Tendance Coatesy

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Boko Haram, Islam and the Left.

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From One Jihad to Another.

European recruits to the jihadist cause in Syria are in the news again.

Apparently some of them, native French speakers, were the gaolers and torturers  of the French journalist hostages released this week (French journalists describe tortures by ISIL militants in Syria. Mock executions, hunger, thirst, cold, beatings a makeshift chess game, and a “surreal” snowball fight with their jailers).

It is hard to see how anybody can find anything progressive in those going to fight and kill Syrian Muslims, Alwaites, Christians and non-Believers in a Holy War.

Liberals who try to find excuses for Islamism face wider problems.

How do they explain the actions of the Nigerian Boko Haram?

This April we have already seen,

The streets of Nigeria are covered in blood. Boko Haram Islamists have attacked and killed hundreds of people since Wednesday, April 9th. Targeting students and any semblance of Western influence, they viciously gunned down some 200 university students. Many students traveled to the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, in Borno State. As reported by the National Mirror,”The UTME, conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) was held nationwide yesterday.” It was here that Boko Haram Islamists ambushed the innocent students and viciously slaughtered them.

And,

More than 180 Nigerian schoolgirls remain missing after being snatched from their classroom in Borno State last week.

Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected to be behind the kidnapping but has not issued any statement.

Footage has now emerged from inside the school, which was torched afterwards.

Last year the SWP’s Nigerian allies (Socialist Workers Bulletin) attempted to offer an explanation for the rise of Boko Haram.

 Beyond President Jonathan’s war on terror June 9, 2013 – 2:53 am

by Baba Aye.

There is a lot of detail about Nigerian politics which we are in no position to judge.

But this element in Aye’s article stands out.

Boko Haram, Ansaru and co, like most of the new militant Islamist sects that have blossomed in the period of neoliberal globalism have a contradictory nature.

On one hand, they involve sections of the ruling elite for whom religion-as-politics is a tool for mobilisation of mass support for their aims. These include electoral aims of winning gubernatorial and other political positions or as bargaining chips for access to state power (and with it the treasury). We saw examples with the political Shari’a wave that swept through twelve northern states in the early 2000s. Specifically, it has been established that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, courted Boko Haram in his successful bid for the governorship of Borno state in 2003. Apart from mass mobilisation, Boko Haram supporters played the role of armed hirelings not unlike that which some Niger delta “militants” played for Peter Odili and co, that same year.

On the other hand, elements of the anti-establishment demands of Boko Haram and its sister organisations, find resonance in the hearts of many poor and dispossesed people within their localities that are fed up with the corruption and flamboyant lifestyle of the elites, in the face of their own poverty and hopelessness. At the earlier point before it went underground after the murder of its founding leader, Boko Haram had also aided the spread of its ideology’s influence with social work, very much like Hezbollah in Lebanon. It had provided housing, (Koranic) education, healthcare and the offsetting of debts for hundreds if not thousands of the wretched of the earth, winning hearts and minds, as much as souls to its standpoint.

While a nominal roll of Boko Haram membership might not be something we could secure, the group’s membership including its armed insurgents and unarmed supporters cannot but be in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, with a significant proportion of these being poor and working people. This would dwarf the numbers of “radical” or “revolutionary” groups in the country added up together, several times over, and could equal the sizes of many a trade union.

Of course, the large presence of the poor and oppressed people in an organisation does not make it, pro-workers, talk less of being revolutionary. Fascist parties such as the Nazis in Germany or Mussolini’s National Fascist Party, did have significant mass following while pursuing anti-workers’ causes. It is also not being suggested that Boko Haram is in anyway a revolutionary or “progressive” group.

….

“Radical “Islamism”, with associated spontaneous and organised violence, has come to stay as one of the macabre symptoms of the period we are living in i.e. where the capitalist system has become a putrid living-corpse holding down the progress of human society, on one hand, but the poor and working class have not risen to consuming the task of overthrowing it, due to the weaknesses of revolutionary forces’ influence within it.”

“But” (there’s always got to be a ‘but’) “only one-dimensional thinking would sum all these up to mean that the sect “is nothing but a set of foot soldiers of sections of the Nigerian ruling class that went berserk” or worse still conclude that “Boko Haram is part and parcel of Nigerian ruling elite”.

So, apparently in some ill-defined way Boko haram is linked to the economic and social conditions neo-liberalism have created. It is a ‘result’ of the failure of groups like the Nigerian SWP to grow and take a lead. A group backed by some sections of the poor and working population has arisen. They are  murdering large numbers of people. They they “dwarf” the size of the left.

Boko Haram, then,  claims to be, and indeed is Islamist. Whatever the conditions that encouraged its growth it  is hard to find anything that relates this ideology directly  to the conditions created  neo-liberalism. Their objective is the Sharia: forcing a cowed population to the yoke of Islam. They have a religious mission, not just to reflect suffering but to create it.

The material presence of Boko Haram, a material force, is rapidly becoming a central political and social problem in Nigeria.

The issue is: What is to be Done?

So what do they advocate doing? “In principle, working class activists have to be against any form of “state of emergency” and the curtailment of democratic rights of the poor and working people.”

Following Chris Harman (the Prophet and the Proletariat)  they state,

The point of departure on this matter, as we see it is that: we cannot support either the institutional terror of the Nigerian state, nor can we support the non-state group of Boko Haram and co. From a working class standpoint, we would say, we stand for“neither the FGN state of emergency or Boko Haram insurgency”. Such an approach is not new as the correct line, in or out of Nigeria. We stood for neither Washington nor Moscow during the “cold war”, as workers were exploited and oppressed in both the Western “democracies” and the Eastern “socialist” states.

So, “The most urgent task at this hour might be the establishment of a united front to stop the state of emergency. “

We have seen what a success that strategy has been.

Islamism, embodied in groups like Boko Haram,  is rapidly becoming a major enemy of all progressive  peoples.

The issue  now is simply: how to fight it?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

Reasons, again, to Hate St George’s Day.

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St George’s Day: Celebrating Everything English.

 

Celebrations “from the archaic to the eccentric” are planned across England as David Cameron says St George’s Day has been overlooked for too long.

Celebrations will include a feast in Trafalgar Square, bell ringing at churches across the country and an annual “asparagus run” in Worcestershire to welcome in the harvest.

The day has also been commemorated with a Google Doodle, an animation showing George on horseback ready to fight the dragon.

This year, the Prime Minister said that the cross of St George will fly proudly above No 10 as they honour everything it is to be English.

Mr Cameron said: “Up and down the country – including here in Downing Street – the flag of St George is flying high and celebrations – from the archaic to the eccentric – are taking place.

“In Plymouth – a patriotic festival; in London – a great feast in Trafalgar Square; in Leicester – a medieval re-enactment; and in Worcestershire – an annual ‘asparagus run’, to welcome the new harvest.

“St George has been England’s patron saint since 1350. But for too long, his feast day – England’s national day – has been overlooked.

“Today, though, more and more people are coming together on or around April 23, eager to celebrate everything it is to be English. And there is much to celebrate.

Daily Telegraph.

Celebrating everything that it is to be English.

That’s the rub.

Me I celebrate Chaucer, Dickens, and mushy peas (the day they were invented).

Cameron does not figure, some tat in Trafalgar Square, and a bleedin’ asparagus run?  Asparagus originated in Egypt and  was a famous Roman dish, whence the name,  via the  Latin from Greek asparagos .as far as I am aware).

As for the Traflagar Square – Monday apparently – look as this sad commercial do,

Organised by the Mayor of London, the Feast of St George is inspired by St George’s Day’s 13th century origins as a national day of feasting.

There’ll be an English farmers’ market, with around 20 stalls selling mouth-watering treats like hog roast, homemade pies, cakes and freshly squeezed lemonade – all can be enjoyed in a splendid banqueting area seating 250 people between Trafalgar Square’s iconic fountains.

In Cooks’ Corner, supported by Northbank, see live demonstrations from leading London chefs as they cook up English dishes from past and present.

The afternoon’s soundtrack comes courtesy of the Music Medley bandstand with talented young musicians and singers from GIGS, the Mayor’s busking competition.

There’ll be plenty of activities for the kids too with a marquee full of family activities and an outdoor games area where you can try a range of traditional garden games.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson says: “Our Feast of St George is set to be a day of revelry and merriment for all the family, with delicious food and a whole host of activities for all ages.

About the only Englishness I can thole is this kind:

A Ballade of an Anti-puritan

They spoke of Progress spiring round,
Of light and Mrs Humphrey Ward-
It is not true to say I frowned,
Or ran about the room and roared;
I might have simply sat and snored-
I rose politely in the club
And said, `I feel a little bored;
Will someone take me to a pub?’

The new world’s wisest did surround
Me; and it pains me to record
I did not think their views profound,
Or their conclusions well assured;
The simple life I can’t afford,
Besides, I do not like the grub-
I want a mash and sausage, `scored’-
Will someone take me to a pub?

I know where Men can still be found,
Anger and clamorous accord,
And virtues growing from the ground,
And fellowship of beer and board,
And song, that is a sturdy cord,
And hope, that is a hardy shrub,
And goodness, that is God’s last word-
Will someone take me to a pub?

Envoi
Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword
To see the sort of knights you dub-
Is that the last of them-O Lord
Will someone take me to a pub?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

UKIP: Racist Party Hates Foreigners and Unemployed.

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UKIP: Hatred of Foreigners and…Unemployed. 

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has defended his party’s controversial election campaign ahead of the May European elections, after its posters were called “racist”.

The party’s economic spokesman, Steven Woolfe, announced the campaign on Twitter on Sunday, and said the giant posters would be “coming to you soon”.

One billboard depicts a man dressed as a builder begging for spare change next to the words: “EU policy at work. British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour.”

Another poster reads: “26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?” alongside a giant hand pointing at the viewer.

Others complain that 75 per cent of British laws are made in Brussels, and that UK taxpayers fund the “celebrity lifestyle” of EU bureaucrats.

Figures across the political spectrum soon posted tweets opposing the campaign, and accused the party of scare-mongering.

There were also comparisons to posters released by the far-right British National Party which carried the slogan: “British Jobs for British Workers” next to men dressed in high-vis jackets.

Labour MP Mike Gapes said they were “racist” and appealed to “all decent British Commonwealth and EU citizens” to register to vote in May’s polls.

Independent.

For a party so concerned about jobs and unemployment in the UK this is the attitude of their party towards  the out-of-work – April  2014. (link).

After Scrapbook exposed sick comments from a UKIP councillor on banning unemployed people from voting, the party’s most high-profile new recruit has rushed to his defence, claiming Cllr Tom Bursnall “has a point”, going on to say it is “dangerous” to let unemployed people vote.

Having defected from the Tories, 23 year-old Alexandra Swann was the star turn at UKIP’s recent conference in Skegness — with party leader Nigel Farage proudly declaring that “the Swann has migrated”.

But appearing to agree with Cllr Bursnall, who as the former chair of Conservative Future is also a defector from the Tories to UKIP, she continued:

“allowing people to vote on how other people’s money is spent — if they dont contribute — is dangerous”

With these views, Scrapbook was unsurprised to learn that Swann idolises anarcho-Libertarian philosophers and is completing a PhD in social Darwinism.

And this Guardian (March 2013)

Some long-term benefit claimants would be banned from using their benefit cash to buy cigarettes, alcohol or satellite TV subscriptions under proposals due to be presented at the UK Independence party’s spring conference on Saturday.

In the same year UKIP described the unemployed as a ” “a parasitic underclass of scroungers”.

UKIP’s welfare policies include forced unpaid work for all Housing and Council Tax Benefit claimants, Incapacity Benefit (now ESA) slashed to Job Seeker’s Allowance rates and childcare support for working parents demolished.

To add to this UKIP Welfare Policy is also 

• Non means-tested “basic cash benefit” for low earners and unemployed. Jobseekers allowance and incapacity benefit is scrapped.

• Child benefit for the first three children only.

• No benefits for anyone who has not lived in the UK for five years.

For the  2014 elections (UKIP site) these policies stand unchanged :

• Enrol unemployed welfare claimants onto community schemes or retraining workfare programmes.

That is, unpaid workfare.

• Make welfare a safety net for the needy, not a bed for the lazy. Benefits only available to those who have lived here for over 5 years. 

That is, yet more scapegoating of the out-of-work – and ‘foreigners’.

It’s not surprising that the  lunatic fringe of the Tory Party – in East Anglia and elsewhere – is attracted to this far-right anti-welfare, anti- foreigner party.

working parents demolished.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 22, 2014 at 10:51 am

Fourth International and Fifth International Merger: 4 1/2 International?

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http://www.thegreenhead.com/imgs/hanging-swamp-man-1.jpg

 

It’s a Swampy Thing: the Weekly Worker wouldn’t understand.

In the interest of international left unity we publish this news.

The first discussion bulletin Inside Left Unity  is now available (via the Weekly Worker site).

The International Socialist Network, the Anticapitalist Initiative, RS21, Workers Power (Fifth International) and Socialist Resistance (4th International) are discussing merging, and will hold a Conference on this in the near future.

The comrades from the Weekly Worker publish the first discussion bulletin involving these organisations.

We note with sorrow that the CPGB has been excluded from these discussions, despite several direct approaches to two of the participating organisations, the International Socialist Network and RS 21, for exploratory talks (see here and a comment on RS21 in this article for the apolitical rebuffs we received).

The CPGB (Provisional CC) has been “feebly bad-mouthed by most participants. ” Any suggestion that the CPGB might be included in the unity discussions would prompt an instant and a non-negotiable veto from Socialist Resistance. (SR has also been distinctly sniffy about the participation of Workers Power, of course).”

What the Weekly Worker justly calls the “Gang of Five” is, they report, on the way to creating a “sect”.

They they saintly remark that  their ‘hearts will mend”  but that, “Sadly the comrades seem on an inevitable descent into the swamp of liquidationism, and not upwards to principled Marxist unity.”

The CPGB (provisional CC) has ” written to the organisers of the April 26 ‘unity’ conference requesting observer status and – whatever the outcome of that – we will keep up our campaign that seems to cause these political trends such pain: For Marxists to unite and fight for Marxism.”

In the discussion document Socialist Resistance makes a contribution on the People’s Assembly which is worth reading,

Why PA is important for revolutionaries and Left Unity.

The PA is mobilising a similar target audience that Left Unity is building from. Activists involved in the People’s Assembly are nearly all both against government austerity and New Labour’s austeritylite ‘alternative’.  We have to be working alongside these activists not preaching from the sidelines that Unite has ‘sold out’ on Grangemouth or not yet organised a general strike or that the People’s Charter is not a revolutionary programme. We need to be there when these activists ask themselves whether consistent anti-austerity activity can co-exist with a belief that Labour can be reclaimed from the left.It was noticeable that there is a very limited number of Labour MPs or councillors signed up to the People’s Assembly and  even  fewer Labour Party branches affiliated.

We need to also collaborate with Counterfire – they may be part of a future left recomposition. Sooner or later they have to ask themselves whether the only perspective is building such united fronts and recruiting to Counterfire, turning it into a better SWP, or whether energies also need to be put into developing a broad political alternative to Labour like Left Unity. Both the CPB and Counterfire counterpose the PA to projects like Left Unity – misunderstanding the difference between a political party and a united front campaign. The CPB even talks of the PA as the most important political movement around. The PA will be around after the next elections, the debate on the left may have significantly changed. We need to be in the same room as the activists who identify it as a political movement.

It will indeed be interesting to see how Counterfire develops.

On Europe though Socialist Resistance are far from clear, or illuminating,

One area where differences were apparent was on Europe. Socialist Resistance has a long-standing opposition to European integration EU style which we believe is an important mechanism through which the European bourgeoisie attacks the gains of the working class.

That doesn’t mean that we do not prioritise building solidarity on a continental wide basis or that we would support an organisation such as No to EU – which as we have argued consistently ends up capitulating to racism by defending a British jobs for British workers line.

We don’t think in the current political situation that we should campaign for British withdrawal from the EU as a priority but we don’t agree with Simon Hardy when he argued that we should support European integration or with the Lambeth resolution when it argues that we should no more take a position on capitalist European integration than we would on the mergers of companies (actually in some situations we think it’s appropriate to take a position on the latter – it’s a question of concretely analysing a specific situation and assessing what is more or less likely to strengthen workplace and company-wide workers organisation).

So if it is not a “priority” they do they still agree to withdrawing from the EU?

We should be told.

On Ukraine there are the divisions that one imagine, SR backing the Maidan protesters, Workers Power rejecting them, and the ISN taking a balanced, “don’t take sides” position.

The bulletin is well worth reading.

Though you need a stern will to get through to the end of Workers Power’s wordy contributions, which can be summed up, everyone else is wrong but us – the pure vein of working class “rank and file” revolution.

There is one major gap.

One would have preferred some deeper analysis not of “broad” left-wing parties but of the specifics of European politics. Above all, what do Socialist Resistance think of the French Front de Gauche, whose own unitary formation  split their French counterpart organisation, the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA).

The failure of the NPA to capture the ground to the left of the French Parti Socialiste (at present in government) is perhaps one of the most important issues any attempt at left ‘regroupment’ should discuss.

It is noteworthy that Socialist Resistance fails to address the existence of the Front de Gauche nor do the contribution in the texts assembled in their key statements,  Building New Parties of the Left even seriously broach  the thorny topic.

Instead we get this, on the British left Unity  (Terry Conway)

…our view is that we need to maintain the ability of this new political party to attract those just breaking with social democracy as well as those new to political activity and more seasoned activists joining a political party for the first time from the unions and single issue campaigns.

In practice we think that with the best of these militants these difficulties will be broken down in so far as Left Unity begins to build itself in a consistent way in the localities, campaigning on the key issues that are mobilising people. As people build up a loyalty and sense of identification with Left Unity as an organisation through collective activity, these more ideological debates will become less dominant.

So, their strategy is build a broad party until the time is ripe for some ‘Ideological debate’ – sectarian in-fighting.

To return to the title of this post: if SR and Workers Power are in the same organisation will this mean that the Fourth and the Fifth Internationals will merge?

In the Four and a Half International?

Birmingham Schools, Islam and Secularism.

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Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf

 

http://chevaliersdesgrandsarrets.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/laicite.jpg?w=244&h=288

Secular Emancipation: What UK Education Needs.

Amongst the confused reactions to the very evident problems raised by the Birmingham Schools and the influence of Islamist ideology in education  two responses stand out for their  good judgement.

The first is Shiraz Socialist’s defence of  secular education.

Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf

It makes this simple observation,

….it is important to note that whether or not the Trojan Horse document proves to be genuine, there is no doubt about the influence of Islamic fundamentalists over many Birmingham schools: teachers and other school staff members have already come forward with reports of segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, bans on sex education and bullying of non-Muslim staff. Shiraz Socialist has spoken to several Birmingham teachers, including activists within the main teaching unions, who have confirmed that these claims are true and, in some cases, such things have been going on for years.

The all-too predictable line taken by an article in today’s Guardian (“Despite reasonable evidence suggesting the plot letter is a hoax, it has sparked debate in the city, with far right groups looking to capitalise”) simply will not do: the concerns about Islamic fundamentalists undermining secular education are not the preserve of the far right, but are felt by teachers, Labour councillors and MPs and -not least - many Muslim parents who want their kids to have an inclusive, secular education.

The second is by comrade Rumy Hasan (a long-standing defender of left-wing secularism) on the National Secular Society site.

Since the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light, some 200 reports have been received by Birmingham City Council, including claims that boys and girls are being segregated in classrooms and assemblies, pressure on girls to cover their hair, sex education being banned, the prevention of the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes, and non-Muslim staff being bullied. Yet all this is precisely what has been happening in Free Schools such as Al Madinah in Derby (which Education Minister Lord Nash found dysfunctional) and the Madani faith school in Leicester. But none of this should be surprising: on the contrary, it is entirely to be expected that leaders of faith communities wish to impose values and practices in schools in their neighbourhoods that are in accordance with their religion. The reason for this is that the emphasis on a multifaith society facilitates the primary identity of some minorities being on the basis of their faith.

………

Bob Jones, the elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, is correct to state that ‘My main concern is that the Secretary of State is attempting to divert attention away from the governance and diversity issues that might be embarrassing to his policies and approach to school governance’. Indeed they should be embarrassing and it really is high time that the both the government and the opposition grasped the nettle that a firm commitment to a rounded secular education is what is needed for the benefit of children and for society at large, and act accordingly.

One should add that the actions of the Birmingham ‘faith communities’, imposing their religious ideology on education, are inconceivable n a secular educations system, like France’s.

A great deal of noise has been heard from liberals and multicultural leftists about the robust prohibition of faith symbols, from the veil to the cross,  in French schools, as well as other progressive policies designed to prevent these kind of communalist politics in education.

We hear very little from British left and liberal quarters equates about sexual segregation and other aspects of religious bigotry being imposed in Birmingham schools and elsewhere.

Henri Pena-Ruiz of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de gauche (left Party)  recently said (March 2014),  that it was ten years since the law banning ostentatious religious signs from French schools was passed.

Laïcité scolaire: une exigence d’émancipation

“It has discouraged  religious proselytism and those who would wish to take schooling  hostage (for the religious agenda). Today communalist demands are rare.”

De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.T567GEet.dpuf

Pena-Ruiz calls secularism an “emancipatory demand”.

The British left could learn from this approach.

De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.bblaeVz0.dpuf
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.6pGqqmIt.dpuf

Belgium (Wallonie), Far-Left Party at 8,1% of Vote in Opinion Polls.

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Regional Elections take place in Belgium on May the 25th.

La Libre Belgique reports that the new far-left alliance PTB-Go  is at 8,1 (+0,5) of the vote in the French-speaking region of Wallionie according to the latest opinion poll.

The Socialists stand at nearly 30%, which is stable, while the Ecologists (Ecolo) are at 11%. The centre-right, MR is at 22,6% while the centrist CdH is only just above the PTB-Go at 9,4%

In Brussels the PTB-Go- PVDA  (its Dutch name, Partij van de Arbeid van België,)  is at 7,2% just behind the Ecologists  - 8, 0%.

In Flanders the hard-right N-VA (independentists) of Bart de Wever are far in front with 32,9% of voting intentions. The  Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij anders), the equivalent of the Labour Party, only gets 13,6%. The Flemish equivalent of PTB-Go, the PVDA +   is at a high 4,1%.

