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Not dead

Halfway through the redraft of "The Fuller Memorandum" and coming down with a head-cold, hence the silence — I'm low on energy right now and reserving what stamina I've got for shoveling another manuscript into the gaping firebox maw of the publishing industry.

I suppose I ought to say something about the current high political drama here in the UK, or the disgusting and negative outcome of the Euro-elections (hint for non-UK readers: the BNP are basically the UK's resident neo-Nazi party) but if you've been hanging out here for long enough you can probably read my mind, and if not, do you really want to listen to J. Random Novelist moaning about local politics?

At least the Pirate Party in Sweden matched the BNP by winning two seats in Brussels. Where are the Monster Raving Loony Party when you need them?

Oh, and in other news my first author copies of "Wireless" have arrived. Which means, it should be on its way from the warehouse to the wholesalers (and then the shops) later this week, although the official publication date is July 1st.

79 Comments

1:

The downside of a proportional representation system, is that sometimes ideologies shouldn't be represented even in small proportions.

2:

<irony>The German twist on proportional representation fixes this bug.</irony>

3:

I heard Niall Ferguson on the radio the other day arguing that PR is really bad precisely because it lets extremists have representation. I can't help thinking though that he's missed something pretty basic about representative democracy: peoples' opinions need to be represented, that's the whole point, and things need to be argued out in the parliament, in public.

4:

Maybe Nationalist Fascists winning elections says something about attitudes towards Federated Europe. Maybe the fact that nobody's managed to manage a combined Europe for a generation should tell us something. Doesn't mean the BNP are right, but politicians ignore that kind of message at their own peril. Sneering at the masses is a good way to end up leading a parade of torches and pitchforks out of town. I note that the Federated Europe factions got defeated pretty handily on the continent, too.

5:

I note that in St Ives the Monster Raving Loony party thoroughly thrashed the Labour party into last place :-)

http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/council/democracy/elections/elections2009/candidatesandresults/division.htm?division=st_ives

6:

@4: weeeell the Greens campained with a pro-Europe program in most countries I know of and won quite big, as well as some Liberal (that's European Liberal, i.e. neoliberalism, deregulation, less taxes, maybe legalize drugs if it means paying less taxes for them) parties.

First I was quiet depressed about the result in my own homecountry of Austria, but in the end one has to see that due to some weird local things, happening, for the first time ever the EU-critical protest-voters didn't flock to the ultra right-wing FPOe, who lost big in comparison to the last national election. Instead they all voted for some weird guy who doesn't even campaign in national elections and is mostly famous for having written a globalisation-critical bestseller. He's an idiot, but at least he's not an ultra right-wing idiot. Gotta look for the little things, these days.

7:

@2:

On the other hand, it is just this twist that prevented the German Pirate Party from sending a candidate of their own to the European parliament (they had just about enough votes). More than 10% of those who went to the polls were either ignored (at best) or ridiculed (in the media). That's about as many as those who voted for our liberal party FDP.

If you ridicule one in ten of those who go to the polls, don't complain about people not going there in the first place. Not to mention the fact that most of those just don't feel like they are being represented by any of those people they could vote for.

8:

wireless-related question: looking at amazon.de I see a british version (by "Little, Brown Book Group", release date apparently 26th of June) and a US version (Ace Hardcover, release date apparently 7th of July). Which one are you talking about?

Plus, as always, I'm totally unable to decide which one to get *sigh*

9:

Michael: I'm talking about both editions of "Wireless" -- I've got first copies of both sitting on the shelf behind me (and a rapidly diminishing boxful of the British hardcover -- the US one is still somewhere over the Atlantic).

The books are identical, except for different covers, page sizes, prices, and publishers: Little, Brown (aka Orbit) publish me in the UK and Commonwealth, and Ace (aka Penguin) publish me in the USA and Canada.

10:

Hmmmkay .. usually the Orbit-hardcovers are smaller in page-size .. which is good for my shelf .. So I guess I'll get that one (plus amazon.de projects an earlier delivery-date (by a few days)).

11:

I am so incensed about the BNP getting two seats, those National Front leading - nazi sympathising - holocaust denying - fascist fuckwits. Small compensation that they received fewer votes than five years ago when the outcome is still two festering euro seats...

..and relax.

Looking forward to wireless though, every cloud... But i wish we had the US cover, it is far superior.

12:

Do the UK.EU elections have a preference system, a la Australia? My gut feeling with a preference system is that it would prevent minor parties that most people want to have loose from winning in a race where two other major parties split the "rational" vote...

