Thursday, July 15, 2010

Last orders at the bar

Just a final reminder of the Bob From Brockley drink on Saturday night. E-mail me if you want to get a sought after place on the guest list. Actually not that sought after, but if everyone comes who says they will it'll be in the high teens. (I'll re-paste here my original invite list, minus people I know can't come, including people who say they might and people who haven't answered: Kellie; Richard; Daniel; Mira, David and gang; Flesh; Francis; Marko; Martin; Martin; Keith; Courtney; Jams; Transpontine; Carl; Steve; the Estate agents; Dave and comrades; comrade DaveJim; Inspector Darryl; Clare; Sue; Max; Ross; Ken; Brockley Nick and co; Danny; Little Richardjohn; Nick; Paulie; Raven; Michael; James. And belatedly adding the Dame.)

In other news...


Remembering our dead: More Harvey Pekar tributes (some via Kellie): Kroninger, Molly Mew. More Tuli Kupferberg tributes (ditto): Kroninger, Molly Mew, Michael Ezra.Our other dead: Ken CoatesThe dead of 7/7. And againSrebernica 15 years on






To add to the blogroll: Radiator.

Other miscellanies: Poumista.

42 comments:

The Contentious Centrist said...

I was hoping to be able to attend your little get together, Bob but unfortunately I can't make it this time. I promised my daughter I'd take her to the movies Saturday evening. Truth be told, I am somewhat relieved for there is no telling how a Contentious Centrist would fare in the company of hard-boiled socialists.

bob said...

CC - I'll raise a glass to you! I thought you were on a different side of the Atlantic to me?

Steve said...

I'd love to gate crash this party but Scunthorpe is a bit too far away for me to attend.
Instead I'll be having a few drinks with my loved one whilst watching what is supposed to be entertainment on the morphine box in the corner of our living room.
So have one on me and enjoy yourselves

James Bloodworth said...

Would love to show my face but am currently nursing an aspidistra back to health in the Somerset countryside.

I'll be in London from September onwards so any future booze-ups count me in.

Take care
James

Noga said...

"I thought you were on a different side of the Atlantic to me?"

So I am, Bob, that that's no reason why I couldn't not attend because I have a prior commitment! :)

Waterloo Sunset said...

As you know, I'm a sucker for an internet slapfest, so I'm going to look at Marko's post more carefully.

It's probably worth starting with the points of agreement.

I think Marko is spot on with this comment:

Harry’s Place is a blog in which comments have been posted and left undeleted by the moderators, calling for ships carrying illegal immigrants to Britain to be torpedoed, or equating ordinary Muslims with Nazis, or calling for all Palestinians to be expelled from the West Bank. Leaving such comments undeleted may be justified on the grounds of freedom of speech, but I have come reluctantly to believe that one or two of the HP bloggers are somewhat unwilling to fall out with the far-right commenters who frequent the blog - and by ‘far right’ I don’t mean the actual BNP, but the Muslim-hating, immigrant-hating bigots who are one step away from it.

Which is obviously very similar to what I've been saying about HP for some time. The problem with Harry's Place is not that most of its bloggers are actually far right or racist. The problem is that the culture they have created is highly supportive of that group of people.

I also think Marko's point here is reasonably strong:

But unlike for the traditional left, in this case the language of class is used not to uphold social justice, but on the contrary, to justify ignorance, vulgarity, racism and xenophobia among the white majority, now repackaged as the ‘white working class’.

That's largely correct. One of the most farcial things we've seen from the decent camp was the attempt to paint Bernard Manning as some kind of misunderstood working class hero. Apart from anything else, that's a real insult to the vast majority of working class people who aren't racist. (It should be noted here that the working class is actually much more multi racial than the middle and upper classes).

The first quibble with this is relatively minor. I do think Marko fails to differentiate between the right wing critiques of multiculturalism and the left wing antiracist critiques. I say that's minor, because I suspect he's just not aware of the latter. They don't get the same media exposure. A more serious issue with this is the implication that "ignorance, vulgarity, racism and xenophobia" are the views of the "white majority". Unintentionally, Marko is playing straight into the hands of the far right here and their claim to be the voice of the "silent majority". The outlined views are not a majority position.

Onto the more significant criticisms.

The first is that, while Marko's rejection of the decent/far right lashup is to be welcomed, it's fair to say that he hasn't always recognised that Harry's Place is positioning itself in this way. Indeed, just over a year ago he was passionately defending Harry's Place against these very charges. Because the HP bloggers, the very ones he now accepts are "unwilling to fall out with the far right" were on his side.

