Saturday, March 12, 2011

In the meantime

I've got lots of half-written posts in my drafts folder. In the meantime, here's what other folk are blogging.

Ross Wolfe is a blogger with taste. Greens Engage on the Palestinian Tahrir and Modernity on Hamas' torture regimeRed Star Commando on Marinus van der Lubbe, anti-fascism and Stalinist falsification. Flesh is Grass on the objectively pro-fascist John Rees. Adam Holland on Gaddafi's stooge Cynthia McKinney. History is Made at Night on squatters against tyrants, now and in 1986. La Brigada will be much missed, and we all hope he'll be back soon. Andrew Preview on the EDL and the Paramilitaries. Paul Stott on the SWP's defence of multiculturalism. Modernity on why Chomsky should stick to his day job. Eamonn on Oloixarac, Galliano And Making Light of Genocide. Lisa Goldman from Cairo. Norm on the Guardian, Iraq and Libya.


darren redstar said...

thanks for the mention, it is a good article, but isn't by me.
i amore proud of my reply to socialist unitys attempt to witchunt anarchists as 'enemies of the labour movement'

skidmarx said...

I'd actually seen the Flesh is Grass piece, "Stop the War Coalition is a barely disguised pro-war organisation with a record of race hatred, support for terrorists, homophobia, and sexual discrimination" inoculated me against the need to have a further look. I thought "objectively pro-fascist" was part of the Stalinist lexicon.

bob said...

Darren- as I should have seen. Surprisingly critical of old Communist practice from the Weekly Worker. Will amend my post.

Objectively pro-fascist- is a term coined by Orwell isn't it?

Waterloo Sunset said...

Objectively pro-fascist- is a term coined by Orwell isn't it?

Yep, it's from "Pacifism and the War".

bob said...

I think, however, that I shouldn't have used this phrase for Rees. I think he's probably subjectively pro-fascist.

By the way, I notice Stop the War are one of the organisations, with Friends of Al-Aqsa and the BMI, on the new, and appallingly named "Britain 2 Gaza" boat.

Stop Stopping said...

"inoculated me against the need to have a further look."

You'd figured all that out about StWC long ago hadn't you Skid.

rosswolfe said...

Thanks for linking my blog back with this entry, and I can say that you have great taste yourself.

And as far as Noam Chomsky sticking to his day job, I see it as indicative of how far the Left has fallen that he remains such an icon associated with it. He's become really nothing more than a moral voice that's supposed to express the guilty conscience of the soft left here in America. His supposed "radicalism" is non-existent. No one takes his self-proclaimed anarchism seriously. I mean, the man voted for John Kerry. But perhaps it's not his fault after all. Maybe the widespread notion disseminated by the media that the Democratic and Republican parties represent truly antithetical principles and wildly different constituencies perhaps "manufactured his consent" to the point that he could not do otherwise than to vote for "the lesser of two evils."


Waterloo Sunset said...

I think, however, that I shouldn't have used this phrase for Rees. I think he's probably subjectively pro-fascist.

It is a very different use of the term than I'm used to. In AFA, it was generally used to describe those who claimed to be anti-fascist, while refusing to support effective anti-fascist tactics. An obvious example would be Labourites who fetishise the International Brigade, while condemning the illegality of modern physical force anti-fascism. The term arguably covers a much wider spectrum of arguments.

bob said...

"Subjectively pro-fascist": I'm not sure I've actually come across the term before, and certainly don't remember it from AFA. What I meant is that, while pacifists are "objectively" pro-fascist in that they don't support fascism they effectively aid it by neutralising anti-fascism, Rees is "subjectively" pro-fascist in that he actually believes it. (By fascism, here, I am of course not talking about the sort of fascism Orwell fought, but the sort represented by the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and so on.)

Googling quickly, I find the following.

1. Orwell, "What is fascism?" 1944: "Conservatives: All Conservatives, appeasers or anti-appeasers, are held to be subjectively pro-Fascist. British rule in India and the Colonies is held to be indistinguishable from Nazism. Organizations of what one might call a patriotic and traditional type are labelled crypto-Fascist or ‘Fascist-minded’. Examples are the Boy Scouts, the Metropolitan Police, M.I.5, the British Legion. Key phrase: ‘The public schools are breeding-grounds of Fascism’." Here, Orwell is scorning the notion that fascism should be stretched this far, and he may well take exception to my stretching to include Hamas and Hezbollah.

2. On the other hand, a couple of years before, Orwell wrote this in his diary, about Britain's Tories and early war-time anti-Nazi propaganda: "But how can these people possibly rouse the nation against Fascism when they themselves are subjectively pro-Fascist and were buttering up Mussolini till almost the moment when Italy entered the war?"

