First miscellaneous round-up post of 2012

Post of the week

Fighters for freedom
Yoani Sanchez and her on-going struggle for freedom from Castro’s authoritarian regime (h/t Jogo).

The Arab spring’s Islamist winter
2011 was an extraordinary year. (Check out this funky interactive timeline at Wired: "Hyper-Networked Protests, Revolts, and Riots".) But what comes next? Hussein Ibish is cautiously optimistic about the role of Islamism in the post-Spring moment, focusing on Egypt. A more pessimistic reading can be taken from this report from libertarian socialists in Egypt, who describe Muslim Brotherhood collusion with, and even incitement of, SCAF repression of leftists. A very subtle analysis – in a long post, which I recommend you print and read fully – comes from Andrew Coates, less optimistic than Ibish, but more pessimistic than many. Meanwhile, on Syria, Carl at TCF cautiously acknowledges the benefits of military intervention to save the democratic uprising there, in a post which draws somewhat on a report by Michael Weiss.

Gilad Atzmon
Everybody Hates a Tourist relates on Atzmon and his relationship with the Nazi Alexander Baron. Also, this is from a while back, but I’m not sure if I posted it and I noticed while getting the link for the Islamism post linked to above, Hussein Ibish had this piece in October: Gilad Atzmon and John Mearsheimer: self-criticism, self-hate and hate.

Ron Paul
But I Am a Liberal remains the go-to site for dissecting Ron Paul. See, e.g. “What is it that Ron Paul fans fail to grasp?”, contra Andrew Sullivan. See also these fine posts by AJA on Ron Paul and cranky libertarianism and then the reactionary libertarian. On other candidates, Roland also writes on Rick Santorum as the trojan working class candidate, and on the Gringrich campaign's faux-populist demolition of capitalist Mitt Romney.

Press TV
I missed the  BBC Radio 4 report about Iranian “soft power” in the UK, apparently focusing on the Iranian regime-controlled English-language broadcaster Press TV. Gene at HP gives a flavour, focusing on Tory grandee Norman Lamont’s whitewashing of the regime. (Talking of this, I’m not sure if I already linked to Rosie’s fisking of George Galloway’s anti-obit of Christopher Hitchens. This is the relevant bit: GG: Hitchens was “the Englishman in New York who discovered there were large bundles of right-wing dollars available for apostates like him. If they were prepared to betray their friends, their principles and sell the soul he didn't believe he had in the first place.” Rosie: “And I'm sure your work for Iran's Press TV is done for a small pittance, barely enough to keep you in cigars.”)

Christopher Hitchens
While we’re on the subject, here is Salman Rushdie on Hitchens – getting it both right and wrong, as Mick H and Norman G note. Oh, and I’m not sure if I already linked to this 2009 Platypus article on Hitchens by Spencer Leonard, which I reached via this argument between Ross Wolfe, Corey Robin and Doug Henwood, in which Wolfe comes across as verbose but basically right, and Robin and Henwood (someone I generally respect a lot) come off quite badly.

Two posts by Rokhl – whose blog has returned to life after a too long leave of absence – on Yiddish today 1 and 2.

South Africa/North Korea
A while ago, I posted about my youthful inoculation against the ANC, which was partly down to Paul Trewhela, who has recently written a hard-hitting piece “Kim Jong-il, blood purity, and the ANCYL”, which I read via PIIE, which I got to via Mick, whose post you should also read.

Stephen Lawrence
Another plug for some of the better best pieces I’ve read on the Stephen Lawrence verdict, by people who knew Eltham a little better than many other commentators: Owen Jones, Darryl Chamberlain, Sunder Katwala, and for my own first and second thoughts. Sunder returned here, and kindly linked to my pieces, summarising some of the issues clearly. And Darryl returns with a really interesting post here.

Militant anti-fascism

More miscellany from Entdinglichung.


Waterloo Sunset said…
I'm in agreement with what Phil D says, as you'd expect. What I do think is somewhat lacking from his piece is any analysis of where militant anti-fascism is and where we want to be. I do think we're currently weak, possibly the weakest we've been in the post-war period.