I consider Harry’s Place’s regular bloggers to be friends and comrades

In other words, David T and the Harry’s Place bloggers and I are anti-fascists engaged in essentially the same anti-fascist project.

Islamphobia? Completely outrageous slur, guv.

However, one of the ways in which our opponents try to discredit us is by smearing us, respectively, as ‘Islamophobic’ or as ‘anti-Serb’. Yet, such smears stand the truth on its head

Besides,

Where I strongly disagree with David and with Harry’s Place is not over politics, but over the question of comments moderation policy.

Waterloo Sunset said...

And the question of HP and the far right was dismissed thus:

The reason why, to use Pitt’s phrase, ‘these Muslim-hating bigots are drawn like flies to Toube’s site in the first place’, is not that Harry’s Place is sympathetic to them, but because they are taking advantage of a widely-read blog that posts on issues relating to Islam and Islamism, and that has an almost entirely open comments policy. The problem is not, therefore, with Harry’s Place’s politics, but with its comments moderation policy.

Obviously, Marko has a perfect right to change his mind and I welcome the fact he seems to have done so. But a bit more transparency about what changed would be welcome. As would a bit of humility about the fact he was previously describing people he now accepts are at the brink as "friends of comrades".

The second point is that Marko is hardly as neutral on class as he portrays himself. These comments on immigration is illuminating.

It has been said that the reason liberal elitists support mass immigration is that it lowers the cost of baby-sitters, hedge-trimmers, dog-walkers and others providers of services to the middle classes. Well, I don’t have a baby, a hedge or a dog, but I’m all in favour of cheaper services for the middle classes - why should I pay a British plumber some exorbitant fee if a Polish plumber will do the job for less ?

Sorry, Alf Garnett, but as a middle-class person, I believe that mass immigration is in my class interest.

Not only is Marko very clear that, on this issue, his position is based on what he believes is in the interests of his class (which, to be fair, he sees as identical to the national interest), he also makes it clear that his support for immigration is based on the fact he can exploit them by paying them less. That's really not the kind of pro immigrant position those of us who are progressive take. From this, it's fair to suspect that Marko's support for globalisation is not despite sweatshops, but because of them.

Finally, Marko is refusing to accept his own personal responsibility for this development among the decents. Because it hasn't sprung from nowhere. The lashup between elements of decency and the EDL/Gates of Vienna crowd has a real ideological basis. It springs from the idea that the two groups have a common interest in defending Western civilisation. It springs from abandoning traditional notions of left and right. Or, in Marko's words, it has been caused by people who believe literally that:

The distinction between the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’ in global politics is today increasingly redundant. The dialectic has given rise to, and been superceded by, a new dialectic: pro-Western vs anti-Western

Because that was easy when you were talking about the traditional far right. But now, with the new developments, you have undoubtably pro Western groups like the EDL who are also anti Muslim.

And, if he's serious about stopping this in its tracks, Marko needs to disown his earlier arguments. Because this is a Pandora's Box that he (among many other people), helped pry open in the first place.

bob said...

Steve & James - I'll raise a glass to you both.

Noga - of course not, but I would have invited you if you were on this side of the sea. I am very pleased to imagine you hopping on a plane to have a drink with us!

WS - I've glanced through what you said, and will read it thoroughly tonight, but I think I agree. Would you mind if I post it as a post in its own right?

Martin said...

Bob - Sorry not to have replied sooner to your kind invitation for a non-virtual meeting. Unfortunately, I can't join you tomorrow night - I'll be at a family event in the depths of Essex. I look forward to hearing reports of what happens when all those bloggers meet in the flesh...

Waterloo Sunset said...

You're very welcome to, I'm flattered.

Probably worth mentioning that, if Marko does decide he wants to participate in this debate, I'll try to keep the ad hominems and swearing to a minimum.

I'm aware he favours a less 'rough and tumble' style of debating than I do and this strikes me as an important enough issue to make those kind of minor stylistic compromises.

Anonymous said...

i too will raise a glass from this side of the atlantic. pretty well knocked out with a return of strain-b influenza, but surely a glass or two of irish whiskey must have some medicinal value, no?

and, i too, was really saddened by the death of harvey pekar. like you, i discovered his work through a friend back in the early 80s, and i automatically thought that it was some of the best work i had seen in "underground" comics in a decade. actually, he and tuli kupferberg, whose book 1001 ways to beat the draft i read back in 1968, represent a kind of activity associated with some of the best working-class intellectuals/artists that has all but died out here in the states. and i think that's what makes their passing so hard.

les

Jim Jepps said...

Thanks for tonight "Bob"! The invitation was much appreciated.

James Bloodworth said...

