Thursday, March 31, 2011

Counterpunch: for the record

As regular readers know, I hate Counterpunch. Read my post about its editor, Alexander Cockburn, or the indictment made by Bill Weinberg of the radical anti-capitalist World War 4 Report, to find out why. I have the Wikipedia page on Counterpunch on my watchlist, but I don't edit there as much as I used to, and checked in today to find that the criticism section has been removed, and that a more moderate "reception" section, with positive and negative evaluations, is also missing. These sections are likely to be fought over fiercely, and come and go, so for the record I am posting extracts from the material linked to here, below the fold. I have also added some material from the liberal anti-fascist blogger Adam Holland. As a blog, Holland's site would not be a "reliable source" for Wikipedia to cite, but his posts are extremely well researched and thoroughly referenced. I have also added an extract from an article at reason.com by Michael Moynihan, which concisely summarises the case against Counterpunch's Israel Shamir.

This material is relevant to our recent debate about the racist Gilad Atzmon, who Counterpunch publish and support, to Bill Weinberg's recent expulsion from Pacifica station WBAI, and to the whole sorry WikiLeaks saga. More broadly and more importantly, it is relevant to the spread of irrational, magical, paranoid, conspirationist thought on the left, which is always reactionary. Antisemitism, as in the the case of the blood libel Counterpunch has promoted, is often a good indicator of this sort of right-wing thought and its growing influence on the left.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday miscellany

Update: Is Lewisham Islamic Centre a centre of hate?
Brockley Central linked to my post on the Lewisham mosque. An update came in from Lewisham council on the centre becoming a hate crime reporting site: "The Islamic Centre is not a third party reporting site. They gave initial commitment last March to the scheme, and were included in the original leaflets but have since been pulled from the list. They did not agree to sign up to the reporting protocol."

Wikio has the most accurate statistical tools at its hands: official
I just noticed that I am just outside the Top 60 Political Blogs in the Wikio rankings, higher rated than I have been for a while, mainly, I think, due to links generated by Toby's Green Party resignation letter, including big hitters like Luke Akehurst and Working Class Tory. My Wikio ranking gratifyingly places me above the likes of right-of-Attila-the-Hun Tory libertarian Douglas Carswell, New Labour's Luke Akehurst, LibDemVoice's Mark Pack, the Labour left group site Left Futures, and the enjoyable Chicken Yoghurt. Of course, linking to all of them will now up their stats, and therefore devalue mine, unless they respond by linking to me, which is rather unlikely.

Working Class Tory
Talking of him, I'm going to add him to the blogroll, for posts like these: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

The degeneration of the Egyptian revolution
In Egypt, the Mubarak regime has gone, but the new military junta has closed down much of the democratic spirit which burst forth in the revolution. Islamism is on the rise, as exemplified by the harassment of the secularist ElBaradei when he went to vote against the inadequate constitutional proposal in last week's referendum. The yes vote was endorsed by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak's National Democratic Party. The yes vote  was of course endorsed by the US State Department, hopeful it will mean a swift return to business as normal - the business of doing business that is. The gloomier scenario is electoral advance for the well-organised Muslim Brotherhood, and some kind of Pakistani style outcome seems to me the increasingly likely outcome in Egypt: military/Islamist co-operation with the light veneer of democracy and funding from the USA to bolster it. The military junta is also trying to outlaw trade union dissent, while the army has used virginity tests against women protestors. More from Amr Ezzat.

Libya
I recommend this essay by Roland Dodds on Evolving Norms in Intervention and State-building. Also read: James B on Libya and the peace movement; Bernard Kouchner on the morality of intervention; Dave Semple weighs in; Sean Matgamna refuses to denounce; Gilbert Achcar on anti-imperialism; Jim opposing intervention.

Nir Rosen at LSE
The London School of Economics, who gave us hits like the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, a PhD thesis written by Monitor Consultants, the concept of the Third Way, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Sameh Habeeb, and Abdel Bari Atwan, have hired Nir Rosen, whose scoffing at sexual violence we encountered here.

