Anti anti war


7:00 pm - January 18th 2009

by Kate Belgrave    


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A few thoughts on yesterday’s Gaza rally at Trafalgar Square (photo link at the end):

Actually, my main thought about yesterday’s rally pertains to the lack of inspired political leadership we have on this, and so many other, issues. I have a great deal of sympathy for the people of Gaza, but absolutely none for the self-appointed champions of their cause at this end. Absorbing their rhetoric is a bit like inhaling cement. I stand at protest after protest and wonder why the far left simply can’t connect with the human race, or learn.

But anyway – this is meant to be a brief report, not a pointless bitch, so let’s have a bit on the day’s speakers:

Lindsey German – a woman I keep thinking I want to admire for her intellect and commitment – graced us with a speech that I interpreted as a bloodthirsty ode to Hamas’ right to pursue its end of the nightmare: “This ceasefire is not a ceasefire in any meaningful sense if the Palestinians don’t have the right to defend themselves… they have to have that right to defend themselves when they are under such attack… self defence is no offence, and that applies to the people of Gaza more than to anyone else in the world today…” etc – further proof (as if we needed it) of the SWP’s genius for missing the point entirely as it sprints to salute extremism.

German was slightly more bearable on local realities: ‘our government has been a disgrace. Why is the Israeli ambassador still sitting there in Kensington, rather than being expelled? Why has there been no condemnation of the war crimes? Why do we still have diplomatic links? Why are we selling arms to Israel? This has to stop…’

Indeed.

Jenny Tonge did a better job of the language – managing, for once, to integrate the rhetoric of outrage with that of humanity: “Real bombs, real tanks, real horror… it’s a disgusting, obscene outrage, what is going on in Gaza… it is obscene that they cannot escape anywhere… what we need to do now is persuade all the politicians to say ‘no more arms to Israel.’ There must be an embargo. We must suspend the EU-Israel trade agreement and we must look eventually to a full trade embargo and a boycotting of everything Israeli.”

Diane Abbott impressed, simply for turning up at all. It’s a rare pleasure these days to hear a Labour MP speak on the side of right, even if she’s mainly concerned with her own role in it. “All my political life, I have stood for justice for Palestine…” etc. No sign, alas, of the great David Miliband, the new world order’s own warrior for peace.

Tony Benn was at his best when putting the boot into the BBC for biased – read non existent – coverage of the fury that the attacks on Gaza have ignited in the general population, here and round the globe: “If there is a BBC camera here, all they’ll be looking for is a scuffle, or a fight. They never report what is said and they lie about the number of people at these meetings.”

He was right about that: there have been three big Gaza protests in London in the last three weeks (not to mention the many protests around the country) and they’ve all been filled to the gills.

The BBC and the government ignore that sort of turnout at their peril: as a young woman speaking on behalf of Muslim students said -“after Hamas, even if they destroy it, there will come another generation that will continue to fight for the right to exist.” It isn’t rocket science, as it were.

This young woman also got stuck in to the NUS leadership, suggesting considerable disquiet among British youth – “it is shameful that until now you [the NUS leadership] have not condemned what Israel is doing … I speak here today on behalf of Muslim students… it was Dante who said the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises retain their neutrality… hear us clear – students in the UK will not accept it…” (If Wes Streeting sees this, he may want to respond to it, because he was mentioned by name).

Meanwhile, the far left wittered on. It’s extraordinary how it still feels in a position to grandstand and commandeer global antiwar sentiment, even in the wake of the Respect shambles. “This weekend is very important, because it is goodbye to George Bush – one of the biggest war criminals we have ever seen!” yelled German. “Don’t let the Americans continue to to do what they have done with Obama… or we will continue to build these demonstrations as much as we can…”

Anyway. That was me, people – marvelling again at how utterly one can want to engage in the antiwar movement, while feeling utterly repulsed by the opportunism of the so-called leaders of it. Is there really nobody new to step forward?

I have an affection for Tony Benn, but unfortunately, he’s getting on a bit. He hasn’t bequeathed us much in the way of Old Labour heirs, either.

Next week, I’ll go back to talking to the protestors themselves.

PHOTOS:

Here are some photos of protestors at yesterday’s rally – considerably more eloquent than the above. There was a very big crowd, a great deal of anger, and the Israeli flag was set alight. I say again that government ignores these turnouts, and this passion, at its peril.

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About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: Hangbitching.com and @hangbitch
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Equality ,Foreign affairs ,Media ,Middle East ,Terrorism

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Reader comments


Are you seriously crying about condemning Israels actions?
I didn’t find anything wrong with what they said; they pretty much ARE creating new hamas soldiers this way, probably on purpose.

Oh boy.

I knew this wouldn’t be easy to get across. To criticise various aspects of the antiwar movement is NOT to criticise the point of it. Of course I’m not crying about condemnation of Israel’s Gaza strikes. I’ve condemned them myself. Good grief.

I find it amusing that someone would quote Dante’s Inferno in defence of Muslims: isn’t Mohammed eviscerated in the Eighth Circle?

No, I can get with this. The most high-profile speakers at the 2003 anti-war march in Glasgow were John Swinney – now finance minister in Scotland – and Tommy Sheridan.

Both of them good at what they do – haggling for beans with Westminster and being a minor TV personality, respectively – but Margo MacDonald knocked the spots off the pair of them, and her heyday was about 1979.

Too true, FR – like I say, Tony Benn still inspires, but he surely won’t be with us forever… then who have we got who isn’t doing the haggling for beans and the minor celeb thing?

6. douglas clark

I can completely relate to what Kate had to say. The platform has a political agenda, not a humanitarian agenda.

I was conned by them over Iraq.

But they assumed, because they are idiots, that my condemnation of the Iraq adventure was based on some sort of sudden agreement with their political analysis. It wasn’t. It was a humanitarian gesture. And they assume support for their politics when none is really there. Which is why it never came to much.

How to mess up a reasonable protest. Let idiotic up their own arses idiots organise it.

It is lions led by donkeys, yet again….

There’s no point going to the protests any more from my viewpoint. Now it’s just going to be dominated by the SWP loons and the hardcore Muslim trouble-makers. Last week was about the biggest and the best it was going to get.

Douglas, you are absolutely right.

