C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Some reflections on ideology, Zionism, and fascism

In response to an excellent and timely piece by Richard Seymour, debunking the myth that fascism was a leftist political movement, I provided some brief thoughts of my own, when the subject turned to Zionism. I've done a little reading in this area of late, and this are my current thoughts, ever provisional:

I think there's a tendency to simplify Zionism. Zionism came in many different forms - left and right, religious and secular. The ruling ideology of Israel is probably best understood as simply violent national chauvinism, perhaps with a few Zionist features thrown in, but not strictly identifiable with Zionism.

I think also that the tendency for the lunar right to support Israel is tactical, in many cases. Paxton makes the point that if fascism were to come to the US, it would steer clear of the repugnant symbols of the fascism of old (i.e. jackboots, swastikas, etc). It makes sense that budding fascist groups would view Muslims as the enemy, and would therefore support the IDF's efforts against 'terrorism'.


Maybe the ruling powers in Israel have some fascist tendencies. However, when we look at the most belligerant of Israeli hawks, look at their rhetoric and, more importantly, their actions, there's little that's specifically 'Zionist' about it. They might as well be chauvinist thugs from Russia or anywhere else.
Obviously, we cannot ever accept Zionism as a legitimate solution if we are universalist and internationalist. That goes without saying. But I wonder if Zionism is to the ruling Israeli elite what German Romanticism was to the Nazis - a necessary, but hardly sufficient condition.

Human trafficking

Here is a great resource for anybody interested in the sex trade, and human trafficking.

Courtesy of Hossam.

GFC hits Ireland

Shane MacGowan forced to get teeth.

From this:
Shane MacGowan

To this:

Shane MacGowan and his new teeth

Let's remember the good old days, of lilting folk songs:

And, for your patience, for those of you of my generation, you'll remember tolerating Mr Valentine's antics in order to hear this unzud classic:

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

'The fashionable ideas of the left'

I've had previous occasion to disagree with Mark Richardson, self-identified 'traditional conservative'. He's at it again today in a post on racism:

There's a fashionable idea on the left that whites invented the concept of race in order to gain an unearned privilege by oppressing others. Therefore, whites are held to be uniquely guilty of preventing the emergence of human equality.

It's hard to know if Richardson is being disingenuous here, or if he's just plain ignorant. Anyway, for his enlightenment, I left him the following response:

Firstly, the notion of race did emerge in its most elaborate form in Europe. This wasn't done to obtain 'privilege' or other such nonsense, but to justify brutality at the expense of colonised peoples. It's a recurring pattern you can find in relation to England, Nazi Germany, imperialist France, fascist Italy, etc. There's overwhelming evidence that this was the case, and I am quite happy to point you to numerous references if you think otherwise.

Secondly, whilst it's quite possible to find examples of various kinds of non-white racism, there is no historical precedent for the racism exhibited by Europe toward the rest of the world. Remember, by the 19th century, pretty much the entire world (with a couple of notable exceptions) was the property of one European power or another. This might give you some idea as to why the ideologies underpinning European racism are of somewhat more interest than racism by Inuits or Khmers.

Finally, as you know full well, 'diversity' has always been evident in Australia, from the time of the Aboriginals onwards. It cannot be got rid of. What we are seeing today, albeit, in the form of limited, localised examples (Cronulla, Camden), are thick-headed would-be brownshirts trying to impinge on the rights of those they see as the enemy (typically Muslims or middle-easterners). There people, whilst on the margins, have nonetheless formed organised groups to further their cause. Can you point us to any nascent fascist groups run by Vietnamese or Somalians that are promoting racist hate, or is post yet another ugly exercise in quashing strawmen and pinning moral responsibility exclusively to minorities?

Looking at the output of Richardson and his followers, 'traditional conservatives', I'm struck by the preoccupation with themes of racial and cultural purity homogeneity, the need to restore patriarchal arrangements, the reduction of relations between the sexes (and the nations) to biology, the strident opposition to both leftism and liberalism, the niggling sense of grievance and resentment, as if White Australian Males were the most oppressed group on the planet...
Let me be very clear - I'm not suggesting Mr Richardson is a fascist. But take these precise views, add the slightest hint of radicalism to them, and what you'd end up with is a creed that is formally indistinguishable from the brownshirts of old.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Tell Me Lies about Vietnam

Where else but in The Australian do we see a shameless attempt to re-fight old culture wars, and bring back to life the long-since discredited spectre of the 'domino theory'? A fellow named Colebatch has decided that the domino theory was 'largely borne out' in events in South East Asia and Eastern Europe. Colebatch avers that we cannot allow 'Western military defeat' in Afghanistan, whatever this means, as Europe, having a large minority of Muslims, would be in strife - 'jihadist elements would be encouraged everywhere.'

This is the sort of imperialist bullshit that one expects to find on the stupidest of right-wing blogs (or in The Australian). There are lies and distortions from almost the first line. Take the claim that the domino theory was demonstrated in 1975, because 'Cambodia and Laos fell as, and plainly because, Saigon fell'. Putting aside the mass carnage wrought by US forces on all three Indochinese countries in this period, (strengthening support for the Khmer Rouge in particular), Cambodia went down the revolutionary path in spite of the Communists winning the war in Vietnam. It was actually the latter who eventually liberated Cambodia in 1979. Opposition between Vietnam and Cambodia was itself sympomatic of the Sino-Soviet split, wherein Cambodia was backed by China (and armed by Western Europe and the US), whilst the Vietnamese were backed by the Soviets. Hardly an example of 'domino theory'.

This shoddy, dishonest logic is at work throughout the piece, where Colebatch makes vague and sinister claims that defeat in Afghanistan (a campaign largely concerned with aerial bombings these days) will have 'consequences' for the West, because of the latter's supposedly latent radical Muslim population. In addition to the shameless bigotry, Colebatch insists that this scenario 'puts Australia's commitment of an additional 450 troops there into perspective'.

Indeed it does, but not in the way that Colebatch thinks. Once the 'good war' to Iraq's fiasco, Afghanistan has, for a long time, been a 'quagmire', where Coalition forces have supported all manner of butchers, warlords, and (despite official rhetoric) Islamists, for reasons that were dubious in the beginning, and utterly unjustifiable now. Casuistry such as the domino theory aside, there can be no military solutions to what are longstanding political problems.