Saturday, 3 September 2011

UK riots: Weeks later, are politicians and thinkers insane?

The UK’s intellectual and political classes are not insane, but you could be forgiven for thinking so when you hear many of the solutions they have brought forward to tackle the causes of the riots that shook the country in August 2011. A famous English proverb says “A sign of insanity (madness) is to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome”.

As you drive around some of the areas worst affected by the riots and looting, the big stores selling electronic goods and sports clothes and shoes – which were so loved by the looters because they have the latest must have accessories – are more or less back to normal. An outsider can marvel at the efficiency of quickly restocking the shops and cleaning up the businesses. Is all now well? Far from it.

The political and intellectual classes are struggling to define the causes and solution s to the recent widespread looting as they realise that there could be resurgence if the causes are not tackled. Today’s answers are all too predictable. Those on the left say deprivation lies at the root cause while those on the right say it is the lack of discipline and this was just pure criminality. As a consequence the former want to throw more money at the problem while the latter more police, newly termed zero tolerance.

We have been here before. Britain has been pumping money into so-called troubled areas of deprivation for decades. At the same time there is a shortage of prison places which suggests the policing can’t have been that lax to start with.

It is the height of insanity to continue to offer the same “solutions” to problems which they previously failed to address.

Some on the left and right of the political spectrum have tried to call for a new assessment of the causes of the looting. Writing in the Observer [14th August 2011] , Henry Porter wrote “It doesn’t matter if you tend towards the school of thought that says this was the result of years of corrosive liberal lassitude, or the opposing view that insists we got here after years of economic neglect and privation – the fact remains that our society produced students, apprentices, school workers, middle-aged men with steady jobs, mothers, fathers and kids as young as 11 who all joined organised gangs to loot and burn down their neighbourhoods.”

“The choice we have is this: either we do the hard thinking about our society, top to bottom, or we simply limit our understanding of these events to an epidemic of criminality. The latter is easy enough because people’s behaviour was utterly inexcusable, and those on the streets looting, terrorising and burning knew perfectly well that they were doing wrong.”

An assessment of the causes would look at why there are so many gangs; why so many households with absent fathers; why so many chose to loot; why so many looters were so young; why the looters came from different, ethnic, social and racial sectors – they truly represented the ‘United Kingdom’.

Looking at the wider society, these patterns are not isolated to the riots however. Crime in absolute terms is high. People living in many city centres do not go out on Friday or Saturday nights due to binge drinkers and the ensuing violence and criminality – now termed anti-social behaviour making it sound less alarming. A visit to the Accident and Emergency hospital wards on a Friday or Saturday night is grim testimony to the consequences of such behaviour. We see the trend of criminals getting younger and youngsters committing more and more violent crimes.

The question is why is there such a high propensity for social ills which cuts across racial, income and social class structures? Social deprivation and racism from the police towards some ethnic groups may be factors but cannot be the root causes.

Indeed even the break-down in family life does not get to the root these problems as most relationships are temporary in origin, thanks to individualism. Meanwhile, materialism, which pervades the rich and the poor, ensures an individual’s identity is defined by his or her possessions.

An honest appraisal would conclude that the underlying values of individualism and materialism are the root causes. These are also some of the fundamental values upon which secular western societies are founded. While some politicians and intellectuals now talk about a need to return to “old values” or “excessive materialism” and similar things, there is a path they cannot explore fully because it leads to a fundamental questioning of the values of individualism, materialism, secularism and freedom – upon which western societies are based. Values they believe are inherently ‘good, progressive and liberating’. So no, they are not insane. They are simply unable to think outside of the box so will not address the root causes of the looting and rising anti-social behaviour. That is frightening because though the looted shops can be rebuilt and restocked, the values which lead some to loot and kill are alive and even celebrated in the popular culture, music and entertainment in the society as there is nothing to replace them.

Those advocating the adoption of western values and systems in Muslim countries fail to acknowledge that our societies will end up in the same place as the UK should we go down that road. Instead, we need to look to the return of the Islamic system and the Islamic values of taqwa, accountability and obedience to the Creator as the means to create a truly self-policing society for all its citizens. (Ends)


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Friday, 2 September 2011

Why we must mobilise against the EDL


Despite a ban on its march in Tower Hamlets, the English Defence League (EDL) is attempting to organise a static demonstration. At the time of writing it is not clear where this demonstration will be.

