From the blogs

26Jun10

I have not been a very good blogger recently, as I’ve been too busy. This post rounds up some of the most interesting material from my regular read blogs.

free gaza from hamas///First, though, a round up on the Gaza flotilla: Terry Glavin – not the way to put an end to war; Red star commando – flotilla fanciesModernity – the flotilla and the fascists; Roland Dodds – on the incident and on the protestors;  Ben Cohen – German TV exposes the fascists on board the Mavi Marmara; Bob From Brockley – the English Defence League and the Gaza Flotilla; Contested Terrain – exterminationist antisemites and so-called leftists demonstrate togetherAustria’s Nazi/Green/Social Democrat anti-Israel coalition; IHH and cockroaches.

///And second, a big thank you to Stickerkitty for a very nice acknowledgement.

///Contested Terrain: How Infoshop.Org Suppresses Complaints Of Antisemitism. Extract:

One of the more interesting aspects of Anti-semitism is how it often tries to hide itself. For example, some writers like to proclaim things taken directly from the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ while, at the same time, denying that they are Anti-semitic.

Infoshop.org, one of the most popular anarchist websites, has a different take on things: when comments by its registered readers argue that an article is Anti-semitic and it should be removed, the site instead deletes the ability to comment from the article altogether.

///Ignoblus: The failures of anti-oppression activists to deal with antisemitism. Extract:

Left antisemitism matters.

David talks about the failures of anti-oppression activists to apply the basics of anti-oppression theory when the oppressed are Jews.

What distinguishes the rare discussions of anti-Semitism in these forums is not that folks universally mock and deride the concept. On the Feministe thread, you will find many that don’t. What is different is that folks that would in other context be seen as trolls, here are just “the other side”. The lack of 101 penetration is astounding. Respect how the Jewish community describes its own experience. Don’t accuse us of being psychopaths, overly sensitive, manipulative, or flat out liars. Don’t group our history and experience into the narrative of others. Being a Jew who disagrees with the bulk of the community does not earn you super-standing. The “anti-Semitism card” can and is easily trumped by the “anti-Semitism card card”. Calling a particular statement respecting Israel anti-Semitic does not mean one condemns all criticisms of Israel as anti-Semitic. For that matter, critiquing one’s statement regarding Israel does not necessarily mean we’ve called you anti-Semitic at all.

And, indeed, in a space like Racialicious, I’ve seen plenty of comments that are truly shocking.

///Ignoblus: Paternalism. Extract

Jeet Heer writes here about paternalistic racism.

In one sentence we get the two faces of paternalism: the smiling face that claims to have a special knowledge and affection (“I have deep love for our colored people” combined with the scowling desire to maintain power (“I know where they should be kept”).

He continues:

Smith’s two-faced take on race relations seemed very familiar to me. Don’t we see the same two-faces in the way neo-conservatives talk about Arabs? On the one hand there is the smile of condescension (we need to bring democracy to the Arabs) which quickly becomes the scowl of contempt (if they reject what is good for them, we’ll have to use the only language they understand which is force). The psychodynamics of racial paternalism deserve a deeper look from scholars.

Yes, we do see a lot of paternalistic racism directed toward Arabs. Also, a lot of paternalistic racism directed toward Jews.

///Resonance: The Guardian and the Bilderberg Conference. Extract:

Seeing capitalism as something external, as a conspiracy fails to deal with the reality of our social existence. But an analysis based on the domination of our abstract labour time doesn’t sell as many papers does it?

///Boydell: Can anarchists support their national team in the World Cup? Extract:

I used to fill my boring days dreaming of scoring the derby winner, jumping into the a terrace boiling with joy, pitch invasions. I used to go to the home games, one minute calling for patient football, building from the back, then the next minute be screaming “Get into ’em! Fuck ’em up!” Every two years, i would dream of England. Through the qualification campaigns, then into the tournament, pure excitement, a nation holds it’s breath. Me and my brother trudging up to bed in tears after Keegan missed the header. Lineker with his arm in a cast making Jimmy Hill scream in orgasmic joy. Platt over his shoulder, Gascoigne-Sherringham-Shearer-goal, Beckham sliding on his knees pumping his fists after slotting the free kick in the last minute of the must-win.