I'm pretty fed up with Harry's Place to be honest. I find it attracts so many right-wing commentators because almost all it's posts are about what they perceive to be an Islamist fifth column.

Not that this is a bad thing to highlight. Obviously the issue of Islamic extremism is important for all of us, and one I've posted on myself. But for a site that posits itself on the left there are a surprising lack of left-wing issues discussed - where are the posts about child poverty, third-world development, poverty in Gaza (they wouldn't dare touch that one,) inequality in the UK, the fight for indigenous rights in Latin America?

If 90% of the time you write about Islamism and justification for Israeli expansionism your crowd is likely to reflect a certain political persuasion.

"...or calling for all Palestinians to be expelled from the West Bank."

I find this comes up in almost every thread about Israel at some point; any dissent from the line that it is all the fault of the Palestinians results in a flurry of abusive non-sequiturs. Any admission that you don't see the face of Hitler in every Palestinian child immediately puts you beyond the pale as an anti-Semite.

The defining characteristic of the comments section is that it's mostly just abuse at whoever disagrees with what the right-wing clique's othodoxy of the day is.

I don't bother posting there much any longer.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"...poverty in Gaza (they wouldn't dare touch that one,)"

You cannot discuss in an honest, factually-verifiable way the poverty in Gaza. As soon as you point out that Gaza's elected government has done its best to orchestrate this poverty (such as it is), including cynically using its own civilian populations to act as shields for unlawful actions against is neighbour to the north-east, you are called an apologist for zionism and a justifier "for Israeli expansionism".

Any dissent from the official Insane leftist's line that it is all the fault of the Israelis results in a flurry of abusive nonsequiturs. Any admission that the situation in Gaza is a far cry from the beloved Warsaw ghetto metaphor or from a genuine humanitarian crisis that requires urgent confrontations at sea immediately puts you beyond the pale as a fascist-racist, Islamophobe and a would-be killer of innocent Palestinian kids.

James Bloodworth said...

"you are called an apologist for zionism and a justifier "for Israeli expansionism".

It's justifier "of" Israeli expansionism. If you're going to try irony you must get your grammar right first.


"Any dissent from the official Insane leftist's line that it is all the fault of the Israelis results in a flurry of abusive nonsequiturs."

Again, I see that's an attempt at an ironic joke, but I don't quite see at who's expense. Would you be so kind as to help me out Sir?

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ CC

From what I've seen of James' comments, I don't believe he's of the view that everything is the fault of the Israelis, nor does he strike me as a fan of Hamas.

How about you? Can you point me to any posts or comments where you criticise any policies of the Israeli government? As a centrist, I'd expect you to take a middle of the road view, after all.

To strongly back one side or the other would suggest your username is rather badly chosen.

James Bloodworth said...

Thank you Waterloo.

My main point was that lots of those who comment on Harry's Place are the opposite replica of what they claim to despise: they dislike the term "Islamophobia" yet will throw around "anti-Semite" in the same fashion; they claim that those on the left hide a thinly veiled anti-Semitism towards Israel yet display a visceral hatred of Muslims and Palestinians; and they expose Islamist groups such as Islam4UK but then lionise the EDL as "working class patriots".

Is it really so "radical" to find both extremes distasteful?

I would have thought that a position truly representative of a "decent" left is not sucking on the tit of Israeli power and, just as some of the far-left write off the Jews, not writing of the Palestinian Arabs and finding it acceptable for them to live in poverty and statelessness.

Noga said...

"It's justifier "of" Israeli expansionism. If you're going to try irony you must get your grammar right first."

The commenter who opens with a personal sneer by way of response sets the tone of the discussion, which means, utter futility. His second comment does not make things any better: "sucking on the tit of Israeli power". What an ugly metaphor for pro-Israel positions, trembling with loathing and hatred.

If I were an Arab-Muslim poster who made a grammatical error while fulminating against Israel, would Bloodworth (a prophetic name) be as punctiliously sarcastic? I doubt it very much. He is very brave being sarcastic to a Jewish commenter and then he has the gall to complain that some people might find such knee-jerk disdain bizarrely reminiscent of antisemitic sentiment.

bob said...

Thanks for all of drink-related comments, and to those of you who turned up. I had a great time - more on that later! For now, some comments on the HP thread. I might edit some of these into a post of their own if/when I have more time, as I think this is important.

Marko:

But unlike for the traditional left, in this case the language of class is used not to uphold social justice, but on the contrary, to justify ignorance, vulgarity, racism and xenophobia among the white majority, now repackaged as the ‘white working class’.

