In his increasingly undignified rightward belly-crawl from the SWP, via Respect, into a sort of incoherent Labourite Stalinism whilst playing the role of tame anti-Trot witch-hunter for unspecified audiences, Andy Nooman at least provides some entertainment this festive season. I was about to say “harmless” entertainment, but his latest ranting on his ”Socialist Unity” blog, about the revolutionary left (in this case, the AWL/ Alliance for Workers Liberty) is, by his own account “a redacted version of something I wrote for another audience.” I wonder who that “other audience” might be?
Above: Stroppybird’s cat
Nooman’s sub-political tirade is avowedly based upon John Sullivan’s ‘When This Pub Closes’ which is poor stuff but at least evinces some political grasp of its subject(s). In fact, Nooman, whether he knows it or not, is more in the tradition of the rank Stalinist ignoramous Denver Walker’s student union-level, scummy little tome ‘Quite Right Mr Trotsky.’
Anyway, there is much to be enjoyed in Nooman’s bile against the revolutionary left and his grovelling to the Labour/TU bureaucracy, but sadly he doesn’t let us link to “Socialist Unity,” so you’ll have to use Google, or copy/paste socialistunity.com/the-alliance-for-workers-liberty-the-dynamics-of-a-malignant-cult/
The comments are most entertaining as well, including:
* 23. How inept do you have to be in order to pen a hatchet job that embarrasses yourself more than anybody else? - Patrick Smith
* 123. EDUCATION? DEMOCRACY? ACTIVITY? What a DISGRACE to the left. A disgrace to socialist countries/union leaders/students.
I’m really glad you’ve outed them about all that sexual impropriety.m Who needs facts when you’ve got pure conjecture? I bet they’re all a bunch of filthy deviants. Oh and yes, I heard that Sheffield was particularly bad too. Need castrating, the lot of them – RHuzzah
* 142. Until this article was posted I’d never heard of the AWL, and from reading all the heated posts about occult meetings sexual impropriety and filthy deviants I only have one question.
Where do I sign up? – CJB
* 161. Ok. John [John Wight, Nooman's antisemitic sidekick - JD] couldn’t care less about someone writing for this blog or its standing among people who used to advocate for it. Andy completely agrees with him. Egal.
A narrowing of vision accompanied by a growing climate of intolerance, abuse and bullying — I for one have seen this movie a couple of times before And know well the last reel.
So no song and dance, just ciao — bella – Kevin Ovenden [former Socialist Unity contributor - JD]
P.S: Check out the attacks on Yours Truly: Nooman can’t even get this attempt at “humour” right, and work out whether I’m Father Ted or Father Jack…
In my experience, most lefties dislike Westerns, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Almost by definition, the genre is a celebration of white settlers in confrontation with native peoples. Sometimes the portrayal of the natives is condescending and/or downright racist. It’s also the most macho of cinematic genres, with women rarely playing significant roles except as home-makers and/or romantic ideals (I leave aside, of course, the bordello girls). Westerns also tend to be morally simplistic, good-against-evil stories that leave little room for nuance, socio-economic background or understanding of the “other.”
Well, that’s what a lot of people on the left tend to think. Actually, the best Westerns explore the human condition and individual weakness in the face of hostile, relentless forces, as few other film genres do (the ‘noir’ detective films also do it, but they’re really just updated Westerns anyway). Some Westerns (and not just recent ones) even explore the position of women (Johnny Guitar) and Native Americans (The Searchers). It’s been suggested, also, that High Noon is, at least in part, about McCarthyism.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969)
Duel at Diablo (Ralph Nelson, 1966)
Gunfight at the OK Corral (John Sturges, 1957)
Man of the West (Anthony Mann, 1958)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)
One-Eyed Jacks (Marlon Brando, 1960)
Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
Shane (George Stevens, 1953)
Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)
The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
…but has been (imho) quite rightly denounced for not including the film that many of us consider The Greatest Western Of All Time..
