Friday, October 30, 2009

When will we be paid?

Post of the week: Terry Glavin "Proximate Cause".

The BNP:
Some more posts, to add to the lists here, here and here. Johnny G: A hollow victory for the goodies. Modernity: Thinking about no platform. LGF: BNP's mask falls off. Duncan: Debating no platform. Dave Hill: Can the BNP define British? Patrick Hayes: Would the BBC give a platform to Hitler (or cut to the money quote here).

No to Shariah law! No to the EDL!

Date: Saturday 21 November 2009
Time: 1200-1400
Venue: North Carriage Drive, in-between Stanhope Place Gate and Albion Gate, Hyde Park, London (Closest underground: Marble Arch)


Confirmed speakers and performers include: Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Mina Ahadi, ‘AK47,’ Fari B, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Roy Brown, Nick Doody, AC Grayling, Goranka Gudelj, Rahila Gupta, Johann Hari, Marieme Helie-Lucas, Mehboob Khan, ‘Lilith,’ Houzan Mahmoud, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin, David Pollock, Fariborz Pooya, Terry Sanderson, Muriel Seltman, Issam Shukri, Selina aka ‘Jus1Jam,’ Sohaila Sharifi, Bahram Soroush, Hanne Stinson, Peter Tatchell and more...
For more information, contact: Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731 or
Maryam Namazie has been blogging hard, defining the politics of this movement. Read some of these:
Also read Paul Stott.

Strange alliances: I listened to the incredibly articulate Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, on the Today Programme this morning, defending Michal Kaminski, the far right Polish politician with whom David Cameron's Conservative Party is now allied. Schudrich was arguing that, yes, there are some unsavoury aspects to Kaminski, but we need to "understand" him in the round. The key thing is that he is (now) "a strong friend of the State of Israel". I find this position reprehensible. A JC letter writer cleverly compared Kaminski's defenders (such as Stephen Pollard) are the mirror image of Ken Livingstone: Ken would unflinchingly defend any European Jew from right-wing antisemites but turns a blind eye to Islamist antisemitism; Pollard the exact reverse. Would Schudrich ever say we must "understand" Ken in the round, and brush off his alliances with the Muslim Brotherhood because he is a good friend of European Jewry? Of course not. No more than we should "understand" Nick Griffin in the round and let him off the hook for his appalling racism because he is (now) a supporter of Israel. On this issue, read: Schudrich's u-turns. Keith on the Kaminski affair and the neocon-decentist alliance. David Cesarani on Marek Edelman and Michal Kaminski. Miriam Shaviv on the BNP and Kaminski posing as friends of Israel. And Engageniks discuss these issues in a very interesting comment thread. (For more, also read: Jonathan Freedland (plus this and this from a while back), John Mann, JTCam, Martin Bright, Ben Helfgott, Left Foot Forward, Sunder Katwala.)

Gay imperialism? And what are we to make of this? A new low for the Second Campist defenders of the Iranian theocracy. Basically, Peter Tatchell is accused of "gay imperialism" for fighting for the human rights of gay and lesbian people in Iran, Zimbabwe, Jamaica and elsewhere. Essentially, while dressed up as an attack on white privilige, the logic is that brown people don't deserve the same human rights as white people do. Disgusting, and shame on Richard Seymour for disseminating this rubbish. (Incidentally, this is from Yoshie, who you can read more about here, here, here, and here.) [UPDATE: More from Harry here, including Tatchell's defence.]


Cosmopolitan law: Stop Sri Lanka's crimes. Harold Evans on Judge Goldstone. Resistance and repression in Guinea.

Sarf London: Guerrilla gardening Brockley-style. A lens on Deptford. The London nobody sings.

Other stuff: The FCO's whistleblower. Tories telling lies about immigration. The best of Democratiya. Under the pavements of Poland, the Jewish gravestones. Anarchists for Remembrance Day poppies. Muslim terrorists are not the new Jewish anarchists. Robert Bernstein on Human Rights Watch.

Comment trail: At Engage on Kaminski and anti-fascism; at Lenin's Tomb on squadism (update: and a little more); in Brockley on Glenn Beck and Bundism.

Other round-ups: Roland, Poum, Anti-German.