13:

Wow, I had no idea that Britain had anything like the BNP. That's... unfortunate for you guys. There's upsides and downsides to the American system of democracy. One of the upsides is you don't see this sort of hard Right (or Left) character get elected -- things tend to gravitate centrist.

14:

Not nearly as exciting, but I go vote for the Democratic Primary for Virginia Governor tomorrow and in my conservative city, I bet I'm one of fewer than 20 at the poll.

15:

NZ blogger norightturn had a bit of whinge about the UK part of those elections (for a republican, he spends a lot of time reading the English news, he he). Apparently your local version of "proportional" voting discriminates against minority parties in large electorates. The BNP got fewer votes than the Greens, but end up with the same number of seats.

The Monster Raving Loony Party are a new one on me. The Party Party Party Party (candidates: Bill and Ben) got half-way to getting a seat at our last general election, though. Bring back the McGillicuddy Serious Party, I say!

16:

Atrocious as it is, this is a useful feedback mechanism, no? Now the UK knows, very clearly, what a significant fraction of its citizens think about certain issues. And so does the rest of the world.

17:

Jason @13; We may not have any major loonie parties, but the occasional nutty individual can still get elected. Remember David Duke (former Grand Wizard, Loozianna State Representative, teacher of Holocaust denial in the Czech Republic and elsewhere), or Lyndon LaRouche (not actually elected, but ran for Pres. many times)? Of course Patrick Buchanan still rears his head.

Fortunately, they don't generally make it past the State level, by that time their nuttiness is pretty obvious.

18:

From the opinions I have heard expressed it seems the odd thing about some of those voting for the far right BNP is that they appear to be doing so for socialist reasons. Most of the right wing voters seem to have voted for the anti-Europe party.

So it doesn't seem like the BNP support base is particularly robust. Assuming of course that any of the other parties ever get their act together and start addressing individual citizen's needs and not just big business. Which, right now, seems a big ask.

I don't recall where from, but the quote that springs to mind is "In a democratic system even the bigoted and small minded get a say, but under any other system they would be running the show"

19:

First, condolences in your election results. Here in the US, I've sometimes considered trying to form a branch of the Scottish Nationalist Party, but then something happens in the real politics here to make me pay attention.

Second, I ran into your name because of Paul Krugman's mention of your Laundry series in his blog. So I picked up Accelerando at a local used book store two days ago and read it. (Henceforth, I intend to pick up your new books in hardcover as they come out. Hope that makes up for the non-royaltied first purchase. Until then, feel free to try out any of my music gratis! (Okay, it's normally offered for free anyway.))

Krugman had earlier talked about how Asimov's Foundation series had inspired him to go into economics, and Accelerando almost read like a fondhearted reply/rebuttal to Asimov. (And I can never resist repeating that Asimov's Three Laws would result in better killer robots than the Terminator series, since each and every Asimov robot would come equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of what harms humans.)

Accelerando was huge fun to read! At times I worry that I've accumulated too much tech and SF jargon over the years, but your book gave 'em a good workout! After hanging out in alt.slack for the past few years, it's fun to hear anybody in the post-usenet world talk about killfiles.

20:

John B Stone@18: apparently the non-"send 'em all 'home'" parts of the BNP's policies are very much traditional Old Labour tax-and-spend socialism. Whether they really believe in such or these are just a feint to appeal to their target disaffected traditional Old Labour voters is another matter, although the original Nazis were of course the "National Socialists". Hitler purged the socialist wing of the NSDAP after coming to power, but much of the Nazi programme remained socialist in effect if not philosophy. An inevitable product of totalitarianism perhaps. Nazi Germany was a command economy even if a fig-leaf of private ownership was retained.

21:

#13.

Are you f**king shitting me? we don't have a BNP, we have a Republican Party which is just as bad if not worse.

22:

BNP
NOT a suprise!
When the "mainsteam" political parties crawl up the anus of a collection of (foreign-inspired) religious fascists, usually referred to as the MCB, it is NOT suprising that a (so-far) SMALL proportion of the voters turn to the local home-grown fascists to oppose them.
It is similar to the situation in the 1930's when a lot of people thought, wrongly, that the only effective way of opposing Nazism was to join the CP.......

We should all note that BOTH Labour and Tories are STILL in favour of "faith schools", in spite of the fact that a good 80%+ of the electorate think the idea stinks.
And that being a "religious" leader gets you a free pass from awkward questions.

23:

I'm of the opinion that the US party system makes things worse, not better. The big two parties represent coalitions that embrace a variety of viewpoints. Consequently, odious shitebags that in the UK are forced to form their own party and show their colours explicitly get to run under a mainstream banner.

