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Culture Wars on the Left, The Gender Recognition Act, and Transphobia in the UK.

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Image result for helen steel anarchist book fair

Helen Steel: Attacked by Trans Activists.

For some years the left has rightly taken up LGBT issues.

But the ‘T’, transgender, side of this has become increasingly fraught and the word itself is now an invitation to argument.

For some people Transgender people are (also?) women or men.

The Gender Recognition Act has brought the issue to the fore.

The Socialist Feminist Network – a site that should be compulsory reading for those commenting on the subject – has this,

What do Socialist feminists say about gender identity ideology?

The proposed changes by the Tory government to Gender Recognition Act are a fundamental change to the legal definition of the sex categories man and woman allowing individuals to opt into their chosen gender. Women are currently protected as a sex under the equality act. If anyone of the male sex identify into this protected characteristic it renders it meaningless. Males who identify as women will have legal protection but the female sex will lose protection as a distinct category.

They go on to say,

Under the Transgender umbrella a number of self- identities exist including non-binary, bi gender, gender queer and gender fluid. If the effect of the Bill, is in practice, to give male bodied people access to female intimate space that will be an unacceptable outcome. The stereotypical criticism of women as “pearl clutchers” for expressing concern over access to toilets is a horribly sexist dismissal of the idea of the importance of safety for women and girls. There are concerns about toilets, yes, but also about male access to female sport facilities, to refuges for women fleeing violence and to the female prison estate etc.

We believe that there may be possibilities that strengthening sex discrimination law will have the effect of improving rights to express gender more freely whilst not undermining existing laws that protect women.

This is probably the most controversial section,

We do not accept that transwomen are women and trans men are men. We associate this with unscientific thinking and the demand that it is an accepted truth of progressive politics as worryingly authoritarian. The demand that the left adopts this level of irrational thinking is often associated with vicious misogynist attacks, usually against feminists, on those who will not submit to the lie. There is a worrying trend of silencing women associated with transgender activism, petitions demanding feminists lose jobs, memes suggesting that we are hateful, petty snarking etc. and this is unacceptable. We are confident that our movement will back us and provide support to us in this.

They conclude,

Repeatedly feminists refuse to acknowledge the term “cis” women to describe themselves. It is simply a descriptive word, why object so strongly?

Our view is that women’s struggle for rights are part of a wider class struggle and should be at the centre of our movement. However gender theory denies us the vocabulary to discuss our biology or be explicit that even reproductive rights are for women. This is not just a problem in Ireland; recently students at Oxford University demanded the removal of references to women’s biology from abortion rights literature on the grounds that they were “transphobic” and “cis sexist”. Not only did they demand the removal of words describing female biology but they also threatened disaffiliation from abortion campaigns.

Language determines consciousness, or to put it less strongly, the structure of language influences cognition and world view. Therefore we will not simply shrug our shoulders at attempts to re-classify the meaning of a word as fundamental as “woman”. By demanding that we drop some words that describe our reality but insisting that we utilise others that frame a new context, gender theory is seeking to determine new classifications. At a minimum the left should try to unpack these new frameworks to understand what lay behind these motivations.

We should always try to understand the relevance of seeking to reframe language both in relation to the world around us and in relation to power. To place the word “cis” in front of the word woman immediately makes the actual woman/ adult human female “other”. In this classification anyone who “self identifies” is more oppressed than a “cis woman”. It creates a hierarchy of women, soon to be manipulated into new insidious classifications such as “cis women” having “privilege” or in some way being oppressive to those who “self-identify” as non cis or part of the transgender umbrella. These kinds of mental gymnastics have resulted in the absurdity of a major British political party, the Greens, calling women “non- men”. In this post- modern construction feminists become “cis sexist” and are then the valid target of abuse, this abusive behaviour, not surprisingly, follows familiar patterns of misogyny but that now have the cover of the cis / trans binary.

This is the pit in which liberal feminism currently thrashes around, a post- modern word salad, insisting feminism must centre everyone, except ourselves. This will not do. Instead we want a socialist feminism that unapologetically centres women, particularly working class women, in our movement. We say, unapologetically, feminism is for women.

The following article appeared in the Observer this Sunday.

UK transgender rights row intensifies as book fair is cancelled. 

Accusations of ‘transphobia’ have led to bitter divisions within Labour and the Women’s Equality party, feminist and anarchist movements.

An annual book fair that has served for more than three decades as the most important meeting point for the British anarchist movement has become the latest casualty of widening splits over the issue of transgender rights.

Organisers say that they no longer have “the appetite or the energy” to stage next year’s London Anarchist Bookfair, following fraught scenes at the event last month. A group of feminists were confronted by other activists who accused them of distributing “transphobic” leaflets that promoted prejudice against transgender people.

The acrimony follows highly publicised splits in universities, women’s organisations and political parties over the issue. Lily Madigan, a 19-year-old who has just won a vote in Kent to become Labour’s first women’s officer from a transgender background, has been at the centre of a row within the party.

…….

The increasingly angry disputes follow government proposals to streamline the process for how people can change their gender, under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). A public consultation is to be held on speeding up and demedicalising the process, with the current need to be assessed and diagnosed by clinicians seen by some as intrusive.

Choosing whether one is a man or a woman is a matter of self-identification, trans activists assert. Some opponents of the GRA have warned that this may lead to young, vulnerable people making decisions they later regret. Others have suggested that self-identifying undermines the status, rights and experience of biological women.

