Posts Tagged ‘Left’
There’s something misguided about ‘Concerns’ for Muslims when people try to silence Iranian critics of Islamism.
The Sharpest ‘Injuries’ – Words.
The Guardian Opinion desk Editor David Shariatmadari commented yesterday on the case of Warwick University Students’ Union attempting to ban Maryam Namazie, from addressing a meeting of its Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society.
There’s nothing misguided about the left’s concern for Muslims. David Shariatmadari.
Namazie’s supporters two things were very clear: first, this was a direct attack on free speech; second, lefties were once again siding with religious conservatives because of a misguided belief that Muslims, as a minority group, should be protected at any cost.
Shariatmadari starts poorly,
First – was the move to block Namazie’s appearance really an attack on free speech? She should certainly be at liberty to express herself within the law. The Guardian has in the past published her work. But does the withdrawal of an invitation really amount to censorship? Her words have not been banned, the state has not gagged her. Is Namazie’s capacity to share her ideas diminished if she doesn’t appear in front of 50-odd students? After all, she can still tweet and blog, as she showed over the weekend. If anything, the whole episode has increased her audience.
So, Warwick University SU’s decision was small beer.
The state has not banned her.
Namazie, can still speak. She can write, go on Facebook, she can tweet. She can mumble to the wind.
No need for secularist uproar.
“All we’re really seeing is one student body’s messy weighing up of which values it wants to endorse, and which it wants to reject – and exercising its own right of free expression to make that choice.”
But until the SU reversed the decision she could not address the Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society. That is the province of the SU who can decide, or not decide, if her speech is acceptable to them.
And they – as he indicates, have some reason to be wary, then they can tell their student members what they can and cannot listen to.
Shariatmadari makes clear there were reasons for the Students’ Union to be worried.
That leads us to a second point: what motivated those who didn’t want the event to go ahead? Were they really “kowtowing to Islamists”? Namazie is often described as a secularist, championing enlightenment values and defending the rights of women against conservative religious ideology. These are positions that most progressives would find it easy to get behind. But the way Namazie articulates her arguments might give them pause.
Indeed, he continues, the Guardians of what or what not Warwick students should be allowed to hear at their meetings, were right to pause.
At the World Atheist Convention in Dublin in 2011, she set out her stall as an equal-opportunity critic of religious belief. “In my opinion, all religion is bad for you. Religion should come with a health warning, like cigarettes: religion kills.”
However, she does regard Islam as a special case. She believes it is defined by the concept of “inquisition”. She contrasts it with Christianity, arguing that “a religion that has been reined in by the Enlightenment is very different from one that is spearheading an inquisition.” This would seem to hold out some hope for the “Reformation” of Islam. (Personally I feel that the analogy with 16th-century Europe is flawed. It misrepresents the nature of hierarchy in Islam, as well as being anachronistic.) And yet at the same time, Namazie denies the possibility of change and evolution.
She says that “under an inquisition things like ‘Islamic feminism’, ‘liberal interpretations of Islam’ – these are all in quotes for me – ‘Islamic reformism’ … are impossible. A personal religion is impossible under an inquisition.”
One might at this point note that comrade Namazie is Iranian ( Shariatmadari is proud to signal in his own background, that “My 90-something uncle, whom I’ve met three times, was a religious nationalist politician in Iran, but I was brought up in a secular household.).
Perhaps he has also met modern Iranian secularists. Perhaps he has heard about the censorship, the religious ‘legality’ of Iran, the repression, the torture, the gaol sentences for Namazie’s comrades, and the deaths of the beloved martyrs for secularism and the left, under the Islamist theocracy.
No. Shariatmadari goes to what he considers is the quick.
So, at a stroke, she denies the agency of all would-be Muslim reformers, Muslim feminists in particular. She undermines those imams and scholars who do preach a liberal, open version of Islam. She appears to think that Muslims with non-judgmental views about sex and sexuality are kidding themselves. In fact, she speaks as though she would actually like to shut down debate in these areas. At one point she quotes the Iranian political activist Mansoor Hekmat: “This is the religion of death.”
This the article referred to, by comrade Hekmat said about Islamism, in fuller form, and not the Guardian’s abbreviated version.