Random example: this (and an explanation of its implications here).

I'd say that on the basis of their anti-hispanic bile a number of prominent Republicans are getting into BNP territory. But because they're part of a mainstream party brand, a lot of people who have traditionally voted Republican will carry on doing so even if the party's leadership disappear into brownshirt territory.

24:

Looking forward to Wireless, Charlie.

25:

Chralie@23

I agree totally. The Republican party is full of folks who support ideas similar to the one fostered in the BNP but because they use a general banner of the GOP they are allowed much more leeway than had they been forced to state what they believe out right. Even Newt has had to "rephrase" his racist ranting about Sotomayor.

Whats worse is that economic realities are driving more and more middle class voters to embrace their ideology as a hedge against modernization and inevitable social changes (USA has the best health care system ever???). Anyone catch the documentary "Right America, Feeling Wronged"?

I predict we'll see a lot more of this before long.

26:

GT@22 - Agreed. For some reason radical Islamic fringe groups and their clerical leaders get a free ride and immunity from critcism by the European Left. This despite the fact that the radicals represent everything the Left should hate (oppression of women, persecution of artists, killing gays, religious fanaticism).

I get the impression that they are afraid to do so lest they lose their post-modern, morally relative, multi-cultural credentials. One day they are going to have to choose between their Left/Liberal ideals or their multi-cultural tolerance.

They can't have both.

27:

I don't believe it, but the Silver Hat Club demands that I ask if there was any possibility of vote rigging. Specifically, is it non-hackable paper-and-pencil balloting that you Euros use, or are the votes electronically tabulated by aggregators?

28:

By the by, if it helps your head cold, I shipped a (hardcover) copy of "The Revolution Business" to a fellow fan in Italy, and will be investing in a replacement copy here.

Looking forward to Wireless as well.

29:

27: the elections, at least in the UK, are paper and pencil-based.

For some reason radical Islamic fringe groups and their clerical leaders get a free ride and immunity from critcism by the European Left.

This is, of course, nonsense - either ignorant nonsense or deliberate falsehood.

30:

I used to have a problem with the American system in that if I wanted to support fiscal restraint I also had to support racism, corporate welfare, and paternalism. Thankfully, the GOP have worked long and hard and totally destroyed any fiscal credentials they may have once had, so there is no credible American fiscal responsibility party. Thanks guys!

31:

Ajay@29 - I must have missed all of those massive protest marches against radical Islam and its beliefs.

32:

Doowop: there is a technical term for a "massive protest march" against an ethnic minority -- it's called a mob of racists. We're not terribly keen on that sort of thing in this country, despite the existence of a loony fringe. And I'd thank you for taking your racist shit somewhere else.

33:

31: man, you should really just make it easier for yourself and put those goalposts on rollerskates.

You said that radical Islamic fringe groups have "immunity from criticism from the European Left". This is false. To pick one example, the radical Islamic fringe group Hizb-ut-Tahrir was banned in 2003 by the German government, which at the time was composed of the centre-left German Social Democratic Party and the left-wing Green Party.

Now, off you go.

34:

Martin@30

Agreed. We definitely need to stop spending so much on non-value added things (jets, aircraft carriers, bombs, etc.) But it seems to me that we have a major disconnect between what people want and what they are told that can get. In the case of the GOP we can have everything defense or corporate based, up to and including a missile defense shield (land based or sat based), but we can not afford to cover all of our citizens health care. In the case of the Democrats we are told we can have everything, but there is not mention of who has to pay for it. Both sides play this schizophrenia to the hilt to maintain control.

35:

Stross@32 - How would protesting/opposing those who oppress women, kill gays, censor writers/artists (and threaten them with death), etc., be racist?

Ideology/belief != race.

By your standard, Salmon Rushdie and Pim Fortuyn are racists.

I am honestly, completely, and totally baffled by your response.

36:

Doowop@26: Bollocks.

37:

Doowop: "Racism" is the nearest thing we've got to a one-word descriptor for: discrimination against members of some group on the basis of a perceived collective identity. This brackets a little more stuff than your traditional 1920s concept of race, but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck ... it's a duck.

Also note that here in the UK, the folks who are most vocal about their opposition to political islam are the political descendents of the goose-stepping brownshirts who were beating up Jews in the 1930s. Here is a hint: I don't like nazis. Here is another hint: be careful who you apologize for, lest you be mistaken for one.

Oh, and Pim Fortuyn was indeed a fucking racist. (Which in no way exculpates his murderer; but it certainly explains why he was in the firing line.)

