Jazz jihad

03Apr14

This article, by Brian Chasnoff, is the the San Antonio Express-News:

Kory Cook, music director at KRTU-FM Jazz for San Antonio, said the radio station at Trinity University just “dodged a bullet,” but it’s probably more accurate to say it dodged a “quenelle.”

The hand gesture, widely seen as a reverse Nazi salute, is familiar to many Spurs fans as something guard Tony Parker flashed in a photo three years ago alongside the French anti-Semite Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala.

Recently, LaBonte asked Cook at KRTU to help him find a venue for a show dubbed “Jazz Jihad!” It features Gilad Atzmon, an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist who calls himself a “proud self-hating Jew”; LaBonte’s jazz trio; and Mark Dankof, a local “anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Cook connected LaBonte with Ray Palmer, owner of High Wire Arts on West Josephine. Palmer agreed to host the show, and LaBonte advertised it on Facebook as “sponsored by KRTU.” Local musicians caught wind; an uproar ensued. JJ Lopez, general manager at KRTU, sent an email to Trinity staff on Saturday clarifying the situation. “We are not supporting this event,” Lopez wrote. “KRTU’s inclusion on the flyer was not approved by station management. I contacted the lead musician and had our name removed, effective immediately.” (“That was a mistake,” said Cook, who was planning to play drums at the show but backed out. “I did tell Trevor that KRTU would support the show on the air, we would promote it. But we were never a sponsor.”)

And on Sunday, after learning more about the acts involved, Palmer canceled. “I’m way open to many different mindsets,” he told me, “but when you get into exclusions and hate … I got a bad taste in my mouth.”

“Hate” is one way to describe the views of LaBonte, which include a defense of Adolf Hitler. In December, on Facebook, LaBonte wrote, “If Hitler was an evil dictator, then why did he have broad public support?”

This is extreme stuff, and LaBonte doubled down on Monday. “Jews were heavily involved in communism and were targeting Europe to communize it,” he told me. “Hitler was not trying to take over the world. Hitler was trying to protect it from communism, which was trying to take over the world…. It was planned by Jews.” LaBonte said speakers at the show “were going to talk about some of these things.”

I even received a surprise call from Atzmon, who defended LaBonte’s views (“Everything he told you so far is partially correct as we know”) and railed against the cancellation of his show — in a notably anti-Semitic manner. “I’m offended,” Atzmon said. “I write about Jewish political power, and here it comes.”

I mentioned that his views offend some people. “People can be offended by a lot of things,” he said. “But as far as I’m aware, in this country, we have the First Amendment, which allows me theoretically to express my thoughts.”

Another freedom implicit in the First Amendment is that of association, and the saga of “Jazz Jihad!” shows that this freedom entails a responsibility, sometimes, to disassociate. Faced with the prospect of his band appearing in this column, King fired LaBonte: “I don’t want to be associated with his beliefs.” Embarrassed by the photograph with Dieudonné, Parker publicly apologized. And both Cook and Palmer backed out of “Jazz Jihad!,” which LaBonte is planning at another, undisclosed local venue. (A second show is scheduled at Ovations Night Club in Houston.)

As for me, a proud Jew, I won’t be attending, no matter how talented the musicians. Chalk that up to the First Amendment, too.

An “open letter to the world” at lettrs tells the story of how Trevor LaBonte passed from ordinary lumpen-leftism to conspiracy theories to the far right. It makes for illuminating and tragic reading.

LaBonte and Atzmon, in linking up to Mark Dankof, are connecting to the out and out far right. Dankof’s world is that of American Free Press, founded by Willis Carto, “one of America’s most influential political racial theorists”. To understand this world, see SPLC’s page on Willis Carto and his group Barnes Review, or the Nizkor project’s page on Carto.

.


Michael Ezra blogs:

The Mail Online has an article up about an anti-fascist, topless, feminist activist in Dresden praising Bomber Harris for the bombing of that city in 1945.  Anna Edwards, who wrote the article, comments:

Between February 13th and February 14th 1945, between 35,000 and 135,000 people were killed by Allied bombing in Dresden.

In his findings in the Irving-Lipstadt trial (Section 13.126), The Hon. Mr. Justice Gray said:

In my judgment the estimates of 100,000 and more deaths which Irving continued to put about in the 1990s lacked any evidential basis and were such as no responsible historian would have made.

A comment from one Jurek Molnar clarifies the numbers:

The latest numbers on Dresden I can recall are from a study based on all available historical death records, which was published 2005. About 25.000, maybe 27.000 died in the bombardments of Dresden in 1945.