I realise that the interests of some require that they rescue Islam (as much as possible) from the wrath of those who have witnessed the indescribable atrocities of or been victimised by Islamists. I also realise that the extent of these atrocities and holocausts is such that even some Islamists themselves do not want to take responsibility for them. So it is natural that the debate on ‘true Islam’ vis-à-vis ‘practical Islam’ is broached over and over again. These justifications, however, are foolish from my point of view (that of a communist and atheist) and from the points of views of those of us who have seen or been the victims of Islam’s crimes. They are foolish for those of us who are living through a colossal social, political and intellectual struggle with this beast.
The doctrinal and Koranic foundations of Islam, the development of Islam’s history, and the political identity and affiliation of Islam and Islamists in the battle between reaction and freedom in our era are too obvious to allow the debate on the various interpretations of Islam and the existence or likelihood of other interpretations to be taken seriously. Even if the debate were in the future and on other planets where the most basic rights and affections of humanity were not violated. In my opinion, it shows the utmost contempt for the science and social intelligence of our times if every excuse and justification that Islamists fling into society whilst retreating is scientifically analysed and dissected… In Islam, be it true or untrue, the individual has no rights or dignity. In Islam, the woman is a slave. In Islam, the child is on par with animals. In Islam, freethinking is a sin deserving of punishment. Music is corrupt. Sex without permission and religious certification, is the greatest of sins. This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled. With every move, it brings abominations and misery.
What does this imply for free speech?
Moreover, in my opinion, defending the existence of Islam under the guise of respect for people’s beliefs is hypocritical and lacks credence. There are various beliefs amongst people. The question is not about respecting people’s beliefs but about which are worthy of respect. In any case, no matter what anyone says, everyone is choosing beliefs that are to their liking. Those who reject a criticism of Islam under the guise of respecting people’s beliefs are only expressing their own political and moral preferences, full stop. They choose Islam as a belief worthy of respect and package their own beliefs as the ‘people’s beliefs’ only in order to provide ‘populist’ legitimisation for their own choices. I will not respect any superstition or the suppression of rights, even if all the people of the world do so. Of course I know it is the right of all to believe in whatever they want. But there is a fundamental difference between respecting the freedom of opinion of individuals and respecting the opinions they hold. We are not sitting in judgement of the world; we are players and participants in it. Each of us are party to this historical, worldwide struggle, which in my opinion, from the beginning of time until now has been over the freedom and equality of human beings. I will not respect the superstitions that I am fighting against and under the grip of which human beings are suffering.
Given the action of Daesh, shown last night on Channel Four News training children to slaughter, one can’t help feeling that comrade Hekmat had a point – whatever we think about the details of the politics of the Workers-Communist Parties.
What kind of “respect” should we show these Islamists?
Freedom of speech does not mean deference or pandering to the intolerable.
By contrast, this is what Shariatmadari considers important.
What might lead people to decide they’d rather not give a platform to such rhetoric? Recognising the pressure British Muslims are under – surveilled by the state, victims of verbal abuse, vandalism and arson – could it be that some students felt welcoming a person who believes Islam is incompatible with modern life would be wrong?
He consdiers that many would not wish to live in a society ruled by Islamic values – glossing over the fact that even many moderate Muslims believe in some version of Shariah ‘law’ which by its very principle is a discriminatory – against Women, against non-believers – and is the rule of God, not of Democracy.
No, this is what matters,
However, the fact remains: at this historical moment, in this country, Muslims are subject to greater demonisation than almost anyone else. Absolutists may not like it, but this power imbalance must enter into the calculation.
So an Iranian woman whose views on Islamism stem from the experience of actually existing Islamic counties, contributes to those who wish to “insult and injure” Moslems.
How does this enter the calculation of the “power balance”?
He notices that,
We are lucky to live in a pluralist democracy, with freedom of choice in politics and religion. These are things we should cherish, but they are not in any serious danger. Were they really threatened – by the emergence of a theocracy, by the drafting of racist or misogynist laws – the left would oppose that with every sinew. I hope that more citizens in Muslim-majority countries can one day enjoy the level of political and social freedom that we do, and I support the men and women who try to bring that about.
