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Reasons, again, to Hate St George’s Day.

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St George’s Day: Celebrating Everything English.

 

Celebrations “from the archaic to the eccentric” are planned across England as David Cameron says St George’s Day has been overlooked for too long.

Celebrations will include a feast in Trafalgar Square, bell ringing at churches across the country and an annual “asparagus run” in Worcestershire to welcome in the harvest.

The day has also been commemorated with a Google Doodle, an animation showing George on horseback ready to fight the dragon.

This year, the Prime Minister said that the cross of St George will fly proudly above No 10 as they honour everything it is to be English.

Mr Cameron said: “Up and down the country – including here in Downing Street – the flag of St George is flying high and celebrations – from the archaic to the eccentric – are taking place.

“In Plymouth – a patriotic festival; in London – a great feast in Trafalgar Square; in Leicester – a medieval re-enactment; and in Worcestershire – an annual ‘asparagus run’, to welcome the new harvest.

“St George has been England’s patron saint since 1350. But for too long, his feast day – England’s national day – has been overlooked.

“Today, though, more and more people are coming together on or around April 23, eager to celebrate everything it is to be English. And there is much to celebrate.

Daily Telegraph.

Celebrating everything that it is to be English.

That’s the rub.

Me I celebrate Chaucer, Dickens, and mushy peas (the day they were invented).

Cameron does not figure, some tat in Trafalgar Square, and a bleedin’ asparagus run?  Asparagus originated in Egypt and  was a famous Roman dish, whence the name,  via the  Latin from Greek asparagos .as far as I am aware).

As for the Traflagar Square – Monday apparently – look as this sad commercial do,

Organised by the Mayor of London, the Feast of St George is inspired by St George’s Day’s 13th century origins as a national day of feasting.

There’ll be an English farmers’ market, with around 20 stalls selling mouth-watering treats like hog roast, homemade pies, cakes and freshly squeezed lemonade – all can be enjoyed in a splendid banqueting area seating 250 people between Trafalgar Square’s iconic fountains.

In Cooks’ Corner, supported by Northbank, see live demonstrations from leading London chefs as they cook up English dishes from past and present.

The afternoon’s soundtrack comes courtesy of the Music Medley bandstand with talented young musicians and singers from GIGS, the Mayor’s busking competition.

There’ll be plenty of activities for the kids too with a marquee full of family activities and an outdoor games area where you can try a range of traditional garden games.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson says: “Our Feast of St George is set to be a day of revelry and merriment for all the family, with delicious food and a whole host of activities for all ages.

About the only Englishness I can thole is this kind:

A Ballade of an Anti-puritan

They spoke of Progress spiring round,
Of light and Mrs Humphrey Ward-
It is not true to say I frowned,
Or ran about the room and roared;
I might have simply sat and snored-
I rose politely in the club
And said, `I feel a little bored;
Will someone take me to a pub?’

The new world’s wisest did surround
Me; and it pains me to record
I did not think their views profound,
Or their conclusions well assured;
The simple life I can’t afford,
Besides, I do not like the grub-
I want a mash and sausage, `scored’-
Will someone take me to a pub?

I know where Men can still be found,
Anger and clamorous accord,
And virtues growing from the ground,
And fellowship of beer and board,
And song, that is a sturdy cord,
And hope, that is a hardy shrub,
And goodness, that is God’s last word-
Will someone take me to a pub?

Envoi
Prince, Bayard would have smashed his sword
To see the sort of knights you dub-
Is that the last of them-O Lord
Will someone take me to a pub?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Fourth International and Fifth International Merger: 4 1/2 International?

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http://www.thegreenhead.com/imgs/hanging-swamp-man-1.jpg

 

It’s a Swampy Thing: the Weekly Worker wouldn’t understand.

In the interest of international left unity we publish this news.

The first discussion bulletin Inside Left Unity  is now available (via the Weekly Worker site).

The International Socialist Network, the Anticapitalist Initiative, RS21, Workers Power (Fifth International) and Socialist Resistance (4th International) are discussing merging, and will hold a Conference on this in the near future.