When will we be paid? This week's music is the Staple Singers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sex trafficking: behind the numbers

Last week, the Guardian published a news article and longer report on sex trafficking in the UK. Both wer by heavyweight journalist Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News. In the two pieces, Davies exposes the sloppy way newspapers and politicians have used academic research for political ends, and dishonestly spun the results of a criminal investigation. Davies is of course right to expose this. But he is not right to leap from this to deny that sex trafficking is an issue.

The campaigner Rahila Gupta, author of Enslaved: The New British Slavery, has replied forcefully. Denis MacShane, one of the targets of his piece has replied too. As have a number of academics, also followed up by MacShane again. MacShane's other half, Joan Smith, described by Nick Cohen as "The last principled feminist in the British media", also has a piece too, which I reproduce here as her new blog doesn't seem to work very well yet.

Guardian gets its moral panics in a twist
Tuesday 20 October 2009
Joan Smith

Sex trafficking is mostly a myth, says the Guardian, got up by an ‘an unlikely union of evangelical Christians with feminist campaigners’. Rumours that a team of investigative reporters is currently combing archives, searching for pictures of me and Julie Bindel in our Salvation Army uniforms, may be unfounded. But the headline on today’s front page is unequivocal: ‘Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution’.

Goodness me! Did this inquiry visit British prisons, where they could meet (for instance) Viktoras Larcenko and Luan Plakici, two of the most notorious traffickers ever convicted in this country? Don’t take my word for it: four years ago, the Crown Prosecution Service reported the successful conviction of Larcenko for conspiracy to traffic in prostitution and conspiracy to launder money. It described him as ‘the last member of a gang convicted for smuggling girls from Lithuania in 2003 and forcing them into prostitution with threats and violence’. The five-member gang included his sister Rita, aged 20, and they were sentenced in total to 51 years in prison.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another week, fascism still undefeated

Just a couple of quick links to BNP-related stuff. Might add through the day, so check back. First, Jim J has added to this list, which I already linked to. From Jim J, I also got to Nick Griffin's bad science. Here's Sunny on the right's response. Sunny links to more science from The Enemies of Reason: 1, 2, 3, and from Channel 4. Alex Massie makes the pro-immigration case here.

For some comment on the QT debacle, here's Coatesy, Voltaire's Priest and Jim D. Meanwhile, Flesh found something far better to do.

Update: How did Question Time affect the BNP vote? A YouGov poll given much publicity suggests that it has, a tiny bit. However, Lancaster Unity reveals YouGov were defrauded by the BNP, undermining the results' credibility. (Summary from Edmund S).

One person who benefited from the show is Baroness Warsi. However, Edmund gives reason to pause (although I disagree with him on immigration...)

Update 2: A number of commentators are making the point that, as Richard Seymour puts it, "Just because antifascists watching this thought Griffin came across as a sleazy dishonest windbag doesn't mean that everyone thought the same." That is completely true. There is a disconnect, I think, between how us here in the activist ghetto, or from non-white backgrounds, or in liberal professions, or in cosmopolitan London,view the world and how most people in wider society view the world.

However, it is the wrong inference to draw from that, as Seymour does in the same post, them out there are "racists", or that politicians (like Straw and Warsi) who say they need listening to are pandering to racists. The labeling of people as "racists" is, in my view, utterly unhelpful. What is important is to expose how the things people say or do act in a racist way or have a racist effect. Racism is not something that afflicts people, like a mental condition; it is something that functions in society. Or, as Jim D puts it much more succinctly: "Don't trust the working class: they're too stupid. Us university-educated lefties will tell you proles what you can and can't be exposed to."

Friday, October 23, 2009

BNP on QT: The morning after

Well, all in all, the affair was not as bad as it could have been. Nick Griffin didn't do a very good job, and his interlocutors did. However, the BNP have managed to completely dominate the news agenda this morning, with the covers of all the papers and a large proportion of the radio news. I haven't checked the blogosphere, but I'm sure it's buzzing. Whether all of that matters in places like Pendle and Charnwood and Barnsely and Thurrock, who knows; I doubt it.

Griffin tried to portray himself as a victim of the liberal elite, and the altered format of the show, turned into a kind of kangaroo court, should have helped that, except the other contestants (I know that's not their proper title, but you know what I mean) on the show behaved pretty well and he came across like a bit of a nutter.

I'm not sure why the BBC gave so much air time to his views on Islam this morning. That was one part of the show where he seemed more coherent. Playing him at length and not playing Baroness Warsi's response gave him quite a platform.

