that none of what he says is true. The rest of this post, however, is based on the assumption that he is telling the truth more or less.

AFA, in parallel with our political work which is rarely mentioned today, was involved in serious, violent, illegal activity against fascists (and I am not going to get in this post into the issue of whether we were right or not to do so). YRE, in contrast, were rarely involved in actions of that sort. There is no sense in which they constituted any kind of threat to society.

YRE was, as the article notes, a front for the Militant, which is now called the Socialist Party of England and Wales. There was never any secrecy about this; it was not some shadowy secretive relationship, as with some of the more obscure Communist fronts of the 1930s, but a completely open thing. There had been a period in the previous decade when Militant had wielded significant power within the Labour Party, and for brief periods had some control over a small number of local authorities. However, it did not wield this power in ways which challenged liberal democracy. Like most other Trotskyist groups, it considered itself "revolutionary", but was realistic that there was no immediate prospect for socialist revolution in Britain and did not involve itself in acts of revolutionary violence. In fact, after the poll tax riots in 1990, as documented in Danny Burns' excellent Poll Tax Rebellion, Miltant leaders Tommy Sheridan and Steve Nally denounced the rioters and said they would "name names" and "root out the trouble-makers". Hardly arch-subversives.

If the state was targeting groups like YRE, this says one of two things. Either they had an incredibly narrow view of what law and order and liberal democracy should look like, a view which excludes the mild-mannered socialism of Militant.Or, they were so stupid that they couldn't tell what was a threat and what wasn't. As Phil writes,
"these comrades should feel flattered that the state thought it was worthwhile doing a clandestine entry job on them. It'll be some time before the ra-ra-revolutionaries of the ultra left receive this sort of attention.

It also raises the question whether there are a few state agents knocking about the far left today. I doubt it - the endemic sectarianism and pig headedness does a far better job of keeping British Trotskyism in check than agents provocateurs could hope to do. That isn't to say the state won't take an interest in future. As Greg notes in his reply, the best antidote to this kind of infiltration is open politics."
It is also worth noting that the anti-racism of 1993 was highly critical of the police itself. As Paul Stott puts it,
"What the issue really is about then is Youth Against Racism In Europe’s politics, and those of the various civil rights type groups Officer A also looked into. Here little or no criminal offences are being committed.  Instead these groups wish to expose police malpractice, racism or incompetence. Such inflitration looks far more like the police covering their arses than doing anything positive to protect the public. As the old cliche goes, they should be out arresting real criminals."

There is also the issue of the extent to which the state effectively took the role of agents provocateurs. At the very least, Officer A had to show he was up for it, and therefore he acted excessively violently to prove himself, thus upping the ante. At most, the police may even have wanted to ramp up the violence to discredit the anti-fascists and isolate the more militant. This of course sounds paranoid, but is not implausible.

A key event in the story is the so-called Battle of Welling in 1993, a massive march in protest at the fascist BNP's Welling "bookshop". I was at the march and remember it vividly. (I went with a group of friends and not as part of AFA. London AFA did not join the march, seeing it as a waste of time, but went into the area independently on the look out for BNP members - according to K Bullstreet: "Apparently Red Action found the BNP hiding in a pub a few miles away that day, and had a ‘free and fair exchange of views with them". Some provincial AFA branches did join the march, however.) The event was truly terrifying. The police used an extraordinary amount of force to stop the march getting anywhere near the bookshop. Among the protestors, large numbers (but still a tiny proportion of the crowd) responded violently to the police, for example throwing improvised missiles at them, and the damage done was extensive. As Paul Stott puts it,
At that demonstration police halted the crowd at the top of a hill, before launching a series of baton charges into demonstrators. As few armies in history have won a battle fighting up hill, it was seen at the time as pre-empting violence so the police could have a riot on their terms, not the demonstrators. Perhaps the evidence of 'Officer A' rather confirms this? Where it leaves those convicted of committing criminal offences in those baton charges is of course another matter...
The violence had absolutely nothing to do with the YRE or the other left groups who organised the march. The violence of the demonstrators was largely unplanned, and carried out by individual people and perhaps a few anarchist affinity groups.