The rows “are going on within all sorts of social movements”, said Helen Steel, the veteran social justice campaigner known for her role in taking on McDonald’s in the 1997 “McLibel” case.

She said she had been left traumatised by her experience at the book fair, claiming she was surrounded by a “baying mob” after intervening to stop the bullying of two women who had been distributing leaflets about the GRA. (1)

“I have been aware that women have been bullied on this issue for a long time now but, until it happened to me, I was not aware of the extent of the bullying and am shocked by it,” Steel said. “I have been an environmental and social justice campaigner for most of my life. In all that time, I have never experienced such a toxic environment.”

Opponents of Steel and the other feminists assert that to have allowed the distribution of the leaflets was to create an environment in which transphobia was encouraged, discriminating against a group of people who already experience high rates of suicide, poverty and persecution.

Spiked-on-line’s  Ella Whelan had already opined, LILY MADIGAN IS NOT A WOMAN

Having a 19-year-old boy as a women’s officer is ridiculous.

Lily Madigan, a transgender teenager formerly known as Liam, has been elected as the women’s officer for the Labour Party branch in Rochester and Strood in Kent.

Madigan’s election has caused a stir — something this teen is used to doing. At 18, he hired a solicitor and threatened to sue his mixed Catholic secondary school for not allowing him to use the girls’ changing rooms or dress according to the girls’ uniform code.

……

So, here we have a trans teen who has previously been part of an effort to undermine a women’s officer’s career now being elected as a women’s officer. Understandably, some are angry about this. How can a teenager who has only recently declared himself to be a woman be eligible as a women’s officer? As Teresa Murray, vice-chairwoman of the executive committee of Rochester and Strood CLP, said: ‘Lily will have to work very hard to convince other people that her very presence there is not going to undermine them.’

The role of a women’s officer is important, feminists argue, because the lived experience a woman is something men cannot understand. Therefore, in order for women to feel politically represented, they must be represented by women. Now, some of us may disagree with this and think that it elevates the narrowness and divisiveness of identity politics over the idea of politics as a universal democratic pursuit. But it is what some people believe, and of course have a right to believe. And yet identity politics and the cult of diversity have now gone so far that women in politics are being pressured to accept a man as their ‘female representative’.

The new obsession with transgenderism is throwing up many difficult questions. What does it mean to be a woman? Is simply looking like a woman enough? And what about the rise in transgender feeling among young people? Are we comfortable with children fixating on their gender — with girls binding their breasts or boys taking drugs to prevent puberty? These are serious issues and they must be discussed openly, without fear of ostracism or demonisation. But that isn’t happening. Tragically, transgender politics has become a new dogma, promoted by almost every wing of the elite, and that is bad for young people, for women, and for freedom and critical thinking.

It is tempting to reject anything the ex-RCP says but Labour does not appear to have been thought through the difficulties this appointment raises.

But do we agree with this?

Theorising Feminist Transphobia Phil Burton

“According to Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire, trans women represent patriarchal agents within the women’s movement. In plainer language, she argues they are men who have surgically altered their bodies to become simulacra of women’s bodies, but that does not make them women. The socialisation of being brought up male, along with its myriad entitlements, privileges, expectations, and complicity in the reproduction of patriarchal social relationships remains. Therefore the acceptance of trans women runs the risk of constituting an alien presence within the women’s movement”

After further analysis of this current of thought, from the marketing of femininity,  a concern “with all women’s experiences and seeks to articulate them, which includes trans women, and is characterised by inclusion and an interest in the individual” and the contrasting, “marketable commodity” of feminist transphobia, with “roots in anxiety”,  Phil concludes,

There is no reason why, for instance, the existence of trans men and trans women should reinforce the gender binary, especially when the performance and resistance of gendered practices vary as much among trans as they do among cis people. Indeed, by arguing that treatment/surgery should not take place isn’t one upholding the binarism by forcing people to inhabit the gendered bodies they received? Additionally, the existence of a gender industry no more delegitimises trans people than the gay men’s health care “industry” (or the so-called pink pound) does gay men.

Yes, both try and produce subjects of particular kinds, but all institutions and constellations of institutions do so, sometimes for profit. So what? Furthermore, some elements of second wave feminism are exclusionary of women, and there remains perspectives that criticise BDSM lesbians, butch lesbians, indulge bi-erasure and critique bisexuality, and of course, there is the small fringe of lesbian separatism. The difficulties some feminists have with trans women are inseparable from identity border wars, but simultaneously newer generations of feminists view these feuds as old hat and irrelevant to the main job of critiquing and opposing patriarchy and capitalism.

The comrades from the Socialist Feminist Network raise legitimate concerns.

Not least, for political activists,  is the following, “To place the word “cis” in front of the word woman immediately makes the actual woman/ adult human female “other”. In this classification anyone who “self identifies” is more oppressed than a “cis woman”. It creates a hierarchy of women, soon to be manipulated into new insidious classifications such as “cis women” having “privilege” or in some way being oppressive to those who “self-identify” as non cis or part of the transgender umbrella. ” And, “recently students at Oxford University demanded the removal of references to women’s biology from abortion rights literature on the grounds that they were “transphobic” and “cis sexist”.

Many will sympathise with the wish to be inclusive and to understand the point of view of trans activists and to fight against the prejudices towards them.

But Phil raises a number of straw figures to argue against, beginning with the idea that critics of trans people who wish to identify as women, be recognised as women is linked to the wilder claims of those who consider them as “patriarchal agents within the women’s movement”.