My list would probably include High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962), Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954), Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948), The Ox-Bow Incident (William Wellman, 1943), Shane (George Stevens, 1953), Bad Day at Black Rock (John Sturges, 1955), Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939), and Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959).
But, as I said, this is the best of them all:
Guest post by Pink Prosecco
I have seen a number of left-liberal bloggers linking, either with implicit or
explicit approval, to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s recent Newsweek/Daily Beast piece on the
violence triggered (supposedly) by ‘The Innocence of Muslims’. Now Hirsi Ali
seems to have every reason and certainly has every right to loathe her religion,
and any attempt to limit our freedoms in its name should be resisted – as
Charlie Hebdo is doing.
But if you are a law abiding American who values that country’s freedoms, including
the First Amendment, you might not care to read in the cover story of a
mainstream, fairly liberal, publication your religion described in these
‘Islam’s rage reared its ugly head again last week.’
Islam is presented as something both frightening and monolithic, rather than a belief
system which is followed in numerous different ways. No punches are pulled – the
title of the piece is ‘Muslim Rage’, the photo illustrates that title pretty
graphically, and the strap line reads ‘How I survived it. How we can end it.’
Now once you get into it, the article calms down quite quickly and
there is plenty to agree with – yes Islamism is a problem, yes girls should not
be married off at a very young age, and yes the treatment of Salman Rushdie by
too many who should have known better was a disgrace.
But it’s the message on the cover which has most impact, and feeds the fears of those who are already inclined to distrust all Muslims. But Muslims have been fighting back a
bit – some with irony rather than rage.
Socialist Unity was once a reasonably serious left-wing blog. It long ago degenerated into a crude mixture of Stalinism, apologetics for the Chinese and Syrian ruling classes, soft porn (yes!) and (from one contributor, at least) rank antisemitism.
They have put a block on us even linking to them, so if you want to check this out you’ll have to (figuratively) hold your nose and go there yourself : http://www.socialistunity.com/
This is the sum total of what they posted on 22 July:
A commenter called ‘Pinkie’ (presumably the same ‘Pinkie’ who occasionally comments here), wrote this:
Get this right, nobody has accused ‘terrorists’ or ‘black thugs’ of this crime. All you have done is to say that if the apparent perpetrator were an Arab or Black then the reaction might be different.
Truly pathetic. What you are saying is that if things were different (that is contrary to what is known) then they would probably be racist. But things aren’t different and nobody has talked about terrorism or thuggery. That is because it appeared to be the act of a lone crazy.
You do not need to magic up racism in this case, it’s not there. Why not address real racism instead, instead of saying ‘it would have been a racist accusation if racist accusations were made’.
As we publicised Prof Norm‘s poll on the greatest Hitchcock films, I thought you might like to know the results. The Prof reports:
It seems that the normblog poll has some life in it yet. There has been a more than respectable entry this time, for my poll to discover which of Alfred Hitchcock’s films are most favoured by his fans. There were 93 entries in all, and the votes were distributed across 31 of Hitch’s movies. Where people ranked their choices, I assigned 5 points for a first-place vote, 4 for a second-place vote, and so on down to 1. Unranked choices earned the same total of 15 points, but shared evenly 3 points per film. A clear top 12 emerges as follows (the number in brackets indicating points gained).
1: (244) – North By Northwest; 2: (230) – Vertigo; 3: (168) – Rear Window; 4: (120) – Psycho; 5: (79) – The Birds; 6: (70) – Strangers on a Train; 7: (65) – The 39 Steps; 8: (64) – Shadow of a Doubt; 9: (57) – Notorious ; 10: (53) – The Lady Vanishes; 11: (36) – Rebecca; 12: (31) – Dial M for Murder
No other Hitchcock film scored 20 points or more. Here are the others that won some support: To Catch A Thief (18), Frenzy (17), Rope (17), Suspicion (16), Marnie (13), Lifeboat (12), The Trouble with Harry (12), Spellbound (9), Foreign Correspondent (8), The Lodger (7), The Wrong Man (6), The Man Who Knew Too Much  (5), I Confess (2), Jamaica Inn (2), The Man Who Knew Too Much  (2), Torn Curtain (2), Family Plot (1), Sabotage (1), Saboteur (1).
