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As Greens Contemplate ‘Confidence and Supply’ Agreement with Conservatives Ipswich Green ‘Hasn’t the heart’ to Oppose Tory MP.

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Mark Ereira-Guyer

Suffolk Green Leader, Mark Ereira-Guyer ‘Hasn’t the heart’ to stand against Ipswich Tory MP.

Latest news on the Green Front,

The resurgent Green party is to target a dozen seats across England, which it believes it could either win or come close to seizing in next May’s general election, as membership rises and confidence grows that it could outpoll the Lib Dems.

……..

As the Greens have gained more media attention, Bennett has thought seriously about post-election possibilities, and what role her party might play in supporting a Tory- or Labour-led government. “I can’t imagine circumstances in which we would prop up a Tory government,” she says. “Our first inclination would be a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement, rather than a coalition, because it means you provide stable government – you don’t get the ministerial cars but you keep your conscience and you don’t have to vote for tuition fees, for example.”

Guardian site.

The Ipswich Star reported on October the 10th,

Ipswich: Green Party candidate “hasn’t the heart” to take on MP Ben Gummer at General Election

Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and independent group on Suffolk County Council and an experienced election campaigner, was chosen earlier this year to fight for the Ipswich seat, but has now dropped out.

In a letter to the Ipswich Green Party he said his business and council commitments meant he was not able to devote enough time to fighting the seat and he wanted the party to have time to find another candidate.

….

He added: “Although I find Conservative policies odious and overly focused on free market fundamentalism, crass cost-cutting measures and ecological destitution, I am of the view that the current MP Ben Gummer is dedicated and hardworking.

“I respect his honest endeavours for the town. And, therefore, I can’t drum up sufficient energies to really take him on. I like my politics to work on a human level, and not in a tribalist way.”

“Mr Gummer was flattered to hear Mr Ereira-Guyer’s comments. He said: “I’m sorry he won’t be standing because I have a lot of time for him and I think we would have some good debates on the hustings. I hope he remains on the political scene in Suffolk.”

The Greens are due to select another candidate.

Whether this endorsement of the Ipswich Conservative candidate, or at the very least, glowing tribute, is to be followed in the rest of the country is unclear.

It would certainly smooth the way for a “confidence and supply” agreement if the Greens helped other Tories in marginals.

There are suggestions from greens that Mr Ereira-Guyer’s decision is not unrelated to the failure of the national Green Party to give the sprightly Suffolk leader the recognition he feels is consummate with his talents.

He failed to become the Party’s deputy leader.

Sources close to the Suffolk Labour Party have commented that he certainly has a high opinion of himself.

This is from the Tories’ favourite Green’s own Blog site,

We must all move from being a reckless ego-centric society to an eco-centric one. We need to ensure everyone has enough for a decent life wherever they live in the world. We should perhaps recall the adage: there is no wealth but life. We need to find a way of living where we all find joy and fulfillment in ‘enough’.

As a Councillor I will continually work to encourage and explain the kind of changes required that can meet our – and the rest of biodiversity’s – needs in a way that our current ego-centric system isn’t and simply can’t.

Many will had enough of this after the first sentence!

Ereira-Guyer also cites this,

We need to appreciate that we can and should be winning votes from the right and the left, because we are NOT a party of the left.

Even if we think we are, we should not be using that term, because the Green Party’s prime USP is that we as a society will not approach equality until we recognise that there are limits to growth.

R Lindsay, Journalist & Green Party member

You can keep up to date with Ipswich Green Party on their site - which has yet to register this decision.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2014 at 10:34 am

As American Help is Dropped to Kobane Kurds, Stop the War Coalition Enters New Crisis.

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US state department file photo.

US Drops Help to Kobane: Not in Our Name? 

“…the airstrikes by the US, Britain and their allies are not intended to save lives or to defeat ISIS, but to strengthen the west’s domination of the Middle East region strategically and control its resources, most notably its oil.”

Wrote Aaron Kiely (Socialist Action) on the Stop the War Coalition site on the 15th of October.

Why students should oppose bombing Iraq and Syria and whipping up of Islamophobia

Kiely does not mention any alternative way to aid the Kurds and others to defeat Isis.

His main concern apparently is that there is a “disgusting smear campaign against the Stop the War Coalition, CND, prominent NUS student leaders and others, accusing the anti-war movement of supporting the barbaric terrorist group Isis.

Speaking for “Muslim communities” he says they are “are strong opponents of terrorism”. He adds, “Young people and students want a future free from the scourge of war, terrorism and Islamophobia.”

Keiley is infamous for  Tweeting his opposition to an “Islamophobic”  motion at the NUS – that is one supporting the Kurds, drafted with the close help of/and by Kurds.

He may well “oppose” Isis, but if there was no evidence of supporting the Kurds then, there is none now.

Their right to freedom from Islamist racism and mass murder (Isis/Islamic State)  is not mentioned.

What, then,  does the Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  think of the Kurdish plight?

 Leading figures of the StWC, Lindsey German and Robin Beste, have argued (3rd October),

  • The issue of the Kurds is central to countering ISIS expansion in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are close allies of the west, but there is a very different attitude to the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The PKK, which has been struggling for Kurdish self-determination for decades, is still listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. This is despite the PKK and its allies being prominent in the battle against ISIS. Turkey has oppressed the Kurds for many years and will not help those in Kobane, now under imminent threat of seizue by ISIS. Turkey could open its border to the Kurds, but refuses to do so, in contrast with its support for ISIS in the past. Instead the Turkish parliament has voted to create a ‘buffer zone’ at the Syrian border which will involve the disarming of the Kurds.
  • Bombing will prove counter productive because it will do nothing to help the people already suffering, but will lead to far greater levels of death, injury and destruction. This has been the experience over the past 13 years, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan and Libya too.

Today we learn (BBC),

US military aircraft have dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants in the key Syrian town of Kobane.

US Central Command said C-130 transport aircraft made “multiple” drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.

US air strikes have helped push back IS in the town near the Turkish border.

Correspondents say the airdrops are likely to anger key US ally Turkey.

The drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq were “intended to enable continued resistance against Isil’s attempts to overtake Kobane,” Centcom said in a statement. IS is also referred to as Isil and Isis.

All the aircraft involved had returned safely, it added.

The US air drops represent a significant shift in Washington’s policy towards the Syrian Kurds.

Syrian Kurdish fighters confounded the bleak predictions about Kobane’s imminent fall, and the air drops are now taking place despite objections from the Turkish government: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said his country would not agree to any US arms transfers to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Nevertheless, the US state department recently declared that it had held the first direct talks with the Syrian Kurdish Party – considered an ally of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fought a three-decade war against the Turkish army until 2013.

Reporting on this today the French left paper Libération states that the French government has put an ultimatum to Qatar to stop all support for the Islamic State/Isis.  Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated to the Emir of the country  that one does not have to “choose” between the Syrian dictatorship and Isis terrorism, but should oppose both.

The Kurdish News agency, Rudaw has stated,

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Turkish government has agreed to give Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces passage to the besieged Kurdish town of Kobane, a well-placed source told Rudaw today.

The official source said that Turkey has responded positively to a request from Kurdish President Massoud Barzani to allow Peshmerga forces pass through Turkish territory to relieve Peoples Protection Units (YPG) fighters in their battle against the Islamic State (IS).

According to the source who didn’t want to be named, Barzani and Peshmerga Minister Mustafa Sayid Qader have coordinated the plan with Salih Muslim, leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and his YPG commanders.

Muslim met with Barzani in Duhok last week where the two discussed the fighting in Kobane between the YPG and IS militants who have besieged the town for more than a month.

There are good reasons to be very cautious about this report on Turkey’s change of attitude.

But nobody can contest that the US action has taken place.

It may well not stem the offensive of the Isis genociders.

But is the StWC right to claim that this bombing will prove to be “counter-productive”.

I don’t think so.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

End Pakistan Blasphemy Laws: Free Asia Bibi!

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LAHORE, Pakistan — The Lahore High Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a Pakistani Christian woman in a high-profile blasphemy case and dismissed her appeal for acquittal.

The defendant, Asia Bibi, 47, a farmworker, was sentenced to death in 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy. She has denied the accusations, which she said stemmed from a dispute with Muslim co-workers.

Ms. Bibi now plans to appeal the decision in the country’s Supreme Court, said her lawyer, Naeem Shakir. But given huge backlogs at the court, analysts said it would probably be at least three years before the appeal would be taken up.

The ruling was the latest chapter in a long ordeal for Ms. Bibi, whose case has focused international attention on how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have become a weapon against religious minorities.

It was also a factor in the 2011 assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province who vociferously campaigned for Ms. Bibi’s release and for overhaul of the blasphemy codes. Religious conservatives were outraged by Mr. Taseer’s advocacy, and he was shot dead by his police security guard in Islamabad. Months later, his son Shahbaz Ali Taseer was kidnapped by Taliban militants and his whereabouts is still unknown.

Meanwhile, Ms. Bibi has languished in prison, and successive governments have been reluctant to touch the issue.

Death sentences have rarely been carried out in blasphemy cases, but that is in part because such allegations have frequently led to deadly vigilante attacks on the accused or their lawyers.

The Lahore courtroom was packed with clerics and members of extremist groups who supported the prosecution, and they erupted in celebration upon hearing the two-judge panel’s decision to dismiss Ms. Bibi’s appeal. “Let us celebrate by distributing sweets!” said one cleric who was reciting verses from the Quran throughout the almost two-and-a-half-hour court proceeding.

“I am very happy,” said Qari Salaam, a co-worker of Ms. Bibi’s and the main complainant in the case. “The judges have given a verdict on merit, and Asia deserved it.”

New York Times.

The ‘dispute’ arose  in this way,

In June 2009, Noreen was harvesting falsa berries with a group of other farmhands in a field in Sheikhupura. She was asked at one point to fetch water from a nearby well; she complied but stopped to take a drink with an old metal cup she had found lying next to the well. A neighbor of Noreen, who had been involved in a running feud with Noreen’s family about some property damage, saw her and angrily told her that it was forbidden for a Christian to drink the same water as a Muslim, and some of the other workers considered her to be unclean because she was a Christian. Some arguments ensued. Noreen recounts that when they made derogatory statements about her religion, she responded, “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” Wikipedia. 

Later, some of the workers complained to a cleric that Noreen insulted Muhammad. A mob came to her house, beating her and members of her family before she was rescued by the police.[4] The police initiated an investigation about her remarks, resulting in her arrest under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code.[3] She subsequently was imprisoned for over a year before being formally charged.[17]

Further information,

As reaction pours in from around the world to yesterday’s Lahore High Court ruling upholding the death sentence for Asia Bibi in her wrongful blasphemy suit, a Christian human rights watchdog group is calling on the Supreme Court of Pakistan to expedite a hearing in the case, and a London-based music band that is “disgusted” with the decision has launched a music video supporting the imprisoned mother of five children.

In an audible and visual show of its disgust at the high court decision, ooberfuse, an electronica band from Woolwich, London today released FREE, a music video crying out for an end to the persecution of non-Muslim religious minorities in Pakistan and around the world. They join a British Pakistani Christian Association protest this Saturday from 11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. at 10 Downing Street, the London residence of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

You can hear the radio play edit by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/k3zeg3g

Cherrie Anderson, frontwoman of the band, explained: “We have been calling out for Asia’s release ever since we translated Asia’s autobiography into English. Asia’s own words inspired our defiant anthem FREE. We will carry on our campaign until religious minorities around the world enjoy the freedoms people of all faiths and none enjoy here in the UK.”

ASSIST  news. Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

The London Free Thinker (October the 18th) reports on the protest.

London protest over blasphemy sentence.

Bibi has since released a memoir from prison called Blasphemy, detailing her ordeal:

I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.

I can no longer bear the sight of people full of hatred, applauding the killing of a poor farm worker. I no longer see them, but I still hear them, the crowd who gave the judge a standing ovation, saying: ‘Kill her, kill her! Allahu Akbar!’

Bibi’s case drew global criticism in 2011 when Pakistan’s minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and eastern Punjab governor Salman Taseer were killed for supporting her and opposing blasphemy laws. Taseer was killed in the capital Islamabad by one of his police guards after visiting Bibi in jail.

Bhati was killed months later by the Pakistani Taliban, who called him an “infidel Christian”.

Bibi has since released a memoir from prison called Blasphemy, detailing her ordeal.

I’m a prisoner because I used the same cup as those Muslim women, because water served by a Christian woman was regarded as unclean by my stupid fellow fruit-pickers.

Bibi’s lawyer Sardar Mushtaq said:

We have the right to appeal in 30 days, and we will continue this legal battle by approaching the Supreme Court of Pakistan. We have a strong case, and we will try our best to save her life.

Kate Allen, UK Director of Amnesty International, said:

This is the latest blasphemy outrage to come out of Pakistan. It seems obvious that this is a case of religious persecution, and it’s very likely the result of a squabble which escalated out of all proportion.

Blasphemy accusations in Pakistan are often used to settle petty vendettas and persecute minority groups. It’s a complete disgrace that the courts are complicit in these vendettas.

There has also been an alarming spate of killings of people who have spoken out against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Mohammad Asghar, a Scottish man, is also on death row in Pakistan after being sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asghar, 70, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was sentenced to death earlier this year after writing a series of letters claiming to be the “Prophet” Mohammed. Last month Asghar was shot and wounded by a police officer at the Rawalpindi prison where he is held.

 

Free, Free the Beloved Asia Bibi!

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

The Establishment. And how they get away with it. Owen Jones. A Socialist Review.

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The Establishment. And how they get away with it. Owen Jones. Allen Lane 2014.

Last Tuesday supporters of the Suffolk People’s Assembly and the PCS trade union lobbied Ipswich Conservative MP, Ben Gummer. Part of the TUC campaign “Britain Needs a Pay Rise” we were there to raise concerns from the decline in the real value of public sector pay, the growing cost of living, declining working conditions, to the attacks on those receiving welfare benefits. Gummer, after admitting that he had the privileged background (Cabinet Minister dad, public school and Cambridge in case you ask) understood our worries. He knew “where we were coming from”. But tight budgets and a squeeze on spending had been needed to deal with the legacy of the last government. Now the country was on the mend.

The Honourable Member ended by evoking his recent visit to a local school Academy. Its intake includes many of the less than privileged. Yet these students were rearing to compete on the global market. Equipping them to stand up their counterparts on the East, to give them “opportunity”, was, Ben’s words suggested, a task his government had begun in earnest.

Right in the first chapter of Owen Jones’ The Establishment, one comes across Gummer’s other constituency: the TaxPayers’ Alliance. Jones meets it founder, Matthew Elliot, who founded this “unashamedly populist” campaign for lower taxation. Inspired by the American hard-right Tea Party, its influence began before the 2008 Bankers’ crash. The Alliance now boasts that it got the Tories from saying they wanted to “match Labour’s spending plans to talk about spending cuts”. The ‘shock’ of crashing banks gave them a golden opportunity to go further and further.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance awarded Ipswich MP Ben its monthly  ‘pin up’ status a couple of years ago for his attempt to rename National Insurance a Tax. (1) This is not the only link. Jones signals their campaign to end Trade Union facility time. Mr Gummer – the members of the PCS present at the lobby were well aware – has very publicly pursued this demand locally.

Needless to say the socially and (genuinely) caring liberal Ben, can quickly turn into a ferocious tigress protecting her young when the interests of one group of taxpayers, finance, are at stake. It was not so long ago that he floated the idea of reviving the ‘business vote’, an extra ballot paper for companies (no doubt with an eye on Labour controlled Ipswich Borough Council).

Dig a little and what is the core of the up and coming Conservative’s politics? For Ben Gummer the City of London, which Jones describes as marked by a “reluctance to pay taxes and an acute hostility to any form of government intervention” (Page 241) is the foundation of UK prosperity. Above all he ducks the banks’ responsibility for the economic crisis, and the government’s deficit (critics might begin with the bank bail-out….), and loads it onto the ‘tax and spend’ policies of Blair and Brown.

It is not a long journey from The Establishment to Ipswich. The previous story is an illustration of how the author succeeds in showing “how they get away with it”. Activists on the left will find many similar echoes from their own experiences of contact with professional politicians (not just Conservatives and Liberals), and “movers and shakers” in the country.

Outriders.

As most reviewers, even if they might disagree with many of Jones’ views,  have said, The Establishment is a thoughtful and thorough exploration of the world of “powerful”, who “manage democracy”. This “oligarchy”, a self-selecting elite, as Ferdinand Mount has described it, it is one profoundly changed since the 1980s (The New Few or a Very British Oligarchy. 2012) To Jones it’s “politicians who make laws, media barons who set the terms of debate; business and financiers who run the economy; police forces that enforce a law which is rigged in favour of the powerful.” What ties them together is a belief in their own rightness that they are “worth” their positions.

In their ‘heroic age’, Thatcherites could consider themselves as radicals sweeping away the old system. Now the free-market consensus has taken on a life of its own. It’s an apparatuses, helped by ‘hired hands’ and driven by the undoubted profits of financial institutions and, increasingly, a revenue flow from the state into private owners of public assets.

It is striking that “outriders”, from the Tax-Payers’ Alliance, ‘free-market’ think tanks, still consider themselves to be living in this time when they had to fight off the remnants of the post-War settlement, beat down trade unions, and remove left-wing politics from the national life. The Daily Mail, Jones observes, still thinks it is battling away at a ‘Liberal’ Establishment.  Paul Staines (aka “Guido Fawkes”)  also on the hard right says of the the political class: “I hate the fucking thieving cunts.”

The first chapter of Jones’ book underlines the contrary. The hard-right have succeeded in defining ‘common sense’, from the media, much of the public, to the highest reaches of power. They have “shifted the terms of debate and softened up public opinion” with the willing collaboration of media outlets, the BBC at the forefront, which never loses an opportunity to provide them with a platform. “They have helped shift the goalposts of debate in Britain, making ideas that were once ludicrous, absurd and wacky, become the new common sense. In the terminology of right-wing political thinker, they have shifted the ‘Overton Window’.”(Page 44)

Overton, we learn, was the vice-president of a US right-wing think tank, the grandly titled Mackinac Center for Public Policy. His concern was to ‘shift’ what is reasonable, opening a new Window of opportunity. But for policies to be Policy the outriders, scouting out the way, have to find collaborators willing to work with them.

If The Establishment covers the ideological and economic conditions for the rise of the free-market ‘counter-revolution’ in the 1970s and 1980s it does not stop there. Blair and Brown were happy to go along with what the Conservatives, starting with Thatcher, had created. “The government of both Blair and Brown were instrumental in transforming Thatcherism into a permanent settlement.”(P 61)

Owen Jones is not afraid to confront the Labour Ministers who profited handsomely from this agreement on free-market foundations. Tony Blair, and his immediate followers, are probably the most notorious. But it’s the special merit of Establishment to focus on less well-remembered instances.

Former Secretary of State for Health, Patricia Hewitt ended up as a lobbyist for private health companies. Perhaps even more startling in this particularly area is the case of Paul Corrigan a one-time activist in the Communist Party of Great Britain, and sociology lecturer, who is now deeply involved, a leading figure,  in the NHS privatisation process itself (see Wikipedia). Corrigan is married to Labour Peer,  Hilary Armstrong and is a  Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Pride of place must go to David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and subsequently in charge of the DWP. Jones meets the man himself. Blunkett can never resist the opportunity to re-enact the Monty Python Three Yorkshiremen sketch. After talking of a life existing on “bread and dripping” the former Minster bushes away how he personally profited from the largesse of the notoriously incompetent A4E (amongst his many other well-rewarded private posts, from News International onwards). There is no interrogation of how A4E’s exploitation of state revenue only happened because of his own legislation. The MP proffers only this, “I’m not living a flash lifestyle, but I’m very comfortable.”(Page 76) Though not quite as comfortable as David Miliband, reported by Jones to have made a million in two and a half years after his failed Labour leadership bid in 2010.

This ‘revolving door’, by which former Cabinet Ministers end up being rewarded by companies their legislation has helped, works for politicians of all parties. If the Tories do badly next year, and when the Liberals are drubbed, we will see another crop. Jones remind us that 46 of the top fifty publicly ranked traded firms in the UK had a British parliamentarian as either a director or a shareholder.

The problem is not that politicians are especially venal as such – a pretty hollow claim given the opportunities for far easier money-making in other walks of life. It is that, as Jones says, “Mainstream politicians had been transformed by policies that once belonged to the dreams of the outriders. A mentality of greed had been promoted amongst the business elite, now this mentality had infected the political elite too. Politicians became unapologetic lobbyists for private interests both inside and outside Westminster.”(Page 83)

When one reads this it’s hard not to think of this, possibility, cited in Tomas Picketty’s influential Capital in the Twenty First Century. That some would “privatise all pubic assets. According to the national accounts of various European countries, the proceeds from selling all public buildings, schools, universities, hospitals, police stations, infrastructures, and so will be roughly sufficient to pay off all outstanding public debt. Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541 –2 Capital in the Twenty-first Century. 2014).

In many respect we are paying rent to private owners for an ever-growing number of ‘public’ services. What this means is that wealth is transferred from the majority to this minority through the mechanism of taxation and charges for indispensable common goods (health onwards). If Picketty is right about the tendency of modern Capital to favour the transformation of entrepreneurs into the holders of such claims (‘rentiers’) the free-market system may be encouraging its own cannibalism. One could also investigate the way these profiteers are directly shaping a whole range of public social policies, for the institutions they themselves run.

Democratic Revolution.

There are many other themes brought up in The Establishment, covering the media, the increasing harshness of Law and  the Police, and their use to suppress protests, the demonisation of the poor, and an array of illuminating sections on the Oligarchy’s inner courts, the City, and the Tax-dodging Tycoons and corporation. I was impressed by the grasp – not common amongst political writers – of the last decade’s coercive and shambolic changes in the Benefit system and the obstacles and misery these have created for millions of people.

But it is the political alternative to the present system that should provoke the most attention. Is the ‘elite’ at fault for the way it’s recruited? There is one area where this appears blatant: professional politics. Jones, following many others, observes is that MPs are increasingly drawn from a narrow stratum of society, often with no experience of anything other than politics, and even fewer from working class backgrounds. That this is an international phenomenon can be seen in an article in Le Monde yesterday (16.10.14). It notes that only 2,6% of French MPs come from manual or ordinary clerical occupations. But can this be changed by the kind of “equality of opportunity” that the free-market’s supporters promote?

But, as he points out, we should start by considering the corporate influence on law, from the UK to the European Union. Jones is not clear on how the EU should be approached. If it inspires unbridled hatred form one section of the Establishment, in the area of Britain’s sovereignty, another endorses it, precisely because it is remote from any democratic control. He concludes, not very confidently, that, “It is the Establishment that really reigns supreme.”(Page 294).

This sounds as if he would, or is edging towards abstention on any conflict – that is the Referendum – on UK membership. The loudest yelps for liberty come from those who wish to follow the worst aspects of US policy and politics, including its boss class of slave-drivers.  What other vehicle for ‘internationalist ‘ ambitions could be offered, other that is than a refounded and transformed Social European Union, remains to be seen.

For a democratic revolution we need democrats. The grip of the free-market outriders has, Jones, considers, to be challenged by bringing the “fragments” of opposition together. One thing that implies is that more solidly organised left-wing think tanks should be formed, and backing existing ones such as the New Economic Foundation and Class. More fundamentally The Establishment advocates public ownership. But perhaps we need the kind of public owners who can run them democratically. That is, the creation of a counterpart to the ideal of dedicated public servants of the past, educated with a feeling for the common good – and kept under control by open public mechanisms. “service users and workers”.

There are plenty of other policies to develop. Probably equally ambitious is the demand that along with clamping down on tax Avoidance we should “drive the power of Big Money from politics” (Page 311).

Will these and other proposals shift the ‘Overton Window’ “away from the Establishment” and “open up been more radical possibilities”? Change Owen concludes is “not won through the goodwill and generosity of those above, but though the struggle and sacrifice of those below.” In Le Monde Diplomatique (October 2014) Jones has written of the weakness of Ed Miliband’s alternative to the Right, and even UKIP. The French Socialist government and President Hollande, for all their initial rhetoric about challenging ‘finance’ never tried these policies, and is now drifting  ever rightwards. Will those prepared to go out on the streets to act now help turn the tide to the left, or at least stem the headlong plunge to the right? Are the embers of socialism about to be relit? 

The struggle of those people in Ipswich who lobbied Ben Gummer and all those who will be at Saturday’s TUC demonstration indicates some who are doing their best to do so……

Photo: Supporters of Suffolk Peoples Assembly and Ipswich Trades Council met with Ben Gummer MP on Tuesday, to support workers in the NHS and Civil Service who are striking for pay increases in a situation where public sector pay is falling in real terms.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>On Monday thousands of UNISON Members were on strike for better pay.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Nurses, ambulance drivers and paramedics were striking for the first time in over 30 years.  </p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The Royal College of Midwives organisation hasn’t struck before in its 132 year history, yet 82% of those balloted voted for strike action.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The Ipswich Star’s photogallery of UNISON members at Ipswich Hospital<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<a href=http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/hospital_strike_1_3803977?storyId=1.3803425</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>TUC Update on Monday’s action here:<br /><br /><br /><br />
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/striking-nhs-workers-deserve-our-support</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>Today the PCS are on strike and held a picket this morning in Ipswich.</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>As Ipswich PCS branch Secretary Harvey Crane told Ben Gummer, many of his members hadn’t had a pay increase in 6 years. This is in a situation where huge job losses to the Civil Service are being pushed through by the government.<br /><br /><br /><br />
Mr Gummer argued that deficit reduction was the government’s priority and blamed Labour for the financial crisis in 2008</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>All union members should try to get to London this Saturday, October 18th, for the TUC’s "Britain Needs a Pay Rise" demonstration.</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>There are still a few places left on the coaches, which can be booked through UNITE.<br /><br /><br /><br />
Contact: Janice.clarke6@unitetheunion.org?” width=”454″ height=”340″ />

Coatesy is in the doorway, still arguing. 

(1) Wikipedia. “Gummer first proposed annual tax statements to UK taxpayers, due for introduction in 2014. These will show shares of government spending in proportion to the amount of tax the taxpayer paid in the year. it was opposed by the Labour Party. Gummer’s proposal was favorably received by the press. He became The Suns Westminster “hero of the week” It was included in the 2012 Budget with George Osborne calling it “an excellent idea”. The TaxPayers’ Alliance subsequently honoured Gummer as their ‘Pin-Up of the Month‘. It also got the support of the Prime Minister.

Goldsmith’s Student Union Rejects “Eurocentric” motion to Commemorate European Genocides.

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As student supporters of the NUS decision not to back the Kurdish struggle against Islamist genociders claim that the motion to commit them would “outsource” NUS campaigning to “MI5 and MI6″ we get the following claim,

the bottom line is that Malia promised to, and has, rewritten the motion to fully condemn ISIS

Well, it’s a claim, but her supporters seem a lot, a real lot, more concerned to “defend” Malia than to anything to defend the Kurds.

Now, this crops up.

From The Tab (October the 15th).

student politicians have rejected a motion to commemorate the Holocaust – after claims it would be “eurocentric” and “colonialist”. 

A motion was proposed at the Goldsmiths Students’ Assembly yesterday to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and victims of genocide.

Education officer Sarah El-alfy urged students to vote against the proposal, rejecting it as “eurocentric”.

….

One student added: “The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember.”

Another suggested she couldn’t commemorate the Holocaust because she thought the Union was explicitly “anti-Zionist”.

One of the students present said the proposal should be voted against as it would affect the Union’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The unfortunately-named President Howard Littler said after: “Someone brought up Israel-Palestine out of the blue but I made a point of information and said I didn’t want to conflate the two.”

He later audaciously added that the whole thing is just “a storm in a teacup”.

This report should be treated with extreme caution but here is the  following.

The Tab asks. 

Would you vote for or against the motion? Read it in full and have your say

Motion for the Student Union to commemorate the victims of genocide, totalitarianism and racial hatred

The Student Union recognises the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred. It further recognises that commemorating the victims of genocide, racial hatred and totalitarianism, and promoting public awareness of these crimes against humanity, is essential to sustaining and defending democratic culture and civil society, especially in the face of a resurgence of neo-fascism, racial hatred and neo-Stalinism across Europe.

The Student Union shall organise commemorative events for students and members of the public on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January), on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23rd of August annually), on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act (4th Saturday in November, Annually) and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24th April annually).

The motion fell by one vote.

The report continues.

The SU have yet to release minutes as they agree on the contents for the next meeting on 18th November.

But those attending are encouraged to live-tweet the event using the hashtag “GSUAssembly”.

One student named T. Walpole, present at the Assembly, objected: “Our union is anti-Zionist.”

They added: “This is a colonialist motion. Vote it down.

“White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought.”

Now let’s disregard these (reported) morally cretinous comments.

The fact is that Holocaust Memorial day is not just about the Shoah,

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is the charity which promotes and supports Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). 27 January is the day for everyone to remember the millions of people killed in the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Holocaust Memorial Trust.

The trust does not include the Ukraine (Holodomor) or the Armenian genocide (Turkey).

Bu Goldsmith does not include, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

Or, something many consider a genocide,  by Pakistan and  its Islamist allies, Bangladesh in 1971.

In this light, and the complications that this could cause, and vagueness about ‘civil society’, the motion appears badly worded (Hat-tip Bob B).

But the issue of how to commemorate these mass killings, even by ‘white people’, and, by people of different political ideologies and faiths or none at all,  is obscured by something which cannot be wished away.

This is what the College’s “Education officer” tweeted,

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 12.47.38

She now comments (I checked on the Tweet), with no further explanation whatsoever,

Thanks for mass misinforming people and wrongfully framing such an important issue.
There is also the person who tweeted this,
Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 13.09.38

LGBTQ* Officer Cyd Thomlinson also said the motion was “time wasting” and called the proposer “a toddler throwing a tantrum”.

They boasted: “We did just collectively destroy his self esteem if that helps.”

Thomlinson also argued for the inclusion of the Transgender Day of Remembrance in the motion but did not propose an amendment for it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 15.08.00

Goldsmith’s SU has a lot of answering to do.

Updates:

More including some (evasive) ‘explanations’ from the union on the Huffington Post.

And  by the Students’ Union.

On Tuesday night a Motion was voted down by a majority at Goldsmiths Students’ Union’s Students Assembly – a democratic meeting in which all students are invited to discuss and vote on issues that are important to them.

Subsequently The Tab wrote a piece entitled ‘vile SU refuse to commemorate Holocaust [sic]’. It is worth noting at this point that the article was co-authored by the proposer of the original motion, both of whose motions were voted down at the Student Assembly.

Many baseless claims are made, however the central tenet is that the Students Assembly and the Students’ Union opposed remembering the victims of the Holocaust. This is an insulting misrepresentation. We have in the past commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day and will in the future.

A nuanced discussion about how best to effectively and collectively remember these events was had at Students Assembly. Re-drafting motions and re-entering them at a later date isn’t unusual in Students’ Unions and shouldn’t be misinterpreted as opposition. Sarah El-alfy, GSU Education officer, offered to help the proposer re-draft the motion and bring it to the next Student Assembly and this reflected the positivity in the room about the motion with the ambition to strengthen it further. A motion that includes remembering the Holocaust will be brought to the next Student Assembly in November. We feel these facts have been ignored in the subsequent reporting.

We will be writing to the Editor of The Tab in due course to seek correction of many of the factual inaccuracies in the report. Seperately, The Tab, in their article misgendered one of our students. We would like to ask for this to be corrected along with the rest of the article.

Signed

Goldsmiths SU executive team

Misgendering is the least of their problems.

What about the Tweets, starting with the one by  Sarah El-alfy?

 

SWP Calls for Left to Get “Act Together” as they channel Bel Littlejohn.

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SWP’s New Intellectual Guru. 

We are pleased to announce that the SWP has called for “unity” on the left, and for us to get our “act together”.

(Hat-tip D/O)

Latest Socialist Worker. 

No to austerity, no to racism: Unite to win.

The left outside the Labour Party has to get its act together.

We’re too fragmented and inward-looking.

We need socialists in every workplace and community and standing in elections, who argue and organise to target the rich, not scapegoat immigrants, Muslims, and people on benefits.

Millions of people are alienated from mainstream politics. But they not anti-political.

When up to 15,000 people gather in George Square in Glasgow for a Scottish independence rally last weekend, when 1,300 meet at a People’s Question Time in east London, when 2,000 listen to Naomi Klein on capitalism and climate change there is no shortage of interest in politics.

We need a stronger left to focus it.

The Socialist Workers Party is fighting for more resistance, against racism and war, for a stronger and more united left, and for a revolutionary alternative at the heart of every struggle.

Join us

What could be fairer than that?

As one of the SWP’s most prominent intellectual gurus, Bel Littlejohn would say, “right on!” “Let’s get our act together!.

The Swuppies remain the  lodestar of the zeitgeist 

Meanwhile this is all they say on the struggle of the beloved people of Kobane. 

Western allies kill Kurds

BRITAIN AND the US are supposed to be backing Kurds fighting Islamic State in Kobane in northern Syria.

But Turkey, a member of Nato and ally to the West, chose last Sunday to murder Kurds.

The Turkish government broke a 20-month ceasefire with the PKK Kurdish group that is fighting Islamic State in Kobane.

It launched bombing raids with F-16 jets against Kurdish bases.

The Turkish Hurriyet newspaper said air raids near the south eastern village of Daglica on Monday caused “heavy casualties”.

The newspapers Cumhuriyet and Milliyet also reported clashes on Monday between the PKK and Turkish troops in the Tunceli area of east-central Turkey.

These outrageous bombing raids and assaults follow brutal suppression of Kurdish protests in solidarity with Kobane.

At least 19 people have been killed by the Turkish state during such protests in the past week and it has introduced curfews.

 Yes, that’s all.

As International Solidarity with Kurds and Kobane Grows is Counterfire Splitting?

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Düsseldorf Kurden Demonstration Terror IS 11.10.2014

IS= Fascism. Arms to the PKK and YPG!

A word of introduction.

There is a great respect in the broad labour movement for Counterfire activists.

They have helped, indeed initiated, the People’s Assembly. They have acted with  selfless dedication to help create an important bloc of organisations that has brought together  people on the left, trade unionists, and campaigners. The People’s Assembly is effectively the only mass movement in the UK challenging austerity and acting for a wide range of left policies and causes.

In view of this, and (some might say) breaking with the habit of a lifetime, this is not a sectarian attack but expresses some genuine concerns.

Last Saturday John Rees, a leading member of Counterfire, spoke at the London Demonstration in support of Kobane.

This protest  was but one of the expressions of solidarity with Kobane that have been sweeping the world, from Turkey and  Europe to Australia (the comrades at Shiraz signal how a local group can help).

Rees noted the manoeuvres of the regional powers, the unhelpful impact of the US-led intervention, and,.above all,t eh disgraceful stand of Turkey – sitting and watching as the beloved people of Kobane face the genociders of Isis.