It is very far from clear what “forcing people to inhabit the gendered bodies they received” means. Perhaps it implies that we can leave our bodies for new ones.

But one thing overshadows anything else.

The hatred against so-called Terfs, (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists), extended to anybody who criticises trans-activists, is repellent just as is some of the language used by some feminists against them.

Or this litany of lies.

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The more recent sight of people screaming “TERF Nazis” at radical feminists is not easy to forget or forgive.

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Biological differences between men and women exist. There is a limit to the social construction of identity, and those limits, outlined in Norman Geras in, Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend (1983), include physical differences in our “corporal organisation” which no gender reassignment can deconstruct. We can begin with reproduction and menstruation, or, the Socialist feminists call it “women’s biology”.

Kindness towards people does not include the obligation to remain silent about these issues.

 

*******

(1) Comrade Helen Steel’s statement includes this:

  • Half an hour later, I was surrounded for over an hour by a baying mob of around 30 trans activists who shouted misogynistic abuse in my face and at others, and who would not leave me alone. This included: ugly Terf, fucking Terf scum, bitch, fascist and more. That kind of behaviour should have no place in anarchism or any other progressive politics.
  • Despite that provocation, I did not at any time threaten or assault anyone. No trans activists were threatened by anyone else in my sight or hearing.
  • While I was surrounded, I saw a man’s hand moving towards my face and when it was within inches of my face I blocked it and pushed his arm away. He then started shouting that I had assaulted him and I should be thrown out.
  • Some of those in the baying mob tried to stoke anger and division by calling me a snitch, making false claims that I had filmed them assaulting a feminist at Speakers Corner and had handed that footage to the police. Footage of the incident is available and actually shows me intervening to protect the victim of the assault, not filming it. The videos embedded in this article show what actually happened, please do watch them and see the truth for yourself.

Image result for Terfs anarchist book fair

Her opponents’ views can be seen on Phil’s Blog and here: Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

 

Update: This by Helen Saxby, one of the best overviews of the whole debate,  has been signaled by a feminist socialist comrade on Facebook. When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

Taylor Swift: an envoy for Trump’s values and Nazi Icon? The Guardian’s Editorial.

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Image result for Taylor swift trump

Trump Backs Swift.

The Guardian view on Taylor Swift: an envoy for Trump’s values?

Swift’s songs echo Mr Trump’s obsession with petty score-settling in their repeated references to her celebrity feuds, or report in painstaking detail on her failed romantic relationships (often, there is crossover). The message is quintessentially Trumpian: everyone is out to get me – but I win anyway. Seeded with clues to the identities of her famous associates, her lyrics reel in and solidify a hardcore fanbase – usually young, female followers known as “Swifties” – who passionately defend her honour on social media by attacking her detractors.

Swift seems not simply a product of the age of Trump, but a musical envoy for the president’s values.

The danger is even greater according to this reliable News Site, Vice, which the Guardian’s Newshounds have consulted

Can’t Shake It Off: How Taylor Swift Became a Nazi Idol

Nazis and members of the “alt-right” consider Taylor Swift an Aryan pop queen who is “red pilling” America into a race war through her pop hits.

Hard-bitten reporters have dug the following out.

Taylor Swift – A Nazi Icon?

What do Taylor Swift and Nazis have in common? To most, not much. To Nazis, just about everything. When it comes to the Aryan beauties they admire most, modern neo-Nazis seem to take a liking to Taylor the best. According to white supremacist blogger Andre Anglin, Taylor Swift is a secret Nazi in disguise, just waiting for her chance to unveil her aspirations for a fascist regime.

“Firstly, Taylor Swift is a pure Aryan goddess, like something out of classical Greek poetry. Athena reborn. That’s the most important thing,” Anglin said. “It is also an established fact that Taylor Swift is secretly a Nazi and is simply waiting for the time when Donald Trump makes it safe for her to come out and announce her Aryan agenda to the world. Probably, she will be betrothed to Trump’s son, and they will be crowned American royalty.”

Ranker.

This is not the first time in recent months when Swift’s name has entered the political world.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2017 at 11:39 am

Charles Manson, 1934 – 2017 – Psychedelic Fascism.

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Oz Magazine No 40. 1972.  (Crumb).

 

Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader who directed his followers to commit a string of brutal murders, and who became a symbol of the dark side of 1960s counterculture, has died aged 83.

Manson was admitted to Bakersfield hospital, California earlier this month and died of natural causes on Sunday.

In 1969, his followers, known as the Manson family, killed nine people.

Among the victims of the killing spree was heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski.

One of Manson’s young followers, Susan Atkins, stabbed Tate to death and scrawled “PIG” on the home’s front door with the actress’s blood.

Four other people at Tate’s home were brutally stabbed to death. The next day, a wealthy couple in Los Angeles, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were also killed by the clan. The killings became known collectively as the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Separately Donald Shea, a Hollywood stuntman, and Gary Hinman, an acquaintance of the group, were killed by his members of the Manson family.

Manson was not at the scene of the killings, but was nonetheless convicted of murder for directing his followers in seven of the killings. He was sentenced to death in 1971.

BBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost interest in the American Left after this: 

LImage result for The put the knife in the pgi, wild ! bernadette dohrn Charles Manson

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Tariq Ramadan: Charlie Hebdo Versus Mediapart, Culture Wars Split French Left.

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Charlie Hebdo Claims Plenel Ignores Ramadan’s Behaviour.