March 26
For family reasons, I was not able to go to Saturday's big TUC march against the cuts, and am still digesting the reportage. Among the things I've read, from a variety of perspectives, are by Flesh, MartinPaul, Nick Cohen, Nick again, Christopher Phelps, Ben Lear, Harpy. More links from Jim.

Also
Essential reading: Marko on Anti-Semitism, racism and Srebrenica genocide denial. Other things: Ross Wolfe's radical critique of the green movement; What's going on in Morrocco? David Cesarani on The Promise. And more links from Mod.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Guardian and Libya

I've nearly ploughed my way through yesterday's Guardian. Five observations:

1. The front page story on American forces shooting at pro-rebel villagers when rescuing downed airmen: I felt that the paper gave this undue weight, compared to all the other stories (although the web edition doesn't give it a very prominent place). I am not a soldier, and cannot pass judgement on the decisions made under conditions I can only imagine - but this seems like a grave blunder. More than that, it seems to me that there have been far too many times (in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and now in Libya) when US forces turn their guns on civilians on the side  they are meant to be protecting, and this must tell us something worrying about American military culture. And this is why it is hard for me to be unqualified in my support of the intervention. I'd like to think I'm wrong.

2. Simon Tisdalls's "world briefings": Is it just me, or are these flimsy pieces more or less devoid of facts? As far as I can tell, the Guardian simply employs him to give a veneer of facticity to empty liberal platitudes.

3. Soft Stalinists and objective pro-fascists: The sheer quantity of material the Guardian publishes by tankies-posing-as-peaceniks like Andrew Murray and Seamus Milne is unbelievable.

4. Jonathan Freedland's very balanced and thoughtful piece on liberal interventionism was excellent, and against the tone of most of the sub-editorialising.

5. The letters pages: reveal that Guardian readers might dissent from the anti-interventionist line on Libya to quite a degree, despite the prevalence of lite-Milneism.

Oh, and if anyone tells you to read David Gibbs' piece comparing Libya to Kosovo, tell them to read this and this and this.

Nothing to do with the Guardian, I composed a post in my head about Nicolas Sarkozy, entitled "Islamophobia at home, Arabophilia abroad", but I'm unlikely to type it, so I thought I'd just share the title.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unqualified support

Please read Terry Glavin's comment here on why we should not be hesitant and qualified in our support of intervention against Gaddafi. And please read his moving "Mohammed Nabbous, A Fallen Comrade: 1983-2011".

Monday, March 21, 2011

From South London to East London to the South Mediterranean

Justice4Smiley:
Transpontine remembers Smiley Culture. History is Made at Night: Smiley Culture. Alan A remembers. On Smiley's death. The death of a toasting translator. And just about everything at John Eden's blog: David Emmanuel aka Smiley Culture 1963-2011; Smiley Culture RIP: day two; Smiley Culture, New Musical Express 2nd Feb 1985Smiley Culture press conference; Smiley Culture RIP: Day 4;  Smiley Culture: Club Mix 1986

Homophobia vs Islamophbia in East London?
Reports by Whitechapel Anarchist Group, Time OutAlan A, Peter Tatchell, Sarah ABJohan HariLe Flaneur, and lots more from Safra Project. I think there's more to be said about this, such as the issue of gentrification in the East End, and queers (after squatters and along with artists) as the frontline of that, and the politics of resentment that stirs up in one of the poorest parts of Britain. Another is homophobia as a kind of index of assimilation of Sylheti origin male youth into London's masculine urban culture, with its blend of the best and worst of white working class and black expressive cultures. Another is the urgent need for a more sophisticated politics of alliance beyond the simplicities of queer or Muslim identity politics or the old shibboleths of anti-fascism. This is required reading for people thinking about this stuff.

Local things for local people
Deptford: Deptford Tributes and the Social Centre Plus. (Their website is here. See also Darryl and Crossfieldswhat.)
Crofton Park: This week's ward assembly.
Brockley: John Galliano on SE4, and ELL on John Galliano.
Lewisham: The latest on the libraries. (And is another library possible in New Cross?)

