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Islamic Forum of Europe, Tower Hamlets, and Luftar Rahman.

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Benefiting Islamist Reactionaries.

“A London council at the centre of an investigation into alleged fraud is also under scrutiny over its links to Islamic extremism, according to a classified government document leaked to The Telegraph.  Ministers sent inspectors to Tower Hamlets council, in east London, last week to investigate the alleged abuse of public resources to reward supporters of Lutfur Rahman, its controversial directly-elected mayor.”

   continues,

The document, a report to Mr Cameron dated Sept 2013, expresses particular concern about the council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque and the Osmani Trust, a Muslim-only youth group. The mosque is also named in the counter-terrorism local profile, the document reveals. The document says there are “serious concerns” about both organisations’ “links to extremists, or willingness to host extremist speakers or organisations”.

The East London Mosque has hosted hundreds of meetings with extremist preachers, including a “live telephone Q&A” with the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, advertised with a picture of Manhattan under bombardment.   Both bodies are closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which seeks a sharia state in Europe and played a key part in Mr Rahman’s election as mayor in 2010. Together they have received more than £2 million in council funding.

Can we say, with George Galloway (2010) that, “I don’t know who is or isn’t a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for….” ?

Is the IFE the  “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group, normally classed on the extreme right? Wikipedia makes these allegations  about one of the founders of the IFE.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin Mueen-Uddin born 27 November 1948), is one of the convicted war criminal for killing Bengali intellectuals in collaboration with Pakistan army at the time of Bangladesh liberation war.[1][8][9][10] After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.[11][12]

 Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid,[3][13][14] and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).[4] On 3 November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal which is set up by the government of Bangladesh to judgeinternational crimes committed during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, sentenced Mueen-Uddin, in absentia, to death for killing 9 teachers of Dhaka University, 6 journalists and 3 doctors in 1971.[5][9][10][15]

 Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971.[16] Mueen-Uddin denies the charges.[17] Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe,Jamaat-e-Islami’s European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party. Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.

Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque.

He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE. He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.

The IFE makes this bland description of itself,

Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is a community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the values enshrined in the Islamic faith, members of IFE are obliged to be full and active participants in society, benefiting all people. IFE has branches throughout the UK and has affiliates in Western Europe. Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO UK), with branches across Britain. Its women’s wing is Muslimaat UK. With origins in the 1970s, IFE brings together Muslims of all backgrounds who have made Europe their home. As a collective, IFE facilitates an enlightened appreciation of Islam that is relevant to the context and realities of our time. We undertake social activities – from schools and youth clubs to community engagement and women’s empowerment projects, spiritual development – from prayer to retreats

But dig a little deeper and we find that the IFE is indeed closely aligned to the Jamaat.

This is their protest against the hanging of convicted genocider and war criminal Abdul Qader Mollah,

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging to death of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary-General, Abdul Qader Mollah, on Thursday as an act of judicial murder( Statement Issued 13th December 2013)

Mr Mollah’s summary execution follows a sham trial which has been described by international human rights groups as failing to meet international standards, politically influenced and discredited.

IFE considers Abdul Qader Mollah’s death as state murder by a government doing all it can to cling onto power indefinitely. The whole process has been a farce, and the Bangladeshi government has ignored international demands to ensure that this process calls under international jurisdiction.

The execution of Mr Mollah, in breach of all international standards will, no doubt, plunge Bangladesh further into crisis. The threat of violence and civil unrest is very real. The IFE is concerned that this pre-determined process will be used by the Awami League regime to declare a state of emergency and derail any attempts to hold free and fair elections in January.

The IFE urges the international community, and in particular the UK government to reconsider the financial and diplomatic support afforded to this regime.

There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.

For the left, apart from those deluded enough to think that Rahman is “Progressive”, the issues are wider.

Last year Gita Saghal commented,

Fundamentalist demonstrations from the Jamaat associated East London Mosque  have been taking place regularly after Friday prayers, according to activists.  Secular Bangladeshis of all religious backgrounds and none were finally able to rally and march outwards from Altab Ali park through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. It was a suitable demonstration that the secular activists who have been receiving regular death threats have not been cowed into retreat.

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault.

In Bangladesh, fundamentalists  paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’  Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to  murder.

Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa  makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.