More links: Melanie Phillips - I think she is actually right in most of what she says, except that all of the mainstream parties compete to demonstrate their anti-immigration credentials, and are not averse to stigmatising Muslims from time to time. Also in the Mail, writing in advance of the show, Richard Littlejohn's not bad (update: but see qualifications in the comments below). Nick Lowles was posting on all of Griffin's lies during the show. I'm now working my way through this huge load of links.

Related: Symon Hill on the white working class (via Jim)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Live blogging the BNP on Question Time

I've been so busy this week, I haven't even had time to join in this fascinating mini-discussion on my own blog. However, as an internationally renowned expert on the BNP, I feel obliged to watch Fuehrer Nick Griffin's performance on Question Time tonight, so I thought I'd switch the machine on and type at the same time (even though the actual action is already over). No doubt if I was younger I'd be Twittering it instead, but you can't teach old dogs new tricks, or something.

A few preliminaries, as I get the telly warmed up. I do not approve of bans on the BNP: I am against legalistic solutions to political problems, especially if they have the side effect of making the BNP seem like the victims of some politically correct liberal elite. However, I don't see why the BBC felt obliged to do this. I used to firmly hold to the doctrine of no platform, but the contemporary situation is so far removed from the old days of the NF that it doesn't apply in the same way any more. So, my hope is that Griffin fluffs it, and does the BNP more damage than harm, or that his fellow guests manage to outperform him enough that he comes across poorly. I can't imagine bland non-entity Chris Huhne shining that brightly; Bonnie Greer is always eloquent but frequently inarticulate; I don't have much time for Jack Straw, so I find myself in the unusual position of pinning my hopes on a Muslim Tory peer, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.

10.40: Actually, I've already turned out wrong. Jack Straw is doing a really good job on the issue of Winston Churchill and World War II. Britain would not have won WWII without the help of people like the Pakistani and Indian soliders who are buried in France. (Interestingly, Straw follows some of David Aaronovitch's advice.) [He could also have mentioned Polish soldiers...]

10.45: And Chris Huhne is also doing a good job on the same topic.

10.51: Hmm. Griffin finally gets to speak, and attempts to deflect attention away from the revelations that Griffin is a Holocaust-denying Hitler-lover by saying that the real fascists hate him because the BNP is the only real pro-Israel party. Just goes to show (note to Stephen Pollard) that not all friends of Israel are friends of the Jews.

10.52: Then Griffin shoots himself in the foot by saying that David Duke leads a non-violent part of the KKK...

11.00: Sayeeda Warsi takes a while to warm up, but does a good job of de-demonising Islam.

11.05: A question about whether the BNP's success can be attributed to Labour's immigration policy. This is Jack Straw's chance to defend immigration as a positive value... and he blames immigration on Enoch Powell as a Tory minister. A point lost.
11.06: Says a few positive things about immigrants, but makes sure to balance that by saying how tough Labour is on people getting in.
11.10: Warsi rightly says that poverty and deprivation is the key driver, not immigration, positioning herself to the left of Straw. She also rightly says that BNP voters are not necessarily racist, and that they deserve respect and to be listened to.
11:14: Huhne joins the bandwagon, seeks to show that the Lib Dems are even tougher on immigration, and particularly targets the scourge of Eastern Europeans. This sort of talk feeds the BNP; it doesn't harm it.

11:20: Warsi says there is no such thing as a "bogus" asylum seeker: asylum seeker is a legal term. This is the first time I've heard a mainstream politician say this. Extra Bob point for Warsi.

11:22: A black questioner pushes the anti-immigration agenda forward and accuses Straw of pandering to the left. (Not pandering hard enough for me.) Dimbleby quotes a disgraceful Frank Field article which you can read here. [As George Eaton says, "By painting a wholly negative picture of immigration, Field and Soames do not challenge the BNP's agenda, they pander to it."]

11:40: All over, and quite a damp squib. I'm sure I could have found something better to do with my time...

Bonus links: Nick Cohen, Nothing British, The real Nick Griffin, Griffin's contortions, Nine questions for the BNP, mainstream fascism, how can the left deal with the BNP.