Dresden is a myth in Germany. It evolves all around a certain need to be victims too. Most accounts on Dresden from 1950 until the late 90ies were highly exaggerated, claiming that up to 250.000 people have died. German grief of the past also claimed that the bombardment had no strategic purpose and was a war crime. But that is of course not true. The study I mentioned above also states that Dresden had an important military infrastructure, a production of tanks and other weapons and was one of the cities that had the biggest pro Nazi populations. Bombing Dresden should also frustrate German resistance forces and weaken the city’s Nazi sympathies. One can have different perspectives on this issue.

Nevertheless the numbers that claim more than 30.000 victims are all made up and definitely not true.

The topless protestors, incidentally, are Anne Helm, a European parliamentary candidate for the Pirate Party in Berlin, and Deborah Anderson of Femen, although apparently both the Pirates and Femen have officially disavowed the protest. (There’s an interview in German with Helm here.) As a post-script, the neo-Nazi NPD demonstrated against Helm and the Pirate Party for her actions, with resulting scuffles, and there has been a big social media controversy going on in Germany too.)


This is interesting, from Robert Zaretsky’s article on Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks”:

Yet, it was the hand offered by the French philosopher Jean Beaufret that pulled Heidegger from the professional exile imposed by the Freiburg committee. Shortly after Jean-Paul Sartre, whose own thought was inspired by Heidegger’s work, gave his celebrated public talk “Existentialism is a Humanism,” Beaufret contacted Heidegger for his reaction. While Heidegger replied that Sartre had completely misunderstood his writings, this was less important than the public’s misunderstanding of Beaufret’s motivations. As the Heidegger scholar Richard Wolin notes, Beaufret, who had fought with the Resistance, soon gravitated towards the dark planet of Holocaust denial. In a letter he wrote to the notorious negationist Robert Faurisson, Beaufret reassured him that he, like Faurisson, had “traveled the same path” and had been “considered suspect for having expressed the same doubts” about the gas chambers.

In the same letter, Beaufret congratulated himself for having shared his views with Faurisson, and never committing them to paper. The same cannot be said for his work on behalf of Heidegger: Beaufret morphed into a veritable public relations firm for the Nazi thinker, serving as his privileged interlocutor and interpreter in France. While Sartre soon distanced himself from Heidegger’s writings, other and younger postwar intellectuals like Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault were drawn to them; they became the darling of self-described revolutionaries on the left rather than reactionaries on the right. For good reason, Heidegger chuckled that when the French talk philosophy, they think in German.

See also: Pierre Joris: “Heidegger, France, Politics, the University (1997); Gregory Fried: A Letter to Emmanuel Faye (2011).

Previously: Anti-imperialist Holocaust deniers in France; Ultra-gauche FaurissonistsGilles Dauvé and negationism


This article is from Sign and Sight, which has ceased trading. 

The anti-Semitism of the 68ers

Philipp Gessler and Stefan Reinecke talk with Tilman Fichter about the bomb planted in Berlin’s Jewish Community Centre in 1969

On November 9, 1969, on the anniversary of “Kristallnacht“, over two hundred people were gathered in Berlin’s Jewish Community Centre in commemoration of the victims of Nazi Germany. Unbeknownst to them, a member of the radical Left student movement “Tupamaros West Berlin” planted a bomb in the building. The device failed to explode because the clock meant to trigger it off was connected by a rusty wire. The Tupamaros saw themselves as Germany’s first urban guerillas, inspired by the Latin American role model. The brains behind the plot was Dieter Kunzelmann, a leftist radical political clown, founder of the “Kommune 1″ and self-proclaimed “kingpin of Chaos”. In the wake of the six-day war of 1967, Kunzelmann saw Israel as an imperial state and oppressor of the Palestinians, which must be resisted with force. His opponents inside the Left, who maintained a more nuanced view of the situation in the Middle East, accused him of having a “Jew complex”.
This summer, Wolfgang Kraushaar published “Die Bombe im Jüdischen Gemeindehaus”(the bomb in the Jewish Community Centre). The book reveals previously unknown information on the 1969 plot, and sparked a heated debate about anti-Semitism in the German Left in general and in the 68er movement specifically. According to historian Götz Aly, “the German 68ers were wretchedly similar to their parents.” Journalist Micha Brumlik pinpoints “the radical Left rebellion against their parents’ Nazi generation as a contradictory process of identification with them and their hatred of Jews.”
Kraushaar’s research revealed why the Berlin police had failed (or wanted to fail) in their examination of the case. Kraushaar identified Albert Fichter as the man who placed the bomb. Fichter was given the explosives – and this detail warrants further discussion – by an agent provocateur from the Berlin intelligence service who had long had the “Tupamaros West Berlin” under surveillance. Allegedly the bomb was tinkered with so it would fail to explode. Tilman Fichter, Albert’s brother, at the time chairman of the SDS (German socialist student group), explains in an interview why it was and still is taboo to talk about anti-Semitism on the Left.

taz: Mr. Fichter, you helped your brother Albert, who laid the bomb in the Jewish Community Centre in 1969, to escape from Germany…

Tilman Fichter: … yes, twice in fact, because he didn’t realise he was under surveillance.