It is also important to recall the context of this event. As Lois Austin and Hannah Sell note, this demonstration took place after four racist murders, including that of Stephen Lawrence, had taken place within two miles of the BNP Headquarters. Lawrence's murder, as we all now know, was never properly investigated, due to what has been correctly labelled the institutional racism of the force. Many people in the area felt that the police had actively colluded with the killers. Locally, it was widely believed that the police had links with the Clifford Norris, the father of David Norris, one of the young men believed to be amongst the killers, beliefs that seemed to be confirmed by a 2006 BBC investigation focusing on the murder inquiry's Det. Sgt. John Davidson. In other parts of South London and elsewhere, shocking numbers of young black men were dying in police custody (among a total of 380 deaths in police custody 1990-1996). Here are a fraction of them, from the months leading to the demonstration (the italics are the coroner's verdicts):
  • Kimpua Nsimba, 24, 15/06/90, Zairean asylum-seeker found hanged in Harmondsworth detention centre; no-one had spoken to him in over 4 days, Suicide. 
  • Aslam Khan, 29, 12/10/90, Hanged himself while on remand in Brixton, Inquest verdict unknown
  • Edwin Robinson, 28, 30/11/90, A suicide risk with a psychotic illness hanged himself in Brixton prison, Killed himself because of lack of care
  • Delroy McKnight, 29, 19/01/91, Cut his own throat with glass from cell window and bled to death in Wandsworth prison, Killed himself while the balance of his mind was disturbed and death was contributed to by lack of care
  • Kwaku Ohene, 30, 13/06/91, Had mental problems and committed suicide in hospital wing of Swaleside, Death aggravated by lack of care
  • Ian Gordon, 24, 12/08/91, Psychiatric patient shot dead by Telford police, Lawful killing
  • Orville Blackwood, 31, 28/08/91, Died after being given injection of 'calming' drugs in secure unit at Broadmoor, Accidental death; on appeal to High Court by Orville's family, verdict quashed and a verdict of accidental death recorded again
  • Omasase Lumumba, 32, 08/10/91, Died of a 'heart attack' while being 'controlled and restrained' by 6 guards in Pentonville, Unlawfully killed using improper methods and excessive force in the process of control and restraint
  • Arthur Allison, 50, 1992, Died four days after being arrested by Leicester police, Inquest verdict unknown
  • Errol Commock, 24, 03/07/92, A known suicide risk committed suicide in hospital wing of Winson Green, Suicide
  • James Segawa, 28, 28/08/92, HIV+ asylum-seeker died in Belmarsh after officials refused to believe he was ill, Inquest verdict unknown
  • Leon Patterson, 32, 21/11/92, Died while on remand at Stockport police station, Unlawful killing verdict was overturned in 1994 and changed to 'Misadventure to which neglect contributed'
  • Randhir Showpal, 43, 19/12/92, Died in Norbury police station after being detained under the Mental Health Act, Misadventure
  • Joy Gardner, 40, 01/08/93, Died after being arrested by 'specialist' officers from the Extradition Unit of the Met; was gagged with 13 feet of tape, Inquest adjourned till trial of officers involved, officers later acquitted

There was every reason for us to be angry.

I'll leave the final word to Journeyman;
"It is scary and sinister stuff - but also laughable. Whilst they continue to be so amateur and inept we have little reason to be paranoid : As Lenin advised - the best thing to do with infiltrators and provocateurs is take their money and get them to do some of the donkey work."

- Video above (Armstrong and Miller, hat tip Prianikoff) relates to the sartorial and sexual politics of Officer A.

