Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
Real Left Unity.
Marxist Dentists around the UK leave copies of The Lady and Country Life to stir up class hatred.
At least that was my theory on reading Rachel Johnson’s magazine this morning waiting for an appointment.
One article about a Lady of the British Empire who could not boil an egg, had crossed the planet, swum with dolphins, holidayed in the Savanna, struck me.
I doubt if she was prepared to walk to Liddle to get 15 pence off a tin of sardines.
This, I suspect, is not a lone reaction.
Margaret Thatcher’s death and the rise of UKIP brought back a cold draft of class politics to this country.
Many realised that the Thatcher project, to make everybody stand or fall in the gales of competing on the market, and the pumped-up loathing of foreigners |(notably excepting the USA) that went with it, is alive and well.
Like many on the left, trade unionists and anti-cuts activists, I am committed to the People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
This is a grand occasion for us to get together on issues that affect us all, to build a constructive left-wing alternative to the politics of hate and the priorities of the wealthy.
It will unite us with our fellows across Europe in opposing the financial forces that have imposed cuts and more privatisation in the UK, and destitution and mass unemployment in countries from Greece and Spain to Portugal – not to mention the misery brought upon UKIP’s bogies in Rumania and Bulgaria.
There is a serious debate to be had about the European Union, and the role of the ”Troika’ in pushing through austerity.
The French left is divided between those who think that Angela Merkel is at heart a pragmatist and will – eventually – see sense and launch an expansionist drive. French president Hollande’s intervention yesterday, in which he proposed a European economic “governance” went in this sense. Some on his side believe in federalism, a politically united Europe.
Others are sceptical. They want a radical overhall of the EU. A few want greater national sovereignty restored.
In the UK we have by contrast, as Seamus Milne noted in the Guardian this week, a debate on Europe whose agenda is set by the right.
This is a threat,
a successful Tory-led campaign to pull out of the EU would risk unleashing a carnival of reaction, anti-migrant hysteria, more attacks on social rights, and a further lurch to the right.
Milne states, rightly,
What has been almost entirely missing from the mainstream British public debate has been the progressive case for fundamental change that has been central to the struggle over the EU and its treaties in mainland Europe. In the 1975 referendum, the left case against the then common market was that it was a cold war customs union against the developing world that would block socialist reforms. But the modern EU has gone much further, giving a failed neoliberal model of capitalism the force of treaty, entrenching deregulation and privatisation and enforcing corporate power over employment rights.
What would be fatal would be to allow the nationalist right to continue to dictate the EU agenda and wrap itself in the mantle of democratic legitimacy. The terms of debate have to change – for the sake of both Britain and Europe.
Much of the British left remain dominated by the anti-EEC ideas of the 1970s.
They have not confronted this menace.
Indeed they think their tiny forces can intervene to make the “progressive” case for a sovereign UK outside the EU.
We need a real campaign in place of this: for a united social Europe!
The People’s Assembly could be a place to make the case of this.
Some of the left think there is a mileage in the Left Unity appeal of Kate Hudson and Ken Loach.
Recent prominent members of Respect , who failed to protest against George Galloway’ s politics, they are not in a position to preach unity to anybody least of all the ‘left’.
I merely cite this report by Tina Becker from the Weekly Worker to show that this is a dead-end,
Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin (important driving forces) would have liked the proceedings to have gone differently. After all, the Stop the War Coalition and Respect – organisations both comrades were prominent in – were far more choreographed. But, ironically, bureaucratic coherence in fronts like these was provided by the likes of the Socialist Workers Party, part of the organised left to which LU is to a great extent a reaction. The politically decrepit Socialist Resistance – the one ‘insider’ group – is no substitute.
The proposed political platform written by Kate Hudson was circulated three days before; a proposal for the electoral procedure to the national coordination committee was sent out 20 hours before; the chairs seem to have been pre-chosen on the basis that they had no previous experience of handling big meetings (one chair was actually introduced as someone who had “never attended a political meeting before”). No wonder that quite a few times people in the room (the chairs included) did not actually know what exactly they were voting on. It was pretty chaotic, in other words.
This was also reflected in the rather uneven attendance. Local groups were supposed to send two delegates each, but where more people expressed an interest in coming, they were advised by the interim leadership to simply divide their group into smaller parts. For example, Manchester comrades – all sitting together in the same meeting, in the same room – selected five delegates from different parts of the city. Elsewhere, groups had not even met yet. Andrew Burgin admitted that about half of the “90 or 100” local groups exist only in so far as one person had volunteered to be the local contact. So the reality was that pretty much anybody who wanted to come could do so.
Unless, of course, you happened to be a representative of a political organisation. The interim organising committee had decided to bar existing groups from even sending observers – apart from a representative of the Red-Green Alliance from Denmark, who showed up halfway through the meeting. Obviously it would have been a little harsh to send this poor comrade packing after he had made such a long journey, presumably on a well-informed hunch.