Why did you help him? Continue reading ‘The anti-Semitism of the 68ers’


Following my last Contested Terrain post, here is a cut and paste of the last version of the CT resources page. Many of the links are dead of course and go via archive.org. If I ever have time, I will make a proper resource page on this site. Continue reading ‘Contested Terrain: resources’


The site subscription for Contested Terrain has elapsed and the site is dead, hopefully temporarily. Here is the last frontpage from archive.org:

 

Antisemitism in the syndicalist tradition

September 24th, 2012 | bobfrombrockley

Newly uploaded to Libcom:

Anti-Jewish trends in French revolutionary syndicalism [pdf]: Edmund Silberner on antisemitism among some key figures of the syndicalist movement in France. Originally appeared in Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 15, No. 3/4 (Jul. – Oct., 1953). Looks mainly at figures from the 1910s: Georges Sorel, the theorist of the movement; Emile Pataud, secretary of the electricians’ union; and Emile Janvion. Interesting for the overlap between antisemitism and anti-Masonic conspiracy theories.

Thanks to Juan Conatz for uploading.

 

<!–

–>

Occupy Rosh Hashanah 2012, NYC

September 7th, 2012 | admin

Remember Yom Kippur last year? Remember the power of 1,000 voices crying out in unison for social and economic justice in the language of the Hebrew prophets, from the midst of Wall Street? That definitive moment in progressive Jewish action was an expression of desire for a just world that continues to call out from within our hearts and souls. Let’s show the world that, with or without a park to occupy, we have not given up the struggle, and that we will not give up, until we have achieved the redemption
of the world. 

Celebrate the one year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (which falls on Rosh Hashanah, September 17) and the Jewish New Year together with a potluck dinner and nondemoninational holiday service! Eat some apples and honey, learn some Occupy Torah, and ring in the New Year with a bang!

If you would like to volunteer to organize or lead services, please email info@occupyjudaism.org.

Cosponsored by Jews for Racial & Economic Justice and Jewish Voice for Peace

 

<!–

–>

Chip Berlet interviews David Hirsh on Contemporary Antisemitism and Conspiracy Theory

September 7th, 2012 | bobfrombrockley

This interview is published at Public Eye and Engage. Berlet is a US-based investigative journalist and expert on the far right and conspiracy theories. David Hirsh is a UK-based sociologist. Below are some extracts, but you should read the whole thing.

BERLET: It seems that people who think of themselves as anti-racist and of some sort of progressive political bent have a hard time recognizing antisemitism, even if they recognize antisemitic statements they have a hard time seeing it in the same context of a broader global anti-racist struggle. Why do you think that is?

HIRSH: I think people are very good at recognizing some kinds of antisemitism. If it wears a Nazi uniform they understand it, if it’s right-wing they understand it, if it’s some sort of very simple worldview of racism and anti-racism. If it comes from the left and it comes from people who are anti-racist, then there’s often much more difficulty in recognizing and understanding what’s going on. There [are] many reasons for that.

One is that we think of antisemitism as being Nazism. Nazism was actually an unusual form of antisemitism; it was very clear, it allowed no exceptions; it allowed no escape for Jews. Most forms of antisemitism haven’t been like that., Christian antisemitism allowed people to convert to Christianity and therefore make themselves clean; also political antisemitism allowed Jews to put themselves on the right side of history. One of things we shouldn’t get too hung up on is the idea that antisemites are all like Adolph Hitler, because they’re not.
Continue Reading »

 

<!–

–>

International Antinationalism!

March 26th, 2012 | admin

Written by Working Group “Just Do It!” of AntiFa AK Cologne, Published March 2012.