I also started attending Stop the War marches for humanitarian reasons.I attended the Gaza ones for the same reason – and, like all of the protestors I’ve spoken to, wanted to make sure that there was a good show and that the cameras saw that. I’ll ultimately stop going for the same reason that you did – I don’t want the far left’s world view shoved down my throat. I left the far left for that reason. STW is good at organising, but not so good at inspiring. I do wonder from time to time why that continues to be the case. There’s not a hell of a lot left of the SWP, or of the left in Labour, come to think of it.

You’re right as well, Sunny. What I can’t understand is how the SWP loons manage to keep such a hold on it.

10. douglas clark

There’s no point going to the protests any more from my viewpoint. Now it’s just going to be dominated by the SWP loons and the hardcore Muslim trouble-makers.

That, Mr Hundal, is the tragedy of the whole thing. A widely held grievance subordinated to what?

Groupiscule politics, that’s what.

You, with your ‘No to Hamas, no to the IDF’ – pink, it has to be said – banner, probably encapsulates what any reasonable person thinks.

Does Lindsey German read this site? If so has she anything to say?

The mass exodus is indeed the tragedy of the whole thing Douglas.

I’m a sad old leftie protestor with nowhere to march. Maybe I should have gone to the Fabian’s conference and chucked an egg at Hazel.

12. Shatterface

Well, I wouldn’t have gone anyway after Sunny’s previous report of sharing a subway with lunatics chanting Allahu Akbar, partly because of the relgiolizing (is that a word?) of the protest but mainly because – given non-too distant history – its more likely to cause panic than shouting FIRE! in a crowded theatre.

I don’t want to be trampled to death on an escalator.

13. douglas clark

Kate,

Thanks for your comment @ 8.

My anger, and it is indeed anger, about protests is that the platform think they own it.

They do not.

They are suddenly presented with a crowd, on a scale they have never seen before, and assume that these are new converts. Which they aren’t. They are there to protest, not become overnight Bukharinites.

I agree with you about their ability to mobilise, though quite how they do that is beyond me.

This is all likely to contain a huge chunk of negative feedback for the future. Thee, Sunny and me for starters.

it is just the wrong people arranging it.

Piss ups, breweries, etc…

14. douglas clark

Shatterface,

I think it’s spelt religionising, see here for an example:

http://basr.open.ac.uk/Religionising%20fieldwork%20workshop.pdf

though my dictionary doesn’t recognise it.

I thought this was a good report Kate and I think it’s worthwhile taking a look at the shape of these protests. I really don’t want to see a situation where more people take the position that Sunny’s taking that they just don’t want to go to these things.

Not that I’m say Sunny is being unreasonable I just think it’s going to be hard to make these places habitable for those not hardened to the way things are at the moment because bad money generally drives out good.

But we do need to create an atmosphere at these protests that improves the culture of them without undermining the passion and principle that lies behind why people want to turn out and protest.

Hey JJ,

Exactly. I was in two minds about posting this tbh, because it isn’t exactly a meaningful probe, but then I thought – bugger it. People are so disillusioned with this commandeering of the unrest that a lot of us feel, so I might as well chuck in my two cents. I don’t know if I’ll be going to any more of these protests – except that I think it’s worth writing about things that happen, even if I don’t like the way they happen and write about them in a fairly basic way.

There has been another point worth recording as far as these Gaza protests are concerned, though – the size of them. They have been pretty big and pretty feisty. They’ve been a lot bigger than the protests that took place at the arse end of the Iraq STW run. The crowd may well be made up of loons and troublemakers – but there are a hell of a lot of them. I’m not sure what I think this means, exactly, but I don’t think it’s irrelevant.

Sunny – this is how your more balanced approach gets treated.

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/01/18/sheffield-pscswp-no-criticism-of-hamas-allowed/

Kate – I’m not sure what you mean about the BBC.
They have gone out of their way (too far in my view) to give the humanitarian crisis side of the story.

I think this post demonstrates why self-styled ‘liberals’ are held in such bemused contempt by so many.

OK, so you’re uncomfortable with some of the company you’re having to keep if you go and march against Israel’s conduct. I too might feel uneasy about being on the same protest as a small knot of people shouting “Allahu akbar” (although I feel that burning the Israeli flag is a valid enough gesture of pure anger and frustration, as bad as it may look). But should my feelings of unease effectively prevent me from being counted as being on the same side in this matter, if not in any other?

You and Sunny seem to be suffering from what was referred to on Daniel Z’s similar post the other day as “Scouse Wedding Syndrome”, i.e. “I’m not going if she’s going to be there!”. All right, whether you go or not is entirely your free choice; I’m not going to criticise you for making the choice, but I think I do have the right to criticise your stated reasons.

The SWP and ‘Respect’ are clearly uselessly self-regarding in any practical political sense, but was German wrong when she said that the ‘ceasefire’ was meaningless? Why should it be called a ‘ceasefire’ simply because Barak & co. say it is? And was she wrong when she said that the Palestinians had a right to defend themselves? Isn’t this what we philosophers call “the bloody point”?

You praise Tonge for what she said (and she was right, too), but then Tonge is a ‘liberal’ like yourself so you would, wouldn’t you? This despite the fact that she didn’t say anything that German couldn’t have said.

If you don’t go to any more marches out of your inflated sense of amour propre, then guess what? The very people you are sniffy about (not always without good reason) will dominate proceedings even more. Why don’t you keep going at the very least as a counterbalance to the members of the crowd you disapprove of? At least that way you’re standing for what you think is right rather than walking away and then moaning about it from outside.

One last point: if you don’t go to any further protests against Israel’s appalling conduct, just who will you be giving comfort to? I’ll give you some names: Barak, Livni, Olmert, the Chief Rabbi, the soi-disant Board of Deputies, Louise Ellman MP (or should that be ‘MK’?) and all the other “(insert name of party) Friends Of Israel”, and every apocalyptic neo-con in Washington. You certainly won’t be giving any comfort to the people of Gaza. Isn’t standing and protesting on their behalf more important than your own feelings of unease? Or are you going to allow your precious feelings to provide you with a ready excuse for doing nothing of any value except write hand-wringing blog pieces?

19. douglas clark

Nigel,

If you don’t go to any more marches out of your inflated sense of amour propre, then guess what? The very people you are sniffy about (not always without good reason) will dominate proceedings even more.

Err, no. Because there won’t be any useful idiots supporting you morons? Lindsay German and you can stand on a corner somewhere and have a really useful talk.

Nigel I believe Kate’s saying how can we make sure these demonstrations don’t drive people away who should be fully at home at these protests. If we’re to provide a space for the broadest possible coalition against what’s happening in Gaza (and the point will apply more generally too) then we all need to be more reflective about our practice, the culture we’re allowing to develop as well as the formal banner we’re marching under.

