Anarchism and British Islamism: putting things in perspective - Steven Johns

Crow-bombs: our biggest problem?
Crow-bombs: our biggest problem?
Submitted by Steven. on May 10, 2011

Paul Stott opens his article stating that it aims to kick-start a debate about how anarchists should respond to the development of Islam and Islamism in the United Kingdom. It is a debate that is long overdue."

Jumping straight to his conclusion, I would first like to emphasise that I agree with his final points wholeheartedly:

There is a need to stress the type of alternative, bottom up multi-culturalism that we live with and support daily – getting on with neighbours, colleagues and school friends as people, not as identities based on their colour or creed. Joining together with people as fellow workers and fellow members of working class communities targeted by cuts will be a lot easier on that basis, than the multi-culturalism of the state and the left.

This being the case I hope that my disagreements with the rest of the article are taken in the constructive spirit they are intended.

My disagreements with the rest of the piece go right back to the opening paragraph, to the statement that this is "a debate that is long overdue". Anarchists love nothing more than to argue incessantly over irrelevant issues (look at me now!), often the more irrelevant the better.

Islam and Islamism and our approach to them is one such issue. On the website I help run, libcom.org, for example we have dozens of articles about Islam, and we have had dozens of debates about it in our forums over the past eight years - far more than we have about any other world religion. Anarchists are certainly not immune to a media frenzy, unsurprisingly, as things we read about in the paper and end up discussing with friends and co-workers we want to discuss with one another as well.

However, we should always remember that the media is not neutral, it has an agenda, and so to counter this we should always try to put things in perspective. The main issue with Stott's article is the complete lack of perspective.

The clear scale of the exaggeration of the issue is quite well illustrated by this statement:

[the global Islamic] resurgence was – and is – an event as important as the French or Russian revolutions.

Now I ask on what basis is this even close to being true? The French revolution was the triumph of capitalism over feudalism, setting the scene for the dominant new economic system for the entire planet. The Russian revolution was the world's first major proletarian revolution and experiment in socialism, which was crushed and instead turned into the second imperialist superpower and led to the Cold War, which dominated much of the world's political life, including class struggle, over the past 100 years.

The supposed growth of political Islam has had nowhere near as big an impact as either of these two events, no matter what the Daily Star says. I say "supposed" growth because despite a recent resurgence I would question whether political Islam now even has the same influence it did 30 years ago.

Political developments
The article continues to discuss "Asian" and "Muslim" Councillors switching from one political party to another. I fail to see what is surprising about local politicians being opportunistic with their party affiliations. What is new here, or different from politicians of any other ethnicity doing the same?

As for the statement "the most important political institution in east London is not the Labour Party or a trades union – it is East London Mosque", this seems more like hysteria that fact. Having lived in East London myself for nearly 10 years I think I can pretty much safely say that the mosque has had zero impact on my life, apart from possibly being responsible for the two most ridiculously close together bus stops in London.

Paul does identify various people with some form of authority who are associated with the mosque. However, I am sure you could identify many more influential people associated with a particular synagogue or church. But would this have any political utility? Perhaps, but then why single out Muslims here, especially given how they are being victimised by the media, the far right and elements of the government?

I also find it quite concerning that Paul refers to "Islamists" in office being as useless at representing the working class as anyone else. Of course I agree that you can't represent the working class in elected office. However, Mayor Lutfur Rahman seems to be referred to as one of these "Islamists", but he is not. His religion is Muslim but he himself is a left social democrat.1

Are there actually any Islamists who have been elected to positions of power in the UK? After a brief search I have been unable to find any. But it is conceivable that there could be a couple, but whether there are or not there are still far far more Christians in positions of power whose religious ideas affect their political ones. So why the focus on Muslims?

Bang
Now, onto the terrorism, which seems to be the main problem which Paul identifies with Islamism:

Although rarely acknowledged, a small, but not insignificant number of British Muslims have been fighting, killing and dying in their version of Jihad for the best part of three decades, in places as diverse as Bosnia, Kashmir, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Israel.

I assume the author knows the number of these fighters, as he states it is "significant" so I would ask out of curiosity what is the number?

Whatever the absolute number, absolute numbers are not relevant without any sort of context. In terms of Bosnia, white socialists (not to mention NATO) went to fight there on the Muslim side, so why does this paint Muslims in a particularly bad light? As for Israel, far more British people go there to fight for the IDF. And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

As for the statement that:

The first British suicide bomber died in Srinagar as far back as 2000 – so much for the idea that such attacks solely occur because the government was stupid enough to follow the Americans into Iraq.

I would ask who ever said that suicide bombings happened solely because the UK invaded Iraq?

Plenty of people - correctly - stated that the UK being involved in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq would make the UK more of a target for Islamic terrorists, and surprise surprise it did.

I am particularly surprised that a former Class War member now seems to be condemning anti-imperialist terrorism. Class War were virulent supporters of the IRA: religion-linked terrorists who attacked civilians in the UK because the UK had invaded "their" country. What is the justification for supporting them, but not Islamic terrorists, despite the invasion of Muslim countries being so much more recent?

Regarding the comments around Preventing Violent Extremism, while the government attempted to state that it was meant to address all kinds of extremism, it wasn't just scapegoating Muslims, this was just window dressing to try to make them not look racist. Everybody who had something to do with PVE knows that it was just aimed at Muslims - the funding was even mostly allocated according to how many Muslims lived in an area. 2

When in my Council PVE was due to come in, many staff were concerned that it would be used to stigmatise Muslims, and asked me to raise this as a union issue, stating that Islamic extremism has never been an issue in our area, so why couldn't we use the funding to do more integration type work and oppose all types of extremism including racism? Management told us not to worry, saying that it would be used to target the far right as well. But it was not, it was only aimed at Muslims. I'm aware that one worker in the IT department even refused instructions to generate lists of Muslim children to be targeted by the project as she felt it was discriminatory.

Stott moves on to criticise the Federation of Student Islamic Societies for "insisting there was no evidence Muslim students are more prone to radicalisation than anyone else" pointing at four Muslim students convicted of terrorist offences as supposedly definitive evidence to the contrary.

As an anarchist, does Paul see any qualitative difference between the authoritarian violence of a state (by the British Army) and the authoritarian violence of a proto-state (Islamist terrorist groups)? I certainly do not - and far more Christians in role in the Army to go around murdering Muslims than do Muslims murdering Christians.

Or is violence only bad or evidence of "radicalisation" when it is not carried out by the state, its only legitimate user?

Moving away from an anarchist response?
Paul slams politicians "daft enough to cede power to sharia courts and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals at a local level". But this statement again seems to play up to tabloid hysteria about "sharia law". People must voluntarily agree to attend these courts and tribunals, which it is true do discriminate against women, which is terrible. However, if they do discriminate in a way which contradicts UK law then British courts can be used to overturn discriminatory decisions. And while it is true that some "volunteers" are effectively forced into attending, banning these courts would just force them underground, and women would still be forced in the same way to attend. These courts are also directly comparable to Jewish Beth Din courts which have been around in the UK for hundreds of years - so again why the focus on Muslims?

Supporting state bans on voluntary alternative systems is not an anarchist position.3 Helping women being pressured into attending these discriminatory courts resisting, or supporting them getting discriminatory decisions overturned however could be. Ways we could practically do this include opposing cuts to bodies which inform people of their rights, opposing cuts to women's services, interpreting services, legal aid etc.

The article then complains about public money being given to Muslim bodies like East London Mosque. I also oppose public funding of faith organisations. However singling out a Muslim organisation without making any comparison to the huge amounts of public money given to Christian or other religious organisations obscures the real issue, and makes Muslims seem like the problem.

In the conclusion states that "anarchists need to avoid the type of auto-leftism that dominates certain groups".

But more importantly at a time of unprecedented public sector cuts we need to avoid the racist tabloid hysteria which is deliberately scapegoating a tiny, disproportionately poor and working class section of society for all our problems.

This article makes no attempt to put the "problem" of Islam into any kind of context by comparing with other political forces or religions which are predominantly white. In fact it expressly tries to avoid putting the problem in context by avoiding actual numbers and using percentages. E.g. "92% of those in British prisons for terrorist offences affirm themselves to be Muslim" - pointedly not mentioning that this is not 92% of thousands, but 92% of only about 100 people who are in prison for terrorist offences in total, and not mentioning that "terrorist offences" is a very broad term.

It doesn't even put the problem of Islamic terrorism in the UK into any sort of perspective. Muslim terrorists have killed under 60 people in the past 40 years, whereas nationalist terrorists, some of whom Class War supported, have killed many times that number.4 In Europe, 99.6% of terrorist attacks are carried out by non-Muslim groups. And of course if like me you see no qualitative difference between the violence of terrorists and the violence of states, then this needs to be compared with those deaths as well in terms of determining what the biggest issue is - and these numbers do pale in comparison to the 650,000+ deaths in Iraq only up to 20065 . Of course, Paul is doing a Ph.D. in British jihadism and so I'm sure spends a huge amount of time researching and thinking about Islamic terrorism so this could mean there is the appearance of attributing it with disproportionate importance.

Of course we should continue to criticise religion and religious intolerance, as well as the state's divisive top-down multiculturalism. On this note I would echo Paul's recommendation of Aufheben's article on the development of the Muslim community in Britain. But that doesn't mean that we should join in with a racist tabloid witchhunt. We should avoid language or behaviour6 which encourages non-Muslim working class people to view Muslims as a problem, and alienates Muslim or Asian working class people, possibly pushing some towards extremists.

And given that the working class is under the biggest concerted attack from employers and states in decades, we should be extremely wary of focusing our attentions on other working class people whom the media are demonising. Especially given the sidelining of political Islam and the escalation of class struggle in the North African/Middle Eastern revolts, we should be organising alongside Muslims and people of all religions in our communities and our workplaces against the savage public sector cuts. We can demonstrate the bankruptcy of the Islamists in opposing austerity here and in the Middle East and show that it is by uniting in our common class interest that we improve our lives and our conditions.

  • 1 The only website which refers to him as an Islamist that I can see (and an "Islamist supremacist" no less) is the nutty Zionist website Jihad Watch
  • 2http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/1e684162-1f94-11df-8975-00144feab49a.html#axzz1LtLQWqb7
  • 3 Members of Class War have in the past also abandoned anarchist principles on Islam, supporting France's state ban on the headscarf.
  • 4 The IRA for example have killed over 10 times as many civilians. Source: 1969–2001: 1,821 deaths, including 621 civilians. Source: 2002 online update of 1994 book — Malcolm Sutton (1994) Bear in mind these dead ... An Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland 1969–1993, Belfast: Beyond the Pale Publications, ISBN 0-9514229-4-4.
  • 5http://articles.cnn.com/2006-10-11/world/iraq.deaths_1_gilbert-burnham-death-rate-ali-dabbagh?_s=PM:WORLD
  • 6 I would include here as an example Class War's burning of a decidedly dodgy effigy of Mohammed .

Arbeiten

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Refreshing article, I have been worried about a certain amount of anti-islamism hysteria gathering on the anarchist front. It's a bit of a double bind too, which I'm glad in your second paragraph you nipped in the bud. I really don't feel that here in london/britain/europe anarchists really need a 'Islamism discussion'. If you really want to discuss Islamism there are plenty of other platforms on which it could be done, why a specifically anarchist response?

Malcy

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Otherwise, great response!

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I see that Paul has now seen this:
http://paulstott.typepad.com/i_intend_to_escape_and_co/2011/05/british-islamism-towards-an-anarchist-response.html

I didn't realise he wrote the article last year, I thought it was just from the other day, as the publication date was not included when it was posted to libcom.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

"I am particularly surprised that a former Class War member now seems to be condemning anti-imperialist terrorism. Class War were virulent supporters of the IRA: religion-linked terrorists who attacked civilians in the UK because the UK had invaded "their" country. What is the justification for supporting them, but not Islamic terrorists, despite the invasion of Muslim countries being so much more recent?"

Er... Class War were not 'virulent supporters of the IRA'; the IRA were not 'religion-linked terrorists'; 'the UK' never invaded Ireland because the United Kingdom of Great Britain was created in 1707, centuries after the arrival of Strongbow in Ireland in the 1100s and nearly 60 years after the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland - the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed in 1801. You don't seem to know what you're talking about.

In addition, the IRA were, in the words of Bobby Sands, fighting for a 32-county democratic socialist republic. Islamist terrorists are fighting for a caliphate. Can't you see there's a difference?

If there's so much to question in one small portion of your article where I have some knowledge, how much of the rest is cobblers too?

RedEd

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Whilst I don't think its useful to compare the IRA and Islamist groups, I'd like to defend some on Steven's comments. The (70s,80s,90s) IRA were intimately linked with a sectarian religious divide, which was of course created to a great extent by the British state, but the fact remains that most IRA members saw 'the prods' as in some way the enemy, and effectively organised along religious community lines rather than class lines. Additionally, the IRA had some links to members of the Catholic clergy. Saying that the IRA were not religion linked seems incorrect to me. Your point about the UK not invading Ireland is factually correct, but I think perhaps a little pernicity. The politcal entity that became the UK sponsored invasions of and directly invaded Ireland. Perhaps Steven should have made a foot note explaining that the House of Normandy were the first ruling political group to initiate invasions of Ireland from the British mainland in the series of events that lead to the occupation, etc., but would it have been useful?

I think Steven was not trying to say that the IRA are as bad as Al-Quaeda. He was trying to say that many of the criticisms made of Islamism could be made of movements some anarchists support. One implication being that those anarchists lack a consistent class struggle internationalist critique which they could benefit from developing.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

While it's true to say that the Provisional IRA were predominantly Catholic, if Steven's term 'religion-linked terrorists' is to have any meaning, especially in the context of an article about Islamist terrorists, it can't mean simply that they were drawn from one religious background, but that their primary motivation was religious; and that they received significant support from important religious figures. I note that you do not disagree with my statement that the IRA were fighting for a 32-county democratic socialist republic. The IRA were not fighting for a theocratic state - therefore their primary motivation was not religious, unlike that of Islamist terrorists. There is of course a long and proud tradition of Protestant involvement in Irish republicanism from Wolfe Tone onwards: republicanism is not a sectarian political ideology. As for support from the Catholic Church for the IRA's campaign, though it is true to say that some priests were involved either in providing spiritual support or material support for the IRA, the Catholic hierarchy were always vigorously opposed to the IRA's activities - carrying on a tradition which stretches back at least as far as the Tan war. The association or involvement of priests with the IRA was not ubiquitous throughout the Six Counties, let alone the rest of the island. As the IRA were not primarily motivated by religion nor did they receive significant support from the Catholic Church it is hard to see how the claim that they were religion-linked can be sustained.

Turning to the issue of the United Kingdom, I don't think I am being pedantic when I say that the UK never invaded Ireland. England, English Crown forces, invaded Ireland on a number of occasions, most famously under Elizabeth I and Cromwell. Although it is true to say that the successor states to the former Kingdom of England maintained their presence in Ireland, this was - as I say - maintaining possession rather than invading anew. The last 'invasion' of Ireland would have been the Williamite campaign in Ireland after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Again, before the creation of a unitary state in Great Britain... The United Kingdom, both as England, Wales and Scotland between 1707 and 1801, and as the UK of Great Britain and Ireland from 1801 to 1922, was a very different creature from its predecessor states. Saying that the UK invaded Ireland is like saying that the United States fought the French and Indian War in the 1750s and 1760s: a load of old bollocks, frankly.

