Friday, July 27, 2018

Fisking Robert Fisk's latest shoddy Syria report

Robert Fisk is published by the Independent - notably in their "Voices" section rather than in their foreign reporting - and hasn't said anything interesting or useful for ages. A lot of what he says isn't actually true. Here I go though his latest article..

Still not there

Still trawling through the backlog...
Image result for socialism in one country

Against Lexit idiocy
I'm getting increasingly irritated at the Fully Automated Luxury People's Brexit brigade (you know who I mean), with their endless sneering at those of us who care about the fact that the Tory Brexit they are objectively backing will devastate huge swathes of our industries and public services, and in particular the way they (themselves mostly professional chatterers living in the metropolis) try to label all Remainers as metropolitan liberals - a mirror of the proto-fascist faux anti-elitism of their right-wing twins Farage, Banks and co. Here's Simon Hannah on the nasty and brutish discourse emerging, Martin Thomas on industrial policy in one country, and Michael Chessum on the disastrous wedge between the political left and the anti-Brexit movement.

While the Fully Automated Luxury Lexiteers also like to sneer at "centrists" and "gammons", when the topic turns to Brexit they are increasingly indistinguishable from their gammony bedfellows who I like to call Full English Breakfast National Socialists, such as Paul Embery and Giles Fraser. Here's comrade Coates taking on Embery's blood and soil ranting.

The rising right
Ralph Leonard on the strange case of Douglas Murray. Matthew Lyons on the alt-right and on how Trump uses right-wing populism to unite divergent groups. Peter Ryley on populism v democracy. Libcom on Kill all Normies. Natalie Nougayrède on Bannon's mission to radicalise Europe. Nick Cohen on why the Israeli right are not friends of the Jews.

A fucked left
Clay Claibourne on the white left (and part 2). Asad Haider on getting beyond identity politics.  Ceren Türkmen for a new internationalist left.  Bill Weinberg on the left's betrayal of Russian dissidents.  Luke Fawly on how the Stalinists tried to turn back 1968. Martin Thomas on Bennism. Rob Marchant on Corbyn's geopolitical failures. Richard Reef says don't blame Trump on liberal smugness. Charles Davis on Jill Stein's recount millionsMaximillian Alvarez on Antifascism and the Left’s Fear of Power. Finally, if you live in Hawaii please read pplswar and then vote for Sherry Alu not Tulsi Gabbard.

Syria, anti-imperialism and the right to tell stories
Cody Roche on Syria and the alt-left. Brian Whitaker on Pilger and the Syria truthers. Kellie Strom reviews Kassem Eid's My Country and Bronwen Griffiths reviews The Burning Shores. In the first Hummus for Thought podcast Sarah Hunaidi and Joey Ayoub look at ‘the personal as political’ and reflect on the Syrian revolution, being a migrant or refugee and the right to narrate. Joey Ayoub on Rohini Hensman’s Indefensible. In antidote zine, a powerful Greek anarchist text on the failure of anti-imperialism and need for solidarity with the Syrian revolution. Leila al-Shami on women in the frontline of struggle in Idlib. Bill Weinberg podcasts on Nicaragua and Syria. Blood for oil: Bill Weinberg on Putin's petropolitics in Syria. The Communist Workers Organisation reassert genuine internationalism against anti-imperialism. Analysis of how Russia won Syria's war. Oliver Kamm on anti-western dogma and conspiracy theory. Mattia Silvia on the Leon Sedov Brigade (previously written about by Cody Roche).

Clay Claibourne on Gaddafi's slave auctions. Via Jeff Weintraub: Andy Markovits & Heiko Beyer on the long-standing interaction between anti-Americanism and antisemitism. Bill Weinberg on AMLO-Trump populist convergence. Louis Proyect appreciates Anthony Bourdain. History at Night remembers Brixton Reclaim the Streets 1998. Why Picturehouse is not cool. Carly Pildis on who gets to define antisemitism

Friday, July 06, 2018

May turns to June and June turns to July

Well over a month since my last round-up, so this bunch of links to recent must-reads might be even more obese than normal...

Call to action
SyriaUK on why the UK must act on Southern Syria before it's too late.

Useful idiots
James Bloodworth brilliantly anatomises the six types of useful idiots. An extract from the entry on the power worshipper:
While [George Bernard] Shaw was singing the praises of Stalinism the Soviet Union was gripped by a terrible – and entirely avoidable – famine. Yet the spell cast by Stalin’s flattery overpowered any potential concern on Shaw’s part for the starving peasantry.
In more recent times fringe journalists such as Vanessa Beeley have travelled to Syria only to return to Britain toeing the regime line that President Bashar al Assad is engaged in a manichean struggle against the terrorists of the Islamic State. In return for such obsequies, those like Beeley, the daughter of the late British diplomat Sir Harold Beeley, have received access to parts of Syria such as Aleppo usually denied to independent journalists.
In normal circumstances Beeley would be considered a crank. She believes that the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in 2015 was a false flag operation and that Al Qaeda was not responsible for 9/11. But Beeley is useful to the Russians and their client state in Syria, and appears regularly on English language Russian State media.
The willingness of Beeley – as well as other activist-cum-journalists including Neil Clarke and John Pilger – to champion the Kremlin line has the happy side effect (for those in question at least) of opening up large media platforms denied to them by the mainstream, spreading disinformation about Russia’s blood-soaked foreign policy.
The new right
From Bella Caledonia: Inside Climate Denial, Disinformation and Fake News. This long piece is on the full Brexit populist ideologues around the Spectator and Telegraph, particularly those who are part of the sinister former Trotskyist LM/RCP network (famous for genocide denial and excessive hair gel). An extract:
The approach of Dacre, Clark and James Heartfield (also known as James Hughes and William Deighton) is to divert attention away from political crisis, legal implication and the obscenity of social housing and bring the readers gaze back to their comfort zone of bashing greens and denying climate reality. Heartfield (or whatever he’s called) has written for Living MarxismCulture Wars, the Pro-Choice Forum and Spiked, speaks at the Battle of Ideas and is a director of building promoters Audacity. He is a member of the new Full Brexit group and is the pivot point between ‘libertarianism’ and the far right. He started the defence of smacking children in the 1990s as part of a campaign against ‘taboos’ and here he is interviewing Neil Hamilton way back in 1994, where the mutual appreciation is palpable, Hamilton ends: “‘My preferred reading matter is the Daily Telegraph and LM these days’, he adds.