38:

Feorag@36 - Euro Left criticism of radical islam is the "dog that didn't bark". There is an old phrase, "damn with faint praise". It is also possible to do the opposite and "praise with faint damnation".

Stross@37 - So by your own standards, your critcism of Nazis is "racist"?

39:

Doowop: here's a list of radical organizations banned from the UK by, er, a Labour government. (Who at least claim to be left.)

Apropos that second comment: I have a head-cold and I can't be arsed thinking up a cogent reply, so I'm going to resort to the internet equivalent of the last argument of kings: you're banned. (From this thread, at least.) Reason for ban: sophistry.

40:

[ DELETED BY MODERATOR ]

41:

Slight correction, Piratpartiet has only secured one seat (so far). If (and only if) the Lisbon Treaty is ratified do they gain a second seat.

Seems as if El Reg is also (incorrectly) claiming that Sweden has 18 seats in the EU Parliament (it's 19 seats at the moment, to be increased to 20 if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified).

42:

Hm? No, seems to be only 18 seats, could've sworn it was 19 (seems it was 19 in 2004, though).

43:

One good thing about Piratpartiet taking a seat (well, other than hopefully making the other parties notice that not everyone feels that ubiquitous surveillance and maximalist intellectual property laws are not inherently Good Things) is that they apparently lured enough voters away from Sverigedemokraterna (the Swedish equivalent of the BNP, more or less) that *they* didn't get a seat.

44:

But I think we can all agree that egging politicians at press conferences ought to happen more often than just to BNP guys. Also, my suggestion is that they use tar & feathers next.

45:

People might have more support for the EU parliament if the parties had actually campaigned on policies that concerns that parliament. Instead, the only election leaflets I received told me that (a) Gordon Brown is the best person to fix the UK economy, (b) Gordon Brown is the worst person to fix the UK economy, and (c) the local council has increased its expenditure on road maintenance.

What if the groupings in the EU parliament (Left, Socialist, Green, Liberal, EPP, UEN, Ind/Dem) each produced a leaflet setting out what they want to achieve in the parliament, with a space for the relevant national party to include its take on the issues? At least we'd have some more idea of what the parliament might do for us.

46:

After reading this article:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2402998.ece
(how Deobandi nutheads run 600 of 1300 mosques in the UK)

and remembering this one:
http://www.rifters.com/real/2008/10/understanding-sarah-palin-or-god-is-in.html
(lot of other stuff too, ~ in short, apparently the most oppressive religious communes last the longest. I don't know how that translates into non communal groups.
For example, the black hat Jews are doing fine and doubling their numbers every twenty years)

Makes me glad I live in a country famous for godlessness, beer consumption and a tradition of small arms manufacture.

47:

Maybe Doowoop is an Australian? The emails and text messages that did the rounds prior to the Cronulla riots (aka Sydney's second race riot in three years) sounded a bit like him. Although he appears to be able to spell.

48:

Certainly the support of these neo-nazis is worrisome, but does it mean much? In a political sense? Didn't they win a decent amount of seats because of the low voter turnout? It's not like the BNP is going to get 10% of the vote in next year's UK election, right?

Mind you I'm an American and am thus not very familiar with parliamentary politics let alone the politics of the EP. I was under the impression though that the EPP-ED forms a kind of grand coalition with the PES to keep the other parties from having any kind of influence.

This is in turn why a Labour politician actually said before the election, and this is verbatim: “Of course we want them to vote Labour first, but if they are not going to vote Labour, use the vote, use it for a mainstream party. That is the right thing to do… you know if they are going to vote Conservative, then fine, it’s a mainstream party.”

So considering the EPP-ED and the PES both lost seats but they still have enough to form a ruling coalition...nothing much changed, right?

49:

Ajay@29 - I must have missed all of those massive protest marches against radical Islam and its beliefs.

In Luton last week, when entirely sensible Muslim car workers beat up and threw out the jihadi group from their mosque.

50:

Brett L@44: As a vegetarian, I have to say I much prefer that we throw tomatoes over eggs... I don't have a solutions to the feathers though...there are always limits to vegetarianism.

On the topic of Islam and Racism. This is somewhat baffling, as I usually don't think there fine line between people who are critical of religion (aka Dawkins) and those who demonize all Muslims. It is more like a brick wall. Yet doowop throws out Salmon Rushdie and Pim Fortuyn as if they hold the same position?

Let's clarify. Criticizing the Israeli Government is not anti-semitic, criticizing the catholic church for opposing condoms in aids ridden Africa is not anti-catholic, and opposing the wearing of the hijab is not islamophobic. Despite claims to the contrary none of these things are racist. These are ideas.