I agree that refusing to protest because someopne you don’t like is there. In fact I’d argue if someone is raising arguments you don’t like you have to be there in order to pose an alternative vision. Of course there comes a point if people feel that a demo is *defined* by a set of politics they don’t agree with then realistically people wont want to support it.

We have to ensure there are a number of ways that people can make it known how angry they are (this includes demos, letters, articles and university occupations, but also broader activities that don’t fit the far left itinerary quite as neatly) and that we don’t make people feel excluded needlessly.

Obviously it’s impossible to be perfect, and I don’t think people should feel bad for doing the right thing in a not perfect way – however I think we all have habits that need to be reassessed and reflected on in order to avoid problems.

I did go this time, after well made points in response to my article. However I did not think that this was a peace rally at all, and did not agree fully with many of the speakers, and felt it odd to stand there with my placard in Hebrew and English, whilst people in the front waved Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad flags. Allusions on mass-produced placards equalling the shoa with the tragedy between Jews and Palestinians were also in my mind very wrong, so was Diane Abbotts attempt to summarize the whole Arab / Israeli conflict as one of colonialism. I wondered how her Jewish constituents felt about this?

It was as I had expected when I first wrote on Liberal Conspiracy. But I wanted to give it the benefit of doubt, and was disappointed by the peace movement, which rightly pointed out at the civilian casualties, and the wrongs of the military action, but in my opinion in order to upkeep a simplistic explanation of it all, refrained from condemning violence as a method. In fact as was pointed out, the right of self defence and resistance was acclaimed only to one side.

Daniel Z

Nigel, its about the leadership, on any anti-war protest some of the protestors may be unsavoury characters, but when a member of the the stop the war coalition calls for a war to continue then questions have to be asked have to be asked about the sincerity of the stop the war coalition.

23. douglas clark

David,

Exactly right.

Yeah, yeah Nige – keep your hair on.

I’m not uncomfortable about the company I have to keep when I go on these marches. I’m just tired of being bored out of my brain when the likes of Lindsey shove themselves in front of the mike to belt out the same old rhetoric time and time again.

I mean, sure – let’s have Lindsey if we have to, but where are the others? Where are the new faces? And why is it that the likes of Lindsey, and the tiny, dying party she is a member of, have such pull at these fests?

I think you missed the business half of the quote I put in, too. Certainly, Lindsey said that the ceasefire could be meaningless. That was a sensible thing to say. She also said that self defence was no offence, which was a rather less sensible thing to say. That struck me as a sort of ‘you’re justified’ injection into the debate, and didn’t auger particularly well for anyone interested in discussion around dialogue and diplomatic solutions.

Your points about attending to support people in Gaza are fair, though, and indeed I have presented myself at a number of protests thus far – precisely, as I said in an earlier comment, to register my protest at the appalling actions of the Israelis and their backers.

As for finding self-styled liberals amusing – well, laugh away, my boy. You’ll have to get in line, though – there’s this guy called Newmania…

cjcjc

I’d largely agree with your point about the BBC – I was reporting what Benn said in the par in the article, and when I said he was at his best, I meant that he seemed to be at his most passionate, oddly enough, when he made his comments about the BBC.

I didn’t see any news of yesterday’s rallies, though, now that I think about it. I didn’t see the TV news, though.

I would argue that the mainstream press plays down the number of attendees – I remember seeing estimates of 10,000 at the first demo and there were considerably more than that. I think those numbers are relevant, too – when you’re seeing thousands of very angry people yelling and screaming and burning flags, etc, you’re seeing something quite important.

26. douglas clark

Jim Jay,

You started your analysis on point. You said:

If we’re to provide a space for the broadest possible coalition against what’s happening in Gaza (and the point will apply more generally too) then we all need to be more reflective about our practice, the culture we’re allowing to develop as well as the formal banner we’re marching under.

Even I couldn’t disagree with that.

So, what is this shit about:

In fact I’d argue if someone is raising arguments you don’t like you have to be there in order to pose an alternative vision. Of course there comes a point if people feel that a demo is *defined* by a set of politics they don’t agree with then realistically people wont want to support it.

Isn’t that the entire point of this thread?

Your ‘idea’ that people protest because they agree with your fucked up politics is completely and fatally flawed.

Jim Jay,

I took this position a long, long time ago. Make it habitable, and we will habitate.

DC: thanks very much.

It’s a simple point. I think people should not allow the presence of someone they don’t agree with to stop them going to a protest (or whatever) and that if they do then they simply allow those arguments they oppose to gain greater influence over the campaign or movement.

However there comes a point – as some people have said – that if a demo (for example) is dominated by a tendency you despise, or organised by them – that even though you agree with the formal banner of the demo supporting it will appear to give credence to their position.

That’s why it’s difficult to have a broad movement dominated by one political current. I don’t think that’s controversial particularly.

I don’t know why you think I believe people protest because they believe with *my* politics. Generally there’s a common reason for people to protest despite other differences. I’m under no illusions that the Gaza demos I’ve been to are all coming from my particular left/green perspective – but the participants do share an anger about the situation.

cjcjc – tthat doesn’t prove anything . I had no one trying to stop me. and just because HP put up the pics doesn’t make any more likely his sign was taken down for that reason.

A quick reply before I toddle off to bed (back to civil service drudgery in the morning):

Douglas: who are these “you morons”? You can’t be including me, because I haven’t been a member of any political party or grouping for nearly 30 years, my economic politics are decidedly left of centre, my social politics are somewhere in the LibDem field. Or do you just like taking cheap shots?

Jim, David: the answer to the problem of the protests being led by people you disapprove of in some way is surely to push your own people forward? Also, I agree that the demos themselves should be just one element in a set of wider actions (consumer boycotts, letter-writing, etc.)

Kate: Yeah – fair set me off you did! :-). But why was German wrong in saying that the Palestinians had the right to defend themselves? You might also ask where the senior politicians of the ‘mainstream’ parties were : if they’re really interested in engagement it shouldn’t be left to Abbott, Benn and Tonge. That’s a failure of formal politics, is that.