This is worth remembering every time people read something on Tower Hamlets,

John Ware, Independent, 13th of April.
An investigation is not Islamophobia

The Asian Mayor of Tower Hamlets says he welcomes scrutiny, yet he tried to stop a BBC ‘Panorama’ report.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

France: Nearly a Million Votes for the Far-Right.

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Right 8,656,826

Left 6,736,810

Diverse local group, individuals, ‘notables’  1,983,191

Extreme Right. 983,191

Centre 690,140

Gauche radicale (that is the Front de gauche, though see below on this) 247,471

EELV  247,47 (Greens).

Extreme Left (small groups like the NPA and LO)  127,674

These totals are complicated by local alliances, which are extremely intricate (sometimes Communist Party with the Socialists, sometimes Parti de gauche with the Greens – as in Grenoble).

Are there simple conclusions.

The situation, as Libération points out today, may be not at all clear cut.

The Front National won  in the  2014 Presidential elections, 15,7%
This time they got  14,4% in towns and cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants where they stood.

Their break-through in Hénin-Beaumont – town that has become a symbol – was not encouraging.

In  Brignoles and  Perpignan left candidates have stood down, to allow the Republican forces to stand against the far-right.

In  Seine-Saint-Denis  (the ‘red belt’) the Communists managed to maintain their vote.

L’Humanité carries an important editorial today on whether the Front National has achieved a real “breakthrough”.

It asks  if France is today in the same situation as 2002, when Lionel Jospin was beaten in the first round of the Presidential election by Le Pen.

Should there be a wider “front républicain” uniting left and centre-right to fend off the Front National – as happened in 2002 when some  on the left backed Chriac against Le Pen?

They suggest a large part of the responsibility for the present rise of far-right lies with  President François Hollande and his ministers.

The second round (where needed) is on the 30th of March.

Update (Hat-Tip JM): on the problems between the French Communists (PCF) and the other parts on the Front de gauche over the second round. Fusions, quand le PCF dézingue le Front de gauche

Written by Andrew Coates

March 26, 2014 at 11:38 am

Andrew Hussey, The Game of War: The Life and Times of Guy Debord. A Review from the Archives.

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Revolutionary Recreations: The Myth of Situationism

Andrew Hussey, The Game of War: The Life and Times of Guy Debord,

Jonathan Cape, 2001. Hardback, 420pp, £18.99.

Reviewed by Andrew Coates

[NOTE: Andrew Hussey pointed out to me after this was published that I could have been a lot harder on the situationists' belief in the revolutionary potential of marginals.

He has since published many excellent books, notably in Paris.

I can only express complete agreement with comrade Hussey's statement in the Guardian yesterday.]

 I suppose my starting point has to be that there is no doubt that Dieudonné is not so much a comedian but, rather, an attention-seeking racist and an antisemite. He certainly isn’t funny any more, if he ever was. He is, however, an expert in provocation, and that’s what his latest acts and statements, including the famous “quenelle”, are all about. More to the point, what he is really doing is testing the limits of French law – specifically the Loi Gayssot of 1990, the so-called loi anti-négationniste, which, among other things, effectively makes Holocaust denial (négationnisme in French) a crime. The belief system of Dieudonné and those of his followers is that the “French establishment” uses the memory of the Holocaust to exercise power over the marginalised populations of France and to reinforce Jewish interests. No one is trying to stop him believing this or expressing his views. The Loi Gayssot does, however, place limits on how far an individual can claim that crimes against humanity, as defined at the Nuremberg trials, did not happen – and that is the point of law that Dieudonné is challenging with his propaganda.

Review (2002).

POLITICS REDUCED to boosting the free circulation of capital, the commercial landscape overshadowed by multinational logos, virtual wars fought as a spectator sport a little too close to the blood steeped arena, and it is hard to escape the over-abundant products of globalisation.

Nor that these wonders have more than a touch of the unreal: “Capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image”, as the major Situationist text, The Society of the Spectacle (1967), put it.1

With capitalism’s onward march across the planet, whatever the cracks and fissures, a section of the left has retreated back to ’60s romanticism, railing against the one-dimensional choices on offer. A world in which only a total refusal, a “défi”, is the basis for revolutionary politics. Almost a universe where Jean Baudrillard, who owes a heavy debt to Situationism, can declare the 11 September massacre an eruption against the all-engulfing security order to attempt to “force a change in the rules of the game”. And, sententiously, that the bombing of Afghanistan is, like the Gulf War, a “non-event” (Le Monde, 3 November 2001).