As the PTB-GO  site says, this is good news for the new alliance, though, it is, they underline, an opinion poll, which may, as in the past, over-estimate their real vote.

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (Dutch Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA, French Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) has over 8,000 members  (background here (English).

The party, from a Marxist-Leninist origin, is now aligned with the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR),  Socialistische Arbeiderspartij and the Belgium Communist Party (PC), to form PTB-go! (go – gauche d’ouverture).

It was initially formed in 2012 from an appeal by trade unionists and other activists. Its influence, as can be seen, has grown.

In Brussels smaller parties (including, according to La Libre Belgique,  apparently the Pirate Party) are aligned with this list.

More information on PTB-Go site here.

German Die Grünen revert to type and attack Russia over Ukraine.

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Takes Sides Against Putin and ‘Fascist’ allies.

After a certain prevarication the German Greens, (die Grünen), have now reverted to type  as one of Europe’s fiercest supporters of NATO and intervention in support of the ‘West’.

This follows many debates which have pitted the Greens against the German left over the Ukraine.

The former announced back in February that they could not remain neutral on the conflict that began in the Maidan (“deutschland kann in diesem Konflikt keine neutrale Position einnehmen.) The latter, from the left bloc, Die Linke, pointed to far-right involvement in the Ukrainian protests.

Now the Greens claim that there is only  one major  right menace, from Russia and its backers.

Werner Schulz (who comes from a DDR opposition background) and is a Green European Parliament member,   has just announced (Deutschlandfunk)  that, for him, Putin is himself the main cause of the growing conflict ( der Verursacher der Eskalation).

There was clear evidence that paramilitary units intervened in eastern Ukraine and wanted to destabilise the situation said Schulz on German radio (.The units would wear the same uniforms as the Crimea and were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, which used only Russian Special Forces. In Ukraine, one can not readily buy these.

Schulz described Russian “aggressive nationalism” and claimed that the “entire vocabulary” of ” Stalinisism” had returned.

 Putin intends not only to create a Eurasian Union, for which he needs the Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, but he also wishes to weaken the West, the EU. When we look at this we can see  the right-wing, populist right-wing forces in Europe, for example, with which the Kremlin has entered into an alliance.

He ‘asks’ and gives for proof of this alliance the following,

Who were the election observers of this alleged referendum in the Crimea? A ragbag group of right-wing populists, neo-Nazis and representatives from the Left Party in Germany.

So the German Die Like is an ‘objective’, or insinuated,  ally of neo-Nazis.

Very moderate talk….

Leading Ipswich Tory Calls for UKIP Vote.

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Leading Ipswich Tory and Former Brain of Britain Jumps Ship.

 

Voters Should Vote UKIP in Bridge Ward

Posted on April 15, 2014by 

I agree with James Spencer here where he says

It is tough to persuade voters who have invested some of their identity with a party that the town’s interests, a Labour defeat, means lending your vote to another party…….

…..So with the European elections coming up vote for your party in the European elections where you won’t be wasting your vote and vote for the party most likely to beat Labour in the local council.

In Bridge that means UKIP.

 Algar continues,

“It’s a case of none of the other parties being capable of beating Labour. The Tories can’t win Bridge and neither do they want to. So UKIP are the only option.”

So, having slagged off Ipswich as a “dump” Holy Roller Kevin Algar is now preparing to abandon his own party.

We confidently predict that many other Tories, and not just eccentrics like Algar and his friend Spencer (who left the Conservatives in opposition to gay marriage) will shift over the xenophobic far-right UKIP.

Like rats deserting a sinking ship? 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Islamic Forum of Europe, Tower Hamlets, and Luftar Rahman.

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Benefiting Islamist Reactionaries.

“A London council at the centre of an investigation into alleged fraud is also under scrutiny over its links to Islamic extremism, according to a classified government document leaked to The Telegraph.  Ministers sent inspectors to Tower Hamlets council, in east London, last week to investigate the alleged abuse of public resources to reward supporters of Lutfur Rahman, its controversial directly-elected mayor.”

   continues,

The document, a report to Mr Cameron dated Sept 2013, expresses particular concern about the council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque and the Osmani Trust, a Muslim-only youth group. The mosque is also named in the counter-terrorism local profile, the document reveals. The document says there are “serious concerns” about both organisations’ “links to extremists, or willingness to host extremist speakers or organisations”.

The East London Mosque has hosted hundreds of meetings with extremist preachers, including a “live telephone Q&A” with the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, advertised with a picture of Manhattan under bombardment.   Both bodies are closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which seeks a sharia state in Europe and played a key part in Mr Rahman’s election as mayor in 2010. Together they have received more than £2 million in council funding.

Can we say, with George Galloway (2010) that, “I don’t know who is or isn’t a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for….” ?

Is the IFE the  “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group, normally classed on the extreme right? Wikipedia makes these allegations  about one of the founders of the IFE.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin Mueen-Uddin born 27 November 1948), is one of the convicted war criminal for killing Bengali intellectuals in collaboration with Pakistan army at the time of Bangladesh liberation war.[1][8][9][10] After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.[11][12]

 Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid,[3][13][14] and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).[4] On 3 November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal which is set up by the government of Bangladesh to judgeinternational crimes committed during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, sentenced Mueen-Uddin, in absentia, to death for killing 9 teachers of Dhaka University, 6 journalists and 3 doctors in 1971.[5][9][10][15]

 Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971.[16] Mueen-Uddin denies the charges.[17] Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe,Jamaat-e-Islami’s European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party. Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.

Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque.

He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE. He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.

The IFE makes this bland description of itself,

Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is a community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the values enshrined in the Islamic faith, members of IFE are obliged to be full and active participants in society, benefiting all people. IFE has branches throughout the UK and has affiliates in Western Europe. Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO UK), with branches across Britain. Its women’s wing is Muslimaat UK. With origins in the 1970s, IFE brings together Muslims of all backgrounds who have made Europe their home. As a collective, IFE facilitates an enlightened appreciation of Islam that is relevant to the context and realities of our time. We undertake social activities – from schools and youth clubs to community engagement and women’s empowerment projects, spiritual development – from prayer to retreats

But dig a little deeper and we find that the IFE is indeed closely aligned to the Jamaat.

This is their protest against the hanging of convicted genocider and war criminal Abdul Qader Mollah,

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging to death of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary-General, Abdul Qader Mollah, on Thursday as an act of judicial murder( Statement Issued 13th December 2013)

Mr Mollah’s summary execution follows a sham trial which has been described by international human rights groups as failing to meet international standards, politically influenced and discredited.

IFE considers Abdul Qader Mollah’s death as state murder by a government doing all it can to cling onto power indefinitely. The whole process has been a farce, and the Bangladeshi government has ignored international demands to ensure that this process calls under international jurisdiction.

The execution of Mr Mollah, in breach of all international standards will, no doubt, plunge Bangladesh further into crisis. The threat of violence and civil unrest is very real. The IFE is concerned that this pre-determined process will be used by the Awami League regime to declare a state of emergency and derail any attempts to hold free and fair elections in January.

The IFE urges the international community, and in particular the UK government to reconsider the financial and diplomatic support afforded to this regime.

There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.

For the left, apart from those deluded enough to think that Rahman is “Progressive”, the issues are wider.

Last year Gita Saghal commented,

Fundamentalist demonstrations from the Jamaat associated East London Mosque  have been taking place regularly after Friday prayers, according to activists.  Secular Bangladeshis of all religious backgrounds and none were finally able to rally and march outwards from Altab Ali park through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. It was a suitable demonstration that the secular activists who have been receiving regular death threats have not been cowed into retreat.

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault.

In Bangladesh, fundamentalists  paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’  Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to  murder.

Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa  makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.

This is worth remembering every time people read something on Tower Hamlets,

John Ware, Independent, 13th of April.
An investigation is not Islamophobia

The Asian Mayor of Tower Hamlets says he welcomes scrutiny, yet he tried to stop a BBC ‘Panorama’ report.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

As Ukraine Armed Conflict Begins What Side Will the Pro-Kiev Left Take?

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Reports this morning indicate an accelerating fight in the Ukraine.

Ukraine crisis: Casualties in Sloviansk gun battles

Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian armed men have traded gunfire in a battle for control of the eastern town of Sloviansk, the interior minister says.

At least one Ukrainian officer was killed and both sides suffered casualties, Arsen Avakov said.

Pro-Russian forces took over the town on Saturday, prompting Kiev to launch an “anti-terror operation”.

Kiev and Western powers accuse Moscow of inciting the trouble. The Kremlin denies the charge.

BBC

Le Monde puts this in the context of a “general offensive”,

Le gouvernement ukrainien, confronté à des insurrections armées prorusses coordonnées dans l’Est, a lancé dimanche 13 avril une opération « antiterroriste »de reconquête à hauts risques.

The Ukrainian government, faced with armed pro-Russian and co-ordinated insurgencies   in the East, has launched a highly risky  “anti-terrorist” operation of reconquest on  Sunday, April the 13th

So how will those who stand ‘for’ the Ukraine react?

Will they ‘choose’ sides and back the “anti-terrorist operation”?

This is the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty position on the Ukraine.

Russia: hands off Ukraine! Keep Russian troops out!

Western governments: cancel Ukraine’s debts!

The labour movement should back Ukraine’s left in its efforts to create “third pole” against both Russian imperialism and the Ukrainian oligarchs.

This is Socialist Resistance’s line,

A defeat for Russian imperialism in Ukraine is both a victory for that mass movement and the Russian working class. Socialists in imperialist countries should see their primary responsibility as establishing links and building support for those groups in Ukrainian and Russian society which are opposing the oligarchs and organising a real movement against them. That is rather different from helping Putin hold on to power by annexing his own imperialist “buffer zone”.

Others are less decided.

This is the Left Unity Party’s view,

Left Unity statement on Ukraine

Left Unity has issued a statement on the situation in Ukraine, saying that there should be “no foreign intervention in Ukraine – whether political, economic or military”.

The acting officers of the new left wing party are calling for “democracy and equality for all the people of Ukraine”, condemning the different forms of nationalism, corruption and neoliberalism, and the drive to war.

Against nationalism, corruption, privatisation and war

The continuing political and economic crisis in Ukraine is taking a dangerous military turn.

Left Unity takes the position that there can only be a political solution to this crisis and that neither foreign military intervention nor foreign political and economic intervention provide the answers to Ukraine’s complex problems.

But does this also mean ‘backing’ the ‘anti-terrorist’ offensive?

We simply ask.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2014 at 11:01 am

France: Left Demonstrates Against ‘Socialist’ Austerity Today.

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The Front de gauche, the  nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA), the left of the Greens (EELV) – against their party’s official refusal to participate, many trade union bodies, and civil society organisations (over 200), are marching today against the Austerity policies of Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President François Hollande.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the radical left Greek party, Syriza, will be present

While the recent local elections were marked by divisions within the main French left alliance, the Front de gauche, these have not prevented this unified demonstration.

The March is  “contre l’austérité, pour l’égalité et le partage des richesses” – against austerity, for equality, and sharing wealth.

Specifically it is opposed to the government’s “pact” with employers and plans to cut spending.

Leading forces behind the event stand for an “alternative left majority”  as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the Front de gauche puts it. 

According to Pierre Laurent, (of the French Communist Party, PCF) the “living forces” of the left must unite and construct an alternative capable of winning a majority of the French people to its side. The demonstrations of the 12 April could be the starting point of a new assembly, one that will find expression in during the polls for the European elections on the 25th of  May.

L’Humanité.

Maintenant ça suffit ! 

For a European Movement Against Austerity!

Alain Finkielkraut, France’s Peter Hitchins, elected to Académie française.

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Alain Finkielkraut a été élu à l'Académie française. Entre amour passionnel de la langue et de la littérature et une pensée qui s'est radicalisée, retour avec Jean Birnbaum du « Monde des livres » sur cette entrée polémique.

New Low for Académie française.

I suppose any institution claiming to represent the heights of French culture that includes  former French President and mediocrity Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (still, amazingly, alive, though it’s often hard to tell)  lacks, shall we say, all credibility.

But the election of Alain Finkielkraut to the “immortals” has introduced a new low.

Finkielkraut occupys the same place in French philosophy and culture, as, say, Peter Hitchins.

He began with some, middlebrow, writings in the tradition of Emmanuel Levinas. He celebrated Jewish culture and sometimes offered penetrating insights into post-Shoah Jewish identity. Some may admire his stand on the break up of Yugoslavia, where he was beside himself against Serbia. Fewer, perhaps,  would have admired  his close friendship with Croat leader, and Holocaust denier, Franjo Tuđman.

In recent years Finkielkraut has been distinguished by a relentless hatred of anything he believes threatens French identity.

If anybody wants to distinguish left-republican secularism from what Finkielkraut’s critics call his « républicano-communautariste » it is easy to do.

He explicitly attacks multiculturalism  from the right, offering only a tale of woe and decline faced with immigration and métissage (Mixing, cultural and ethnic). As one can imagine he has had the courage of those going with the grain of conservative prejudice to oppose “political correctness” – a term as wide as it is vacuous.

By contrast Jean-Luc Mélenchon has explicitly defended” ” métissage” as the basis for a new class unifying republican socialist  left.

Over the last year Finkielkraut has become even more obsessed – were it possible – with “l’identité française”.

He complains that France is an “auberge espagnole” (a pejorative term, in this context,  for a mixture of people living together)  in which the ethnically true French dare not speak out. (L’Identité malheureuse, d’Alain Finkielkraut. 2013)

Despite the occasional exalted language Finkielkraut resembles a Peter Hitchins, or a French version of Nigel Farage.

It is with no surprise that we learn that his election to the Académie française met opposition. The columnist scraped in with 16 votes out of the 28 members of the august body.

SWP Stall “turned over” by Autonomist Police.

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Autonomist Police Scatters SWP.

Yesterday,

The SWP found out today that their rape-apologist bullshit has got no place in Liverpool. Their stall outside the NUS conference in Liverpool (it was outside because they’d already been refused entry to the conference) was turned over and their literature scattered to the wind. Let this be a lesson to them – we won’t accept their rape apologism here.

They spouted the usual crap: “sectarian”, “political nobodies”. So fucking what? More tellingly though, they made accusations of “sending men to intimidate women”. 50% of the people involved in tossing their shit papers on the floor and ripping down their shit posters were women.

This histrionic post ends with this gibberish,

The SWP covered up rape, threw survivors under the bus and intimidate anyone who tries to confront them about it (anyone remember the Glasgow anti-bedroom tax rally?). UAF grasses militant antifascists to the police. We won’t tolerate an organization that is so misogynistic in nature and so repugnant in its political opportunism anymore. We’re drawing a line now. Try not to cross it.

From Liverpool Class Action an “Autonomous anarchist group currently active in Merseyside.”

This follows the censorship of the SWP Marxism Festival by ULU.

Despite affiliated universities (notably the School of Oriental and African Studies;) letting rooms to real reactionaries, Islamists, who openly preach misogyny advocate female circumcision and hatred of gays – against which ULU has done precisely nothing, student union officers issued a statement that ended with this,

To the SWP, we say that you are beyond help and progressive debate. You are disgrace to the left and we have no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation. The bottom line is that you do not have any right to use this space, you are not welcome here or anywhere near our union and we will not be harassed by your organisation. As students and activists, we stand united against sexism.

A little further back there was this, (December 2013),

Sussex: Autonomists in ‘feelgood’ attack on SWP

Tom Munday on the turning over of an SWP stall and the burning of their papers at Sussex university.

The actions of these groups, and those on the ‘left’ who sympathise with them, are straight-forward authoritarian policing. They suppress political debate. They revile and scream rather than talk. They are the self-appointed political police of the left.

They are also hypocrites: no autonomist or ‘anti-sexist’ group  dares carry out of the same actions against the Islamists, guilty of not just of a bureaucratic and incompetent sexism, but open misogyny.

We do not advocate censoring their views either: debate, and free speech are a condition of secularism.

The Sussex self-appointed police  of the ASN (Autonomous Students Network) continue their actions,

Despite being repeatedly told by survivors that their presence on campus is triggering, the SWP loyalists continue to cover campus in their propaganda, hold meetings and are even running a candidate for the student union elections. As long as they act like that, we will continue to act like this.

Solidarity as ever with all survivors, we will not back down.

Burn the SWP.

‘Tom Munday’ in the Weekly Worker was right in analysing this as follows,

The reaction of the ASN represents only the most recent incarnation of a morality culture fostered by groups like the SWP. What we effectively see here is the most facile aspects of Blairism regurgitated as ‘socialist’ doctrine. The very notion that all the injustice and violence of the world can be willed away with good intentions and a true heart is fanciful to say the least, but lapses into outright narcissism when it expects the terrible realities that infest society at large to not find themselves duplicated within the left itself. Add into this mix an SWP-esque brand of directionless actionism and you end up with Frankenstein politics: at best leading us towards disingenuous ‘safe spaces’ policies.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

In the Era of Wars and Revolutions. American socialist cartoons of the mid-twentieth century.

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http://lawcha.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/02-April-1945-Labor-Action-Carlo.jpg

 In the era of Wars and Revolutions. American Socialist Cartoons of the mid-twentieth century. Edited by Sean Matgamma. 

“Although in some places, notably in the Untied States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents, and develop into an organised movement with a petty Fuehrer of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative. The Trotskyist is against Stalin just as the Communist is for him, and, like the majority of Communists, he wants not so much to alter the external world as to feel that the battle for prestige is gaining in his own favour.”

George Orwell. Notes on Nationalism. 1945. ( Orwell and Politics. Page 355. Penguin 2001.)

In the Era of War and Revolutions publishes American left-wing cartoons for the most part long unavailable (even on the Web). They are largely from the papers of what became the Trotskyist American Socialist Workers’ Party, and their publications, such as Labor Action, the Militant, Socialist Appeal and New Militant, although there are some from the Communist Party (US), Daily Worker.

It is immediately striking that capitalists wear top-hats, and are corpulent. while workers are muscle-bound titans. No punches are pulled. Stalinism is a horror, American capitalism is embodied in Jim Crow and Lynching, As Sean Matgamma says in the Introduction, this is “clear and stark class-struggle politics, counterposed to both capitalism and Stalinism.”.

Orwell was simply wrong to say that Trotskyists were single-minded opponents of Stalin and Orthodox Communism. There  is an equal focus on capitalism, the 1930s struggles of the US labour movement, Fascism, and, as World War 2 approached, and was fought, imperialism.

It would have been useful to have outlined the political evolution of the SWP (US) and the publications in which the cartoons appeared.

Its opposition to American participation in the World War – the subject, or sub-text,  of many of the designs -  takes some explaining.

The SWP’s own supporters claim that (2008),

The Socialist Workers Party…… maintained the Marxist view that in the modern epoch there is no progressive wing of the capitalist class. The major industrialized capitalist rivals, dominated by finance capital—what Marxists term imperialism—are constantly driven to wars of conquest in which they try to redivide the world’s territories. The working-class vanguard, the party held, needs to explain the imperialist character of the war and why workers and farmers must oppose it, fighting instead for their own class interests worldwide.

Vanguard workers in the United States came under increasing attack as Washington sought to drum up a patriotic campaign in support of its war drive. The Smith “Gag” Act was passed in 1940, prohibiting the advocacy of “overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States.” Under this thought-control law, 18 leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and Teamsters Local 544 in Minneapolis were railroaded to prison for their class-struggle course in the labor movement, including opposition to the imperialist war. They spent between 12 and 16 months behind bars.

Not everybody, one suspects, will have much sympathy with that stand. Apart from the wider problems it raises it stood uncomfortably close to the US ‘isolationists’ of the period.

Yet Stalinism, for all Orwell’s cavils, is something that was rightly a major issue for the American Trotskyists. In the Era reminds us that there were people on the left prepared to speak their opposition, and dramatically illustrate it in their publications. That some of the SWP became so obsessed with the Soviet Union that they became what would be later be called ‘neoconservatives’ perhaps shows the difficulty of maintaining a Thrid Camp position.

The SWP itself still exists, a small group of property developers who continue to publish Trotksy and use their other resources to back Cuba.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty are to be congratulated for publishing this material. It deserves a place on every socialists’ bookshelf. For this Blogger, who has only a passing familarity with the American left, it is a useful reminder of its rich past.

In an era of wars and revolutions, by Carlo and others, edited by Sean Matgamna. 312 pages, £8.99. To order by post, pay £8.99 plus £1.60 postage here.

More information from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

********************

Note on some of the cartoonists -  Laura Gray (Slobe),

 From Labor Action.

Labor Action regularly published cartoons and caricatures penned by Jesse Cohen, who worked under the name Carlo, while the Militant ran graphics by Laura Slobe, whose party name was Laura Gray. Despite the new wave of public and scholarly interest in the history of comics and cartoons, neither Carlo nor Laura Gray has attracted much attention from historians of the graphic arts. Readers of this magazine might recognize Carlo’s work from the short profile we published in issue 37 (Summer 2004); now it’s Laura Gray’s turn.

Like Jesse Cohen, Laura Slobe attended high school in the 1920s, came of political age during the 1930s, and remained active on the far left after World War II. She was born in Pittsburgh, but grew up in Chicago, where she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before working for the Works Progress Administration Art Project. As a young, avant-garde artist she concentrated her efforts on painting and sculpture, which remained her lifelong passions. She joined the SWP in 1942, and her first cartoon appeared in the Militant two years later. The labor journalist Art Preis later remembered that, “From the first, her work added such a fresh, bright, satirical note to the paper that it was enthusiastically hailed by our readers everywhere.” According to another SWP writer, “The cartoon’s subject matter was on the agenda of the Militant’s staff meetings. After the staff discussed and decided what the topic would be, Gray would go home and start to draw.” In addition to serving on the staff of the Militant, Gray “worked at a series of jobs to support herself, including painting store mannequins and creating window displays for some of New York’s big department stores.” She remained the SWP’s in-house artist from 1944 until her death in 1958. Tragically, she had contracted tuberculosis in her early twenties, and had a lung removed in 1947. She died after a brief bout with pneumonia.

Stalin 5

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

Eric Pickles Fights ‘Militant Atheists’. A Militant Secularist Reply.

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Militant atheists should ‘get over it’ and accept Britain is a ‘Christian nation’, according to communities secretary Eric Pickles.

Having previously introduced laws that ensure parish councils can avoid legal challenges for holding prayers in public meetings, Pickles this weekend urged non-believers to avoid imposing their ‘politically correct intolerance’ on others.