But in the meantime it’s okay to call a halt to those who wish to insult “injure” (with no doubt the shparest of weapons – words), Islam.
Earlier this year Shariatmadari expressed great concern about the word “terrorism”.
Modern “terrorism” has the peculiar property that it relies on its enemies to grant it victory – and why not have a special word for that? Why not use it to describe the Charlie Hebdo attacks, which, in my view, fall into that category?
But the word itself casts a shadow of fear. Politicians deploy it to justify illiberal measures. The panic it evokes ramps up prejudice against minorities. It is even used to win support for wars. Wielded carefully, “terrorist” could still make sense, à la Fromkin. Used to frighten, cajole or slander, it’s one of the most toxic words of our times.
No doubt he will feel equal concern at those of the description of Iran, and all states whose ‘laws’ are based on the Shariah as theocratic monsters.
No doubt he will point to liberal elements in their regimes and the need for careful language.
And no doubt he will wince at those of us who call Daesh genociders.
Tough: that’s freedom of speech.
We can’t, not yet….
This morning the Spanish radio was full of the fall-out, and the ‘fractures’, resulting from the results of the Catalan elections.
- The pro-independence front loses the referendum. The anti-independence forces account for 52 percent, compared to the secessionist bloc’s 47 percent. It’s inconceivable that with these results, once the the cava wine bubbles evaporate, any serious politician (in Catalonia) will propose a unilateral declaration of independence. That would be undemocratic. But it’s the first time that the option to secede takes such flight: more than 1.9 million votes is a cry that no serious politician (in Madrid) can ignore.
- In the polls, Ciudadanos breaks the roof: it tripled the results of the previous elections and, with 25 seats, stole the spotlight. The Sorpasso (overtaking) of the People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia is a warning: will this happen again in the general elections in December? We will never know what result Albert Rivera would have achieved if he had been the candidate of the Generalitat, the Catalan government; but being the second force in Catalonia gives wings to his aspirations to get to the Moncloa Palace.
- The PP is increasingly irrelevant in Catalonia: it lost 10 seats, including Badalona — where Xavier García Albiol was mayor — which went to Junts pel Sí. It’s a real slap in the face for the party and its campaign strategy. Today, there is a cold wind in Moncloa and Genoa street: Rajoy is proving to be incapable of facing the challenges in Catalonia.
- After a spectacular gain (from 3 to 10 seats), CUP now has the key to governance in Catalonia. If it fulfills its promise of not voting for Artur Mas as president, Junts pel Sí will be forced to come to an agreement on another candidate… and internal battle is guaranteed.
- Podemos loses momentum: ICV alone got more seats (13) than the new coalition. The 10 deputies Podemos got in the parliament is very far from what it had hoped for. Does it mean that its success in the past municipal elections — Barcelona, Madrid, Cadiz, Zaragoza — was the zenith of its political career? (NOTE: it went up to 11)
- The socialists are still alive. Maintaining almost the same numbe
- When 77 percent of Catalan citizens vote, the message is strong and clear. The pro-independence front, which brings together Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) and the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) party, earned a clear majority in the Catalan parliament, winning 72 seats. It now has the legitimacy and strength, said Artur Mas, to keep pursuing its dream of secession.
- r of votes as in the last Catalan elections — after the internal bleeding and the appearance of new parties that contest their ideological territory — justifies Miquel Iceta’s sigh of relief, despite having lost four seats. And those half a million Catalan votes are worth their weight in gold in Pedro Sanchez’s race toward the Moncloa Palace.
