Archive for the ‘Marxism’ Category
Islamists Force Christians to Leave Mosul.
BAGHDAD (New York Times) — By 1 p.m. on Friday almost every Christian in Mosul had heard the Sunni militants’ message — they had until noon Saturday to leave the city.
Men, women and children piled into neighbors’ cars, some begged for rides to the city limits and hoped to get taxis to the nearest Christian villages. They took nothing more than the clothes on their backs, according to several who were reached late Friday.
The order from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria came after Christians decided not to attend a meeting that ISIS had arranged for Thursday night to discuss their status.
“We were so afraid to go,” said Duraid Hikmat, an expert on minorities who had done research for years in Mosul. He fled two weeks ago to Al Qosh, a largely Christian town barely an hour away, but his extended family left on Friday.
Podemos Tries to Build New Organisational Model.
Podemos, the Spanish radical left alliance, has created a lot of interest in Europe and further afield.
In the May European elections they got 7.97% of the vote and 5 seats.
The Izquierda Plural,(Plural Left) IP, an older left alliance, got 10.03% of the vote and 6 seats.
Podemos however presented itself in the ballot box for the first time this year, while the Izquierda Plural, notably its main component, the Izquierda Unida, has been around in various forms since the mid-1980s.
It appears that Podemos, like Syriza, is itself being taken as a possible political model for leftist groups in the rest of Europe.
Adria Porta Caballe writes on RS21 (one of the groups that left the British SWP), shortly after the above results, offering an explanation for their success
Podemos has achieved this with a different method that rejects the traditional conception of party militancy and an unconditional commitment to popular self-organisation. In particular, the last 5 months offer three examples of Podemos’ participatory nature. First, when Pablo Iglesias made the first step, he also made clear from the very beginning that he would not go further unless he was backed by at least 50,000 people. He easily achieved that number in a day, establishing a precedent of direct democracy from start.
The second and most important example of how Podemos achieved popular empowerment was the creation of so-called “Circles”, local spaces of debate and action where everybody can attend no matter his or her political affiliations. Today there are around 400 Circles spread over the Spanish State and anywhere else where its citizens have had to exile since the crisis started for economic reasons (London, Berlin, Brussels, etc). The motto “all power to the circles” represents a dose of democracy to the regime and an unprecedented tool of popular empowerment.
Finally it is also worth mentioning that Podemos is the only party in the country which used open primary elections to choose its candidates. A quick glance to the more than 50 candidates who run in the open primaries is enough evidence of what distinguishes Podemos from the rest: workers, unemployed, precarious, students, teachers… but no professional politician. No wonder that with this different method, Podemos could not reach an agreement with the traditional euro-communist party Izquierda Unida to run together in the elections. Apparently the latter was only worried about exchanging some seats in a common candidature, while Podemos was obviously demanding a much more fundamental change in the way the left approaches internal democracy.
This model has not been settled.
Nor is at all clear that they have “achieved popular empowerment”.
The French site Ensemble noted that following the elections there was a “lively” internal debate inside Podemos, opposing
some of the party’s base, who advocate greater power for the ‘circles’ in the process of decision making, and the self-styled Podemos “promoter group”, which defends a model with less power for circles and which is all open to all citizens and voters. The fundamental question, ultimately, is to define the organisational form to be taken by Podemos and the role of the circles, and that of those not enrolled in them, in the decision-making party people.
(El País – reporting this) has so far identified in this debate two sides supposedly in confrontation. On the one hand, there is the Izquierda Anticapitalista (IA, anti-capitalist Left), a political party built around the initiative since its inception and, secondly, the promoter Podemos group, headed by Iñigo Errejón, and Juan Pablo Iglesias and Carlos Monedero.
In the El País article on the 9th of June supporters of the “promoter group” are cited accusing the “base” (Iquierda Anticapitalista, IA) of wanting Podemos to be the “izquierda de Izquierda Unida” – the left of Izquierda Unida”. Pablo Iglesias’s right-hand man, Juan Carlos Monedero went so far as the accuse the IA of attempting a “coup d’état” ( “golpe de Estado”) inside the organisation – as a party within a party.
One of its supporters, Teresa Rodríguez, is said to be the “Number 2″ of Podemos.
Not surprisingly the Fourth International has published an article by that refers to this dispute suggesting that the El País report may not be entirely trustworthy (given the daily’s own political allegiance, which was, in the past, with the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE).