On the reporting of numbers, I’ve long held the notion that there is a variable exchange rate in operation. Demos against the establishment line have a conversion rate of anywhere between 2 and 8 Reals to the Plod (e.g. 96000 actual attendees are converted to 12000 by the Met); demos broadly in line with the establishment (e.g. the Country Landowners + tame serfs) are converted at parity (i.e. 700000 = 700000), and manifestations (not necessarily protests) which are ultra-establishment, e.g. crowd turnout at royal weddings, are converted at between 2 and 8 Plods to the Real (a ‘crowd’ of 5000 can be reported as up to 40000 by the Met). The Plod is the preferred currency of the corporate media.

Oh, and I do know about Newmania – I’ve been lurking here for months.

However there comes a point – as some people have said – that if a demo (for example) is dominated by a tendency you despise, or organised by them – that even though you agree with the formal banner of the demo supporting it will appear to give credence to their position.

I agree with this completely. Obviously, I said the same a few weeks ago:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/05/israel-palestine-gaza-demo-london

Nigel,

Excellent point re: the notable absence of senior politicians – the lack thereof was the reason I made the remark about Mr Miliband.

Re: German’s comment about self defence – I interpreted that as a ‘you’re justified’ salute to Hamas, and felt it was said to inflame the crowd.

Nigel: “Jim, David: the answer to the problem of the protests being led by people you disapprove of in some way is surely to push your own people forward?”

I completely agree with this.

I’d add that if a particular action is unpaletable for whatever reason people should not feel guilty for not going – and I’d hope they’d make/organise alternative ways to make their views known rather than allow the problem to push them out of the movement.

34. douglas clark

Off to bed Nigel,

I couldn’t care less whether your economics are left wing or not. Nor if you see yourself as a Liberal. My point was, and still is, that apologists for the platform, are morons, simply because they turn up and are subverted. Is that terribly hard to understand?

The very people you are sniffy about (not always without good reason) will dominate proceedings even more.

They already do, sleepyhead…..

Yea yeah and how many people wanted higher taxes about 2% ? Moving on from that meaningless Poll lets have alook at what people think really
This is todays Coms Res Poll ,
CONSERVATIVES 41% (+2)
LABOUR 32% (-2)
LIB DEMS 15% (-1)
This is the U Gov Poll
CONSERVATIVES 45% (+4)
LABOUR 32% (-2)
LIB DEMS 14% (-1)

You go left I `ll help you write the suicide note , not , that my assistance will be needed

36. douglas clark

Jim Jay,

See ^.

It is a given that motivated folk will organise demos. It is not a given that the right folk will organise them.. I have far less problem with walking with folk I have little in common with than I have with being harangued by politicians on a stage.

Perhaps it’s just me.

37. douglas clark

Jim,

Oops, try post 34 for reference ^. This is a fast moving web site.

DC: I never listen to the speeches anyway…

I know people have criticised the lack of coverage on the BBC but that might have one advantage: imagine some loon ranting about Hamas having the right to kill Israelis; the camera cuts or pans around to show thousands of protestors.

You don’t need a degree in semiotics to see how that will be interpreted.

40. douglas clark

Jim @ 38,

Well we’re not that different, are we? My point, which will self destruct in five seconds, is that turning up for a demo does not enfranchise the platform. Contrary to what they think.

DC: without turning it into a discussion between you and me I’ve never said that we do differ.

I’ve simply been clarifying my position to you in the light of your comment #26 (which has now had the most abusive para at the end removed)

“The BBC and the government ignore that sort of turnout at their peril: as a young woman speaking on behalf of Muslim students said -”after Hamas, even if they destroy it, there will come another generation that will continue to fight for the right to exist.” It isn’t rocket science, as it were.”

It could be rocket science, soldiers can’t fight with a wooden rifle, good cause, bad cause, that’s irrelevant, Without weapons that work, it is a hiding to nothing.

Hamas rockets have the lowest lethality of any in history, and that is part of the problem, they have devices that are nuisance orientated from a military perspective, and strategic in the sense of delivering policy solidarity with enemy civilians.

Is the IDF friendly fire total higher than the Hamas inflicted IDF deaths? It is always a bad sign when the enemy are killing more of each other than the ‘proper’ antagonist.

Gregory

Interesting. The SWP aren’t really loons by any sensible definition. There are others at these things that fit that tag better. The SWP are more like bright and well meaning children with an urge to impose their simplified understanding. And that simple grace and lack of recognition of complexity can be quite brilliant at times.

But it won’t do. They always go on to try to appropriate the whole movement, assume that peaceniks (for whatever reason) will buy the rest of their line and analysis, and they hollow out the thing. They require 100% of their agenda. And they don’t seem to get that getting 40% is better than getting 10%.

Which ratios don’t necessarily reflect the reality of New labour or New Tory. Obviously the Lib Dems can say anything they want and so they don’t count.

My my….is anyone else getting the sense of multiple people feeling a bit threatened by the Lib Dem’s, what with all this recent partisan trash talk by both the Labour and Tory friends?

What a pathetic article. You are essentially complaining about the “branding” of the anti-war movement, expecting the virtue of purity to bubble up to surface make it shine like a fucking commercial! Ever work in advertising?

I suspect most of you don’t return to meetings or marches simply because you just can’t be arsed or it cramps your vain, self-serving political sensibilities.

As you were

“I suspect most of you don’t return to meetings or marches simply because you just can’t be arsed or it cramps your vain, self-serving political sensibilities.”

Or because those organising and running them are invariably psuedo-anarchic super-socialists that don’t understand we don’t really give a shit about their political points of view while we’re trying to make a stand on a unifying issue, in the process completely undermining the whole stand we’re all making.

47. douglas clark

Jim Jay,

what could I have said that was more annoying to you than the paragraph that is still there:

Your ‘idea’ that people protest because they agree with your fucked up politics is completely and fatally flawed.

I do believe, correct me if I am wrong, that that was the concluding paragraph? If so, it is still there.

Anyway, and whatever, it does the job.

‘Tis you sir that have not engaged. You have said:

I think people should not allow the presence of someone they don’t agree with to stop them going to a protest (or whatever) and that if they do then they simply allow those arguments they oppose to gain greater influence over the campaign or movement.

Whilst I could accept that at the level of a protester, I cannot and do not accept it at a platform level. Folk that care about, say Gaza, are not being manipulated by folk on the stage. Their self aggrandizement, is not reflected in their audience. They are fools to think they have an audience.

They have nothing to do with humanitarianism.

Your own deafness to the platform says it all, really. You can support Palestinians, but you can’t stand their fans on the fractured left?

Anyway, what has Lindsey German got to say?

That would be more fun.

48. douglas clark

Lee ‘ 46,

Quite.