- Interesting blog discussion: at A Very Public Sociologist; at Socialist Unity.
Background: BBC Subverting the Subversives (2002); the YRE account of their anti-BNP campaigns in Tower Hamlets in the same period. More background and links from Slack Andy.
- On AFA: Bash the Fash - Anti-fascist recollections, 1984-1993; Fighting Talk documentary (disable the mixtube to the right to silence the ska); A short history of AFA.
- On the fight against fascism now: SDL world pub tour continues; Who are the EDL?
- Previous posts: Policing the G20 protests; The Miners' Strike; Anti-fascism: where next?; Defeating the BNP and EDL.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stooges of the Iranian dictarship, continued

Mina Khanlarzadeh at Louis Proyect on Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett in Iran, the Leveretts being the ex-CIA operatives now darlings of some sections of the left for their misinformed commentary on how nice our enemy Iran actually is. Extract:
They didn’t see any of the imprisoned students, obviously because they are held in the prisons. They didn’t see any of the escapee students, obviously because they are hiding out of view. They didn’t see thousands of imprisoned people, obviously because they are in jail. They didn’t get to see the journalists, human rights and women’s rights activists because they are either forced into exile, held in the prisons or fleeing from one town to another to avoid arrest. Did they talk to Sohrab Erabi’s mother? Did they talk to any members of the Mourning Mothers? Did they talk to Zhila Baniyaghoub, a women’s rights activist and journalist, who was imprisoned after the election? How about Jila’s husband Bahman Ahadi Amoee, an economic journalist, imprisoned from June 2009? Did they ask Jila what she thinks of the political situation of the country that has kept her beloved one in jail from June 2009 despite his health condition? Did they talk to one of the students in this video who were beaten up and arrested three nights after the 2009 June election in a dormitory of Tehran University? Did they see any of the workers who have been unpaid for a considerable number of months? Did they see the family of the imprisoned Mansoor Osanloo, the one who only wanted an independent union for him and his fellow workmates with wages about the poverty level (his income was less than a third the poverty level)? How about Farzad Kamangar the teacher who is imprisoned for his union activism?
 (See also Hamid Dabashi on the same topic, linked from that post.)

And, via the same source, Shokoufeh Sakhi at ZSpace on Iran and cultural imperialism. Extract:
There was a time, some thirty-odd years ago, that, whenever my friends/co-activists/comrades and I heard anything about show trials in the Soviet Union under Stalin, or executions, labour camps, displacements, etc. we simply dismissed it out of hand as bourgeois, imperialist propaganda. The Iranian left, even those who considered the USSR state capitalist and dubbed it ‘social-imperialist’, still could not believe such atrocities against humanity occurred in such a 'pro-working class' state. Enforcing substantial justice and equality just could not go hand in hand with oppression and the reign of fear and darkness. Like many today, our logic was decisively based on observation of who was benefiting from this undermining of socialism in general and the USSR in particular: American led western imperialism.[...]

Viewing the Iranian Islamic regime as a populist state, a state that supports or works for its working class or under-class, while it murders, assassinates, executes, tortures, kidnaps and imprisons whoever shows a sign of opposition, is not naïveté, but cultural imperialism. I would really like to hear how some western 'anti-imperialist' intellectual of whatever stamp would react to mass trials, confessions and so on in her or his country – or in one of the fellow civilized countries. I doubt that such a 'radical' would watch, silently writing it off as a natural phenomenon for such a place. The story is evidently quite different if the atrocity takes place in a third world country like Iran. Even after two people are put through a farcical pretense of a trial and hanged for participating in a demonstration, the self-congratulatory Monthly Review remains silent.
This excellent post takes as its exemplar an MRZine post by Yoshie:
Iran: The Islamic Revolution Defeats Western Hopes for Regime Change”, posting four clips from the Iranian state media's pro-state productions, three on the so-called victorious day for the Islamic state under the rule of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, and one clip under the subheading “Green Wave Ebbs” reporting on the meek presence of the opposition - hence their ‘defeat’. This 'ebbing' and 'defeat' is also propped up by adding two short clips showing a sparse crowd of opposition protesters. For more, the editor recommends that we "consult Iran's Last [!] Marxist Nasser Zarafshan: Setareh Derakhshesh, "Interview with Dr. Nasser Zarafshan and Farrokh Negahdar"” conducted by Voice of America on January 6, 2010. That the interview is in Farsi means that the current non-Iranian “generation of activists” are limited to an “education as subscribers to” MRZine from the Iranian state presentation of its own victory (no doubt one could get a similar grasp of the righteous Chinese, North Korean, Egyptian or Saudi Arabian representation of their people’s interests from their state newscasts, but these other representatives of the people don't shout “death to U.S.A.” so they are of no interest to MRZine). Beyond this posting's title, the rest of the text tells us of "Hashemi’s hopes for a palace coup," and gives us the following trail-off: "Iran Celebrates the 31st Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution”.
As I already noted, the Yoshie post, which Sakhi deconstructs for us here, was disgracefully published at Lenin's Tomb. As I noted then, Richard Seymour and the SWP have much more sensible views on the Iranian uprising. Why on earth to they continue to give airspace to these pro-fascist views?