It is, on the other hand, quite racist to say (as Pim Fortuyn did,) that Muslims shouldn't be allowed in a certain country. Because you are no longer attacking ideas, you are attacking people.

The reason why you cannot make blanket statements about Muslims, Jews, or Christians is because individual Muslims, Jews, or Christians may not believe Islam, Judaism, or Christianity means the same thing as you or I think it means. One, for instance, couldn't equate Reza Aslan ideology to that of Osama Bin Laden...they view Islam in completely different ways. On the other hand you can't really extend this to Nazis, that is most certainly sophistry, as there aren't a bunch of peace loving Nazis.

You can, on other hand, make blanket statements about Jains...as they are a bunch good for nothing bastards!

...it's a joke, I'm joking...

51:

Brett L@44: I think this is a much better way of dealing with nazis: send in the clowns!

52:

Brett L @ 44: I favor pieing. It leaves the targets feeling ever so much more humiliated, especially when they see themselves on the evening news.

I figure the only reason Dick Cheney hasn't been pied is that everyone knows his response would be nuclear.

53:

Anyone comparing the BNP with the American Republican Party and coming up with any answer nearing positive needs to do a little additional research into one or the other party. Unless the Wikipedia page on the BNP is completely off base, they're nothing like each other. You might as well say that the American Democratic Party is analogous to the Korean Worker's Party in North Korea. At least, I would certainly hope that would come across as insulting and silly. You might as well say outright that anyone on one side of a line is pure evil, and anyone on the other side of a line is pure good. Hey, it does make things a lot easier to put on bumper stickers and t-shirts, no?

Charlie@23: there's good and bad. It's easier for the little guys get a seat at the table in the proportional systems, so I guess it depends if that voice is one of reason or of craziness.

One note about the whole immigration debate: please don't automatically equate immigration controls with racism. While that argument is certainly used as cover for honest-you-betcha racists, there are a lot of people in the United States that want 1) stronger, more controlled immigration, and 2) much higher numbers of legal immigrants. For some reason these views are always at odds.

54:

Charlie: Thanks for saving me from having to reply to doowop. I know I shouldn't, but sometimes I can't help but feed the troll.

55:

Jason@53: There is most certainly some bigoted subsection of the republican party. In 2000, Rove circulated propaganda about McCain fathering a black child. In 2004 they won the election on demonizing gays. In 2006, they tried stir up racist fear with immigration. In 2008, they tried to win by insinuating that Obama was a Muslim...and therefore in league with terrorists.

Why? Because there are a lot of racists in the United States, who also have tendency to be the religious fundamentalists, and the Republicans (in general) have chosen to play to the religious fundamentalists.

With that said the majority of them, once in office, take the same position on most issues as the Democrats. Both being to the right of most mainstream conservative parties in Europe and to the left of the Neo-Nazis. Obama, for instance, is anti gay marriage, pro death penalty, pro war on drugs, pro-war n general, and is against universal health care. As for Bush, how is he Nazi? He had black people in his cabinet and, like every other U.S. Politician, was completely supportive of Israel. Not exactly the actions of Nazi.


56:

I do find it interesting that with all the celebration of the word "democracy" in the western world, how so many people are willing to throw it away if the wrong people get elected. A very platonistic way of thinking, fear of the mob, and all that nonsense.

The P.R. system is bad because it lets the extremist have a voice. Indeed... but who gets decide which people are the extremists?

57:

Funny how Americans alway think the Nazism is synonymous with anti-semitism and nothing else.

58:

@57: Well, people over here who call each other Nazis do tend to over-simplify it and/or totally mis-represent it, yes. A lot of information is discarded and warped when you have to squeeze it into three seconds of spittle-spraying yelling at the camera.

59:

@57: Was that a response to my post? I never said there weren't other elements of Nazism but the ethnic cleansing was kind of a integral aspect of it, no? Because Hitler's Nazis, if you are using a more general term then fine.

It wasn't like I was defending Bush, I was just saying it was inaccurate to call him a Nazi. He can be called a fascist, a corporatist, an authoritarian, a war-criminal, a jackass, an idiot, etc. All good, but calling him a Nazi is like Chavez calling him the devil. It's just a bit over the top. It also doesn't do justice to real Nazis, who honestly do hate Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, etc.

60:

Chris L @57:

Well before 9/11 the idea that anything approaching the level of government involvement in the rest of one's life that actual Nazism implied was unthinkable in the US. Anti-semitism, racism and homophobia are the distinguishing of the American Neo-Nazi movement. It actually is a far right movement, whereas these BNP blokes seem to have the nationalism, racism, and socialism of the more traditional Nazi party.

