I have only just got round to reading the Freedom centre pages of 31st January, which contained an excellent report and interview on the Gaza conflict, with Israeli Anarchist Uri Gordon.
Two reasons for my slowness. The first is a tendency to take my time over my mail, the second of course is the fact that - as all Freedom subscribers know - the newspaper does have a tendency to limp out to its readers.
Rob Ray's interview with Gordon is firstly depressing, as accurate reporting often is. The stark level of division, and the scale of the shift Israel has made to the right is clear when Gordon comments that 78% of Israeli's supported the attack on Gaza. Given 20% of Israel's population is Arab, that shows just how tiny Jewish opposition to the conflict was.
Gordon and other Israeli anarchists work to expose the nature of Israeli attacks on civilians in Gaza, something that takes balls - an anti-war demonstration of 3000 people in January was met by a counter demonstration 500 strong. Other activity includes supporting villages in the West Bank opposing the segregation barrier, and making links with Palestinians who are willing to work with them.
Small steps, but we should be glad someone is taking them.
You can still get the 31 January issue of Freedom, and read Gordon's excellent interview, from Freedom Press.
Its a sign of just how weak the Labour party is in the capital that Sir Alan Sugar is being talked about as the next Labour mayoral candidate.
I can't see too many Arsenal fans in places like Islington and Hackney voting for the former Spurs owner, whilst Tottenham fans were never totally enamoured with his 'hard love' approach to the clubs finances. More seriously for Sugar's ambitions, the only thing in London bigger than Canary Wharf is Ken Livingstone's ego.
We all know Livingstone will stand again, whether as an independent or as the Labour candidate. In a three horse race between Boris Johnson, not so Red Ken and Alan Sugar, most pundits would bet on Sir Alan being the first to be told "You're Fired"!
As London staggers through financial collapse, with the City and its bankers discredited across the nation, just look at the politicians we are discussing here. Ken Livingstone worked harder than anyone to promote the image of the city of London, and to protect it without question. The idea that a society which no longer makes things was in some way undesirable, never seemed to occur to him. Whatever alarm bells were sounded, he missed them.
Boris Johnson, a Conservative old Etonian, is also unlikely to take a robust line on the banking world if he can possibly avoid it. As a businessman, Sir Alan's auto pilot response will be for less regulation not more, even though we have all seen what less regulation, and leaving finance men in charge leads to.
Anarchists referred to the Hobson's choice offered to Londoners in 2008 as "The Toff, the Fascist and the Crook". None of us ever imagined that next time round the choice could be even worse..........
It should of course be pointed out that this is not the first such memorial. As any race-goer will tell you, one already stands at a place where she spent much of her time serving the British public - Sandown Park.
Thanks to my good comrade Pat from Deal, for stressing the similarity between the London statue and the real thing. Raised by public subscription, there's little or no point to it, and it is very likely to stand still doing nothing for the next 100 years.
Staying with the theme of books about Anarchism, a real golden oldie has just fallen into my possession.
Back in 1906 W.C Hart felt the need to 'confess all' about his decade in the British Anarchist movement. Its fair to say he (I'm assuming W.C is a he!) was not too taken with what he found:
"Like other devotees of the cult, I somehow managed to convince myself that every evil under the sun had its source in Government" being an early piece of analysis, whilst the book closes with demands for legal proscription.
Let me give you a further insight into Carr's sentiments:
"Passing through a rather low-class part of East London, one fine Sunday morning, I was pained to hear a crowd applaud an Anarchist street orator, who was openly and boldly advocating burglary and crimes of almost every description. On expressing my concern to a Constable near by that Englishmen should approve such criminal sentiments, he replied, "Why, sir, them people practise what that fellow's preaching - they're thieves sir, every man jack of them".
I suppose being regarded as a bunch of villains is probably slightly better than the todays tabloid depictions of Anarchists as the sons and daughters of the ruling class, solely concerned with protesting about the proles taking too many cheap flights from Stansted!
Any information on WC Hart, both inside and indeed outside of the Anarchist movement would be greatly appreciated.
