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German Die Grünen revert to type and attack Russia over Ukraine.

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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….

France: Left Demonstrates Against ‘Socialist’ Austerity Today.

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The Front de gauche, the  nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA), the left of the Greens (EELV) – against their party’s official refusal to participate, many trade union bodies, and civil society organisations (over 200), are marching today against the Austerity policies of Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President François Hollande.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the radical left Greek party, Syriza, will be present

While the recent local elections were marked by divisions within the main French left alliance, the Front de gauche, these have not prevented this unified demonstration.

The March is  “contre l’austérité, pour l’égalité et le partage des richesses” – against austerity, for equality, and sharing wealth.

Specifically it is opposed to the government’s “pact” with employers and plans to cut spending.

Leading forces behind the event stand for an “alternative left majority”  as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, of the Front de gauche puts it. 

According to Pierre Laurent, (of the French Communist Party, PCF) the “living forces” of the left must unite and construct an alternative capable of winning a majority of the French people to its side. The demonstrations of the 12 April could be the starting point of a new assembly, one that will find expression in during the polls for the European elections on the 25th of  May.

L’Humanité.

Maintenant ça suffit ! 

For a European Movement Against Austerity!

Alain Finkielkraut, France’s Peter Hitchins, elected to Académie française.

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Alain Finkielkraut a été élu à l'Académie française. Entre amour passionnel de la langue et de la littérature et une pensée qui s'est radicalisée, retour avec Jean Birnbaum du « Monde des livres » sur cette entrée polémique.

New Low for Académie française.

I suppose any institution claiming to represent the heights of French culture that includes  former French President and mediocrity Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (still, amazingly, alive, though it’s often hard to tell)  lacks, shall we say, all credibility.

But the election of Alain Finkielkraut to the “immortals” has introduced a new low.

Finkielkraut occupys the same place in French philosophy and culture, as, say, Peter Hitchins.

He began with some, middlebrow, writings in the tradition of Emmanuel Levinas. He celebrated Jewish culture and sometimes offered penetrating insights into post-Shoah Jewish identity. Some may admire his stand on the break up of Yugoslavia, where he was beside himself against Serbia. Fewer, perhaps,  would have admired  his close friendship with Croat leader, and Holocaust denier, Franjo Tuđman.

In recent years Finkielkraut has been distinguished by a relentless hatred of anything he believes threatens French identity.

If anybody wants to distinguish left-republican secularism from what Finkielkraut’s critics call his « républicano-communautariste » it is easy to do.

He explicitly attacks multiculturalism  from the right, offering only a tale of woe and decline faced with immigration and métissage (Mixing, cultural and ethnic). As one can imagine he has had the courage of those going with the grain of conservative prejudice to oppose “political correctness” – a term as wide as it is vacuous.

By contrast Jean-Luc Mélenchon has explicitly defended” ” métissage” as the basis for a new class unifying republican socialist  left.

Over the last year Finkielkraut has become even more obsessed – were it possible – with “l’identité française”.

He complains that France is an “auberge espagnole” (a pejorative term, in this context,  for a mixture of people living together)  in which the ethnically true French dare not speak out. (L’Identité malheureuse, d’Alain Finkielkraut. 2013)

Despite the occasional exalted language Finkielkraut resembles a Peter Hitchins, or a French version of Nigel Farage.

It is with no surprise that we learn that his election to the Académie française met opposition. The columnist scraped in with 16 votes out of the 28 members of the august body.

People’s Assembly Conference: Personal Reflections.

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Photo: Andrew Coates (aka @Pabloite) from Suffolk People's Assembly speaking against #workfare at The People's Assembly national conference. #PAAAconf14

Andrew Coates  from Suffolk People’s Assembly speaking against #workfare at The People’s Assembly national conference. #PAAAconf14 — with Clare Solomon and Andrew Coates atPeople’s Assembly

The People’s Assembly conference on Saturday  was a success.

Proudhon said that while the French working class talks, the British  and German movement organise.

I would like to give respect to Jacky and to Clare for their contribution  to organisation.

It was highly appropriate to begin the day with tributes to comrades Bob Crow and Tony Benn.

I was waiting for  the right venue to hear and appreciate their lives and we got it – the most moving and the best tributes that you could possibly hear.

As they said, don’t mourn: organise.

We are a good Suffolk People’s Assembly.

We are based on the trade unions, and real co-operation between all the different parts of the left, from anarchists to the Labour Party.

We have had a real echo in our County.

During the day the only contentious debates  were attempts to introduce a US-style ‘Occupy’ ‘consensus’ model of how we work, and a SWP attack on my union UNITE.

The former was brushed aside: we do not need lessons from a marginal US movement for how we operate.

The second was, frankly, sat on.

The People’s Assembly is open to a whole range of movements, from the campaign  about climate change to (above)  campaigns against Workfare. The ideology is not hard to grasp: it is democratic socialism in all its varieties.

But one thing was very a marked throughout the day: we are a working class movement.

“We will today commit ourselves to fight back in unity and solidarity in the movement as a whole, with the organised working class in the trade unions at the heart and head of our movement and demanding the right of workers to organise freely in those unions, opposing all current and further attempts to undermine our right to resist.”

Written by Andrew Coates

March 17, 2014 at 10:57 am

Alec Callinicos and French Communist Party on the Ukraine.

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US State Secretary lays flowers to Ukraine’s heroes from the Heavenly Hundred on March 4 in Kyiv.