The comrades from the Weekly Worker publish the first discussion bulletin involving these organisations.

We note with sorrow that the CPGB has been excluded from these discussions, despite several direct approaches to two of the participating organisations, the International Socialist Network and RS 21, for exploratory talks (see here and a comment on RS21 in this article for the apolitical rebuffs we received).

The CPGB (Provisional CC) has been “feebly bad-mouthed by most participants. ” Any suggestion that the CPGB might be included in the unity discussions would prompt an instant and a non-negotiable veto from Socialist Resistance. (SR has also been distinctly sniffy about the participation of Workers Power, of course).”

What the Weekly Worker justly calls the “Gang of Five” is, they report, on the way to creating a “sect”.

They they saintly remark that  their ‘hearts will mend”  but that, “Sadly the comrades seem on an inevitable descent into the swamp of liquidationism, and not upwards to principled Marxist unity.”

The CPGB (provisional CC) has ” written to the organisers of the April 26 ‘unity’ conference requesting observer status and – whatever the outcome of that – we will keep up our campaign that seems to cause these political trends such pain: For Marxists to unite and fight for Marxism.”

In the discussion document Socialist Resistance makes a contribution on the People’s Assembly which is worth reading,

Why PA is important for revolutionaries and Left Unity.

The PA is mobilising a similar target audience that Left Unity is building from. Activists involved in the People’s Assembly are nearly all both against government austerity and New Labour’s austeritylite ‘alternative’.  We have to be working alongside these activists not preaching from the sidelines that Unite has ‘sold out’ on Grangemouth or not yet organised a general strike or that the People’s Charter is not a revolutionary programme. We need to be there when these activists ask themselves whether consistent anti-austerity activity can co-exist with a belief that Labour can be reclaimed from the left.It was noticeable that there is a very limited number of Labour MPs or councillors signed up to the People’s Assembly and  even  fewer Labour Party branches affiliated.

We need to also collaborate with Counterfire – they may be part of a future left recomposition. Sooner or later they have to ask themselves whether the only perspective is building such united fronts and recruiting to Counterfire, turning it into a better SWP, or whether energies also need to be put into developing a broad political alternative to Labour like Left Unity. Both the CPB and Counterfire counterpose the PA to projects like Left Unity – misunderstanding the difference between a political party and a united front campaign. The CPB even talks of the PA as the most important political movement around. The PA will be around after the next elections, the debate on the left may have significantly changed. We need to be in the same room as the activists who identify it as a political movement.

It will indeed be interesting to see how Counterfire develops.

On Europe though Socialist Resistance are far from clear, or illuminating,

One area where differences were apparent was on Europe. Socialist Resistance has a long-standing opposition to European integration EU style which we believe is an important mechanism through which the European bourgeoisie attacks the gains of the working class.

That doesn’t mean that we do not prioritise building solidarity on a continental wide basis or that we would support an organisation such as No to EU – which as we have argued consistently ends up capitulating to racism by defending a British jobs for British workers line.

We don’t think in the current political situation that we should campaign for British withdrawal from the EU as a priority but we don’t agree with Simon Hardy when he argued that we should support European integration or with the Lambeth resolution when it argues that we should no more take a position on capitalist European integration than we would on the mergers of companies (actually in some situations we think it’s appropriate to take a position on the latter – it’s a question of concretely analysing a specific situation and assessing what is more or less likely to strengthen workplace and company-wide workers organisation).

So if it is not a “priority” they do they still agree to withdrawing from the EU?

We should be told.

On Ukraine there are the divisions that one imagine, SR backing the Maidan protesters, Workers Power rejecting them, and the ISN taking a balanced, “don’t take sides” position.

The bulletin is well worth reading.

Though you need a stern will to get through to the end of Workers Power’s wordy contributions, which can be summed up, everyone else is wrong but us – the pure vein of working class “rank and file” revolution.

There is one major gap.