The EDL must not be allowed to demonstrate in Tower Hamlets.

The EDL is a fascist street fighting movement. Attempting to demonstrate in Tower Hamlets is a highly provocative move by the EDL and consistent with previous attempts to bring their violent Islamophobia into Britain’s Muslim communities. EDL demonstrations have led to riots, with violent attacks upon police officers, Muslim, Asian and black communities,  Mosques, Sikh and Hindu temples. Its actions are aimed at inciting hatred against Muslims with placards saying “Allah is a paedophile” and chanting “Burn down a Mosque”. Members of the EDL have also been linked to Norway terrorist Anders Behring-Breivik.

However recently the EDL has also turned its violence on the labour movement, attacking a trade union book shop in Liverpool and a meeting in Barking organised by local Labour Party members with Unite Against Fascism (UAF), resulting in injuries.

We welcome the public initiative led by Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman to ban the EDL’s march. A march through the heart of the East End, a multicultural borough with the biggest concentration of Muslim communities in the country, would have been damaging for community relations.

However banning EDL marches is not sufficient in itself in opposing the EDL. The EDL still intends to hold a static demonstration.  The police say it cannot ban static demonstrations. We believe the EDL’s previous violence indicates it is a clear threat to public order, and overtly incites religious and racial hatred. This supersedes any so-called right of the EDL to demonstrate in Tower Hamlets, and on these grounds it should be prevented from having static demonstrations in multicultural areas with large Muslim populations.

Crucially, the lesson of history is that fascist organisations must be mobilised against. The EDL represent a tiny minority in society. We must alert and mobilise the vast majority of people in our society who find its violent, racist and Islamophobic behaviour abhorrent. We must unite all those in society that fascists target : Muslim, Jewish, other faiths, black, Asian, LGBT communities, trade unions, the labour movement, liberals, socialists, disabled people and all those for freedom and democracy, against fascism and racism.  This is how similar movements in the past like the National Front and Mosley’s Black shirts were defeated.

Today Muslim, Asian and black communities walk freely through the streets of Poplar and the Isle of Dogs without fear. This right was hard won and thanks to those that actively campaigned against racism and fascism before us.

We cannot be complacent in the face of racism and fascism. We must actively oppose and unite against it the moment it rears its ugly head. Failing to do so would give the EDL the green light to continue its violent hate campaign without opposition.

That is why local community organisations in Tower Hamlets formed “United East End” to oppose this threat.  Together with Unite Against Fascism, we will be hosting an event on Saturday 3rd September in Whitechapel to celebrate our diverse communities.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Cable Street demonstration when Moseley’s fascists were stopped from running amock amongst the East End’s Jewish community. Today the Muslim community in the East End is facing a similar menace. It is vital that we stand together against this threat. (By Sabby Dhalu, Unite Against Fascism Joint Secretary and One Society Many Cultures Secretary,please visit www.onesocietymanycultures.org and www.uaf.org.uk)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Honestly identifying the root causes of the social malaise in society

After the countrywide riots that stunned but probably did not surprise and the immediate outright condemnation across the political spectrum, the British political class is at a well-rehearsed stage of any crisis when solutions are proposed.


Today’s answers are all too predictable also. Those on the centre-left contend deprivation lies as the root cause while for those on the centre-right it’s the lack of discipline. As a consequence the former will throw more money at the problem while the latter more police, newly termed zero tolerance.


But we’ve been here before. Britain has been pumping money into so-called troubled areas of deprivation for decades. At the same time there is a prison shortage which suggests the policing can’t have been that lax to start with.


It is the height of stupidity to continue to offer the same “solutions” to problems which they previously failed to address.


There is a reason for this intransience. The centre-right tried ‘hugging the hoodies’ for a bit while it was under a decade of centre-left policing that helped fill the prisons. Now both have returned to their respective comfort-zone extremes.


Superficial assessments of the problem are abound – from the outright racist from David Starkey that “whites have become black” to lawless inner city gangs, absent father households to the absolutely absurd, the removal of the student grant, the EMA, due to public spending cut backs.


