Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lazarus Averbuch... and the Irish Left Review (and ah, other stuff)

Huh. Never heard of Lazarus Averbuch; never knew of the existence of the Irish Left Review either.

...until now.

Anyways, the ILR contains an interesting interview (April 16, 2008) with Chekov Feeney about the introduction of a Press Council to review complaints by the Irish general public regarding 'bad' press.

Obviously, they'll be swamped.

But how will they actually deal with such complaints, and how effective will the Press Council be in maintaining a watchdog role over the use and abuse of the Irish press? (Damn. I feel like a Trotskyist writing a blurb for a public meeting.) More importantly, can a campaign be initiated to send David Flint to Ireland? With signed copies of Her Majesty at 80: Impeccable Service in an Indispensable Office?

Or something?

Probably not. In any case, read on.

A more recent article in the ILR reviews David Graeber's upcoming book Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (AK Press, 2007). Graeber is an anarchist and an anthropologist, whose previous titles include Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (Prickly Paradigm Press, 2004; available for download as a PDF) which I thought was -- rather like the Housemartins -- quite good. (And "If Liking Them Is Wrong I Don't Want To Be Right...".) The review is, in turn, taken from the blog, Counago & Spaves: Unpopular Culture for Heretics and Infidels, which is also, ah, really quite good. (I remember them from such financial adventures as

Where was I?

Oh yeah...

On Possibilities:

In this collection, David Graeber revisits questions raised in his popular book, Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Employing an unpretentious style to convey complex ideas, these twelve essays cover a lot of ground: the origins of capitalism, the history of European table manners, love potions and gender in rural Madagascar, the phenomenology of giant puppets at street protests, and much more. But they're linked by a clear purpose: to explore the nature of social power and the forms that resistance to it have taken—or might take in the future.

In the best anthropological tradition, Graeber uses rich ethnographic and historical detail to support and illuminate broad insights into human nature and society. In the process, he shows how scholarly concerns can be of use to radical social movements, and how the perspectives of such movements shed new light on debates within the academy.

On the interview with Chekov, in it he makes mention of a new book, Flat Earth News, by Nick Davies, a casually horrifying look at the news media in the UK, which "describes, in meticulous detail, exactly how the press comes to publish the propaganda of the powerful". Curiously, the interview with Chekov also links to the blog Leftwrites, and refers to the arrest of two very patriotic (sadly) gentlemen in the UK, Robert Cottage and David Bolus Jackson aka 'The Friendly Dentist' (below):

In October of 2006, two men were arrested in Lancashire, with the biggest cache of chemical explosives ever discovered in Britain, along with a rocket launcher, crossbow and bomb-making instructions. Both were linked to the BNP, with one of the men [Cottage] having been a candidate just a few months before. This event attracted not one single word of coverage in the national British press-with just a few brief stories in the local press-compared to the saturation coverage of several false-alarms involving Islamic people.

The situation in Australia is, of course, quite similar, as reflected in the experience of Brisbane doctor Mohamed Haneef. In fact:

Earlier this month, it was revealed that 14 Australian Federal Police (AFP) personnel are still working on the terrorism case against Indian Muslim doctor Mohamed Haneef, even though the only charge against the former Gold Coast Hospital registrar was dropped more than eight months ago. Nine officers remain assigned to the case full-time, with another five providing assistance “periodically”, the AFP said in answer to a question in a Senate estimates committee on April 3.

~ Mike Head, Australian Federal Police still pursuing Mohamed Haneef,, April 15, 2008

Such facts tend to lead to the conclusion that, in the words of my 'National Anarchist' comrades (sic), "If you're white, you're alright", a sentiment which is, indeed, the title of the blog post on Leftwrites which Feeney refers to. The 'Talbot Street bomb-making haul' features in 'A terror raid that doesn't make the headlines - despite chemical explosives and a rocket launcher' (Charlie Kimber, Socialist Worker, October 6, 2006) -- one of the very few instances of media reportage on the original arrest; others include The Sunday Times (News in Brief: BNP link to explosives charges, October 8, 2006) and The Burnley Citizen (Andrew Hewitt, Ex-BNP man faces explosives charge, October 4, 2006) -- and the final verdict in (among other places) The Guardian (Duncan Campbell, Ex-BNP candidate jailed for stockpiling explosives, July 31, 2007):

A second man, David Jackson, 62, a dentist, was also charged with conspiracy to cause explosions but was cleared after the jury twice failed to reach verdicts.

A BNP spokesman said after sentencing that the prosecution had been brought for political reasons. "We're not condoning it, but it's a quid pro quo to appease the Muslims," said Dr Phil Edwards, of the BNP.

"To keep them quiet, we'll snatch someone from white society. We certainly don't support the bloke. We condemn all forms of violence ... but I wouldn't have thought you could do any harm with what he had."

Dr Edwards said Cottage would not be standing as a candidate for the BNP again. "We never have anyone in the party with criminal convictions," he said, because "lefties and people on your newspaper" would publicise the fact.

Quite. For example, The BNP's terrorist links cites not only Cottage, but David Copeland, Tony Lecomber, Allen Boyce, Terry Collins, Mark Bulman and Joe Owens.

As for Lazarus, he's been resurrected by Aleksandar Hemon in his new novel The Lazarus Project, reviewed by David Leavitt in The Washington Post (April 27, 2008):

At the heart of The Lazarus Project is a true story: On March 2, 1908, Lazarus Averbuch, a 19-year-old Eastern European Jewish immigrant and the survivor of an Easter 1903 pogrom in the village of Kishinev, knocked on the door of George Shippy, the Chicago chief of police. Their encounter culminated with Shippy shooting and killing Lazarus, whom he claimed was an anarchist.

Hemon imagines that a hundred years later, a non-Jewish Bosnian immigrant named Brik, who works in Chicago as a teacher and journalist, wins a grant to do research for a book on Lazarus. His plan, he says, is to "follow Lazarus all the way back to the pogrom in Kishinev, to the time before America. I needed to reimagine what I could not retrieve; I needed to see what I could not imagine."


The structure of The Lazarus Project is ingenious. Alternating chapters give us the story of Lazarus's killing (the story Brik is writing) and the story of Brik's own journey in search of Lazarus. Then, as the novel progresses, these narratives begin, eerily, to merge. Characters from Brik's life -- or versions of them -- show up in Lazarus's story. Even Brik himself makes a brief appearance. It's a conceit that Hemon justifies through a series of meditations on the idea of resurrection that Lazarus, by his very name, evokes. Art is resurrection, but so is history, a point that Hemon drives home when he notes (ruefully) the 1908 newspaper editorials bemoaning "the weak laws that allowed the foreign anarchist pestilence to breed parasitically on the American body politic. The war against anarchism was much like the current war on terror -- funny how old habits never die."

Well, not until the state is destroyed anyways. And of course, in the meantime, the war on anarchism -- and the anarchist war on the triple yoke of capital, state, and patriarchy -- continues.