Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Luk√°cs

Monday, December 17, 2007

The 2007 Histomat Awards

Yep, its time to hand out this years Histomat Awards - possibly the most prestigious awards going in the Marxist corner of the blogosphere...

2007 Histomat International Hero(es) of the Year:
The people of Burma, Pakistan and Egypt for courageously fighting against brutal Western-backed dictatorships. (Runner up: The people of Australia for finally dumping Tory warmonger John Howard in spectacular fashion.)

2007 Histomat International Idiot of the Year:
Whichever very sick individual it was who thought Tony Blair perfectly fitted the job description of international 'peace envoy' to the Middle East (Runner up: Whichever sick individual it was who thought Al Gore deserved the Nobel Peace Prize)

2007 Histomat National Hero(ine) of the Year:
The students who defended democracy by storming a Nazi infested Oxford Union (Joint Runners up: Karen Reissmann, mental health nurse sacked for campaigning against NHS privatisation / George Monbiot, campaigning environmentalist)

2007 Histomat National Idiot of the Year:
Nick Cohen for writing the quite abysmally dire What's Left? (Runner up: Margaret Hodge)

2007 Histomat Socialist History Blogger of the Year:
Reading the Maps (for among other things putting two huge chunks of his PhD on EP Thompson online) (Joint Runners Up: Lenin's Tomb/ Louis Proyect)

2007 Histomat Most Idiotesque Blogger of the Year:
Oliver Kamm. (Runner up: The horrendously mis-named 'Socialist Unity' blog).

2007 Histomat Most Incredible Quote of the Year:
George W Bush on the inspiration of the victorious American war of Independence: 'We were a small band of freedom-loving patriots taking on the most powerful empire in the world.'

2007 Histomat Most Idiotesque Quote of the Year:
David Lammy who said of Tony Blair: 'In highlighting slavery in the way he did the Prime Minister struck the right tone and showed tremendous courage. He showed leadership but more importantly enabled us to move on. I feel very strongly that he follows in the tradition of Nelson Mandela who talked about peace and reconciliation.'



At 11:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you only be a hero if you fight against "Western-backed" dictatorships? I'll let human rights campaigners in Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea know they're not considered heroic...

At 11:23 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Anon - What about the human rights campaigners of say, Zimbabwe? You missed them out of your list of those fighting against tyranny against dictatorships that were not Western backed... I'll let them know you don't consider them heroic...

Of course you are right in a sense - it would have been more politically correct to have had as international heroes of the year: 'All the people fighting for democracy and human rights and against injustice and tyranny internationally'. And perhaps if I was going to pick out anyone I should have saluted the heroic resistance movements of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan.

But you know what? The thing about 'award ceremonies' is that you have to be a bit specific - it gets a bit boring if everyone is declared a 'winner' and I thought that in all three cases I mentioned - Burma, Egypt, and Pakistan - the people of those countries deserved mention for their struggles this year. Sorry if I have offended anyone in Saudi Arabia, Iran or North Korea - or even, to be controversial, Cuba...

At 4:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

....and why, specifically, did you focus on "western-backed" dictatorships? A touch of moral relativism, perhaps?

And I didn't mean that you should have celebrated the "resistance" movements of Iraq or Afghanistan, but the human rights movements in both countries who are standing up for basic human freedoms that we enjoy in the West. The women of Afghanistan who are standing up against the possibility of a Taliban revival...the secularists of Iraq who are trying to rebuild the country in the face of sectarian, pro-Islamist terrorism. They're the true heroes, not the "resistance" fighters who, in the name of combating "Western imperialism", want to impose oppressive theocracies.

At 4:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, you say you want the US and the UK out of Iraq. Aren't you slightly worried that without our/America's military presence, the Islamist movements in the country will gain ground, eroding the very human rights (Freedom of protest, speech, women's rights etc) that you hold so dear in our democracy? Surely you can see the danger in letting Iraq slipping down the same ultra-conservative totalitarian slope Iran tumbled down 30-odd years ago (and, yes, which the "West" stupidly initiated...)?

At 4:49 pm, Blogger Roobin said...

You sound like you really know what you're talking about, anon. You must be some expert off the telly. Which one are you?

At 4:54 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andi Peters.