The Roma of Hungary
Sarah AB has a disturbing report on the rising tide of anti-Roma racism in the age of Jobbik.

Libya
Kentucky Fried Britain 1986. Kentucky Fried Hampstead 2011. Carl Packman v Richard Seymour.

Middle East: radicalism versus realism
Egypt and the failure of realism. How things in Egypt change but mostly stay depressingly the same .

And also
Shami Chakrabarty on antisemitism. The future of Nigeria belongs to the youthEdmund Standing on the Midsomer Murders affair. Lots more Bob-approved links from Martin.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Is Lewisham Islamic Centre a centre of hate?

This post is about Lewisham Islamic Centre, also known as Lewisham and Kent Mosque, on the main road between Lewisham Hospital and Catford. All the information is second hand; if anyone has any additions or corrections, please leave a comment.

Habibi at HP has a post claiming the Centre is a centre of extremist hate preaching, noting former imam Shakeel Begg, whose various unsavoury positions were the subject of an old post of mine (here).

The post focuses on an event at the centre, at which a pro-stoning and antisemitic speaker from Saudi Arabia, Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid, was to be live in satellite link. The promotional material for the event includes an attack on Usama Hasan, a Muslim cleric who has spoken out against extremist forms of Wahhabi Islam. Saleem Begg, who has also been an imam at Lewisham, has incited violence, even murder, against Usama Hasan.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The wisdom of Fred Halliday


Fred Halliday having been in my mind lately, with the prescient exception he took to his employers at the LSE dallying with Gaddafi, I found this never published post in my drafts folder, gathering dust since October 2006.

Yesterday evening, I went to see the great Fred Halliday talking at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, South London. What a treat to hear an academic talking in accessible, vivid language! I have to say the paper was not that well-ordered, but more an enjoyable romp through a number of important issues, so I’ll present here a few of the things he said. Square brackets indicate that I’m extrapolating a bit; otherwise it’s more or less paraphrased, with accurate direct quotes in quotation marks.

1. On the growing “spirit of resistance to Islamism” in Sudan.
There is a story of the Islamist governor of Khartoum stopping at one of the roadside stalls where older women sell the traditional local alcoholic beverage, as “tea”. “But this is un-Islamic!” he says. She ignores him and he asks her if she knows who he is. “I’m the governor of Khartoum!” “One more of these, dear,” she says, “and you’ll tell me you’re the president!”

2. On the Clash of Civilizations thesis.
Samuel Huntington is a clever chap and has written good books, but this isn’t one of them. The book is immensely popular not just in Washington but amongst Sunni militants like Bin Laden, Hindu nationalists, and Chinese post-Communists. His analysis is also directly mirrored by the [left-wing “Power of Nightmares”] position that, once the Cold War ended, America/the West needed a new enemy and found one in Islam.

These simplistic views are easily unsettled by a little scholarly probing. First, if European powers have had an “Other” against which they are defined, it is their European neighbours: Britain has defined itself against French and German “Others”, France against Britain and Germany, and Germany against Britain, France and Russia. These places have been more concerned with their empires than with Islam. Islamic Turkey has moved in and out of alliances with European countries over the centuries, much as America has since the Cold War moved in and out of alliances with Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan.

More importantly, why do we imagine countries need “Others” to be defined against? It is not culture or collective psychology but realpolitik – profit and statecraft – that have been the prime determinants of how states act in relation to other states. As Voltaire said on visiting the stock exchange in London in the 1720s, in the marketplace, Muslims, Christians and Jews get on and the only infidel is the bankrupt man.

Evidence against the clash of civilizations thesis and for the fact that “interests of state” trump religious solidarity would be Iran’s foreign policy: supporting Hindu India against Muslim Pakistan on Kashmir, supporting Russia against Chechnya, Peking against the Muslims of Xinjiang, and Christian Armenia against Shi’ite Azerbaijan.