What would Hitchcock have made of these results?
Thanks again to everyone who sent in an entry – Norm
Prof Norm invites you to participate.
The closing date is 10 July.
Calling all Hitchcock fans (from Prof Norm):
Actually, not quite all Hitchcock fans – just those who either don’t know about my Hitchcock poll or haven’t yet decided to submit an entry for it. You do know, don’t you, that this is a duty of sorts? Not because of me. Because of Hitchcock. How can we fail to honour his work – to say nothing of that of Bernard Herrmann and Saul Bass? Not that I’m telling you how to vote, of course. I never would. But just some mild encouragement to remember the genius of the man by voting some way. After all, when I was in San Francisco in 2009, I visited both Bodega Bay and the Mission at San Juan Bautista. So how can you not send in an entry?
Re-blogged from Representing the Mambo (a good article, though I don’t agree with all of it, OK? – Jim D)
The passions generated on both sides of the Israel-Palestine debate have always been ever so slightly lost on yours truly. I can’t stand the way that Israel treats the Palestinians but I still find the British left’s utter preoccupation with the issue mystifying. Go over to Shiraz Socialist for instance and probably half the debates over there either start or end up being discussions of the question. Harry’s Place, a site that as every day passes I get less and less enthusiastic about, is positively obsessed.
So I normally try and keep out of it. My position starts with instinctive support for the Palestinians as they are the ones being oppressed, but finishes with the acknowledgement that Israel has the right to exist and to try and imagine it away is insanity.
However, I thought I would type a few remarks on the subject of boycotts this evening as an article I read in the Guardian piqued my interest.
It’s penned by Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, so you can guess what he is going to argue. Normally I would just dismiss it out of hand, but it raises a few points of interest. Have a read.
There’s no question that Israel is being targeted for special treatment. Figures in the arts, academia and the Israeli labour movement are subject to actual or threatened boycott, sometimes purely on the basis of their Israeli citizenship.
I have no particular objection to boycotts in and of themselves. Maybe this one will bring the Israelis to the negotiating table or make them reverse their oppressive policies. I see little evidence to suggest it will however. Clearly some in the Israeli establishment are rattled by it, which is why it is generating so much discussion and condemnation. But as I say, I see little evidence of its impact on the ground. Trade between the two countries is in fact continuing to increase significantly, surely one of the best measures of the success of any boycott.
My real issue with this boycott is: why Israel? Why just them? Why are Unison and the TUC not organising similar campaigns against other countries with appalling human rights records? Why not China? Russia? Iran? America? Great Britain?
One of the comments below the line in the Guardian makes an argument worth examining (and refuting)
“Ordinary Israelis go about their daily business without a thought for the consequences of their passive acceptance of the states brutal oppressive occupation of other people’s lands in the OT and Golan.
It’s time that like South Africa ordinary Israelis understand that the failure of their govt to find a peaceful solution is their failure too.”
Would we be happy if we in the UK faced similar treatment? What if academics in another part of the world organised a boycott of British academics and artists because of ‘our’ role in the Iraq War or continuing involvement in Afghanistan? Surely by voting in successive administrations that supported and continue to support the ‘War on Terror’, we are all as complicit in oppression as ordinary Israelis are? It is unacceptable that we allow our governments to behave like this, I agree, but why the special treatment for one country?
I agree entirely that the record of successive Israeli governments and this administration’s quite appalling behaviour should be condemned in the strongest possible terms but they aren’t unique in that regard. In fact, quite the opposite. So why is Israel being singled out?
I don’t think it is actually a question of anti-semitism, like many of my fellow anti-boycotters might argue, but rather a wilful blindness to all of the other awful things going on in the world right now, allied to the perception, a hopelessly flawed one I might add, that a resolution to the Israel/Palestine question in favour of the Palestinians is somehow the key to defeating ‘imperialism’ worldwide. According to this view Israel is ‘imperialism’ made flesh like no other state.
