Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In your face, Wernstrom!

I don't know why I do it to myself, to put myself through so much pain and anguish by torturing and castigating myself by reading sectarian websites. Never mind why I do it, must be some kind of self-destruction part of my personality, because all it does is make me incredibly angry and morose.

Anyway... the demonstration was impressive, massive, and an upturn in the anti-war movement. It was anti-imperialist, left-wing and very militant. Importantly, and anyone who actually spent the day talking to other people on the march would realise, there was an overwhelming number of first-timer-demonstration-goers on the march. The mixture was brilliant, a few Orthodox Jews walked all the way from Stamford Hill to be on the demonstration, but as they were on a Sabbath, couldn't speak when introduced to the crowd, who gave them the biggest cheer. It has also brought a great number of activists back into action, but also brought new people in as well, one student I know went around Streatham sticking up leaflets to lamp-posts, train stations and bus stops on her bike.

The estimate is 100,000, I think it may have been bigger than that, but it's nice to see that someone decided to make a reasonable estimate this time, this is all bearing in mind that the march was still coming into Parliament Square 3 hours after it arrived. Here's a picture:

The BBC reported the usual police estimate of 20,000, though it's pleasant to see some news outlets (ie. CNN) are reporting a lower figure than the police estimate, joined also by the Fraggle Rock gang down at Harry's Place, who despite the fact that the website they have sourced says 20,000, they have edited their blog to say 15,000 instead.

But hey there's some who will always dislike what they see, Voltaires described it as "politically just degenerate" and our old friend (I wonder if he still reads this place after I told him to fuck off) General Broder said it was... "dreadful, dreadful, dreadful."

It feels like I'm trying to goad a few people into replying and making this website into a forum for intra-left bickering again, but honestly, when people decide to fight back against the biggest, most violent and reactionary imperialist regime in the area, I'll support them. Oh I am sorry they're so anti-gay/anti-women/anti-working-class/anti-tradeunion. I don't put any conditions on supporting them, but I am critical of them, it's that unconditional, but critical support thang (so misunderstood) ... so is Lindsey German, look:

I don't agree with the politics of the Iranian regime, or the Syrian regime or Hamas or Hezbollah - but when I see what's happening, and who they're up against, I know whose side I'm on. People say to me 'well, there are two sides to this'. Yes, there are. On one side, there is a country being invaded and bombed, and its people are being killed. On the other side is the country doing the invading and bombing and killing.


Voila, and more:

Bush’s neo-conservative presidency pursues its own unilateralism, trying to impose by military means and intimidation its economic and strategic values on the rest of the world.

Only two movements in the area resist Israel and the US.

Sadly for people of the left, like myself, they are not from “our school”, but we should respect their steadfastness and will to resist occupation and colonisation. These are Hamas and Hizbollah.


From Ilan Pappe. There is a lot to be happy about people being cynical about Hizbullah and Hamas, after all, they are not from "our school" - they are reactionary and authoritarian... however, in the rush to distance themselves from organisations that are fighting oppression, they accept a lot of the propaganda about them. For a start they are not a sectarian organisation and have done much to unite Muslims with Christians in Lebanon in fighting Israel, 87% of the population of Lebanon supports them and they have borrowed a lot of the old social-democratic policies from the old communist parties.

Things are messy. Also, read this.

7 comments:

El Tom said...

Hmm. I'd say on one side there is the innocent civillian, and on the other there is the indiscriminate slaughter he faces; on both sides. that is not to say that things aren't a lot worse in Lebanon, you understand, but that does not disprove the statement I just made.

Your obsession with Imperialism and resultant superexploitation has lead you to think of things in terms of national blocs; 'imperialist Israel' v 'anti-imperialist Hezbollah'.

I see things more along the lines of 'oppressive Israeli ruling class' v 'oppressive Hezbollah ruling class'. They just oppress the workers on the other side rather than their own!

you should think less about defined nationalities and more about what the victims on both sides of this conflict have in common.

El Tom said...

Also, if you believe that by agreeing with someone's short term goals, you should always support them, would you go on anti-zionist demonstrations with the BNP?

Roobin said...

Here we go again!

(1) There's an enormous difference between the two sides. One is a democracy, the other is a well armed settler state. This makes the sides so crucially uncommon. It also makes it extremely difficult to talk about an Israeli working class in the traditional sense. It has something to lose, other than its chains, as it would not exist without the current order.

Softie Leftlabtypes had no difficulty sifting the good from bad when it came to Ireland or South Africa. Labour is so rotted and skanky that even its proclaimed lefties are lost these days.