Speaking at the Conservative Spring Forum, the communities secretary said he had ‘stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish’.

‘Heaven forbid,’ he added. ‘We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.’

In his speech, Pickles said the Government had also ‘backed British values’ and ‘stopped Whitehall appeasing extremism of any sort. Be it the EDL, be it extreme Islamists or be thuggish far-left, they’re all as bad as each other’. From here

This follows the much more strident claim by  Baroness Warsi in February that,

For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”

There have been many commentaries on this bluster.

One of the best, by Matt Broomfield (Left Foot Forward), focuses on the secular alternative to Pickles’s  ‘Christian nation’.

What is secularism?

Following Broomfield we note  that,

Secularism is not  Atheism.

Secularism is the policy of opening up society  to all beliefs by making no one faith or non-faith a central part of the public sphere.  This means no public subsidies for religious groups, and certainly no “established” Church. It means that education is free from religious doctrine. It means that official religious values, symbols and practices in these areas – such as schools – should be excluded.

It is not  Extremist.

Broomfield states, “In his speech, Pickles aligned secularism with the extremist doctrines of the English Defence League and militant Islam, saying “they’re all as bad as each other”. In reality, secularism is not a religious or political ideology at all, so much as it is the absence of any one dominant ideology.

It is not Intolerant. 

Broomfield notes that secularism  has nothing to do with the Marine Le Pen’s claim that Front National schools will only lay on pork for children to eat. This is as bad as forcing people to eat Halal food (something  rigorously  forbidden from diet  example, to all Sikhs). Le Pen is not a secularist – she has backed Catholic led-demonstrations against gay marriage and teaching gender equality in schools. Such has been the importance of this clash that Libération has a whole special section on its site devoted to it: here. Those citing the FN should look there before pontificating about its opportunistic ‘secularism’.

Militant Secularism.

But more is needed.

In Britain the education system, particularly through ‘free schools’ and academies’ has been wide open to the influence of faith groups. These have imposed their narrow agenda with public funding.

Some on the ‘left’ would no doubt prefer Pickles to promote faith more broadly.

The multiculturalism that has been used to promote religious causes, from reinforcing traditional authority, to the state where active communalism, with public subsidy is promoted by municipalities  like Tower Hamlets.  It bolsters reactionary political influence of religious groups – the opposite the aim of secularists who wish to make the public domain open and free from bigotry.

Only a militant, that is vigilant, secularism, can fight back against this.

It requires not just the ‘absence’ of an official doctrine  but a conscious effort to undermine religious dogma.

That  is,  not an official replacement doctrine but a call for mass pressure and activity to create free spaces for people’s ideas, culture and values.

Contrasts with the Front National.

But before one lie gets repeated again and again, nobody has ever proposed the following (as Broomfield claims), “the National Front’s plans to force Muslim schoolchildren to eat pork.”

A weaker version of this claim, closer to the truth,  is made by the Bob Pitt,

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen said on Friday it would prevent schools from offering special lunches to Muslim pupils in the 11 towns it won in local elections, saying such arrangements were contrary to France’s secular values.

The Front National proposes to put  pork on the menu in all school canteens.

In practice this has not meant denying an alternative.

« Il y a toujours eu deux menus dans les cantines : l’un avec porc, l’autre sans porc pour ceux qui ne désirent pas enconsommer. Naturellement, cette possibilité sera préservée dans les cantines de Fréjus, l’essentiel étant que la liberté de chacun soit préservée »

There has always been two menus in the canteens: one with pork, the other without pork, for those who don’t want to eat it. These possibilities will be maintained in the canteens of Fréjus” (Front National town).

Today Le Monde summarises the real conditions which the Front National operates within.

It debunks some myths. Essentially that there is a major issue about Halal food in French school, and that Marine Le Pen’s Party is laying down an important marker on the subject.

The question of pork is a sign of secularism in danger

But the issue is not new, the vast majority of canteens offers alternative dishes and have done  for decades, and no religious organisation has recently made a special request on this subject.

Le Pen’s  party will not accept halal in canteens

But there is none in the places where the party is in charge.

Impose the presence of  pork on school  menus

This is already the case for all menus that we could see in towns run by the FN.

- But maintaining a substitute menu

But this, too, is already the case in most  FN run towns

- If the municipality cannot offer an alternative to pork dishes, would it keep the pork?

This is already the case in the past for menus in FN controlled towns.

- Finally, will the president of FN  ensure that “there are always two menus”

This is mostly true for municipalities  run by the  FN, it is not in general the practice

So, not only is Halal Food not a major topic of controversy, but that all it boils down to in practice is that the Front National claims that it will “offer” a pork menu.

The only really major fault of their position (distasteful rhetoric aside)  is that they do not guarantee to offer an alternative Halal – or vegetarian? –  dish.

But in practice they do: as can be seen below.

Ville FN Restauration Porc dans les menus Substitution proposée?
Cogolin privé oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Le Luc privé ?
Mantes-la-Ville ville oui
Villers-Coterêts ville oui
Camaret privé ?
Béziers ville oui
Fréjus ville oui
Beaucaire privé oui
Hayange ville ?
Le Pontet ville ?
Marseille 7 ville oui

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2014 at 11:38 am

Far-Right Jobbik Election Gains – Leader has called Islam “Last Hope of Humanity”.

with 30 comments

“Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

The Guardian Reports,

Hungarians handed prime minister Viktor Orbán another four years in power in Sunday’s parliamentary election, while about one in every five voters backed Jobbik, the far-right opposition party accused of antisemitism.

Orbán has clashed repeatedly with the EU and foreign investors over his maverick policies, but many Hungarians regard the 50-year-old former dissident against communist rule as a champion of national interests. Under his government, personal income tax and household power bills have fallen.

After 71% of the ballots were counted, election officials projected Orbán’s Fidesz party would win 135 of the 199 seats in parliament – passing the two-thirds threshold needed for his party to unilaterally change the constitution.

In the past four years, Orbán’s policies have included a nationalisation of private pension funds, swingeing “crisis taxes” on big business and a relief scheme for mortgage holders for which the banks, mostly foreign-owned, had to pay.

The socialist-led leftist alliance was projected to win 39 seats, with 25 going to Jobbik, whose share of the national vote on party lists rose from 15.9% four years ago to 21.25%.

 

This aspect of Jobbik’s ideology does not seem to get much publicity in the anglophone media.

 

The leader of Hungary’s Jobbik movement has said that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

During the recent Hungarian parliamentary elections, the Jobbik movement earned 16.67% of the overall vote, securing 47 seats in the National Assembly. Subsequently, the President of Jobbika made a trip to Turkeywhere he visited various universities.

“We’re not coming to Turkey to build diplomatic and economic relations, but to meet our Turkish brothers and sisters,” Gábor Vona, Jobbika’s president said.

He also claimed that “the West does not tolerate seeing my party support Turkey and other Turanian peoples, such as Azerbaijanis, in international conflicts.”

Gábor Vona also affirmed that his party had no relationship with the Islamophobic, far-right European parties, as some commentators have claimed. Jobbik’s president also stated that Turkish society, grounded in love of the family, respect for tradition and a strong sense of patriotism, was a great example for Hungary.

According to Gábor Vona, the relationship between Hungary and Turkey is based on fraternity and not just friendship. The Jobbik party’s leader also emphasised, on many occasions, that “Islam is the last hope for humanity in the darkness of globalism and liberalism.”

Also on the universal significance of Islam, Gábor Vona has stated on the official website of his party:

Africa has no power; Australia and South-America suffer from a perplexed identity due to their much-congested societies. Considering all this, there’s only one culture left which seeks to preserve its traditions: it is the Islamic world.”

Furthermore, Vona said that his personal life was influenced by Islam and Muslims that he has met as friends and colleagues throughout his life. More surprisingly, one of the witnesses at his wedding was a Palestinian, something that infuriated his opponents.

From Five Pillars. February 17th 2014.

In more detail Le Monde Diplomatique carries this article, “Une extrême droite qui n’exècre pas l’islam (A far-Right that does not loath Islam)  by  Corentin Léotard.

It reveals the reasons behind this convergence of European extreme right and Islamist extreme right.

It’s not hard to guess what the motivation is.

Jobbick is against the “Hebrew State”.

In Parliament, its representative,  its representative, Gábor Vona,  wears a Palestinian  keffiyeh and has denounced the “génocide de Gaza.

Another source is Jobbik’s “turanism”: The right-wing Jobbik party and its president Gábor Vona are uncompromising supporters of Turanism and Pan-Turkism (The ideology of Jobbik considers Hungarians as a Turkic nation.).

The leader of the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross PartyFerenc Szálasi, believed in the existence of a “Turanian-Hungarian” race (which included Jesus Christ). The idea was a key part of his ideology of “Hungarism”.[59]

In Hungary some fascists (and non-fascists) tried to link the ancestors of the Hungarians to Timur, the Ottomans and Japan, which some Hungarians of the 1930s described as the ‘other sword of Turan’ (the first sword being Hungary).

While some Hungarian Turanists went as far as to argue they were racially healthier than and superior to other Europeans (including Germans, who were already corrupted by Judaism), others felt more modestly, that as Turanians living in Europe, they might provide an important bridge between East and West and thus play a role in world politics out of proportion of their numbers or the size of their country. This geopolitical argument was taken to absurd extremes by Ferenc Szálasi, head of the Arrow Cross-Hungarist movement, who believed that, owing to their unique historical and geographical position, Hungarians might play a role equal to, or even more important than, Germany in building the new European order, while Szálasi’s own charisma might eventually help him supersede Hitler as leader of the international movement.

Wikipedia.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

Left Unity “moderate” “mishmash” or step forward?

with 5 comments

Weekly Worker says, economic policy  is ” mishmash“.

Left Unity is encouraged, rightly in the Tendance’s view by having achieved some national resonance.   1,520 signed-up members – and 200 in the immediate run up to their Manchester Conference.

But steel-hardened cadres beware!

Peter Manson reports in the Weekly Worker.

The economics policy commission, which made up the first real business of the day, remains a mishmash of lofty aspirations and minimalist reforms. It starts by describing the effects of the global financial crisis, yet does not go on to call for the party to be committed to a campaign for an alternative society. It states: “Radical measures are necessary to ensure a transformation in the economic structure and a reversal of the damage inflicted over the last 30 years of attacks …” It calls for “an expansion of public spending in pursuit of a policy of full employment”.

…incredibly, no debate was allowed on this monstrosity of a document.

We can only be dismayed.

Except that to most people it seems a pretty good approach to take, a radical programme of structural reforms, and a positive attempt to offer an alternative to the Privatising State and Austerity.

In general Left Unity has some pretty good policies. It refused to follow the  Gadarene herd into the sea of Scottish nationalism and an independent capitalist Alba. It rejected calls for  ‘unity’ with groups like the SWP (which some of Left Unity’s main members recently split from acrimoniously) and the No2EU supporting Socialist Party.

It would have been interesting to see  some balance-sheet of the experience of other left party initiatives, particularly a self-criticism from those who were until not so long ago part of the cabal around George Galloway’s Respect Party.

None has appeared.

Even Cde. Mason admits its policy on Europe is an excellent start,

Crouch End’s motion called for support for the statement of the European Left Party and its “refoundation of Europe on a socialist basis”. This was carried unanimously. Of course, there are big differences on what exactly is meant by that, and those around Andrew Burgin, Kate Hudson and so on who support it have very different ideas in practice on what is meant by “socialist”. But this convergence around the notion of all-Europe unity – as opposed to left nationalism – was striking.

This is a major advance for the British left.

The comrade writing in the organ of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB accurately  observes (following no doubt the judgement of Tendance Coatesy) that the motion on racism was a load of, how shall we put this politely, cack.

Cde Mason remarks,

“It was fitting that this intersectionalist motion was moved by Richard Seymour. He was urged by comrade Macnair to accept that the motion was “framed in the wrong way” and should be referred back.”

Comrade Macnair pointed out that its sectionalist/intersectionalist basis was “inconsistent with global opposition to capitalist rule”. Blacks (or women) per se cannot lead such opposition. Secondly, it saw no difference between the racism of old and today’s “nativism”. It accepted the whole multiculturalist agenda, which was driven by the bourgeoisie and sought to divide opposition from ethnic groups by upholding their separation from each other and promoting ‘community leaders’ who claimed to speak for them and helped sideline any united class response to cuts, etc.

Quite right comrade! (we are not being facetious  here)

In his reply, comrade Seymour dismissed the concern about intersectionality. The various oppressed groups “intersect”. So “what’s the problem?” As for the divisive nature of multiculturalism, that seemed to pass him by. Showing just how all-pervasive are the backward ideas associated with multiculturalist intersectionality, the CP was virtually alone in calling for a referral-back: the motion was carried overwhelmingly.

To repeat.

The motion passed.

This alone shows something is going wrong.

Whether Left Unity will amount to a successful intervention in national politics remains very much an open question.

One larded with doubts.

We consider that initiatives like the People’s Assembly have deeper roots and can achieve more results – fighting austerity uniting trade unionists , social movements and individuals – than a new party.

But we shall leave to conclusion to Cde. Mason.

The whole day was very tiring, but it was nowhere near as frustrating as the founding conference. But, despite some success for the “extreme left”, March 29 marked another step on the road towards Left Unity becoming a broad, “moderate” party incapable of organising consistent working class opposition to capital. However, there is a lot to play for yet.

A rather different report on the Conference in Links International.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2014 at 11:42 am

Mitterrand. A Study in Ambiguity. Philip Short. Review.

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https://d3hgnfpzeohxco.cloudfront.net/images/ar/97818479/9781847920065/0/0/plain/mitterrand-a-study-in-ambiguity.jpg

This was written over a month ago. A slightly shorter version was published in the March-April issue of Chartist magazine.

 

Mitterrand. A Study in Ambiguity. Philip Short. The Bodley Head. 2013.

François Hollande’s electoral campaign in 2012 presented him as “Mitterrand’s heir.” Perhaps British readers will come to Philip Short’s biography more interested in the parallels between the former French Head of State’s ‘second family’ with Anne Pingeot, and Hollande’s affair with Julie Gayet. But Mitterrand invites more significant comparisons with the legacy of France’s first, and longest serving, French President.

Mitterrand, marked by “ambiguities” was known as “the Sphinx”, marked by “inner solitude.” He worked in “shades of grey”. His life is littered with riddles. Catherine Nay counted seven ‘Mitterrands’, from a left-wing Léon Blum to the Father of the Nation, in his first term of office alone (Les Sept Mitterrand. 1988). Philip Short has the more daunting task of covering a life and career from 1916 to 1996.

As a student in the 1930s Mitterrand was involved with the far-right Croix de feu. As an escaped prisoner of war he served the Vichy regime and was awarded the francisque emblem for his work. Engaged in the Resistance from 1943, he ended the war in Parliament and served, as a centre-left republican, in a variety of posts under the Fourth Republic. Short, more generously than many, finds excuses for these early years. In the 1930s and the War, he was no anti-Semite. As a Minister of the one of numerous Coalitions during the Algerian War of Liberation he opposed independence, and was just as “blinkered as most of his colleagues.”

Mitterrand furiously opposed De Gaulle’s 1958 “coup d’état” and the 1962 referendum on the direct election of the President. But his failure to speak out against torture and his ambiguity over decolonisation isolated him from the burgeoning New Left that regrouped during those years in the Parti Socialiste Unifié (PSU). Yet, Short argues, his distance from the “squabbling over political theory” of these factions allowed Mitterrand to rise to lead France’s left. A stunning 37,78% of the vote for his Presidential candidacy (backed the entire left, including the Communist Party) in 1965 brought him back centre-stage.

A Study in Ambiguity recounts how Mitterrand, from creation of the Parti Socialiste in Épinay (1971) to his electoral triumph in 1981 made himself as the undisputed Chief of the French left. Short has a fine eye for the role of ‘clubs’ on the French left, and how French parties come into being around a “new Leader”. Mitterrand, he argues, was able “to forge unity not around a programme but around his own person.”(Page 275)

The Socialist General Secretary rapidly came into conflict with the one French party with a collective leadership, the Communists (PCF). Right up until his 1981 election Mitterrand clashed with the PCF. From unity, over the Programme Commun in 1972, to the break up in 1977, relations were stormy. Short repeats the allegation that the Communists (still hovering around 20% of the vote during the decade) were prepared to secretly support Conservative politicians in an attempt to stop him coming to power.

The victory of the “force tranquille” (a phrase of Victor Hugo) in 1981 put Mitterrand on the stage of history. The new President’s supporters swept through Paris. The Right was “panic stricken”. Elected on a programme promising a “rupture” with capitalism, the new government included 4 members of the (already declining, 12.4% for the Presidentials and 11,26% for the Parliamentary elections) Communist Party. There were nationalisations (36 banks, 5 large industrial groups, and many more), a 10% rise in the minimum wage, the lowering of the retirement age to 60, an increase in holidays to 5 weeks a year, and new rights for employees at work. The Death Penalty was abolished. The first moves towards decentralisation were taken.

For a while it looked as if something resembling the British Alternative Economic Strategy was being put into practice. Nevertheless the core policy, raising incomes to spark a consumer boom, failed. There was immense pressure on the Franc. The French economy did not prosper. Unemployment and inflation rose.

Short asserts that confronted with these economic realities retreat was inevitable. By summer 1982 there was devaluation, and a “four month price and wage freeze, a cap on the budget deficit at 3 per cent of GNP” as well as “a commitment to bring inflation below 8 per cent in 1984. Over the next years, “socialist France had joined the rest of the industrialised world in a forced deflationary spiral to get its economy back into balance.”(P 366) For A Study in Ambiguity “The French Socialists had to absorb in months knowledge which their neighbours had accumulated over decades.”(Page 365)

For some on the French left, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the left government ran up against the ‘bankers ramp’ (le mur de l’argent). Was this realism? To Short, Mitterrand and his supporters became zealots for “modernisation” competitively and talked up entrepreneurial “winners” and market flexibility. They would certainly have agreed with Short that the 1981 Projet Socialiste was an “anachronism” and that nationalisation and state controls had proved to be “irrelevant”.

This was not just a “disavowal of everything Mitterrand had stood for” .It was, for many on the left at the time, the replacement of the radical, and ill-defined, socialism of the 1970s by the exploitative “free market norms” of France’s partners. Instead of changing, for example, to a new pan-European left strategy, the Government had taken over the European right’s policies. Thierry Pfister, a direct observer of the shift, ridiculed the vacuity of this “modernisation” without radical content (La vie quotidienne à Matignon au temps de ‘Union de la Gauche. 1983).

Mitterrand won a second 7-year term, in 1988, with the slogan, “neither nationalisations nor privatisations”. While he promised to restore the wealth tax – abolished during his ‘cohabitation’ with right-wing PM Jacques Chirac (1986 – 88) this was “non-campaign”, focused “almost entirely on winning over the political centre.” It was a success.

Was in fact Mitterrand ever interested in more than winning and keeping power? Short argues – deceptions and ambiguities aside – that there was. Mitterrand “began a slow and painful accommodation to the economic and political realities of the world outside.” His values endured, “The construction of Europe and the quest for social justice, the two great causes which had sprung from Mitterrand’s experience as a prisoner of war, and modernisation, which had imposed itself as a necessity during his time of office, are legacy enough.”(Page 582)

Yet Short also describes another legacy. Mitterrand, from the mid-1980s onwards brought the far-right Front National into the electoral arena. In contrast to those who consider this a manoeuvre to split the Right, he states it was designed to “neutralise its venom”. The FN’s entry into the “mainstream of French politics”, he asserts, has warded off the growth of French “diehard racist parties”, to be seen in the other European countries.

As the Front National occupies a leading place in the opinion polls, over the last weeks the streets of Paris have been full of tens of thousands of far-right demonstrators. The sight of religious hysteria against gays and “gender theory”, and the sound of anti-Semitic chants, is perhaps not the kind of achievements the, excellent, Mitterrand. A Study in Ambiguity would wish to celebrate.

 Note: the Front National has since done well in the local elections and promises to do better in the European ones.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 4, 2014 at 11:08 am

Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets and Securalism.

with 34 comments

Directly Funds Religious Groups. 

This is not the place to discuss the full picture  of the Panorama report into Tower Hamlets Council and Lufter Rahman.

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for local government, is not the best person to criticise anybody, even the person who ties his shoelaces.

Counterfire has however  muddied the waters by repeating Rahman’s charges that the programme is ‘racist’ and ‘Islamophobic’.

Since they claim to speak for the left, they need a reply.

They claim,

Take away the constant reminders that Lutfur and many of supporters are Bengali(!!), and what were we left with? Firstly, the fact that he didn’t follow the advice of council bureaucrats as to who should get funding, and secondly that he didn’t submit himself to sufficient questioning by Tower Hamlets’ Labour-dominated council. As for the former, it is a hardly a political scandal that funding decisions should, ultimately, be taken by elected representatives rather than unaccountable bureaucrats. If a mayor is to be branded corrupt for not doing what his officials tell him, why bother having elections at all?

This avoids the issue of the nature of directly elected mayors with the kind of powers to override and ignore objections from critics that was illustrated in the documentary.

It is a curious position to take, considering the battles the left has had with other directly elected mayors, in Bristol, to cite but one example.

It would have more to the point to argue that Eric Pickles, the Minister responsible  for this system in the first place is biased by focusing on only one borough and one Mayor.

Counterfire then goes on to make sweeping claims.

The British establishment seem rather conflicted on what they want Muslims to do. On the one hand they aggressively lecture British Muslims on their responsibility to engage with democracy and domestic political institutions. On the other hand, they seem awfully frightened by the prospect that voting by Muslims could actually influence the outcome of elections, and that brown people might get to spend public money.

We shall ignore Counterfire’s own ‘lectures’ to British Muslims on Imperialism, and its strange silence on the backing some British Muslims  give  to the Syrian jihadists.

The main problem is that the article’s rhetoric ignores a central issue : Tower Hamlets policy of funding, directly, faith organisations.

As can be seen from the Tower Hamlets Council Statement after the Panorama programme.

These are the relevant items.

Faith buildings

Panorama suggested the Faith Building Scheme in Tower Hamlets was somehow divisive, whereas faith and social cohesion go hand in hand in Tower Hamlets. The borough has a strong tradition in this regard: for example, the Salvation Army was formed in Tower Hamlets and many faith-based organisations deliver community services accessible to all. Preserving these buildings to support the area’s heritage and its rich faith communities is seen as vital to the fabric of Tower Hamlets

Grants to mosques

Many of these organisations, Churches, Mosques and Synagogues deliver valuable community services. Some will also have buildings of historical and community interest. It is about heritage, but this includes supporting the fabric of what makes our community strong. The inspiration for the scheme came from the fate of Nelson Street Synagogue, to help them maintain their building – in their case it was about heritage, but for others they were doing good community work and needed a means of improving their buildings.