A somewhat less dramatic challenge was represented, or rather, self-represented, by Guy Debord (1931-1994), and the body he led, and destroyed, the Situationist International (1957-1972). Andrew Hussey’s The Game of War follows a flurry of books published on Debord, some highly critical, in France (Le Monde, 23 March 2001). To the British author his fascination with Debord and the Situationists stemmed from admiration at their “bravery, resourcefulness, poetry and sheer contempt for the veneer of civilisation” (p.5).

Civilised media types fell over themselves puffing this volume, with lengthy reviews appearing in the broadsheets and Radio Three devoting a programme to Debord.

It is indeed an exceptionally well-written biography, sensitive and knowledgeable about Debord’s French cultural milieu (though shakier on the politics) and written in a lucid style remote from academic jargon. Hussey demonstrates, nevertheless, when one has undertaken some serious investigation into the substance of Debord’s theories and politics, the fragility of that “bravery”. His concluding assertion, that by explaining the “eternal present” as spectacular reification, the Situationist No.1 presented “the clearest and most penetrating diagnosis of the causes and the nature of the most extreme forms of contemporary alienation” (pp.372-3), is, unfortunately, wholly misguided.

There is no point in indulging these myths, and now is a good time for some settling of accounts with la bande à Debord. Hussey contrasts the abolition of history and politics by the “post-modernist philosophy” of the Socialist Society with the “glamorous nihilism” of the Situationists (p.5). Hilary Wainwright may have her faults, and he is not totally wrong to criticise those Soc-Soc meetings (I speak as an attendee), but post-modernism owes much to Situationism and little to the British New Left.

In fact Situationism was one of the most weightless and culturally absorbed efforts of the avant-guard left, its central oeuvre now stocked up in a Walpurgis Night of ghostly incarnations on the Web, mulled over by keyboard revolutionaries. Far from bathing in the illumination of the origins of the nunc stans, a sad dipsomaniac Debord went to his grave carrying on his late ’80s ranting about the “growth of secret societies and networks of influence”. His theoretical legacy to parapolitics, the conviction that there were “thousands of plots in favour of the established order”, is to be taken literally. For the Spectacle, he had long concluded, Mafia-style conspiracy had become “part of its very functioning”.2 This may make for good biographical gossip; it is the basis for very feeble politics.

There is plenty of evidence for Debord’s failings in The Game of War. Romance and a longing for the barricades of May ’68 aside, the attraction of the Situationists lies in three principal dimensions: their critique of cultural artefacts (from representation to urbanism), their sketch of the Spectacle, and their strategy (such as it was) to transform everyday life and politics.

In their cultural roots, the Situationists emerged from an even more obscure artistic movement called Letterism. This operated in ’50s France, according to its Romanian chief founder, Isidore Isou, to promote radical artistic “auto-destruction”, chiselling language down to its basic sounds to form the amplitude of an artistic effect. Hussey describes well the rag-week nature of their exploits (disrupting a mass at Notre Dame in 1950), and their self-importance.

The results of further experiments can best be judged by those who have heard them, or seen their cinematic production (and Debord’s early efforts), though, fulfilling their objective, they do not seem to have endured. Yet, if there is little artistic legacy left, it can be argued that the histrionics and small group narcissism of the last avant-gardes deeply marked the Situationists’ approach to these triple domains.

Guy Debord began his critique of consumer culture by ploughing through the legacy of avant-garde artistic movements, Dadaism and Surrealism, and their confrontation with modern society. From exposing the underside of contemporary life, he offered a vision of an alternative. The journal Internationale Situationnisteappeared in 1958. Its programme was grounded in the “construction of situations”. This involved the discovery of inner wishes, “in order to make them real”, to “free people’s desire to play”, a break from the hypnotism of the pantomime of conditioned conformism.<sup3< sup=””> Their International was a micro society centred on a way of life, as Hussey observes, with parallels to that of the gypsy scholars of the middle ages. A central practice of the group around the review was derived from an earlier Lettrist pursuit, the “dérive” (“drift” in this instance – unguided motion/activity). Described by Hussey as those who “would float around Paris in the pursuit of anarchy, play, poetry” (p.91), it involved for the Situationists copious quantities of alcohol, “the transformative agent which released subjectivity and objective change into the city” (p.145).