Qualified support for the UN resolution

I think I'm with Andrew Coates:
The left has to begin from the premise of support for the Lybian people’s resistance to the Gaddafi tyranny. This is only a ‘civil war’ in the sense that all revolutions are civil strife. Given the opportunity the Lybian masses rallied to calls to overthrow the Gaddafi-state. Only its immediate use of violent repression halted their advance.
The Lybian uprising takes place within the context of pan-regional Arab democratic revolutions. It is directed against a bureaucratic capitalist tyranny, with close links to international capital, Western states and institutions. 
The UN-endorsed military interventions are neither part of a plan for military occupation, nor for the installation of an externally created political replacement for Gaddafi. In the first instance they correspond to the express wishes of the Lybian popular masses, as organised in their provisional governing bodies. 
The UN sanctioned actions are not part of any generalised right to ‘humanitarian intervention’ but correspond to the particular needs of the Lybian population, under imminent threat of repression by the Gaddafi state machine. The are aimed to protect civilian populations.

Those who seek retrospective justification for backing the invasion of Iraq – to overthrow Saddam Hussain - misjudge the present resolution. It has been made within the context of a genuine popular revolution, internally rooted. It is not a recipe for external regime change, nor for a world-wide policing operation to enforce liberal democracy. Iraq remains proof of the way in which geopolitics are not dominated by ethical universalism but by military, commercial and resource interests. The political and civil society structures it has left behind remain an open wound.


Those who oppose such help to the Lybian revolution have some justification. The UK, France, and the US are undoubtably as concerned to be in the ‘wave of history’, that is, on the side of the Arab movements for change, and their own strategic interests as they are bothered by humanitarian concerns. Equally their capacity to help effectively and impartially, without unnecessary violence, the Lybian people, remains untested.

However blanket opposition to such measures is morally bankrupt. The Stop the War Coalition’s call to demonstrate today against the help offered to the Lybian people in their desperate hour of need isrepellent.

We should not put all anti-interventionists in the same camp as the charlatan George Galloway and others who will no doubt brandish the threadbare accusation that this resolution is a mask for naked imperialism. The claim by Counterfire that the UN move is inspired by fear of a revolution already fighting-back are empty.

But arguments, such as those employed by Tony Benn, that this is a ‘civil war’ – giving each ‘side’ a weight, are we have seen, false. Further claims about the West’s hypocrisy are distinctly distasteful. That, for example, the West does not intervene in Bahrain. This comparison is used by those who would immediately oppose Western miliary action in such countries.

The decisive point is that UN excludes a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory. Intervention can naturally excalate, and we should be wary of this – as the Weekly Worker has pointed out. But, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the Parti de Gauche says, there is no mandate for physically landing French or any other foreign troops in the country (Here).

Reports are that the people of Benghazi welcome the decision.

In the absence of any other means of international support, and in view of the dramatic threat posed to Lybian lives by Gaddafi’s’ forces, we would therefore give qualified support for UN resolution 1973.
Peter says its more succintly. News and updates at Modernity's place.

Update: Support with no illusions from Dave Osler. Lots of relevant items from Norm.

Update 2: A more nuanced case against intervention and for solidarity, but I find it a little unconvincing.

Update 3:  Harry Barnes on why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003; Little Richardjohn: on David Cameron agreeing with him and on the end of nuclear credibility.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bits, bobs, beats

Wordle: Bob From Brockley's blog Marc 2011

Save the Libyan revolution

Save the revolution: Michael Totten: What if Gaddafi wins? Robert Zubrin: What Sarkozy [and Cameron] can do. Qulliam have a seven point plan. None Shall Pass: Is Libya our Spain? Shuggy:
Much of the aforementioned commentary from the laptop anti-imperialists seems to have been based on the assumptions that Western intervention in the affairs of Libya would either be the incarnation of oil-interests or the relatively more charitable interpretation that it would be merely a very stupid knee-jerk response to the impulse that 'something must be done'.