The reality of the riots exposed the under-belly of society that looted, burnt, assaulted and even murdered because they would get away with it on the day. There is a criminal class in all societies. However, this was not a small fringe. All weren’t gang members; without fathers; from deprived areas; of low income or uneducated. The shallow assessment from the so-called historian Starkey that whites have adopted looting from black culture exposes his lack of historical acumen, despite his title, given Britain’s past spearheading of international piracy and centuries of colonisation and exploitation and shows the man to be no more than a bigoted nationalist.


A slightly deeper assessment would evaluate why so many gangs; why so many households with absent fathers; why so many chose to loot; why so many looters were so young.


These patterns aren’t isolated to the riots however. Crime in absolute terms is so high it is measured in thousands per 10,000 of the population while politicians argue over year on year changes to conceal disorder on a massive scale. There’s been a trend of criminals getting younger and youngsters committing more violent crimes. Most city town centres on most weekends are abound with criminality now termed anti-social behaviour to give it more legitimacy – just look at the evidence from A&E wards.


The question is why is there such a high propensity for social ills which cuts across racial, income and social class structures such that these cannot be the causes.


Indeed even the break-down in family doesn’t get to the root of it as most relationships are temporary in origin, thanks to individualism. There isn’t a family to start with and when there is, half end in divorce, mainly due to extra-marital relations. Meanwhile, materialism, which pervades from the haves to the have-nots, ensures an individual’s identity is defined by his possessions.


An honest appraisal would isolate the underlying values of individualism and materialism as the root causes upon which secular western societies are founded. However, politicians more interested in winning the next election than thinking about the welfare of society will play party politics while society burns – literally and metaphorically. (HTB)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The political establishment and the Oslo massacre

The establishment political parties and media have been busy covering their tracks following the massacre in Oslo last Friday.


While it is still not clear whether the 32-year-old killer Anders Behring Breivik acted alone, one thing is certain: there is a definite link between the campaign of incitement against Muslims, which has been supported by all of the parties of the US and European bourgeois establishment and by the media, and the political motives of the fascist who murdered 76 people.


At his first court hearing on Monday, Breivik declared that he wanted to inflict maximum damage on Norway’s social democratic Labour Party because, he claimed, it had polluted Norwegian culture by allowing large numbers of Muslims to enter the country. From his anti-Islamic blogs and 1,500-page manifesto, it is clear that Breivik sought with his bloody act to strike a blow against Muslim immigrants and everything he regarded as Marxist, left, multicultural and “politically correct.” He chose to target the Norwegian Labour Party because he, erroneously, considered it to be Marxist and pro-immigrant.


Despite—or, more accurately, because of—Breivik’s explicitly fascist agenda and his known ultra-right associations, the media is at great pains to obscure the political issues raised by his atrocity and portray him as nothing more than a lone psychopath. His ideas, however, are not simply the creations of the diseased brain of one individual, but rather the products of a diseased social system.


Breivik largely copied the fascistic nostrums in his Internet postings not only from anti-Muslim blogs and the ravings of the American Tea Party movement and right-wing populist parties in Europe, but also from the propaganda of the major bourgeois parties and bourgeois governments, public authorities and media editorial offices.


It was only a matter of time before the incessant promotion of racial hatred, national and anti-immigrant chauvinism and militarism engendered an act like that which occurred in Oslo.


Parties which made anti-Islamic agitation the central axis of their program have been, or currently are, in government in Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary. In France, the fascist National Front has been built up, as the major parties echoed its racist and anti-immigrant policies, to the point where it is a serious contender for the presidency. In Norway, the anti-Islamist Progress Party, of which Breivik was a member for almost ten years, has been integrated into the political establishment and emerged as the country’s second party.


In his fight against a multicultural society, Breivik draws sustenance from the heads of government of leading European states. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have all publicly stated that “multiculturalism”—that is, the peaceful coexistence of people from different cultures—“has failed.”


The bourgeois “left” has joined in the incitement against Muslims. In France and Belgium, the social democrats—backed by so-called “far left” groups—have supported discriminatory bans of Muslim headscarves and burqas. In the German Social Democratic Party, the anti-Muslim rants of one of its prominent members, Thilo Sarrazin, are regarded as a legitimate point of view.