Echoing as much the habits of a certain Karl Marx on a Soho pub crawl as the crapulous squalor of François Villon, this practice has been of course at the heart of British leftist activity for several centuries. Less familiar is the concept of “unitary urbanism” to which the dérive was loosely connected. This was the vision of an environment which creative subjectivity could mould “a new free architecture”.

As Hussey describes it, this implied the rebinding of social and aesthetic qualities in the organisation of urban conditions, making cities into free spaces for play, and passion, a “chance meeting-place of various castles, ravines, lakes”, in which we would drift. The tyranny of town planning and the materialisation of capitalist domination of time and space were challenged by this “psychogeography” (rendering time and space in terms of the human psyche).

What may be charitably described as a leftist Disney World would eventually emerge from the “setting apart of a small number of areas where people are free to relax and to recognise themselves and one another as they really are”.4 It is significant that this concession to something that might actually be tried out in reality – as counter-cultural experiments that took place in the low countries and Scandinavian lands – was not written by Debord but by Raoul Vaneigem and Attila Kotanyi.

Another legacy to the counter-culture was “détournement” (twisting round), subversion of advertising and cultural products by imitation. Hussey regards this as an original contribution, making waves in the anti-globalisation movement, though there are certainly precursors in photomontage and radical 1930s cultural militancy. More typically the Situationists, following their 1966 intervention in the University of Strasbourg and the publication of The Misery of Student Life, inserted strident messages about alienation and revolution inside comic strips. They designed the template for generations of unreadable and pretentious student leaflets all over the world.

These suggestive, if limited, forays into the theories of urbanisation and cultural studies are striking in despising the passivity of the “public” and for the Situationists’ own description of themselves as the “livers”. Vaneigem tried to bridge the gap through the liberation of everybody’s multiple desires, notably in his celebrated The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967 – original title, Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage de jeunes générations). He has continued this neo-Fourierian project right to the present, most recently in attempting a fully rounded conception of human rights (Déclaration des Droits de l’Etre Humain, 2001). Debord tried to discover more political methods to end the division between the reified and the savoury remnant in his defining work, The Society of the Spectacle, published the same year. Social relations are mediated by images that have covered the “entire surface of the world”, leaving people to stare at their reflections; from this cavernous gaol we will be led to the sunlight of reality, if we would follow.

In The Society of the Spectacle we are informed that “The origin of the spectacle is the loss of the unity of the world” (Thesis 29), that it is the “concrete manufacture of alienation” (Thesis 32), and that “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has attained the total occupation of social life” (Thesis 42). The working class is going to have a hard time becoming a “liver” in these conditions, or to become the “class of consciousness” (Thesis 88) that Debord postulates.

In any case, the twin forces of Stalinism and Fascism (Thesis 109) have annihilated the revolutionary workers’ movement. Trotskyism is a hopeless return to a lost Leninist illusion. The proletariat’s “externalised power” helps to “reinforce capitalist society, not only in the form of its labour but also in the form of unions, of parties, or of the state power it has built to emancipate itself” (Thesis 114). Yet there is hope. By rejection of all “congealed externalisation and all specialisation of power”, and a “total critique of separation” it can rediscover the power of negation. This would require theory to be “lived by the masses”, for “workers to become dialecticians” (Thesis 123).

The Society of the Spectacle is not an original work. George Lukács’s concept of reification and class consciousness, the “critique of everyday life” of the independent Communist theoretician, Henri Lefebvre, and the critical, pro-self-management Marxism of the 1950s review Arguments (which published most of the texts that were the basis for the ’60s “new left”) breathe through its pages.

The Game of War evokes Nietzsche as a source for the concept of the Spectacle, and one takes this on Hussey’s authority (though the German term “Shauspiel” has narrower theatrical connotations). This debt leads one to suspect that any “revaluation of values” undertaken by Debord, carried with it something of the same disdain for the vulgar herd who lacked any negative strength. A weakness for the trappings of genteel learning is much in evidence. There are, Hussey admiringly notes, citations and reference to Machiavelli, “the Spanish renaissance poet and courtier” Baltasar Granciàn, Shakespeare, “the distinguished American professor of history who held a chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology” Louis Mumford, and Fourier, proving, he informs us, its “originality” (p.218).

Régis Debray has argued that the theoretical framework of The Society of the Spectacle is derived from Ludwig Feuerbach.5 He has in mind The Essence of Christianity (1841), in which religion is explained as a process by which human properties are discharged onto a God, viewed as a nature apart from its creator. Liberation is the return of divine predicates back to human reality.

