It’s been a few years since I posted here, and an update is in order.
On the death of Indymedia UK
The first thing to note is that Indymedia UK is now effectively dead. In mid-June of 2010, a year before the Mayday coup, indymedia.org.uk had an Alexa rank of 159 823. Its one-month rank today, almost exactly three years later, is 477 077. That’s quite an astonishing plummet, and one carrying a clear message. The vast majority of activists have no use for Mayday’s authoritarian approach, so ably embodied in the charmless Roy Bard (ftp), and have fled the site in droves.
As I noted elsewhere, the internet treats censorship like damage, and routes around it. Mayday’s highly censorial, let-us-tell-you-what-to-think say-amen-or-you’re-hidden editorial practices and its general tinpot-tyrant attitude toward its own audience caused the activist community that once used it heavily to route around it instead.
The numbers show it: Mayday has all but killed Indymedia UK. This is what most people – Mayday excluded – expected to happen, and it did.
Atzmon the Pariah
By now it’s also clear: the Atzmon wars are over, and Atzmon lost.
It’s been cheering to see how completely Atzmon’s anti-semitism was repudiated in the wake of his racist little book. I won’t catalogue the whole list of major figures who have told Atzmon to take a hike, except to note that it carries most of the most well-known names in the Palestinian movement in the UK. Atzmon tried desperately to paint those who were opposed to him as “crypto-zionists” or “anti-zionist zionists” (!?!) but by now only an intentionally willing fool could believe that wheeze.
Publishing his book turns out to have been a Pyrrhic victory for him. By unifying all his anti-semitic nonsense in one place, he made it clear just where he stood on the topic of Jewish identity – he’s against it, because he thinks being Jewish is mostly a bad thing. By concentrating his thoughts on the fundamentally evil nature of Jewish identity and Jewish ideology, he removed all of that carefully cultivated ambiguity that he used to weave and dodge behind for the better part of a decade. He put his anti-semitism unambiguously up front. And it stank.
And that, in turn, finally moved the pro-Palestinian movement in the UK from quietly hoping he’d go away to loudly telling him to goosestep away. It took more time than it should have. That almost a decade passed between the time Atzmon first embraced the Holocaust denial movement and his finally being swept from the scene is a testament to both his ability to muddy the waters and the willful gullibility of his followers – including Roy “Please Lie To Me Gilad” Bard.
The Tyranny of the Minority
One of the lessons of the failure of Indymedia UK is what it tells us about the nature of consensus-minus-one as a decision making process. After Notts 2008 it became clear that many IMCistas were shocked to discover that a very tiny bloc could force the entire network to tolerate posts they considered racist. Any successor to the Indymedia movement is very unlikely to accept similar structure, so clear a lesson did Bard’s abuse of it give the rest of the movement.
It’s what I think may be in the future refered to as the Two Arsehole Rule: “consensus minus one means it only takes two arseholes to destroy your movement from the inside.”
Many independent observers tried over the years to alert Indymedia UK to the dire path it had taken on its failure to actively combat left-wing “Atzmonite” anti-semitism on the site. They were, with Roy Bard’s characteristic paranoia, interpreted as attacks from a coordinated trolling campaign intent on destroying Indymedia UK. The irony here is thick – as thick, one could say, as Roy Bard, who actually did destroy Indymedia UK, more or less.
Is Roy Bard an anti-semite? Is Indymedia UK an anti-semitic site?
Finally, this question. At this point it’s generally recognized that no single individual did more damage to the Indymedia movement in the UK than Roy Bard. He was at the center of the Atzmon crisis, driving a wedge straight through Indymedia in order to keep the antisemite Atzmon’s Jew-hating posts up over deep and principled objections of other IMCistas. He was also at the center of the Mayday coup, the reprehensible decision to unilaterally powergrab and seize shared Indymedia resources, including the domain, by locking out those he declared to be his enemies. And he has presided over the increasingly empty husk of Indymedia UK as it has spiralled down the page ranks like a WWI fighter plane with a wing shot off.
What’s more notable is that, since my last update a few years ago, Bard has essentially thrown aside any pretense of not being an antisemite himself. His participation in the deeply, floridly antisemitic site “deliberation.info,” which he co-founded with Gilad Atzmon in January 2012 and which quickly became a cesspit of raw Jew-hating, makes it clear that he has no fundamental ethical problem hanging out with the “Jews run the world and faked their own Holocaust” set and cheering them on. He’s embraced the “Khazar” fantasy – a favorite of white power activists like David Duke – that Ashkenazi Jews aren’t really genetically related to Sephardic Jews and cannot trace their lineage to ancient Israel. Every genetic study shows that Bard is wrong on this, but given a choice between firmly established scientific fact and an Atzmon-approved fairy story that lets him bash the Jews, no one will be surprised that he chooses the latter.
More information on the development of Bard’s anti-Semitism is here, in a series of very damning comments about the deliberation.info hate site. Bard has – naturally – hidden the comments, because they make him look just as bad as he turns out to be. The good stuff is near the bottom.
So: yes, by now the record is quite clear. Roy Bard is an anti-semite. He attacks anti-semitism on the right, but when it appears on the left he can’t lift a finger against it. Just can’t do it. Will do everything in his power to avoid even seeing it. What’s worse, he actively tries to silence any criticism of anti-semitism when it’s on the left. Every time, year after year after year, given a choice between promoting and defending Atzmonian anti-semites and Holocaust deniers, on one hand, or repudiating them on the other hand, he’s applauded the anti-semites and condemned those who said such people should be no-platformed. And he has effectively destroyed Indymedia UK, driven among other things by his desire not to have his own antisemitism silenced.
It is no longer possible to give him the benefit of the doubt, because there is no longer any doubt. Does Roy Bard have a serious problem with the Jews? Hell yes. And as long as he remains ensconced at post-coup Indymedia UK, everyone who remains willingly associated with him at Mayday carries the stain of Bard’s anti-semitism.
What happens to the Indymedia site now? This damage is irreversible – any IMCista who objected to Bard has long since abandoned the ship. Like Bard’s Jew-hating party “deliberation.info”, Indymedia UK – now past saving – will drift to the bottom, even further into obscurity.
And so thick its its self-delusion, it won’t even know why.
Indymedia deserved better.