The possibility that it is inaction that might be motivated by oil-interests or 'geo-political' concerns doesn't seem to have occurred to them.
On the migration issue: Franck Duvell. On liberals and Libya: HuffWatch asks what made HuffPo change its mind. On the anti-imp left and Gaddafi: Dale Street - George Galloway and the sausage-muncher.

Israel/Palestine 

I still haven't finished writing that post. Flesh's new post very eloquently says lots of the things I feel confusedly. Meanwhile, I've continued my seeking out of sane voices and informed news sources. These include: Dimi Reider, Meretz USA, Diaa HadidHussein Ibish. I have also added a box down on the bottom right aggregating rss feeds of some alternative news sources from Israel/Palestine. Despite the horror and evil of the Itamar massacre, and the stupidness of responding by expanding the settlements, I have read a number of articles giving cause for cautious optimism, such as by East Timor's Jose Ramos Horta on a visit to Israel/Palestine, by Josef Olmert on the West Bank, and by Diaa Hadid on the would-be Facebook revolutions in Palestine.

Also

Nick Cohen on Ed Miliband's Finklerism. Dale Street on the Scottish left's unprincipled realignment behind Galloway. Chris Mark: Free the fascist, grab the Jew. James Gray on free schools - free to teach creationism. Ruth Franklin on the de-Judaising of Anne Frank.

Bob's beats

This week's listening at Bob's house: Das Racist - a tune, "Mira Mira", below and some lyrical deconstruction here. Hebonics 101: "Jewish street culture connected through the veins of Hip Hop" - download here or sample below. Balkan Beat Box - listen to "War Again" at Melophobe.

This week's album desires: Jamie XX's remix of Gil Scott Heron - listen to "New York is killing me" at Metrojolt, plus lots on YouTube, including "I'm New Here" below. Neil Diamond The Bang Years. What an amazing two years of output, including "Solitary Man", "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" and "I'm A Believer". Read reviews at Pop Matters and End Hits.

Das Racist - Mira Mira by dasracist

Hebonics 101 by Sneakas



Selected hat tips: Dave Osler, Jogo, Jim Denham, Anamik, Kellie.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snips

Libya: what is to be done?

To be honest, I have no idea what I think should be done. I find the liberal resistance to any action of any sort that dominates The Guardian rather distasteful, but don't know what sort of action I would advocate in response. Simon Jenkins on Wednesday was one example of irritatingness:
Libya strategists are said to be torturing themselves over timing. Barack Obama says he "needs" Gaddafi to go, and David Cameron's position is much the same. Why this need is so pressing when, just months ago, Gaddafi was a dear ally and patron of western scholarship is a mystery. But in Cameron's statement on no-fly zones last week, Britain appeared to assert its right in international law to remove Gaddafi, as it did the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
Our rulers were obviously wrong, cynical and corrupt to think or claim to think that Gaddafi was a good thing a few months ago. But it should also be obvious what has changed and why the issue is now pressing: his slaughter of at least hundreds and probably thousands of "his" citizens.
In this ambition he was supported by the leftwing international lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, who claimed to have found a right for "states to render assistance to innocent civilians battling for their lives" wherever that might be. This right apparently "emerges or crystallises" not from any democratic decision but from "state practice, conventions, writings of jurists and dictates of collective conscience"... It is the Bush-Cheney theory of zero national sovereignty, and could be used to justify every aggressive war by Washington or Moscow over the last 50 years.
I have written before that national sovereignty is one of the most reactionary ideas there is. "What is a nation? How can a nation have a “self”? How is that “self” supposed to determine itself? Why should that self-determination take the shape of a state? Why should we respect the systems of rule that history has randomly bestowed on other nations? Why should we go to war, for example, out of respect for some Kuwaiti hereditary monarch’s right to use his kingdom as a personal bank account? Equally, why should we “stop” a war out of respect for some national socialist or clerical-fascist’s right to use his country as a personal fiefdom?" In other words, the "Bush-Cheney theory of zero national sovereignty" is correct. Why should we respect Gaddafi's right to rule "his" country?