Again, if the major parties weren't such utterly worthless piles of self-enriching power-hungry asshats, the splinter groups wouldn't have a wedge. However, I do look forward to meetings of the Eurliament or whatever its called.

61:

Brett L @ 60:

Regrettably, antisemitism, racism, and homophobia are very common here in the US, common enough that they can be used as rallying causes by cynical (not to say evil) politicians. Nobody will cop publicly to the antisemitism these days, and they'll only admit publicly to racism against Arabs and similar brown-skinned Moslems, but homophobia is as acceptable as anti-communism* to a large fraction of the population (see California's Proposition 8 for proof).

* Although nobody here knows what a communist is.

62:

@59: Yes, I was talking to you. You all seem to think Nazism was just some particularly obnoxious form of racism. The reality was much more sophisticated than that, and the bare bones of it wasn't about race at all. Those who forget the mistakes of the past are condemned to relive them; see if you can track down a based-on-real-events movie called "The Wave" for an example of why it's important to know what the Nazi movement actually did, as opposed to what they're best remembered for.

63:

Chris L@ 62: You're creating fictional characters in your own imagination. I know perfectly well about the third wave experiment. It was a hardly scientific experiment done by a single teacher, to which we don't really know the results of, as we only have that teacher's word to go by. With that said, it wouldn't be surprising. No one here ever said that Nazism was merely an obnoxious form of racism (except for you) or even that racism was the root of the problem - which I don't believe.

With that said unless you are denying that Nazis appealed to racism as a scapegoat or that nationalism (which I consider racism) was "a part" of their ideology... then I don't have the slightest idea what you are going on about.

I mean they did kill millions of people, they didn't just do that as a throw in. It obviously fit into their ideology, otherwise they wouldn't have been able to do it. The people had to obey their command. On the other hand Obama couldn't just wake up tomorrow and be like, "let's kill all the U.S.Muslims." The U.S. wouldn't go for it. You cant just remove that aspect from nazism, so that you can call others nazis.

You could certainly say that certain groups in the U.S. have Nazi tendencies. I'm curious though about what mistakes of the past, related to Nazis, that people like me are apparently forgetting that will lead to them being repeated? Name one. Just one. Mind you, I am a Libertarian Socialist, so I'm pretty much opposed to every political system that's ever existed.

64:

I hate to admit it, but the dwoop has half a point.
I have been branded a racist for describing political islam as "Mediaval, intolerant, cruel and racist".
( By the Gruaniad newspaper, if you must know ... )

Yes, there are voices protesting political islam, other than the BNP/Fortuyn etc, but they have to be extremely careful how they voice their opinions, lest they also be branded racist.
Meanwhile, Hizb are banned from UK universities, but are still active on the streets, and we DO have religious "honour" killings.
Most of the trouble comes from the total shite Blair, and his pissed-in-your-pants warm feelings about religion.
ALL religion.
As a result of which the religious nutters have been crawling out of the woodwork all over the place, in a way that would have been unthinkable as recently as 1980. Example, the proposition to appoint the vile coverer-up of child sexual abuse, and subjugation of women, Cardinal O'Connor (Usually referred to a O'Conman) to the Upper House of Parliament - thouigh, given the howls of protest, it now looks unlikely.
In this, of course, we are imitating the USA, where the rightwingnuts of christianity are rampant.

65:

I'd agree that political islam is as obnoxious as political catholicism (whose most successful representative, General Franco, murdered hundreds of thousands, a score Al-Qaeda has yet to match).

It's just when the tar is spread too liberaly that I have to demur. . . someone mentioned the Cronulla riots further up the thread. When I was teaching my course on the anthropology of conflict in Auckland last year, I had a student who gave a solid presentation on what happened in Cronulla. In the discussion afterwards, the Muslim student in the class said she'd been in Oz at the time, and from what she remembered the rioters on both sides were a collection of thugs and hoodlums who used religion as a pretext for a scrap.

By all means condemn political islam - just don't assume it's as representative of all muslims as it claims to be.

66:

Ross Brummet@50

LOL! My co-workers are giving me that, "Has the sysadmin guy finally lost it?" look.

67:

Ross @ 56:

It is possible to *deplore* the results of an election without wanting to give up democracy. It is also possible to think that the method used for elections gives too much or too little power to fringe groups without thinking the whole idea should be scrapped.

68:

Charlie, I don't understand your reasoning on this thread in places.

