Monday, April 04, 2011

Monday miscellany

My cross-post at TCF, with interesting responses from Boffy. Zunguzungu: Libya, Waiting to See. Nick Cohen on the LSE again. Lots from Louis Proyect: The anti-anti-Qaddafi leftWhy MRZine hates al-Jazeera; The Juan Cole/Gilbert Achcar controversy; Monthly Review and Syria.

Saul on Avraham Burg on antisemitism. Noam Yatsiv on Defamation.

April Fool's
The Westboro Baptist Burch take over my local library in Crofton Park.

Counterpunch, Assange, etc
Rosie on who challenges the challengers.


skidmarx said...

Adam Curtis sets liberal interventionism in context.

bob said...

I actually prefer Seymour's version of more or less the same argument: A much less conspirationist version.

But I also think the argument is bullshit, and Curtis is full of shit in general. If I had time I'd tell you why!

Mira said...

Bob, for the post on Avrum / Avram / Avraham Burg, credit to Saul, one of our commenters on Engage.

And I strongly recommend the second Engage piece you link to - Noam Yatsiv on Yoav Shamir's documentary 'Defamation'.

Thanks for the links.

bob said...

Thank you Mira. Have amended!

bob said...

I e-mailed my father about the Adam Curtis, hoping to tempt him into a guest post which he turned down as too busy and didn't want to write anything without fact-checking. He lived for some years in Biafra before the civil war, and was, back in London, very active in the solidarity movement. He did say this in his e-mail (quoted without his permission!):

I think there are several factors that enable [Curtis] to start with Biafra, most crucially the effect of famine photographs by Don McCullin and others (capitalised on by the Catholic church esp., with its history of "support" for saving "black babies in Africa") and the confusion of external powers behind each "side" (Britain & Russia behind Nigeria; Sweden, France and, at one point Soviet satellites behind Biafra). But he's so cynical about people who, though perhaps a little naive, were quite straightforwardly concerned to raise consciousness about the UK's grubby policies.

And he oversimplifies --throughout, but esp. with reference to Biafra. The main simplification re Biafra is to start from the secession & war, rather than from the huge massacres of Ibos in the North that preceded secession and war.

An additional puzzle for me: what is his ultimate position? Most reductively, it seems to be that no-one should ever intervene militarily because they are likely to be proved wrong. Yet, at the same time, he rightly sees the tragedy of, say, Dutch UN soldiers doing nothing while muslims are slaughtered. It's not even a good argument from hindsight...

bob said...

Skid, thought you'd appreciate this nice snippet from Ian Birchall's IS history: "IS had come out of the faction fight of 1968 with a principled commitment to the need for a revolutionary workers party but in terms of class composition the situation was actually worse than in 1967, a far higher proportion of the membership being students. And although these students who joined IS had done so on the basis of a commitment to the working class and a break with the more lurid forms of ‘student vanguardism’, there was still great confusion about what the role of students in relation to the labour movement actually was.

One expression of this was the rather frenetic leafleting of factories that took place. Students anxious to make links with the working class but not quite sure how to do it stood at factory gates with leaflets designed to ‘bring politics to the workers’. (In the present writer’s experience the worst example was a leaflet consisting of two tightly packed and badly duplicated sides on the question of the war in Biafra. Unfortunately for any worker who managed to read it at all, the leaflet came to no conclusion as to which side, if either, one should support in the war!)"

I was curious about which side the IS took on Biafra, and, not surprisingly, failed to find out. There was apparently an article in by Cliff in Birchall's bibliography: SW No 132: 24 July 1969 pp. 2-3: The Nigerian bloodbath Against support for Biafra; cf. article by P Sedgwick in SW 130 and letters in SW 133. I presume that means Cliff was against support for Biafra?

skidmarx said...

Birchall's always a great writer. Dunno I wasn't there at the time.I was in a SWSS group that voted three different ways on Cyprus once.
I did read Kurt Vonnehut on the subject once, though now re-reading the end of the article I realise that he is objectively pro-Nigerian.