Sunday, August 21, 2011

Slowly catching up 3: Other things

OK, we're nearly there folks.

Especially highly recommended:  
Peter Ryley’s “A matter of life and death”, written under the Greek stars after the Norway killings, on what an emancipatory politics, in Greece, in Israel/Palestine and here, should be. (This interview with anti-fascist veteran Karl Pfeifer exemplifies some of Peter’s points, I think.)

The Arab spring and its stormy summer:  
The wave of liberation that swept has swept the Middle East in 2011 continues to crash against the rocky shores of authoritarianism. The US debt crisis, Republican Party soap opera, British social unrest and Eurozone meltdown have pushed the Middle East out of the mainstream media’s fickle gaze, but there is a lot going on. In Tunisia, the revolution has stalled somewhat, the labour movement is demanding a new revolution, and the state turns on the people with teargas. In Syria, the brutal Assad regime is becoming more and more homicidal against its citizenry. Some 5,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to flee a camp in the Syrian port of Latakia amid shelling by government forces, to very little attention from those who describe themselves as pro-Palestinian. In Gaza, Hamas forcibly disperses protestors in solidarity with Assad’s Palestinian victims, showing which side of the conflict it is on.

In Egypt, the revolution is also moving really slowly, if at all. I strongly recommend Yasmin Salem’s blog, Chronicle of a (post)revolution, documenting life on the streets of Cairo. Here’s an interesting interview with Jano Charbel, an anarcho-syndicalist based in Egypt, and here is his blog, not updated since July. From Libya, here is an optimistic article on civil society breaking through in the rebel territories. And Israel is of course not immune from this wave of dissent. Finally, from a very different angle, a great post on the difficulty of naming a baby for an Israeli Arab.

The Atzmon dossier: 
 The appalling “professional ex-Jew-turned-Judeophobe” and saxophonist Gilad Atzmon continues to get more and more malignant. I’ve already mentioned his suggestion that Anders Behring Breivik might be “a Sabbath Goy”, killing Norwegian leftists in vengeance for boycotting Israel. Another new leaf in the Atzmon dossier, reported in the previous comments by Morbid Symptoms, is the planned publication by Zero Books of something by him. (Related stuff from David Aaronovitch.) Reuben at the Third Estate leads the call for a publicity boycott of the publisher. Reuben catches a glimpse of why Zero made this terrible decision: “I have encountered [people] amongst my political milieu who seem to react with cynicism to every claim of anti-Semitism, and indeed only seem to mention the word for the purposes of asserting what isn’t anti-Semitic.” I wouldn’t really want to give any publicity to the publisher of Richard Seymour and Laurie Penny myself, but to be fair to Seymour (who once called for my ankles to be cut off), even he once recognised that the SWP’s favourite sax player is “disgraceful, incoherent and completely at odds with what the SWP stands for”.
Update: I note Zero also publishes Owen Hatherley, who I do have time for, so I take some of that back. Maybe he might disassociate himself from the Atzmon decision?
Update 2: I just spotted the following admirable sentiment at Lenin’s Tomb, from December, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on Seymour either:
In an even more alarming example, the radical US magazine Counterpunch has published an article co-written by a notorious antisemite and Holocaust denier who prefers to be called 'Israel Shamir', which imputed the rape allegations to a CIA plant, and called for the protection of Assange from "castrating feminists". Shamir claims to represent Wikileaks in Russia, though he was outed by Searchlight magazine as an ex-pat Swedish neo-Nazi named Joran Jermas some years ago. Not everyone knows who Shamir is, but if Wikileaks doesn't have the sense to check him out, I would expect that Counterpunch should. Still, if they can tolerate a clown like Gilad Atzmon, opening the magazine up to a closeted neo-Nazi to spew misogyny may not be a big step. And if so, that reflects a wider degeneration of Alexander Cockburn's political judgment, which has also manifested itself in some quite kooky output about global warming.
But if you read only one thing about Atzmon, especially if you also love jazz, read Jim Denham’s open letter, “Listen, Atzmon, you piece of shit”.

Bloggery:  
I keep failing to add Rob Marchant’s Centre Left to my blogroll. Although a few notches to my right, Rob’s blog covers many of the issues I touch on here, and I recommend it. I also plan to add Joan Smith to my commentariat section: she blogs at Political Blonde.

