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

Crow-bombs: our biggest problem?

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.

Comments

Jack_Ketch
May 12 2011 22:56
Android wrote:
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.

Steven.
May 12 2011 22:57
Jack_Ketch wrote:
Steven. wrote:
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 wrote:
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?

Quote:
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
May 12 2011 23:32
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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.

Steven.
May 13 2011 08:47

Jack, going back to your original comment:

Jack_Ketch wrote:

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

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

Quote:
The IRA were not 'religion-linked terrorists';

other posters have addressed this

Quote:
'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.

Quote:
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:

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

Quote:
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.

Jack_Ketch
May 14 2011 18:36
Steven. wrote:
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.

Quote:
other posters have addressed this

not very successfully

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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
May 14 2011 14:58

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:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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
May 14 2011 17:30

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
May 14 2011 18:33
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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
May 14 2011 18:35
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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.

Jack_Ketch
May 14 2011 19:44
Android wrote:
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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
May 15 2011 18:39

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?

Quote:
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
May 15 2011 19:10
AIW wrote:
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
May 15 2011 23:56
AIW wrote:
Noting that groups like Libcom tend to have a go at the Palestinians in coordination with Israels offensives

saywut? confused

Fall Back
May 16 2011 05:03

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

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 08:18
Android wrote:
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.

Quote:
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

Quote:
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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 08:06
Fall Back wrote:
>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
May 16 2011 08:50

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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 09:52
Fall Back wrote:
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
May 16 2011 10:54

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
May 16 2011 11:13
Jack_Keitch wrote:
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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 11:26
Joseph Kay wrote:
Jack_Keitch wrote:
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
May 16 2011 11:36
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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
May 16 2011 11:40
Jack_Ketch wrote:
Android wrote:

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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 11:52
Django wrote:
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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
May 16 2011 11:52
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 11:54
Django wrote:
Jack_Ketch wrote:
Android wrote:

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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 11:55
Joseph Kay wrote:
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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
May 16 2011 12:56
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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 wrote:
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.

Jack_Ketch
May 16 2011 17:18
Django wrote:
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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 wrote:
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
May 17 2011 04:43

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. wrote:
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. wrote:
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. wrote:
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

Quote:
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.