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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. 

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!

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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

Standing up to UKIP? A Critical Appraisal.

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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.

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.