nettime's_indigestive_system on Wed, 21 Apr 1999 21:13:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Re: anti-war activities in manchester [waz, paul]
          Re: anti-war activities in manchester
Chris Paul <>
          Re: anti-war activities in manchester

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Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 15:05:48 +0100
From: Chris Paul <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> anti-war activities in manchester

I'm disappointed that a post with this title doesn't
include anything on anti-war _activities_ or _Manchester_.

Chris Paul - IDEA                               @   @
Innovation in  Digital and Electronic Arts       \ /
c/o DADI 135, Manchester, M1 7HE, UK          @ - @ - @                   / \
0161 273 4414 fax 0161 273 4432                 @   @              A Catalyst For Art and Ideas

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Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 17:20:48 +0100
Subject: Re: <nettime> anti-war activities in manchester

> People in Britain are being sytematically starved of any real information
> about the war and instead getting lots of hysterical images of refugees,

Aren't we just. Lots and lots and lots and lots of hysterical images of
refugees.  An enormous amount of images of refugees. A fucking *huge* amount of
images of refugees.

Maybe, just maybe, it's *true* that Milosevic has managed to more or less expel
the whole of the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo. I know that the truth of
the situation in terms of ethnicities is being massively oversimplified, but
not just by NATO, and not just by the Western media. It's also being massively
oversimplified, as far as I at least can tell, by Serb soldiers. In Kosovo. Who
are thereby making their massive oversimplification real.

In which case, perhaps we could consider the possibility, open-minded lefty
types such as we all are, that those hysterical images of refugees actually do
constitute 'real information about the war'. Not that it's the whole story, not
that there isn't a lot that we don't know about, not that NATO is sending it's
detailed war plans to the press so that we can all discuss and debate it, but
that it is part of the story, and, quite clearly, an important part.

> some went down to a demo in London, attended by around 10000,
> although this was scarcely mentioned or shown in our media (a few seconds
> on BBC, pictures of the demo broadcast by Serb TV shown by ITN).

1 - 'Scarcely mentioned' is not the same as 'Not mentioned'. About a
million miles from it.
2 - They might be in denial about it, but the UK government *is* waging
a war.
Anti-war demonstrations are therefore lucky if they get any coverage at all,
unless they are absolutely huge. This wasn't huge, and it did get a little
coverage. What *is* your problem?

> One of the most effective arguments against the war we have used on
> petitionings and leafletings is that NATO bombings not only kill innocent
> working class people (Serbs or Kosovans- it makes no difference) but that
> it plays straight into the hands of Milosevic and whips up nationalism in
> Serbia, marginalising and diverting energy from the anti-Milosevic
> position.

There's a severe problem of tense going on here which rather ruins the
effectiveness of this argument. Two months ago I would have agreed completely.
Now I do not agree at all with this argument. The tense you have used is wrong.
Rewrite it in the past tense and it's no longer an argument against the war but
a description of a tragedy.  Worse, from the anti-war perspective, it becomes,
in the past tense, a strong argument for some kind of serious anti-Milosevic

> Nationalism is a poison that could end up killing us all.

Yeah. And it's killing all kinds of people in Kosovar right now.

> However, the anti-war movement is divided here with many on the left
> seeming uneasy about condemning Milosevic as the lesser evil compared to
> imperialist bombings.

Damn fucking right the anti-war movement is divided here. And not just here.
I'll go further - hateful though the situation now is, it seems pretty clear
that in the short term, NATO is way out and by far the lesser of the two evils.
That's obviously not clear to you. It does seem to be clear to me. It's also
clear to most of the people I've been talking to who are normally 'anti-war'.

It's fine to be anti-war when there is no action going on. It's fine to be
anti-war when there is utterly unjustifiable action going on. It's not fine to
be anti-war when the action is justified. Anyone who tells me that no war is
justified is going to hear a long long rant from me about the part of my family
that was murdered in Europe by Hitler because they were Jews and how I feel
about blanket pacifism as a result of it. So some wars *are* justified. (Or we
no longer have anything to talk about at all - if you cannot see that it was
right to fight against Hitler then you cannot see, period.)

It's fine to criticise the way a war is handled when the action itself is
justifiable (stopping genocide or attempting so to do is always justifiable) if
it does not seem to be meeting that justified goal.

But that's about as far as my criticism of this war can go.

> I think that the working class does not need to
> choose between two evils.

I wish I knew who you meant by 'working class' but I'll let that pass.  Clearly
it's one of those clubs they're never going to let a maverick like me into.

The two evils you mention, NATO and the Milosevic government, are currently
locked into a horrible dance of death. Not to choose between them is to say 'I
throw my hands up in despair at this situation and cannot participate in any
discussion about it.' NATO might be bigger, scarier, nastier and more evil in
the long-term big picture scheme of things, but the Milosevic govenment still
needs to be stopped.

I am more uneasy about your suggestion of a 'political solution involving
grassroots organisations of "ordinary working class" people from Kosovo
Albanian and Serbian communities' as a solution in the case of Kosovar, in the
light of the situation on the ground right now, today (and not last month) than
I am about NATO's suggestion of bombing Belgrade as a solution.

The problem with your suggestion is that the putative members of those
grassroots organisations in Kosovar are clearly being systematically being
murdered or expelled from their homes by the Serbian army, in cases where the
Serbian army defines them as Albanian. You and I can argue over the fine points
of the propaganda war till we are both blue in the face but it isn't going to
stop anything or anyone from committing atrocities.

The other problem is that those members of those grassroots organisations seem
to be joining the KLA en masse, rather than the KSWP. For some reason. I think
that we are some way beyond grassroots organisations of "ordinary working
class" people. Moreover, it doesn't actually matter a fucking toss to most of
them what you or I think, since when a team of armed guys come round and burn
your house down, it's time to stop using terms like "ordinary working class"
and to start using terms like "how do we actually *stop* this" and "where can I
go" and "who's got a gun I can use."

> Clinton and Blair may be bigger threats to
> peace and security (if you look at their role in Iraq and Africa, as well
> as ex-Yugoslavia) but Milosevic is just a pawn in their game, even if he's
> a bit of a rogue pawn at the moment.  

Milosevic is a pawn. But he's a rogue pawn. Uhuh. While you make your mind up,
let's just count the numbers of displaced people in the Kosovo area shall we?
There's time.

> Clinton and Blair don't give a shit
> about people anywhere: neither does Milosevic- they're all imperialist
> warlords and all should be opposed.

Now I wouldn't vote for any of these people. I wouldn't join an organisation
supporting any of these people. But I can tell the difference between Clinton
and Blair on the one hand, and Milosevic on the other. Can't you? Really not?

> Arguments about politics shouldn't get in the way of building
> as big as possible anti-war movement.

No. Unfortunately, in this specific case, arguments about the war itself do get
in the way of building as big as possible an anti-war movement. The major
weakness in your argument is the fact that you discuss 'as big as possible an
anti-war movement' without looking at why it really isn't very big at all in
the scheme of things, and why so many of us who are normally quite comfortable
and happy in the anti-war movement are more than just uneasy about it but are
actively refusing to join it. In this case.

> I argue that the anti-war movement in Britain should be quite clearly
> anti-Milosevic as this is the best tactics to appeal to most in Britain.

In the words of four million Sun readers - to whom you are trying and failing
to appeal - bollocks. At which point they will turn away and not listen to you
any more, and I will try and explain why being anti-war *and* anti-Milosevic
right now is not going to appeal to any more than those few isolated pockets of
middle-class Socialist Worker cult members who have never been known to have
any particular value for logic, consistency or thinking things through.
Anti-war *and* anti-Milosevic. So. How else do you want to express your
anti-Milosevicism? By appealing to non-existent grassroots movements of
ordinary working class dead Albanian Kosovars? Bollocks.

> It also shows maximum solidarity with the struggling working class of
> Serbia/ Kosovo. The anti-war movement here is still small but the tide is
> slowly beginning to turn.

No it isn't. Sorry. It's turning the other way. The longer this goes on, the
more that people, like me, who are normally anti-war, are realising that much
as we hate the whole Clinton-Blair NATO thing, we can't justify opposing this

> We were not consulted about this war.

Or any war. Be serious.

Victory to whoever stops the killings soonest by whatever means.


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