When i joined The Movement, i was forced to accept that this simple pleasure wasn’t so simple. Was i really proud to be English, proud of a history of racism, plunder, rape and murder? Do i really think God should Save ‘our’ Queen? Was i happy that women were so unwelcome at football matches, could i turn a blind eye to monkey chants and hardcore homophobia? Didn’t i see that money was the real master, that Capitalism had conned me with it’s circus diversions, that TV was the pinnacle of the passive spectacle? All the rage on the terrace, the unhealthy competition, the drunken violence – surely this is the patriarchy we want to destroy, not protect?

Shorter version at Shift, and further discussion at Resonance. Rather different views from Principia Dialectica and the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front.

///David Osler: No, Britain is not totalitarian. Extract:

TOTALITARIANISM is the ultimate pejorative designation that anyone can direct towards a state. To describe a country with this word means more than to brand it a deficient democracy, or a petty semi-authoritarianism, or even a boring bog standard electrodes-on-the-genitals dictatorship.

The term is redolent of one party rule and the attempt to control every aspect of every citizens’ public and private lives in the name of an ideology. It smacks of propaganda ministries, torture chambers, the cult of personality and the gulag archipelago. The implication is that the rulers are right up there with Stalin and Hitler in the serious badass rulers’ league.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of a handful of regimes in the current world that are awful enough to come close to the benchmark. Saudi Arabia, certainly. North Korea. Although Iran and Zimbabwe admittedly endure damn nasty governments, I somehow doubt even they quite make the cut.

So I was frankly surprised to read the opening paragraphs in a column from Alex Callinicos, Professor of European Studies at King’s College London, in this week’s Socialist Worker.

///Bob From Brockley: More. Extract:

The Workrep post linked to above is just one that points out the imbalance between the hysterical indignation around these deaths and the utter silence from the left about several other human rights and labour issues elsewhere. David Osler notes that there “is a certain irony in hearing the head of the Turkish government condemn acts of state terrorism and rail against breaches of international law” given the grimness of the situation in Turkish Kurdistan. Contentious Centrist also notes some situations that get a little less attention, here and here. As Mr Osler says, these comparisons and contrasts do not exonerate Israel’s stupid and deadly policies, but they provide some welcome context.

With a few exceptions, such as World War 4 Report and LabourStart, reading the UK or US left and liberal press one would get the impression that Gaza is one of the few places in the world where hardship or brutal repression is taking place. What about the Niger Delta, where villagers experience oil spills equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster every single day? What about Gujerat, where Muslims live in fear, de facto denied their political rights by communalist violence? What about Colombia, where the army attacks striking workers with impunity?

///Nick Cohen: Jews on the Brain. Extract:

Israel has become the main source of mystification for modern liberals. It twists them into ever-uglier contortions. It allows them to ignore secular tyranny and radical religious reaction and to revive with more relish than is seemly Europe’s oldest antisemitic tropes while they are about it. Given the dark forces which surround and exploit Israel, the urge to defend the Jewish state is close to overwhelming.

///Nick Cohen: Homage to Pilar Rohala. Extract:

There are more leftists than Conservatives might imagine who are astonished and horrified by the mainstream liberal-left’s indulgence of inquisitorial and anti-Enlightenment movements. Not many though are in prominent positions. Most keep their heads down for fear of being accused of “Zionism,” “Islamophobia,” “warmongering” or any of the other insults designed to stop people thinking and acting morally.