Together for Yes (JxSí)[b][c] 1,620,973 39.54 Increase3.11 62 Increase4
Citizens-Party of the Citizenry (C’s) 734,910 17.93 Increase10.36 25 Increase16
Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE) 522,209 12.74 Decrease1.69 16 Decrease4
Catalonia Yes we Can (CSQEP)[d] 366,494 8.94 Decrease0.96 11 Decrease2
People’s Party of Catalonia (PPC) 348,444 8.50 Decrease4.48 11 Decrease8
Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) 336,375 8.20 Increase4.72 10 Increase7
Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC)[c] 102,870 2.51 Decrease5.47 0 Decrease13
Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA) 29,785 0.73 Increase0.16 0 ±0
Zero Cuts-The Greens (Recortes Cero-Els Verds) 14,390 0.35 Increase0.28 0 ±0
Let’s Win Catalonia (Ganemos) 1,158 0.03 New 0 ±0
Pirates of Catalonia-To Decide Everything (Pirata.cat/XDT) 326 0.01 Decrease0.49 0 ±0
El País commented,
Pablo Iglesias ha construido alrededor de Podemos una épica de partido ganador que ayer, tras lograr en las elecciones catalanas un resultado que sus propios dirigentes consideran decepcionante, sufrió el mayor revés desde su nacimiento.
Pablo Iglesias has built around Podemos an epic in which they are the winning party. But yesterday, after the results of the Catalan elections, which their own leaders considered disappointing , the party suffered the biggest setback since its birth.
We should observe that Podemos (link to their site here) did not go it alone this time. Inside Catalunya Sí que es Pot (CSQEP) they were allied with Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Red Greens), and Esquerra Unida i Alternativa, (the more directly linked to the left bloc, Izquirda Unida).
This in itself is a step forward for a group that appeared to wish to ‘go it alone’ to the extent of organising, its own demonstrations against austerity rather than create united fronts.
What are the consequences of this poor result – not to mention their eclipse by a right-of-centre populist party, Ciudadanos ? *
Iglesias has announced today (Iglesias ofrece un referéndum catalán en el que pediría el ‘no’) that if Podemos wins the nation-wide general election he will offer a proper referendum to the Catalans, in which his party will campaign against the separatists and for a multinational and pluralist Spain.
Inside Podemos some have criticised the alliances that they made in Catalan with left-wing and Green forces, declaring that people did not understand the “alphabet soup” (CSQEP) that resulted on the ballot paper.
It will be interesting to follow further developments.
“..populism requires the division of society into two camps – one presenting itself as a part which claims to be the whole; that this dichotomy involves the antagonistic division of the social field, and that the popular camp presupposes as a conditions of its constitution the constriction of a globalised entity out of the equivalence of a plurality of social demands.” (Page 83. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau. 2005)
Enthusiasm for Podemos on the European Left, including Britain, was until recently widespread. It was accepted that the party had managed the difficult feat of giving a political voice to the indignados movement. That it has built a ‘populist’ constituency through language and demands that welded together the 99% against the 1%. That it used the (in Laclau’s words) ‘floating signifiers’ of the ‘people’ (crushing majority) against the Spanish ‘casta’ and had created a democratic organisation capable of challenging the rule of finance and the dominance of economic austerity. It is new, it uses the Net, it encourages direct communication not tired old bureaucratic structures, or divisions between the historical left and right.
This could be tied into the argument offered by Paul Mason in Postcapitalism ( 2015). That, “By creating, millions of networked people, finally exploited but with the whole of human intelligence one thumb-swipe away, info-capitalism has created a new agent of change in history: the educated and connected human beings.”
Mason also asserts that, “In Europe, repressing policing and a untied front of all parties in favour of austerity beat the indignados into a sullen silence. But the results showed that revolution in a highly complex, information-driven society would look very different from the revolutions of the twentieth century. Without a strong, organised working class to push social issues rapidly to the fore, the revolts often stall. But order is never fully restored.” (Page xviii)
But in general enthusiasm for new groups like Podemos, with no visible links to the workers’ movement, is widespread. There is a constant search for new political agencies to replace the ‘old’ left and labour movement. In Mason’s case, despite his own above warning, this went so far as to make this extraordinary claim, “Scotland, “presented with the opportunity to break with a neoliberal state and start afresh, millions of young people said, ‘Yes’ “(Page xix)
There is little doubt that there is a great deal of political fluidity in Europe today. Movements to break up existing states, often from the wealthiest regions of a country (as in Catalonia or in Italy with the Lega Nord) tired of paying for poor and apparently lazy ‘southerners’ , appear part of this process. The strong showing of the Catalan sovereigntists was welcomed by forces from the Scottish National Party, promoting the interests of their ‘ain folk’ against ‘Westminster, the hard-right Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (Belgium), who dislike the former industrial French speaking and Socialist voting Walloon, and some leftists – the latter apparently convinced that Barcelona tax-payers are right not to want to subsidise their feckless compatriots.
