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Alienation and Mass Organization

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/12/2020 - 9:36pm in

image/jpeg iconOn the Mass Organization Paradigm in Activism.jpg

A personal reflection on alienation experienced within National Democratic mass organizations.

There was a point that I was mechanically going through “activist” motions like attending rallies, not because I felt genuine solidarity with the movement, but because it was something the org prescribed for its members.

Sitsirya

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Introducing Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi: One of the ‘Wrong Type of Jews’

Double Down News are another left-wing, alternative news site and agency. In this video, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of Jewish Voice for Labour, talks about the abuse and attempts to silence her she and the other left-wing, pro-Palestinian Jews have faced. She describes what a breath of fresh air Jeremy Corbyn was and the hope he gave people like herself, that there would be real change at last after 30 years in the Labour party. She talks about the eminent Jewish academics, who have criticised the establishment’s exclusive concentration on support for Israel as the defining factor in Jewish identity, and the powerful role left-wing Jews like herself have played in combating racism and prejudice all over the world, from the battle against Mosley’s BUF to the American Civil Rights movement and apartheid South Africa.

Anti-Semitic Abuse for Being Pro-Palestine

She begins by describing the abuse she personally got when she was 19 and presented a pro-Palestinian talk at Uni. she was called ‘safe-hating’, ‘the wrong kind of Jew’, ‘anti-Semitic’ and a ‘kapo’. This is especially despicable, as they were the Jewish collaborators with the Nazis in the concentration camps. She is bitterly critical of this type of abuse, not just because it’s especially offensive for people who have really suffered under Nazis and other vicious anti-Semites – she equates it with being called a ‘paedophile’ – but because it also delegitimises the struggle against real Fascists. Here the video shows footage from the notorious Charlottesville Nazi gathering, with the storm troopers of the Alt Right marching along chanting ‘The Jews will not replace us.’ Wimborn-Idrissi’s talk and the abuse she received was covered by the Jewish Telegraph, who put it all on the front page. Which shows you what a despicable, right-wing establishment rag it is.

Heijo Meyer and Israel’s Nazi-like Persecution of the Palestinians

She also gives the real truth about Corbyn’s infamous attendance at the speech given by Heijo Meyer, which was used to pillory Corbyn as an anti-Semite. Of course he’s no such thing, and the video shows images of the greatest prime minister Britain rejected demonstrating against racism, including his arrest for protesting against apartheid. Meyer was a Dutch Holocaust survivor – and the video shows this with Meyer rolling up his sleeve to show the tattoo on his forearm which the Nazis used to mark the inmates of the death camps. Meyer’s was speaking at a Holocaust Memorial Day event. He was describing how the techniques used by the Nazis to dehumanize people like him – Jews – in the camps to enable them to murder them are also being used by Israel against the Palestinians. And what Wimborne-Idrissi says is horrifying is that the parallels are there.

This section of the footage is grim, as it show the Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression – homes in rubble, a disabled person tipped over in their wheelchair by Israeli squaddies, a little girl with horrifically blackened, swollen eyes.

The talk was part of a series of events that also showed other communities had suffered oppression, like the Travellers. But they were shouted down by a very obnoxious, very vociferous group of Zionists. She found it deeply disgusting that these people were trying to shout down and intimidate an eighty year old man, and urged Corbyn to call the rozzers to have them removed. And in fact the fuzz were prevailed upon to do their duty. But unfortunately by that time they’d been successful in drowning out the Travellers, so that people hardly heard a word from them.

The Media Silencing of Left-Wing Jews

Naomi points out that the media refuses give Jews like her a voice. Instead they give space to organisations like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism as if they were long established and authoritative. There the video show a group waving placards, ‘Labour – For the Many Not the Jew’. This is the mendacious slogan dreamed up by novelist Howard Jacobson when he was in New York. Which is a good and sufficient reason for no-one to buy his books or listen to anything he has to say ever again. It also shows the Beeb’s Kirsty Wark and other journos as an example of this media bias. But Jews have opposed Zionism and Israel for a long time. This is accompanied by images of prominent Jewish critics of Zionism like the awesome Norman Finkelstein and various anti-Zionist Jewish conventions. Some of these are in Black and White, and are of packed, mass meetings. One looks like the Bund. This was the mass socialist party of eastern European Jews. Its slogan was ‘Wherever We Are, That’s Our Homeland’, and they were fiercely anti-Zionist.

She talks about Marek Edelman, one of the heroes of the Warsaw Uprising, who said that ‘to be a Jew is always to side with the oppressed, never the oppressor’. And that was why Jews like her aligned with the oppressed and fought against racism, and why it was just so revolting that their opponents wished to associate Jewry with the type of people they’d always fought against. She tells how the Jewish journalist, Anthony Lerman, has published articles attacking the anti-Semitism smears in the Labour party, and also Kenneth Stern’s criticism of the abuse of the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism. Stern is the Jewish academic, who formulated it. He meant it to be used in compiling statistics about anti-Semitic abuse. But he is concerned about the way it is being used to silence critics of Israel. He testified on this to Congress, and the video has a clip of his speech. He says he’s worried about the way its being used against Jewish non-Zionist college students and the way organisations are compiling dossiers and passing round opponents on critics of Israel. The anti-Zionist college students should also be heard. This is significant, because I think Stern is himself a Zionist. He’s just a decent man and not a racial fanatic like some of the organisations abusing his definition of anti-Semitism. But unfortunately all you hear are the pro-Israel fanatics. You don’t hear or see anything broadcast or printed by Lerman or Stern, except a few learned articles if you look online.