3. Roger L Simon, a conservative writer at PJ Media, asked if Obama is objectively pro-fascist for aiding and abetting the likes of Castro and Chavez. I think Orwell would like that stretching of the term even less, because, although he would hate them both, he would know fascist is not what they are. Anyway, one Sholom Beck in the comments responds: "No, Obama, like his mentor Bill Ayers, is subjectively pro-Fascist — or, if you prefer, “Bolivarist.”"

Waterloo Sunset said...

Ah, miscommunication! I'm referring to the term "objectively pro-fascist" which I remember being used a lot in AFA circles; Fighting Talk used it a fair bit.

It's important to note it's not the same as accusing someone of being either a fascist or a fascist fellow-traveller. Indeed, the vast majority of people who fall into this category would genuinely see themselves as opposed to fascism.

Most of the Harryites would fit, as an example, because of their refusal to support illegal direct action against fascists.

And I think taking it to include Hamas and Hezbollah is a stretch. Not every reactionary far right movement is a fascist movement. If you're going to include them, why not include Thatcher? (Hostility to trade unions and other working class organisations, fondness for aggressive military action, moustache). I think you're running dangerously close to 'Rik from the Young Ones' territory here.

bob said...

On Hamas etc as fascist: I am not totally decided in my position, but I think there is more to them than being right-wing; classical fascism is deep in their ideological lineage. I call the Hindutva movement "Hindu fascist" for the same reason. The Revisionist Zionist movement is also, to my mind, fascist. But maybe I should draw back from that sort of language. I'll have to think more.

On the "objectively pro-f" designation, I think I'd not use it for someone whose crime is refusal to support illegal direct action against fascist. I'd call that "liberal anti-fascism" but think it's unfair to call it objectively pro-fascist.

I don't think I recall the term being used much in AFA. In the South London branch it might have sounded too high falutin!

Waterloo Sunset said...

What specifically in their lineage do you think is taken from classical fascism? I'll admit to being somewhat ambivalent on this one myself, I simply don't think we should use the term "fascist" without being able to back it up really carefully, even though it's broader than "Nazi", which I hardly use at all.

To pick an example that's possibly a bit closer to home for ex-AFA members, do you agree with the analysis that loyalism is the "country cousin" of fascism?

On liberal anti-fascists, I actually think using the term "objectively pro-fascist" there is very close to Orwell's original usage. He wasn't claiming that pacifists were fascists or even ideological fellow travellers. He was pointing out that their political stance, regardless of good intentions, was one that harmed the fight against fascism, hence strengthening the fascists through inaction. I think the parallel is obvious.

I would say that "objectively pro-fascist" as a lot more utility as an adjective than a verb. And is probably best used to describe specific tactics and arguments, as opposed to describing someone's ideological stance in general.

bob said...

Hamas' lineage: There is a body of scholarship, including the work of Matthias Küntzel, David Motadel and Jeffrey Herf on this, as well as more journalistic accounts by Paul Berman and Gilbert Achcar, on the connections between the Nazis and the parts of the Muslim Brotherhood that gave birth to Hamas - see links from

I think that in the historical period of classical fascism in which Hamas was rooted, which also formed Jabotinsky and the Hindutva movement, fascist ideas permeated the political culture. These include the cult of the leader expressing the authentic will of an integral, pure, organic "people"; the cult of the uniform and of ascetic, muscular warrior/military forms of masculinity; the notion of women as breeding adjuncts of militant men; an "occidentalist" anti-liberalism, anti-urbanism and anti-cosmopolitanism and contempt for "bourgeoiis" mediated parliamentary forms of politics; an ambivalent attitude towards science and modernity; conspiracy theories; antisemitism; a teleological idea of history with the rise and fall of races and/or civilizations as its driving force; anti-communism combined with an interest in certain collectivist themes of socialism; hostility to finance capital; crushing alternative or autonomous sources of authority especially in the working class (e.g. unions). I agree that doesn't add up to fascism, but is a close kinship.

On Loyalism, I do see it as British fascism's country cousin. Red Action were right to place emphasis on it: you cannot understand British fascism without understanding its close kinship to Loyalism (and this is missed by, e.g. the ortho-Trotskyist analysis which underpins the SWP lin). But they also over-emphasised it: Loyalism is the key to the specificity of British fascism, but itself has little relationship to fascism as such.

On objectively pro-fascist: I am wary of stretching it too far, because ultimately everyone not part of the solution is part of the problem, and just staying at home instead of going to an "action" might make me or you objecively pro-fascist strictly speaking. I think it takes something more. But I'm not sure how I'd draw the line.

ModernityBlog said...

Ta very much Bob.

PS: But why do you expect illiterate and rather apolitical ex-SWPers to have actually read Orwell? A bit of wishful thinking, surely ? :)