Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mermaid dawn

Post of the week: 
The Pitman’s Requiem, by Harry Barnes.

Congratulations to the people of Libya, who, supported by NATO forces, are taking their destiny into their own hands. I have been pessimistically and with many qualifications supportive of the intervention, so, although this may not be the time for gloating and I-told-you-so-ism, it’s hard not to feel a twinge of vindication. Jeff Weintraub writes up Sunday’s world-changing events, the latest chapter in the Arab 1848. He also passes on some of the analysis:
As Juan Cole pointed out in a Sunday morning post on "The Great Tripoli Uprising", it's also valuable that the uprising against Gadaffi's dictatorship wound up spanning the whole country, rather than taking the form of a regional civil war...

Ever since the uprising against Gadaffi began in February, Cole has "unabashedly" sided with the "liberation movement" in Libya and argued that it deserved support and assistance from the outside world–a position that produced consternation and dismay among many of his usual fans, who expected him to share their knee-jerk opposition to any kind of western involvement or intervention. (In March Cole came out swinging against that perspective in his Open Letter to the Left on Libya, a cogent and persuasive piece which is worth reading wherever you fall on the political spectrum.) So I think he's entitled to feel some vindication, too.
Jeff wisely concludes:
At such moments, any temptations toward euphoria have to be restrained by a recognition that future developments are unpredictable and potentially unpleasant. Overthrowing oppressive and tyrannical regimes is often hard, but successfully reconstructing the societies that they've damaged, distorted, and poisoned by their rule is usually even harder. Still, a certain degree of satisfaction is appropriate. We seem to be witnessing the overthrow of an especially ugly and contemptible dictatorship, which over the decades piled up a lot of crimes at home and abroad, by a genuine popular uprising. That's something to be celebrated. The hangover will come later.
Juan Cole also has a fine post here, on the ten myths of the Libyan intervention. My comrade Terry Glavin has been a strong voice in favour of the intervention. He writes:
You know what? I'm not going to say "I hate to say I told you so." I don't hate it at all this afternoon. I am raising a glass to the Libyan rebel front, to their bedraggled courage and persistence, to the crew of the HMCS Charlottetown, and to France. As for the frightwallah Robert Spencer, the red fascist anti-rebel George Galloway (Gaddafi "has the men, he has the money, he has the track record, by jingo if he decides to come out fighting. . ."), the interference-running reactionary isolationist Canadian Peace Alliance - which was "opposed to any military intevention in Libya", the NDP party brass that has opposed regime change all along, the delicate footdraggers, the hollow boasters, the "quagmire" cassandras of the right and of the demented-hippie left, even though it's nowhere near over yet (the revolution will never be "over"), you can all kiss Libyan rebel ass, and my rosy Irish ass while you're at it. 
Norm has also tracked some of the ways in which the Guardian's infoolectuals have been confounded, including the Stalinist Seamus Milne and fellow traveller Jonathan Steele.
While the liberals are confounded, the Stoppers are disgusting in their torturous, slimy, patronising bullshit. More sane, but therefore more pernicious, than the truly unbelievable Healyite WRP (h/t Phil and Andy. Phil takes a different position from me, but is well worth reading. I've stolen the pic above from him.)

The Arab 1848:
As well as Libya, here's an interesting report from Syria. Another from Egypt, about women's freedom post-revolution, and Bahrain, on labour militancy

The riots:
A couple of addenda to my long riots round-upMartin Robb (highly recommended). And Zizek via Norman Geras, who takes the opportunity for an interesting digression on Marxism. And Zygmunt Bauman. And here's the Hackney heroine.

The myth of Anwar al-Awlaki: 
This post by J.M. Berger is a fantastic exercise in piercing the bloated idiocy of the liberal commentariat (exemplar: Glenn Greenwald) and their empty platitudes about Islamism. Although Berger doesn’t say this, one implicit point is that when liberal infoolectuals talk about the essential unknowability of someone like al-Awlaki, they are basically being racist, and repeating the age-old trope of the “inscrutable” orient. In fact, al-Awlaki, like bin Laden, is very easy to understand: All you have to do is press "play."

EDL news: 
Malatesta once again dishes the dirt on the English Defence League. In this dispatch, we get the struggle between ex-EDL Roberta Moore, supporter of terrorism, and Hel Gower, certified Nazi and ex-Combat 18, who represent the two souls of the EDL, neither of them pretty. We also get some cover of the Infidels, who we might call the Continuity EDL, the ones who have no time for fake Zionist posturing and don’t mind if everyone knows it’s all Muslims they want to kill, not just the immoderate ones. The Infidels, worryingly, seem to be gaining ground, especially in the North.


Duncan said...

I really dislike the phrase 'Arab 1848'. It's a nod towards the (small c) conservative notion 'there's nothing new under the sun' and suggests that, essentially, political developments elsewhere in the world follow a pattern set down in Europe, but tend to lag a bit behind.

Paul Anderson said...

OK, let's tell the Arabs that they've got to catch up - universal human rights including democratic elections - I don't think most would disagree right now. It's not patronising or imperialist, it's universalist democratic humanism. Next step self-managed socialism (I wish).

bob said...

Thanks both. Duncan, interesting point. I don't think I agree though. "1848" arguably began in Liberia, when the new president, of the country that had declared its independence in 1847, was sworn in on January 3, a few days before the Palermo rising that marks the beginning of the European revolutions against the ancien regime. The revolutions also included the Praieira revolt in Brazil and the revolution against Spain in Colombia.

Just re-read the opening of the 18th Brumaire:
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95. In like manner, the beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he assimilates the spirit of the new language and expresses himself freely in it only when he moves in it without recalling the old and when he forgets his native tongue.