Following the May election of President Macron, and the sweeping victory of his ‘start-up’ party, En Marche! in the following legislative contest, France’s left has yet to recover from the catastrophe. Union opposition to the new head of State’s reform of the labour code has, despite the kind offer of Presidential contender for La France insoumise (LFI) Jean Luc Mélenchon (19,5% in the first round) to play a leading role in the battle, begun to peter out. Last Friday saw, across France, only 80,000 out on the streets. It would seem as if Macron, despite some dissatisfaction inside his party at its simulacra of democracy, intends to keep running faster than his opponents.

Yet few would have expected that the French left would begin to tear itself apart, not on the political balance-sheet of the Hollande years, nor on the incapacity for the left to present a credible electoral alternative to Macron, but on its own version of the ‘culture wars’.

The politics of religion and culture appears to be a new dividing line on the French left.

Inside LFI divisions over secularism, laïcité, erupted at the beginning of November, when one of their deputies, Danièle Obono, expressed “respect” for the anti-Semitic leader of Les Indigènes de la République, Houria Bouteldja (Chez les « insoumis », les voies impénétrables de la laïcitéle Monde 9.11.17). This risks opening up divisions between those who stand for a ‘strict’ republican secularism (from the original Mélenchon group, the Parti de gauche) and those who wish for an ‘accommodating’ approach towards conservative Muslims and the defence of ‘modest dress’, above all the veil. 

Ramadan…

But these splits are as nothing compared to the fissure on the left that has erupted in the wake of the Tariq Ramadan affair. Rapidly this shifted from the accusations of rape to more ideological issues. Abdennour Bidar called the (on leave of absence) Oxford Don’s work pitiful “dogmatism”. Despite a call for a ‘moratorium’ on aspects of Sharia ‘law’ such as stoning, and the other Hudud punishments, the doctrine is not questioned. The promotion of a mediaeval Summa of the Law of God is wrapped in modernist language designed to present a progressive veneer to the wider public.

At the same time there remains (as Caroline Fourest famously outlined in Frère Tariq. 2005) enduring radical – intolerant – edge for a more popular, that is, Muslim, audience. (le Monde. 15.11.19). Indeed some have questioned whether he ever really called for a change in aspects of the Sharia, such as women’s testimony being worth half that of a man, non-Moslems in a permanent position of legal inferiority, or indeed of the death penalty for apostates or blasphemers. We know that for all his regrets at the murder of our comrades, Ramadan was outraged at their disrespect of religion, and lowered himself to claim that the Weekly’s criticism of Islam was motivated by “money” (Tariq Ramadan accuse Charlie de lâcheté et de faire de l’argent avec l’islam) and wittered on about complexity, like some Revered Flannel, “Il faut nous réconcilier avec la complexité et non pas nous imposer la simplicité émotionnelle.” Later in the same year, 2015, he refused to show solidarity after the Bataclan slaughter by talking of the “déshumanisation de nos «ennemis» ou perçus comme tels….” 

Readers of Ramadan’s books in an English version can verify the inflexible heart of Ramadan’s Islam quickly. Here are two typical passages from The Messenger (2007). The author states of the Qu’ran in this, “revealed Book the written text, is made up signs (ayat), just as the universe, like a text spread before our eyes, is teeming with signs. When the heart’s intelligence, and not only analytical intelligence, reads the Qu’ran and the world, then the two texts address and echo each other, and each of them speaks of the other and of the One. The signs remind us of what it means to be born, to live, to think, to feel, and to die. This doctrine, based on the “the oneness of God, the status of the Qur’an, prayer and life after death.

In the UK Ramadan has indeed concentrated on his role as a Herald in the Academy, apart from a brief foray into the support for the Ken Livingstone backed international campaign to defend the Veil, and more recently giving his good graces as a government adviser on ‘extremism’. But as Le Monde has more recently noted, as a preacher (prédicatuer), that is on Ramadan’s platform on which he assumes an active political role, is barely known in the country where he resides, Britain (le Monde. 18.11.17)

But Caroline Fourest indicates one aspect of it….

Note the name of Edwy Plenel which will figure greatly in the following.

Hatred Between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart.

Things have not stopped there. After some highly disobliging front page cartoons, a veritable ‘war’ over Islam and Ramadan has erupted between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart (le Monde. 16.11.17). The former accuses the founder of the web based news site, Edwy Plenel of undue comprehension of and indulgence towards Ramadan (by implication, Islamism), including public ‘dialogues’ with the preacher. (Entre « Charlie » et « Mediapart », l’histoire d’une haine). Above all the Editor of Charlie, Riss, has accused Plenel of condemning this to death a second time, even knighting their Islamist enemies, by asserting that they have engaged in “war” against Islam, a claim the Mediapart journalist hotly contests (Dans Charlie Hebdo, Riss accuse Plenel d'”adouber ceux qui demain voudront finir le boulot des frères Kouachi).

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This the full Editorial.

 

Plenel is the author of Pour Les Musulmans, (2014) In that work he states that “assimilation” on the French republican “model” is a call for the disappearance of Muslims as Muslims. For him this stand reflects a hatred of Islam, crystallised secular “intolérance”, “une laïcisme intolérante” and a rejection of the dominates and the oppressed being as they are, “un rejet des dominés et des opprimés tels qu’ils sont.” (2)

With these opinions the present clash comes a great deal of historical and personal baggage, even moments of friendship, or at least, co-operation, outlined in Le Monde, (16.11.17). This has been submerged, Charlie’s harsh language, and disobliging cartoon of Plenel has been met with a growing pile of defences from the Mediapart camp. One charge is that Charlie’s anti-Plenel Front Page is a new version of the notorious Nazi “Affiche Rouge” denouncing Jewish resistance fighters.