Fleeing Real Anti-Semitism, and Hope for the Future

She also talks about some of her and her families experiences as refugees from the pogroms and persecutions in eastern Europe, of not fitting because you’re weird with a funny accent. But there has to be hope. Jeremy Corbyn brought 300,000 new people into the party. And an increasing number of a new generation of young Jews, especially in America, are turning away and against Israel.

She concludes by praising Double Down News for giving left-wing Jews like herself a voice, and urges people to support it.

Meet The Wrong Type of Jew, The Media Doesn’t Want You To Know Exists | Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi – YouTube

Naomi makes excellent points, and people should hear not just her voice, but the many other Jews like her. She is right to point out, early in the video, that the political and media establishment are anti-Semitic in their attempts to create the impression that Jews constitute a single, monolithic block. That’s what their oppressors have always done.

Unfortunately the media has shown that they have absolutely no intention of giving any space to good peeps like Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewdas and the Jewish Socialist Group. The Beeb, a company which increasingly looks like it has a proud future behind it, has been one of the leaders in pushing the anti-Semitism smears. And it wonders why it comes fifth ranked as trustworthy by the British public, lower even than Channel 5.

The Beeb is reviled as left-wing and ‘woke’ by the Tories and their poodle media because of its anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic stance, and ’cause they see it as anti-Brexit. But in domestic politics and economics, it’s solidly pro-Tory and pro-Israel. Hence its steadfast refusal to let any other voice be heard, Jewish or gentile, to contradict the anti-Semitism.

But left-wing, sincerely anti-racist folks of all religions and ethnicities have and are waking up to the Beeb’s disgusting bias. Which is why they’re joining the right in switching it off.

If we are going to hear the real truth, it has to come from news sites like Double Down News, Sam Seder’s Majority Report and the David Pakman Show in America, Amy Goodson of Democracy Now! and Abby Martin of Tele Sur, Ash Sarkar of Novara Media and Kerry-Ann Mendoza of The Canary. She’s another anti-racist gentile, who’s been accused of anti-Semitism, despite having a Jewish partner. Seder and Pakman are both Jewish. Seder has described himself as the most Jewish guy you know, and has no time whatsoever for Israel screaming anti-Semitism ever time America cuts its aid budget.

When we hear the truth, more often than not it comes from these broadcasters. Because it surely is not coming from the establishment media.

Jama’at-i Islami – The Pakistani Islamic Party Pushing for Theocracy

Pakistan was founded as an explicitly Muslim country. It’s a democracy, but there is a section of its parliament, if I remember correctly, that’s made up of Muslim clergy, who scrutinise legislation passed by the lower house to make sure it accords with Islamic law. Since the 1970s and the regime of the dictator, Zia al-Haqq, Islam has become increasingly powerful in Pakistani politics. I believe the current president, Imran Khan, is the leader of an Islamic party. Pakistan was one of the nations that experienced protests against France over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and there have been official denunciations of the cartoons and President Macron’s attempts to combat Muslim radicalism.

The force behind the growth of political Islam in Pakistan appears to be the Jama’at-i Islami, whose name translates as ‘The Islamic Society.’ The article about them in The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions runs as follows

A highly disciplined and well-organised Muslim political party, founded in 1941 by Abul al-A’la Mawdudi. it aims at establishing an observant Islamic state in Pakistan. The Jam’at’s political platform offers an alternative to teh secularists and modernists, and in this lies its appeal (especially since 1977). The Ja’amat advocates that Pakistan should be a theocratic state, ruled by a single man whose tenure of office and power are limited only by his faithfulness to Islam. The ruler should be assisted by a shura (advisory council), with no political parties and no provision for an opposition. General Zia al-Haqq, the military leader after the overthrow of Z. Bhutto (1977)., used the Jama’at as a political prop for his ‘back to Islam’ campaign. The Jama’at has influence among the military, the middle classes, and the college and university students. It publishes a monthly magazine, Tarjuman al-Quran, in Lahore that has a high circulation. On the international level, the Jama’at was on good terms with Imam Khumayni and the oil rich Arab states; the Saudis have supported the movement since the early 1970s. (p. 489).

This looks like an attempt to create a kind of caliphate, and the Dictionary notes that there is considerable support for its return in Pakistan. I also wonder about the movement’s influence in British Islam, as there has been a problem with fire-breathing radicals immigrating to Britain to supply the shortage of imams for British mosques. Which is why moderate Muslims in this country have demanded government assistance in training Muslim Brits, who have grown up in our ostensibly democratic culture, as imams and community leaders.

