Archive for the ‘European Left’ Category
Secular Emancipation: What UK Education Needs.
Amongst the confused reactions to the very evident problems raised by the Birmingham Schools and the influence of Islamist ideology in education two responses stand out for their good judgement.
The first is Shiraz Socialist’s defence of secular education.
It makes this simple observation,
….it is important to note that whether or not the Trojan Horse document proves to be genuine, there is no doubt about the influence of Islamic fundamentalists over many Birmingham schools: teachers and other school staff members have already come forward with reports of segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, bans on sex education and bullying of non-Muslim staff. Shiraz Socialist has spoken to several Birmingham teachers, including activists within the main teaching unions, who have confirmed that these claims are true and, in some cases, such things have been going on for years.
The all-too predictable line taken by an article in today’s Guardian (“Despite reasonable evidence suggesting the plot letter is a hoax, it has sparked debate in the city, with far right groups looking to capitalise”) simply will not do: the concerns about Islamic fundamentalists undermining secular education are not the preserve of the far right, but are felt by teachers, Labour councillors and MPs and -not least - many Muslim parents who want their kids to have an inclusive, secular education.
The second is by comrade Rumy Hasan (a long-standing defender of left-wing secularism) on the National Secular Society site.
Since the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter came to light, some 200 reports have been received by Birmingham City Council, including claims that boys and girls are being segregated in classrooms and assemblies, pressure on girls to cover their hair, sex education being banned, the prevention of the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes, and non-Muslim staff being bullied. Yet all this is precisely what has been happening in Free Schools such as Al Madinah in Derby (which Education Minister Lord Nash found dysfunctional) and the Madani faith school in Leicester. But none of this should be surprising: on the contrary, it is entirely to be expected that leaders of faith communities wish to impose values and practices in schools in their neighbourhoods that are in accordance with their religion. The reason for this is that the emphasis on a multifaith society facilitates the primary identity of some minorities being on the basis of their faith.
Bob Jones, the elected West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, is correct to state that ‘My main concern is that the Secretary of State is attempting to divert attention away from the governance and diversity issues that might be embarrassing to his policies and approach to school governance’. Indeed they should be embarrassing and it really is high time that the both the government and the opposition grasped the nettle that a firm commitment to a rounded secular education is what is needed for the benefit of children and for society at large, and act accordingly.
One should add that the actions of the Birmingham ‘faith communities’, imposing their religious ideology on education, are inconceivable n a secular educations system, like France’s.
A great deal of noise has been heard from liberals and multicultural leftists about the robust prohibition of faith symbols, from the veil to the cross, in French schools, as well as other progressive policies designed to prevent these kind of communalist politics in education.
We hear very little from British left and liberal quarters equates about sexual segregation and other aspects of religious bigotry being imposed in Birmingham schools and elsewhere.
Henri Pena-Ruiz of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Parti de gauche (left Party) recently said (March 2014), that it was ten years since the law banning ostentatious religious signs from French schools was passed.
“It has discouraged religious proselytism and those who would wish to take schooling hostage (for the religious agenda). Today communalist demands are rare.”
Pena-Ruiz calls secularism an “emancipatory demand”.
The British left could learn from this approach.
Dix ans se sont écoulés depuis le vote de la loi issue des travaux de la Commission Stasi. Cette loi, destinée à mettre les écoles à l’abri des conflits d’appartenance religieuse en y interdisant les signes religieux ostensibles, a été salutaire. De façon efficace, elle a dissuadé les divers prosélytismes de prendre l’école en otage. Aujourd’hui, sur le terrain, les revendications communautaristes sont très rares, voire inexistantes. – See more at: http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/vudailleurs/articleblog/laicite-scolaire-une-exigence-d-emancipation-27296#sthash.xt6Fksp6.dpuf
Regional Elections take place in Belgium on May the 25th.
La Libre Belgique reports that the new far-left alliance PTB-Go is at 8,1 (+0,5) of the vote in the French-speaking region of Wallionie according to the latest opinion poll.
The Socialists stand at nearly 30%, which is stable, while the Ecologists (Ecolo) are at 11%. The centre-right, MR is at 22,6% while the centrist CdH is only just above the PTB-Go at 9,4%
In Brussels the PTB-Go- PVDA (its Dutch name, Partij van de Arbeid van België,) is at 7,2% just behind the Ecologists - 8, 0%.
In Flanders the hard-right N-VA (independentists) of Bart de Wever are far in front with 32,9% of voting intentions. The Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij anders), the equivalent of the Labour Party, only gets 13,6%. The Flemish equivalent of PTB-Go, the PVDA + is at a high 4,1%.
As the PTB-GO site says, this is good news for the new alliance, though, it is, they underline, an opinion poll, which may, as in the past, over-estimate their real vote.
The Workers’ Party of Belgium (Dutch Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA, French Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) has over 8,000 members (background here (English).
The party, from a Marxist-Leninist origin, is now aligned with the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), Socialistische Arbeiderspartij and the Belgium Communist Party (PC), to form PTB-go! (go – gauche d’ouverture).
It was initially formed in 2012 from an appeal by trade unionists and other activists. Its influence, as can be seen, has grown.
In Brussels smaller parties (including, according to La Libre Belgique, apparently the Pirate Party) are aligned with this list.
More information on PTB-Go site here.
Takes Sides Against Putin and ‘Fascist’ allies.
After a certain prevarication the German Greens, (die Grünen), have now reverted to type as one of Europe’s fiercest supporters of NATO and intervention in support of the ‘West’.