Image result for affiche rouge edwy plenel

 

Which not suprisingly got this reply.

The intervention of not just Caroline Fourest (who published images of public addresses by Plenel and Ramadan) but former Prime Minister Philippe Valls (on the side of Charlie), has injected further venom. There is a petition backing Mediapart and former Fourth Internationalist Plenel, supported by figures from the left of the left. (En défense de Mediapart et d’Edwy Plenel.) It says that Charlie’s comments are “diffamatoire, et haineuse” . It is certainly the case that Plenel immediately registered the present accusations against Ramadan, and compared them to crimes by paedophile preists (Edwy Plenel: le cas de Tariq Ramadan “ressemble à celui des prêtres pédophiles”).

This could be continued for pages but for the moment stops here….

It would be an exaggeration to say, as Le Monde does in the Saturday edition of the Idées Supplement, that there is an almost insurmountable gulf between this “so French” quarrel and elsewhere. In Britain, they observe, Tariq Ramadan’s latest adventures have barely stirred the media. Whether by policy, a long-standing deference to religious figures, or by fear of audience incomprehension. this may well be true. Le Monde’s Philippe Bernard even makes the claim that Ramadan is a “respected intellectual” this side of the channel ( Tariq Ramadan, un intellectuel respecté au Royaume-Uni.)

The British historian Sudhir Hazareesingh offers the interesting suggestion that British  people talk American and talk of “hyphenated” identities, such as British-Asian. (« Charlie » contre « Mediapart » vu du Royaume-Uni : « Une discussion consternante ») Both talk of a “quasi-consensus” around religious tolerance, anchored within a wider policy of multiculturalism. Yet, from the standpoint of some of the left this is not the case. Multiculturalism may be accepted as a fact in Britain, and diversity and tolerance valued aspects of the country’s culture. But as a politique, that is a state policy, many on the left in the UK do not agree with the institutionalisation of the place of religious figures and norms within the public sphere, nor, in particular, with the public funding of separatist faith education.

Secularism.

Let us be clear on one point. There are secularists in the UK, smaller in number than in France, without the Constitutional pillars that define French laïcité. Yet if we not as present as we are in le Monde, we are very visible even in the pages of the Guardian and the Observer. Secularists here are both of the establishment type that parallel La Libre Pensée in France and more radical left-wing secularists – for example in the Teachers’ union (NEU), and, to cite some this Blog has contact with, those around by Southall Black Sisters and Ex-Muslims networks. It was from this quarter that the petition came against Ramadan’s continued teaching at Oxford while he stood accused of serious sexual offences.

It would be true to say that very few British secularist leftists would identify with Manuel Valls and some of the more arid defenders of laïcité. The ex-PM would appear less the reincarnation of 3rd republic Radical Socialist norms, or even the defender of a French particularism posing as a Universalist, than a nationalist demanding assimilation. If the government Prevent Programme remains controversial in the UK, though hardly the dominant issue for the left that Le Monde describes, it could be seen as coming from the same template as French repressive policies championed by the same Valls.

But it would be equally difficult to sympathise with those engaged in ‘accommodation’ with religious difference to the point where tolerance becomes acceptance of reactionary institutions, and, above all, politics. Voltaire had some words about not accepting infamous abuses….

Le Monde editorialised a couple of days ago, recognising the risk of intervening between two enraged assailants, and called for an end to this ever-escalating fight: « Charlie »-« Mediapart » : halte à l’escalade.

Anti-Semitism.

Distinct from either side in this dispute some of us find the radical leftists of sites like Ni Patrie ni Frontières  speaking more sense. This section of the French left looks to a grass roots way of fighting reactionary religious-political ideas, from Islamism to the European far-right independently of both Official secularism and Official multiculturalism.

Having said this there remains a further point. Perhaps the most striking parallel between the French and British landscape is the division on the priority given to tackling anti-semitism and anti-Muslim prejudice. This, it can hardly have escape anybody’s attention, is one of the live issues dividing our left, last week, yesterday, today, and no doubt next week.

This leads us back to the Hexagone… To cap it all Gérard Filoche, the respected retired Inspecteur du travail, a well-known figure on the left of the Parti Socialiste, has been  found to have tweeted an image from a far-right site. This is not just any picture, but, taken from the Egalité et Reconciliation, portrays President Macron with an Israeli and US flag, a Nazi style arm-band with a dollar sign on it, while 3 well known Jewish figures, including a Rothschild, hover in the background. (Gérard Filoche, antisémite ? Le naufrage d’un colérique en 6 polémiques.)

There is a serious motion to expel Filoche from the Socialists (Filoche menacé d’exclusion du PS après un tweet antisémite). Filoche has admitted making an arse of himself, says that he was not the person who did the tweet…..but assumes responsibility. (Filoche mis en cause pour un tweet antisémite : «C’était une connerie»)

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(1) P 41 and Pages 39 – 40. The Messenger. Tariq Ramadan. Allen Lane. 2007.

(2) Pages 106 – 107. Pour les Musulmans. Edwy Plenel. Nouvelle édition. 2016.

David Icke’s Manchester Show Cancelled on ‘Say-so of Ultra-Zionist Hate Group” and “Labour MP” (Icke)

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David Icke  Supporters Fight Back Against ‘Them’.