Rees stated, very clearly “arm the Kurds!” (1)

As if to back this declaration up Counterfire  published (October the 9th) this declaration by the Kurdish-Turkish Day-Mer centre,

Nato member Turkey is effectively allowing Isis to destroy the Kurdish city of Kobane. This press release by Turkish Kurdish organisation Day-Mer, calls for international solidarity and for Turkey to allow Kurdish heavy weapons through to defend the city

On the same site,  pointedly marked “Opinion” we had this, from  Lindsey German and Robin Beste (October the 12th), Ten reasons to oppose military intervention in Iraq and Syria. It concentrates on the reasons for the conflicts, blamed entirely on the ‘West’. Terrorism is apparently, the “product of the west’s disastrous foreign policies, endless wars and backing of barbaric regimes in the Middle East There is only one section dealing specifically with the Kurds . It reads.

The issue of the Kurds is central to countering Isis expansion in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are close allies of the west, but there is a very different attitude to the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The PKK, which has been struggling for Kurdish self-determination for decades, is still listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. This is despite the PKK and its allies being prominent in the battle against Isis. Turkey has oppressed the Kurds for many years and will not help those in Kobane, now under imminent threat of seizue by Isis. Turkey could open its border to the Kurds, but refuses to do so, in contrast with its support for Isis in the past. Instead the Turkish parliament has voted to create a ‘buffer zone’ at the Syrian border which will involve the disarming of the Kurds.

Bombing (again no mention of US strikes near Kobane) will be “counter-productive” and not help anybody.

Their only practical demand is that,

Iraq and Syria should be flooded with humanitarian aid, particularly for the millions of refugees who have been fleeing the wars. The refugees should receive the aid and support they need, and not be treated as potential terrorists within Europe.

So, we are left in no doubt that some Kurds are “close allies of the West (bad), the PKK (good? it’s not explicitly said, ) and Kobane are threatened by Isis.

What the defenders of Kobane (and other Kurdish areas) should do (providing that is they are not “allies” of the West is left hanging in the air.

As are the Kurds facing the genociders of Isis.

It would seem that one part of Counterfire backs arming the Kurds and the other does not. 

Meanwhile German’s isolated Stop the War Coalition has published a disgraceful  morally corrupt article by a certain, Musa al-Gharbi.

One of its sections reads,

Finally, many Westerners have been horrified by ISIS’s persecution of religious minorities (especially crimes against Christians). However, the United States is complicit in this as well: US policies in Iraq helped spark this cycle of sectarian violence.

Meanwhile, its own armed forces were indoctrinated with anti-Muslim propaganda- complete with recommendations for servicemen to resort to “Hiroshima tactics,” in a “total war against Islam,” in which protections for civilians were “no longer relevant.”

Reflective of this mentality, the armed forces have been heavily infiltrated by white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups who believe and act as though they are engaged in a holy war to begin in the Middle East and then be carried back into America.

This institutionalized misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims probably played a significant role in the aforementioned atrocities.

Musa al-Gharbi tries to deflect blame from those culpable of gencodical crimes by whataboutery.

His specious rhetoric about ” misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims” is not accompanied by any concern for the fate of the directly dehumanised Kurds.

Al-Gharbi  is silent – there is no “Authentic Outrage” from this special pleader about the need for armed help for the beloved people of Kobane.

Well, he would be quiet, wouldn’t he? 

 (1) He also , hat-tip GH, “totally bizarrely called for Hamas, Venezuela, the ANC/SA, to arm the Kurds .. as if that could possibly happen!” But we let this pass.

Nick Cohen on Islamist Fascism.

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Islamist Fascism?

“It has been a mistake on the part of socialists to see Islamist movements either as automatically reactionary and “fascist” or as automatically “anti imperialist” and “progressive”. Radical Islamism, with its project of reconstituting society on the model established by Mohammed in 7th century Arabia, is, in fact, a “utopia” emanating from an impoverished section of the new middle class. As with any “petty bourgeois utopia”, its supporters are, in practice, faced with a choice between heroic but futile attempts to impose it in opposition to those who run existing society, or compromising with them, providing an ideological veneer to continuing oppression and exploitation.

It is this which leads inevitably to splits between a radical, terrorist wing of Islamism on the one hand, and a reformist wing on the others. It is also this which leads some of the radicals to switch from using arms to try to bring about a society without “oppressors” to using them to impose “Islamic” forms of behaviour on individuals.”

“On some issues we will find ourselves on the same side as the Islamists against imperialism and the state. This was true, for instance, in many countries during the second Gulf War. It should be true in countries like France or Britain when it comes to combating racism. Where the Islamists are in opposition, our rule should be, “with the Islamists sometimes, with the state never”.

Chris Harman (SWP) The Prophet and the Proletariat. 1994. As John Rees (former SWP) from Counterfire and the Stop the War Coalition spoke in support for arming the Kurds at a demonstration for Kobane on Saturday a Kurd stood on his left hand side.

The Kurdish comrade was carrying a placard that read, “Kurds are heroes of fight against Islamist Fascism“.

Nick Cohen is spot on when he commented in his Observer column this Sunday that “Without knowing or caring, Kurds protesting against the world’s willingness to let Kobani fall to Islamic State have inflamed two acute causes of western discomfort. They had no hesitation in describing radical Islam as “fascism” and seeing Kobani as our generation’s Guernica.”

I personally am reminded of the first time I came face to face with Islamist reaction, in 1983, at the annual May Day Demonstration in Paris.

Iranians are all too aware that their Islamic regime has May the First as a holiday as well, one of those “progressive” gestures that seduced, for a time, their own and Europe’s left.

On this occasion a group of die-hard Khomeini supporters, knotted in a tight bunch and carrying posters of the Guide of the Revolution,  tried to join the trade union march.

Almost instantly a mixed bunch of Iranian exiles, French leftists, Turkish and Kurdish left-wingers, stood in front of them.

As I joined we shouted “le fascisme ne passera pas!”  Fascism will not pass!

The Khomeinists were pelted with bottles, stones and (in my case) a beer can. The followers of the Imman’s Line backed off, and then returned throwing tear gas directly in our faces. As the police began to intervene they disappeared. A report in Libération the following day asserted that the Islamists had been caught by the police assembling some heavier weaponry. The blood-stained tyranny that Khomeini and his followers  built was vastly more important in turning many European leftists against Islamism ,

Amongst many other events (above all the Algerian civil war of 1990s) this profoundly marked my own attitude towards Islamism. In Algeria the Islamists began – well before the cancellation of elections in 1991 which the Front Islamique du Salut was predicted to win and which let loose the decade’s fighting between a vicious military and murderous armed Islamists  – to target leftists, feminists, intellectuals and democrats. They murdered and tortured throughout that war. They have not stopped trying since.

Since then most leftists, certainly in continental Europe, have has a visceral hostility to Islamism, certainly those who’ve had contact with the tens of thousands of exiles from countries where it’s had an impact  – Chris Harman, the SWP, their splinters,  and the British Respect Party excepted.

The idea of standing on the “same side” has been ridiculous for a long-long time, well before Al Qu’eada – not to mention the rise of Isis/Islamic state and its international supporters   (in Algeria) of Soldats du califat (Jound al-Khilafa).

With this in mind, like many of my fellow leftists I have followed the tragedy in Kobane closely. Not just because it’s a tragedy – that counts enormously – but because we are politically implicated.

Cohen writes, “Flow in waves to Kobani,” demonstrators chanted as they mounted vain protests against Turkish inaction that amounts to collaboration. “Stop Isis fascism.”

This deeply echoes in our hearts. With even John Rees on board he is right to mention that, “there are heartening stirrings of camaraderie on the European left. Cohen observes that the plight of the Kurds and others attacked by Isis/Islamic State, raises broader issues,

To me, it seems obvious that militant religion is a radical reactionary force. In whatever form it comes, it grinds down on women’s rights and denies the basic freedoms of liberal society. It is equally clear that its Islamist variant relies to an extraordinary degree on fascist Europe’s Jewish conspiracy theories. If you doubt me, look at the declaration in Hamas’s founding covenants that Jews “were behind the French Revolution [and] the communist revolution”. It might have come from Hitler. (Although even Adolf would have hesitated to repeat Hamas’s claim that Jews also created “the Rotary Clubs [and] the Lions” to achieve “Zionist interests”.)

Radical Islam, like fascism before it, wallows in the cult of death: “Death to intelligence! Long live death!” cried Franco’s general José Millán Astray in 1936. “We love death more than you love life,” cry today’s Islamists fighters. There is the same support from the financiers and businessmen, from what we old leftists used to call the capitalist bourgeoisie, and the same shared belief that women can never aspire to be anything other than dutiful wives.

In one respect, radical Islam trumps the fascists and, indeed, the communists. The old totalitarianisms could promise their followers that death would lead only to the greater glory of the Fatherland or the inevitable triumph of the working class. An Islamist can tell his willing executioners that death will not only further Islam’s global triumph but take the martyr to paradise too.

Why do people in Europe, at least on the left,  not describe these groups as ‘fascist’? Cohen suggests two reasons.

Firstly, “Many liberals fear that condemning radical Islam in clear leftwing language will allow the white far right to paint all Muslims as extremists.”

Secondly, that Islamism had no state so it can hardly be a ‘real’ fascist movement. He notes, that this no longer holds: The ‘Caliphate’ has been declared, “the Islamic State, with its own supreme caliph, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and all the modern weaponry the Iraqi army left behind when it fled.”

The first argument is really an argument at all, but a description of the way some liberal-minded people find it hard to be ‘judgemental’ about anything, above all about different ‘cultures’.

It’s the second point that’s the principal one.

It may well be that to analyse Islamism in terms of classical fascism is not always helpful.

As political concepts ‘fascism’ or ‘Nazism’ (terms the European left has had no problem in using loosely for the domestic far-right, as the name Anti-Nazi League and Unite Against Fascism indicate) are only ‘ideal types’. That is, lists of very broad features. Features such as a dictatorship  based on ultra-nationalism, ‘total’ control, repression of dissent, and the imposition of ‘class harmony’, and genocidal  racism, are just that ‘features’ not structures that get stamped into history that pop up in the same form whenever there is a social crisis. All of these elements shift and change.

Some theorists have suggested that the way the radical right can take up ‘left’ radical themes, the “popular”, even “democratic” side of the ideology, is key (Laclau, Ernesto. 1977. Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory: Capitalism, Fascism, Populism). One can see this in the way radical right-wing ‘anti-system’ parties attack  ‘rotten’ and ‘elite’  Parliamentary institutions today,  in the name of the People. Populist ‘Anti-imperialism’ also had its 1930s parallel in the far-right’s hatred of the ‘plutocratic’ nations (the US and the UK), controlled by the Jews.

Such a ‘democratic’ element – in the sense of ‘popular’, appealing to the “people”, even if it’s only to follow the Leader, is not always present.  The NSPD’s ‘race’ doctrine, many be grounded on the Volk, but other far-right groups, notably the ‘first’ fascist movement, Action Française, agitated before the First World War against the ‘Jacobin’ idea of the People and advocated a restored French Monarchy freed from the ‘anti-France of Jews, Freemasons, socialists and Protestants.

So fascist ideas are fluid – we might consider how people tried to gauge them when they first appeared, before Mussolini and Hitler, not to mention other authoritarian regimes in 1930s Europe. Perhaps only hostility to Marxism, or rather ‘class struggle’ (which divides the ‘nation’), the left-wing labour movement are constant (European) themes. A deeper link to the ‘anti-Enlightenment’ and hatred of the doctrine of human rights is possibly another.

Comparisons with Islamism tend to halt at the point where Harman begins: the Quranic ‘utopian ideal“. Comparisons only go so far: if the Islamists loath the Enlightenment it’s because  it brings the secular world forward, and gives humans, not god (and the ‘Book’ he apparently dictated), rights – a more diffuse reaction than the European far-right’s fight against the Left.

A, book, and speech bound, ideology, a religion, can be infused with a vast variety of visions. Time, class, culture, and individuals inflect it, or rather them - Islamisms. The political result however is fairly clear: a striving for a state, a regime, a power to bring it about. This, for all its various forms, tends towards “monocratic, authoritarian” and “enforced”  rule (as Michael Mann has described Islamism). This is only a tendency, as Turkey’s Islamists only drift towards this, and retain a strong democratic, if populist and Turkish nationalist, and increasingly corrupt,  authoritarian  element.

Yet, as Mann indicated, when it comes to the radicals,  Islamists are not nationalists. They do not adopt extreme blood and soil nationalism (although there are racist strains in their belief in the superiority of Arabic and the ‘original’ Muslims, underlined by the belief in the importance of descent from the Prophet and his companions).The state exists for them for a purpose, to impose and regulate the Sharia which is for ‘everybody’. Ideally Islam would embrace the world, not just a country. (Fascists. Michael Mann 2004)

There are other important differences.

Today’s radical Islamism is clearly not the product of a political crisis in which the bourgeoisie tries to head of a militant labour movement (one classical way of looking at fascism). Some claim that it is the ‘product’ of the failure of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism. This fails to explain its growth in countries like Nigeria or Indonesia, or indeed Pakistan. What then is it? Nobody has a definitive answer and this is certainly not one.

Harman was suggestive when he talked of Islamism as a ““utopia” emanating from an impoverished section of the new middle class” – except that,as Cohen notes,  many of the backers of Isis/Islamic State are extremely wealthy.

From this pious bourgeoisie to an Islamic state we have to go through some important stages. ‘Islamic Behaviour’ – Harman’s words – is not so much a slogan as the key to an Islamist “transitional programme“. Radical Islamism (a continuum with other forms of political Islam) has the following features – worked through with the class and political aspects already mentioned.

  • The importance of the Sharia as the basis for ‘micro-powers’ (the equivalent of leftist ‘liberated territory’) Islamists have begun (Algeria is the paradigm, repeated in many countries, such as Egypt, recently efforts were made to create  this in Tunisia) by imposing their ‘law’ on areas where they establish their initial control. Sharia  ‘patrols’ treated as relatively harmless in London, are set up to impose Islamic norms on public life (no alcohol. women forced to war ‘modest’ dress, ‘unclean’ behaviour repressed). From small groups of the ‘pure’ (Salafists) to radicalised Mosques as centres of this ‘power’, we then turn towards creating a ‘mini-state’.
  • The Sharia state: some Islamist movements (as in Somalia, Al-Shabaab – Islamic Courts Union) centre their strategy on this ‘law’.
  • All forms of Sharia law are discriminatory and barely  merit the term ‘law’ in the modern sense: there is no equality before the Sharia, no equal rights for women or for non-Muslims.
  • This legal-political apparatus can be best be looked at in terms of the coercive categories Michael Foucault described in Discipline and Punish and Nietzsche’s history of the violent ‘training’ of people to accept legal norms in The Genealogy of Morals.
  • Radical Islamist  ‘morality’ has exceptional importance in that it is potentially more intimately imposed than even the most brutal of previous totalitarianisms; it is intended to regulate not just the heart by every single human gesture (for a comparison amongst orthopraxic religions, the  list of taboos followed by ultra-orthodox Jews, that are purely intended for believers, is about the nearest example).
  • Radical Islamism, whether Shia or Sunnite, has shown itself to be radically sectarian: always splitting internally, and only uniting against other Muslims tendencies (Shia and Sunnite).
  • It is only ‘anti-imperialist’ in the sense that it is ‘anti’ any movement but its own.
  • It becomes genocidal when these norms are imposed on those who refuse to accept them, for religious, anti-religious, or national reasons.

One conclusion is clear: these movements are not and can never be the allies of the left against anybody. Cohen rightly sounds, nevertheless, a note of caution,

If you live in Iraqi Kurdistan, the fine distinctions between fascist state-based totalitarianism and religious totalitarianism have vanished. All you know is that for decades, mass murderers have marched towards your homeland wanting to slaughter you because you are from the wrong race or worship your god in the wrong way.

Quite.

As Protests to Back Kurds Grow National Union of Students Stands Aside.

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Solidarity with the Kurds – Not in our Name Says NUS.

Saturday sees another day of demonstrations in support of Kurdish resistance forces in the Syrian town of Kobane.

The protest at 2pm on Parliament Square follow a week of demonstrations across London.

The campaigners have already visited the square this week with action on Wednesday shutting down Westminster Bridge as well as causing issues around Parliament Square and Downing Street.

Campaigners have been seen throughout the city this week, bringing Oxford Circus and Angel tube stations and the Eurostar terminal in St. Pancras to a standstill.

Alexia Akkaya, a mother and blogger from west London, said she wanted to “scream and shout” in frustration at the situation in Kobane. She explained her reasons for marching: “I cannot sit back and watch the slaughter of innocent people. I am angry at the apparent lack of empathy by the Turkish government and the hushed British MPs and other influential people who had so much to say about other conflicts. I am not Kurdish but as a compassionate and loving human being and it is my duty to stand up in solidarity with the brave resistance in Kobane.”

London24 

Cover Photo

One group which has decided to “sit back and watch the slaughter” is the National Union of Students (NUS).

A move to get the students’ organisation (600 student unions) to back  the brave Kurdish resistance against the Isis/Islamic State genociders was dismissed this week as “Islamophobic”.

This is the motion presented to the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) which fell. (here.)

Iraqi/Kurdish solidarity

Proposed: Daniel Cooper
Seconded: Shreya Paudel, Clifford Fleming

NUS NEC notes

1. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq
– which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred.

NUS NEC believes

1. That the people of Iraq have suffered for years under the sectarian
and brutally repressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US/UK
invasion and occupation, the current sectarian regime linked to both
the US and Iran, and now the barbaric repression of the “Islamic
State” organisation.

2. That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as
weapons against women in IS-occupied areas, while minorities are being
ethnically cleansed.

 

NUS NEC resolves

1. To work with the International Students’ Campaign to support Iraqi,
Syrian and other international students in the UK affected by this
situation.

2. To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular
support the hard-pressed student, workers’ and women’s organisations
against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.

3. To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight
for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the
Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.

4. To condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against
it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military
intervention.

5. Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding the IS or
supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.

6. To make contact with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and
in the UK, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.

7. To issue a statement on the above basis.

A report on the meeting by Daniel Lemberger Cooper  comments,

“The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.”

Now observers may put part of this down to sectarian dislike of the movers of the motion, NUS internal politics, and simple snideness.

But this outweighs such a reaction:

The infamous Tweet:

It is hard to imagine, except with disgust, what “alternative narrative” to the “Western, racist” one that Aaron Kiely would spin about Isis.

We note, while passing on, that Kiely is “close” to the ex-Trotskyist sect, Socialist Action.

On the charge of ‘racism’ Cooper  remarks,

“The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).Pro-intervention?”

This is what Malia Bouattia (who seems to be involved with something called, perhaps misleadingly, the ‘broad left’)  said after helping get the NUS to back the Palestinian cause,

‘So the struggle continues, but this victory alongside the global sea change of public opinion gives us new hope. The Black Students Campaign remains committed. We will continue to protest, march, boycott and campaign. And we will not stop until the rights of Palestinians are restored and Palestine is free.’ (from here)

Obviously freedom is not something the Kurds also deserve – unless it’s freedom from solidarity.

As the Kurds (increasingly joined by other supporters, including many of the left) gather, the NUS has decided to stand aside as  Islamist genociders threaten the beloved people of Kobane.

 

 In years to come the majority of the NUS executive, and particularly  Malia Bouattia and Aaron Keily, will be able to say, “Solidarity with the Kurds? Not in  our name!”

Danish Left MP’s Collect Money for Defenders of Kobane as World Left Moves to Back Kurds.

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“If there is a parallel today to Franco’s superficially devout, murderous Falangists, who would it be but Isis? If there is a parallel to the Mujeres Libres of Spain, who could it be but the courageous women defending the barricades in Kobane? Is the world – and this time most scandalously of all, the international left – really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?

 Guardian 8th October.

“…any genuine and unfeigned demand that imperialist states “arm the Kurds” arises chiefly because of our weakness and incoherence.  Those raising it hope to at least verbally short-cut through the mountain of work and struggle that is necessary to get to a stage where we are relevant to such situations.  And this is the problem.  The British Left has always tended to assume that what it says and does about what should happen Over There is of tremendous significance.  Those former leftists who rallied behind Bush’s ‘war on terror’, on the assumption that it was their war fought in their interests, stood in this tradition.  This is a kind of chauvinism, an ideological artefact of imperialism.  In this situation, the role of a small, divided and weak Left is pedagogy.  The role of any slogan should be to stake out the discursive space in which a leftist, anti-imperialist analysis can be popularised – not just now but ongoingly.  The slogan, “arm the Kurds” is an own-goal.”

Connard of the Day. Richard Seymour. Arm the Kurds. 8th October.

Update, 

“If someone denies that they have the right to take arms from whomever, I will argue against them. And since they are asking for weapons, I can tell you I have no problem with this at all. But otherwise I’m very reluctant to put myself in a position of determining the rights and wrongs of the Kurds’ war against ISIS.

Richard Seymour. Lenin’s Tomb.

This is the response of the left:

The RGA against Danish fighter jets in Iraq

Thursday 9 October 2014, by Michael Voss

International Viewpoint.

On 1 October, the Danish parliament approved with a huge majority to send F16 fighter jets to Iraq to participate in the US-led bombing campaign against ISIL. Only the Red Green Alliance and one unaffiliated MP voted against Instead the RGA tabled a proposal that Denmark help to supply weapons and humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Kurdish/multi-ethnic areas in Northern Syria. A few days later the RGA itself started collecting money for weapons to the Kurds.

During the debate in Parliament, Nikolaj Villumsen, MP for the RGA said:

The government is proposing a bombing campaign that may last more than a year according to the prime minister. These bombings may very well lead to a strengthening of ISIL and of creating even more chaos. When civilians are killed and foreign military again is bombing Iraq, it may increase the recruitment of ISIL. Many hidden agendas are involved in this alliance that the government want Denmark to join. It is a 100 percent certain that Saudi Arabia and the Golf states do not want democracy in Iraq. Likewise, Turkey does not want Kurdish self-government anywhere inside or outside Turkish borders. I fear that Denmark just will be tail-ending the interests of big powers in the region.

“What we ought to have learned from the previous wars that Denmark participated in, is that we should rather support those local forces on the ground that fight for democracy and human rights. That is why the RGA proposes direct support for the Kurdish militias in Syria. They have defended themselves against Assad and ISIL for three years. But now ISIL have conquered heavy American produced weapons from the Iraqi army in Mosul, and they are launching an offensive against the Kurdish territory around the city of Kobane. The Kurds have real problems in resisting them.

“Turkey is a close ally of Denmark in NATO, and they are closing their borders for arms supplies to the Kurds, while they for years have accepted ISIL-soldiers to pass this border. Official Danish policy towards the Kurds is defined by the government in Ankara. Right now the victims are the people living in the Kurdish areas in Syria. Here, Kurds, Arabs and Christians need our support. We want Denmark to supply weapons to the secular Kurdish forces to make the able to defend themselves against ISIL – plus humanitarian aid so that the civilians can survive.

Of course, the proposal for arms to the Kurds was defeated with only the RGA voting for. Two days later, on 3 October, at a press conference the RGA handed over 40,000 DK (5,500 €) to Saleh Muslim, a representative of PYD, the party of Kurds in Syria that works closely together with the PKK of the Kurds in Turkey. The money is earmarked for weapons.

At the press conference, Nikolaj Villumsen said:

“Since the offensive of the jihadists against Kurdish areas in Syria began, we have tried to convince the government and the other parties to supply the Kurdish defence forces with weapons and humanitarian aid, with no effect at all. Now, ISIL is just outside Kobane, and 400.000 civilians are in danger.

That is why we have collected this amount of money among the local branches of the RGA at only a few days’ notice. It is only a symbolic amount, but we will continue collecting money. We call on all democratic and progressive forces in Europe and the rest of the word to support the fight against ISIL.”

Since then the RGA has repeated its call to the government for arms to be supplied to the Kurds several times and used all parliamentarian options for raising the question. As of 8 October the only result has been that the Socialist People’s Party (SF) now also supports the proposal.

This is what the comrades are rallying across the world to defend.

The most recent pictures of thousands of refugees fleeing from heavy attacks of ISIS and making their way from Syria across the border to Turkey, come from the area of Kobani – one of three cantons of the self- proclaimed Autonomy Region Rojava in Northern Syria.

Rojava-mapThis region –  which consists of three geographically disconnected enclaves along the Turkish border – strategically used the deteriorating situation to declare self-rule in July 2012 and has since been celebrated as the “Rojava Revolution”  within the Kurdish Movement associated around the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The population of Rojava, which has long been a stronghold of the PKK, is predominantly made up of Kurds – both Muslim and Yezidi[1] – as well as Arabs, Christian Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmen and Chechens. The desire for some form of self-determination especially among the Kurds was triggered through decades of denial of basic citizenship rights under the Assad-regime.

This quiet revolution is, however, not a question of independence. It is not the founding of yet another nation-state. Deliberately declaring itself an autonomy region instead of a state, derived from the critique of existing nation-states with their homogenising and exclusionary principals of citizenship, centralism of government and non-democratic structures under which the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria have suffered on the one hand and the strategies of classic national liberation movements on the other. This critique along with an alternative model of “democratic autonomy” was brought forward by the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, and replaced the earlier struggle for independence. The concept of democratic autonomy is envisaged along the lines of libertarian thinker Murray Bookchin as a decentralised, radical democracy within or despite the given nation-states which abides by principals of equality between genders, religious- and ethnic affiliations as well as ecology[2]. In this sense, the PKK and its affiliated organisation PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Syria are promoting this model, whose fundamental principal is to achieve a unity of all different faiths and ethnic groups without assimilating them, for the whole of the Middle East.

Solidarity with the Beloved People of Kobane!

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View image on Twitter

Support our Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Kobane! (ShenGal ROJAVA)

Kurdish protesters clashed with police in Turkey leaving at least 14 people dead and scores injured Tuesday as demonstrators in Brussels forced their way into the European Parliament, part of Europe-wide demonstrations against the Islamic State group’s advance on a town on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Turkey’s private Dogan news agency reported 8 dead in the eastern city of Diyarbakir and that the other victims died in cities in the east as police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters who burned cars and damaged businesses.

The activists are demanding more help for the besieged Kurdish forces struggling to hold onto the Syrian town of Kobani. Some European countries are arming the Kurds, and the American-led coalition is carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic extremists, but protesters say it isn’t enough.

A demonstrator in Cyprus urged the coalition to “hit the jihadists harder” so that Kurdish forces can hold the town.

Tensions are especially high in Turkey, where Kurds have fought a 3-decade-long battle for autonomy and where Syria’s violence has taken an especially heavy toll.

Protests were reported in cities across Turkey on Tuesday, after Islamic State fighters backed by tanks and artillery engaged in heavy street battles with the town’s Kurdish defenders.

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators in Istanbul and in the desert town of Kucuk Kenderciler, near Kobani on the Turkish side of the border. One person in Istanbul was hospitalized after being hit in the head by a gas canister, Dogan reported.

Some protesters shouted “Murderer ISIS!” and accused Turkey’s government of collaborating with the Islamic militants.

ABC

Protesters have returned to the streets of London as they rally in solidarity with Syrian Kurds in Kobani, the town Islamic State militants threaten to seize next. Earlier on Monday activists occupied one of the busiest Tube stations.

Hundreds of people march through London carrying banners which read: “Turkey stop supporting ISIS” and “Support Kurds resisting ISIS harassment in Kobani”.

Other banners call to “unite against ISIS”.

View image on Twitter

RT

Armed police patrol at Heathrow Airport as Kurds protest against Isis

A terminal at Heathrow Airport has been occupied by Kurdish and Turkish anti-Islamic State protesters.

The campaigners have blocked ticket barriers in terminal two of the airport and have been occupying the airport since 12pm today.

A group of about 50 demonstrators are holding banners reading ‘Stop fascist attacks in Kurdistan’ and ‘Kobane’, following news the Islamic State flag was seen on the border of Turkey and Syria.

No flights have been affected and passengers are able to travel as normal through the airport.

A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said: “We were called at 11.55am to reports of a demonstration at Heathrow Airport.

“Officers are at the scene and an appropriate policing plan is in place.”

A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport said: “There is currently a peaceful protest taking place in Terminal 2 in the departures area. Heathrow supports the right for peaceful protest. There is no impact on operations and passengers can travel as normal through the airport.”

Passenger Adam Tuckwell said: “The protesters are in good voice but all seems peaceful.”
The same group of pro-Kurdish campaigners blockaded Oxford Circus tube station yesterday afternoon.

Transport for London were forced to evacuate the station for an hour as the demonstration blocked passengers passing ticket barriers.

Evening Standard.

I may be wrong but I do not see a single Stop the War Coalition (StWC) poster in photos of the UK protests, or any sign of support for the Kurdish struggle against Isis on their Web site.

Perhaps this sheds some light on the thinking behind their failure to stand up when you need to be counted.

Counterfire (whose leadership has great influence in running the StWC)  carried an article (October 5th) stating.

The US-led bombing of Iraq and Syria will not save the Kurds. Western policy, its military and its arms are not there to save the Kurds.

Socialist Worker has wheeled out its tired old response to the tragedies now unfolding in Syria and Iraq,

The West wants to portray itself as supporting oppressed minorities such as the Yazidis or the Kurds.

But they will never support real struggles for self-determination. They just want to give a progressive gloss to the pursuit of their own imperialist interests

Islamic State grew out of the conditions created by the West’s last war on Iraq. We must go all out to build a campaign to stop their new war.

In other words (and we cannot find anything to suggest the contrary) these groups will do precisely nothing to back the Kurds.

We can confidently predict that these groups are waiting for Kobane to fall.

Then they can  crow that it was all “imperialism’s fault”. 

This is a more productive way to look at the Kurdish fight, (Four Things the Left Should Learn from Kobane).

The article begins, perhaps, misleadingly, with some doubtful claims.

That is, to criticise those who’ve recoiled in horror at the cruelty of the Islamic State/Isis..

There are very good reasons why the ‘West’ and lots of others, have a “fixation” with the Isis/Islamic state. They have created a mobile totalitarian genocidal regime. They deserve to be looked at and analysed in their own right.They have a strong basis in the history of modern Islamism, for all their  “deviance” from the main trends and their origins in very specific chaos, the Syrian Civil War and Iraqi sectarian religious politics,

As a “discipline and punish” tyranny people  how could anybody not be horrified? 

The assertion that this is a simple “pretext” for Western intervention is therefore misleading. Not because it’s wrong to think that this is how the policy may have been decided on. But because it distracts us from looking clearly at what the jihadists have created.

So saying “..it is becoming increasingly clear that ISIS is little more than a pretext for NATO to pursue other geopolitical aims – namely removing Assad and destroying Kurdish autonomy.” diverts attention from this – the most important aspect of  Islamic State/Isis: it is a mass murdering machine.

As we have indicated, the tyranny exists on its own basis, regardless of the geopolitics of the region. That, at any rate, is the way the Tendance would look at Islamic State/Isis.

But having said this,  this, the rest of this thought-provoking post is a valuable reminder of the best way of looking at the present, Kurdish, issue.

Listen to Kurdish Voices

The Western left often suffers from a debilitating and orientalist tendency to overstate the agency of the US and relegate communities and societies affected by intervention to passive actors, not worthy of considered analysis. Indeed, it is striking the number of anti-imperialist commentaries that rely less on the experiences and dynamics of Kurdish communities and more on rehashed critiques of the logic of Great Power predation. On the one hand, this can cause the left to duplicate caricatures of ‘ugly sectarianism’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ in ways that don’t seem too far off the arguments of Cameron and Obama (for some useful correctives see here and here).

On the other hand, it offers little consideration of the voices of Kurdish communities under attack since their intentions and actions simply don’t matter to opposing ‘imperialism at home’. The resultant politics can often be deleterious. We might wonder, for example, what the people of Kobanê would make of calls for ‘peaceful alternatives’ to war. This is especially important, since in Western Kurdistan (Northern Syria) Kurds are defending what is arguably the best hope for left politics in the region. Even the most cursory glance at the constitutional make-up and political achievements of Kurdish cantons would put most Western organisations to shame. Yet this week, while hunger strike sand solidarity demonstrations from Kurdish people were taking place in the UK and beyond, anti-war groups organised an entirely separate and potentially conflicting protest. The sooner the Western left abandons its penchant for reducing class to geopolitics, the sooner it can offer authentic solidarity to groups and communities that deserve and need it.

The PYD/PYD deserves a great, a really great, amount of respect for its actions in the fight against Isis/Islamic State.

We should also pay attention to their political project, which is very significant, a democratic socialist and sectionalised programme.

In one area above all the author also states we should not

close off the possibility of any non-state and anti-capitalist alternatives based on the PYD/PKK project of Democratic Autonomy.

Read the rest (via above link), on The Disorder of Things.

This should also be considered.

As Kobane Makes Last Stand, Ocalan Gives Turkey Deadline for Peace Process

ANKARA, Turkey – Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, warned that Turkey has until October 15 to act on peace with the Kurds, otherwise the process is dead.

Ocalan, whose comments came through his brother Mehmet, had earlier said that peace talks with Ankara would end if the Kurdish city of Kobane in Syria, across the border with Turkey, falls to the Islamic State (ISIS).  There were fresh air strikes by the US-led coalition on Tuesday as the city teetered on the verge of falling.

In his latest comments from his prison cell on Turkey’s Imrali island, Ocalan told his brother on Monday that Ankara must act, or accept the end of peace talks.

“We can await a resolution till October 15, after which we can have nothing to do,” his brother quoted him as saying. “They (Turkish authorities) are talking about resolution and negotiation but there exists no such thing. This is an artificial situation; we will not be able to continue anymore.”

A peace process launched by Ocalan and Ankara in March 2012 has largely lagged, with the PKK accusing Turkish authorities of dragging their feet.

Commenting on Kobane,  Ocalan said: “Our people in Kobane are going to resist to the end. Resistance will be manifested everywhere and every single Kurdish-populated area where ISIS is present.”

The PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been the main protection force in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), joined by Turkish Kurds fighting to defend Kobane.

“No concessions will ever be made to ISIS that is an artificial organization and will also cause trouble to the states, governments and persons supporting it,” Ocalan said.

“Whichever country is supporting ISIS will itself suffer damage. We will resist the ISIS to the end. Our people have to resist,” he said.

Turkey has angered its large minority Kurds be closing the border to fighters going to fight in Kobane.  Ankara fears pro-PKK Kurdish citizens returning from fighting in Syria with combat skills, and has opposed any moves that would strengthen the Kurds in Syria.

Rudaw (Kurdish News Agency)

For the moment it is of the utmost importance to join with our comrades in the Middle East, people who are our kith and kin, in solidarity.

With only 1,000 People on March Stop the War Coalition Faces Crisis.

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Syrian Kurds take cover from rain in Suruc after crossing border between Syria and Turkey 30 Sept 2014

Back the Kurds!

Russia Today reports,

Hundreds of activists rallied against Britain’s involvement in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on Saturday. Protesters marched through central London holding banners and chanting anti-war slogans.

