Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 at Bob From Brockley: the most popular posts

Here are the posts you've been reading in 2014.

1. Gaza/Warsaw Ghetto
This is one of my most-read posts ever, thanks mainly, I think, to a link from an excellent HuffPo open letter to pro-Palestine protesters by Dave Rich, on antisemitism in the protests about Gaza. In that letter, Dave gave some pieces of advice on how to protest Israel without being racist. He said:
While you are at the demonstration, do not compare Israel to Nazi Germany. Gaza is not the Warsaw Ghetto. If you can't tell the difference, this post explains it. It's a totally false comparison that plays on Jewish sensibilities in order to provoke a reaction. Another word for that is Jew-baiting. Don't do it.
If you liked that post, you'll like this one.

2. The Killing of Bob Crow by the Coward Boris Johnson
This mock murder ballad by Rob Palk became unexpectedly topical when Bob Crow actually sadly died.

If you liked that post, you'll like this one.

3. Our Politics and Theirs
I'm pleased this placed so highly. It starts with a post by David Hirsh on Engage, "Opposing the campaign to exclude Israelis from the global academic community", but uses that to spell out some of the features of a rebooted radical politics. Riffing on some of David's points, I argued that we need to recover the tradition of the great cosmopolitan Third Camp left such as Orwell and Hal Draper, but re-purpose it in an age of retreat, of defeat, of resistance, of waiting. Marxists and ex-Marxists would recognise that the title is taken from a brilliant but highly problematic 1938 essay by Trotsky, "Our Morals and Theirs", dedicated to his son Leon Sedoff, who had recently been murdered by Stalin's agents. Here are some lines from that essay:
DURING AN EPOCH OF triumphant reaction, Messrs. democrats, social-democrats, anarchists, and other representatives of the “left” camp begin to exude double their usual amount of moral effluvia, similar to persons who perspire doubly in fear. Paraphrasing the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount, these moralists address themselves not so much to triumphant reaction as to those revolutionists suffering under its persecution, who with their “excesses” and “amoral” principles “provoke” reaction and give it moral justification. Moreover they prescribe a simple but certain means of avoiding reaction: it is necessary only to strive and morally to regenerate oneself. Free samples of moral perfection for those desirous are furnished by all the interested editorial offices. 
The class basis of this false and pompous sermon is the intellectual petty bourgeoisie. The political basis – their impotence and confusion in the face of approaching reaction. Psychological basis – their effort at overcoming the feeling of their own inferiority through masquerading in the beard of a prophet.
If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

4.  Alison Weir: If Americans Knew
This was a guest post by my comrade Spencer Sunshine, taken from a recently published Political Research Associates report Constructing Campus Conflict. It is an anatomy of a right-wing antisemite, Alison Weir (not to be confused with the popular historian of that name) much circulated by allegedly "left-wing" self-defined "anti-Zionists".

If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

5. People Before Profit and the Jewish Lobby
This post was provoked by my friend Chimpman, who noticed that a colourful Lewisham political activist had (during the Gaza war) developed an obsession with Jewish power. Again, the activist in question is supposedly left-wing, although he has stood for election for the Conservative Party and is quite chummy with UKIP. His antisemitism, unlike Alison Weir's, is of the casual everyday kind, rather than ideological. More disturbing to me was the denial of any shades of racism from his party, People Before Profit, who also have some track record of dabbling in "anti-Zionist" antisemitism.

If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

6. Brandeis University and Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Moving from Israel to the other hot button I-word, Islam, this is a guest post from my friend Sarah AB, thoughtfully and carefully thinking through what issues around acceptable and unacceptable speech on campus.

If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

7. The House of Assad and the House of Rumour
This is a post of which I'm quite proud, about esoteric politics: the contemporary obsession with hidden "Truth", an obsession which manages to hide the more obvious truths, such as the dictator Assad's mass slaughter of Syrian civilians.

If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

8/9. #Lewisham2014: The mayorals and The council elections
I wrote these posts in April/May, in the lead-up to the UK elections then, focusing on two sets of local elections in Lewisham.

If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

10. Ukraine: The truth war
This is not the most finely crafted piece of written, but I'm glad it gets a little air play. It discusses some of the groups on the British "left" (from centre-left Scottish nationalists to nutty Stalinsts and Trots) who uncritically circulate propaganda for the far right authoritarian government in Kremlin, and its neo-Nazi puppet "People's Republics" in eastern Ukraine, pointing out that these leftists are on the same page as many British and European fascists on this topic. The post finishes with a few links to actual anti-fascists in Ukraine.

If you like that post, you'll like these ones.

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