Introduction

The following article was written in the context of the mobilisation for the international project “M31”, a European day of action against capitalism and the crisis. It is a first attempt to describe our approach of “antinational communism”*. Antinationalism is a fairly new, German-specific perspective on left-wing radical politics. It came about in the early 90s in Germany as a reaction to the reunification of a new, greater Germany and the occurrences of racism/fascism by a reactionary civil society. What is its central tenet? Nationalism or – to be more precise – the idea of the nation itself is seen as the central ideology, the all-time dominant, undeniable category in the global, oppressing power relation of capitalism and the capitalist state, which we want to see abolished. From our point of view, an antinational perspective goes beyond traditional left-wing approaches (classical anti-imperialism). And yet, we do not like to focus on Germany and its specifics alone and instead pick up a certain idea of international networking. We want to free this approach from its Germany-focussed isolation and – especially now at a time of crisis, when we can develop transnational reference points – start discussions with comrades in other European countries. Hence we decided to call this approach “international antinationalism”. This is also one of the main motivations for us and our antinational, German-wide network “…ums Ganze!” to engage in the project “M31”, which was largely initiated out of Germany.

*For us, communism has so far never existed. Communism is “the real movement which abolishes the present state of things” (Marx), i.e. the total negation of the present, capitalist world order for an emancipated, liberated society. The Soviet Union and “real-existing socialism” never was able to get rid of certain basic-capitalist categories, like value or wage labour. Thus, our use of the term communism distances itself from historic attempts at “Real Socialism”.

Continue reading here

2 comments

<!–

–>

Nuanced History of the Anti-Germans

March 15th, 2012 | admin

The following is a post written to the Marxism email list by Henning Böke, titled simply “Antideutsche, once again”. It presents a nuanced overview of the development of the anti-Germans, one of the very few english-language resources on the topic. It was originally posted here: http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2006w24/msg00284.html
Continue Reading »

4 comments

<!–

–>

Beethoven Versus McDonalds

March 9th, 2012 | admin

This text was written by the West German radical Left group “Revolutionary Cells” in 1983, and addresses nationalism and anti-Americanism in Germany and in the German peace movement. [Source] — eds. Contested Terrain
Continue Reading »

 

<!–

–>

Occupy, (anti-)Capitalism and the Right

March 9th, 2012 | schalom libertad

Two crossposts from Three Way Fight on the Occupy movement and the Right:

1.)       Anti-capitalism versus populism

Occupy Wall Street is one of the most exciting political developments in years, but like any social movement it has its contradictions. As I noted briefly at the end of my previous post, the Occupy movement is vulnerable to right-wing overtures to the extent that many progressive-minded activists lack clear anti-capitalist and anti-fascist politics. While some Occupiers have put forward a radical class analysis, others have voiced a sort of liberal populism, which identifies the problem as specific institutions, policies, or subjective behaviors rather than the capitalist system. Several leftists on other websites have addressed this political limitation and its unfortunate resonances with right-wing ideology. Here I want to summarize some of their main points, then offer an important counter-example of Occupy movement anti-capitalism – the plan by West coast Occupy movements to blockade ports on December 12th.

Continue reading here

2.) Rightists woo the Occupy Wall Street movement

Most right-wing responses to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement have ranged from patronizing to hostile. Rightists have variously criticized the Occupy forces for–supposedly–copying the Tea Party; failing to target big government; being dirty, lazy lawbreakers; being orchestrated by pro-Obama union bosses and community organizers; having ties with radical Islamists; fomenting antisemitism; or failing to address Jewish dominance of Wall Street. (On the Jewish Question, the John Birch Society wants to have it both ways–arguing that antisemitic attacks are integral to the Occupy movement’s leftist ideology, but also that the movement is bankrolled by Jewish financier George Soros, who is backed by “the unimaginably vast Rothschild banking empire.”)

At the same time, some right-wingers have joined or endorsed Occupy events, causing some leftists and liberals to raise warning flags. Neonazis have shown up at Occupy Phoenix and been kicked out of Occupy Seattle, where leftists formed an antifascist working group to keep them out. The Liberty Lamp, an anti-racist website, has identified a number of right-wing groups that have sought to “capitalize on the success” of OWS, including several neonazi organizations, Oath Keepers (a Patriot movement group for police and military personnel), libertarian supporters of Texas congressmember Ron Paul, and even the neoconservative American Spectator magazine. Leonard Zeskind’s Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights has warned against Tea Party supporters “who want to be friends with the Occupiers,” including FedUpUSA, Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, and conspiracist talk show host Alex Jones. The International Socialist Organization has focused on Ron Paul libertarians as a particular threat to the Occupy movement. In a related vein, the socialist journal Links reposted a detailed expose of Zeitgeist (aka the Venus Project), a conspiracist cult that has been involved in Occupy movement events, many of whose ideas are rooted in antisemitism or other right-wing ideology.

