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

Rachel
May 17 2011 09:50

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.

Steven.
May 18 2011 09:29

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 wrote:
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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Jack_Ketch
May 18 2011 09:57
Steven. wrote:
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
May 18 2011 16:18

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:

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

and

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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
May 18 2011 17:02

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.
May 18 2011 17:30
Rachel wrote:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
May 18 2011 18:30
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?".

Quote:

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.

Quote:

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.

Quote:
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 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.

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

Quote:
(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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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 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
May 18 2011 18:49
Quote:
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?

Steven.
May 18 2011 19:31
Django wrote:

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?

Jack_Ketch
May 18 2011 21:09
Quote:
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:

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

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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".

Quote:
"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.
May 18 2011 21:28
Jack_Ketch wrote:
Starting with your first point, let's remind ourselves what you wrote in the article:
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 see no mention of British Muslims. Do you? Let's look at the whole paragraph to make sure:

Quote:
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:

Quote:
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?

Quote:

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?

madashell
May 19 2011 12:01
Rachel 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. 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
May 19 2011 16:55
Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
May 19 2011 17:43

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.

Ramona
May 19 2011 19:17
Steven. wrote:
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.
May 19 2011 20:14

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

Rachel
May 19 2011 22:02

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
May 19 2011 22:06

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
May 20 2011 03:54

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.
May 20 2011 09:01
Rachel wrote:

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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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."

Quote:
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)

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
Jun 2 2011 19:50
Jack_Ketch wrote:
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 wrote:
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.
Aug 18 2015 11:52

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:

Quote:
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-l...

Which I must say is disappointing but not really surprising

wojtek
Aug 19 2015 09:04

What's his reasoning?

Noah Fence
Aug 19 2015 09:34

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
Aug 19 2015 12:55

Fuck me, from Class War to UKIP. Wow.

Steven.
May 9 2016 22:37
Noah Fence wrote:
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:

Quote:
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
May 10 2016 08:41
wojtek wrote:
What's his reasoning?

http://paulstott.typepad.com/i_intend_to_escape_and_co/2015/05/for-the-l...

Paul Stott wrote:
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
May 10 2016 09:36

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
May 10 2016 13:41

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

Refused
May 10 2016 19:15
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Fuck me, from Class War to UKIP. Wow.

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

Hayrr X on twitter.com 23/12/2012 wrote:
how long do you think before ukip is mostly ex class war federation members?