By the way, it was the Plantagenet Henry II who was on the throne when Strongbow received his invitation from Dermot MacMurchada; Strongbow was out of favour with Henry II and Henry denied giving him permission to accept Dermot's proposal.

The issue here is not, to my mind, so much the matters we're discussing here - as I made clear in my previous post - but whether when Steven's attitude to accuracy and honesty is as questionable throughout his article as it is in the paragraph I highlighted.

Joseph Kay

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

If someone blows up a pub for a 32 county socialist republic, or blows up a tube train to free palestine/establish a caliphate, what, from a libertarian communist point of view is the difference? Surely the problem with terrorism - and the analogy being drawn - is one of methods, not motives?

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm not getting drawn into that rather different discussion.

Joseph Kay

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

ok, me neither, but i think that was the point being made: islamism/islamic terrorism is apparently a big enough problem anarchists need a specific response to it, yet the anarchist response to a far bloodier campaign previously was to cheerlead it. which begs the question why single out islam(ism)?

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ask Steven why he decided to post Paul's article & write a response.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh - and "the anarchist response" to the IRA was not "to cheerlead it", was it?

Joseph Kay

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Someone else posted it I think, and Steven didn't realise it was an old article and turned his impromptu response into a blog. As for his reasons, well, he can speak for himself I guess. But presumably he disagreed with Paul's post enough to motivate him to respond to it.

jef costello

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think pulling 11 men on their way home from work off of a bus and shooting the protestants and letting the catholic go would have a stong religious element.

At first, the workers assumed that they were being stopped and searched by a British Army or RUC checkpoint, and when ordered to line up beside the bus, they obeyed. At this point the lead gunman ordered the only Catholic, Richard Hughes, to step forward. Hughes' workmates—thinking that the armed men were loyalists who had come to kill him—tried to stop him from identifying himself

Even workers showing solidarity across religious lines get shot dead. I think this shows the attitude of the organisation more than a few words
The identification of each side with a religion is something that can hardly be denied even if there were a few protestants in the IRA (and fewer as time when on and the attacks increased I would imagine, not that anyone was likely to keep records)

I note that you do not disagree with my statement that the IRA were fighting for a 32-county democratic socialist republic.

I would disagree with that, although some might have been pushing for a socialist republic I don't think it was the mainstream thought in the IRA, especially and the Official/Provisional split was based on the officials being too marxist/socialist although again it's hard to know exactly because I doubt anyone kept that kind of information. I don't see why anarchists would or should suppport a violent sectarian campaign whose avowed aim is simply morre of the same. I can see why catholics on the ground, faced with discrimination and violence might feel that it was necessary but it doesn't mean it should be suppported or defended.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jef

You point to one incident out of thirty years of conflict and in the context of a vicious murder campaign carried out by loyalists. But if you care to read the link you provide, then you'll see that matters are not as clear cut as you intimate. There is no consensus that the attack was carried out under the banner of the IRA; the claim that SARAF had no links to the IRA is equivocal, but in any event it hardly appears to have been greeted with joy within republican circles.

The stated aim of the IRA from 1916 to the present has been the foundation of a 32 county republic based on the 1916 Proclamation. The centrality of James Connolly to modern republicanism, too, supports my argument. That Sinn Fein under Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have determined on a different direction does not mean that the IRA were not fighting for what their most famous Volunteer claimed.

As to your final point, perhaps you could be more forthcoming than Steven and post up some evidence to show CW's 'virulent support' for the IRA. You (ie you, Steven and Joseph Kay) are long on claim but remarkably short on evidence.

We did go on Bloody Sunday marches, we did have stalls at the Green Ink Irish Bookfair at the Camden Irish Centre, but 'virulent support of the IRA'? Put up or shut up.

Jack_Ketch

Ask Steven why he decided to post Paul's article & write a response.

I posted it (which is easy enough to see on the tracker) because I'm uploading relevent articles from Shift and because it's an interesting debate worth having. Paul's article basically says as much.

Django

Jack_Ketch

Ask Steven why he decided to post Paul's article & write a response.

I posted it (which is easy enough to see on the tracker) because I'm uploading relevent articles from Shift and because it's an interesting debate worth having. Paul's article basically says as much.

doesn't really answer joseph kay's question, 'why single out islam(ism)'

Jack_Ketch

Django

Jack_Ketch

Ask Steven why he decided to post Paul's article & write a response.

I posted it (which is easy enough to see on the tracker) because I'm uploading relevent articles from Shift and because it's an interesting debate worth having. Paul's article basically says as much.

doesn't really answer joseph kay's question, 'why single out islam(ism)'

:confused:

Ask the author? Or are you saying me posting it is singling out islamism? You can see on Shift's website that it's the second article listed, after Nic Beuret's which was the one last I posted.

Arbeiten

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I'm also not a fan of the Srinagar example. Though the guy was indeed British and indeed a Muslim, I would argue that the context (Kashmir) and the motives (free Kashmir state) are completely different to the 7/7 bombers or Abu Hamza. The burning of poppies, Islam4UK, 'baby killer' protests are emphatically connected to to the wars in the middle east.

Jack_Ketch

You point to one incident out of thirty years of conflict and in the context of a vicious murder campaign carried out by loyalists. But if you care to read the link you provide, then you'll see that matters are not as clear cut as you intimate. There is no consensus that the attack was carried out under the banner of the IRA; the claim that SARAF had no links to the IRA is equivocal, but in any event it hardly appears to have been greeted with joy within republican circles.

And you pointed out Bobby Sands, who was admittedly a single man rather than a single incident.
If it was a response to loyalism then why shoot ten men on the basis of their religion, especially ones who actually tried to protect a man from the other religion? You can't use loyalist crimes to justify this without completely undermining yourself as far as I can see.
If you're trying to claim South Armagh Brigade wasn't part of the IRA and wasn't one of the most lauded groups taking part in the struggle then I'm a bit surprised.
To be honest you've picked and chosen from the republican movement to try and argue a point that doesn't make sense really. If it is just the fault of the leaders then why haven't they been challenged? What are your thoughts on the OIRA/PIRA split ?

To be honest I doubt this is going to get us anywhere because your conception of the IRA is not one that I believe can be justifie or is logically consistent.

In terms of Class War cheerleading the IRA I must admit I don't know that many class war members but on forums there have been several who have been at best soft on the IRA. It has been a widespread problem on the left at times, up to the point where two RA members carrie out an IRA bombing. In general I think that all nationalist struggles damage us and I don't just argue against Irish nationalism I just find that along with Palestinian nationalism it is the one most supporte amongst leftists and therefore most damaging.

Spikymike

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well despite some fraternal co-operation between Subversion and Manchester Class War in the past (both groups now defunct of course) we in Subversion had to continually challenge the support given by some members of Class War for both Irish nationalism and the IRA (see for instance correspondence with a London CW member and Subversion in the Library here).

On a similar theme also read Dave Douglass's autobiography to see how his leftist support for Irish nationalism and the IRA drifted on to influence CW.

I think Steven has picked up on some of my previous comments on the earlier thread in his revised piece, though the link I provided is still perhaps relevant.

RitaRearguard

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Very interesting. Our job is to defend muslims against islamophobia not to defend Islam for obvious reasons. Yes there was some element in Islamicist terror attacks that has been a response to the horrors of impearialism. We always said that the first way to deal with this movement is for the west to get out of Chachnya, Palestine etc etc and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have made things worse.
But lets get things the blowing up of innocent civilians will achieve nowt, only a mass movement the likes of which we are seeing in the middle east will defeat impearialism and secondly we have to look at the kind of society that these groups want. We should defend the Palestinian resistance as a whole against the enemy Israel but we understand that Hamas has for example passed legislation in Gaza banning women from driving motorbikes and men working in beauty parlours. Islamacists don't wish for a socialist society but will tolerate capitalism as the Qu'ran says that it should in effect it aims for a society where women are subjugated to men and the Qu'ran is law, they have no liking for Kafur (unbelievers) especially athiests and the position on sexual liberation is apparent, they hate it. Also in many Islamic states (especially Iran) the penelty for renouncing Islam is death and in most Islamic communities questioning or criticising Islam is'nt tolerated.
Abu Hamza, Anjam Chaudry etc have said clearly they want to sweep western secularism away and that includes us, they hate us.
Our task, I think is to support socialist and secular groups in muslim countries. Indeed the right to freedom of belief in this country was achieved with much suffering by groups such as Ranters and Quakers. Our task is to defend secularism and support those trying to breakout of religious dogma whilst at the same time defending the rights of muslims in the west to practice their religion free from Islamophobia.
We stand by the people of Afghanistan to determin their own lives but oppose the Taliban, Al Qaida or any group wanting to keep the country in the Middle Ages.
Sounds like a contradiction. I think not. I think it is a principled position on the question.
Lastly, most muslims in this country have little love for Al Qaida and their ilk.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Spikymike

Thank you for addressing the issue. However, what's in question is not what individual members might have felt but the views of the group. You have taken a more nuanced view than some of the other posters on the subject. As you say, some members of CW were indeed republican sympathisers: others, however, were most emphatically not. If Class War were 'virulent supporters' and 'cheerleaders' of the IRA I'd expect that something from the paper could be picked up, something from the Heavy Stuff, something from Decade of Disorder, something from Unfinished Business... As far as I'm aware, the only 'pro-IRA' statement in the paper was in about issue 2: Ian Bone writes that -

Sean and Stella agreed to help me get Class War No. 2 out. ... Stella was a member of Red Action and Sean a close sympathiser so they contributed a Provisional IRA cheerleader piece 'I.I.IRA - Fuck the Queen and the UDA', It was the last time a pro-republican piece was to appear in the paper as our collective view was to become as opposed to Catholic nationalism as we were to Protestant unionism.
Ian Bone, 'Bash the Rich', p. 127

Dave Douglass may have supported the IRA as may other individual members of the organization, but - as I have said - many others were vehemently opposed to the IRA. It is untrue to claim the Class War Federation was supportive of the IRA.

jef costello

Jack_Ketch

You point to one incident out of thirty years of conflict and in the context of a vicious murder campaign carried out by loyalists. But if you care to read the link you provide, then you'll see that matters are not as clear cut as you intimate. There is no consensus that the attack was carried out under the banner of the IRA; the claim that SARAF had no links to the IRA is equivocal, but in any event it hardly appears to have been greeted with joy within republican circles.

And you pointed out Bobby Sands, who was admittedly a single man rather than a single incident.
If it was a response to loyalism then why shoot ten men on the basis of their religion, especially ones who actually tried to protect a man from the other religion? You can't use loyalist crimes to justify this without completely undermining yourself as far as I can see.

I don't think that there's any undermining of my position. Let me quote from Tim Pat Coogan's 'The IRA' (1995 edition):

Sectarian assassination is such a feature of the struggle that it deserves a special examination, as do the Protestant paramilitary forces and their endeavours. The sectarian assassin can be either a bigoted racialist or a genuine patriot. He can strike to punish, as he sees it, treacherous and rebellious members of a sub-species which is threatening life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is how many Protestant assassins, particularly in the UVF, see their actions. Or he can coldbloodedly retaliate for an earlier killing as the IRA did at Bessbrook in South Armagh on 5 January 1976, when ten Protestant workmen were machine-gunned to death after they had been ordered out of their mini-bus and forced to line up for death one of the few occasions when the IRA went in for outright sectarian murder.
Why? I asked an IRA spokesman. Looking me straight in the eye he replied: 'Why not? It stopped the sectarian killings in the area, didn't it?' Unfortunately he was right. Five Catholics had been killed in two attacks in that area on the previous day. The attacks stopped immediately.
(p. 443)

Indeed, I'm not going to deny it was sectarian. But I am going to argue that that was far from the norm for the IRA, as Tim Pat Coogan suggested and as the other long quote below substantiates. I would agree with Peter Taylor's remark that it is an event which republicans would rather forget because it disgraces every principle they hold dear. (Peter Taylor, Provos, p. 196)

If you're trying to claim South Armagh Brigade wasn't part of the IRA and wasn't one of the most lauded groups taking part in the struggle then I'm a bit surprised.

The article you linked to said that the action was claimed by SARAF. Now I have had a chance to get home and have a look at the books I have more detailed information in front of me. I never said anything about the IRA's South Armagh brigade. And nor did you. Indeed, the link on which you relied, which was all I had to go on earlier, is rather equivocal on the event.

To be honest you've picked and chosen from the republican movement to try and argue a point that doesn't make sense really. If it is just the fault of the leaders then why haven't they been challenged? What are your thoughts on the OIRA/PIRA split ?

I don't see how this is relevant. Your thesis, which argues that the IRA were involved in a sectarian campaign against Protestants doesn't stand up to examination. As Tim Pat Coogan noted, in the bold section of the quote, the Kingsmill killings were one of the few times the IRA indulged in sectarian killings. Following a detailed analysis of IRA sectarianism, Robert W. White ('The Irish Republican Army: an assessment of sectarianism', in Terrorism and Political Violence 9(1) (1997), pp. 20-55) concludes thus:

...I examined who it is that the IRA killed between 1969 and 1993. This examination supports the view that the IRA direct their violence against the British. The single largest grouping of victims of the IRA is British soldiers. Further, combining the figures for the British Army, the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the Ulster Defence Regiment/Royal Irish Rangers shows that over half of the IRA's victims have been members of the security forces. The results suggest that the IRA is at war with the British and their security forces in Northern Ireland; IRA behavior, in general, is consistent with their non-sectarian ideology.
This is not to deny that, over time and across geography, the IRA did kill Protestant civilians. Many of these deaths, however, may be attributed to IRA accidents and mistakes and to the IRA's attempt to influence British policy through the bombing campaign in the early 1970s. Also, many of the deaths were confined to the years 1975 and 1976, and to Belfast, especially North Belfast. Finally, in comparison to the widespread and consistent targeting of Catholic civilians by Protestant paramilitaries over time, the IRA is far less sectarian than are Protestant paramilitaries. Because of this, it is perhaps best to view the IRA as a non-sectarian organization that, when they do desire, can and will strike out at the Protestant community in Northern Ireland, as at Kingsmills.

The killings at Kingsmill, therefore, were very much out of the ordinary and in no way normal IRA practice. As such, your case is rather undermined, because you argued that

I think pulling 11 men on their way home from work off of a bus and shooting the protestants and letting the catholic go would have a stong religious element.

with the implication that this 'strong religious element' could be applied more widely to an understanding of IRA tactics and targeting. That simply isn't the case. And so we return to what I said in my initial post on this thread - the IRA were not 'religion-linked terrorists', and I note you have not bothered to contest my definition of what I mean by 'religion-linked terrorists': it seems, therefore, you accept my understanding of the term. Given that, perhaps we can move on.

To be honest I doubt this is going to get us anywhere because your conception of the IRA is not one that I believe can be justifie or is logically consistent.

God knows your conception of the IRA isn't one which stands up to comparison with the facts.