One would have preferred some deeper analysis not of “broad” left-wing parties but of the specifics of European politics. Above all, what do Socialist Resistance think of the French Front de Gauche, whose own unitary formation  split their French counterpart organisation, the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA).

The failure of the NPA to capture the ground to the left of the French Parti Socialiste (at present in government) is perhaps one of the most important issues any attempt at left ‘regroupment’ should discuss.

It is noteworthy that Socialist Resistance fails to address the existence of the Front de Gauche nor do the contribution in the texts assembled in their key statements,  Building New Parties of the Left even seriously broach  the thorny topic.

Instead we get this, on the British left Unity  (Terry Conway)

…our view is that we need to maintain the ability of this new political party to attract those just breaking with social democracy as well as those new to political activity and more seasoned activists joining a political party for the first time from the unions and single issue campaigns.

In practice we think that with the best of these militants these difficulties will be broken down in so far as Left Unity begins to build itself in a consistent way in the localities, campaigning on the key issues that are mobilising people. As people build up a loyalty and sense of identification with Left Unity as an organisation through collective activity, these more ideological debates will become less dominant.

So, their strategy is build a broad party until the time is ripe for some ‘Ideological debate’ – sectarian in-fighting.

To return to the title of this post: if SR and Workers Power are in the same organisation will this mean that the Fourth and the Fifth Internationals will merge?

In the Four and a Half International?

Islamic Forum of Europe, Tower Hamlets, and Luftar Rahman.

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Benefiting Islamist Reactionaries.

“A London council at the centre of an investigation into alleged fraud is also under scrutiny over its links to Islamic extremism, according to a classified government document leaked to The Telegraph.  Ministers sent inspectors to Tower Hamlets council, in east London, last week to investigate the alleged abuse of public resources to reward supporters of Lutfur Rahman, its controversial directly-elected mayor.”

   continues,

The document, a report to Mr Cameron dated Sept 2013, expresses particular concern about the council’s lavish funding of the East London Mosque and the Osmani Trust, a Muslim-only youth group. The mosque is also named in the counter-terrorism local profile, the document reveals. The document says there are “serious concerns” about both organisations’ “links to extremists, or willingness to host extremist speakers or organisations”.

The East London Mosque has hosted hundreds of meetings with extremist preachers, including a “live telephone Q&A” with the al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, advertised with a picture of Manhattan under bombardment.   Both bodies are closely linked to the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which seeks a sharia state in Europe and played a key part in Mr Rahman’s election as mayor in 2010. Together they have received more than £2 million in council funding.

Can we say, with George Galloway (2010) that, “I don’t know who is or isn’t a member of the IFE, and I have only the haziest knowledge of what they stand for….” ?

Is the IFE the  “European wing” of Jamaat-e-Islami, the violent Bangladeshi Islamist group, normally classed on the extreme right? Wikipedia makes these allegations  about one of the founders of the IFE.

Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin Mueen-Uddin born 27 November 1948), is one of the convicted war criminal for killing Bengali intellectuals in collaboration with Pakistan army at the time of Bangladesh liberation war.[1][8][9][10] After the liberation of Bangladesh, Chowdhury escape from Bangladesh and took British citizenship.[11][12]

 Chowdhury is a trustee (former Chairman) of Muslim Aid,[3][13][14] and a director of Muslim spiritual care provision in theUnited Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).[4] On 3 November 2013, the International Crimes Tribunal which is set up by the government of Bangladesh to judgeinternational crimes committed during 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, sentenced Mueen-Uddin, in absentia, to death for killing 9 teachers of Dhaka University, 6 journalists and 3 doctors in 1971.[5][9][10][15]

 Mueen has remained in the United Kingdom since leaving Bangladesh shortly after its independence in 1971.[16] Mueen-Uddin denies the charges.[17] Since moving to the UK in the early 1970s, Mueen-Uddin has taken British citizenship and built a career as a community activist and Muslim leader. In 1989 he was a key leader of protests against the Salman Rushdie book, The Satanic Verses. Around the same time he helped to found the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe,Jamaat-e-Islami’s European wing, which believes in creating a sharia state in Europe and in 2010 was accused by a Labour minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, of infiltrating the Labour Party. Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was expelled from Labour for his close links with the IFE.