Demonstrators chanted “Hands off the Middle East, No justice, No peace,” which marching toward Prime Minister David Cameron’s Downing Street office, where the rally was planned to end.

That is,

Up to 1,000 people participated in the protest, despite pouring rain. Many shared their demonstration experiences on social media.

Others state that up to 2,000 took part.

On the 19th of June the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) noted,

Saturday 19 July will long be remembered as the day many tens of thousands of protesters from all over Britain marched in London to call for Israel’s bombing and killing to stop, and an end to the siege in Gaza and Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

The huge turnout marched from outside prime minister David Cameron’s residence in Downing Street to the Israeli embassy in Kensington. The placards said “Gaza: Stop the Massacre”, “Stop Israel’s War Crimes”, “Freedom for Palestine”, “End Israeli Apartheid”.

So packed was the crowd in the sweltering heat that more than 20 people fainted.

Few would consider that the Saturday rain explains the catastrophic  decline in numbers attending the StWC march.

 It is obvious that something has happened between June and October.

That something is called Isis/Islamic State.

At the time of the Israeli army assault on Gaza, an attack that was murderous, with between 2,127 and 2,168 Gazans killed (including 495–578 children) no words were too harsh to describe the action.

Ewa Jasiewicz said in August, backing calls for “to stop Israeli impunity and apartheid”.

It’s clear that we can’t just tweet in the face of genocide and that marching from A to B in the face of massacre and ethnic cleansing is not enough.

 Jasiewicz, may be a controversial figure – one of her activities (in 2010)  had been the following,

Yesterday, Israeli and Polish activists met in the ruins of Warsaw’s old Jewish Ghetto.

The activists sprayed ‘Liberate All Ghettos’ in Hebrew, followed by ‘Free Gaza and Palestine’ in English on a wall of an original block in the ghetto. The block is across the street from the last fragment of the remaining perimeter wall of the Ghetto. They also hung Palestinian flags from the wall.

Some might say that trying to appropriate the memory of the Warsaw ghetto is ‘controversy’ incarnate.

But the fury about Gaza was real and widely shared.

Why, in August, was there not the same anger about the very real genocide taking place in Iraq and Syria?

The information was there.

The renowned Canon Andrew White, a person whose goodness is enough to make you weep, amongst the most beloved of all, was broadcasting details from Baghdad.

In his concern for the lives of those threatened with genocide he has not  stinted at linking his posts to all those,  the left as well, covering the unrolling events – including this very site.

We all know how this became the major story it is.

We all know that the US-led bombing has started.

Perhaps the Stop the War Coalition  might reflect that stopping the bombing is not a major concern for those concerned by the killings carried out by Isis and Islamic State.

Many are simply tired of the same old song: “blame it all on the USA”.

For others,  a moral revolution has taken place, from playing that game people want to back the Kurds.

It is to the credit of the StWC that they allowed on Kurdish speaker,Memed Aksoy, at their rally to say just that.

But in general the STWC remains on the sidelines of this issue.

Instead one of their supporters, Owen Jones, writes in the Guardian of the fear of Isis/Islamic State,

We grow more terrified of it; we express our terror, and so help to spread it. Western media compete over inflammatory language to express the evil of Isis, and add to its almost otherworldly, terrifying mystique – a mystique Isis has depended on to conquer large swaths of Iraq and Syria, because its opponents are left too frightened to resist. Stills of its videos are plastered on front pages, and vicious anti-Muslim diatribes are posted on Twitter – which must delight Isis: the more hatred of Muslims ratchets up, the better chance it has of winning support.

….

The fact is, we are playing the part Isis has written for us in an even more profound way. “We must do something” has too often proved to be the cry of a man pouring a can of petrol over a burning home. Isis knows that, which is why it is doing everything it can to incite western intervention. “Is this all you are capable of doing in this campaign of yours?” mocks the spokesperson Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. “Are America and all its allies unable to come down to the ground?”

The words, “almost otherworldly” “terrifying mystique, “a mystique” (repeated) – could have been written by Richard Seymour.

I put it no lower.

So those who want to oppose Isis, what can they do to avoid the path that Owen calls, “Isis’s script”?

Owen’s conclusion after this self-indulgent cri de coeur?

It is….we “must do something“:

Murderous Shia militias must be dismantled. Kurdish peshmerga must, undoubtedly, be properly armed. The western-backed dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar must be compelled to crack down on the funding networks that are helping to sustain Isis and other terrorists. As General Jonathan Shaw says, these western client states must stop exporting the Wahhabi/Salafist ideology that underpins jihadi terrorists everywhere. Economic sanctions – and certainly arms embargoes – must result from non-compliance. External military intervention in Iraq and Syria must be led by regional powers, not by western forces as Isis craves.

But…….

The StWC remains silent on the desperate plight of Kobane.

Those who may conquer it, Isis are genociders.

Their regime of ‘discipline and punish’, put in place in Iraq (Islamic State) and Syria,  is aimed at the extermination of all who refuse to accept their religious orthodoxy and  tyranny over all who submit. 

They are the  real business not a “mystique”.

So what do we have to “be done”?”

The Kurds want bombing to save Kobane. (1) 

Who is Owen to deny them that?

We will have the real ethical debate when the US tries to take on Assad.

There is a division between those who back measures to remove Isis/Islamic state, an urgent imperative, and those who believe there is a  further moral obligation to remove the Baathists from Syria.

Those who argue for that appear to have lost all sight of the consequences of such moves in a region where Isis are  not the only armed Islamic reactionaries. …..

Update: 

Owen Jones says -in response to this Blog post – that it misrepresents him.

I’ve called for the arming of the Kurds. My line is the same as Peter Tatchell who you’ve applauded below, so why you are attacking me is frankly beyond me.

We wait the SRWC to follow.

(1) See Facebook Page for links on this.

The Middle Eastern Feminist writes,

Friends/hevals, a large number of you are asking “how can we help Kobane?” I have compiled a list of things that you can do to help:

1- Be informed and keep up with the news. We do not recommend any of the Western sources as they are lagging in information release, and do not have the finer details. I recommend the following news sources:

http://en.firatajans.com/
http://pydrojava.net/eng/
http://en.xeber24.net/

2- The following Facebook pages are up to date on Kobane and post regularly:

https://www.facebook.com/rojavabreaking
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kurdish-Resistance-Liberation/1480960568841619

3- If you are on Twitter I recommend a number of people who are informed and produce up to date, and often live news:

https://twitter.com/DefenseUnitsYPJ
https://twitter.com/DefenseUnits
https://twitter.com/ColdKurd
https://twitter.com/geehall1
https://twitter.com/reband_kurd
https://twitter.com/AJANSAMED
https://twitter.com/ArjDnn
https://twitter.com/MEasternfeminst (my own twitter)

Additionally, if some of us have some cash to spare I recommend this aid organization only. They are the official regional wide Kurdish organization operating in Europe. Their reach goes into all four Kurdish provinces including support for the people of Kobane:

http://www.heyvasor.com/en/alikari/

The most important thing is that you help us to highlight what is happening in Kobane. Please speak! Share information. Support the aid organization if you can spare some money. To speak is to resist! To speak is to be visible. To speak is to exist! and existing right now for the Kurds is resistance and a revolutionary act. Please stand with us in speaking about Kobane as much as you can.

Finally, learn about who the Kurds are. Learn about their plight and why they are in this situation. Learn about the genocide of the town of Halabja that was the target of Chemical attacks (my own family escaped being killed in Halabja by just an hour or so). Learn about the Anfal campaign against the Kurds. Learn about the oppressive nature of the regimes (Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria) in which the Kurds have been divided in, and the violent assimilation and ethnic cleansing policies of these regimes towards the Kurds, which has produced resistance movements such as the PKK. It would also be an immense help and of respect if you start recognizing, speaking and voicing the names of the different parts of Kurdistan and use the Kurdish names for the Kurdish cantons and provinces:

1-Rojava (Kurdish word for Sun-set is located in Syria, and is known as Western Kurdistan). This is where Kobane is located.

2- Roj-halat (Kurdish word for sun-rise is the Kurdish canton in Iran, and is known as Eastern Kurdistan)

3-Basur (pronounced ba-sh-ur, is the Kurdish word for South and is south of Kurdistan in northern Iraq). This is where I am from.

4-Bakur (is the Kurdish word for north and is northern Kurdistan in Turkey)

Thank you friends and feminists for standing in solidarity with us

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2014 at 11:29 am

Kurds Call for Military Help to Defend Kobane – Spurned by Stop the War Coalition

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Kurds Defend Kobane: Back their Call for Help!

At the end of September this report appeared in the Guardian,

 Kurdish fighters from Turkey and Iraq are scrambling to help defend a vital Kurdish safe haven in northern Syria, where tens of thousands of Kurds have fled after an offensive by Islamic State (Isis) militants.

The border region of Kobani, home to half a million people, has held out for months against an onslaught by Islamists seeking to consolidate their hold over swaths of northern Syria. But in recent days, Isis extremists have seized a series of settlements close to the town of Kobani itself, sending as many as 100,000 mostly Kurdish refugees streaming across the border into Turkey.

The demands have reached London, (Guardian 1st of October).

Kurdish hunger strikers stage protests seeking support against Isis jihadis

Kurds near Downing Street demand heavy weapons and antitank missiles from the UK government for fight against Isis.

Members of the Kurdish diaspora have been staging protests and hunger strikes around the world in support of calls by Kurdish leaders in Syria for weapons to help their forces fighting Islamic State (Isis) in the besieged border town of Kobani, where they fear a massacre if support does not arrive soon.

While Kurds have taken to the streets of European cities, those in Britain have initiated a hunger strike close to the gates of Downing Street as part of a campaign calling for the UK to provide Kurdish forces with advanced weapons.

…..

Those taking part in the London protest include sympathisers of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organisation in many western states including the UK and has close links to the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD), a group representing Kurds in Syria. It says that its calls for arms have been rebuffed by the United States and European nations and blames Turkey for obstructing his efforts.

This report was on France 24 yesterday,

Kurdish fighters mounted an increasingly desperate defence against the Islamic State group’s advance on the Syrian town of Kobane on Friday, calling for international help and warning that the militants had advanced to within 1 kilometre of the city.

At least 60 mortar rounds fired by the Islamic State group bombarded the town on Friday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as Kurdish fighters pleaded for help from the international community.

“For about 16 days we are defending Kobane. We are alone,” a Syrian Kurdish official, Idris Nahsen, told AFP by telephone. “We need help from the international community. We need weapons and ammunition,” he said. Huge plumes of smoke were seen rising from Kobane, which is also known as Ain al-Arab, as its outnumbered defenders came under intense fire from the jihadists who have advanced to the city’s gates despite continuing US-led airstrikes against their positions.

The Observatory said a Chechen member of the jihadist group was leading the assault. Turkish officials vowed not to let the largely Kurdish town fall into the hands of the militants, a day after the Turkish parliament voted to approve military action against Islamic State group targets in both Syria and Iraq.

“We will do whatever we can so that Kobane does not fall,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, adding that about 186,000 people had flooded across the border from Syria in less than two weeks. Ankara has not specified what action it is prepared to take to prevent Islamic State group fighters from taking the town, which would give the Islamist group control of an unbroken stretch of Turkey’s more than 900-kilometre (560-mile) border with Syria.

Turkish officials have cautioned against expecting rapid military steps following parliament’s authorisation, and it remains unclear if Turkish armed forces will be used against the militants. Turkey has also not announced whether it will allow the transit of lethal weaponry across its territory or if it will restrict its participation to offering humanitarian and non-lethal aid.

Syria warns against Turkish ‘aggression’

The Syrian government said Friday that any Turkish military intervention on its soil would be considered an act of aggression and urged the UN Security Council to prevent Ankara from taking any such action. Damascus said Turkey’s position “represents a real aggression against a member state of the United Nations”. Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that it remained a Turkish “priority” to “remove the Syrian regime“.

The United States has been working to build a broad international alliance against the jihadists who have declared an Islamic “caliphate” across large areas of Iraq and Syria where they have committed widespread atrocities. The Pentagon said that aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined US warplanes in bombing raids Friday against jihadist tanks, oil refineries and a training camp in Syria.

US aircraft also conducted three air raids in Iraq, including two northeast of Fallujah. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday that his cabinet had authorised the deployment of special forces to advise and assist Iraqi forces alongside the British, Canadian and US advisers already on the ground.

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seeking parliamentary approval for a plan to send up to six CF-18 fighter jets to Iraq as well as increase the number of Canadian advisers on the ground to up to 69 from the 26 previously deployed. A vote, which is expected to approve the proposal, is set for Monday.

‘Your religion is threatened’

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric urged Muslim leaders to strike the enemies of Islam with “an iron hand” in an apparent condemnation of the Islamic State group on Friday.

“Your religion is threatened. Your security is threatened,” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh told thousands of Muslims who had gathered from around the world for the annual hajj pilgrimage, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

“These criminals carry out rapes, bloodshed and looting,” he said, adding that “these vile crimes can be considered terrorism” and their perpetrators have nothing to do with Islam.

Despite the airstrikes, Islamic State fighters captured parts of the town of Heet, one of the last pro-government bastions in Iraq’s western Anbar province, police sources said Friday.

The jihadists also blew up a key bridge in Iraq’s Salaheddin province as they retreated in the face of an offensive by pro-government forces.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

This has appeared on the Stop the War Coalition’s (StWC) site, by Kevin Ovendon  (a leading member of George Galloway’s Respect Party).

Why the US-led bombing of Iraq and Syria will not save the Kurds (October the 3rd).

After Ovendon’s an analysis of the Kurdish issue,  the positions of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, dominated by Masud Barzani’s KDP party and the role  of the PKK/YPG, within the context of the hostile stand of the Turkish government towards the Kurds, we have this pile of generalities:

The US-led bombing of Iraq and Syria will not save the Kurds. Western policy, its military and its arms are not there to save the Kurds.

The bombing is already hitting innocents in Syria. It is allowing even the hideous IS to pose as a resistance force.

In fact, IS is much more interested in beheading “sorcerers” (as do the Saudi allies of the West) and stealing priceless antiquities (as do corrupt officials in Baghdad) than it is in fighting to recover Palestine – alongside Hamas, Hezbollah and the other forces which are truly in the West’s sights.

The bombing is wrong in itself. It is also the false justification for each reactionary state and force in the region to add to the death toll and deepen sectarianism: a carnival of reaction.

Every time that has happened in the past century two peoples in the region have suffered more than any other: the Palestinians and the Kurds. In the name of justice for both – stop this escalating war.

And we could have done without this distasteful comment,

The only interest that Washington, London, Ankara and Israel have in the Kurds’ suffering in IS-areas is in a mountain of corpses with which to hide their own murderous policies in the region. Every time one of these global or regional powers have advanced in the area it has been at the expense of the Kurds.

Counterfire (closely associated with the StWC)  has published a call by the respected cultural and humanitarian Kurdish group Day-mer, which condemns Western and other interventions in the regions. It largely limits itself to calling for humanitarian aid to Kurdish refugees.

From the StWC and its allies there is no reply to the call for military aid.

No means are offered to stopping the growth of a  “mountain of corpses” , other than halting Washington, Ankara, London and Israel(?)’s actions in Syria and Iraq.

Or how to fight the genociders of  Isis/Islamic State.

By contrast this is having a big resonance on the left and progressive circles:

 

Back the Kurds’ demands for all necessary military help! 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2014 at 10:17 am

Tehran ‘Anti-Zionist’ Conference Draws Holocaust deniers and 9/11 ‘Truthers’

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Dieudonné FanIranien

Dieudonné FanIranien.

In the news this week:

The second edition of Iran’s International New Horizon Independent Conference started its programs in the capital city of Tehran, Press TV has reported.

A number of senior investigative journalists, authors, filmmakers and renowned political activists took part in the gala.

The participants flocked to the three-day event from the UK, the United States, and several countries of Europe.

The first panel of the event hosted the presentations of several experts focused on the influence of the Zionist lobby on the West in the process of nuclear talks with Iran.

The Zionist lobby has its grip deep into different layers of the US government, American investigative journalist Wayne Madsen stated at the conference.

The Islamic Awakening movement, the role of Zionist lobbies in the European and US crises, introducing international anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist figures, and Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime are some of the topics of the conference.

The first edition of the International New Horizon Independent Conference was presented in 2012 along with a film festival centered on the related issues.

The showcased films at the festival represented Islamic resistance against the Zionist regime, war threats against Iran and anti-war movements, the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Iranophobia and Islamophobia, world without Zionism, and world without terrorism and atomic weapons.

New Horizon conference and festival is aimed at providing a platform where independent thinkers can gather together, feature their films and engage in debate and deliberation on various aspects of world and the reality of Hollywood.

To give a flavour of this event here is an extract from  the Conference’s agenda (Hat-Tip:  Harry’s Place) ,

  • Section 4 (5:15 PM – 7:15 PM)

Mossad’s Role in the 9/11 Coup d’Etat

Panelists: Thierry Meyssan, Kevin Barrett, Maurizio Blondet, & Jim Fetzer via video link

Moderator: Nader Talebzadeh

Themes:

v  Philosophy and False Flags: Neo-conservatism, Zionism and 9/11

v  Mossad-9/11 Links: The Empirical Evidence

v  History of Mossad False Flags

v  Zionist Fingerprints on the 9/11 Cover-up

v  9/11 Truth Movement Strategies and the Zionism Issue

v  9/11 and the Holocaust as pro-Zionist “Public Myths”

v  Uniting the Muslim Ummah for 9/11 Truth and Against Zionism

We are interested in this, ” Waliyic Islam, or Post-Secularism and its Discontents.”

The speaker Hasan Rahimpour Azghadi, a member of the Iranian Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution,  is noted or having said this (see link just given),

“Today, underlying all the worldwide trends of alcohol consumption, prostitution, Hollywood sex and porn, banking, usury, and sex slavery there are Zionist tendencies. This is true in the U.S., in Europe, and everywhere. There is documented data to back this up. Surprisingly, even in the days of the Prophet of Islam, they fulfilled this same role. This is true of some of them, whom the Prophet confronted for precisely these reasons. One of the allegations leveled against them in Christian Europe of the last centuries was that they are experts in controlling the markets, culture, and the media, and in seizing control of large populations by means of small groups…Zionism will not disappear through talks. The Zionist Israeli state must be annihilated.”

One aspect worth mentioning is the French collection  of “senior investigative journalists” and “renowned political activists“.

Of the French attendees we learn from the Initiative Communiste-Ouvrière that they include, amongst others,

le complotiste Thierry Meyssan, la négationniste Maria Poumier, deux représentants du parti néofasciste Parti solidaire Français : Thomas Werlet et Olivier Lemoine. Sans surprise, on retrouve également le journaliste de droite Jean-Michel Vernochet (2) et Gilles Munier, ex-soutien de Saddam Husssein et collaborateur du site d’Egalité et Réconciliation. Autre proche d’Alain Soral et de Dieudonné invité à cette rencontre : le dessinateur négationniste Joe le Corbeau.

The conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan (famous for 9/11 ‘false-flag’ lies), the Holocaust denier, Maria Pomier (closely associated with Meyssan), two representatives of the French neo-fascist party, Parti Solidaire Français,  Thomas Werlet et Olivier Lemoin, right-wing journalist, Jean-Michel Vernochet, and Gilles Munier, a former supporter of Saddam Hussein, and a contributor to the (far-right) web site, Egalité et Réconciliation. Another person present, who’s close to (Holocaust denier and extreme-right wing activist) Alain Soral, and  Dieudonné, the cartoonist, Joe le Corbeau – he is also somebody who questions the existence of the Shoah.

The comrades mention the presence of a Raphaël Berland – from the Cercle des Volontaires,  who claim to be independent republican journalists….

It’s to a certain Haméd Ghashghavi, an Iranian Francophone,  that we owe the charming picture of him and the racist Dieudonné, from his site FanIrnaian.

More at La fachosphère française en visite en Iran

The Anti Defamation League provides a summary of this event,

As in the pre­vi­ous con­fer­ence, this year’s New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence has drawn the par­tic­i­pa­tion of sev­eral anti-Israel activists, anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rists and Holo­caust deniers. A new pres­ence at the con­fer­ence is the par­tic­i­pa­tion of a so called Amer­i­can anti-war activist, Medea Ben­jamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK.

In addi­tion to Ben­jamin, the conference’s offi­cial web­site pub­lished the names of sev­eral Amer­i­can and inter­na­tional anti-Semites, anti-Israel activists and Holo­caust deniers that are expected to be in atten­dance, includ­ing Maria Poumier, a French con­spir­acy the­o­rist and Holo­caust denier; Clau­dio Moffa, an Ital­ian Holo­caust denier; Kevin Bar­rett, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist and fre­quent con­trib­u­tor to Iran’s Eng­lish lan­guage pro­pa­ganda news net­work, Press TV; Garth Porter, an anti-Israel jour­nal­ist; Pepe Esco­bar, a Brazil­ian anti-Israel jour­nal­ist; and Art Olivier, a for­mer elected offi­cial from Cal­i­for­nia and 9/11 con­spir­acy theorist.

More­over, Iran­ian news agen­cies have reported that a num­ber of other indi­vid­u­als are sched­uled to also attend the three-day con­fer­ence in Tehran. Iran­ian news agen­cies have reported the expected par­tic­i­pa­tion of Ali­son Weir, the  direc­tor of If Amer­i­cans Knew and the Coun­cil for the National Inter­est, two grass­roots anti-Israel orga­ni­za­tions; Ken O’Keefe, an anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist for­mer U.S. Marine and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to Press TV; Wayne Mad­sen, an anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­rist; Cyrus McGoldrick, the for­mer Civil Rights Man­ager for the New York chap­ter of Coun­cil on American-Islamic Rela­tions; Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, the French anti-Semitic come­dian and the cre­ator of the anti-Semitic “quenelle” ges­ture; and Mark Sil­jan­der, a for­mer U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive (R-MI) who was found guilty in 2010 of two fed­eral charges relat­ing to his ties to an Islamic char­ity alleged to have funded ter­ror­ist groups.

The con­fer­ence was opened with remarks by the per­sonal advi­sor to Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, Mohsen Ghomi, who boasted that the con­fer­ence itself is “the biggest threat to Zion­ists,” and that “Amer­i­can offi­cials are pup­pets of the Zion­ist lobby who are tak­ing advan­tage of Amer­i­can igno­rance.” Anti-Israel jour­nal­ist Garth Porter said dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion on Mon­day that the Mossad and CIA are respon­si­ble for man­u­fac­tur­ing the nuclear cri­sis with Iran.

The 2nd New Hori­zon Con­fer­ence comes on the heels of the 13th annual Inter­na­tional Resis­tance Film Fes­ti­val that ran in Tehran from Sep­tem­ber 22–29. The film fes­ti­val included sub­mis­sions from dozens of coun­tries, includ­ing Iran, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and was orga­nized by the Cin­e­matic Com­mu­nity of the Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion and Sacred Defense and the Islamic Cul­ture and Rela­tions Organization.

The “The “Islamic” State Meme, its Precursors, & the US-Israel-Saudi Triangle” appears promising.

Tehran appears ready to see the hand of Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia behind the genocidal Isis/Islamic State.

The Guardian: Everything that’s wrong with the Liberal Stand on Islamism.

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Islamism: Discipline and Punish. 

To much of the world the British daily, the Guardian is the best known English-language paper of the liberal-left.

It is important to emphasise the word ‘liberal’ (the Guardian advocated voting for the Liberal Democrats at the last election).

But the hyphen attaching the word to the ‘left’ is indissoluble.

Guardian writers, above all in the Comment in Free Section, shows the limits of what this left believes in.

The section, (run between 2001 and 2007 by former Communist Party of Great Britain member ), are, in the majority, consensus believers in a number of liberal values.

The present editor,  has stated that “Queer theory informs my politics and journalism – and made me understand Robert, my childhood alter ego.” (Here)

Some of the principles these people stand for are admirable, such as freedom of speech, promotion of diversity, human rights, gender equality, social equality, and tolerance.

Their advocacy of liberty extends to letting a range of people expressing their opinions in the paper who have very different interpretations of these ideas.

But they are heavily modified when it comes to one political and cultural  issue, the nature of Islamism.

A couple of days ago the daily published an article by George Monbiot, Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?

The author, who has previously compared European recruits to the genociders of ISIS to volunteers who defended the Spanish Republic, argues,

“Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East.”

Let’s bomb the Muslim world – all of it – to save the lives of its people. Surely this is the only consistent moral course? Why stop at Islamic State (Isis), when the Syrian government has murdered and tortured so many? This, after all, was last year’s moral imperative. What’s changed?

Nothing, according to Monbiot, the latest US-led bombing will all end in disaster, killing, and destruction by the “destroying angels of the west”. He ends his article with the observation that politicians “scatter bombs like fairy dust.”

Monbiot now deigns to mention that the group amongst the Syrian rebels, which he compared to the Spanish Republican democrats – Isis – has its faults, “the agenda and practices of Isis are disgusting. It murders and tortures, terrorises and threatens. As Obama says, it is a “network of death”(14).

But it’s one of many networks of death.

Worse still, a western crusade appears to be exactly what it wants.

So it’s just one of many. And attacking them would make them worse.

Monbiot then fails to mention any form of physical military reaction to Isis that he could support.

Sound the alarm, run to the hills, the world is about to be flattened!

We can’t do anything at all!

Today the Guardian publishes Seamus Milne.

He begins well,

Theresa May devoted over three quarters of her speech in Birmingham to Muslims and the threat of a catch-all “Islamist extremism”.

Drawing on the tricks of Tony Blair’s invasion-prone government and Thatcher’s failed campaign against the IRA, she promised yet more anti-terror laws: this time to ban nonviolent “extremists” from television and protests, and to proscribe groups with no links to terrorism.

The package amounts to a straightforward attack on freedom of speech and democracy – in the name of the “functioning of democracy”. It would alienate Muslims from mainstream politics still further and create a new, all-purpose collection of thought crimes, allowing the authorities to ban views or activities they deem likely to cause “alarm” or “distress”.

Milne is now a defender of free speech.

He would have done well at this point to oppose something he once backed, to make causing offence to religious faiths a crime. (1)

But he doesn’t.

And, in the wider news, perhaps I missed this bit,

The justifications were straight out of the Blair playbook too: from May’s insistence that we are at war with an “ideology” and that “they” hate our values rather than our violent interventions in the Muslim world – to the claim that Isis could develop weapons of mass destruction to attack us“within a few hours’ flying time of our country”.

Yes I did miss that one, because it’s from the far-right Daily Express’s spin on the May speech….

I suppose Islamic State’s tortures, rapes, genocide and the threat to hundreds of thousands of Kurds would have merited a mention from anybody with genuine left-wing feeling.

In a sense they do get mentioned,

Like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya before it, the bombing has been sold as a response to a humanitarian catastrophe and imminent threat but already shows every sign of spreading the terror it is supposed to stop. Mission creep is already upon us, as Cameron softens the public up to join the US campaign in Syria. As in the past, the war is projected to last years, has been launched against our own mutant creation, and is fanning reverse sectarian cleansing on the ground. Revenge terror attacks at home are once again seen as almost certain.

Ah, “sold as a response to a humanitarian catastrophe”.

What Milne’s views on this catastrophe are, part from the fact that they have been “sold”,  remain in decent obscurity.

One thing sticks out: no mention of the need to back the Kurdish and other fighters on the ground battling Islamic State/Isis!

But the prize for feeble-minded analysis of Islamism must go to a piece by .

Speaking of how people treat recruits to the genociders in Australia he laments a “sudden terror panic“.  Loewenstein uses a Muslim interlocutor to express the dismay.:

“There’s a lack of context, lack of spirituality and understanding, combined with impatience. Many Isis fighters are newly converted, newly pious … these men have grown a beard in three months and they don’t give Islam time to be understood.”

He is tired of having to defend his religion against bigots who take these instant Islamists to be the authentic representation of Islam.

“Keyboard warriors often ask: “Where is the universal Muslim condemnation of terror acts?” We’re distancing ourselves, so why do you keep asking? People just aren’t listening.”

“It’s been the same narrative of apology for decades and we’re sick of it. It’s like the probation the media is trying to grant me. I want to stand back, it’s got nothing to do with me and it’s nothing to do with Islam. I don’t need to come out and prove my innocence.”

Indeed, it is remarkable that those who trumpet their religious belief, in Islam and the Qu’ran, should be called to express disapproval of those who trumpet their religious belief in Islam and the Qu’ran – Isis.

As he continues in the vein we weary.

But there is some truth in this, though “dis-empowered” – an expression now confined to ageing social workers – is not perhaps the right word.

The pressure on the Australian Muslim community is immense, a feeling of being outsiders, exacerbated by a message that they’re different and under suspicion. Many Muslim women in particular feel disempowered and not trusted by the wider, white majority. Islamophobia is now unofficial government policy and some media’s central world-view

Muslims have ample reason to be sceptical towards government and intelligence services; real journalists would investigate why. Sadly, most in the media are failing in their basic duty to question.

Islamophobia is an ageing and muddled term as well: it tries to conflate opposition to islamism with prejudice, and offers no way to distinguish them.

This will not help clear up what ‘Islam’ is.

“Islam isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Samir says. His religion, just like Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and others, is complex, contradictory and open to various interpretations – but figuring that out can’t be done in an instant.

I will,  as will most readers, give up at this point….

Why does this matter?

We could say that a paper that publishes Richard Seymour is a fun journal, a good laugh, and that nobody takes the ideology in these articles seriously.

But what is striking is that not a single Guardian commentator has come close to analysing Islamism in any depth whatsoever.

That is a extreme-right-wing ideology, with a very material institutional basis, support in the pious Muslim bourgeoisie, and wider roots in the class structures of many Middle Eastern countries.

There are Marxist and other political studies which go into this in depth (Maxime RodinsonGilbert Achcar the latter’s sole contribution to the Guardian on the topic relates to ‘Holocaust denial’).

Or the rich critique of Islamism, democratic, socialist and secular,  offered by  the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan groups such as the Worker Communist parties (Mansoor Hekmat)  and other left individuals and organisations  in the Moslem world.

We could, for those interested in ‘Gender and Queer’ studies, also look at Michael Foucault’s concept of ‘micro-powers’ – intimate oppressive apparatuses that create a religious prison, in para-states and actual states.

Foucault’s Discipline and Punish  is perhaps a good starting point to the operation of the Sharia, along with Nietzsche The Genealogy of Morals. (2)

We could look at its (or rather), since Islamism is a plural formation, their patriarchal roots, and its creation of sexual apartheid.

We might even mention that every single form of Islamism is viciously oppressive towards gays.

That it is anti-democratic and ‘communitarian’ on the template of 1930s ‘organic’ far-right.

We might even consider that its religion is a load of utter cack.

But nobody in the Guardian’s comment articles says that.

Nobody.

**********

(1) “But for showing solidarity and working with Muslim organisations – whether in the anti-war movement or in campaigns against Islamophobia – leftwing groups and politicians such as the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, are now routinely damned by liberal secularists (many of whom have been keen supporters of the war in Iraq) for “betraying the enlightenment” and making common cause with “Islamofascists”, homophobes and misogynists. The pitch of these denunciations has been heightened further by the government’s plan to introduce a new criminal offence of incitement to religious hatred. This measure would extend to the most vulnerable community in the country the very modest protection already offered by race hate legislation to black people, Jews, Sikhs and all religious communities in Northern Ireland. It is not a new blasphemy law; it would not lead to a ban on Monty Python’s Life of Brian film; or rule out jokes about Ayatollah Khomeini’s contact lenses; or cover ridicule or attacks on any religion (unlike the broader Australian legislation) – but would only outlaw incitement of hatred against people because of their faith.” Guardian. December 2004

This bill was thrown up precisely because it was a new “blasphemy law”. Does Milne back its return?

(2) I am all too aware of Foucault’s morally cretinous welcome to Khomeini, What are the Iranians Dreaming About (1978). More relevant to Isis is  the way their beheadings of hostages could be compared to the violent and chaotic public torture of Robert-François Damiens analysed in Discipline and Punish (1975).

Very Short Treatise on Intolerance (Teresa May).

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Theresa May addressing the Conservative Party conference.

Teresa May Outlines Plans to Clamp down on ‘Harmful Individuals’. 

Very Short Treatise on Intolerance.

Nietzsche wrote somewhere that the greatest haters, with the longest memories and deepest grudges, are learned religious men. (1) The contrary can easily be found. But malevolent violence in the Middle East – inspired and carried out by those who see themselves as holy – is something thrust in front of us every single day.

That this affects Europe was equally brought home quickly. It is not an exaggeration to say that the world of social media and instant media reporting, has worn away the sense of distance. That thousands of European volunteers, including hundreds of British citizens, have joined the Jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq became news in weeks. For those who follow the right sites, Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, more information piled up every day.

From these sources the oppressions and crimes of the Islamist forces rapidly became known. In Iraq and Syria the Islamic State and Isis began to carry out ethnic and religious cleansing, tortured, raped, and committed acts of genocide.

Clamp-down on ‘harmful individuals”.

That there are those who continue to justify the Jihadists, here and now, is equally public. The British Conservative Party has announced that it intends, if elected in 2015, to legislate. It will issue “banning orders” on “extremist” groups. It will ratchet up its ‘anti-terrorism’ strategy and ‘anti-extremism’ programme. There will be ‘terrorism Asbos’ – extreme disruption orders, that will restrict the actions of named individuals, including a ban on their media appearances. (BBC)

Opponents of the proposals will state that it not possible to ban a version of a faith, which is a private matter. But the liberal argument in defence of free speech appears to hit a wall at this point. The Jihadists’ behaviour is not confined to “self-regarding acts” (John Stuart Mill). It is anything but limited to the individual: they are carrying out the Word of god, as spoken by their own authorities, to bring the world into line with their ideas.

Jihadists and Violence.

If we argue that the consequences of Jihadist ideology are violent few would disagree. The link could not be plainer and self-designated. They appear to be, and are intolerance incarnate. But if Mill’s doctrine has its faults, a much greater one is to “augment the authority of whatever sacerdotal or legislative body (that) may represent the majority”, as John Morley pointed out. (On Compromise. 1886)

Give those in government  and their functionaries that power and it is not hard to see that Teresa May’s laws would open the door to abuses. A floodgate of malicious accusations (anonymous or Tabloid inspired). As somebody who has been the target of a ‘moderate’ Islamist – soon proved false – claims, one also see the scope for factional warfare between Muslim groups and their opponents, secularists or otherwise, opening up. And that is before we consider the potential for racists and other hate groups using the legislation for their own purposes. That the idea appears to encompass “extremisms” as a whole – left, right, religious and otherwise – rings others alarm bells. As David Davis (Conservative) observed, these measures “quite incredible powers to limit democratic rights”. Or as  puts in the Tory  Telegraph, “The concept of extremism has become rather like fascism: a catch-all term for things we don’t like.”

It would be hard to find any organised religion (with the possible exception of the Society of Friends) that did not claim special powers over other people and society. If we oppose this claim then it’s not the individual who’s the problem but the institutions that would bring compulsory rules over other people’s lives. The Conservatives’ proposals come close to this, very close indeed for anybody suspected of “extremism”.

