Archive for June, 2008

… and a number of websites that I use often

June 25, 2008

Reading my two most recent pieces on this blog, one might think that I spent my time online mainly reading other weblogs. That is not quite true, there are, ofcourse, other kinds of sites I find useful ans visit frequently. Let me introduce a few of them. As this is a weblog for English-language readers, I will leave out websites in the language that I tend to use most often, which happens to be Dutch…

An absolute favourite is the online version of the radical magazine Counterpunch. Every day new articles way outsiede the mainstream, comments on forgotten aspets of the wars raging, the dismantling of civil liberties going on in the USA, repression and resistance in all kinds of coun tries. When there is something shocking happening – an shooting spree on a U.S. university, for instance, or a crisis around elections in Ukraine – besure to check this site. You will find articles thathelp you to make sense of those events.

The politics of the magazine are not that clear, not soe say inconsistent, often delightfully so. The irreverence of especially the editors, radical journalist Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, is a pleasure to behold. However, it has its downsides, as, for instance, when Cockbrun cannot resist the temptation to side with climate sceptics, apparently just out of a sense of mischief against what he considers a wrong-headed consensus. Also, the mixture of old-style conservative articles among the left wing ones is not what radical magaines are made for. The fact that some conservatives, out of isolationist motoves, dislike the wars of the Bush administration, and that they don’t like the imperial superstate that the neo-conservatives erect to wage those wars – these facts are no good reason to consider, for instance, the fans of dissident Republican Ron Paul in any sense true allies. Still, it makes for a surprising mix…

Another splendid website is Tomdispatch, with its subtitle: ‘a regular antidote to the mainstream media’. Its maker, Tom Engelhardt, writes well-researched articels on the Iraq war and other episodes of the ‘War on Rerror’. He also publishes articles by a number of other relevant writers: Michael Klare on enery policies, oil etcetera; Nick Turse on the Pentagon, the military- industrial complex in shocking, sometimes also hilarious detail, and others. The articles are well-annotated and contain a wealth of leads for further research. People whoe regularly checked Tomdipatch in recent years will neither have been suprised by recent news about the US  planning tot stay in Iraq endlessly, nor by the fact that Big oil is preparing to return to the country. Tom Engelhardt and other writers of Tomdispatch can rightly say: we told you so, way back years ago. if you are not tegularly reading Tomdispatch, you do yourself a disservice.

Of course, I also look at regular more mainstream websites for news and background. I prefer Aljazeera and the BBC, and British newspapers like the Guardian. For an overview of relevant pieces, selected from a progressive perspective for progressive readers,  from the English-language press, I check Common Dreams. That saves me the effort of checking all the main British, American, Canadian, Australian newspapers myself on a daily basis… Yes, I am aware of the fact that I cannot blindly rely on such a pre-selected range, so I don’t. But my time is not unlimited.

Back to more radical sites. There are lots of them, some of thim linked to marxist organisations of left wing magaines. Socialist Worker (US), made by the International Socialist Organisation, has reorganised and restyled their website this spring, and the res7ult is impressive. Where it used to be a weekly magaine on-line, now there are daily additions. Not just news, but comments, background pieces, on the US elections, on class struggle in the U.S. and world wide, on all kinds of subjects relevant for a rebel like me, written from a similar rebellious Marxist perspective to my own ideas. Beautiful.

A different type of marxist site is the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). This is made by a Trotskyist group with, in my opinioon, rather narrow sectarian politics. The site, however, is useful indeed. They bring together information, usually based on reading the mainstream press, on conflicts and events all around the world, and combine that with Marxist analysis that basically makes sense – as long as you subtract or ignore the general conclusions which go like ‘build a socialist movement in OUR special way, there is no other salvation’…

There is, of course, much more. Maybe I will make it a habit of mine on this weblog to write a little piece like this or the wtoe latest ones, just to tell writers where my internet travel tends to take me, day in and day out. For now: enough.