Dick Nicols in Links on the 1st of July (Spanish state: Eruption of Podemos sparks turmoil left and right) does not downplay the dispute as revealed by El País and has its own analysis of the problems facing Podemos,
According to a report in the June 9 El País, close Iglesias collaborator, fellow university lecturer and La Tuerka co-presenter Juan Carlos Monedero at one point explained the need for a closed list in these words: “The idea of the [closed] lists doesn’t seem very sensible to us, but there are people conspiring to lay hold of Podemos and we don’t feel like copping that. People with responsibilities in other parties have sent emails to sympathisers giving instructions as to what to do on June 14 [date of a national meeting of Podemos sympathisers].”
This was a reference to the Anti-capitalist Left (IA), co-founder of Podemos along with Iglesias and his supporters. In response to Monedero’s comments, which included the observation that some Podemos sympathisers wanted to convert the organisation into “the left of IU”, a June 9 statement of IA said: “Whoever sees conspiracies and coups where there is only democracy has very little faith in the intelligence of Podemos people…Only those who are afraid of democracy fear debates.”
Earlier Monedero had said: “Maybe this has to break up, maybe there are two incompatible models inside Podemos, some want to turn it into a party of delegates and into an old party…If we carry on with this line of talk, what happened with 15M could happen again—we were radically democratic and radically ineffective.”
One concern was the role in Podemos given to the maverick politician and political consultant Jorge Verstrynge, ex-leader of the post-francoist Popular Alliance and variously PSOE member, adviser to the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and the Venezuelan military, and exponent of a massive program of deportation of migrants from Spain.
Another was the decision, taken by election campaign team to incorporate a portrait sketch of Pablo Iglesias into the official Podemos ballot paper logo, on the grounds that Iglesias had much greater visibility than the name Podemos.
A third was the removal from the final Podemos election program of any specific support for the November 9 consultation in Catalonia, even though Iglesias continued to speak out for the Catalan right to decide.
The incessantly churning Spanish social networks have not been slow to comment on such choices, with Iglesias being tagged as “the little Napoleon”, and much worse. More soberly, many have pointed out that internet-driven decision-making in “new” party-movements can cohabit with “all power to the charismatic leader”, as in Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. There the leadership (basically Grillo?) decides what the options for voting by internet are, after which “the membership decides democratically”. For the recent decision as to which European parliamentary group the Five Star movement’s MEPs should join, Grillo offered his members the “choice” of Europe of Freedom and Democracy (chairman Nigel Farange of the xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party), the European Conservatives and Reformists group(dominated by the British Tories) or No Grouping.
Many, on the basis of what we so far can tell, will agree with Dick Nichols’ conclusion,
Podemos will face critical questions that can’t be solved from a “people v. politicians” formula. Critical will be the concrete basis for unity with IU and left-nationalist, left-regionalist and green forces. This is particularly pressing in the Spanish state because of the disproportionality in the rigged national Spanish electoral system, which only starts to disappear after a party wins 20% of the vote. (That score wins 18% of seats, while 15% wins 10.3% of seats and 10% of the vote just 5.1% of seats.)
The consolidation of Podemos as a revolutionary-democratic movement against austerity with rigorously democratic functioning and the convergence of its advance with that of a reformed IU will surely determine the fate of the anti-capitalist struggle in the Spanish state.
But it is by no means certain that the complicated ‘on-line’ democracy and the ‘circles’ at the base of Podemos, – the one drawing to leadership power, the other away from it, will help in this.
Juncker: Flirted with Trotskyism.
The pasts of European Commissioner José Manuel Durão Barroso and the new President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker have been brought up by the French Communist daily L’Humanite.
The former is well known for his youthful involvement in the extreme anti-Communist (and violent) MRPP (Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado).(1) Indeed he was one its leaders. This ‘Maoist’ group, which was also supported by French ‘philosopher’ Alain Badiou and his group, the Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml).
In the aftermath of the ‘Carnation Revolution’ (1974 -5) the MRPP was known for its physical attacks on Communists, trade unions, democrats and the far-left.
Barroso has more recently alleged that his support for these thugs was because he saw them as the best anti-Communists around.
L’Humanité alleges they were closely bound to the CIA. For the paper, the “Top level agent of the CIA, Carlucci handled and financed the MRPP .”