Cohesion?

Really?

The Docklands and East London Advertiser  21st February 2014.

A pitched battle broke out last night between Bangladeshi groups in a Whitechapel park, with women and children caught in the middle.

Hundreds had gathered in the park at midnight to place flowers at the Shaheed Minar (Martyr Monument) for the annual Bangladeshi Martyrs Day ceremony.

But flowers gave way to fists as the night turned violent after a war of words between rival groups over controversial war crimes trials in Bangladesh.

Tensions have been bubbling in the East End over the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, which is trying men accused of war crimes during the country’s 1971 liberation war.

Death threats have been received by activists in London and some have been attacked in the street.

These clashes were the direct result of a battle being fought between Bangladeshi secularists and Islamists.

What is the fundamental objection to financing religious groups?

It is not a matter of  ‘heritage’ that is being sponsored by the Tower Hamlets Council (a criterion, incidentally, that means the secular French government helps out with the preservation of religious buildings).

It could be that this takes sides in controversies, such as oppose two wings of Bangladeshi society.

But more importantly it is to give active finance for religious groups some of which have a political agenda and many of which have far from inclusive positions of women’s rights, LGBT issues, and a host of other topics. 

Does this happen elsewhere?

Certainly.

This is a problem: multiculturalism being used to shore up faith communities and traditional leaderships.

One could say that this is the opposite of the anti-racist secularism a diverse borough like Tower Hamlets needs.

Instead all we get is bluster from the Rahman camp: Mayor’s response to BBC Panorama.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

Alain Badiou Renounces his Maoist Past.

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Alain Badiou: I was wrong, innit?

“The Greatest Philosopher since Plato and St Ignatius of Loyola”, as Terry Eagleton calls him, Alain Badiou, a dapper gent, wears his 132 years well.

The Tendance interviewed  him in Les Deux Magots.

“Cher Maître, is it ‘true’ that your latest book includes a 300 page self-criticism of your Maoist years and your support for the Khmer Rouge?”

“Indeed! Let me sum up my truth procedure: Regretter et se repentir, on peut toujours le faire. C’est très facile! One can always regret and repent, it’s always easy! As Spinoza said, it’s always a bit too easy. “

The great man paused, slipping into the fluent English he learnt as a Dalston pot-boy.

“I was wrong, innit?”

Dipping a chip into a bowl of mayonnaise he continued,

“When Mao launched the Great Cultural Revolution, it was a Communist Invariant. But now only 40 years later we have to admit that there were some errors. Humiliating professors, for example and not performing any of my operas. I remain, however  fidèle to the Event. There have been dramas and heart-wrenching and doubts, but I have never again abandoned a love.”

“And Pot Pot”

“He was a bit of a lad, hein?”

“But times move on. L’Organisation Politique is set in new directions. After taking absolution I plan to retire to a Trappist Monastery in Belgium to brew an excellent beer. Here try some”.

 

………………….

Diagram of Badiou Truth Procedure. 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 1, 2014 at 10:58 am

French Left Calls President Hollande’s policies “a Disaster”.

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Socialists Massively Rejected. 

France’s governing Socialists have suffered big losses in municipal elections, with the opposition UMP claiming victory and the far right celebrating further gains.

UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope hailed what he called a “blue wave” of support for his centre-right party.

The far-right National Front (FN) was heading for victory in up to 15 towns, partial results indicated. BBC

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has commented on the second round of municipal elections.

He sees in the result as a condemnation of government policy. The leader of the Front de gauche and the Parti de Gauche. Mélenchon has already denounced the sectarian attitude of the Parti Socialiste  PS in cities like Toulouse.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has called for a “new left, capable of becoming a majority  in our country.”

He has stressed the excellent result of the PG-EELV list Grenoble (an alliance of his party and the Greens). In this he  saw “a great lesson” who brought “great hope” and breathed new life into politics.  Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for elected Socialist Party representatives to break ranks and join the leftist opposition to government policy.

In Le Monde today  Mélenchon has summed up the source of the problem. It is President Hollande, and his

turn rightwards, the government’s  preferred alliance with the MEDEF (employers’ organisation), and its submission to European austerity policies. These  have produced a disaster. “

Leading Green Senator, Jean-Vincent Placé, has demanded the government drops its “pacte de responsbilité”, an agreement with employers’ organisations to make France “more competitive”.

President Hollande has faced ciriticisms from within his own party, including from his former partner, Ségolène Royal, who called for a “change of tempo” in the government’s actions.

Left Unity Conference: the Good and the Not-so-Good.

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As Dave Osler has said, Left Unity is a party created not by deals between left groups but primarily by the hard work of activists alone.

Its Manchester Conference is to be congratulated on opening up a space for real debate on the left.

Many of the policy positions of the group, on Europe (it rejects the ‘No’ stand), and on economic policy (firmly anti-neo-liberal), are real steps forward.

“Left Unity opposes all programmes and demands for a British withdrawal from the European Union. By the same measure we oppose the EU of commissioners, corruption and capital. However, as the political, bureaucratic and economic elite has created the reality of a confederal EU, the working class should take it, not the narrow limits of the nation-state, as its decisive point of departure.”

We are for joining with others across Europe to campaign for a different form of European Union, a ‘socialist reconstruction’, as called for by the 4th Congress of the European Left Party.

Left Unity, we learn, would not take a position on the  Nationalist left campaign for a ‘Yes’  vote in the Scottish Referendum.

There are a host of other good policies on green issues such as fracking, Housing, and defending welfare.

In these areas some serious work has borne fruit.

There are wider topics, about the role such a party may take, and its relation to the broader labour movement and the left, that many will not agree on. Above all “coming soon to a Ballot Paper near you”.

These will be discussed here (as no doubt many others will do)  but not today.

But for the moment we have to signal that some material passed by the Conference is less than appealing to every internationalist and socialist. (see here).

The text of the Anti-Racist Commission begins well. It talks of the need to defend migrants, and to fight all forms of racism.

But this is extremely confused, when it is not plain wrong.

Racism against Muslims has deep roots in British history, extending into the colonial era.  Its most recent manifestations can be traced to the period after the ‘Rushdie affair’ when Muslims were increasingly identified as a ‘security’ problem, and a menace to national ‘values’.  Following the riots in northern cities, the government extended this attack to British Asians in general, alleging that they were ‘self-segregating’.

In the context of the ‘war on terror’, these discourses about British Asians were focused on Muslims in particular, and a neo-Powellite argument took hold that ‘multiculturalism’ had failed.  Politicians and media outlets claimed that by allowing diverse ‘cultures’ to ‘do their own thing’, Britain had tolerated islands of extremism in its midst. This counterinsurgency narrative validated a series of high profile attacks on the rights of Muslims, such as the Forest Gate raids in 2006 or the long-term imprisonment without charge and subsequent deportation of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan – only the most severe examples of the day-to-day state repression and racism experienced by the Muslim community.

The language of this ‘new racism’ blames racially oppressed groups themselves for failing to ‘integrate’ or ‘confront extremism’.  In so doing, it both validates racist repression and simultaneously instils fear and discourages resistance to racism.

The fact that it is culture and creed, rather than colour and breed, which is the ideological focus of these measures allows politicians to pretend that they are not racist.  Yet, there is a long history of ‘cultural racism’, which has become especially dominant in the aftermath of Britain’s colonial era.  Even the most biologistic forms of racism have always been supplemented by essentialising cultural stereotypes. The representation of Muslims as a monolithic bloc embodying the most hateful characteristics belongs to this tradition.

As an account of the Rushdie affair its stupidity and reductionism, not to mention the failure to defend Rushdie’s right to free speech, is reactionary in the extreme.

The rest is a completely jumbled up account of this aspect of race-cultural-relations in the UK.

There is not a word for a  strategy that is opposed Islamism.

Islamism may as well not exist.

No words are written on the Sikh, Hindi, or other religious communities (you can guess the obvious absence, it begins with ‘J‘).

Or indeed to defend secularism and advance secularist policies of equality  as the only basis on which a coherent anti-racist position can be built.

Then, while well-intentioned, this is their unreadable conclusion,

For all the negatives in the British situation, there are grounds for optimism.  Popular views on immigration and race are actually far more complex and ambivalent than opinion polls would suggest.  The ambiguities of popular opinion are, moreover, not a concluded fact but raw material which can be worked with by those seeking to draw out the best instinctive responses of ordinary people.  Anti-racism actually forms part of the common sense of millions of working class people who, thanks to decades of large-scale immigration, experience a ‘lived multiculture’ that is remote from the stereotypes of ‘failed multiculturalism’.  A left political articulation that operates on such lived experience, linking a popular anti-racist politics to a wider critique of class injustice, can begin to shift the balance, and offer a counterpoint to the racist Right which the mainstream parties cannot.

Now Tendance Coatesy wholly endorses this aspect of their policy,

Left Unity must challenge racist ideas in the labour movement, and even sections of the socialist movement.  Some openly support or implicitly endorse the idea of “British Jobs for British Workers” – the supposed need for greater and “tougher” immigration controls to defend worker’s rights. Left Unity must contest this wherever it appears.

But the previous material  on religions and multiculturalism?

It is no surprise that we learn that Richard Seymour was behind this confused document – and indeed moved it at the Conference.

He’s obviously been flipping through those 1980s Stuart Hall articles or old Paul Gilory stuff.

And observed nothing since – notably the latter’s critique of multiculturalism,

Like this,

“The fundamental challenge of our time, asserts Paul Gilroy, is to imagine an ethical and just world that truly fulfils the promise of humanism and enacts the idea of universal human rights.”

Update Seymour Addresses the Popular Masses: Pic of him reading out in support of above Motion.

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Music for the Comrades on this Beautiful Day.

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With love to all those at Left Unity in Manchester today, and for all the comrades of the People’s Assembly: two songs for a beautiful day.

 

 

 

 

Live Stream from Conference.

Update: There are already splits about this Live Stream, ads, to start with.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Capitalism, Culture, Cuts, European Left, Left

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How Not to Analyse Ukraine: the Sad Case of Socialist Resistance.

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There once was a Fourth International.

Liam Mac Uaid , who is a respected comrade, has roused an unusual unanimously hostile reaction on the left for this article.

Ukraine – the Russians are the aggressors

We can agree or disagree with the Fourth International’s analysis: whether there is a ‘side’ worth taking, or not.

But these sentences have become notorious. 

Putin’s strategy is to gouge out chunks of Ukrainian territory. He started with Crimea. That is roughly analogous to the north of Ireland. The British state has used the presence of a Protestant population which is opposed to a united Ireland to claim sovereignty over Irish territory.

Another analogy is the Israeli state. There, a settler population displaced the original inhabitants and denied them the right to a Palestinian state. Stalin’s tactics in Crimea were not too different from those of the Israeli state’s founders. He deported almost 200 000 Crimean Tatars and filled the gap with ethnic Russians.

Putin is planning to use the presence of Russian speakers in other parts of Ukrainian territory to annex them. This has even worried Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. According to The Moscow Times  he criticised Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea as setting a “bad precedent.” Even Putin’s friends in the region are twitchy now.

Northern Ireland, Israel, plenty more about Stalin.

A confused phrase stating that, “A defeat for Russian imperialism in Ukraine is both a victory for that mass movement and the Russian working class. “

This article, with the central analogies cited above, has caused great offence on the left, including some of my close comrades.

Mind you some individuals  seem to think that Stalinism=Israel=Northern Ireland=Putin.

The magic of dialectical thinking at work no doubt.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm

France: Nearly a Million Votes for the Far-Right.

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Right 8,656,826

Left 6,736,810

Diverse local group, individuals, ‘notables’  1,983,191

Extreme Right. 983,191

Centre 690,140

Gauche radicale (that is the Front de gauche, though see below on this) 247,471

EELV  247,47 (Greens).

Extreme Left (small groups like the NPA and LO)  127,674

These totals are complicated by local alliances, which are extremely intricate (sometimes Communist Party with the Socialists, sometimes Parti de gauche with the Greens – as in Grenoble).

Are there simple conclusions.

The situation, as Libération points out today, may be not at all clear cut.

The Front National won  in the  2014 Presidential elections, 15,7%
This time they got  14,4% in towns and cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants where they stood.

Their break-through in Hénin-Beaumont – town that has become a symbol – was not encouraging.

In  Brignoles and  Perpignan left candidates have stood down, to allow the Republican forces to stand against the far-right.

In  Seine-Saint-Denis  (the ‘red belt’) the Communists managed to maintain their vote.

L’Humanité carries an important editorial today on whether the Front National has achieved a real “breakthrough”.

It asks  if France is today in the same situation as 2002, when Lionel Jospin was beaten in the first round of the Presidential election by Le Pen.

Should there be a wider “front républicain” uniting left and centre-right to fend off the Front National – as happened in 2002 when some  on the left backed Chriac against Le Pen?

They suggest a large part of the responsibility for the present rise of far-right lies with  President François Hollande and his ministers.

The second round (where needed) is on the 30th of March.

Update (Hat-Tip JM): on the problems between the French Communists (PCF) and the other parts on the Front de gauche over the second round. Fusions, quand le PCF dézingue le Front de gauche

Written by Andrew Coates

March 26, 2014 at 11:38 am

Unite Against Fascism Goes Russia Today

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Goes on Putin Telly. 

The Tendance refuses to ‘take sides‘ on the Ukraine.

As me sister pointed out on the phone, the Crimean War is not going to take place.

But yesterday  a “spokesperson” for Unite Against Fascism was on Russia Today (news around late).

She appeared to support the Russian line.

Indeed more than endorse – actively back it.

It does strike one as highly inappropriate.

Could I remind UAF of Pussy Riot, to name but one case.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Tony Benn: an appreciation

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Shiraz hits  (Sean Matgamna)  the right  note,

The first thing that should be said and remembered about Tony Benn, who died on Friday 14 March, is that for over four decades he backed, defended, and championed workers in conflict with their bosses or with the “boss of bosses”, the government.

That put him decidedly in our camp. The political ideas which he too often linked with those bedrock working-class battles detract from the great merit of Tony Benn, but do not cancel it out or render it irrelevant.

And then  this,

He shifted radically halfway through his life – back to the Radical seam in British political history….

Benn was a socialist. But first and foremost a British radical.

But not the socialist, in the European Marxist sense.

A wonderful type, I have no words to go on about this.

But not really “one of us.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm

A Mad (?) Tory Blogs.

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Ipswich SWP Leader is moving to Ipswich

Posted on March 18, 2014by Kevin Algar

It is well known that local SWP leaders tend to be barking mad. In larger places like London and Manchester they can blend into the background so no-one sees how mad they are. In small places like Ipswich, that isn’t possible. In places like Saxmundham, well……

Ipswich SWP Leader John Curtis (Picture Courtesy of MI5)

Ipswich SWP Leader John Curtis (Picture Courtesy of MI5)

Ipswich Socialist Rapists Workers Party leader John Curtis is moving to Ipswich. Comrade Curtis, who provoked the EDL into closing down a Hope not Hate gig only manages to create community tension once or twice a week at present but now he’s moving from Saxmundham to Ipswich he will no doubt endeavour to create as much tension as possible. Where the other 22 members are, we still have no intelligence on. They’re obviously better at being clandestine revolutionaries than their dear leader. Someone suggested that they were in Ukraine protecting statues of Lenin. Or is it because John Curtis talks squit and the other 22 members don’t actually exist?

On a positive note, the good news is, the blogs of Comrade Coates and myself will provide more amusement due to the comedy value of our reports on his clandestine revolutionary activities.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism

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Karl Marx. A Nineteenth Century Life. Jonathan Sperber. A Critical, Left, Review.

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http://covers.booktopia.com.au/150/9780871404671/karl-marx.jpg

Karl Marx. A Nineteenth Century Life. Jonathan Sperber. 2013.

“The point of my biography is to remove Marx from the 20th century/Cold War era binary opposition, in which he was either a keen analyst of capitalism and prophet of human emancipation, or an evil forerunner of totalitarian dictatorship and a deluded enemy of the free market. This latter, hostile attitude is still very widespread in the US. Describing Marx as a 19th-century figure, I think, makes it easier to consider his ideas.”

Jonathan Sperber. (Times Higher Education. 25.4.13).

“….very little achievement is required in order to pity another man’s shortcomings.”

Middlemarch. George Elliot.

When it was published last year there was praise for A Nineteenth Century Life. Diana Siclovan asserted that, “generations of students” will “get to know Marx” through Serber’s book. To Sperber’s many other reviewers, the picture that emerges is “rounded and humane”. He succeeds in “recreating a man who leaps off the page”. (Jonathan Freedland New York Times. 23.3.13.) The “historical Marx” is portrayed with “consummate skill” (Sheila Rowbotham. Times Higher Education. 25.4.13.).

To John Gray Sperber offers a “surefooted guide to the world of ideas in which Marx moved.” (New York Review of Books. 9.5.13) His awareness of the “revision of the history of socialist thought”, “downplaying the effects of the industrial revolution” and highlighting the centrality of religion, has for Diana Siclovan contributed to Sperber “extraordinary achievement”. (Reviews in History. August 2013.) Tristram Hunt compared the “brilliant embedding “ of A Nineteenth Century Life to the “Cambridge tradition of political thought.” (Guardian. 26.6.13)

Hunt refers to classics such as J.G.K.Pocock’s Machiavellian Moment (1973) and Quinten Skinner’s Foundations of Modern Political Thought. (1978). These books – amongst other landmark studies – were concerned with long-lasting transformations in the fabric of early modern ideas. The conditions which brought politics into the human, out from the divine, or cosmic, order, represented by, for example, Hobbess (Skinner’s more recent work) were far-ranging. In this, the ‘Cambridge’ writers explored normative political vocabularies, not only of Great Works but of wider social mentalités.

The claim that A Nineteenth Century Life provides a reconstruction of Marx, and what Gray calls the “world of ideas”, in the tradition of the Cambridge School’s work, on say, the emergence of “civic republicanism”, is high praise. Sperber himself finds his “model” for the biography not in previous lives of Marx but in Heiko Obermann’s Martin Luther, more of a “late-medieval than a modern figure”, and Ian Kershaw’s work on Adolf Hitler, that placed within with “the twentieth century of total war” (Page xvii). This show how to present a “complex individual” within the context of his or her time.” (Ibid)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

SWP Facing Problems with Marxism 2014.

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Statement Regarding Marxism Festival 2014 and the Socialist Workers Party

11 March 2014 at 15:04

Trigger Warning: Discussion on rape-apologism

The Marxism Festival is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). Our rejection of this year’s request to book rooms at the University of London Union for Marxism Festival 2014 is due to the fact that the Socialist Workers’ Party has, over the last year, proven itself to be a corrupt, rape apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women. As elected officers – like many others in the student movement – we see the SWP’s handling of rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable denial of sexism.

Here at ULU we have a clear policy which outlines a zero tolerance stance against sexual harassment and violence. We believe survivors of sexual harassment and aim to offer the best possible support we can. Last year we were angered that the SWP was able to hold Marxism 2013 here but we didn’t not have oversight on what type of organisations hired out ULU. ULU is first and foremost a space for student organisation and we aim to put the welfare of students first. We stated that we were going to bring in measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings and we did.

At Marxism 2013, many students and mostly women activists, who attended in order to protest against the SWP, were submitted to verbal and physical abuse by members of the party. This only adds to our concerns for the safety of students at ULU when the SWP is present. Furthermore, criticism of the SWP leadership has been constantly silenced and suppressed at every turn and often met with violent behaviour as well as accusations that it is we who are sexist and sectarian.

The Socialist Workers’ Party has tried to silence any activist within the party who has tried to fight for justice for the women who have been victims of sexual violence at the the hands of the leadership. Instead of supporting those women, the SWP instead started a victim-blaming campaign and protected the perpetrator. To quote a member of the SWP “we aren’t rape apologists unless we believe all women tell the truth, and guess what some women and children lie”.

To the SWP, we say that you are beyond help and progressive debate. You are disgrace to the left and we have no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation. The bottom line is that you do not have any right to use this space, you are not welcome here or anywhere near our union and we will not be harassed by your organisation. As students and activists, we stand united against sexism.

Signed

Susuana Antubam (Women’s Officer)

Natasha Gorodnitski (Ethics & Environment Officer)

Maham Hashmi (Black Students Officer)

Thomas Ankin (Disabled Students Officer)

Andy Turton (LGBT+ Officer)

Facebook.

This is utterly, completely, wrong.

I feel strongly about this since I have been at left meetings held at ULU since the mid 1970s.

Ban one, then why not another?

This was particularly lame, they have “no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation.”

Fuck me, lets look at some really oppressive organisations and practices  in some fucking oppressive countries.

Noteworthy are the signatures of the following added on the Facebook declaration:

  • Leah Edwards, Co-President Welfare & Campaigns, SOAS
  •  Fanni Rintakumpu, SOAS Feminist Soc
     
  • Resham Akhtar, Co – Women’s Officer – SOAS

So what about this?

(Feb 2014)

As members of SOAS Christian-Muslim Dialogue Society, we oppose your vilification and targeting of university Islamic societies including SOAS Islamic Society on the issue of gender segregation in their events.

We support the right of each student to act according to his or her personal religious convictions. For some, segregated seating serves these convictions and allows participation in mixed events. We support the right of SOAS Islamic Society to accommodate both segregated and mixed seating in any event.

We oppose the notion that segregated seating is somehow indicative of extremism, and believe this to be motivated by Islamophobic sentiments.

As members of a Society including Christians, Muslims, and individuals of other faiths and none, we stand with SOAS Islamic Society in this matter.

Or this?

A London university’s student union has come under criticism for allowing a pro-female genital mutilation supporter to speak at a debate on campus.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Monday, despite having previously publicly advocated his support for FGM.

In a video posted on YouTube, he lectures on the importance of knowing female circumcision in the UK is illegal and says there is a “proper” way of carrying out FGM.

“In some countries.. they do [circumcision] a way that cause harm for the female,” he says. “There are some statistics it can cause 25% death of females.. This is called the Pharaonic circumcision.. We are not talking about that. They cut extensively. That is harmful, definitely. But it is consensus of all the scholars that female circumcision is sunnah [proper].

