Friday, May 27, 2011

Meanwhile

Some bloggy recommendations. First, Rob Marchant's The Centre Left. This post, on school segregation, shares concerns I've expressed here. This post is on the TUC and Hugo Chavez. Second, author Alan Gibbons has several posts (hat tip Skidmarx) on the campaign across London and beyond to protect libraries from the Coalition-imposed council cuts, including in my own borough Lewisham. Third, for some reason I don't think I added Journeyman's blog to my blogroll when I said I would, and revisited and remembered how good it is. The generally vibe there is curmudgeonly leftism, a sense of history, and unpredictable opinions. This post is on genocide lessons in light of Mladic's arrest. This post is about George Orwell and an adolescent dalliance with Stalinism. This post is on the class warfare of the properties classes. And fourth, but by no means least, I don't know why I haven't visited David Schraub's The Debate Link for so long. He is a rare opponent of all forms of racism and intolerance, not just the forms displayed by his political enemies, and has intelligent centrist views on Israel.

I have a guest re-post up at Though Cowards Flinch. It's about anti-fascism. The intro and conclusion are new, and extracted below:
I originally posted a version of this post last Autumn. I have asked TCF to re-post it for me (slightly edited) because I posted it at a very busy time at my blog, so it got very little debate, and I wanted to test it out away from my comfort zone. But I am asking now because I think the situation is becoming more and more critical for anti-fascists. The continued decline of the BNP is a positive but it has opened the space for the re-emergence of more emphatically Nazi sects, while its ideas and narratives have infected the political mainstream as authoritarian xenophobic politics spread beyond the fascist fringe. Meanwhile, the English Defence League has seen a continued violent rise based on a style of politics the BNP long ago abandoned, and could well form the nucleus of a new far right alignment. These changes pose the questions of militant anti-fascism more urgently than ever. [...]

A large part of the history of militant anti-fascism in Britain, from the Jewish East End in the 1930s to Southall and Brick Lane in the 1970s and 1980s, has been communities defending themselves from violent attacks. With the BNP’s turn in the 1990s from the battle for the streets to the battle for the ballot box, that sort of violence was less common. But with the rise of the EDL since 2009, Asian communities are once again under attack. If anti-fascism is to have any credibility with these communities, and especially their youth, an appeal to “Mr and Mrs Smith” is not the right approach. And this opens a space that reactionary jihadi groups are happy to move into. Anti-fascism, then, needs to fill the vacuum in white working class communities, but also drive a wedge between angry Muslims and the far right Islamist political entrepreneurs appealing to them. Doing both at once will be no easy task.

In conclusion, I agree with Meszaros and Lowles that we urgently need to re-think the old dogmas in new times. But I don’t think they offer us the tools to do so. 
All the other rounding up I would have done has already been done very ably by Modernity here, and so only one more thing to add: Jonathan Freedland on Israel advocacy in changing times.

So, to music. Jogo recommended this great Tablet article about folk legend Chaim Tannenbaum, and this wonderful youTube:

8 comments:

skidmarx said...

Alan Gibbons.

skidmarx said...

I can't say I'm impressed with the TCF re-post. Defining No Platform so narrowly seems to be done just to hand out reprimands,when you get on to the egg-throwing it just seems to be petty. In between, getting BNP postmen or teachers sacked always seemed eminently sensible. It doesn't really pre-dispose me towards thinking the UAF is just run for "competitive political advantage".

Similarly with Rob Marchant . I'd tend to agree with him on scool segregation, but saying the problem is Muslims gone jihadi is a good way not to have Muslims listen to what you say (something I suspect is also the case on anti-fascism despite the couple of incidences you cite). And on Venezuela he sucks my bandwidth.

bob said...

Thx for correction Skid. Done. Will read the criticism tomorrow!

brocklydave said...

in case anyones interested Kate and Anna mcgarrigle have a 3 cd set on nonsuch called Tell me sister .
this has the first two albums + unreleased piano demos .worth getting for those who still buy music.

bob said...

Dave, thanks for the tip.

Skid, what do you think no platform means if it means more than not giving fascists a platform in our unions etc? Does it mean no free speech whatsoever for fascists? I can't really see an in-between. Paul's comments at TCF on this are good, I think.

I'm happy if BNP members lose their jobs or get eggs on their face, just as I'm happy if david Irving goes to prison. But those should not be our objectives.

I think UAF is not "just" competitive advantage; the SWP sincerely and genuinely hate fascism (at least in its traditional BNP type form). But their priority is building the party, and they are operating in a crowded market to surely do need to show a USP to justify their seperate existence?

skidmarx said...

They seem to lead the largest group of anti-fascists in the UAF because they are more interested in anti-fascism than carping criticism.
Something of the anarchist in me is reluctant to deny anyone free speech, but trying to put a Chinese Wall between trade union events and the rest of society seems ludicrous, and attacking anti-fascists for denying them the right to organise seems worse than sectarian.

Anonymous said...

Here's some Bosnian music.

bob said...

@Skis (sorry for slow reply).

They seem to lead the largest group of anti-fascists in the UAF because they are more interested in anti-fascism than carping criticism.

This makes no sense to me. I don't know if UAF mobilises more people than HnH or for that matter the Commuinity Safety Trust, but that's not the point. The point is whether they are successful in beating fascism or not. Can you say they are most successful on those terms, rather than on purely recruiting terms? Because it doesn't matter if you are "more interested in anti-fascism" or not if you're doing it in a less than successful (or for that matter counterproductive) way. Surely this debate is worth having.

Something of the anarchist in me is reluctant to deny anyone free speech, but trying to put a Chinese Wall between trade union events and the rest of society seems ludicrous, and attacking anti-fascists for denying them the right to organise seems worse than sectarian.

I don't get this either. What does no platform mean if it means more than no platform in a trade union, student union etc but less than state censorship and bans? Give me an example and we can debate it.

As I said, I am not advocating free speech for fascists, and enjoyed seeing Griffin with egg on his face. But there are two reasons for caution. One is allowing the BNP to paint themselves as the underdog, victimised by a political correct state and a liberal elite, and thus able to capitalise on disillusion with mainstream politics. The other is because basing a political campaign on demands for the state to ban fascists rather than taking action ourselves is disempowering and in fact hands power to the authorities that it will use against us.