Stalinists hail “liberation” of Aleppo

December 13, 2016 at 3:36 pm (apologists and collaborators, CPB, Human rights, Jim D, murder, Pro-War Left, Putin, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Russia, stalinism, Syria)

The front page of the paper that claims to represent the British labour movement:

Inline image

While the UN and all reputable news sources report on pro-government forces in Aleppo executing dozens of civilians including women and children, British Stalinists hail the massacres as a “liberation”.

The Morning Star‘s uncritical support for Assad and parroting of Putin’s propaganda throughout the Syrian war has been a disgrace that must call into question the financial support that this filthy, lying rag receives from major unions.

The only – small – thing to be said in the rag’s favour, is that it has published a few letters from a couple of readers who retain some shreds of human decency and critical thinking. As they don’t appear on the rag’s website, we reproduce them here:

December 3-4 2016
GIVEN that the United Nations estimated in October 2016 that there were no more than 900 Nusra Front fighters in Aleppo out of a maximum of 8,000 rebels in total, I’m confused by the recent Morning Star headline: “Thousands freed from jihadist grip in eastern Aleppo” (M Star November 30)

I realise the make-up of rebel groups in Syria is complex but I’ve not seen any evidence to suggest the rebels in Aleppo are all jihadists.

Furthermore, rather than cite the Kremlin and the Russian Defence Ministry as the article does, perhaps it would be wiser to focus on reports from NGOs such as Amnesty International which has called on Russia to “end indiscriminate and other unlawful attacks” in Syria, including the “use of cluster munitions and dropping unguided bombs on civilian areas.”

December 7 2016
I HAVE read recent reports and an editorial on Syria in our paper with dismay. I note the use of such expressions as “solidarity with the nation’s struggle against foreign-backed aggression” but never is there any mention of the people of Syria’s struggle against the hated and feared Assad regime.

Has everyone forgotten that the conflict in Syria started when the people came out on the streets, in the tail end of the Arab Spring, in revolt against the brutal repression of President Bashar Assad and his torturers?

Of course, much has changed since then, with the intervention of many other forces in this complex war but there is overwhelming evidence that the Assad regime, aided by the Russians, has been bombing civilians, hospitals and schools: murdering Syrian civilians because they oppose the regime and then describing them as “terrorists”.

It seems convenient for some to forget what the Assad regime stands for, the repression and brutality, the torture used not just to extract information but to put fear into the population so that no opponents of the regime will challenge it.

Perhaps readers are not aware that, to give just one example, a 13-year-old boy was arrested in 2011 during a protest and then tortured, castrated and his body mutilated while in the custody of the Syrian government.

I support the position of the Stop the War Coalition which I believe is that there should be no intervention or bombing, including by Russia and that we must do everything possible to achieve a negotiated settlement.

There is no easy solution but surely we must not gloss over decades of appalling human rights abuses in Syria and express solidarity with the regime at the expense of the Syrian people?

December 9 2016
IN A RECENT editorial the Morning Star argued “there would be no advantage for Assad in carrying out atrocities” such as bombing hospitals and schools (M Star November 29).

If one is trying to force a large city into submission through the application of overwhelming and deadly force, as the Syrian government is doing in Aleppo, then it is logical to target hospitals in an attempt to make life unbearable for the rebels and the population they are living amongst. Furthermore, bombing hospitals significantly reduces the fighting capability of the opposition relying on the hospitals to patch up their wounded.

Surely it is the duty of all thinking and humane people to raise their voice in opposition to this illegal, murderous and morally depraved military tactic — whether it is carried out by Western/Western-backed forces or Syrian/Russian forces?

NB: see also Comrade Coatesy, here.

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Depraved Stalinists cheer Assad/Putin war crimes, denounce Tatchell

December 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm (apologists and collaborators, CPB, Human rights, Jim D, labour party, Lindsey German, murder, Pro-War Left, protest, Putin, reactionay "anti-imperialism", Russia, solidarity, stalinism, Stop The War, Syria, war)


Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell joined with supporters of Syria Solidarity to intervene at a speech by Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday. The reason was obvious: Corbyn and the Labour front bench have remained silent while Assad and Putin have bombed hospitals, aid convoys and civilians in Syria. This has been the biggest massacre of a civilian population since World War Two.