The event was organised by the Islamic Finance and Ethics Society and although al-Haddad spoke about why lending money with interest is forbidden in Islam, several students voiced their concerns at the preacher being given a platform.

Nadje Al-Ali, professor of gender studies at SOAS, told The Huffington Post UK: “I am saddened and angered that the SOAS Islamic FInance and Ethics society had provided a platform for someone who can only be described as a preacher of hate and ignorance.

“Aside from his extremely problematic views on FGM, which would be challenged by most serious Islamic scholars, he is on record of making anti-semitic, sexist and homophobic remarks. Freedom of speech needs to be applied within the principles of not inciting hatred.

(19.2.14)

It might be interesting to see something Resham Akhtar’s Page about that!

Update: Nothing on SWP Marxism  page, literally nothing, no list of speakers to begin with, yet.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Left may have good prospects in Euro-Elections.

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File:Logo gue-ngl.png

Left Prospects Good.

L’Humanité suggests that the left groups represented in the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (Gauche unitaire européenne)  may become the third largest force in the European Parliament after the liberal bloc.

Opinion polls indicate that in this year’s May European elections the group may have up to  67  MEPs, in place of the present 35.

In Greece with a projected 28, %  of the vote Syriza would get 8 deputies (4,7% and 1 in  2009). The Greek Communist Party with 6,3 (– 2,05 points) will still have 2 MEPs. In France,  the poll indicates 9% for the  Front de gauche, which would mean 7 (up from 4), with an overseas deputy added. . Izquierda Unida, in Espagne, could get as high as 12.8%, with 7  Parliamentarians, from 1 at present. Die Linke,  in Germany would remains stable at 8. In Portugal, stand at 11%  and 4 MEPs ; the Left Bloc at  6,%  and 3. A Latvian left alliance scores, according to this sounding,  32%  and 3. In Italy 5 may win on the Tsipras list,  in which  the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista participates Sinn Féin (a member of the the group)  may have  3  in Ireland.

The article notes that in Italy, Spain and Latvia these lists are coalitions and MEPs may decide to join other European parliamentary groups.

The far-right could also see its representation double.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 11, 2014 at 11:45 am

Political Police Infiltration: From Women Activists, Blacklisting to Bob Lambert.

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Police Spy Lambert in Happier Days.

More fall-out from the Lawrence Cases.

Scotland Yard in new undercover police row.

Observer today.

Force accused over attempts to block claims by women allegedly deceived into sexual relationships.

Scotland Yard stands accused of covering up “institutionalised sexism” within the police in trying to block civil claims launched by women allegedly deceived into sexual relationships with undercover officers.

Police lawyers are applying to strike out, on secrecy grounds, the claims of five women who say they were duped into intimate long-term relationships with four undercover police officers working within the special demonstration squad (SDS), a Metropolitan police unit set up to infiltrate protest groups.

The legal bid, funded by the taxpayer, is being fought despite widespread outrage and promises of future transparency by Scotland Yard, following official confirmation last week that an undercover officer was deployed 21 years ago to spy on the grieving family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The Observer understands that police lawyers are asking the high court to reject claims against the Metropolitan police on the grounds that the force cannot deviate from its policy of neither confirming nor denying issues regarding undercover policing.

It is understood that Scotland Yard will say in a hearing, scheduled to be held on 18 March, that it is not in a position to respond to claims and therefore cannot defend it.

Last week an independent inquiry revealed that an officer identified only as N81 was deployed in a group “positioned close to the Lawrence family campaign”. The spy gathered “some personal details relating to” the murdered teenager’s parents. It was also disclosed that undercover officers had given false evidence in the courts and acted as if they were exempt from the normal rules of evidence disclosure.

Blacklist campaigners have called for the Public Inquiry into undercover police spying on the the Lawrence family to be given a wide enough remit to investigate police collusion with blacklisting. Despite documentary evidence proving beyond doubt that undercover police officers were linked to blacklisting there was no mention of this in the statement made by Theresa May to MPs.

On the very same day that the Home Secretary announced a public inquiry into the activity of Special Demonstration Squad officers spying on the Lawrence family, Operation Herne has published its 2nd report into the actions of undercover police officers.  Blacklist victims condemned as a whitewash the non-findings of the police report into police collusion in the blacklist conspiracy, which describes police discussions with blacklisting organisations as driven by “civic duty”

Blacklist Support Group statement:

“The Operation Herne report demonstrates exactly why victims of undercover police surveillance have no faith in the police investigating themselves.  There is already irrefutable evidence in the public domain that officers from undercover police units actually attended secret Consulting Association blacklist meetings, yet this is not even mentioned by Herne. Undercover Special Demonstration Squad officers are known to have posed as construction workers and infiltrated picket lines and union meetings. Information on some blacklist files could only have come from the police or the security services.  In relation to police collusion in blacklisting, the Operation Herne 2nd Report is a complete whitewash.

Only a fully independent public inquiry into the full extent of police links with corporate spying will expose the undemocratic shady practices. Any public inquiry should not be narrowly focused on the Lawrence case but should encompass the sexual relationships with female activists, Hillsborough, environmental and anti-racist campaigners, blacklisting and police collusion with big business.

There are secret political police in the UK – they are called Special Branch, MI5 and GCHQ. They spy on their own citizens who are involved in perfectly lawful political campaigning. We will continue to fight until we achieve justice”.

www.derbyshire.police.uk/Documents/About-Us/Herne/Operation-Herne—Report-2—Allegations-of-Peter-Francis.pdf

Blacklist Support Group Facebook.

We are also interested in the career on one Bob Lambert.

Latest news.

Lawyers for the two campaigners announced on Friday that they were seeking to overturn their convictions, alleging that the role of the undercover spy Bob Lambert was hidden from their original trial.

The pair, Andrew Clarke and Geoff Sheppard, were convicted of setting fire to three Debenhams stores in the 1980s to protest against the sale of fur and jailed for three and four years respectively.

They only discovered more than two decades later that the long-haired protester they knew as “Bob Robinson” was actually Lambert, an SDS spy.

After he was exposed in 2011, Lambert admitted he had worked undercover in the 1980s to “identify and prosecute members of the Animal Liberation Front who were then engaged in widespread incendiary and explosive device campaigns against vivisectors, the meat and fur trades.” He said he succeeded in getting Clarke and Sheppard arrested and imprisoned.


Detective Inspector Robert Lambert receiving award by the Islamic Human Rights Commission

“The Islamic Human Rights Commission is proud to present this award to Inspector Robert Lambert (Head of Muslim contact Unit), upon his retirement from the Metropolitan Police Service. In appreciation for his integrity and commitment to promoting a fair, just and secure society for all, which, is a rarity and will be greatly missed.”

 Inspector Robert Lambert receiving an award from the Islamic Human Rights Commission in 2007.

At this event, there was a panel, “Challenging Islamophobia”.

Its first speakers was Dr Saied Ameli. He spoke on islamophobia from a sociological perspective and commended IHRCs role in combating it. Imam Al-Asi talked of the zionist factor in islamophobia, something which is often overlooked.

Imam Muhammad Al-Asi the elected Imam of Washington DC Islamic Center, “spoke about zionist influence on university campuses.

Sister Yvonne Ridley and  George Galloway spoke.

Dr Abdul Wahid the leader of the National Executive Committee of Hizb ut Tahrir Britain,  criticized western countries selective talk of human rights, and praised the IHRC.

More on Bob Lambert, “During the IHRC’s dealing with the Metropolitan Police, in all the lies, insincerity and deception there was one person the IHRC encountered who genuinely “fought the cause of justice within the police force to try and not demonize the Muslim community” – that was Detective Inspector Robert Lambert. Detective Inspector Robert Lambert is the head of the Muslim Contact Unit at New Scotland Yard. On his retirement from the police force the Islamic Human Rights Commission invited him to join them in the struggle for justice.”

By contrast this what happened in October 2011 when Lambert was a star speaker at the Celebrate Diversity, Defend Multiculturalism, Oppose Islamophobia and Racism conference.

Campaigners today outed the most-senior-yet police spy responsible for infiltrating environmental and social justice campaigns.

Former Detective Inspector Bob Lambert MBE had just spoken at a “One Society, Many Cultures” anti-racist conference attended by 300 delegates at the Trades Union Congress HQ in Central London. He was then challenged by 5 members of London Greenpeace who called on him to apologise for the undercover police infiltration of London Greenpeace, Reclaim The Streets and other campaign groups – an operation he took part in or supervised over two decades, whilst rising to the rank of Detective Inspector.

At present apparently this is what he is doing,

Robert Lambert 

Senior Lecturer (PT) – John Grieve Policing Centre

Dr. Lambert divides his time between two part-time teaching posts: here at the John Grieve Policing Centre and at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St. Andrews. At both centres he teaches postgraduate and undergraduate modules based on his research and published work on terrorism, counter-terrorism, far right political violence and anti-Muslim hate crimes.

 

Birmingham Islamists Take a Gramscian Turn.

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School sign composite image

Birmingham Islamists  battling for Hegemony over Civil Society.

Salafists  have,  like other religious groups, for-profit businesses, people with a self-appointed mission to run schools and bigots (not a term excluding the former categories )taken advantage of  the government’s education policies.

“The academy status, as promoted by schools minister Michael Gove, allows them to be run out of the control of the local authority, with funding provided direct from central Government.”

So no surprise that, “Leaked letter suggests Salafi parents be enlisted to help as they adhere to a more orthodox form of Islam.”

From their strategy document on how to mobilise support,

‘The only way to do this is to tell each parent that the school is corrupting their children with sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their children pray Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sport.

‘If you can get them to be very vocal in the playground as they drop off or pick up their children that will stir up other parents.

‘The parents MUST be given direction and told not to discuss this with anyone, you only need a maximum of four parents to disrupt the whole school, to send in complaints to question their child’s education and to contact their MP and local authority.’

The story so far….(Birmingham Mail)

An alleged plot by Islamic fundamentalists to take over Birmingham schools by ousting headteachers and staff through dirty tricks campaigns is being investigated by education chiefs.

The city council and the Birmingham Mail have received documents which purport to show Jihadists are targeting schools and orchestrating false allegations against staff, including non-Muslims, in an operation dubbed Trojan Horse.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Police have reopened a fraud investigation at one school named in the supposed leaked letter – and Ofsted is currently conducting a snap inspection at another.

The documents claim to be leaked written correspondence from one Birmingham fundamentalist to another in Bradford and details plans to roll out Trojan Horse to Bradford as well as Manchester.

The letter states some Birmingham headteachers have already been forced out and predicts others will follow.

**Police probe ‘fake letters’ at school as two heads named in document quit**

Meanwhile, police have confirmed to the Birmingham Mail that a fraud investigation has been reopened at Adderley Primary School after the documents came to light. It is understood the investigation centres on allegations of ‘faked’ resignation letters.

Both schools were named in the documents, along with Saltley School.

The documents claim former Saltley headmaster Balwant Bains would ‘soon be sacked’. In fact, the much respected principal resigned last November after a damning Ofsted report criticised his “dysfunctional” relationship with governors.

An alleged plot to oust headteacher Tina Ireland at Regents Park Community School by ‘planting the seed’ of SATs cheating allegations is also detailed in the documents.

The long-serving and respected teacher and her deputy, Michelle McCusker, resigned in October after education chiefs scrapped the primary school’s SATs results following cheating allegations.

The Guardian adds,

The alleged plot was condemned by Inayat Bunglawala, chair of Muslims4UK, a group which aims to promote active Muslim engagement in British society. He said: “The contents of this document are very disturbing. On the face of it this would appear to be part of a radical agenda by a tiny yet highly committed group of activists to impose their very conservative and bleak vision of Islamic teachings in our schools by fomenting division and distrust against the existing school leadership. It constitutes highly objectionable and unethical behaviour.”

More reports: Independent, Daily Mail, BBC.

Undercover. The True Story of Britain’s Political Police. Rob Evans and Paul Lewis. Review.

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Andrew Coates:

Former Metropolitan police commissioner Lord Paul Condon has denied authorising undercover police officers to target the family of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

This book has become highly relevant.

http://i1.birminghammail.co.uk/incoming/article5166266.ece/BINARY/undercover.jpg

Undercover. The True Story of Britain’s Political Police. Rob Evans and Paul Lewis. Faber & Faber 2013.

Many of the reported 8,931 political campaigners on the “national data base of political extremists” took a keen interest in the publication of Undercover. Some police infiltrators had already been publicly unmasked. Mark Kennedy – “Stone” – has been fingered by Indymedia in 2010. ‘Progressive academic’ and advocate of a dialogue with Islamists, Bob Lambert, was confronted with his spy chief past at a conference to “celebrate diversity, defend multiculturalism, oppose Islamophobia and racism” in October 2011. Suddenly people on the left, and other campaigners, were reminded of the existence of intense police surveillance on our political activity.

Undercover has marked a new stage. The extracts in the Guardian, which contains fuller revelations about Kennedy and Lambert, and others’ including long-term relationships with activists, and the use of dead children’s birth certificates to procure undercover identities, did not just whet the appetite of a broader public. They raised serious issues about the involvement of what Evans and Lewis rightly call the “political police” in Britain.

One case continues to cause an uproar. On spy, Pete Black, began his work in the 1990s in anti-fascist groups, then the (what has become) Socialist Party’s Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE). He moved on to spy on community-organised fights against legal injustices affecting the black community. Black finally began to recoil when asked to “smear” those involved in the Stephan Lawrence campaign and discover anything he could to discredit the key figure of Duwayne Brooks. (Page 156)

Provocations.

Questions about their role have extended to allegations about their use as agents provocateurs. It has been claimed that Lambert helped write the anti-MacDonald leaflet by London Greenpeace (an autonomous body) – the origin of the notorious libel action. It’s also said that Lambert “encouraged and even participated in an arson campaign that caused millions of pounds of damage. Lambert has firmly denied that he planted the incendiary device at the Harrow store, of Debenehams.”(Page 43) He strongly denies this, though claims credit for putting the animal rights activists involved in prison.

Nor is this a purely domestic matter. Kennedy has been cited in the French case, the Tarnac Affair, in which he allegedly witnessed bomb making. Briefly alluded to in Undercover (Page 265) this – dismissed – claim made headlines in Le Monde. They raised questions (details here) about Kennedy’s role in the prosecution of a group of libertarian leftists.

They Steal Identities, They Break the Law, They Sleep with the Enemy. Under these words on the book cover there is a lot more detail to ponder over in this excellent book. The causal deception the spies used to maintain their ‘cover’ deceived more than their comrades and friends. “There was no specific rule against having sexual partners. It was so commonplace they, he says, it was barely remarked on.”(Page 142) The heartbreaking stories of Charlotte, and Helen Steel, abandoned by their lying long-term partners, Lambert, the mother of Charlotte’s child, and John Dimes, whom Helen was “madly in love with”, are gut-wrenching. There are plenty of others; nine of the operatives identified in the book had “meaningful relationships” with the opposite sex. (Page 322) When the time came the agents simply slunk away

History of the Political Police.

These human tragedies had their origins in government and security decisions. Undercover traces the history of the British political police. The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS), founded in wake of 1968, put in place its agents throughout the left. Ideally they would be the “trusted confidant, a deputy who lingered in the background”(Page 23) It was disbanded in 2008. Another body, which with the increasing focus on civil resistance, the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) – was founded in 1999, under Tony Blair, with 70 staff. What were (are) their targets? “Domestic extremists, police decided, were those who wanted to ‘prevent something from happening or to change legislation or domestic policy’, often doing so ‘outside of the normal democratic process.”(Page 202)

Initially they went for animal rights activists, including the less than appealing Animal Liberation Front, and “environmental extremists”.Then broadened their scope, “Domestic extremists now included campaigners against war, nuclear weapons, racism, genetically modified crops, globalisation, tax evasion, airport expansion and asylum laws, as well as those calling for reform of prisons and peace in the Middle East.”(Pages 203) Today we also have the National Domestic Extremism Team, all which are brought under the control and merged of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

There is little doubt that those who offer a violent threat, not just to “the demcoratic process” but the people at large – have to followed. But this is hardly the case for those of the above list.

Why these official bodies go to the lengths they do remains something of a mystery to many on the left. Why do they need infiltrators? Is it because we are all plotting something subversive – a wide term the previous paragraph suggests covers most of the activist left’s campaigning including large sections of the Labour Party – in secret?

It is true that some groups cultivate an aura of mystery. Ian Bone once wrote that if anarchists ran the train carrying Lenin to the Finland Station they would have no identity on the side except a Post Office Box Number. The Socialist Workers Party has fought a losing battle to keep its internal discussions secret.

But most of what we do is easy to follow. Blogs, Facebook and the rest, are full of details about we do. Some people – specifically the tradition the Tendance comes from – believe in being as open as possible about how we reach decisions – by democratic vote – and what we do. To the great interest, no doubt of all coppers well up on Leftist Trainspotting and the finer points of the history of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Internationals.

Others have a way of reaching conclusions, and a distinct political culture, which may be harder for the political police to follow. That is the ‘consensus method’ of some of the groups covered in the course ofUndercover; “activists used a strange-looking ritual known as ‘jazz hands’, in which they wriggled their fingers in the air to express support for speakers.” (Page 245) But if they want to do this, why not? Wiggle away, we say, far far away from, say any industrial action where we suspect consensus would never permit a strike in the first place.

In reality, the Web, as they say, shows just about everything these days. Which may or may not be a good guide. Indeed it well may not as we found with our own visit from the local rozzers after a malicious complaint by a local Islamic cult.

It will be interesting to follow the Net news on Bob Lambert if he does, as Evans and Lewis suggest, convert to Islam. (Page 331) Perhaps he will find peace – in a religion of order. Some would say that the version he is most familiar with, from his days in the Muslim Contact Unit, Political Islam, offers many possibilities for police surveillance and repression. Or, it might be that, following Kennedy, his personality is unravelling – as indeed Bob’s last television interview seemed to suggest.

Wounds Remain Unhealed.

An open wound remains. The legal action taken by 11 of the deceived women is proceeding at a snail’s pace. The latest news suggests that the women are profoundly dissatisfied with the procedure. Public knowledge of the activities of the political police has not changed things. Post-Kennedy recommendations to clean up the system have not been implemented. Further official inquiries, are, as the authors predicted early on, less than forthcoming. Operation Herne has trawled wide, but “has not yet made a single disclosure about any undercover operation.”(Pages 327 –80)

The last word should go to Steel and Morris, to Lambert – “Shame on you!”

Originally posted on Tendance Coatesy:

http://i1.birminghammail.co.uk/incoming/article5166266.ece/BINARY/undercover.jpg

Undercover. The True Story of Britain’s Political Police. Rob Evans and Paul Lewis. Faber & Faber 2013.

Many of the reported 8,931 political campaigners on the “national data base of political extremists” took a keen interest in the publication of Undercover. Some police infiltrators had already been publicly unmasked. Mark Kennedy – “Stone” – has been fingered by Indymedia in 2010. ‘Progressive academic’ and advocate of a dialogue with Islamists, Bob Lambert, was confronted with his spy chief past at a conference to “celebrate diversity, defend multiculturalism, oppose Islamophobia and racism” in October 2011. Suddenly people on the left, and other campaigners, were reminded of the existence of intense police surveillance on our political activity.

Undercover has marked a new stage. The extracts in the Guardian, which contains fuller revelations about Kennedy and Lambert, and others’ including long-term relationships with activists, and the use of dead children’s birth certificates…

View original 1,195 more words

Written by Andrew Coates

March 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Socialist Action Defends Russian Army’s Rights.

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Back Russian Troops!

Much of the European left has either adopted a balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis (democratic, not taking the “camp” of  the ‘West’ and Russia), or has tended to be over-enthusiastic about the Ukrainian Maidan movement.

The Tendance backs the former view and rejects the latter.

There are good reasons to be sceptical about the interventions of the EU and the USA in the Ukrainian crisis, and, at the same time,  to back democratic and social demands, without either supporting the new government in Kiev, or en bloc the crowds that forced regime-change.

There are some, nevertheless, who take Putin’s side.

Shiraz Socialist points out, there are still neo-stalinists still around who justify this in the following way.

George Mellor writes,

For today’s neo-Stalinist the world is divided into Western imperialism on the one hand and China, Russia and other states (like Iran and Venezuela) that broadly identify with them against the ‘West’ on the other. Their conclusion is that socialists must stand up for China, Russia, or, indeed, any state or movement (eg the Taliban) that finds itself in conflict with ‘The West’. Seeing the world through this lens has led them to support Russian imperialism against Western imperialism, turning them into Putin’s Foreign Legion.

One of the strangest of these ‘multi-polarists’ (as they would no doubt never call themselves)  is the group known as Socialist Action.

This was originally Trotskyist and democratic Marxist  (indeed some of them were comrades of the Tendance in the International Marxist Group back in the 1970s).

Associated with Ken Livingstone it has somewhat disappeared from sight in recent years (that is, since its members lost their highly paid jobs with Ken).

But

“Its members have maintained leading positions in many campaigns – the National Abortion Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, National Assembly Against Racism and various coalitions against the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, for example. As a result, Socialist Action exert an influence beyond that which might be expected from so small a grouping.

Socialist Action has also participated in Respect – The Unity Coalition since the 2007 split in that party.Several of its supporters became members of the party and one serves as its national treasurer.”

Their present line is this.

The confrontation playing out in Ukraine is however not fundamentally about the rights of the Ukrainian people but is the site of a massive attempt by the US to drive back Russia and destroy the capacity for any force to challenge it at a global level.

Russia may not be a second superpower anymore, but recent events on Syria have shown that – especially when in alliance with China – it is still powerful enough to obstruct the US’s plans.

US imperialism will not tolerate any challenge to its global hegemony, however weak and vacillating.

It demonstrated that recently in Iraq, in Libya, in getting rid of Morsi in Egypt, its sanctions on Iran and its offensive against Syria. Therefore it has decided Russia must be fatally weakened.

The US is not interested in ‘democracy’ in the Ukraine – if it was it would not team up with fascists.

The people of Ukraine are just a tool in its attacks on rivals and challengers, which in this case is Russia.

Defending the rights of the people of Ukraine means defending the rights of the east to resist the imposition of a US puppet government over it, defending the right to self-determination even to secession for all regions that want it, and defending the right of the Russian army to come to the aid of the eastern regions to prevent Kiev enforcing its control.

