Archive | July, 2013

Billy Bragg vs the South Bank Skateboarders

31 Jul

The South Bank skateboarders shouldn’t veto our community dreams

REALLY BILLY REALLY?

Yeah, fuck off skateboarders, stop getting in the way of people with money! Leave them to create their pop-up cultural arts space or whatever it is, rather than a public space for the whole community!

Trees, shrubs and plants occupy many of the spaces; these pop-up gardens are tended by homeless people, providing them with work experience as part of an ongoing eco-therapy initiative.

And in the undercroft itself, there are no plans for a Starbucks, despite what some have claimed. There will be two new restaurants, but the real focus will be series of pop-up ventures, similar to Luke’s Café, giving young entrepreneurs the opportunity to start up their own businesses.

He says while living in a mansion in Dorset and encouraging “pop-ups” which offer nothing to the community, only an even more precarious future and reduced employment rights.

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“Jewsplaining”

31 Jul

has there ever been a political movement so divorced from reality, and so completely up its own arse as “intersectionality”?

Now it seems, “Jewsplaining” is actually a thing. people are arguing that being Jewish is a “privilege” in the same way that being white or being a man supposedly always is with no regard to economic circumstances, no regard to anything else.

It seems that now we have to fight “Jewish privilege”.

really? really?

Let me be very clear here, when I say intersectionality is up its arse. I am NOT saying that opposing racism and sexism are not important or that from time to time people shouldn’t look at themselves and examine what “privileges” lead them to think the things they do. But Marxism opposes intersectionality. Marxism does not just say that “classism” is just another “oppression” based on what your accent is or how your dress or what your parents did. It is not just about rich people treating working class people badly, not being “allies“, needing to go to back of the “progressive stack” and needing to “check their privilege”. There are two main classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Capitalism is based upon the exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie, rather than try and make capitalism “nicer” (which is what intersectionality basically is) we should have the “revolutionary watchword – abolition of the wages system!” Today, it sounds a bit like what you might read in the pages of “Workers’ Girder” but it’s true. Capitalism cannot be made “nicer” or “more representative”. Is it any better to have for example a gay boss who treats you like shit than a straight one? The economic system depends on the position of the w/c as an exploited class. But that position also gives it its potential to be a revolutionary class, not just passive victims.

I am NOT saying that this means that working class people are all the same or have exactly the same conditions (it’s this that has given certain wealthy Guardianistas the license to compare their economic position, which while they might be selling their labour value, essentially got there because of the social capital which comes from being in a wealthy family, with those of working class people far lower down the socio-economic scale – witness Laurie Penny’s attempts to claim that she is a “precariously employed young person” and so on. I am also not saying, as some in the “vanguard parties” have done, that their supposed emphasis on the primacy of class means that “women’s issues” are just that, some sort of “bourgeois deviation” not relevant to the rest of the class, and that women and to some extent ethnic minorities exist outside of it whatsoever and are simply not important compared to the burning issues of how many monopolies to nationalise, whether their latest union lash-up has “socialism” in the title, how to deal with “dogmatists” and “autonomism” and how many hours in the general strike to call for without being “ultra-left”. These conditions are what enabled Comrade Delta and many others to get away with what they did for so long. Sexism is a class issue. Racism is a class issue. Homophobia is a class issue. They all affect members of the working class both with people’s attitudes and with institutional discrimination and “divide and rule”.

I quite frequently write on this blog about anti-semitism and sexism. Why? Because I have experienced these prejudices (not least from leftists) and they affect my life. I am not however under any illusions that either can be overcome without the abolition of capitalism or that we can just struggle alone. Sexism to take one example is always going to affect working class women more, because of patriarchal attitudes and low-paid work and usually having to still be the caregiver for the children, not being able to afford childcare, being less able economically to escape their situation, fewer job prospects and having to simply put up with it, whereas wealthier women can frequently just buy their way out of it. Many women stay with abusive partners because they simply cannot afford to leave them, a situation which is getting worse with attacks on wages and benefits, and women are frequently paid less for doing the same jobs, as well as often having to come home and do huge amounts of unpaid housework. It is laughable to pretend that the experiences of some of my mates with sexism and the experiences of someone like Theresa May are the same simply because they are women, even if they have “white privilege”.