Which perhaps also sheds a light on Alain Badiou’s curious reticence about his own past in backing the group.
Juncker has a youthful background marked by much less explicit political engagement on the far-left.
Rue 89 in Dix choses que vous ignorez sûrement sur Jean-Claude Juncker states,
“In an interview published in 2009 on the site of the Government of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker wanted us to believe he was a rebel before he became the aged grey man mocked by his enemies:
“At 17, as a rebel, I flirted with the IV th International. I explained to my father and my mother that their bourgeois life, meant nothing at all to me.”
The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg refers to the broad Trotskyist movement in the late 60s, of which the Nouveau parti anti-capitaliste (NPA) of Olivier Besancenot is the heir.
Juncker was not a very much of an activist: he did not leave many traces of this leftist past.”
He says that he soon grasped that this stand was misguided , although he lays claim to some enduring sympathy for the workers that he learnt from his youth amongst a steel-worker family and neighbours.
l”Humanité alleges both figures have links with the CIA.
Juncker in particular,
was forced to resign his mandate after a colourful case of espionage. Witnesses suddenly became mute,although leaks suggest that the special services of the United States, including the famous NSA, have maintained discreet links with Jean-Claude Juncker…..
There are revealing comparisons. Barroso and Juncker were both members of so-called “far left” with direct or indirect relationship with the CIA and special service organisations in the United States.
(1) Tony Cliff. Portugal at the crossroads (1975).
The biggest “revolutionary” organisation in the University, it seems to recruit sons of upper class CDS supporters. Its membership is characterised by a religious fervour. It was quite heroic under fascism, but even then spent much of its time denouncing the rest of the revolutionary left. Typically, today it runs slogans like “Long live the glorious MRPP – Arnaldo Matos (Secretary of MRPP), glorious leader of the proletariat”, etc.
It gained some influence in a few firms when the Communist Party was involved in strike-breaking – e.g. it has some influence in TAP and the TLP (telephone workers).
But its influence is restricted in Lisbon to at most five workers’ committees.
It is extremely unpopular with COPCON rank and file because of its references to them as the “new PIDE”.
Its position used to be distinct from that of the PCP ML/AOC, in that it did not openly back the Socialist Party. But the Socialist Party saw an advantage in claiming to defend the MRPP against the Communist Party. And recently the MRPP has provided a convenient weapon for the Socialist Party to use to break the hold of the Communist Party on certain unions in Lisbon (journalists, bank workers, clerks).
The MRPP sees the events in the North as a “peasant uprising against social fascism”. When the Communist Party defended its headquarters in Leiria, the MRPP spoke of it “shooting down peasants”.
There seems to be some sort of convergence here between the sons of the bourgeoisie and their parents.
ISIS Islamic Justice (from Fightback, Marxist Journal).
A great deal has been said on the unfolding civil war in Iraq.
Tony Blair’s remarks, justifying past, and future, military interventions, have, rightly, caused an uproar.
One of the most respected and reliable writers on the Middle East, Robert Fisk, has observed,
How do they get away with these lies? Now Tony Blair tells us that Western “inaction” in Syria has produced the Iraq crisis. But since bombing Syria would have brought to power in Damascus the very Islamists who are now threatening Baghdad, it must therefore be a mercy that Barack Obama does not listen to the likes of Blair.
Father Frans van der Lugt was a martyr of Homs, refusing to leave his Christian flock and Muslim friends throughout the years of siege, imploring the world to pity the innocent and the starving until, on 7 April this year, gunmen arrived in the church garden and murdered him. They came from the Nusra forces – the Assad regime called them terrorists, the opposition said, of course, that if Assad had not besieged Homs, the 72-year-old Catholic priest would not have died. He is buried a few metres away, his grave a cheap wooden cross surrounded by flowers. From a photograph, his bespectacled face stares at us. The Pope later prayed for Van der Lugt’s soul.
I suppose if the West had bombed Damascus last year – as Blair bombed Baghdad in 2003 – Father Francis might have lived. But then again, he might have been murdered much earlier by the Islamists we would have been helping.
Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition has commented on Blair,
Stop the War Coalition convenor Lindsey German condemned his discredited views and the airtime he was given to peddle them, including an appearance on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
Ms German told the Star: “Blair has yet again been given a lengthy platform to promote his demented warmongering.”