Conspiracy theorists, conspis as they sometimes call ’em France, are everywhere.

Britain may no Alain Soral, Dieudonné, or Réseau Voltaire. but we do have David Icke.

Only a few days ago Harry’s Place (get my drift..) published part of this: Is David Icke Britain’s Leading Antisemite?  

If David Icke is not Britain’s leading antisemite I am yet to come across anybody else who is preaching the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to thousands of bewitched followers in sold-out arenas in Britain. Former footballer and sports presenter David Icke has been Britain’s leading conspiracy theorist for decades; hugely popular throughout the world and capable of selling out venues usually reserved for those of rock star status. Most famous for his belief in multi-dimensional reptiles but unfortunately less well known for the ancient anti-Jewish prejudice that lie at the heart of so many of his theories.

This is some of Soloman’s post that demonstrates this point.

agenda 21 icke

The short version of all this is just out by the Mirror:

It’s no accident, as they might say, that this has happened.

icke soros live

Manchester United cancel David Icke show at Old Trafford after backlash.

Manchester United have cancelled a planned show staged by David Icke at Old Trafford on Friday evening because of the former television presenter’s controversial views.

An Evening with David Icke, for which some tickets cost £170, caused a backlash against United on social media regarding the club’s agreement to allow it. The 65-year-old booked a suite at Old Trafford through an associate with his name being kept anonymous.

A United spokesperson said: “The booking was made by a junior member of staff who was unaware of Icke and his objectionable views. The event has been cancelled.”

Icke, who played professional football for Hereford United between 1971-73, has made a series of allegedly antisemitic comments and is an alleged Holocaust revisionist. He had previously attempted to stage the evening at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel, with that venue also cancelling once it found out his true identity.

Comrades have asked – in bewilderment –  who are the kenspeckle cretins willing to fork out £170 to hear this.

But, he has his supporters, not least this toss-pott.

And this one:

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And this one (which may ‘possibly’ be tongue in cheek).

Icke has no doubt who is responsible:

Labour ‘equalities’ shadow minister Kate Green seeks to destroy freedom of speech and has gutless Manchester United cancel tonight’s David Icke new book launch (which goes ahead elsewhere) – well done you. Anyone remember when the Labour Party stood for freedom?

And,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 17, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Bernard-Henri Lévy rages against « Le Monde diplomatique »

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Image result for bernard henri levy caricature

 

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a kind of Human Rights French Tariq Ali. A man who’s an expert and a view on every political event on the planet,  and a few more things beside. On the left with with Ali we only have his political vacillations,  early recognition of  ‘democratic socialist’ Boris Yeltsin, voting for the Liberal Democrat Party, pious rage against Charlie Hebdo, punditry on the Middle East, yelps of joy at Brexit, and this,

At present we hear that Ali is advising President Maduro of Venezuela on how to defeat the US imperialists.

Advice to Venezuelan masses: run for the hills!

It is true that Lévy  has a lot more contortions on what passes for his conscience, from support for the Islamist Mujahidin in Afghanistan, the defence of IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn  to writing a series of preposterous books.

Unlike Ali some people take him seriously.

He claims to have influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy which may well be true.

Background.

Lévy first shot to fame as a leading ‘new philosopher’ in the late 1970s.

This group which accused Marxism of being a cover for Mastery, and the root of the Gulag was important at the time, though largely forgotten today. I read Lévy ‘s attack on  Stalinism, which for him included the entire Marxist left,  La Barbarie à visage humain   (1977) in the early 1980s and cannot say that it had the slightest effect on me, unlike André Glucksmann’s Les Maîtres penseurs (1977) La Cuisinière et le Mangeur d’Hommes – Réflexions sur l’État, le marxisme et les camps de concentration (1975). The first book, is troubling. It brought home the tragic reality of the drive to make society fit Stalinism.  If it  stands  as a weaker book than the historically and theoretically more rooted, Un Homme en trop. Essai sur l’archipel du goulag de Soljénitsyne, ( 1975) by Claude Lefort,  Glucksmann raised important issues about the way the regime treated the ‘pleb’. The Master Thinkers is full of wild generalisations about the will to power and the apparatuses put into place to make ‘Marxism’ a reality, but it is still worth reading on a wet afternoon.

BHL’s  L’Idéologie française (1981) essentially accused all French political traditions of being tainted by fascism. Wikipedia notes (mildly), that “l’ouvrage a été fortement critiqué en raison de ses distorsions avec la réalité historique et de son ton grandiloquent.” the work was strongly criticised because of its distortion of historical reality and its grandiose tone.”

It is rubbish.

Like many I lost interest in the books, the one on Sartre, translated into English gives one  a taste of “grandiloquent” on a massive scale,  but sitll read his articles.

Its hard not to: they appear all over the French media as does the man himself.

It would be an error of judgement to get too involved in anti-Lévy outrage, there’s some pretty dodgy people who have an obsession with him for reasons (see his name…) which are pretty obvious.

Lévy  did nevertheless back Charlie Hebdo in their hour of need (In Praise of Blasphemy,)which shall not be forgotten.

Still,  the latest feud looks interesting.

The following appears in the latest (September)  print edition of Le Monde diplomatique. 

Bernard-Henri Lévy enragé contre « Le Monde diplomatique »

Bernard-Henri Lévy’s attack on Le Monde diplomatique on 20 July continues a long-running feud. In 2013 Bernard-Henri Lévy was condemned for ‘complicity in public diffamation’ by a Paris court after an earlier such attack. That has not stopped him publishing another broadside, titled ‘The shame and poverty of Le Monde diplomatique’, in Le Point.