You are always so much less long winded than me.

DC: you’re final exciting paragraph, that’s been deleted (by whoever) was “It is, frankly, a relief to me that you couldn’t organise a proverbial piss up and are a complete utter charlatan when it comes to politics.”

But don’t get me wrong – nothing you’ve said is annoying, you’re just one of those people on the internet who don’t have any manners and can’t argue persuasively, indulging in personal abuse when it’s political discussion that’s required. That’s ten a penny.

I do support the Palestinians and I am a member of the left. Sometimes parts of the left do things that are not helpful to the cause, in my view. You can’t choose your family though can you?

50. douglas clark

Jim Jay,

Hmm…

I remember writing that. If I was a crazy censor on here, I’d have deleted the paragraph prior to that. But there you go.

Anyway, it is you that is annoying, irritating and unable to argue a case.

We are never going to agree, so, for the sake of any readers left, I’ll just say this:

I agree with Jim Jay that you have to compromise to protest. I agree that you have to get down and dirty with what Sunny describes as ‘rude boys’. I do not agree that you have to accept or agree with a platform of lunatics.

But Jim Jay does. He says they are family.

I say they are idiots.

You decide, dear reader.

51. douglas clark

Anyway Jim Jay,

I’ve been told off.

Whatever you say is correct.

Good luck.

I didn’t go, but did German mention Hamas in her speech at all?

Thanks.

I’m not sure I understand your criticism of German – should the Palestinians be the only people on the globe denied the right to self defence? I mean, whatever they do they’re referred to as terrorists anyway, but really, self defence too?

54. douglas clark

septicisle,

Should German not tell us what she thinks?

Just asking.

This is a particularly important forum for the disenfranchised, I’d have thought.

And they might get quite a good discussion on here too, don’t you think?

Let’s get this straight:

Anti-war is not the same thing as pro-peace and pacifism is not the same thing as passivism.

There are good fights even if they are all wasteful.

Anti-war is defeatist – peace must be won.

That is all.

*peace must be won – not on the battlefield, but at the ballot-box.

Self defence is no offence – I agree.

You may have noticed that that is the Israeli justification.

I would bet a pound to a penny though that German supports Hamas and is quite happy with the rockets as being signs of noble “resistance”.

Happy to lose the pound if I am wrong.

Morning all,

Happy Monday mornings all round

Carlo – um, thanks for those thoughts. B’holes to you, I guess…?

To the punter who asked if Lindsey G actually mentioned Hamas – no, she didn’t – that would have been certifiable. She said that self defence was no offence, and I interpreted that to mean that she was saying Hamas’ actions were justifiable.

She is of course welcome to come on here – hope she does – and say that she meant something else entirely. As are you all…

I’ll chuck a pound in with you, cjcjc. think yr on the money….

I agree, but there is a line regarding self-defence which is crossed when justifiable belligerence then becomes aggression.

This is called ‘proportionality’, though it is a subjective definition. In such circumstances further consequences are aggravated rather than prevented.

So, we shall see whether Israels actions have indeed crossed the line of proportionality by whether the kassam rockets stop now that the ceasefire has been called and Israeli action is declared complete.

Does anyone else think it is more than purely coincidental that this ‘disproportionate’ attack on Gaza by Israel has come precisely during the dog days of the lame duck presidency and has stopped approximately 100hrs before Obama’s inauguration?
Didn’t the lame duck transition essentially mean that any US intermediaries could be ignored and Israel was temporarily freed from the leash of any diplomatic pressure which could be applied, as the US has had a vacuum of political accountability for the duration?

Just one more consequential problem of the US electoral system.

I wrote a long (excessively long) response to Daniell’s piece. I felt strongly that the Israeli campaign in Gaza was wrong but I did not attend any of the rallies, I could not support the Israeil use of force as a legitimate response to the real threats posed by the rockets. I don’t think it was the ‘last resort’ (where is the evidence of full-scale attempts to mobilise the international community against the rocket attacks? where were the strenuous efforts at a peace process?) and I also think its effects on the Palestinian civilians (and I have no doubt that Israel attempts to avoid civilian casualties whereas Hamas’ military strategy is to inflict civilian casualties and that it uses the civilian population as human shields) were knowable and known. Unlike others, however, I do not consider the relentless rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as ‘pesky’ (I know, I know, no one said this) or only a minor issue . Hamas wanted this Israeli intensive response and revels in it. As do many of those who organise these rallies.

STW is largely an alliance between trotskyists and islamists; And I

Oops pushed the wrong button:
Continuing:
And

I look at the platform of speakers, the slogans for the march and those organising it and decide whether to go: I decided not to attend any of these rallies. It is predicatable that Tamimi will say ‘we are all Hams’. It is predictable that racist (anti-semitic) groups will attend.

I am happy to march with some I disagree with; I am comfortable with attending rallies that include some speakers I do not respect. But there are limits and the STWC has proven again and again to me that their agenda, their analysis, their impact on progressive politics is the antithesis of anything progressive or humane. I will do nothing to foster their power and hold and legitimise their politics and protest. They have been one of the most destructive forces on the left.

As I said in relation to Daniel’s piece
“I think one of the major problems with protest (marches in particular) and progressive campaigns here in the UK is that they are inevitably ‘captured’ by the mentality and organisational death-grip of the tired old trotskyite/trotskyist male left; whether SWP or not, the approach to issues and organisation is fundamentally drawn from that to formulate the form of political action, the slogans, and the choice and style of speakers.
Hence while a million people marched to Stop the War, the anti-war movement ended up as a rump of Islamists and their soi-disant anti-imperialist allies shouting “we are all Hezbollah.”
I know many people for whom the Iraq war was a galvanising moment, but, who in the end, decided that the anti-war movement was just an inversion of Bush’s simplicities. It shut down discussion rather than opening it up, it became a ritual of smaller and smaller marches and meetings. Similarly with the Social Forum …instead of developing it became a sectarian playground. I could name a vast number of campaigns and projects that have suffered the same fate – including the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. ”

Anyone involved in any of these campaigns (or in unions) knows how they achieve control: they seize the agenda at meetings, pack the meeting, sit out the meeting; they devote endless time to formulating and passing slogans that increasingly ‘raise the stakes’ so that fewer and fewer people can concur. It is not the politics of ‘let’s see what we can agree upon’ and work together: it is the politics of escalation and purification of demands. Failure is success (it shows that utlmately we need a revolution); cynicism is preferable to ‘hope’; feminist, democratic or anti-racist (unless you are the current favoured ‘oppressed race’ ) concerns are to be set aside to focus on the ‘primary’ struggle (used to be working class, but now it is whoever they deem to be fronting the ‘ant-imperialist’ struggle (so crudely defined it morphs simply into anti US/anti-zionist plots).