Debord’s assertion that the unified power of the workers’ councils could bring back human practice – without any clear details about this would happen – from spectacular alienation has something of the same flavour. But the spectacle is not only God. The Society of the Spectacle could also be the object of Feuerbach’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy (1839) which attacked the Hegelian system as the “absolute self-externalisation of reason”.6 Debord’s categories exist in the purest state of objectification: the circuits of capital, their transformation into commodified images, and universal permeation, are laid out without any greater detail than be gleaned from browsing and thinking over a few well chosen texts.

Institutions, from Stock Exchanges, Banks, States to Factories, from the Labour Process to the Media, are animated by the flow of images, but not illuminated by their detailed mechanisms. This “expressive totality” works with one simple contradiction (between practice and reification) throughout its entire unified fabric. The twist is that the crystallised forms of the Spectacle have always won until now, and have prevented real oppositions emerging. Or so it is bookishly affirmed.

Debord was not only sterile academically. The major 1960s Situationist writings are possibly unique in combining a virulent workerist streak (in contrast to say other studies of the consumer society, such as Marcuse’s), with a savage dismissal of the existing workers’ movement and its real (as opposed to potential) opposition to specific capitalist structures and policies. They are marred by reliance on rhetorical devices, such as antithesis (the world is at once “present and absent”) and bathos (the Spectacle is a “mere appearance”, reduced to the “empire of modern passivity”, yet it, as befits the emperor, “bathes endlessly in its own glory”). By the stroke of a pen, the struggle over the working day, over welfare, over partial reforms, as “externalisation” is written off.

The Situationists’ moment of glory was the events of May ’68. To Hussey their sloganising made the “events unique” (p.241). Such rhetoric was certainly unleashed at full throttle. Styling themselves after the French Revolution’s Enragés, their writings imitated Hébert’s Père Duchesne. Hussey unfortunately invariably renders their most frequent insults, “con” or “connard”, as “cunt”, which makes them speak the language of Trainspotting, rather than the average French colloquialisms they are.

If it is these words which remain in most recollections of the period, including the anthologies that regularly appear, it is difficult to find many activists greatly concerned about this tiny organisation. Hussey concentrates wisely on Situationist manoeuvring in student politics, such as the Sorbonne Occupation Committee – the workers’ occupation councils safely distant – where they were one amongst a gaggle of leftist groups. The clashes between the unions, workers and the Gaullist regime, the scepticism of the CGT and PCF towards the student leaders and the university militants’ hostility towards the Communists (amply justified in both directions) took place in spheres remote from the Situationists’ field of vision.

Hussey remarks that “twenty years after the events Debord assigned the Situationists and himself the central role in the drama of the streets”. He regarded it as a time when “absolute change could occur” (p.247). The failure lay in that intellectuals and students had been unable to understand the nature of the enemy. Unable to face the totality they had crumbled. An aesthetic and absolutist approach to politics, where most of your own side are the tentacles of the Enemy (from anarchists to Stalinists), may also be counted as less than successful.

Debord’s record as a revolutionary, such as it was, is pretty dismal even by the low standards set by this vainglorious rancour. If their slogans made an impact their activities has little resonance.

At times The Game of War’s account of his role in the Situationist International resembles that of Netchayev’s murderous conspiracy as rewritten by Dostoevsky in The Devils. There were seductions, manipulations, money dragged from the pockets of wealthy benefactors, beatings, and expulsions. The author, Jean Maitron, has his flat smashed up in his presence, for some slight. This died down as the early ’70s saw the Situationists wind up their organisation. To survivors, “the idea of a collective enterprise had collapsed”. Debord retreated into ever more snobbish and esoteric exercises.

He was indulged by the impresario and publisher, Gérard Lebovia, who presented him with the imprint Champ Libre. Amongst those who collected these books, I can testify, were a few who truly appreciated the courtly elegance of Casteligone which Debord took to mirror his own aristocratic gentility.

Tasting fine wines and eating gourmet food – still permanently intoxicated – Debord slumped into alcoholic grossness, playing war games in his country retreats. Lebovia’s mysterious gangland killing drove him to further misogyny. It is without surprise that we learn of Debord’s deep-rooted sexism (coming out with the hoary old “she does the washing up, I make the revolution”), and love of behaving badly (being nasty to anyone who tried to carry on his political work). To his credit Hussey reveals this side of Debord’s personality, a factor no doubt responsible for the threats he incurred from the remaining unconditional admirers of, as he calls Debord, the Prince of Division.