I have mentioned Steve Hanson’s excellent blog in my last couple of posts too, but I don’t link to it often enough: found objects, radical psychogeography, nostalgia, anti-nostalgia, the urban uncanny, Old Labour and militant particularism. Another blog I’ve mentioned a few times in the last couple of posts but which has been on particularly good form lately, is the youthful and contrarian leftist group blog, The Third Estate. See, for example, Reuben on David Starkey and the National Secular Society, and the other pieces on the riots I already linked to. I’ve also linked to a few History is Made at Night posts, but here are some more: on a Lebanese reggae arrest, and a historical materialist critique of the Star Wars myth. And another sad loss to the blogosphere: Modernity.

South Londonism: 
 I am a big fan of Danny Baker, not quite a national institution in the way he should be, but certainly a London institution. I’ve been listening to BBC London (or GLR as I still call it) in its various incarnations and ups and downs since I moved to the capital as a teenager. I have loved the late Charlie Gillett’s world music show, Norman and Joey Jay’s archetypally London Good Times, the dry wit of Fi Glover, Peter Curran and Sean Hughes. Some of these have gone on to national radio fame, while Danny has toured the national scene and settled back to BBC London, his natural home. He was on Desert Island Discs while I was away. Transpontine pays tribute to him here, and George Szirtes here and here. Sad and strange when someone you don’t know, but feel is a friend, is gravely ill.

Also: From Steve’s blog, here’s my old local, the Marquis of Granby in New Cross. Here is Transpontine on a SE London mural walk and on the Laurie Grove Baths. The Deptford Dame on what a Deptford pudding is. Crosswhatfields has a post on the Convoys Wharf site in Deptford, which I have blogged in my South London and global capital series over the years (and my bigger, Chinese imperialism series). The site is owned by Hong Kong based megacorporation Hutchison Whampoa who are exhibiting new plans to create a massive luxury housing complex there (the previous application was accepted by Lewisham a few years back, but sabotaged by Ken Livingstone in one of his last acts as mayor of London). The post highlights the continuing role of the previous owners, the utterly discredited Murdoch family empire, News International.


RCPWatch: 
 I checked in on Spiked to see if they’d have anything interesting to say on the riots. Some was worth reading, if completely predictable cut and paste of the Spiked take on everything else. And, as usual, Nathalie Rothschild’s reports from Israel and Palestine make a welcome break from the usual fare on the left. However, other stuff made my stomach churn, such as the fact they gave Thilo Sarrazin a platform. I disagree with very little Brendan O’Neill says here (not least his critique of the anti-multiculturalism backlash), but just because someone is vilified by the chattering classes does not make them worth taking the effort to defend. Similarly, Angus Kennedy is right to argue against the banning of Mein Kampf and other “hate” books, but to reduce the attempt to keep fascism out of the public sphere to mere “elitist fear” is morally bankrupt. Dennis Hayes on the Doha debates is appalling, with a claim that the West is more censorious than the Arab world, which is a mirroring of the Western-centrism they accuse liberals of and is an insult to all of the dissidents being shot in Syria, still languishing in prison in Egypt, silenced in Saudi, and so on. And last months defence of the Murdoch empire and the News of the World, as heroic exemplars of free speech stifled by the liberal elite, is also sickening (although they are right to decry the chattering classes’ disparagement of tabloid readers).

Bob’s beats: 
 Read Jim Denham on why Louis Armstrong is still the greatest. And we conclude with Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”, in honour of bassist Grant Marshall, who died this month, whose distinctive style defines the sound we think of as Cash’s:

7 comments:

Waterloo Sunset said...

If you like outlaw country, you really should check out Hank Williams III- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAiO0snfVMQ&feature=related

Yasmin Salem said...

Thank you for recommending my blog!

skidmarx said...

Rather than linking to modernity on Carole Swords, you link to Never Trust A Hippy on Glassman. Perhaps a fitting epitaph, to be linked inaccurately.

bob said...

Thanks Skid. I guess that barbed act of kindness means I can't ban you just yet.

skidmarx said...

I'm obviously not doing it quite right yet.

There is a lot of rubbish there that I can't be bothered to read, let alone comment on. The Star Trek thing looks like its language is somewhat spoofy, and it is a commonplace that the Federation suffers from Vietnam Syndrome with Kirk repeatedly finding human rights imperialism excuses for intervention. Though I do have a friend who grew up in Liberia and is just old enough to have remember seeing segregated toilets in the Southern US who was thrilled that a woman as black as her was an officer on the bridge of a starship.

Rob Marchant said...

Hey thanks for the mention, Bob. I'm sure you'll get round to adding me sooner or later! ;)

Btw interested in your mention of Charlie Gillett, have you read his excellent Sound of the City? The real story of rock and roll. When I finally get round to writing my book on British music, I will have to re-read.

bob said...

I love The Sound of the City - I got it out of my local library again and again when I was a teenager.