Followed by the latest TUSC (Left involving the RMT, Socialist Party and SWP) election result.
Election of a Borough Councillor for Rawmarsh Ward (Rotherham) on Thursday 16 May 2013
|Baldwin, William George||British National Party||80|
|Gray, Andrew Tony||Trade Unionists and Socialists Against Cuts||61|
|Meharban, Mohammed||Liberal Democrats||28|
|Parker, Martyn Lawton||The Conservative Party Candidate||107|
|Vines, Caven||UK Independence Party||1143 Elected|
|Wright, Lisa Marie||Labour Party Candidate||1039|
Le Sermon sur la chute de Rome. Jérôme Ferrari. Actes Sud. 2001.
Le Sermon won the 2012 French ‘Booker’, the Prix Goncourt. The author, Jérôme Ferrari, is a lycée philosophy teacher. Born In Paris but installed in Corsica he spread popular debates in the cafés philosophies in Bastia. He has translated from Corsican and written on Schopenhaur. He has also taught philosophy in a secondary school in Algeria. Ferrai’s previous novel, Où j’ai laissé Mon âme (2010), touched on French torture in Algeria during the war of national liberation.
The title of the novel evokes Saint Augustine’s Sermon on the Fall of Rome. The sack of the City by Alaric and the Goths in 410 was the occasion for Augustine’s greatest attempt to offer a Christian explanation for this event, to defend his faith against the charge that it had contributed to Rome’s defeat. The Sermon heads its seven sections with epigraphs from this, the City of God and ends by imagining the Saint’s final preaching. They evoke the God’s eternal kingdom and the promise of Salvation in the face of the destruction of the works of humankind. His message? All empires are mortal.
So far, so much philosophy. But far from being overwhelmed by serious intent Le Sermon is a novel, of interlinked, and gracefully recounted, stories. A Corsican bar is the pivot of a tale that begins with its own “malédiction divine sur l’Égypte”.
These curses come in succession. Bored with the repetitive hunting clientele, and thieving staff, the owner, Marie-Angèle, decides to let out the bistro. A succession of owners follows. In events that will have an echo with anybody familiar with pubs and bars across Europe, the new lease-holders try to relaunch the business. One re-opens as El Commandate bar with a Che Guevara neon-sign. After a blaze of techno-music and partying, he leaves – debts unpaid. Another, Bernard Gratas, is abandoned by wife and family and left to drink himself into the gutter.
Matthieu and Libero, childhood friends from the village, graduates in philosophy at Paris, take over. They set up with a new batch of staff – young attractive women –and generously employ Gratas to do the washing up. They offer a limited and affordable range of ‘terroir’ fare. It succeeds. This, Matheiu wistfully thinks, is a world dreamt of by Leibniz, a universe ruled by God’s good will, “le meilleur des mondes possibles”.
And, for a while, it is.
The Sermon local details, the tourist ‘season’, Corsican chasseurs, a memorable castration of a young boar-pig, an economy dominated the tourist season, and the fraught, and intimate, tie with France. But there is little of what would expect about the Island’s mafias, or, reference to the inability of younger characters to understand the lingua corsa, or to the movement for independence.
The history of Mathieu’s grandfather, Marcel Antonneti, interwoven in the chapters, revovles around 20th century French wars and the Empire. It is of a constantly darker hue. From the Second World War, life as an administrator in French Africa, reigning over “insectes, de Nègres, de plantes sauvages et de fauves” (wild beasts) and death, back to Corsica and the collapse of the French Empire Marcels’ life is a “vide” (void). The other characters, like Aurélie, Matheiu’s sister, have their own set backs to contemplate.
Matheiu and Libro’s dream of a, more limited, empire of happiness, ends too. The conclusion of Le Sermon, announced early on as ““une nuit de pillage et de sang” (pillage and blood), indicates that there is no “demiurge” around to forgive the sins of the world.
Yet the impression these events leave does not washed way the lightness, the “sinuosity (as French reviewers have called it) of Ferrari’s prose, nor the happiness it, briefly, conveys. There is something of the Julian Barnes (much admired in France) in the novel, a graceful way of dealing with serious things. It is to be hoped that Le Sermon will find an English speaking audience as soon as possible.
English Language Wikipedia on Jérôme Ferrari here.
Peaceful Bangladeshi Islamists in Dhaka.
This is how Socialist Worker reports a march with Bangladeshi fascists in London.
Around 1,000 people protested in central London last Sunday in solidarity with anti-government protesters in Bangladesh. The protest marched from Hyde Park to the Bangladeshi Embassy.
Muhammad Ayyub is part of the Feb28 Justice for Bangladesh group that organised the protest. “We stand with the people of Bangladesh against the government,” he told Socialist Worker.
“Police are killing protesters there and opposition supporters have been unlawfully arrested.”
The protest coincided with a deepening political crisis in Bangladesh.
“Ordinary people in Bangladesh don’t matter,” said Rashid. “Many live on less than a dollar a day. But when the rich people came here for the Olympics they booked a whole floor of a five-star hotel.”