East Aleppo has been besieged for months, with Assad using his favourite tactic against civilians (after barrel bombs, that is): starvation and the denial of water, shelter and medical treatment. The UN has predicted that Aleppo will become “a giant graveyard” if Assad and Putin continue to refuse a cease fire.

Yet the so-called Stop The War Coalition, which Corbyn continues to support, says nothing. Perhaps because its current Chair supports the Russian bombing.

The politically bankrupt and morally depraved Morning Star (reflecting the policy of its political master, the Communist Party of Britain) openly supports Assad’s attacks and cheer-leads for Putin’s intervention, parroting his propaganda.

Now, the Morning Star (a paper, remember, funded by the subs of Unite members and other rank and file trade unionists, without their knowledge or consent) attacks Tatchell for disrupting Corbyn’s speech and, supposedly, “diver(ing) attention away from the crucial issue of women’s rights and domestic violence”. The M Star goes on to quote the repugnant pro-Assad convenor of the so-called “Stop The War Coalition” and professional liar, Ms Lindsey German, spreading her typically dishonest poison about Tatchell: “He claims to be on the left and a supporter of Stop the War initially but the reality is that he has supported every war since we were established”.

In the face of these Stalinist lies, and pro-Putin/Assad apologetics, we republish below,  Peter Tatchell’s statement about this incident:

Syria Solidarity UK activists were joined by Peter Tatchell when they protested during a speech by Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster Central Hall on Saturday 10 December. They urged the Labour Party to pursue “actions not words” to save civilians in Aleppo and other Syrian cities.

Jeremy Corbyn was outlining the Labour Party’s commitment to fundamental rights on Human Rights Day. Syria human rights campaigners walked to the front and stood in front of him with placards saying: “Action not words: Back UK aid drops now. Protect civilians.”

Protest participant, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, said:

“The protest was organised by Syria Solidarity UK. It was not against Jeremy Corbyn or Labour. It was an appeal for them to act, to defend the human rights of Syrian civilians, by actively campaigning for a parliamentary vote on humanitarian aid drops, sanctions and war crimes charges against the Assad and Putin regimes, UN-supervised evacuation of civilians and White Helmet rescue teams to safe havens, and for Syria to be suspended from the UN until it agrees to a ceasefire and stops blocking aid deliveries. Neither Labour nor Jeremy are actively campaigning for any of these initiatives.

“We urged Jeremy Corbyn to press for a parliamentary debate and vote to mandate UK aid drops of food and medicine to besieged civilians in Aleppo and other cities. He declined to give that commitment when I asked him. Why isn’t he holding the government to account for its inaction, and publicly demanding that it agree to a vote in parliament on air drops of humanitarian aid?

“Labour has never organised even one event in solidarity with Syrian democrats, socialists and civil society activists. It never promoted or campaigned for the passage of Canada’s UN Syria resolution under 377A – Uniting for Peace – which called for the immediate cessation of hostilities, humanitarian aid access and an end to all sieges.

“The protest was polite and lasted five minutes. Jeremy was briefly delayed but not stopped from speaking. He addressed all the issues he originally planned to speak on.

“It was initially a silent protest until Labour officials indicated they wanted to know what it was about, which is when I spoke.

“Jeremy thanked us for raising the issue of Syria and we will now be pressing him for dialogue and action to help save lives in Syria. I will continue to support much of what Jeremy is striving for. Both of us remain friends.

“Jeremy’s speech rightly condemned Saudi war crimes in Yemen but made only a passing reference to Syria and offered no proposals to remedy the humanitarian crisis there. This has a whiff of double standards.

“What action has Labour taken to protect civilians in Syria? Nothing, so far. Aleppo is the Guernica of our age. Labour’s fine words need to be backed up with deeds. It is not listening to the appeals for action from democratic civil society activists inside Syria. We heard their cry for help and acted at their request. Our protest gave effect to their appeal for action.

“On Human Rights Day, Labour gathered to celebrate the noble sentiments in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But in Aleppo, the Syrian and Russian military are targeting fleeing refugees, children in schools, doctors in hospitals and civil rescue teams from the White Helmets. Hundreds of boys and men have allegedly gone missing from the areas seized last week by Assad regime forces. At least 100,000 civilians are being deliberately starved in Aleppo and a million others elsewhere in Free Syria.