In the immediate aftermath of Friday’s massacre, many of the anti-Muslim bloggers, right-wing populist parties and champions of a “national culture” are seeking to distance themselves from Breivik by condemning his actions. This is merely a tactical maneuver. According to a blog in a forum posted by the German PI (“Politically Incorrect”) web site, Breivik’s manifesto was excellent but his assault was counter-productive.


The German journalist Henryk M. Broder, who is quoted in the Breivik manifesto denouncing the submission of Europe to Islam, denies any connection between his own anti-Muslim tirades and the Oslo massacre. In the mainstream German newspaper Die Welt, he accuses his opponents of trying “to gain a moral advantage by imputing responsibility for the mass murder to those who criticise Islam.” Amongst these “critics of Islam” Broder includes himself along with Sarrazin and the Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders.
For years, Broder has filled the pages of Der Spiegel and Die Welt as well as various blogs and books with warnings against the “surrender” of Europeans to Islam. When asked by one newspaper whether he regretted remarks that were quoted by Breivik, Broder replied: “I would say the same again today.”


A short time later Broder published on his blog “The Axis of Good” long excerpts from Breivik’s manifesto in which he is quoted. The quotes are originally from another blogger, Fjordman, who features on web sites such as the ultra-right Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna and islam-watch. Fjordman was the main source used by Breivik to draw up his manifesto.


If any proof were necessary of the links between ultra-right, anti-Muslim forces and “serious” media such as Die Welt and Der Spiegel, Broder has provided it.
The growth of far-right anti-Islamic movements and their encouragement by established bourgeois circles reflect the crisis and decay of capitalist society. After some initial hesitation, the ruling class in Germany supported Hitler in the 1930s, regarding the National Socialists as the most effective instrument for crushing the workers’ movement and waging a new war which they hoped would free the country from its economic impasse. Today, the putrefaction of bourgeois society once again finds the capitalist class promoting fascistic forces.


Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, anti-Islamic agitation has become a key means of mobilizing support for imperialist wars—first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq and now in Libya. When US President George W. Bush referred to the Iraq war as a “crusade” he was not far removed from Breivik, who regards himself as a modern reincarnation of the Crusaders.


At the same time, the incitement against Muslim immigrants is used to divide the working class and direct anger over welfare cuts, unemployment and growing social inequality into right-wing channels. All right-wing populist parties work this way. They combine social demagogy with nationalism and xenophobia.
The main danger to the working class is not the immediate strength of fascistic forces. They presently enjoy little popular support. It is rather the continued political subordination of the working class to the bourgeoisie and its parties—the official “left” as well as the right-wing parties—which paralyzes the working class and enables the far-right agencies of the bourgeoisie to exploit the confusion and demoralization of middle class layers and sections of workers and youth.


The key role in blocking the emergence of an independent movement of the working class against capitalism is played by the trade unions and their allies in the middle class ex-left organizations. The horrific attack in Oslo is a warning of the ultimate outcome of the suppression of the independent strength of the working class.


Breivik sees himself as a martyr and a role model for a new, militant far-right movement. To defeat the danger represented by such forces, workers must break with social democracy and the trade unions and take up an independent fight against social cuts, unemployment and wage-cutting on the basis of a socialist program. New organizations of struggle must be forged to mobilize and unite the working class, and a new revolutionary leadership must be built. (WSWS)


Monday, 25 July 2011

UK Media and the Norway massacres: Why they targeted Islam

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Europe has been rocked by a horrific massacre in Norway where over 90 people were slaughtered in two attacks.


Many people will question what it is that motivated the alleged killer – Anders Behring Breivik. However, others will question what motivated the British media and so-called ‘experts’ to launch all out blame against the Muslim community shortly after the event, armed only with sparse facts, base prejudices and overinflated egos.

Within minutes they were recklessly speculating that ‘Islamic terror groups’ were most likely responsible. Yet, once it became clear that no Muslims were involved, the language changed. The ‘Islamist terrorist’ turned into a ‘lone madman’ and word ‘terrorism’ was dropped by politicians and media alike.