By contrast those who consider that there is no special place for religion in our common political institutions, would not consider the public body the best authority make the ultimate decision over what is and what is not an acceptable “moderate” religious belief. Secularists would leave the faithful to battle amongst themselves over whether they are hard-liners or reasonable. This would leave the rest of us free to exist as human beings, at liberty to adopt, to approve, to mock or to criticise any religious belief that tries to impinge on our lives.

There remains the problem of Islamism. Some simply deny that there is any connection between Islam and ISIS/Islamic State. We have seen the attempt by some to get the media to call the Islamic State the “un” or “so-called” Islamic State. It’s as if Trotskyists demanded that the old Soviet Union be always referred to by its “proper” name, as a “degenerated/deformed workers’ state”.

The analogy can be extended. Some commentators have compared the reaction of political Islamists, including those in government, as in Turkey, to the left’s difficult coming to terms with Stalin’s blood-drenched rule. This is not an easy process, and it has not ended yet.

One thing is certain coming to terms with the crimes of the Islamists in the Middle East will not be helped by fine-sounding phrases that instantly dismiss any connection between their ideology and Islam. This is a claim shared by Teresa May who states, ” Islam is a religion of peace.” We would wish for evidence to back this  assertion. 

It may be said that those who loudly clamoured for bans on books and publications,  which “offended” Islam, from the Satanic Verses onwards, are not in a good position to demand freedom of expression. That is indeed a rod of their own making. 

Intolerance of the Intolerant. 

None of this implies any let up on the pressure on violent Islamists. Those who follow the tradition of Voltaire’s  Traité sur la tolérance (1763) are not tolerant of fanaticism. The crimes of Isis/Islamic State, including those committed by European Jihadists, should be answerable to courts and due process. We can, already, clamp down on incitement to violence and religious hatred. The means to bring to account those actively involved in Jihad exist. The killers in the service of the Assad regime deserve the same treatment – bringing up a subject which, to examine properly, would extend this ‘short’ treatise by several pages.

What we do not need is increased “authority” to legislate on what is, and what is not, ‘extremism.”

(1) “The really great Haters in History have always been priests, but also the cleverest haters – in comparison with the cleverness of priestly revenge every other piece of cleverness is practically negligible” Genealogy of Morals. 1887.

Update: Ukip Complains Theresa May’s Anti-Extremism Pledge ‘Could Shut Party Down’.

The Home Secretary revealed the new “extremism disruption orders” would ban those who “spread hate but do not break existing laws” from the airwaves and make it easier to formally proscribe groups deemed to be linked to terrorism.

The orders will apply to those who “spread or incite hatred” of gender, race or religion as well as those who engage in “harmful activities” for the “purpose of overthrowing democracy”. That’s prompted fears the laws could be used on non-violent political groups and the political enemies of those in power.

Critics said the powers were draconian and mocked the notion of banning those who are not proven to have broken the law, while human rights Liberty said the powers were “worthy of a caliphate”.

The eurosceptic party that is jeopardising the Tories’ chance of winning the next election – and to which two MPs and other prominent politicians have already defected – also suggested it could be banned with such an order.

Suzanne Evans, deputy chair of Ukip, told a fringe event at the Tory Party conference that the power could be used to close down her party, the BBC’s Norman Smith reported.

Hope Not Hate call for contributions to debate on “To ban or not to ban?” : here.

How should society tackle extremism?

There will be various streams to this debate, so ideas and contributions on them all will be useful:

  • What is extremism?
  • Where does extremism come from?
  • How should the Government tackle extremism?
  • How should communities tackle extremism?
  • What are the limits of freedom of speech?

StWC Blind Spot on the Kurds.

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Western blind spot: the Kurds’ forgotten war in Syria.

A victory for the Kurds and their allies in Syria is a victory for all who want a future that is dictated neither by fundamentalists nor imperialists.

The current narrative from Cameron and Obama is simple: the head-chopping Islamic State is a threat to all of humanity, so western forces need to return to the Middle East. Yet this narrative is far from supported by the empirical evidence. Non-existent weapons of mass destruction and non-existent Islamic fundamentalist jihadists were used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by George Bush and Tony Blair. Iraq was transformed from secular totalitarianism to chaos: in turn, chaos and opposition to occupation seeded a jihadist movement.

Western support for opponents of Assad in Syria gave the so-called ‘Islamic State’ an opportunity to take territory. ISIS was able to seize huge quantities of heavy weaponry supplied by the USA and its allies. Thus, if US intervention has created or at least massively accelerated the growth of a monster, critics argue that more intervention will no doubt provide the Islamic State with more weapons, more support and more chaos on which to thrive.

Another reason for doubting the narrative is the fact that the most successful opponents of ISIS are not only unsupported by the west but are effectively at war with a NATO ally. If the ‘war on terror’ was real, the words Kobane, Rojava and YPG would be on our TV screens more often than a marriage date with George Clooney. In fact, few of us have much knowledge of the forgotten war in the Middle East. This is a war that ISIS, up until a few days ago, was losing. But a NATO country has joined to help defeat not the jihadist beheaders, but their most feared opponents.

As I write, the city of Kobane in the mostly Kurdish city in northern Syria is under threat from ISIS, who have laid siege to the city for over a fortnight. ISIS forces from all over the region, equipped with tanks and missiles stolen from Iraqi forces supplied by Qatar and the USA, have sustained a huge attack on this city on the border of Turkey. You won’t hear about Kobane on much of the media and not so far in speeches from Obama and Cameron. These are the Kurds the west does not support, and mentioning their very existence is virtually an existential threat.

The Kurds, who are said to be the largest stateless nation and are spread across Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, have been fighting for autonomy for decades. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey saw their leader Ocalan captured in 1999. He remains in prison. In Syria, as a result of the civil war, the Kurds have created an autonomous self-governing republic, made up of three cantons, one of which is Kobane. The three cantons are known collectively as Rojava [western Kurdistan]. For several years the Rojavans have been fighting and beating ISIS and other jihadists like the Al Nusra front. When ISIS threatened thousands of Yazidi in Iraq, killing many and forcing others into apparently slavery, this triggered international outrage. It is largely forgotten that the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the community self-defence force from Rojava, crossed to Mount Sinjar and rescued many Yazidis.

While Rojava is known as a Kurdish territory, political and religious pluralism is strongly promoted. Syriac Christian militias are allied with the YPG, which also draws in Arab and Armenian fighters. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, although others are Yazidis. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is usually seen as a sister party of the PKK but there are many other Kurdish and non Kurdish political parties in Rojava. The PKK affiliated party advocates political diversity, feminism and self-governance. Originally a Marxist-Leninist organisation, remarkably the PKK sees itself as an anarchist political organisation inspired by the ideas of the American social ecologist and green anarchist, Murray Bookchin!

An anarchist from North London who visited Rojava noted that they are carrying out an almost unique democratic experiment: ‘We went to a meeting of one the communes based in the neighborhood of Cornish in the town of Qamishlo. There were 16 to 17 people in the meeting. The majority of them were young women. We engaged in a deep conversation about their activities and their tasks. They told us that in their neighborhood they have 10 Communes and the membership of each Commune is 16 people. They told us “We act in the same way as community workers including meeting people, attending the weekly meetings, checking any problems in the places we are based, protecting people in the community and sorting out their problems, collecting the rubbish in the area, protecting the environment and attending the biggest meeting to report back about what happened in the last week”. In response to one of my questions, they confirmed that nobody, including any of the political parties, intervenes in their decision making and that they make all the decisions collectively.’ Others have termed Rojava the Chiapas of the Middle East, in reference to the Zapatistas of Mexico.

The Rojava Charter, a kind of constitution, is a remarkable document. It states, “[w]e the peoples of the democratic self-administration areas; Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians (Assyrian Chaldeans, Arameans), Turkmen, Armenians, and Chechens, by our free will, announce this to ensure justice, freedom, democracy, and the rights of women and children in accordance with the principles of ecological balance, freedom of religions and beliefs, and equality without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, creed, doctrine or gender, to achieve the political and moral fabric of a democratic society in order to function with mutual understanding and coexistence within diversity and respect for the principle of self-determination and self-defense of the peoples….The autonomous areas of the democratic self-administration do not recognize the concept of the nation state and the state based on the grounds of military power, religion, and centralism”. The feminist part of their ideology reflects a strong commitment: in fact 30% of YPG members are women, all-woman fighting units (YPJ), are common, and women share the highest military rank with men.

Rojava offers the threat of a good example. A self-governing anarchist society with ecological aspirations may or may not be the utopia it sounds like, however the west has little time for alternatives to capitalism that might just work. The allies of the US and UK tell us all we need to know about their war on terror. These allies include Saudi Arabia, which beheads citizens on a regular basis, outlaws LGBT people, doesn’t allow women to drive and like ISIS, does not tolerate churches, Shia mosques or the advocacy of religions other than the most constrained form of Islam. Like Saudi Arabia, Qatar has funded jihadists, and then we come to Bahrain which has been heavily repressing their population.

The roll call of allies is a list of shame, which includes some of the most repressive states on our planet. It is an oil-soaked catalogue of monsters. The Kurds currently armed and supported by the US in Iraq belong to a rival political organisation to the PYD. The suspicion is that Islamic State attacks, which were moving in on the shopping malls and US centres in Iraqi Kurdistan, prompted the US intervention. For, however loud the calls are to oppose ISIS, the YPG who so far have been the most effective opponents of jihadism are largely ignored.

Turkey, another NATO ally, has been accused of supporting ISIS, as part of its longstanding conflict with the Kurds. Turkey has refused to fight ISIS, their border has been porous to jihadists wishing to join ISIS and the recent release of over 49 Turkish hostages by ISIS has been met with a suggestion of a deal between Turkey and the so-called Islamic State. Turkey has been strongly repressing the Kurds, and has argued for a buffer zone, which would essentially remove Rojava and replace it with Turkish troops. Turkey has also attempted to prevent thousands of Kurds from crossing the border to fight ISIS as they besiege Kobane. It has been alleged that $800 million of oil has been sold by ISIS in Turkey.  There is also evidence that Turkish troops have been training ISIS.

ISIS are currently concentrating their forces against their most effective opponents, the YPG and its independent democratic cause. In Kobane, the forces of ISIS terror, against which the west is supposedly at war, are at the door and massively outgun the besieged Kurds, thanks to the help of the west and its allies. The dark ironies of geopolitics cannot be made clearer: ISIS is armed with weapons captured from the US, who flooded the region with weapons, while Turkey, a NATO member, is further strengthening the terrorism against which NATO has declared war, by repressing a democratic movement fighting indigeounously against ISIS.

There have been reports of US attacks on ISIS positions near Kobane, but there is some debate as to whether these have been effective. Meryem Kobanê, Commander of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) in Kobane, noted on Saturday, September 27, that the strikes missed the ISIS forces.

The US and UK intervention has brought nothing but misery to the Middle East. The silence from Obama and Cameron regarding Turkey’s repression of the Kurds, shows that the ‘war on terror’ is more about the rhetoric than reality. All of us who want to see societies based on pluralism, self-governance, respect for minorities and empowerment of women, need to challenge our elected leaders over their failure to challenge Turkish opposition to Rojava. A victory for the Kurds and their allies in Rojava is a victory for all who want a future that is dictated neither by fundamentalists nor imperialists.

For more information on Rojava and the struggle against ISIS, see the following websites:

http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/news/

http://rojavareport.wordpress.com/

To this can be added this significant report,

Saturday, September 27, 2014 By I. Zekeriya Ayman

The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas, who won nearly 10% in the recent presidential election. The HDP is leading a big campaign of solidarity with Rojava against the IS assault.

With the US and allied nations, including Arab countries, carrying out air strikes in Syria, the Turkish government is trying to convince the West it does not support the Islamic State (IS) forces the US is targetting.

Newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the former prime minster) linked the adjective “terrorist” with “IS” for the very first time on September 23 during a US TV interview while attending the United Nations climate summit.

“Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to stop this terrorist organisation, militarily, and politically,” he said.

But the truth is that IS has received vital support from the Turkish government. It is known that IS has received crucial support from Turkey, which includes:

* Turkey positioning itself as an easy bridge for IS foreign militants to reach Syria, and Iraq;
* Trapped IS militants in Syria and Iraq escaping to Turkey to regroup and train;
* IS casualties being treated in Turkish hospitals and even having an hospital exclusively for their use;
* Turkey providing basic needs to IS under the guise of “humanitarian aid”;
* The Turkish government providing weapons and ammunitions directly to IS and provided safe passage for arms deliveries from elsewhere; and
*Turkey opening and closing its borders to suit IS.

The main reason the Turkish regime has supported IS, besides its interest in the toppling the Syrian regime, is the growing Kurdish resistance in Syria and the creation of a revolutionary “liberated zone” in the Kurdish territory of Rojava.

See more…..here.

The STWC is also silent on the Kurdish struggle.

Iraq demonstration

Parliament has voted for the third Iraq War. The last two have brought almost unimaginable suffering to the people of Iraq and have helped to create the current chaos, driving the country to the brink of break up.

They claim this is a humanitarian operation to defeat Isis. In fact, Isis is backed by various middle east powers and a new aerial bombardment will not defeat it. It will however, kill innocents, further fragment the country and inflame violence.

The record of the west’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that as well as creating misery and mayhem, western military interventions make the world a more volatile, dangerous place.

Cameron’s new war has built-in mission creep. Discussions are already underway for Britain to join the bombing of Syria, and there are growing calls for boots on the ground.

The Stop the War Coalition is asking every one of its supporters to attend the demonstration against the insanity of another war on Iraq.

There is this by contrast,

 

Kurds began a hunger strike tonight London in solidarity with the city of #Kobane, under siege & attack from ISIS. 

Delist the PKK from ‘Terrorist’ Organisations.

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron: We call on you to delist the PKK.

The end game is a solution to the Kurdish Question in Turkey and the defeat of the terrorist organisation known as ISIS. These are goals we share Prime Minister.PKK were instrumental in defending the Kurdish people who suffered from a racist forced assimilation policy since the establishment of the new modern state of Turkey.It was Turkey that labelled the PKK as ‘terrorists’ so as to justify further genocidal policies against the whole Kurdish civilian population from whom they came and had and continue to this day to have mass popular support!Turkey claim that they want a negotiated, political solution to the Kurdish Question and indeed just recently spoke of hopes for direct talks with the PKK leadership in Qandil Mountains.

Turkey has been negotiating with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan since 2011 and Turkey has seen many political changes that have now created the political conditions for the PKK to disarm and to enter the political scene.

But we believe that to go further the PKK now need to be politicised and decriminalised to fully participate in the political process.

We also believe that by decriminalising the PKK, you, the UK Government would strengthen the fight against ISIS by allowing the PKK to work freely and much more effectively to achieve a shared objective of the defeat of ISIS and development of democracy for not just the Kurdish people but of all peoples of the Middle East.

Sign here.

This is what the brave comrades of the PKK’s Syrian and Iraqi groups did recently,

“While the Yazidis expressed their anger at the KDP peshmergas’ withdrawal from Sinjar in early August, the YPG/YPJ forces crossed the now meaningless Syrian-Iraqi border to rescue the stranded Yazidis. They soon were joined by the guerrillas of the PKK. After having created a humanitarian corridor to lead the refugees to Rojava, they established a refugee camp in Derik, where the people await further humanitarian aid. The YPG/YPJ forces and PKK guerrillas now hold posts in south Kurdistan and continue to fight the Islamic State, along with the US-backed peshmergas.”

The PKK started out with the aim of an independent Kurdish state in the 1970s, but long transformed its vision and now advocates regional autonomy or “democratic confederalism” through grassroots democracy, gender equality, and ecology, while rejecting the nation-state as an oppressive, backward institution.

It is intellectually and journalistically lazy and factually fraudulent to keep calling the PKK a separatist organisation, as many news outlets do.The PKK condemned civilian attacks that were committed in their name, declared several unilateral ceasefires and currently is engaging in peace talks. Even the Turkish state accepts the PKK as a negotiating partner.”

This “terror” label also criminalises entire communities and millions of ordinary people, while shunning any theoretical approach to what the PKK wants. There are countless accounts of Yazidi refugees, who express their gratitude to the PKK for saving them. They praise the PKK and the YPG/YPJ forces for protecting the people. The PKK must be recognised as a political actor and the US and the EUshould remove it from their “terror lists”.

Secondly, Rojava must be recognised internationally. In the midst of the Syrian war, the people there created self-governance structures in the form of three autonomous cantons. These have 22 ministries with one minister and two deputies each, one Kurd, one Arab and one Assyrian, at least one of which has to be a woman. Several schools, women’s academies, working, living, and farming cooperatives, and women’s and people’s councils have been established.

The defence forces of these structures are the oldest and most experienced opponents of the Islamic State. The embargoes on Rojava oppress the region in which ten thousands of refugees are now stranded. They must be immediately lifted.

The peoples of the Middle East are well able to create their own visions of freedom and democracy, if hegemonic powers would quit hijacking these attempts for their own gains. This is a utopia that the Rojava revolution is trying to live and which it has achieved to a remarkable extent. Heavy weapons will not defeat the Islamic State, but a democratic, gender-egalitarian, autonomous organisation of the people in the Middle East will. The Rojava revolution shows us that a different world is possible.

 Dilar Dirik 

Kurdish female fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPJ) at a military training camp. [Reuters]

Wikipedia:

Designation as a terrorist group.

The PKK has been placed on the terrorism blacklists of Turkey and a number of allied governments and organisations.The military alliance NATO has declared the PKK to be a terrorist group; Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and fields the group’s second-largest armed contingent. Closely tied to NATO, the European Union—which Turkey aspires to join—officially lists the PKK as having “been involved in terrorist acts” and proscribes it as part of its Common Foreign and Security Policy. First designated in 2002, the PKK was ordered to be removed from the EU terror list on 3 April 2008 by the European Court of First Instance on the grounds that the EU failed to give a proper justification for listing it in the first place.

However, EU officials dismissed the ruling, stating that the PKK would remain on the list regardless of the legal decision.Most European Union member states have not individually listed the PKK as a terrorist group.The United Nations only blacklists al-Qaida, the Taliban, and affiliated groups and individuals, pursuant to UNSCR 1267.As such, the PKK has never been designated as a terrorist organisation by the UN, though three out of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council treat it as such on an individual basis.

The PKK is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US State Department and as a Proscribed Group by the UK Home Office.Additionally, France prosecutes Kurdish-French activists and bans organisations connected to the PKK on terrorism-related charges,having listed the group as a terrorist organisation since 1993.[126] However, French courts often refuse to extradite captured individuals accused of PKK connections to Turkey due to technicalities in French law, frustrating Turkish authorities. On the other hand, Russia has long ignored Turkish pressure to ban the PKK,and the group is also not included in the official terror blacklist of China (PRC).”

PKK Official site.

More PKK Combat news.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Humanitarian Intervention in Iraq: Seymour Pops a Happenstance for a Desideratum.

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Seymour Cautiously Predicts Civil Strife in Middle East. 

An elegiac Richard Seymour begins today by lifting out hearts.

“We face an absurd situation.  A war that is already, on its face, a sort of defeat.  Liberal and left intelligentsia once more carolling support for ‘humanitarian intervention’.  From the political class, the feast of reason and the flow of the soul, as always.  “

As always.

Indeed.

The “vim” , he discourses, that is ” impossible to fault as a desideratum.”

Flows.

A Feast.

As always.

Methinks.

What else?  Well, isn’t it about time – isn’t it always time? – to arm the rebels?  The bearers of this slogan are a living illustration of an old axiom about the proximity of liberalism and ultra-leftism, for they are ultimately as dependent upon the happenstance benign behaviour of imperialist states as those who call for direct military intervention.  And then, what else?  A solidarity campaign.  Fundraising, petitions, protests outside Downing Street, a workers’ convoy of aid to the Kurds.  If the Iraqi left is non-existent, its working class weak, let the imperishable British left substitute for it.

Note: this looks very like (as Seymour would no doubt opine on imperishable reflection) a reference to the mass-line of Tendance Coatesy.

“And behold the mortal dread, the fear of the risen proletariat, in the looks of ISIS.  “

By happenstance, perchance, mayhap…..mortally…..the sight of the  “risen proletariat”….. after  the crucifixions of ISIS…..?

Seymour continues, lugubriously,

I may sound frankly tired and cadaverously grim about the prospects, but don’t let that fool you: I very well am both tired and grim.

Note: Buy Seymour a copy of Fowler’s Modern English style with entries on elegant variation and inversion underlined.

It would be tone dumb, as well as in factual error, to counter this by saying that military action is illegal.  No such axiom will do.  The answer to the ridiculously simple slogans of humanitarian intervention cannot be shibboleths of our own.

Tone dumb indeed.

That copy of Fowler’s is winging its way already…..

The prospect which the British government is shamelessly vaunting, that they can defeat ISIS in three years, is about as believable as any other ‘cakewalk’ scenario….

The biscuit taken, the  sonorous (perhaps I should say, orotund?) conclusion arrives.

“Civil war, then, in both Iraq and Syria, for the foreseeable future.”

Yet,

As usual, I have no solutions.”

 

As always…

Now, Back the Kurds!

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tatchell

Comrade Tatchell’s Call is the Right Response. 

Few will have much time for those who simply dismiss any action against the genociders of ISIL as “imperialism”.

It is unfortunate that those who wish to “stop the war” rely on arguments that conflate the murders of a totalitarian gang with all the other forces at play.

It is even more unfortunate that ‘Little Englander’ arguments are used against the war, about its expense, and the fear that killers may attack “us”.

But we should be extremely wary of getting enthusiastic for a bombing campaign without clear objectives, and without a real chance of a democratic outcome.

It would be misguided to jump on the bandwagon that looks as if it’s going to lead to moves for “regime change” in Syria – a recipe for more chaos, suffering and the growth of Islamist killer forces.

But there is one dimension in which we can support intervention.

Patrick Cockburn states

What the plans of President Obama and Mr Cameron lack is a diplomatic plan to bring the war between the non-Isis parties in Syria to an end. The two sides fear and hate each other too much for any political solution, but it may be possible for the foreign backers of the two sides to pressure them into agreeing a ceasefire. Neither is in a position to win against each other, but both are threatened by Isis, which inflicted stinging defeats on both Assad and anti-Assad forces in the summer.

Britain should press for such a truce even if it is only engaged militarily in Iraq, because it is the outcome of the war in Syria that will determine what happens in Iraq. It was the Syrian war beginning in 2011 that reignited Iraq’s civil war and not the misdeeds of Mr Maliki.

If Isis is to be combated effectively, then the US, Britain and their allies need to establish a closer relationship with those who are actually fighting Isis, which currently include the Syrian Army, the Syrian Kurds, Hezbollah of Lebanon, Iranian-backed militias and Iran itself. The necessity for this is being made tragically clear in the Syria Kurdish enclave of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, where Isis fighters have already driven 200,000 Kurds into Turkey.

Perhaps as the Stop the War Coalition has published Cockburn they might heed what comrade Peter Tatchell says,

The truth is that if the US and UK are serious about fighting ISIS they should start by aiding the people on the ground who know the region best, have local roots and who are already leading the fight against the jihadist menace – the peshmerga army of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq and guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and allied movements in Syria. This aid could include training, weapons, military intelligence, food and medical equipment. With extra assistance and supplies, they could be a powerful, effective counter-force to ISIS. The aim would be to empower them to liberate themselves.

Kurdish protesters made this call in London during the last week. They want international military aid to enable Kurdish fighters to roll back the ISIS advance.

Sadly, the UK Stop The War Coalition (STWC) has allowed its opposition to war to trump support for democracy and human rights. It is laudable to oppose western military attacks but a betrayal to show no solidarity with the democratic, secular, liberal and left forces in Iraq and Syria who are fighting ISIS and Assad’s blood-soaked tyranny.

Not backing military aid to these progressive forces, as an alternative to Western intervention, is a serious misjudgement. STWC’s failure to support those fighting an emerging genocide has a whiff of de facto acquiescence and collusion.

I hate war and see it as a last resort. But to stave off a bloodbath and enslavement, the progressive anti-ISIS fighters deserve assistance from the West and the whole international community. If military aid to partisans fighting Nazi fascism was the right thing to do in the 1940s, then surely support for those opposing ISIS clerical fascism is the right thing to do today.

We can discuss for hours the ultimate responsibility for the rise of Islamic State.

But there is one major problem that affects everything here and now:  the actions of the Turkish government, nominally a backer of the anti-ISIS coalition.

The Guardian today publishes this report, on the attitudes of the Kurds,

Like the majority of Kurds here he firmly believes that Ankara is actively supporting Isis with heavy weaponry, medical care and money – a charge that the Turkish government vehemently denies. Facebook pictures and YouTube videos that appear to back up their suspicions are eagerly shared among the picnickers, and continuous attacks by Turkish security forces on Kurdish activists gathering in border villages is proof enough for most that Turkey does not want the Kurds to prevail in Kobani.

“We arrived on Monday from Siirt,” explains Mehmet, 55. “We want to show support and be there for our brothers and sisters across the border. We want to show them and the world that we will not give up on them. We will stay as long as we have to.” Guardian.

Yesterday Le Monde reported complicity from Turkey towards the Islamic state in an on-the-spot (and lengthy) report, (A la frontière du dijhad).

So, how are we to back the Kurds?

George Galloway, after some distasteful rhetoric, and for all the distaste we have for him, had a brief moment of good sense in the House of Commons yesterday,

Galloway eventually outlined a plan when Rory Stewart, the Conservative chairman of the Commons defence select committee, challenged him to “please bring us towards his solution to this problem”. The MP for Bradford West called for a strengthening of forces already fighting Isis; arming the forces fighting Isis; and strengthening of Kurdish forces. Guardian.

If Galloway’s Moment of Clarity was not to last (he has since been raving in support of Assad and people’s right to set up states based on Islamic ‘law’) this is of rather more weight:

The Morning Star says (Editorial, Friday),

What’s needed instead is support for those anti-Isis forces in the region which are genuinely broad-based and secular.

The Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish authorities on the ground should set the terms for assistance in that struggle, endorsed by the United Nations, not the US president, his wire-pullers and their imagined allies in Turkey and the Gulf states.

With this consensus growing on the British left * (one that already exists on the largely pro-Kurd Continental left) – outside the depleted ranks of the SWP and other die-hard ‘anti-imperialists’ – we hope that others will voice their backing for the Kurdish fighters.

* See for example, (Socialist Resistance) STOP THE BRUTAL ATTACKS BY ISIS IN KOBANE, and the declarations by groups such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (see this important article, ISIS horror forces a culture shift on the left) and the general trend towards  backing the Kurds, amongst many other declarations.

The French bloc Ensemble (in the Front de Gauche) refuses to back “national union” behind the air-strikes but then adds a call for  “un engagement dans le soutien aux peuples en lutte contre l’Etat islamique, essentiellement de la force de la résistance kurde et syrienne, qui sont des acteurs essentiels pour l’avenir de la région et par le refus des interventions déstabilisatrices des grandes puissances.” A commitment to support the peoples in struggle against the Islamic state, principally the Kurdish and Syrian  resistance, who are the central actors in assuring the region’s future, against the destabilising effects of the great powers’ interventions.

Islamic State, “Only a popular mass movement is capable of confronting it and the authoritarian regimes.” says SWP, but no mention of Kurds.

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Brave Kurdish Fighters or Western “Pawns”? 

Say no to war on Syria and Iraq by Simon Assaf, says Socialist Worker.

Fear of the revolutions lies behind the latest wars. Bashar al-Assad’s regime used Islamic State to help break the popular revolution.

“Assad and Islamic State had an unofficial agreement not to attack each other,” explained Ghayath.

“This left the regime free to bomb cities, while the Islamists murdered secular activists.”

Assad now sees a chance to regain “legitimacy” with the West as part of an alliance against Islamic State. Ghayath added that there is a “consensus” among rebel groups to welcome the West.

“The regime and sections of the opposition are competing to become the most effective US ally in the battle against Islamic State,” he said.

But the West is no ally of the struggle against dictatorships or Islamic State.

The roots of the problem lie with the West.

Islamic State is the child of the Western occupation of Iraq and the sectarian disaster that followed,” said Ghayath.

“Only a popular mass movement is capable of confronting it and the authoritarian regimes.”

Children, most claim, have no moral responsibility.

So demands to bring them, and the foreign jihadis (including from the UK) to justice are not considered,

But what of the “mass popular movement”?

What about the Kurdish forces?

Do they not exist?

Are they not part of a “popular mass movement”?

We learnt in August what the SWP’s view on the Kurdish movement  is,

Arming the Kurds won’t stop Iraq’s brutal civil war

David Cameron has announced that Britain will arm Kurdish forces fighting the growth of the reactionary Islamic State group in Iraq.

Many on the left think this a good alternative to direct Western intervention, which has been responsible for the spread of sectarianism in the region.

The Kurds live in an area divided between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey and have been fighting for a Kurdish state. Socialists support this struggle.

But only Western imperialism will benefit if in the process the Kurds become a pawn in the spiralling conflict.

Injecting Western arms will not stop Iraq’s slide into sectarian civil war.

The West has always defended its own interests in the region through backing brutal dictators.

….

Already in some parts of northern Iraq protests have taken place demanding the expulsion of Arabs from Kurdish areas, as if they were all Islamic State supporters.

Poor nationalist movements can’t always choose who to source arms from.

But despite the horror at what the Islamic State is doing, Western intervention will only prolong the fighting and intensify the divisions.

The SWP ‘supports’ the Kurdish struggle by knowing better than the Kurds what is in their interests.

The Stop the War Coalition gives ten reasons not the back the Western Intervention.

1) The West’s last operation in Iraq ended just three years ago. For those with a short memory it didn’t go well. More than half a million people died, millions fled the country and Iraq’s infrastructure was devastated. The operation generated deep resentment against the West.

2) The current chaos in Iraq – including the rise of the reactionary Isis – is largely the result of the eight years of that occupation.

3) Bombing always kills and terrorises civilians. Recent coalition bombing raids on Raqqa in Syria have brought death and panic to its residents. One civilian there told western reporters ‘I would not wish them on my worst enemy’.

4) All three of Britain’s major military interventions in the last thirteen years have been disasters. In 2001 we were told an invasion of Afghanistan would rout the Taliban. Thirteen years and tens of thousands of deaths later the Taliban have grown in strength and the country is broken. The bombing of Libya in 2011 was justified as essential to stop a massacre by Gaddafi. After it began an estimated 30,000 were killed in a terrifying cycle of violence. The country is now a failed state with no real government.

5)  The coalition that has been put together for the bombing of Syria – apparently in an effort to give the attacks legitimacy – comprises some of the most ruthless and benighted  regimes in the region. Human Rights Watch reports that nineteen people were beheaded in Saudi Aarbia in August.  Qatar and UAE have notorious human rights’ records that include the use of forced labour. All three have funded violent Jihadi groups in the region.

6) Bombing raids will increase hatred of the west. One of the wider results of the ‘War on Terror’ has been to spread Al- Quaida and other terrorist groups across whole regions of the world. In 2001 there were relatively small numbers of such militants, centred mainly on Pakistan. Now there are groups across the middle east, central Asia and Africa.

7) The timing is cynical. David Cameron has recalled parliament to debate an attack on Iraq just two days before the start of the last Tory Conference before the general election. This at a time when he is engaged in pushing a right wing, nationalist agenda for party political purposes.

8) Mission creep is almost inevitable. There are already more than a thousand US military active in Iraq and senior US military figures are arguing they should now be openly involved in fighting. In Britain a growing number of voices fromTony Blair to Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb are recommending British boots on the ground.

9) The attack will cost money much needed for other things. One Tomahawk cruise missile costs £850,000, enough to pay the annual salary of 28 NHS nurses. The US has already fired about 50 of these missiles at Isis targets in Syria. It is estimated Britain spent between £500 million and one billion pounds bombing Libya in 2011. This was roughly the same as the savings made by ending the education maintenance allowance (EMA); or three times the amount saved by scrapping the disability living allowance.

10) The vote will have a global impact. On Friday, MPs have a chance to make a real difference on matters of peace and war. The US wants Britain on board to prove it is not isolated. When MPs blocked Cameron’s last push for airstrikes, on Syria a year ago, they stopped Obama launching attacks too. A no vote could help reverse the drift towards another full scale western war in the middle east.

We can set aside the importance of the fear that bombing will “increase hatred of the West”.

If it is possible to increase the level of hatred the ISIS genociders hold then loathing their enemies for attacking them is not a bad thing.

The cost is a non-issue: we do not put a price on preventing genocide.

This is perhaps the most ignoble argument possible. 

The essential of the argument is that bombing will not be effective, it will not work, it will result in a chain of reactions that will end up with more killings, and will involve bolsytering deeply unpelsant regimes.

These points carry weight.

But what about backing the Kurds who have asked for help.

What about some international solidarity with the victims of the killers?

Back the PKK for a start!

“The PKK engaged Islamic State forces in Syria in mid-July 2014 as part of the Syrian Civil War. In August the PKK engaged IS in Northern Iraq and pressured the Government of Turkey to take a stand against IS. PKK forces also helped “tens of thousands of Yazidis escape an encircled Mount Sinjar.”

Wikipedia.

And watch this: Syrian Woman Wears Hidden Camera to Reveal Life Under ISIS Rule

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Will Bombing Make the ISIS Problem Worse? First – Back the Kurdish Fighters!

with 15 comments

What Letter Does not Say: Kurdish Fighters need our Support.

Bombing will make the ISIS problem worse (Guardian 24.9.14.)

Along with most British people, we opposed an attack on Iraq in 2003. The brutal reality of the invasion and occupation confirmed our worst fears. At least half a million died and the country was devastated.

Now, less than three years after US troops were pulled out, the US is bombing again. The British government is considering joining military action, not just in Iraq but in Syria too.

All the experience of the varied military action taken by the west in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that such interventions kill innocents, destroy infrastructure and fragment societies, and in the process spread bitterness and violence.

While we all reject the politics and methods of Isis, we have to recognise that it is in part a product of the last disastrous intervention, which helped foster sectarianism and regional division. It has also been funded and aided by some of the west’s allies, especially Saudi Arabia.

More bombing, let alone boots on the ground, will only exacerbate the situation. We urge the government to rule out any further military action in Iraq or Syria.

Caryl Churchill playwright
Brian Eno musician
Tariq Ali writer and broadcaster
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Lindsey German convenor of the Stop the War Coalition
Diane Abbott MP
Mark Rylance actor
Ken Loach film director
Michael Rosen author and broadcaster
Kate Hudson general secretary of CND
John McDonnell MP
Sami Ramadani Iraqi writer and campaigner
Len McCluskey general secretary of Unite
Amir Amarani film director
Mohammed Kozbar vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain
Dr Anas Altikriti
Walter Wolfgang Labour CND
Andrew Murray chief of staff Unite

The great unanswered question is: will supplying arms to the Kurds,  the Peshmerga, and the PKK/YPG, make the ISIS problem worse?