At 4:57 pm, Blogger Roobin said...

You're a moron. Stick to kids TV.

At 5:14 pm, Blogger DJN said...

Socialist DisUnity should have won!

At 5:20 pm, Blogger Roobin said...

I heard Andy Newman was a pen pal of Kenneth Lay and Donald Rumsfeld. I don't believe those claims, I still feel I have a duty to pass them on though.

At 6:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this WAS kids TV - certaintly the relativistic, "my enemy's enemy is my friend" stance of this blog would rival Teletubbies for an over-simplified, warped view of the world.

You do realise that George Orwell, as one of the most brilliant, principled and pragmatic opponents of totalitarianism the world has ever seen, would have supported the military removal of a murderous, genocidal fascist state? Granted, he wouldn't have liked the spin that Blair and Bush used - and which helped to discredit the invasion - but he would've realised that the ends (a free country removed from the psychopathic tyranny of a mass murderer, and slowly - too slowly, I agree - adopting liberal, secular principles) justified the means.

At 6:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And why was it you hated Nick Cohen's brilliant, timely and urgent What's Left? so much? Surely you can see how too many people on the liberal-left apologise for the existence of tyrannical, anti-liberal, anti-socialist, theocratic regimes throughout the Islamic world in a misguided attempt to reconcile these atrocities with their inbuilt anti-American mentality. Too many people on the liberal-left overstate the rights abuses of the West, and understate those of Islamist regimes.

If you see everything through an anti-West prism, you risk losing sight of the universality of human rights. If you abandon the principled belief that you can claim one type of society (tolerant, liberal, secular) is intrinsically better than another (religious, anti-women, reactionary), then you fall into a moral vacuum where there are no absolute, undeniable human rights, and everything can be justified in the larger fight against an imperialistic West.

The tide is turning, fortunately. The terrible, repellent case of Miss Gibbons in Sudan has titled the balance against the moral relativists, and in favour of a more universal approach to human freedoms. Liberals are slowly realising that it's unwittingly racist to say that the extent to which you deserve human rights depends on the country in which you live.

At 11:41 pm, Anonymous Reclaimliberalism said...

I've just come into this discussion but have found your comments very interesting...in fact, i googled nick cohen, who i am very intrigued and delighted by - a voice of rationalism - and i got this site slagging him off. Something's not right here. . . Snowball...you claim to be a liberal and yet you appear to support movements that are inherently reactionary, ultra conservative and would like to force people into restrictive, oppressive lifestyles.

You wouldn't stand for such a reactionary attitude from Bush/Blair/Brown/Anyone in the West....why is Islamist fascism ok, but Christian evangelism isn't?

We need to reclaim liberalism from your sort of head-in-the-sand self-delusion.

At 12:28 am, Blogger paddington said...

It's 23 minutes past midnight, so I shall delay substantial comments until such time as I don't have to get up for work the next morning.

But reclaimliberalism, from what I know of Snowball, I really don't think he claims to be a liberal. Have you read this blog?! The conflation of liberalism and the left is symptomatic of the clam-like politics of 2007. The two are really quite different.

Still, I'm sure Snowball will join me in celebrating the vistory of that-chap-with-the-parting becoming leader of the.....zzzzzzzzzzzzzz etc.

At 9:44 am, Blogger Roobin said...

But anon/reclaim your argument (if you are really, seriously arguing what you are, and not trolling) is dependent upon (1) completely ignoring facts, like, for example the 1.2 million people killed in Iraq alone since 2003 (2) ignoring and appeasing the true source of this anarchy, the imperialist drive (3) erecting a massive straw man argument to substitute for an opponent.

Stick to TV.

At 10:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Roobin, the true source of the anarchy is the sectarian violence in Iraq, the Sunnis and Shias engaged in a racist struggle for power. Did we create the environment for this terrorism to thrive - sadly, yes. But does that mean the terrorists can wipe their hands of innocent blood, claim its not their fault, and justify the murder of civilans in an attempt to fight the imperialist West? No. But they will claim it does, as long as people like you and Terry Eagleton excuse their actions.

It's not the West who are oppressing the muslims of Iraq, it's the fanatical Islamists who are - or who want to, if we retreat and let them force their extreme vision of Islam onto what is a largely secular society.