In terms of Class War cheerleading the IRA I must admit I don't know that many class war members but on forums there have been several who have been at best soft on the IRA. It has been a widespread problem on the left at times, up to the point where two RA members carrie out an IRA bombing

Right. So out of hundreds of people who have passed through the ranks of CW over the years, you can think of several who have had a soft spot or similar for the IRA. Hardly the sort of thing I was thinking of when I asked for evidence of Class War's 'virulent support' for the IRA. And then you bring in Red Action, a group with whom it's well known that Class War had considerable differences! You're all over the place on this one.

. In general I think that all nationalist struggles damage us and I don't just argue against Irish nationalism I just find that along with Palestinian nationalism it is the one most supporte amongst leftists and therefore most damaging.

I don't know where you get the impression that Irish nationalism has a great deal of support among 'leftists'. Certainly that's never been the impression I've received over the past 20 years. The more distant something is the more support it typically attracts, like the Zapatistas some years ago, or Che Guevara and Fidel Castro back in the 1960s - or Hugo Chavez now. People have commented on how many lives were lost through the Troubles and how few comparatively have been lost to Islamist terrorists.What disturbs me about this, in the context in which this thread emerged, is that you and some of the other contributors on this thread are not, in my view, bringing this up out of horror at the bloodshed, but as an underhanded way of having a go at Class War. It's evident from Steven's article that's why he's included it. Yet as I have argued, Class War did not 'virulently support' or 'cheerlead' the IRA. You've yet to show me anything which suggests I am wrong to say that, that I am wrong to say the IRA are not 'religion-linked' terrorists, or indeed that I am wrong in anything I pulled Steven up on.

Jack_Ketch

Spikymike

Thank you for addressing the issue. However, what's in question is not what individual members might have felt but the views of the group. You have taken a more nuanced view than some of the other posters on the subject. As you say, some members of CW were indeed republican sympathisers: others, however, were most emphatically not. If Class War were 'virulent supporters' and 'cheerleaders' of the IRA I'd expect that something from the paper could be picked up, something from the Heavy Stuff, something from Decade of Disorder, something from Unfinished Business... As far as I'm aware, the only 'pro-IRA' statement in the paper was in about issue 2: Ian Bone writes that -

Sean and Stella agreed to help me get Class War No. 2 out. ... Stella was a member of Red Action and Sean a close sympathiser so they contributed a Provisional IRA cheerleader piece 'I.I.IRA - Fuck the Queen and the UDA', It was the last time a pro-republican piece was to appear in the paper as our collective view was to become as opposed to Catholic nationalism as we were to Protestant unionism.
Ian Bone, 'Bash the Rich', p. 127

Dave Douglass may have supported the IRA as may other individual members of the organization, but - as I have said - many others were vehemently opposed to the IRA. It is untrue to claim the Class War Federation was supportive of the IRA.

From Class War issue number 83:

in our former theoretical magazine (The Heavy Stuff Issue 5) our position in solidarity with the then Provisional IRA campaign was quite unequivocal. That support came at a time and in a context of the nationalist communities of the six counties fighting an all out war. As a class and as an oppressed nationality, against the British state, its soldiers and the loyalist death squads. In the face of bitter repression by the state, through murder and internment without trial, the bombing campaign against the British mainland was initiated. That bombing was part of the context of the overall struggle which people of both islands could see.

I will address some of your other points later when I get a chance. This demonstrates the support for the IRA. The virulent nature of some of this is demonstrated in the debate with Subversion, full of sentences in capital letters, etc. Some of this debate is viewable here:
http://libcom.org/history/northern-ireland-ira-class-war

I intend to post the rest of that debate up shortly.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So what you're saying is that in the summer of 2002 CW said there was an article about ten years before which CW agreed with then. The position was rather different when I was involved, where as I've said some people were for the 'RA and some against. If the best you can do is one article in a magazine from 1992 or thereabouts that hardly indicates the 'virulent support' you mention in your article, does it?

Jack_Ketch

So what you're saying is that in the summer of 2002 CW said there was an article about ten years before which CW agreed with then. The position was rather different when I was involved, where as I've said some people were for the 'RA and some against. If the best you can do is one article in a magazine from 1992 or thereabouts that hardly indicates the 'virulent support' you mention in your article, does it?

in class war's organisational newspaper there was an article clarifying class war's position on the provisional IRA, referring to class wars theoretical journal, which stated that the organisation's position was solidarity with the IRA.

I didn't see any official position retracting that.

You also seem to be ignoring discussion I linked to above with Subversion, with an IRA-supporting class war member. What is particularly funny on that is that a psychopathic banned poster in the comments to that article talks about how he also supports the IRA (including the continuity IRA, on other threads he stated how he also supported Islamic and fascist terrorism), then a class war member comes on the thread trying to recruit him to the organisation! That comment is here:
http://libcom.org/history/northern-ireland-ira-class-war?page=1#comment-363863

Jack_Ketch

So what you're saying is that in the summer of 2002 CW said there was an article about ten years before which CW agreed with then. The position was rather different when I was involved, where as I've said some people were for the 'RA and some against. If the best you can do is one article in a magazine from 1992 or thereabouts that hardly indicates the 'virulent support' you mention in your article, does it?

Your objection seems implicitly anyway not to be with Steven's substantive point that Class War supported the PIRA, but rather you'd rather he didn't refer to it as 'virulent support'. Your assertion that CWF held within differing views on this is rather weak IMO. As Steven said as in organisation articles were published in support of PIRA and so reasonably people assumed that Class War supported PIRA. Can your point to published material by Class War to reflect your contention that people within CWF rejected Irish nationalism?

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

When I was in Class War the only 'official' position I was aware of was the bit in Unfinished Business, which seems more nuanced than the article in the Heavy Stuff from what I can tell from CW 83, which as far as I can tell none of us has read. I could name you quite a number of former members who were by no means supporters of the IRA in any of its incarnations without troubling my memory. You also ignore the fact that we did not have 'official positions' in Class War. If you're going to judge CW by the yardstick of Trot groups, then you'll misunderstand us.

We had Unfinished Business on the stalls for more years than I care to mention. I can't recall Class War selling republican merchandise on the stall while I was a member: which you would have expected if we had retained the position apparently advanced in HS5.

I'll see if I can dig out a copy tomorrow so I can read the article in all its glory.

Steven.

You also seem to be ignoring discussion I linked to above with Subversion, with an IRA-supporting class war member. What is particularly funny on that is that a psychopathic banned poster in the comments to that article talks about how he also supports the IRA (including the continuity IRA, on other threads he stated how he also supported Islamic and fascist terrorism), then a class war member comes on the thread trying to recruit him to the organisation! That comment is here:
http://libcom.org/history/northern-ireland-ira-class-war?page=1#comment-363863

I'm not so sure you know the meaning of 'recruit'. After all, Outlaw asks 'how can I join Class War': to which he receives information. Not really someone out of CW trying to persuade someone to become a member, is it? Personally I think that the CW member should have engaged more with Outlaw to get his measure instead of saying 'to join us you write to us'. When I was a member we corresponded with people, met them (several people) to get a better idea about them and if they were ok there was a three month probationary period. Which is a bit longwinded, perhaps, but we didn't have things happen to us after instituting this procedure which had occurred earlier, and of course we didn't have the fash infiltrating us.

Jack_Ketch

When I was in Class War the only 'official' position I was aware of was the bit in Unfinished Business, which seems more nuanced than the article in the Heavy Stuff from what I can tell from CW 83, which as far as I can tell none of us has read. I could name you quite a number of former members who were by no means supporters of the IRA in any of its incarnations without troubling my memory. You also ignore the fact that we did not have 'official positions' in Class War. If you're going to judge CW by the yardstick of Trot groups, then you'll misunderstand us.

I am aware that CWF did not hold 'positions' as such hence why I asked if you could point me to articles that reflected an opposing viewpoint on this. If views are expressed to a greater or less extent consistently in support of Irish nationalism and there is no opposition from members who opposed this, then is it not meaningless that CWF members held such views, if they were not at least expressed.

Android

I am aware that CWF did not hold 'positions' as such hence why I asked if you could point me to articles that reflected an opposing viewpoint on this. If views are expressed to a greater or less extent consistently in support of Irish nationalism and there is no opposition from members who opposed this, then is it not meaningless that CWF members held such views, if they were not at least expressed.

Second question first: no: those views were on at least some occasions rather forcefully expressed. As for your first question, I don't think I can point you to such articles, certainly not immediately. You'll have to wait.

Jack_Ketch

Steven.

You also seem to be ignoring discussion I linked to above with Subversion, with an IRA-supporting class war member. What is particularly funny on that is that a psychopathic banned poster in the comments to that article talks about how he also supports the IRA (including the continuity IRA, on other threads he stated how he also supported Islamic and fascist terrorism), then a class war member comes on the thread trying to recruit him to the organisation! That comment is here:
http://libcom.org/history/northern-ireland-ira-class-war?page=1#comment-363863

I'm not so sure you know the meaning of 'recruit'. After all, Outlaw asks 'how can I join Class War': to which he receives information. Not really someone out of CW trying to persuade someone to become a member, is it?

it is someone in class war telling someone to join via the website or e-mailing or writing to them. He then enquires as to whereabouts the nutcase lives, defends the provisional IRA, and slags off the Irish posters who criticised them. Here is the post in full, so people can make up their own minds:
sort it out frosty

hiya The Outlaw,
You can join Class War by going to our website www.classwar.org, emailing our National Secretary at londoncwf[AT]yahoo.co.uk or writing to PO Box 467, London E8 3QX. Where abouts are you?

I recently wrote a piece in the latest Notes From the Borderland magazine (www.borderland.co.uk) disproving some of the slurs against the Irish republican movement (the Provisional IRA in particular) put out by, in that case, Trots. You might find that interesting. Otherwise a great place to start is by reading "The Spirit of Freedom" by Attack International which is a good intro to the struggle in Ireland.

If I was you mate I wouldn't take too much notice of what the people on this website say, its a laughing stock throughout the anarchist movement, full of ultra-leftist, pointy head, & liberal pish.

you may be interested to know that as well as supporting Irish nationalist terrorists, Islamic terrorists and fascists, the outlaw also supported loyalists, and opposed strikes.

Is The Spirit of Freedom online anywhere? What are the politics of that?

Personally I think that the CW member should have engaged more with Outlaw to get his measure instead of saying 'to join us you write to us'.

the outlaw had been a poster here for quite a while before this thread. We had confined him to libcommunity only, because people found him amusing. However, it was obvious to everyone that he was quite a deranged individual.

And you are still ignoring the entire debate linked to above that comment, which was a public debate in the anarchist press with a class war member supporting the IRA. Having just re-read the relevant parts of unfinished business, it shies away from openly supporting the IRA but it does defend them and talk about positive elements of Irish republicanism

Android

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

Second question first: no: those views were on at least some occasions rather forcefully expressed. As for your first question, I don't think I can point you to such articles, certainly not immediately. You'll have to wait.

No problem. Thanks for your replies. I will butt out now and leave you and Steven to it.

Jack, going back to your original comment:
Jack_Ketch

Er... Class War were not 'virulent supporters of the IRA';

we've been over this now and I demonstrated the veracity of this.

The IRA were not 'religion-linked terrorists';

other posters have addressed this

'the UK' never invaded Ireland because the United Kingdom of Great Britain was created in 1707,

this is being pedantic. The UK is the name of the nation state currently existing which is the continuation of the nation state which invaded Ireland.

In addition, the IRA were, in the words of Bobby Sands, fighting for a 32-county democratic socialist republic. Islamist terrorists are fighting for a caliphate. Can't you see there's a difference?

as Jef says, for the innocent workers they killed and maimed I don't think it made a big difference. If I want to be pedantic I could point out that Islamism is not a religion either as such, it is a political ideology which the vast majority of Muslims in the UK do not subscribe to.

Did you support the IRA then? Your defence of the shooting of the Protestant workmen sounds extremely dodgy ("it stopped sectarian killings"), not to mention untrue:

Some loyalist paramilitaries claim the Kingsmill massacre is the reason they joined paramilitary groups. One was Billy Wright, who said:

I was 15 when those workmen were pulled out of that bus and shot dead. I was a Protestant and I realised that they had been killed simply because they were Protestants. I left Mountnorris, came back to Portadown and immediately joined the youth wing of the UVF.

[36] He went on to lead a UVF unit in North Armagh and then to found the Loyalist Volunteer Force. Wright was suspected of at least 20 sectarian killings of Catholics in the 1980s and 1990s [Wikipedia]

If there's so much to question in one small portion of your article where I have some knowledge, how much of the rest is cobblers too?

none of this is substantive criticism of my post, the crux of which rests on the fact that is blowing the issue of Islamism out of proportion to its relevance. Even if the things you pointed out here were mistakes it wouldn't change that.

Steven.

we've been over this now and I demonstrated the veracity of this.

No, you haven't. You've produced one piece from CW83 which refers back to a piece in HS5, the text of which you do not appear to have seen. In any event, as Paul's made clear on his blog, if you don't like that position there's the position in Unfinished Business, the first paragraph of which ends along the lines of 'we don't want to brainwash people into supporting the republican movement'. Given the prominence of that book - the text of which appears on Libcom - the most you can say is 'at the time HS5 appeared CW seemed to have a strong line in support of the IRA'.

Virulent support - your term - would be at least, in my opinion, the sort of support Red Action gave the IRA in the pages of their paper. Certainly not an article here in HS5 and an article there in CW83. And that seems to me to be the sum of what you've produced, barring the exchange of correspondence between Subversion and one CW member in Manchester and the posts of someone who, you claim, was a CW member in 2010. If it's the person I'm thinking of, they're most certainly not a member now. Let's leave aside the anecdotal evidence you've produced about every CWer being in support of the 'RA - as Paul (again) makes clear on his blog, that was emphatically not the case.

And, as Android admits, CW did not have official positions, certainly not ones which bound members five or six - or twenty - years down the line. Android's admission, which you haven't challenged, somewhat undermines your thesis.

other posters have addressed this

not very successfully

this is being pedantic. The UK is the name of the nation state currently existing which is the continuation of the nation state which invaded Ireland.

You said the UK invaded Ireland. This is wrong. There was no UK in 1169, there was no UK in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries and there was no UK at the time of the battle of the Boyne. The state which invaded Ireland was England. If you want to be lazy and post up things which make you look stupid, carry on. You've certainly posted up enough nonsense in your reply to Paul to make yourself look like a callow schoolboy.

as Jef says, for the innocent workers they killed and maimed I don't think it made a big difference. If I want to be pedantic I could point out that Islamism is not a religion either as such, it is a political ideology which the vast majority of Muslims in the UK do not subscribe to.

How can you say here that you don't think it made a huge difference who injured or killed people when you use that as something which did make a difference further on with your bit about Billy Wright? Come on, you can't have it both ways. As for Islamism, I haven't said it's a religion - Islam being the religion - but Islamists fight for a caliphate, a religious state, and their motivation is clearly primarily religious. You don't get people from other religious backgrounds fighting for a caliphate! As we know since at least 1972 the British government was talking to the IRA, but there's no comparable information in the public domain about possible negotiations with Islamists, although there was for some years that Covenent of Security (or similar). Oh - and I've never said anything about the proportion of Islamists among UK Muslims. I don't know why you threw that in, it's not as though that's relevant yet.

