Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Nationalism

Ukraine, Everything You Know May be Wrong.

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Bandera: Kiev City Hall. 

Everything you know about Ukraine is wrong Mark Ames.

This is very important (Extracts with comments added).

Hat-Tip Jim.

Nearly everyone here in the US tries to frame and reify Ukraine’s dynamic to fit America-centric spats. As such, Ukraine’s problems are little more than a propaganda proxy war where our own political fights are transferred to Ukraine’s and Russia’s context, warping the truth to score domestic spat points.

(Apply with knobs on to the Western European left).

1. The protesters are not “virtuous anti-Putin freedom fighters,” nor are they “Nazis and US puppets”

In fact, the people who are protesting or supporting the protesters are first and foremost sick of their shitty lives in a shitty country they want to make better—a country where their fates are controlled by a tiny handful of nihilistic oligarchs and Kremlin overlords, and their political frontmen. It’s first and foremost a desire to gain some control over their fate. Anger at Kremlin power over Ukraine is not necessarily anti-Russian—although the further west you go in Ukraine, the more this does become about nationalism, and the further east you go—including Crimea and Odessa—the more the politics are a fearful reaction against west-Ukraine nationalism.

I add from Le Monde Diplomatique, November 2013.

Yanukovych may have permanently compromised Ukraine’s European prospects, yet he is not on the point of joining the customs’ union so dear to Putin. “The president and the oligarchs, the Donetsk clan [after a town in eastern Ukraine] are economic nationalists. They don’t want to abandon their sovereignty to the EU or to Russia,” said Taras Kuzio, a Ukrainian expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. “They would like to live in a pre-globalisation country, free of interference from both Moscow and Brussels.” Over the past few months the Family, as those close to the authoritarian Yanukovych are known, has consolidated its hold on the country and is trying to prevent any economic, political or legal power from challenging that hold.

According to Kuzio, the prevarications around Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister imprisoned since 2011 for abuse of power, are the result of “doublethink”. This allows the executive powers in Ukraine to dither between Brussels and Moscow, avoiding core issues that blight the country. In Kiev, the line between national autonomy and isolationism is blurred.

2. About Ukraine’s neo-fascists:

They’re definitely real, they’re a powerful minority in the anti-Yanukovych campaign—I’d say the neo-fascsists from Svoboda and Pravy Sektor are probably the vanguard of the movement, the ones who pushed it harder than anyone. Anyone who ignores the role of the neo-fascists (or ultranationalists, take your pick) is lying or ignorant, just as anyone who claims that Yanukovych answered only to Putin doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The front-center role of Svoboda and the neo-fascists in this revolution as opposed to the Orange Revolution is, I think, due to fact that the more smiley-face/respectable neoliberal politicians can’t rally the same fanatical support they did a decade ago. Eventually, even the co-leader of the Orange Revolution, Viktor Yushchenko, moved from “respectable” pro-EU neoliberalism to rehabilitating western Ukraine’s fascist mass-murderer,Stepan Bandera, which I wrote about in The Nation.

What role the neo-fascists and descendants of Bandera will play in the near-term future is the big question. Their role in the protest’s vanguard is definitely scaring a lot of people in the east of Ukraine and Crimea, and could precipitate a violent split. On the other hand, by far the most likely scenario is that the neo-fascist/ultranationalists in Svoboda will be absorbed into the pro-West coalition and politics, as they’re still a minority in the coalition. Neoliberalism is a big tent that is happy to absorb ultranationalists, democrats, or ousted president Yanukovych.

(Note But….)