Charlie@ 37 said..."Racism" is the nearest thing we've got to a one-word descriptor for: discrimination against members of some group on the basis of a perceived collective identity."

Doowop@ 38 said..."So by your own standards, your critcism of Nazis is "racist"?"

Charlie, your definition was insufficiently precise and left yourself open to that cricitism by Doowop. 'a perceived collective identity' could be anything, a belief in Islam, a love of filking or membership of a Nazi party. If society sees filkers as a collective, and discriminates against them, by your definition that would be racism.

If you had defined racism in a more precise way, such as 'prejudice against people of a perceived ethnic background' or 'prejudice against people of a perceived religious belief', then Doowop's response would have been wrong logically, but I think Doowop would not have then made the reply he did. I believe you were wrong to chastise Doowop in this instance.


Charlie @ 32 said..."Doowop: there is a technical term for a "massive protest march" against an ethnic minority -- it's called a mob of racists."

Here you misinterpreted Doowop's original statements, I think. Doowop never referred to an 'ethnic minority'. In his postings @26 and 31, he talked about 'radical Islamic fringe groups and their clerical leaders' and 'radical Islam and its beliefs'. Quite clearly he did not refer to people of an Arabic or Middle-East background, for instance. Also, he was clear in specifying the radical elements of Islam, not the mainstream. It is like Doowop saying 'We must protest against the BNP,' and you replying 'You are saying we should protest against everyone on the right, including the Conservative Party,' and then basing the rest of your argument on that assumption.

For your statement @32 to follow from Doowop's statement logically, the two groups (ethnic minorities and radical Islamic factions) would have to be identical sets, and they clearly are not.

Even more so, if you look back through your old blog postings, Doowop's statements are very similar to those in 'Pernicious Reporting', August 2008, http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/08/. In that posting, you said...

"...there's a much less palatable subtext running through this article: an unthinking and implicit endorsement of really silly superstitious beliefs and the right of those who hold them to use them to manipulate political opinion...

Pick a religion — any religion — and collect your free pass from criticism!

The knee-jerk instinct to bend the neck before expressions of faith is one of the more distasteful aspects of the modern media circus. It doesn't get remarked on enough...It's no bloody wonder we seem to be descending into a dark age of superstition — having beliefs is the next best thing to holding a diplomatic passport."

I don't see the difference between on the one hand your point in that earlier posting where we don't publicly criticise religions enough or the media that 'bends the knee' to them and on the other hand Doowop's criticism of radical Islam and people's lack of response to it. It looks to me that Doowop was living up to your ideals in that posting of 2008, but you chastised him for it. I don't understand why.

69:

D. J. P. @ 65

It seems to always be that way. Most people use the religious to justify doing X. Politicians use it to rally people together.

Bruce @ 61

Don't forget us atheists. I've spoken to folks who think we should be killed outright or thrown out of our country at a minimum. A fringe yes, but still politically acceptable to attack in the US currently.

70:

Ross @63: Imagination, little me?

Do you really think that nationalism and racism are the same thing? I don't agree, although I would give you the time of day on nationalism being closely related to xenophobia (the court calls John Howard, bring John Howard to the dock). But the whole point about the Third Wave thing was to prove that the Nazi Youth setup works just as well now as it did then.

One example of repeating history's mistakes? How about stirring up race-based nationalist sentiment to justify a huge military build-up. Ringing any bells? Do you really think it would have been hard (or unthinkable) to organise a purge of US Muslims in the GW years? Not from the rhetoric I heard. Google "Cronulla riot" if you want to know where the rhetoric ends up.

71:

I suspect some voters confused the British National Party with the Britons' Nationalist Party

72:

Ross @ 56. Democracy.

Democracy, as in the voting representational system, is just one piece of the ideal liberal democracy. The ability to toss out the unsavory group fairly if you feel you've been lied to or made a mistake is a piece of it, and so it is the protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

My point is, hypothetically, if 75% of a country votes into power a group that's going to exterminate the other 25% in gas chambers, and then the rest of the world flips out on them (Strongly Worded Statements, M1A1 tanks, etc.), it's not fair to call them hypocrites. They might have matched the whole one-person-one-vote thing, but they failed miserably at the protection of the minority thing.

73:

A black guard at the US Holocaust Museum has been shot and killed by a white supremicist who was wounded by other guards.

74:

@Dave (45) - Green party did more or less that. Here's the common manifesto: http://europeangreens.eu/menu/egp-manifesto/

75:

Democracy, as in the voting representational system, is just one piece of the ideal liberal democracy. The ability to toss out the unsavory group fairly if you feel you've been lied to or made a mistake is a piece of it, and so it is the protection of the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

ZING; or as some Americans and Frenchmen put it, it's not democracy, it's a republic. In the phrase liberal democracy, it's the liberal bit that does most of the work.