I could write a poe faced analysis pointing out that Ms Chiu clearly does not know anything Anarchism - she seems to think it is based around the pursuit of material wealth at all costs. Sorry dear - that's capitalism.
More seriously though, this is a book that is supposed to raise the odd giggle. It is actually intended to make you laugh - and it does not. It is very, very poor. The only area in which it succeds is it manages to do what the film Anarchist Cookbook did a few years back - to hit a new low in the portrayal of Anarchism.
I am getting ever more impressed by the Google Ads that keep popping up on this site.
I write articles critical of the BNP - so I get adverts for the BNP website. I write articles critical of the police, so, logically an advert appears for those wanting to become police officers. The police recruitment website is particularly entertaining in that, amongst other services it offers 'prison officer role play'. I think we know your type think you very much!
I don't know that many Muslim singles visit this site, but again their websites seem very keen to advertise with me.
"Beware of believing anarchy to be a dogma, a doctrine above question or debate, to be venerated by its adepts as the Koran by devout Muslims. No! The absolute freedom which we demand constantly develops our thinking and raises it toward new horizons (according to the turn of mind of various individuals), takes it out of the narrow framework of regulation and codification. We are not "believers!".
Emile Henry quoted in Daniel Guerin "Anarchism: From Theory To Practice" (New York: Monthly Review Press) p.13
Congratulations to all involved in making last Sundays first night such a great success!
The Red & Black Club is a regular night aimed at bringing Anarchists together on a social level, and as a place to discuss politics and take ideas forward. I turned up to Kings Cross fashionably late on Sunday, but there was a very healthy crowd of over 60 people chewing the fat and looking to push things as far as possible in the coming months.
Lets see these get togethers prospering, and hopefully becoming weekly as we get closer to the G20 and the forthcoming Anarchist conference. Forward comrades!
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushie, following the protests against his novel Satanic Verses.
The BBC marked the event with a 45 minute documentary and discussion on Radio 3, as part of their Night Waves season, chaired by Matthew Sweet. Looking back 20 years it is easy to forget that in Britain we never really talked about a Muslim community prior to this storm. As Kenan Malik pointed out in the discussion, terms such as Black or Asian were the norm. The idea of a seperate Muslim community was anathema.
The BBC's line up for this programme was in itself indicative. Malik is a well known writer in this field, but I must confess to being broadly unaware of Navid Akhtar, Pria Ghopal, Jo Glanville and Martin Palmer. Aside from the desire of Akhtar to assert the voice of moderate British Islam, I was left wondering how such a programme could proceed without some of the voices of 1989 that so shocked liberal Britain, and have had a profound affect on our community structure. Why not ask some of the myriad Muslim organisations who today lobby government daily, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, for their views? That I know of, the Satanic Verses was burnt in the streets in Bolton, Bradford and Derby. What do people who were there then, say now? Or the Muslims who rioted in London in May 1989, attacking secularist counter demonstrators at Hyde Park corner?
Perhaps the most prominent British voice in the "Death to Rushdie" campaign was that of Dr Kalim Siddiqui. Rushie has survived Dr Siddiqui, but his son, Iqbal, still keeps the Islamist fires burning. Late last year he put pen to paper stressing the importance of the Rushdie affair to the British Muslim community, all in best Edith Piaf style. Had I been drawing up the panel for yesterdays discussion, Iqbal Siddiqui's name would have been one of the first on the list.
I can't help feeling however, that such views may well be a little bit too real for the BBC.............
The BBC does not have a very good record when it comes to being neutral in industrial disputes - remember their belated apology for deliberately altering riot scenes from the Battle of Orgreave in the miners strike?
Yesterday they were up to their tricks again, deliberately editing a striking workers interview, so as to change its emphasis entirely. What had been a comment that employers kept separate UK and foreign workers, is twisted entirely to imply that he would not work with foreign employees.
There is not a lot of traffic on Kingsland Road at the moment.
In London there is currently no buses, very few tubes and many commuter lines are closed. Can I offer a very simple solution to this crisis?
All those Londoners who have needlessly purchased 4x4's in the recent past, actually have vehicles that are of some use, for once. For this week only, London Transport should be able to requisition any 4x4 that is not being used by its owner.