But this does not mean that you cannot be an activist on important issues. It does not mean that you do not have the option of protest through demonstrations. You can organise meetings and protests which lead to serious debate and discussion, that are headed up by speakers who appeal to the best motives not the basest. It can be done, you just need to know how these people work to seize control of the agenda and organisation. It is very hard work and requires people utterly committed in the long term; we all have varied commiitments and priorities and probably lack the relentless focus and ‘discipline’ of these organisations. But it can be done.

I look across the pond at how the Obama campaign mobilised. We sometimes forget that it built upon some strong activist networks (eg on climate change, despite the hostile environment, at local and state level, US citizens have achieved a lot) as well as traditions of ‘house parties’, town hall meetings as well as using new technologies to link up people on issues. Maybe we can think about building networks that we can mobilise. While it is much harder to work that way here, we should start thinking about it.

What has been left out of your report Kate is the importance of the trade union movement. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the demo on Saturday but did the previous wk and thankfully, there were more trade union banners. My own union has called on members to support the demos and other unions have as well. And it is about showing international solidarity with the people of Gaza and the important role TUs can play.
If there are more demos then I will go on them and support them. I think there are organisational problems with StWC (such as, how do you end a demo…? And what has happened to the old fashion set down protest…..?) but it isn’t just StWC who is involved in this. And there is a lot of justifiable anger out there that is being ignored by the media and NL.

Now we have a ceasefire and will see what happens especially when Obama becomes president.

Kate, re the issue of ‘self-defence’ and Lindsey German’s comment. What are people meant to do when they are permanently under threat by a hostile colonialist force?

What are people meant to do when they are permanently under threat by a hostile colonialist force?

The same force which withdrew, leaving them to smash the economic infrastructure which they had left behind?

And under “threat” is not the same thing as under attack.

I take it though that you support the random rocket fire?

Here is a heart-felt view from an Israeli peace activist. Although I might not agree with everthing she says, I would certainly attend a meeting devoted to discussing what these groups and doing and what support they need,

http://yishaym.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/over-we-havent-even-started/

Why should anyone join a protest ever since that day in 2003 when according to some estimates 2m people turned up in London and all it managed to achieve was to get us subjected to a diatribe by Blair?

These are wasted efforts. I don’t have an alternative, but turning up for a protest has never been as pointless as it is right now.

I broadly agree with Kate and in fact spent some time composing a response to her post, but then Elaine said the following which expresses my feelings in nutshell –

I am happy to march with some I disagree with; I am comfortable with attending rallies that include some speakers I do not respect. But there are limits and the STWC has proven again and again to me that their agenda, their analysis, their impact on progressive politics is the antithesis of anything progressive or humane.

In the past I always used to accept that such demonstrations would be organised by those on the fringes because they were the ones who had the gumption to get up and organise something whereas I personally didn’t just lack the motivation but also the know how and contacts etc. to organise something myself. Surely nowadays though we don’t have to rely on the Trots and Swuppies when we have an active and commited blogging community which should be capable of organising protests and siezing the agenda back from the far left.

Perhaps this is something that could be touched on in the bloggers’ forum at the CoML.

Well yeah, bloggers could organise a protest in which we can shut out all those unpleasant Trots and Islamists and instead just have the great and good of liberalism on the march for peace. How many do you think we should tell the police to expect? 50, 100 maybe? Or should we push the boat out and go for 250?

septicisle – you’re probably right, bloggers couldn’t organise a pissup in a brewery, let alone a big anti-war demo. Furthermore, the SWP have the capacity and the willingness to organise something like this.

But I come from the standpoint that the SWP’s way of doing this harms the Palestinian cause more than it helps them. I mean honestly, who really cares about Lindsey German? She got about 5 votes in the Mayoral election. And why the hell is Tammimi speaking up there? there are plenty more secularist, charismatic and equally annoyed (at Israeli action) Muslims out there who will find a sensible narrative and bring people in than drive them out.

The point of the criticism is to say that the SWP are not helping the cause – I think that’s fair enough to say, because we want what’s best for the Palestinians (and Israelis).

You could say the same about the union leaders which always speak at the marches, who cares what they think either? The SWP are not the greatest organisation, it has to be said, but who do we replace them with? How do we build a large mass-movement without the involvement of those who have been at the heart of it for decades, and not alienate that rump at the same time, presuming that we’re not shutting them out altogether, or is that the whole point of it? Is some of this not in fact directly related to giving in to the criticisms of those who oppose what we actually stand for entirely? We’re not even close to answering any of those questions, except for the last.

We shouldn;t shut them out, since they represent a segment of the organised masses. But even the SWP could deflect some of the criticism by having a wider bunch of people speaking at these rallies than the usual people, who mostly do it for political purposes.

I mean why Lindsey German? She’s neither charismatic nor particularly interesting. She has no public recognition and isn’t drawing the crowds in. Galloway has become a laughing stock, even amongt Respect people and in the East End after that Respect bust-up and his no-shows at his own constituency.

I’d love to the see the Trade Unions play a more active role…

“I would bet a pound to a penny though that German supports Hamas and is quite happy with the rockets as being signs of noble “resistance”.”

They need something noble that can hit military targets.

Otherwise you have a fireworks version of the UVF killing a taig every time the IRA bomb a barracks.

What HAMAS are doing isn’t war, and what Israel is doing is bombing a hostage people.

Evening all,

Good comments, team. Not quite sure where Newmania was going with his, but perhaps he’ll come back and shed a bit of light…

To others:

thabet: no, German didn’t mention Hamas by name – I doubt she’s that far gone. That would have been far too reminiscent of the ‘we are all Hezbollah now’ bollocks we were all treated to several years ago. German said that self defence was no offence, which I interpreted as a rather inflammatory salute to Hamas action.

Her emphasis wasn’t on peace – it was on the justification of the Palestinian action. May I just repeat – to point that out (this is a response to your point as well, Septicisle) is NOT to suggest that I don’t sympathise with the Palestinian position, or even understand why an organisation like Hamas might emerge. It is to point out that German made what I felt was a rather inflammatory comment which had as its emphasis the Palestinian right to its aspect of the conflict.