Did you support the IRA then? Your defence of the shooting of the Protestant workmen sounds extremely dodgy ("it stopped sectarian killings"), not to mention untrue:

The defence was not mine, it was what an IRA spokesman said to Tim Pat Coogan as recorded in his book, The IRA. made this clear above. As for my view on the IRA, yes, I did support them. But that was my decision and not related to my membership of Class War. As for the defence the IRA spokesman put forward to T.P. Coogan, there were no more killings in that area in the 1970s, which you tacitly admit.

But let's just look at some other aspects of your magnum opus in response to Paul's piece, in response to

none of this is substantive criticism of my post, the crux of which rests on the fact that is blowing the issue of Islamism out of proportion to its relevance. Even if the things you pointed out here were mistakes it would change that.

Let's not lose sight entirely of what you're up to here.

Starting at the top, you say that the debate about Islam and Islamism is covered within the articles available on Libcom.

Islam and Islamism and our approach to them is one such issue. On the website I help run, libcom.org, for example we have dozens of articles about Islam, and we have had dozens of debates about it in our forums over the past eight years - far more than we have about any other world religion. Anarchists are certainly not immune to a media frenzy, unsurprisingly, as things we read about in the paper and end up discussing with friends and co-workers we want to discuss with one another as well.

You're not being entirely honest here. There may be 'dozens' of articles relating to Islam on your site, but there's all of nine articles about Islam and / or Islamism in Britain, plus a couple of documentaries. There is, in other words, a dearth of information in the Islam section on what Paul's talking about. Judging by the standards of debate for which Libcom is famous - debates like the one where Harrison Myers links CW to the SS, debates like the one where CW was roundly condemned for burning effigies (notwithstanding the positions of what I'm told is your organisation, the AF, which is somewhat larger on positions than CW was), or debates like the one years back where some vile slurs were made against members of the Wombles - judging by that history, I am not so sure that you have entered into a meaningful debate about the development of Islam and Islamism in Britain which produced any original or substantial insights into the issue.

As an aside, you declare that 'the French Revolution was the triumph of capitalism over feudalism', a quote which seems to come from a 1967 article by Cobban. I'm by no means persuaded that that was in fact the case, not least because the French economy was rather later in the transition from feudalism to capitalism than at least one neighbouring country. Oh - and the Russian Revolution did not on its own lead to the Cold War, however much you might like to think it did. It's this sort of ahistorical nonsense which undermines whatever else you might have to say: it seems you haven't given the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution a great deal of thought. And if you haven't given those famous revolutions much consideration, I wonder what we'll find in the rest of your article.

When I've got a chance I'll get onto what substance there is to the remainder of the article.

AIW

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with Stephens criticism of Pauls "Focusing our attentions on other working class people whom the media are demonising".
As others have implied, this bit is bollocks though:

I am particularly surprised that a former Class War member now seems to be condemning anti-imperialist terrorism. Class War were virulent supporters of the IRA: religion-linked terrorists who attacked civilians in the UK because the UK had invaded "their" country. What is the justification for supporting them, but not Islamic terrorists, despite the invasion of Muslim countries being so much more recent?

Paul is not responsible for Class War Federations arguments, only for his own.
Ian Bone is quoted:

Stella was a member of Red Action and Sean a close sympathiser so they contributed a Provisional IRA cheerleader piece 'I.I.IRA - Fuck the Queen and the UDA', It was the last time a pro-republican piece was to appear in (Class War) as our collective view was to become as opposed to Catholic nationalism as we were to Protestant unionism.

Leaving the Republican workers alone to defend themselves against the violence of the British Army.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Having seen the HS5 piece it's not in fact an article. It is a letter from one CW group - Doncaster CW - in response to an article in HS4 which roundly condemned the republican struggle. So in reality the most you can say is that individual members supported the IRA and by no means the group as a whole.

But if CW had a pro-IRA attitude, then why did the A(C)F enter into merger talks at the start of the 1990s?

Android

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

And, as Android admits, CW did not have official positions, certainly not ones which bound members five or six - or twenty - years down the line. Android's admission, which you haven't challenged, somewhat undermines your thesis.

How is me accepting your word that CWF did not have official positions relevant to Steven's claim that CWF were supportive of Irish Republicanism.

Steven's argument does not hinge on the fact of whether CWF had formal positions on issues or not. Various anarchist groups do not take formal positions beyond their political platform, it does not mean a general approach to issues can't be discerned. In this discussion Steven has referenced various articles and you have just replied with anecdotal evidence and quibbles.

Android

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

But if CW had a pro-IRA attitude, then why did the A(C)F enter into merger talks at the start of the 1990s?

This is interesting, I have not heard this before. I'd be interested in hearing what exactly happened.

Android

Jack_Ketch

And, as Android admits, CW did not have official positions, certainly not ones which bound members five or six - or twenty - years down the line. Android's admission, which you haven't challenged, somewhat undermines your thesis.

How is me accepting your word that CWF did not have official positions relevant to Steven's claim that CWF were supportive of Irish Republicanism.

Steven's argument does not hinge on the fact of whether CWF had formal positions on issues or not. Various anarchist groups do not take formal positions beyond their political platform, it does not mean a general approach to issues can't be discerned. In this discussion Steven has referenced various articles and you have just replied with anecdotal evidence and quibbles.

Mate

This is entirely irrelevant now. I have undermined Steven's thesis on CW and the IRA through my bit about HS5 & HS4. Tomorrow I will do the same to the rest of his article.

In brief, though, Steven makes a number of basic errors at the foundation of his argument which weakens the structure he seeks to build. I have pointed to his statements on the French and Russian revolutions. But it's his understanding of British Islamism as parochial - that is, a phenomenon without links to a wider Islamist network - which demonstrate his ignorance of the subject. Simply put, people like Abu Hamza acted as intermediaries between Islamist 'foot soldiers' and the central nodes of the Al Qaeda network.

Steven's misreading of Paul's article surfaces in several places, such as where Steven thinks Lutfur Rahman's being lumped in with Islamists, whereas Paul clearly says Rahman is an independent (if useless) mayor.

Steven's description of jihadi terrorists as anti-imperialist also sticks in the craw. I don't know where he got this idea from, but I hope he disabuses himself of it quickly.

AIW

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think this discussion needed to look at the important side track of Irish question. I think Paul should respond to the central point Stephen articulates which is demonisation.

Noting that groups like Libcom tend to have a go at the Palestinians in coordination with Israels offensives, is it a coincidence that you're having a go at the Irish Republicans to coincide with the Queens visit to the Republic?

Greetings from occupied Dublin

While for many years the occupation of the six counties was a major political flashpoint, our current concern is the occupation of Dublin City. While there are still approximately 5,000 British military personnel in the 6 counties, the next week will see 10,000 Irish police and Irish Army directly deployed in a security operation to accommodate the Queens visit. Major traffic restrictions and a complete ban on car parking within the city and routes in and out. The Gardai (Irish police) are already present on every street in large numbers, uniformed and plain clothes, all pedestrian movement is being monitored and an unconstitutional policy of “random” stop and search of citizens has been announced and is currently taking place. 1,000’s of households have been visited and residents questioned about occupancy and many were warned that their property will be searched when the Monarch is present. Residents were warned not to fly any flags or protest banners, and have been asked to contact police if they spot anyone doing so. All postering (even for those who have a City Council licence to do so) has been banned, and the cops are busy pulling all posters and stickers down , and sealing shut every manhole, drain cover and electricity box in the city and route The security cortege will stretch for a mile, according to the macho boasting from “spokespersons”. British security personnel will also be present, and many are expecting a pre-emptive operation by Special branch.

While the Gardai have announced that “reasonable protests” will be permitted “up to a point” they are gearing up to prevent this being possible, and it is likely that confrontation is being manufactured. Riot police will be deployed throughout the city, and water cannons have been borrowed from the RUC/PSNI.

The degree of felon setting that has taken place recently has been staggering. The majority of opposition to the Queen has been labelled as “dissident”, with the implication that those involved are “the same people that bombed Omagh”. The mass media, sections of the left and even Sinn Fein have fed into this. It appears also that no Court sittings are taking place in the coming week , so it is possible that anyone who is unfortunate to be arrested for anything , anywhere could be a-waiting bail for a few days ( dear god ,do not mention internment without trial).

On a slightly positive note- all members of the public have been completely banned from the Queens events and the surrounding areas, so the sycophants’ and arse lickers will have to don the knee- pads and be content to do their grovelling in front of the T.V. As the security bill is now officially announced as 30 million (in a bankrupt country, no less) there needs to be a whole lot knee bending and forelock tugging to get a return on that investment.

So thats my report from the Irish “Free State”, where I hope to continue my correspondence for as long as I am able

Android

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AIW

I think this discussion needed to look at the important side track of Irish question. I think Paul should respond to the central point Stephen articulates which is demonisation.

Noting that groups like Libcom tend to have a go at the Palestinians in coordination with Israels offensives, is it a coincidence that you're having a go at the Irish Republicans to coincide with the Queens visit to the Republic?

This is just straight up bizarre.

Here is what happened since you seemed to have miss it: Shift published Paul Stott's text, then Dajngo archived it in the library here from the Shift website and then when Steven read it he decided to do up a response which touched on naturally enough the writers' political history.

It is that simple, no conspiracy theories needed.

Joseph Kay

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

AIW

Noting that groups like Libcom tend to have a go at the Palestinians in coordination with Israels offensives

saywut? :confused:

Fall Back

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

>IMPLYING a state visit by the Queen is comparable to a major assault by the IDF.

Android

This is just straight up bizarre.

Here is what happened since you seemed to have miss it: Shift published Paul Stott's text, then Dajngo archived it in the library here from the Shift website and then when Steven read it he decided to do up a response which touched on naturally enough the writers' political history.

It is that simple, no conspiracy theories needed.

That's Steven's version of events, of course. The allegation that CW were 'virulent supporters' of the IRA simply isn't true. It's very much of a piece with Steven claiming that the French Revolution 'was the triumph of capitalism over feudalism, setting the scene for the dominant new economic system for the entire planet', that the Russian Revolution led to the Cold War, that Libcom's already had the debate about the development of Islam and Islamism in Britain (if it had, Steven wouldn't have made some of his more egregious mistakes later in the article), or that jihadi terrorists are anti-imperialist.

Stott moves on to criticise the Federation of Student Islamic Societies for "insisting there was no evidence Muslim students are more prone to radicalisation than anyone else" pointing at four Muslim students convicted of terrorist offences as supposedly definitive evidence to the contrary.

As an anarchist, does Paul see any qualitative difference between the authoritarian violence of a state (by the British Army) and the authoritarian violence of a proto-state (Islamist terrorist groups)? I certainly do not - and far more Christians in role in the Army to go around murdering Muslims than do Muslims murdering Christians.

In the mid-1990s the Islamic Society at UCL was run by Hizb Ut Tahrir: and it was not the only university Islamic society to be filled by really virulent Islamists. I recall seeing a poster for a meeting of that society which incited violence against Jews, and it was clear to me when I attended the meeting that many of the people present had been what we now term 'radicalised', presumably while studying. The notion that radicalisation on campus is a recent phenomenon is mistaken. I am not aware of anyone from any campus Christian union who has been convicted of any offence, let alone terrorist-related crimes - but I am aware of four former officers of Islamic societies who have been. If Steven's able to show that student societies of any other faith have had members or officers convicted of terrorist offences, his argument of equivalency might have some weight. Without it it has none.

I see a qualitative difference between the violence of the state, whether by the British Army or police, and that of Islamist terrorists. Simply put, I am unaware of any time when the British Army or police set out to murder scores of people for the heinous offence of going to a nightclub or travelling on public transport. Perhaps Steven can provide some examples of when the British Army - or police - has done so.

Speaking of the British Army, Steven says

And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

I think you'll find that there are about 7,300 British troops in Afghanistan (http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets/OperationsInAfghanistanBackgroundBriefing.htm). A 2009 estimate of Taliban strength (http://rcanfield.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-estimates-of-taliban-strength-25000.html) suggested a force of 25,000. The UK deployment also includes a number of support troops, so the total of combat forces will be lower than 7,300 in any case. This is another case of talking bollocks, Steven, and it's exactly the same with your claim about Iraq, where at the end of January 2010 there were 150 UK personnel stationed (http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets/OperationsInIraqFactsandFigures.htm). So, if the British Army in Iraq are 'the vast majority of the people there shooting people and blowing things up' then there are less than about 50 jihadi terrorists in the entire country (ie the British forces are 75%+ of people shooting and exploding things, a 'vast majority'). Perhaps Steven has a number of sources to substantiate his claims.

I would be interested to know what research, if any, Steven carried out for his article: it appears to have been minimal.

Fall Back

>IMPLYING a state visit by the Queen is comparable to a major assault by the IDF.

No. He implies that Libcom have a go at people at times when they're in the news, the Palestinians in the case of IDF offensives and Irish republicans in the case of Ireland. It's not a nice claim, but there you go.

Fall Back

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

oic, a stunning insight consisting of "people on libcom talk about events when they are in the news". As opposed to apropos of nothing. I don't really see how it's "not a nice claim". I'd more go with utter banality.

Although doesn't really flow, given that the Queens visit has barely led to an increased coverage of Republican groups. They can usually handle this when they shoot a pizza boy or something.

Fall Back

oic, a stunning insight consisting of "people on libcom talk about events when they are in the news". As opposed to apropos of nothing. I don't really see how it's "not a nice claim". I'd more go with utter banality.

Although doesn't really flow, given that the Queens visit has barely led to an increased coverage of Republican groups. They can usually handle this when they shoot a pizza boy or something.

There is a difference between what you're saying, 'people on libcom talk about events when they are in the news' and what AIW's saying, 'people on libcom attack eg Palestinians when there's an IDF offensive'.

Maybe you haven't noticed that in the reporting of the Queen's visit to Dublin there has been mention of republicans, and republican groups. Maybe you haven't been following events.

But it would be nice if you could at least try to comment on the topic of Steven's article.

Jack_Ketch

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven

When you've responded to my comments on:

* the French revolution;
* the Russian revolution;
* British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq;
* the qualitative difference between British forces' violence and that of jihadi terrorists;
* the anti-imperialism of jihadi terrorists;
* and the international nature of Islamist terrorism

when you've responded to those, perhaps you could provide a source for CW members supporting the French government ban on the headscarf, preferably from before 2008.

Joseph Kay

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Keitch

people on libcom attack eg Palestinians

no, he explicitly said the libcom group ("groups like libcom"). a curiously baseless slur. i have literally no idea what he's talking about, unless he's identifying Hamas with 'the palestinians', which would be an odd thing to do on a libertarian communist forum.

Joseph Kay

Jack_Keitch

people on libcom attack eg Palestinians

no, he explicitly said the libcom group ("groups like libcom"). a curiously baseless slur. i have literally no idea what he's talking about, unless he's identifying Hamas with 'the palestinians', which would be an odd thing to do on a libertarian communist forum.

Groups like Libcom express their views on sites like Libcom and are presumably people.

But it would be more interesting, not to say entertaining, to see you leave this sidetrack and return to discussion of the substantive issue, Steven's poor article.