I’m not a secularist, and believe that people of faith have a right to have their voices heard in politics and parliament, but this is just a movement for religious tyranny. In Pakistan as it is there’s persecution, including violence and pogroms against religious minorities. We’ve seen Christians murdered and imprisoned following accusations of blasphemy. There have also been riots and murders of the Ahmadiyya. Apparently even pious Muslims have been murdered because of comments they have made, which have been interpreted by others as blasphemous. There are 200 people on Pakistan’s Death Row accused of blasphemy. Many of these accusations are spurious, cynically levelled because of other disputes between the parties concerned. If a theocracy was established in Pakistan, it would only cause more oppression and violence.

I also believe that it wouldn’t be good for Islam either. Atheist sites on the web have reported that there has been a massive increase in atheism in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Six years or so ago Saudi news reported that a large number of Qurans had been found thrown into a sewer. A few days ago Iranian media reported that this had also happened in their country. A poll conducted of 50,000 Iranians found that 38 per cent of the population is either atheist or has no religion. If this is true, then it’s probably the result of people becoming fed up of the repression they are experiencing from their theocratic governments. The religious violence of the Islamist extremists, al-Qaeda and Daesh, are undoubtedly another factor. A few years ago I read a book by a French anthropologist, who came to the conclusion that the Islamist movements were the response of Muslim societies as the experienced the transition to modernity. This was comparable to the way radical, militant Christian movements had appeared in Europe in the 17th century, such as those in the British Civil War. Now Islam was experiencing the same.

My guess is that if the Jama’at ever succeeded in creating a theocracy in Pakistan, it would be massively unstable as the various sects excluded from the regime’s view of what was properly Islamic were oppressed and rebelled. I don’t believe that the Jama’at and other extreme, theocratic movements have anything to offer Muslims or anyone else anything except more oppression and violence.

Trump’s Accusations of Electoral Fraud and the Elections that Put the Fascists in Government

Yesterday Trump started flinging around accusations of voter fraud. He had already won, he declared, and so counting should stop. He also claimed that there was massive electoral fraud in states like Nevada and Georgia, where he’d lost to Biden, and stated that he was taking legal action against those states over the result and demanding recounts. These accusations seem to be utterly false, and his proposed lawsuit against Georgia has already been thrown out by the supreme court or whatever. There’s absolutely no basis to these accusations. They’re just an attempt by the megalomaniac man-baby to hang on to power any way he can. But it’s provoked demonstrations by his supporters up and down America, who are demanding that the authorities do exactly as he says.

This is all absolutely astonishing. It amazes me, because it’s less like the actions of an accomplished politician so much as a petulant child demanding that they’ve won a game and that everyone should therefore give in to them. Because. But it’s also a logical progression of Republican attitudes and policies towards voting. I put up a post a week or so ago reproducing and commenting on an article in the I, which reported that in some southern states like Mississippi Blacks and other sections of the population were being prevented from exercising their democratic rights by local legislation. Some of this dated from the era of Jim Crow, and was deliberately intended to limit the Black vote. A few years ago, The Young Turks put up a video attacking legislation the Republicans had put in place. This was ostensibly to combat voter fraud, but there was no real need for it. It’s real purpose was to exclude the poor, Blacks and students from voting. One southern Republican even gave the game away by saying that they passed these laws to stop the Democrats getting in.

It reminds me somewhat of the supposedly democratic election in Italy in the 1920s which saw Mussolini’s Fascists voted into power. At the time none of the parties in the Italian parliament had a clear majority. It had been hoped by Italy’s ruling liberal politicians that by inviting into government, they could form a coalition sufficiently strong to break this deadlock. But Mussolini didn’t want to be a junior partner. He wanted all of it. And so legislation was passed that defined Italy as a single constituency. Whichever party got the most votes nationally, would take something like three-quarters or so of the seats in parliament. The rest would be shared among the other parties. The Fascists won the election, though in many places they lost spectacularly. One of these, ironically, was Mussolini’s home town of Predappia, where he only got 2 per cent of the vote or less. Well, he had an obvious disadvantage there: they knew him.

But the result was that the Fascists became the overwhelmingly dominant party, and Italy began its journey towards dictatorship.

Mussolini had used constitutional methods, as well as brutal force, to gain power. Hitler did the same later in Germany, when the German president similarly hoped that he could break a similar political deadlock there by including the Nazis in a coalition government.

Trump’s wild, unsubstantiated accusations of electoral fraud and demands that voting should be stopped are an attack on democracy. They aren’t as flagrant or grotesque as the colossal gerrymandering that gave Mussolini control of Italy, but they’re definitely on the way there.

I don’t think Trump will get his way with his demands. But they do mark another stage in the gradual undermining of American democracy. And I’m afraid that if Trump does win, he will try to put in place legislation that will further further weaken it so that the Republicans can keep on winning unfairly. And the endpoint of all this, as in Germany and Italy, will be a right-wing dictatorship.

But it will be cloaked in the language of democracy, and protecting the will of the people.

‘I’ Article on the Laws Deterring Blacks from Voting in the Southern USA

As America gets ready to decide whether they want the Orange Generalissimo or Joe Biden in the White House for the next four years, it seems that many Black citizens in the American south are being put off voting by restrictive legislation. These laws, including one dating from the era of Jim Crow in Mississippi serve to disenfranchise the poor and minorities, and have prevented people of colour from being elected to government office in the state. The I published a report about this by Tim Sulllivan, ‘Laws continue to deter black voters in southern states’ in last Friday’s edition for 23rd October 2020. This ran

The weight of history and current laws are deterring the black vote in some southern states.