In contrast to the hyperbole calling for clamping down on Muslims alleged to have ‘radicalised’ and influenced proponents of violence during previous incidents, the issue has been isolated to one individual, not addressing the wider political trends in society out of which this individual grew.

Furthermore, the British media decided to ignore their original errors, failing to educate their audience that the European Union’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 stated that of the 294 ‘terrorist’ incidents in Europe in 2009, only 1 was perpetrated by Muslims.

The reasons for this Islamophobia across Europe’s media and politicians needs to be understood.

One aspect is the racist bigotry of Jahiliyya – European xenophobia that is characterised by the anti-Muslim sentiments of Breivik, hostility towards immigrants and minorities. These views, which are those of the British National Party (BNP) and English Defence League (EDL) in the UK, have grown since the ‘War on Terror’ but are also because of the poor economic situation in Europe. Such racism thrives in Europe because the secular creed has, despite centuries of implementation, failed to elevate man from the base inclinations and unite people on a bond based on sound intellectual reasoning.

But the more sinister Islamophobia is that of the politicians and the ideological media who have fuelled a climate of hate in Europe against Islam and Muslims as part of their ‘War on Terror’ . In February 2011, UK Prime Minister David Cameron spoke at a security conference in Munich, where he attacked the doctrine of multiculturalism linking it to a call for Muslims to become more Westernised. The speech was praised by the leader of France’s racist National Front, Marine Le Pen.

Cameron, like Blair before him, and like Sarkozy in France, attacks Islam because he realises that in today’s world, where secular capitalism is failing, people are looking for an alternative. Muslims, will inevitably look to Islam for an alternative. So, they put pressure on Muslims to westernise, secularise, leave Islamic values and leave the call for the implementation of Islam in the Muslim world. They ban hijab and niqab in Europe, whilst saying that Islamic government is not an option to replace secular dictators in the Arab uprisings.

As these politicians, and their allies in the media, demonise Islam, this has created a climate where ordinary people fear and hate Muslims, adding to the pressure on the Muslim community.

In such a climate the Muslim community has to realise the challenge – to hold on to these values – and indeed to invite others to look at this beautiful deen with its comprehensive way of life. (Ends)

Read full pdf reports; 


European Union’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report 2010 from; here

2083 A European Declaration of Independence; Full pdf from here 

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Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Tony Blair: My Political Life

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Former British prime minister Tony Blair discusses his new political memoir, A Journey: My Political Life, in conversation with noted journalist and editor Tina Brown.

Tony Blair's emergence as Labour Party leader in 1994 marked a seismic shift in British politics. Within a few short years, he had transformed his party and rallied the country behind him, becoming prime minister in 1997 with the biggest victory in Labour's history, and bringing to an end 18 years of Conservative government. He took Labour to a historic three terms in office as Britain's dominant political figure of the last two decades.

A Journey is Tony Blair's firsthand account of his years in office and beyond. Here he describes for the first time his role in shaping our recent history, from the aftermath of Princess Diana's death to the war on terror. He reveals the leadership decisions that were necessary to reinvent his party, the relationships with colleagues including Gordon Brown, the grueling negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland, the implementation of the biggest reforms to public services in Britain since 1945, and his relationships with leaders on the world stage--Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Vladimir Putin, George W. Bush. He analyzes the belief in ethical intervention that led to his decisions to go to war in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and, most controversially of all, in Iraq.

Few British prime ministers have shaped the nation's course as profoundly as Tony Blair, and his achievements and legacy will be debated for years to come.


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This week saw a unique event take place at the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, when Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton sat down for a fascinating conversation about their time in and out of office. They had a frank discussion about the Third Way politics they pioneered as leaders, the lessons we can learn from Northern Ireland for the peace process in the Middle East today and the pressures of modern politics.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

David Cameron’s Multiculturalism Policy in UK

Cameron told the Munich Security Conference, attended by world leaders, that state multiculturalism had failed in this country and pledged to cut funding for Muslim groups that failed to respect basic British values. He blamed the radicalisation of Muslim youths and the phenomenon of home-grown terrorism on the sense of alienation that builds among young people living in separate communities and the "hands-off tolerance" of groups that peddle separatist ideology. Read more>>>