WS: A more serious issue with this is the implication that "ignorance, vulgarity, racism and xenophobia" are the views of the "white majority". Unintentionally, Marko is playing straight into the hands of the far right here and their claim to be the voice of the "silent majority". The outlined views are not a majority position.

Not sure. Marko says "ignorance etc AMONG the white majority", not, say, "the ignorance etc OF the white majority", but there is definately an issue here that I've been meaning to post about for ages that Marko is pointing out, namely the use and abuse of "the white working class" to justify right-wing politics. More on that from me another time!

--

Marko a while back: Harry’s Place and anti-Muslim bigotry: A reply to Islamophobia Watch

WS asks why Marko changed his mind, and to acknowledge that he has done so. I can't speak for him, but I oscilliate a fair bit on HP. I think that some of the above-the-line posting is brilliant, and there is a range of political views, from people very far to my right through to people pretty close to me. There are three real questions: (1) the extent to which the focus on Islam and indecency is (partly) responsible for the bigots below the fold; (2) the extent to which that focus distorts the purpose of the site away from some of the "left" concerns that remain vital, such as social justice, the horror of neo-liberal globalisation, the pending ecological crisis, anti-Muslim racism, how to respond to the new austerity, trade union struggles, (3) issues of moderation, and the fact that some reasonable dissent has been deleted while viscious racism is allowed to go through; (4) the wider problem of internet etiquette and comment trollery in general. I think it is important to distinguish all of these from each other, and to be clear who they "they" are when we are laying blame.

Of these issues, (1) and (2) are particularly crucial for me, in a sense, because I disproportionately blog about Harryist issues, even though these aren't necessarily the issues I feel most strongly about or are most important. I blog about these issues partly becuase I don't tend to voice them out loud that often in the world I live in, where anti-Americanism and Israel-tutting are pretty much the default, so it is on-line that I have found the community (to use an over-used word) where I can actually talk about them. And also I don't have much of an interesting or novel perspective on ecological crisis, trade union struggles and so on.

bob said...

(Note to commenters: this post seems to be suffering from a Blogger.com glitch from long comment threads. if you get "url too long", chances are your comment has been successfully posted.)

Talking of the general problem of internet etiquette and comment trollery, I don't care for sarcy comments about grammar.

I don't to speak for Contentious Centrist either, and don't see myself as a centrist, but I think there is a difference between a centrism that is critical of and triangulates both sides, on one hand, and a middle of the road politics that takes a position down the centre, on the other.

But I don't think CC's comment about "official Insane leftist's line" is an advance in any way, because saying that the lefties at Socialist Unity, say, are as bad as the right-wingers at Harry's Place is a good way of dealing with either. Surely we want a space where it is possible to talk about poverty in Gaza without being dismissed in advance by those with a pre-fixed line. If we did, we could actually debate the relative weights of the roles of Hamas, of the Israeli security system, of Eygpt, of the US as Egypt's patron, of the UN and its machinery, of the Pesrian Gulf donor states, of different Islamist traditions, of structural issues in Palestinian society, of ecological resource issues in a desert economy, and so on.

P.S. the socialists at Saturday night's drink were pretty soft-boiled, within one or two exceptions. And there was a Harry's Place contributor there too, quite a hard-boiled one if I may say so.

James Bloodworth said...

"The commenter who opens with a personal sneer by way of response sets the tone of the discussion, which means, utter futility."

The commenter who responds to a sneer with another sneer does not "set the tone of the discussion".

"He is very brave being sarcastic to a Jewish commenter and then he has the gall to complain that some people might find such knee-jerk disdain bizarrely reminiscent of antisemitic sentiment."

Should I treat Jewish commenters differently than I treat other commenters? Does the fact that I was not aware that he was Jewish (should it matter?) therefore convict me of some heinous faux pas?I don't quite see what your point is. If you're trying to imply that I'm anti-Semitic why don't you have the courage to come out and say that? Am I?

Please either come right out with what you want to say or cease making childish insinuations.

James Bloodworth said...

And apologies to Bob for the deterioration in the discussion.

James Bloodworth said...

"He is very brave being sarcastic to a Jewish commenter and then he has the gall to complain that some people might find such knee-jerk disdain bizarrely reminiscent of antisemitic sentiment."

Again, this just makes my original point. It's very well Harry's Place being willing to call out those who shout "Islamophobia" at every opportunity to stiffle debate; but do you think I don't notice that it's the very same people who then fling the term "anti-Semitic" around at anybody they wish to dismiss and not engage in rational debate with?

As has just been attempted here by a commenter.

Noga said...