And certainly, Septicisle – there is an argument that the Palestinians do have a self defence justification. I personally felt, though, that a real political leader might be better offering a commentary about realising peace, rather than trying to rouse the crowd by saying out and out that an aspect of the conflict was justified.

As Douglas Clark said earlier in this thread, a lot of us come to these marches from the humanitarian angle. We’re not there to watch self-appointed political leaders (German has never won an election that I know about, and Sunny’s point about 5 votes or 5 supporters is right on the money) milk the worst aspects of a crisis at an event like Saturday’s for political advantage.

So – that’s what I heard. Lindsey is welcome to come on here, of course, and tell us that she meant something else.

harpymarx – excellent, excellent point about trade union contributions. That’s the sort of thing I think the likes of German should be concentrating on – leaning on all the trots who remain in union branches to get workplaces out over issues like Gaza WITHOUT putting thousands off with the mindless yea-Hamas rhetoric. I just wonder if the SWP has the numbers for that anymore.

I suspect that sadly, the likes of Unison and other union friends of the Labour party are far too friendly with the Labour party to want to get the whole public sector out, but I may of course be horribly wrong, and look forward to being corrected. The unions didn’t come out over the Iraq war, though, if I remember rightly, and I can’t quite picture them making things difficult for Gordon in that way at the moment. Hell – they don’t even like careworkers embarrassing the govt with strike action. I see from Unison’s website that it is trying to round up donations for medical supplies for Gaza. Can’t quite see the rallying cry for an all-out action there, but maybe I’ve missed it. Send me the link if I have.

The point I can’t get my head around – Sunny’s comment put me in mind of it again – is how the SWP – which can’t organise anything else (certainly not much by way of electoral victory, if you don’t count a few Tower Hamlets councillors and Gorgeous George) has managed to get such a stranglehold on these events. I just can’t believe it has the numbers anymore. I suppose the answer is that it gets a lot of help from its far-right Muslim pals.

Great post Kate, you’ve summed up some of my thinking and experiences perfectly.

Cheers Leon!

Actually, I think ‘something’ could be built up: it would have to be a long-term project to build new networks that could be linked up and mobilised. And as Obama would put it, a lot of hard work would be required to begin to ‘change the discourse’ and the ‘politics.’ I thought that was part of the Liberal Conspiracy project.

There are networks amongst NGOs, unions, labour/liberal parties that would actively welcome an alternative network that was inclusively leftish/liberal; there would also be media networks that could be used to promote it. There are lots of little things happening all over that could and should be linked up. There is a lot of valuable experience and knowledge that we aren’t capturing.

Scepticisle, I disagree with you on one point. The STWC has not created a mass movement: it has killed it. Over a million people marched against the war and while the fact that the government didn’t listen made some people despair of activism, on the ground level the STWC
killed dead wider involvement.

However, organisationally, I think you do have to ‘cut out’ (in the sense of bypass) or control the trots (and like groups) somehow, because they do have a very well-honed and well-learned strategy for ‘taking over” agendas and organisations. Lest you think I am paranoid (I am somewhat – I admit) or dated in my views, talk to people in various campaigning groups or union branches about their experiences. How you do that democratically is – I agree – the difficulty because since they are well-organised: their strategy includes packing meetings and ‘sitting it out’ until everyone else goes home. (BTW I am not longer sure that most of these groups have anything left that is progressive except in the most abstract sense of a few points, but I accept most people would disagree).

We need a new mindset around this as well. For me to explain myself clearly on this requries ime to think harder and more clearly than I have been able to do, but I partly mean thinking in terms of what we actually want to achieve (rather than just what we are against), how we build achievements, how we build support, really learning about what progressive campaigns have worked and why (and there have been some great successes)…. I am really interested in the latest attempt to build up a Civil Liberties network.

One small example I would point out: I went on the ‘first Facebook’ demonstration about Burma, It was a bit chaotic, ad hoc slogans, etc with little sense of ‘where we go from here’ but a few thousand showed up; it was a great effort organised by a backpacker. From there, people probably learned about/started supporting the Burma Campaign (which does good work), networks expanded, etc. Not a mass movement but a worthwhile beginning. So maybe there is something to learn from that single achievement.

Hope this is constructive. Of course, before anyone steps in to point it out, I haven’t answered the ‘question’ of what it would be ‘for’ — both it terms of what it would do and be for, but that would be part of the exercise.

I am now signed off to immerse myself in celebrating Obama’s inauguration.

Tomorrow I will celebrate with other Americans living here in the UK Obama’s inauguration. Anyone who knows my posts here would know that I supported Hillary in the primaries, yet doggedly worked for him . Despite all those robo-calls the ‘bitter’ people of Pennsylvania apparently voted for a ‘socialist’ and the Jews of Florida voted for a ‘secret Muslim.’

Yes, I know there are a lot of provisos and qualifications and explanations that should be appended to any serious analysis, not least the worry that so many voted for McCain/Palin and that the economic collapse was probably decisive. And yes, I have my concerns – not least the appointment of Admiral Dennis Blair as summarised here

But indulge us for one day, Tomorrow we will celebrate a massive achievement of political mobilisation and aspiration, built on the struggles and achievements of many Americans over many many years.

Before you say ‘no we can’t,’ think about how maybe we can. (Okay – just Indulge me for a day).

Best wishes – happy to help if something develops.

Elaine I once again like your ideas, especially because they come from long observation!

It’s nonsense to say that the STWC killed the anti-Iraq war movement – once the war actually happened the numbers attending were always going to drop off – and it was also always going to be impossible to appeal to the million or more who marched, who were brought together to oppose the war, which transcended politics. For the most part it did the best it could, and while some criticism is more than valid, especially over the increasingly pointless marches and the claims for the numbers that had attended, the real failure was to appeal more widely. What it seems to me you’re proposing Elaine is a ghettoising and polarising of any protest movement, swaddled by feel-good bullshit rhetoric.

Kate – I really still can’t see what you’re objecting to. So one person who spoke didn’t focus on the humanitarian situation and instead mentioned the Palestinians’ right to self-defence. Perhaps it’s because I find myself turning increasingly radical and getting pretty sick of the demonisation of Hamas when most of the criticism of them doesn’t stand up to anything approaching scrutiny, when this was demonstrably a war of Israel’s choosing which has reduced over 20,000 houses in Gaza to rubble, all so Olmert can be absolved of the disaster in Lebanon and so Barak and Livni can have a better chance of winning the election, and we instead spend our time justifying ourselves to the likes of Harry’s Place and bickering over a few people we don’t like much on marches. It’s this sort of bollocks that makes us such a laughing stock.