I just read this bizarre article where the author is pillorying herself for “gentrifying the neighbourhood” because she is white and saying that by being white, she is “triggering other people’s pain”. I find such stuff deeply concerning to be honest. By having a go at herself like this how is she helping? Is she helping to prevent racism? Quite plainly not. Mindless self-flagellation does not help you recognise and understand the position of those less fortunate than yourself. It is not just patronising, it is verging on “noble savage” territory that elevates their position in society beyond any individual characteristics. These people are laughed at behind their backs. For God’s sake stop embarrassing yourself, stop thinking about yourself and everyone in racial terms. Go out and meet some normal people ffs.

But anyway …  now we get this. Proof that with this stuff, without a proper class struggle perspective, without any sort of analysis beyond “look at me, I’m trying so hard to examine my own privilege” while making the non-privileged bit parts in your own drama while you “deconstruct” your identity, or “look at us and how oppressed we are” your politics can rapidly go into the sewer. You can say goodbye to any form of common struggle if you haven’t got the right “intersections”. And the sad thing they probably think this kind of saying “fuck you” regardless of circumstances to white people is progressive and that it’s going to help in some way.

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“Jews were not considered white at the time of the Holocaust. Now with their status as white, they’re oppression is something we are supposed to “never forget,” while slavery and the continued genocide against people of color all over the world is something we’re supposed to “get over” and we’re supposed to “stop using the race card.” For reparations of the Holocaust, the Jews got an entire country. Brown people, meanwhile, can barely even get equal opportunity standards at jobs and colleges without people rushing to call it reverse racist, meanwhile our country pays for the bombing of Palestinian children in order to protect Israel for the Jews. Why? Because they consider the Jews white and they consider the Palestinians POC.

Antisemitism is definitely a thing, but there’s a reason why it’s called antisemitism and not racism, and that’s because Jews are considered white and, for the most part, benefit from white privilege.

Edit: Also, you ever notice how white Jews only bring up the Holocaust when brown people are talking about our oppression? Woooow, it’s almost like the Holocaust doesn’t even affect them in their daily lives and they’re only using the murder of 11 million people (brown people included) to try and silence POC.

Wow.

So wait a minute – “white Jews only bring up the holocaust when brown people are talking about our oppression”? The other week I was at a holocaust memorial service. I didn’t see much silencing going on there or people trying to shut up anyone else, just people remembering their dead relatives or being there for religious reasons. In fact, in my experience it’s often mentioned at these types of events that just as the Jews were the victims of prejudice, we should not turn a blind eye to or be racist or otherwise prejudiced ourselves. And nobody ever tells Jews to “get over” the holocaust, or that anti-semitism doesn’t exist any more, do they? No capitalists ever promote anti-semitism, use the “chic” of Nazism or use anti-semitic imagery in order to sell their shit products.

And of course attacking all white people is a great way to stop racism isn’t it, just as saying “kill all men” is a great way to stop sexism.

The laughably simplistic analysis of the Middle East in the name of “opposing racism” which both ends up repeating anti-semitic stereotypes about Jews and power and – well, talking absolute shit – completely ignores the role of US capital and the fact that the US’s support of Israel is neither to do with “guilt” over the holocaust, wanting to “protect Israel for the Jews” or considering Jews white.  The US government is quite happy to turn a blind eye to antisemitism when it is politically and economically worth doing. Leaving beside the fact that these views simply don’t make sense outside of the context of the US (actually, they don’t make sense at all) in countries where the dominant social prejudices are simply not against “people of colour” (leaving aside parts of Europe where prejudices against Muslims, Roma or Jews all with the same skin colour are the dominant social prejudice, what about Northern Ireland? Or Kosovo – would a black American soldier or NGO worker living there really be any more “privileged” than Serbs in an Albanian area or Albanians in a Serbian area? And aren’t divide and rule arguments encouraged by nationalist politicians about who’s the most “privileged” rather than uniting on a class basis against bosses and landlords partially responsible for what’s happening there anyway?)