Yesterday on Newsnight Geoffrey Robinson rightly underlined the genocidal threat posed by Islamic State/ISIS.

“IS are pirates of the desert & enemies of humankind-they can be attacked because they are genocidal”-Geoffrey Robertson QC tells

The signers of this letter advocate  standing aside from the crimes of the Islamists, and their European recruits.

The Stop the War Coalition are going to protest – again.

Emergency protest: Don’t bomb Iraq, Don’t bomb Syria. Lobby your MP

• PROTEST: Downing Street. 5.30pm Thursday 25th September

Isis is a reactionary force, but it is in part a product of the disastrous occupation of Iraq by Western powers. Isis is funded by some of our main allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Escalating Western military intervention will do nothing to stop them but will create more suffering and further destabilise the region.

Stop the War is calling on its London supporters to protest on Thursday 25 September evening outside Downing Street from 5.30pm till 7.30pm. (Nearest tubes: Westminster and Charing Cross)

There is no call whatsoever for ways to stop the genociders’ killings, to help  the Kurds, the oppressed religious minorities, Christians, Yazidis, and the masses under the murderers’ rule. 

By contrast many on the European Left, from the Danish   Red-Green Alliance, (Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne) to influential groups on the French left (Ensemble, Parti Communiste Français)  support  the Kurdish fighters.

The PCF has released this statement (23rd September): Contre la barbarie islamiste : solidarité avec les kurdes de Syrie.

They demand aid for the Kurdish refugees and that France and other countries….

….Elles doivent soutenir les forces kurdes du PYD et du PKK qui sont aux avant-postes de la défense des valeurs universelles des Droits de l’homme. Immédiatement, le PKK doit être retiré de la liste des organisations terroristes.

….must support the Kurdish forces of the YPD and PKK, who are in the front line of the defence of the universal values of human rights. The PKK must immediately be taken off the list of terrorist organisations.

There is now a call for them to be supplied with arms.

This seems a better reply than those who limit their opposition to the jihadists to a bald statement that they “reject the politics and methods of Isis.”

This is the present plight of our Kurdish sisters and brothers,

People of North Kurdistan will protect 160 km of border

The solidarity protest initiated in the Suruç district of Urfa in order to support the resistance of Kobanê against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham) has been continuing for 5 days.

The people who have not left the area despite the heavy attacks of the Turkish troops, have moved the tent which was set up in the village of Etmanik to the village of Dewşan.
After the news that the Turkish state had conveyed ISIS gangs to the border with Rojava by trains, buses and other vehicles appeared in the media, the area of the vigil has been widened.

The vigil which was originally carried out at one point will from now on be maintained by activists at the Urfa-Kobanê border along a 160 km stretch.

After a decision taken by the Kurdistan People’s Initiative, thousands of the people spread out along the border.

Meanwhile, the DBP (Party of Democratic Regions) declared that all town and city organisations will be at the border today. It is expected that the people coming from different cities will keep vigil at different points of the border.

Thousands arrive in Suruç, then head for border

This morning thousands of people arrived in Suruç in response to the DBP appeal, before going by bus to the Kobanê border. Following the call by the DBP, thousands of people from many cities in North Kurdistan arrived in Suruç early this morning. From there they will spread out along the border.

The European left has a special responsibility to show solidarity to the Kurdish left: they are our kith and kin.

The letter against US bombing is distinguished by its deathly silence on this burning issue.

We can begin by signing this petition.

Deproscribe the PKK

Responsible department: Home Office

The Kurdish PKK and its Syrian sister group the YPG are at the forefront of the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. PKK fighters are credited with opening a corridor allowing Yazidi refugees in the Sinjar Mountains free passage to safer regions in Iraq and Syria.

The politics of the PKK have changed since they were proscribed, from militant Marxism fighting the Turkish state, to an organisation pursuing a largely non-violent strategy aimed at greater regional autonomy. They have been engaged in peace talks with the Turkish state since July this year.

The UK should recognise the changes that have taken place and how the situation on the ground has changed and deproscribe the PKK.

Sign the Petition: Here.

And this Petition,

SIGN THE APPEAL

One year ago, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign sent out an appeal for the governments of the UK, EU and Turkey to remove the PKK from their list of terrorist organisations, and have been collecting signatures ever since. The list of the first signatories to this appeal includes prominent public figures such as Gareth Pierce and Michael Mansfield QC, as well as campaigners, journalists, and members of the British and European parliament.

Here

Bob Lambert, Police Spy, Resurfaces to Offer to Advise Government on Islamists.

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Bob Lambert Receives  Islamic Human Rights Award (2007).

In the news, for what reason?

Ministers have been urged to enlist the help of several controversial Muslim groups to stem the flow of British jihadists to Iraq and Syria.

Calls are growing for Whitehall to restore ties in particular with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), one of the country’s largest Islamic organisations. The group, which once enjoyed a close relationship with the government, has been ostracised since 2009 when one of its officials signed a declaration supporting Hamas and calling on Muslims to destroy “foreign warships” preventing arms smuggling into Gaza.

Robert Lambert, a former head of the Metropolitan police Muslim contact unit who is now a lecturer in terrorism studies at the University of St Andrews, said that the MCB and other Muslim groups could be valuable partners in the struggle against home-grown jihad….”

Originally in the Times (yesterday) – Hat-tip DT.

The rest of the story goes,

“In many instances the government considers these groups to be unsuitable partners because, in the government’s view, they are extremist and do not subscribe to British values,” he said.

Dr Lambert described the MCB aa notable example of a national umbrella body that has potential to help tackle violent extremist radicalisation and recruitment” and praised one of its affiliates, the Muslim Association of Britain [MAB], for its work with young Muslims around the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.

In a 2011 speech at a security conference in Munich David Cameron said that “the ideology of extremism [was] the problem”, pledging to confront non-violent Islamism as well as jihadists.

The MAB said it was fully prepared to work with the government, while the MCB said that it would co-operate but would not seek taxpayer funding.

“We are more than happy to work productively with the government on this issue, but we will be mindful of getting involved in initiatives that will further alienate young people,” it said.

Lambert has been exposed as a secret policeman (Infiltration of animal rights, anti-racist and environmental groups), agent provocateur (he has been accused of arson by Caroline Lucas, M.P) , and is the father of an (abandoned) child by one of the activists he was spying on.

For more on this story of abuse and attacks on democracy, see Wikipedia). (1)

His defenders included Bob Pitt, of Islamophobia Watch and .

Pitt notably lauded Lambert’s “achievements” and has attacked the “demonisation” of his activities as a “young copper.” (see this link for full list of Pitt’s posts defending the secret policeman).

Abdullah wrote this in 2011.

The “exposure” of the former special branch officer Bob Lambert comes at a convenient time: it can serve as a distraction from the scandals that have engulfed the neocon tendency in the government. Lambert has been a staunch critic of the government’s Islamophobic rhetoric and exclusivist policies. This, to a large extent, explains the excitement that has greeted disclosure of information about Lambert’s past career among certain people.

These people seek to achieve two things: to assassinate Lambert’s character and discredit his academic work. Both will fail.

Those of us who worked with him during the difficult decade after 11 September 2001 always knew he came from a police background, and specifically the special branch unit. It was no secret. If at any point he was involved in the infiltration of legitimate protest and political groups while being a special branch officer, then that was wrong. That being said, the political authors of such a policy should bear the full responsibility for it and not any single officer.

What has stood out about Lambert has been his commitment to peace, justice and social harmony. He was never as preoccupied with words as he was with deeds. Hence he entered into partnerships with almost everyone who was committed to these ideals.

It appears that this callous secret policeman is a lecturer at the ‘university’ of Saint Andrews.

A fine gauge of the quality of the education that they have to offer.

It is unlikely that anybody else is likely to take Lambert’s kind offer of advice seriously.

(1) Guardian June 2013. “A woman who had a child with an undercover police officer who was spying on her says she feels she was “raped by the state” and has been deeply traumatised after discovering his real identity.

She met the undercover officer – Bob Lambert – in 1984. At the time, Lambert was posing as “Bob Robinson”, an animal rights activist, on behalf of the then secret police unit known as the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).”

Standing up to UKIP? A Critical Appraisal.

with 10 comments

Will this Defeat UKIP?

Some on the left remain in mourning for the failure of the Scottish referendum to “bring their country into the world of free and sovereign nations”. Some console themselves that Alba is already a “transformed, empowered country.” (Neil Ascherson. Observer. 21.8.14.)

Westminster Centralism appears on the wane. A large constituency demands a “grant of real responsibility to local communities.” This means, they say, a change in the structure of the British constitution, perhaps an English parliament, certainly greater control for regions and cities inside and outwith Scotland’s borders.

Constitutional issues are not the preserve of Scottish nationalists or the new regionalists. UKIP has made its transition from pressure group to serious political contender by demanding that Britain be ‘free’ from the legislative power of the European Union. The issue of sovereignty is the central concern of Nigel Farage’s party. UKIP is, first and foremost, anti-EU. It wants ‘independence’ for the British people from ‘Brussels’. It is not ‘Eurosceptic’; it is Europhobic.

The Scottish separatists want to see the back of ‘Westminster’, for the good of their own people. Some, notably in the SNP, claim to see the European Union as a positive force that would help them towards that aim. With their common concern with national power we can call both parties, despite this major difference on the EU, “sovereigntists.” The party once led by Alex Salmond believes in a limited degree of pooled sovereignty in order to ‘save the nation state’ (as Milward called it), UKIP is simply wants to shore up the nation state. (1)

Stand up to UKIP.

Left-wing activists, called to support the campaign Stand up to UKIP, which plans a major demonstration outside the Party’s conference next weekend, can be forgiven for forgetting the word “independence” in the title. The launch of this campaign, after all, declares,

“It has built up its electoral base by both presenting itself as a party opposed to the European Union, but more importantly by spreading poisonous lies and hatred towards migrants and MuslimsWe believe UKIP is a racist party. This may be something Farage and the party’s leadership is quick to deny. But in the run up to the European elections UKIP’s mask slipped. UKIP presents the anti-racist movement with a major problem – dragging British politics to the right.”

Let us leave aside the claim that UKIP specialises in ‘anti-Muslim’ campaigning. This will come as news to the Bangladeshi organisers of the Ipswich ‘Multi-cultural festival’ at the end of August this year, who included a full page UKIP advertisement, along with Labour and Tory endorsements, in the day’s programme. It will also be a surprise to anybody reading official UKIP material, which does not single out the topic of Islam, but instead includes it within a blanket condemnation on multi-culturalism – the real reason to be astonished at the Ipswich anomaly.

Andy Jones argues, “UKIP is the main organised expression of the new anti-immigrant racism.” (International Socialism. June 2014. No 114) Nobody can deny that it has gained support for its hostility towards migration – their leaflets warning of a mass Bulgarian and Rumanian invasion are still fresh in people’s minds. Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin point to their ability to “recognise and often moblise public resentments of immigration and ethnic minorities among the white majority” (Page 159 Revolt on the Right. 2014). 

Is this part and parcel of a “party of bigots, sexists, Islamophobes and homophobes”? Perhaps. But does this imply that they have won votes as this kind of party? Stand up to UKIP clearly seems to think that “exposing” them as such will eat away at their support. Others consider that this is part of their appeal.

Ford and Godwin state that UKIP’s “electoral base is old, male, working class, white and less educated, much like the BNP’s (Ibid). Their analysis of the attitudes within the group they identify would tend to support the view that many of UKIP’s less attractive and prejudices attitudes have an echo within their constituency. Others note that the Stand up to UKIP list of bigoted opinions, slightly more politely expressed, is shared with middle class and upper class voters, the readership of the Daily Mail, Telegraph, and the Times. That UKIP voters are by no means largely working class. (2) 

In the publicity for the 27th demonstration at UKIP’s conference it’s stated, “UKIP likes to say it is the “people’s army” in opposition to the political elite in the mainstream parties. But it is a racist party that blames migrant workers for the problems in society it is acting as a shield for the bankers who are really responsible for the economic crisis.”

Is shouting “racist party” outside the UKIP meeting going to change anybody’s opinions?  I say shouting, but screaming ‘racist’ is the likely prospect. The involvement of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) signals the direction the protest is taking. This Sealed-Knot re-enactment of the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) demonstrations of yesteryear is a dead-end. The chorus, conducted by the Socialist Workers Party (Stand up’s main initiator) is not going to win over anybody outside their ranks. 

Revealing the role of UKIP as “shield for the bankers” is as unlikely undermine their support as “unmasking” them as an unsavoury load of old racists. The competition created in the labour market by migration is  – on at least some evidence deliberately encouraged by employers – is the material basis on which people ‘blame’ foreigners for low wages.

A trade union approach is to set a standard, the Living Wage, and high social benefits and work protection for all. Only unions are capable of grappling with these problems directly, bringing the actual and potential UKIP voters together with migrants on the basis of common interests. The left needs to focus on campaigns by the TUC and its affiliates, to prevent the bosses from setting one group against another. It is the European Union which should create the conditions for continent-wide higher wages and social benefits, a strategy of upgrading standards. Any form of sovereigntist politics, from UKIP, the SNP (which advocates lower corporation tax in Scotland) to the Conservative Party’s own Eurosceptic policies (the most direct threat), is an attack on this internationalist approach.

Defeating UKIP.

After Douglas Carswell’s resignation from the Tory party and decision to stand for UKIP in Clacton on the 9th of October the party is rarely out of the headline. Polls gives Carswell a wide lead. The group now has 39,143 members. The left has to think, deeply and seriously, without yelling, about how to deal with UKIP’s appeal. 

UKIP’s biggest weakness is not that it is a party with an exceptionally high membership of obsessives, xenophobes and oddballs. Having set out on a ‘populist’ path, that is, with the call for the British to rise up against the Brussels elite, its focus anti-European policies cut if off from the large numbers of people who (correctly) identify the ‘elite’ with a domestic Establishment. Many in these circles, including those who are virulently opposed to ‘Brussels’, are attracted, with a degree of ‘cultural cringe’ to the United States. They are prepared to cooperate with Washington and Wall Street in enterprises like TIIP, which open the way to an even greater extension of free-market power.

Farage’s organisation does not combine their prejudices with a degree of ‘social’ demands (protecting ‘the British worker’ ‘our NHS’). It opts for hard-line free-market policies. Continental populists, by contrast, are often opposed to ‘globalisation’ and ‘neo-liberalism’. Some European ‘populist’ parties, like the French Front National, have even tried to influence trade unions (3). This may reflect their middle class base, although the French FN equally benefits from electoral backing in middle class and wealthy areas (the traditional fiefs of the right and extreme-right in cities like Paris). 

Yet UKIP’s electoral success (27.5% of the vote in the European elections) has had exactly the same effect: a constant drag towards the right, hauling political players towards its brand of patriotism.

That they are braggarts, demagogues, that their xenophobic policies (directed against other Europeans) have racial overtones (against any ‘foreigners’ – that is, including British citizens, ethnic minorities), is important. This should be brought out and attacked.

But the only way Farage’s party will be sent back to the margins is by facing up to the issue of Sovereignty. To Stand up to UKIP is to stand up for the European Union, to engage in the transformation of its structures and to build a European Social Republic.

****

Note: for a real anti-racist campaigning group see Hope not Hate which has covered everyday racism, UKIP, the BNP and other UK far-right groups, including Islamists.

(1) The European Rescue of the Nation State (1999) by the late Alan Milward.

(2) “The data on which Ford and Goodwin base their analysis of Ukip voters consists, as they acknowledge, of people who intend to vote Ukip, rather than those who have. On the occasions when Ukip’s vote increases dramatically (such as in European elections) their new or temporary voters are more likely to be middle-class, financially secure and from Conservative backgrounds. And, while Ukip did indeed attract more former Labour voters during the later New Labour years, they have won a substantially higher proportion of Tory voters since the coalition came to power.

So there might be another explanation for the high Ukip vote in Labour areas. As the BBC’s political research editor, David Cowling, points out, in Labour’s safest seat in the country at the 2010 election, 28% of voters still supported other parties. This is not because Liverpool Walton is peppered with enclaves of bankers and stockbrokers; it’s because a substantial section of the working class has always voted for parties other than Labour and now that vote is going to Ukip. Ford and Goodwin argue that Ukip’s success has reduced the swing to Labour among old, poor and male voters. But that’s different from saying that Ukip is eating into the existing Labour vote, as it clearly is into the Conservatives’.” David Edgar.

(2) See the collection of articles in Nouveau Visages des Extrêmes Droites. Manière de Voir. Le Monde Diplomatique. 134. Avril Mai 2014.

Update: SWP Party Notes,

Stand Up to Ukip: Doncaster 27 September
Ukip look odds on to win their first MP in the Clacton by-election on 9 October following the defection of Douglas Carswell to Ukip from the Tories.
Nigel Farage hopes to exploit the tensions inside the Tory party together with rising Islamaphobia to increase Ukip’s influence. This will drag politics further to the right, further boosting racist scapegoating.

The demonstration outside Ukip’s conference in Doncaster on Saturday 27 September is a key step in developing campaign against Ukip.

Every branch needs to think about transport to Doncaster. Approach trade unions for sponsorship and to publicise the demo and we should produce tickets to sell. (a template is attached). We should leaflet FE colleges and universities as they return. Using the Stand up to Ukip statement, which has an impressive list of ‘big’ names on it around work and with people we know locally is a good way to talk to people about the importance of coming to Doncaster and showing that there is organised opposition to Ukip.

More transport has been put on over the last week – including from Huddesfield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, West Midlands, Newcastle, Derby. For the full list go to standuptoukip.org

There are SUTU public meetings tonight in Manchester and Cambridge.

To order colour 2-sided A5 leaflets advertising the demo in Doncaster, emailinfo@standuptoukip.org – 1,000 cost £15.

Another French Left Group (Ensemble) Backs Arming Kurds.

with 2 comments

What is at Stake in the autonomous Struggle of progressive Forces against the Islamic State. (Extracts – Adapted)  

The announcement of an “international coalition” to fight the “Islamic state” is the latest act in a string of disasters caused by Western imperialist interventions in the Middle East. This – a reminder –  is not part of any genuine anti imperialism,  but allows us to understand the dynamics at work, which have been reshaped since  the US intervention in 2003,  in the current situation.  As with 2003, Western imperialism produce disasters, then intervenes to “fix” the consequences of these catastrophes, and then creates further disasters of an even greater magnitude – a succession of links in an endless chain.

Thus, we cannot admit that there are  “humanitarian” motives at work inside the US  administration or support the coalition that they seek to put in place in order to maintain their hold. Nevertheless, it is impossible to denounce, simply, American imperialism, and remain indifferent to the devastation caused by the Islamic State, IS (mass killings, persecution of religious minorities, Sunni disagreements, the tens of thousands of Yazidis left to die in the Sinjar). This would equally be to ignore the actions of the reactionary and authoritarian and regional powers. We need not simply to react to the massacres and repression perpetrated by the IS but also to stem the wave of disasters engulfing the region. Indeed, imperialism finds its strongest basis in  these religious confessional and national divisions..

Faced with these obstacles, it is necessary to defend movements of  local self-defence rather than increasing the stranglehold of imperialism. This implies, therefore  support (including weapons) for progressive forces in the region to combat the Islamic State.  That is, for the Popular Committees in Syria who have been abandoned to their fate, and for the broad movement around the Kurdish PKK.

…..

(There follows an analysis which lays the blame for ISIS’s rise in Syria on Assad’s willingness to foment divisions in his opposition, and on Turkey, which is charged with “complaisance” towards the rise of the Islamists.)

Kurdish forces and issues

The main armed resistance opposed to the Islamic State  is represented by various  Syrian opposition movements and the PKK, the main Kurdish political-military organization of Turkish forces.

The PKK was born in the social and political ferment of the 70s Turkey, created by Kurdish leftist students. Its historic leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is held in prison in Turkey but still leads the PKK and the movement that revolves around it.Following a tradition that can be termed “Stalinist” the PKK has managed to supplant other Kurdish organizations in Turkey and has a mass base in the bulk of Turkish Kurdistan. The  PKK “mouvance” (broad movement)  can often have a very opportunist line – but retains a  military capacity, is the political representative of the large Kurdish minority in Turkey. Note also that the whole movement around the PKK is highly feminised (both in recruitment and in access to positions of fighting and political-military leadership).

……

..an essential part of fighting is taking place in Syria where this movement already existed. However, it is true that the PKK stepped onto Iraqi territory in the mountains of Sinjar to fight IS and to rescue tens of thousands of Yezidi (a Zoroastrian religious minority from Kurdish-speaking areas).  In keeping with its normal practice, the PKK has sought to create a local sister organization, with the Yezidi, the Resistance Units Kirkuk-Mexmour. In northern Syria, the PYD unilaterally declared independence in the territories it controls (the Rojava, that is to say, the Western Kurdistan). It  has been criticised by other Kurdish organizations in Syria gathered in the Kurdish National Council. This tension between the PYD and CNK is only a reflection of the broader opposition among the Kurds between the PKK and the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) of Massoud Barzani, the “feudal” political leader who heads the autonomous Kurdish regional government Kurdish in northern Iraq (and which is bound by the CNK in Syria).

Briefly, the PKK reproach, rightly, to Barzani and the Kurdish autonomous regional government in northern Iraq with having links with the Turkish government, leaving the Islamic State free to continue their progress  progress in northern Iraq, and, as a  result of this alliance, to be so directly responsible for the progress of EI and the fall of Mosul. Conversely, Barzani accused the PKK-PYD of having links with the Assad regime. …

(There follows detailed analysis of these ties, claims and counterclaims.)

The important points of the Ensemble analysis are these: they back “active local defence “, that they regard this as a “medium-term challenge ” to ” imperialist logic” and believe that will contribute towards the “healing” (assainissement) of the Kurdish national question” which is one of  “the elements of division between the most important people of the region.” 

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  warns against US-led intervention in Iraq and Syria.

It has yet to offer any comment on demands for “support (including weapons) for progressive forces in the region.”

By contrast  Socialist Worker said in August, Arming the Kurds won’t stop Iraq’s brutal civil war.

More recently (September 16th) they found nothing to say on the Kurdish struggle against the Islamist genociders.

Instead they warned  US missiles will worsen Iraq crisis.

Apparently one of the main dangers is that, “This will be a green light for targeting Muslims and increasing Islamophobia as all Muslims are portrayed as a terrorist threat.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

Scotland: Nationalists Lose, and Demand More Powers.

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Loser expects Devolution Demands to be met “in Rapid Form”. 

The campaign for Scottish Independence lost the referendum.

“With the results in from all 32 council areas, the “No” side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for “Yes”.” (BBC)

With the grace and good humour of a stoat, a stoat that’s just had a rabbit snatched from its maw, Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP announced, “Scotland has, by a majority, decided not at this stage to become an independent country. And I accept that verdict of the people. And I call on all of Scotland to follow suit in accepting the democratic verdict of the people of Scotland.”

The First Minister of Scotland quickly added, “The unionist parties made vows late in the campaign to devolve more powers to Scotland. Scotland will expect these to be honoured in rapid form.” (Guardian)

Tommy Sheridan of ‘Solidarity’, tweeted, ” Bosses, Bankers, Billionaires & Millionaires unite with Labour MPs, Tories, UKIP & UK Establishment 2 celebrate Project Fear.”

Colin Fox Spokesperson of the Scottish Socialist Party found time to state (Sky), “The big story tonight is the astonishing levels of turnout in a political contest in Scotland, which is on a par with North Korea, China, Cuba and those places.I think it’s remarkable and I certainly want to pay tribute to the Yes campaigners who over the last two years have energised this country. Clearly both sides of the campaign deserve credit for those levels of turnout.

Commenting on the relatively lower turnout in Glasgow in comparison with other areas, Mr Fox said: “Glasgow’s turnout in the Scottish Parliament elections is usually 40% and it is now 75%, so that’s not to be sniffed at.Let’s hope we can keep it at that level, I think it’s astonishing. Nearly doubling the turnout in Glasgow is a significant achievement for Scotland’s biggest city, with the greatest deprivation and the biggest social problems.”

This mobilisation apparently was the most impressive aspect of the campaign to Red Pepper. Ken Ferguson wrote this breathless article in the Red-Green journal – before the referendum yesterday.

Whatever the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September one thing is certain: the campaign waged by Yes has electrified large swathes of public opinion and reinvigorated democratic debate. The formal Yes campaign, launched two years ago, has been the public face of the pro-independence case. But this has been eclipsed by a burgeoning mass movement of unprecedented scale and breadth.

Ferguson saw many things in this movement, though not, apparently the loyalty to their ‘ain’ State by many of the Yes supporters.

The character and content of the campaign, with its stress on social justice, poverty and opposition to Trident (Scottish CND back Yes), is clearly of the left but it has now far outgrown the organisations of the left. The task, then, is to find an approach that keeps this movement mobilised and able to deal with whatever the referendum produces.

He then observed,

A No result poses even more difficult challenges. First, many of the layers of people – particularly youth – energised by the campaign would face a bitter defeat. It would be vital that the left acts to assess the result and how to deal with it to prevent disillusionment and demobilisation.

For the first time in many years the left has been part of, indeed helped to create, a mass movement that goes beyond the single issue of Yes and starts to open up a vision of a different Scotland and, more widely, a different world. Whatever the result, a democratic debate on how we find both a grassroots and electoral expression of that movement needs to take place immediately.

At its heart will be the need for the left, in dialogue with and not dictating to the mass movement, to win purchase for the kind of green, left democratic politics that energises the broad Yes movement. The consequences of not doing so were shown at the Euro elections, when early discussions of a red/green candidate backed by the Greens and the SSP fell by the wayside. Such an alliance might well have prevented UKIP winning Scotland’s fourth Euro seat and, while a bitter lesson, it also points to the prospects that exist if the left can grasp the opportunities to hand.

Democracy has been the driver of the Yes campaign’s aims and on 18 September it needs to be the watchword for the left whatever the result.

Energising, bitter lessons, democracy, and not a word about the hysterical patriotism of the Yes campaign’s supporters.

This stand is shared by the Radical Independence Campaign whose left-wing politics have been watered down (perhaps wisely in view of the above observation – they worked very closely with the SNP in the final days of the referendum, even organising joint canvassing) to this harmless statement,

We believe Scotland should be a people’s democracy, a society of equality, a great welfare state, a good neighbour, and pioneer a just economy.

More realistic are European observers who note the nationalism of the main party campaigning for the Yes vote, the SNP – whose name might be a clue in this respect.

In the French and Belgian media they call them “sovereigntists” – those who want Scottish sovereign power above everything else.

This, it is true, would be used to create a slightly different world, one in which another small state offers advantages to corporations in order to compete in the European Union, and makes sure its own party snaffles as much power and privilege as it can get.

The snaffling is proceeding with Salmond’s demands for “more power”.

Nobody can deny that the mild social democratic policies (on, for example, Student fees and prescription charges) of the Holyrood government have advantages over those pursued in the rest of the UK.

Some would argue that this is proof that they should be extended to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and not restricted to Alba.

This contrasts with the ambitious thinking of leftists prepared to settle, if not for socialist politics, at least for the radical ambition of a ‘break up’ of Britain.

Tom Nairn, a New Leftist  who enjoys close relations with the SNP, is known for this phrase. (1)

He called the British state, Ukania (on the model of the novelist Thomas Musil’s name for  the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kakania), one of many unfunny jokes of which Nairn alone has the secret.

The end of this Prison of the Peoples would set the ….People free.

For reasons which are all too obvious a certain type of leftist dullard saw in this a call to “smash the (capitalist) state”.

On this basis the nationalist programme of standing up for one People, the Scots, became the cause of the Peoples.

The workers had a country, and that country was Scotland.

It would apparently be moving in a “republican” direction -despite not a  squeak on this change from the SNP.

Indeed Salmond seemed to think he would be anointed in power by the Queen, no doubt in full ceremonial dress.

Arguments which are harder to follow were used to assert that a separatist movement in the United Kingdom was in reality….internationalism. 

Another state would bring nations and the working classes of the world closer together.

And another state, and another……

This is the logic of the ‘negation of the negation’. It resembles Trotsky’s claim in Terrorism and Communism (1920), that “The road to socialism lies through a period of the highest possible intensification of the principle of the state … Just as a lamp, before going out, shoots up in a brilliant flame, so the state, before disappearing, assumes the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat…”

Stalin put paid to the application of that argument in the Soviet Union.

Unfortunately, with Salmond still panting for ermine and the Royal blessing for independence, and many on the Scottish left continuing to believe in their ain state for their ain folk,  their ideas have not been fully refuted by their present defeat.

The ‘patriots’ of the SNP and the left seem determined to continue.

As indeed do UKIP – our next target.

(1) See (some parts dated) The Break-Up of Tom Nairn? Tom Nairn, Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom, Verso, 2002. Hardback, 300pp, £15.99. Reviewed by Andrew Coates.

Scotland, Marxism, and Self-Determination: a Luxemburgist Stand.

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Some on Scottish Left Dance to Nationalist Tune. 

“The formula of the “right of nations” is inadequate to justify the position of socialists on the nationality question, not only because it fails to take into account the wide range of historical conditions (place and time) existing in each given case and does not reckon with the general current of the development of global conditions, but also because it ignores completely the fundamental theory of modern socialists – the theory of social classes.

When we speak of the “right of nations to self-determination, “ we are using the concept of the “nation” as a homogeneous social and political entity. But actually, such a concept of the “nation” is one of those categories of bourgeois ideology which Marxist theory submitted to a radical re-vision, showing how that misty veil, like the concepts of the “freedom of citizens,” “equality before the law,” etc., conceals in every case a definite historical content.

In a class society, “the nation” as a homogeneous socio-political entity does not exist. Rather, there exist within each nation, classes with antagonistic interests and “rights.” There literally is not one social area, from the coarsest material relationships to the most subtle moral ones, in which the possessing class and the class-conscious proletariat hold the same attitude, and in which they appear as a consolidated “national” entity. In the sphere of economic relations, the bourgeois classes represent the interests of exploitation – the proletariat the interests of work……

There can be no talk of a collective and uniform will, of the self-determination of the “nation” in a society formed in such a manner. If we find in the history of modern societies “national” movements, and struggles for “national interests,” these are usually class movements of the ruling strata of the bourgeoisie, which can in any given case represent the interest of the other strata of the population only insofar as under the form of “national interests” it defends progressive forms of historical development, and insofar as the working class has not yet distinguished itself from the mass of the “nation” (led by the bourgeoisie) into an independent, enlightened political class.”

Rosa Luxemburg The National Question. 1909.  

There is a mountain of articles about the Scottish Referendum.

Many on the left are increasingly rejecting the nationalism of a large part of the Scottish left.

Today this is a another, relevant,  article on the Scottish ‘national question’  (extracts),

SCOTLAND’S TORY MENACE

24 hours before the referendum vote in Scotland, Maria Fyfe presents the case for NO and the unhelpful influence of unhelpful Tories. (Chartist Magazine

There have been times when I thought we would lose it.  The gap was down to single figures when Cameron and Osborne managed to get hackles up.  They were explaining a simple truth,  but saying it in a bossy way.  Why would England, Wales and Northern Ireland want to be the lender of last resort to what had become a foreign country?  So yet again we heard Salmond’s refrain: anything any opponent says is either bullying, bluffing or scaremongering.

The deceit by the Nationalists has been staggering. Salmond claimed to have legal advice that Scotland would have no difficulty with continued membership of the European Union.  This turned out to be completely untrue.  There never has been any such advice and the Scottish taxpayer paid for the legal bills arising out of a successful Freedom of Information challenge. Currently they are claiming the NHS will be privatised in Scotland if the No vote succeeds.  This, despite the fact that our NHS is wholly in the hands of the Scottish Parliament, and no party at Holyrood has ever proposed doing that. They claim no-one in Westminster will deliver extra powers for the Scottish Parliament, because having the parliament at all was rejected in 1979.

No mention that Labour campaigned for it for years, and it was won when Labour came to power in 1997. They even lie about Scottish history.   You can amuse yourself counting the number of factual errors in the film ‘Braveheart’, which some regard as inspirational for the struggle for Scottish freedom.  But my favourite is the one about the Scottish Parliament.  It came into being in 1999,   created by an Act of Parliament whose first line was, ‘There shall be a Scottish Parliament’.  Not according to the Nationalists.  As they will have it, even although 300 odd years have passed since it was abolished (as was the English parliament too) in 1707,   it has actually been ‘re-convened’.”

“They have been promising a land of milk and honey. But with no tax rises promised as well, and a cut in corporation tax of 3p in the £ below whatever George Osborne sets it at, people then ask how they are going to pay for all this.  And doesn’t it follow that with big business paying less, the rest of us will either pay more, or see cuts imposed in social services?  Do people in England realise this policy is expressly intended to draw businesses and jobs away from England?  It’s a race to the bottom.  Not only that, it is hardly the action of a ‘good neighbour’ which Salmond goes around England promising to be.

They even pretend to have Labour’s interests at heart.  Oh yes.  In an independent Scotland Labour will be free of the shackles imposed by right wing Labour in England, and could compete with the Nationalists as an alternative social democratic party.  Just in case any reader is fooled by this, note that for years it has been the SNP’s intention to destroy Labour, because that is the only party that can stand between them and their goal of independence.”

“I fear that if it is a narrow win for a No vote, the Nationalists will not respect the result, but keep on in a new  referendum like Quebec.   To stop that happening Labour has to regain trust amongst voters that fell away, in all parts of Britain, and at least achieve and stay in power for a good while to come.”

Rosa Luxemburg’s position was shaped by her opposition to Polish nationalism.

She was clearly wrong to downgrade the importance of the fight of the Poles for freedom from Tsarist tyranny. (1)

But the questions she posed remain relevant: how can we talk of a ‘collective will’ of nation, even ‘a‘ nation in a a globalised world?

Clearly these ideas are more than an “imagined community”, they have a more material ground in the interests of a national, Scottish, class fraction of the bourgeoisie and its political expression, the SNP.

A new nation state in Scotland, whose economic programme rests of “competitive undercutting” of corporation tax,  would leave deep scars in the labour movement.

It divides people on the basis of their nationality.

It is  a fantasy that it will be more progressive than the United Kingdom, the history of new small nation states in Europe (from the Balkans to central Europe) shows that such states are more dominated by the flows of international capital than larger entities.

It is a delusion to think that once separated a new Alba can simply join a new federation of the ‘Isles’.

It will be a set-back for those who aim for a  a European social republic, a federation of the peoples and the working class .

It is a the height of arrogance to pretend that an independent Scotland will be a beacon for the left.

Those on the Scottish Left who back a Yes vote have become gillies for Alex Salmond and SNP.

They are loyal to their ‘ain folk’ and the project of their ‘ain’ nation.

This is the kind of nationalist politics that the ‘Yes’ side have got mixed up in.

Let us hope that they are defeated.  

Update: Rosie has written a stirling attack on Salmond’s leyal subjects, Neverendum Land, from near the heart of auld reekie.

Phil’s An Open Letter to Yes-Voting Socialists is also essential reading.

