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Monthly Archives: May 2013

I delivered this letter yesterday. The Mosque was attacked by some EDL dickheads, one of whom has been arrested. Some people have raised issue with the Surah quote, saying it was out of context or I should have used the full version. However, the people who thought it was inappropriate were non-Muslims, and I had three Muslims who though it was fitting. I know almost nothing about Islamic scripture so I still don’t mind if anyone wants to correct me.

“Members of Gillingham Mosque,

It is a relief to hear that nobody was hurt in the attacks on your place of worship, and a relief that you dealt with the material damage fairly quickly. Once again the English Defence League has responded to extremism with its own extremism, lashing out at a community that has nothing to do with the violence in Woolwich and are the first to condemn such actions.

“To kill one man is to kill all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” – Surah, 5:23

Local anti-fascists have already been checking up on the Mosque and other affected Mosques and Islamic centres around the country, showing their concern for a diverse faith group that is so often demonised. It must be demoralising knowing that the group who is most often seen talking about Islam in mainstream media is also the group that understands it the least. Even more troubling is how easily their racist rhetoric and chanting catches on. But remember that you will always have friends, Muslim and non-Muslim, to rely on every time populist racism flares up. The majority of people oppose the message and tactics of the EDL and don’t want to see a fascist Britain.

Stay safe and continue to educate people on your religion and the cultures surrounding it, for if the members of the EDL were truly informed, they would have nothing to hate.

In solidarity,”

The letter was signed by East Kent Unite Against Fascism and 44 individuals, one of whom left their own message: “I have always been proud to be born and bred in Medway and will defend my home from people who often look down on it, but yesterday I felt shame for the first time. Racists out of Gillinghan, don’t let the Islamophobes divide us.”

ImageEugene Platt, who ran with the Green Party US for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district special election, has many of the traits of a comforting conservative: a man of faith and family emblazoned with the colours of his party, with not as much political experience as his opponents but enough to sound reliable. In terms of a typical conservative image, an extramarital affair is the only thing that the victor, Mark Sandford, has over him. Platt even, in a TV interview, claimed that he and many other greens are fiscal conservatives, explaining, “I don’t believe we should spend more money than we have.” This is more of a rhetorical statement: his long-held support for free healthcare for all, state-funded education, clamping down on tax evasion, and a green economy suggests he can’t really be a conservative.

Sandford (R) was always more likely to win, and the safe percentage of 54.04% is unsurprising. Business expert and sister to the noisy, predictable satirist Stephen Colbert, Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D), gained 45.21% of the vote. This left Platt with a tiny 690 votes, just 0.48% of the very poor 31.55% voter turnout.

A result of under 1% is very disappointing, especially when considering polling at 3% and 4% in April and May respectively, and considering his media attention from ABC, Charleston City Paper, and elsewhere. The fact that there are local chapters in Aiken County, York County, Charleston, Midlands, and Greenville suggests there are many members of the party who voted otherwise. There are a couple of pretty simple explanations, though.

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Response to Tom Streithorst’s ‘Marginal Marx’, a book review of Karl Marx: a nineteenth century life.

Leftists everywhere must have enjoyed the moment yesterday when they realised it was the 195th birthday of Karl Marx. It’s a meaningless anniversary of course, but this kind of thing serves as a reminder for how relevant and applicable some aged political theory can be. I was rudely interrupted from this line of thought when I stumbled across a piece by a five-year-old journalist who has never read anything by Karl Marx and who dismisses supporters of the labour theory of value as ‘tedious’.

Streithorst points out that Marx’s philosophy is indebted to Hegel, Ricardo, Adam Smith, and others. This is no secret and Marxists, as far as I’ve seen, have no illusions about this. The mistake is in saying that the labour theory of value was already outdated by the time Capital was being written. If this was about the Ricardist model then there might have been a fraction of a point. But Marx brought his own substantial changes to the theory, most notably the concept of abstract social labour. The theory of value and surplus value explains how uncompensated labour allows a section of society to become a ruling class and alleviate itself from the burden of its own necessary labour. This was true in different ways in feudal society, plantation slavery, 19th century capitalism, and remains an injustice  and the backbone of capitalism today.

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Yesterday I spent around four hours in total selling the Socialist Worker with a friend andImage petitioning for no evictions resulting from the bedroom tax. We also had a petition titled No to UKIP, No to racism. This didn’t seem to have a plan of action – just collecting names to gauge feelings about the party and to get email addresses of anyone interested in hearing more. I noticed – and other comrades have found the same while campaigning – that voters think Ukip are just the eurosceptic, anti-immigrant party, and care just as much about welfare and poorer people as Labour used to. So much so that some people gladly signed the bedroom tax petition, aware of its absurdity and knowing someone who will be affected, then telling us we’re totally wrong about Ukip. One guy said, after agreeing with us about the bedroom tax, “They can’t be racist. I’ve just voted for them!” going on to say that austerity and undermining benefits was only necessary because of the coalition that has been too soft on immigration.

The reality is that Farage’s party is ideologically right-libertarian (not libertarian on social issues of course), going as far as to call those reliant on benefits a “parasitic underclass.” They would not challenge the bedroom tax. They propose a 25% flat-rate tax, not helping the working poor but working in the interests of corporations and landlords charging unfair rates. This it not an anti-establishment party. Nobody is more firmly rooted in the establishment.

What anti-racists and anti-capitalists need to make clear is that yes, immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria can be provided for. The solutions are to fund more council housing, nationalise industries and trains instead of putting healthcare into private hands, be stricter on tax avoidance, and for the BBC and others to stop giving a platform to fascists and national populists. Giving how Labour has failed its usual voters, it is utterly unsurprising that this kind of thinking isn’t popular.

The other issue with the UK Independence Party is the amount of candidates and activists affiliated or previously affiliated with the National Front, EDL, and other more unambiguously racist organisations. Others don’t have these uncomfortable alliances but can be quoted saying awful things about Muslims and, well, non-whites. Every time, they can be dismissed as an extreme and unrepresentative example, or a decent non-racist who made a simple mistake. But how many individual racist Kippers is it going to take for the party to admit that they have a problem with race?

  • Richard Seymour and Roobin on UKIP: A very British tea party
  • My step-cousin, via twitter: “UKIP is terrible and whoever supports it should have a frog hit them with Nigel Farage’s leg.”
  • F the Bedroom Tax, MC NxtGen

Today I got to be a first-time voter, in the Kent County Council elections. I was very excited Imageabout this, despite being in a very conservative area and having no real faith in our parliamentary democracy. This is a similar contradiction to watching England play football. For me an ideal world is one without states and borders, but every so often I can suspend this and become patriotic for 90 minutes.

I voted for Jo Kidd, the candidate for the Green Party of England and Wales. There are a ton of socialists and closet-socialists in the Green Party so I’m hoping it might go that way, rather than social democracy. In some places I might have voted Labour, if there was a good trade unionist running, or possibly in Whitstable, I would have voted for the Labour candidate Rita O’Brien, who leads the East Kent Keep Our NHS Public group. But the Labour party doesn’t look like it will reverse its rightward trend any time soon, nor is it likely to take more effective action on environmentalism than Blair or Brown. Climate change really needs to be more in the foreground now, as well as the jobs that will be created by green energy.