If you want to hear more of the same opinions you can watch Galloway below.

Unimportant downdate: Lenny au pays des Soviets (Ukraine: against infantile realpolitik).

An epideictic ethopoeia (as Seymour could call it) on Lindsey German,

“But since the theory is impossible to infer from German’s polemic, it unfortunately comes across as facile opportunism, and any theory that does now emerge to bolster it – even should it direct us to seize the ‘key link in the chain’ – will tend to look like a post hoc rationalisation.”

Alec Callinicos and French Communist Party on the Ukraine.

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US State Secretary lays flowers to Ukraine’s heroes from the Heavenly Hundred on March 4 in Kyiv.

Alex Callincios on the Ukraine.

Russia’s seizure of military control over Crimea has brought Ukraine to the brink of war.  This crisis represents the coming together of three distinct conflicts.

First, there is the struggle that has been going on for more than a decade among the corrupt and thuggish bunch of oligarchs who have dominated Ukraine since independence in 1991.

Secondly, there has been a genuine popular movement against the now exiled president, Viktor Yanukovych. This has expressed anger at the corruption of the entire political elite in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, this movement harbours illusions in the European Union (EU). Moreover, thanks to the historic weakness of the left in Ukraine, the far right has played a significant role in the “Euromaidan” occupation in Kiev.

Nevertheless, those who claim Yanukovych’s overthrow was a “fascist coup” are parroting Moscow propaganda. He fell because the section of the oligarchy who had previously backed him withdrew their support.

Third, and now most important, is the inter-imperialist rivalry between Russia and the West over Ukraine. In this conflict, Ukraine matters much more to Russia than it does to the United States or the EU.

A Ukraine that was fully integrated into the EU and Nato would be a step towards Moscow’s worst nightmare of being encircled by the West. President Vladimir Putin went to war with Georgia in 2008 to prevent this nightmare being realised.

He adds,

“Putin is engaging in an inter-imperialist power play.”

And,

“Socialists in the West must of course oppose any military intervention by the US or NATO in Ukraine. But the crisis reminds us that imperialism can’t be reduced to American domination. It is a system of economic and geopolitical competition among the leading capitalist powers.

Rather than tail any of these powers, we must fight this entire system. This means opposing Russian intervention in Ukraine. Never has the slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism” been more relevant.”

This is a seriously thought-out analysis and, despite all the temptations to contradict the SWP, many of us will agree with comrade Callinicos.

The Stop the War Coalition says some of the same things.

This is highly relevant.

We should also take no lessons from those who have supported intervention in the past in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and who proposed major air strikes in Syria as recently as last August. Nor should we believe concerns about national sovereignty from countries which have launched drone attacks on Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

There are many political differences in Ukraine that can only be resolved politically and by respecting the language and civil rights of all concerned. But the background to this lies far beyond the borders of the Ukraine in terms of conflict between major powers.

They observe,

The expansion of the EU and Nato eastwards has led to the growth of a neoliberal and militarised agenda in the region.

We disagree with this to the extent that it tilts towards exonerating Putin and other Russian leaders from their own responsibility for the crisis.

But, to those who do not instinctively bristle at the lectures on democracy given by American and European politicians,not to mention the show of U.S. support for Ukraine’s new leadership, Secretary of State John Kerry,   we observe.

  • Has the US “freedom agenda” achieved stable political liberty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?
  • Did the US’s support for the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution”(2004 -5)  create a solid democratic foundation for the country?

How have others on the left reacted to the issues the Ukraine  face-to-face raises?

James Bloodworth provides a summary of the position of British left groups on Shiraz Socialist.

It would appear that few organised groups (apart from the Communist Party of Britain) hold the idea that the Ukraine has undergone  a “fascist coup.”

James manages to find some statements by individuals, such as the flatulent Gorge Galloway, who rave against the “fascist and ultra nationalist coup in Kiev”.

But is this (Left Unity) part of making a “moral equivalence” between unwanted Russian military intervention in Ukraine and economic assistance requested by the Ukrainian government to support its ailing economy”?

Left Unity takes the position that there can only be a political solution to this crisis and that neither foreign military intervention nor foreign political and economic intervention provide the answers to Ukraine’s complex problems.

Whether under the flag of US, NATO, Russia or the European Union, military intervention only ever makes the situation many times worse. So it is in Ukraine. The West’s hypocrisy in condemning Russia for breaking international law is breathtaking: nevertheless, Russian troops hold no solution to the crisis.

A different reading would suggest that this about right. That there is no “political solution” worthy of support that encourages further steps on the neo-liberal road. Plans for drastic austerity in the Ukraine tend to demonstrate Left Unity’s point. It would be said that this is a position which represents the majority of the Left.

The majority of the left’s generally even-handed position contrasts with the hysteria whipped up by intellectuals such as Timothy Synder (Moscow is in thrall to a far-right Eurasian ideology), Anne Applebaum (Russia heads a new conservative International )  and  Bernard-Henri Lévy (Putin is playing a Sudetenland over the Ukraine).

It is interesting that comrade Callinicos’ own even-handed stand has received a warm welcome from members of the Novueau Parti anticaptialiste (NPA). (Forum des marxistes révolutionnaires)

Their party has inclined to the opposite error: too great enthusiasm for the new government in Kiev and too much emphasis on the faults of Russia’s leaders in creating the crisis.

The French Communist Party has launched a declaration “Solidarité avec les communistes ukrainiens” against the country’s far-right – which has attacked their members and offices.

The PCF also declares in a formal statement,

For the last three months the Ukraine has been ablaze with a mercilessness struggle for power between oligarchs, all as corrupt and venal as each other, and who have been made wealthy thanks to neo-liberal policies backed as much by the European Union as by Russia.

The European Union, Russia, the USA – via NATO, or directly – have been engaged in outbidding each others, threatening the us of  force, or military escalation. The Ukrainian people have been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The French Communists warn of the danger of “groupes néo-nazis.” But they empathise that the need now is for all for immediate measures to be taken in the Ukraine to ensure that the people of the country take their own destiny in hand.

They call for an end to the “Logic of war” and the cynical “tête-à-tête” between the West and Russia.

It’s hard not to agree.

Lenin’s Tomb Indulges Dieudonné’s ‘Mates’ and anti-Semites.

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Lenin’s Tomb writes,” I have been given permission to publish this excellent paper from the Penser l’émancipation, closing plenary, Nanterre, on February 22, 2014.  It was written and delivered by the excellent Houria Bouteldja, a member of Le Parti des indigènes de la République.”

On anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

It also designates an enemy: the Jew as a Jew, and the Jew as a Zionist, as an embodiment of imperialism, but also because of the Jew’s privileged position. The one who occupies the best seat in the hearts of the White, a place for which many indigènes are fighting.

Because they dream of becoming the Prince’s favourites, but without questioning that Prince’s legitimacy: the legitimacy of the White Man. As we, in the PIR, often say: “The spontaneous ideology of the indigènes is integrationism.” And in the end, if Soral’s strategy is working, it is also because he revalidates arabo-muslim virility that was the target of racism and colonialism — I will not detail here another episode, the one with Ni Putes Ni Soumises and Femen.

Must we condemn this youth? Are they fascists?

My reply is No!

Now, the trouble is that we are not integrationists. And integration through anti-semitism horrifies us just as much as integration though White universalism and national-chauvinism. We abhor anything that seeks to integrate us into whiteness; anti-semitism being a pure product of Europe and the West. As a decolonial movement, it is self-evident that we cannot support Dieudonné.

Yet we could not condemn him in the manner of the white Left, because there is a certain dimension that has escaped the Left, but one that is clear to any indigène with a modicum of dignity. It is what I have recalled in an interview in 2012: “For me Dieudonné is not Soral, because he is a social indigène. I cannot treat him as I treat Soral. I thoroughly disagree with his political choices: the fact that he has been seduced by Soral’s nationalistic views, that he knows nothing about Palestine and Zionism, and his alliance with the far-right.

At the same time, I feel ambivalent. I would start by saying that I love Dieudonné; that I love him as the indigènes love him; that I understand why the indigènes love him. I love him because he has done an important action in terms of dignity, of indigène pride, of Black pride: he refused to be a domestic negro. Even if he doesn’t have the right political program in his head, his attitude is one of resistance

This “excellent Houria Bouteldja” has other views of note,

“Pour Houria Bouteldja, porte parole du mouvement], sans être une tare  « le mode de vie homosexuel n’existe pas dans les quartiers populaires ». Dans un droit de réponse à l’article la mettant en cause, elle rappelle notamment ses propos exacts sur le sujet, tenus le 6 novembre 2012 dans l’émission télévisée Ce soir (ou jamais !) de Frédéric Taddéï: « Je ne crois pas à l’universalité de l’identité politique homosexuelle. Je fais la distinction entre le fait qu’il peut y avoir des pratiques homosexuelles effectivement dans les quartiers ou ailleurs mais que ça ne se manifeste pas par une revendication identitaire politique.”

So gay life does not exist in the working class housing estates, which the ‘indigènes (self-appointed) claim to represent.

They certainly do their bit to make sure this happens.

In 2012 they shouted down and attacked gay writer Caroline Fourest.

She was attacked in September that year at the annual Fête d’Huma by the Indigènes de la République  and the Indivisibles. They prevented her from talking about her latest book against the Front National.

As a kind of ‘autonomous rights’ movement (indigènes is taken from the time of French colonialisation) for the civic status – lack of – of the ‘natives’ in the French empire one thing sticks out about this groupuscule (apart from his willingness to use thuggery against opponents).

It is its American-UK  defence of ‘multiculturalism’.

This explains perhaps the following (distastefully  phrased),

So what has happened between these two generations: the potentially pork-eating immigrants who were tied to the Left and the non-pork-eating immigrants drifting towards the Right?

The bully continues,

On the front of the radical Left, we have witnessed: complicity of parts of the radical Left with moralistic anti-racism; hostility towards autonomous immigration movements; collusion and active complicity with islamophobia; focusing on fascism at the expense of structural racism and a critique of white supremacy that cuts across the radical Left itself; the centrality of the Holocaust at the expense of the history of colonialism and slavery; clientelism in the neighbourhoods (in particular in Communist Party municipalities); white anti-Zionism, that is an anti-Zionism that is supportive of resistance movements that resemble the left (the PFLP for example) and that is contemptuous of those who do not resemble it (such as Hamas at the time of the attacks against Gaza).

It would be interesting to hear how his group which also backed Hezbollah not considers them.

On Syria – motus!

One heartily agrees, however  with this statement,

For this to be possible, we must be accepted as we are: a group that is racially and socially dominated, not necessarily clear-cut on several issues: not clear-cut on capitalism, not clear-cut on class struggle, not clear-cut on women, not clear-cut on homosexuality, not clear-cut on Jews.

Parti des Indigènes de la République

That is “”la reconnaissance par l’Etat de ces différentes langues, cultures et spiritualités comme autant de besoins sociaux et comme des composantes à part entière de la communauté politique et culturelle et des institutions qui la constituent.”

State recognition of the different languages, cultures and spiritualities as social needs and integral parts in themselves of the political, cultural and institutional framework.”

Update.

This is Seymour’s Twitter Reply to someone who tweeted him about this,

leninology ‏@leninology  19h

@Pabloite @JamesHeartfield fuck Caroline Fourest, she’s a weirdo Islamophobe conspiracy theorist. (Lot of that about.)

“Ukraine, New American Frontier” – Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

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Denounces Ukrainian Neo-Nazi US Hirelings. 

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Ukraine (25th February).

This time it’s a coup! And once again, as one expects, propaganda is in full swing.  The challenge is enormous and geopolitical. The offensive against Russia , led by the North Americans, in competition with the Germans in full swing. As is always the case, France has no independent policy….”

“Those in Europe and the United States who validate coups and insurgencies are preparing the way for tomorrow’s conflicts cross the continent. Russia will not let them get away with it. This is quite in order. Nor will the Ukrainian people let themselves be had.  The healthy part of the Ukrainian people, freed from the tutelage of the corrupt elite, who had emerged as their spokesman and their government will take the initiative. You can count on a popular reaction against the  extreme right coup that  holds power today to the cheers of “the West.” The danger is that this violence may  trigger the risk of a partition of the country that the “Western” offensive could cause. Without forgetting the traditional domino effects…..”

Mélenchon has since added – over the weekend -  this observation,

The leader of the Left party said it was “absolutely predictable” that Russia would take “protective measures” in Crimea against the new “neo-Nazi” power and “coup”in the  Ukraine.

…………

The former candidate for President believes that “NATO and North Americans have been engaged for months in a provocation against Russia”. This was possible because of “the corruption and brutality” of  the previous Ukrainian government. According to him, “thanks to the legitimate discontent of Ukrainians, the North Americans infiltrated people in their pay, including those who count amongst  the most despicable and dangerous , especially the so-called Svoboda, which is  a National Socialist Party that has engaged in  multiple anti-Russian provocations “

A huge row on the French left has erupted around these comments: Politis.

Amongst the reactions are accusations that Mélenchon is culpable of aligning himself with Russia’s President Putin and has insulted those killed by the Ukrainian riot police. His party, the Parti de gauche, as been called a “sect”.

The Fourth International has reproduced this  declaration over the weekend,

This statement was made by the Central Committee of the Russian Socialist Federation on 1 March 2014. [1]

War has begun. With the aim of protecting and increasing the assets of the oligarchs in Russia and in Yanukovich’s coterie, Russia’s leadership has undertaken an invasion of Ukraine. This aggression threatens catastrophic consequences for the Ukrainian and Russian peoples — most especially for the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Ukraine’s southeastern industrial regions.

For Ukraine, this will also mean an escalation of ethnic conflicts; for Russia, a consolidation of dictatorial power, repression, and chauvinist hysteria, with which the ruling elite will be able to neutralize mass anger against a backdrop of deepening economic crisis. We share the concern of residents of the southeast over the nationalistic tendencies of the new authorities in Kyiv.

It is, however, our firm conviction that freedom will be won not by Putin’s tanks, but by self-organization and the people’s own struggle for their civil, political, and socio-economic rights.

It goes without saying that the peoples of Ukraine have a right of self-determination, of full autonomy and independence. But what we are seeing today has nothing to do with the democratic will of the masses. It is a brazen and cynical act of Russian imperialism, aimed at annexing foreign territory and converting Ukraine into part of Russia’s protectorate.

Today, the struggle for freedom in Russia is a struggle against the foreign policy adventurism of the current regime, which seeks collusion in forestalling its own end. The RSD calls on all sincere left and democratic forces to organize anti-war protests. Our demands:

NO RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN WAR! NO PROVOCATIONS TO BLOODSHED IN UKRAINE!

NO PITTING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER OF THE PEOPLES OF UKRAINE AND RUSSIA!

NO INTERVENTION BY THE ARMIES OF RUSSIA OR ANY OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE AFFAIRS OF CRIMEA!

FREEDOM FROM DICTATORIAL ACTS AND PEACEABLE SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE PENINSULA’S RESIDENTS!

YES TO THE UKRAINIAN WORKERS’ STRUGGLE AGAINST OLIGARCHS AND CORRUPT OFFICIALS! NO TO ETHNIC CONFLICTS!

British Communist Party Talks Sense on Labour Party Reforms (!)

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Talks Sense on Future of Left.

The Labour Representation Committee (the largest grouping of the grass-roots Labour left) stated before yesterday’s conference,

As Labour’s special conference looks set to vote through the Collins reforms at the behest of Ed Miliband, critics on the left of the party have warned that the proposals set in train a process which could radically undermine the party’s link to the trade unions.

Although the unions have forced Miliband to back down from plans which would have seen an immediate breaking of the link, the transition over five-years to a situation where individual union levy payers will be required to ‘opt in’ as affiliated supporters represents a clear step away from the collective basis of union affiliation. Right wing elements around Progress have already made it clear that they want to re-open the question of the percentage of votes the unions hold at Conference, and their representation on the National Executive Committee in another five years.

Today we learn,

Ed Miliband secured the significant backing – and a cash donation – from former SDP leader David Owen as the Labour leader won his party’s support for reforming its links with the trade unions. Independent.

In the Morning Star on Saturday Robert Griffiths (General Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain) makes these very relevant points,

The Communist Party, on the other hand, is clear that the labour movement – and in particular the trade unions – must have its own mass electoral party which is capable of winning general elections, forming a government and enacting reforms in the interests of the working-class majority of the people.

He asks,

Is tomorrow’s Labour Party, in which the trade unions are no longer able or willing to exercise decisive collective influence, likely to perform such a role? That prospect will recede significantly when the Collins proposals are passed at this year’s Labour Party conferences.

From his perspective,

Britain’s Road to Socialism explains that it has been that party’s affiliated federal structure and its trade union and working-class composition that have ensured the existence of a significant socialist trend within it. It is this structure and composition which is now being put in mortal jeopardy.

It should be added that far from creating “one member one vote” the “reforms” will further increase the power of MPs and the circle around the Party leader.

Conferences, already reduced to impotence, a decision-making system worthy of the most Byzantine  Stalinist organisation (with powerless  members’ forms at the base and the wheeler-dealers at the  top) make claims about the changes increasing democracy and participation hollow.

In these conditions,

……the fragmentation of the labour movement’s political unity is likely to continue. New left parties and electoral alliances will proliferate, falter and reappear in new guises. More trade unionists and even some unions will withdraw from active participation in the Labour Party.

What is the alternative?

Clearly not, “Britain hosting a replay of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, or Scotland taking a separate Cuban-style road to socialism.”

Instead, we need trade union bodies at every level – up to and including the Trades Union Congress – to organise discussions, meetings and conferences to consider how many more workers and their families can be drawn into political activity and representation.

Hand in hand with this effort must go the drive to popularise the ideas and concept of socialism. Tony Benn has often pointed out that our problem in Britain is not a shortage of socialist parties but of socialists.

Many are unlikely to respond to the call for a “stronger Communist Party”, preferring a more general wish for a “stronger Left” .

But  forums like the People’s Assembly should be considering these ideas.

Perhaps the Morning Star could open wider, beyond its existing favoured circles, to debate them.

NCCL, the Paedophile Information Exchange, and the French Debate on the Age of Consent.

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http://img2.imagesbn.com/p/9781159501679_p0_v1_s260x420.JPG

French Debate on Sexuality and Age of Consent.

Patricia Hewitt has issued this statement.

NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong to accept PIE’s claim to be a ‘campaigning and counselling organisation’ that ‘does not promote unlawful acts’. As general secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made. I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so. I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so. In particular, Tom O’Carroll should never have been allowed to join the gay rights sub-committee.

The proposal to reduce the age of consent was not mine – it was the policy of the organisation and its executive committee at that time. I do not support reducing the age of consent or legalising incest.

I note some of the comments about Harriet Harman and her role. Harriet did not join the NCCL staff until 1978. She was one of two legal officers, neither of whom was a member of the executive committee.

There is absolutely no doubt that hysteria is being deliberately stirred up on this issue.

Some  points are essential to add.

  • Gay comrades were amongst the first who first brought the attention to the wider left of the danger that PIE represented. I recall this extremely well – given the gravity of the PIE threat. The issue was not, as Spiked on Line asserts, that “ a key role of any civil liberties group worth its name is to defend the rights of association of the most loathed sections of society, to ensure that even the profoundly unpopular enjoy the same liberties, most importantly freedom of speech, as the respectable and the right-on.” It was that PIE members were engaged in the acts it defended.

It is important to bear in mind that this was not just a British issue.

The below, from a petition defending paedophiles to the debate between Michael Foucault and  Guy Hocquenghem (well-known writer and gay activist) will perhaps help us recall what was happening in France at the same time.

French petition against age of consent laws

Le Monde of  January 26, 1977:

We received the following communication:

On January 27, 28, and 29, Bernard Dejager, Jean-Claude Gallien, and Jean Burckardt will by tried before the cour d’assises des Yvelines for lascivious acts with a minor of less than 15 years of age. Arrested in autumn of 1973, it is for more than three years now that they remain in remand. Only Bernard Dejager has recently benefited from the presumption of innocence. Such a long time in remand to investigate a simple `vice’ affair, where the children have not been victims of the slightest violence, but have to the contrary testified before the examining magistrates that they consented — although the law at present denies them their right to consent — such a long time in remand we do consider scandalous in itself.

Today they risk to be sentenced to a long prison term either for having had sexual relations with minors, boys as well as girls, or for having encouraged and taken photographs of their sexual plays. We believe that there is an incongruity between the designation as a `crime’ which serves to legitimize such a severity, and the facts themselves; even more so between the antiquated law and the reality of every day life in a society which tends to know about the sexuality of children and adolescents (thirteen-year-olds are given the pill, for doing what?).

French law contradicts itself if it recognises a capacity for judgement in thirteen and fourteen year olds, so as to be able to try and sentence them, but denies them the same capability with respect to their emotional and sexual life. Three years for caresses and kisses are enough. We would not understand if on January the 29th, Dejager, Gallien, and Burckardt would not be freed.


This has been signed by:

Louis Aragon,
Francis Ponge,
Roland Barthes,
Simone de Beauvoir,
Judith Belladona
docteur Michel Bon,psychosociologue Bertrand Boulin,
Jean-Louis Bory,
Franois Chatelet,
Patrice Chéreau,
Jean-Pierre Colin,
Copi,
Michel Cressole,
Gilles et Fanny Deleuze,
Bernard Dort,
Franoise d’Eaubonne,
docteur Maurice Erne,
psychiatre Jean-Pierre Faye,
docteur Pierrette Garrou,
psychiatre Philippe Gavi,
docteur Pierre-Edmond Gay,
psychanalyste docteur Claire Gellman, psychologue,
docteur Robert Gellman,
psychiatre André Glucksmann,
Félix Guattari,
Daniel Gurin,
Pierre Guyotat,
Pierre Hahn,
Jean-Luc Henning,
Christian Hennion,
Jacques Henric,
Guy Hocquenghem,
docteur Bernard Kouchner,
Franoise Laborie,
Madeleine Lak,
Jack Lang,
Georges Lapassade,
Raymond Lepoutre,
Michel Leyris,
Jean-François Lyotard,
Dionys Mascolo,
Gabriel Matzneff,
Catherine Millet,
Vincent Montail,
Docteur Bernard Muldworf,
psychiatre Négrepont,
Marc Pierret,
Anne Querrien,
Grisldis Ral,
Franois Régnault,
Claude et Olivier Revault d’Allonnes,
Christiane Rochefort,
Gilles Sandier,
Pierre Samuel,
Jean-Paul Sartre,
René Schérer,
Philippe Sollers,
Gérard Soulier,
Victoria Therame,
Marie Thonon,
Catherine Valabrgue,
docteur Gérard Valls,
psychiatre Hélène Védrines,
Jean-Marie Vincent,
Jean-Michel Wilheim,
Danielle Sallenave,
Alain Cuny.