Django

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

I see a qualitative difference between the violence of the state, whether by the British Army or police, and that of Islamist terrorists. Simply put, I am unaware of any time when the British Army or police set out to murder scores of people for the heinous offence of going to a nightclub or travelling on public transport. Perhaps Steven can provide some examples of when the British Army - or police - has done so.

Presumably you don't mean states in general, just the British state, but there are plenty of examples of members of the British army committing murder if you want them - Ireland and Kenya spring to mind.

Unless you want to limit deaths to trains and nighclubs, as if the motivation of Jihadist terrorists is an objection to train travel or nightclubs alone.

Django

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

Android

This is just straight up bizarre.

Here is what happened since you seemed to have miss it: Shift published Paul Stott's text, then Dajngo archived it in the library here from the Shift website and then when Steven read it he decided to do up a response which touched on naturally enough the writers' political history.

It is that simple, no conspiracy theories needed.

That's Steven's version of events, of course.

No it isn't, unless Steven's pulled the wool over my eyes somehow I do actually remember archiving the article from the Shift website.

Django

Jack_Ketch

I see a qualitative difference between the violence of the state, whether by the British Army or police, and that of Islamist terrorists. Simply put, I am unaware of any time when the British Army or police set out to murder scores of people for the heinous offence of going to a nightclub or travelling on public transport. Perhaps Steven can provide some examples of when the British Army - or police - has done so.

Presumably you don't mean states in general, just the British state, but there are plenty of examples of members of the British army committing murder if you want them - Ireland and Kenya spring to mind.

Unless you want to limit deaths to trains and nighclubs, as if the motivation of Jihadist terrorists is an objection to train travel or nightclubs alone.

Of course I mean the British state. Steven isn't talking about the Mongolian state or the Costa Rican state, is he? And there are a number of examples of British soldiers committing murder - Ian Thain and Lee Clegg to name but two. But terrorism is (can be) murder with political aim in mind - but the political nature of the violence is core to the activity, no matter what definition of terrorism you subscribe to. What Clegg and Thain did, while despicable, does not fall under what most people would understand by terrorism because terrorism is a tactic employed to persuade a government to adopt or relinquish a policy or possession.

Joseph Kay

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

Groups like Libcom express their views on sites like Libcom and are presumably people.

i'm not sidetracking anything, i'm just curious, as a member of the libcom group, why i'm being bizarrely smeared as "having a go at the Palestinians", apropos of nothing.

Django

Jack_Ketch

Android

This is just straight up bizarre.

Here is what happened since you seemed to have miss it: Shift published Paul Stott's text, then Dajngo archived it in the library here from the Shift website and then when Steven read it he decided to do up a response which touched on naturally enough the writers' political history.

It is that simple, no conspiracy theories needed.

That's Steven's version of events, of course.

No it isn't, unless Steven's pulled the wool over my eyes somehow I do actually remember archiving the article from the Shift website.

No, that's Steven's version of the writer's political history, his version, not Paul's actual political history. We've been through this bit about CW and the IRA and I'm quite happy to go through it all again if you haven't yet gathered that Steven's talking bollocks about that as he is about so much else.

Joseph Kay

Jack_Ketch

Groups like Libcom express their views on sites like Libcom and are presumably people.

i'm not sidetracking anything, i'm just curious, as a member of the libcom group, why i'm being bizarrely smeared as "having a go at the Palestinians", apropos of nothing.

Why don't you PM AIW and ask him rather than distracting from the matter at hand?

Django

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

Of course I mean the British state. Steven isn't talking about the Mongolian state or the Costa Rican state, is he?

OK, so then it might make sense not to say “I see a qualitative difference between the violence of the state, whether by the British Army or police, and that of Islamist terrorists”, which can be (mis)interpreted easily enough as saying that there is a fundamental and qualitative difference between violence committed by state and non-state actors by virtue of their definition.

Jack_Ketch

But terrorism is (can be) murder with political aim in mind - but the political nature of the violence is core to the activity, no matter what definition of terrorism you subscribe to. What Clegg and Thain did, while despicable, does not fall under what most people would understand by terrorism because terrorism is a tactic employed to persuade a government to adopt or relinquish a policy or possession.

Right but saying that terrorism is violence as part of “a tactic employed to persuade a government to adopt or relinquish a policy or possession” isn’t that same as saying that terrorism is setting out to kill people for riding a train, or going to a nightclub (or going to a pub, in the case of the IRA). The first definition can be applied to plenty of the actions of the British state on a larger scale, e.g. sanctions in Iraq or Gulags in Kenya, which seems to be Steven’s substantive point.

Django

Jack_Ketch

Of course I mean the British state. Steven isn't talking about the Mongolian state or the Costa Rican state, is he?

OK, so then it might make sense not to say “I see a qualitative difference between the violence of the state, whether by the British Army or police, and that of Islamist terrorists”, which can be (mis)interpreted easily enough as saying that there is a fundamental and qualitative difference between violence committed by state and non-state actors by virtue of their definition.

Jack_Ketch

But terrorism is (can be) murder with political aim in mind - but the political nature of the violence is core to the activity, no matter what definition of terrorism you subscribe to. What Clegg and Thain did, while despicable, does not fall under what most people would understand by terrorism because terrorism is a tactic employed to persuade a government to adopt or relinquish a policy or possession.

Right but saying that terrorism is violence as part of “a tactic employed to persuade a government to adopt or relinquish a policy or possession” isn’t that same as saying that terrorism is setting out to kill people for riding a train, or going to a nightclub (or going to a pub, in the case of the IRA). The first definition can be applied to plenty of the actions of the British state on a larger scale, e.g. sanctions in Iraq or Gulags in Kenya, which seems to be Steven’s substantive point.

Yes. But all of this is muddying the issue which Steven affects to wish to debate, which is an anarchist response to the development of Islam and Islamism in Britain.

The first (linked) definition which appears on the internet of 'qualitative' is 'involving or relating to distinctions based on quality or qualities'. Foremost of the distinctions between Islamist violence and state violence is that there state violence is better graduated, organised, and - certainly in the case of British state violence - debated. State coercion is both hard and soft, both violent and non-violent. State coercion has behind it aspects of legitimation which few non-state actors possess. And when the state does something contentious, such as the killing of Jean-Charles de Menezes, there can be considerable debate - if not actual accountability - of state actions. The state is able to criticise itself: even the whitewash of the Widgery report into Bloody Sunday admitted that some of the firing 'bordered on the reckless', while the coroner who carried out the inquests, himself a former army officer, into the deaths of the victims that day described the events as 'sheer unadulterated murder'. This ability to absorb and indeed participate in debates about state violence is one of the things which makes the British state so strong. The loss of legitimacy the police faced after the killing of Jean-Charles de Menezes, after the killing of Ian Tomlinson, after the killing of Smiley Culture: these losses of legitimacy are temporary for many, if not most, people affected by the events, although each time state violence flounders and alienates people, a larger group of people probably remain alienated.

The violence meted out by groups such as the IRA, groups such as the Red Army Faction, does not itself seem to me to be comparable to the violence meted out by Islamist terrorists. I cannot imagine Islamist terrorists in Europe carrying out an operation like the assassination of Margaret Thatcher or the kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer. This isn't because Islamists are not capable of well-planned operations - September 11 is a good example of a well-planned, well executed operation. It's because for Islamists the population is the greater target than the government, the assault on the Pentagon notwithstanding. If jihadi terrorists in London had wanted to attack the government, they could easily have parked their car-bomb in Whitehall or pretty much anywhere within the Government Security Zone instead of targeting clubbers in the Haymarket.

Seems to me that all these violences have different qualities, from the objectives they seek to achieve, the means by which those ends are to be reached, the targets deemed acceptable and legitimate and so on.

We could go on about this all night, if you really want to.

JoeMaguire

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I thought the piece was good but at a glance I think it missed a few points. Firstly on the point of the political power of the mosque.

steven.

The article continues to discuss "Asian" and "Muslim" Councillors switching from one political party to another. I fail to see what is surprising about local politicians being opportunistic with their party affiliations. What is new here, or different from politicians of any other ethnicity doing the same?

Its different because the opportunism can be seen as largely driven by the pressure of the mosque.

steven.

As for the statement "the most important political institution in east London is not the Labour Party or a trades union – it is East London Mosque", this seems more like hysteria that fact. Having lived in East London myself for nearly 10 years I think I can pretty much safely say that the mosque has had zero impact on my life, apart from possibly being responsible for the two most ridiculously close together bus stops in London.

I find it hard to believe that given the size of mosque in question, the number of people who attend, given that the mosque does not operate in a social vacuum you think it has had 'zero impact' on your life.

The political backing of the mosque can make or brake local councillors in quite a number of areas, as can be attested with Galloway. I will also raise you an example of an overnight organisation, with no roots winning outright on the backing of the imam in Preston in 2003.

steven.

Paul slams politicians "daft enough to cede power to sharia courts and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals at a local level". But this statement again seems to play up to tabloid hysteria about "sharia law". People must voluntarily agree to attend these courts and tribunals, which it is true do discriminate against women, which is terrible. ...

What I am getting from Paul is an objection about the freespace given up to religion in the social/political sphere enabling bodies organised around identity politics to extract concessions and then become a new focal point to evolve further as a political entity. This should not be seen in the binary of freedom of religion vs.... but seen as what happens when (high) politics is frowned upon but culture, community and religious groups/issues are ring-circled for special status, and pull in their respective directions.

On a macro level, an example of community development would be the rise communalism in India

Sandria B. Frietag argues that communalist groups emerged in the nexus of relations between the ‘public' domains that the imperial nation state claimed for itself and the competing forms of ‘private' identity formation that communalist groups staged in the public sphere. As the colonial state increasingly negotiated with Indians on the basis of their religious group identity, it was clear that the rewards went to those ‘... who invoked only certain kinds of identities'. Drawing sustenance from constructed ‘identity slots' and ‘... authorised by the colonial state', communal groups began to experiment and contest their status more systematically in the public sphere.

Rachel

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I agree with some points Joe makes.

Regarding local politics, I think that Steven is right to point out that politicians switching sides is not related to Islamism in any way. It may be however typical of first and second generation immigrant communities - sometimes called 'machine' politics,

But the contemporary influence of the East London Mosque is an entirely different story. Steven, I'm surprised that you could live in east London, be involved in the anti-cuts movement and yet think the ELM has no impact on your life. I think you're missing something. Only 2 days ago I was at yet another (anti-cuts) meeting where a leftist expressed their fantasy that we could hook up with the ELM and thus have 'access' to the vast Bengali population of the borough. I've heard this so many times - let's forget about dozens of community centres (let alone dozens of other mosques), the ELM is now treated as the representative of 'Muslims' in the area by everyone from Prince Charles to Boris Johnson to Socialist Unity and apparently, Libcom. How else to explain your erasure of any distinction between the far-right 'community leaders' in charge of the ELM and 'Muslims'? You completely reinforce Paul Stott's point about representation (the most useful bit of his article).

I see you read a little bit more about Sharia, complicating slightly your earlier position of 'hey, why not'? I agree that there is something objectionable in the tone of Paul's mention of this, a little bit of 'we should wake up and smell the coffee'. But as Joe says the point of this is to question the growing acceptance of the once contested idea that people, or at least ethnic minorities, are defined through their belonging to religious communities.

Your opinion that these issues are so unimportant, so boring, so not worth your time, is belittling to the people, mostly from ethnic minorities themselves, who do the deeply unfashionable work of opposing both the racism of the British state and tabloid media on one hand, and religious fundamentalist politics on the other.

You seem unaware that there is a debate about this very thing within the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets, going back decades (read Delwar Hussain about this). You may not realise that, in your laudable attempt to not sound like the racist tabloid media, you are actually taking a side in this debate - the wrong one I reckon because you are parroting the ELM leadership in their assertion that they speak for the 'poor, working class Muslims'.

At the end of your revised article you point to the sidelining of Islamist politics in the Arab revolutions – why is this something that is good if it happens elsewhere, but here:“…we should be organising alongside Muslims and people of all religions in our communities and our workplaces against the savage public sector cuts”.

The SWP has tried to organise alongside ‘Muslims’ (by which they mean Islamic groups as opposed to organising alongside colleagues, workers, trade unionists, parents, service users, tenants, etc who may be Muslim) for years. These communal politics have set back the anti-cuts movement massively.

Sorry about picking on you more than Paul Stott – I guess I never saw myself as interested in the ‘anarchist debate’ about Islamism so I didn’t feel compelled to critique his article –whereas I do often read what you (Steven) has to say and so am disappointed when what you write is so weak.

Rachel, I'll respond to your points first, because they are constructive. I will return to Jack's pedantry at some point when I have more time.

Rachel

But the contemporary influence of the East London Mosque is an entirely different story. Steven, I'm surprised that you could live in east London, be involved in the anti-cuts movement and yet think the ELM has no impact on your life. I think you're missing something. Only 2 days ago I was at yet another (anti-cuts) meeting where a leftist expressed their fantasy that we could hook up with the ELM and thus have 'access' to the vast Bengali population of the borough.

the thing is, you correctly identify here that this is a "fantasy".

I stand by my statement that (aside from the bus stops) the Mosque has had no impact on my life. Admittedly I don't work in east London, so the only interaction I have with the council here is that I pay council tax and they take my rubbish. I'm involved in anti-cuts stuff in the borough where I work.

I've heard this so many times - let's forget about dozens of community centres (let alone dozens of other mosques), the ELM is now treated as the representative of 'Muslims' in the area by everyone from Prince Charles to Boris Johnson to Socialist Unity and apparently, Libcom.

whoa, where on earth did you get that from? Where have I ever said anything vaguely approaching the Mosque being any sort of legitimate representative of Muslims? Of course it's not, no more than the BNP is of white people.

How else to explain your erasure of any distinction between the far-right 'community leaders' in charge of the ELM and 'Muslims'?

sorry, I'm not sure what you mean here, could you explain?

You completely reinforce Paul Stott's point about representation (the most useful bit of his article).

I agree that this is the most useful bit of his article - but that bit was just lifted straight from the Aufheben piece, which doesn't over exaggerate or demonise Muslims in any way.

I see you read a little bit more about Sharia, complicating slightly your earlier position of 'hey, why not'? I agree that there is something objectionable in the tone of Paul's mention of this, a little bit of 'we should wake up and smell the coffee'. But as Joe says the point of this is to question the growing acceptance of the once contested idea that people, or at least ethnic minorities, are defined through their belonging to religious communities.

I didn't read any more. I did take an extra hour or two to write this longer reply though. Of course I don't think that ethnic minorities are defined through their religious communities, and have never said anything like this, I just don't see the point making a big deal about sharia law. When other religions have their own courts, without any media hysteria, and when there are much bigger law-related problems, for example Eric pickles now consulting on abolishing nearly 1300 statutory obligations of local councils, including things like the obligation to look after children, the coming attacks on TUPE rights, pension rights, unfair dismissal laws, etc.

Your opinion that these issues are so unimportant, so boring, so not worth your time, is belittling to the people, mostly from ethnic minorities themselves, who do the deeply unfashionable work of opposing both the racism of the British state and tabloid media on one hand, and religious fundamentalist politics on the other

I disagree with this. I don't think it is boring. And if Paul's article had addressed both state/media racism and religious fundamentalism I probably wouldn't have had any issues with it. However it didn't! And it was completely one-sided.

