Tendance Coatesy

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Belgium (Wallonie), Far-Left Party at 8,1% of Vote in Opinion Polls.

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Regional Elections take place in Belgium on May the 25th.

La Libre Belgique reports that the new far-left alliance PTB-Go  is at 8,1 (+0,5) of the vote in the French-speaking region of Wallionie according to the latest opinion poll.

The Socialists stand at nearly 30%, which is stable, while the Ecologists (Ecolo) are at 11%. The centre-right, MR is at 22,6% while the centrist CdH is only just above the PTB-Go at 9,4%

In Brussels the PTB-Go- PVDA  (its Dutch name, Partij van de Arbeid van België,)  is at 7,2% just behind the Ecologists  - 8, 0%.

In Flanders the hard-right N-VA (independentists) of Bart de Wever are far in front with 32,9% of voting intentions. The  Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij anders), the equivalent of the Labour Party, only gets 13,6%. The Flemish equivalent of PTB-Go, the PVDA +   is at a high 4,1%.

As the PTB-GO  site says, this is good news for the new alliance, though, it is, they underline, an opinion poll, which may, as in the past, over-estimate their real vote.

The Workers’ Party of Belgium (Dutch Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA, French Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) has over 8,000 members  (background here (English).

The party, from a Marxist-Leninist origin, is now aligned with the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR),  Socialistische Arbeiderspartij and the Belgium Communist Party (PC), to form PTB-go! (go – gauche d’ouverture).

It was initially formed in 2012 from an appeal by trade unionists and other activists. Its influence, as can be seen, has grown.

In Brussels smaller parties (including, according to La Libre Belgique,  apparently the Pirate Party) are aligned with this list.

More information on PTB-Go site here.

Leninism on Way Out as ISO Crisis Deepens.

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fillesb

Still Flogging a Dead Horse.

”  To defend press freedom the 19th century French liberal Benjamin Constant used analogy. * He imagined a society before the invention of language. Suddenly people could speak. When it undermined order figures in authority began to regret this state of affairs. Gradually the innovation was accepted. Nobody any longer had the idea of forbidding talking on the grounds that it could be used to spread rumours, lies or fantasies.

Perhaps the Socialist Workers Party will consider Constant’s argument when they next stick on their internal documents, “Under No Circumstances Should This Text be Posted on the Internet, For SWP members Only.”

* Cited Page 227. Les Gauches Françaises. Jacques Julliard. 2012.

Tendance Coatesy, The Crisis of the SWP,  Leninism and the Left. February 2013.

Louis Proyect writes today (extracts),

One wonders if the ISO leaders might have anticipated the “security breach” that allowed the documents to become public. After all, in the electronic age, what’s to prevent a Marxist version of Edward Snowden from cropping up? This is especially true given the leaks that took place in the British SWP, the group that spawned the ISO. Those leaks were focused primarily on the British SWP’s refusal to punish a top leader who had allegedly raped a young female member. As is the case with bureaucratic institutions in general such as the Catholic Church and the military, there is a tendency to defend those in power, no matter what they do. If you’ve reached the point where you’ve become tired of bureaucratic abuse from the ISO leadership, why not let the rest of the left know what’s going on behind closed doors?

Proyect’s  objects are many but this sticks out,

I want to address the question of the “right” of a Leninist organization to keep its discussions shielded from public view at the end of this article, but will start with an evaluation of the ISO’s current woes, which according to both sides in the dispute is very real.

He concludes,

The real issue is not security, but the right of a sect to keep its deliberations a secret. When you stop and think about it, all of these “Leninist” groups operate on a mercantile basis that is concerned with maximizing market share. Their internal bulletins are analogous to reports discussed by the board of directors leading up to a sales campaign. What business is it of Pepsi to know what Coca-Cola is up to? How can we let Socialist Alternative know what we have planned for 2014? Hush now, comrades. Mum’s the word.

While I will not be around fifty years from now, I am convinced that “Leninism” will be long dead. If we are fortunate enough to be capable of rallying the forces needed to transform American society, it will be on a basis that has little to do with the imagery associated with the Smolny Institute and the Winter Palace. We will write our own future based on the living struggle that we surely have in front of us. Every effort has to be bent toward uniting the greatest number of people on a principled class basis. In a way it is too bad that ISO cannot understand the role it can play in helping to catalyze such a movement. One hopes that they can figure out a way to emerge out of the existing stagnation and rise to the occasion.

The background to this crisis is given on the External Bulletin site,

The organizational crisis and its political roots

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been in a general crisis since 2009. This has not been experienced or understood as a general crisis, but rather a series of disconnected and personalistic branch crises. But if we merely list the crises that we know about, the general nature of the problem becomes clear: (see links for more)

Perhaps the conclusion is not as radical – certainly not about the Leninist roots of their problems – as it could be,

To sum up, the political roots of the ISO’s organizational crisis lie in the group’s failure to adequately theorize the neoliberal phase of capitalism. Its past practices are increasingly ineffective in a new conjuncture, but it lacks the “theoretical capital” to invest in the ideation of strategy. Itself impoverished in ideas, the leadership has adopted a defensive posture, concerned–in many ways legitimately–that a politically weak organization cannot handle the internal struggles that will be required to generate and test new ideas. But there is no alternative to this internal struggle if the organization is to progress.

Update: Opposition expelled from ISO, here.

More details and comments on this split on Howie’s Corner.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Nelson Mandela and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

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Nelson Mandela’s death has received the coverage it merits.

He was truly a great man.

What should be underlined is that it was not just a great Man but a movement that overthrew Apartheid.

We should recall how the brave activists of the ANC brought down the racist South African system.

How they were backed by supporters across the world.

In this country the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM)  played its part.

The Daily Mirror describes the AAM’s role,

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison on February 17 1990, there was dancing in the streets in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Home to the South African Embassy, the Square had been the focal point of the UK Anti-Apartheid Movement for just over three decades.

Originally known as the Boycott Movement, the British anti-apartheid campaign began on June 26 1959 – three years before Mandela was imprisoned – when a group of South African exiles and their British supporters met in London’s Holborn Hall.

Backed by trade unionists, Labour Party branches, British Communist and Liberal activists, women’s groups, the National Union of Students, and the TUC, the meeting called for a boycott of fruit, cigarettes and other goods imported from South Africa.

Led by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President and great friend of Nelson Mandela, who lived in Haringey after fleeing to the UK in the 1960s, other key public figures included Labour politicians Barbara Castle, Peter Hain and Frank Dobson as well as playwright Harold Pinter, actor Vanessa Redgrave and archbishop Trevor Huddleston.

The UK was South Africa’s largest investor, and at that time the ANC were still committed to peaceful means.

Eight months after the Boycott Movement was founded, the Sharpeville massacre where 69 protestors against apartheid were shot dead by South African police, changed the stance of the boycotters.

Now, the group renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and began active support for all those fighting apartheid.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was among those who opposed sanctions, but to no avail.

Mass demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 1970 Springboks cricket tour of the UK, and South Africa was expelled from nearly every international sporting federation.

Haringey was also the home of many of many anti-apartheid activists, including a large group of  Oliver Tambo’s fellow exiles. This was a major issue in the area, taken up by progressive organisations, from the Woodcraft Folk, the local political parties of the left, notably the Communist Party,  the trade unions, to a group of  courageous people who helped support and arm the ANC from the UK.

London Recruits: The Secret War Against Apartheid: Editor  Ken Keable.

It is hard to recall any of the present Government and their backers, some of whom are quite offensive about Mandela’s death, doing the same.

A dignified response to the event is given by Shiraz Socialist.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2013 at 11:48 am

Bonfire of Austerity. Ipswich, Suffolk People’s Assembly.

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Comrade Ratty Comes to Ipswich in Anti-Austerity Protest.

Yesterday there were protests across the country, organised by the People’s Assembly.

In Ipswich the day began at 7.00 at Ipswich Station.

Around 7 people gave out leaflets by Action for Rail - to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Rail Privatisation and support public ownership of rail. The rain was heavy but they got a good reception from rail users.

At 11.30 am  Silent Street, Ipswich there was a vigil outside ATOS and Job Centre.

This was the first demonstration in the town against the hated ATOS and Liberal-Tory Workfare plans

Around thirty people came, in the drizzle.

They heard an impassioned speech by a representative of Suffolk Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

We demand the Coalition Government:

·         Scraps the Work Capability Assessment

·         Scraps the wasteful and punitive Work Programme which also pays millions to private companies.

·         Stops unpaid work for benefit claimants – if work needs doing, people should be paid for doing it.  Unpaid work takes away work from workers and undermines wages.

·         Stops unjustified, deliberate sanctioning of benefit claimants.

·         Stops further cuts in benefits.

·         Benefit claimants did not cause the financial crisis or the public spending deficit.

Radio Suffolk interviewed Martin.

It was intensely moving.

We then moved off, at around 1.00 pm, to near Boots in Tavern St, behind the proud banner of DPAC, to begin the Living Wage Activity.

Leaflets were given out by our large crowd to the public on the Suffolk Living Wage campaign.

As we had decided, ““The first aim of the Suffolk People’s Assembly will be to make Ipswich a ‘living wage’ zone where all employers pay the ‘living wage’ which is currently £7.45 an hour outside London, compared with the national minimum wage of £6.19.”

We had a very good reaction from passers by.

One  young woman remarked, “I don’t get as much as that!”

At 6.30 pm  there was the  Bonfire of Austerity, at Felaw Maltings”Consign Austerity to the Bonfire on the Green”.

Over 60 people came, in the cold damp evening, assembling around a brazier.

Comrade Ratty was at the corner of the Green.

Votes were taken as to which effigy, of David Cameron, George Osborne, Michael Gove, and a picture of Ian Duncan Smith would be flung on the flames.

Gove won.

There were simple, but to the point, speeches, on our fight for social justice against the Liberal-Tory Coalition.

 A speaker from the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) explained why they were on strike that day.

We then went to the pub where hot dogs (veggie or meat) and soup were on offer.

Thanks Val.

It was a real people’s Assembly.

Disabled Campaigners, Trade Unionists, School students, Feminists,  Labour Party activists, Socialists from various parties, Greens, Anarchists, and simply the ordinary people of Ipswich took part,

On the same day, the Guardian reports,

Protesters gather around the world for Million Mask March.

“In Parliament Square, protesters burned energy bills to oppose the rising cost of fuel and there were minor clashes with police in riot gear as protesters also gathered near Buckingham Palace, where a fire was started yards away from its gates. No arrests took place, according to the Metropolitan police.

The numbers of those protesting in central London were swelled by a gathering on Westminster Bridge organised by the People’s Assembly, an anti-cuts umbrella group whose “Bonfire of Austerity” was addressed by the Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Jon McDonnell.”

Sisters! Brothers! There’s a place for you, in the People’s Assembly!

UNITE and the Giant Rat.

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The Daily Mail ‘reports‘,

For those who recall the dark days of the 1970s and early 80s – when endless strikes and violent mass picketing brought British industry to the brink of ruin – the bully-boy tactics deployed by the Unite union during the recent Grangemouth dispute will have brought a chilling sense of deja vu.

Coordinated by Unite’s sinister ‘Leverage Unit’, mobs of protesters were unleashed to intimidate managers and their families at their homes.

It was a clear attempt to terrify the management into submission.

This despicable  report was carried on Channel Four last night.

UNITE General Secretary, Len Len McCluskey  was at least given a chance to reply to the tissue of lies.

If Tory bully boys threaten workers it’s fine by the Daily Mail.

If UNITE fights back then it’s “bully boys”. 

There is a rumour that Mr Ratty is coming to Ipswich…..

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2013 at 4:38 pm