The opposition to black votes in Mississippi has changed since the 1960s, but it has not ended. There are no poll taxes any more, no tests on the state constitution. But on the eve for the most divisive presidential election in decades, voters face obstacles such as state-mandated ID laws that mostly affect poor and minority communities and the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of former prisoners.

And despite Mississippi having the largest percentage of black people of any state, a Jim Crow-era election law has ensured a black person has not been elected to statewide office in 130 years. Even today, the state has broad restrictions on absentee voting or online registration, absentee ballots that must be witnessed by notaries and voter ID laws that overwhelmingly affect the poor and minorities. Nearly a third of black people here live below the poverty line, and taking a day off work to vote can be too expensive. Then there are felony voting restrictions, which in Mississippi have disenfranchised almost 16 per cent of the black population, researchers say.

Distrust of the government runs deep. As a result, black politicians have long been fighting an apathy born of generations of frustration.

Anthony Boggan sometimes votes, but is sitting it out this year, disgusted at the choices. A 49-year-old black Jackson resident with a small moving company, Mr Boggan likes how the economy boomed during the Trump years, but cannot vote for a man known for his insults. As for Joe Biden, he and Donald Trump both “got dementia”, he says, and he hates how the former Vice President tries to curry favour in the black community. “They’re all going to tell you the same thing,” he said. “Anything to get elected.”

Some of these laws were put in place quite recently by the Republicans with the ostensible intention of reducing voter fraud. They chiefly affect the poor, Blacks and students, the section of the population most likely to vote Democrat. The Young Turks produced a report about them a few years ago, noting that one Republican politico let the cat out of the bag and actually admitted that they were intended to stop people voting for the Democrats.

Unfortunately, Mississippi isn’t the only southern state nor the Republicans the only party to rig regulations to stop Blacks voting. A few years ago the Democrats in Florida did something similar, manipulating the electoral rolls so that Blacks and Hispanics couldn’t vote.

And what the Republicans do, the Tory party copies. The Tories have also passed legislation supposedly designed to prevent voter fraud, but which also acts to prevent the poor, Blacks and other ethnic minorities from voting over here. Mike has published several articles on this, noting that the actual incidence of electoral fraud in this country is minuscule and covering reports that describe how they have operated to prevent people from voting. And it isn’t a coincidence that the sections of the population they prevent are those which also traditionally favour the Labour party.

It’s long past time these laws were repealed in both America and Britain. But this will require the election of genuinely reforming left-wing governments in each country. And I don’t see that happening any time soon with the corporatist right in control of the Democrats in America and Labour over here.

Thunderfoot Attacks Black South African Student Who Claims Western Science Is ‘Racist’

Thunderfoot is another YouTube personality like Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad, the Sage of Swindon, whose views I categorically don’t share. He’s a militant atheist of the same stripe as Richard Dawkins. He’s a scientist, who shares Peter Atkins’ view that science can explain everything and leaves no room for religion or mysticism. He’s also very right wing, sneering at SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) and attacking feminism. So he’s also like Sargon on that score. But in this video, he does make valid points and does an important job of defending science against the glib accusation that it’s racist.

Thunderfoot put up this video in 2016 and it seems to be his response to a video circulating of part of a student debate at the University of Cape Town. The speaker in this video, clips of which Thunderfoot uses in his, is a Black female student who argues that western science is racist and colonialist. It arose in the context of western modernity and excludes indigenous African beliefs, and if she had her way, it would be ‘scratched out’. One of the African beliefs it excludes is the fact, as she sees it, that sangomas – African shamans – can call lightning down to strike people. She challenges her debating opponent to decolonise their mind and explain scientifically how the sangoma is able to do that. Her interlocutor is not impressed, and laughs out loud at this assertion, which gets a sharp response from the moderator who claims that the debate is supposed to be a circle of respect and they should apologise or leave. The anti-science student states that western science is totalizing, urges her opponent to decolonize their mind, and calls for an African science. She also rejects gravity because Isaac Newton sat on a tree and saw an apple fall.

Thunderfoot answers these assertions by pointing out, quite rightly, that science is about forming models of reality with ‘predictive utility’. It is the ability of scientific model to make useful predictions which shows that the model is an accurate description of reality. Science’s discoveries are true for everyone, regardless of whether they are male or female, Black or White. He shows a clip of militant atheist Richard Dawkins talking to another group of students, and explaining that the proof that science works is that planes and rockets fly. The equations and scientific models describing them have to, otherwise they don’t. Dawkins is another personality, whose views I don’t share, and this blog was started partly to refute his atheist polemics. But the quote from Dawkins is absolutely right. Thunderfoot goes on to say that if African shamans really could call lightning down on people, then surely someone would have used it for military purposes. And to demonstrate, he shows a clip of Thor getting hit with a lightning bolt from an Avengers movie.

As for African science, he then hands over to another YouTuber, who talks about an attempted scam in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. A women claimed that she had a rock which produced refined diesel oil, and called on the government to see for themselves. Which they did. If the woman’s claim was genuine, then Zimbabwe would be entirely self-sufficient in diesel. However, such hopes were dashed when it was revealed that the rock had a hole bored into it from which diesel was being pumped.