 

(1) The point is made in Rosa Luxemburg and the national question. Tony Cliff. From his book on Luxemburg (1959/69)

He added,

Rosa Luxemburg’s strength regarding the national question lies, as elsewhere, in her complete devotion to internationalism and her independence of thought. This led her, via Marx’s method, to see how the position of Poland had changed vis-à-vis Russia between Marx’s time and her own. It caused her, contrary to Marx, to oppose the national struggle of Poland, but at the same time, and again contrary to Marx and Engels, led her to support the national movement of the South Slavs against Turkey. Marx and Engels had argued that to halt the advance of Tsarism the unity of the Turkish Empire had to be defended; and the national movements of the South Slavs, which were engulfed in Pan-Slavic ideas, and were blind weapons in the hands of Tsarism, had to be opposed. Rosa Luxemburg made an excellent analysis of the new conditions in the Balkans since the time of Marx. She concluded first that the liberation of the Balkan nations suppressed by the Turks would rouse the nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The end of the Turkish Empire in Europe would also mean the end of the Hapsburg Empire. Secondly, she argued that since Marx’s time the national movement of the Balkans had come under the dominion of the bourgeoisie, and hence any continuation of Russian influence was due only to suppression by Turkey. The liberation of the Balkan peoples from the Turkish yoke would not enhance the influence of Tsarism, but would weaken it, as these peoples would be under the leadership of a young and progressive bourgeoisie which would clash more and more with reactionary Tsarism. Thus, in the case of the Balkan nations, Rosa Luxemburg’s attitude to their national strivings differed greatly from her attitude to Poland.

Danish Leftists Back Military Aid to Iraq.

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Danish Revolutionary Socialists Says: Arm Kurdish Freedom Fighters!

Danish socialists voting for a parliamentary decision to send a military plane to Iraq under US command is not usual. Even more unusual is the fact that I – considering myself a revolutionary Marxist – voted to support that decision. Nevertheless, that is what happened a few weeks ago.

The parliamentary group of the Red-Green Alliance (RGA – Enhedslisten) voted together with all out parties for sending a Hercules airplane to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. The plane will transport weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish militias fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).”

Reports Michael Voss (of the Danish  Red-Green Alliance, Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne), known as Enhl, and SAP (Socialistisk Arbejderparti) in International Viewpoint (journal of the Fourth International).

The nightmare of some ‘anti-imperialist’ hipsters has had a real political impact…..

Why Danish leftists supported military aid to Iraq Monday 15 September 2014

Comrade Voss  made the honest point that,

In that way there is a temporary coincidence of interests between imperialism and socialists on the simple issue of fighting IS. We want to supply the Kurds with weapons, and US imperialism want to supply the Kurds with weapons – for the time being. Not supporting it, only because of the US command, would be as if Lenin had refused to travel in the sealed train supplied by German imperialism through imperialist Germany to Russia in the middle of the Russian revolution, as another NL-member said.

And that,

I don’t think that much argument is needed to back the fact that revolutionary socialists also want to fight and stop IS, a murderous, sectarian and deeply reactionary force. A victory for IS will set back any social, democratic, pro-women or anti-imperialist development that may have taken place in parts of Syria and Iraq.

But that their MPs made sure that,

  • that the Danish Hercules plane cannot be used for any other purpose than delivering arms to the forces fighting IS
  • that this decision does not allow any other Danish military activity in the region;
  • that whatever happens, a new parliament decision is necessary if the government wants to prolong the activity of the airplane after 1 January 2015

As a follow up to the decision the RGA have taken other initiatives to stop military and financial supply for IS, to popularise the fight for the Kurdish peoples’ right to self-determination and to have the PKK removed from the US and the EU list of so-called terror organisations. A special Danish aspect is the fact that the TV-station of Kurds for all Europe was based in Denmark until it was recently banned, and 10 people from the Kurdish community face trial for collecting money for organisations that – according to the police – transfer the money to PKK.

When the first shipment of weapons to the PKK/YPG by a Danish airplane under US command has taken place, it will be hard for the authorities to explain that they are supporting a terror organisation.

This decision took place in mid-August (reported in International Viewpoint on the 15th of Septmeber.

 Danish arms to support Kurds in Iraq

25. aug. 2014 13.14 

The Red-Green Party’s central committee has agreed that its parliamentary group may vote yes to send Danish arms to support Kurds fighting in Iraq.

However, final approval by parliament on Wednesday is needed before a Hercules transport aircraft containing a consignment of light weapons can be sent as Denmark’s contribution to the USA’s action in Northern Iraq, where Kurdish fighters are being hard-pressed by the militant Islamic State (IS).

“I’m pleased that the central committee has approved the parliamentary group’s proposal for Denmark to support the campaign by sending a transport aircraft with weapons and ammunition to the hard-pressed Kurdish fighters in Northern Iraq,” said Nikolaj Villumsen, spokesman on defence for the Red-Green Alliance.

Proposal today

The government received the final support of all parliamentary parties on Sunday after the remaining parties had acknowledged their approval at a meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee on Thursday.

Today, the government will present its proposal to send the aircraft to Iraq as soon as possible with a consignment of weapons and solders to protect the aircraft.

“The Islamic State is one of the most perfidious movements the world has seen for many years and must be forced back before it commits new crimes against humanity.

“It must be emphasised, however, that our support for this limited action will not entail any Danish military intervention in Iraq and is purely intended as support for the Kurds to help them defend themselves against the Islamic State. We are not entering into a new war in Iraq,” said Villumsen.

Put in their place in 2011

In March 2011, the Red-Green parliamentary group was quickly put in its place by the party when it wished to support the use of Danish F-16 fighter aircraft to support the Libyan Army.

At the party’s AGM, a procedure was established for how the parliamentary group could support Danish military action, when it was made contingent on approval by the central committee.

The authorities are indeed concerned,

Some Danish politicians, however, are sceptical that the Danish involvement could inadvertently support the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the European Union (EU) labels a terrorist organization.

Since IS captured about a third of Iraq in June, the PKK, which is based in Iraqi Kurdistan, has become part of the war. The PKK’s affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, are fighting IS alongside the KRG’s Peshmerga troops. Rudaw.

The Red-Greens are noted for their support for a foreign policy based on human rights.

Enhl initially backed plans for UN-led intervention in Libya but pulled back, after party protests, once the campaign got underway.

The Red-Green Alliance currently has 12 seats in the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) with 6,7 % of the vote.

Wider Backing for Military Action Against Islamic State/Daʿesh

Support for the Kurdish and other democratic fighters against Islamic state is widespread on the European left, a stand that contrasts with the isolationist Stop the War Coalition in Britain.

As the Guardian prints Richard Seymour’s hipster take on ISIS the StWC has just published the weighty reflections of Russell Brand: Will Obama’s bombs stop the ISIS beheadings?

By contrast over the weekend one of the Editors of the French Communist Party daily l’Humanité, and MEP, Patrick Le Hyaric, said of  the Islamic State, Da’esh, , “il faut briser les reins à ces égorgeurs.” – we must break the backs of these murderers.

He continued, “Nous avons, à cet instant, une pensée particulière pour nos frères et pour nos sœurs kurdes qui combattent en première ligne contre la cruauté sauvage de l’Etat islamique, en Irak comme en Syrie..” We have a special place in our thoughts for our brother and sister Kurds who are fighting in the front line against the savage cruelty of the Islamic State,in Iraq as in Syria.

Le Hyaric emphasised however that military action should be decided by Parliament and endorsed by the United Nations, and not take place through the channels of NATO.

The French Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, NPA,  (the largest group associated with the Fourth International) has yet to publicly take a position on their Danish comrades’ decision.

Other articles in International Viewpoint, such as one by David Finkel published on the same day as the above contribution, repeat the well-known refrain that, “the global terror of imperialism generates its ugly local and regional counterparts from Taliban to the “Islamic State.” The terrorist forces arising in shattered societies can’t be eradicated without uprooting the global system that inevitably breeds them.”

The British FI group, Socialist Resistance has shown deep sympathy for the Kurdish struggle and the fight against ISiS.

Richard Seymour’s Cromulent Discourse on ISIS “Hipsters.”

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“Isis is tweeting, often with a wry, sardonic edge that makes them sound like New York hipsters turned salafists.”

Bombs won’t solve the Isis problem, but “Even the left is demanding quick solutions to the horror and immediacy of the Isis beheadings. But the situation in Iraq is too complex for simplistic thinking.” writes Richard Seymour in his latest cromulent discourse (Guardian Bombs won’t solve the Isis problem. 15.9.14).

Everybody’s favourite intersectionalist  and opponent of liberal murder observes, “beyond the Westminster spear-carriers for American empire, there is a muted, hardly enthusiastic, but nonetheless real sentiment in parts of the left. It runs something like this: “I marched against the war on Iraq, I detest US domination, but in this case I have no problem with American airstrikes.”

Why?

“The answer is Islamic State. Isis goes to your head and gets under your skin; it leaves you feeling infested. Back in the days when one didn’t know much about the jihadis carrying out beheadings, it was possible to think that they were just – as David Cameron has denounced them – “monsters”, savages, beasts.”

Infested, goes to your head, under your skin, is Seymour describing some malady, or as he would put it, something that creates astheneia?

That detesting ISIS  is an illness that saps our will to ‘resist’ ?

From this pleasing thought Seymour moves into explanations for the rise of Islamic State and ISIS.

Was the force behind by the Islamic State  created by the US-led  occupation?

That is, “A brutal occupation produces a brutal insurgency.”

No, “that argument was always vulgar, and it would be even more vulgar now to say that Isis’s success can be explained by reference to an occupation that no longer persists.”

Vulgar: another example of how poor fools are unable to grapple with phenomena like mass ethnic and religious cleansing, slaughter, torture, and the butcher videoed beheading David Haines, and  American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are “infested”.

Wise up!

In reality, Seymourian wisdom tells us,

Isis succeeds because of the support it enjoys within much of the population it seeks to rule. And this support, be it noted, is gained on the basis of vicious sectarianism.

Be it noted! Indeed! Islamist genociders have support on the basis of hatred of other religious groups! 

Yet, the hegemonic discourse that articulates the formation is a novelty,

Whereas “al-Qaida in the Land of the Two Rivers” communicated principally in the medium of shaky videos with hostages reading bombastic messages from their host-killers, Isis is tweeting, often with a wry, sardonic edge that makes them sound like New York hipsters turned salafists.

Shit, dude, my bad!

“Take the character who has been referred to as “Jihad John”, the man supposedly behind a number of the killings. The immediate dilemma faced by the anglophone press is explaining how a British person “from a good area” could be tempted to participate in such grim spectacles. The desperate search for motives, sifting hopelessly through his rap lyrics for clues, is indicative of how misplaced this approach is.”

Indeed we have spent hours, if not days, going through his rap lyrics for some textual discursive clues. All we found was a blood-thirsty racist and sadist.

We were mislead, totes!

It’s all much more complicated!

The Wissenschaftler (as Seymour would say) points out that, “of course (indeed….. ‘of course’) .. in the absence of explanation, we are very quick to believe anything we hear about Isis. For example, the story of 40,000 Iraqis stranded and starving on a mountain – invoked by supporters of intervention – turned out to be exaggerated. The Isis siege, far from requiring the flexing of US muscle, was broken by Kurdish peshmerga.”

Perhaps he might explain what was exaggerated?

And what exactly is his explanation for why somebody becomes a sadistic killer in a gang with more than a little in common with the World War 2 Einsatzgruppen?

None comes.

Except that “vicious sectarianism” is rife.

Seymour and Ethical Austerity. 

Back to the politics and morals of the present dude...

How does our intersectional chum intend to back the same Kurds who broke the genociders’ hold?

Nothing is offered. 

Instead Seymour turns his gaze at the Other elsewhere, and  scorns any form of “humanitarian intervention.”

Or, ” the illusion that there is a simple techno-military solution to grave humanitarian exigencies”.

Airstrikes can destroy bodies, but they can’t destroy political antagonisms. Nor would a renewed occupation solve the problem. The formerly occupying coalition which constructed that authority are in no position – even if they had the ability – to replace it with something plural and democratic. There simply are no shortcuts.

How exactly something “plural and democratic” will emergence remains a mystery of the dialectic.

To  repeat: What is he going to do?

He has his column to discourse……

What does he say to people fighting for dear life?

What does he say to the victims of ethnic and religious cleansing?

That there are no “short cuts”. 

That it’s all too complicated for “simplistic thinking”. 

Forget the Genociders of Daʿesh:  we need to chillax!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Right-Wing ‘Populists’ Gain Votes in Sweden and Germany.

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Keep Sweden Swedish: Swedish Democrats, the early years. 

France-Inter this morning compared the success of AfD (Alternative für Deutschlandand the Swedish anti-immigrant party, (which while it no longer uses the sticker pictured still stands for keeping Sweden Swedish) the  Swedish Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna, SD) to the rise of the French Front National and the British UKIP.

Germany:

A conservative German anti-euro party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has won seats in two more regional parliaments.

Local elections in eastern Germany on Sunday gave the AfD 12.2% in Brandenburg and 10.6% in Thuringia.

The party entered a regional parliament for the first time two weeks ago in Saxony – another eastern German state.

The AfD is mounting a growing challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. It wants to scrap the euro and sees law and order as a priority.

The party is attracting right-wing supporters, while avoiding links with nationalist extremists.

The Social Democrats (SPD) won in Brandenburg with 32% and are set to remain in power in coalition with the socialist Die Linke who polled 18.9%.

The Christian Democrats (CDU), polled 33.5% in Thuringia, only a few points ahead of Die Linke, who won 28% of the vote.

Until now, the CDU has been in coalition with the SPD in Thuringia but could lose the state to Die Linke if the Social Democrats switch allegiances.

The staunchly pro-euro CDU refuses to form any coalition with the AfD.

The AfD was among many Eurosceptic parties which made large gains in the European elections in May.

The AfD, founded just over a year ago, has seven seats now in the European Parliament. Its MEPs sit in the same grouping as the UK Conservatives, demanding fundamental reform of the EU.

The party campaigns against bailouts for southern European countries, angry that taxpayers’ money has been used to save the euro.

“We are the force that’s renewing the political landscape,” said AfD leader Bernd Lucke, 52, an economics professor.

“One can’t deny it anymore: the citizens are thirsting for political change,” he said. BBC.

Not noted by the BBC report is that the left party, Die Linke, lost more than half of its votes in this election in Brandenburg  (Linke verliert mehr als die Hälfte der Stimmen) while it scored a record total in Thüringen with 28,2%.

Sweden‘s Social Democratic party, which on Sunday ended its longest spell in opposition in a century, faces a weak minority government after the far-right Sweden Democrats emerged as the third-largest party.

The below seems reasonable comment (extracts) by Hela Sverige (Spectator) ,

Who are the Sweden Democrats?

They call themselves “Sweden’s only opposition party”, the implication being that the Stockholm elite is one indistinguishable blob of vested interest.  Like UKIP, they say they are neither left or right. I’d put them closer to Maine Le Pen’s National Front in being anti-immigration and protectionist. Is Ms Romson fair to compare them to racists? There is no doubt that the Sweden Democrats have moved towards the mainstream in recent years and tried to address racism within their ranks. Their language is a mixture of Salmond/Farage-style anger at the elite and populism.

….what unites these Scottish, UK and European nationalist parties is the strategy of posing as the insurgent, out to stand up for the people against a Westminster elite/Riksdag elite etc.

At 2’07, the Sweden Democrats’ video shows the EVIL ELITE in a limo and the narrator says:-

“We want to hit out against the elite who have let our society disintegrate for decades. They are to blame for the problems in our society… It is, therefore, no mystery that politicians want to be elected on the same policies which caused the problems in the first place… Their failed integration politics is solved by more mass immigration. And the problem of begging is solved by having even more people come here to beg.”

Then at 3’03, cut to a picture of a herd of cows…

“And the strangest thing of all: no matter what the other parties say, they still tend to think the same thing. Sometimes they think so similarly that they use the same campaign slogans.”

They accuse the other parties of changing their policies to suit the confected outrage of the Twitter elite in Soder (Stockholm’s equivalent of Islington). They (5.50, with the hard rock music) say they haven’t gone to political school, but worked out their policies from real life. At 6’32 they show a crowd with a placard saying “no to racism” and the narrator saying: “they’ll say anything to shut us up”. This, of course, is what the BNP said here: it almost relished the racism charges.

Over on the New Statesman, George Eaton offers some wider context,

In total, the centre-left alliance won 43.7 per cent of the vote to the centre-right’s 39.1 per cent. Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven will now seek to form a coalition with the Greens and the Left Party, but the worryingly high level of support for the Swedish Democrats, who only entered parliament at the last election in 2010, presents the grim prospect of the anti-immigration party holding the balance of power.

Having fallen short of an overall majority (by 15 seats), while refusing to work with the far-right, the centre-left is danger of legislative gridlock. As outgoing finance minister Anders Borg said: “It is clear that from a broader perspective that this is difficult for Sweden. We go from having one of Europe’s strongest governments to having a weak government power with considerable uncertainty about economic policy.” The Feminist Initiative Party split the left-wing vote by winning 3 per cent (up from just 0.4 per cent in 2010), but fell short of the 4 per cent required for parliamentary representation. Their rise in support, combined with the far-right insurgency, means that despite finishing first, the Social Democrats only increased their vote share by 0.4 per cent.

From a UK perspective, the result is damaging for David Cameron in two respects. First, he has lost one of his closest EU allies in the form of Reinfeldt (part of his “Northern Alliance“), further tilting the odds against a successful renegotiation if he is still prime minister after next May. Second, the rejection of the Moderates, whose vote fell by 7 per cent, marks a backlash against welfare cuts and privatisation after a series of free school failures and care home scandals (policies emulated by the coalition). The ideological wind is no longer blowing the free market right’s way in the Nordics.

One final point worth noting, as Rob Ford suggests, is that the result looks eerily like a preview of the British election in May 2015: an unpopular centre-right government is expelled as voters protest against privatisation; a weak centre-left takes power without a majority; and the populist right (Ukip) surges into third place.

Like France-Inter I am principally struck by the rise of rabid right-wing populism in Germany and Sweden. 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Moral Responsibility and the Genociders of Islamic State (Daʿesh).

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David Haines

The Islamic State group has released a video purporting to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines – an act described by the British prime minister as “pure evil”.

The video, released late on Saturday, shows Haines, 44, being killed in a desert location by a masked man. The father of two children, from Perth in Scotland, was abducted last year while working for the French aid agency Acted.

The video comes after the murder of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both American journalists, in similar settings and manners.

The masked man in the latest video states Haines was killed because the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, had promised to arm Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq against the Islamic State fighters.

“This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.”

Aljazeera.

You can see the Video here.

Read the Transcript here.

The Guardian states,

In the video, entitled A Message to the Allies of America, a masked man is shown carrying out the beheading of Haines, whose life had earlier been threatened in a film showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff. The video, which runs to two minutes and 28 seconds, ends with a warning that a second British hostage would be the next to die. He has been named in international media and on social media as Alan Henning, a British aid worker.

The killer, swathed in black, then makes a statement in which he makes a direct reference to the British government’s aid to Kurdish fighters.

He says: “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State. Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.

“Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam will only accelerate your destruction. And playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.”

The BBC adds, that the killer, “appears to have a British accent.”

This is a terrible event, and  we are deeply saddened.

But let us avoid rhetoric about an “‘an act of pure evil’ (David Cameron).

Some more precise points:

  • It is to be hoped that nobody from the Stop the War Coalition or elsewhere will blame this killing of an innocent aid worker on Western foreign policy. The murder is the responsibility of the person who carried it out, and the Islamic state leaders who directly ordered the beheading . The person killed, David Haines,  bears no collective responsibility for the actions of the West. He bore no responsibility for what the Royal Air Force is doing now. He was an aid worker. The butcher who decapitated him  had no right to take the right over his life to himself.
  • It is equally to be hoped that the StWC and others will not repeat the phrase about a “bloody and unwinnable war”. This is not a matter of Cameron “not saying no” to the Americans, a lapdog of the White House.  It may be wrong it may be right, but if the West did not arm the Peshmerga, the Islamic state will not stop religious cleansing, torture  and genocide.
  • The  murderer says, “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.” The killer is not an agent morally capable of making Haines “Pay” anything. You cannot transfer a debt – real or metaphorical – from one unrelated individual, the Prime Minister, to another person, particularly one who is independent of his field of action
  • Nobody can lay the Haines’ death directly at Cameron’s door: it is the decision of Islamic state, an act of their will, in order to further their aim of enforcing a Caliphate over the corpses of ‘heretics’ and ‘unbelievers’.
  • The individual who slaughtered Haines was, according to all accounts, British. Will he, and other foreign Jihadists,  continue these actions and try to kill other British people that he considers responsible for attacking the Islamic state?

 It would be appreciated as well if people would stop repeating that Islamic State/ISIS/Daʿesh has nothing to do with real Islam.

We are not in a position to know what ‘real’ Islam is.

Daʿesh claims to be Islamic: it is one form of actually existing Islamism. (1)

Fawaz A Gerges on Radio Four this morning underlined that it is marked by unrelenting sectarian hatred, above all of Shias.

This clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with Western foreign policy.

This is not to deny the complications at work in Iraq and Syria and few would be inclined to lay out the battle lines in black and white.

There remain plenty of contradictions at the heart of the US-led operations, ranging from the lack of fixidity in the roles of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab League, to the (sectarian) nature of much of the Baghdad government and the long-term goals of the Kurdish regional authority (see Rue89).

One aspect of Daʿesh, nevertheless,  does concern us here with absolute clarity: every European jihadist may be held accountable for their crimes, tortures and murders.

They should be brought before a War Crimes Tribunal. 

Update.

(1) By denouncing ISIS as ‘not Muslims’, moderate Muslims risk making things worse  James Brandon.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2014 at 10:57 am

Michael Ignatieff: Assad as Partner of the West – the “alternative is more years of civil war, death and destruction.”

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Ignatieff: Assad as Lesser Evil.

Michael Ignatieff is known as a “humanitarian interventionist”.

On the Iraq War and the US-led invasion in 2003 he said this (Guardian 2003),

To support the war entails a commitment to rebuild that order on new foundations. To support the war entails other discomforts as well. It means remaining distinct from the company you keep, supporting a swift and decisive victory, while maintaining your distance from the hawks, the triumphalists, the bellowing commentators who mistake machismo for maturity.

Ignatieff’s academic and political career (as leader of the Canadian Liberal Party) is outlined here.

More recently, Der Spiegel reports, “working on behalf of the United Nations he was largely responsible for developing the concept of “Responsibility to Protect,” or “R2P,” which foresees mandatory international measures if a civilian population is threatened with genocide. As the head of the Liberal Party from 2008 to 2011, he served as the leader of Canada’s political opposition in Ottawa. Ignatieff, often cited as one of the most important thinkers of our time, is a professor of politics at Harvard University. He also serves as the chairman of the Richard C. Holbrook Forum for the Study of Diplomacy and Governance at the American Academy in Berlin.

Ignatieff presented an interesting account of human rights in Human rights as politics and idolatry (2001). This argues that human rights should be considered not in abstract ontological ways, but through what they do for people. Unfortunately, as was noted at the time, Ignatieff tended to adhere to a supplementary position which relied on the coercive strategies to enforce human rights without giving any clear institutional frameworks or limits for the use of force.

This lead him, as with many ‘humanitarian interventionists’ to see no boundaries for action to impose  rights. That is, the issue of democratic sovereignty in countries, positive consent, was elided. Yet without the democratic expression of people’s wills this would mean in effect a legal “amalgamation of states under one superior power”, a form of undemocratic “monarchy”  that Kant famously warned against.

Ignatieff has offered other ethical speculations on politics and war. One might argue that his present position is a development of the principle of the “lesser evil” – morally disreputable acts that are needed to prevent still worse outcomes – that he defended in The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2003)

In Der Spiegel a few days ago this interview appeared, which does not seem to have picked up widely elsewhere.

It can be compared with the above comments.

Michael Ignatieff Interview: ‘Those Fighting Islamic State Are the Lesser Evil’

One should read the whole interview but these passages stick out,

Ignatieff: The destruction of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons, covered by a UN resolution, was a success. But Western countries, facing the obstructive posture of Moscow and Beijing in the Security Council, failed to prevent the massive killings in the civil war. That’s a tragedy. If our goal is to protect the civilian population in Syria, and we apply the R2P doctrine, this can only mean that additional arms shipments to any forces will only worsen the situation.

SPIEGEL: Why are you so certain about that?

Ignatieff:  Everyone who is turning the Syrian civil war into a proxy war — Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as well as Russia and Iran — must understand that no side, neither Assad nor the rebels, can win the conflict. That the continued fighting will only cost more and more human lives. A UN-brokered cease-fire could emerge from a recognition of the stalemate. Each side would adjust to the status quo. The outcome would be a divided Syria, with Assad in control in Damascus, but with a de-facto dominance in the north and east for the rebels of the Free Syrian Army and the Kurds — once the Islamic State has been destroyed. Some rather strange, indirect alliances will have been created. After all, both Assad and the West fear and are fighting the jihadists.

SPIEGEL: And he is now offering his services to the West as a partner. You wouldn’t have any objection to keeping the dictator in power — Assad as the lesser evil?

Ignatieff: I think it’s the only way to end the slaughter of the civilian population. Listen, I know that this is a deal with the devil. It’s hard to imagine an uglier tradeoff for peace and justice than this one. But continuing to demand Assad’s removal without having real leverage to force it to happen has become an empty threat — an even more hopeless strategy. The alternative is more years of civil war, death and destruction.

SPIEGEL: With all due respect, now you’re sounding more like a jaded political realist than a hopeful, humanitarian interventionist.

Ignatieff: Even if I continue to believe in the responsibility to protect and build on its importance, I can’t put this concept above everything else. I’ve spent my whole life trying to reconcile my human rights convictions with realistic geopolitics. Sometimes it’s an almost unbearable discrepancy.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 13, 2014 at 4:37 pm

French Appeal in Support of Kurds, Communist Party Backs Kurdish Fighters.

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The Parti Communiste Français (PCF) declared in July,

ISIL’s offensive force: solidarity with the Syrian Kurds

The Islamist terrorist organisation Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which decreed the creation of a Caliphate which straddles Iraq and Syria, has launched a military offensive against independent Syrian Kurdistan.

Taking advantage of the disintegration of Iraq and seizing heavy weapons, they have taken their fight  to Kurdish districts in Syria, areas in which the population has for months waged a heroic struggle against these obscurantist forces  – supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The “West”, including the United States and France bear a huge responsibility in this regional disintegration and in the violence against civilians. Turkey has also shown a benevolent attitude towards this offensive, which fulfils their aim of breaking the democratic experience of the (autonomous Kurdish) town and surroundings of Rojava.  

With the Kurds threatened with new massacres indifference is shameful and inhuman.

The French Communist Party expresses its solidarity with the Syrian Kurds. It calls the French government and the European Union to use all their power to stop these crimes.

French Communist Party
Paris July 7, 2014 (adapted)

The PCF has since that date issued numerous appeals.

Iraq: Call for solidarity and political intervention by France and the UN (12th of August).

Support for the Kurds  is a priority. Anything that can help, such as the withdrawal of the PKK’s designation as a ‘terrorist organisation’, should be encouraged.  France could, as a member of the Security Council initiate a regional conference to help reconciliation, rebuild the Iraqi state and preserve the unity of the Middle East. There is still time to contain the conflagration sweeping the region.

The PCF  expresses its support and solidarity with the Kurdish forces and commits itself on the side of the democrats and Kurdish forces against the Iraqi ISIS.   In this terrible ordeal,  Communists will spare no efforts to ensure that peace and democracy can win out.

Stop the cruelty and persecution against the Kurdish people and minorities in Iraq (August 23rd) called for support for a demonstration in Marseille that day in support of minorities in Iraq.

 Marseille Demonstration.

The Kurdish News Agency RUDAW reports (Thursday 12th September)

PARIS, France – High-profile French politicians are urging greater international support for Iraqi Kurds in their fight against jihadists of the Islamic State (IS), saying the autonomous region is fighting for Western democratic values and should be helped in its protection of Christians and Yezidis.

“The Kurds are fighting also for our democratic values and for our safety,” said a petition published in the French newspaper Le Monde.

“Let’s help Kurdistan protect the Yezidis and the Christians. Our values depend on it,” said the appeal, an initiative of the Kurdish Institute of Paris.

It was signed by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, former ministers of foreign affairs Bernard Kouchner and Hubert Vedrine, the current mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and former ministers Cecile Duflot,  Francois Loncle and Pierre Lellouche, among other high profile academics and intellectuals.

……

Their statement referred to the grave situation faced by the Kurdistan Region, which has received hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping the war by Islamic jihdists.  Erbil also is having to protect over 1,000 kilometers of its border against the highly armed forces.

“Since June, Iraqi Kurdistan has been receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people fleeing the massacres committed by the jihadists of the Islamic State. Among them are tens of thousands of Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks and members of other religious minorities,” the statement said.

“Coming after the first wave of 250.000 Syrian refugees, this massive flood far exceeds the Kurdistan Regional Government’s hosting capacities,” it noted. Kurdistan “does not have, on its own, the material means to provide for the accommodation of this additional population of over a million people,” it added.

It noted also that, as the KRG struggles against this deluge, Baghdad has cut monthly budget payments to Erbil over an oil row, cutting deeply into Kurdish finances.

The Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been the toughest line of defense against the jihadis, backed with air support by the US and Iraqi air force.

Erbil has also allowed refugees to cross into its borders, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

“Such a rare example of democracy in the Islamic world not only deserves encouragement but it also needs active and massive solidarity of the citizens and the governments of the Western Democracies,” the French appeal said.

The group called for the intensification of humanitarian aid by the UN agencies and the European Union, implementation of promised arms supplies and measures to enable the KRG to protect minorities in the frontlines. It also called for action to encourage oil-rich Gulf countries to finance the ongoing relief efforts in Kurdistan.

“An international air protection should be provided to Christian and Yezidi areas of the plain of Nineveh in order to enable the return of these vulnerable peoples,” it pointed out.

The petition also urged France, which took the initiative of mobilizing the European Union, to propose a resolution at the UN Security Council to force Baghdad into restarting the constitutional budget payments to Erbil.

Finally, the petition asked the European Union to appoint a special envoy to ease direct mediation, and re-establish dialogue among Iraq’s Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

Original, Le Monde 8.9.14. “Aidons le Kurdistan à protéger yézidis et chrétiens, nos valeurs en dépendent.”

A sceptical approach to arming the Kurdish Regional Government and others, which argues that they will use them, “pour affirmer l’autonomie grandissante de leur région, voire leur volonté d’indépendance, ce qui serait un pas décisif vers l’éclatement de l’Irak.” , Questions sur l’armement des Kurdes d’Irak. Alain Gresh. (Blogs, 18th August. Le Monde Diplomatique)

Socialist Worker and Stop the War Coalition Solution to Islamic State? Oppose US Bombing.

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 SWP and StWC Says: Don’t Bomb the Islamic State Fighters. 

To Alex Callinicos in this week’s Socialist Worker the US is an “imperialism at bay””.

“Amid the hubbub of media and official commentary on and denunciation of the jihadi Islamic State (Isis), only one thing is clear—no one has a clue what to do.”

The powers assembled last week in Wales for the NATO summit  announced a 10 nation  “core coalition” to fight ISIS/Islamic State (which has grown since Socialist Worker was printed).

They face a multitude of difficulties, but, “There is something common to the multiple crises confronting US imperialism and its allies.”

“First Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine are all disintegrated states.”

Next, “Secondly, these crises have been exacerbated by the action of local states.” These include Russia, whose actions in Ukraine, the SWP indicates,  are those of a ” a relatively weak imperialist struggling to prevent encirclement by the US and Nato.”

What can the USA do? It faces constraints, “In seeking to impose its will on these local powers the US is limited by its unwillingness to deploy troops.” “The very multiple character of the crises reduces Washington’s room for manoeuvre

Socialist Worker believes however in the theory that Washington can still hit out, flailing, “None of this will stop the US hitting out viciously.”

In sum, for the SWP leader, the US is a military-political subject in an impasse.

It is stuck in a mess, much of it (in the Middle East) of its own making. But it can still ‘hit out’ – like a wounded beast?

Socialist Worker.

From the Guardian we learn this today,

Barack Obama announced an open-ended bombing campaign against Islamic State militants on Wednesday that will extend into Syria for the first time, despite acknowledging that the extremist group did not currently pose a direct threat to the US homeland.

In a markedly interventionist speech on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Obama announced an aggressive offensive to combat Isis, which has been responsible for the beheading of twoAmerican citizens in the past month and captured a swath of territory in northern parts of Iraq and Syria.

He compared the campaign to those waged against al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia, where US drones, cruise missiles and special-operations raids have battered local affiliates, yet without notably improving the stability of either country nor dealing decisive blows to Islamic militants there.

Obama said the air strikes were a necessary counter-terrorism measure to prevent the group, also known as Isil, from becoming a future threat to the US and therefore did not require fresh congressional approval.

There are good reasons to be sceptical about the US-led intervention.

Apart from the claims that it will decisively deal with the terrorist threat (hard to prove, and hard to define), it is not clear that its ‘allies’ in the region (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Gulf States) will effectively stand behind US-leadership. Relations with Iran remain fundamentally unclear, not to mention the military and political position of the new Iraqi government. And that is when we look into the viability alone of the new “coalition “.

The key issue is that Obama remains committed to supporting the Syrian ‘rebels, as the  “best counterweight to extremists of ISIS/Islamic State.” 

As Lorraine Millot points out in today’s Libération, Obama himself described the non-Jihadi forces in that country as farmers, carpenters and engineers, not hardened combat troops.  

If this means he continues to seek a way of overthrowing Assad by military means then he is on a path with no immediately desirable end in sight. The only conclusion in present conditions that reaching this goal means creating conditions which favour the genociders of ISIS/Islamic State. If they won would it be a good thing if a directly US-run force took over? Would it last – like Iraq’s government?  

Political and military relations in the Middle East at present have been compared to 4-dimensional chess. Fascinating but impossible to give a snap judgement about.

But there is one issue which has to be looked at: should people, states and political parties, support the forces on the ground fighting ISIS/Islamic State?

How should they do so?

This is the SWP  answer: we haven’t a clue, but we know what not to do.

Stop David Cameron’s plan to join US bombing of Iraq

Charlie Kimber the SWP’s leader draws on the experience of the War and Invasion of Iraq to make his  point.

He concludes,

A recent study by the Royal United Services Institute said  “there is no longer any serious disagreement” over how Britain’s role in the Iraq war “far from reducing international terrorism had the effect of promoting it.”

Islamic State is brutal and offers no way forward for the people of Iraq.

But further bombing by US and Britain is no solution. It needs to be opposed.

This theme is taken up today by Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC),

Obama’s illegal bombs-away strategy can only bring more disaster to Iraq and Syria

The National Convenor of the StWC asserts,

…the growth of ISIS must be placed at the door of the US and its allies: funded by Saudis and Qataris, allowed through the Turkish border to fight in Syria, the aim was always to get rid of Assad, regardless of the consequences.