I have been working as a temp administrator in a private school which mostly caters to rich international students, many of whom want to go and study at Oxford or Cambridge University afterwards. So about two months ago, the guy who teaches Arabic came into the office. This guy is originally from Palestine. He started talking about how many “rich Arabs” there are in Israel and the Middle East who would like to come and study in the UK, he then started talking about how he is running a business not a charity and he doesn’t want any students “whose parents are teachers or clerks in the bank”. I asked him where he was from, he said Israel, I asked whether that was Israel or Palestine. My manager who is from Ukraine then said “oh that’s a complicated subject”, she then starts talking about how “the Jews” own most Ukrainian businesses and how 70% of the politicians in Ukraine are Jewish.

Who is the most privileged here? I have a feeling it could be me, because I am white and Jewish and English is my native language, even though I am an agency worker, have few rights, and earning far less than they are. While I’ve been working there, I have heard other anti-working class and racist remarks from the managers, including about “lazy” English people and how the genes of people in the West have “degenerated” because of their lazy lifestyles. Oddly enough, these “privileges” haven’t meant that I was able to get rid of my managers or that I am in a better economic position than they are!

On the flipside of course, there is the perception of Jews on some sections of the liberal left as being some magical, special “breed”, noble savage shit along the lines of Julie Burchill, which is not anti-semitic but is deeply patronising and irritating, especially when it is tied to a political agenda (either opposing it, or supporting it) about Israel.

Some of the reactions by Jews to the “Jewsplaining” stuff are also fairly disturbing and the language used about “gentiles” (really??) disturbingly reminiscent of campaigns to stop people from “marrying out” and prevent “assimilation” (ie stop the “calamity” of Jews marrying non-Jews, as if marrying a non-Jew means you automatically stop being culturally Jewish or even following the religion. Without this “calamity” I wouldn’t be here). We get diatribes against “tumblr goyim” and people saying that “gentile is a privilege”. Would the idea that “gentile is a privilege” apply to working-class Palestinians in Gaza? Because that’s where this idiocy leads straight back to. Implicit support for the president of the US based on the fact he is black. Implicit support for the Israeli state based on it being a “Jewish state” or implicit support for other Middle Eastern states based on their leaders being Muslim and not white. Implicit support for Thatcher based on the fact she was a woman.

Or even to a situation like my family – some of my non-Jewish family members have still experienced anti-semitism based on our surname and the fact there are Jewish people in the family. It is telling that so much of this stuff doesn’t actually challenge capitalism but sees their priorities solely in terms of how diverse a “project” is or how many ethnic minorities or women are in “leading positions”. Capitalism lives on but this time on lines which merely seem more open and diverse. Is the “pink pound” for example really any less desirable than the ordinary pound to business? Do openly gay people not serve as members of the Tory party, despite their tradition of disgusting homophobia which continues with policies on housing benefit for example making it more difficult for working-class gay people with unsupportive families to leave home? Just because this stuff disadvantages someone it does not make everyone else better off as a result – racism, homophobia, sexism etc impede our ability as a class to struggle effectively whether we are directly affected by it or not.

While often well-intentioned privilege theory only helps reinforce these divisions. If you care about actually fighting this stuff rather than establishing a “hierarchy of oppression” become a communist.

“Rape Joke” A poem by Patricia Lockwood

29 Jul

“Rape Joke” A poem by Patricia Lockwood.

this poem is really powerful and it needs to be read so read it.