“Labour must act, not just speak. So too must the Conservatives – and all parties. We call on Theresa May and Boris Johnson to also heed our call. We will protest against them in due course. There must surely be a cross-party consensus on humanitarian air drops. Why aren’t they happening? Labour should give a lead by initiating a House of Commons vote to make them happen,” said Mr Tatchell.

Clara Connolly from Syria Solidarity UK added:

“Do Syrian civilians have human rights? If so, why are we allowing this to continue? Western diplomats have conceded that there are no technical obstacles to delivering airdrops of food and medicine to Aleppo using a GPS-guided parachute system. What is lacking is the political will. If we stay silent, if Western politicians refuse to take what actions are available to them, then they are complicit in these massacres.”

Syria Solidarity UK are calling on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour Party MPs and members to publicly and vocally:

• Support calls for humanitarian access to besieged areas in Syria.

• Push for a parliamentary vote on unilateral UK aid drops.

• Demand the suspension of Syria from the UN until it agrees to a ceasefire, and stops blocking aid to besieged areas.

• Request UN-supervised evacuations of the White Helmets and the civilian population.

Permalink 4 Comments

What’s happened to Harry’s Place?

March 24, 2013 at 12:17 am (blogosphere, Jim D, Pro-War Left, wankers)

They’ve been out of action for three (or is it four?) days, now…

sabotage, or what?

(Video from the late Will Rubbish)

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Hitchens is dead

December 16, 2011 at 8:31 am (atheism, Champagne Charlie, good people, humanism, intellectuals, internationalism, Pro-War Left, truth, wild man)

Christopher Hitchens in November 2010.
Christopher Hitchens in November 2010. Photo: Reuters

Christopher Hitchens has died of cancer at the age of 62, Vanity Fair reports.

The magazine said he died yesterday after being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer last year while on a book tour. 

Permalink 31 Comments

Christopher Hitchens is no Orwell

September 20, 2011 at 7:30 am (intellectuals, James Bloodworth, literature, Pro-War Left)

James Bloodworth of Obliged to Offend reviews Arguably, by Christopher

George Orwell once wrote that ‘every line of serious work
that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly and indirectly,
against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it.’

Today, many right across the political spectrum like to pick and
choose from Orwell according to taste, stressing either the democratic,
socialist or anti-totalitarian aspect of his work at the expense of the
multitude – the resulting ‘legacy’ depending very much upon the political
persuasion of those doing the accounting.

Christopher Hitchens, the
one-time darling of the left, has in recent years uncomfortably skirted this
same political dividing-line. He has at once attracted the scorn of his former
comrades for his alleged shuffle to the right, while in the process gathering a
substantial number of followers whose admiration rests almost entirely upon the
premise of him having ‘come to his senses’.

On the surface, the nature
of Hitchens’s politics depends, in a similar fashion to Orwell’s, almost
entirely upon whom one is talking to.

His latest effort, Arguably, is a collection of essays spanning
the past decade on politics, literature and religion. The prose (which is
unsurprisingly of an extremely high standard, even if at times Hitchens employs
rather too much Look-at-me vocabulary) comes with an added element of tragedy
due by the fact that Hitchens was diagnosed with terminal cancer before he wrote
a substantial proportion of it. This may, in fact, be Hitchens’s very last book.

In common with Orwell,
Hitchens stature as a political writer was firmly cemented towards the end of
his life (I sincerely hope Hitchens goes on to live a lot longer), his
reputation as controversialist par
excellence truly coming with his repudiation of the left and his
articulate opposition to monotheism.

Importantly, were Hitchens alone in
rejecting the conventional left/liberal, post-9/11 politics, his bravado and
bluster would likely be much less potent. (Hitchens’s politics were never about
posture alone; but one should not underestimate the importance of showmanship to
the Hitchens brand). As it happened, there were others on the left who also
viewed the attempt on the back of 9/11 to conflate John Ashcroft with Osama Bin
Laden as crass moral equivalence; or as Orwell put it 70 years before: ‘the
argument that half a loaf is no different from no bread at all’.

