Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Doll’s House Robber

Peggy finished writing a book today, which is not bad as she only started it yesterday. I admit I helped with typing, and with some Photoshop work on the van below so that Postman Pat could play the cop, but the words and pictures are all Peggy’s own. She also chose the Caslon type in preference to Johnston.

You can read a PDF of the book here.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

When there was a world outside

When There Was A World Outside, written and performed by Ray Butler. Hear more of Ray’s music at

Images from Attack From Space, available at

Monday, 23 August 2010

Who do you want to be now

Here’s Who Do You Want To Be Now, written and performed by Ray Butler. More music by Ray at

Images from RFD Greenwich Village, a 1969 promotional film from the Cotton Producers Association, available at Hamfisted editing with blunt scissors and Super Glue® by yours truly.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Symbolic politics

Some unasked for Airforce Amazons policy positions:

On gay marriage, I agree with this American conservative who sets out his case here.

On The Burlington Coat Factory Mosque, I agree with this American conservative.

And weird and creepy these schmutter fanatics may be, but I’m not for banning the mantilla either.

Ach, I’ll leave the rest. It gets boring before we even begin.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Lucha, lucha, lucha!

Above, my favourite moment in Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot comics, from issue 11. Flaming Carrot incites insurgents against Communists who have seized power in his home town. Says the Carrot, “Life is a ball of string, man! When you unwind it, there’s nothing there! So what have you got to lose? Fortune favors the bold!”

There is a recent interview with Bob Burden at Heroes in the Night, a blog about real life superheroes, people who combine social activism, community work, and occasional crimefighting, with a love of dressing up in capes and masks. More about RLSH at The Real Life Super Hero Project and at, where I found a link to this:

Super Amigos is a 2007 documentary by Arturo Perez Torres about five Mexican super hero activists. From Robert Koehler’s review in Variety:
A quintet of unlikely men -- all anonymous, all from humble backgrounds -- takes on the style and appearance of Mexican pro wrestling's "lucha libre" persona that was lovingly spoofed for gringo auds in "Nacho Libre." The lineup includes Fray Tormenta, Super Gay, Super Barrio, Ecologista Universal and Super Animal.

Torres is intent to show, however, that these super-luchas aren't out to put on a show a la Abbie Hoffman's yippie spectacles of the '60s. Super Barrio, for example, conducts serious and lengthy meetings with tenants threatened with eviction, the latest victims of a gentrification trend in Mexico City's center that's devastating working-class communities.

Fray Tormenta, a former pro wrestler, is an ordained priest who achieves real results with neglected children.

Perhaps challenging the country's most entrenched bigotry, Super Gay works as a one-on-one counselor with victims of gay-bashing and parents of gay children, while helping organize a Gay Pride Day rally which brings out 100,000 on Mexico City's large boulevards.

Although he's fighting for the planet, Ecologista Universal tends to be the one superhero working alone -- trekking cross-country to protest everything from a tree-cutting to nuclear power plants. As anyone who's flown into or moved around Mexico City knows, this lucha's battle may be the most daunting of all, and Torres' portrayal of him as a modern-day Don Quixote is both witty and poignant.

Torres, however, seems most interested in Super Animal, a big, burly dude who wants to kick the behinds of as many bullfighters as possible. Staging wild demonstrations and direct actions in front of city hall or the city's central bull ring, Super Animal has built a real following and garners considerable media attention in his efforts to shame bullfighters and ban the sport.
You can watch the entire film (82 mins) at, and I do most definitely recommend it.

Flaming Carrot™ copyright © Bob Burden.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

StoryWorld show at the Illustration Cupboard

Opening next week at The Illustration Cupboard is a show of art from the StoryWorld series, with originals by a score of illustrators including yours truly.

The show runs from 17 August–18 September at The Illustration Cupboard, 22 Bury Street, London SW1Y 6AL.

There will be an opening event on Thursday 19th August 5.00–8.00pm. I plan on being there, so drop by if you’re in town.

The gallery also has some of my Sadie originals for sale.

More on StoryWorld here. The set of cards that I contributed to is on sale here.

Storyworld™ © The Templar Company Ltd.

Long live NATO’s anti-imperialism

There has been a lot to blog about on Afghanistan in recent weeks, but I haven’t had the strength, though I’ve read a lot elsewhere and commented occasionally.

Comment trail: on anti-imperialism at Contested Terrain, and on non-Western imperialism in Afghanistan at Terry Glavin’s joint. My argument in short: as the only powers capable of sustaining imperialist policies in Afghanistan are its neighbors, none of whom are reliable allies of NATO, by necessity NATO’s policy in Afghanistan is on the whole anti-imperialist.


Comment trail: on feminism and war at Pickled Politics.

There, blogger Earwicga seems of a view similar to that heard from Judith Butler & Co. earlier, that feminism is only valid if it’s also anti-war, and anti-Western anti-imperialist. This seems to mean that making too much noise about Islamist theocratic misogyny is bad as that could be seen as pro-war and Islamophobic. In support of this, Earwigca introduces the word ‘intersectionality’.

Now it seems to me that intersectionality can usefully be used to illustrate precisely the failure in contemporary anti-imperialism. Earwigca gives two references to explain her use of the word: Wikipedia and a PDF from the African American Policy Forum, A Primer on Intersectionality. Here intersectionality is used to describe the problem of individuals or groups focusing on one particular form of discrimination, for example sexism, being unable to fully recognise and understand another form of discrimination, for example racism, causing a blind spot when they are faced with a victim of multiple overlapping forms of discrimination.