The refusal of the US to even sit down at peace talks with other players including Assad and Iran also helped to prolong and worsen what has become one of the worst modern conflicts.

The spread of ISIS to Iraq has everything to do with the break up of the country, the exacerbation of sectarian conflicts, and the destruction of its infrastructure, all of course carried out under the US occupation.

The proposed bombing is illegal under international law. It would be interesting to see the distinction between EU policy of sanctions against Russia for incursions into Ukraine and EU support for US incursions into Syria.

So, the US is “responsible” for ISIS – one assumes that means that the childlike folk of Syria and Iraq, and the jihadis,  are simply pawns in the geopolitical games of the Big Powers.

In other words the SWP and the StWC deny any responsibility for their crimes to the creators of totalitarian actually existing Islamism.

Whether or not bombing the genociders is “illegal”, what does the StWC think of arming and supplying those fighting ISIS/Islamic State?

What do they propose to do to defend those ethically and religiously cleansed by the genociders?

There is a vast range of forces resisting them, including Shias, the Baghdad government (itself marked by sectarian religious feeling)  and a variety of local forces.

Few who look into this come away with any unqualified heros.

Yet, why does the StWC not come out and support the brave Kurdish fighters – for all we might care to keep some critical distance – the PKK and the  Peshmerga, in their battle for dear life?

Perhaps some faint groans of those oppressed under the boot of Sharia Law, the muffled groans of those tortured in the gaols of Islamic State and ISIS, may one day reach the leaders of the Stop the War Coalition.

At present, for the ‘anti-War’ movement  this is just part of, as Alex Callinicos puts it, the “hubbub of media and official commentary.”

For others, “ISIS can be efficiently defeated only by a secular and democratic Iraq, and a secular and democratic Syria. It will be a long struggle to win those.

In the meantime, we must work to defend Iraqi and Kurdish socialists against both the ISIS threat, and the sectarianism and war fever mobilised against ISIS.”

See, Defend Iraqi and Kurdish socialists! (Alliance for Workers’ Liberty).

Defend the Peoples against the Genociders!

Stop the War Coalition: What Will they Say about ISIS/Islamic State to the 1,000 Ipswich Kurds?

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Will the StWC Back Kurds Fighting Islamist Genociders?

(Photo NBC News, Meet the Kurdish Women Fighting ISIS in Syria)

In today’s Ipswich Star.

Ipswich: Meet the Kurdish refugees who call Suffolk home…but still live in fear of ISIS

An estimated 1,000 Kurds live in Ipswich and the surrounding area and they have been an established part of our community for a number of years.

They have jobs, they run businesses, they speak English, their children go to Suffolk’s schools – they lead successful lives.

But their fear of the Islamic State, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), means they dare not be photographed or even named.

We have used aliases to project their identity.

Ian Stewart, chairman of Suffolk Refugee Support, said: “We know that in the UK as a whole an estimated 500 people have left the UK to go and fight with ISIS.

“Kurds in the UK are worried that if they are named or photographed or publicised there will be repercussions for their relatives in Iraq or Syria and that their loved ones will be under threat.”

Mr Stewart added: “Their families come from the towns and cities that ISIS have taken over and they are deeply concerned for the welfare of their families and friends.”

“At the moment they are trying to sell the women – they are selling them for like £1,000. I have heard that about 50 children at the moment about 12 years old have been taken by ISIS.

“My extended family are fighting with the pashmigra against ISIS. They are scared of them – everyone is scared at the moment. No one knows what is going on. It is all politics stuff, it’s not just in Sinjar. The problem is there is no border between Syria and Iraq.

“No one actually knows who ISIS is. They are coming from other areas.

“At the moment ISIS are trying to come forward and take more of our cities but because American airstrikes support the pashmirga, they can’t come forward – hopefully.

There follows two moving personal accounts of the background of Kurdish refugees, under the names of Mohammed and Ahmed.

Mr Stewart said: “Ethnic Kurds are fleeing for their lives. They have their own fighting force called the Peshmerga which is like a home guard. Many Suffolk Kurds have family and friends in the Peshmerga and some served in it themselves against Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Stewart said the charity would not comment on whether Britain should be involved in military action in the conflict.

He said: “This crisis is directly affecting people in Suffolk. Most people we talk to support the American airstrikes against ISIS. We have already dropped humanitarian supplies.

“ISIS now has anti-aircraft weaponry. The question is do we follow the Americans into combat?”

I know something about the Ipswich Kurds.

I have helped the Refugee Council English teaching service, and some Kurds (from Turkey as well as Iraq) are people I know well.

Well this is what the Stop the War Coalition wants us to tell them about American airstrikes and weapon supplies to the Kurds.

Eight facts everyone should know about the rise of ISIS and the new war in Iraq

Ian Sinclair.

Fact 1: Many experts argue Western airstrikes are counterproductive and will likely energise ISIS

Fact 2: The US and UK’s 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq played an important role in the rise of ISIS

Fact 3: The US and UK enabled the growth of ISIS by supporting the rebels in Syria

Fact 4: US-supplied arms to Syrian rebels have ended up in the hands of ISIS

Fact 5: Turkey, a NATO member, has supported ISIS

Fact 6: Western allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia have played an important role in the rise of ISIS

Fact 7: Supported and armed by the US, the Iraqi Government perpetrates serious human rights abuses – which likely increases support for ISIS

Fact 8: The US and UK are not interested in democracy and human rights in the Middle East

None of these answer the question: do we support giving military help to the Kurds in their life and death fight against Islamic State and ISIS genociders, themselves helped by murderous British, and other European jihadists?

It would be very generous of the StWC to speak on behalf of the Kurds, from the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), to other political groups, and simply ordinary people, and refuse any Western arms and military support.

Very generous indeed. 

Update (Channel Four)

How British Kurds are heading to fight IS

Growing UK movement

Up to a quarter of a million Kurds are recorded as living in Britain.

Turkan Budak of the Kurdish People’s Summit (pictured, below), who has been part of the Kurdish movement in the UK since the 1980s, said between 50 and 100 British Kurds have left to fight in the last 20 years, but as a result of the battle against Islamic State more now want to go.

Budak said: “Even now people are going to fight Isis. I know some of them [those out there]. They have gone to fight terrorism.

“They are family men with kids but at the end of the day they say our people are dying there. Innocent people. Civilians dying every day and a lot of Kurdish men cannot ignore it.”

Memed Aksoy is a Kurdish activist based in London, who told Channel 4 News he has raised funds for the PKK. He described the PKK as a movement growing in confidence and numbers.

“(The IS conflict] has raised the Kurdish consciousness,” he said.

“Now is a time when we are going to push ahead to make sure the Kurdish movement and the PKK, the armed forces of the Kurdish people, can engage in a strong war with the Islamic State and defeat the Islamic State.”

Members and supporters of the PKK know that the party is now aligned to western interests and a new generation of British and western European-born Kurds believe the Kurdish question can now be solved with diplomacy rather than arms.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste Seeks to “save” capitalism, says International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).

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Flags Waving to Save Capitalism says ICFI. 

Just when you thought you could be smug about the charming but eccentric ways of our old chum Bob Avakian this comes along,

The pseudo-left New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) has reacted to the formation of the new government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls with empty, hypocritical criticisms to mask its responsibility in the installation of this deeply right-wing government, which the NPA will continue to defend.

The World Socialist Web Site, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) continues in this vein (8th of September) – at length. (1)

For those mourning the withdrawal of cde Tony Greenstein from the fray this site comes as a blessing,

What the NPA fears above all is that the collapse and discrediting of France’s ruling Socialist Party (PS) will provoke a crisis of rule in which the NPA could not stifle a political movement of the working class directed at the PS and its political satellites, including the NPA itself.

There is more but this mighty blow against the NPA stands out,

The NPA, by its hostility to a socialist and revolutionary perspective, contributed to the installation of the most right-wing regime France has known since the World War II-era fascist Vichy regime.

And this,

In fact, it is the NPA that is neither revolutionary nor anti-capitalist. It does not seek the overthrow of capitalism, but to save it under conditions where it threatens to provoke war and economic collapse, and the conditions for an eruption of social revolution are fast being prepared.

Not to mention that

This anti-working class party is ready for unprincipled alliances with organizations of all types, whose only common point is their hatred of the working class and of socialism.

 

(1) The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) is the name of two Trotskyist internationals; one with sections named Socialist Equality Party which publishes the World Socialist Web Site, and another linked to the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.

Both groupings originate in the struggle against “Pabloite liquidationism”,

“To sum up: The lines of cleavage between Pablo’s revisionism and orthodox Trotskyism are so deep that no compromise is possible either politically or organizationally. The Pablo faction has demonstrated that it will not permit democratic decisions truly reflecting majority opinion to be reached. They demand complete submission to their criminal policy. They are determined to drive all orthodox Trotskyists out of the Fourth International or to muzzle and handcuff them.”

The British section, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), has published the ‘Theoretical Foundations‘ of the organisation which explains this at length.

Despite this background many of the SEP’s  ideas would meet with approval or at least some agreement  from a lot of people on the left: they are for the United Socialist States of Europe, oppose austerity and cuts.

And,

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) calls for a decisive and unambiguous No vote in the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence.  All claims that “independence” is a democratic demand, offering an alternative to cuts and austerity, are lies.

The move for separation from the UK is being led by right-wing forces espousing nationalism, whether or not they attempt to dress this up in fake left language. The aim is to transform Scotland into a low tax, cheap labour platform for the benefit of the banks and transnational corporations.

The victims of this will be workers on both sides of the border, who will see a deepening of the ongoing offensive against jobs, wages and conditions that has been waged by all the major parties in both Westminster and Holyrood

Their French membership is believed to hover at 2.

 

 

 

Bob Avakian (Revolutionary Communist Party USA) Has a Sob.

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Yet….even Comrade Bob sometimes has a Wee Greet.

In a spirit of comradely solidarity  we post this important and fruitful article from the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA)

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian. (Unsigned. August 2014)

“Not too long ago, I watched Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian (BA), chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  Towards the very end of the film, agonizing, heartbreaking and infuriating scenes are shown: The cop shooting Oscar in the back; Oscar’s girlfriend frantically rushing to the scene, trying to find out what happened; Oscar’s loved ones gathering together and waiting desperately to find out if he would make it, only to find out he was gone forever.

As these scenes unfolded, I looked over at BA.  He was sobbing.  Not just misty-eyed. Sobbing.  And he continued to cry tears of heartbreak and rage for several minutes, as the closing credits rolled.”

This made a very big impression on me.  BA did not know Oscar Grant personally. But he felt the sting of his murder in an extremely raw and visceral way. And I think his reaction speaks volumes about who Bob Avakian is, what he represents, and what he is all about.

BA has literally been fighting against this system for 50 years.  He has been a revolutionary communist for about 45 years.  He has been shouldering the responsibility of leading the Revolutionary Communist Party for almost 40 years. And over the course of the last several decades, he has forged the theory and deepened the science for the revolution humanity needs to get free, while also providing practical leadership to the party and movement working for that revolution.

And all of this has involved not only tremendous work, but also tremendous risk and sacrifice on BA’s part as anyone with a sense of U.S. history, and/or BA’s personal history—specifically, what this reveals about the way the U.S. government viciously goes after revolutionary leaders—should well understand.

And over all these decades, and through everything described above, BA has never lost an ounce of his love and feeling for the masses of people, his sense of outrage and hatred for all the ways in which the masses suffer needlessly, and his fire for revolution to emancipate the masses all over the world.  Not one bone in his body has become numb.

Amor Vincit Omnia.

The Humble Servant of the People is indeed an example.

I’ll say it again: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

Say it again, say it twice, say it thrice,

And when I say “we had better,” that “we” is addressed to many different people and audiences. Yes, I am most definitely speaking to revolutionaries and communists and to all those who are already deeply familiar with and supportive of BA.  But in saying “we,” I am also speaking to those who are just now—or just recently—learning about and getting introduced to this revolutionary leader—including, to quote BA, “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human” who “can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.”

” BA is not only the leader of the revolution, he is also a best friend to the masses of people.” As is said, “Every Communist working in the mass movements should be a friend of the masses and not a boss over them, an indefatigable teacher and not a bureaucratic politician.” (Mao Tse Tung) My new best friend – BA as we chums call him – has more qualities,

“He is a leader who has done decades of work in the realm of theory to bring forward the scientific method, strategy and vision needed to make revolution and bring into being a radically new world where all the horrors that humanity suffers unnecessarily would be no more. He is continuing to develop the advanced scientific method that he has forged, and apply that method to all of the big questions and obstacles confronting the revolution.”

We all love advanced scientific methods.

“Investigation may be likened to the long months of pregnancy, and solving a problem to the day of birth. To investigate a problem is, indeed, to solve it.” (Mao Tse Tung)

The world awaits.

“We must study, and learn all we can from his incredible body of work on the biggest questions of revolution and human emancipation, as well as the lessons of who he is and what he stands for as a revolutionary leader. “

We shall indeed BA.

“To behave like “a blindfolded man catching sparrows”, or “a blind man groping for fish”, to be crude and careless, to indulge in verbiage, to rest content with a smattering of knowledge – such is the extremely bad style of work that still exists among many comrades in our Party, a style utterly opposed to the fundamental spirit of Marxism-Leninism. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin have taught us that it is necessary to study conditions conscientiously and to proceed from objective reality and not from subjective wishes; however, many of our comrades act in direct violation of this truth.” (Mao Tse Tung)

But what is this we hear? Hark! The Bob (BA) is in danger!

This means taking very seriously the need to do everything we can to protect and defend BA. This means denouncing and not giving a millimeter of space to those who slander and personally attack BA, because these attacks and slanders are part of creating the poisonous atmosphere and conditions that would make it easier for the powers-that-be, or those doing their bidding, to take BA from the people of the world.

Plunged into the slough of despond at this what can we do?

Protecting and defending BA, and building a wall around him, also means boldly and sharply challenging those who may not be part of the camp of the enemy, but who are wallowing in, or at least being influenced by, arrogance, cynicism and snark, and who seek to dismiss without seriously engaging what BA has brought forward; this arrogance, snark, cynicism, and dismissal, regardless of the intent of those who fall into it, stands in the way of BA and all that he has brought forward having the reach and societal influence that this urgently needs to have.

Too true, too very true.

But the good news is: It is not too late.  We, and the masses of the planet, have BA right now. We had better realize, and let everyone know, what that means.

Heed the call and build the wall!

Maybe one day we might even get around to seeing Fruitvale Station.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 9, 2014 at 11:25 am

Burston School Strike Rally, a Report.

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Burston March Sets off. (Photo: Nick Norfolk)

The 100th anniversary of the strike by children at Burston Strike School was attended by well over 1,000 people.

Arriving, people would have seen stalls jostling for space on the village green.

There were stands from Unite, PCS, the RMT and NUT, Unison, and other unions.

Pressure groups, like the Norfolk Humanists and secularists, campaigns for education, for Palestine, against poverty, against UKIP and the Fabians, were joined by political organisations.

These included local Labour Parties, the Green Party (who have 15 Norwich councillors and 4 Norfolk County Councillors),  the Communist Party of Britain, Socialist Party, New Communist Party, Socialist Appeal, New Communist Party,  and the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Oh, and there were a few people from the Socialist Workers Party.

From Ipswich Sarah sold her famous jam, Ziggy put up a sparkling display of his badges, and Suffolk People’s Assembly had a stand near to the Norfolk People’s Assembly.

It was good to see the rural radical journal, Country Standard, distributed.

The stage, in front of the School Museum, was soon filled with speakers.

Amongst them Megan Dobney SERTUC Regional Secretary helped set the upbeat tempo of the day.

Owen Jones began by outlining how the Establishment, the Tory and business networks with momentum in government, have pushed their interests and are driving the NHS into private hands.  Owen pointed out that people like the teachers at the centre of the Burston strike, Annie and Tom Higdon, had stood up and fought for people’s rights. “We pay tribute to their courage, but we also do it because we learn from their example.”

Today, we, the labour movement, should not be afraid to follow in the  footsteps of the Higdons. We need to demand basic social justice, a Living Wage, and a decent welfare state. The railways, a prime example of privatisation’s  inefficiency and profiteering, should be brought back into public ownership. A clamp down on tax avoidance instead of attacks on those receiving benefits could be one way of financing radical social reform – for the benefit of the many not the few. A Labour government had to be bold and respond to these demands.

Owen remarked that far from being radical the proposals he’d sketched are the “common sense” of our time.

TheatreTrain children’s musical theatre performed a piece depicting the dispute.

It began with the words from All Things Bright and Beautiful, which then go….

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.”

TheatreTrain Play. (Eastern Daily Press)

Red Flags, the NASUWT brass band and The Faction washed the audience with music.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP, spoke.

After describing the way in which the Liberal-Conservative Coalition had underlined the rights and living standards of the majority of the population he moved on to international issues. Corbyn deplored the way NATO had taken upon itself grow larger and larger and encroached, through the Ukraine, on the Russian federation.  This was not just a drain on resources: it caused terrible loss of life and threatened to cause further conflicts.

The MP for Islington North also attacked the the Israeli assault on Gaza, pointing to the death and destruction left in its wake.

Jeremy Corbyn did not mention Iraq or Syria.

Not once.

One of the Burston Trustees, Mike Ward said that the number of the people who’d come was the largest yet.

Our coach, which came from Holland on Sea, Clacton, Colchester, and Ipswich, was full up ten days ago, and those trying to book after that date had to make their own way to Burston.

It was a great success, magnificent.

On the journey back people were already planning a campaign against UKIP in the Clacton by-election.

(More details of rally)

From Dean Reeves.

Suffolk People’s Assembly’s Banner was on the stall.

From Nick Norfolk.

More in  EADT 24

The Burston Strike School Centenary Rally. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

 

 

Video of Burston Rally

More on the Burston Strike, burstonstrikeschool.

 

Update: Another Report (Suffolk People’s Assembly).

 

This year’s 100th centenary Burston Rally on Sunday was the biggest ever, with a crowd estimated at between 1-2000 during the course of the day.

Surely a sign of the times?

As the sun broke through, Burston Green was packed with stalls and visitors; unions, political parties and community organisations including Unite, the RMT and NUT, the Greens, Labour Party, Norfolk, Suffolk and Kings Lynn Peoples Assemblies, socialist and environmentalist organisations.

Several prospective Parliamentary candidates for Suffolk Constituencies were there, including David Ellesmere (Ipswich), Jane Basham (Suffolk South) and Jack Abbott (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) Sandy Martin, the leader of Suffolk County Council Labour Group also put in an appearance.

Owen Jones was invited to speak by the organisers, following his appearance at Suffolk Peoples Assembly’s founding meeting last September 2013.

He didn’t disappoint. Not only is he a crowd puller – he also has the ability to speak cogently without notes.

“It is great to see so many people out here today and of course, what we are doing is commemorating an absolutely inspiring episode in our history and to think back at that struggle and the courage and determination they showed in Burston Strike School.

“And to think, going back to 1914, that a century later people would be gathering in force to remember everything they fought for. That is a powerful testimony to everything they fought for.

“We pay tribute to their courage, but we also do it because we learn from their example.”

“Today, we, the labour movement, should not be afraid to follow in the footsteps of the Higdons. We need to demand basic social justice, a Living Wage, and a decent welfare state. The railways, a prime example of privatisation’s inefficiency and profiteering, should be brought back into public ownership. A clamp down on tax avoidance instead of attacks on those receiving benefits could be one way of financing radical social reform – for the benefit of the many not the few. A Labour government had to be bold and respond to these demands.”

Other speakers included Jeremy Corbyn MP and Geoff Revell, from the RMT, who paid tribute to Bob Crow, a regular speaker at Burton over the years.

Hopefully we can build on this success next year.

 

Dieudonné Faces Five Years in Prison for Justifying Islamist Beheading.

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Holocaust Denier Dieudonné  Faces New Charges. 

In a video, Feu Foley,* the French ‘comedian’ Dieudonné, gave his unique angle on  the beheading of the American Journalist, James Foley (Europe 1. brief English report, Independent)

The jocular Jew-hater  began by observing that the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi, hanged and lynched, had not seemed to move anybody.

The video of James Foley’s killing, by contrast  “moved the cadres of the Rothschild Mafia”.

With heavy-handed irony the ‘humorist’  stated  that since the guillotining of Louis XVI  decapitation was a sign of civilisation and progress. The king was even executed in public, on the  Place de la Révolution.

In any case the convicted anti-Semite was more concerned with the death of a Cameroonian  footballerAlbert Ebossé, who was killed this August struck on the head by a missile at a game in Alegria – this he compared to a stoning (lapidation)

Dieudonné added that his editor had had a good laugh at the murder.

The video has been taken down by Youtube.

French prosecutors have launched an investigation.

A penalty of five years in prison  for “justification of terrorism” may be demanded.

Those who like Dieudonné range from disaffected urban youth to the classic French extreme right. Le Pen is the godfather of his daughter  and he is close to holocaust denier, Alain Soral. The ideas behind the Dieudosphère  are a miasma of conspiracy theory, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Western clichés.

* A pretty hard pun on the literary word ‘feu’ (deceased), les feux follets (will-o’the-wisp) and Folly (folie, madness), and James Foley  the American journalist whose decapitation by ISIS was videoed.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 6, 2014 at 10:22 am

Out of Time. The Pleasures and Perils of Ageing. Lynne Segal. A Review

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Out of Time. The Pleasures and Perils of Ageing. Lynne Segal. Verso.

“In front of the vacant Mausoleum of the First Leader an old woman stood alone. She wore a woollen scarf wrapped round a woollen hat, and both were soaked. In outstretched fists she held a small framed print of V.I.Lenin. Rain bubbled the image, but his indelible face pursued each passer-by. Occasionally, a committed drunk or some chattering thrush of a student would shout across at the old woman, at the thin light veering off the wet glass. But whatever the words, she stood her ground, and she remained silent.”

The Porcupine. Julian Barnes. (1992)

In Making Trouble (2007) Lynne Segal asked what become of the ‘dangerous’ young radicals as they age. For her it was the “bonds we forged in collective efforts not just to wrestle with the world, but also to try to change it which, for a while at least, gave us our strongest sense of ourselves” that would indelibly mark how people develop. 

How this sense of the self both changes and endures over time is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. But we are not separate islands. As Segal suggests in Out of Time our “collective” actions mark the process of ageing with great weight. The process of ageing cannot be caged in the individual’s own life, still less mastered through self-help manuals based on individualism.

One of the contributors to the influential Beyond the Fragments (1980), which brought a libertarian rush of personal feelings into left politics, in Out of Time Lynne Segal relates her private experience of ageing to the world beyond the Self. From her own life, “literary and political, of the women’s movement as an activist, a scholar, a teacher and a writer”, she reaches out to explore multiple physical, physical and social aspects of ageing. Novels, psychology, paintings, the philosophy of personal identity over time, and the sociology and politics of the increasing numbers of the elderly, are employed to mark out a stunning and thought-provoking book.

Segal retains her emphasis on the left. There are some people, as they say, for whom the glow of that commitment continues to shine through all the defeats and set-backs that we have faced over the decades. “Entering old age, almost all those leftists and feminists I knew forty years ago hold much of the same political views as then. There is no shortage of older radicals who continue to support struggles of justice, equality and a safer, greener more peaceful world.”(Page 54)

Sexual Politics.

She is equally resilient in her feminism and sexual politics. From Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiographical La Force d’âge (1970) to her La Viellesse (1970) Segal draws on images of the ageing female body as something “pitiable” in the eyes of others. She talks of how elderly women become in simply invisible, undesired. The “double standard” at work in conventional sexuality means that this change does not apply to men. Yet the strictures of abstract feminist theory dampen down when faced with men’s own “horror of ageing”. She records the importance for elderly men not of aggressive sexual virility but of “intimacy and touch in their experience with wives or partners.”(Page 89)

Are women trapped in the beauty culture dictated by masculine desire? Gender as a construction can always be, as Judith Butler suggested, destabilised, and redefined (Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 1990). Known a decade ago as a defender of the legitimacy of heterosexual relations against separatist feminism, Segal describes how she found, after her relationship with a younger man ended in her fifties, “Unexpected erotic pleasure in a relationship with a woman.”(Page 117)

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Segal cites Peter Osborne to develop a variegated perspective on time which helps her to come to terms with this feature of her life. Personal identity is something that endures in ageing, but its relationship to the past, the present and the future is not to be fixed by the chronology of clocks. The past remains there in the eternal present. There are always yearnings for roads not taken. In the now there are moments throughout our lives that draw us to the future. In discussing psychoanalysis (Freud and Lacan) and psychology she observes that the unconscious itself is “timeless”. One could equally say that grace and charm (and their contraries) are things that may endure  over a life-time. 

Ageing in Literature.

Segal refers to the paintings of Lucien Freud and David Hockney to portray the sight of ageing. But perhaps it’s when she harvests literature, such the works of Philip Roth and John Updike, that she makes the most incisive impression. This is literary direction is a fruitful avenue, whether or not it directly speaks for personal experience. Roth’s I Married a Communist (1998-  (which she does not cite)  features one character in its wider plot,  whose commitment, worn over the years gradually boils down, as he gets old, to a simple sense of being a “good person”.

The importance of life-long goodness is apparent in Flaubert’s Un Coeur Simple (1869), the subject of Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot (2009) to which Segal refers. In that short story the maid Félicité devotes herself to others – her mistress, her employer’s children, her nephew and an old man with cancer. Dying, in one of the most moving scenes in the history of literature, she imagines god or the Holy Spirit as her parrot, Loulou. In homage to human unselfish devotion Michel Houellebecq (Les Particules élémentaires 1998) describes such beings, who have worked all their lives, uniquely for love and out of devotion for others. In practice, Houellebecq noted, these people have generally been women.

The elderly can also be wrong-footed in their attachments. De Beauvoir’s La Cérémonie des Adieux (1981) is marked by the author’s annoyance at Sartre’s senescent years. Under the influence of Benny Lévy her close companion was enthused by the Cultural Revolution. By the late seventies he turned like a weathervane – as his self-appointed secretary veered to the right and the Talmud – to endorsing the anti-Communism of the nouveaux philosophes. Beauvoir could hardly contain her rage, as Sartre appeared to lose his sense of self and judgement. A besotted dupe Sartre is as pitiable as Balzac’s Père GoriotHe sacrifices all his wealth for his daughters, who are ashamed of him, and is left to die in wretched isolation.

Other novelists enter Out of Time to mark out lines of experience. Penelope Lively’s reflections on generational difference impress her. Lively also indicated in Treasures of Time (1979) the presence of the monumental past in the now. As her partner, Jack Lively, might have indicated, from his work on Joseph de Maistre, for many individuals (whatever the reality of these impressions), there are deep traces of the people who have gone before in the world of today.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2014 at 9:15 am

Morning Star Calls for UN Action to Back Kurds, Iraq and Syrians Against Islamist Genociders.

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Morning Star Backs Brave Kurdish Fighters Against Islamist Genociders.

Today’s Morning Star says that the West created the Islamist genociders of ISIS and Islamic State.

In an Editorial Riyadh Roots Of Isis Horror they then state,

Few groups historically match the nihilist barbarity of the so-called Islamic State (Isis), the terror group responsible for so much death and destruction in Syria and Iraq.

Their vicious sectarian ideology, taken from the Wahhabi sect whose Western-sponsored dominance in Saudi Arabia has made that country the least free on Earth, encourages the wholesale slaughter of anyone — including Muslims — who does not share it.

As with the Saudi regime, a medievalist fantasy rooted in a fictional view of the past inspires the grisly beheadings they are so keen to project onto our TV screens — those rightly shocked by the footage of the deaths of James Foley and Steven Sotloff should recall that Riyadh has beheaded 45 people so far this year.

Isis’s contempt for human life is matched by its contempt for civilisation — again like the Saudis, its forces have razed, exploded and demolished countless ancient monuments, shrines and mosques which they deem heretical.

This extremist ideology has been nurtured and sponsored by Western powers for decades in their cynical bid to direct the fortunes of the Muslim world.

In an analysis of the conditions that led to their rise they compare the West’s role to israels in fostering the growth of islamists as a counterweight to secular Arab nationalism.

The column continues,

Now that Washington and London have noticed that Isis poses a threat to their own interests there is talk of air strikes.

No-one can blame Iraq, Syria or the autonomous Kurdish forces — including the socialist authorities in Rojava — for calling for international assistance against their genocidal foes.

However, “Britain’s Communist Party leader Robert Griffiths is right to warn that any action should be under the aegis of the United Nations, not of the warmongering Nato alliance which has done so much to cause this crisis in the first place.”

More widely, “An effective UN response will mean talking to Russia, which in turn means the US and EU need to work to ensure the ceasefire announced yesterday in eastern Ukraine lasts.

The fascist-backed government in Kiev must be made to negotiate seriously with separatist forces which sprung up to defend their communities from battalions of neonazi thugs. Nato’s military build-up in eastern Europe should cease. “

Echoing Tendance Coatesy (?) the Editorial states,

The West must also stop bankrolling and arming the chief promoter of international terror — the Saudi Arabian dictatorship.

This Editorial is full of good sense – even if one might quibble at the details.

There is another important article in the same edition of the Morning Star, “Rojava: Our Ignored Revolution.”

The Rojava uprising was initially against Assad and has now held out against the Islamist murderers.

“Support for the defenders of Rojava in northern Syria is crucial in the fight to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, writes Saleh Muslim Mohamed.”

We have driven the regime forces from the Kurdish majority settlement areas in the north of the country and are determined, as an ethnic group, including the young people, the women and the men from Rojava, to shape our future ourselves from now on.

Both the regime and various Islamist groups have objections to our decision — and started attacking us. Against these attacks, we have made use of our legitimate right to self-defence. There was no other choice open to us.

This article describing the battles by the brave democratic and socialist comrades in Rojava is truly a ray of hope. (1)

What does all of this mean?

No-one can blame Iraq, Syria or the autonomous Kurdish forces — including the socialist authorities in Rojava — for calling for international assistance against their genocidal foes.”

Back the democrats, the secularists, the Kurdish and other fighters, and all those fighting for dear life against the Islamist genociders.

(1) See also: The ‘other’ Kurds fighting the Islamic State 

On-Line documentary, Rojava: Syria’s Unknown War

Kurds search for unity amid relentless fight to defeat ‘Islamic State’ thugsDave Holmes

Written by Andrew Coates

September 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon: France Commits Treason by not Delivering Warships to Russia.

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Mélenchon: Denounces President Hollande’s “Treason”. 

France has suspended the first of two controversial Mistral-class warship deliveries to Russia, saying “conditions” were not in place as the crisis in Ukraine deepens.

The announcement comes a day before the start of a NATO summit and after months of pressure on France from allies to suspend the sale amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

President François Hollande’s office, in a statement after he met with top defence advisers, called the fighting in eastern Ukraine “grave”, and said Russia’s recent actions harm “the foundations of security in Europe”.

France 24.

The Guardian adds,

France is to suspend delivery of a state-of-the-art Mistral warship to Russia in protest at Moscow’s continued role in unrest in eastern Ukraine.

Following a defence committee meeting in Paris on Wednesday, a statement from the Elysée Palace said the government could not go ahead with the planned delivery of the warships, citing Moscow’s recent actions in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has taken a blatant military role.

“The president of the republic has concluded that despite the prospect of a ceasefire, which has yet to be confirmed and put in place, the conditions under which France could authorise the delivery of the first helicopter carrier are not in place,” the statement said.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has responded by calling this action « trahison insupportable »  (intolerable treason)

“In deciding to halt the delivery of vessels acquired by Russia, François Hollande has committed an intolerable betrayal that completely devalues ​​the promises given by our country. It  It France as  independent provider of defensive armaments. This is a decision which has no bearing on the military side of the present conflict, demonstrates our country’s subjugation to the USA and the war policy of NATO . “

 Le Monde.

Navires : François commet une trahison insupportable – Communiqué – http://bit.ly/1nx3Z0p pic.twitter.com/ydnppHjnB3

Mélenchon has opposed the threats of NATO, led by the USA against Russia. He has (rightly) criticised the pro-Ukrainian bias of most of the French Media – the hysterical anti-Moscow tone of some of the articles in le Monde alone have to be read to be believed (see: Médias français en campagne ukrainienne. Mathias Reymond.).

You can see more of his views on the topic here, Retour au clavier (Le blog de Jean-Luc Mélenchon).

Many of these points are valid – there is little traction for the left in lining up behind a crusade against the Kremlin any more than there is in one to defend it.

But in Mélenchon’s reactions one cannot help feeling a patriotic timbre ringing throughout this declaration.

Compare…..

Marine Le Pen has also criticised the decision, on commercial grounds (the amount of compensation that will have to be paid, loss of a sale), and because it shows that France lacks “independence”.

The decision, above all,  “is very serious because it reveals our submission to American diplomacy.”

Should We Boycott Saudi Arabia?

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British Islamists earlier this year.

The brutal beheading of Scott Sotloff is fresh in people’s minds.

A couple of days ago Owen Jones wrote, ” Middle Eastern dictatorships that have played a pernicious role in the rise of Islamist fundamentalist terrorism.”

The article, published originally in the Guardian and posted on the Stop the War Coalition site, makes a refreshing change from one-sided denunciations of attempts to create an “American caliphate”.

He then says,

While there is no evidence to suggest Qatar’s regime is directly funding Isis, powerful private individuals within the state certainly are, and arms intended for other jihadi groups are likely to have fallen into their hands. According to a secret memo signed by Hillary Clinton, released by Wikileaks, Qatar has the worst record of counter-terrorism cooperationwith the US.

And yet, where are the western demands for Qatar to stop funding international terrorism or being complicit in the rise of jihadi groups? Instead, Britain arms Qatar’s dictatorship, selling it millions of pounds worth of weaponry including “crowd-control ammunition” and missile parts.

And further,

Then there’s Kuwait, slammed by Amnesty International for curtailing freedom of expression, beating and torturing demonstrators and discriminating against women. Hundreds of millions have been channelled by wealthy Kuwaitis to Syria, again ending up with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra.

But the worst example comes from Saudi Arabia,

And then, of course, there is the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. Much of the world was rightly repulsed when Isis beheaded the courageous journalist James Foley. Note, then, that Saudi Arabia has beheaded 22 people since 4 August. Among the “crimes” that are punished with beheading are sorcery and drug trafficking.

Around 2,000 people have been killed since 1985, their decapitated corpses often left in public squares as a warning. According to Amnesty International, the death penalty “is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it is almost hard to believe”, with the use of torture to extract confessions commonplace. Shia Muslims are discriminated against and women are deprived of basic rights, having to seek permission from a man before they can even travel or take up paid work.

Even talking about atheism has been made a terrorist offence and in 2012, 25-year-old Hamza Kashgari was jailed for 20 months for tweeting about the prophet Muhammad. Here are the fruits of the pact between an opulent monarchy and a fanatical clergy.