There is always a danger that some rightists will come to Occupy movement events to harass or attack leftists, or act as spies or provocateurs. More commonly, rightists see the movement as an opportunity to gain credibility, win new recruits, or build coalitions with leftists. When pitching to left-leaning activists, these right-wingers emphasize their opposition to the U.S. economic and political establishment–but downplay their own oppressive politics. In place of systemic critiques of power, rightists promote distorted forms of anti-elitism, such as conspiracy theories or the belief that government is the root of economic tyranny. We’ve seen this “Right Woos Left” dynamic over and over, for example in the anti-war, environmental, and anti-globalization movements.

Continue reading here…

2 comments

<!–

–>

99 Problems

February 23rd, 2012 | bobfrombrockley

This is a text, signed by “Some Anarchist Occupiers”, published at Rififi Bloomington, a site produced by activists from Occupy Bloomington, in Bloomington, Indiana.

Pronoun note: “We” here refers to us (the authors) and you (if you so choose to include yourself). “We” is NOT the occupation, the “movement,” or you (if you don’t choose to include yourself).

When Tea Partiers bad-mouth “welfare queens” or “border jumpers,” folks are quick to point out their racist stigmatizations, and that’s a good thing. However, everyone could do best to question their own assumptions as well, especially around the 99% rhetoric that large swaths of the occupy movement have claimed as a starting point. This rhetoric is antisemitic (definition: hatred or discrimination of Jews) and deserves to be called into question just as much as racist Tea Party rhetoric, and to be taken just as seriously as any other form of racism. Continue Reading »

8 comments

<!–

–>

Jews and the Left – Conference, May 6-7, NYC

February 15th, 2012 | admin

Announcement: The Yivo Institute for Jewish Research’s Conference “Jews and the Left”. May 6-7, 2012, New York City.

Description: Since the nineteenth century, Jews have played prominent roles in a variety of leftist political movements. At the same time, associations between Jews and communism have been a frequent leitmotif of antisemitic thinking. While the political Left often spoke out against antisemitism and promised Jews tolerance and an end to distinctions between Jews and non-Jews, specific, prominent, leftists espoused antisemitic ideas. In addition, Jews cultivated their own, uniquely Jewish, socialist parties and ideologies. In recent years, the relationship between Jews and the Left has been further complicated by left-wing opposition to the State of Israel and debates about the extent to which this opposition bleeds into outright antisemitism. YIVO, in association with AJHS, will bring together historians, political scientists, philosophers, and journalists from Europe, Israel, and America to discuss some of the important topics pertaining to the relationship between Jews and the Left.

Info here: http://www.yivo.org/events/index.php?tid=183&aid=893

 

<!–

–>

OWS and rallying against antisemitic violence in Brooklyn

November 18th, 2011 | bobfrombrockley

A guest post by P. Naberrie

There was an antisemitic arson attack in Midwood, Brooklyn a few days ago, with three cars torched to the ground and swastika/SS and KKK graffiti on surrounding benches, right in the middle of an Orthodox neighbourhood. A “Daily News” article the following day quoted a local resident tying the attacks to OWS, because of the antisemitic signs that could be observed there.

The OWS General Assembly agreed upon following statement against antisemitism on the 12th
http://blog.occupyjudaism.org/post/12738875603/ows-official-statement-against-anti-semitism
and called for people to go down to a community rally today.

When I came down there it was mostly around 70 Orthodox/visibly religious Jews from the neighbourhood, lots of media, one Israeli flag, and some speeches by local politicians and NY state senator Eric Adams (focusing on a general “hate is bad” line), some attempts at Black-Jewish joint  efforts against AS and racism, and then ending in a law-and-order tone stressing the need to track down the perpetrators and lock them up. One person held a sign saying “Orthodox Jews welcome OWS”, and got verbally attacked by somebody else, who said he didn’t want to have anything to do with antisemitic OWS.

After an hour or so around 30 people from OWS came down and joined the little march, handing out the flyer above and talking to people. There was a bit of interaction here and there, until 3 folks from Neturei Karta showed up with a sign saying “Judaism is not Zionism” and a swastika=Star of David drawing. They shouted fairly loudly, until one of them got beaten up and thrown to the floor. The attacker – apparently some Jewish man – got stopped or even arrested by the police, the Neturei Karta people got walked away.