The video goes on to make the point that such ‘science denialism’ is dangerous by pointing to the claim of the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, that HIV didn’t cause AIDS. He tried to stop people using the retroviral drugs used to treat HIV in favour of herbal cures that didn’t work. As a result, 300,000 people may have lost their lives to the disease.

Thunderfoot concludes that this is the situation this student would like to create: an African science which rejects gravity, asserts shamans can strike people with lightning, and in which hundreds of thousands of people die unnecessarily from AIDS. Here’s the video.

Racism and the Rejection of Conventional Science

Thunderfoot is right in that one current view in the philosophy of science is that science is about forming models of reality, which can make predictions. This is the view I hold. He is also correct in that science’s findings are valid regardless of where they are made and who makes them. And I’d also argue that, rather than science, it is this young Black woman, who is racist. She rejects science on the racist grounds that it was created by White Europeans. This is also the genetic fallacy, the logical mistake that a statement must be wrong because of the nature of the person who makes it. The Nazis, for example, made the same mistake when they rejected Einstein’s Theory of Relativity because Einstein was Jewish. They also believed that science should reflect racial identity, and so sacked Jewish mathematicians and scientists in an attempt to create a racially pure ‘Aryan’ science.

Science and the Paranormal

I don’t believe, however, that science automatically excludes the supernatural. There are very many scientists, who are people of faith. Although it’s very much a fringe science – some would say pseudoscience – there is the discipline of parapsychology, which is the scientific investigation of the paranormal. Organisations like the Society for Psychical Research and ASSAP have existed since the 19th century to carry out such investigations. Their members do include scientists and medical professionals. I don’t think it would be at all unreasonable for parapsychologists to investigate such alleged powers by indigenous shamans, just as they investigate appearances of ghosts, psychic powers and mediumship in the west. And if it could be demonstrably proved that such shamans had the powers they claim, then science would have to accommodate that, whether it could explain it or not.

On the other hand is the argument that science shouldn’t investigate the paranormal or supernatural, not because the paranormal doesn’t exist, but because it is outside the scope of scientific methodology to investigate it as different field altogether. Thus science can ignore the general question of whether tribal shamans are able to conjure up lightning bolts as outside its purview and more properly the subject of metaphysics or theology. In which case, it’s left up to the individual to decide for themselves whether these shamans are able to perform such miracles.

Muti Witchcraft and Murder

Thunderfoot and his fellow YouTuber are also right to point out the harm that bad and fraudulent science can do. And there are very serious issues surrounding the promotion of indigenous African magic. Years ago a South African anthropologist defended African muti at an academic conference here in Britain. Muti is a form of magic in which someone tries to gain success and good luck through acquiring amulets made of human body parts. These include the fingers and the genitals. It’s believed they are particularly powerful if they are cut off the victim while they’re still alive. There’s a whole black market in such body parts and amulets in South Africa, with prices varying according to the desired body party. Way back in 2004-5 the police found the remains of a human torso in the Thames. It had been wrapped in cloth of particular colours, and it was believed that it had belonged to a boy, who’d been killed as part of such a ritual.

Indigenous Beliefs and the Politics of Apartheid

Years ago the small press, sceptical UFO magazine, Magonia, reviewed a book by the South African shaman Credo Mutwa. This was supposed to be full of ancient African spiritual wisdom. In fact it seems to have been a mixture of South African indigenous beliefs and western New Age ideas. The Magonians weren’t impressed. And one of the reasons they weren’t impressed was Mutwa himself and the political use of him and other African shamans by the apartheid government.

Before it fell, apartheid South Africa had a policy of ‘re-tribalisation’. This was the promotion of the separate identities and cultures of the various indigenous peoples over whom the White minority ruled. This included the promotion of traditional religious and spiritual beliefs. These peoples had intermarried and mixed to such an extent, that by the 1950s they had formed a Black working class. And it was to prevent that working class becoming united that the apartheid government promoted their cultural differences in a policy of divide and rule. Mutwa was allegedly part of that policy as a government stooge.

Attacks on Science and Maths for Racism Dangerous

I’ve put up several videos now from Sargon attacking the assertion that western education and in particular mathematics is racist and somehow oppressed Blacks. I’m putting up this video because it does the same for the assertion that western science is also racist.

Not only are science and maths not racist, it is also very definitely not racist to reject some forms of African magic. Killing and mutilating people for good luck is absolutely abhorrent and should be condemned and banned, and those who practise it punished, regardless of its status as an African tradition. At the same time it does need to be realised that the South African government did try to keep Black Africans down and powerless partly through the promotion of indigenous spiritual beliefs. It’s ironic that the young woman shown arguing against science does so in an apparent belief that its rejection will somehow be liberating and empowering for Black Africans. And Thunderfoot has a chuckle to himself about the irony in her arguing against science, while reaching for her ipad, one of its products.

Belief in the supernatural and in the alleged powers of indigenous shamans should be a matter of personal belief. Disbelieving in them doesn’t automatically make someone a racist bigot. But this young woman’s rejection of science is racist and potentially extremely dangerous, because it threatens to deprive Black South Africans like her of science’s undoubted benefits. Just like Mbeki’s rejection of the link between HIV and AIDS led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of desperately ill men, women and children.