“A similar letter, but much more prone to controversy , was published in the newspaper Libération in 1979, in support of Gerard R., accused of sexual crimes against children and then awaiting trial for eighteen months. The letter reports that Gerard R. lives with girls 6 to 12 years ”which flourished air shows to everyone, including their parents, they find happiness in him.”

The assertion was that a girl of 6 years could give informed consent to sex with an adult and she would be fulfilled was signed by 63 people , including Pascal Bruckner , Georges Moustaki and Christiane Rochefort . 

This letter was then reproduced in the newspaper L’Express 7 March 2001  . Apart Christiane Rochefort, it was not reported that the signatories of the 1977 letter has also signed the 1979 one.”

It is essential that we recognise the complexity and the muddled thinking of the position of people on these subjects.

This was an important debate  (1978, broadcast on France-Culture – radio).

It was published under the name of La Loi de la Pudeur.

MICHEL FOUCAULT: All three of us agreed to take part in this broadcast (it was agreed in principle several months ago) for the following reason. Things had evolved on such a wide front, in such an overwhelming and at first sight apparently irreversible way, that many of us began to hope that the legal regime imposed on the sexual practices of our contemporaries would at last be relaxed and broken up. This regime is not as old as all that, since the penal code of 1810 (1) said very little about sexuality, as if sexuality was not the business of the law; and it was only during the 19th century and above all in the 20th, at the time of Petain or of the Mirguet amendment (1960) (2), that legislation on sexuality increasingly became oppressive. But, over the last ten years or so, a movement in public opinion and sexual morals has been discernible in favor of reconsidering this legal regime. A Commission for the Reform of Penal Law was even set up, whose task it was to revise a number of fundamental articles in the penal code. And this commission has actually admitted, I must say with great seriousness, not only the possibility, but the need to change most of the articles in our present legislation concerning sexual behavior. This commission, which has now been sitting for several months, considered this reform of the sexual legislation last May and June. I believe that the proposals it expected to make were what may be called liberal.

However, it would seem that for several months now, a movement in the opposite direction has begun to emerge. It is a disturbing movement – firstly, because it is not only occuring in France. Take, for example, what is happening in the United States, with Anita Bryant’s campaign against homosexuals, which has almost gone so far as to call for murder. It’s a phenomenon observable in France. But in France we see it through a number of particular, specific facts, which we shall talk about later (Jean Danet and Guy Hocquenghem will certainly provide examples), but ones that seem to show that in both police and legal practice we are returning to tougher and stricter positions. And this movement, observable in police and legal practice, is unfortunately very often supported by press campaigns, or by a system of information carried out in the press. It is therefore in this situation, that of an overall movement tending to liberalism, followed by a phenomenon of reaction, of slowing down, perhaps even the beginning of a reverse process, that we are holding our discussion this evening.

””””””””””””

GUY HOCQUENGHEM. ………These new arguments are essentially about childhood, that is to say, about the exploitation of popular sentiment and its spontaneous horror of anything that links sex with the child.us in an article in the Nouvel Observeateur begins with a few remarks to the effect that “pornography involving children is the ultimate American nightmare and no doubt the most terrible in a country fertile in scandals.” When someone says that child pornography is the most terrible of present scandals, one cannot but be struck by the disproportion between this – child pornography, which is not even prostitution – and everything that is happening in the world today- what the black population has to put up with in the United States, for instance. This whole campaign about pornography, about prostitution, about all those social phenomena – which are in any case controversial – only leads to one fundamental presupposition: ‘it’s worse when children are consenting and worse still if it is neither pornographic nor paid for’, etc. In other words, the entire criminalizing context serves only to bring out the kernel of the accusation: you want to make love with consenting children. It serves only to stress the traditional prohibition and to stress in a new way, with new arguments, the traditional prohibition against sexual relations without violence, without money, without any form of prostitution, that may take place between adults and minors.

MICHEL FOUCAULT………what is emerging – and indeed why I believe it was important to speak about the problem of children – what is emerging is a new penal system, a new legislative system, whose function is not so much to punish offenses against these general laws concerning decency, as to protect populations and parts of populations regarded as particularly vulnerable. In other words, the legislator will not justify the measures that he is proposing by saying: the universal decency of mankind must be defended. What he will say is: there are people for whom others’ sexuality may become a permanent danger. In this catagory, of course, are children, who may find themselves at the mercy of an adult sexuality that is alien to them and may well be harmful to them. Hence there is a legislation that appeals to this notion of a vulnerable population, a “high-risk population,”as they say, and to a whole body of psychiatric and psychological knowledge imbibed from psychoanalysis – it doesn’t really matter whether the psychoanalysis is good or bad – and this will give the psychiatrists the right to intervene twice. Firstly, in general terms, to say: yes, of course, children do have a sexuality, we can’t go back to those old notions about children being pure and not knowing what sexuality is. But we psychologists or psychoanalysts or psychiatrists, or teachers, we know perfectly well that children’s sexuality is a specific sexuality, with its own forms, its own periods of maturation, its own highpoints, its specific drives, and its own latency periods, too. This sexuality of the child is a territory with its own geography that the adult must not enter. It is virgin territory, sexual territory, of course, but territory that must preserve its virginity. The adult will therefore intervene as guarantor of that specificity of child sexuality in order to protect it. And, on the other hand, in each particular case, he will say: this is an instance of an adult bringing his own sexuality into the child’s sexuality. It could be that the child, with his own sexuality, may have desired that adult, he may even have consented, he may even have made the first moves. We may even agree that it was he who seduced the adult; but we specialists with our psychological knowledge know perfectly well that even the seducing child runs a risk, in every case, of being damaged and traumatized by the fact that he or she has had sexual dealings with an adult. Consequently, the child must be ‘protected from his own desires’, even when his desires turn him towards an adult. The psychiatrist is the one who will be able to say: I can predict that a trauma of this importance will occured as a result of this or that type of sexual relation. It is therefore within the new legislative framework – basically intended to protect certain vulnerable sections of the population with the establishment of a new medical power – that a conception of sexuality and above all of the relations between child and adult sexuality will be based; and it is one that is extremely questionable.

MICHEL FOUCAULT: I’m certainly not going to sum up everything that has been said. I think Hocquenghem has shown very clearly what was developing in relation to the strata of the population that had to be “protected.” On the other hand, there is childhood, which by its very nature is in danger and must be protected against every possible danger, and therefore any possible act or attack. Then, on the other hand, there are dangerous individuals, who are generally adults of course, so that sexuality, in the new system that is being set up, will take on quite a different appearance from the one it used to have. In the past, laws prohibited a number of acts, indeed acts so numerous one was never quite sure what they were, but, nevertheless, it was acts that the law concerned itself with. Certain forms of behavior were condemned. Now what we are defining and, therefore, what will be found by the intervention of the law, the judge, and the doctor, are dangerous individuals. We’re going to have a society of dangers, with, on the one side, those who are in danger, and on the other, those who are dangerous. And sexuality will no longer be a kind of behavior hedged in by precise prohibitions, but a kind of roaming danger, a sort of omnipresent phantom, a phantom that will be played out between men and women, children and adults, and possibly between adults themselves, etc. Sexuality will become a threat in all social relations, in all relations between members of different age groups, in all relations between individuals. It is on this shadow, this phantom, this fear that the authorities would try to get a grip through an apparently generous and, at least general, legislation and through a series of particular interventions that would probably be made by the legal institutions, with the support of the medical institutions. And what we will have there is a new regime for the supervision of sexuality; in the second half of the 20th century it may well be decriminalized, but only to appear in the form of a danger, a universal danger, and this represents a considerable change. I would say that the danger lay there.

A summary of these ideas states,

 ” Ils défendent ainsi l’idée d’une autonomie de l’enfant et de ses désirs, s’opposant ainsi à la désignation de pédophilie de tout rapport affectif et érotique entre un mineur (notion juridique, et non biologique) et une personne majeure. En outre, ils soulignent la difficulté pour la loi (générale par nature) d’établir une limite d’âge (Foucault cite ainsi un juge, qui affirmait qu’« après tout, il y a des filles de dix-huit ans qui sont pratiquement obligées de faire l’amour avec leur père ou leur beau-père ; elles ont beau avoir dix-huit ans, c’est un système de contrainte qui est intolérable. “

They defend the idea of a child’s autonomy and its desires, and opposed the label of paedophile for all loving and sexual relations between and adult and a minor (a legal and not biological designation). ……

Written by Andrew Coates

February 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Another Call for Religious Censorship Wins: Katy Perry’s Dark Horse Cut.

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Still from Katy Perry's Dark Horse video

London Dawah Movement responds to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” video

The video for Katy Perry’s track Dark Horse has been edited following claims from some Muslims it was blasphemous.

More than 65,000 people signed a petition which stated the clip – featuring a pendant with the Arabic word for God on it being reduced to sand – was offensive.

The music video has not been cut, but the pendant has now been digitally “scrubbed” out of the scene.

Petition instigator Shazad Iqbal, said he was “thrilled” with the outcome.

“The name of Allah has been removed from the Dark Horse video – we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s support so I thank each and every one of you deeply, our voices have been heard,” he wrote on Change.org.

“I feel that the impact we have made and the total number of signatures obtained does convey just how worthy a cause this is, it is a significant step towards the right direction.”

BBC.

Here is the Bigots’ original post.

London Dawah Movement responds to Katy Perry’s controversial song “Dark Horse” where the name of Allah (swt) in Arabic is burned.

Hat-Tip Howie’s Corner.

In the video, the pop queen is seen dressed up as an ancient Egyptian Queen of magic and there is a consistent theme and lyrical reference to magic in the song.

Muslims have expressed outraged that Allah’s name was used in the form of a pendant worn by one of the protagonists in the video that was “burned”.

Petition

A petition has been launched which demands YouTube to take the video down. It has reached over 28,000.

The petition statement reads:

This petition is lodged in regards to Katy Perry’s music video ‘Dark Horse’; hosted by KatyPerryVEVO, on YouTube. The video is considered as highly controversial to its viewers as a result of its portrayal of blasphemy.

At 01:15 into the video Dark Horse; a man is shown being burned, whilst wearing a pendant (also burned) forming the word ‘Allah’, which is the Arabic word for God.

Such goes to show, that blasphemy is clearly conveyed in the video, since Katy Perry (who appears to be representing an opposition of God) engulfs the believer and the word God in flames.

This is the reason for lodging the petition so that people from different walks of life, different religions and from different parts of the world, agree that the video promotes blasphemy, using the name of God in an irrelevant and distasteful manner would be considered inappropriate by any religion

We hope that the video itself depicting such images is removed. Such acts are not condoned nor tolerated, we hope YouTube will remove the video.”

London Dawah Movement explains how we should respond to this video in accordance to Islam.

More from the Bigots’ Blog.

Warning: listening to the loudmouthed bigot railing against Satan and all of his works may offend many people.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 27, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Suffolk People’s Assembly: Defend Our Unions Public Meeting.

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On Tuesday up to 60 people came to Ipswich Library Lecture room to the Suffolk People’s Assembly meeting, “Defend our Unions and Right to Resist Austerity.”

Speakers represented many different aspects of the Trade union and anti-cuts movement.

Dave Smith, a Founder Member of Blacklist Support Group, spoke on employers who witch-hunted activists out of jobs. Drawing on his experience in the building trade he outlined the long-standing campaign against the practice, and the recent actions against Crossrail and private contractors for public services.

Donna Guthrie of Joint Chair Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) talked of their grass-roots campaigning in London’s East End. In Newham they had struck deep roots in the community, from many different ethnic backgrounds. They were campaigning against cuts in social housing, and issues such as the abuse of police powers.

Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, National Union of Teachers, said,

I’m Proud that NUT was in at the beginning of People’s Assembly and to share this platform today.

Why is the NUT is involved?

Well firstly because Teachers can’t separate themselves from the rest of working people. But perhaps more importantly because many of the children we teach see the worst effects of the austerity agenda. And it is the most vulnerable hit hardest.

Kevin described the attacks on the education system, spearheaded by Michael Gove.

How do we offer an alternative?

Kevin stated,

The Peoples Assembly shows the characteristics we need for the fight back – unity, broad base, looking for activity, something for everyone to do and contribute to And we do see very successful mobilisations all over the country – against cuts and closures in the health service, against the bedroom tax and evictions, against schools being forced into academy status.

Bill Bowring, the International Secretary of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, and Colchester based, congratulated Suffolk People’s Assembly on its work. He listed more reasons to offer an alternative to the Liberal-Conservative government’s policies. He said that reducing legal aid, a pillar of the post-war settlement, was part of the same weakening of social rights as attacks on the NHS and education.

Roy Humphries FBU Secretary Suffolk Fire Brigades Union, spoke on the government’s plans to reduce their pension rights and raise the age of retirement to an unsustainable limit.

He described how their battles were far from over and thanked members of the local labour movement, in particular Ipswich Trades Council, who had supported their protests.

Jim Kelly, Chair of London & Eastern Region Unite the Union, spoke on  his union’s base in the private sector. He outlined the decline in collective bargaining agreements – the UK is now apparently on a par with only one country, Lithuania, for its low level of these agreements. Jim cited how UNITE had successfully fought back against employers and had, for example,  won bonus for London Bus drivers, and had defended their members. UNITE were beginning to tackle the problems created by the anti-union Gateway port employers.  What was needed were changes to the anti-trade union laws that prevented workers form organising and only a Labour government, he suggested, could do that.

On the Grangemouth dispute Jim pointed out that it was the local membership who had decided on an agreement with a ruthless employers.

In the discussion that followed a member of the SWP attacked the Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey.

Others saw the trade unions in a positive light, as reaching out to people to defend social rights and as advocates of a better society.

The People’s Assembly was mentioned as a way people  draw campaigns and unions together. The previous week Suffolk activists had supported the Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) protest against ATOS. A campaign extending our work on the Living Wage, will be launched for  Fast-Food workers.

At the People’s Assembly National Conference (15 March) Suffolk will be presenting two motions. One opposes  the government’s  policies against migrant workers. The other calls for a national campaign against Workfare and for Charities, social sector and local authorities to have nothing to do with forced labour.

Ipswich Postal workers mentioned their fight to defend their conditions, and the effects of the closure of the local sorting office.

In the pub afterwards activists considered that the meeting had been a success and a help in our efforts to campaign for progressive politics.

Sisters, Brothers! There’s a place for you – in the People’s Assembly!

Witch Hunt of Gays Begins in Uganda.

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This front-page has been met with international outrage: l’Humanité calls it a “chasse aux sorcières médiatiques” (media witch-hunt). El Mundo reports the list of “200 personas homosexuales”. German media report, “eine Liste mit 200 Homosexuellen.”

The BBC states,

The BBC’s Ali Mutasa reports from the capital, Kampala, that many of the people named on Red Pepper’s list are known to be homosexuals, and some of them live abroad.

The list also includes some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay, the Associated Press news agency reports.

“The media witch-hunt is back,” tweeted Jacqueline Kasha, a prominent Ugandan lesbian activist who appears on Red Pepper’s list.

There was applause as Yoweri Museveni said: “Society can do something about it to discourage the trend”

Well-known gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema is also on the list, along with a popular hip-hop star and a Catholic priest, AP reports.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act

  • Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex
  • Life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive
  • Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage
  • Seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality”
  • Between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine or both for the promotion of homosexuality
  • Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Ukraine, Everything You Know May be Wrong.

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Bandera: Kiev City Hall. 

Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong Mark Ames.

This is very important (Extracts with comments added).

Hat-Tip Jim.

Nearly everyone here in the US tries to frame and reify Ukraine’s dynamic to fit America-centric spats. As such, Ukraine’s problems are little more than a propaganda proxy war where our own political fights are transferred to Ukraine’s and Russia’s context, warping the truth to score domestic spat points.

(Apply with knobs on to the Western European left).

1. The protesters are not “virtuous anti-Putin freedom fighters,” nor are they “Nazis and US puppets”

In fact, the people who are protesting or supporting the protesters are first and foremost sick of their shitty lives in a shitty country they want to make better—a country where their fates are controlled by a tiny handful of nihilistic oligarchs and Kremlin overlords, and their political frontmen. It’s first and foremost a desire to gain some control over their fate. Anger at Kremlin power over Ukraine is not necessarily anti-Russian—although the further west you go in Ukraine, the more this does become about nationalism, and the further east you go—including Crimea and Odessa—the more the politics are a fearful reaction against west-Ukraine nationalism.

I add from Le Monde Diplomatique, November 2013.

Yanukovych may have permanently compromised Ukraine’s European prospects, yet he is not on the point of joining the customs’ union so dear to Putin. “The president and the oligarchs, the Donetsk clan [after a town in eastern Ukraine] are economic nationalists. They don’t want to abandon their sovereignty to the EU or to Russia,” said Taras Kuzio, a Ukrainian expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. “They would like to live in a pre-globalisation country, free of interference from both Moscow and Brussels.” Over the past few months the Family, as those close to the authoritarian Yanukovych are known, has consolidated its hold on the country and is trying to prevent any economic, political or legal power from challenging that hold.

According to Kuzio, the prevarications around Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister imprisoned since 2011 for abuse of power, are the result of “doublethink”. This allows the executive powers in Ukraine to dither between Brussels and Moscow, avoiding core issues that blight the country. In Kiev, the line between national autonomy and isolationism is blurred.

2. About Ukraine’s neo-fascists:

They’re definitely real, they’re a powerful minority in the anti-Yanukovych campaign—I’d say the neo-fascsists from Svoboda and Pravy Sektor are probably the vanguard of the movement, the ones who pushed it harder than anyone. Anyone who ignores the role of the neo-fascists (or ultranationalists, take your pick) is lying or ignorant, just as anyone who claims that Yanukovych answered only to Putin doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The front-center role of Svoboda and the neo-fascists in this revolution as opposed to the Orange Revolution is, I think, due to fact that the more smiley-face/respectable neoliberal politicians can’t rally the same fanatical support they did a decade ago. Eventually, even the co-leader of the Orange Revolution, Viktor Yushchenko, moved from “respectable” pro-EU neoliberalism to rehabilitating western Ukraine’s fascist mass-murderer,Stepan Bandera, which I wrote about in The Nation.

What role the neo-fascists and descendants of Bandera will play in the near-term future is the big question. Their role in the protest’s vanguard is definitely scaring a lot of people in the east of Ukraine and Crimea, and could precipitate a violent split. On the other hand, by far the most likely scenario is that the neo-fascist/ultranationalists in Svoboda will be absorbed into the pro-West coalition and politics, as they’re still a minority in the coalition. Neoliberalism is a big tent that is happy to absorb ultranationalists, democrats, or ousted president Yanukovych.

(Note But….)

The power that the neo-fascists already have is bad enough, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of bullshit hype and propaganda about the neo-fascist threat. A perfect example of fascist-hype propaganda was recently published in Ha’aretz, headlined: “Ukrainian rabbi tells Kiev’s Jews to flee city”

The point is this: What’s happening in Ukraine is not a battle between pro-fascists and anti-fascists. There are fascists on both sides; the opposition happens to like fascist costume parties more, but watch this video of Yanukovych’s snipers murdering unarmed protesters and tell me who the real fascists are in this fight…

3. Everything you think you know about Ukraine is wrong.

Everyone looking for a proxy side to support or oppose in the Ukraine political dynamic will be disappointed. Ukraine politics go by their own rules. Today’s neoliberal ultranationalist could be tomorrow’s Kremlin ally, and visa-versa. Just look at what happened to the Orange Revolution—nothing. To wit:

a) One Orange Revolution leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, wound up turning against her partner Viktor Yushchenko and allying with Yanukovych to strip Yushchenko of presidential powers; later, Tymoshenko allied with the Kremlin against Yushchenko; now she’s free from jail and the presumptive leader of the anti-Yanukovych forces.

b) The other Orange leader—the pro-EU, anti-Kremlin Viktor Yushchenko—wound up allying with pro-Kremlin Yanukovych to jail Yulia Tymoshenko.

c) John McCain has been the big driving force for regime change against Yanukovych, but McCain’s 2008 campaign chief’s lobby firm, Davis Manafort, managed Yanukovych’s political campaigns and his lobbying efforts in the US.

d) Anthony Podesta, brother of President Obama’s senior advisor John Podesta, is anotherYanukovych lobbyist; John Podesta was the chief of Obama’s 2008 transition team.

4. Yanukovych was not fighting neoliberalism, the World Bank, or oligarchy — nor was he merely a tool of the Kremlin. (see Le Monde Diplomatique above)

In Ukraine, there is no populist left politics, even though the country’s deepest problem is inequality and oligarchy. Memories of the Soviet Union play a big role in turning people off to populist-left politics there, for understandable reasons.

But the Ukrainians do have a sense of people power that is rare in the world, and it goes back to the first major protests in 2000, through the success of the Orange Revolution. The masses understand their power-in-numbers to overthrow bad governments, but they haven’t forged a populist politics to change their situation and redistribute power by redistributing wealth.

So they wind up switching from one oligarchical faction to another, forming broad popular coalitions that can be easily co-opted by the most politically organized minority factions within—neoliberals, neofascists, or Kremlin tools. All of whom eventually produce more of the same shitty life that leads to the next revolution.

We have already referred to the NPA interview with Zakhar Popovych Ukraine “A mass revolt for democracy”.

It has now been fully translated into English here.

A further example, from the other side, is Socialist Unity’s claims, about “White House and European Union politicians, together with a compliant mass media, have eulogised the organisers of what can only be described accurately as a violent coup d’ etat and have averted their eyes from unappealing facts.”

Yet who can forget the ubiquitous  (in the French media) Bernard-Henri Lévy

February the 9th Kiev’s Independence Square.

People of Maidan, brothers and sisters in Europe! I also want to tell you how many of us, from Paris to Berlin and elsewhere in Europe, have heard your message. I know that you feel alone. I know that you have the feeling of being abandoned by a Europe that, in turning its back on you, is turning its back on its very substance. That is true. But it is also true that you have friends in the societies of Europe. And even here in Kiev, in European diplomatic posts, you have discreet allies who share your spirit and are working in your favor. They are your hope; but you are theirs. If they give up on you, you lose; but if you lose, they lose as well. They know that. We all know it. Millions of us have understood that our own fate is being played out here, in Independence Square, which you have renamed Europe Square.