The problem with the notion that Hitchens, after 9/11, simply did the obligatory
shuffle to the right, or as David Horowitz puts it (underwhelmingly, considering
his own political trajectory), had ‘second thoughts’, is that a substantial
proportion of the left really did climb
into bed with reaction during this period, and continue to do so whenever a
group points AK47s in the direction of the United States and its allies.

This was not confined to the debased remnants of Stalinism, either. The
editorial of the liberal-left New
Statesman of 17 September, 2001, written by then-editor Peter Wilby,
appeared to blame Americans themselves for the 9/11 attacks – for ‘preferring
George Bush to Al Gore and both to Ralph Nader’. A few weeks later, the Oxford
Academic Mary Beard wrote approvingly in the London Review of Books about the ‘feeling
that, however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming’.

Arguably, however, also
shows Hitchens at his dogmatic worst; and at times he resembles Isaac
Deutscher’s description of the ex-Communist who, having recanted on his previous
belief system, is ‘haunted by a vague sense that he has betrayed either his
former ideals or the ideals of bourgeois society,’ and who ‘tries to suppress
his sense of guilt and uncertainty, or to camouflage it by a show of
extraordinary certitude and frank aggressiveness’. In Hitchens’s essays on Iraq,
as Jonathan Freedland points out: ‘The absence of evidence (of WMD) is deemed
not to be evidence of absence but, on the contrary, evidence of the presence of
WMDs in the immediate past.’

While it may be simplistic to simply write
Hitchens off as a ‘Neo Con’, he has very little to say on traditional left-wing
domestic concerns, such as economic or social policy; and it seems increasingly
clear, if only by omission, that interventionism is not the only ‘consensus’
that Hitchens now uncritically accepts.

In a 2008 interview with Prospect,
Hitchens, a man who lives in extremely comfortable surroundings in Washington,
showed a thinly-veiled contempt for those whose lives are made bearable by the
British benefits system, dismissing the welfare state as ‘little more than
Christian charity’. In a recent article for Slate in the aftermath of the
UK riots, Hitchens also appeared to take the establishment line that the unrest
was ‘sheer criminality’ (as one Tweeter put it at the time – ‘yes, we know it is
sheer criminality; the question is why are our youngsters sheer criminals?’).
While much of the British left is right now busy mobilising against the greatest
cut in living standards in a generation, in the same article Hitchens glibly put
‘the cuts’ in brackets and ridiculed the term as an ‘all-purpose expression…
used for all-purpose purposes’.

Dismissing Hitchens as a Neo-Con or a
free-market zealot is indeed a rather pointless exercise; it is, however,
necessary to acknowledge that he no longer notices or much cares for the
struggles of the working class. If it is not part of the dramatic fight against
totalitarianism (which I have no wish to downplay), then it does not seem to
appear on Hitchens’s radar.

Orwell, in a reply (dated 15 November, 1943)
to an invitation from the Duchess of Atholl to speak for the British League for
European Freedom, stated that he didn’t agree with their objectives.
Acknowledging that what they said was ‘more truthful than the lying propaganda
found in most of the press’, he added that he could ‘not associate himself with
an essentially Conservative body’, that claimed to ‘defend democracy in Europe’
but had ‘nothing to say about British imperialism’. His closing paragraph
stated: ‘I belong to the left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian
totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country.’

like many British journalists of his generation, has spent much of his career in
the shadow of Orwell. He has also spent perhaps a small proportion of it waiting
for his very own Orwell moment – a moment when he could take on his own side in
the way Orwell took on sections of the left over its appeasement of Stalinism.
Despite the bluster and fear-mongering (not-to-mention the genuinely repulsive
politics of the Jihadi movement), Islamism is not Nazism or Stalinism; and
Hitchens, however good his prose may be, is no Orwell. In defending the gains of
liberal democracy against its totalitarian enemies, Orwell never dumped his own

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Hitch 22: on Edward Said

April 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm (anti-semitism, fascism, hitchens, intellectuals, islamism, israel, Jim D, literature, Middle East, palestine, Pro-War Left, secularism, United States)

I’ve been reading Christopher Hitchens’s autobiography Hitch 22. As you’d expect it’s an excellent read: witty, erudite and searingly honest. Hitchens is essential reading, even for those of us who think he’s sometimes got things wrong. He’s certainly several million times more thoughtful and principled than most of those who squawk about/at him.

