Just when most of us thought that Mother Agnes (Mère Agnès-Mariam de la Croix( had disappeared from the political scene, George Galloway appears determined to resurrect her.
George Galloway interviews Mother Agnes
It is wonderful to see two dear and respected friends join forces for the sake of justice and peace.
This interview is part of George’s innovative new program, screening through “Russia Today” – “SPUTNIK… Orbiting the World with George Galloway”.
You can see the full episode (no.3) here.
Or indeed here, with the bonus of seeing John Wight, of the Socialist Unity Blog of Andrew Newman (Labour Party PPC),
In defending Mother Agnes, John Wight and Galloway thus join the ’9/11′ denial site Voltaire Net, and its founder, Thierry Meyssan – who currently lives in Damscus, Syria.
We have already Blogged on Mother Agnes and those interested can find here why we find this massacre-denying supporter of the Syrian regime beyond the pale.
On Sunday Jean-Luc Mélenchon marched with Bercy Pierre Moscovici. Co-Chair of the Left Party (PG) and Pierre Laurent, national secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), heading the procession the Left Front for a “revolution in taxation” and against the planned increase of VAT on the 1 st January.
Apart from the Front de Gauche (FdG), Le Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, Lutte ouvrière and some Greens (EE-LV) took part.
In wintry conditions, the demonstration (reports indicate) essentially mobilised members of the FdG. According to Parti de gauche (PG), 100 000 people were present, this was 70 000 for the (PCF). The Police total was 7 000. Le Monde.
Pictures of the march in L’Humanité here.
On factor motivating the marchers was a wish not to let the streets be dominated by the ‘Poujadist ‘ anti-government demonstrations of the Breton ‘bonnets rouges’ and the lorry driver bosses who were out this morning protesting against ‘eco-taxes’.
The character of the bonnets rouges can be seen in the placard held by the demonstrator below,
It reads, “France, a paradise for the skivers, fraudsters, and criminals, Hell for the hard-working. We say, Merde to Europe and Merde! to that France.”
The Front de Gauche will hold further unitary actions in the coming January.
This year’s Labour Representation Committee (LRC) AGM was the first the Tendance has attended.
We joined, because Labour Briefing is now the official journal of the LRC. It seems a good idea to go along to the meeting of a left paper that has played a significant role on the left for several decades.
The turnout for the event was as Stan Keable in the Weekly Worker describes,
There were slightly more than 100 comrades attending the November 23 annual conference of the Labour Representation Committee in London’s Conway Hall. That is down by a third compared with last year. Bad news for what is an umbrella organisation of the pro-Labour Party left, but surely reflective of the general state of the left in Britain.
He puts the LRC’s importance in this context,
The LRC also has significant organisational affiliates, including six national trade unions (Aslef, BFAWU, CWU, FBU, NUM and RMT), numerous trade union branches and regions, constituency and branch Labour Parties, Welsh Labour Grassroots, Campaign for Socialism (Scotland), and a variety of communist and socialist organisations.
It is hard to comment on Comrade Keable’s detailed remarks about the functioning of the LRC, and the “office problem”, since we do not have direct information on this. The Briefing is something we can all judge. Against the Weekly Worker article we would that Briefing has changed, though perhaps “renewed” – for the better – is a more balanced description.
Of the speeches Owen Jones was uplifting, pointing to the successes of such initiatives as the People’s Assembly. Keable dismisses this as his “usual fare” – ignoring the importance People’s Assemblies have taken on the ground.
John McDonnell MP was excellent. You can take this argument whatever way you wish: “People are still voting Labour,” he said. “We must nourish struggles within the party by building struggles outside.”
Stan rightly underlines the importance of the contributions made by “two activists from the Boycott Welfare campaign, Clive and Robert, gave a moving contribution from the platform as guest speakers. Unemployed people and benefit claimants are clearly being badly maltreated by the system. Half a million have been already denied benefits under the workfare system, they reported.”
These are issues dear to our heart and the LCR, and associated Labour MPs, are to be congratulated for making the campaigns against of Workfare, Universal Credit and Sanctions, not to mention ATOS, a priority. We were able to develop our contacts with Boycott Workfare by talking to the activists during the break.
Jeremy Corbyn MP gave a more nuanced portrait of the 1945 Labour government than has recently appeared (notably in the Ken Loach film, the Spirit of 45). Its record was exceptionally largely positive, but it had been Atlanticist and a far from a consistently principled anti-colonialist government.
Mark Serwotka is patronised by Comrade Keable (whose style is rapidly tiring). “he would not waste time repeating “how bad it is”. We need to talk about “what we’re going to do about it”.
I did not get a chance to speak to guest speaker Philippe Marlière of the Front de Gauche (Left Front) – with whom I have contacts. He must have felt cheered by the serious speakers listed above, though less encouraged by some of the others.
Of these, Stan does not mention the antics of Graham Durham who seemed eager to hog the limelight at every opportunity. His virulent attacks on Len McCluskey and the LRC elected Committee (amongst others) and his support for Murdoch’s man in UNITE, Jerry Hicks, struck a sour note.
