Archive for the ‘Imperialism’ 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.
Is Jean-Luc Mélenchon going to way of the French ‘patriotic’ left of yesteryear?
His response to the Socialist-led Government cuts in military spending certainly indicates a drift in that direction.
This is what the leader of the Front de gauche writes on his Blog.
Austérité et atlantisme sont les maîtres mots du livre blanc de la Défense remis ce jour au président de la République. Ce sont deux dangers mortels pour la souveraineté et l’indépendance de la France.
Austerity and Atlanticism are the hallmarks of the Defence White Paper presented today to the President and of the Republic. These are two mortal dangers for the sovereignty and independence of France.
Ce livre blanc est une nouvelle preuve de l’hypocrisie des solfériniens et de l’incohérence du gouvernement.François Hollande annonce qu’il ne touchera pas à la dissuasion nucléaire mais il a accepté d’inscrire la France dans le projet atlantiste de bouclier anti-missile en Europe.
This white paper is, yet again, proof of the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the government. President Hollande has announced that he will not touch nuclear deterrence but has agreed to include France in the Atlanticist project of ‘ a ‘shield’ of missiles in Europe.
François Hollande annonce des moyens préservés pour le budget militaire mais le livre blanc prévoit des dizaines de milliers de suppressions d’emplois et la vente d’actions de l’Etat dans les industries de Défense.
Holland’s announcement means that the military budget is maintained, but the White Paper envisages tens of thousands of job cuts and the sale of state-shares in the defence industries.
Ce livre blanc marque un nouvel étiolement de la puissance militaire de la France. Il prépare les grandes phrases selon lesquelles ”on ne peut rien faire sans les autres”. Air trop connu !
This paper heralds that the military power of France will again be sapped. It claims that we cannot act alone….a phrase with all too obvious implications.
Mélenchon then digs explicitly from the midden of nationalism.
Le renoncement à l’indépendance et à la souveraineté est toujours présenté comme une fatalité indépendante de notre volonté.
Presented as inevitable, and wished for, we are being led to abandon our independence and sovereignty.
Je refuse cette liquidation de l’argument militaire de la France. Loin de l’atlantisme et de l’austérité, la France doit construire une défense souveraine et altermondialiste.
I reject this way of abolishing the argument in favour of France’s military. In place of Atlanticism and austerity, France must build a sovereign and ‘other’ (or ‘anti’) globalisation defence force.
One can translate ”une défense souveraine et altermondialiste” in different ways.
But clearly any kind of ‘other’ or ‘alternative’ form of defence, that rejects cutting the military budget, to that offered by ‘globalisation’ is a highly contentious concept.
Not to say utterly confused.
How can we have a military power based on global justice?
And what exactly is this ‘sovereignty’ ’ Mélenchon is talking about?
In recent issues of Le Monde Diplomatique Régis Debray has argued (La France doit quitter l’OTAN March 2013) for France to leave (again) NATO.
He has been answered by Hubert Védrine – the former Socialist Foreign Minster (L’OTAN, terrain d’influence pour la France. April 2013)
Both of their arguments on the assumption that ‘sovereignty - France’s - is a central value of the left.
Mélenchon seems to think that ‘Atlanticist’ policies - that is aligning France to the US – are intrinsically bad things.
Indeed it is well-known that he considers the USA a very bad thing.
That’s as may be.
But is ‘France’ a ‘good thing’?
Is the French military something the left should defend to make it even better?
“sombre dans le non-sens voire le ridicule. “
Here we fall into nonsense, not to say the ridiculous.
Pour Mélenchon, ce que représentait Chavez «ne meurt jamais»
For the leader of the Front de Gauche, Jean-Luc Mélenchon what Chávez represented will never die.
Le dirigeant du Front de gauche Jean-Luc Mélenchon a salué dans la nuit de mardi à mercredi la mémoire du président vénézuélien Hugo Chavez estimant dans un tweet que «ce qu’il est ne meurt jamais».
The leader of the Front de Gauche, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, saluted, during Tuesday night, the memory of the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez and judged, in a tweet, that “he will never die”.
M. Mélenchon a effectué plusieurs voyages au Vénézuéla. En juillet dernier, alors qu’il se trouvait à Caracas il avait estimé qu’il existait «beaucoup de préjugés sur Chavez en Europe» tout en soulignant que, pour lui, la «révolution bolivarienne» était une «source d’inspiration». Il a salué à plusieurs reprises par le passé le «volontarisme politique» de Chavez.
Mr Mélenchon has made many trips to Venezuela. Last July, while visiting Caracas, he stated that there “many prejudices about Chávez in Europe”. For himself, he underlined,the “Bolivarian revolution” was a “source of inspiration”. He has hailed, repeatedly, the “political voluntarism” of Chávez.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon ! ✔ @JLMelenchon
Ce qu’il est ne meurt jamais.