The red-brown zombie plague
Alex Reid Ross’s diagram of the interplay between the Russian propaganda apparatus and fascist or Red-Brown groups – from
An essential series in NZ's Fightback by Daphne Lawless on how fascist ideas are becoming popular on the Left: 1. The pod people and alt-imperialism; 2. Vectors and Germs of the Red-Brown Virus (cites Anton Mukhamedov and also Amar Diwarkar's “The Permutations of Assadism”); 3. The three germs of red-brown convergence. (Previous useful texts by Daphne: “Against Campism”, November 2015“Against Conservative Leftism”, February 2016“Trump, Brexit, Syria… and conservative leftism, December 2016”.) An extract:
It’s common sense in liberal and Left circles that ideas like “9/11 Truth”, the theories that Barack Obama’s birth certificate was forged, or that the victims of the Sandy Hook or Parkland school shootings were “crisis actors”, are wild fantasies either made up by the bigoted and ill-informed to justify their prejudices, or else false narratives being deliberately fed to such people (for profit or political gain) by unscrupulous media operatives such as FOX News or Alex Jones’ InfoWars. We are appalled when parents of school shooting victims are harassed by unhinged strangers calling them conspiracy operatives and telling them that their dead children never existed.
And yet this is precisely what much of the Western Left has been doing to the people whose children died of chlorine poisoning in the basements of Douma, Syria. Experienced Western journalist Robert Fisk even took a trip to Douma – courtesy of the Syrian government – to find an anonymous doctor who would confirm such fantasies. This, while actual Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inspectors were still barred from the site, so that the regime and its allies could make the evidence disappear. 
The motivation is clear. “False flag” theories are based on the idea that elaborate lies are being told by a secret conspiracy to manipulate public opinion, and that mainstream sources are part of this conspiracy. Alex Jones claims that school shootings are arranged/faked by the US state (or a secret faction within it, known as the “Deep State”) to take away US citizens’ rights to bear arms. The Left argues the same about atrocities in Syria, only the goal of the conspirators is to build support for a “regime change” invasion of Syria. Similar stories are currently circulating on Leftist social media about the protests against social welfare cuts in Nicaragua, and their murderous suppression by that country’s government (search “Nicaragua CIA” on Twitter). The far-Right and the Left end up with the same narrative – there is a conspiracy within the current US State to fake atrocities and protest movements so as to expand its influence, which must be pushed back. In fact, American fascists are just as keen as any on the US Left to deny chemical attacks in Syria – the Snopes article cited above reproduces a tweet from alt-right celebrity and star of the famous “punch in the face” video, Richard Spencer, doing just that.
Daphe's text is taken from the June edition of Fightback, which is a special on fascism/anti-fascism. Among other features, it includes "Fighting the Fash since 1932: a history of Antifa in Germany" and an interview with the great Australian anarchist anti-fascist blogger Andy Fleming, aka slackbastard (see his blog here). And here's a snippet from Michael Lyons' book Insurgent Supremacists on the US far right.

The hard right and its apologists
Diminiutive petty hoodlum, self-publicist and Islamophobic demagogue "Tommy Robinson" (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) has been much in the news for getting himself arrested for contempt of court. The Secret Barrister explains the legal case. David Aaronovitch attacks the Jews who stupidly jump on board with his racist message. Here's one example of an Islamophobic activist in the UK Jewish community.

Russia and the multipolar spin
The repression of dissent in Russia is deeply ingrained. In particular, anti-fascists and anarchists are targeted. Joshua Yaffa in the New Yorker has an important piece about this (HT Andy F). Russian libertarians autonomen regularly report on these issues - an essential read to get a feel for the Russia its state media don't like to report. See also People and NatureLibcom and oDrussia.

Renewing left politics - against Lexit populism and political confusionism
Matt Wrack on socialism, Stalinism, Grenfell, Momentum and more, Martin Thomas on Industrial policy in one country. Andrew Coates on Aaron Bastani's Fully Automated Luxury Communism: Confusionism for Happy Bunnies, and on Giles Fraser's turn to antisemitic national socialism.

Robert Fine z''l
One of the most important thinkers of our time on some of these issues - developing arguments against left nationalism and left antisemitism, from a cosmopolitan perspective - has been Robert Fine. His premature death last weekend is a devastating blow to radical politics. Here's some memories by comrade on the left and here's an obit in Engage, which has this set of links at the end, to which I've added a couple more.

Freedom of movement
An interview with Swiss philosopher Andreas Cassee by Papierlose Zeitung in AntidoteZine on the case for global freedom of movement.