And she said it was precisely the bombing of the country’s infrastructures 11 years ago that lead to “disastrous consequences which are still playing out to the cost of the Iraqi people.”
Ms German called on Mr Blair to step down from his role as Middle East peace convoy.
She said it was a “a job for which he lacks a single qualification.”
Ms German wasn’t alone in her criticisms as politicians and the public piled into the ex-PM.
Former international development secretary Clare Short — who stepped down from her role over the invasion of Iraq — labelled her former boss as a “complete American neocon.”
Mr Blair’s opinions, she argued, were “absolutely, consistently wrong, wrong, wrong.”
“More bombing will not solve it, it will just exacerbate it,” she urged.
Socialist Worker, as one would expect, simply regurgitates the line that it’s all the fault of the Western Intervention.
Iraq’s spiral into a new sectarian war is a result of the occupation, and the tactics used by western forces to defeat the 2004 national uprising.
At the time, the US and its coalition allies sought to engineer sectarian tensions to divide a growing national liberation movement.
Perhaps they will enlighten us as to what this “national liberation” movement was, and where it has gone.
What stand then should or could people on the left take on the Iraqi tragedy?
Intervention looks set to exaggerbate the horrors: fueled by the conflicts between a wide range of forces opposed to the Baghdad government (and not just ISIS). Whether Iran and the USA will co-operate, and a host of other ‘whethers and ifs’ do not make other predictions about the outcome easy. There is also this important contribution to consider 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq which urges caution on the part of the West and a sobre approach to the threats.
In general, and in respect to intervention, the Stop the War Coalition has got strong arguments on its side.
The Irish left journal Fightback sums up their nature.
The ISIS has its roots in the militias that formed the Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda. Until recently it was a marginalised group within the Islamist movement which viewed it as too extreme. It gained notoriety for its brutal and barbaric methods of crucifixion and decapitation. It was mainly isolated to desert and tribal areas of western Iraq, where the disintegration of the Iraqi state and the backwardness of these areas allowed ISIS to gain a foothold.
Over the past year, the group has rapidly grown. This, combined with the increased income, allowed it to take bolder initiatives. It is on this basis that the offensive of ISIS could widen out and develop a momentum. From fighting the Iraqi army in the desert and the tribal areas the group moved into the cities. Its success came as a surprise, as it is one thing to to roam around in war ridden Syria and an entirely different matter to fight in Iraq, with its numerically overwhelming army.
The real reason why they could do this is the rotten character of the corrupt gangster regime of Nouri al-Maliki, who has been whipping up sectarian conflict for years. His gangster methods and the widespread corruption has alienated layer after layer of the population. At the same time poverty and unemployment is rife. According to the World Bank, 28% of Iraqi families live below the poverty line. In the event that the country would face a major crisis, such as the armed conflicts of the past year, the organization’s estimates that this rate could increase by 70%. Thousands of families literally feed on garbage and live in landfills and slums.
Whether, as Fightback asserts, ISIS is the “creation of imperialism” is less clear.
The Daily Beast claims the following, “The extremist group that is threatening the existence of the Iraqi state was built and grown for years with the help of elite donors from American supposed allies in the Persian Gulf region. There, the threat of Iran, Assad, and the Sunni-Shiite sectarian war trumps the U.S. goal of stability and moderation in the region.”
More recent funding has come from their control over a variety of rackets and their seizure of oil fields.
This and other aspects of ISIS and their leader, Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri, are analysed at length by specialists.
One thing we can see immediate evidence of is the Sharia law regime they have established in Mosul.
Since taking over Mosul, members of the group have been handing out documents to residents, stating that Islamic law is binding from now on and which ban any contact with the Iraqi government and its institutions.
Police and security forces were given the opportunity to ask for a pardon, and the document stress that those who do not do so are likely to be given a death sentence.
Men will be required to participate in public worship and those who do not will be sentenced to received lashes, while women will be required to cover their faces and remain permanently in their homes and not leave them unless necessary, the documents state.
Robbers and thieves will be sentenced to death, crucifixion or cutting off of hands and feet. Carrying weapons is now prohibited, and the penalty for violating this directive is death.
The group has begun turning southward towards Baghdad, after conquering Mosul and several other northern cities this week in a lightning offensive.
We hardly need to be reminded of their utter and undying hatred of Shias.
There are British jihadists fighting with ISIS.
One wonders if anybody will dare compare them to volunteers defending the Spanish Republic.