Protesters chanted, “We want peace. We want justice,” at a rally outside the embassy.
Speakers who talked about the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt won loud cheers.
Charlie Kimber, national secretary of the Socialist Workers Party, told the crowd, “The tide of revolution has swept through Tunisia and Egypt.
“Now the tide of revolution must sweep through Gaza, Syria and Bangladesh.”
There is no mention in the article of who is behind this Feb28 movement.
We can help,
“The Feb28 Justice for Bangladesh movement came about in response to this escalating crisis that has engulfed Bangladesh. It aims to expose the tyranny and anti-Islamic hatred of the oppressive Awami League regime and is dedicated to bringing you fresh and unbiased news on the struggle of the Bangladeshi people.”
This is some of its ‘unbiased’ news,
An estimated 2500 Muslim scholars and devotees killed
· Thousands injured, hospitalised in critical conditions and thousands arrested.
· Night completely blackened out to comfortably commit genocide.
· Media clamped to hide genocide.
It is rare in the history of human civilization that a Muslim country’s ruling government can be such fascist, ruthless and brutal to run a barbaric violence and systematic killing spree of such scale against the nation’s peaceful, unarmed and Islam-loving most revered scholars (ulama) of high repute and the devotee mass Muslims that took place in the deep black night following May 5, 2013 in Bangladesh’s capital city of Dhaka that is well known as the city of masjid (mosque).
It is also unprecedented in the history of human civilization to observe serious insult on Allah, the Prophet (PBUH), his highly respected wives, Islam and different forms of Islamic ibadah (worships) like prayer, fasting etc. in such shameful vulgar language used by some Bangladeshi atheist bloggers and political activists belonging to the ruling Awami League party of Bangladesh that the world has never experienced before.
These, as cited yesterday are some of the demands of the Bangladesh movement these creatures back,
1. Reinstatement of ‘Absolute trust and faith in Allah’ in the constitution of Bangladesh and abolishment of all laws which are in conflict with the values of the Quran and Sunnah
2. Enactment of (anti-defamation) law at the parliament keeping death penalty as the highest form of punishment to prevent defamation of Allah, Muhammad (S.A.W) and Islam, and prevent spreading hate against Muslims (highest penalty prevalent for defamation is 10 years).
3. Immediate end to the negative propaganda by all atheist bloggers in a leading role in the so called Shahbag movement who have defamed Allah, Mohammad (S.A.W), and Islam and their exemplary punishment.
4. End to all alien cultural practices like immodesty, lewdness, misconduct, culture of free mixing of the sexes, candle lighting in the name of personal freedom and free speech.
5. Abolishment of the anti-Islamic inheritance law and the ungodly education policy. Making Islamic education compulsory in all levels from primary to higher secondary.
6. Declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims by the government and put a stop to their negative and conspirational activities.
The SWP in another article published today suggests that in Bangladesh,
The Islamic protest comes as thousands of workers have been on the streets demanding justice for those killed in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory.
The week of demonstrations proves there is a massive political vacuum in Bangladesh which many forces are trying to fill.
The left needs to draw those who rage against putting profit before people into a movement that can challenge the rich.
This can attract those who look to the Islamists.
No doubt those raging at atheist bloggers, “lewdness”, demand the death penalty for blasphemy and the persecution of fellow Muslims they call ‘heretics’ are potential recruits to the SWP.
No doubt at all.
More images, bound to upset somebody, here.
In Holland Not Everybody Waves Back.
This morning the media is full of the ascension to the Dutch Throne of the new King.
It was suggested this morning on the Belgium French-speaking radio le Première (which as a neighbouring country, takes a keen intrest in this) that opponents of the House of Orange were isolated cranks, even right-wing homophobes (???).
e Christian Science Monitor reports on another side of today jamboree in Holland,
But just a few days ago, some 500 yards away from the Dam Square in central Amsterdam where the abdication and inauguration will take place, a small group of Dutch republicans met to discuss how best to call for the abolition of the country’s 200-year-old monarchy and instate a true republic.
The workshop was organized by the movement #HetIs2013 – Dutch for “It’s 2013″ – which was started in February when a student protester named Joanna was forcibly removed by police from an event in Utrecht that the queen attended.
Joanna had been holding up a sign that read “Away with the monarchy, it’s 2013″ – which the policemen took to be a violation of the Netherlands‘ lese majeste law, which still prohibits insulting the royal family despite the country’s general support of freedom of speech.
Willem-Alexander later said during a TV interview that the policemen had made “a mistake” by removing her.
The plucky Dutch republicans are organised in the Nieuw Republikeins Genootschap.
Wikipedia has an English entry on them.
Their main demand is to reduce the King’s salary and have launched a petition to this end.
With around 1,200 members the republicans are small but determined.
Polls, cited on the Belgium radio, indicate around 10% of the Dutch agree with them.