You seem unaware that there is a debate about this very thing within the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets, going back decades (read Delwar Hussain about this).

I am, actually.

You may not realise that, in your laudable attempt to not sound like the racist tabloid media, you are actually taking a side in this debate - the wrong one I reckon because you are parroting the ELM leadership in their assertion that they speak for the 'poor, working class Muslims'.

again, like I have said, I would like to ask you where I have said this? Seriously, I think you have completely misread my article if you think I have said anything vaguely like this in the slightest.

At the end of your revised article you point to the sidelining of Islamist politics in the Arab revolutions – why is this something that is good if it happens elsewhere, but here:“…we should be organising alongside Muslims and people of all religions in our communities and our workplaces against the savage public sector cuts”.

The SWP has tried to organise alongside ‘Muslims’ (by which they mean Islamic groups as opposed to organising alongside colleagues, workers, trade unionists, parents, service users, tenants, etc who may be Muslim) for years. These communal politics have set back the anti-cuts movement massively.

I think your proximity to SWP types is colouring your views here. By "Muslims" I'm referring to people who happen to self identify as Muslims. Nothing to do with mosques or Islamists or whatever. Many of my workmates are Muslims, including one of the most militant ones (although one Muslim colleague was unfairly sacked a couple of years ago, and won a tribunal for unfair dismissal and race discrimination), and we struck together over pay back in 2008, voted to strike for the reinstatement of a sacked colleague, and have recently voted to strike again over job cuts, although the union isn't giving us an official ballot. My closest workmate is also Muslim, so we set our desired pace of work together as well to make sure we don't get overloaded.

I'm talking about workers organising together as workers, whatever people's religious or ethnic identification.

Sorry about picking on you more than Paul Stott – I guess I never saw myself as interested in the ‘anarchist debate’ about Islamism so I didn’t feel compelled to critique his article –whereas I do often read what you (Steven) has to say and so am disappointed when what you write is so weak.

don't worry about it, you did comment that his article was "close to bigotry", which is far worse then you have said about mine. And like I say, I think you have completely misunderstood my response, so I would suggest re-reading it. And if you could point out if I have said anything which gives the view that I agree with having anything to do with so-called "community leaders" or whatever that would be good, because maybe I haven't made myself clear somewhere.

Steven.

Rachel, I'll respond to your points first, because they are constructive. I will return to Jack's pedantry at some point when I have more time.

Yes. Because to admit that the 'facts' you rely on are false would undermine your argument.

It's clearly pedantry to point out that while there are dozens of articles on Islam on Libcom very few of them deal with the matter at hand.

It's clearly pedantry to point out that counter to your claim that 'The vast majority of people [in Afghanistan and Iraq] shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army.' there are 150 British forces in Iraq and 7,300 in Afghanistan, with - in Afghanistan - estimates of three times their number of Taliban.

It's clearly pedantry to wonder why you describe people fighting for a caliphate as anti-imperialist.

It's clearly pedantry to demonstrate that you're wrong to insist that Class War were 'virulent supporters' of the IRA.

Steven, the fact of the matter is that there's a gaping void at the heart of your article: an absence of supporting evidence and a lack of political nous. I wonder if, when these difficulties with the article are brought to their attention, Shift Magazine will be so ready to shove your scribbles up on their website in future. It hardly shows you, or, by association, them in a good light.

Rachel

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven, I don’t think I misread your article, but I did leave out a few steps in my arguing.

This is what led me to the accusation that you accept that ELM or similar organisations speak for Muslims, which of course you didn’t say in so many words.

You wrote:

we should be extremely wary of focusing our attentions on other working class people whom the media are demonising.

and

But more importantly at a time of unprecedented public sector cuts we need to avoid the racist tabloid hysteria which is deliberately scapegoating a tiny, disproportionately poor and working class section of society for all our problems

Since Paul Stott's article didn't focus on all Muslims but rather on Islamists (i.e. those who see Islam as a political programme) it's you who is minimising distinction between the reactionaries he's talking about and the majority of Muslims. It seems to me if you're suggesting that Jihadis or ISOC or the ELM should not be criticised then frankly it's you who is lumping all Muslims together. The point has been made many times before that white racists and right-wing Islamists both encourage the belief that Muslims constitute a monolithic identity (and therefore help create that identity). I'm not saying you're doing that (or are a racist) but you have confused criticism of institutions with scapegoating of 'poor, working class people'.

Paul Stott knows a lot of stuff but I think it takes him in some very wrong directions. But the answer isn’t to just say that’s ok to remain ignorant of what's going on in our communities and just keep insisting that what we really should do is unite and fight – the point is that religious fundamentalism, identity politics and state/(and left wing) promotion of communal organisations makes 'uniting' much more difficult.

Arbeiten

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think the point is that as an article, Paul's can easily nestle between Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and any other number of people spouting the 'its the minority but we have to focus all our attention on the minority' conversation. As anarchists/leftists whatever, we are pretty used to the way this economy of attention works, surely? Steven may not be the next Edward Said but its nice to read something a little different every once and a while surely?

I also think this dichotomy between unity vs. identity is a bit simplistic. Muslim children are over-represented in poverty statistics, and young men are over-represented in the prison population. Similarly up until 2004 (I think) it was perfectly legal to discriminate against Muslims in the work place because it was not covered until race legislation. While its not true of course that Muslims constitute a monolithic identity, there are socio-economic factors that affect some (a large enough proportion to affect statistics) of them. Obviously policy initiatives have failed on this front, with everyone throwing money at the first institution that claims it represents Muslims. However, the idea that some sort of working for unity would mean SWP 'we are all hizbollah ' lark, really shows how diametric this debate has become.

Jack Ketch, what do you mean by 'estimated three times that number of the Taliban', does it make it any less of an illegal occupation? There will always be more Afghani militants in Afghanistan as long as there is an illegal occupation further screwing the country over (I can't think of one example where an occupation force has remained the dominant number). Steven's point was, it seems to me, that more Afghans are getting screwed over than US/UK forces. It seems pedantry of you to make such a distinction?

I mentioned earlier (though nobody commented) that I though Stott's Srinagar example was untenable. I believe this because the context was different (free Kashmir) and the target was different (Indian occupation of Kashmir). This poor example was implanted into Stott's original piece to try and blithely reduce the impact of the British/American occupations of the middle east as connected to Islamic Extremism at home. I think this is a dangerous route to go down. yes, yes 9/11 was before the wars of course, but to claim the wars are not connected to Islamic extremism is pretty crass. 7/7 was after the invasions, as was the attempt at Glasgow airport and I'm sure we can think of more.

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rachel

Steven, I don’t think I misread your article, but I did leave out a few steps in my arguing.

This is what led me to the accusation that you accept that ELM or similar organisations speak for Muslims, which of course you didn’t say in so many words.

You wrote:

Since Paul Stott's article didn't focus on all Muslims but rather on Islamists (i.e. those who see Islam as a political programme) it's you who is minimising distinction between the reactionaries he's talking about and the majority of Muslims.

actually, the people Paul focuses on are not just Islamists. At least some of the people he names are not Islamists, and he also talks about Muslim and Asian local politicians in general.

It seems to me if you're suggesting that Jihadis or ISOC or the ELM should not be criticised then frankly it's you who is lumping all Muslims together.

again, I have never said anything like that. What I did say is that when we do so we should put things into perspective. We should just criticise state funding of religious projects of Muslims, we should do so for all religious organisations, and put some perspective on the amounts of money for different religions.

The point has been made many times before that white racists and right-wing Islamists both encourage the belief that Muslims constitute a monolithic identity (and therefore help create that identity). I'm not saying you're doing that (or are a racist) but you have confused criticism of institutions with scapegoating of 'poor, working class people'.

no I haven't. The media scapegoating I referred to was that of Muslims in general. See things like the lies about Muslim only toilets and stuff like that. This has contributed to anti-Muslim sentiment and racism in general, which extends to Muslims in general, not just the tiny minority of extremists.

You seem to be mixing up Muslim institutions with proletarians who happen to be Muslim - see your comments to me where you assume that when I say organising alongside Muslims you mean alongside mosques or community leaders.

Paul Stott knows a lot of stuff but I think it takes him in some very wrong directions. But the answer isn’t to just say that’s ok to remain ignorant of what's going on in our communities and just keep insisting that what we really should do is unite and fight – the point is that religious fundamentalism, identity politics and state/(and left wing) promotion of communal organisations makes 'uniting' much more difficult.

where then do you think Paul is going in wrong directions?

Of course I never said it's okay to be ignorant about anything. Just that we should put issues in perspective.

I could write an article and make a big deal about Muslim criminals, for example, then state that criminality makes 'uniting' much more difficult. But would this be a politically beneficial thing to do? I think not because it would be discriminatory to single out Muslim criminals.

Not only that but Islamic terrorism is not qualitatively different from Irish nationalist terrorism, so I also think it is hypocritical to make a big deal about the former but be part of an organisation which at least in large part supports the latter.

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

Steven.

we've been over this now and I demonstrated the veracity of this.

No, you haven't. You've produced one piece from CW83 which refers back to a piece in HS5, the text of which you do not appear to have seen

how would I have seen that exactly? The newspaper which I have seen clearly states that the organisation's position is supportive of the IRA. You even supported the IRA yourself, so I find it hilarious that you are trying to say that class war didn't support the IRA!

On that note, seeing as you seem to think that shooting workmen on a bus, and blowing up people drinking in pubs is a great thing for the working class, to be honest I don't care if you disagree with my article, and I don't really have any respect for your opinion.

In any event, as Paul's made clear on his blog, if you don't like that position there's the position in Unfinished Business, the first paragraph of which ends along the lines of 'we don't want to brainwash people into supporting the republican movement'. Given the prominence of that book - the text of which appears on Libcom - the most you can say is 'at the time HS5 appeared CW seemed to have a strong line in support of the IRA'.

your organisation's newspaper stated 10 years more recently than unfinished business that its position was unequivocally in support of the IRA. On top of that, there is the discussion with subversion between the virulent IRA supporter in class war, then there is you, who also supported the IRA. Unfinished business says that they don't want to brainwash people, but it doesn't say they don't support the IRA at all. I have never seen anything from class war, or any of its members criticising the IRA. You state that some people were critical of it, fair enough, that may be true, but your newspaper said that your position was supportive.

And, as Android admits, CW did not have official positions, certainly not ones which bound members five or six - or twenty - years down the line. Android's admission, which you haven't challenged, somewhat undermines your thesis.

well, it doesn't really. Your newspaper stated that it was your position. If the organisation was such a shambles that it did not actually hold positions but its newspaper states that it does, and indeed that it has an "unequivocal" position, then that is hardly my fault.

as Jef says, for the innocent workers they killed and maimed I don't think it made a big difference. If I want to be pedantic I could point out that Islamism is not a religion either as such, it is a political ideology which the vast majority of Muslims in the UK do not subscribe to.

How can you say here that you don't think it made a huge difference who injured or killed people when you use that as something which did make a difference further on with your bit about Billy Wright? Come on, you can't have it both ways.

this doesn't make any sense.

Did you support the IRA then? Your defence of the shooting of the Protestant workmen sounds extremely dodgy ("it stopped sectarian killings"), not to mention untrue:

The defence was not mine, it was what an IRA spokesman said to Tim Pat Coogan as recorded in his book, The IRA. made this clear above. As for my view on the IRA, yes, I did support them. But that was my decision and not related to my membership of Class War. As for the defence the IRA spokesman put forward to T.P. Coogan, there were no more killings in that area in the 1970s, which you tacitly admit.

your style of debating, in which you basically keep saying that people have "tacitly admitted" something just because they don't specifically dispute it is quite ridiculous. It's the equivalent of me saying "well you haven't condemned paedophilia so you tacitly support it".

I have mentioned my amusement at your admission you supported the IRA. As for it being unrelated to your membership of class war, I very much doubt that, as neither of the other national federations would have you with that being the case.

As for tacitly admitting there were no more killings in that area - I specifically pointed out the counterexample of 20 sectarian killings being carried out by someone because of those events. Just because they didn't occur in an arbitrary area on a map does not mean they were unrelated, any more than you would buy an elephant repeller from me if I said you "well there haven't been any elephants around here have there?".

You're not being entirely honest here. There may be 'dozens' of articles relating to Islam on your site, but there's all of nine articles about Islam and / or Islamism in Britain, plus a couple of documentaries. There is, in other words, a dearth of information in the Islam section on what Paul's talking about.

an allegation of dishonesty too, excellent. In fact, what I said was entirely honest and correct - there are still far more articles here about Islam proportionately than other religions which have many more adherents.

As an aside, you declare that 'the French Revolution was the triumph of capitalism over feudalism', a quote which seems to come from a 1967 article by Cobban.

actually, it was a quote from me. I find it bizarre that you would assume it came from someone else.

Oh - and the Russian Revolution did not on its own lead to the Cold War, however much you might like to think it did.

there is no point replying to this sort of pedantic pointscoring. I take it also that by taking issue with my statements here, and not taking any sort of issue with Paul's article that you agree with his assessment that Islamism is as important as the French and Russian revolutions then?

Jack_Ketch

Android

This is just straight up bizarre.

Here is what happened since you seemed to have miss it: Shift published Paul Stott's text, then Dajngo archived it in the library here from the Shift website and then when Steven read it he decided to do up a response which touched on naturally enough the writers' political history.

It is that simple, no conspiracy theories needed.

That's Steven's version of events, of course.

you must be extremely paranoid if you doubt this version of events. What sort of sinister conspiracy do you propose is going on instead?

(if it had, Steven wouldn't have made some of his more egregious mistakes later in the article), or that jihadi terrorists are anti-imperialist.

you took issue previously with my referral to these terrorists as anti-imperialist. However, that just means that you don't understand what anti-imperialism means. But presumably you can use this misunderstanding to justify your support for Irish nationalist anti-imperialist terrorism, while not supporting Muslim anti-imperialist terrorism. Of course if you had a consistent working-class internationalist approach this would not be an issue as you would oppose both of them equally.

The notion that radicalisation on campus is a recent phenomenon is mistaken. I am not aware of anyone from any campus Christian union who has been convicted of any offence, let alone terrorist-related crimes - but I am aware of four former officers of Islamic societies who have been. If Steven's able to show that student societies of any other faith have had members or officers convicted of terrorist offences, his argument of equivalency might have some weight. Without it it has none.

no, my point was that the terminology around "radicalisation" is biased. I don't think it is any more "radical" to want to join the Army and kill people, than to want to join a terrorist group to kill people. This language comes out of the idea that the state is the only legitimate user of organised violence, which as an anarchist you and Paul should not be in favour of. Therefore in terms of people of various religions in the UK wanting to join violent organisations which kill people if anything I would think that fewer Muslims do than those of other religions.

I see a qualitative difference between the violence of the state, whether by the British Army or police, and that of Islamist terrorists. Simply put, I am unaware of any time when the British Army or police set out to murder scores of people for the heinous offence of going to a nightclub or travelling on public transport. Perhaps Steven can provide some examples of when the British Army - or police - has done so.

before answering about the Army, again, you seem to think it is acceptable to murder workmen for the crime of being Protestant, or blow up people drinking in pubs for that heinous offence (indeed, not only acceptable but worthy of support). So what is the difference here?