The power that the neo-fascists already have is bad enough, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of bullshit hype and propaganda about the neo-fascist threat. A perfect example of fascist-hype propaganda was recently published in Ha’aretz, headlined: “Ukrainian rabbi tells Kiev’s Jews to flee city”

The point is this: What’s happening in Ukraine is not a battle between pro-fascists and anti-fascists. There are fascists on both sides; the opposition happens to like fascist costume parties more, but watch this video of Yanukovych’s snipers murdering unarmed protesters and tell me who the real fascists are in this fight…

3. Everything you think you know about Ukraine is wrong.

Everyone looking for a proxy side to support or oppose in the Ukraine political dynamic will be disappointed. Ukraine politics go by their own rules. Today’s neoliberal ultranationalist could be tomorrow’s Kremlin ally, and visa-versa. Just look at what happened to the Orange Revolution—nothing. To wit:

a) One Orange Revolution leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, wound up turning against her partner Viktor Yushchenko and allying with Yanukovych to strip Yushchenko of presidential powers; later, Tymoshenko allied with the Kremlin against Yushchenko; now she’s free from jail and the presumptive leader of the anti-Yanukovych forces.

b) The other Orange leader—the pro-EU, anti-Kremlin Viktor Yushchenko—wound up allying with pro-Kremlin Yanukovych to jail Yulia Tymoshenko.

c) John McCain has been the big driving force for regime change against Yanukovych, but McCain’s 2008 campaign chief’s lobby firm, Davis Manafort, managed Yanukovych’s political campaigns and his lobbying efforts in the US.

d) Anthony Podesta, brother of President Obama’s senior advisor John Podesta, is anotherYanukovych lobbyist; John Podesta was the chief of Obama’s 2008 transition team.

4. Yanukovych was not fighting neoliberalism, the World Bank, or oligarchy — nor was he merely a tool of the Kremlin. (see Le Monde Diplomatique above)

In Ukraine, there is no populist left politics, even though the country’s deepest problem is inequality and oligarchy. Memories of the Soviet Union play a big role in turning people off to populist-left politics there, for understandable reasons.

But the Ukrainians do have a sense of people power that is rare in the world, and it goes back to the first major protests in 2000, through the success of the Orange Revolution. The masses understand their power-in-numbers to overthrow bad governments, but they haven’t forged a populist politics to change their situation and redistribute power by redistributing wealth.

So they wind up switching from one oligarchical faction to another, forming broad popular coalitions that can be easily co-opted by the most politically organized minority factions within—neoliberals, neofascists, or Kremlin tools. All of whom eventually produce more of the same shitty life that leads to the next revolution.

We have already referred to the NPA interview with Zakhar Popovych Ukraine “A mass revolt for democracy”.

It has now been fully translated into English here.

A further example, from the other side, is Socialist Unity’s claims, about “White House and European Union politicians, together with a compliant mass media, have eulogised the organisers of what can only be described accurately as a violent coup d’ etat and have averted their eyes from unappealing facts.”

Yet who can forget the ubiquitous  (in the French media) Bernard-Henri Lévy

February the 9th Kiev’s Independence Square.

People of Maidan, brothers and sisters in Europe! I also want to tell you how many of us, from Paris to Berlin and elsewhere in Europe, have heard your message. I know that you feel alone. I know that you have the feeling of being abandoned by a Europe that, in turning its back on you, is turning its back on its very substance. That is true. But it is also true that you have friends in the societies of Europe. And even here in Kiev, in European diplomatic posts, you have discreet allies who share your spirit and are working in your favor. They are your hope; but you are theirs. If they give up on you, you lose; but if you lose, they lose as well. They know that. We all know it. Millions of us have understood that our own fate is being played out here, in Independence Square, which you have renamed Europe Square.

It is my firm intention, upon my return to France, to proclaim it loud and clear: no visas for the goons who, like Louis XIV when he had “Ultima Ratio Regis” engraved on his cannons, are threatening to storm Maidan; a freezing of their assets in every bank in the European Union as well as in the tax havens whose doors we now know how to break down. There is a whole range of sanctions that the democracies can apply, and we must not let anyone forget it. The president of my country will soon meet with the president of the United States. Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Hollande will be able to convince Mr. Obama to join once more in an initiative to save this kidnapped piece of Europe.