(2) One should think less about the specific and more about the specific in relation to the totality. Is a victory for Israel and, by extension the US and UK governments a plus or a minus for the class war we supposedly want to fight here, let alone in the middle east?

(3) The job here is not to dictate the terms on which Hizbollah may legitimately resist, according to our "leftie" checksheet. Hizbollah (by no means the only force resisting, by the way) have a right to resist Israeli oppression, are resisting and will continue to resist, despite what a load of drunks might write in a Euston pub.

The job is twofold. Firstly, to decouple British state support for the Israeli onslaught by, secondly, removing any legitimacy it may have in the eyes of the public. In other words, win the British public to the idea of an unconditional ceasefire and withdrawal and, before that happens, the Lebanese people's right to resist.

(4) No one said "if you agree with someone's short term goals you should always support them". Your line of argument depends on not adressing anything my scaly, green friend has actually said.

El Tom said...

I won't respond to the first three points; you probably know what I will say anyway, and it will take me ages... I'm not good at succinct.

'The job is twofold. Firstly, to decouple British state support for the Israeli onslaught by, secondly, removing any legitimacy it may have in the eyes of the public. In other words, win the British public to the idea of an unconditional ceasefire and withdrawal and, before that happens, the Lebanese people's right to resist.'

I don't disagree with any of that (apart from that I am a Poale Zion type...). I'm talking about Hezbollah's (we really need a standard spelling for that!) right to attack Israeli civillians when Israel is out of lebanon.

with regard to the 4th, you have been consisatant in your support for 'resistance' across the middle east, but fail to accept that 'resistance' groups like Hezbollah and Hamas only offer the same as the US, but without any concessions, i.e. outright conservatism with no liberal traits. They also offer oppressive religious legislation to subjugate the populations of those countries.

You may support the defeat of Israe and the US when they invade a place; fair enough. but if you're going to give it the old 'we are Hezbollah', that suggests that you share more solidarity with them than extends simply to their posision on current events...

In essence, If you choose between the US and Hezbollah, you choose between neoliberal capitalism and theocracy. What about after the war? The long term situation?

Which of those provides a better environment for socialism, or indeed any remotely progressive change?

I can't give my support to either. How can you?

Roobin said...

How about this for succinct? What represents an advance for socialism, conditions of national self-determination (and it will take a national effort to defeat the Israeli army) or colonisation?

I'd say, to ask the question is half-way to the answer.

Stepping back a little, you say:

"I see things more along the lines of 'oppressive Israeli ruling class' v 'oppressive Hezbollah ruling class'. They just oppress the workers on the other side rather than their own!"

Which is (it seems to me) a tangled way neither side is socialist, whatever that might mean. By extention (I would gather) its either socialism or nothing. Which is interesting coming from a "gradualist". In the middle east its socialism or nothing. In Britain its socialism by increments.

Finally, I'll end the same way as I did last time. Please don't infer something just because it suits the argument you'd like to put forward. Try responding to my alien friend's little thesis.

For example:

"They also offer oppressive religious legislation to subjugate the populations of those countries".

Makes no sense if Hezbollah have the support of 87% of the population and are attempting to lead Lebanon in a national struggle... as was said.

"but if you're going to give it the old 'we are Hezbollah'"...

Who...? Who's saying that?

El Tom said...

It was banded about all over those demos. Have a look at what the Cliffite has to say about it. anticipation of that actually the only reason I didn't turn up myself!

Yes, you are correct, neither side is socialist, and I really don't think either side represented an advance for socialism. Sure, you can have progressive nationalism, like the PLO, or catalans etc., but I think the type of nationalism they represent is regressive.

I think, to use an analaogy, what groups like Hezbollah do is very much like what the BNP would do were britain invaded by a much larger (imperialistic?) power. Well, if the BNP weren't all in jail for GBH, but the point stands.

Of course, in that situation, socialists would share the short term goals of the nationalist right... but I bet the wouldn't be waving flags with fasces on about.

Also, you could argue in a situation like Iraq for example what self-determination actually means...

Roobin said...

Well, at the risk of dragging it out more:

"I think, to use an analaogy, what groups like Hezbollah do is very much like what the BNP would do were britain invaded by a much larger (imperialistic?) power. Well, if the BNP weren't all in jail for GBH, but the point stands."

That's not a point, it's something you think. I think the moon is made of cheese, well, not soft cheese, otherwise it wouldn't be able to absorb the impact of all those asteroids and bits of space debris... but the point still stands...

Or maybe just saying something's true makes it true. I don't know.