The Situationist had slumbered into the world of parapolitics. His last lieutenant, the Italian, Gianfranco Sanguinetti, has published On Terrorism and the State(English edition, 1982) alleging that the Red Brigades were a state invention. This, not unreasonable, claim was, however, supplemented by some of Debord’s own notions, which gradually implicated the spectacle into a conspiracy of self-maintenance. As Hussey states, “the concept of the spectacle implies of course that someone had put the spectacle in place” (p.372). The “of course” aside, what does this imply? That Debord far from pioneering a new form of romantic Marxism, or avant-garde experimental politics, had ended up a conspiracy theorist. Obsessed with drink he sunk rather than rose with it. He was obese. Like a 17th century squire he suffered from gout.

For Hussey, Debord’s suicide on 4 October 1994 was an act of gravitas in a world that had left no choice for Revolution. It was appropriate that the “logic which had consistently dictated the rules of Debord’s war against the spectacular society [that] … his first and foremost appearance on television was in the form of a suicide note” (p.374). Perhaps, as Jean Baudrillard glossed the concept of the Spectacle, he had come to realise that he too was part of the “hyper-real”, the absorption of forms of expression, political struggle and labour, into a universe of simulacra. Yet more fittingly we can summarise him in different language: a legend in his own lunchtime, not a legendary life.
Notes

1. Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle, Black and Red, 1973. Thesis 34.

2. Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, translated by Malcolm Imrie, Verso, 1990, pp.74, 82.

3. Christopher Gray, ed, The Construction of Situations. Leaving the Twentieth Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International, Free Fall Publications, 1974.

4. Ibid, p.29. Signed by Vaneigem and Kotanyi. I note that Hussey’s index misspells Vaneigem’s name Vanaigem.

5. Régis Debray, “Remarks on the Spectacle”, New Left Review 214, 1995.

6. Ludwig Feuerbach, “Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy”, in Lawrence S. Stepelevich, ed, The Young Hegelians, Cambridge University Press, 1983, p.107.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Central African Republic: Sectarian genocide?

with 12 comments

 

The UN has warned that the Central African Republic is heading toward a humanitarian disaster, as people fleeing conflict between Muslim and Christian militias pack into overcrowded camps with poor sanitation. Paul Wood in the capital, Bangui, reports on fears that sectarian violence will end in genocide.

Men armed with knives and clubs were striding down the dirt road, purposefully. They were Christians and they had discovered that one of our drivers was a Muslim.

BBC

Let us be clear on this: it was the Muslim militia   Séléka which began this turmoil.

Michel Djotodia the founder of this group, and President, is reported, Le Monde, to be leaving.

Let everybody be clear on this, this group, which comes from the 15 per cent of the population in the country who are Muslims tried to impose themselves on the majority.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Pro-Dieudonné Counterpunch gets Immediate Response.

with 16 comments

Has soft-Soft-Spot for Holocaust Deniers. 

The left-wing site’ have published this unwelcome contribution to the “Dieudonné debate”.

It is written by a certain Dianna Johnson.

French mainstream media and politicians are starting off the New Year with a shared resolution for 2014: permanently muzzle a Franco-African comedian who is getting to be too popular among young people.

To invent a pretext for destroying Dieudonné, the leading Jewish organizations CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, the French AIPAC) and LICRA (Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme, which enjoys special privileges under French law) have come up with a fantasy to brand Dieudonné and his followers as “Nazis”.  The quenelle is all too obviously a vulgar gesture roughly meaning “up yours”, with one hand placed at the top of the other arm pointing down to signify “how far up” this is to be. *

Like the best humorists, Dieudonné always targeted current events, with a warmth and dignity unusual in the profession.

She ends with this,

Yet in this escalation, the relationship of forces is very uneven.  A humorist has words as his weapons, and fans who may disperse when the going gets rough.  On the other side is the dominant ideology, and the power of the State.

In this sort of clash, civic peace depends on the wisdom of those with most power to show restraint.  If they fail to do so, this can be a game with no winners.

In other worse, shut up you carpers and Jews.

Fortunately an immediate response is available by a true comrade,

Come on, Counterpunch, tell the facts Dieudonné is antisemitic.