Link

Noise in Opposition

29 Jul

Noise in Opposition

There has been a disturbing amount of fascist and other militaristic bullshit imagery that has infected the industrial music scene, especially the more mainstream side of it, from the early 1990s onwards. The most notorious examples are bands like Death in June but there are others and even more mainstream acts like Combichrist with songs like “shut up and swallow” and most recently Die Sektor with their release “the final electro solution” are not immune from using misogynist and racist/Nazi imagery in order to sell records. Fortunately for those who enjoy industrial music there is a new compilation out which combines great music with an opposition to capitalism and fascist views

Link

The Apprentice’s Sorcerer

29 Jul

The Apprentice’s Sorcerer

I am currently reading this excellent book about the relationship between economic liberalism (and by extension neo-liberalism of today) and fascist politics. It was linked to by the guy who runs the “four winds shotgun” blog on Tumblr.

It is definitely worth a read. It will upset liberals and fash alike but that’s as good as any a reason to give it a read!

It demolishes any idea that Hitler’s philosophy or fascism in general was “Marxist” in any sense, even a warped sense – fascism was concerned ultimately with preserving capital:

Yet with a fascist as important as Hitler, we can see that anti-individualism
could in fact represent a defense of the modern, industrialist order;
drastic limitation of the rights and liberties of individuals could be
motivated not by hostility to capitalism but by the reverse need to
deliver individuals to capitalism, facilitate its workings:
Work of culture is cooperation; yet cooperation requires organization.
What would become of a factory which does not posses a tight organization,

in which every worker comes to work when its suits him, and does only the work which entertains him.

Without organization, without coercion, and so without individual

sacrifices it would not function. Life is a continuous renunciation of
individual liberty (Hitler in Picker 2003: 233).

Even Nazism’s emphasis on “equality” of the German Volk within a capitalist nationalist framework and promoting people of the lower classes to elite positions was aimed at preserving capital:

Hitler did not wish to revive the closed caste society
of the middle ages, but rather to construct society according to the
paramount capitalistic-liberal tenet of equal opportunities, competition and individual merit.

Like the great majority of his right-wing
contemporaries, he endorsed open elitism, which admits into its ranks
and promotes new talent from below.10 Hitler’s “aristocratic principle
of nature” was thus in fact distinctly meritocratic, i.e., bourgeois. The
whole system revolves—again, at least in theory—on “the principle of
achievement.”

[…]

Notice the way, proper for a liberal economic discourse, in which
productive meritocracy is contrasted with pernicious, stagnant protectionism.
A major criticism levelled at the German upper classes is their snobbish complacency and unwillingness to recognize plebeian
merit. This has led some historians to underline the “revolutionary”
impact of National Socialism, its attack on the old elites.11 Yet such
infusion of new blood into the ruling elite was in truth regarded as a
vital pre-condition in preventing social upheaval.

give it a read, seriously

Transitional demands

28 Jul

I just read a great quote which expresses very well one of the reasons I stopped being a trotskyist:

“[The transitional approach is] akin to trying to persuade someone who believes the Earth to be flat that it is in fact a sphere by first convincing them that it is a cube. The terrible irony here is that such ‘credible’ demands are utterly impossible to achieve under capitalism and do not even articulate the need for socialism. They are truly transitional to nothing; save sowing illusions.”

The rest of the article is worth reading as well.

Enemy, mine. 1921-2013?

26 Jul

You dare tell me that i am as bad as they are
you dare tell me that for wanting justice

for wanting them not to escape

for wanting them to be remembered

for wanting them to be hunted down

like a fucking dog

the way they hunted mine down.

you, who know nothing of them.

you sit there and tell me that i’m as bad

but what does it mean to be as bad
it means to have no care

to treat what they did as it was nothing

like it didn’t matter

like it doesn’t matter

like they did.

and you dare tell me about being as bad?

well fuck you.