So – one could argue that OWS has only come up with this kind of rally support because they have been under attack from the media/the right and want to get their public image straight. Most likely, without these attacks OWS would not have called for this kind of action (which wouldn’t be a sign of worry in itself – OWS endorses mostly stuff having to do with economic inequality, and sometimes police brutality, but not necessarily issues beyond that). Nevertheless, it seems to me from talking to people who came down there that there was a genuine concern about the arson attacks, and about making clear that antisemitism is not accepted. Also, no weird mixing-in of Israel-Palestine issues at all.

Apparently, the General Assembly made a pretty clear decision about this statement as well. To me, this just strengthens my perspective that antisemitism is not really an issue among the large part of the OWS crowd – at least not in any kind of open form, as the right would want to suggest. But I’d be curious to hear if other people have a different experience or analysis.

Additional links Continue Reading »

2 comments


[adapted from a post at Poumista]

Mohommed Mahmoud St. in Cairo. (WNV/Joshua Stephens)

Two interesting items:

The colour brown: de-colonising anarchism and challenging white hegemony by  in Random Shelling. Extract:

The appearance of the Egyptian Black Bloc in Cairo’s streets in January 2013 triggered gullible excitement in Western anarchist circles. Little thought was given to the Egyptian Black Bloc’s political vision – or lack thereof – tactics, or social and economic positions. For most Western anarchists, it was enough that they looked and dressed like anarchists to warrant uncritical admiration. Facebook pages of Israeli anarchists were swamped with pictures of Egyptian Black Bloc activists; skimming through the US anarchist blogosphere during that period would have given one the impression that the Black Bloc was Egypt’s first-ever encounter with anarchism and anti-authoritarianism. But as American writer Joshua Stephens notes, the jubilant reaction many Western anarchists have towards the Black Bloc raises unflattering questions concerning their obsession with form and representation, rather than content and actions. And in this regard, these anarchists are not different from the Islamists who were quick to denounce the Black Bloc as blasphemous and infidel merely because they looked like Westerners. Further, many Western anarchist reactions to the Black Bloc unmask an entrenched orientalist tendency. Their disregard of Egypt and the Middle East’s rich history of anarchism is one manifestation of this. As Egyptian anarchist, Yasser Abdullah illustratesanarchism in Egypt dates back to the 1870’s in response to the inauguration of the Suez Canal; Italian anarchists in Alexandria took part in the First International, published an anarchist journal in 1877, and took part in the Orabi revolution of 1881; Greek and Italian anarchists also organised strikes and protests with Egyptian workers. Yet these struggles are nonchalantly shunned by those who act today as if the Black Bloc is the first truly radical group to grace Egyptian soil….

And Palestinian Anarchists in Conversation: Recalibrating anarchism in a colonized country, by Joshua Stephens, originally in the Lebanese magazine The Outpost. Extract:

ahmad

“I’m honestly still trying to kick the nationalist habit,” jokes activist Ahmad Nimer, as we talk outside a Ramallah cafe. Our topic of conversation seems an unlikely one: living as an anarchist in Palestine. “In a colonized country, it’s quite difficult to convince people of non-authoritarian, non-state solutions. You encounter, pretty much, a strictly anticolonial – often narrowly nationalist – mentality,” laments Nimer. Indeed, anarchists in Palestine currently have a visibility problem. Despite high-profile international and Israeli anarchist activity, there doesn’t seem to be a matching awareness of anarchism among many Palestinians themselves.

See also: anarchist tagged posts on Tahrir-ICN about Egyptian anarchists.

Related articles Continue reading ‘Middle Eastern anarchism’

Kritik & theory

24Jul13

Carlos Marx

The left, global kicking off, and communisation theory

Roger Rashi, Sam GindinStephen Eric Bronner, Aaron Benanav, & Richard Rubin: Program and utopia. Extracts:

Aaron Benanav (Endnotes): …We in Endnotes want to say, “There was never a time when the Left really mattered. What mattered was something else — the workers’ movement.” The concept of the Left provided a way for Social Democrats and Leninists to solve ideationally what were in fact the real limits that the workers’ movement confronted. The concept of the Left allowed Social Democrats to expand their constituency beyond the working class, which became necessary because the workers never achieved the majority status in any country, with the exception of Belgium…

The aggregation of workers in industrial cities gave socialists the sense that, one day, they would be the majority. It was this idea, more than any other, that framed the revolutionary horizon of the workers’ movement. The organizations that the workers built for their defense within capitalism were supposed to function as the basis of future societies, but in fact, it was always either too early or too late for the workers’ movement. The growth rate of the industrial working class tended to decelerate over time. A heavy remainder — peasants and shopkeepers, and even the petty-bourgeois capitalists — seemed to suggest that the time of the revolution had not yet arrived. When this remainder of historically moribund classes had a decisive impact in the second half of the 20th century, the industrial working class itself was already going into decline: First, relative to the labor force as a whole, and then, absolutely….