Meanwhile, the SWP's former friend George Galloway, continues to salute the Ahmedinijad regime. Azarmehr writes:
When Galloway started going on about the UK police brutality towards the Gaza protesters in London, these were the images of police brutality that went through my head, real vicious sadistic brutality that Galloway chose to ignore. The crimes that the Stop the War worshippers of Galloway* do not want to know about.
Those of strong stomach can look at the videos of real police brutality under Galloway's former paymaster, Saddam Hussein, and his current paymasters in Iran.

And what, finally, is Galloway's employer Press TV reporting?

(*Stop the War? Yes, that Stop the War.)

Further reading via Airforce Amazons, Entdinglichung, The Poor Mouth
Previous:  Press TV's lies and Iran's regime apologists;Galloway and the tyrants; Ahmadinejad's British stooges.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Late weekending

Noone is illegal
Paul in Lancashire on Yarls Wood and Labour’s soul.

Reconfiguring the left
Reuben asks How should the left feel about social filth? 

Orwell and nationalism
A critical view from Dave Semple, and a response from Carl Packman.

Blair Derangement Syndrome
Jeff on the pyschodynamics of the Chilcot Inquiry.

A post with must-read links from Graeme: Poison in the well of history. Also read: What we've learned so far from the Karadzic trial.

Black metal and the extreme right, Part I
More from Graeme.

David Adler writes:
I've just delved into Michael Bérubé's book The Left At War, and it's reminding me how deeply influenced I am by the late Ellen Willis, in particular her 2003 essay "Is There Still a Jewish Question? Why I'm an Anti-Anti Zionist." [read the rest]
The apartheid analogy
Z-Word have a bunch of resources to refute the Israel apartheid analogy. Good stuff,. Ben talks about "the antisemitic, Soviet-inspired slander that Israel is an apartheid state." However, I cannot understand why making the analogy is itself antisemitic. Surely, even if some of people that make the analogy have dodgy motivations, there is nothing intrinsically antisemitic about it?

Via AA: "Potkin Azarmehr and Peyvand Khorsandi challenged Galloway and his strange asociates in the Palace of Westminster. Video here."

Ditto: "Oliver Kamm added another to the list of useful John Pilger links."

Moonbat and Wingnut watch
Sunder K reports that
The Tory right is getting a British Tea Party movement off the ground this Saturday.

Its being organised by the Freedom Association, perhaps making Hannan heir to Norris McWhirter of "Norris on the spot" Record Breakers fame.

And so the battle to be Britain's Sarah Palin is joined in earnest, with Hannan moving decisively to rein in the early lead taken by The Spectator's Fraser Nelson and ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie.
Meanwhile, across the pond, not suprisingly, neo-Nazis love Ron Paul. And Michelle Malkin, darling of the hard pro-Israel right, describes as "buzzworthy"
a deranged antisemitic screed by conspiracy theorist and 9/11 Truther Paul Craig Roberts, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” and ranting crazily about the “Israel lobby.”
Who’s “abandoning Israel” now?
Incidentally, Paul Craig Roberts is the former Reaganite who now writes regularly for CounterPunch. It's a strange world.

Sarf London resurgant
I loved this map from Brockley Central, re-aligning the world (well, London) correctly:

Other miscellanies
TNC. Poumista. Kellie.

Bob's beats
To finish, Sulochana, aka Ruby Myers,and Nadira, aka Florence Ezekiel, Jewish stars of classic Indian musical cinema.

(More info: Sulochana; Nadira.)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Brockley goings on - what to think?

Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing out that Gilad Atzmon is playing in my manor, as noted at the excellent local blog, Brockley Central: Brockley's latest music venue aims for sell-out opening night.

The singer Jane Siberry is doing something lovely: a "salon tour", playing in people's sitting rooms across the world. (She also operates a "self-pricing" policy at her music downloads store.) She is performing a forthcoming gig in the front room of local singer-songwriter Sarah Gillespie.

Gilliespie has a great voice, and her songs are good. Sarah will support Siberry at the Brockley salon, along with our old friend Gilad Atzmon. Now, Atzmon is a very talented musician. Having seen him perform a fair few times some years back, I can tell you is a dynamic live presence.

But... Atzmon has truly horrible views. If you don't believe me, ask jazz critic David Adler, or Greens Engage, an anti-racist campaign within the Green Party, or veteran hardcore anti-Zionist Tony Greenstein, or leftie poet Michael Rosen. Here's Greens Engage summing him up:
Gilad Atzmon is a jazz saxophonist and racist campaigner who has repeated ( the old libel that “the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus”. He talks about a “Jewish lobby” and calls for Britain to “de-Zionise” itself. He calls for “de-judaisation”. He is frankly and comfortably antisemitic, and fights for anti-Jewish politics in the Palestine solidarity movement.
He is critical of those who compare the current Israel with Nazi Germany because he says Israel is a more radical evil: “Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness. It is wickedness with no comparison.”
Gilad Atzmon pushes classic anti-semitic Jewish conspiracy libel (
“American Jewry makes any debate on whether the “Protocols of the elder of Zion” are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world.”
I wonder if Jane Siberry knows?

I notice that Sarah Gillespie is at least tangentially part of this slimy milieu. She has written a piece for Palestine Thinktank blog, a site which among other things promotes Holocaust denial. The peice is about the BBC's supposed pro-Israel partiality. She writes:
Perhaps the most menacing aspect of this tragic debacle is Mark Thomson himself. A quick bit of research online ploughs up a surfeit of information proving the man is far from 'impartial'. His Jewish wife, the scholar Jane Blumfeild, hails from an American family that attends Yeshivas. Evidence suggests that she recently signed a petition campaigning against the anti-Israeli content of the Washington Post. In 2005 she traveled together with her husband to Jerusalem to engage in talks with Ariel Sharon in an attempt to build bridges between the BBC and Israel.
This is awful. Thomson's wife is actually called Jane Blumberg. The fact she comes from a family that "attends Yeshivas" (she went to a Jewish school) means nothing other than that she comes from a Jewish family; to say this in itself means she has some dual loyalty to Israel is an old antisemitic trope, akin to saying if your dad is Irish you must support the IRA. The "evidence suggests" is someone sharing her name, and hailing from somewhere entirely different, as far as I can make out, signing a petition. And I have googled in vain for a credible report that Blumburg accompanied Thompson on his trip to Israel - a trip, incidentally, where he met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas too.

Another piece at Palestine Thinktank concludes thus:
On 9th April 2007 Blair, a man who, among his many sins, incarcerates Muslims for months on end without charge, dubbed Iran a ‘cruel and callous’ nation. So complicit are we in the demonisation of an entire civilization, we knowingly consume this fantasy of cruelty rather than consider the real possibility of humanity.
I would like her to read that out to, for example, the family of Mohammad-Amin Valian, the twenty-year-old (Muslim) Iranian facing execution for throwing rocks.

By the way, minor point. The Brockley Central comment thread mentions he was once a Blockhead. Indeed, he still is, but he only joined in 1998, at the very end of Ian Dury's life.

Previous: all posts mainly about Atzmon; all posts mentioning Atzmon.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Gnome Chomsky 4: Have you met my gnome?

From Headphonerecord:

Have you met my Gnome, Chomsky?
Have you met my Gnome, Chomsky?
Photo by Steve Palopoli
By the way, I realise I have not yet linked to Michael Ezra's  first, second and third posts on Chomsky and Cambodia, or at least not to the later ones.

(Check back the 1st of April for another gnome.)