If with the Army you are unaware of times when they have killed innocent civilians, then I would suggest you occasionally pick up a newspaper.

Speaking of the British Army, Steven says

And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

I think you'll find that blah blah blah

are you seriously trying to say that most of the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 10 years has been carried out by British Muslims? If not, then you have no argument here, you are just being pointscoring and pedantic like this is a school debating club.

To be honest, I don't expect you to have a balanced approach to Muslims in the UK giving your track record, which included for years pointedly referring to them as "Moslems" or even "Mohammedans" despite many people pointing out that they found this offensive. You seemed to take much enjoyment in causing this kind of offence. Why did you eventually change your terminology?

Regarding Paul and class war, I mentioned the organisation's position because I am not aware of Paul's. Is/did Paul support the IRA? If not, then my points still stand on some level as he was still part of an organisation which stated its position was in support of the IRA, and which had members and groups within it which also supported the IRA. And I somehow doubt he would be part of an organisation which publicly declared its unequivocal support for Al Qaeda, or had members of groups who went around supporting Al Qaeda and denouncing those who oppose them as do nothing ultra-leftists.

Django

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The violence meted out by groups such as the IRA, groups such as the Red Army Faction, does not itself seem to me to be comparable to the violence meted out by Islamist terrorists. I cannot imagine Islamist terrorists in Europe carrying out an operation like the assassination of Margaret Thatcher or the kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer. This isn't because Islamists are not capable of well-planned operations - September 11 is a good example of a well-planned, well executed operation. It's because for Islamists the population is the greater target than the government, the assault on the Pentagon notwithstanding. If jihadi terrorists in London had wanted to attack the government, they could easily have parked their car-bomb in Whitehall or pretty much anywhere within the Government Security Zone instead of targeting clubbers in the Haymarket.

Seems to me that all these violences have different qualities, from the objectives they seek to achieve, the means by which those ends are to be reached, the targets deemed acceptable and legitimate and so on.

What's the difference between Islamists attempting to massacre clubbers in Haymarket and failing and Republicans successfully massacring pubgoers in Birmingham?

Django

What's the difference between Islamists attempting to massacre clubbers in Haymarket and failing and Republicans successfully massacring pubgoers in Birmingham?

apart from skin tone?

are you seriously trying to say that most of the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 10 years has been carried out by British Muslims? If not, then you have no argument here, you are just being pointscoring and pedantic like this is a school debating club.

To be honest, I don't expect you to have a balanced approach to Muslims in the UK giving your track record, which included four years pointedly referring to them as "Moslems" or even "Mohammedans" despite many people pointing out that they found this offensive. You seemed to take much enjoyment in causing this kind of offence. Why did you eventually change your terminology?

I'll just confine myself to these two paragraphs and give the remainder of your post the attention it deserves tomorrow.

Starting with your first point, let's remind ourselves what you wrote in the article:

And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

I see no mention of British Muslims. Do you? Let's look at the whole paragraph to make sure:

Whatever the absolute number, absolute numbers are not relevant without any sort of context. In terms of Bosnia, white socialists (not to mention NATO) went to fight there on the Muslim side, so why does this paint Muslims in a particularly bad light? As for Israel, far more British people go there to fight for the IDF. And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

No mention of British Muslims there at all. And in any event 'the vast majority of people' shooting people in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be the British Army, because there are fewer than 200 members of British forces in Iraq, and a bit over 7,000 in Afghanistan. With your mention of British Muslims in your reply you introduce something you hadn't in fact mentioned before.

Moving on to your second paragraph, here's a couple of things the AF have said about Muslims:

Islam is an enemy of all freedom loving people. It is certain that, if given the opportunity, Islam would introduce another form of authoritarianism in Britain and across the globe. It must be resisted".

"Muslims are essentially enslaved not to a god but to a set of bogus revelations found in the
Koran. And, it is the task of Islam to ensure that all of the peoples in the world are similarly enslaved".
Resistance #32 http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist32.html

You've quite a bit of gall to take me to task for using, for example, 'Moslem' when you choose to associate yourself with a group which comes out with bile like that which isn't a million miles away from saying Islam is a vicious wicked faith.

Oh - and if you want to know Paul's position, why don't you go back to his blog and ask him?

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

Starting with your first point, let's remind ourselves what you wrote in the article:

And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

I see no mention of British Muslims. Do you? Let's look at the whole paragraph to make sure:

Whatever the absolute number, absolute numbers are not relevant without any sort of context. In terms of Bosnia, white socialists (not to mention NATO) went to fight there on the Muslim side, so why does this paint Muslims in a particularly bad light? As for Israel, far more British people go there to fight for the IDF. And Afghanistan and Iraq? The vast majority of people there shooting people and blowing things up are not Muslims, they are white people (probably mostly Christian) in the British Army. So again why focus on Islam here, when in terms of the amount of violence actually being carried out it is so much less than that by people of other religions?

No mention of British Muslims there at all.

unfortunately Jack you think you are cleverer than you are. As I said before, even if your pedantic pointscoring were partly correct, it doesn't affect my central argument at all. In this instance unfortunately, your pointscoring is not correct. You may remember that my article was a response to Paul Stotts. If you look at my article again, you will see what I quoted from Paul immediately before that paragraph, which that paragraph was in response to:

Although rarely acknowledged, a small, but not insignificant number of British Muslims have been fighting, killing and dying in their version of Jihad for the best part of three decades, in places as diverse as Bosnia, Kashmir, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Israel.

so my discussion around numbers was about numbers of British people in those areas over the last three decades. So do you wish to try to deny that British soldiers have been involved in violence in Iraq or Afghanistan in that time period? And do you think that British Muslims have carried out more violence?

Moving on to your second paragraph, here's a couple of things the AF have said about Muslims:…

You've quite a bit of gall to take me to task for using, for example, 'Moslem' when you choose to associate yourself with a group which comes out with bile like that which isn't a million miles away from saying Islam is a vicious wicked faith.

That is hilarious that you are actually trying to compare the AF to the BNP.

Again, unfortunately for you it may have escaped your attention but that article is from 2001, which is nine years before I joined the AF. Nor is it an official position of the AF. I don't think the AF article is very good (namely because it doesn't adequately differentiate between moderate or nonreligious Muslims and fundamentalist Muslims), but to try to say it's like the BNP is truly laughable. Especially as you yourself were part of the AF as well, so does that mean you are like Nick Griffin too?

And so I don't think this leaves me in any weaker position to point out that I have doubts about your views on Muslims when you found it so amusing to refer to them in pejorative and offensive terms. And you haven't answered why it is you seem to have stopped referring to them as that?

Rachel

Since Paul Stott's article didn't focus on all Muslims but rather on Islamists (i.e. those who see Islam as a political programme) it's you who is minimising distinction between the reactionaries he's talking about and the majority of Muslims. It seems to me if you're suggesting that Jihadis or ISOC or the ELM should not be criticised then frankly it's you who is lumping all Muslims together. The point has been made many times before that white racists and right-wing Islamists both encourage the belief that Muslims constitute a monolithic identity (and therefore help create that identity). I'm not saying you're doing that (or are a racist) but you have confused criticism of institutions with scapegoating of 'poor, working class people'.

Paul Stott knows a lot of stuff but I think it takes him in some very wrong directions. But the answer isn’t to just say that’s ok to remain ignorant of what's going on in our communities and just keep insisting that what we really should do is unite and fight – the point is that religious fundamentalism, identity politics and state/(and left wing) promotion of communal organisations makes 'uniting' much more difficult.

I don't think that the argument is that anarchists "shouldn't criticise" these institutions, just that we should bear in mind that mosques and muslim "community leaders" are not unique in the way that they influence local politics or make claims to represent whole ethnic or religious groups as communities. That doesn't preclude being critical of these things, where that criticism is actually relevant.

The whole thing kind of reminds me of the whole "murder music" debate, where some people were challenging the "black community" to adress homophobia, as if homophobia were wholly unique to a few reggae/dub artists and their fanbase (or at least their as if their homophobia was in some way a uniquely black homophobia). It affirms, rather than challenges, the idea that these community leaders are the legitimate representatives of their communities.

posi

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven's misreading of Paul's article surfaces in several places, such as where Steven thinks Lutfur Rahman's being lumped in with Islamists, whereas Paul clearly says Rahman is an independent (if useless) mayor.

Just a quick point, sorry if it has been made before. I think it is neither true that Rahman is an independent or an Islamist. What happened is:
1. Rahman was in the Labour Party and sought the Mayoral nomination. He was certainly seen to be close to the IFE, and there was an accusation that IFE supporters in the local LP had helped him win the nomination: I emphasise that this was an accusation, I don't know the truth of it. I think it is plausible, based on prior, unrelated stories about infiltration.
2. The Labour Party NEC evidently thought the allegations were plausible enough, or at least something was at stake from their point of view.

Having received a number of serious allegations concerning both the eligibility of participating voters and the conduct of Lutfur Rahman, the NEC has decided to investigate the allegations made. As a result, administrative action has been taken to remove Lutfur Rahman as a candidate pending the investigation. Nominations for Tower Hamlets mayor close this week and in the circumstances the NEC had no option but to impose another candidate. The NEC has voted to select Helal Abbas Uddin as Labour's candidate.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/davehillblog/2010/sep/21/lutfur-rahman-removed-as-labour-tower-hamlets-mayoral-candidate

3. Lutfur runs as an 'independent', but everyone who knew anything about what was going on on the ground knew that the people who were treading the streets, handing out flyers, were IFE members or associates. No doubt there were others too, but that was the backbone of it. A lot of money came from somewhere to produce the most mental piece of political propaganda I've ever seen: a paper distributed to every home in the borough, even posh ones in not particularly Bengali areas. As well as a human interest feature about two young Bengali guys meeting a lady who kept lots of snakes and an article which casually accused the Abbas of domestic violence, it had articles headed things like "Scholars condemn Abbas". It had an article about 'scholars' supporting Rahman as well. It was obviously playing a religious, Islamic card. I don't know if you call that 'Islamist': I'm not sure the question of being for the Caliphate is the decider, since the Turkish AKP is not (as far as I know) for the Caliphate but is generally referred to as Islamist. I wish I'd kept the paper. I can't emphasise enough how loopy it was.

Anyway. He was blatantly put in place by the IFE, although I'm sure he's not a member, they evidently thought he would further their interests more than available alternatives: in or out of the Labour Party. Everyone who keeps tabs on the borough's politics accepts that's the case. The secular pro-working class Bengali left in the borough, which is tiny (and admittedly, would mostly support Labour against RESPECT and Rahman in an election), would say the same thing.

Also, I used to live in Tower Hamlets (Shadwell, then Bethnal Green), I now live in Hackney. Both are East London. As far as the ELM goes, it has great influence in the former, and next to none in the latter. When people say 'East London', they sometimes mean just Tower Hamlets, Newham, and out: sometimes they also include Hackney in that. But in the case of this debate, it's an important distinction to make.

For example, my flatmate is a teacher in Tower Hamlets. At the recent NUT/Unison strike, the rally was held at the London Muslim Centre. Someone who objected was reviled as an Islamophobe by the SWP (Rachel has had a similar experience on another issue), and at least one woman striker - who my flatmate happened to talk to - decided not to go to the rally because "it was getting a bit local", and they didn't have their head covered. So it is an issue which has been raised in the context of local class struggle, and will be again.

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hey posi, interesting post.

With the East London Mosque, I don't doubt that it has influence in Tower Hamlets, and as with any religious organisation I don't think it having influence is a good thing. However, as for Paul mentioning that 16 councillors attended it at one point, I just wanted to flag up with my response that you could look at all sorts of religious organisations (like Opus Dei, or some synagogue perhaps) and point out the influential people there, but this seemed to single out Muslims without mentioning that fact.

With regard to the Tower Hamlets Council strike, using the Muslim centre seems more like an indicator of SWP opportunism than actual Islamic influence. I may be wrong, there may be some practicalities, such as it was the right size, and cheap, or perhaps those running it let them have it for free (I know for example that a mosque in Edinburgh provided free food for the University occupation there against fees/cuts). Also of course lefties and unions often use the Euston friends meeting house, which is also run by a religious group.

Steven.

I may be wrong, there may be some practicalities, such as it was the right size, and cheap, or perhaps those running it let them have it for free (I know for example that a mosque in Edinburgh provided free food for the University occupation there against fees/cuts). Also of course lefties and unions often use the Euston friends meeting house, which is also run by a religious group.

Yes! The Mosque kitchen gave us 30 free meals a day when we were locked in over the weekend, to support the occupation! Probably helped by the fact that lots of the students involved had occupied during the Gaza siege a year or so before and the Mosque had supported them then. It certainly wasn't an Islamist influence on the fees occupation, they were just being nice. Edinburgh anti-cuts and lefty groups use a church hall for meetings pretty often too, it's cheap, that's all.

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, and the Hackney anti-cuts public meetings I went to took place in a church hall as well.

Rachel

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Posi, thanks for clarification that when we talk about the ELM we totally mean Tower Hamlets (and little bit Newham), not Hackney or other bits of East London.

I realise that there are as many gaps in my posts as in those of others whom I'm criticising.

Madashell,
Good point, I agree with it to some extent but that particular argument is not going on here, so I don't think it's relevant.

Romona, that's great news about your support from the local mosque. We have also had a lot of support in various campaigns from various local mosques, including the ELM.

Various local campaigns and strike assemblies have also met in churches in Tower Hamlets. That's a normal part of political life. But I would prefer that we don't meet in particular churches dominated by Opus Dei or right wing envangalist Christians, wouldn't you?

I don't think Posi or I were suggesting that Islamists are trying to influence the NUT or other campaigns – it’s about who speaks for communities, and about normalising what are actually highly contested positions and ways of doing things.

Posi's comments about Lutfur Rahman are accurate. There's really no debate about whether he was elected because he was backed by the ELM. It's not a conspiracy or even controversial, it's just a fact.

So far, so what, but the thing you may not realise is that he was also backed by Respect (who are also linked through some prominent activists to the IFE). So now Respect, who was the main, 'left' opposition in the borough for many years, are now aligned with elected mayor Lutfur Rahman who is in charge of the £70million+ cuts and some of their longtime grassroots activists are now wheeled out to defend the cuts, in a sickening spectacle. Now this you might say is normal enough - leftwing people come to power then they have to defend the savage attacks they make on the working class - but the twist here is that Respect, because of its links to Islamic right groups such as the IFE also represents a highly conservative force in the borough- they are in fact more socially conservative than the majority of Tower Hamlets Muslims.

So 'leftwing' Respect engages in social policing in the borough, around gender especially, and what makes a good Muslim. When the Respect candidate for mayor Abjol Miah was running against Labour's Rushnara Ali 2 years ago (the Labour, Respect, Lib Dem, Conservative and Green candidates were all of Muslim background btw), Respect members abused her for her Labour party membership, yes, but also for not being Muslim enough, for having a white boyfriend, for not wearing a headscarf, etc. Progressive? Many white leftists seemed to thinks so, and are happy to accuse people who challenge this of being Islamophobes if they’re white, or not ‘authentic’ enough Muslims if they aren’t.