Podemos may, or may not, be capable of offering what Mason (in the most significant part of Postcapitalism) calls “revolutionary reformism”. Mason’s list of ideas, a third managerial revolution, switching off the neoliberal privatisation machine, suppressing or socialising monopolies is attractive. But everything depends on a political vehicle to implement them in a recognisably effective form.
That is, the need a political forces capable of reaching and transforming existing political institutions. They have to connect ‘giving voice’ to protests, social interests (not least the labour movement) and being capable of administering solutions. They need parties.
In the case of Podemos this, which Ernesto Laclau called the “moment of articulation” – that is the details of how political parties operate – is becoming unstuck. No doubt the ripple effect of the defeat of Syriza’s anti-austerity programme counts for much in their present impasse. They may have woven ‘floating signifiers’ together, but what anchors them?
Podemos’ vaunted horizontal democracy (apparently giving shape to Mason’s ‘networks’) is paralleled by an internal structure, built as a pyramid around a leader. This is deeply problematic and pretty much casts its claims to novelty to the dustbin. Iglesias has as El País indicates, a self-defined “epic” in which he will valiantly take on the Spanish ‘casta’. Like a figure in the Game of Thrones (a box set of which he generously donated to the Spanish King Felipe VI) he is surrounded by intrigue. He finds it hard to work collaboratively. Forced to accept alliances with other forces, like the Green Equo and the long-standing Izquirda Unida, he has the ill-grace to refuse to take any joint responsibility, in the political battles.
Now that it is clear that Podemos has not the remotest chance of forming a future government in the Cortes Generales it will be of interest to see how his authority is maintained.
* Ideologically, C’s describes itself as a progressive, secular, constitutionalist, European federalist and postnationalist party. In addition, Albert Rivera has said that C’s defends autonomism. According to its declared identity signs, C’s advocates four basic lines of action: Defence of individual rights. Defence of social rights as well as the welfare state. Uphold the State of Autonomies and Europe’s unity. Regeneration of democracy and of political life. Wikipedia.
Living Marxism Journalist Celebrates ‘King of the Lads” David Cameron sticking his “bits in all sorts of places.”
Brendan O’Neill does his bit for Oppressed Men Everywhere.
Calm down, dears. Drunk young men put their bits in all sorts of places. Why? Because they’re drunk and young and men. It’s what they do. I remember a boozed-up night in which a friend of mine put his into the exhaust pipe of a car. On another occasion a friend slapped his schlong on to an electric fence. Much merriment ensued — for us, not him. Was it big and clever? Nope. But then, we weren’t big or clever people — we were young and dumb. It’s genuinely heartening to know the PM was once young and dumb too.
One assumes from this language that Brendan is referring to an alternative universe in which he was brought up in a US high-school and starred in Dumb and Dumber.
All are implying that Dave is a deviant, some strange super-toff, far, far removed from ordinary people who never misbehave.
Well, now they have a potential new hero in Dave, King of the Lads. If only he would fess up to his pig thing (if it’s true) and take ownership of it. In 2015, it often feels like the world is ruled by the unworldly, by over-spun politicians, a moralistic media class, and fun-allergic student bureaucrats. Pig-gate gives me hope — hope that behind Cameron’s too glossy veneer there might just lurk a real man. Maybe even a bloke.
In Honour of Jeremy Corbyn.
God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron
God save the queen
She ain’t no human being
There is no future
In England’s dreaming
Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future, no future,
No future for you
God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God save the queen
‘Cause tourists are money
And our figurehead
Is not what she seems
Oh God save history
God save your mad parade
Oh Lord God have mercy
All crimes are paid
When there’s no future
How can there be sin
We’re the flowers in the dustbin
We’re the poison in your human machine
We’re the future, your future
God save the queen
We mean it man
We love our queen
God save the queen
We mean it man
And there is no future
In England’s dreaming
No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future,
No future for me
No future, no future,
No future for you
No future, no future