Bonus bonus link: Gary Younge. Key bit:
New Labour marginalised the white working class, assuming they had nowhere else to go, only to find some of them rush into the arms of the far right.... New Labour extinguished all hope of class solidarity and singularly failed to provide principled anti-racist alternatives, leaving a significant section of the white working class to seek cheap refuge in racism and xenophobia. In their identity they see not the potential for resistance against corruption and injustice, but only a grievance. They don't trust government and don't see any alternatives. The coming election simply provides the choice between two parties that share the intent to slash public spending, after the gift of billions to bankers.
There has always been more to the BNP than racism and always been more to racism than the BNP, which is merely the most vile electoral expression of our degraded racial discourse and political sclerosis. Under such circumstances setting Straw – and the rest of the political class – against Griffin is simply putting the cause against the symptom without any suggestion of an antidote.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This week I have mostly been reading about...

Fascism and anti-fascism: Bob From Brockley transforms the BNP (link of the week, of course). Who are the English Defence League? The looming threat of far right terror. The Ideological Evolution of Horst Mahler: The Far Left-Extreme Right Synthesis.

Alternative histories: Jews versus Stalinists in the Spanish Civil War. The shipwrecked: anti-fascist refugees during WWII. The unknown occupations of the Middle East. Fascinating but overly vituperative comment thread at Terry's post about Marek Edelman. What happens when we talk about the Holocaust. The mask of the Marranos. The search for Srebrenica's dead.

Authoritarianism: Europe's response to Berlusconi has been cowardly. The brutality of the Honduras coup.

UK Politics: Reasons to miss Ken: Boris Johnson's cronyism. The Tory chav tax?

Jew-hatred etc: Alison Weir of CounterPunch continues to promote blood libel. Glenn Beck's softcore Holocaust denialism. Friends of Israel: lavish and over-influential? Chavista antisemitism and the socialism of fools.

Another world is possible: The new contours of imperialism. Code Pink in Iran. Trafigura, Marx and technology.

Sarf London:Blackheath Foot'n'Death Men. Searchlight stigmatise south London.

Zionism/anti-Zionism: The first "anti-Zionist" anti-war movement.

No subtitle would do: A fleshy weekend: Tom Paine, sloe gin and birds. Golf: one topic I agree with Hugo Chavez about!

Bob's beats: Yiddish partisan march with breakbeats (more here). Ethiopian music. Latin music. Finally, if you need chearing up in these dark times, listen to Cornelius Cardew's jolly "Smash The Social Contract", from his Maoist phase (via the wonderful Idiot's Guide to Dreaming).

Bonus: comment trail: on George Galloway at Third Estate (keep scrolling), on Tiananmen Square at Stalinist Unity, on environmental orthodoxy at Third Estate.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The war hadn't ended for us

The 43 Group:

[via @ndy]

Note Morris Beckman will be speaking at the Anarchist Bookfair in London on the 24th, along with Paul Stott:

Morris Beckman on the fight against fascism after the Second World War - Skeel Lecture Theatre 12.00 - 12.00.
Talk about the 43 Group who physically force the fascists of the streets in the 1940s, with a film showing about the group. And also a discussion on the fight against the menace of fascism today.

Buy the book. Another video here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Galloway and the tyrants

The Third Estate has published an interview of George Galloway by Salman Shaheen. Of course, Galloway says many things I agree with and many things I could comradely disagree with. However, his position on Iran is a disgrace.
George Galloway meets Saddam Hussein
I hope it is obvious why this is a disgrace, but just in case it isn't, I'll make some suggestions.

I'll start with his hubris, his belief that he is somehow one of the global figureheads of the Islamic resistance. "When housemates on Celebrity Big Brother were asked to rank themselves in order of fame, he mused: “If we’re talking worldwide fame, I’m most famous. Virtually every Muslim in the world knows who I am.”" This self-belief must be linked too to his perverse obsession with strongmen, the pathology which leads him to glorify the likes of Chavez and Ahmedinejad.

Now, it is true that there is a certain similarity between Chavez and Ahmedinejad: both are authoritarian, populist demagogues; they do indeed share the same enemies. But while Chavez's brand of authoritarian populism, however un-democratic, does have a social base in the impoverished majority - a social base it has ensured by making genuine social and economic reforms - this cannot be said of Ahmedinejad. Ahmedinejad's regime has pursued a neo-liberal policy of privatisations and austerity. At best, it has handed out some of the crumbs from its oil wealth to some less advantaged social groups. And of course it is far more brutal. Galloway's talk of class here is nothing more than an alibi, from a man that takes the theocracy's shilling for his Press TV antics.

