Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Globalisation’ Category

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

with 10 comments

Reports this morning indicate an accelerating fight in the Ukraine.

Ukraine crisis: Casualties in Sloviansk gun battles

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

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

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

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

BBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russia: hands off Ukraine! Keep Russian troops out!

Western governments: cancel Ukraine’s debts!

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

This is Socialist Resistance’s line,

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

Others are less decided.

This is the Left Unity Party’s view,

Left Unity statement on Ukraine

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

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

Against nationalism, corruption, privatisation and war

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

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

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

We simply ask.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 13, 2014 at 11:01 am

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

with 30 comments

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

The Guardian Reports,

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Five Pillars. February 17th 2014.

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

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

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

Jobbick is against the “Hebrew State”.

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

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

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

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

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

Wikipedia.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2014 at 10:47 am

Socialist Action Defends Russian Army’s Rights.

with 30 comments

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/2876700982/7b453bc981ece3471e7fc4eff588253b.png

Back Russian Troops!

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

The Tendance backs the former view and rejects the latter.

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

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

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

George Mellor writes,

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

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

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

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

But

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

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

Their present line is this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seamus Milne Gets it Wrong on Islamism – Again.

with 13 comments

Michael Adebolajo speaks to a person holding a smartphone after killing Lee Rigby in Woolwich

In 2004 Seamus Milne, an Editor at the Guardian wrote,

It is the insurgent spirit of political Islam, however, that has brought the issue of how progressive movements should relate to religion to a head. Modern Islamism has flourished on the back of the failures of the left and secular nationalists in the Muslim world and has increasingly drawn its support from the poor and marginalised.

In 2008 he developed this theme,

Just as the French republican tradition of liberation came to be used as a stick to beat Muslims in a completely different social context from which it emerged, so the militant secularists who fetishise metaphysics and cosmology as a reason to declare the religious beyond the liberal pale are now ending up as apologists for western supremacism and violence. Like nationalism, religion can play a reactionary or a progressive role, and the struggle is now within it, not against it. For the future, it can be an ally of radical change.

In this spirit Milne, who has a problem with French republicanism and secularism,  wrote in 2011,

“The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (which) won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.”

Few would now describe the conservative, anti-secular, pro-free market Islamists of  Ennahda as progressive”.

But Milne has not given up.

Today he writes in the Guardian of the butchery of Fusilier Lee Rigby.

Woolwich attack: If the whole world’s a battlefield, that holds in Woolwich as well as Waziristan

Denying a link between western wars in the Muslim world and the backlash on our streets only fuels Islamophobia and bloodshed

“Leave our lands and you can live in peace,” the London-born Muslim convert told bystanders. The message couldn’t be clearer. It was the same delivered by the 2005 London bomber, Mohammed Siddique Khan, and the Iraqi 2007 Glasgow attacker, Bilal Abdullah, who declared: “I wanted the public to have a taste” of what its government of “murderers did to my people”.

Seamus Milne 

To say these attacks are about “foreign policy” prettifies the reality. They are the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands of dead. Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven’t been more such atrocities.

Milne observes,

Mainstream Islamic teaching supports the right to resist foreign occupation, while rejecting violence against non-combatants or outside the battlefield. But it is the US and its closest allies in the war on terror who have declared the whole world to be a battlefield, in which they claim the right to kill whoever they deem to be a threat.

Nobody on the left would make excuses for the actions of the US and its allies in attempting to impose their ideas and power on the rest of the world, least of all their violent methods.

But is this what is at stake here?

Milne complains about the reaction to what he admits was a brutal murder.

What on earth would he have expected in any country in the world?

And is it just foreign policy that motivated these killers?

This is a report of Michael Adebolajo’s speech at Harrow Central Mosque in 2009.

Wearing a white skull cap and a traditional black Islamic robe, he says: ‘You are here only to please Allah. You aren’t here for any other reason.’

The demonstration was organised in response to a nearby protest by the English Defence League and a group called Stop the Islamisation of Europe.

During the 80-second clip, Adebolajo says that the Prophet Muhammad fought against ‘way worse’ opposition.

‘They are pigs,’ he shouts. ‘Allah says they are worse than cattle. Do not be scared of them. And do not turn your back to them. Don’t be scared of them, or police, or the cameras.’

A witness at the rally said of Adebolajo’s address: ‘After the speech some of them started running around. An imam even came out at one stage and told the hotheads to calm down and get inside the mosque, saying that they should be praying.

So the “filthy non-believers” are also a problem.

But Milne disregards evidence of pure religious hate, and tries to give a political lesson on foreign policy without considering that this loathing has its own ideological causes.

He focuses on Western actions,

They are the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others in eight direct military interventions in Arab and Muslim countries that have left hundreds of thousands of dead. Only the wilfully blind or ignorant can be shocked when there is blowback from that onslaught at home. The surprise should be that there haven’t been more such atrocities.

It goes without saying that this is a feeble explanation for the violent atrocities taking place every day in Syria, the sectarian violence in “Muslim countries”, and the murders of Africans, Christians and Muslims, by Islamists.

When will Milne ever admit that Islamism is a problem in itself.

The claim that “Muslim’s” have their, “our” lands, is on to begin with.

It is clear in fights over these countries the poor and marginalised are the victims of Islamists

That, in conclusion, it is the duty of progressives, that is, the Left,  to fight Islamism.

The whole world is indeed a battlefield, and Milne is not on the right side.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm

The Silence of Animals. John Gray. Not on Our Books of the Year List.

with 5 comments

http://karendelange.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/SAM_0054.jpg

The Silence of Animals. John Gray. Allen Lane. 2013.