Obviously it isn’t really, it is a class-ridden society like any other in 2012, but the argument has a superficial appeal and allows you to justify all sorts of actions, however feeble, against Netanyahu, Barak et al.
I do think however that international questions like Israel/Palestine give trade unions, and especially leftish trade union bureaucrats, the opportunity to display some radicalism that they would never dare show domestically. They act as a sop to the organised left in the labour movement and can be used as a valve to let off pressure when their less than glorious record of domestic success is subject to scrutiny or when it comes to the possibility of a confrontation with the government. For instance, Unison would have been far better off supporting tomorrow’s strike rather than passing resolutions on questions that it can have little hope of having any impact on. That would have been a far more significant act of political courage.
I have no problem with discussion of international questions inside the trade unions, and of course internationalism is a basic principle of the labour movement, but we in Britain need to get our own house in order first. We are unlikely to reverse the years of membership decline with these sorts of stands. People will wonder what a union has to offer them and their lives and when they see that the focus of many union conferences is impotent grandstanding, then they are hardly likely to join are they……..
(Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of impotent grandstanding, I do it all the time on this blog, but in terms of priorities it should be a distant second behind actual organising in one’s immediate community and workplace)
Surely a more productive form of solidarity would be to provide practical assistance to the struggles of ordinary working class Israelis, whether Jewish or Arab, who are both victims of their appalling neoliberal government, and who attack the Palestinians as a means to distract attention away from their cuts and anti-worker policies.
I’ve no doubt that the people advocating a boycott are motivated by a well-founded horror at the actions of the Israeli government, but the boycott approach is counterproductive, morally dubious, driven by an exceptionalism that I am deeply uncomfortable with and is in fact an inadvertent but nonetheless wholly unnecessary distraction from the frequently savage behaviour of the Israeli government. The focus is on the efficacy of a set of tactics and not on Israeli government brutality and human rights abuses, which is a tragedy.
Some time ago (August 2010) Rosie proposed the following:
Some of the commenters have complained that we do not adhere to our stated comments policy. The policy and the complaints can be read here.
I would suggest that we enlarge on this policy, and before laying down some ground rules, would ask the contributors here, both bloggers and commenters, to read this draft position paper and suggest some amendments and improvements.
The data is mostly drawn from this site, though I have been influenced by other tendencies I have observed in the blogosphere.
Broadly, I would keep to a liberal comments policy, but would note that there are objectionable commenters that have to be dealt with by deletion, editing, abuse or mockery.
“Trolls” are a well-known type of commenter, and can be left out of this paper. But there are other kinds of objectionable commenters, who commit offences against the intellect, manners or morals. For methodological convenience, I shall divide them into the following categories:- “Cunts”, “Arses” and “Shits”.
Cunts are so defined for their intellectual dishonesty. They argue in bad faith, ignore any counter arguments, pile up straw men by the barnload, make stuff up, put words in your mouth that you not only have not said but would never dream of saying, make wild accusations eg if you write about the same topic as another blog, you therefore agree with that blog in every comma, full stop and hyperlink, and if you don’t write on a particular topic that for them is big news, you are creating a deliberate diversion and your non-coverage is a sinister ploy . (For an example of this kind of Cuntishness see here from comment 10 on.) If you quote from writer X, you therefore agree with writer X’s every utterance. If you quote from a reputable source, they will google mine that source until they find something discreditable it published back in 1973. They fill the thread with irrelevant matter, hoping to use tanks of verbiage to crush what they failed to shoot down with counter argument. They adopt a patronising and/or jeering tone. They will never answer a direct question, either weaselling out of it or ignoring it or saying that the reason you asked this question was another diversion. They are Poundstretcher Alastair Campbells, intellectual loudmouths who are absolutely incapable of admitting that an opponent may have made a telling point, or has any motive other than the lowest form of partisanship.
The chief Cunt on this site (and many others) is johng.