I thought this sentence was revealing: "I believe strongly that every people have the right to choose their own leader." Galloway appears at first glance to be talking about democracy, which would be bitterly ironic given the way that the Iranian theocratic regime is set up in such a way as to make the vote meaningless, and then when it still lost it stole the vote anyway. But note the phrasing: every people. For Galloway, what is important is not the people in the sense of the demos, but a people in the sense of ethnos. In Galloway's worldview, every "nation" has some kind of manifest destiny. The world is an enormous clash of peoples, of national civilisations.

And this brings us to Galloway's "Second Campism" - that is, his ultimate insistence, even if disavowed, that whoever is the enemy of America is his friend. Galloway's worldview is a kind of inversion of the GW Bush/Samuel Huntington thesis, in which anyone who is not with the Great Satan is with Galloway. "I do think you can measure a man by his enemies, and both have the same enemies. My main interest in Iran is that is should remain an independent country and not a puppet of the West." In other words, he has little interest in the actual lives of the people of Iran, mere pawns in his geo-political fantasy.

Similarly, he cares nothing for the lives of Muslim people in Britain. His attitude to British Muslims mirrors his attitude to Palestinians and Iranians. As far as he is concerned, they can be bullied by whatever reactionary thugs have power and authority in their communities, so long as they fulfil his Orientalist vision of glorious resistance to Western power.
George Galloway has done perhaps more than anyone else in the country to help politicise marginalised Muslim communities, introducing to them left-wing politics as an answer to racism, Islamophobia, imperialism and neo-conservatism. But there’s another, more reactionary, current amongst Muslim communities that seeks to present itself as the sole representative of Islamic identity. I ask Galloway if Respect could do more to challenge religious fundamentalism and social conservativism amongst the communities it represents? “No,” he says, “I think the first part of our agenda is big enough. The question of social conservatism within Muslim communities is a matter for them largely.”
Yes, George, who cares about misogyny, social conservatism and theocracy, so long as it is only brown people who suffer it, and not the likes of you.

Footnote: I just read the two comments on the interview by DavidR (1, 2) and strongly recommend them.

Previously: Ahmadinejad's British stooges, Why the left gets it wrong, Galloway defends Iranian homophobia, Galloway's anti-internationalism, Saluting dictators, Iran, drawing clear lines, Iran and the left.

Remembering our dead 2: Dave Hann

From @ndy I am sad to learn that Dave Hann, co-author, with Steve Tilzey, of No Retreat: The Secret War between Britain’s Anti-fascists and the Far Right (Milo Books), died of cancer on September 29, 2009.

Dave, who I came into contact with a few times over the years but cannot claim to have known at all, was a controversial figure in the anti-fascist scene, and many criticisms have been made of the accuracy of some sections of No Retreat. But there is no doubt that Dave played a part in the anti-fascist movement in the Northwest and in the UK as a whole. I think that the core narrative told by No Retreat is a truthful one, and one that deserves to be told but is not really told elsewhere. His premature death is a great loss.

Dave was due to speak, despite his illness, at an event in Bristol earlier this month, and Louise posted this on the event's webpage:
Dave Hann was not able to participate in the Bristol Indymedia and Radical History Group 5th October meeting. He died a few days before, on 29th September, a committed anti-fascist fighter and community activist. With less than a week to live and already very ill, he helped advise a group that had gathered together to defend the Deghayes family, relatives of the former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Deghayes, who in their Saltdean home on the outskirts of Brighton, (where the BNP have mustered 10% of the vote) have faced a campaign of racist and religious abuse.
She also goes on to respond to some of the rumours about him.