It is my firm intention, upon my return to France, to proclaim it loud and clear: no visas for the goons who, like Louis XIV when he had “Ultima Ratio Regis” engraved on his cannons, are threatening to storm Maidan; a freezing of their assets in every bank in the European Union as well as in the tax havens whose doors we now know how to break down. There is a whole range of sanctions that the democracies can apply, and we must not let anyone forget it. The president of my country will soon meet with the president of the United States. Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Hollande will be able to convince Mr. Obama to join once more in an initiative to save this kidnapped piece of Europe.

People of Maidan–one last word. I leave you with a heavy heart because I know that in the coming days anything can happen, even, alas, the worst. In the long history of people affirming their sovereign rights by occupying the squares and places of their cities, we remember the Place de la Bastille in Paris or Wenceslas Square in Prague, and even the Agora in Athens. At the same time we cannot help but remember that other model, the anti-model: Tiananmen Square and the rebellion that was drowned in blood! But know, too, that as I leave you I am filled with immense admiration for the courage, the self-control, the wisdom, and the restraint that you have exemplified for the world. Your weapon is your self-control. Your strength is the calm determination, unmarred by pathos, shown by everyone from Lisa, who runs the canteen that feeds Maidan, Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer who one day may be the president of the new Ukraine–all of whom have told me that nothing will stop the ethos of Maidan.

Your strength also lies in the spirit of responsibility–I was going to say, of discipline–with which you maintain your barricades and, behind those barricades, take care of the part of the city that you have liberated. For a single word covers both the tending of cities and the quality of civilizations. Civilized–in my language as in that of the fresco artists who, in the tenth century, painted the praying Virgin, hands raised in a sign of peace, in your Saint Sophia cathedral–describes both the lover of civitas and the carrier of civilization. And, yes, your strength is that great civilization of which you are a part, despite that piece of Europe’s tragic and criminal history that haunts you, just as it does all the peoples of the continent. Before Russia existed, Ukraine and Kiev flowered. There is in every citizen of Maidan more history and culture than in the braggart of Sochi, the would-be Tarzan who is more like a Popeye, a paper tiger and a real enemy of Saint Sophia and her wisdom. It is for that reason that you will win. It is for that reason that, sooner or later, you will overcome master Putin and his valet, Yanukovych.

I welcome you to Europe.

(From here. Also reproduced in the Wall Street Journal).

Compare and contrast with Mark Ames. 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Ben Gummer, Ipswich MP, to ‘abolish’ National Insurance.

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Ben Gummer’s Political Programme.

Ipswich Tory MP Ben Gummer is famous for a number of  things.

  • He has ” suggested shaking up local government so that councillors solely representing local businesses could be elected to town halls.Mr Gummer acknowledged the idea “had no hope of getting into a manifesto” but pointed to the City of London, as a model for how his idea works in practice.The City is governed by the Corporation of London, which is the oldest local authority in England having been founded in medieval times.Elections there give votes to both firms and residents. (BBC 2012)
  • For his book, The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles. Gummer suggested that the Catholic Church played a noble role in comforting the sick and helping stem the worst effects of the plague. This may or may not be taken as seriously. We note that his Catholicism has not helped him take a stand against the misery that “welfare reform” has brought to many of his constituents. Or to help the present-day unwell fight off the ATOS pandemic.
  • Being a Toady, a founder indeed, of the Royal Guild of Toadies. This has earned him the position of adviser to Michael Gove.

Today we learn this,

A Conservative MP is campaigning for national insurance contributions (NICs) to be rebranded the “earnings tax” in a move that has caught the eye of the chancellor.

Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, is bringing forward a 10-minute rule bill this week that proposes changing the name as the first step towards merging it with income tax.

It is highly unlikely to make it into law through this route but George Osborne, the chancellor, is said to be attracted to the idea.

Gummer has been campaigning on tax transparency as a merger of income tax and NICs could make it clearer to people how much they are paying to the exchequer out of their earnings.

National insurance, first introduced in 1911, is levied on employers and employees to pay for certain benefits such as the state pension. It works out at around 12% per year, plus an extra 2% for earnings above £41,450.

Guardian.

Ipswich Spy notes that renaming National Insurance  is a demand of the hard-right Tax Payers’ Alliance*.

Gummer states that “Taxpayers are consumers”, including no doubt employers.

Nobody should be in any doubt as to which ‘consumers’ he is most interested in.

A recent post (14th February)  on his Blog shows where he stands, “ANGLIAN WATER SHOWS WHY PRIVATIZATION CAN WORK.”

Now he wants to get people aligned with the bosses to complain about the level of tax, that is the “earnings tax”.

Gummer’s support for the City of London and hard-right free-market ideas are no secret.

Perhaps  Georgi Dimitrov was thinking of the likes of Gummer when he talked of “of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.”

*The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has called for National Insurance (NI) to be scrapped to make the tax system simpler and more transparent. The need for tax reform has never been more pressing, particularly in light of this week’s revelations about HMRC errors.

The campaign group says National Insurance serves no purpose and has set out a package of measures to merge both employers’ and employees’ contributions with Income Tax. The call comes as part of the Treasury’s call for feedback as part of its consideration of the integration of the operation of the income tax and National Insurance contributions system……

The move could significantly reduce the burden on businesses of complying with these taxes, as well as making it easier for people to see exactly how much tax they are paying on their earnings. Here.

The Spectator underlines our point.

After describing the Ipswich Toad Eater’s proposal notes, 

That’s all very noble in itself. But there’s another point, which Gummer isn’t focusing on, but which is politically handy to his party. Labour wants a greater emphasis on raising taxes after 2015 than the Conservatives do. But because tax rises aren’t very popular, the best way to do this beyond some symbolic taxes such as raising the top rate back to 50p (if that raises anything more at all) and introducing a mansion tax would be to focus on the mysterious National Insurance. But if National Insurance became an Earnings Tax and it was clearer to the electorate what it is, then the Tories wouldn’t need to work quite so hard on their ‘stealth tax’/’jobs tax’ campaigns as they have before.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 24, 2014 at 10:53 am

Street Clashes in Nantes over New Aéroport.

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La police et les gendarmes mobiles ont fait usage de grenades lacrymogènes et de canons à eau contre les militants.

Street Battles in Nantes.

Violence erupted when about 20,000 people demonstrated against an airport project near the city of Nantes on Saturday, leaving six riot police officers injured.

Environmental activists have been protesting for more than a year against the government’s plan to build a new airport for the west of the country, with some activists occupying the area by living rough in makeshift wooden cabins.

Police have tried several times in vain to evict the squatters and have had to contain many demonstrations.  Reuters.

Agence France Presse also reports,

Riot police moved into the western French city of Nantes on Saturday, clashing with hundreds of anarchists who broke shop windows, destroyed bus stops and pillaged the city centre.

At least eight police officers were hospitalized after violent confrontations with up to 1,000 “radicals,” the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantique region said. Fourteen people were detained.

The rioters had joined an estimated 20,000 people protesting against plans to build a regional airport. Officials did not say whether protesters were injured.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the delinquents were from the “radicalized ultra-left” and were waging an “urban guerrilla” campaign.

The protests turned very violent as “autonomous” groups broke away.

The evidence remains today,

On the route taken by the demonstrations  the day before, this morning we could still see marks of the events. Municipal workers  were busy erasing tags and paintings on the walls, including those of the mayor. The façade of a Vinci Immobilier (Estate agents),  ransacked on Saturday, has been replaced by wooden boards. Vinci is linked to the airport project. On sites a little further away, lay the blackened carcasses of a giant drill and a bulldozer. The façade of the administrative court, is still painted with large amounts of red paint, and on the ground floor several windows were broken, making it  unrecognisable. A huge“Zad Everywhere” was tagged on the main entrance door. Zad means “deferred development zone” of the airport. This acronym has become a symbol of the opposition.

On Kervegan, one of the oldest districts of Nantes island, the cobblestone streets were scarred by large holes. They have been  replaced by the earth where the pavement had been torn up. Barricades were erected and then set on fire. At the transport hub of the city, the Place du Commerce, all the ticket booths and the offices of the  Society Nantes transport were burnt out. The paving stones for several tram lines  were torn out.

Libération.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Violent Clashes in London East End Over Bangladeshi War Crimes Tribunal.

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Pitched battles between rival groups in the East End

Pitched battles between rival groups in the East End.

The Docklands and East London Advertiser reports (extracts, Hat-Tip, G H),

 A pitched battle broke out last night between Bangladeshi groups in a Whitechapel park, with women and children caught in the middle.

Hundreds had gathered in the park at midnight to place flowers at the Shaheed Minar (Martyr Monument) for the annual Bangladeshi Martyrs Day ceremony.

But flowers gave way to fists as the night turned violent after a war of words between rival groups over controversial war crimes trials in Bangladesh.

Tensions have been bubbling in the East End over the International Crimes Tribunal in Bangladesh, which is trying men accused of war crimes during the country’s 1971 liberation war.

Death threats have been received by activists in London and some have been attacked in the street.

 

Related Story (November 2013):

A former vice chairman of the East London Mosque has been sentenced to death by a Bangladeshi court for committing war crimes during the country’s liberation war in 1971.Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, 65, was found guilty of the abduction and murder of teachers, journalists and intellectuals as a member of the al-Badr killing squads after being tried in absentia by the court.

Mr Mueen Uddin’s lawyer, Toby Cadman, called the tribunal a “show trial” that has been criticised by human rights groups.

Mr Mueen Uddin, who lives in London, has been vice chairman of the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel and helped set up the Muslim Council of Britain.

He has also been Director of Muslim Spiritual Care Provision for the NHS and met with Prince Charles as deputy director of the Islamic Foundation in Leicestershire in 2003.

The East London Mosque confirmed that Mr Mueen Uddin had been involved with the mosque from 1978 as honourary secretary, and was until recently its vice chairman, but has not been a trustee since 2009.

The British government will not extradite Mr Mueen Uddin to Bangladesh as it does not send people to countries where they could face the death penalty.

The International Crimes Tribunal was set up in 2010 after an election pledge by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to try those accused of helping the Pakistani army to commit war crimes during the 1971 conflict.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Ukraine: Where does the Left Stand?

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‘Right-Sector’ in Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine is too serious to make facile judgements.

Apart from condemning state and all brutality what can we offer?

The left in Europe cannot honestly say that they have an answer.

The ingrained tendency to play fantasy Premier league political  football in these conditions has so far not been much in evidence.

True the Nouveau Parti anticaptialiste has published an interview titled, describing the crisis as  “Une révolte de masse d’Ukrainiens pour la démocratie»

But the information in the NPA piece  belies the headline.

Zakhar Popovych represents a small group, Left Opposition. It has published a Manifesto,

“Our hope is that the protest movement, spurred to action by social injustice, might ultimately eradicate the root causes of this injustice. We believe that the cause of most social problems is the oligarchy that formed as a result of unbridled capitalism and corruption. It is important to limit the egotistic interests of our oligarchs, instead of relying on the help of Russia or the IMF, with the consequent national dependence. We believe that it is harmful to add our voices to the demands for Euro-integration; instead, we need to clearly delineate the changes necessary to support the interests of ordinary citizens, especially hired labourers. On several occasions, we cite the progressive experiences of a few European states that have taken similar measures.”

But the representative of the group, interviewed by the NPA, admits that the far-right and nationalists have effectively corned them. He underlines the presence of the neo-Nazis. Hard-right groups are leading the battles. Nobody else gives much evidence of a left presence in the protests.

An autonomist site (Timothy Eastman) carries this information,

Sascha: There are lots of Nationalists here, including Nazis. They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.

Mira: The two biggest groups are Svoboda and Pravy Sektor (Right Sector). The defense forces aren’t 100% Pravy but a large percentage is.

S: Svoboda is more legal as a group, but they also have an illegal militant faction. Pravy Sektor is more illegal, but they want to usurp Svoboda.

M: There’s a lot of infighting between Pravy and Svoboda. They worked together during the violence but now everything is calm so there’s time to focus on each other. Pravy and Svoboda both take donations and they have lots of money. Recently Pravy has all these new uniforms, military fatigues.
One of the worst things is that Pravy has this official structure. They are coordinated. You need passes to go certain places. They have the power to give or not give people permission to be active. We’re trying to be active but we have to avoid Nazis, and I’m not going to ask a Nazi for permission!

S: A group of 100 anarchists tried to arrange their own self-defense group, different Anarchist groups came together for a meeting on the Maidan. While they were meeting a group of Nazis came in a larger group, they had axes and baseball bats and sticks, helmets, they said it was their territory. They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists. There weren’t even any Communists, that was just an insult. The Anarchists weren’t expecting this and they left. People with other political views can’t stay in certain places, they aren’t tolerated.

S: Nazi groups are also trying to mimic leftists, to try to ingratiate themselves. They use anarchist vocabulary, words like “autonomous.” One group of the ugliest Nazis is now doing this by calling themselves “Autonomous Resistance.” They’ve had lots of success with this tactic.
They attract some Anarchists who think they’re changing the Nazis, but really the Nazis are changing them.” They’re becoming more nationalistic, they have more more anti-feminist views, etc. Now is when Anarchists need to speak out and be louder.

stormfrontwolfsangel

Two symbols that could be found at EuroMaidan. The Celtic Cross (l) is a common symbol representing white supremacy. The Wolfsangel(r) was a symbol used by several divisions of the SS during World War II and now represents Neo-Nazism.

S: There’s a whole spectrum of Nationalists represented. They divide themselves into groups with their own symbols. They want support so they don’t use Nazi or fascist symbols so much. They use symbols that are recognizable to other fascistic people, but look innocuous to anyone else. For example there is a special eagle symbol. It’s drawn a certain way, it doesn’t look like anything unless you know the meaning.
No one has any idea how this could turn out, what form a new government could take. The fascist groups don’t have common aims, they know what they’re opposed to, and that they’re opposed to each other, but they don’t all want the same things. If Pravy has positions in a new government that would be really dangerous but that isn’t possible, they aren’t powerful enough.

M: People have these chants: “Glory Ukraine,” “Glory to Heroes,” “Death to Enemies.” But who are these heroes, who are these enemies? I don’t think they have any idea. “Ukraine Above All” is one, just like they used to chant in Germany.

Perhaps the last word should go to Zakhar Popovych,

” Malheureusement le scénario le plus probable est la mise en place d’un régime de droite, autoritaire et nationaliste.”

Unfortunately the most probable scenario is that a right-wing nationalist and authoritarian regime will be placed in power.

Updates: This article claims to refute evidence that there is a fascist component (it describes this as ‘fringe’) in the Ukrainian movement.  KYIV’S EUROMAIDAN IS A LIBERATIONIST AND NOT EXTREMIST MASS ACTION OF CIVIC DISOBEDIENCE.

No doubt there are many political forces in play in the Ukrainian movements. It would have been more convincing if it did not make such an exaggerated claim about the “liberation” goals of the protest, and addressed the actual nature of a key political force (and party), Svoboda.

On this see l’Humanité “Ukraine: le parti Svoboda est fasciste”.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Mejiri, in Tunisian Prison for Images of the ‘Prophet’ pardoned but remains in Prison.

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Not Yet Free.

President Moncef Marzouki has signed a pardon for Jabeur Mejri, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed online, according to his office.

Mejri’s supporters, however, have criticized the lack of details in the announcement and say he is still imprisoned.

Presidency spokesperson Chaker Bouajila confirmed to Tunisia Live that a pardon has been signed. He referred all further questions to a legal advisor, who could not be reached for comment.

Adnene Mansar, another spokesperson for the presidency, announced the decision in an interview on radio station Shems FM Wednesday.

“A few days ago, President Moncef Marzouki signed an pardon decision on Jabeur Mejri’s case, ” Adnene Mansar told Shems FM

“In October, Jabeur Mejri wrote a handwritten apology letter saying: I declare that I apologize to the Tunisian people and other Islamic people for what I released of my writings and drawings offending the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” Mansar added.

He added that there was another case against Mejri involving “financial misconduct,” but the details of this are unclear.

Henda Chennaoui of Mejri’s support committee is not satisfied with the announcement.

“We demand more transparency on the release of prisoner of conscience Jabeur Mejri. We condemn the Presidency’s tricky statements announcing the pardon without speaking about liberation. Jabeur is still in prison,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Previously, the presidency said Mejri could be released in a deal involving asylum in Sweden. It is unclear if this option has been taken.

- See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/02/19/presidency-announces-pardon-for-jabeur-mejri-but-supporters-say-hes-still-in-jail/#sthash.ai2XIpLq.dpuf

President Moncef Marzouki has signed a pardon for Jabeur Mejri, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed online, according to his office.

Mejri’s supporters, however, have criticized the lack of details in the announcement and say he is still imprisoned.

Presidency spokesperson Chaker Bouajila confirmed to Tunisia Live that a pardon has been signed. He referred all further questions to a legal advisor, who could not be reached for comment.

Adnene Mansar, another spokesperson for the presidency, announced the decision in an interview on radio station Shems FM Wednesday.

“A few days ago, President Moncef Marzouki signed an pardon decision on Jabeur Mejri’s case, ” Adnene Mansar told Shems FM

“In October, Jabeur Mejri wrote a handwritten apology letter saying: I declare that I apologize to the Tunisian people and other Islamic people for what I released of my writings and drawings offending the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” Mansar added.

He added that there was another case against Mejri involving “financial misconduct,” but the details of this are unclear.

Henda Chennaoui of Mejri’s support committee is not satisfied with the announcement.

“We demand more transparency on the release of prisoner of conscience Jabeur Mejri. We condemn the Presidency’s tricky statements announcing the pardon without speaking about liberation. Jabeur is still in prison,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Previously, the presidency said Mejri could be released in a deal involving asylum in Sweden. It is unclear if this option has been taken.

- See more at: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/02/19/presidency-announces-pardon-for-jabeur-mejri-but-supporters-say-hes-still-in-jail/#sthash.ai2XIpLq.dpuf

Background.

Ghazi Beji  and Jabeur Mejri are Tunisian citizens sentenced on 28 March 2012 to 7.5 years’ imprisonment for “transgressing morality, defamation and disrupting public order” after posting naked caricatures of Mohammad to Facebook.Mejri faced trial in court, while his friend Beji was convicted in absentia, having fled to Europe to escape prosecution. Mejri’s appeal of his sentence was denied on 25 June 2012. Mejri’s lawyer objected to his client being denied medical evaluation, describing him as “mentally unstable” and unemployed for the past six year.  Wikipedia.

Today Libération reports that Jabeur Mejri has  received a Presidential pardon.

But he remains in Prison on a (critics allege, fabricated) charge of having operated a fraud as an emploeye of the Tunisian railway services.  While unemployed when arrested for “blasphemeny” he had in the past worked in the ticket office of Mahadia.

Ghazi Beji has been granted political asylum in France.

This story is also on Tunisia Live.

“President Moncef Marzouki has signed a pardon for Jabeur Mejri, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for posting cartoons of the prophet Mohammed online, according to his office.

Mejri’s supporters, however, have criticized the lack of details in the announcement and say he is still imprisoned.

Presidency spokesperson Chaker Bouajila confirmed to Tunisia Live that a pardon has been signed. He referred all further questions to a legal advisor, who could not be reached for comment.

.Adnene Mansar, another spokesperson for the presidency, announced the decision in an interview on radio station Shems FM Wednesday.

“A few days ago, President Moncef Marzouki signed an pardon decision on Jabeur Mejri’s case, ” Adnene Mansar told Shems FM

“In October, Jabeur Mejri wrote a handwritten apology letter saying: I declare that I apologize to the Tunisian people and other Islamic people for what I released of my writings and drawings offending the Prophet Mohammed and Islam,” Mansar added.

He added that there was another case against Mejri involving “financial misconduct,” but the details of this are unclear.

Henda Chennaoui of Mejri’s support committee is not satisfied with the announcement.

“We demand more transparency on the release of prisoner of conscience Jabeur Mejri. We condemn the Presidency’s tricky statements announcing the pardon without speaking about liberation. Jabeur is still in prison,” she posted on her Facebook page.

Previously, the presidency said Mejri could be released in a deal involving asylum in Sweden. It is unclear if this option has been taken.”

Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Haitham Al-Haddad, Who Supports FGM, Speaks At SOAS University.

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Haitham al-Haddad

……only hates Jews who are descendants of apes and pigs.

In 2001, Haitham al-Haddad allegedly said “I will tell you the truth about the fight between us and Jews who are the enemies of God and the descendants of apes and pigs”.[8] He later said that “this is the translation of what has been attributed to me” and that it had been incorrectly translated from Arabic to English.[8]

A journalist for Radio Netherlands Worldwide wrote, “Strikingly, the cleric omits the definite article “the” before “Jews.” In the Arabic language, this omission could be taken to mean he was not speaking about Jews in general but only about those Jews who are enemies of God and descendants of apes and pigs.

Wikipedia.

Continues,

In a homophobic article called ‘Standing up against Homosexuality and LGBTs’, Haddad has written of “the scourge of homosexuality”, which he calls a “criminal act” [10]

His attitudes towards women are highlighted by a comment he made in which he declared that “a man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them”.[11]

In addition to this he has also claimed that “the most honourable and worthy role for a woman is striving to be a fine wife…this role does not only secure the best for a woman in the hereafter, but also fits perfectly with her natural disposition”[12]

The Huffington Post reports,

A London university’s student union has come under criticism for allowing a pro-female genital mutilation supporter to speak at a debate on campus.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Monday, despite having previously publicly advocated his support for FGM.

In a video posted on YouTube, he lectures on the importance of knowing female circumcision in the UK is illegal and says there is a “proper” way of carrying out FGM.

“In some countries.. they do [circumcision] a way that cause harm for the female,” he says. “There are some statistics it can cause 25% death of females.. This is called the Pharaonic circumcision.. We are not talking about that. They cut extensively. That is harmful, definitely. But it is consensus of all the scholars that female circumcision is sunnah [proper].

students

His views on Homosexuality, “Standing up against Homosexuality and LGBTs.”

In order to combat the scourge of homosexuality Allah has ordained us to speak out, and that we should co-operate with others in righteousness and God-consciousness.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 19, 2014 at 4:57 pm