Archive for the ‘Trotskyism’ Category
Monolithic, Vertical (Top-Down), and Hierarchical Party?
The Podemos ‘convention process’ (consolidating the new party’s structures) which began on September the 15th, ended on Saturday, November the 15th with the election of Pablo Iglesias as General Secretary. He won 88.7% of the votes cast (96.9% valid). His list won the 62 posts for the ‘Citizens’ Council’ and 10 for the Safeguards Commission.
The level of abstention, was however, also significant: 57% of those registered, larger than the percentage – 45% who abstained during the vote on the overall party documents (policy, programme and organisation). The proportion of blank (or null) ballots was also important: 8.5% of votes cast for the General Secretariat; 5.1% for the Citizen Council and 13% for the ‘guarantees’ Commission
Reports Ensemble. (Podemos : un parti monolithique, vertical et hiérarchique ? 22 November).
The numbers of people abstaining and can be attributed in part to the ease of “affiliation” to Podemos – by free on-line registration, something which does not require a great deal of motivation or commitment. But it is also due, in large measure, (as indicated by the blank ballot papers) to a growing malaise and disillusionment with the way the Pablo Iglesias team have operated and taken decisions. The ‘technical team’ or administration (elected in April on the basis of closed lists), is equally dominated by this group …..
The team Sumando Podemos, who had formed a partial list of 22 candidates, announced its withdrawal after examining the closed list voting system – by which one can only select – through a single click – a single slate Added to this is the decision of the team Claro Podemos to present a complete list for all the internal party bodies.
As explained by MEP Pablo Echenique, a member of Sumando Podemos, (1) ” the voting system and the fact that the list of comrades from the team Claro Podemos was complete, made it extremely difficult – if not impossible – that a person who was not on the list to enter the Citizens’ Council. I think – we think – that it’s a mistake to set up a voting system in which mathematics decide as much as the people. ” According to the predictions of Echenique, the effects of system and blocked list were obvious. They are clearly reflected in the sharp difference between the votes received by candidates at 62 (75’131) and 63 (5’337) for the Citizens’ Council and for candidates in 10th (73’955) and 11th ( 4’697) position to the Oversight Commission.
Because of Pablo Iglesias’s media fame and this voting system, the possibility of access to the internal party bodies was strongly conditioned by the prior inclusion on his list. This method largely distorts the open primary system and has reproduced in practice the “dedazo” system [from “finger”, dedo, a term which defines the practice of the holder of an office or a term designating successors without going through any democratic procedure].
Criticism of the traditional parties ruled by a “caste” (the political ‘class’), bound by loyalty to the leader who rules as an individual, has been offered in the past. But in fact the closed list pushes to an extreme limit the effects of the (traditional) majority system. The list that receives the most votes wins control of everything – in contrast to claims (made by Podemos in the past – TC) for greater proportionality in the electoral system.
The ban, previously issued by the party’s internal controlling bodies, excluding people with a double political affiliation – included in the documents on the party’s ‘ethical’ internal principles – also contributed to the lack of options for alternatives offered inside Podemos. Thus this rule prevented MEP Teresa Rodríguez (Izquierda Anticapitalista) to run for the leadership of Podemos. The measure prohibits “members or affiliated organisations active throughout the Spanish state” to take any positions of local responsibility. This rule is justified as a mean to exclude the possible arrival of “pushy” parties and individuals from the “caste” (traditional political parties). This has not worked
It is certainly not effective against careerists who have torn up their old party card and joined Podemos in order to pursue their own interests.
This has, however, meant the immediate exclusion of militants from Izquierda Anticapitalista (IA) from the party’s internal bodies, despite the fact that IA not only does not compete electorally with Podemos, but played a key role in the initial design and foundation of the organisation.
The result of this process of formalising the structures of Podemos is that the party has changed its organisational character. It has adopted the format of a monolithic party one whose structures are top down and hierarchical. Power is concentrated to an extreme degree in the hands of the General Secretary who has the ability to appoint the executive, while its internal organising committees have been co-opted by a single list. This even includes the Control Commission (that exists to guarantee the rights of members) which should self-evidently be a plural and independent body if it is to carry out its functions properly. These rules make it difficult for a pluralist and democratic internal life to develop..
Indeed, they consolidate a plebiscitary presidential model for Podemos – something which means that it has moved away from its previous course not to say its entire original basis. The truly open ‘primary’ elections with independent candidates that operated for the European elections are now consigned to the past. More distant is the foundation of Podemos as a plural and unitary organisation of candidates. That is was born with the intention not to empty or dissolve existing organisations, but to aggregate in a common front groups and sectors not previously organised or mobilised, using mass and civic engagement so that people who are politically active act on their own initiative. Equally distant is the political culture that emerged after the eruption of 15M, characterized by mistrust of celebrity politics and the leadership of individuals. Claims to an open and collective organisation, common decision-making and consensus, direct grass-roots participation are also now history.