So while I'd like to just stop worrying about it all and just unite, it's a little more complicated than that.

OK, Tower Hamlets politics is my specialist subject – maybe I need a new hobby. But my interest is less about the Islamists than it is about the white leftists who promote them, and the fashionably postmodern critics who apologise for fundamentalism in various religions. I’ve engaged in arguments with swp/Respect people around these issues for years, as well as speaking to Muslims from various different traditions on the same topics in the 2 decades I've lived in TH that’s probably why I’m not very good at explaining what I mean here - I'm too locally focussed, and forget that people think might actually think it's racist to even talk about British Islamism without giving 'equal time' to other religions, as Steven wants.

I can write equally long posts about Christian and Hindu fundamentalist movements if you feel that would make Libcom more well-balanced.

I'm going to try to stop now, and maybe the discussion will return to the far more important history of Class War : ) But let me say that while the tabloids, parts of the state and the far right focus disproportionally on Muslims and encourage an atmosphere of racism, it doesn’t mean that being interested in Islamism makes you right wing. If you’re interested you will find many, many books written about the Islamic right, many by people with sound politics (perhaps not ‘anarchist’), many of Muslim backgrounds themselves. The best of these do locate Islamism in a historical context which includes, the parallel rise of fundamentalism movements in other religions and how they operate in a globalised world.

posi

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hey, my point wasn't that the meeting being held there showed the influence of the Mosque - except insofar as the SWP make a point of sucking up to them on principle, whether or not it's wanted - it's that the reaction of the woman striker who I described to the meeting being held there shows that the mosque is at the centre of a conservative religious influence on popular opinion in the borough more generally.

Arbeiten

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rachel, just to say it again, as you don't seem to have replied to me (as there is no response here, maybe it was just shit, i dunno?), but as I said earlier, to presume that unity = SWP 'we are all hizbollah' business is a pretty depressing state to be in. I think an anarchist response should be able to tackle both this sort of throw your wight behind the next group who claim to represent muslims AND tackle this bullshit 'lets talk about the minority of muslims loads and loads and loads to make them seem massive' response. This is what Stott seems to fail at. However whats unfolding here seems a bit more interesting than the typical discussion that Stott seems to regurgitate....

Steven.

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rachel

Madashell,
Good point, I agree with it to some extent but that particular argument is not going on here, so I don't think it's relevant.

Rachel, I do think his point is relevant - it does echo one of the main things I was arguing in my response, namely that many of these issues Paul goes into related to Islam or equally valid for people of other religions, or no religion.

Various local campaigns and strike assemblies have also met in churches in Tower Hamlets. That's a normal part of political life. But I would prefer that we don't meet in particular churches dominated by Opus Dei or right wing envangalist Christians, wouldn't you?

I would agree with this, and I wouldn't say it was "a good thing" in the slightest that the SWP had the rally in a Muslim centre. However, I think this is an issue with opportunist (and mostly white) trots rather than with Muslims. SWP types often have extremely dodgy bedfellows - the Labour Party being perhaps the key example of this.

I don't think Posi or I were suggesting that Islamists are trying to influence the NUT or other campaigns – it’s about who speaks for communities, and about normalising what are actually highly contested positions and ways of doing things.

I think we are all in agreement that it is completely wrong to take religious and community leaders as the legitimate spokespeople for any "community."

Posi's comments about Lutfur Rahman are accurate. There's really no debate about whether he was elected because he was backed by the ELM. It's not a conspiracy or even controversial, it's just a fact.

again, no one is disagreeing with this. My issue was Paul seeming to refer to him as an "Islamist" , and making reference to other Islamists in power in the UK. However, I'm not aware of any Islamists elected positions in the government anywhere, so I asked who these people were (and pointed out that even if there were some they would be dwarfed by the number of Christians in power whose politics are influenced by their religious ideas)

So far, so what, but the thing you may not realise is that he was also backed by Respect (who are also linked through some prominent activists to the IFE). So now Respect, who was the main, 'left' opposition in the borough for many years, are now aligned with elected mayor Lutfur Rahman who is in charge of the £70million+ cuts and some of their longtime grassroots activists are now wheeled out to defend the cuts, in a sickening spectacle. Now this you might say is normal enough - leftwing people come to power then they have to defend the savage attacks they make on the working class - but the twist here is that Respect, because of its links to Islamic right groups such as the IFE also represents a highly conservative force in the borough- they are in fact more socially conservative than the majority of Tower Hamlets Muslims.

So 'leftwing' Respect engages in social policing in the borough, around gender especially, and what makes a good Muslim. When the Respect candidate for mayor Abjol Miah was running against Labour's Rushnara Ali 2 years ago (the Labour, Respect, Lib Dem, Conservative and Green candidates were all of Muslim background btw), Respect members abused her for her Labour party membership, yes, but also for not being Muslim enough, for having a white boyfriend, for not wearing a headscarf, etc. Progressive? Many white leftists seemed to thinks so, and are happy to accuse people who challenge this of being Islamophobes if they’re white, or not ‘authentic’ enough Muslims if they aren’t.

of course this is all ridiculous - but then that's why none of us here support Respect or these ridiculous white leftists.

So while I'd like to just stop worrying about it all and just unite, it's a little more complicated than that.

that's not what I'm saying at all - I just don't think it is productive to over exaggerate Islamic terrorism, and even tried to say that it has nothing to do with the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan.

OK, Tower Hamlets politics is my specialist subject – maybe I need a new hobby. But my interest is less about the Islamists than it is about the white leftists who promote them, and the fashionably postmodern critics who apologise for fundamentalism in various religions.

me too.

I’ve engaged in arguments with swp/Respect people around these issues for years, as well as speaking to Muslims from various different traditions on the same topics in the 2 decades I've lived in TH that’s probably why I’m not very good at explaining what I mean here - I'm too locally focussed, and forget that people think might actually think it's racist to even talk about British Islamism without giving 'equal time' to other religions, as Steven wants.

I don't think that. None of your points here have been racist in the slightest. My issue was with Paul's article and how it was written, including how actual numbers were deliberately omitted in favour of assertions and percentages. You yourself commented that it was "close to bigotry".

It's clear that you are used to arguing with SWP types around this, because you seem to have made some assumptions that I hold some of their views ("organising alongside Muslims" meaning mosques for example)

Steven.

10 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Jack_Ketch

I'll just confine myself to these two paragraphs and give the remainder of your post the attention it deserves tomorrow.

And still no answers to my questions, including:
Steven

That is hilarious that you are actually trying to compare the AF to the BNP.

Again, unfortunately for you it may have escaped your attention but that article is from 2001, which is nine years before I joined the AF. Nor is it an official position of the AF. I don't think the AF article is very good (namely because it doesn't adequately differentiate between moderate or nonreligious Muslims and fundamentalist Muslims), but to try to say it's like the BNP is truly laughable. Especially as you yourself were part of the AF as well, so does that mean you are like Nick Griffin too?

And so I don't think this leaves me in any weaker position to point out that I have doubts about your views on Muslims when you found it so amusing to refer to them in pejorative and offensive terms. And you haven't answered why it is you seem to have stopped referring to them as that?

Steven.

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just as a slight update on this, I thought it was worth pointing out that the author of the person who wrote the article I was responding to is now a UKIP supporter:

I was one of those who voted for UKIP in England.

http://paulstott.typepad.com/i_intend_to_escape_and_co/2015/05/for-the-left-neglect-begets-contempt.html

Which I must say is disappointing but not really surprising

wojtek

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

What's his reasoning?

Noah Fence

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I would imagine his reasoning would be somewhere in the spectrum of the reasoning of those that vote for any party at all and will obviously be faulty. Specifically, the majority of UKIP voters are bigoted assholes of one sort or another and I don't suppose that he is any different.

Chilli Sauce

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fuck me, from Class War to UKIP. Wow.

Steven.

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Noah Fence

I would imagine his reasoning would be somewhere in the spectrum of the reasoning of those that vote for any party at all and will obviously be faulty. Specifically, the majority of UKIP voters are bigoted assholes of one sort or another and I don't suppose that he is any different.

Sorry, must have missed this post. In terms of the logic, it's not really clear. Having a look at his blog, there is lots of stuff criticising Muslims and the EU, so basically that seems to be the "logic" if you want to call it that. For example:

The EU's Border Force and the Risk of Terrorism
The annual risk analysis by the European Union's border force, Frontex, makes for sober reading. The European Union often does not know who it is letting in, nor who it allows to cross its territory:

"the identification issue concerns the potential threat to internal security. With large numbers of arrivals remaining essentially unclassified for a variety of reasons, there is clearly a risk that persons representing a security threat may be entering the EU." (p.61)

The danger this poses was evidenced last year:

"The Paris attacks in November 2015 clearly demonstrated that irregular migratory flows could be used by terrorists to enter the EU. Two of the terrorists involved in the attacks had previously irregularly entered through Leros and had been registered by the Greek authorities. They presented fraudulent Syrian documents to speed up their registration process." (p.7)

Britain has a degree of protection against such individuals, as we are not part of the Schengen agreement allowing free movement across the EU. However there is nothing to stop British jihadis mingling and liaising with such individuals once they have entered Europe, and all would be able to enter the UK, unquestioned, as soon as they obtain EU citizenship. Indeed Angela Merkel has guaranteed the right to remain to all Syrians, making Syrian documentation, whether genuine or fraudulent, ever more valuable to those with malign intent.

The European Union is making Britain less safe.

Also not sure how relevant this is but this is his new hot water bottle:

(for those with screen readers, it's a Union Jack)

Joseph Kay

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

wojtek

What's his reasoning?

http://paulstott.typepad.com/i_intend_to_escape_and_co/2015/05/for-the-left-neglect-begets-contempt.html

Paul Stott

The new left ensured that in time non-Stalinist Socialists came to place supporting ethnic minorities, gay rights, and feminism as their core activity.

This may not have mattered, but the old Communist parties also became subsumed by the new left's ideals, and the Labour party combined accepting the new left's views on society, with embracing the Conservative Party's views on economics.

Throw in the rise of the world's second biggest religion and its global resurgence - some of Islam's least pleasant adherents have lived in Britain since the 1990s - and it is not hard to see why so much of the working class has been squeezed, and more importantly feels squeezed, in the UK.

Noah Fence

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ref the new hot water bottle - Holy shit, just when you think it can't get any worse it turns out that as well as a racist, he's a Britpop fan as well!

wojtek

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I've lost interest, but see also pro-Russia, anti-metropolitan elites and Spiked! v (real or imagined) silly student politics.

Refused

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Chilli Sauce

Fuck me, from Class War to UKIP. Wow.

https://twitter.com/Hayrr/status/282988246684811264

Hayrr X on twitter.com 23/12/2012

how long do you think before ukip is mostly ex class war federation members?

Steven.

6 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just come across this awful Islamophobic, liberal article reproduced with a really bad intro on this "insurrectionist" anarchist website, so thought I might as well post a link to this and any other similar here as a reference link dump:

Burn the Koran, burn the Mosques…

https://325.nostate.net/2016/01/19/why-we-must-ban-islam-by-ex-muslim-socialist-writer-serkan-engin-turkey/

wojtek

5 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Stott's latest piece:
http://www.lapidomedia.com/analysis-islam-labour

Entdinglichung

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Just as a slight update on this, I thought it was worth pointing out that the author of the person who wrote the article I was responding to is now a UKIP supporter:

I was one of those who voted for UKIP in England.

http://paulstott.typepad.com/i_intend_to_escape_and_co/2015/05/for-the-left-neglect-begets-contempt.html

Which I must say is disappointing but not really surprising

and a member:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/sorry-i-m-not-boris-ukip-s-only-mp-seeks-brexit-fans-in-kettering-1.2655199

Another Ukip member, Paul Stott, an academic specialising in terrorism studies

Red Marriott

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

For the record, worth quoting at length;

Another Ukip member, Paul Stott, an academic specialising in terrorism studies, told me his wife is from Sierra Leone. Although polls show immigration as the biggest issue for Leave voters, Stott said he finds more voters expressing concern about democracy and sovereignty. A ComRes poll for the Daily Mail yesterday showed the Remain side increasing its advantage on the issue of the economy and Stott acknowledged that the public’s risk aversion is a challenge for the Leave campaign.

“People seem to want a guarantee almost, that we will be better off. And there aren’t any guarantees. My position is that if something is a good product it will sell. Britain is the fifth biggest economy in the world. That isn’t going to change overnight,” he said.

Stott is confident that Kettering, along with the rest of Northamptonshire, will vote to leave the EU on June 23rd, but he is not ready to predict the overall outcome. “I think it’s going to be really close. Ask me a week before it and we’ll see,” he said.
https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/uk/sorry-i-m-not-boris-ukip-s-only-mp-seeks-brexit-fans-in-kettering-1.2655199

jef costello

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

bloody hell

What Terrorism Costs France

Tucked away in the 'In Brief' section of the Daily Telegraph's sports pages, you could easily miss one of the saddest items of the day:

"The threat of terrorist attacks in France means no World Cup matches will be broadcast on big screens in public spaces, the government said yesterday."

When the barbarians are inside the gates, we lose the freedom to even socialise together. A desperately sad decision to see.

For the Left Neglect Begets Contempt

I wrote the little piece below in March in a debate about working class voters turning to the Front National in France, in a debate on the Guardian's Comment is Free pages. It now seems appropriate to post it here, given the pitiful votes for far left candidates in the 2015 election, the defeat of Labour, and the strong votes for the SNP in Scotland, and for UKIP in England and Wales. I was one of those who voted for UKIP in England.

The rise of the Front National, and other populist parties of the right, needs to be placed in historical context.

For a large part of their history, the Communist parties in Europe were in practice foreign nationalist parties - the job of the CPGB, or Communist parties in France, Italy or West Germany was to support the Soviet Union. The new left ensured that in time non-Stalinist Socialists came to place supporting ethnic minorities, gay rights, and feminism as their core activity.

This may not have mattered, but the old Communist parties also became subsumed by the new left's ideals, and the Labour party combined accepting the new left's views on society, with embracing the Conservative Party's views on economics.

Throw in the rise of the world's second biggest religion and its global resurgence - some of Islam's least pleasant adherents have lived in Britain since the 1990s - and it is not hard to see why so much of the working class has been squeezed, and more importantly feels squeezed, in the UK.

I can't imagine things are any better in France........

Mike Harman

3 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Paul Stott also appears on The Full Brexit's founding statement: https://www.thefullbrexit.com/about

With people such as Paul Embery and Maurice Glasman from Blue Labour, and James Heartfield from Spiked Online.

Also signed a 'University Free Speech' Spiked Online statement: http://paulstott.typepad.com/i_intend_to_escape_and_co/2017/03/signing-up-to-support-free-speech.html

R Totale

3 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As a small postscript on this, I would've thought that his UKIP/Labour right dalliances (in some ways the latter is even more disappointing - I can just about see a common thread from Class War to UKIP in terms of anti-establishment populism, but Lord Glasman? Really?) meant that he'd definitively turned his back on the anarchist milieu, but just spotted him doing a bit of transphobic trolling in the facebook event for the anarchist not-bookfair, because obviously a UKIP member who's signed up to a project with an actual fucking baron is really well placed to say what priorities anarchists should have. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