Ignant and shit
Stick it up your junta
I was pretty young during the Falklands war, but it was my first uncomfortable experience of being out of step with prevailing opinions. My school friends were swept up in the tub-thumping, bloodthirsty jingoism of the time. It was the golden age of working class Toryism, boys will be boys, and Kelvin MacKenzie's Argie-bashing set the tone of the debate among my peers, whereas I had a pacifist gut reaction to the horrors of war. Over time, meeting relatives of left-wing activists disappeared by the junta, re-evaluating my conception of "anti-imperialism", and reading Hitchens, I have come to suspect that my friends were more right than I realised and my righteous might have been misplaced. Anyway, this letter to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner by James Hallwood makes the point well.
Let's bomb Texas
Closely allied to the type of "anti-imperialism" that, at its most benign, puts Argentine territorial claims over the self-determination of the Falklands islanders, even in a period of semi-fascist dictatorship in Argentina, simply because the Argentines are not us, is pathology of anti-Americanism. Rob Marchant and Peter Ryley both wrote sharp accounts of how anti-Americanism has deformed the UK left's moral compass, in looking at the responses of Stop the War and George Monbiot respectively to the Sandy Hook massacre.
Ignorant white folks
Peter's post lists some of the atrocities against Pakistanis committed by the Pakistani Taliban, which Monbiot seems to have less time for than atrocities against Pakistanis committed by Americans. The white western left, of which Monbiot is exemplary in this regard, too often refuses to judge crimes against humanity (in particular crimes inflicted on the bodies of women) when those crimes are committed by non-Westerners, a kind of racism and ethnocentrism disguised as radicalism. We saw this more recently in some of the responses to the Delhi rape case, which tried to point the finger away from the brutality of everyday sexism in India and towards the West. Sunny Hundal labelled this sort of commentary "ignorant and factually misleading" in a post passing on some of the rather more illuminating commentary from Indian women, and also attacked the condescension of Western writers who try and airbrush the cultural specificity of Indian misogyny, a move he calls patronising and borderline racist. This is not to say that there is not also endemic and often violent sexism in the West, of course, but simply that we cannot ignore the cultural dimension. (Although we also need to be careful about imagining "Indian culture" as some homogeneous whole, any more than "Western culture" is.)
TNC sent me, with very critical comments, a piece by Eva Illouz in Haaretz (£) on the "left" and the "right" in Israeli politics. TNC mentions, for example, that the text is riddled with historical inaccuracies and displays a misunderstanding of basic political concepts like liberalism. Norm also picks up on the article's poorly thought out response to "the issue of war and peace". Reading it, I had exactly the same sensation as I do when I read cultural conservative rants about "the Frankfurt School" and "cultural Marxism", which dress up partisan polemics and basic ignorance of other political traditions with sheen of semantic sophistication. For example, the notion that Marx gave birth to working class agitation and socialist movements (when he obviously learnt about socialism from working class movements that existed before he started his thinking), that Marx was somehow the parent of the ILO (part of the UN bureaucratic machinery) or that the right to work is a Marxist principle. The central argument of the piece is that "the left" should be prouder of the principles - human rights, labour rights, pacifism, secularism - that its has given modernity. But all of these principles have had a healthy life beyond the left (except perhaps labour rights) on one hand, and have been violated by significant political formations on the left (most obviously the Soviet regime) on the other.
Ignant and shit
The video at the top is Screamin Jay Hawkins, with a song from his brilliant record Black Music for White People, which seems appropriate for all the forms of stupidity that have been irritating me lately.