Hi Septicisle,

Agree with a lot of the first part of your response to me, really. This was absolutely a war of Israel’s choosing (and America’s backing) and my own feeling is that a hell of a lot more than 1000 Palestinians have been killed in it. Of course solidarity for Palestine is the issue at the end of the day – I can’t imagine that anyone thinks otherwise.

I suppose after that it’s a question of the point of publishing one’s view on it. I don’t think I feel as cynical about this as you do. There are very few topics or issues that I feel cynical enough about to dismiss out of hand – especially since we now have this freedom online to discuss them. I still think it’s worth attending as many events as possible, and getting quotes and photos, and recording responses and discussing those responses – and I don’t that it matters if those responses make us a laughing stock in some quarters. You think nobody over at Harry’s Place is a laughing stock? Is nobody at Dale’s a laughing stock? You don’t think Nadine Dorries is a laughing stock? Come on. Don’t be precious. Taking the piss is just part of political chat. It’s one of the best parts, in my view. We’ve laughed at heaps of rightwing losers here. We’ve laughed heaps at leftwing ones. I hope to continue for a while.

I won’t be telling you anything new when I say that the left’s enemies will always find the left’s thinking amusing. The left’s enemies will always find the left’s points of disagreement amusing. Thing is – who cares? Those points of disagreement will exist whether you think they ought to or not, and that’s not a bad thing anyway. Better to have an excess of debate and ideas than a dearth. Sure, people witter on with all sorts of crap on this site and others, but there’s a coherence about it nonetheless if you ask me. You and I disgree on some points on this thread, but in many ways too, we’re on the same page. As it were.
I’d also point out that by focusing on my focus on one comment, you’re in danger of making yourself guilty of exactly the introspection that you accuse me of. There’s nothing more introspective than the sort of cynicism you describe in your comment above. Yes, you’ve described the situation. But – like German, ironically enough – you haven’t given us much of a solution. Like German, you have again only outlined the argument. We all know what’s going on – that’s not the point. I don’t want the likes of Lindsey German to tell me where we are. I want political leaders to tell me where we could be.

Etc.

… although for the record, I don’t think Lindsey German IS a political leader. She’s never won an election.

Neither has Gordon Brown, mind, so he’s off the list as well.

I think you’re simply expecting too much. It might have been different last Saturday, but Craig Murray said on his blog that he had just over two minutes to say something approaching coherent on the 10th – even our finest orators struggle given such a short amount of time, especially on subjects such as Israel/Palestine.

And the fact is that we all know what the solution is. Hamas has to be negotiated with. Israel needs to withdraw to the 1967 borders, or something extremely close to them, the vast vast majority or all of the settlements dismantled. The right to return has to be the new Palestinian state, not Israel itself. All the Palestinians groups then have to renounce violence and declare either a “hudna” or that future generations will not stake a claim to the whole of historic Palestine. Heads have to be banged together to make it happen. That is of course if we accept both Israel and Hamas’s claims that they’re willing to agree to such terms. All of that however is unlikely to get a crowd going, especially one which might also be interested in the one-state solution, as I’m increasingly partial to.

I certainly agree with the solution you propose – but I don’t think this is a question of expecting too much.

The response I described in the original post was not a one-off – that’s a feeling that has developed for me over the six years since the first STW marches on Iraq. German has been on the mike for all of that time, and I don’t think it is expecting too much to expect her to have reached a point where she can ‘get a crowd going’, as you say, with the likes of the constructive suggestions that you have offered. Benn certainly got roars of approval when he proposed negotiations with Hamas and he got that over in a lot less than two minutes.

I would imagine, anyway, that a speech suggesting an Israeli withdraw from the occupied territories back to the original borders WOULD get the crowd going. It could even get a bigger crowd going – appealing as it would to the existing attendees, and doubtless also to the people who now say they avoid these demonstrations because of the issues that they have with some of the key players.

… I note now that the ‘Gaza will need rebuilding’ stories are starting to surface – Halliburtons, anyone?

The “demonisation” of Hamas?

I think they do a pretty good job themselves…

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232292907998&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

It’s support for these criminals which makes you a laughing stock.

Not sure if you noticed cjcjc, but even if true both sides are as bad as one another when it comes to the turf warfare between them, as shown after Hamas stopped the US-funded Fatah coup in Gaza. The real criminals are those launching phosphorus shells at UN buildings.

The same force which withdrew, leaving them to smash the economic infrastructure which they had left behind?

That is the most ridiculous misrepresentation of decolonisation, and indeed colonial history as a whole, I’ve seen since I last read Harold Macmillan’s memoirs on the subject.

What economic infrastructure did we (let’s focus on British decolonisation, because the French famously torched their colonies and ensured that they couldn’t develop) leave behind? Not one which could feed the people, certainly, because a colony is geared towards profit for the colonial power and so we left behind plantations of cash crops and what basic infrastructure was needed to get those crops from the plantation to the docks. We didn’t leave behind skilled nations, because mass education would have led to the overthrow of colonial power. We didn’t leave behind an infrastructure capable of developing a nation, because we never invested in things like plumbing and communication, except at colonial offices and those houses of ex-pats. And what about the political infrastructure we left behind? We bear the responsibility for people like Amin, as much as Macmillan conveniently leaves out all mention of the African dictators which sprang out of our botched decolonisation. How can a nation survive when the political framework is geared against development?

As much as it is a convenient myth to believe that the masses destroyed our benevolent gift to them and that’s why Africa is now so poor, the real reason for the state of Africa is the experience of colonialism and decolonisation. Africans may have to bear some of the responsibility, but we bear just as much.

Not sure if you noticed cjcjc, but even if true both sides are as bad as one another when it comes to the turf warfare between them, as shown after Hamas stopped the US-funded Fatah coup in Gaza. The real criminals are those launching phosphorus shells at UN buildings.

Heroically ending that Fatah coup by… throwing them off tower blocks to their deaths?

I rather like to think the real criminals are on all sides, that what we have is not one good side, one bad side, but two peoples locked into conflict by their violent, self-serving leaders and all the actions of both sides do is create the next generation of fighters. Not the security of Israel or the defence of the Palestinian people’s rights.

Oh dear. The ‘we would go back in history and make peace with Hitler’ force are out in strength!


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