June 25, 2007

Boycott, divestment, sanctions, pay and conditions

Yes all those things in one article by Gabriel Ash in Dissident Voice. Gabriel has picked up on the leader of the UK's Universities and Colleges Union, Sally Hunt's stated reason for not personally supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) proposals against Israel.
When I speak to members, they tell me they want their union to focus on pay and conditions.
Well, in his article, Why Boycott Israel? Because It’s Good for You, Gabriel says that the campaign for BDS is a part and parcel of the struggle for improved pay and conditions.
The major argument for boycotting Israel is that it is the right thing to do. And it is. But for those of us who live off wages and depend on public services, it is also the smart thing to do — especially in Europe, where the BDS campaign is now facing a vocal onslaught. Support for Israel is an important pillar of an islamophobic, anti-immigrant and pro-war front, which includes many in the political leadership of Europe; their final prize is finishing off the welfare state.
Then the writer makes a very bold claim:
In the second part, I will also show that it is this front — not the UCU — that is heir to Europe’s historical anti-Semitism.
And sure enough, in part II he proceeds to do just that:
What then lies at the root of this quite natural alliance between Christian fundamentalists, market fundamentalists, billionaires, Zionists, islamophobes, and garden variety warmongers? Karl Schmitt, the Nazi philosopher of law who theorized the way to defend the Christian state from the twin evil of communism and liberalism, identified the essential basis of political authority in the power to name the enemy. For Schmitt, while leftists see the enemy across town, in the ruling class and the state, the problem with liberals is that they see no enemies. Communism must be opposed; but the liberal alternative is not up to the task, since, without enemies, politics degenerate. To defeat the liberal atrophy of politics as well as labor’s militant tendencies, Schmitt saw the necessity of having an existential enemy, one that the whole state can be fully mobilized against. The enemy creates the conditions for the exercise of decisive state power, free from the restraints imposed by law and the deadlocks of parliamentary politics. Although the debt is rarely acknowledged, that has been the guiding principle of right-wing reaction. One could read Huntington’s “Clash of Civilization” thesis as the globalization of Schmitt’s insight. While originally presented as descriptive, the “Clash of Civilization” has been so influential because it is in practice a political program, one tailored to combat what Huntington himself called elsewhere “an excess of democracy.” Does one needs to mention that Huntington also looks askance at unions? The raw Schmitt, however, is too clearly reactionary. The new Schmittianism of the Islamophobic front is a rightwing reaction veiled in the trappings of the traditional left.
I printed the article off to read it and it ran to ten pages so my little snippets can't do it justice. Well worth reading the whole thing.


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