Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Friday, March 17, 2006

Festivals of the oppressed and carnivals of reaction

Apologies for a quiet week's blogging from yours truly, but then you should know by now that Lenin's Tomb - which now comes recommended by George Galloway MP as well as Socialist Worker - is a far better place than here to keep abreast of the latest developments in the class struggle.

Amid the ongoing violent and bloody 'carnivals of reaction' unfolding in the Middle East - particularly in Iraq and Palestine - there are signs of hope. As well as the timely anti-war demonstrations taking place this weekend, there have been some mini 'festivals of the oppressed' already this week. My favourite took place at Leeds University, calling for the racist lecturer Frank Ellis to go. This is from today's Leeds Student:

'Yesterday over 200 students and lecturers called for the dismissal of the lecturer who said that he believed black people were genetically inferior to white people and that feminism was "corroding" Britain. Ellis's students recieved an email the day before stating his lectures would be cancelled. The protest started slowly in the snow outside the Michael Sadler building with a crowd shouting chants, calling for Ellis to be sacked. Placards bearing slogans saying "I have half a mind to believe Frank Ellis...half a mind is all you need" and rally cries over magaphones shouting "Ellis, Ellis, Ellis - Out, Out, Out" blocked the path to the lecture theatre...Gospel Ikpeme, MA student in the School of Education, said: "When we were chanting, I thought we were casting out a demon."'

The sooner this demonic and demagogic white supremacist is cast out of academia the better as far as I am concerned.

On the subject of racism, and to go, er, forward to the past, I thought I would quickly second Chris Brooke's recommondation of Dave Renton's latest thoughts on defining fascism as a political movement. I would also second Par En Bas's recommendation of Neil Davidson's article on 'Islam and the Enlightenment' in this month's Socialist Review - which is very timely in the light of the furore following the publication of the Danish cartoons.

And on the subject of feminism, I thought I would draw Histomat readers' attentions to the latest 'History Carnival' - hosted by Rob over at History: Other, which takes as its theme Gender and History. As the compiler of 'Dead King Watch', I felt compelled to draw attention to the online diaries of 'a lady of quality', Miss Frances Williams Wynn, especially when she comments on the madness of King George III. On the subject of monarchs, my Dead ones are all rulers of England (though of course, most of them are hardly 'English' themselves) , but dead nineteenth century Queens of Madagascar should not be forgotten either, particularly if like Ranavalona, they succeed in helping keeping their country independent from the envious preying colonial eyes of Britain and France.

Moving into the twentieth century, - and away from questions of gender - there is an article here about how the CIA helped Nazi war criminals reconstruct their lives after the Second World War, while there is also a slightly more uplifting story about resisting racism in sport with respect to apartheid South Africa and rugby in New Zealand here. Last but not least, my favorite from this selection - apart from a brief review of Jim Sharpe's book on Dick Turpin, The Myth of the English Highwayman, there is a post about the birth of a nation - Algeria - here. History helps show that there is hope amid our present carnival of despair if you look hard enough for it - lets have more History Carnivals.

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