"Again, this just makes my original point"

It was meant to echo your point and show how your own choices contribute to the very phenomenon you seem to decry so.
___________

It's kind of funny that my comments are posited vis a vis Harry's Place, a site I have avoided for the last two or three years (with one exception) because I did not like the brutishness of some of the commenters there, the kind that bloodworthy here mirrors to perfection.
_________________

"But I don't think CC's comment about "official Insane leftist's line" is an advance in any way, "

There is certainly an "Insane Left" and I see no reason why I shouldn't call a spade a spade when I see one and unlike Gwendolyn, can actually recognize it as such. I am not involved in your intra-Leftist kerfuffles so I wouldn't know who "the lefties at Socialist Unity" are. I respond to what is being said and not what the ideology behind that dictates.

That there is an insane right is indisputable but they do not interest me. They are visible lions. Unlike the Insane left that speaks the language of human rights while advocating particularistic policies that in principle accept that Jews in Israel have no human rights. This insane left take dictation from the redactors of the Palestinian Charter (never revoked). I recently reread Yehoshafat Harkabi's book in which he says:

"The claim that Israel should not exist is implied in almost half of its 33 articles, including those that are formulated as definitions and axioms. By definition, the demand for the demise of Israel becomes a matter of an inevitable necessity, a kind of scientific truth. Israel must cease to exist not so much because the Palestinians have an interest in her disappearance, but because this disappearance is derived from the definition of Palestinism as the attribute of both a people and a country. Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinians and must not be separated from the Arab world; and the Palestinians are an integral part of the Arab nation. The whole of Palestine must be restored to them and put under their sovereignty, because only in Palestine in its entirety could they realize their self determination, redeem their personality from alienation and regain their dignity and freedom. This conception is complemented by the theory, that is also formulated as a definition, that the Jews are not a nation and thus on principle do not deserve to have a state of their own, nor can they as a non-nation maintain it. "

"One must be cautious and restrained in assessing national movements and their doctrines, especially when they are at loggerheads with one’s own. However, I cannot help feeling that the Covenant is an ugly document according to its stand. It is not a manifesto of an extreme, lunatic fringe fraction, but the essence of the outlook of the center and mainstream of the Palestinian movement. The Covenant represents an egoistic stand that does not show the slightest consideration for the adversary, nor any trace of recognition that he too may have a grievance, a claim and justice. The Palestinian movement claims absoluteness and ‘totality’—there is absolute justice in the Palestinian stand in contrast to the absolute injustice of Israel; an unqualified Manichaean division of good and evil; right is on the Palestinian side only; only they are worthy of self-determination; the Israelis are barely human creatures who at most may be tolerated in the Palestinian state as individuals or as a religious community"

I have not seen or heard anything coming from the Palestinians that refutes this view or makes it irrelevant, 30 years after the book was written. And the Insane Left has internalized that message
completely.

BenSix said...

It was meant to echo your point and show how your own choices contribute to the very phenomenon you seem to decry so.

What "choices"? You asserted that a snarky response to a poster whose nym is ambiguous re: gender, age, location and, yes, ethnicity was "bizarrely reminiscent of antisemitic sentiment". The reminiscence was bizarre, indeed, but not in the way you meant.

James Bloodworth said...

I conceed that my point about grammar was petty and silly. But I don't quite see what that has got to do with the Jewishness of the poster.

bob said...

I agree that CC's Jewishness is irrelevant to the question. If there was a suggestion of antisemitism, it wouldn't make any difference.

I also agree that there is an insane left. I guess, for better or for worse, part of the "project" of this blog has been to fight some of those insanities. If you glance at James Bloodworth's blog, you will see that he spends a fair amount of time attacking these insanities - see e.g. this post which makes a very similar point to the one Noga makes in the comment just above this one.

This started when Noga said:
<em>You cannot discuss in an honest, factually-verifiable way the poverty in Gaza. As soon as you point out that Gaza's elected government has done its best to orchestrate this poverty (such as it is), including cynically using its own civilian populations to act as shields for unlawful actions against is neighbour to the north-east, you are called an apologist for zionism and a justifier "for Israeli expansionism". </em>
This was a response to a criticism of HP, and so the assumption would be that this was (a) a defence of HP, and (b) against those who are criticising HP. In this particular case, the 3 critics of HP commenting or quoted here (Marko, Waterloo, James) all, in their very different ways, are not people who would tend to throw around anti-Zionist invective.

--

On the ambiguity of nyms, it is interesting how the default assumption on gender tends to be male (as in the "sir" above). I have made this assumption wrongly at least once since I started blogging, and have, I hope, learnt to check myself. This is one of the strengths and weeknesses of the prolifaration of on-line identities.

This may or may not relate to the use of the image of sucking on Israel's tit!