People of Maidan–one last word. I leave you with a heavy heart because I know that in the coming days anything can happen, even, alas, the worst. In the long history of people affirming their sovereign rights by occupying the squares and places of their cities, we remember the Place de la Bastille in Paris or Wenceslas Square in Prague, and even the Agora in Athens. At the same time we cannot help but remember that other model, the anti-model: Tiananmen Square and the rebellion that was drowned in blood! But know, too, that as I leave you I am filled with immense admiration for the courage, the self-control, the wisdom, and the restraint that you have exemplified for the world. Your weapon is your self-control. Your strength is the calm determination, unmarred by pathos, shown by everyone from Lisa, who runs the canteen that feeds Maidan, Vitali Klitschko, the former boxer who one day may be the president of the new Ukraine–all of whom have told me that nothing will stop the ethos of Maidan.

Your strength also lies in the spirit of responsibility–I was going to say, of discipline–with which you maintain your barricades and, behind those barricades, take care of the part of the city that you have liberated. For a single word covers both the tending of cities and the quality of civilizations. Civilized–in my language as in that of the fresco artists who, in the tenth century, painted the praying Virgin, hands raised in a sign of peace, in your Saint Sophia cathedral–describes both the lover of civitas and the carrier of civilization. And, yes, your strength is that great civilization of which you are a part, despite that piece of Europe’s tragic and criminal history that haunts you, just as it does all the peoples of the continent. Before Russia existed, Ukraine and Kiev flowered. There is in every citizen of Maidan more history and culture than in the braggart of Sochi, the would-be Tarzan who is more like a Popeye, a paper tiger and a real enemy of Saint Sophia and her wisdom. It is for that reason that you will win. It is for that reason that, sooner or later, you will overcome master Putin and his valet, Yanukovych.

I welcome you to Europe.

(From here. Also reproduced in the Wall Street Journal).

Compare and contrast with Mark Ames. 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Kate: The Nation Rejoices, it’s a Wee Boy!

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As Socialist Unity says, Britain is a “nation of winners”.

Victory at the Olympics, triumph at the Tour de France and now….

This morning could we have been happier at the latest good news?

Fortunately, faced with a very busy agenda,  the media still managed to find space to squeeze in the details.

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a baby boy, Kensington Palace has announced.

The baby was delivered at 16:24 BST at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London, weighing 8lb 6oz.

The arrival generated headlines and celebrations around the world, and prompted messages of goodwill to flood in.

Patriotic socialists like our good self  (and no doubt Billy Bragg and Socialist Unity) are over the moon at the royal birth.

We are proud to pour out our humble loyalty to  Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.

Understanding Royalty requires a sense of their social construction, particularly by class, gender and race.

Kate is a woman!

She is very social and extremely, in our book, classy.

Glued to the telly and radio information for hours yesterday all we can say is “Well done Ma’am!”

The birth will be marked later today  with gun salutes and the ringing of Westminster Abbey’s bells.

The Tendance plans to go to Poundland to buy an appropriate gift for the wee Prince.

Perhaps some slug pellets for Kensington Palace, or maybe plastic cups for the Christening party.

Nothing is too good for our future King.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 23, 2013 at 10:55 am

The New European Politics of National Resentment

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The New European Politics of National Resentment

Europe is in the throes of a major economic and political crisis. The later, overused, word barely covers the depths of despair felt by those facing mass unemployment, wage cuts and the devastation and privatisation of public services. Protests against austerity have united radical lefts, trade unions and the peoples. They have yet to succeed.

In the absence of any substantial – ‘actually existing’ – alternative to the austerity consensus of Christian and Social Democracy, reactionary currents have gained ground. Nationalists, such as the UK Independence Party, UKIP, the weevils of British politics, have had a strong echo, encouraging popular anger against the European Union. Overtly xenophobic parties, the Front National in France (17,9% in the first round the 2012 French presidential elections) and a host of others in Western and Eastern Europe, have gained ground. The Greek Golden Dawn has gone backwards so far that it has revived the far right’s tradition of bullying private militias.

But it is another reaction that has caught attention today. The victory of the right-of- centre party of  Artur Mas, Convergència i Unió  (CiU) in the Catalonian regional elections opens the way to a referendum on national independence. In Belgium the New Flemish Alliance (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, N-VA) of Bart Wever appears on the way to complete Flemish autonomy, if not the dissolution of the kingdom. The Scottish Parliament has decided to hold a popular vote about the country’s future that could lead to the ‘break up of Britain’. In Italy the Lega Nord, Northern League, stands for the rights of North Italy’s ‘Padania’ against the South. It has lost momentum in recent years following its collaboration with Berlusconi, but may well revive.

Are these different populist protests against Europe’s oligarchs? That is, part of broader demands for “localism”. Tory Ferdinand Mount is a critic of “centralisation and top-down control” He calls for, “giving power back to the people” on the “human scale”(The New Few 2012). Are these movements in any way aimed at the “distribution of power to the many, the taming of the oligarchs, and the opening of opportunities to the worst off.”? (Page 219) It can be quickly seen, that some on the left, notably the Catalan left, Esquerra Republicana which looks set to work with the victorious CiU, and the warring factions of Scottish socialism, do indeed consider the push for independence in their lands as opportunities for such moves.

Most of these movements are however not principally concerned with reviving an idealised municipal government past or the voluntary associations that made up David Cameron’s vision of the Big Society. The route they take, from hard-right to apparently ‘social democratic’ Scottish nationalists, is towards what Mount described elsewhere as the “”visible symbols of national community and unity” (Mind the Gap. 2005) But as Mount would recognise, all these movements are intensely concerned with control over money. From UKIP’s jibes about Brussels to the Catalan, Flemish and Northern Italian regionalists, they are preoccupied not just with bureaucratic waste, but the feckless use of public funds by their improvident – Southern – neighbours. Scottish nationalists, for reasons which are all too obvious, show less interest in this, but continue to rail against the UK-wide distribution of revenues taken from ‘their’ oil and gas,


If there is any common thread between these, often very different, parties and the tides of opinion that bolster their position, it is resentment. They are not movements of national liberation, comparable to Irish republicanism, the fight for Norwegian independence from Denmark, or the forces that created national states following the break up of the Hapsburg Empire, the “prison of the nations”. Perhaps the Flemish nationalists are unique in holding an annual trek around francophone Brussels, pissing on every lamppost to mark out Dutch speaking territory (okay, I made the urine bit up). But the impulse to define and protect ‘their’ people, our ain folk is widely shared. Read the rest of this entry »

The Stupidest Right in the World: Cameron’s Tories.

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Two Very Stupid Friends.

“The Stupidest Right in the World” (‘La droite la plus bête du monde’). Describing Cameron’s Tories Jean-Pierre Jouyet, did not mince his words on France-Inter this morning.

The British P.M rejection of any agreement with the EU continues to echo. Jouyet, the  ‘Eurocrat’, was careful to talk of the UK party in power, and not the British people. The observation is based on the judgement that Cameron has got absolutely nothing from slamming the door to Europe. Apart from the warm words of his supporters.

Jouyet  applied to the UK Conservatives  a phrase often used in France to describe their own Right-wing parties.

Undoubtably he is unaware of the 19th century English nickname for the Tories, “the stupid party”.

The full quote, from John Stuart Mill, goes, “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.”

We would adjust this: “Although it’s not true that all conservatives are stupidly anti-European, it is true that most stupid people are.”

The Tory argument was that, “European Union proposals pose a grave threat to Britain’s financial services industry.” (here) - as supported by Ipswich MP Benedict Gummer (Gummer’s expertise in the business-world derives from his experience working for Dad in a ‘Consultancy’ firm based in Queen Anne’s Gate – Sancroft).

In the Observer, Will Hutton summarised the fault-lines in the position of the British Government and their baying anti-EU supporters,

Much of British finance in whose name Cameron exercised his veto – routine banking, insurance and accounting – was wholly unaffected by any treaty change. The financial services industry in Britain constitutes 7.5% of GDP and employs a million people; the City represents perhaps a third of that and, in turn, that part threatened – if it was threatened at all – some fraction of that. This is a tiny economic interest. If the coalition is serious about rebalancing the British economy, it is preposterous to place a fragment of the City at the forefront of our national priorities.