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Some more weblogs I like

June 19, 2008

A few more interesting weblogs that I visit quite often. First, there is Once Upon a Time, made by Arthur Silber, a man whose politics are on the libertarian  left. He’s a very angry man, and it shows, again and again, in venomous arguments against U.S. imperialism, its crimes and its accomplices. He clearly has not a shred of illusions in th Democratic Party as an alternative: both parties, Democratic and Republican, are the expression of corporate power and imperialist ambition. A lot of his anger is directed against liberal and moderately leftwing bloggers who still will not see that de Democrats are not opponents of war and empire, not even opportunistic collaborators who go along with war under pressure – no they are, basically, just as bad as the other party. I think he is right about that, in essence.

A subject that he returns to again and again is the drift to war with Iran. And sometimes his anger turns in an almost blind rage – not just against the powers-that-be, but against all those people who should be able to see the threat and oppose it, but somehow don’t do so. Here, he attacks the one  source of any possible alternative: ordinary people. And, however frustrating it may be to watch all this passivity in the  face of impending catastrophe – still, cursing those people from which any possible altenarive has to come enhances the islolation of the ones seeking such an alternative. Among which: Artur Siber himself. For, even though I think his picture of the level of protest and resistance against U.S. imperialism is too negative, hiw voice has to be heard and it has to be taken serously.

Chris Floyd is one of the few webloggers who sees this and who does so. His weblog Empire Burlesque, the second blog I like to mention here, frequently mentions newly posted articles on Once Upon a Time. Empire Burlesque has a somewhat lighter tone, but both the anger and the politics are very similar to Silber’s. Well-documented articlses on imereialist depredations fill a large part of the blog. Especially the somewhat lesser-knownfrontlines in the so-called War on Terror get extensive treatm,ent. If you are interested, for instance, in Somalia and what the U.S and its Ethiopoian collaborators/ vassals are doing to that tormented country, Empire Burlesque is one of the pleces to check.

Hist style of argumentation is different from that of Silber. Where tha latter takes one or two events or quotes, and then builts an extensive argumantation upon that base, Floyd reserves much more space for the quotes and facts, letting them almost speak for themselves. The methods are different; the disgust of what imerpialism is doing to humanity is very similar. Floyd has one advantage: he is clearly a Bob Dylan lover, as am I…

Some weblogs I like

June 19, 2008

‘Tell me what books you read, and I’ll tell you who you are.’ That is the translation of a Dutch expression; I have no idea whether the same expression exist in the English language, but you get the idea. Reworked for the internet era, you get: tell me what websites you check regularly, what weblogs you like etcetera – and I’ll tell you who you are. So, let me tell you what websites  I like and check regularly. Then you can draw your own conclusions. Being a blogger, I’ll start with weblogs I like. Maybe I’ll write another piece around other kinds of favourite websites.

Everyday, basically, I take a look on Lenin’s Tomb, a beautiful blog from Britain made by ‘Lenin’ and a few others. ‘Lenin’ is the name that Richard Seymour uses on this blog; he is part of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (UK), and not one of its worst parts either. He writes sharp articles on a broad range of subjects, but what he writes often has to do with the so-called War on Terror, its dynamics, ideological expression and justifications such as Islamophobia, its victims, and the resistance to the wars and the warmakers. A beautiful example is his recent article on Somalia and how Western imperialism helped destroy the country under the fig leaf of ‘humanitarian intervention’.

A different kind of Marxist is Lous Proyect, from the USA whose weblog is called ‘Unrepentant Marxist’. Proyect has been member of the Socialist Workers Party (USA, not to be confused wit the SWP in Britain). That used to be a Trotskyist organisation, but it degenerated into an sectarian group that mainly worshipped the Cuban revolution, the regime that came from that revolution, and similar regimes and movements. The group also developed rather nasty habits towards its membership and an authoritarian leadership style. So Proyect left. He is now active as an independent Marxist,and this weblog bears the both marks of his independence, as well as the scars of his past.

He writes on very different subjects. Often it’s about Marxist economic theory, and how to use it to explain recent events. Sometimes he comments on developments in or around Marxist groups, splits and conflicts in and around them. He often stresses how dangerous it can ben when small groups try to base themselves simplistically on Bolshevik experience during and after the Russian Revolution. No, he says, what these groups do is copying a caricature of Bolshevism, for which Zinoviev, leader of the Communist International in the early Twenties, bears a lot of responsibility. ‘Zinovievist’, he calls this phenomenon, and he does not like it at all. I think he overstates his case. However, having myself been active in a small Marxist group for almost twent years and having left under not very pleasant circumstances, I also think he has a point, and I recognise parts of my experience in his experience. That makes me feel quite at home as a reader of his blog.

Much weaker is Proyect in analysing recent revolutions. He evaluates the Venezuelan developments led by president Chavez – ‘the Bolivarian Revolution’- much more positively than I do. Criticisms that stress the need for a thourough revolution built from below, independently from the Chavez government and state, get dismissed as sectarian. Lous Proyect may have broken withthe organisational habits of the SWP (USA). But his rather positive attitude towards the Cuban and now the Venezuelan road to ‘socialism’ shows that that his departure did nog mean a total political break. People who criticize the Cuban regime as state capitalist, and not at all socialist, get short shrift from Proyect, and I disagree with him here. He seems to have a political love/hate relationship with ‘Lenin’, from Lenin’s Tomb. ‘Here, I am with ‘Lenin’ and not with Proyect. However, it is very useful to have these kind of arguements, and his style of writing is sharp, clear, very readable.

And then, there is Louis Proyect  as a film critic. A large part of his weblog is filled with comments on recent movies. Now, I don’st follow the cinema that much, it’s just ot my thing. But Proyect’s articels on films are well worth checking, because he gives historical and political context from which one learns a lot. An example is his recent piece on a film about the Mongolian conqueror-emperor Gengiz Khan. He doesn’t just describe what the film is like; he gives a shoirt and beautiful introduction toe Medieval Mongol history and society, in whcih he effectivily debunks the ieda of Mongol society as just a matter of cruel conquest, and nothing more.

This post can grow much longer, for there are more beuatiful blogs that deserve attention. Some will get this attention – in a follow-up piece.

By way of renewed introduction…

June 16, 2008

Well, who is making this weblog? Peter Storm, born in Arnhem, Netherlands, in 1961; living singly and gaily in Tilburg, in those same yet very much changed Netherlands. Studied in Utrecht, history, become politically active, mainly in and through the Internationale Socialisten, a Marxist organisation belonging to the International Socialist (IS) Tendency. From Spring 1988 until Februari this year i was a member. I am no longer, for reasons both political and personal that I will not go into now. Politically, I remain, and intend to remain, close to the core politics of the IS Tendency: revolutionary Marxist, anti-Stalinist (as if there cam be Marxism that is NOT thoroughly anti-Stalinist…). Perhaps I am somewhat more open for the best of the anarchist tradition than I have been during my IS years. And, hopefully, the learning process will not stop, not before the revolution and not after the revolution either…

I am a writer on politics, history, society, and how to change them in what i see as the right, that is a very much radical Left, direction. Most of this writing is for my Dutch-language blog, Rooieravotr. My other main activity is music, about which you can read more on another blog I make, also in Dutch.

The blog you are now reading has been neglected for too long. Its purpose will become clearer, both to readers and to myself, as I revive it further, in the coming weeks. I intend to write once or twice everye week. My Dutch-language blog Rooieravotr has priority, as far as writing is concerned, but – especially in this US election year – som red rebel rantings in English are not out of place…

Time to revive this blog…

June 14, 2008

Silence has ruled here much too long, and it is annoying me. So it is time to revive this weblog. Coming soon: a small piece about myself and what I am doing here, a piece on some weblogs I like, an article on the American presidential elections, and, hopefully, more…