Post of the week: Johnny Guitar: Defending the indefensible with the absurd.
Kellie rounds up some of the commentary on the passing of Vaclav Havel. And here’s a superb Hitchens post I would’ve included in the last one if I had read it sooner. Oh, and another from Rosie.
Congratulations to our friend Carl Packman on his very interesting looking book plans.
Antisemitism: Via Engage, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s “top ten anti-Israel/anti-Semitic slurs” [pdf]. I find some items on the list a little problematic. The no.1 “slur” is Mahmoud Abbas talking about Palestine as a Holy Land without mentioning Jews – a sleight, perhaps, but hardly a major league slur. Similarly, this at no.10 from (Obama’s mentor) Reverend Jeremiah Wright: “The state of Israel is an illegal, genocidal place… to equate Judaism with the state of Israel is to equate Christianity with [rapper] Flavor Flav.” That’s excessive rhetoric, but it’s not antisemitic. It seems to me that the inclusion of these two examples at the bookends is pure politics and also dangerous self-defeating politics. On a related topic: Bill Weinberg on the apparently paradoxical normalization of anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism. A very interesting review by Daniel Johnson in the Weekly Standard of Gertrude Himmelfarb’s new history of British philosemitism, which looks to make an interesting companion to Anthony Julius’ book.
I visited Occupy LSX at the weekend. They had done a poll amongst occupiers about what their politics were. “Anti-capitalist” came to something like 20%, with the largest number being “anti-central bank”, and “anti-corruption” second. Which I think gives weight my earlier diagnosis of Occupy as populist rather than anti-capitalist. There was also quite a strong presence of the bizarre Twelve Tribes Christian cult (also known as the Stentwood Farm/Stoneybrook Farm/Morning Star Ranch/Yellow Deli. While I was there, I picked up the latest Occupied Times which had some worthwhile content, in particular a welcome attack on fake-leftist conspiracy theory re-printed from New Internationalist and an interesting text on the global anti-capitalist elite. From America, I haven’t yet read this on the Platypus view of the Occupy movement but will. Related reading, I liked Russell Arben Fox on why “the protestor” was the person of the year in 2011 (via New Appeal to Reason). And here’s Hakim Bey’s pronouncements on Occupy Wall Street.
Which leads nicely to this: a fantastic dismissal of anarchism from the late Murray Bookchin via the excellent Radical Archives blog, extracted from “The Communalist Project”. Here’s an even smaller extract:
anarchism – which, I believe, represents in its authentic form a highly individualistic outlook that fosters a radically unfettered lifestyle, often as a substitute for mass action – is far better suited to articulate a Proudhonian single-family peasant and craft world than a modern urban and industrial environment... the history of this “ideology” is peppered with idiosyncratic acts of defiance that verge on the eccentric, which not surprisingly have attracted many young people and aesthetes. In fact anarchism represents the most extreme formulation of liberalism’s ideology of unfettered autonomy, culminating in a celebration of heroic acts of defiance of the state.”
I have a long post half-drafted about the EDL and the British Freedom Party, but it’s not getting finished, so I’ll post a link to this useful article on the EDL at the IRR site.
History is made at Night on two massacres.
An interesting blog: that of rabbi Howard Cooper.
Finally, I’ve been meaning to link to this, for ages, from A Jay Adler: Myanmar, Not Forgotten in the Darkness.