Where the focus is on just one form of discrimination, these more complex cases can be obscured as the wrong kind of victim, or the wrong kind of discrimination.

Misapplying intersectionality

The AAPF document takes the argument further and talks of the danger that treating different forms of discrimination separately may lead to different groups of victims seeing themselves as being in competition with each other, and not being aware of the vulnerabilities of their fellows who fall into the overlap between groups. Thus there's a danger that those arguing against one form of discrimination may fall into another. A small example of this I once heard in polite conversation: “The French are very racist,” i.e. xenophobic bigotry in the name of anti-racism.

This argument about one group of victims being set against another forms the centre of Judith Butler’s arguments against mainstream German gay rights campaigners (see her mis-definition of double jeopardy for example) and criticisms of Peter Tatchell by some anti-imperialists (see here and here).

So what happens when this argument is misapplied? The sweeping statement “group X discriminate against group Y” is likely to be discriminatory against group X, but what about an analysis along the lines of “some members of group X discriminate against some members of group Y, or against members in the overlap between X and Y”? If this kind of analysis of discriminatory action by a subset of X is made properly, with examples given and mechanisms demonstrated, it should not be dismissed in the same terms as the earlier sweeping statement about X being bad to Y.

If it becomes impossible to look at individuals and subsets within X discriminating against Y or discriminating against the common membership of X and Y, then another kind of blind spot results, not of the wrong kind of victim, nor the wrong kind of discrimination, but of the wrong kind of perpetrator of discrimination.

Thus Islamist misogynists become the wrong kind of misogynists because they are a subset of Muslims who as a group are the target of religious discrimination, and individual immigrants who are homophobic are the wrong kind of homophobes because they belong to a group that is the target of xenophobia and racism. The consequence is that Muslim victims of misogyny and immigrant victims of homophobia fall under the blind spot of those arguing too narrowly against religious discrimination, or too narrowly against xenophobia and racism: precisely the result that ‘intersectionality’ attempts to avoid.

An example of ‘right and wrong kind of perpetrator’ thinking can be found in Judith Butler’s comments at Bully Bloggers, where she expresses her preference for looking at perpetrators on the German right or in the Catholic Church, rather than in migrant communities. If she argued ‘as well as’ that would be fine, but ‘instead of’ is not good.

An intersectionality of blind spots

Now to return to feminism, war, and anti-imperialism. Back to Earwicga’s post where she raises ‘intersectionality’. Here she labels Gita Sahgal’s criticisms of Amnesty International as Islamophobic, and described the recent Time cover photograph of Aisha, a mutilated young Afghan woman, as “yet another manipulation of feminism supported by feminists ignorant of other power structures”.

Earwigca’s problem here is the same as Judith Butler’s. Islamists are the wrong kind of misogynists because they are a subset of Muslims who are a target of religious discrimination. It doesn’t matter that the victims of Islamist mysogyny are also members of that same group of victims of religious discrimination; they fall into the ‘wrong perpetrator’ blind spot.

Looking at it further, there is an intersectionality of ‘wrong perpetrator’ blind spots at work here. Not only are the Taliban the wrong kind of misogynists, but as Muslims discriminating against Christians, Buddhists, and versions of Islam other than their own, they are the wrong kind of religious bigots. As agents of Pakistani and Iranian imperialism fighting against a popular Afghan government allied with Western powers, they are the wrong kind of imperialists.

For those viewing the world with these intersecting blind spots, the only way the abuse of women like Aisha becomes visible is if the cause is traced through a game of degrees of separation to Western policies in Afghanistan decades ago, though not back as far as the Soviet invasion, as that would lead to another blind spot. Having found the only acceptable cause of the abuse, the remedy offered is of course the withdrawal of exactly those Western forces standing in the way of a return to power by the actual, immediate perpetrators of the abuse.

How do anti-imperialists maintain this degree of blindness without poking their own eyes out?

Saturday, 7 August 2010


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Frunzenskaya Quay

The sun was out earlier. Fresh air, exercise, a little break from the work I thought, that’s the ticket to lighten the heart; but I must have taken a wrong turning.

Photo from

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Can’t see the sea for the waves

You can click on that picture, enlarge it and print it out, and colour it in yourself.

I recommend black and blue, and bile, and blood. Now excuse me please, I have to go see about a bucket.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

You’re getting better

I want you to know you’re getting better.
I dont care what everyone’s been saying,
You’re getting better.

They’re the ones who’ve been getting worse.
And uh, they don’t like what you’ve been doing.

You think they can watch you
strip yourself of one unnecessary thing after another?
Day by day becoming more, so to speak,
naked, more free,
and not feel the way they do?
Of course not.
. . .
Video from tonlitt. You’ve been listening to the voice and words of Ken Nordine (© Mr Nordine) who also makes videos of his own. On CD here.

Uncle Danny dug that trip in his day, and now Norm has found the path.

More recently from Mr Nordine:

Monday, 2 August 2010

August in the city

The family are off to the seaside, but I’m still here, trying to concentrate on work despite this incessant buzzing in my head.

Above, ‘Panic Caused by a Mosquito in Piccadilly Circus,’ from The Strand Magazine, 1910, via Paul.