Friday, April 27, 2018

It's exhausting



I didn't manage to catch all of my backlog in my last link round-up, so this one also has some stuff stretching back into last month.

Labour antisemitism

I'm getting a bit exhausted with this. The bottom line is there is too much antisemitism circulating in the Party. Despite what Jim rightly describes as Corbyn's best statement so far on antisemitism, the Labour leadership and, even more so, too many rank and file Corbynistas, don't seem to get it. Len McCluskey's intervention was pretty poor, and the show of denialism from the likes of Chris Williamson is embarrassing. Here are some of the best reads I've seen on the topic: Brendan McGeever and David Feldman in the Indy (originally in Ha'aretz), Keith Kahn-Harris in the Guardian, Peter Ryley on his blog and Ralph Leonard on his blog. For a good insight into how antisemitism circulates in the Labour social media sphere, read this important study by Daniel Allington. And here Anti-Nazis United looks at the Labour activists who claim they've never seen antisemitism in the party.

From Windrush to the Hostile Environment

Labour's failure to get to grips with the racism in its ranks should not blind us to the fact that the Tories remain the truest Nasty Party (if you need a reminder, check out the odious  - now suspended - candidate George Stoakley), whose vicious anti-migrant attacks have helped mainstream xenophobia and destroyed lives. It has been heartening to see a shift in the national discourse in the wake of the Windrush scandal, and this needs to lead to a full-on critique of the Hostile Environment policies that continue to target migrants, including Europeans, and non-migrant people of colour. On the Runnymede blog,  Lester Holloway and Sundeep Lidher explore the legacy of Windrush. This brilliant essay by Kenan Malik on elite racism and the white working class as alibi is a really thought-provoking look at the legacy of Powell. Rita Chadha on the MRN blog is sharp on the coming backlash to this shift in the discourse.

Corbyn and Corbynism has been responsible to some extent for a shift in the Overton window that might enable a different conversation about migration, an escape from the old Blair/Brown mantras of "British jobs for British workers" and "tough on immigration, tough on the causes of immigration". But he has also shown a worrying willingness to throw migrant workers under the bus in the name of (national) socialism, and a failure to robustly defend freedom of movement, which I think should be one of the key causes of our time. Here's a post by Peter R that talks about this.

Mainstreaming conspiricism

As the links here showed, the Douma and Salisbury chemical attacks have been the focus of a serious disinformation campaign. Among the journalists documenting this are former Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker ("How “Ian56” keeps the false flags flying on Twitter"), Snopes' Bethania Palma ("Critics Slam Viral Stories Claiming Douma Chemical Attack Victims Died from ‘Dust’"), EAWorldview's Scott Lucas ("Russia’s (Dis)information Warfare and Assad’s Chemical Attacks"), Muhammad Idrees Ahmad ("Truth Is the First Step to Accountability in Syria"), The Intercept's Robert Mackey ("Russia Sows Doubts Over Chemical Attack in Syria, Aided by Pro-Trump Cable Channel") and HuffPo's Chris York ("How An Obscure British Blogger Became Russia's Key Witness Against The White Helmets"). Also read: A quick profile of hardcore racist Ian56789.

Sadly, parts of the British left have played a key role in mainstreaming it (as have parts of the British right, including Peter Hitchens and Arron Banks). Here, a great post on Shiraz takes as its starting point the pernicious role played by the Morning Star. And on the Gerasites back in March, Connor P, in "Novichok for the Soul", explores Corbyn's culpability in this. Idrees explores some UK academics playing a key role. Across the Atlantic, Robert Farley looks at The Nation's role in the disinfo war and Bethania P looks at Dennis Kucinich.

Understanding fascism

I'm not sure if I've already linked to Shane Burley's interview of anti-fascist author Matthew Lyons; at any rate, read it.

Anti-fascism and the fascist international


Toxic masculinity

My comrade Terry Glavin has a characteristically fine piece on Monday's awful terror attack in Toronto.

Ghouta/Idlib/Afrin/Herat: the failure of solidarity


Three pieces in the brilliant al-Jumhuriya: Leila al-Shami on Syria's shock capitalism and demographic engineering (also available in Spanish at Flores en Daraya); revolutionary hero Yassin al-Haj Saleh on Living in the Temporary; and Emran Feroz on the history of the orientalist left's love affair with Russian authoritarianism.


Michael Karadjis on the limits of geopolitics.

An important letter by Robin Yassin-Kattab on Afrin and solidarity. An interview of Robin by the great Bill Fletcher on the survival of the revolution. More like this on Dick Gregory's blog.

DSA activist Tristan Slaughter on why the DSA must reject imperial rhetoric. Brian Whitaker on why tales of regime change make no sense.



Friday, April 20, 2018

In the time of the multipolar spin

So at the start of 2018 I said I'd do regular (weekly or fortnightly) roundups of essential reading, but it kind of fizzled out after a good start. Here's another go. It's a bit big, as it has about a month's worth of links.