Related reading: An interview with Hann and Tilzey. Steve Tilzey at the Battle of Lewisham. A brief history of AFA.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Anti-Fascism in the 21st Century

Having mentioned issue #6 of Shift magazine in my last post, I subsequently bought issue # 7 at Freedom. The article "Anti-Fascism in the 21st Century" is very good, and echoes many of the arguments made in this blog, by Waterloo Sunset and others: for a coherent, grassroots anti-fascist organisation that is political as well as simply "militant", for the need to address the roots of anti-fascism rather than make liberal moralistic condemnations of it, for the type of "dogshit politics" that I mentioned the other day, and against ballot box-led anti-fascism, against the forms of liberal anti-fascism that bolster mainstream politics, and against the gestural politics of shouting "Nazi". As far as I can tell, the article is not on-line anywhere, although its author, Phil Dickens, blogs at Truth, Liberty, Reason and Property is Theft.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Remembering our dead

Poumista has a great list of links to obituaries to Marek Edelman, leaving me with nothing left to say. Except what an extraordinary man to be mourned by Trotskyists, Zionists and the US State Department! Here are some of the links: Moshe Arens, Nick Lowles, History is Made at Night, Tim Collard, MJ Rosenberg, the Tomb, Charlie Pottins, ZWord, Contested Terrain, Jew on this, Rislu, Third Estate, Anne Frank’s Drumkit, Socialist Unity, David Rosenberg… and the US State Department. ADDED: This mandolin kills fascists.

Steve Cohen, who I mourned here, is commemorated in the latest (now not so recent) edition of New Interventions, the latest (hot off the press) Jewish Socialist, and the last but one (not sure when) Shift magazine. New Interventions, which seems to have no real web presence, so get it from Housmans, publishes a fascinating piece by Steve about the history of antisemitism and anti-alienism in the British labour movement. Jewish Socialist carries a nice appreciation from his comrade Dave Landau, of No One is Illegal - it's also print-only, so go buy. Shift has two pieces: an obituary, taken from Indymedia London (read the original here: it has a link to me and a reading list), and Steve's response to the Lebanon war, "Writing as a Jewish traitor".

And, finally, here is a little more Mercedes Sosa for you to listen to (via Theme for a Great Cities).

Thursday, October 08, 2009

You gave me ears so that I can hear And record the sounds day and night of Crickets, canaries, factories, dogs barking, The rain falling...

Continuing the issue of identity politics versus class politics, here's a new statement from the IWCA, or read the summary and some discussion at the bar. Red Star Darren posts a link to an old post of his with an even sharper critique of multiculturalism.

Browsing around Meanwhile at the Bar, I found this excellent summary of "dog shit politics" today, which is the type of politics I advocate (originally from Practically Insurgent). This post from Phil on campaigning against the BNP in Stoke, and its comments thread, is good for thinking about dog shit politics.

I already mentioned the British fellow travellers of fauxialism with Chinese characteristics the other week, or, as Dave Osler puts it, "soft sinophilia". David T's nice use of illustration speaks volumes on that sorry subject. I cannot believe that someone sane can actually celebrate, even conditionally, a regime which has slaughtered so many people. In the Great Leap Forward, the death toll was well over 20 million (some say 40 million); in the three years of the cultural revolution, over a million were killed and perhaps as many as three million, with the same number again maimed; hundreds or even thousands were killed in the clampdown on the June 4th movement. But, as Dave Osler rightly says,
"Marxist accounts of China have long been underpinned by conflicting theoretical frameworks. But those debates are now of historical interest only. Whatever China once represented, there is nothing about an authoritarian nationalist sweatshop for which anyone on the left should rationally seek to cheerlead."
As Kellie has noted, it seems impossible for some people to talk about Israel without talking nonsense. For a nice change, listen to Eamonn talking sense.

Two sad deaths to record this week: those of Marek Edelman and Mercedes Sosa. I hope to write something soon about Edelman, the Bundist and Solidarnosc activist whose account of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising inspired me considerably when I read it. This week's YouTube is from Mercedes Sosa, who sadly died on 4 October. I've taken this from Entdinglichung, who has many other videos, but this is my favourite song she sang: "Gracias a la vida". It was written by her friend Violeta Parra, who wrote it before committing suicide in 1967, and expresses a gratitude for life that is so much more poignant in light of her death. The lyrics in English (from which this week's title is drawn) can be found here. Sosa recorded a tribute to Parra in 1971, which included this song. Incidentally, Eamonn notes that "last year she resisted pressure from the boycotters and performed in Israel. From that tour, you can see her singing in Hebrew here."