Attempts to renew the Left, absent the intensification of class struggle, are bound to fail. All that such a project can achieve, it seems, is to attract students for a few years to do some reading groups and then move on with their lives. No intellectual milieu can survive in the absence of a real movement of the class. If Luxemburg said that, “After August 4th, 1914, Social Democracy is nothing but a nauseating corpse,” then in the years that followed she proved to be quite the necrophiliac. Instead of following in Luxemburg’s footsteps and trying to build a society of affiliated necrophiliacs, what is there to do? A lot of people in the audience are students or young workers. You don’t have the time or the luxury to prepare for the crisis. Austerity and rising youth unemployment affect you right now. There’s nothing for you to do but to fight now for whatever future you hope to save, to risk yourself in struggle as it really presents itself now, and thus to experience the limits that all such struggles confront in an attempt to coordinate disruptive activity across all sectors of the class. If this coordination merely depended on getting all ideas right, we’d all be doomed…

Richard Rubin (Platypus): … On a panel in Philadelphia I remember saying that Occupy was bound to fail, so the question was, “What lessons do we learn from it?” People gave me looks and expressed skepticism about my prognosis — but, really, how do you expect a bunch of people standing in Zucotti Park to transform global capitalism? You don’t have to think very hard to see the problem there, and in fact Occupy disintegrated much faster than I had expected. The utopianism that was being defended around Occupy came precisely from a feeling that it was not even going to bring about limited reforms. There’s a weird emotional psychology around utopianism, and the role that it plays on the Left today, that seems to stem from a disappointed reformism. People find it difficult to imagine even minimal reforms, and therefore, say, “Well, let’s demand the impossible” — or, at least, what they consider impossible. The one state solution today, which is taken to be the radical position, is nevertheless almost always formulated totally in the rhetoric of liberalism. It is no longer formulated, as it had been at times in the past, in the rhetoric of a joint struggle for socialism….

Looking at the long duration of the question of socialism, the problem has been that we have two negative examples of socialism: social democratic parties that have betrayed their socialist principles, on the one hand, and revolutions in backwards parts of the world that do manage to break with capitalism, but do not issue forth into a society that most of us would find genuinely emancipated. What is needed for humanity to survive, I would claim, is a world socialist revolution that takes power in advanced capitalist countries like the United States. But is that a possibility? Is that something one is going to put on the agenda?

Slavoj Zizek: Trouble in Paradise. Extract:

…A closer look reveals underlying similarities between Turkey and Greece: privatisation, the enclosure of public space, the dismantling of social services, the rise of authoritarian politics. At an elementary level, Greek and Turkish protesters are engaged in the same struggle. The true path would be to co-ordinate the two struggles, to reject ‘patriotic’ temptations, to leave behind the two countries’ historical enmity and to seek grounds for solidarity. The future of the protests may depend on it.

Jeffrey Isaac on Jodi Dean. Extract:

At the conventionally political level, The Communist Horizon suffers from its enthusiastic reading of Occupy as an “evental site.” The movement, considered broadly, still has an impact. And in places such as Greece, Spain, and Italy, it maintains real political traction by virtue of its strong links to social movements, labor unions, and political parties—in the plural. Yet, especially in the United States, both the actual physical presence and the political momentum of Occupy have largely faded from the scene. This could perhaps be regarded as confirmation of Dean’s point—that Occupy is doomed to failure until it embraces “the party.” But such a reading is implausible, because Dean’s entire account of why “the party” is indispensable hinges on the vitality of Occupy as a constituency and sign of a revolutionary moment requiring proper organization. This makes a serious political analysis of the present—its possibilities and its challenges—all the more pressing. And it makes the absence of any such analysis from The Communist Horizon all the more disappointing.

Crisis and crisis theory, etc

Michael Heinrich, Marx’s law and crisis theory. Extract:

We can derive a coherent theory of crisis from Marx’s works based on his LTRPF [aw of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall], his views on credit and banking (fictitious capital) and on world markets and imperialism.  Of course, there is plenty of work to be done in developing Marx’s theory of crisis in relation to modern developments and, as Marx did, we are learning more each day.  But Marx’s LTRPF remains the most robust explanation of capitalist crises and something way superior to alternative Keynesian and other mainstream economic explanations, which signally failed to explain the Great Recession.