Carl Packman has a very good series of posts arguing that a no fly zone is the way forward, starting with this endorsement from Karl Marx, continuing here, here, here. Michael Walzer and Norman Geras have been chewing it over too: here's Walzer, Geras, Walzer. See also Nick Cohen, Shiraz Socialist and Marko Hoare.

Our Israel obsession and theirs

I still haven't finished my post on that. In the meantime, read Flesh's excellent one. Like her, I am increasingly depressed at the situation in Israel, the right-wing drift among its politicians and among its defenders abroad, the continued hatred on both sides, the continued murderous violence from Islamic Jihad, the Netanyahu government's absolute lack of commitment to peace.

For sane voices, I recommend Khaled Abu Toameh and Lisa Goldman.

Letter from a Muslim

PJ Media is probably not most of my readers' cup of tea, but there is a lot in it of interest. These three letters "from a concerned Muslim", by Salim Mansur, are fascinating for example. From the other end of the political spectrum in some ways, but not in others, here's Yassamine Mather on "Islamic feminism" in the Weekly Worker.

South London

I notice George Orwell has been around my way again lately. Here he is, on the 3 March 1941:
Last night with G. [1] to see the shelter in the crypt under Greenwich church.  The usual wooden and sacking bunks, dirty (no doubt also lousy when it gets warmer), ill-lighted and smelly, but not on this particular night very crowded.  The crypt is simply a system of narrow passages running between vaults on which are the names of the families buried in them, the most recent being about 1800. . . .  G. and the others insisted that I had not seen it at its worst, because on nights when it is crowded (about 250 people) the stench is said to be almost insupportable.  I stuck to it, however, though none of the others would agree with me, that it is far worse for children to be playing among vaults full of corpses than that they should have to put up with a certain amount of living human smell.
[1] Gwen O’Shaughnessy, Eileen’s sister-in-law. Peter Davison

Bob's beats

I haven't done a music post in ages. Here are a couple of snippets. Mudd Up has some great sounds from the Sahel: rebel desert music from Northwestern Mali. Music, History plays some classic klezmer from the vaults, and some music composed by Charlie Chaplin.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Vermischtes

Antisemitism watch
Modernity takes up the thread on antisemitism in the Green Party. Jonathan Freedland: Antisemitism: the hatred that refuses to go away. David Baddiel: How antisemitism entered the zeitgeist. The last sentence of the latter is especially relevant.

Geopolitics
Libya and the refugee crisis by Heine de Haas (who has the same blog template as me, so don't get confused and forget to come back afterwards). Michael Totten interviews Rick Francona on the Arab revolutions and the geopolitics of the Middle East.

High theory in low places
Andrew Coates with a radical critique of Slavoj Zizek, and History is Made at Night on Foucault in Tunisia.

LSE's shame, but also Blair's and Sarkozy's, Castro's and Chavez's, and lots more besides
More from Peter Ryley. Mod on Fred Halliday. The Mead list of Gaddafi toads, including Berlusconi, Chavez, Farrakhan and Castro and, most enjoyably, "delusional American college professors" (h/t Mod).

Louis Proyect has two posts on the stupid pro-Gaddafi line of some of the "anti-imperialist" left. This one is on Diana Johnstone, and this one is on Jean Bricmont. I radically disagree with his support for Milosovic, but agree with most of his condemnations of Johnstone and Bricmont. We've encountered Johnstone before, as a genocide denialist (see Andrew Murphy here). Bricmont was co-author with Alan Sokal of the wonderful Fashionable Nonsense, but has since become more notorious for his own fashionable nonsense about, for example, the need for the de-Zionification of the American mind, often published by the "vile" CounterPunch.

Two more de facto defenders of Gaddafi are right-wing Cold Warriors turned darlings of the "anti-imperialist" left Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, given space at HuffPo to make their silly non-arguments about Iran and Libya and meddling. We've met the Leveretts before: see here, here and here.

Proyect's comrade Richard Estes (again not someone I endorse in general) also has two good posts on Chavez and the Arab revolution: 1, 2.

The uprising spreads to Hamastan
Yet another fantastic post by Terry Glavin. And as an aside, here's a story from Gaza on the clampdown on male salon workers.

