Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Gaza to Whitechapel

First, on the Gaza flotilla. I missed this very thought-provoking post, "National populism and democracy", by Paulie, putting the issue in a wider context, as well as this also thought provoking post by Richard at Third Estate, "Bringing the War Home (Why I am not a Palestinian)". Meanwhile at Engage, Martin takes on the Catholics, at ZWord, Eamonn takes apart the Tony Judt piece I linked to a while back, at Huffington Post Ben Cohen highlights the geopolitics, And if anyone still thinks the flotilla activists are the good guys, this is one of the flotilla organisers:
Meanwhile, Yasser Kashlak, a Syrian businessman of Palestinian descent who heads the “Free Palestine Organization” and is funding this boat, as well as another that is to carry journalists and parliamentarians, said over the weekend on Hizbullah’s al-Manar television station that he was more and more optimistic that one day these same boats would take “Europe’s refuse [the Jews] that came to my homeland back to their homelands.

“Gilad Schalit should go back to Paris and those murderers go back to Poland, and after that we will chase them until the ends of the earth to bring them to justice for their acts of slaughter from Deir Yassin until today.” Kashlak, a fervent Hizbullah supporter, called Israel a “rabid dog sent to the region to frighten the Arabs. He said he had a message for Israelis: ‘Get on the ships we are sending you and go back to your lands. Don’t let the moderate Arab leaders delude you, [you] cannot make peace with us. Our children will return to Palestine, you have no reason for coexistence. Even if our leaders will sign a peace agreement, we will not sign.’”
Richard's post mentioned above also addresses my other current obsession, the English Defence League. AWL report on the weekend's Scottish Defence League static demo, and call for less polite opposition.

There are also lots of posts from the Whitechapel Anarchist Group about the complex politics of the EDL demo in East London at the weekend. A prequel to the story is this report in April of WAGs stewarding an RMT anti-BNP event in Barking, which begins to highlight the stupidity of Unite Against Fascism (UAF). This post launches Whitechapel United Against Division, a silly name in my opinion but a good sentiment: against the EDL and the Islamists of UK-IC. This post explains why UK-IC should be seen as preachers of hate. As I reported, the Tower Hamlets venue due to host UK-IC sensibly changed its mind, but the fools at UAF continued ahead with their counter-demonstration against the EDL.(See also this article from AWL.) A couple of days before the kick off, there was a minor incident involving the EDL on Whitechapel High Street.Whitechapel Unity Platform against Racism and Fascism issued a sensible statement against both the EDL and the Islamists that week. It appeared to be signed by an impressive array of Bangladeshi activists, organised by the Bangladesh Welfare Association, the main organisation of the maistream secular Bengali community in the East End. The WAG perspective is also set out in a number of videos here. And reflections on the weekend's events are set out here. And here's another account from an anarchist, Gawain. And this post by Dave Hill gives a good account of the micro- and macro-politics of other anti-EDL demo, organised by United East End.

Meanwhile at the other end of town, One Law for All held their rally against Sharia Law. A small posse of Islamist idiots went along to oppose them. And the EDL turned up to oppose them. Peter Marshall reports here.

The EDL is also the topic of a long post by James, which I recommend. It argues very convincingly that the EDL is an example of identity politics of work, nourished by the left’s abandonment of economic justice for the politics of recognition. Here is his apocalyptic conclusion:
As the EDL becomes more mainstream it may well fracture into disparate groupings. Or, unless something is done about the profound sense of alienation felt by so many at not just the bottom, but the lower middle as well (historically the base of fascism), there may be something more than a few fights in Whetherspoons on match day to contend with - by which time those most enthusiastic advocates of both the ruthless free market and multiculturalism will be safely enclosed in their gated communities, - while both of those groupings whom the labour movement always claimed to represent: the poor and ethnic minorities, will suffer the real consequences of dithering inaction and an unwillingness to confront a potentially nightmarish situation in the here and now through fear of what are trivial by comparison short-term consequences.
I agree completely with his analysis but I think he overestimates the social base the EDL actually have in working class communities. Patriotism and probably xenophobia are deeply rooted in such communities, but anti-Muslim racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, the drivers of the EDL’s meteoric rise, are perhaps more shallow and, although whipped up by the mainstream media and pandered to by politicians, might be easier to dislodge. The EDL’s social base is in football hooliganism, whose disreputability probably prevents the EDL from getting wider purchase in the working class.

Talking of immigration, Flesh’s excellent miscellany touches on this.
Jon Cruddas... says that Labour is no longer the voice of the voiceless. Trouble is, the voiceless don’t speak with one voice, and Labour’s wants to speak for only some of the voiceless. Richard Darlington on a leadership contest fought over immigration; Denis McShane on why Labour is wrong to scapegoat immigrants. I wish I understood what lay between the current state of affairs regarding borders, and borderlessness. Also, a bit like Jon Cruddas, I detest this stupid hierarchical political system. I’m not persuaded of the need for chiefs – I think we need participation, subject experts, consensus-generation techniques, executives, occasional representatives and administrators. And in my world, everybody cleans the toilet.

The same post, and another, look at the 2012 London mayoral contest and its two declared Labour combatants, Ken Livingstone and Oona King. My sentiments are broadly the same as Flesh’s – Ken fundamentally lacks integrity but Oona has yet to make a convincing case – but I think Flesh overstates the case against Ken. Much as I hate both him and Hugo Chavez, for example, I think an oil deal that benefits both Londoners and Venezuelans is a good thing. And I think his ecological credentials in office were pretty impressive. The fact is, on strictly London issues, he did a good job as mayor; his knowledge of how London works is unparalleled and his technocratic and pragmatic mind was good at coming up with solutions. Some of the best things Boris has done – implement the Living Wage, fight for Crossrail, promote the contribution migrants make to the capital – follow Ken’s agenda. I dearly hope that Oona can convince us that she can provide a strong alternative. (Although, as Jim FitzPatrick notes, the stitch-up in a Ken-dominated London Labour Party makes it unlikely she’ll get the chance.)

Finally, for a bit of balance, here's Richard Barnes, Tory Deputy Mayor of London, coming across pretty well in an interview (h./t Dave Hill). More from Dave: Ken v Boris on housing; Oona on housing and Ken.

Miscellaneous stuff below the fold.

Martin on the death of Jose Saramago. 

An interview with Nick Cohen (via  andy).

A critical Chomsky reader: Roger Lippman, Daniel Simpson and Owen Beith on Chomsky on Bosnia.

Jon Clarke on Zizek from 2008 (hat tip Jogo, who asks "Why does the New Humanist Magazine love stupid headlines and sub-headlines? Well, pay no attention to them.")

Rory Bremner, Islam, fear, satire - and what that means for the left.

Paul Stott on Diane Abbot, Socialist Unity and private schools.

Anarchists against multiculturalism.

Forget the Big Society. It's time for the Big Lunch.

A welcome to the local blogosphere to Chris Flood and the Socialist Alternative.

Two more new to me blogs, one that is actually new, one I've overlooked. I'll be keeping an eye on them both though. Red Iron is about the steel industry, Lincolnshire and politics. Poor Bastard Marvin is currently mostly covering the Gaza flotilla.

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