76:

Chris L: The Third Wave is based on the recollections of a single teacher, in which he makes some claims that are implausible. There are some reports, from people at the school, that he largely exaggerated things. That the Third Wave considered a joke by a lot of people...that there was an anti third wave. Unfortunately these sources are also rather unreliable.

All in all, it's a very unscientific study, that reads more like a story. With that said, it might be a nice story. It would be interesting to see if it actually worked. But I wouldn't suggest building an understanding of Nazism on such shoddy evidence. One thing that isn't acknowledged, which clearly had an affect, is the need for a charismatic well spoken leader.

You say that you think it would have been possible for George Bush to purge the Muslims? Why George Bush? His positions aren't significantly different from Obama's and most certainly Obama is a better speaker. Which is one reason why it would have been impossible. You could also point out that George Bush wasn't popular. You could point out that it wouldn't have benefited U.S. business interests and thus wouldn't have happened. You could point out that the U.S. is a very hard country to organize to do just about anything, that we are inefficient. You could point out that there are elements objectivism in U.S. Power, certainly among the U.S. public that go against Nazism – too much individualism. You could go on and on and on about why that purging a minority wouldn't have been feasible in the United States.

Theoretically the U.S. could turn itself into that, but it isn't all that close at the moment. There is no reason for such a drastic change either. People in power are quite content with their corporate empire and the public is essentially kept out of the conversation, so why change a good thing?

And no your example of stirring up nationalist sentiment to justify a huge military build up doesn't ring any bells. We have had a huge military for a very long time, our economy is based on it. I would recommend the Why We Fight documentary on this subject. As for stirring up nationalist sentiment, Bush didn't stir it up enough, otherwise he would have gotten enough people to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This, it should be pointed out, is a key reason why the Iraq and Afghanistan are now criticized as a mistake by some sectors of U.S. Power. They just couldn't recruit enough people to fight the wars. Because at the end of the day, people in the U.S. are usually fine with sending poor kids off to fight...but they aren't going to fight themselves. Unfortunately for the Bush administration too many poor people said to military recruiters: go fuck yourself.

77:

Jason@72 and Alex@74.

Once again, who gets to decide who the extremists are? In the U.S. Ralph Nader is considered an extremist. Despite the fact that his positions are pretty much that of a moderate social democrat. Despite the fact that his positions are more in line with the U.S. public than the Republicans or Democrats.

For instance, universal health care is considered an extreme form of socialism. Despite the fact that the majority of the public supports it and it is practiced in every other industrialized country in the world.

Forms of direct democracy run the risk of letting crazy people in. Then again forms of liberal democracy runs the risk of isolating power in a select group of corrupt politicians.

78:

@26

For some reason radical Islamic fringe groups and their clerical leaders get a free ride and immunity from critcism by the European Left.

BS. I live in Rome and work at the University, and today Mr. Qadafy (we write it Ghaddafi, dunno which spelling is more correct) is visiting the university, with plenty of police in riot gear around, _because_ the leftist students want to oppose him for his disgraceful policies.
While our PM and the rightwing mayor of Rome are pouring fulsome praise (more that that and they go straight(?) into French kissing)on the Lockerbie murderer: placards issued by the City Hall with a portrait of the Lybian dictator (think older Michael Jackson in an uniform one would wear at carnival as "El Supremo, Commander of the Army of Bananas") and the caption "Dialogue in the Mediterranean".
Or look at the blog of Ms. Sgrena, the journalist of the Calipari case, who opposes the anti-women policies of Islamists pretty hard (she wrote a book whose title translates as "The Slavery of the Veil", ain't it enough?). While the strongest users of the Islamic bogeyman in Italy are also hellbent on "Christian identity", denial of gay rights, restrictions on free speech and blood and soil nationalism...

Marino

79:

I don't think Doowop is an Australian, our racists don't spell that well.

Oh, and the reason we lefties aren't out protesting against the hilariously repressive Islamic fascists is that they don't run the country, so what would be the bloody point? It would be like protesting against the Fermi paradox.

Here in Canberra, where all the embassies are, I regularly go to protests outside the Chinesse or Burmese embassy, and regarding Islamofascists specifically there's always been a huge outcry among the left when news gets out of Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan or wherever that some bunch of dickheads has stoned a woman to death for being raped.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on June 8, 2009 3:50 PM.

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