The book itself  is powerful stuff, especially when he’s writing about his friends and his immediate family. His mother Yvonne, for instance, who committed suicide with her lover when Hitchens was in his mid-twenties.

But politically, the best bits are when Hitchens discusses his own intellectual development, and how since 9/11 he’s broken with the “anti-imperialist” fake-left, even though that was his own background and many of the “anti-imperialists” were friends of his. None more so than Edward Said, with whom Hitch had a protracted and painful falling-out:

“In those days [the late 1980’s – JD] though, an adherence to Arafat was at least compatible with the Algiers declaration of the PLO, which Edward [Said] had striven to bring about. To remember this agreement now is to recall an almost-vanished moment: the PLO was to renouncethe clauses in its charter which either called for tghe demolition of the Israeli state or suggested that Jews had no place in Palestine to begin with. At Algiers, Edward’s reasoning prevailed and the “Left-rejectionist” alliance, of George Habash and Nayef Hawatmeh, after stormy and emotional debate, lost. Morally, I felt that this deserved more praise than it received: Edward and those others who had left the land of pre-1947 Israel now in effect gave up their ancestral claim to it, in order that the generatons dispossessed or expelledor occupied after 1967 could have a chance to build a state of their own in at least a portion of “the land.” This self-denying renunciation had a quality of nobility to it.

But in those days the Palestinian “rejectionists” were secularists and leftists. Here was another moment, then, when one was witnessing the death of a movement rather than the birth of one (also, the birth of a movement based on death). There came a day I can’t forget when I was in Jerusalem with mu old comrade Professor Israel Shahak. This honest and learned old man, a survivor of the ghettos of Poland and the camp at Bergen-Belsen, had immigrated to Israel after the war and later become the loudest individual voice for palestinian rights and the most deadly critic of  the Torah-based land-theives and vigilantes. Shahak it was who had introduced me to the life-giving work of Benedict (formerly Baruch, until he was excommunicated and anathematized) Spinoza. One of the great unacknowledged moral critics of our time, Shahak did not save his withering reproaches only for the Zionists. I wish I could replicate his warm Mitteleuropa gutterals on the page:

Christopher, you have maybe followed this new debate in Gaza between forces of the Hamas and of Islamic Jihad? You have not? Then I must tell you: it will repay your interest.

Here was the ominously emergent great subject (we are speaking of the late 1980s and early 1990s). The “Islamic Jihad” forces in Gaza were saying in their propaganda that the whole of Spain, and not just Andalusia, was alnd stolen from Islam and that its immediate return should be demanded. The Hamas starategists were responding that, full as the Palestinian plate currently was, this might not be the moment to call for the Islamization of the entire Iberian peninsula. Perhaps for now, just the return of Andalusia would do. However, and almost as if not to be outdone, the Hamas website did feature the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic fabrication originally perpetrated by the Christian-Orthodox right wing in Russia which (because a forgery after all is at least a false copy of a true bill) is wrong to describe even as a forgery. At around the same time, my friend Musa Budeiri, a professor at Birzeit University on the West Bank, told me that religious Muslim students were coming to him and announcing that they would no longer be studying for the humanities course that he taught because it required that they take instruction in Darwin…

As I later found on revisiting Gaza, I was being given by Shahak and Budeiri a premonitory glimpse of the new form that paranoid militant Islam was beginning to adopt. Hitherto, the Palestinians had been relatively immune to this Allahu Akhbar style. I thought this was a hugely retrograde development. I said as much to Edward. To reprint Nazi propaganda and to make a theocratic claim to Spanish soil was to be a protofascistand a supporter of “Caliphate” imperialism: it had nothing at all to do with the mistreatment of the Palestinians. Once again he did not exactly disagree. But he was anxious to emphasise that the Israelis had often encouraged Hamas as a foil against Fatah and the PLO. This I had known since seeing the burning out of leftist Palestinians by Muslim mobs in Gaza as early as 1981. Yet once again, it seemed that Edward could only condemn Islamism if it could somehow be blamed on either Israel or the United States or the West, and not as a thing in itself. He sometimes employed the same sort of knight’s move when discussing other Arabist movements, excoriating Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, for example, mainly because it had once enjoyed the support of the CIA. But when Saddam was really being attacked, as in the case of his use of chemical weapons on noncombatants in Halabja, Edward gave second-hand currency to the falsified story that it had “really” been the Iranians who had done it.  If that didn’t work, well hadn’t the United States sold Saddam the weaponry in the first place? Finally, and always – and this question wasn’t automatically discredited by being a changeof subject – what about Israel’s unwanted and ugly rule over more and more millions of non-Jews?