Conclusion

What is particularly irritating is that this young woman and her fellow students are affluent and, as students, highly educated. If the woman was poor and uneducated, then her views would be understandable. But she isn’t. Instead, she uses the language and rhetoric of postmodernism and contemporary anti-colonialism. It does make you wonder about what is being taught in the world’s universities, arguments about academic freedom notwithstanding.

In the past, there has been racism in science. Eugenics and the hierarchy of races devised by 19th century anthropologists as well as the Nazis’ attempts to create an Aryan science are examples. But attacks on conventional science and mathematics as racist, based on no more than the fact that modern science and maths have their origins in contemporary western culture is also racist and destructive.

Glib attacks on science by people like the young student in the above video not only threaten its integrity, but will also harm the very people, who most stand to benefit. They should be thoroughly rejected.

Defiant student protests fight to stop cuts at Sydney Uni

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 6:34pm in

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Students, Students

Cuts are raining down in universities across the country. Scott Morrison has managed to pass his Fee Hike Bill.

NSW Police have been breaking up attempts to protest these attacks, using the pretext of COVID-19 health orders.

But students at Sydney Uni have shown that it is possible to fight. Hundreds have mobilised repeatedly in the face of police repression. Students have walked out of classes, invaded the Vice-Chancellor’s building, petitioned, passed motions and protested. Courses, jobs and hours have been won back.

Around 200 students and staff assembled for a “teach-in” protest and march against cuts and fees on 14 October. The protest came the day after the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) NSW Division held a staff protest of 60 people in Victoria Park, defeating a police attempt to stop the rally in the Supreme Court.

The police repression of the student protest has provoked a major public backlash. Law Professor Simon Rice was arrested, had his legs kicked out from under him and was pushed to the ground by police, despite not even being part of the rally. A number of students were also fined and brutally manhandled.

This has pushed the NSW government to relax protest guidelines, so that rallies of up to 500 people are now permitted.

The protest drew attention to students and staff who have been organising in Medical Science against massive cuts outlined in a “Draft Change Proposal”. The cuts in individual departments and faculties must continue to be a key part of the campaign.

Oscar Chaffey, a student in the department, told the protest, “You’d think that amid a global pandemic the people who are trying to understand how diseases work would be some of the most important jobs to protect—but not according to Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health who has passed down brutal staff cuts. The School of Medical Sciences is actually going to fire the entire pathology and physiology departments and make them re-apply for half of the jobs that will be left. They are cutting pharmacology, the field that makes new drugs.

“I was talking to an academic who helps run the course that gives dentistry students clinical foundations so that they can do their placements in hospitals. Out of the seven staff who co-ordinate this course with dental degrees, five of them are about to lose their jobs.

“I may be one of the last students to graduate at this university studying physiology. I simply can’t accept that.”

Over 220 have signed a petition, dozens have participated in a photo petition against the cuts and Medical Science staff and students have mobilised for protests.

There are also looming cuts to student learning support which will hit international students particularly hard. Many students already face wait times of six weeks or two months when they try to book an appointment for assistance with their essays.

Building broader support

Mobilising hundreds has been a real achievement given the crackdown on the right to protest and the reduced numbers of students on campus. For the initial 16 September rally around 25 classes passed motions supporting the strike and hundreds signed a petition against the cuts. This took hour upon hour of conversations, stalls, contacting and lecture bashing to achieve.

Almost 120 students voted to strike in a student assembly in the lead-up. Two classes voted to move so they could join the action, and another six adopted a position of “no penalty” for groups of students and individuals who left class to participate.

Another strength was the organisation of department and faculty contingents. These established organisation beyond the existing left and connected the protests to issues in individual departments. The law students’ contingent grew from five on 16 September to 19 on 23 September. Medical Science students and staff have mobilised, drawing attention to the cuts they are facing. Philosophy, Linguistics, Government and IR, History, Art History, Architecture, Political Economy and others have also mobilised.

But it is a real challenge to build bigger, more disruptive and politically sharp actions. The 2012 job cuts campaign at Sydney Uni had rallies up to 1500 strong, and last year the climate strikes saw over 90 motions passed in lectures and 2200 join the September protest. This is significantly larger than the cuts campaign so far.

Resistance can deliver. In late September Executives at the Conservatorium of Music decided to cut the Jazz Course by 33 hours. This was reversed after a petition and collective pressure from students. The win followed a series of small protests and meetings about cuts at the Con in semester one.

In 2012 half of the academic jobs under threat at Sydney Uni were stopped by mass marches, occupations, student strikes and blockades. Every small fight creates sparks of resistance that can spread.

By Adam Adelpour

The post Defiant student protests fight to stop cuts at Sydney Uni appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Major Philosophy Event for Pre-College Students Held Online This Year

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 11:12pm in

The 2020 Australasian Philosothon—“an event that encourages school students to investigate ethical and philosophical questions in the context of ‘communities of inquiry’”—took place at the end of last month.

The philosophy competition usually takes place in person and was originally scheduled to take place at Wesley College this year, but it was instead conducted online, over Zoom, owing to the pandemic.