From David Lloriente. Published November 22, 2014 on the site of Viento Sur. From the translation by Encontre.
Original: Proceso congresual y mutación organizativa (which the above is checked with).
We should point out this is the point of view of the Izquierda Anticapitalista who are aligned with the Fourth International and the French Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA).
But (1) Sumando Podemos (going beyond Podemos, surmonter in French is a more appropriate translation I feel, even literally ‘addition’ is the direct meaning in both English and French) is not Trotskyist as such. It is grouped around the famous scientist Pablo Echenique, though is close I learn to IA it is not identical. See: Los críticos de Podemos valoran no participar en las primarias.
More information on the background from International Viewpoint:
Note the following: 28th November.
Spain’s poll-topping Podemos tones down radical plans in manifesto
(Reuters) – Spain’s newest political party Podemos, riding high in opinion polls just 10 months after its launch, released an economic manifesto on Friday that rowed back on earlier pledges to cut the retirement age and default on the national debt.
Podemos (“We Can”) has ridden a wave of anti-establishment sentiment, and polls for two leading newspapers have said it is on track to win the next election, which conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy must call by late next year. Another, larger, survey said it was likely to come a close third.
The party unexpectedly captured five seats in May’s European elections, and its rise is worrying international investors at a time when Spain is emerging from the worst economic crisis in decades.
“We don’t believe it is the right time to open up a wide spectrum of desires, but rather to propose what could effectively be done immediately,” Podemos said in the 68-page document, which reflects a change of tack as it builds up its party structure and gears up for the election.
“We believe that such a serious and difficult situation requires a great dose of pragmatism.”
The new manifesto outlines 79 measures, which will now be discussed with party members and experts before becoming a program for government. Among them are a tax reform that would shift the burden from labor to capital and increase tax rates for the wealthiest.
The working week would be cut to 35 hours from 40, the minimum salary and pensions would be raised, but the retirement age would be left at 65 instead of being cut to 60.
Podemos has also moved away from nationalizing Spain’s main utilities and now only plans to regulate them more tightly and control competition and price-setting in sectors where former monopolies still hold a strong grip.
The most controversial step of defaulting on Spain’s debt has also been watered down. While the party still calls for its restructuring, it says it would only do so after holding talks with European peers and creditors.
In a sign of the party’s ambitions to capture votes on the center-left, its 36-year old leader Pablo Iglesias told reporters its ideas were “proposals that any social democratic party could take on board.”
Update (signaled by PD): This is an important article on Podemos putting forward a very different judgement about their ‘anti-politics’.
US Drops Help to Kobane: Not in Our Name?
“…the airstrikes by the US, Britain and their allies are not intended to save lives or to defeat ISIS, but to strengthen the west’s domination of the Middle East region strategically and control its resources, most notably its oil.”
Wrote Aaron Kiely (Socialist Action) on the Stop the War Coalition site on the 15th of October.
Kiely does not mention any alternative way to aid the Kurds and others to defeat Isis.
His main concern apparently is that there is a “disgusting smear campaign against the Stop the War Coalition, CND, prominent NUS student leaders and others, accusing the anti-war movement of supporting the barbaric terrorist group Isis.
Speaking for “Muslim communities” he says they are “are strong opponents of terrorism”. He adds, “Young people and students want a future free from the scourge of war, terrorism and Islamophobia.”
Keiley is infamous for Tweeting his opposition to an “Islamophobic” motion at the NUS – that is one supporting the Kurds, drafted with the close help of/and by Kurds.
He may well “oppose” Isis, but if there was no evidence of supporting the Kurds then, there is none now.
Their right to freedom from Islamist racism and mass murder (Isis/Islamic State) is not mentioned.
What, then, does the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) think of the Kurdish plight?
Leading figures of the StWC, Lindsey German and Robin Beste, have argued (3rd October),
- The issue of the Kurds is central to countering ISIS expansion in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are close allies of the west, but there is a very different attitude to the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The PKK, which has been struggling for Kurdish self-determination for decades, is still listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. This is despite the PKK and its allies being prominent in the battle against ISIS. Turkey has oppressed the Kurds for many years and will not help those in Kobane, now under imminent threat of seizue by ISIS. Turkey could open its border to the Kurds, but refuses to do so, in contrast with its support for ISIS in the past. Instead the Turkish parliament has voted to create a ‘buffer zone’ at the Syrian border which will involve the disarming of the Kurds.
- Bombing will prove counter productive because it will do nothing to help the people already suffering, but will lead to far greater levels of death, injury and destruction. This has been the experience over the past 13 years, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan and Libya too.
Today we learn (BBC),
US military aircraft have dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants in the key Syrian town of Kobane.
US Central Command said C-130 transport aircraft made “multiple” drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.
US air strikes have helped push back IS in the town near the Turkish border.
Correspondents say the airdrops are likely to anger key US ally Turkey.
The drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq were “intended to enable continued resistance against Isil’s attempts to overtake Kobane,” Centcom said in a statement. IS is also referred to as Isil and Isis.
All the aircraft involved had returned safely, it added.
The US air drops represent a significant shift in Washington’s policy towards the Syrian Kurds.
Syrian Kurdish fighters confounded the bleak predictions about Kobane’s imminent fall, and the air drops are now taking place despite objections from the Turkish government: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said his country would not agree to any US arms transfers to Syrian Kurdish fighters.
Nevertheless, the US state department recently declared that it had held the first direct talks with the Syrian Kurdish Party – considered an ally of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fought a three-decade war against the Turkish army until 2013.
Reporting on this today the French left paper Libération states that the French government has put an ultimatum to Qatar to stop all support for the Islamic State/Isis. Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated to the Emir of the country that one does not have to “choose” between the Syrian dictatorship and Isis terrorism, but should oppose both.
The Kurdish News agency, Rudaw has stated,
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Turkish government has agreed to give Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces passage to the besieged Kurdish town of Kobane, a well-placed source told Rudaw today.
The official source said that Turkey has responded positively to a request from Kurdish President Massoud Barzani to allow Peshmerga forces pass through Turkish territory to relieve Peoples Protection Units (YPG) fighters in their battle against the Islamic State (IS).
According to the source who didn’t want to be named, Barzani and Peshmerga Minister Mustafa Sayid Qader have coordinated the plan with Salih Muslim, leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and his YPG commanders.
Muslim met with Barzani in Duhok last week where the two discussed the fighting in Kobane between the YPG and IS militants who have besieged the town for more than a month.
There are good reasons to be very cautious about this report on Turkey’s change of attitude.
But nobody can contest that the US action has taken place.
It may well not stem the offensive of the Isis genociders.
But is the StWC right to claim that this bombing will prove to be “counter-productive”.
I don’t think so.
IS= Fascism. Arms to the PKK and YPG!
A word of introduction.
There is a great respect in the broad labour movement for Counterfire activists.
They have helped, indeed initiated, the People’s Assembly. They have acted with selfless dedication to help create an important bloc of organisations that has brought together people on the left, trade unionists, and campaigners. The People’s Assembly is effectively the only mass movement in the UK challenging austerity and acting for a wide range of left policies and causes.
In view of this, and (some might say) breaking with the habit of a lifetime, this is not a sectarian attack but expresses some genuine concerns.
Last Saturday John Rees, a leading member of Counterfire, spoke at the London Demonstration in support of Kobane.
This protest was but one of the expressions of solidarity with Kobane that have been sweeping the world, from Turkey and Europe to Australia (the comrades at Shiraz signal how a local group can help).
Rees noted the manoeuvres of the regional powers, the unhelpful impact of the US-led intervention, and,.above all,t eh disgraceful stand of Turkey – sitting and watching as the beloved people of Kobane face the genociders of Isis.
Rees stated, very clearly “arm the Kurds!” (1)
As if to back this declaration up Counterfire published (October the 9th) this declaration by the Kurdish-Turkish Day-Mer centre,
“Nato member Turkey is effectively allowing Isis to destroy the Kurdish city of Kobane. This press release by Turkish Kurdish organisation Day-Mer, calls for international solidarity and for Turkey to allow Kurdish heavy weapons through to defend the city“
On the same site, pointedly marked “Opinion” we had this, from Lindsey German and Robin Beste (October the 12th), Ten reasons to oppose military intervention in Iraq and Syria. It concentrates on the reasons for the conflicts, blamed entirely on the ‘West’. Terrorism is apparently, the “product of the west’s disastrous foreign policies, endless wars and backing of barbaric regimes in the Middle East There is only one section dealing specifically with the Kurds . It reads.
The issue of the Kurds is central to countering Isis expansion in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are close allies of the west, but there is a very different attitude to the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The PKK, which has been struggling for Kurdish self-determination for decades, is still listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. This is despite the PKK and its allies being prominent in the battle against Isis. Turkey has oppressed the Kurds for many years and will not help those in Kobane, now under imminent threat of seizue by Isis. Turkey could open its border to the Kurds, but refuses to do so, in contrast with its support for Isis in the past. Instead the Turkish parliament has voted to create a ‘buffer zone’ at the Syrian border which will involve the disarming of the Kurds.
Bombing (again no mention of US strikes near Kobane) will be “counter-productive” and not help anybody.
Their only practical demand is that,
Iraq and Syria should be flooded with humanitarian aid, particularly for the millions of refugees who have been fleeing the wars. The refugees should receive the aid and support they need, and not be treated as potential terrorists within Europe.
So, we are left in no doubt that some Kurds are “close allies of the West (bad), the PKK (good? it’s not explicitly said, ) and Kobane are threatened by Isis.
What the defenders of Kobane (and other Kurdish areas) should do (providing that is they are not “allies” of the West is left hanging in the air.
As are the Kurds facing the genociders of Isis.
It would seem that one part of Counterfire backs arming the Kurds and the other does not.
Meanwhile German’s isolated Stop the War Coalition has published a disgraceful morally corrupt article by a certain, Musa al-Gharbi.
One of its sections reads,
Finally, many Westerners have been horrified by ISIS’s persecution of religious minorities (especially crimes against Christians). However, the United States is complicit in this as well: US policies in Iraq helped spark this cycle of sectarian violence.
Meanwhile, its own armed forces were indoctrinated with anti-Muslim propaganda- complete with recommendations for servicemen to resort to “Hiroshima tactics,” in a “total war against Islam,” in which protections for civilians were “no longer relevant.”
Reflective of this mentality, the armed forces have been heavily infiltrated by white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups who believe and act as though they are engaged in a holy war to begin in the Middle East and then be carried back into America.
This institutionalized misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims probably played a significant role in the aforementioned atrocities.
Musa al-Gharbi tries to deflect blame from those culpable of gencodical crimes by whataboutery.
His specious rhetoric about ” misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims” is not accompanied by any concern for the fate of the directly dehumanised Kurds.
Al-Gharbi is silent – there is no “Authentic Outrage” from this special pleader about the need for armed help for the beloved people of Kobane.
Well, he would be quiet, wouldn’t he?
(1) He also , hat-tip GH, “totally bizarrely called for Hamas, Venezuela, the ANC/SA, to arm the Kurds .. as if that could possibly happen!” But we let this pass.
Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste Seeks to “save” capitalism, says International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
Flags Waving to Save Capitalism says ICFI.
Just when you thought you could be smug about the charming but eccentric ways of our old chum Bob Avakian this comes along,
The pseudo-left New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) has reacted to the formation of the new government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls with empty, hypocritical criticisms to mask its responsibility in the installation of this deeply right-wing government, which the NPA will continue to defend.
The World Socialist Web Site, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) continues in this vein (8th of September) – at length. (1)
For those mourning the withdrawal of cde Tony Greenstein from the fray this site comes as a blessing,
What the NPA fears above all is that the collapse and discrediting of France’s ruling Socialist Party (PS) will provoke a crisis of rule in which the NPA could not stifle a political movement of the working class directed at the PS and its political satellites, including the NPA itself.
There is more but this mighty blow against the NPA stands out,
The NPA, by its hostility to a socialist and revolutionary perspective, contributed to the installation of the most right-wing regime France has known since the World War II-era fascist Vichy regime.
In fact, it is the NPA that is neither revolutionary nor anti-capitalist. It does not seek the overthrow of capitalism, but to save it under conditions where it threatens to provoke war and economic collapse, and the conditions for an eruption of social revolution are fast being prepared.
Not to mention that
This anti-working class party is ready for unprincipled alliances with organizations of all types, whose only common point is their hatred of the working class and of socialism.
(1) The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) is the name of two Trotskyist internationals; one with sections named Socialist Equality Party which publishes the World Socialist Web Site, and another linked to the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.
Both groupings originate in the struggle against “Pabloite liquidationism”,
“To sum up: The lines of cleavage between Pablo’s revisionism and orthodox Trotskyism are so deep that no compromise is possible either politically or organizationally. The Pablo faction has demonstrated that it will not permit democratic decisions truly reflecting majority opinion to be reached. They demand complete submission to their criminal policy. They are determined to drive all orthodox Trotskyists out of the Fourth International or to muzzle and handcuff them.”
Despite this background many of the SEP’s ideas would meet with approval or at least some agreement from a lot of people on the left: they are for the United Socialist States of Europe, oppose austerity and cuts.
The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) calls for a decisive and unambiguous No vote in the September 18 referendum on Scottish independence. All claims that “independence” is a democratic demand, offering an alternative to cuts and austerity, are lies.
The move for separation from the UK is being led by right-wing forces espousing nationalism, whether or not they attempt to dress this up in fake left language. The aim is to transform Scotland into a low tax, cheap labour platform for the benefit of the banks and transnational corporations.
The victims of this will be workers on both sides of the border, who will see a deepening of the ongoing offensive against jobs, wages and conditions that has been waged by all the major parties in both Westminster and Holyrood
Their French membership is believed to hover at 2.