Saturday, September 17, 2011

No-one like us, we don't care: The EDL, and some other stuff


Owen at Third Estate has a post on the EDL and “anti-fascist obfuscation”, taking a similar position that Flesh and Sarah have taken in the comments thread here, rejecting the left’s obsession with “confrontation”. // Here (pdf) is an interesting analysis of the EDL from a year ago, by Nigel Copsey, historian of British anti-fascism. // Here’s Spinwatch on the EDL’s funders – they’re not so salt of the earth after all. More on the same funders from the Center for American Progress. They make much of their links to Anders Breivik. And here’s his manifesto mapped by the Guardian databloggers.

Here’s the RCP’s Brendan O’Neill on the class hatred at the heart of the anti-EDL clique. The fact is “that a great deal of anti-EDL protesting is driven by a barely disguised hatred for that apparently ugly, uncouth, un-PC blob of white flesh that inhabits inner-city council estates”. I think he’s half-right. You can see that sort of class conceit at work amongst liberals and wadicals – like Laurie Penney or the “twits” who called EDL thugette Angel Jo a “scrote”. (Scrote, like chav, is a keyword in the middle class imaginary about the white underclass; it’s a term that comes from the lexicon of the police.) And he is right that the left sees the white working class as somehow having failed the left, rather than the other way around (that’s a position he shares with Red Action/IWCA, see below). But he is wrong (a) to think of opposition to the EDL as coming from a “clique”, as if it’s some conspiracy from above by the liberal elite; and (b) to say that class conceit causes anti-EDL sentiment. O’Neill says: “it's becoming increasingly clear why Leftists have leapt upon this small political grouping and blown its threat out of all proportion – because campaigning against the EDL provides them with a PC platform from which to express their disappointment and/or disgust with the white masses” (emphasis added). But surely that is not the “why”; the “why” is that leftists see the EDL as fascists (mistakenly) and racists (correctly), and they don’t like fascists and racists.

Not only but also

Let's start with some South Londonism: Transpontine debunking some myths about Millwall and the 1926 General Strike. // Moving on, Sarah has had several good posts in the last few weeks at Harry’s Place, including this update on the Assange saga and this round-up of responses to the PA bid for Palestinian statehood. // Meanwhile, Alan Johnson makes the case against Palestinian statehood at HuffPo. // Worth re-reading (if overblown in places): Phyllis Chesler on a postcolonial attack on “white” feminism. // Also worth re-reading, from a very different angle (and also overblown in places): Red Action on multiculturalism, from 1999. // And, relevant to some of our recent debates, “Off the Nazis! ...but how?: Potential and Limitations of Militant Anti-Fascism” from Bring the Ruckus. // Finally, some new essential reading: Anti-National: Love Techno, Hate Britain? by History is Made at Night.


The video at the top is Armenian South London rap hero Blade, with "Gripper the Pitbull", a song that takes me back to New Cross in 1992/3. For more info, see here. Seemed kind of appropriate to the themes of this post.


Owen said...

Surely you of all people know that Spiked don't give a damn about respect, they'll simply use whatever stick's at hand to beat their opponents while they sneer at them as middle-class do-gooders or whatever. Substitute Karadzic and Mladic for Lennon and pals.

bob said...

I agree Owen. I don't think for one minute they have good motives for thinking what they think, but I think they are frequently correct in thinking it.

Worth adding, too, for all their attacks on the middle class elites and championing of the horny-handed Sun-reading sons of toil, it is not The Sun that gives them a platform but the Telegraph and Radio 4. Most working class people have as little interest in their views as they do in the SWP's.

Flesh said...

American pit bulls and ear cropping, both criminalised here - I'm guessing not a British vid thank god. Pit-fighting with staffs is less of a white working class thing now (and not because it is on the wane - it's not) - . The last man I reported to the police for 'hardening up' his dog outside my local station was not white. Status anxiety is status anxiety and sadism, sadism.

Flesh said...

And re Owen at Third Estate, I agree, as expected. Recommend watching the recently screened Channel 4 Coppers documentary series - available on the web (nowhere I feel confident linking to tho).

Is it fair to say that we know if/where the police are conclusively failing (as far as this matter is concerned) when Muslims start moving away from areas, or choose not to move to areas, because they are perceived to be controlled by EDL types. Is this happening at the moment? If so, wouldn't human rights legislation oblige a government to take action?

bob said...

Is it fair to say that we know if/where the police are conclusively failing (as far as this matter is concerned) when Muslims start moving away from areas, or choose not to move to areas, because they are perceived to be controlled by EDL types. Is this happening at the moment? If so, wouldn't human rights legislation oblige a government to take action?

That seems like waiting a bit late no? And where would they move to?

Owen said...

You're right, Bob, they do seem comfier at the Times than its stable-mate. I suppose it's some odd sort of confirmation of the notion that Murdoch allowed the Times to steer its own course.

I was always surprised at quite how much access they had to Radio 4. There seemed to be a cell at Womans Hour at one time, not to mention the (padded) one at Moral Maze. I've not been able to listen to anything like as much recently so I don't know how dominant they still are there.

I'm afraid, though, that however accurate they may be in specific instances I still feel uncomfortable hearing them quoted.

Sarah AB said...

Yes, you are right about the Moral Maze - it's still like that! But whereas Claire Fox is a default Spiked person, Kenan Malik ia muxh more independent - and even sounds left wing. They were both on the recent programme on the 50% tax rate - I did a little post about it for HP.

Owen said...

I agree, Sarah, when I've heard Malik he doesn't sound as dogmatically contrarian as most of them.

bob said...

I'd be interested to know how Malik stands in relation to the rest of the RCP network. He shares lots of their positions, but they never publish or promote him (as far as I can tell). Is he still in the network? (I think he's great, so I'm hoping he's an apostate!)

Flesh said...

"That seems like waiting a bit late no?"

I'm interested here in the question of how you judge policing (not about when you act to defend a group under threat from racism or fascism - of course it would be too late if they were forced out. I get the impression they aren't though.)

I'm still preoccupied with this question of under what circumstances you're (one is) justified in assessing the police as having failed - when you'd be justified in burning your bridges with them (and non-militants) by turning to violence and criminalising yourself.

Owen said...

At his website Malik still seems to be singing essentially from the core hymnbook:
"As I wrote in Bergens Tidende shortly after the massacre, Breivik, like jihadists, was 'driven not so much by political ideology as by a desperate and perverted search for identity, a search shaped by a sense of cultural paranoia, a cloying self-pity and a claustrophobic victimhood'. He was shaped by the same myths that produced both 9/11 and much of the response to it.

In the decade since 9/11 politicians and intellectuals have not only exaggerated the threat facing our societies but have also lacked the moral and political resources to respond to it. That is why the real challenge of 9/11 comes not from without but from within."

Not unreasonable as a speculative meditation on the moral dimension of a complex reality but nevertheless the core of what he's saying seems to be "the only true sin is victimhood" (which as we know is implicitly sustained by compassion and commitment to political change).