Imagine an Iraq under the control of these people. It would be an Islamist regime to make Iran look like Holland on happy drugs.

As for the 1.2 million deaths - that's been largely disputed. The war, and its aftermath, have been disatrous, I agree. But that doesn't alter the fact that the removal of Saddam was a morally virtuous aim. Totally mismanaged and mis-sold, of course, but principled, anti-fascist and ideologically sound. I think it was patronising and rather sick to have suggested to the oppressed Iraqis that we couldn't support their demands to be free of a murderous tyrant because the only country capable of removing him militarily was a Western capitalist superpower. Yes, America has designs on Iraq's oil....but that's a justifiable price to pay for a free country where villages aren't raped en masse, where babies are killed in front of their parents, and where Kurdish communities are obliterated.

It's ideological decadence to adopt a position of socialist-based anti-imperialism to justify keeping a genocidal fascist in power.

At 10:56 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Snowball, I will respect your belief in human rights a lot more if you add this to your list of recommended sites:

At 11:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And a quick question....

Who are the Algerian terrorists attempting to bomb out of their country? Western invaders? Or secular muslims who don't want to live under a medieval, restrictive Islamist regime? Islamists bombing Baghdad are doing it for ideological reasons, not economic....they hate the decadence, the freedoms, the liberalism of the West. They hate the fact that we don't oppress women, that we tolerate homosexuality, that we don't teach creationism (yes, yes, I know....hello Kansas, hello Blair-approved acadamies....small blips), that we believe in freedom of speech, that we don't believe in blasphemy, that we believe in rational, empirical solutions to life's problems - not faith-based, superstitious claptrap, that we won't accept Sharia Law for Muslim immigrants, that we believe it is everyone's right to offend a religion. These terrorists aren't economic students, they're theological fanatics.

At 11:10 am, Blogger Roobin said...

That's pure fantasy. You've bought into the happy-go-lucky world of people who in 2002 confidently asserted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when bare-forked farties like myself could take ten-minutes out of our busy lives making surplus value to find out it was impossible cobblers.

There were dozens of strips of tinsel they could have used to adorn their plans for imperial domination. They chose WMD because they thought the masses were asses and, anyway, they'd soon forget and return to watching Eastenders. They were wrong about that, as they were about many things.

Now, you're free to support this war just do us all a favour and (1) be honest about why its happening and (2) drop the liberal/progressive schtick. For one thing, it's demeaning to language and sense. No-one can say for certain what he'd think but I'd guess George Orwell wouldn't approve.

At 11:44 am, Blogger Snowball said...

Wow - 18 comments. That is almost a record for comments on Histomat(the record, for pedants, is currently 24 comments).

I haven't really got time to join in the fun now but I have got time to make two quick points

1. Anon says: 'I think it was patronising and rather sick to have suggested to the oppressed Iraqis that we couldn't support their demands to be free of a murderous tyrant because the only country capable of removing him militarily was a Western capitalist superpower.'

Well I think it is rather patronising and sick to think that the Iraqi people themselves were incapable of getting rid of Saddam Hussein without the 'help' of a Western capitalist superpower.

2 To Paddington - No, I don't think the shine shines out of Nick Clegg's backside. I saw that Clegg bloke at Manchester train station a few weeks ago sitting having a coffee and looking like a yuppy businessman talking on his phone. I pointed him out to the woman serving the coffee, noting that she had just served the man who would almost certainly become the future leader of the Liberal Democrats. She was (unsurprisingly and with total justification) not impressed in the slightest - and I think to be honest she thought I was a bit wierd for sharing this piece of information with her (again, possibly justified to some extent). Just thought I would share this little story with you all...

At 11:04 am, Blogger maps said...

Thanks for the thumbs up Snowball. Be interested to see some of your thesis in situ. For what it's worth, I agree with Gandhi: Western civilisation would be a splendid idea.

At 10:26 pm, Blogger DJN said...

Andy Newman is a knob. I have no proof of this but I have many sources. I feel it is my revolutionary duty to pass this on.

At 7:15 pm, Anonymous lenin said...

I'm sharing runner up with Proyect? This is bullshit! He doesn't even have my complete lack of style.



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