And one of the major priorities at the moment has to be consolidating, then moving forward.
Waterloo Sunset said…
Just for the record, while I see Baron as a fascist, the descriptor of him as a "Nazi" is Bob's not mine; I disagree that he's part of the Nazi strand on the far right.
Roland Dodds said…
An interesting set of reads. Set me back a few hours tonight.
modernity's ghost said…
Agreed, fine set of postings, Phil D makes some good points.

If we are going to be picky (and I am the last to be a pedant), shouldn't you be using the terms, neo-Nazi and neo-fascist, etc as most of the original members of the NSDWP and PNF have died off?
bob said…
Thanks all for comments.

Probably I should not have said "Nazi". However, I am unsure about the "neo" thing. I sort of see it with Nazi, in that the Nazi party was a specific party at a specific historical moment, but only sort of: are the American Nazi Party not Nazi? Or Covington's National Socialist White People's Party? I don't use the term "neo-Communist" when talking about Communist parties other than the original Russian one.

I don't see it at all with "fascist", which surely names a generic ideology and not a particular party?
Waterloo Sunset said…
While it's not a view I share, there is an argument that "fascism" refers specifically to the Italian political ideology and shouldn't be used outside of that context. That narrows it down to much for me- to argue that Nazism is actually "neo-fascism", simply because it took influences from the ideology of the NFP, strikes me as a step to far.

That said, I have more time for it as a position then the indiscriminate use of "Nazi" for anybody on the far right. It's mainly an academic argument, whereas I see the latter as damaging tactically.

I'm broadly with you (Bob), I think. I think "fascism", at the risk of massively oversimplifying, is a reasonable descriptor for the radical far right. And I would use "Nazi" sometimes, but only to specifically describe those fascist groups significantly influenced by National Socialist ideology and tactics. Combat 18 would qualify. The BNP wouldn't despite having some Nazis in its ranks(Derek Beacon for example).

And the Troy Southgate/Alexander Baron axis of the far right definitely aren't Nazis. In fact, I take their hostility to Nazi ideology as genuine. (Although specifically they're referring to the Hitler wing of the NSDAP- they're influenced by the Strassers). Their third positionist Evolaian ideology makes them more dangerous than Nazis in the current situation, arguably even up there with the euronationalist wing of the far right. And, unlike the latter, there's a real lack of serious research and analysis of it.
modernity's ghost said…

As I said, I didn't want to be pedantic but I approach this issue from three strands, communication, linguistics and political language.

If we are to have good communication with others then logically we have to share similar meanings to particular objects, ideas and terminology.

Otherwise we risk misunderstandings and miscommunication.

Linguistically, I think certain ideas have certain commonly agreed labels and it's often quicker if we stick to them.

Politics and political exchange only has one currency, language. There is already considerable linguistical inflation permeating from parts of the political spectrum, which ultimately devalues language and politics in turn.

Therefore, if we are conducting a semi-serious political discussion or debate then it's probably best to stick to commonly accepted expressions, lest the language detracts from the ideas and you end up with a debate over what terminology should be used, as we’re doing.

Further, we need to remember the problem of some of these terms. They are often thrown around with little connection to their original meanings. Anyone remembering the 60s will remember how policeman were often referred to as "fascist pigs", or when the word "fascism" was used to refer to anything that was **nasty**, completely unrelated to its original forms.

So I think if we value communication and want to avoid sloppy language then it's probably best to differentiate between Fascists and Nazis of the 1920-40s and their subsequent manifestations.

But I don't want to be pedantic :)
bob said…
I completely agree with your general point Mod, and I also accept I was completely wrong to describe Baron as a Nazi. What I need convincing of, I think, is that there is no such thing as generic fascism beyond the original Italian party. To me "neo" implies some kind of mutation, rather than simple continuation.
modernity's ghost said…

I wouldn't say completely wrong, we often write quickly and don't express ourselves as we'd like to, my blog is littered with posts I would prefer to forget or tortured prose, we have all done it. Don't be hard on yourself.

I think regular readers know where you are coming from, so it is not an issue, I meant to ask, have you heard anything serious back from the Strawberry Thieves or John Hamilton?

Or is it they'd prefer to forget about *their* mistakes?
bob said…
Thanks Mod. No, not surprisingly no follow up from Hamilton & the Thieves, although I have to confess I am way, way behind on my e-mails.
Ross Wolfe said…
Thanks for the mention, Bob.

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