Unfortunately that is exactly what Cameron has done domestically. ‘Financial services’ have played a key role creating the Market State. Clegg may moan on his partners’ attitude to a new EU treaty (and no doubt the Euro). But the priorities and influence of this fraction of the City have tumbled down throughout the state. They have determined the pattern of sell-offs and transfers affecting the entire system of governance - from welfare to municipalities. The City profits directly from these – at the expense of public services.

We. do not see any patriotic squeals from the Tory Backbenchers about that.

Hutton continues,

The detestation of the EU is largely irrational – even if very real. Britain enhances its power and de facto sovereignty through membership; it loses it by becoming the creature of the financial markets and the City of London so beloved by Conservatives. If the EU suggests policies we don’t like, there are opt-outs and compromises galore, hardly the anti-democratic monster of sceptic imagination.

If this loathing  is more emotional than anything else, it is culturally deep-rooted on the British Right.

But as hypocritical as you could possibly find.

As Hutton says,

None of the eurosceptics baying for a referendum objects to Mayfair, Kensington and Knightsbridge becoming ghost towns owned by foreigners, nor to swaths of our great companies and brands falling into foreign ownership. This loss of control and autonomy is fine. But to make common cause with our European neighbours to enlarge our capacity to act in the world causes collective heart failure.

Is this entirely irrational?

Many of the leading anti-European ideologues and much of the anti-EU media are  in foreign hands, from Murdoch to the ally of The US Tea-Party, former Defence Minister, Liam Fox. They represent the interests of global capital,a nd politically the American Right. They hate ‘socialist’ – Christian Democratic and Social Democratic - Europe for its regulatory stand that they perceive as against their money-making interests. The Tory right are in this sense, the true “parti de l’étranger.”

Some lackwits on the left think that the European Union is just a capitalist club.

There have been long-standing reasons to oppose the way the EU is structured, from its competition policy to its failure to raise social standards, and even, in some cases, helping weaken them by encouraging the break up of socially owned enterprises.

The slash and burn attack on the social state and the wholesale privatisations in Greece show the EU at its worst.

Today there are reasons to be opposed to any treaty which enshrines strict Budget controls. And giving power over state financial regulation to the European Courts.

There are, to say the least,  reasons to be opposed to a non-democratic European Union – because we support an open democratic social Union!

We want the left to coem to open up the EU to our priorities not the bankers.

We cannot do this by betting on a fictitious “sovereignty” of the UK Parliament – dwarfed by the City Cameron defends.

This has to come from something with the weight of a United Continent – A European Social Republic.

At the moment our thoughts are elsewhere.

There are even greater reasons to hate in our innards the xenophobic anti–European right.

In politics and culture alone we are European through-and-through.

British democratic socialism is deeply influenced by German and French socialism – to cite but two lands.

And our first, and perhaps greatest, National Poet, Chaucer?

 G.K.Chesterton once described him, “he was profoundly English, and therefore partly French.”

Chaucer was also somewhat Italian – as anybody who reads the Canturbury Tales knows.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

Belgium: Final Crisis as Yves Leterme Quits Country?

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We Know Who Ate All The Mosselen-friet.

The Flemish Christian Democrat (CD & V), and Federalist, Yves Leterme, looks set to leave his interim Prime Ministerial post to take up a job with OECD. (here.)

The country’s French language public radio station, La Première, was full of apocalyptic talking heads this morning. 

Without Leterme it seems uncertain that any coalition that would unite a Flemish constituency and the Socialist-led Francophones is possible.

This follows the failure to form a Belgian federal government since well over year (Since the 13th of  June  2010,Here).

The stumbling block remains the refusal of the hard-right populist NV-A (Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie) and its leader, Bart de Wever. to agree on anything other than the break up of the federal system. Or as the Flemish nationalists colourfully put, to stop paying for lazy Walloons. Elio di Rupo, from the Socialists, has repeatedly failed to find common ground with Wever’s economic liberalism, support for austerity, and separatist agenda.

Now the Flemish nationalists can, no doubt, shout ‘België barst!’ to their hearts content.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

Posted in Belgium, Europe, Nationalism

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