Matthew Wills, the creator and organizer of Philosothon, said the online format worked well.

165 students from 21 schools, as well as 40 academics, took part. The students, as young as 14 years old, engage in two days of “intense argument and collaboration.” The topics for this year’s Philosothon were: The Trolley Problem and Implications, The Case of the Four Causes, Sorry Mr Spock Science & Emotion Are Not Only Compatible They’re Inseparable, and Philosophical Scepticism.

Participants are assessed according to a rubric and given individual and team scores. Here are the results from this year’s competition:


2020 Philosothon Team Results


Philosothon 2020 Individual Results

The Australasian Association of Philosophy (AAP) has supported the event for many years and this year was, for the first time, the official host of it. Going forward, it will be taking over the hosting and organizing of the Philosothon.

The post Major Philosophy Event for Pre-College Students Held Online This Year appeared first on Daily Nous.

No corporate Uni: Building mass struggle to defend our education, and stop fees and cuts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 9:29pm in

Solidarity Sydney Student Position Paper

Cuts are raining down in universities across the country. Morrison has passed his Fee Hike Bill. 

The campaign at Usyd has shown it is possible to fight. Hundreds have mobilised repeatedly in the face of police repression. Students have gone on strike, invaded the Vice-Chancellor’s building, petitioned, passed motions and protested. Courses, jobs and hours have been won back. 

But this is only the beginning of the disaster that is unfolding across unis. The passage of the Fee Hike bill shows we are going to have to strengthen the movement to confront the attacks. 

Capitalism is in crisis. COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures have created an economic disaster. Scomo’s budget makes it clear that the Liberals want students, workers and the unemployed to bear the cost. They want to cut unis, JobSeeker and JobKeeper. Meanwhile the rich get tax cuts, hand-outs, and subsidies for planet destroying industries.

Lockdown has bolstered the power of the state. Resources have been poured into racist policing and repression of protests rather than best practice health measures to control the virus.  

At Usyd we see a microcosm of the Liberals’ agenda pushed by Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence. Hundreds of casuals have already lost their jobs, hundreds more jobs are threatened by voluntary redundancies and Med Science faces a ruinous restructure that is a sign of things to come. And this is despite the uni projecting a surplus. 

The corporate uni 

The VC is ramming through cuts there is no financial justification for. This decision is a product of the corporatised uni system. Uni was free until the late 1980s, when the ALP introduced the “Dawkins Reforms”, holding down government funding and forcing students to pay fees. At the same time they gave corporations huge tax cuts. Making up the funding shortfall meant squeezing extra money out of staff and students by charging more, making less staff do more work and degrading quality. 

CEO-like Vice-Chancellors were parachuted into unis, given massive executive power and paid huge salaries. They see cuts as a way to increase efficiency, and the pandemic as an opportunity to do what they wanted to do anyway. At Usyd, some cuts such as those in Medical Science were already planned before COVID-19 hit. 

The fight ahead 

We must oppose the fee hikes and cuts in funding and the tightening up of HECS eligibility, as part of the fight for free education, build the fight for every job and against every cut and build the power to take on the corporate uni and capitalism as a whole.

It is absolutely indisputable that mass action—and disruption of business as usual—are crucial elements of a winning strategy. Because the cuts are the product of a deeply rooted corporate logic it is not enough to simply express our opinion. We have seen this with the passage of the Fee Hike Bill. The Liberals and management will have to be forced back. In 2012 half of the academic jobs under threat at Sydney Uni were stopped by mass marches, occupations, student strikes and blockades. Similar tactics helped save Sydney College of the Arts from complete closure in 2016. In Quebec in 2012 hundreds of thousands of students went on strike for months against fee hikes, forcing the government to repeal the laws. 

A strategy for the fightback 

Mobilising hundreds on September 16 and September 23 was a real achievement given the crackdown on the right to protest and the reduced numbers of students on campus.

Systematic mass building amongst students was essential. September 16 cemented a base of active support on campus that was mobilised again on the 23rd. On September 16 in total around 25 classes passed motions supporting the strike and hundreds signed a petition against the cuts. This took hour upon hour of conversations, stalls, contacting and lecture bashing to achieve.

The fact that both the September 16 and September 23 actions were built as de-centralised protests also encouraged maximum participation, given hypocritical police restrictions and genuine concerns about COVID-19 amongst staff and students. 

We need to build more power, and the beginning of student strikes that we saw on September 16 showed the way. Almost 120 voted to strike in a student assembly in the lead-up, two classes voted to move so they could join the action, and another six adopted a position of “no penalty” for groups of students and individuals who left class to participate. 

Another real strength was the organisation of department and faculty contingents. These established organisation beyond the existing left and connected the big protests to important localised fights around the uni. The Law students’ contingent grew from five on September 16, to 19 on September 23. Medical Science students and staff mobilised for both actions, drawing attention to the cuts they are facing. Philosophy, Linguistics, Government and IR, History, Art History, Architecture, Political Economy and others have also mobilised.  

