Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Globalisation

The Cairo Conferences or How some on the Left have got the Muslim Brotherhood Wrong.

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One major factor that explains the inability of some on the British left to support, clearly, Egyptian democrats is their long-standing links with the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is not just a matter of domestic alliances with the (then) Muslim Association of Britain in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

On the principle of being ‘with’ the MB – indeed anybody – when  ‘fighting’ ‘imperialism’ and the its allied states this reached its highest point in the Cairo Conferences, from 2002 to 2009.

Wikipedia is the most convenient source of the history of this alliance,

The first conference was held on the 17–19 December 2002, at the Conrad Hotel on the banks of the Nile . Four hundred attended. Speakers included former United Nations (UN) humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Dr Hans von Sponeck. Former Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella (TC Note- who had become an Islamist) chaired the conference. One outcome of the conference was the production of the ‘Cairo Declaration’, which took a stance against the then looming Iraq war; it also noted the negative effects of capitalist globalisation and U.S.  hegemony on the peoples of the world (including European and American citizens). In addition, it noted that “In the absence of democracy , and with widespread corruption and oppression constituting significant obstacles along the path of the Arab peoples’ movement towards economic, social, and intellectual progress, adverse consequences are further aggravated within the framework of the existing world order of neoliberal globalisation”, while firmly rejecting the ‘advance of democracy’ justification for attacking Iraq.

The UK Stop the War Coalition, in particular John Rees of the SWP, initiated the signing of the declaration by European leftists, including: Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP, Tony Benn, Susan George (scholar/activist based in France), Bob Crow, Mick Rix (general secretary, UK train drivers’ Aslef union), Julie Christie, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter, Ghayasuddin Siddiqui (Muslim Parliament), Tommy Sheridan (Scottish socialist), Dr Ghada Karmi (research fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter), Tariq Ali. attended.

I shall miss out the specific references to Iraq and concentrate on what the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty highlighted of the original ‘Cairo Declaration’.

Selective and misleading extracts from the ‘Cairo Declaration’ have been published in “Socialist Worker” (18th January 2003). The carefully edited extracts refer to the internationalist struggle against neo-liberal globalisation, the growth of poverty and unemployment as a result of capitalist globalisation and US hegemony, and the need for total opposition to war on Iraq.
Such worthy sentiments, however, are not representative of the politics encapsulated in the ‘Cairo Declaration’.
The ‘Cairo Declaration’ criticises the US for ‘maintaining the existing uni-polar world order’ and blocking a shift in the balance of power ‘towards multi-polarity.’ This is not an obscure and coded call for working-class struggle against capitalist inequality. It is a complaint that the domination of international markets by large-scale US capital (uni-polarity) is squeezing out the local capitalist classes and elites (multi-polarity).

It would be tedious to go through all these ‘conferences’ declarations but this one indicates the truth of this analysis (from the 3rd Conference 2003),

• The U.S. monopolizes political, economic and military power within the framework of capitalist globalization, to the detriment of the lives of the majority of the world’s people.

• The U.S. imposes control through naked aggression and militarized globalization in pursuit of its rulers’ interests, all while reinstating the characteristic direct occupation of classical colonialism.

• The U.S. global strategy, which was formulated prior to September 11 2001, aims to maintain the existing unipolar world order, and to prevent the emergence of forces that would shift the balance of power towards multi-polarity. The U.S. administration has exploited the tragic events of September 11, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, to implement the pre-existing strategy. Attention to this global context helps explain current world developments:

• Prioritize the interest of monopolistic capitalist circles above those of the people, including Europeans and U.S. citizens.

• Integrate the economies of different countries into a single global capitalist economic system under conditions which undermine social development and adversely affect the situation of women, child health, education, and social services for the elderly. In addition, unemployment and poverty increase.

The last conference in 2009 was unde the banner of “The International Campaign Against Universal Imperialism and Zionism”. Its main  slogan was “Pro-Resistance and Anti-Occupation with its crimes”, will be discussing a number of issues such as supporting the resistance, developing the struggle against the occupation of Iraq, confronting the racist policies of imperialist governments and issues against dictatorship and globalization in Egypt and the Arab world.

Workers’ Liberty’s  comments on the 2003 Cairo Declaration, are relevant,  

The Cairo Conference was convened by an organisation committed to the defence of the national security of Egypt. At best, the conference was financed by local businessmen. (At worst, the Iraqi government had a hand in funding it.) Those attending the conference including representatives of the Iraqi Baath regime, members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a delegation from the Cuban Castroite regime, and various veteran Stalinists lamenting the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I will not go into the issue of Israel, or Stalinism.

The most important point is that they aligned themselves with a section of the pious Egyptian bourgeoisie – with all tis own financial and capital links with Gulf States.

The MB’s anti-globalisation and ‘anti-imperialism’ now stand as a cover for their promotion of their own religious-political national interests.

These interests are increasingly anti-democratic and anti-working class.

But will those in Britain who have worked with them draw a balance sheet?

It seems highly unlikely.

Indignez-Vous!

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Le Monde yesterday carried a two-page article on Stéphane Hessel’s Indignez-vous! The Book has just been published in America as Time for Outrage. This makes the total of editions in different languages and countries 34. Sales in France are 2, 100, ooo, Germany 450,000, Spain, 430,000, right to the UK, where it’s already published – 9,500.

Linked the ‘indignados’  movements which began in Spain (El Movimiento 15-M, here), the book is, as Le Monde says, “a phenomenon”.

The text was published, in American, by The Nation, earlier here – full access only to subscribers.

Ninety-three years. I’m nearing the last stage. The end cannot be far off. How lucky I am to be able to draw on the foundation of my political life: the Resistance and the National Council of the Resistance’s program from sixty-six years ago….