Durham’s only accurate observation was on the lines that every meeting he attended got smaller.
We wonder why.
There was also an extraordinary motion by something called Socialist Fight, on Syria.
This noted that “Negotiation with Russia and Iran disarm Syria of its chemical weapons and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and so prepare for a future attack against weaker enemies.”
It ended, “The defeat of this utterly bogus ‘revolution’ will defend a relatively secular administration, strengthen the Syrian working class against Assad and dent chauvinism in US, Britain and France.”
This was roundly defeated in favour of a policy of defending democratic movements in Syria against Assad and opposing the Western backed jihadists.
There was a debate on the Labour-Union link.
Andrew Berry from Unison, Maria Exall of the CWU and Ian Hudson of the bakers’ union (BFAWU) all made pertinent speeches – Ian Hudson was particularly rousing.
Labour Party Marxists made an appearance.
Stan Keable led off by citing the phrase, “The Labour Party emerged from the Bowels of the Unions” – a quote he attributed to Ralph Miliband.
Ernest Bevin, who actually made the observation, was hardly a model of democratic practice in his use of the union – T&GWU - block vote.
Perhaps next time former members of the CPGB begin talking about the Labour Party they might care to familiarise themselves with its history.
The motion that was passed broadly re-affirmed the importance of keeping unions affiliated to the Labour Party. Keable, this time accurately, mentions that their motion,, which sought “the end of individual ‘opting out’ of trade union political funds”, was voted down by a two-thirds majority. Sadly that majority included the LRC’s political secretary Pete Firmin, though Graham Bash, the de facto editor of Briefing, abstained. “
The motions passed on Europe were, as the Weekly Worker reports, equivocal on the need to defend a perspective of a social, socialist, Europe – a view put forward by both Labour Party Marxists and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. They left space for both this genuine internationalism and a more narrowly focused ‘anti-Brussels’ stand. As the article states, there was a “refusal to recognise that advocating withdrawal means nationalism.”
The AGM was well worth attending.
I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere during the evening that began in the Dolphin and ended in China Town the most.
There is now a new grouping inside the Front de Gauche, «Ensemble. Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire». (Together: movement for a left ecological and social alternative), Ensemble claims the place of the Third Pole inside the Front de gauche (FdG) next to the PCF (French Communist Party and the PG (left party, led by Jean Luc-Mélenchon). (Humanité)
The new grouping was set up last weekend at the Bourse du travail de Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis)
One of its distinguishing features is that it will be possible to be an individual member – something you cannot do with the Front de Gauche as a whole (you have to join one of the parties in the bloc).
This is an indication of Ensemble’s aim to “Open the Windows” of the FdG to a wider public.
These are the groups (already part of the FdG) that have united to form the new alliance.
La Fédération pour une alternative sociale et écologique (Fase), les Alternatifs, Convergence et alternative, la Gauche anticapitaliste (ex Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, NPA) and a part of la Gauche unitaire (also from the NPA) . Individuals who have joined include the economist Pierre Khalfa and the former president of the Syndicat de la magistrature (magistrates trade union) Évelyne Sire-Marin.
Wikipedia (French) has more information here.
Official Site of Ensemble. Mouvement pour une alternative de gauche, écologiste et solidaire here.
Report on the founding conference in Politis.
They state that it has “all the attributes of a political party”.
Their own policy, they announce, is that they will only help create a new party on a solid and politically clear basis – - something they implicitly state Ensemble is not.
In view of this the Gauche Unitaire declares that the 35 of its members who have joined the new grouping are in contradiction with their organisation’s own statues (Article 6 of their Constitution).
By joining another political party they are therefore no longer members of the Gauche Unitaire.
Women gather on the steps of the National Assembly in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on Monday, during a protest over violence against women. PACOME PABANDJI/AFP/Getty Images
“There were no dramatic demonstrations of joy, but rather a huge sigh of “relief “ : residents of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), did not hide their satisfaction, Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the sight of the French troops arriving to bring a halt to the activities of rebels who have been terrorising the population. “
Le Monde (adapted)
“Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, had mentioned the deployment of 6,000 9 000 peacekeepers. But until now, several countries, including the United States and Great Britain , have seemed reluctant to finance a new operation in Africa . The resolution, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter provides for the use of force, and would call “the rapid application of transitional arrangements in the Central African Republic” with the objective of holding of free and fair elections.”
“According to the UN, without ” swift and decisive action ” in the Central African Republic, there is a risk ” that the crisis will spiral out of control”. The “religious and ethnic conflict “ between Christians and Muslims could lead to ”widespread atrocities” . The Central African Republic, according to the UN risks becoming “a breeding ground for extremists and armed gangs.“
The operation in CAR “has nothing to do with Mali“, said the Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian. He spoke of an intervention that would be ”brief, taking around of six months or less “. He added, “This is a failed state within which there is a grave danger of religious conflict”.
The Independent reports,
“The Central African Republic is in a state of collapse and we cannot allow a country to fall apart like that, with the risk of violence, massacres and humanitarian chaos, ” Mr Le Drian said.
Both sides have accused each other of atrocities since a Muslim rebel alliance overthrew a Christian president in March. There have been reports of massacres, rape and the conscription of child soldiers by the rebel forces.
Over a million people, in a country of 4.4 million, are facing famine. An estimated 400,000 people have been forced from their homes and 68,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.
The UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Security Council on Monday that the CAR was becoming a “breeding ground for extremists and armed groups” and could descend into a full-scale civil war between Muslim and Christian communities. (1) UN officials have warned of the “potential for another Rwanda”.
Background in l’Humanité.
More on the religious aspect of the fighting and massacres of civilians in the Guardian.
The latest eruption began in March when the unpopular president, François Bozizé, fled by helicopter with five suitcases after being overthrown by a loose coalition of rebels, bandits and guns for hire known as the Seleka, meaning “alliance” in the local language. One of its leaders, Michel Djotodia, declared himself president — the first Muslim to rule this majority Christian nation of 4.6 million people.
What started as a political movement against the corrupt and autocratic Bozizé is now taking on an ominously religious character. Nearly all the Seleka are Muslim, including mercenaries from neighbouring Chad and the notorious Janjaweed from Sudan’s Darfur region. An “us and them” mentality of mutual distrust and paranoia is taking root, with some Christians taking up arms in vigilante militias known as “anti-balaka” — meaning anti-sword or anti-machete — and committing atrocities of their own, giving the Seleka a pretext for yet more aggression. The spiral of violence has become a recruiting sergeant for thousands of child soldiers.
Few people have raised their voices against this intervention.
(1) About 80 percent of the population of the Central African Republic are Christians. It is believed that many of these followers incorporate traditional indigenous elements into their faith practices.
South London Slavery Case: Allegations Focus on Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought
The Sunday Times reports, (Hat-Tips F.W. D.O. and to Paul F)
A COUPLE suspected of holding three women captive for 30 years in a London home were introduced to two of the victims through a Marxist political “collective”.
Detectives have revealed that the man arrested last week met the two older victims “through a shared political ideology”. Separate sources said the couple and the two women were members of a Marxist-Communist group that lived together in the capital in the 1970s.
Commander Steve Rodhouse of the Metropolitan police said the couple, an Indian man and a Tanzanian woman, both 67, came to Britain in the 1960s.
“We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a ‘collective’, ” he said.
A far-right site has declared that the ideology involved was “a Maoist variant of Marxist-Leninism.”
The main suspect in the case is Aravindan Balakrishnan.
In the summer of 1974 Balakrishnan (known to his friends as Comrade Bala) split from what was then the UK’s leading Maoist group, the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), having previously been a member of the party’s national executive and central committee.
Comrade Bala set up the Brixton institute, taking with him a small faction of Maoist fanatics. His group was among several analysed in a 1978 doctoral thesis by a researcher at University College London, who described the institute as “the clearest case of far-left millenarianism which I have encountered, …a tiny Maoist sect with about 25 members, located in the Brixton area. …In 1977, they confidently predicted that the world would be liberated from capitalist oppression by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army before the end of the year.”
The Daily Telegraph has confirmed this,
he two suspects in the south London slavery case ran a Communist collective in the 1970s that worshipped the Chinese leader Chairman Mao, the Daily Telegraph has learned.
The husband and wife, who are from India and Tanzania originally, were arrested last week on suspicion of holding three women against their will for more than 30-years.
It is alleged they subjected them to beatings and emotional abuse and were only allowed to leave their Brixton flat in controlled circumstances.
The pair, who are both aged 69, arrived in Britain in the 1960s and were associated with a number of extreme left political groups known to the police and security services.
Last month a 57-year-old Irish woman contacted the Freedom Charityto report that she and two other women were being held as slaves.
The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought declared in 1977.
When beloved Chairman Mao passed away on September 9, last year, our comrades worked tirelessly to transform our profound grief into great strength. Right in the heart of the revolutionary base area in Brixton we have opened from October 1, 1976, the MAO ZEDONG MEMORIAL CENTRE – a workers’ Centre, Library and Bookshop – the only one of its kind in the world. Thousands of working people have visited the Centre and hundreds of them have participated in the vigorous revolutionary programme (meetings, film shows, etc.) conducted by the Institute. A steady core of them are now attending regularly the Political Evening School and the theoretical study groups which popularise invincible Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought at the Centre.
This new development in Britain, has taken the British fascist state by storm. In its vain attempt to escape the verdict of history it has spared no efforts to intimidate and harass the comrades of the Institute. Arrests, expulsions from jobs, evictions, psychological warfare in various forms, etc. have not in any way restrained our comrades, workers and intellectuals, men and women, young, middle-aged and old, of different nationalities of the world, from being the devoted soldiers of beloved Chairman Mao in the imperialist heartlands. Our comrades have steeled themselves in acute and violent class struggles in the past two years. Fearing neither hardship nor death in upholding the proletarian revolutionary line of Chairman Mao and following closely our great, glorious and correct Party, the Party of World Revolution, we are preparing ourselves to greet the greatest event in the history of mankind – the victory of world people’s revolution and the establishment of the International Dictatorship of the Proletariat!
March 31, 1977
This story is extremely tragic.