With Arses it’s not a question of their political opinions, which may be perfectly acceptable, but of manner of expression. Arses shout and swear and scream diatribes against all those who have annoyed them in some way, whether it’s the Pope, the Labour Party, the bloggers on this site and other sites, or fellow commenters, even inoffensive ones. They post pointless abuse, insults and violent fantasies in comment after comment so that reading through the thread is like picking your way between the pools of vomit along Lothian Road/Sauchiehall Street [insert your local street famed for drunken debauchery] on a Sunday morning. Arses are better people than Cunts or Shits (see below) but they are a nuisance and put off other commenters, just as any guy ranting impotent violent threats while holding a can of Carlsberg is probably a better person than George Galloway, but you would still rather not share space with him.
The chief Arse on this site (and many others) is Will.
With Shits it’s morals rather than manners or standard of debate. In the society outside the blogosphere, Shits two-time their partners, betray their friends, play politics in their jobs instead of getting on with the work, neglect their children and aged parents and are rude to people who are forced by their position to be polite (waiters, airline stewardesses and the like). There’s only a limited capacity for Shittiness on blogs, which are built out of words rather than actions and it is primarily implemented by “outing” someone who wants to stay anonymous or writing comments in their name expressing racist, sexist or otherwise disgraceful views. Chasing commenters around blogs to shout abuse at them on different sites or insulting tentative or daffy but harmless commenters crosses over from Arsiness to Shittiness.
Our last Shit was a BNP creep called Curious Freedom, who “outed” another commenter, one Willywipples or some such stupid name. The most famous blog Shit is Orlando Figes who used sock-puppetry to savage his rivals’ history books and praise his own and then set lawyers on the rivals when they rumbled him. Threats of litigation, though they can certainly be defended in some cases, are usually a sign of Shittiness. Andy Newman has started to dabble his feet in this kind of turdery in the Galloway/Viva Palestina case and now is threatening more litigation against another blogger who “made clearly libellous and derogatory remarks of an explicit sexual nature about [Newman], and two respected academics and bloggers“, so though I wouldn’t call him a Cunt or an Arse as a rule, he’s in danger of turning into a Shit.
I would therefore suggest the following blogging policy:-
Cunts:- given that they reveal their own Cuntishness with every lousy argument and lie they produce and in that way damage their own cause and reputations they should be allowed to comment but should be taken to task and ridiculed
Arses:- should have their comments edited or deleted. The unarsey comments they make should be allowed to remain.
Shits:- should be banned immediately.
There are also reasonable folk, the ones who disagree with the blog post and other commenters but who do so honestly, make a case for their disagreement, and can write with wit, cleverness, information or common humanity. They should be welcomed and engaged with.
(NB: since 2010 some names -JohnG for instance – have largely disappeared from our radar while new ones have arrived. As for Will…he seems to have turned to Jelly. Readers’ suggestions for a consistent comments policy for this site are welcome).
And people think we’re sometimes a tad aggressive, here at Shiraz:
(from the Independent on Sunday):
They call him the “Blogfather”. Instead of making people sleep with the fishes, or leaving a severed horse’s head on silk bed-sheets, he prefers to settle scores via angry messages on his personal website. Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli, an alleged Mafia boss on trial in Brooklyn for six gruesome murders, not to mention a string of racketeering charges, has hit on a very modern way to manage his reputation.
As the jury considers whether Gioeli, a 59-year-old Italian-American, should spend the rest of his natural life behind bars, he has taken the enterprising step of reinventing himself as the first “made man” to become a blogger.
His website, “Alleged Mob Boss Tommy Gioeli’s Voice“, has taken on subjects as wide-ranging as religion, politics and penal reform. Gioeli certainly has a way with words. The blog bestows members of the prosecution team with such nicknames as “The Liar”, “The Prune” and “The Seducer”. Their key witnesses, who are largely former gangland figures giving evidence as part of plea bargains are “water rats, subway rats, sewer rats” who “have everything to gain and nothing to lose by pointing their dirty, snot-caked fingers at me”.