Does [Naomi Klein] see any hope of something else, born perhaps of popular resistance to this class warfare? A concluding chapter of two-dozen pages (out of more than 500) addresses ‘the rise of people’s reconstruction’. Neo-liberalism’s nemesis is, wait for it, Morales! Hezbollah! Factory and farm co-ops in Argentina and Brazil! The French and Dutch rejection of the European constitution (the only reference to the EU in the whole book)! And Chavez of course. As people sort among the rubble of their societies, the final sentence tells us that “they are building in resilience—for when the next shock hits”. Naomi Klein’s totalizing vision of the contemporary world renders these scraps of resistance merely symbolic.

Frankfurt and Critical Theory

Foucault on the Frankfurt School (radicalarchives.org). Extract:

At that point I realized how the Frankfurt people had tried ahead of time to assert things that I too had been working for years to sustain. This even explains a certain irritation shown by some of them who saw that in France there were experiences that were- I won’t say identical but in some ways very similar. In effect, correctness and theoretical fecundity would have asked for a much more thorough acquaintance with and study of the Frankfurt School. As far as I’m concerned, I think that the Frankfurt School set problems that are still being worked on. Among others, the effects of power that are connected to a rationality that has been historically and geographically defined in the West, starting from the sixteenth century on. The West could never have attained the economic and cultural effects that are unique to it without the exercise of that specific form of rationality. Now, how are we to separate this rationality from the mechanisms, procedures, techniques, and effects of power that determine it, which we no longer accept and which we point to as the form of oppression typical of capitalist societies, and perhaps of socialist societies too? Couldn’t it be concluded that the promise of Aufkliirung (Enlightenment), of attaining freedom through the exercise of reason, has been, on the contrary, overturned within the domain of Reason itself, that it is taking more and more space away from freedom? It’s a fundamental problem that we all debate, that is common to so many, whether Communists or not. And this problem, as we know, was singled out by Horkheimer before the others; and it was the Frankfurt School that measured its relationship with Marx on the basis of this hypothesis. Wasn’t it Horkheimer who sustained that in Marx there was the idea of a society as being like an immense factory?


From the wonderful web magazine Souciant, by Magadh, Jun 26, 2013

Remembering Clément Méric. Grenoble, June 2013.

The fight, in which Clément Meric died, apparently started over some shirts. An 18-year-old student at Paris’ prestigious Sciences Po, Meric was headed to a clothing shop in the 9th Arrondissement when he encountered a group of skinheads headed to the same store. His killer, Esteban Morillo, is alleged to have been associated with the rightist Jeune Nationaliste Révolutionnaire, the largest organized skinhead group in France.

Clément Meric’s murder is notable for a number of reasons. Although Meric was an openly gay antifascist, his killing contains a number of interesting dimensions. Both he and his assailant were looking to buy Fred Perry clothing, favored by street activists of both the left and the right. More interestingly, the JNR, with which his killer has been linked, represents a peculiarly modern political formation on the far right. They are led by Serge Ayoub, a man whose Lebanese background seems oddly out of character with the racial politics of the extreme right.

READ THE REST


In Dissent: A review of Utopia or Auschwitz: Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust by Hans Kundnani

As an American, a Jew, a leftist, and a journalist who spent the past five months living in Berlin, I was continually fascinated—sometimes impressed, sometimes irritated, sometimes repelled–by the ways in which Germans were exploring their Nazi-era extermination of the Jews. There are numerous examples: Margarethe Von Trotta’s feature film Hannah Arendt, which focuses on the Eichmann in Jerusalem controversy, opened to critical acclaim. The Jewish Museum’s so-called “Jew in the Box” exhibit, in which ordinary Jews fielded questions about Jewish life and Judaism from interested, if largely clueless, museumgoers, elicited reactions from appreciation to disgust; it was premised on the (correct) assumption that, due to the Shoah, many contemporary Germans have never met a Jew. Less discussed—but, to my mind, equally startling—were the advertisements for the exhibit, which were plastered all over town; one proclaimed, in blunt black lettering reminiscent of street graffiti, “The Jews are to blame for everything.” Götz Aly’s 2011 book Why the Germans? Why the Jews? (soon to appear in English translation)—an attempt by a major German historian to answer the most vexing question in German history—was still discussed. And three months ago, Shakespeare and Sons, a popular English-language bookstore, sponsored a debate titled, “The German Left Wing’s Problem with Zionism.” Indeed, it became increasingly obvious to me that the German relation to the “Jewish question” (which some might call the “German question”) was inseparable from its relation to the history and practice of the German Left.

[READ THE REST]




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers