Particularism on the left, and its critics

Where is the outcry in my trade union about the murder of Iranian students by the Iranian authorities and its executors, the Basij militia? Why is Israeli state violence against Palestinian universities so much more important to UCU members in Britain than Iranian state violence against its own universities and students?

Intellectual historian Moishe Postone talked about this sort of particularism at his SOAS presentation on Monday.

Update June 30th: see Martin in the Margins’ UCU does something right (hat tip Kellie):

“On Saturday UCU general secretary Sally Hunt represented the union at a protest outside the Iranian embassy, as part of the Justice for Iranian Workers campaign.

The UCU has also condemned the Iranian government’s arrest of 70 university professors, as part of the crackdown on opposition protestors.

13 Responses to “Particularism on the left, and its critics”

  1. modernityblog Says:

    I was astonished to read an article at Jews sans frontieres and see them link to Ziopedia.


    Readers will remember that Ziopedia is an Extreme Right outfit and run by the Rebel Media Group, a front for the Andrew Winkler.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Where ‘Zionists’ are the target, you simply can’t go wrong. ‘Zionists’ will come to mean Jews, and Jews Without Boundaries will wish they had observed some boundaries.

  2. modernityblog Says:

    I think what is worse, is that some 38+ people seemingly have read the article (that’s how many people commented) and yet none of them could see the issue with Ziopedia?

    Another “anti-Zionist” moment, like Tom Hickey and Roger Garaudy’s work?

  3. fred Says:

    read it carefully; they are attacking the post from ziopedia they link to, which is by james petras.

  4. modernityblog Says:

    They are SOURCING their material, without thought, from a neo-Nazi, holocaust denying site, which in turn generates extra traffic for that site and confers a degree of legitimacy on it.

  5. Bob Says:

    Missed Fred’s comment and Mod’s reply. It depends what we mean by “sourcing”. If, for example, we link to a post where John Wight has passed on a Hamas statement, or if we link to Yoshie’s apologias for the Iranian theocracy at Lenin’s Tomb IN ORDER TO criticise them, would you describe that as “sourcing” material (let alone “without thought”) from such places?

    It is true that it is bad practice to link to a neo-Nazi site at all, even for these reasons, but it is also bad practice to criticise a text without being clear about its provenance so others can check out whether you are being fair.

  6. Bob Says:

    Actually, the piece at JsF is a quite sharp and well-written critique (by Gabriel Ash) of Petras’ article at Ziopedia. A lot of the commenters agree with Ash and share his criticism of Petras. The post shows how Petras’ rabid anti-Zionism utterly distorts his analysis of Iran. The post actually made me feel much better about JsF.

    By the way, the link to Ziopedia does not seem to work, although Petras’ article is all over Rense and other crypto-fascist sites. Petras’ feting by the far right is a good sign of how much he has degenerated.

  7. Bob Says:

    I’m not sure how, but I seem to have just time-travelled in the comments here. My 8:51 comment actually comes after my 8:52 comment, in case the sequence here is confusing!

  8. Mira Vogel Says:

    Yes, it’s a better piece – but only by comparison. It also praises the clerical counter-revolution in Iran, and links out to other poor pieces which are guilty of precisely the “take my word for it” neglect Gabriel criticises in Petras. The values of warm concern, support and non-interventionism in the final sections made JsF’s selective vilification of Israelis stand out more acutely.

    I read it as a long caution against being reactionary and supporting the clerics against the reformists (and I had the impression this was because that would nudge the reformists to ally with ‘Zionists’). I think that Gabriel is saying he wants Petras to argue his Marxism better, but he somehow contrives to blame Petras’ position on imperialism. Contrast this very generous critique with the excoriation of anybody JSF can pin the ‘Zionist’ label on. You’d think, from Gabriel, that Petras, Ahmedinejad etc had just got things slightly wrong.

    Conscious that Google runs on a link economy, I’d be inclined to consider linking to JsF the same as I would linking to Ziopedia (that’s why I unlinked Mod’s auto-link).

  9. modernityblog Says:


    Three points, the terrain, sourcing and care:

    1. The “anti-Zionists” who have defended this at HP remarked ,and I’ll be charitable, it was probably a mistaken link. Something put into Google, etc.

    I accept that, but it seems that a lot of “anti-Zionists” are oblivious to the existence of the Extreme Right or simply don’t realize how they are often on similar terrain to them.

    This is evidenced by the fact that there is NO criticism or remark commenting the use of ziopedia.

    The name ziopedia simply didn’t register with the 50+ people that commented on that thread.

    If the link had mentioned “Aryan” or “white power” instead of ziopedia, then I am sure someone would have made a comment, but it is essentially the same people, just a different mask.

    2. My point was not concerning the contents of the article, rather how you source information.

    When that is done to neo-Nazi and Holocaust denying sites then it effectively mainstreams them as a legitimate source.

    If people are compelled to link from Extreme Right sources, then they should either use a Google cached copy and/or put a warning to indicate that they understand the dodgy nature of the material.

    It is that simple.

    3. “Anti-Zionists” must take due care and be meticulous when they use material from the web. The Extreme Right are devious in their methods and have a number of outreach programs to pull people towards them, so “Anti-Zionists” are obliged to bear that in mind.

    We all saw the problems with the Jenna Delich debacle, but it seems to me that no lessons have been learn.

    It is a very simple process, check your sources and re-check, academics and others do it on a daily basis.

    I think I might re-write another guide but in the interim this will have to do:

    I do mention ziopedia in it.

    PS: Mira, your original idea was best, leave it unlinked, people can find it easy enough with the pointers.

  10. modernityblog Says:

    Update, they’ve changed the link, but:

    “UPDATE: The link to Petras’s article is stale, so I changed it to where the article was apparently originally published. Perhaps Petras ask them to remove the article. Just to be clear, I wouldn’t have changed it to appease the dishonest islamophobic alliance that complained about the link. Their “criticism” is beneath contempt. “

    So these “anti-Zionists” didn’t have a problem linking to a neo-Nazi web site, the problem was that the link went stale, very peculiar reasoning there.

  11. Mira Vogel Says:

    He can’t mean us, Mod.

  12. modernityblog Says:


    I don’t believe so, there was a thread at

    But it was very, very hard to get those “anti-Zionists” that dropped by to see the issue. I think they’d rather have their wisdom teeth removed than say “Sorry, we made a mistake”.

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