But its main bugbear is the people, and legal system, responsible for his predicament. “Thomas Gioeli, an unconvicted American man, is being denied basic Constitutional rights and adequate healthcare for his many serious ailments during his incarceration,” reads the blog’s introduction. “The media, instead of reporting the truth, is working with the government to destroy his true character and create a real-life, paper-selling monster.”
He has now devoted a lengthy update to John “The Dolt” Marzulli, a reporter for the New York newspaper the Daily News, whose coverage of the trial appears to have caused him displeasure. “I would like to challenge The Dolt to [a] competition,” he writes. “When I am acquitted we will have a charity boxing match: One three-minute round, bare knuckles, Marquess of Queensberry rules.”
In another update, Gioeli responded to a suggestion that an ex-nun had been among the accidental victims of one of his Mob hits. “What a disgrace!” he wrote, denying the charge. “My saintly, elderly mother who just buried my father, my poor wife, my precious children, my priest, the rest of my family, friends, people I just know … would think I am an animal.”
Gioeli also complains that the prison officer who gives him pills each morning does not wear gloves. “This may be okay for the mother who is giving meds to her kids, but in an institutional setting it is downright unsanitary, if not illegal,” he writes. “So I refuse my dose until she wears gloves.”
Prosecutors have alleged that Gioeli is using the blog to attempt to influence the jury. He claims that writing it is instead a form of therapy. “I get very, very angry,” he says. “Then I write, and my anger melts away.” His alleged crimes are certainly those of a man with a short fuse. According to the FBI, Gioeli was responsible for a string of killings in his native city of Farmingdale, Long Island, which date back to an internal Mafia war during the early 1990s. He is also accused of profiting from illegal gambling, nightclub extortion and armed robberies.
In a recent phone interview with Newsweek, Gioeli explains that he types his updates and sends them to his daughter, who “does a bit of editing” before placing them on the site.
Michael Steinman, over at Jazz Lives, has been reflecting on the meaning of that old American institution, celebrated tomorrow: Thanksgiving. He starts out, quite understandably, giving thanks for jazz and all the pleasure it’s brought him. Some nice Youtube clips, too, of some great present-day musicians playing the old standard Thanks A Million (lyrics by Gus Khan, melody by Arthur Johnson).
But then Michael moves on to some more general points about love, humanity, common decency and taking action for a better world. Wonderful stuff, and I make no apologies for simply reproducing the closing paragraphs:
…And a footnote, nothing preachy. I teach English — literature and writing — to four classes of college freshmen and sophomores, and I met with them this last Monday and Tuesday. At the end of each class, I looked at them very sternly and said, “I have a Thanksgiving homework assignment for you.” I can’t describe the collective skepticism in the room, because I never give “homework,” and asking students to “do work” over a holiday when the college is closed seems to them a violation of their basic rights. And some of them know my deadpan humor. (Others were simply waiting for me to stop talking so that their holiday could begin, and I understand this completely.)
I said, “I assume many of you are going off to have some sort of meal with family or friends this holiday?” and many of them agreed.
“OK,” I said. “Here’s your assignment. Find someone in that room, someone you love. TELL that person you love him or her.”
Some of them giggled; they all looked relieved. Maybe that’s the most important thing I will teach them this semester.
One more four-bar break. I do, of course, have a secret purpose in all of this. If everyone got in the habit of acknowledging their gratitude, it would be a world full of people saying and thinking THANK YOU! and I AM SO FORTUNATE, which would be lovely additions to the cosmic atmosphere. And perhaps then we could move into the next phase: noticing those who have less to be thankful for, whether they are homeless people on the street, the Chinese workers who suffer to make our technology (see Mike Daisey’s play about Steve Jobs if you have a heart!) . . . the list is longer and sadder than I can say. And we could then move from noticing to taking action. What a wonderful world, then, indeed.
Wishing you all happiness — and not just on Thursday. JAZZ LIVES wouldn’t have a reason to exist without you.
PS: Ricci Ricardi on the very greatest version of Thanks A Million.