Monday, October 05, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about this, from a post by oisleep (aka ross) about a dispute over water in Valle de Abdalajis, Spain:
There is one non Spaniard involved in the occupation... Darron has freely admitted in the past that he ‘knows nothing about politics’ – yet time and time again in the last year from the schools occupations to the factory occupations it appears that those who ‘know nothing about politics’ are those who are the most active in taking practical steps towards fighting back.*

Towards the end of last week, I posted a huge post with loads of links. I suspect many of them got lost, so I want to highlight my favourite two: Dave Rich's "What's in a Name" and Terry Glavin's "Thousands are sailing". If you only click two links, click those.


Noga-style, here is my comment trail for the last week or so. At TNC's on the coup in Honduras. At Coatesy's on leftists who didn't sell out. At Third Estate on the BNP and class. At BuJ's on Latuff's antisemitic cartoons.

To get past all this bitty trivial stuff to my last decent posts, go to: The lessons of the Lucozade plot and its follow up Terror and British Islam, or before that to my obituary of Ellie Greenwich. That's a bit embrassing, only three decent posts since before the summer...

*Hyperlinks added by me.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

And when the Rebbe dances the walls dance with him... And when the Rebbe sings the holy melody the devil remains a corpse on the floor

This post is everthing I've read this week and would like you to read too. The title is explained deep below.

The BNP, the EDL, Jew-hatred
and Muslim-hatred
What's in a name? An awful lot... Nick Griffin blames the EDL on "Zionists" (plus a little more from the CST). Muslim matchmakers, advertise with the EDL! The BNP and anti-capitalism. Why the UAF is not the right way to fight the BNP.

Foreigner-hatred versus the new cosmopolitanism
Calais: Thousands are sailing (highly recommended). Bad science? The UK Border Agency's racist biology. From Scotland to Calais: immigration is not the problem. The tabloids and right-wing extremism. Gulags for foreigners: Italy and Libya. The truth about Calais: 1, 2.

Ruling class watch
More on Baroness Scotland: One woman's success is another's exploitation.

Leonard Cohen: That's how the light gets in. From the archive: Albert Camus on Israel/Palestine; Einstein's complexity.

Zero tolerance for antisemitism on the left (kudos to Andy for writing this, rather depressing comment thread). More commentary on the TUC boycott: Martin Bright, Roger Lyons.

Libyan land grab in Mali (Note: one important feature in this story is the deal involving Chinese hybrid rice. This exemplifies the role of China in the new forms of privatized colonialism that enslave Africa and the rest of the global South.) The wrong kind of vibrancy? - on the massacre in Guinea.

Martin Bright offers a new recipe for the 'decent left'? (I completely agree with his comments here. Aside: Bright is now the political editor of the JC.) Martin Meenagh unpicks the left's anti-Catholicism.Michael Berube follows up his cultural studies piece here. Andrew Coates gives his roll-call of leftist heroism (as the antidote to Neil Clark's retro-Stalinoid version).

Sarf London (and Kent)
Banging sticks together in the Autumn - the Blackheath Morris dancers in Chislehurst. The BNP in Swanley: useless. Deptford Tory: useless. Babylon at the Albany.

Roman Polanski
It is quite a disgusting spectacle to see the liberal cultural elite, including many who really ought to know better, flocking to defend Roman Polanski. Some dissenting voices: Rosie Bell, Joan Smith, Kieran Healy, Andrew Brown.

Some more blog round-ups: Poumista, Anti-German Translation.

Bob's Beats
First, some cool Israeli grimy global crunky hip hop in English, Arabic, Hebrew and heaven knows what else, with Soulico featuring Ghostface Killah, the great Rye Rye, and MC Zulu.

Second, this took me by suprise. Half way through glitchcore number "Sha! Shtil!" by Gucci Vump (aka Brødinski), you can actually hear the Yiddish folk song "Sha Shtil" by Pinchas Jassinowsky, whose lyrics are the title of this post. Anyone know who Gucci Vump is sampling? The Deutsch Sisters? Listen to some old-style versions here (I'd recommend the Theodore Bikel version or the slightly too far out Yale Strom version). Or listen to the L-Vis 1990 dubblestep/house remix here or here. L-Vis has also remixed South East London UK Funky Crazy Couzins (listen here), which leads us to...

To finish, having mentioned Babylon, here is some footage from it, of New Cross's Jah Shaka from 1980, UK dub's golden age. Awesome. (You can also watch the trailer here, or read an interview with director Franco Rosso here. Extracts are used to great effect in this Deptford.TV video about the Moonshot that I've already featured.)