--

I just read a very good post on James' blog about Raul Moat. This is a small part of the short comment I left: "I am also against the idea that people with good grammar are worth listening to more than those without." This is something I feel quite strongly about. Partly because, as you may have noticed from my spelling in the comment box where there is no spell-checker, I am a bit challenged that way myself. And also because of the many bloggers I follow, including one contributor to this debate, who are blogging in a language that is not their first. (I think these include Snoopy, Animus, Sarah and Daniel, for starters.)

James Bloodworth said...

I do see your point about grammar. I should know better as I'm married to a Cuban who's first language is not English.

I've also noticed the class hatred in some of the things I've seen written about Gazza - hence my refrain from doing so; he's clearly mentally troubled and it's not a question of him being "just a dumb chav" etc as I've been reading this last week.

As for the explanation for this phenomenon, I would stick to the line that it relates to several decades of dire industrial policy resulting in the alienation of vast swathes of working class folk.

You won't hear that from Cameroon or the tory press though, obviously.

P.S. All this is giving the coalition more propaganda as they catagorise the "deserving and undeserving poor" and outsource welfare to "voluntary" organisations.

Waterloo Sunset said...

I agree that CC's Jewishness is irrelevant to the question.

More than that. If an antizionist was trivialising antisemitism in the way Noga has done here we'd suggest they were near crossing the line into outright antisemitism, whether they were Jewish or not. I think Noga is acting in an objectively antisemitic way, because she's deliberately undermining the fight against antisemitism without caring about the consequences of her actions.

Yeah, the gender thing was a fuckup on James part. I do think the tendency to assume a default male gender of online posters is actually really problematic in terms of its wider implications. It's pretty common though. I only properly trained myself out of it when I used to post on a board with a lot of transfolk members. Quite rightly, it was a board where assuming gender identity without checking first was heavily disencouraged.

Noga said...

"I think Noga is acting in an objectively antisemitic way, because she's deliberately undermining the fight against antisemitism without caring about the consequences of her actions."

There is no end to these insane casuistries. I still maintain that if I were a Muslim Arab making an anti-Israeli comment with many more errors than a mere preposition, dear Bloodworthy here would never notice anything let alone make it the first item to be addressed in his response. Of course he would know I was Israeli and a Jew and subconsciously that frees him to jeer at me in the way that would never occur to him to do towards a Muslim or a Cuban, or some other comrade. His apology, which comes off as someone bathing in his own sanctimonious innocence, is totally narcissistic and false. It was not wrong because it was the wrong thing to say. It was wrong because he has a Cuban partner. Selective sensitivities. I will defy you to find one example where I make fun of someone's language just because I don't like his opinions. This is mostly a practice, which I have noted many times as characteristic of responses and comments from extremists of any political stripe, this incontinence, this inability to contain one's bile.

James Bloodworth said...

"I still maintain that if I were a Muslim Arab making an anti-Israeli comment with many more errors than a mere preposition, dear Bloodworthy here would never notice anything let alone make it the first item to be addressed in his response. Of course he would know I was Israeli and a Jew and subconsciously that frees him to jeer at me in the way that would never occur to him to do towards a Muslim or a Cuban, or some other comrade."

You just sound like you are mad.

James Bloodworth said...

"I still maintain that if I were a Muslim Arab making an anti-Israeli comment with many more errors than a mere preposition, dear Bloodworthy here would never notice anything let alone make it the first item to be addressed in his response."

You base this on what exactly?

"Of course he would know I was Israeli and a Jew and subconsciously that frees him to jeer at me in the way that would never occur to him to do towards a Muslim or a Cuban, or some other comrade."

How would I know you were a Jew and Israeli? And what's that got to do with Cuban "comrades"?

What the hell are you ranting about?!

I've written 100 times more than you on the Cuban dictatorship, but again, accuracy is not your intention is it? Your intention is to keep repeating the same slurs hoping they will stick - exactly the same formula favoured by certain HP commenters, therefore proving my, and others, original point.

Waterloo Sunset said...

There is no end to these insane casuistries.

I notice you've not actually attempted to refute my argument however.

I still maintain that if I were a Muslim Arab with many more errors than a mere preposition, dear Bloodworthy here would never notice anything let alone make it the first item to be addressed in his response.

You can maintain (although I prefer the term 'assert') what you like. I maintain that I'm the Queen of Sheba. It doesn't make it so and it has as much evidence as your claim.

Try looking at various flame wars on the Internet. See how common spelling and grammar flames are. Unless you want us to believe that all of the people targeted by those are actually Israeli Jews, you don't have a leg to stand on here. It seems someone fails to understand the burden of proof.