I evolved a test for this mentality, which I applied to more people than Edward. What would, or did, the relevant person say when the United States intervened to stop the massacres and dispossessions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo? Here were two majority-Muslim territories and populations being vilely mistreated by Orthodox and Catholic Christians. There was no oil in the region. The state interests of Israel were not involved (indeed Ariel Sharon publicly opposed the return of  the Kosovar refugees to their homes on the grounds that it set an alarming – I want to say “unsettling” – precedent). The usual national-security “hawks,” like Henry Kissinger, were also strongly opposed to the mission. one evening at Edward’s apartment, with the other guest being the mercurial, courageous Azmi Bishara, then one of the more distinguished Arab members of the Israeli parliament, I was finally able to leave the arguing to someone else. Bishara (who incidentally told me that Israel Shahak had been the best and kindest professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he had studied) was quite shocked that Edward would not lend public support to Clinton for finally doing the right thing in the Balkans. Why was he being so stubborn? I had begun by then – belatedly you may say – to guess. Rather like our then-friend Noam Chomsky, Edward in the final instance believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not by definition be a moral or ethical action.”

Great stuff!

I fear, however, that I shall be writing more about Christopher Hitchens in the not-too-distant future: he presently has inoperable Stage Four esophageal cancer. There is no Stage Five.

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Bob on “decency”

August 27, 2010 at 7:53 pm (anti-fascism, Anti-Racism, anti-semitism, blogging, Jim D, Pro-War Left, relativism, secularism, socialism)

Here at Shiraz we’re always keen to put our readers in touch with good blogging and serious discussion from elsewhere. Our mate Bob (Yer Man from Brockley) has initiated a discussion about the phenomenon of leftist “decency”, and where it’s at today. I would not go along with him that Lenny “Seymour” Lenin or Andy “Leftwing” Nooman, though undoubtably “indecent”, are worth taking seriously.  But Bob has initiated a very worthwhile debate. Here’s his introduction :

This post is the first of three planned oblique attempts to address the core contradictions at the heart of the Bob project, as well as to respond to some of the discussions at my more heated comment threads, such as this one, this one and this one. It starts with a report on a recent and not particularly important spat amongst the leftover remains of the British anti-racist movement carried out in the courts and in the blogosphere, amongst three of the heavier hitters of the UK-based but internationally read left bloggers, Harry’s Place, Andy Newman’s Socialist Unity and Richard Seymour’s Lenin’s Tomb. This spat is a good occasion to reflect on the meaning of “decency” and “indecency” in politics. In reflecting on this, the post touches on three areas: the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the war on terror, and the etiquette of debate, with a kind of footnote on the anti-racist movement. All of these are illustrated with examples from British fringe politics of the 1990s and thus have a slightly autobiographical element, although I’ve done my best to keep self-indulgence to a minimum. I realise that the coherence of these elements might not be immediately apparent, but I would genuinely appreciate your responses, even if you only read part of it…

Read the rest here

The comments are also uniformly good, including even some from Gameboy, who comes over as a complete wanker when he comments here at Shiraz. Maybe he sobered up, took his medication, or just decided to be on best behaviour for Bob.


…top blogging from the Brockley Man!

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Hitchens and Service talk Trotsky

August 1, 2010 at 7:30 pm (history, Jim D, Marxism, Pro-War Left, trotskyism)

Christopher Hitchens and Robert Service talk Trotsky

.From National Review Online’s Uncommon Knowledge TV show. Each episode is around 6 minutes. Pretty good from the superficial listen I’ve had.