“If a lion could speak we could not understand him” Wittgenstein tersely commented.

John Gray claims by contrast that, “if you turn outside yourself to the birds and animals and the quickly changing places where they live – you may hear something beyond words. Even humans can find silence if they can bring themselves to forget the silence they are looking for,”(Page 165) What cannot be spoken if of the greatest significance. Max Picard, in the World of Silence (1948), described the importance of these moments. About them does The Silence of Animals have anything to say?

This tract praises the birdspotter J A Baker, who preferred “deanthropmorphising himself” in the study of peregrine falcons of the fields near Chelmsford – places he described as ancient countryside – to human society. It ends with an appeal to “godless mysticism”. Does it merit any attention? Or should we be like the apes that appear in its pages, who pass life, and obviously books, blithely by?

That the Silence of Animals figures on Books of Year lists indicates an audience for interested in sallies against the “unique value” of human beings. We are treated (if that’s the word) to broadsides against the illusions of progress (the title of a pre-Great War book by the syndicalist contrarian Georges Sorel that Gray, otherwise the literary magpie, seems to have passed over). There are lurid references to the mass murders, totalitarian dictatorships and capitalist crises, of the twentieth century, and beyond.

In what could be described as an extended exercise in logorrhoea, (a polite way of describing verbal incontinence),  the progressive claims of humanity, “highly civilised apes”, are torn to shreds. Progress, we learn is a legacy of Christianity, “a Socratic myth of reason and Christian myth of salvation,”(Page 80) Science shows that this is false, “Human knowledge increases, while human irrationality stays the same.”(Ibid)

From the Enlightenment onwards humans are wedded to an explicit  faith in progress and the growth of liberty. History shows however shows repeated “mass killing, attacks on minorities, torture on a larger scale, another kind of tyranny, often more cruel than the one that was overthrown – these have been the results. To think of humans as freedom loving, you must be ready to view nearly all of history as a mistake.”(Page 58)

Progress as Flying Fish.

Gray cites Alexander Herzen (1812 – 1870), the 19th century Russian romantic socialist. Herzen, in his darkest moments, criticised the belief in ‘humanity’ (Consalito Paris. 1849). He described as ‘ichthyophils’ people who think humans long to be free. There can be no  deduction of the “possibility of a better world” from our potentials. This ponderous term – a reference to a drawn out analogy with those who deduce the possible capacity for flight in all fish from the existence of flying fish, is employed to dam all reformers, all Enlightenment hopes, and all of the Left.

Every one of the believers in these ideas is “devoted to their species as they believe it ought to be even not as it actually is or as it truly wants to be. Ichthyophils come in many varieties – the Jacobin, Bolshevik and Maoist, terrorising humankind in order to remake it one a new model; the neo-conservative, waging perpetual war as a means to universal democracy; liberal crusaders for human rights, who are convinced that all the world longs to become as they imagine themselves to be.”(Page 60)

Humanity, in short (or at length), is “a fiction composed from billions of individuals for each of whom life is singular and final.”(Pages 6 – 7). Or, rather later, after much pondering, humanity is a selection of “fragments”, which are “as unknowable to humans”. “The settlements they have made for themselves can be as impenetrable as the deepest forests.”(Page 168) Yet, we inhabit this world of our own “fictions”.

Gray thinks then that we are creatures caged by our own myths. Unlike Georges Sorel (cited above) this gives no emancipatory quality to our innate mythic projections of the better future. They are the bars that contain us. And the ‘us’ are “cracked vessels”. We are Devils, not even worth the effort, as Kant advocated, of Taming to bring out our innate rationality.

Gray’s reflections lead from recognition of absolute finitude and meaningless back to something “beyond”. “Admitting that our lives are shaped by fictions may give a kind of freedom – possible the only kind that human beings can attain, Accepting that the world is without meaning, we are liberated from confinement in the meaning we have made. Knowing there is nothing of substance in our world may seem to rob that world of value. But this nothingness may be our most precious possession, since it opens to us the world that exists beyond ourselves.”(Page 108)

Negative Theology.

What this beyond is  the Grail of the Ontology that nobody has yet discovered, the Kantian Noumenal, that has driven so many, from Roy Bhaskar onwards, to the strangest sides of the flux of Being, is a matter of worship for Gray. He considers letting things go, letting the World Be.

Our most “precious possession” – this “Nothingness” is illuminated by Negative Theology. Yet such “Godless mysticism cannot escape the finality of tragedy, or make beauty eternal. It does not dissolve inner conflict into the false quietude of any oceanic calm. All it offers is mere being, There us no redemption from being human. But no redemption is needed.”(Page 208)

Or, one would add, possible. We cannot possibly imagine what payment we could make to be liberated from what we are, and becoming what humans could be,  if our premise is that we want to consider what being free from our humanity could be.

Some might go further and say that it perhaps through science and its rationality that we can at least indicate something of the physical ‘beyond’ human culture.

But what of progress and emancipation?

Alexander Herzen’s comments, many will have noted, came in 1849, following the failures of the 1848 revolutions. Yet shortly after these doleful reflections he could assert, “There are periods when man is free in a common cause. Then, the activity towards which every energetic nature strives coincides with the aspiration of the society in which he lives. At such times, which are rare enough – everything flings itself into the whirlpool of events, and in it finds life, joy, suffering and death.”(Omnia Ma Mecum Porto. Zurich 1849).

Against Gray, we remain with Herzen on this.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm