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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!

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.

“Ukraine, New American Frontier” – Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

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Denounces Ukrainian Neo-Nazi US Hirelings. 

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Ukraine (25th February).

This time it’s a coup! And once again, as one expects, propaganda is in full swing.  The challenge is enormous and geopolitical. The offensive against Russia , led by the North Americans, in competition with the Germans in full swing. As is always the case, France has no independent policy….”

“Those in Europe and the United States who validate coups and insurgencies are preparing the way for tomorrow’s conflicts cross the continent. Russia will not let them get away with it. This is quite in order. Nor will the Ukrainian people let themselves be had.  The healthy part of the Ukrainian people, freed from the tutelage of the corrupt elite, who had emerged as their spokesman and their government will take the initiative. You can count on a popular reaction against the  extreme right coup that  holds power today to the cheers of “the West.” The danger is that this violence may  trigger the risk of a partition of the country that the “Western” offensive could cause. Without forgetting the traditional domino effects…..”

Mélenchon has since added – over the weekend -  this observation,

The leader of the Left party said it was “absolutely predictable” that Russia would take “protective measures” in Crimea against the new “neo-Nazi” power and “coup”in the  Ukraine.

…………

The former candidate for President believes that “NATO and North Americans have been engaged for months in a provocation against Russia”. This was possible because of “the corruption and brutality” of  the previous Ukrainian government. According to him, “thanks to the legitimate discontent of Ukrainians, the North Americans infiltrated people in their pay, including those who count amongst  the most despicable and dangerous , especially the so-called Svoboda, which is  a National Socialist Party that has engaged in  multiple anti-Russian provocations “

A huge row on the French left has erupted around these comments: Politis.

Amongst the reactions are accusations that Mélenchon is culpable of aligning himself with Russia’s President Putin and has insulted those killed by the Ukrainian riot police. His party, the Parti de gauche, as been called a “sect”.

The Fourth International has reproduced this  declaration over the weekend,

This statement was made by the Central Committee of the Russian Socialist Federation on 1 March 2014. [1]

War has begun. With the aim of protecting and increasing the assets of the oligarchs in Russia and in Yanukovich’s coterie, Russia’s leadership has undertaken an invasion of Ukraine. This aggression threatens catastrophic consequences for the Ukrainian and Russian peoples — most especially for the population of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Ukraine’s southeastern industrial regions.

For Ukraine, this will also mean an escalation of ethnic conflicts; for Russia, a consolidation of dictatorial power, repression, and chauvinist hysteria, with which the ruling elite will be able to neutralize mass anger against a backdrop of deepening economic crisis. We share the concern of residents of the southeast over the nationalistic tendencies of the new authorities in Kyiv.

It is, however, our firm conviction that freedom will be won not by Putin’s tanks, but by self-organization and the people’s own struggle for their civil, political, and socio-economic rights.

It goes without saying that the peoples of Ukraine have a right of self-determination, of full autonomy and independence. But what we are seeing today has nothing to do with the democratic will of the masses. It is a brazen and cynical act of Russian imperialism, aimed at annexing foreign territory and converting Ukraine into part of Russia’s protectorate.

Today, the struggle for freedom in Russia is a struggle against the foreign policy adventurism of the current regime, which seeks collusion in forestalling its own end. The RSD calls on all sincere left and democratic forces to organize anti-war protests. Our demands:

NO RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN WAR! NO PROVOCATIONS TO BLOODSHED IN UKRAINE!

NO PITTING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER OF THE PEOPLES OF UKRAINE AND RUSSIA!

NO INTERVENTION BY THE ARMIES OF RUSSIA OR ANY OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE AFFAIRS OF CRIMEA!

FREEDOM FROM DICTATORIAL ACTS AND PEACEABLE SELF-DETERMINATION FOR THE PENINSULA’S RESIDENTS!

YES TO THE UKRAINIAN WORKERS’ STRUGGLE AGAINST OLIGARCHS AND CORRUPT OFFICIALS! NO TO ETHNIC CONFLICTS!

Front de Gauche: Break up over European Elections and More.

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In Deep Trouble. 

Eric Coquerel of the Parti de gauche of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, writes today,

The turmoil this week has unfortunately confirmed that the contradictions of PCF makes it impossible to stay together, despite everything, for the launch of the European election campaign.

(Les soubresauts de cette semaine ont malheureusement confirmé que les contradictions du PCF rendent impossible de démarrer ensemble, malgré tout, la campagne européenne. )

There is a lot more, about the disagreements with the French Communist party over the local elections. The PCF has, in some cases, formed agreements with the ruling Parti Socialiste.

The sticking point is Paris where the PCF have put the Front de Gauche logo on a list arranged with the Socialists (see heavily over-written and wordy statement by the PdG).

The key part of this otherwise impenetrable text (backed by 97% of the party) is that the Parti de Gauche have issued an ultimatum to the Communists, to swear loyalty to them and that they will not form any alliance with the Socialists for the two elections of 2015, the cantonal and regional.

Those close to  Pierre Laurent, the head of the  PCF ,who is not on speaking terms with the PdG leader,  say that  Mélenchon, now decides everything – on his own – in the party. They comment that they, the Communists, are now expected to agree to whatever he says as well.

Nothing is clear about what will happen.

On France-Inter this morning it was reported that Mélenchon is flailing around, meeting with dissident Greens and Socialists, as well as the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA).

More in le Monde today.

Call to Arm the Syrian Opposition: Which?

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There are further calls to arm the Syrian opposition from the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste,

“Nous devons obtenir la livraison de l’aide indispensable (vivres, soins, équipements, armes) aux représentants des collectifs syriens qui se battent pour la démocratie, la justice sociale et la dignité nationale dans le respect de toutes les composantes du pays. ”

We must ensure that indispensable aid – food, medicine, necessary equipment, arms – is delivered to representatives of the Syrian collectives battling for democracy, social justice and national dignity and who respect the diversity of the country.

September the 5th.

Jacques Babel (a member of the NPA responsible for international work and in particular coordinating work with and in the Arab region).

At the end of August (that is prior to the latest threat of intervention) an important on-line debate on the left on the Syrian opposition took place organised by the  US Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD).

The issue of arms played an important part in this in the discussion.

Michael Karadjis has thoroughly put the case that there are strong reasons to back democratic forces on the ground,

Throwing the whole Syrian uprising into the “jihadi” camp undermines the very forces within the revolution that confront this reactionary trend on a daily basis (see for examples of popular demonstrations, slogans, declarations etc. against these currents and their actions hereherehere,herehere and elsewhere).

His position is summarised as, while  “defending the right of Syrian revolutionaries to obtain arms, he believes that the ongoing militarisation of the conflict favours both Assad and the Islamists; therefore he thinks a ceasefire would be in the best interest of the revolution, allowing a revival of the mass movement that initiated the revolt against the regime.”

Salameh Kaileh begins from the standpoint of the Syrian Revolution. He states that, “rebels should find other ways to get weapons, and must establish real army forces capable of struggle until victory.”

Others roundly attack any idea of intervention, direct, or indirect. Michael Eisenscher calls for an arms embargo.

CDP Co-Directors, Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy,  conclude.

 “Consistent with our strong opposition to any kind of military intervention in Syria by the U.S., or other foreign powers, we also oppose providing air cover or establishing no fly zones. We do believe, however, that the democratic opponents of the Assad dictatorship have the right to get guns where they can, while resisting all attempts by those who provide arms to acquire political and military influence in return.” We continue to defend this right, and we agree with Karadjis that merely receiving arms from foreign countries has never been the “final determinant” of a revolutionary movement’s politics. But we also recognize that since none of the governments in the region or in the West actually favour a mass popular democratic victory, they are extremely reluctant to offer the democratic opposition significant weaponry. Moreover, like Karadjis, we do not call on the United States to arm the rebels, because we are unwilling to take responsibility for the way that the U.S. government will inevitably use any offer of weapons to attempt to manipulate the struggle and buttress its ongoing reactionary role in the Middle East.

Joseph Daher  (of the the Syrian Revolutionary Left Current - closely inked to the NPA) argues that there are groups in Syria that meet the description of those favouring the democratic opposition. Daher’s own Blog is here. It contains this statement, there are “two fronts in Syria right now: the jihadists on the one hand, and the regime on the other.” There are not a lot of  posts on display with which to gauge the grouping’s influence.

Daher, the NPA, and many others (such as their British comrades in Socialist Resistance, Workers Power and teh International Socialist Network,  appear to place their hopes in the ‘Local Coordination Committees‘.

The Committees’  site is important.

It includes, amongst many others,  links to articles from International Viewpoint and the British SWP.

Their profoundly moving declaration includes this statement,

As we insist, in the present very special circumstances, on the direct right of the Syrian people to affirm its right of self-determination before the international community, we assure that all calls based on the ground of “droit d’ingérance,” “devoir d’ingérance,” “humanitarian intervention” or “responsibility to protect” should not hinder the aspiration of the Syrian people to cause peaceful change by its own forces; or lead to dealing with the Syrian people as yet another sphere of influence in the game of nations.

It concludes,

The recalcitrance of the Syrian regime to meet its international obligations in terms of respect of human rights and international humanitarian law, may require, in this particular moment, that the international action contemplated above be supported by the sending of a United Nations observers mission, to be approved by a resolution of the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The mandate of the observers mission must emphasize prevention and assistance in building appropriate political conditions to achieve a peaceful democratic transition in Syria. The observers mission must comprise civilian components holding nationalities of countries known historically for their neutrality, and under the direct supervision of the Secretary General of the United Nations, in cooperation with the League of Arab States. The observers mission’s staff members must be in such numbers as to allow them to be present in or reach any town or village at any time, to monitor and report to the United Nations Secretary General, on any violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as on progress of the political process to achieve a peaceful democratic transition pursuant to appropriate constitutive procedures as shall be solely determined by the Syrian People.

We affirm the priority of using dialogue and peaceful persuasion, including the use of non-coercive and non-violent measures. Yet we have no illusions as to the Syrian regime’ obstinate responses and its attempts to buy time. Experience has shown that the granting of time has not rendered the Syrian regime less resolute in committing yet further violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Such time costs the Syrian people more killing and destruction. Every day that passes means more people killed, and Syria finds itself even more remote from any possibility to find political solutions.

There is no mention of arms.

No doubt times have changed since this statement was made two years ago. But the NPA’s case includes an argument is that weapons should have gone to these bodies then.

We have also few means to gauge the real importance of these groups.

But the side-bar  “LCC in the news” lists their (‘a group of anti-regime activists’) declarations on unfolding events.

There are reports that the Pentagon is preparing more serious attacks than thought - here.

The situation is increasingly unclear, though Jihadists are now openly attacking Christian targets. .

Perhaps this is one reason some on the left who back the Syrian Revolution are starting to flail about.

Louis Proyect posts this,

From documentary film-maker Ben Allinson-Davies:

The Free Syrian Army are hugely different to the al-Qaeda-linked fruitloops that so many leftists, regime apologists, and unsavory, sneering internet experts (most of whom have restricted their research to listening to the incoherent, generic ramblings of Syrian expat Syrian Girl Partisan for a few minutes) would have you believe. I didn’t see a single jihadist or hardline Islamist during my travels across Idlib. If the closest I can get to finding one is a fighter from Tunisia who took his religion seriously, then it doesn’t cast the media coverage of the Syrian genocide in a good light at all. It seems like they parrot reports which parrot reports which come from shady sources with affections for the Assad regime – notorious ‘journalists’/shills like Cockburn, Fisk, and countless others.

When they’re not fighting, they’re living with their families in neat, respectable looking homes (despite shortages, family homes are still where the heart is for everyone) where children toddle around playing, and relatives and friends come and go for a meal, a glass of tea, or a chat – many spend much of their time looking after their children, using radios and the internet to coordinate and plan their next moves (again, the picture of fabulously armed, US-backed rebels really doesn’t add up at any point whatsoever), and enjoying family life.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2013 at 11:14 am