This follows many debates which have pitted the Greens against the German left over the Ukraine.
The former announced back in February that they could not remain neutral on the conflict that began in the Maidan (“deutschland kann in diesem Konflikt keine neutrale Position einnehmen.) The latter, from the left bloc, Die Linke, pointed to far-right involvement in the Ukrainian protests.
Now the Greens claim that there is only one major right menace, from Russia and its backers.
Werner Schulz (who comes from a DDR opposition background) and is a Green European Parliament member, has just announced (Deutschlandfunk) that, for him, Putin is himself the main cause of the growing conflict ( der Verursacher der Eskalation).
There was clear evidence that paramilitary units intervened in eastern Ukraine and wanted to destabilise the situation said Schulz on German radio (.The units would wear the same uniforms as the Crimea and were armed with Kalashnikov rifles, which used only Russian Special Forces. In Ukraine, one can not readily buy these.
Schulz described Russian “aggressive nationalism” and claimed that the “entire vocabulary” of ” Stalinisism” had returned.
Putin intends not only to create a Eurasian Union, for which he needs the Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, but he also wishes to weaken the West, the EU. When we look at this we can see the right-wing, populist right-wing forces in Europe, for example, with which the Kremlin has entered into an alliance.
He ‘asks’ and gives for proof of this alliance the following,
Who were the election observers of this alleged referendum in the Crimea? A ragbag group of right-wing populists, neo-Nazis and representatives from the Left Party in Germany.
So the German Die Like is an ‘objective’, or insinuated, ally of neo-Nazis.
Very moderate talk….
Weekly Worker says, economic policy is ” mishmash“.
Left Unity is encouraged, rightly in the Tendance’s view by having achieved some national resonance. 1,520 signed-up members – and 200 in the immediate run up to their Manchester Conference.
But steel-hardened cadres beware!
Peter Manson reports in the Weekly Worker.
The economics policy commission, which made up the first real business of the day, remains a mishmash of lofty aspirations and minimalist reforms. It starts by describing the effects of the global financial crisis, yet does not go on to call for the party to be committed to a campaign for an alternative society. It states: “Radical measures are necessary to ensure a transformation in the economic structure and a reversal of the damage inflicted over the last 30 years of attacks …” It calls for “an expansion of public spending in pursuit of a policy of full employment”.
…incredibly, no debate was allowed on this monstrosity of a document.
We can only be dismayed.
Except that to most people it seems a pretty good approach to take, a radical programme of structural reforms, and a positive attempt to offer an alternative to the Privatising State and Austerity.
In general Left Unity has some pretty good policies. It refused to follow the Gadarene herd into the sea of Scottish nationalism and an independent capitalist Alba. It rejected calls for ‘unity’ with groups like the SWP (which some of Left Unity’s main members recently split from acrimoniously) and the No2EU supporting Socialist Party.
It would have been interesting to see some balance-sheet of the experience of other left party initiatives, particularly a self-criticism from those who were until not so long ago part of the cabal around George Galloway’s Respect Party.
None has appeared.
Even Cde. Mason admits its policy on Europe is an excellent start,
Crouch End’s motion called for support for the statement of the European Left Party and its “refoundation of Europe on a socialist basis”. This was carried unanimously. Of course, there are big differences on what exactly is meant by that, and those around Andrew Burgin, Kate Hudson and so on who support it have very different ideas in practice on what is meant by “socialist”. But this convergence around the notion of all-Europe unity – as opposed to left nationalism – was striking.
This is a major advance for the British left.
The comrade writing in the organ of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB accurately observes (following no doubt the judgement of Tendance Coatesy) that the motion on racism was a load of, how shall we put this politely, cack.
Cde Mason remarks,
“It was fitting that this intersectionalist motion was moved by Richard Seymour. He was urged by comrade Macnair to accept that the motion was “framed in the wrong way” and should be referred back.”
Comrade Macnair pointed out that its sectionalist/intersectionalist basis was “inconsistent with global opposition to capitalist rule”. Blacks (or women) per se cannot lead such opposition. Secondly, it saw no difference between the racism of old and today’s “nativism”. It accepted the whole multiculturalist agenda, which was driven by the bourgeoisie and sought to divide opposition from ethnic groups by upholding their separation from each other and promoting ‘community leaders’ who claimed to speak for them and helped sideline any united class response to cuts, etc.
Quite right comrade! (we are not being facetious here)
In his reply, comrade Seymour dismissed the concern about intersectionality. The various oppressed groups “intersect”. So “what’s the problem?” As for the divisive nature of multiculturalism, that seemed to pass him by. Showing just how all-pervasive are the backward ideas associated with multiculturalist intersectionality, the CP was virtually alone in calling for a referral-back: the motion was carried overwhelmingly.
The motion passed.
This alone shows something is going wrong.
Whether Left Unity will amount to a successful intervention in national politics remains very much an open question.
One larded with doubts.
We consider that initiatives like the People’s Assembly have deeper roots and can achieve more results – fighting austerity uniting trade unionists , social movements and individuals – than a new party.
But we shall leave to conclusion to Cde. Mason.
The whole day was very tiring, but it was nowhere near as frustrating as the founding conference. But, despite some success for the “extreme left”, March 29 marked another step on the road towards Left Unity becoming a broad, “moderate” party incapable of organising consistent working class opposition to capital. However, there is a lot to play for yet.
A rather different report on the Conference in Links International.