The uprising stalled in Egypt
Andrew Coates has a good, if depressing post on International Women's Day in Cairo.

International Women's Day elsewhere
In Iran 1979 (more in the video via Entdinglichung below). In Iran 2011. In Afghanistan. In Palestine. And across the Middle East.

Carnival of socialism
It's taken me a while to get through Louise's recent instalment. Here are some extracts:
there are some on the Left (if you can call them that…) who believe Gaddafi is some kind of left anti-imperialist…well he ain't! And here’s a map of Libya’s oil infrastructure…. This eyewitness account from Tripoli is very poignant.

But also….what about what is happening in Egypt since Mubarak resigned? Zeinobia introduces us to the military junta of Egypt while Lansbury’s Lido makes a very good point. On the positive side….The fight by workers for independent trade unions. Solidarity!! [...]

While the struggle intensifies globally over here it’s crunch time with councils and their budgets. There has been many discussions about strategy… 10 reasons, can councils resist the cuts, what should councillors do, why we should resist not implement Tory cuts, though at the end of the day people should be working together.
Here's a couple of related things on Left Foot Forward: James Lee on ESOL cuts underming Cameron's integration message and Darren Johnson on how Boris should tackle high pay.

Anti-fascism in the 21st century
Phil on Searchlight, extremism and the squeezed middle.

Sound and moving image


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Whose Turn is it to Clean the Loo? - International Women's Day

This is a guest post by Jessica Goldfinch of Norwich Green Party, originally posted here.

How I wish that this 'day' didn't have to exist; sadly it does and it needs to exist.

Women still earn in the regions of 17% less (full time work) and 36% (part time work) than their male counterparts for the same job descriptions. My union, Unison, regularly sends out reminders to get your pay level checked.

Looking at our televisions, women are depicted as superfluous and fickle. Like male characters, this might be alright for mutual comic or near true-to-life depiction purposes, but when it seeps into every pore, I get angry. Women are only good for dodging chocolate muffins in the street, getting confused over which damn yoghurt to eat, musing over pebble shaped air fresheners and also the most important job of all - holding "compare-your-shopping-receipts-parties" - I must do that next week!

I get angry at having to buffer my daughter at every turn: at the corner shop, supermarkets, petrol stations, newspaper stands - so-called Lads mags, Sunday Sport, pornography and fickle displays of women are everywhere. What are boys and girls supposed to make of this?

The first time my daughter exclaimed in a petrol station queue, she was 5 years old: "What are big jugs mummy?" The queue members looked at me as if I was some permissive lax parent. I found the courage to point out that it was the shop that was wrong and that my child and I should have a right to buy a pint of milk without having to have the producers of milk thrust in our faces. I now challenge and have managed to get numerous shops to consider their responsibilites and change to dust covers and appropriate displays.

Women's bodies are for consumption everyday and in every conceivable way. Increasingly, this is now becoming a problem for boys and men, but not anywhere near to the same extent. If we saw men depicted in the way women are in local shops etc., there would be uproar.

Pornography: porneia - the lowest class of whore in ancient Greece; graphico/graphia - graphic depiction.

So, we have it: The Graphic Depiction of the lowest class of Whores, every day in every way. Think about what that means for a moment; it's truly horrible.

I am not so naive as to think that the porn industry or the depictions of women as fickle will disappear, but I do believe that each and everyone of us should consider our part in these depictions. Our daughters, our mothers, our girls, our women and increasingly boys - we should have their backs at every turn and demand a 'public' space in which we can all feel safe.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Blogging backlog

I’ve been too busy with my day job and the parallel threads on the Green Party here and here to do proper blogging this week, so here is my backlog of links, relatively un-digested.

Schadenfreude

I can't remember the last time I heard some UK news that gave me pleasure, so it was nice to wake up this morning to the news that the Lib Dems were pushed back to sixth place in the Barnsley by-election with 4% of the vote. I think the Lib Dems will be of interest only to historians after the next general election. Not so nice to see UKIP get over 12% of the vote and come second in a parliamentary election. Not so nice either to see the BNP outperform the Lib Dems and get 6% of the vote, although they have passed their high tide mark in Barnsley, with a 3% drop in their share.