But it is a real challenge to build bigger, more disruptive and politically sharp actions in the circumstances, and there are real weaknesses we need to assess. On September 16 two classes actually voted to strike, but when the day came only individuals walked out. A significant number of students who registered for the September 16 action didn’t participate due to the police crackdown or left quickly as a result. The scale of the organising should also be put in perspective. The 2012 job cuts campaign at Usyd had the forces to gather 4000 signatures in person, last year the climate strikes saw 90+ motions passed in lectures. The is significantly more than what the cuts campaign has done so far.  

We need to bridge this gap with patient argument, the right response to police repression and by building wider awareness and collective solidarity. The police crackdown is a serious issue. One activist has been charged and dozens issued with a total of around $40,000 worth of fines.  

Unfortunately, the September 23 action (that became a centralised rally) consolidated a sentiment amongst sections of the student left that maximum “defiance” is the strategy we need. The Socialist Alternative motion regarding the upcoming October 14 protest called for “a defiant centralised rally” that will “march on the road”.

We do need to be willing to defy police when necessary, and have done so repeatedly. But when it becomes a caricature, the “defiance” approach amounts to a false strategy for change whereby the courageous actions of the most radical minority supposedly provoke wider layers of people into action.  At worst, this can lead to self-congratulatory elitism that prioritises a small minority attracting fines above building the radicalism of the thousands who oppose the cuts but are currently being consigned to the position of bystanders.

Actions this week 

We need to re-orient away from this mistaken, elitist strategy to build the kind of power we really need to win.

This week there are two actions in response to Morrison’s budget and his vicious attack on universities, students and staff.

First, there was a 60-strong NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union) staff protest in Victoria Park on October 13. This was organised openly through the submission of a Form 1 (a form notifying police of a protest).  

Police took the NTEU to the Supreme Court to stop the protest but the union won in court on Monday. This is an important crack in the use of COVID regulations to ban protests.  

The second action is the student protest with staff support under the guise of a “teach-out” on the Quad lawns on October 14. 

It was important to build the maximum student turn out for October 14 by mobilising all the faculty and department networks and hitting lectures. But we must recognise that it would have been far better to have the widest possible student walk-out and one joint, post-budget action uniting students and staff, if necessary negotiated around a Form 1 like the NTEU demonstration. 

Students could have argued to shut down classes so both staff and students could attend a united rally, just as we did in the climate strike last year. Staff and student mobilisations can reinforce each other. 

This would have been an important step in a context where the fee hike bill has passed and hundreds of NTEU members involved in National Higher Education Action Network have voted to support industrial action to defend higher education. 

But the trajectory towards “defiant” minority actions meant any effort to organise class walkouts or another student assembly was abandoned, and some in the campaign were uninterested in working to organise a joint action with the NTEU, preferring to simply use a staff teach-in as cover for a student event.

This strategic weakness was only exacerbated by a lack of representative, in-person organising meetings and accountable campaign organisation. Student activists voted on events like the “staff-student forum” last week only to have it cancelled without any explanation. There was no clear delegation of responsibility for organising key aspects of the October 14 action, leaving it to the self-appointed. Zoom meetings of the Sydney Uni EAG are often stacked and unrepresentative and there is non-transparent control of infrastructure, chairing and decisions by the unelected.  

We need democratic meetings where students outside the existing left can come, genuinely contribute and take real ownership of the campaign in maximum numbers. Addressing this is a key task if we are to build a sustained mass movement.  

Next steps 

There is time for one more major mobilisation this semester. In the wake of the budget and the passage of the fee hikes bill, the localised fight against huge job cuts at Usyd will be more important than ever. There has to be a widely advertised, Sydney Uni specific, in person meeting early next week to debrief and discuss what our next action could look like.  

There also has to be close attention to localised fights in departments and faculties. Students and staff have been organising in Med Science against massive proposed cuts. The next phase of these cuts being finalised is fast approaching. Over 220 have signed a petition, dozens have participated in a photo petition against the cuts and Med Sci staff and students have mobilised for protests. Students have also shared statements about how the cuts will impact them and Postgraduates who will lose their supervisors have also been campaigning. There must be further actions around Med Science, and the fight should be a feature of any larger actions.  

There are also looming cuts to student learning support which will hit international students particularly hard. Many students already face wait times of six weeks or two months when they try to book an appointment for assistance with their essays. This is something to watch as details emerge. 

Localised resistance delivers. In late September Conservatorium Executives decided to cut the Jazz Course by 33 hours. This cut was reversed after a petition and collective pressure from students. The win followed a series of small protests and meetings about cuts at the Con in Semester one. Every small fight creates sparks of resistance that can spread.  

After going all out for the actions this week, we must re-group and organise next week, fan every small battle and prepare our next blow against the corporate uni imposed on us by Spence and Scomo. There is a battle on for the future of our unis and our society. We need to organise, fight and win.  

The post No corporate Uni: Building mass struggle to defend our education, and stop fees and cuts appeared first on Solidarity Online.

School’s back: How the neoliberal “privatization of risk” explains the deadly decision to re-open campuses

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 5:59pm in

There have been at least 130,000 cases and at least 70 COVID related deaths at American colleges and universities since the pandemic begun. Yet, university campuses reopened in the Fall and continue as though the status quo must be maintained at all costs. Zachary Kaiser argues that this is reflective of the neoliberal privatisation of risk that … Continued

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