Until 2010 Mr Mueen-Uddin was vice-chairman of the controversial East London Mosque, controlled by the IFE, in which capacity he greeted Prince Charles when the heir to the throne opened an extension to the mosque.

He was also closely involved with the Muslim Council of Britain, which has been dominated by the IFE. He was chairman and remains a trustee of the IFE-linked charity, Muslim Aid, which has a budget of £20 million. He has also been closely involved in the Markfield Institute, the key institution of Islamist higher education in the UK.

The IFE makes this bland description of itself,

Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) is a community organisation that seeks social and spiritual renewal. Through the values enshrined in the Islamic faith, members of IFE are obliged to be full and active participants in society, benefiting all people. IFE has branches throughout the UK and has affiliates in Western Europe. Its youth wing is called the Young Muslim Organisation UK (YMO UK), with branches across Britain. Its women’s wing is Muslimaat UK. With origins in the 1970s, IFE brings together Muslims of all backgrounds who have made Europe their home. As a collective, IFE facilitates an enlightened appreciation of Islam that is relevant to the context and realities of our time. We undertake social activities – from schools and youth clubs to community engagement and women’s empowerment projects, spiritual development – from prayer to retreats

But dig a little deeper and we find that the IFE is indeed closely aligned to the Jamaat.

This is their protest against the hanging of convicted genocider and war criminal Abdul Qader Mollah,

The Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) condemns in no uncertain terms the hanging to death of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Assistant Secretary-General, Abdul Qader Mollah, on Thursday as an act of judicial murder( Statement Issued 13th December 2013)

Mr Mollah’s summary execution follows a sham trial which has been described by international human rights groups as failing to meet international standards, politically influenced and discredited.

IFE considers Abdul Qader Mollah’s death as state murder by a government doing all it can to cling onto power indefinitely. The whole process has been a farce, and the Bangladeshi government has ignored international demands to ensure that this process calls under international jurisdiction.

The execution of Mr Mollah, in breach of all international standards will, no doubt, plunge Bangladesh further into crisis. The threat of violence and civil unrest is very real. The IFE is concerned that this pre-determined process will be used by the Awami League regime to declare a state of emergency and derail any attempts to hold free and fair elections in January.

The IFE urges the international community, and in particular the UK government to reconsider the financial and diplomatic support afforded to this regime.

There are clear questions about the public funding of groups involved in Bangladeshi politics.

For the left, apart from those deluded enough to think that Rahman is “Progressive”, the issues are wider.

Last year Gita Saghal commented,

Fundamentalist demonstrations from the Jamaat associated East London Mosque  have been taking place regularly after Friday prayers, according to activists.  Secular Bangladeshis of all religious backgrounds and none were finally able to rally and march outwards from Altab Ali park through Brick Lane and the surrounding streets. It was a suitable demonstration that the secular activists who have been receiving regular death threats have not been cowed into retreat.

Thousands of leaflets have been distributed from the East London Mosque and across the world labelling prominent bloggers as atheists. Sermons have been read attacking atheists, Hindus and suggestive statements made regarding sexual assault.

In Bangladesh, fundamentalists  paraded a banner which said, ‘we demand the death penalty for atheist bloggers because they use obscene language to criticise Allah, Mohammed and the Quran.’  Statements such as these, along with murderous attacks on atheist and free thinking bloggers, need to be considered alongside the leaflets identifying named individuals as atheists and accusing them of insulting religion, to see whether they amount to incitement to  murder.

Fundamentalists consider it an obligation for believers to kill apostates; a recent Moroccan fatwa  makes this very clear, as does the experience of an atheist from Bangladesh, applying for asylum in Canada.

This is worth remembering every time people read something on Tower Hamlets,

John Ware, Independent, 13th of April.
An investigation is not Islamophobia

The Asian Mayor of Tower Hamlets says he welcomes scrutiny, yet he tried to stop a BBC ‘Panorama’ report.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

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

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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

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!