Serge Halimi.

Déjà condamné, le 23 avril 2013, par la 17e chambre correctionnelle de Paris, pour « complicité de diffamation publique » après s’en être pris au Monde diplomatique,Bernard-Henri Lévy récidive. Il vient ainsi de consacrer la totalité de sa chronique hebdomadaire du Point (20 juillet 2017) à un texte rageur qui ressasse ses vieilles calembredaines, en titrant cette fois son propos « Misère et déshonneur du “Monde diplomatique” ».

A;ready sentenced, on the 23rd of April 2013, by the 17th chambre correctionnelle de Paris for ” involvement in public slander”, after having having attacked le Monde Diplomatique Bernard-Henri Lévy  has repeated his offence. It has just devoted the whole of his weekly column in Le Point (20th of July) to a raging polemic, titled, Misery and Dishonour of Le Monde Diplomatique,  which rehashes the same nonsense.

Full article through above link.

Le Monde Diplomatique is certainly not without its faults, with  one of the editors, Bernard Cassen  (also slandered by Lévy in 2010) who has    background in tiersmondisme (third-worldism). Many of its contributors are aligned to the more archly ‘republican’ side of the French left. It ahs published Seumas Milne, which is not considered a good sign. But it has recently begun to print articles by people like comrades Owen Jones and  Paul Mason.  It also carried a sterling attack by no less than the Editor, Serge Halmi,  on the darling of the US identitarian ‘left, the Indigènes de la République ( Ahmadinejad, mon héros).

 

Here is the dossier of articles on the man himself.

My favourite is The Man Who has Never Been Wrong:  Lhomme qui ne s’est jamais trompé », par Pierre Rimbert, janvier 2010.

Here is the article, which Lévy’s little helpers have translated into unusual – for Lévy texts –  clear English.

The Shame of Le Monde diplomatique

PARIS – Le Monde diplomatique, which has no editorial connection to the newspaper Le Monde, is not well known outside France. In a way, that is too bad, because it is typical of the French intellectual and journalistic scene – typical, too, of the brand of populism checked by Emmanuel Macron’s election, but which remains deeply rooted in France.

This article came about because of the recent appearance on the website of Le Monde diplo, as the monthly is known in France, of a “dossier” containing “20 years of archives,” “freely accessible,” concerning me. But “me” as Don Corleone, oligarch, mystifier, the devil incarnate, and a “significant” representative of the French “system.”

 I will not dwell on the details of this trove of obscure articles, which, for the most part, I had not seen before.

I will not attempt to correct – at least not right now – the mind-boggling falsehoods, nonsense, and petty insults that make up this grotesque and pitiful affair, which has caused a minor uproar in France.

But I will not forgo sharing my opinion of this monthly, to which, during the 1974-1975 Portuguese revolution, I submitted one of my first dispatches, but which today retains nothing of Le Monde except shareholders, nothing diplomatic except the word, and nothing respectable except the memory of its distant founders.

One should know, for example, that Le Monde diplo is one of the last places in France where Tariq Ramadan, ideologist of the Muslim Brotherhood, who sees the hand of the intelligence services behind the Islamist attacks in Toulouse and Brussels, is still considered an authority. In a piece dated April 3, 2016, a former Le Monde diplo editor, Alain Gresh, and others, called Ramadan’s voice one that “carries weight in poor neighborhoods” and to which “young people listen.”

One should know that all manner of conspiracy theories are often uncritically echoed. In a talk to the Friends of Le Monde diplomatique in Montpellier, in May 2010, Professor Annie Lacroix-Riz endeavoredto prettify the fascistic myth of the synarchism of the secret elite. Holocaust denier Jean Bricmont was long responsible for Le Monde diplo’s reviews of anti-American and anti-Zionist books. Frédéric Lordon, a sort of younger clone of Marxist thinker Alain Badiou, offers a chic variant, maintaining that it is no more absurd to see plots everywhere than not to see them anywhere, and that there is indeed a conspiracy of “the dominant” to blind the “dominated.”

Response to such articles as,

Bernard-Henri Lévy’s plan for the French left

Lévy’s pet hates.

In his latest book (1) Bernard-Henri Lévy lists “laboratories brewing atrocities”. This list features, in order of appearance:

 Hugo Chávez, “whose anti-neo liberal rhetoric recalls ‘fascist or Nazi-style regimes’ according to Latin-America’s bishops”.

 Etienne Balibar, Daniel Bensaïd, Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Derrida, held responsible for the “widely publicised rediscovery… of a theoretician, driven by his hatred of free markets to espouse Nazism: Carl Schmitt. He is presented as the saviour of a left that has lost its bearings.”

 Slavoj Zizek and Peter Sloterdijk: “A significant number of European intellectuals have wholeheartedly embraced this curious, indeed hallucinatory, notion that a Nazi thinker [Schmitt] could rescue the left from its current problems. Heidegger used to say that only a god could save us. Now, echoing the idea, this leftwing fringe repeats that only a Nazi can save us.”

 Emmanuel Mounier and Jean-Marie Domenach: “The idea [attributed to them] that the real danger was not the Soviet Union, but the United States, not communism but Americanism, resurfaces among the ideologists of the new right in the 1980s, and then in all the neo-Nazi sects, mentioned above, such as Nouvelle Résistance, and finally in [France’s] National Front.”

 Le Monde diplomatique: “An editorial of Le Monde diplomatiqueexplaining that America … has found a secret weapon for ‘domesticating souls’… almost exactly the same words as Drieu la Rochelle (2) used …. Or here again, in the same issue … the foul stench arising from the condemnation of the ‘cosmopolitan establishment of bankers and corporate lawyers’ that dominates the US, and therefore the world. Maurras (3), or nowadays Le Pen, would say the same… In yet another article, by Loïc Wacquant and Pierre Bourdieu … how can one not react to the disturbing similarities with another strain of anti-Americanism, the one and only true variety, hatched by Arthur Moeller Van den Bruck, the man who invented the idea of the Third Reich.”

 Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 “was no more than a variation on the old isolationist, populist, ultra-nationalist and chauvinistic ideas of Pat Buchanan and other rightwing US extremists”.

 Harold Pinter: “You would think you were listening to Pinter, Chomsky, Bourdieu or a neo-Trotskyist. But no. The nerve, the investigative style, the obsession with manipulation … it all brings us back, I fear, to the ravings of the tsarist police fabricating its famous fake that supposedly proved Jewish domination of the world.”

 Noam Chomsky: “this maniacal negationist”.

 Olivier Besancenot and the Attac organisation: “Why have we never heard any of them, ever, telling us what they think about Iran’s president Ahmadinejad, who repeatedly says that he dreams of annihilating Israel?”

Referring to Lévy’s publications in 1979, Cornelius Castoriadis found “a good sample of devious Stalinist techniques”. This is a severe criticism, particularly as Lévy claims to write “without any sense of controversy”, though “I do of course simplify”, and even suggests the reader “look at things calmly and with a cool head”. He sees himself as being “trained, I think, to be curious and respectful”.

Lévy defends the US industrialist Henry Ford, who inspired Adolf Hitler. As Lévy himself acknowledges, his commitment to the cause of Darfur brought him into contact with “an increasing number of Islamic militants, sometimes even Islamists, linked in particular to Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.” (The preacher Louis Farrakhan is, among other things, an anti-semite.)

Perhaps it would be most effective to refer Lévy to his own writings: “Sometimes, overwhelmed by exhaustion or disgust, it is just too hard to go on. What is the point in trying to make someone see reason, when they just will not listen?” Just so.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 31, 2017 at 11:35 am

Brendan O’Neill Gets Offended at the “Orwellian War on History”.

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“Everyone’s smashing statues” Says Upset Bendan O’Neill.

 

Brendan O’Neill is the author of A Duty to Offend (2015). He is Editor of spiked  and a columnist for the Big Issue and Reason. He writes widely for a variety of other publications, including the Telegraph, the Spectator and the Australian.

He is also a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group, which was a split from the Socialist Workers Party.

A Duty to Offend takes little time over  those who take this responsibility to heart, such as Charlie Hebdo (a publication few had heard of, he notes – not bleeding on this Blog ) and a great  many words on those Offended.

This set a pattern. In the O’Neil world Snowflakes, Trigger Warnings and whatever US term of the minute is recycled in the media, are flung around. in Spiked and by the man himself.

As in today’s Sun,

BRENDAN O’NEILL

The CPS’s decision to crack down on online mockery is a recipe for tyranny

In elevating online slights to the level of hate crime, the CPS has written a Snowflakes’ Charter…

All those snowflakes and professional offence-takers who think a cross word is as bad as a slap in the face will relish this opportunity to land their critics in the dock.

A man of many words his take on life, for the benefit of anybody who does not wish to plough further, can be boiled down and served up in the following,

Every leap forward in history, every freedom we enjoy, is a product of individuals having given “offence” — having offended against the orthodoxies of their age. Offensiveness is not just something we have to grudgingly accept. Offensiveness is the motor of human progress.

But now apparently O’Neil is Offended.

An Orwellian war on the past.

The control of public space is an attempt to control thinking itself.

Everyone’s smashing statues. From Islamic State hotheads sledgehammering ancient artefacts in old Mesopotamian cities to plummy students at Oxford demanding the removal of busts of old colonialists, waging war on the past is all the rage.

A Year Zero mentality is on the march. People seem hellbent on wiping out history, making it invisible, and starting society all over again, cleansed of the likenesses of dead people of whom they disapprove.

In truth, there’s nothing good in this mob-like erasure of history. It’s a reactionary, even Orwellian, movement. The urge to ethically cleanse public life of “bad history”, to shove down the memory hole any bust or tribute to past folk whose values make us bristle today, is intolerant, illiberal and profoundly paternalistic.

During the past week, the irrational fury against inanimate objects moved up a gear. First, there were the disturbances in Charlottesville, Virginia, when disagreements over a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee descended into violent clashes between leftists and neo-fascists.

….reeks of PC paternalism. The idea that minority groups can’t cope with seeing statues of dead people who did some dodgy things is an affront to their intelligence and autonomy. It infantil­ises them, even suggesting they will feel physically wounded by history: after all, “there is a violence” to these statues.

..

it’s a low, brutal form of censorship, and we should have no truck with it.

Offensive innit?

What would Orwell have said?

Well he would have said that it is wrong to conflate the genocidal rule of the Islamic state with movements against the public reminders of contentious figures of the past, that honour them.  He would then have talked about the past being honoured, starting perhaps with his own experience of Imperial rule in Burma.

In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people – the only … by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him …”  Shooting An Elephant.  1936.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 22, 2017 at 12:04 pm