Alex Callincios on the Ukraine.

Russia’s seizure of military control over Crimea has brought Ukraine to the brink of war.  This crisis represents the coming together of three distinct conflicts.

First, there is the struggle that has been going on for more than a decade among the corrupt and thuggish bunch of oligarchs who have dominated Ukraine since independence in 1991.

Secondly, there has been a genuine popular movement against the now exiled president, Viktor Yanukovych. This has expressed anger at the corruption of the entire political elite in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, this movement harbours illusions in the European Union (EU). Moreover, thanks to the historic weakness of the left in Ukraine, the far right has played a significant role in the “Euromaidan” occupation in Kiev.

Nevertheless, those who claim Yanukovych’s overthrow was a “fascist coup” are parroting Moscow propaganda. He fell because the section of the oligarchy who had previously backed him withdrew their support.

Third, and now most important, is the inter-imperialist rivalry between Russia and the West over Ukraine. In this conflict, Ukraine matters much more to Russia than it does to the United States or the EU.

A Ukraine that was fully integrated into the EU and Nato would be a step towards Moscow’s worst nightmare of being encircled by the West. President Vladimir Putin went to war with Georgia in 2008 to prevent this nightmare being realised.

He adds,

“Putin is engaging in an inter-imperialist power play.”

And,

“Socialists in the West must of course oppose any military intervention by the US or NATO in Ukraine. But the crisis reminds us that imperialism can’t be reduced to American domination. It is a system of economic and geopolitical competition among the leading capitalist powers.

Rather than tail any of these powers, we must fight this entire system. This means opposing Russian intervention in Ukraine. Never has the slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism” been more relevant.”

This is a seriously thought-out analysis and, despite all the temptations to contradict the SWP, many of us will agree with comrade Callinicos.

The Stop the War Coalition says some of the same things.

This is highly relevant.

We should also take no lessons from those who have supported intervention in the past in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and who proposed major air strikes in Syria as recently as last August. Nor should we believe concerns about national sovereignty from countries which have launched drone attacks on Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

There are many political differences in Ukraine that can only be resolved politically and by respecting the language and civil rights of all concerned. But the background to this lies far beyond the borders of the Ukraine in terms of conflict between major powers.

They observe,

The expansion of the EU and Nato eastwards has led to the growth of a neoliberal and militarised agenda in the region.

We disagree with this to the extent that it tilts towards exonerating Putin and other Russian leaders from their own responsibility for the crisis.

But, to those who do not instinctively bristle at the lectures on democracy given by American and European politicians,not to mention the show of U.S. support for Ukraine’s new leadership, Secretary of State John Kerry,   we observe.

  • Has the US “freedom agenda” achieved stable political liberty in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?
  • Did the US’s support for the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution”(2004 -5)  create a solid democratic foundation for the country?

How have others on the left reacted to the issues the Ukraine  face-to-face raises?

James Bloodworth provides a summary of the position of British left groups on Shiraz Socialist.

It would appear that few organised groups (apart from the Communist Party of Britain) hold the idea that the Ukraine has undergone  a “fascist coup.”

James manages to find some statements by individuals, such as the flatulent Gorge Galloway, who rave against the “fascist and ultra nationalist coup in Kiev”.

But is this (Left Unity) part of making a “moral equivalence” between unwanted Russian military intervention in Ukraine and economic assistance requested by the Ukrainian government to support its ailing economy”?

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.

Whether under the flag of US, NATO, Russia or the European Union, military intervention only ever makes the situation many times worse. So it is in Ukraine. The West’s hypocrisy in condemning Russia for breaking international law is breathtaking: nevertheless, Russian troops hold no solution to the crisis.

A different reading would suggest that this about right. That there is no “political solution” worthy of support that encourages further steps on the neo-liberal road. Plans for drastic austerity in the Ukraine tend to demonstrate Left Unity’s point. It would be said that this is a position which represents the majority of the Left.

The majority of the left’s generally even-handed position contrasts with the hysteria whipped up by intellectuals such as Timothy Synder (Moscow is in thrall to a far-right Eurasian ideology), Anne Applebaum (Russia heads a new conservative International )  and  Bernard-Henri Lévy (Putin is playing a Sudetenland over the Ukraine).

It is interesting that comrade Callinicos’ own even-handed stand has received a warm welcome from members of the Novueau Parti anticaptialiste (NPA). (Forum des marxistes révolutionnaires)

Their party has inclined to the opposite error: too great enthusiasm for the new government in Kiev and too much emphasis on the faults of Russia’s leaders in creating the crisis.

The French Communist Party has launched a declaration “Solidarité avec les communistes ukrainiens” against the country’s far-right – which has attacked their members and offices.

The PCF also declares in a formal statement,

For the last three months the Ukraine has been ablaze with a mercilessness struggle for power between oligarchs, all as corrupt and venal as each other, and who have been made wealthy thanks to neo-liberal policies backed as much by the European Union as by Russia.

The European Union, Russia, the USA – via NATO, or directly – have been engaged in outbidding each others, threatening the us of  force, or military escalation. The Ukrainian people have been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The French Communists warn of the danger of “groupes néo-nazis.” But they empathise that the need now is for all for immediate measures to be taken in the Ukraine to ensure that the people of the country take their own destiny in hand.

They call for an end to the “Logic of war” and the cynical “tête-à-tête” between the West and Russia.

It’s hard not to agree.