Yes, James' grammatical slur was both churlish and pointless. But that pales into consideration compared to you making groundless accusations of antisemitism because you don't like being criticised.

And I can just imagine how you'd have responded if he'd made fun of your name, like you did to him...

I have to wonder whether you actually left the left behind as you claimed. Or whether it was simply that nobody could be bothered associating with you after you pulled this kind of shit one too many times.

Of course he would know I was Israeli and a Jew

Noga, considering I've been in the same comment threads as you far more than James and I had no idea you were Israeli (I knew you were Jewish because you've mentioned it a fair bit, but I always assumed you were born in Canada, obviously wrongly) how precisely was he supposed to have worked that one out?

Seriously, are you fucking high right now?

and subconsciously that frees him to jeer at me in the way that would never occur to him to do towards a Muslim or a Cuban, or some other comrade.

Any evidence? Of course not. This is either a cynical ploy by you, to try and deflect criticism by pointing to the fact you're Jewish (Atzmon likes that one I understand) or you are actually unstable.

If it's the latter, I apologise for the tone of this post and hope you can get stuff sorted.

If the former, I roll my eyes at you.

For the record, I'm actually Jewish. And yet this is the first time I've ever bothered to mention it, here or on other blogs. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that I don't believe it's at all relevant, nor do I think it gives any credence to my views on Israel. They can stand on fall on their own merits. It's a pity you don't feel that yours are good enough to.

Noga said...

There is some contradiction between the last two posts. If Bloodworthy thinks I'm mad, why go to the trouble of reasoning with me? One does not reason with mad people. They are irrational and are simply impervious to cause and effect arguments. So, it was just another ad-homs, in the form of his first comment to me here. And followed by more such like "critiques". What agitation! Next time you had better read what you had written before submitting it to the public. A little restraint of that barely contained bile might be in order.

___________

From Martin Amis's "Experience":

"--I've finally worked out why I don't like Americans.
I waited.
--Because everyone there is either a Jew or a hick
--. . .What's it like being mildly anti-Semitic?
--It's all right.
--No. What's it feel like being mildly anti-Semitic. Describe it.
...
--What's it feel like? Well. Very mild, as you say. If I'm watching the end of some new arts programme I might notice the Jewish names in the credits and think, Ah, there's another one. Or: Oh I see. There's another one.
--And that's all
--More or less. You just notice them. You wouldn't want anyone to do anything about it. You'd be horrified by that."

Horrified. Yes indeed.

Noga said...

"For the record, I'm actually "Jewish."

Gee, I'm reeling in shock. Now that you have confessed, please disregard everything I said up till now.

James Bloodworth said...

More babble.

bob said...

I think I'm going to draw a line under this conversation now. It is ironic that it started out as a discussion of the brutality of the Harry's Place comment thread, something we seem to all agree on, and I have always liked the fact that the comment threads here were that bit more convivial than many other blogs'. One of the things I've always hoped for is a place where people can actually discuss the substance of an issue without lining up beforehand in armed camps with pre-packaged arguments. The poverty in Gaza example would be a good example, something that it would be genuinely hard to discuss at most Zionist or anti-Zionist sites, where everyone would spring to immediate conclusions; the Gaza flotilla would be another example, something I slightly changed my mind about as a result of the discussions here and elsewhere.

As the host, I'll exercise the right to the last word though. I have absolutely no doubt that the insane left Noga describes exists, that the pathologies she describes are out there. I've not met the insane left in the flesh that much, but I've encountered on comment threads more than enough times. It cuts across many of the different traditions and positions of the left (I've seen it among anarchists at Indymedia, Infoshop and Anarkismo, among Trotskyists in the SWP and at Socialist Unity, among Greens like Rupert Reed and Derek Wall, among centrist liberals like many Guardianistas and Jenny Tonge's fan club). I don't think it is by any means the mainstream or dominant position on the left, though I do fear it might be the direction of travel.

However, I don't see any evidence of that pathology among any of the contributors to this particular comment thread. In fact, James' blog, where the first ever post was a defence of Geert Wilders' right to free speech, has been harsh on these insanities. And I presume that is why he took such offence at the response, and in turn responded in, as WS puts it, a churlish way. Still, his strapline is "obliged to offend", so can't complain if offence is taken!

So, my conclusion is that all commenters need to think before posting, and refrain from personalising discussions, and, perhaps most importantly, bear in mind who the real enemies are.

From now on, I will try and remember the comment thread policy I formulated here http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/11/note-on-comments-policy.html (interestingly, partly provoked by an earlier criticism of Harry's Place by Marko).

Nick Cohen said...

Bob whetre and when is this?

bob said...

Nick, I'm afraid this has come and gone. I am planning to do it again in the Autumn, so e-mail me on bobfrombrockley at gmail dot com and I'll be in touch.

See here for an account of the evening. We would have loved to have you there!

Marko Attila Hoare said...

It would help if, when Waterloo Sunset starts a debate with me, he informs me that it is taking place. A couple of years ago, he made a reasonable critique of something I had written, but did not tell me that he had. Then he got upset when I didn't respond to him, so made an extremely childish personal attack on me. I only found out about his critique by accident months later. But anyway...

I have indeed changed my view about Harry's Place. The 'passionate defence' I made of Harry's Place a year ago, that WS refers to, was a bit more critical than he gives credit for. Nevertheless, I did consider the HP bloggers 'friends and comrades', but they made it brutally clear to me during that debate that they were no such thing, since I was not allowed freely to defend myself from the attacks of a vicious racist, immigrant-hating troll and his friends (one of whom - Graham - was an HP blogger himself) and had my comments deleted. Nor did HP condemn the threats of violence and libel action made by this troll against me. So I was a sucker ever to have considered such people 'friends and comrades'.

Having been freed from the illusion of friendship and comradeship, I have been able to confront what is wrong with HP rather more cold-bloodedly. David T et al are not anti-Muslim, and their formal position on Islam and Muslims is entirely respectable - very close to my own.

The trouble is that they allow the most murderous expressions of bigotry against Muslims, immigrants and Palestinians to be made on their blog, and rarely challenge them. Which suggests to me that they fundamentally are not too offended or bothered by such views.

HP fine-combs the writings of left-wing or mainstream commentators for anything that can be interpreted as soft on Islamists or on Muslim bigotry, or as anti-Semitic. Sometimes their critiques are justified and sometimes they appear excessive or pedantic. But they don't seem similarly to object to the incomparably more overt and extreme expressions of murderous bigotry made by commenters on their own blog - at least not so offended that they'll actually spend time tackling them.

Essentially, they are attacking one group of (Muslim) bigots while providing a platform for other groups of (anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Palestinian) bigots. Which is exactly the sort of thing the indecent left is guilty of. And one can't help suspecting that at some level they consider the anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bigots on their side of the divide, versus the Islamists and indecent leftists, even if they don't formally approve of their views.

However you look at this, it is pretty perverse.

Marko Attila Hoare said...

Waterloo Sunset's accusation, that I support the exploitation of immigrants in sweatshops, is just a typically silly far-left slur. One of the fantastic things about capitalist Britain is that immigrants who face poverty in their own countries can find work in the UK, among other things, providing services to the middle classes. But of course everyone should be paid a decent wage. A plumber in the UK earns several times as much per hour as I was earning as a Fellow at Cambridge, providing individual tuition to students, so I can't reasonably be accused of being exploitative if I'm in favour of cheaper plumbers.

WS needs to make up his mind whether he's in favour of the politics of class interest or not. Progressive politics should be about defending the interests of all humanity, not just the narrow, sectional interests of particular social classes. But if I'm going to be told that opposition to immigration - or anything else - is in the interests of the working class, then that cuts no ice with me, because I'm not working class. Mass immigration is in the class interest of the British middle classes - that's simply an observation. If you don't like such observations, please stop your special pleading on behalf of your own favourite social classes.

Finally, WS's claim that the rejection of the left/right divide is responsible for the alliance between elements of the Decent Left and what he calls the EDL/Gates of Vienna crowd is demonstrably false. Harry's Place identifies itself as a left-wing blog and is anti-Tory and anti-Republican, yet is serving as an incubator for the Decent-Islamophobe-populist synthesis. The SWP identifies itself as left-wing yet allies with Islamists and Serb Chetniks. It is left-wing 'anti-elitist' rabble-rousers - not centrists such as myself - who ally with the Islamophobic-populist or Islamist far right.

The EDL / Gates of Vienna crowd is not 'pro-Western', btw. Western values include secularism and religious toleration. Those who oppose toleration of Islam, or who uphold Christian-sectarian hostility to Islam, stand in opposition to Western values. Or if you like, the 'West' with which they identify is the pre-Enlightenment Christian West, not the West of secularism and the Enlightenment.

Bob said...

Checking in quickly as I have to run. I meant to inform Marko of this discussion, but forgot. Marko, as you have no comment box, informing you means e-mailing you, which I guess is something some might not be prepared to do.

I'll try and write more properly later. And am looking forward to the grand tour arriving in Berlin (via somewhere in Canada, NY and Baltimore, I think, so far!)