The motivation that underlay the Resistance was outrage. We, the veterans of the Resistance movements and fighting forces of Free France, call on the younger generations to revive and carry forward the tradition of the Resistance and its ideas. We say to you: take over, keep going, get angry! Those in positions of political responsibility, economic power and intellectual authority, in fact our whole society, must not give up or let ourselves be overwhelmed by the current international dictatorship of the financial markets, which is such a threat to peace and democracy….

We must realize that violence turns its back on hope. We have to choose hope over violence—choose the hope of nonviolence. That is the path we must learn to follow. The oppressors no less than the oppressed have to negotiate to remove the oppression: that is what will eliminate terrorist violence. That is why we cannot let too much hate accumulate….

To you who will create the twenty-first century, we say, from the bottom of our hearts,
TO CREATE IS TO RESIST.
TO RESIST IS TO CREATE.

*******

Another link is with the continuing Occupy Wall Street ! Protests – here and here.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 29, 2011 at 9:43 am

Bonfire of Illusions, Alex Callinicos. Review: A Keeper of the Flame.

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http://www.polity.co.uk/images/jackets/highlights/bonfire_of_illusions.jpg

A Keeper of the Flame. Review: The Bonfire of Illusions.  Polity 2010.


Was Autumn 2008 marked by “events of a genuinely epochal character”? The Bonfire of Illusions begins by announcing that it saw the “end of the post-Cold War Era.” 2008’s harvest months saw a war between Russia and Georgia. For Alex Callinicos, King’s College Professor of European Studies, and the Socialist Workers Party’s Maître à penser, it was defining moment. Moscow’s victory underlined its assertiveness, and American global weakness. This had a hefty economic counterpart. The “ collapse on Lehamn Brother on 15 September” heralded “the biggest global financial crash since the great Depression of the 1930s” (Pages 1-2) On a deep level, this “historic turning point” can be seen in terms of Alain Badiou’s concept of ‘event’, a radical turning-point, an eruption of the new, is “affirmed and proclaimed”(Ethics. 2001). Callinicos concludes by stating that a “huge hole” in neo-Liberalism that it’s created may allow a widening of the “boundaries of the possible” for those “prepared to seize this moment boldly.”(Page 143)

How the changes now underway in states, markets, offer a spur towards socialism is another, more open-ended, affair. There is the “chronic political weakness of the radical anti-capitalist left on a global scale” to begin with (Page 143). The Bonfire of Illusions argues that the time has come to revive plans for “democratic planning” “democratically taking control of the financial markets, nationalising under workers’ control..” “extending social provision” and even a “universal direct income” (Page 141) What is it about the present ‘twin crises’ of the world economy and state-system, in the “immanent laws of capitalist production itself”, with all their contradictions, that brings these principles to the fore? Have they re-shaped the global landscape in ways that will allow the left to spring to life and “collective action”? This prospect, and the identity of the “anti-capitalist” left that could come to power, remain uncertain throughout the book.

Markets turn to Governments.

Alex Callinicos has nevertheless some steady vantage points. The US inability to influence the outcome of the conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi was the result of a widely commented “longer term geopolitical process of declining US power.” The punctured speculative bubbles, and the ‘credit crunch’, were, by contrast, for mainstream observers (trapped within the perspective of a benignly growing world-economy), a bolt out of the blue. Following two decades of unchallenged financial expansion, and speculation, the subsequent collapse invites, Alex Callinicos states, comparison with the 1930s Depression. He believes that the workings of market capitalism, set on “auto-pilot” to free the economy from political control, have unravelled. Both overtly right-wing governments and those following the market –states with a dose of social justice promoted by the Third Way of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Finance is humbled. A re-assertion of direct government involvement in the economy is underway. “We are likely to see both a stronger state and a more unstable state system (page 127)

A turn towards “state capitalism”, through bank nationalisations (the “greatest nationalisations in world history” and the “apparent conversion of the capitals of Neoliberalism to Keynesianism” is underway (Page 9) It may well be that “rescuing the banks and increasing spending and borrowing” will “encourage yet another speculative boom followed by yet another crisis” (Page 134) But, as Callinicos notes in his Preface (better described as an Afterword), “illusions have survived the bonfire”. In fact “liberal capitalism attempts to steam ahead as if nothing has happened” (page x). At present we could argue, more affirmatively than the SWP leader, that we see instead a series of drifts. Across the globe, there are continuing ‘state-shrinking’ and wage-cutting measures (paralleling the 1930s in other ways): drastic cuts in public spending and simple salary reductions in the private sector. There are “strong state” policies, not to master the financial or industrial infrastructure, but the reserve army of labour, such as draconian efforts to discipline and punish the workless. The ‘enclosure of the commons’ – privatisation – is proceeding apace, in the United Kingdom, under the newly formed Liberal-Tory administration. Perhaps it would therefore be better not to talk of ‘state capitalism’ but of ‘market states’ that use a variety of instruments to support capital. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Andrew Coates

July 2, 2010 at 10:23 am

Fascist March Against Globalisation in Paris, 9th of May.

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The Far-Right in Europe Remains a Threat.

Fascists March in Paris, 9th of May, Against Globalisation.

According to Le Monde (here) there were a maximum of 700 ultra-right fascists on the March. That is those to the right of the Front National in such groups as the  Nouvelle droite populaire (dissidents from the  FN); le Renouveau français (traditionalists), the néo-Gud (the name is from hard-line student fascist group of many years standing) and the  Nationalistes autonomes (anti-globalising far-right).

These by no means exhaust the range of the French ultra-right. 

 

The attempt to use leftist-sounding rhetoric and imagery (against the capitalist market, backing strikes and protests) is blatant.  

Written by Andrew Coates

May 10, 2010 at 3:50 pm