///Günther Jikeli, TULIP: Don’t boycott Israel. Extract:

I’m from the German union Ver.di, the largest union in Germany in the service sector. Within my union, luckily, calls for a boycott against Israel are not an issue and would not be successful right now. That doesn’t mean that all is good in my union but the general discourse on the issue seems to be much better than in most British trade unions. The deputy general secretary of my union would not sing “viva Palestine” on a pro-Palestinian rally – without showing any kind of distance to Hamas.

Calls for a boycott against Israel are regarded by many in my union as what they are: expressions of antisemitism.

///Arne Ruth, Eurozine: Sweden and Switzerland forget the Holocaust. Extract:

In Sweden and Switzerland, complicity in the Holocaust was for a long time ignored. It was only as a result of foreign publicity that national myths of neutrality gave way to admissions of responsibility.

///Benjamin Noys, Eurozine: Apocalypse, tendency, crisis. Extract:

Marx’s comment that history advances by the “bad side” has inspired an apocalyptic strand of anti-capitalism that supposes history is “on our side”. Benjamin Noys takes issue with the “accelerationist” view that welcomes apocalypse as the decisive moment.

///Property is Theft: Where the Sane fear to tread – anarcho-primitivism. Extract:

Anarcho-primitivism, according to advocate John Moore, is “a shorthand term for a radical current that critiques the totality of civilization from an anarchist perspective, and seeks to initiate a comprehensive transformation of human life.” In essence, it is a form of anarchism that is against the very foundations of civilisation itself.

It is for this reason that it is perhaps the most obscure and (to outsiders) bizarre form of anarchism that exists today. “For anarcho-primitivists,” writes Moore, “civilization is the overarching context within which the multiplicity of power relations develop,” and “it is in civilization that power relations become pervasive and entrenched in practically all aspects of human life and human relations with the biosphere.” Thus dismantling civilisation is the only way toward “the abolition of all power relations – e.g., structures of control, coercion, domination, and exploitation – and the creation of a form of community that excludes all such relations.”

///One from the archives: Ken McLeod on the liberalism of fools. Extract:

Anti-semitism, said Bebel and Engels, is the socialism of fools. The rage of the small property holder – the peasant, the artisan, the stall-keeper – against his inexorable ruin by the competition of bigger capital is given a face and a race to hate: a physical particularity that stands in thought for the abstractions of ‘finance’ and ‘the market’ and ‘the banks’. ‘The Jew’ becomes the concrete embodiment (in fantasy) of exchange value. So goes the Marxist tale, anyway, though it has many more subtle twists than that.

Is there another hatred that might be called ‘the liberalism of fools’? The progressivism of fools? The libertarianism of fools? If anti-semitism is, in an important aspect, a rage against the machine, against progress, is there an opposite rage: a rage against reaction, a fury at the recalcitrance of the concrete and the stubbornness of tradition? A rage against what is sacred and refuses to be profaned, against what is solid and doesn’t melt into air, against ways of life that resist commodification, against use-value that refuses to become exchange-value? And might that rage too need a fantasy object?

///Quick links:

Capitalism and anti-capitalism: Postone  and gold at Frankfurt airport.Loren Goldner on the historical moment that produced us.  Labour theory of value eclipsed. Chinese imperialism in Latin AmericaEliminating Labour: Aesthetic Economy in Harun Farocki. Material conditions of philosophical practice. Beverly Silver: Forces of Labor/Beverly Silver interviewed. David Harvey: Another anti-capitalism is possible. The European far right is far left (on economics) [via andy]. Experts fear spread of social unrest as financial crisis continues [via andy]. Has the black bloc reached the end of its usefulness?

Fascism, anti-Zionism, antisemitism: Stephen Hume: new antisemitism on the rise. Antisemitism and the economic crisis. Germany arrests Mossad agent. Hitler awakes in Vienna. The Final Solution in avante-garde German art. The dark side of the Liberal Democrats. On Europatriotism.

///Finally, some pictures:

The swimsuit issue from Jet Heer: Adorno, almost as cute as Natalie Portman.

And the World Cup issue from Joel Schalit: German and Israeli flags across the street.

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