November 19, 2007

Something rotten at Indymedia UK?

I had a bit of run in recently with an antisemitic but anonymous emailer calling themselves "Free the peeps." They accused me and several others of "working as a group" to bully Indymedia UK over the publication of an article in which Gilad Atzmon seeks to justify the holocaust. I ran a post on that. Yes I'm also sick of him but I thought, "at last! the SWP will have to ditch him now." After all, they wrongly kept Finkelstein at arms length over the Holocaust Industry and they, even worse, pulled the rug from under Lenni Brenner over Perdition in the week of holocaust memorial day. But nope. Even Lenin, who a couple of years ago personally tried, with China Mieville and James Meadway, to persuade the SWP leadership to ditch Atzmon, came here and defended the Party over its betrayal of its anti-racist principles and its Jewish and anti-racist associates and of course its lack of consistency over neo-nazi ballerinas and neo-nazi saxophonists. Or do they just favour Israelis over Brits?

Anyway, this FTP character assured those of us who s/he was emailing that the email was "off list." Well apparently it wasn't off list at all. It even found its way on to this FTP's own blog. Now the blog is very hard to follow if you're not a message board follower but this page seems to be the first. Apart from this FTP seeming to pretend that my email to him or her was something other than a response to their own antisemitic email to me, the thing that struck me most was this:
To comment you have to register. This is to prevent anonymous trolls and to encourage everyone to take responsibility for what they say, and how they say it.
This is a non-gender specific person who was named by their parents or by deed poll, Free the peeps? Or is it an anonymous troll who refuses to take responsibility for what they write, how they write and who they write to? So, curiosity aroused, I went to check out Indymedia UK to see how it's run.

This is its self description:
The Indymedia UK website provides an interactive platform for reports from the struggles for a world based on freedom, cooperation, justice and solidarity, and against environmental degradation, neoliberal exploitation, racism and patriarchy. The reports cover a wide range of issues and social movements - from neighbourhood campaigns to grassroots mobilisations, from critical analysis to direct action.

The content of the Indymedia UK website is created through a system of open publishing: anyone can upload a written, audio and video report or a picture directly to the site through an openly accessible web interface. Through this system of 'Direct Media', Indymedia erodes the dividing line between reporters and reported, between active producers and passive audience: people are enabled to speak for themselves. At bigger actions, Indymedia UK volunteers extend this participatory model by establishing 'Public Access Terminals' on the streets, and facilitating direct access to the technical equipment that enables participants to upload to the website.
And this is how this can appear as part of an article in its own right under the heading "the middle class SWP":
This sickening freak surely has more pressing worries given that his maggot freak show the swp - is about to part company with paki lover galloway.
That was an "article" about Alex Callinicos of the SWP. And how does it get there? It's an open site. 12 hours and 7 complaints after it was posted, "Free the peeps" and his or her fellow moderators decided that it was indeed racist and so they decided to "hide" it. And what does "hide" it mean. It means giving it a grey background with the word "HIDDEN" shot through it. In other words, hidden means....not hidden at all and our clever and classless and free peeps can get back to the serious matter of deciding whether or not justifying the holocaust a la Atzmon is racist or not.

Meanwhile, on a fairly similar site, the Peoples Voice, Tony Greenstein responds to one of the antisemitic Atzmonettes.

Anyway, as I said, there is something rotten at Indymedia UK that I think has to do with their open site policy and lack of political coherence together with the fact that racists of various stripes are masquerading as leftists or disclaiming their racism with those infamous words "I am not a racist but..." That and the sheer incompetence of the Indymedia UK moderators that has one of them anonymously harassing correspondents (and, in my case, non-correspondents) while the rest try to decide whether or not justifying the holocaust is racist and taking twelve hours through six complaints, to discuss the description of George Galloway as a "paki lover" before highlighting it in grey. And they are cyber-Britain's hope for the revolution. Something is rotten at Indymedia UK.


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