Our absurd obsession with Israel

I very much enjoyed Nick Cohen’s article in the Observer on Sunday about the Middle Eastern revolts and what they reveal about the Western left. He makes (much more succinctly and lucidly than me) similar observations to ones I made here, including the noting of the contrast between Held and Halliday at LSE. I have started writing a post about the issue of the Israel obsession of the anti-anti-Zionist left.

Talking of our absurd obsession, any Channel 4 viewers have an opinion on The Promise they'd like to share? Apart from David Miller at Engage, everything I've read so far has been hysterical denunciation by kneejerk Israel defenders or anti-Zionists saying it was actually too pro-Zionist. The Hebron scenes rang true for me, but the Gaza scenes seemed totally preposterous, as did Len's presence at Deir Yassin.

Dallying with dictators

Jonathan Freedland has an excellent article on the West’s bipolar disorder when it comes to Arab tyrants. Inter alia, he mentions the appalling apologetics of the London School of Economics establishment, including Baron Anthony Giddens’ 2007 belief that Libya would become the Norway of the region without regime change (see also Andrew Coates) and Howard Davies’ bizarre equation between Gaddafi and George Soros. It turns out that Saif Gaddafi’s LSE PhD (lauded by Lord Desai and acknowledging David Held) is at least partly based on plagiarism. I think LSE founder Beatrice Webb, who whitewashed Stalin’s dictatorship, would be proud. [UPDATE: I wrote that last night and was glad to see hear this morning that Davies has resigned, my second schadenfreude moment. Also read Stephen Pollard on British universities and blood money. Update 2: Just read Jim's post on same topic, which links to more from Nick Cohen. See also Marko on why hostile democracies are better than friendly dictatorships.]

Here's another bizarre Libya story:  the BNP activist who recruited celebs to a Gaddafi support group on Facebook.

Resisting dictators

Raven on Dr Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist. And TerryGlavin on resistance in Gaza.

Greens

To add: a “Greens” section to the blogroll, to include: Jim Jepps’ Daily (Maybe), Sue Luxton and Ute Michel’s Green Ladywell (read more about Sue here), Barkingside 21, Richard Lawson’s Mabinogogiblog, Peter Cranie, Dean Walton's Green Blog, Adrian Windisch’s Green Reading, Weggis, Greens Engage, Isca Stieglitz, Jessica Goldfinch for House of Lords, Matt Sellwood of Hackney’s Anglo-Buddhist Combine, Gordon’s Green Feed, and Greenwich Darryl’s 853. Most of these are already on my blogroll or among my regular reads, but I thought I’d put them in one place.

Closer to home

I spent part of my weekend before last at the Carnival Against Cuts in Lewisham. My son made the front page of the News Shopper, his first brush with fame. Babs from Brockley says it'll be my fault if the boy ends up in court for throwing fire extinguishers. Here’s reportage from Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance, and from Transpontine and Sue Luxton. Dave Hill reports on some of London’s other front lines. Also read his Labour Councils, 'Tory cuts' and the Left, and Darryl on Greenwich’s cuts.

Big society, broken society, muscular liberalism

I very much enjoyed Sam Leith’s “You can’t force Britishness on everyone, Dave”, as channelled by Flesh is Grass, responding to Cameron replaying the death of multiculturalism. I also enjoyed James Bloodworth’s reporting on Cameron’s sometimes friends the Alinsky-ite Citizens UK.

Anti-fascism and the right to revolution

J Christian Adams in PJ Media has a powerful piece marking the anniversary of the executions of Sophie Scholl and the other White Rose resistors to Nazism. It is, in a sense, a conservative, Christian defence of militant anti-fascism and of revolution. More on this in a future post, hopefully.

Showbiz news

I think Winston Pickett has got it about right on Charlie Sheen and John Galliano.