Friday, January 07, 2011

Left/Right Alliance and the Propagandist

Long ago, I intended to comment on left/right alliances and the limits of said groupings in response to a post at Bob's that a was a response to Waterloo Sunset’s piece about Propagandist Magazine. Both the posts, as well as the comments that follow (Terry Glavin’s defense of the project being most notable) are worth your time if you have not already done so. However, I have not given my rational for working with the website, if only nominally. Due to a few recent events, both personal and blog related, I feel the need to sum up a few of my thoughts on this issue.

WS brought to my attention an event advertised at the Propagandist that was organized by the Jewish Defense League that I must have missed a few months prior. I was surprised to see an event for a group that I consider to have engaged in terrorist activity, but also a reactionary anti-modernist Kahanist organization that is opposed to the secular and pluralistic society I support advertised at the site. I need not list the litany of criminal offenses done by the organization, but their violent activity is surely not a thing of the past, nor is it inconsequential to larger events. In 1994, a JDL member named Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 innocent Palestinians while they were praying in the city of Hebron. The JDL did not disown the man or his actions, but claimed "Goldstein took a preventative measure against yet another Arab attack on Jews."

In sum, the JDL is no friend of liberals and secularists (or like minded conservatives for that matter). They are a group that has received condemnation from Jewish organizations around the globe. I recognize that I don’t know much about the group’s recent exploits; perhaps the Canadian JDL has renounced violence. But I do find it troubling that an event for the group was advertised at the site.

I have posted two pieces with Propagandist Magazine, one on the trend towards faith based assumptions in our political discourse, and another on the ridiculous success Tom Tancredo had running for Governor in Colorado on an openly theocratic party ticket (which was also posted at Harry’s Place, and reminded me how bizarre the comments section at the site had become). I was more than happy to be a left-leaning commenter on the site (and still do) for a number of reasons. In the past, I have been part of other multi-author projects where I disagreed vehemently with other contributors to the site. Nearly four years ago I wrote a few pieces for short lived site discussing aspects of the Euston Manifesto. I found my blogging feet writing for Indymedia Watch, and wound up getting to know a number of folks I am still in contact with today. I wrote pieces for Neoconstant, a neoconservative centered website. That project ended at an opportune moment, as I recognized I could not continue down the hole with Weekly Standard types and the editor wound up embracing more traditional paleoconservative positions. I knew that Propagandist Magazine was more “conservative” than my liking from the get go, but the fact that it included writers I greatly respected like Terry Glavin, Lauryn Oats, Eamonn McDonagh, and Ben Cohen made me see that this was a project worth getting behind.

In each one of these ventures, but especially the last two, I found myself rationalizing working with people that were in many ways opposed to the society I wanted to see develop. I knew we agreed on some key points, but there was a gorge between us on others.

Yet, I still think the Propagandist project is worth doing and engaging in. While I understand WS’s criticism of the linking policy and the tone, I have always seen the general tenor of the site to be highly tongue-in-cheek. While the issues covered on the site are not of the comedic variety, I got the sense that the bravado and machismo was a bit. Perhaps I am wrong about this, but my conversations with the editor have not dissuaded me from this belief.

And to be honest, I have always been more of a talker than a brawler when it came to political differences. I recognize that there are forces and groups that need to be fought until they surrender (fascists and theocrats come to mind). Yet, when it comes to debate among individuals that are disposed to deliberate, I find that a policy of time-consuming discussion to be the strategy best suited to turning individuals to your cause. I have met more than one young man who was pulled into a racist party or gang in their youth, and who was yanked out of it thanks to the efforts of an activist who recognized that they could change this person’s perspective. But to turn people to your cause, it requires that you act in their vicinity and not in some pure community that speaks only to itself.

Having said that, I don’t believe that working with Propagandist is akin to hanging out at Stormfront. A site linking to Hak Mao, Bob, and Internationalist Workers Tendency as well as shit like Defend Geert Wilders and Infidel Bloggers Alliance, is clearly not endorsing all of these websites' positions. But spending time with folks who are inclined to read the site may provide an opportunity to pull them toward positions I find bearable. I don’t have to like everyone on a blogroll or agree with every contributor writing for a communal website. I just need them to be the type of individual who is capable to change their point of view, and willing to agree when they are wrong on an issue and prepared to discuss larger points candidly.

Recognizing all of this, I would like to see some kind of comment made about the JDL issue.

More on this later. I encourage everyone to comment on this, as I would appreciate your input.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Here and There, and all about that internet

It was a bit surprising to see that I had not updated the home blog in almost two months. Time flies fast when you are busy as hell. None-the-less, I have enjoyed reading a slew of pieces during that time, and here are a few of them worth checking out.

Adam Holland gets us started with an excellent piece on the racism of Pat Buchanan.

Bob has a piece on influential left-wing ideas that should have greater weight in our political debate. Sarah at Harry's Place has her list as well. Waterloo Sunset takes the meme in a new direction, and is worth a read as well.

Fat Man on a Keyboard has a fine piece in defense of Multiculturalism.

Marko defends himself against Davis Gibbs' characterization of his work in his new book "First Do No Harm," spawned from the debate at Modernity's on the subject.

Michael Totten has fine pieces worth reading on the conspiracy theories inherent in Assange's rhetoric and an interview with Giulio Meotti.

Martin has a piece on religious teachings and social justice.

In what has been a great year for pieces from Nick Cohen, here is his take on Mad Men.

Stephen Kizner, who believes human rights are just some western construct, gets a a reaming from Norm.

In what has been another great year of posts at Poumista, I give you another fine set of links that I spent far too much time reading over.

Terry Glavin has also been in top form, and I leave you with his post on Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's first female president.

The Contentious Centrist ends another fine year, and her discussion with Bob about a One-State solution was especially interesting.

Shiraz Socialist has a fine piece addressing the aimlessness of modern left-leaning thought.

Propagandist Magazine has been welcoming enough to host two of my pieces this year, and the mag has been an enjoyable read even when I disagree. Here is to another fine year, and they could use a few bucks if you have any to spare.

Graeme has another fine piece in his series on Black Metal and the extreme right.