Trotsky with Hitchens and Service 1: Christopher Hitchens and Robert Service introduce Leon Trotsky, “one of the half-dozen outstanding Marxist revolutionaries.”(Background stuff. Skip it if you are among the initiated.)

Trotsky with Hitchens and Service 2: the defeat and exile of Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky with Hitchens and Service 3: What if Trotsky, rather than Stalin, attained control of the Soviet Union?

Trotsky with Hitchens and Service 4: Christopher Hitchens and Robert Service talk about Trotsky’s “moral moments.” (On anti-fascism and the 1930s)

Trotsky with Hitchens and Service 5: Trotsky today – scrutinizing the modern romantic view of Leon Trotsky.

(Twitter version: The Hitchens/Service series: 1:, 2:, 3:, 4:, 5: “Christopher Hitchens is a journalist and author. His most recent book is God Is Not Great. Robert Service is a historian who has published major biographies of Lenin and Stalin. His most recent book, Comrades!, is study of communism as a worldwide movement. His upcoming work, Trotsky, will be published in November 2009.”)

ADDED: Lesley Chamberlain “Twilight in Mexico” in WSJ on Trotsky: Downfall of a Revolutionary by Bertrand M. Patenaude (published in the UK as Stalin’s Nemesis, which I blogged about here, when it was Radio 4′s Book of the Week. More from Bookhugger, Ardmayle, The Tablet. More later today about the current Book of the Week, which also has a Trotskyist theme. ).

Published in:
  • Leon Trotsky
  • on August 24, 2009 at 5:28 pm  Comments (7)  
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

    I missed this in August last year when Poumista first posted it: it’s still worth checking out, especially as Hitchens is now seriously ill and this may be his last comment on the subject.

    H/t: Poumista

    Permalink 29 Comments

    The trouble with Hitchens

    July 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm (Jim D, literature, Pro-War Left, socialism, wild man)

    Tom Unterrainer of Workers Liberty on the strengths and weaknesses of Chris Hitchens. It will, no doubt, enrage those who love The Dude and those who hate him, in equal measure:


    “Any number of questions popped into my mind whilst reading ‘Hitch-22’ – Christopher Hitchens’ recently published memoir – but two in particular kept coming back. The first: was Hitchens really ever ‘one of us’? The second: would it be easier to convince a Hitchens admirer or one of his mortally hostile ‘left wing’ critics of my politics? Why did these questions keep coming back?

    “There’s an enviable amount to admire in Hitchens’ journalistic and other written output; some of the positions he defends overlap with most rational socialists’ instinctual sympathies and when all is said and done, there are few public figures who take up the polemical cudgels with such entertainingly brutal effect.

    “But at the same time as being an outspoken critic of fascists old and new, a defender of minority national rights and unrelentingly hostile to religious mysticism of all types, Hitchens has been decisively wrong – and it seems to me, in this book at least, grossly disingenuous – on Bush Jnr, the invasion of Iraq and the ‘War on Terror’ more generally.”

    Read the full article here

    Permalink 36 Comments

    Hitchens has cancer

    July 2, 2010 at 12:02 am (Champagne Charlie, Galloway, Pro-War Left, Respect, secularism, truth, wild man)

    by Christopher Hitchens
    June 30, 2010, 4:00 PM

    hitch-110.jpgI have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.”

    (from Vanity Fair)

    Us Shirazers don’t always agree with the Hitch: but we appreciate his vigorous defence of atheism, his willingness to attack “left wing” betrayers of enlightenment values, and his consistent denunciations of bigots and racists. His brilliant exposure of that posturing charlatan and demagogue Galloway was a moment to be savoured: “beneath each gutter there is another gurgling gutter below,” he said of Galloway, and Galloway is surely the lowest level of gutter-politician imaginable. Immediately after the debate (in 2005) most commentators (including me) scored it a draw in the terms of a public school or Oxford Uni debate. But events since then have made it clear that Hitchens was, and is,  the real winner in terms of wisdom, judgement and of simple human decency.

    Hitch: we all know that cancer of the esophagus is a serious business and that the treatment is very unpleasant. We wish you well, not because we always agree with you, but because humanity needs people like you – ready, willing and able to expose the gutter-dwellers like Galloway.

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