This human rights abusing regime is deeply complicit in the rise of Islamist extremism too. Following the Soviet invasion, the export of the fundamentalist Saudi interpretation of Islam – Wahhabism – fused with Afghan Pashtun tribal code and helped to form the Taliban. The Saudi monarchy would end up suffering from blowback as al-Qaida eventually turned against the kingdom.

The regime is not just tolerated; it works in close cooperation with Western countries like the UK.

Owen notes that as a result,

So much rhetoric about terrorism; so many calls to act. Yet Britain’s foreign policy demonstrates how empty such words are. Our allies are up to their necks in complicity with terrorism, but as long as there is money to be made and weapons to sell, our rulers’ lips will remain stubbornly sealed.

One could add that Saudi Arabia has a regime of sexual apartheid, that it is riddled with racist discrimination against migrant workers, not to mention against non-Muslims of any stripe. And that it is utterly committed to the most vicious anti-Semitism imaginable.

What will the Stop the War Coalition do to change this position?

Will their lips remain sealed as well?

Here is an example of a movement to exert pressure on a state that they support.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights” encourages the following actions to fight for Palestinian rights.

Boycotts targeting products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.

Israeli cultural and academic institutions directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’. A growing number of artists have refused to exhibit or play in Israel.

Divestment means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

Sanctions are an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an unmerited veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.

Of these strategies, the cultural and academic boycott is probably the most contested. It appears to make individuals pariahs, not institutions.

In the UK the Boycott Israel movement has targeted Sainsbury’s and has mounted protests at the shop and other outlets for Israeli goods which have also met with criticism.

Controversy has arisen about the Sainsbury’s campaign, which makes the claim (which looks rather small in comparison with what is happening in Iraq and Syria) that this is a protest against the “genocidal attacks on the Palestinians of Gaza.”

Perhaps these methods are not the best way of expressing opposition to Israeli killings and brutality in Gaza, as incidents have erupted during every protest, including one in which the shop in Holborn withdrew Kosher  products from the shelves.

Members of the public could be forgiven for thinking that this is a call to “not buy Jewish“.

Europe has, as is well known, a history of campaigns against “buying Jew.”

A better kind of campaign could be created to protest against the totalitarian regime in Saudi Arabia,. A programme for human rights, demanding that it tolerates all faiths, is democratic, respects women’s rights, allows people to express their own sexual preferences,  and ends its own racism, religious and ethnic, that responds to the demands of what exists of a democratic opposition, would be promoted.

We could begin by putting pressure on companies involved in the country to pull out and calls for international sanctions.

We await the Stop the War Coalition’s forthcoming initiatives to force the British government to act against the Kingdom.

 

 

The Forgotten Alliance between the USSR and Israel.

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Most people interested in the subject know that the Soviet Union was one of the first countries to recognise Israel.

Indeed it was something my mother told me about.

But one suspects that few know much about the details.

Michel Réal in the latest Le Monde Diplomatique offers an account worth reading which appears in the English language edition, The forgotten alliance.

“The establishment of Israel owes much to the Soviet Union and the wide range of support — diplomatic, demographic and military — it offered the young state.”

“The Communist movement was historically opposed to the Zionist project, but Ben Gurion made it clear that the new state would not hinder Soviet interests. Moscow still withheld its support until 1946.

The turning point was in May 1947 when Britain, which had held the League of Nations mandate over Palestine since 1922, decided to transfer the case to the recently established United Nations in order to resolve the territory’s future (2). Andrei Gromyko, the young Soviet deputy foreign minister, said that the USSR was willing to support the division of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab, if the one-state solution proved unworkable.”

From then until 1949, Israel enjoyed the political, military and demographic support of Stalin’s Russia, even though Stalin was at that time repressing Russian Jews, mostly because of a struggle for power at the top of the party-state. The USSR was central to the adoption of the UN plan to partition Palestine on 29 November 1947. Besides its own vote, it also delivered those of its satellites, with the (still unexplained) exception of Yugoslavia. It also provided Israel with the resources it needed most — people and arms.

So,

In this first phase, from 1941 to 1951, Israel received support from the USSR that went beyond its expectations — without having to sacrifice the backing of western nations, especially the US.

But,

subsequent episodes caused discord and led to Russo-Israeli diplomatic relations being severed in February 1953. First there was the USSR’s complete ban on Jewish immigration from eastern Europe, where anti-Semitic activity was widespread. Then there was the Prague trial in November 1952: after the rupture between Stalin and Marshal Tito’s Yugoslavia in 1948, the leaderships of the “people’s democracies” of eastern Europe were purged. In Czechoslovakia, the general secretary of the Communist Party, Rudolf Slánský, was arrested in 1951 and accused of an “imperialist-Zionist” plot. At the show trial, 11 of the 14 accused were explicitly designated as Jews.

Then there was the “doctors’ plot” of 1953…..

Later,

Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953 ended the tensions between the countries and halted the campaign against Soviet Jews. Diplomatic relations were restored in July, but there was no return to the golden age of 1947-49, and the war of June 1967, in which Russia supported Egypt and its Arab allies, led to a second break in diplomatic relations. They were only restored in 1991, just a few months before the demise of the USSR.

Those looking at the comments here may have noticed a virulent set of exchanges (which would already fill a small book) between Tony Greenstein, Paul Bogdanor and Michael Ezra and  on the relationship between Zionism and the Nazis.

One of the main issues is claims about ‘collaboration’ between Zionists and the National Socialist regime and its allies.

Paul and Michael are unrelenting in their hostility to “Marxism-Leninism”. For reasons of their own, having little to do with reality, they claim Tony Greenstein is a supporter of this ideology.

Perhaps they might care to read and comment on Michel Réal’s article about how the real ‘Marxist-Leninists” backed Israel.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 2, 2014 at 10:13 am

France, “A Social Democratic Compromise of a Third Kind” ? Henri Weber.

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Henri Weber (far-left) in Happier Days.

Henri Weber is a former member of the Trotskyist Fourth International.

He played an important role in the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR) in May 1968 and the decade that followed. This included a stint at the “special operations” section of the LCR (Commission Très Spéciale, CTS) and editorship of their weekly Rouge.

An intellectual, whose writings were known in the UK through New Left Review and International Marxist Group publications, he was a sympathetic critic of Eurocommunism and a defender of radical democratic socialism.

After leaving the Ligue he became an academic, conducting further research into Eurocommunism, and German Social Democracy. His book  Le Parti des Patrons : le CNPF (1946-1986),  1991 is a sociological and political account, some might say a rather plodding one, of the French bosses’ organisation (their CBI).

Weber has been a member of the French Parti Socialiste since the mid-1980s,  was a  Senator (1995 – 2004) and is now a European Deputy, MEP, (first elected 2004).

He has moved considerably to the right, even within the moderate terms of European social democracy.

The former revolutionary Marxist is best known these days for defending the idea that  one can broadly (extremely broadly) outline three modern types of “compromise” that define post-War social democracy (Nouveau compromis social -démocrate.18.3.2014)

The first was the ‘post-war’ compromise between the labour movement, the left, and the states and societies of the West . Full employment, growth, expanding social and workers’ rights and the welfare state marked this period.

The second, that followed the late 1970s crisis of the Welfare state and Keynesianism, was defensive. It accepted that redundancies and wage restraint had to take place, but offered increased social spending and more social rights.

A third type of social compromise took shape at the turn of the century: the compromises to adapt to globalisation, and more broadly , the changes in capitalism. That is, the digital revolution, the emergence of new industrialising  countries, the internationalization of production have required  a restructuring of of Western economies. These are axed towards  high-tech industries and services with high added value.

The new social democratic compromise is based on mobilising the social partners for to specialise and adapt to this role. Unions and socialist parties agree on the deregulation of the labour market (flexi-security), the stagnation of real wages, a reduction in  the level of social protection. They demand in return the defence of employment and preservation of national economic power.

In Germany, for example, the SPD and the unions accepted the Hartz accord: unemployment compensation is reduced from 32 to 12 months (24 for over 50 years); the age of retirement is pushed back to 67 years (in 2029 …) the unemployed are forced to take a job……..public health care provision is being reduced……

The German Hartz agreements loosened strong social protection and created so-called “mini-jobs” (at extremely low pay), subjected welfare claimants to stringent “contracts”, lowered benefits, and undermined many of the fundamental aspects of the welfare state.

Weber’s assertion (echoed on the European Right and Business) that their focus on industrial competitivity and growth, are the basis for the country’s economic success, is by no means universally accepted. It is pretty obvious that it’s unlikely that many on the French, or the German non “social democratic” left (except for the Die Grünen, who are often to the right of social democracy) would agree.

But the fact remains that in Germany there has been an economic upturn, unemployment has gone down, and if there is a very heavy downside to these reforms, they are now backed by the population, and represent for the present the basis of Angela Merkel’s popularity.

One can see what the French Socialists would look with envy at the German Chancellor’s ratings in the opinion polls (even if a hard-right anti-European Party, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), did well with 9.9.% in a regional election in Saxony,  this Sunday –  Taz).

The assertion that a progressive slant to this new compromise, depends on growth, and the weight of employees (that is, workers), within a European structure remains to be tested. At present the Socialists have simply gone for what they believe is a strategy for growth.

Last weekend Weber addressed the Parti Socialiste’s Summer School at La Rochelle.

These are some extracts from what he said, 7 moyens de refonder la social-démocratie.

Weber outlines the reasons for the change towards a new compromise.

The principal backdrop is that the globalisation of the economy is changing the balance of power in favor of the owners of private economic power – entrepreneurs and financial operators – at the expense of employees and governments. Markets, companies, production have become global; States, parties, trade unions remain, essentially national actors. The result is a growing disjunction between the political and the economic spheres

The ‘third industrial revolution’, the rise of digital and biotechnologies, the fragmentation of  social classes based on production and the working environment, the rise of individualism, social insecurity, and mass migration, have eroded the basis of traditional socialism and communism. Global warming and other ecological challenges pose further questions to the left.

Weber offers seven principal axes for a renewed social democracy which I present in a slightly adapted form.

1 European social democracy must reconnect with its original internationalism.

2. Social democracy must break with the focus on producing more and more and discover an eco-socialist alternative .

3. European social democracy must find ways of using people and companies’  savings to finance future industries and services with high added value.

4 European social democracy must assert, more than it has done so far, a’ project of civilisation’ (a vision of society).

5 European social democracy must be resolutely feminist .

6 European social democracy has to invent a renewed twenty-first century form and structure of democracy

7 Social democracy should promote an ‘alternative’ globalisation (that is, not be simply ‘anti’ globalisation, but find a different way of globalising). 

The substance of Weber’s contribution seems to be this:

European social democracy should become a continent wide political actor through the mechanisms of the European Socialist Party and the European Confederation of Trade Unions. It should endorse environmentally friendly policies. It should promote investment. It should advance a communitarian project that would promote social values, including feminist ones. It should back democratic reforms. And, finally, it should attempt what regulation of globalisation it can.

A pretty stodgy set of idées reçues  that would appeal to those in the UK, from Will Hutton to Jon Cruddas, who have not the slightest intention of mounting any radical challenge to austerity – and that’s just to start with.

Meanwhile…..in the real political world…..

Prime Minister Valls was received coldly by many delegates at the same La Rochelle Summer School.

Communist and Green speakers, critical of the government’s turn rightward, were well received at fringe meetings (Libération).

In the main hall when the Prime Minister appeared some shouted Vive la Gauche! – the name of the new left ‘frondeur’ alliance (you can see more about them here).

Why?

Well, there’s the talk about ending the 35 hour week and a whole raft of measures designed to weaken workers’ rights. His Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron,has gone out of his way to appeal to business, not the left. More and more austerity remains on the cards. A few words about he also loves the Parti Socialiste won’t change this.

It is unlikely that French unions, even the ‘social liberal’ CFDT,  are overjoyed at the prospect of having to defend what little remains of ‘social democracy’.

The idea that anything approaching the Hartz measures will go down well in France.

One might question the assertion that this “third type” of compromise is anything other than a series of concessions, made in different European countries in different ways, to neo-liberal anti-left policies. One wonders where Brown and Blair fitted into the Second Compromise, or were they part of the Third?

Far from being a social democrat it appears that Manuel Valls and his team are economic liberals.

 It would be interesting to see if he tries something resembling the Hartz reforms.

Hah!

A second’s thinking shows that this is extremely unlikely to happen.

Note: Weber’s own site is here.

On it we learn this fascinating information:

Etat civil: Marié
Enfants: 3
Icône: Woody Allen, Groucho Marx, Pierre Desproges
Hobbies: La marche à pied
Livre préféré: “La Promesse de l’Aube” de Romain Gary
Film favori: “Les Enfants du Paradis” de Marcel Carné (1945)
Groupe de musique favori: Les Beatles
Emission TV préférée: Thalassa
Plat local favori: La potée auvergnate

Some might comment that this shows a profound mediocrity.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2014 at 11:13 am

Allegations of link-up between Socialist Action, Workers Power and Russian Far-Right.

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Should Left Back Everyone Resisting NATO?

As President Obama admits ” We don’t have a strategy yet.” one group in Britain is pretty certain he does.

The Stop the War Coalition urges people to ” Protest the NATO Summit” (? – Protest what? For, Against,?).

At a mass demonstration of 600 people (BBC estimate, StWC estimate perhaps 60,000) they expressed the views below.

The StWC focuses on NATO, “NATO is the military alliance binding Europe to US foreign policy, a foreign policy post-Iraq increasingly unpopular around the world. It is also the military alliance currently occupying Afghanistan.”

Apparently it’s all connected with the present wars and conflicts.

Or as they ask, and answer: What links Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine? The deranged policies of the US and NATO.

The most obvious but mostly unconsidered factor is that all three of these situations are directly linked to an increasingly aggressive Western foreign policy promoted by NATO over the last two or three decades.

So now we know: it’s the West’s fault.

The StWC urges mobilisation. “We need to make sure that the scale of anti-war opinion and the spirit of the great Gaza demonstrations is on display in Newport and Cardiff for all the world to see.”

Some might care to comment on the comparison between Gaza, Newport and Cardiff.

But for the instant other matters arise.

One group of people on the British left  seem to have taken the analysis  of NATO to a very definite conclusion.

They are now working with the “enemy” of the “West” on the issue of Ukraine.

A conclusion with practical consequences not all will admire.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (here, hat-tip D) publishes the allegations below about the alliances of some of those on the British Left protesting against the Ukrainian government – that is ‘NATO’s ally’.

Less than two months ago Richard Brenner (Workers Power) and Alan Freeman (Socialist Action) were feted in the Hotel Yalta-Intourist by assorted Russian fascists and ultra-nationalists at a conference about Ukraine. The same initiative, meeting again this weekend, will apparently be without them.

The first conference produced a “Declaration” (full of worthy anti-fascist and anti-war verbiage, designed for a European/US left-liberal audience) and a “Manifesto” (which amounted to a programme to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth, or at least to reduce it to the borders of pre-World-War-One Galicia).

Brenner defended his attendance at the conference on the grounds that “some of the people in the resistance are nationalists and socially reactionary on some (not all) questions.” As for the “Manifesto”, according to Brenner, “there is nothing reactionary in its practical proposals.”

(An astonishing conclusion, bearing in mind that the title of the Manifesto – “Manifesto of the Popular Front for the National Liberation of Ukraine, Novorossiya and Transcarpathian Rus’” – was itself a “practical proposal” for the dismemberment of Ukraine.)

This weekend’s conference in the same hotel is entitled “Russia, Ukraine, Novorossiya: Global Problems and Challenges”, and will launch what it calls the “Anti-Fascist (Anti-Maidan) Council of the Russian Federation”. (1)

The conference is organised by the “Co-ordination Centre for Novaya Rus’” – one of the organisations headed by Aleksei Anpilogov which ran the earlier conference attended by Brenner and Freeman.

Three of the conference’s listed speakers attended the earlier conference: Anpilogov, Vladimir Rogov and Pyotr Getsko. (Anpilogov can fairly be described as a nationalist-cum-fascist; the latter two are more ultra-nationalist/fascist-fellow-travellers.)

But this time they are not meeting with a couple of (possibly) useful idiots from the British left.

Keynote speakers at the conference include Igor Strelkov-Girkin and Alexander Borodai (respectively, former Defence Minister and former Prime Minister of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’). Both are members of the Izborsky Club, a Russian fascist ‘think tank’ headed up by Alexander Prokhanov and Alexander Dugin.

Sergei Glazyev (presidential aide to Putin, and a member of the Izborsky Club) will also address the conference, as too will Mikhail Delyagin (Russian academic and a member of the Izborsky Club).

Other speakers include Mikhail Sheremet (former head of the ‘Crimean Self-Defence’ which worked with the Russian military in the annexation of the Crimea, subsequently appointed Crimean Deputy Prime Minister) and Mateusz Piskorski:

“Piskorski is an open proponent of Nazism, a holocaust denier, and the author of articles in the portals “White World” and “I, A Russian”. He was the leading light of the Polish skinhead paper ‘Odala’, where he praised the Aryan race and Adolf Hitler.” (2)

Publicity for the conference states that it will be attended by “members of the Izborsky and Zinoviev Clubs”.

The latter Club is named after the late Soviet philosopher Alexander Zinoviev: an admirer of Stalin, a supporter of Milosevic, and an opponent of Western values. The Club is concerned with the restoration of “traditional Russian values”.

Also attending the conference will be “parliamentary and government delegations from twelve European countries.” So far, only one of them has been named: Marton Dyondyoshi, a leading figure in the Hungarian far-right and particularly anti-semitic party Jobbik.

The list of speakers shows the hollowness of the expression “anti-fascist” in the context of this conference and its goal of setting up an “Anti-Fascist Council”.

(It is no less hollow in the context of: “Campaign in Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine”, to which Workers Power, Socialist Action and other more explicit brands of Stalinism are affiliated.)

There is nothing “anti-fascist” about the politics of the Izborsky Club members. There is nothing “anti-fascist” about the politics of Dyondyoshi. There is nothing “anti-fascist” about the politics of the French National Front (regularly praised on separatist websites).

“Anti-fascist”, in this context, is no more than a verbal fig-leaf to cover up for straightforward Russian-imperialist aggression against Ukraine. And the fact that the organisers of the first Yalta conference have now organized this weekend’s event, inviting along sundry fascists, Hitler-admirers and anti-semites, tells you a lot about their own politics as well.

But for the likes of Worker’s Power, perhaps Jobbik should now also be classed as no more than “nationalists (who are) socially reactionary on some (not all) questions”?

1) http://delyagin.ru/news/81020-rossiya-ukraina-novorossiya-globalnyje-problemy-i-vyzovy.html
2) http://sz-n.com/2014/03/piskorski-head-of-international-observers-in-the-crimea-is-known-fascist-and-anti-semite/

It is important also to see this from the AWL  here.

Confirmation of their report, “Veterans of the Russian military and special forces, together with rights activists and representatives of Orthodox Christian community, are to jointly launch a group to try and thwart any attempts to forcefully change the political system in the country.” more Spetsnaz veterans to launch ‘anti-Maidan council’ in Russia (Russia Today).

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 30, 2014 at 4:20 pm

The Wind-Farm Solution to ISIS – Counterpunch

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Counterpunch’s Solution to ISIS Genociders.

Crazy guys, crazy politics, Counterpunch, America’s best-loved satirical magazine has a solution to ISIS!

Yes: absolutely!

Just published:  Bombing is Not the Only Alternative What to Do About ISIS by DAVID SWANSON 

Swanson states,

“Start by recognizing where ISIS came from.”

 We’ll skip this portentous, ponderous, phrases that follow and go straight to the good bits.

This is the programme of Swanson, or What is to Be Done.

1. Apologize for brutalizing the leader of ISIS in Abu Ghraib and to every other prisoner victimized under U.S. occupation.

Indeed, this is certainly the Number One priority.

2. Apologize for destroying the nation of Iraq and to every family there.

I am beginning to wonder who is doing this apologising but I let this go for the moment.

3. Begin making restitution by delivering aid (not “military aid” but actual aid, food, medicine) to the entire nation of Iraq.

4. Apologize for role in war in Syria.

5. Begin making restitution by delivering actual aid to Syria.

Boring bits.

Though again, one asks, who is apologising for war in Syria? Other names, such as Assad might possibly spring to mind.

6. Announce a commitment not to provide weapons to Iraq or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt or Bahrain or any other nation anywhere on earth and to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from foreign territories and seas, including Afghanistan. (The U.S. Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf has clearly forgotten where the coast of the U.S. is!)

Abolish weapons! Or, as the author’s book title goes, “War No More”. 

But the best follows.

7. Announce a commitment to invest heavily in solar, wind, and other green energy and to provide the same to democratic representative governments.

8. Begin providing Iran with free wind and solar technologies — at much lower cost of course than what it is costing the U.S. and Israel to threaten Iran over a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.

Now this is some original blue-skies thinking!

9. End economic sanctions.

10. Send diplomats to Baghdad and Damascus to negotiate aid and to encourage serious reforms.

11. Send journalists, aid workers, peaceworkers, human shields, and negotiators into crisis zones, understanding that this means risking lives, but fewer lives than further militarization risks.

12. Empower people with agricultural assistance, education, cameras, and internet access.

I think ISIS are already pretty good at Internet access and Cameras!

13. Launch a communications campaign in the United States to replace military recruitment campaigns, focused on building sympathy and desire to serve as critical aid workers, persuading doctors and engineers to volunteer their time to travel to and visit these areas of crisis.

14. Work through the United Nations on all of this.

15. Sign the United States on to the International Criminal Court and voluntarily propose the prosecution of top U.S. officials of this and the preceding regimes for their crimes.

Boring.

One might ask if ISIS genociders might also be hauled before this court.

But  Counterpunch seems determined to pursue other paths.

As another author, Deb Reich,  in this vintage edition, says,

Once upon a time, as a few inventive minds labored, most folks said humans cannot fly and are not meant to fly. Then came the airplane. Once upon a time, most folks said the Earth was flat. Then came better instrumentation and braver exploration and, lo and behold, the earth wasn’t flat anymore.

…….

Will we ordinary people, in large enough numbers, awaken in time? Enter, via the GPS of our imagination, the portal to the post-enemies era? Drag with us, kicking and screaming, our makers of policy and our shapers of opinion, our legislators and our law enforcement agencies, over the threshold into the grand new landscape unfolding before us? Stay tuned.

Stay tuned indeed!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2014 at 10:19 am

France: New Government in Love with Bosses, Bosses in Love with New Government.

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Manuel Valls accueilli sur scène par le patron des patrons, Pierre Gattaz.

Bosses Applaud the ‘Valls Show’.

Yesterday the Parti Socialist Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, wowed the French employers’ federation (the MEDEF) summer get-together.

«Moi j’aime l’entreprise !»  he said – I love Business.

Libération reports that in response to his speech bosses applauded wildly.

They said “there’s no question, he’s better than the Right” .

L’Humanité notes that Valls told the audience,

France needs you. The return to growth will come above all by supporting businesses, “said the Prime Minister to the cheers of hundreds of entrepreneurs. He wanted to reassure them about their future profits, repeating, as he had done the day after the announcement of the composition of the new government, that he was confident of getting the support of the majority to vote  for his “pact of responsibility.”(1)

The is intervention comes just after France’s President, François Hollande, and PM Valls, formed a new Cabinet – just a few months after they launched one after disastrous local (losing control of 150 towns) and European election results in which the Front National topped the polls at 24.86%.

Valls own present popularity stands at 36% in opinion polls, with his own chief, Hollande, gets around 17% of favourable responses.

The New Cabinet is dominated by those aligned to the ‘social-liberal’ wing of the Socialists.

A principal reason for the  switch-over was that left-wingers, notably former Economy Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, and one of the education Ministers,  Benoît Hamon refused  to back austerity measures.

A group of Socialist “frondeurs” (rebels) had emerged earlier this year when the Pacte de reponsabilité (which essentially makes concessions to employers’ demands for ‘flexibility’ in the labour market) was first put forward by President François Hollande. Battles inside the government led nowhere.

“I will follow the example of Cincinnatus,” Mr. Montebourg said, in reference to the modest Roman statesman, “who preferred to quit power to return to his fields and plows.”

It will not have escaped many people’s attention that Montebourg received 17,19 % of the Vote in the  2011 ‘primaries’ to decide who should represent the party as a presidential candidate. (2)

The present Prime Minister, Manuel Valls got 5,63 % in the same contest.

Montebourg’s ideas include proposals for a more democratic “sixth republic”, and a critique of globalisation (more, in English, here).

In response to the star-reception of the PM by the MEDEF Thierry Lepaon the leader of the left-wing union federation, the CGT, denounced the way the new government was “mixing” the role of the State and that of the bosses’ federation.

Criticising the MEDEF’s claims that its own plans would create a million new jobs he noted that the state already gave extensive grants to companies without proper control, and that many firms had given big dividends to shareholders at a time when they were pleading fir more public help. By contrast there seems little attention paid to the needs of young people, the retired, the unemployed and workers in the government’s plans.

This morning news emerged  from new Minister of the Economy,  Emmanuel Macron, that the government intends to consolidate its rightward shift  by loosening the laws regulating the length of the working week (based on a 35 hour standard). The regulations on Sunday working will also be liberalised.

France 24 paints the economic backdrop to the crisis of the French Socialist-led government.

The labour ministry said there were now 3.424 million people out of work, an increase of around 26,000. It was the ninth consecutive rise in the monthly unemployment figures.

“This rise reflects zero growth in the eurozone and in France,” Labour Minister François Rebsamen said in a statement.

France, Europe’s second biggest economy, is battling a political and economic crisis seen as the worst since Hollande took power more than two years ago.

Growth has ground to a halt in the first six months of the year and Hollande has been unable to live up to his promise to bring down unemployment.

His strategy for pulling France out of the mire is his much-vaunted Responsibility Pact, which will cut social charges for businesses by 40 billion euros ($53 billion) in exchange for them creating 500,000 jobs by 2017.

(1) Le pacte de responsabilité , an agreement to reduce social charges in companies (that is, to cut employer contributions to social insurance), ‘modernise’ taxation, and ‘simplify’ labour laws. It’s reported today that the employers’ federation,m the MEDEF, is already working on a plan, France 2020, with the agreement of the  ‘social-liberal’ union, the CFDT, to weaken labour legislation on companies with more than 50 employees.

(2) He was in third position, behind  François Hollande  and Martine Aubry.

 

Summary of the 8–9 and 15–16 October 2011 French Socialist Party presidential primary
Candidates Parties 1st round 2nd round
Votes  % Votes  %
  François Hollande Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 1,038,207 39.17% 1,607,268 56.57%
  Martine Aubry Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 806,189 30.42% 1,233,899 43.43%
  Arnaud Montebourg Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 455,609 17.19%  
  Ségolène Royal Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 184,096 6.95%
  Manuel Valls Socialist Party (Parti socialiste) PS 149,103 5.63%
  Jean-Michel Baylet Radical Party of the Left (Parti Radical de Gauche) PRG 17,055 0.64%
 
Total 2,650,259 100.00% 2,860,157 100.00%
 
Valid votes 2,650,259 99.59% 2,860,157 99.34%
Spoilt and null votes 11,025 0.41% 18,990 0.66%
Total 2,661,284 100.00% 2,879,147 100.00%
 
Table of results ordered by number of votes received in first round, complete results on resultats.lesprimairescitoyennes.fr.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 28, 2014 at 10:52 am

As UN denounces War Crimes by Islamists Socialist Worker Refuses to Bow to this Frenzy.

with 5 comments

Just like those defending Spanish Democracy says article in Socialist Worker.

The UN has just made this announcement,

The Syrian government and Islamic State insurgents are both committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in their war against each other, U.N. investigators said on Wednesday.

Islamic State forces in northern Syria are waging a campaign to instill fear, including amputations, public executions and whippings, they said.

Reuters

This follows a story in the Guardian on Monday,

Isis accused of ethnic cleansing as story of Shia prison massacre emerges

As many as 670 prisoners thought killed in Mosul with other abuses reported in Iraq amounting to ‘crimes against humanity’

A few days ago, in what can only be called one of the vilest exercises in whataboutery Socialist Worker published this week this apology for the racist genociders of ISIS/Islamic State.

There is resistance to this frenzy of Islamophobia by Hassan Mahamdallie, co-director of the Muslim Institute.

Mahamdallie begins by making a string of unsavoury comparisons.

The beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, was horrific. But is the Nigerian military slitting the throats of 16 young men and boys any less horrific?

Or last week’s Israeli air strike that blew to smithereens the wife and seven month old son of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif? Surely that was horrific and disturbing too?

One atrocity was carried out by a murderer who calls himself Muslim. The second was sanctioned by a head of state who calls himself Christian. And the last was executed by an entity that defines itself as an exclusively Jewish state.

That is to ignore the widespread revulsion at the religious and ethnic cleansing by the genociders of ISIS/Islamic State.

That is, the suffering of the hundreds of thousands of Yazidis, Christians, Kurds and Turkomans massacred, tortured and driven from their homes in Iraq. The same gang is carrying out these actions in Syria.

One might imagine a few words on this topic.

But the eminently self-righteous Mahamdallie remains fixed to the Foley murder.

He comments that,

Yet only one triggered convulsions of outrage, with calls from the establishment in Britain and the US to take action. Madness descended yet again.

Continuing in this vein he comments on the condemnation of the Foley decapitation (though he is too polite to use this word) made by former Labour foreign minister Kim Howells and makes this observation that he should look into his own past and see how people are motivated to fight in wars. That is, one fight in particular, the defence of the Spanish Republic against the Franco-Led armies.

In the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army.

He then takes time, a long long time,  to pass smug comments ridiculing British Muslims who have denounced the genociders – for a variety of reasons. Apparently Muslims should not be asked their opinion on Muslim groups and Muslim religious authorities should not have to speak about those  who declare themselves the only true Muslims.

The (former) Senior Officer, Diversity, Arts Council England  concludes that he prefers this response from the leader of the Lewisham Mosque,

The press asked him to condemn a tweet from a woman “Jihadi” in Syria who might have once attended the mosque.

He retorted, “The young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard”.

Not a word of condemnation for the religious and ethnic cleansing.

But instead this,  “It was good to see someone refusing to bow to the frenzy, a spark of resistance in a very dark week.”

No doubt Socialist Worker will applaud a  “spark of resistance” to the “frenzy” of the  UN announcement.

Update: Amongst Comments on Facebook about the Socialist Worker article,

“It doesn’t just ‘blur the distinction’ between ISIS and the International Brigades, it effectively equates them. This ranks it among the most odious pieces I have come across in over 30 years of reading the far left press. Disgusting is the only word for it.” (D.O)

Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2014 at 11:24 am

In Iraq Stop the War Coalition Opposes US but what is its Strategy to Oppose Islamic State? (answers on back of a fag packet).

with 7 comments

PKK - women guerillas

Stop the War Coalition turns its Back on Brave Kurdish Fighters of the Socialist PKK.

Most people are full of doubts about the evolving situation in Syria and Iraq.

To illustrate its position the Stop the War Coalition posts an article from the ‘controversial’ American site Counterpunch.(1)

A certain Garry Leech says (24th of August)

WITHOUT QUESTION, the beheading of US journalist James Foley was an inexcusable and savage act of violence by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The killing of non-combatants should always be condemned. But there is a clear discrepancy in the response of both the Western media and the general public with regard to the killing of Western civilians compared to Islamic civilians.

The number of Western civilians killed by Islamic militants pales in comparison to the number of non-combatants that have died at the hands of the US and its military allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen. And yet, the outrage at the killing of these innocent Muslims, many of who are women and children, is virtually non-existent in the West.

He then makes to interesting claim that,

Every form of colonialism throughout history has given birth to a violent resistance movement. And it should not be surprising that the current imperialist model in the form of capitalist globalization has also spurred a violent response. There were no extremist groups in Iraq before the US invasion. It was the US invasion and occupation that opened the door to al-Qaeda’s entry into Iraq as part of the broader insurgency that rose up to liberate the country from its foreign occupiers. And it was this insurgency that gave birth to ISIS. Therefore, it could be argued that our widespread killing of civilians in Iraq helped to create a fertile recruiting environment for extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and contributed to the emergence of ISIS.

Original in Counterpunch.

Let’s pass over the claim that no “extremist” groups existed in Iraq before the (wholly wrong) US invasion – starting with the obvious question about the regime of Saddam Hussein.

So how exactly are the StWC going to oppose Islamic State?

We know that Lindsey German is against ‘blaming Muslims.

The Chair of the Coalition says,

Blame the Muslims. If all else fails in the defence of a foreign policy which is so bankrupt that even the envoy for peace in the Middle East Tony Blair has gone quiet, then start talking about the domestic threat, and the need for increased surveillance of Muslims.

The hideous beheading of James Foley, apparently by a British member of ISIS, and the government claim that hundreds of British citizens are fighting in Syria and now Iraq, has brought a whole new raft of demands. Ranging from the Nigel Farage cry that their passports should be confiscated to the return of control orders which effectively mean house arrest for individuals, these are all more about political posturing than dealing with the problem of ISIS.

So we know what people should not do, that is, back the US or the British Government.

They are completely right to stand against the repression underway in the UK and the legislation being proposed to increase this. 

One other thing they are also not going to do is come out and back the courageous  comrades of the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party).

One can search in vain in this outpouring from German –  Kurds, ISIS and the crisis in Iraq – is US and UK military intervention the answer? – for any reference to the PKK

But then the British Stop the War Coalition knows a lot better than the Kurdish fighters about what to do.

On the Kurdish fighters more generally see: KURDS RESIST ISLAMIC STATE BUTCHERS (Socialist Resistance). 

Kurdish fighters

If we are looking for any signs of hope in the long-running tragedy of the people of Iraq, suffering from the rapaciousness of outside powers and the tyranny of sectarian party rule, we should pay close attention to recent events in Northern Iraq writes Sarah Parker. Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (People’s Defence Forces) guerrillas from Syria, who fought to open a narrow corridor through the desert from Sinjar and out of Iraq into the YPG controlled area of northern Syria permitted the dramatic rescue of thousands of Yezidi Kurds and others from on Mount Sinjar, where they had fled to escape the onslaught of Islamic State.

(1) Publishers of the anti-semitic Israel Shamir.

 In an essay published on his website discussing Holocaust denier David Irving, Shamir wrote that “the Jews” now “rule over the minds and souls of Europeans””

David Irving was sentenced for denial of Jewish superiority. His doom seals the reign of (albeit limited) freedom that began with the fall of Bastille. European history went full circle: from rejecting the rule of Church and embracing free thought, to the new Jewish mind-control on a world scale. Not only is Western Christian civilisation dead, but even its successor, secular European civilisation, has met its demise only a few days after its proud and last celebration by the Danish scribes. It was short-lived: about two hundred years from beginning to the end, the Europeans may once have had the illusion that they can live without an ideological supremacy. Now this illusion is over; and the Jews came in the stead of the old and tired See of St Peter to rule over the minds and souls of Europeans.

In Counterpunch, amongst other articles by Shamir, one finds,   Hitting the Commercial Jackpot The Secret History of Pussy Riot Autumn 2012. by ISRAEL SHAMIR Moscow.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2014 at 10:57 am