The fascist international

Generation Tedium: Malatesta on the Identitarian movement. Hope not Hate on Generation Shambles.

Fascist internationalism: Josephine Huetlin on the global far right's love affair with Assad. Jason Wilson on the alt-right anti-war movement.

American fascism: Spencer Sunshine, on its 23rd anniversary, on how the far right changed after the Oklahoma City bombing. Also by Spencer: a case study of a neo-Nazi, Jake Laskey of the American Front, and Is the alt-right on its last legs? By Michael Lyons: Insurgent supremacists - on the morphing of the far right. Jason Wilson on far right attacks on the Parkland students.

Democrats and Veterans: Otto English on the tinpot comedy Mosleyites standing in the UK elections (including in Lewisham).

Race and UK politricks: the Windrush Generation and Labour antisemitism

Peter R screens the four Labour parliamentary speeches that made my spine tingle this week: David Lammy on the Windrush injustice and John Mann, Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth's personal testimonies of antisemitic abuse.

Hostile Environment: Gary Younge on Theresa May's Windrush stupidity.

Rivers of Blood at 50: Peter R on Enoch's sour legacy.

Rob Marchant argues the current situation in Labour is unsustainable. Peter R on why opposition to "heritage antisemitism" is not enough today. Kellie on why faith in one's own virtue is dangerous. Citizen Sane on the Rothschilds. One short and one long piece by Richard Seymour that I agree with a surprisingly large part of.

On the sad death of Labour internationalism: SyriaUK argue that Labour has lost touch with Robin Cook's legacy.

On Brexit and left and right populism: Max Dunbar in defence of footnotes (on left populism). Peter R on Brexit's looking glass world.

Syria: after the Douma massacre

What happened in Douma and its aftermath? Bellingcat: An open source survey of what we know about the attacks. CBS: "Inside Douma: report from the site of the attack". Guardian"Syrian medics 'subjected to extreme intimidation' after Douma attack" - pro-regime testimony from Ghouta doctors should be treated as under duress.

What's going on in general? The brilliant international journalist Emma Beals has a good post on what's going on in Syria. This is a good interview by Aileen Beaton with Robin Yassin-Kassab.

What can we do? SyriaUK on questions to ask after UK action in Syria, including Is Theresa May in breach of international law?

Resistance and liberation in Syria: Razan Zaitouneh’s “Women in The Syrian Revolution”; Women Now for Development and their achievements in free Ghouta; Hind Majaly, a revolutionary woman from Daraa; Resistance in Harasta; Revolutionary women and civil resistance.

War crimes: Mehdi Hasan on superb form in an important article on why it wouldn't actually matter if Assad was guilty of using chemical weapons in Ghouta.

Fisking Douma: The Times summarises Robert Fisk versus informed commentary. The great Terry Glavin has a superb column on why people want to believe Fisk, issues Sonali Kolhatkar also looks at here. Louis Proyect demolishes Fisk on Douma. More Fisk links via Robin Y-K, or via this unrolled thread.

On the "anti-war" left: The brilliant Leila Al-Shami on the anti-imperialism of idiots. Bill Weinberg blasts their lies and hypocrisy. Also listen to his podcast against pro-war "anti-war" jive.

Armed and civil rebellion, Class and Islam - sophisticated analysis by Michael Karadjis. Kyle Orton on external actors in Syria. From February: Bill Weinberg on the difficult politics of Kurdish and Syrian solidarity in the wake of Afrin. And if you don't have Robin Y-K and Leila Al-Shami's Burning Country then buy the new edition.

Left-right convergence

Alex Reid Ross on how a shared love affair with Assad brings the far right and the alt-left together. Charles Davis on how Max Blumenthal and some pro-Russia trolls forced the SPLC to censor an anti-fascist account of red-brown convergence. Al-Hamra documents Max Blumenthal's Damascene conversion from Assad opponent to Assad apologist.

Disinformation and conspiracy

The Times exposes the UK professors (wrongly called "top") promoting Assadist lies (via Louis P). Chris York on the UK academics fueling conspiracy theories. More on this group from Brian Whitaker, who has been tracking them for some time on his brilliant blog. Here's a Syrian refugee, Mohammad Ali,  on un-friending defenders of Islamophobic conspiracy theorists.

BBC Trending on some of Moscow's disinfo agents, including Vanessa Beeley and Sarah Abdallah. Brian Whitaker delves in to Abdoullah's Hezbollah connections.

This is a bit meta, but Russia is now providing fake news about fake news. The anatomy of a Russian chemical weapons lie. How an obscure California pro-Trump website helped Russian disinformation in Douma. France24 on the fake images of Syria circulating on the internet. Snopes debunks the Douma conspiracy trolls. From back in February, Whitaker again on manufacturing doubt, and how Newsweek helped circulate chemical weapons disinfo.

Otto English on the history of disinfomation. And a must-read by Amar Diwakar on Assadism in the post-truth vortex.