02 JANVIER 2014 |  PAR YANN KINDO

In the webmagazine Counterpunch published on January the 1st 2014 an article by Diana Johnstone about the « Dieudonné affair » in France, entitled « The Bête Noire of the French establishment ». This contribution being an answer to Johnstone’s, you should probably read hers first :

Counterpunch is a website that is proud to « tell the facts and name the names ». In fact, when we talk about Diana Johnstone’s piece, I have to admit that I have rarely read a paper which so obviously ignores the facts and hides the names the reader would need to know in order to understand the situation. I will try to tell the facts and the names, then. Of course, what I can’t tell you about Diana Johnstone is whether or not she is profoundly ignorant of what she’s writing about – if so, why write an article, then ???? -, or whether she knows the facts and names and just wants to hide them for a certain purpose. Nonetheless, the fact the she’s writing from Paris gives me a clue, and my guess would be that she’s lying by omission more than anything else.

Recently, Dieudonné made a comment about a jewish journalist who had criticised his new show, and the comment was the following :

When I hear about Patrick Cohen, I think… the gas chambers, you know… too bad.”.
Very funny, isn’t it ? What do you think, Diana Johnstone ?

Quand je pense à ça…

Let us be clear Dieudonné is a a far-rightist.

These are his politics,

.On Saturday 21 March 2009, Dieudonné announced that he would run for the 2009 European Parliament election in the Île-de-France at the head of an “anti-communitarist and anti-Zionist” party. Other candidates on his party’s electoral list are Alain Soral and the Holocaust denier and former member of Les Verts Ginette Skandrani (also known as Ginette Hess),[46] while Thierry Meyssan and Afrocentrist Kémi Seba, founder of the “Tribu Ka” are members of the party[47] but do not run. The campaign would be conducted again by Marc George.[48] In spite of the association of Dieudonné’s party with the Shiite Centre Zahra,[49] whose president Yahia Gouasmi also runs on his list,[50] his candidacy was supported by Fernand Le Rachinel, a former high ranking executive of the Front National and official printer of the party.[51] In early May 2009, the French government studied the possibility of banning the party,[52][53] but on 24 May, Justice minister Rachida Dati acknowledged that, in spite of moral objections, there was no legal ground to do so.[54] On 28 May, it became known that Carlos “the Jackal” also expressed his hope Dieudonné would make it to Strasbourg.[55] The Parti antisioniste finally scored 1.30% of the votes.[56]

These are his “convictions”,

  • On 14 June 2006, Dieudonné was sentenced to a penalty of 4,500 Euro for defamation after having called a prominent Jewish television presenter a “secret donor of the child-murdering Israeli army”.[70]
  • On 15 November 2007, an appellate court sentenced him to a 5,000 Euro fine because he had characterized “the Jews” as “slave traders” after being attacked in his theater le Théâtre de la Main d’Or.[71]
  • On 26 June 2008, he was sentenced in the highest judicial instance to a 7,000 Euro fine for his characterization of Holocaust commemorations as “memorial pornography”.[28]
  • On 27 February 2009, he was fined 75,000 Canadian dollars in Montreal for defamatory statements against the singer and actor Patrick Bruel after he called him a “liar” and an “Israeli soldier”.[72]
  • On 26 March 2009, Dieudonné was fined a total of 3,000 Euros for defamation after having criticised Elisabeth Schemla, a Jewish journalist who ran the now defunct Proche-Orient.Info website. He declared on 31 May 2005 that the website wanted to “eradicate Dieudonné from the audiovisual landscape” and had said of him that “he’s an anti-Semite, he’s the son of Hitler, he will exterminate everyone”.[73]
  • On 27 October 2009, he was sentenced to a fine of 10,000 Euros for “public insult of people of Jewish faith or origin” related to his show with Robert Faurisson.[74]
  • On 8 June 2010, he was sentenced to a fine of €10,000 for defamation towards the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, which he had called “a mafia-like association that organizes censorship”.[75]
  • On 10 October 2012, he was fined €887,135 for tax evasion. According to the French revenue service, Dieudonné failed to pay part of his taxes from 1997 to 2009

Those who continue to publish in Counterpunch, which has previously given vent to the views of Holocaust Denier, Israel Shamir, should be aware of this kind of outfit they are associating  with.

Vermin is perhaps too kind of a word.

* Note it also  means to sodomise somebody, which no doubt Counterpunsh endorses.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm