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Left Socialist Blog

Charles Manson, 1934 – 2017 – Psychedelic Fascism.

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Oz Magazine No 40. 1972.  (Crumb).

 

Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader who directed his followers to commit a string of brutal murders, and who became a symbol of the dark side of 1960s counterculture, has died aged 83.

Manson was admitted to Bakersfield hospital, California earlier this month and died of natural causes on Sunday.

In 1969, his followers, known as the Manson family, killed nine people.

Among the victims of the killing spree was heavily pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, wife of Roman Polanski.

One of Manson’s young followers, Susan Atkins, stabbed Tate to death and scrawled “PIG” on the home’s front door with the actress’s blood.

Four other people at Tate’s home were brutally stabbed to death. The next day, a wealthy couple in Los Angeles, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were also killed by the clan. The killings became known collectively as the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Separately Donald Shea, a Hollywood stuntman, and Gary Hinman, an acquaintance of the group, were killed by his members of the Manson family.

Manson was not at the scene of the killings, but was nonetheless convicted of murder for directing his followers in seven of the killings. He was sentenced to death in 1971.

BBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost interest in the American Left after this: 

LImage result for The put the knife in the pgi, wild ! bernadette dohrn Charles Manson

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Tariq Ramadan: Charlie Hebdo Versus Mediapart, Culture Wars Split French Left.

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Charlie Hebdo Claims Plenel Ignores Ramadan’s Behaviour.

Following the May election of President Macron, and the sweeping victory of his ‘start-up’ party, En Marche! in the following legislative contest, France’s left has yet to recover from the catastrophe. Union opposition to the new head of State’s reform of the labour code has, despite the kind offer of Presidential contender for La France insoumise (LFI) Jean Luc Mélenchon (19,5% in the first round) to play a leading role in the battle, begun to peter out. Last Friday saw, across France, only 80,000 out on the streets. It would seem as if Macron, despite some dissatisfaction inside his party at its simulacra of democracy, intends to keep running faster than his opponents.

Yet few would have expected that the French left would begin to tear itself apart, not on the political balance-sheet of the Hollande years, nor on the incapacity for the left to present a credible electoral alternative to Macron, but on its own version of the ‘culture wars’.

The politics of religion and culture appears to be a new dividing line on the French left.

Inside LFI divisions over secularism, laïcité, erupted at the beginning of November, when one of their deputies, Danièle Obono, expressed “respect” for the anti-Semitic leader of Les Indigènes de la République, Houria Bouteldja (Chez les « insoumis », les voies impénétrables de la laïcitéle Monde 9.11.17). This risks opening up divisions between those who stand for a ‘strict’ republican secularism (from the original Mélenchon group, the Parti de gauche) and those who wish for an ‘accommodating’ approach towards conservative Muslims and the defence of ‘modest dress’, above all the veil. 

Ramadan…

But these splits are as nothing compared to the fissure on the left that has erupted in the wake of the Tariq Ramadan affair. Rapidly this shifted from the accusations of rape to more ideological issues. Abdennour Bidar called the (on leave of absence) Oxford Don’s work pitiful “dogmatism”. Despite a call for a ‘moratorium’ on aspects of Sharia ‘law’ such as stoning, and the other Hudud punishments, the doctrine is not questioned. The promotion of a mediaeval Summa of the Law of God is wrapped in modernist language designed to present a progressive veneer to the wider public.

At the same time there remains (as Caroline Fourest famously outlined in Frère Tariq. 2005) enduring radical – intolerant – edge for a more popular, that is, Muslim, audience. (le Monde. 15.11.19). Indeed some have questioned whether he ever really called for a change in aspects of the Sharia, such as women’s testimony being worth half that of a man, non-Moslems in a permanent position of legal inferiority, or indeed of the death penalty for apostates or blasphemers. We know that for all his regrets at the murder of our comrades, Ramadan was outraged at their disrespect of religion, and lowered himself to claim that the Weekly’s criticism of Islam was motivated by “money” (Tariq Ramadan accuse Charlie de lâcheté et de faire de l’argent avec l’islam) and wittered on about complexity, like some Revered Flannel, “Il faut nous réconcilier avec la complexité et non pas nous imposer la simplicité émotionnelle.” Later in the same year, 2015, he refused to show solidarity after the Bataclan slaughter by talking of the “déshumanisation de nos «ennemis» ou perçus comme tels….” 

Readers of Ramadan’s books in an English version can verify the inflexible heart of Ramadan’s Islam quickly. Here are two typical passages from The Messenger (2007). The author states of the Qu’ran in this, “revealed Book the written text, is made up signs (ayat), just as the universe, like a text spread before our eyes, is teeming with signs. When the heart’s intelligence, and not only analytical intelligence, reads the Qu’ran and the world, then the two texts address and echo each other, and each of them speaks of the other and of the One. The signs remind us of what it means to be born, to live, to think, to feel, and to die. This doctrine, based on the “the oneness of God, the status of the Qur’an, prayer and life after death.

In the UK Ramadan has indeed concentrated on his role as a Herald in the Academy, apart from a brief foray into the support for the Ken Livingstone backed international campaign to defend the Veil, and more recently giving his good graces as a government adviser on ‘extremism’. But as Le Monde has more recently noted, as a preacher (prédicatuer), that is on Ramadan’s platform on which he assumes an active political role, is barely known in the country where he resides, Britain (le Monde. 18.11.17)

But Caroline Fourest indicates one aspect of it….

Note the name of Edwy Plenel which will figure greatly in the following.

Hatred Between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart.

Things have not stopped there. After some highly disobliging front page cartoons, a veritable ‘war’ over Islam and Ramadan has erupted between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart (le Monde. 16.11.17). The former accuses the founder of the web based news site, Edwy Plenel of undue comprehension of and indulgence towards Ramadan (by implication, Islamism), including public ‘dialogues’ with the preacher. (Entre « Charlie » et « Mediapart », l’histoire d’une haine). Above all the Editor of Charlie, Riss, has accused Plenel of condemning this to death a second time, even knighting their Islamist enemies, by asserting that they have engaged in “war” against Islam, a claim the Mediapart journalist hotly contests (Dans Charlie Hebdo, Riss accuse Plenel d'”adouber ceux qui demain voudront finir le boulot des frères Kouachi).

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This the full Editorial.

 

Plenel is the author of Pour Les Musulmans, (2014) In that work he states that “assimilation” on the French republican “model” is a call for the disappearance of Muslims as Muslims. For him this stand reflects a hatred of Islam, crystallised secular “intolérance”, “une laïcisme intolérante” and a rejection of the dominates and the oppressed being as they are, “un rejet des dominés et des opprimés tels qu’ils sont.” (2)

With these opinions the present clash comes a great deal of historical and personal baggage, even moments of friendship, or at least, co-operation, outlined in Le Monde, (16.11.17). This has been submerged, Charlie’s harsh language, and disobliging cartoon of Plenel has been met with a growing pile of defences from the Mediapart camp. One charge is that Charlie’s anti-Plenel Front Page is a new version of the notorious Nazi “Affiche Rouge” denouncing Jewish resistance fighters.

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Which not suprisingly got this reply.

The intervention of not just Caroline Fourest (who published images of public addresses by Plenel and Ramadan) but former Prime Minister Philippe Valls (on the side of Charlie), has injected further venom. There is a petition backing Mediapart and former Fourth Internationalist Plenel, supported by figures from the left of the left. (En défense de Mediapart et d’Edwy Plenel.) It says that Charlie’s comments are “diffamatoire, et haineuse” . It is certainly the case that Plenel immediately registered the present accusations against Ramadan, and compared them to crimes by paedophile preists (Edwy Plenel: le cas de Tariq Ramadan “ressemble à celui des prêtres pédophiles”).

This could be continued for pages but for the moment stops here….

It would be an exaggeration to say, as Le Monde does in the Saturday edition of the Idées Supplement, that there is an almost insurmountable gulf between this “so French” quarrel and elsewhere. In Britain, they observe, Tariq Ramadan’s latest adventures have barely stirred the media. Whether by policy, a long-standing deference to religious figures, or by fear of audience incomprehension. this may well be true. Le Monde’s Philippe Bernard even makes the claim that Ramadan is a “respected intellectual” this side of the channel ( Tariq Ramadan, un intellectuel respecté au Royaume-Uni.)

The British historian Sudhir Hazareesingh offers the interesting suggestion that British  people talk American and talk of “hyphenated” identities, such as British-Asian. (« Charlie » contre « Mediapart » vu du Royaume-Uni : « Une discussion consternante ») Both talk of a “quasi-consensus” around religious tolerance, anchored within a wider policy of multiculturalism. Yet, from the standpoint of some of the left this is not the case. Multiculturalism may be accepted as a fact in Britain, and diversity and tolerance valued aspects of the country’s culture. But as a politique, that is a state policy, many on the left in the UK do not agree with the institutionalisation of the place of religious figures and norms within the public sphere, nor, in particular, with the public funding of separatist faith education.

Secularism.

Let us be clear on one point. There are secularists in the UK, smaller in number than in France, without the Constitutional pillars that define French laïcité. Yet if we not as present as we are in le Monde, we are very visible even in the pages of the Guardian and the Observer. Secularists here are both of the establishment type that parallel La Libre Pensée in France and more radical left-wing secularists – for example in the Teachers’ union (NEU), and, to cite some this Blog has contact with, those around by Southall Black Sisters and Ex-Muslims networks. It was from this quarter that the petition came against Ramadan’s continued teaching at Oxford while he stood accused of serious sexual offences.

It would be true to say that very few British secularist leftists would identify with Manuel Valls and some of the more arid defenders of laïcité. The ex-PM would appear less the reincarnation of 3rd republic Radical Socialist norms, or even the defender of a French particularism posing as a Universalist, than a nationalist demanding assimilation. If the government Prevent Programme remains controversial in the UK, though hardly the dominant issue for the left that Le Monde describes, it could be seen as coming from the same template as French repressive policies championed by the same Valls.

But it would be equally difficult to sympathise with those engaged in ‘accommodation’ with religious difference to the point where tolerance becomes acceptance of reactionary institutions, and, above all, politics. Voltaire had some words about not accepting infamous abuses….

Le Monde editorialised a couple of days ago, recognising the risk of intervening between two enraged assailants, and called for an end to this ever-escalating fight: « Charlie »-« Mediapart » : halte à l’escalade.

Anti-Semitism.

Distinct from either side in this dispute some of us find the radical leftists of sites like Ni Patrie ni Frontières  speaking more sense. This section of the French left looks to a grass roots way of fighting reactionary religious-political ideas, from Islamism to the European far-right independently of both Official secularism and Official multiculturalism.

Having said this there remains a further point. Perhaps the most striking parallel between the French and British landscape is the division on the priority given to tackling anti-semitism and anti-Muslim prejudice. This, it can hardly have escape anybody’s attention, is one of the live issues dividing our left, last week, yesterday, today, and no doubt next week.

This leads us back to the Hexagone… To cap it all Gérard Filoche, the respected retired Inspecteur du travail, a well-known figure on the left of the Parti Socialiste, has been  found to have tweeted an image from a far-right site. This is not just any picture, but, taken from the Egalité et Reconciliation, portrays President Macron with an Israeli and US flag, a Nazi style arm-band with a dollar sign on it, while 3 well known Jewish figures, including a Rothschild, hover in the background. (Gérard Filoche, antisémite ? Le naufrage d’un colérique en 6 polémiques.)

There is a serious motion to expel Filoche from the Socialists (Filoche menacé d’exclusion du PS après un tweet antisémite). Filoche has admitted making an arse of himself, says that he was not the person who did the tweet…..but assumes responsibility. (Filoche mis en cause pour un tweet antisémite : «C’était une connerie»)

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(1) P 41 and Pages 39 – 40. The Messenger. Tariq Ramadan. Allen Lane. 2007.

(2) Pages 106 – 107. Pour les Musulmans. Edwy Plenel. Nouvelle édition. 2016.

David Icke’s Manchester Show Cancelled on ‘Say-so of Ultra-Zionist Hate Group” and “Labour MP” (Icke)

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David Icke  Supporters Fight Back Against ‘Them’.

Conspiracy theorists, conspis as they sometimes call ’em France, are everywhere.

Britain may no Alain Soral, Dieudonné, or Réseau Voltaire. but we do have David Icke.

Only a few days ago Harry’s Place (get my drift..) published part of this: Is David Icke Britain’s Leading Antisemite?  

If David Icke is not Britain’s leading antisemite I am yet to come across anybody else who is preaching the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to thousands of bewitched followers in sold-out arenas in Britain. Former footballer and sports presenter David Icke has been Britain’s leading conspiracy theorist for decades; hugely popular throughout the world and capable of selling out venues usually reserved for those of rock star status. Most famous for his belief in multi-dimensional reptiles but unfortunately less well known for the ancient anti-Jewish prejudice that lie at the heart of so many of his theories.

This is some of Soloman’s post that demonstrates this point.

agenda 21 icke

The short version of all this is just out by the Mirror:

It’s no accident, as they might say, that this has happened.

icke soros live

Manchester United cancel David Icke show at Old Trafford after backlash.

Manchester United have cancelled a planned show staged by David Icke at Old Trafford on Friday evening because of the former television presenter’s controversial views.

An Evening with David Icke, for which some tickets cost £170, caused a backlash against United on social media regarding the club’s agreement to allow it. The 65-year-old booked a suite at Old Trafford through an associate with his name being kept anonymous.

A United spokesperson said: “The booking was made by a junior member of staff who was unaware of Icke and his objectionable views. The event has been cancelled.”

Icke, who played professional football for Hereford United between 1971-73, has made a series of allegedly antisemitic comments and is an alleged Holocaust revisionist. He had previously attempted to stage the evening at Manchester’s Lowry Hotel, with that venue also cancelling once it found out his true identity.

Comrades have asked – in bewilderment –  who are the kenspeckle cretins willing to fork out £170 to hear this.

But, he has his supporters, not least this toss-pott.

And this one:

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And this one (which may ‘possibly’ be tongue in cheek).

Icke has no doubt who is responsible:

Labour ‘equalities’ shadow minister Kate Green seeks to destroy freedom of speech and has gutless Manchester United cancel tonight’s David Icke new book launch (which goes ahead elsewhere) – well done you. Anyone remember when the Labour Party stood for freedom?

And,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 17, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Nasreen Khan Barred from Standing for Labour. Has she resigned from the Labour Party?

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” Nasreen Khan has been removed from Labour’s panel of approved candidates.”

A FORMER Respect activist who hoped to be selected as Labour’s candidate to fight the local elections in the safe seat of Little Horton has been barred from seeking office for the Party.

On Wednesday night the Party re-interviewed Council hopeful Nasreen Khan in the wake of a national furore over her anti-Semitic comments.

She made the comments on Facebook five years ago and has since apologised for them.

But after the Telegraph & Argus last week exclusively revealed she had made a shortlist for nomination as a candidate in next year’s local elections, the party once again found itself facing accusations of failing to deal with anti-Semitism.

 

On Wednesday evening a Labour party spokesperson said: “Following an investigation, Nasreen Khan has been removed from Labour’s panel of approved candidates in Bradford. Labour condemns all anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms.”

 Telegraph and Argus.

Some reports indicate that she withdrew before she could be ‘removed’.

Update, the BBC has finally got hold of the news.

We post these tweets awaiting confirmation or denial.

 

And,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Zimbabwe: Army takes over, says Mugabe is safe – Socialist Worker Warns of Neoliberal Western Take-over.

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Mugabe, “never fully accepted the neoliberal agenda” says Socialist Worker. 

The BBC reports.

The military has taken control in Zimbabwe but said President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, was safe.

After seizing state TV, an army spokesman announced it was targeting people close to Mr Mugabe.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma later said he had spoken to Mr Mugabewho had indicated that he “was confined to his home but said that he was fine”.

The move may be a bid to replace Mr Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents say.

The dismissal of Mr Mnangagwa last week had left Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace as the president’s likely successor.

Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of the capital Harare early on Wednesday.

A statement read out by a general on air denied it was a coup. There was no immediate word from the president himself.

Guardian,

The military in Zimbabwe says it has temporarily taken control of the country to “target criminals” around the president, Robert Mugabe, amid high tension and reports of explosions in Harare.

Soldiers have sealed access to parliament, government offices and courts in the capital, residents said. Access to the president’s official residence was also blocked by troops.

Moyo said the army was targeting “criminals around” Mugabe, who were “committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in order to bring them to justice”.

The takeover comes amid a bitter battle over who will succeed 93-year-old Mugabe.

Socialist Worker  says,”Mugabe never fully accepted the neoliberal agenda.

Zimbabwean socialist Munya told Socialist Worker,

The faction around Mnangagwa and the military that could be ascending to power wants full-blooded free market reforms. They also want to open Zimbabwe up to Western imperialist powers—including former colonial rulers Britain.

Munya explained, “Mugabe never fully accepted the neoliberal agenda. The Mnangagwa faction includes the former finance minister who worked closely with the International Monetary Fund.”

It’s likely that large sections of the ruling class and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will rally around the new set up. Munya said, “The MDC elites are likely to be supportive of it because they also want more neoliberalism and a restoration of relations with the West.”

He added, “There’s a potential that the Mnangagwa, MDC elites and the military could be part of a national unity government. Ultimately they are also scared of the working class, because austerity could lead to revolts.”

The British government gloated about the potential downfall of Mugabe as news of the coup came in. Britain’s rulers have never been able to accept that the national liberation movement led by Mugabe gave British imperialism’s interests a kicking.

The International Socialist Organisation (ISO), the Socialist Workers Party’s sister organisation in Zimbabwe, has condemned the military. “The leaders of the military had no problem with Mugabe’s dictatorial regime until it began to affect their interests,” it said.

“This is not about resorting democracy and human rights, it is about swapping one section of the dictatorial regime for another.

“It is a ‘palace coup’ in the real sense of the phrase”.

The working class will have to assert its own demands, not go along with different ruling factions. Munya said, “It’s unlikely that the working class will act independently because it has suffered defeats and the trade union bureaucracy is tied to the MDC elites.

 “Mugabe’ wife was so unpopular so there is likely to be some support for what’s going on at least initially.”

But he warned, “This exposes the depths of the crisis in the economy, neoliberalism and austerity that the elite supports and it could see revolts. This is only the beginning.”

 The SWP’s leading theoretician, Alex Callinicos was educated at St George’s College, Salisbury (now Harare).

Comment:

I suppose the Arab regimes described by Gilbert Acbar as “patrimonial dictatorships”  were not neo-liberal either…

Human Rights Watch,

The government of President Robert Mugabe continues to violate human rights without regard to protections in the country’s 2013 constitution. It has intensified repression against thousands of people who peacefully protest human rights violations and the deteriorating economic situation. Police use excessive force to crush dissent, and violate the basic rights of civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and government opponents. Widespread impunity for abuses by the police and state security agents remains. President Mugabe has undermined the independence of the judiciary and of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) through verbal assaults on the two institutions.

2016 (World Report 2017)

During 2016, the government of President Robert Mugabe intensified repression against thousands of people who peacefully protested human rights violations and the deteriorating economic situation. It disregarded the rights provisions in the country’s 2013 constitution, and implemented no meaningful human rights reforms.

Police abuse increased, and there was excessive use of force to crush dissent. Human rights defenders, civil society activists, journalists, and government opponents, were harassed, threatened or faced arbitrary arrest by police. Widespread impunity continues for abuses by police and state security agents.

The president publicly attacked judges for “reckless” rulings that allowed public protests against his rule, further eroding judicial independence. He also undermined the independence of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), established as an independent commission under the constitution, when he verbally attacked the institution.

Attacks on Human Rights DefendersIn June 2016, police began a campaign of politically motivated abuses against activists engaged in countrywide protests against poverty, corruption, rights abuses, and lack of electoral reform. Police resorted to heavy-handed tactics, indiscriminately using water cannons, teargas, and batons to violently crush largely peaceful protests.At various times since June 2016, hundreds of protesters, including student activists, human rights activists, and opposition supporters were arrested, detained, and later released on bail without charge.For instance, on July 6, police assaulted and arbitrarily arrested, and charged with public violence, hundreds of protesters across the country, including 86 people in Bulawayo, 105 people in Harare, and 16 people in Victoria Falls. The government blocked internet access and WhatsApp text messaging for several hours to obstruct people protesting under the #Tajamuka/Sesijikile campaign led by Promise Mkwananzi and the #ThisFlag campaign led by Pastor Evan Mawarire. In August, Mawarire and his family fled to the United States after suspected state security agents threatened to kill them.On August 24 and 26, police arbitrarily arrested over 140 people in Harare on false public violence charges. According to their lawyers, most of those arrested, including security guards, vendors, college students taken from class, did not participate in the protests. Those arrested were later freed on bail after several days in detention.On September 24, police in Mutare arrested and detained 17 members of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) on charges of allegedly gathering in contravention of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). After three nights in detention, the Magistrate’s Court freed 15 of the 17 ZINASU members and declared their arrest unlawful. At time of writing, two student leaders remain in custody.

Freedom of Expression and Media

Zimbabwe’s Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and media, but journalists are subject to arbitrary arrest, harassment, and intimidation when reporting on protests. Reports by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA, Zimbabwe) show that from January 2016, police assaulted, harassed, arrested, or detained at least 31 journalists reporting on protests. They include Garikai Chaunza, Edgar Gweshe, Chris Mahove, James Jemwa, and Khumbulani Zamchiya—whom police arrested in June while they reported on a protest in Harare, detaining them for six hours before releasing them without charge.

On July 6, police briefly detained journalists Elias Mambo, Tafadzwa Ufumeli, Richard Chidza, and Godwin Mangudya at Marimba Station, who were covering protests in Mufakose. Police ordered the journalists to delete from their cameras and mobile phones all pictures and video footage of the protests before releasing them without charge.

On August 3, police used batons to beat up journalists Lawrence Chimunhu, Haru Mutasa, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, Christopher Mahove, Tendai Musiyazviriyo, Bridget Mananavire, and Imelda Mhetu who were covering a protest in Harare. On August 24, a member of the anti-riot police in Harare harassed and beat journalist Lucy Yasin with a baton as she covered a protest. On the same day the police arrested journalist Tendai Mandimika and detained him for three weeks on false public violence charges before releasing him on bail.

On August 25, the police briefly detained journalists Obey Manayiti and Robert Tapfumaneyi. The following day, police arrested photojournalist James Jemwa while covering protests in Harare. He spent a week in detention on public violence charges before being released on bail.

Somebody’s opinion people will listen to,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm

‘Anti-Zionist’ Tony Greenstein’s Latest Adventures.

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Yes dear, everything you don’t like is anti-Semitic – I suspect you accuse your breakfast of being anti-semitic sometimes

Snoopers, Serpents and Mosers – McNicol’s Secret Police are hard at work

McNicol’s Inspector Clouseau refused to believe I’d been in hospital – I was on a demonstration!

To those not familiar with him T.G. is an anti-Zionist…a bit, a bit….

And who says Greenstein has no sense of humour?

I sent him a satirical email, purporting to come from a Zionist.  In it I suggested that maybe the Labour Party should submit all membership applications to the Israeli Embassy just to be on the safe side.  It would appear that the humourless apparatchiks at Southside took it literally. Because in the witness statement for the Labour Party in my attempt to obtain unredacted documents from them, the verdict for which still hasn’t come through, their solicitor states (Para 20(b)(ii) that:

 

The man complaining about not being allowed to join the Labour Party on “these Labour Party scum ” ” the Chief serpent is McNicol and John Stolliday is his Deputy. There are unfortunately many serpents at Southside.” “Informers were particularly detested by Jewish people because their activities led to peoples’ death. Jews hiding out under Nazi occupation feared the informers most of all. It was one such creature who was responsible for the death of Anne Frank. It seems that you and your associates take some pride and pleasure in your activities. This is the tradition that you and Iain McNicol stand in. “

For those who want a larf there’s plenty more via the link.

It’s a quiet day but after this brief bit of an update on the Monster Raving Greenstein Party we should add this chilling warning. 

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

“No Place in our Society” Bradford Council Leader on Nasreen Khan’s 2012 Comments.

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Nasreen Khan with friend.

Bradford Council leader says comments made by shortlisted Labour candidate Nasreen Khan in 2012 have ‘no place in our society’.

Latest from the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

CONTROVERSY over the decision by the regional Labour party to shortlist a woman who posted “odious” views about Jews for a councillor role is continuing with Bradford Council’s leader saying the comments have “no place in our society”.

On Friday, the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed that Nasreen Khan, a former activist for the Respect Party, has been put on a two-person shortlist for Labour’s nomination in the Little Horton ward for next year’s local elections.

In 2012, using the name Naz Kahn, she said: “It’s such a shame that the history teachers in our school never taught us this but they are the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler.

“What have the Jews done good in this world??”

She has since apologised for her comments, saying: “I accept fully that it was inappropriate and unacceptable.

“I have travelled a long way since then and learned so much. I profoundly regret the comments I made in 2012 and any offence they caused.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who leads the Labour-run Council, said: “No-one who has seen these comments from 2012 can fail to be appalled by them. Ms Kahn herself appears to accept this judgement. Such comments have no place in our society.”

Labour against Antisemitism said: “The shortlisting of Nasreen Khan, someone who has made highly offensive comments, as a Labour local council candidate is neither a shock or a surprise.

And,

The T&A had originally been told the nomination decision would be made last Friday but sources have since said it will be on November 17.

The Jewish Chronicle reports.

Labour candidate’s antisemitic social media posts revealed

Nasreen Khan was placed on a two-person shortlist to be the Labour candidate for a Bradford council seat.

The Bradford Labour Party has been embroiled in an antisemitism row after it emerged that a shortlisted council candidate is responsible for a series of controversial social media posts about Jews and Hitler.

Nasreen Khan, a former member of George Galloway’s Respect Party, shared the antisemitic messages with her followers about five years ago, the Telegraph and Argus reports.

At the time she claimed that “Jews have reaped the rewards of playing victims” and that there were “worse people than Hitler in this world”.

 It had been reported that Ms Khan – who is also known as Naz Khan – had passed background checks to be selected for a two-person shortlist for the Labour nomination in Bradford’s Little Horton ward.

A decision by the local Labour Party is expected on Friday.

In 2012, commenting under a video titled The Palestine you need to know, she said: “It’s such a shame that the history teachers in our school never taught us this but they are the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler. What have the Jews done good in this world??”

She later added: “The Jews have reaped the rewards of playing victims.”

When accused of being a Nazi, Ms Khan responded by saying she was “an ordinary British Muslim”, adding that there were “worse people than Hitler” in the world.

The Telegraph and Argus reported that Ms Khan acknowledged that her remarks were “inappropriate and unacceptable”.

In a statement given to the local newspaper, Ms Khan added: “I have travelled a long way since then and learned so much.

“I profoundly regret the comments I made in 2012 and any offence they caused.”

Simon Cooke, Bradford Council’s Conservative group leader, said: “The Labour Party really has got to het itself sorted out. These are just not the sort of views that are acceptable.”

Another figure in the Bradford Labour Party, Naz Shah, was reprimanded in early 2016 for similar posts attacking Jews.

After an apology, in which she described her comments as “hurtful and inexcusable” Ms Shah was reinstated to the Labour Party.

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.

Tendance Coatesy posted in 2013,

This is a first, but this post from Harry’s Place (More Holocaust Denial From RESPECT’s Naz Kahn) is of the utmost seriousness.

Almost exactly one year ago, we reported that Naz Kahn, the Women’s Officer of George Galloway’s RESPECT Coalition in Bradford, was posting pro-Nazi material on her Facebook page. RESPECT issued a mealy mouthed response: but as far as we can tell, refused to dismiss Naz Kahn from her post.

Since then, RESPECT Bradford has collapsed, and its councillors have deserted it. Again, as far as we can tell, Naz Kahn is still the Women’s Officer of the local party. Certainly, there has been no announcement that she has been expelled from the party. She is one of the most prominent posters on the Respect Your Community Facebook page, which also features postings by Chris Chilvers, the  National Secretary of RESPECT

They go on to say,

Naz Kahn has now embarked on a new episode of Holocaust denial. A contact sends me the following link to an article from The Ugly Truth Facebook page, which Naz Kahn has liked.

She now calls herself Axa Kahn (Smiler). However, her Facebook address confirms that Naz and Axa are the same person (https://www.facebook.com/naz.kahn):

 

Now there is also this:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Anti-racism, secularism, and the fight against anti-semitism today.

with 4 comments

Related image

Freedom, Democracy and Secularism.

In the 1990s a section of the anti-racist left in Britain developed a critique of multiculturalism. Groups involved included the Southall Black Sisters and secularist leftists both in the UK. The main reason for this critical stand was the view that ‘community relations’ had become managed by the state.

While praiseworthy efforts were made to tackle inequalities, , and we welcomed legislation to outlaw discrimination,  the approach had some fundamental laws. We argued that multiculturalism far from being opposed to racialism, was the institutionalisation of ‘difference’ through that is funding and promoting ‘community leaders’.  In fact it could be seen as the twin of racist efforts to exclude minority groups by making these distinctions the basis for policies.

Arun Kundnani  for the Institute for Race Relations put it in 2002 (THE DEATH OF MULTICULTURALISM) summarised this view.

While multiculturalist policies institutionalised black culture, it was the practice of ethnicised funding that segmented and divided black communities.

The state’s strategy, it seemed, was to re-form black communities to fit them into the British class system, as a parallel society with their own internal class leadership, which could be relied on to maintain control. A new class of ‘ethnic representatives’ entered the town halls from the mid-1980s onwards, who would be the surrogate voice for their own ethnically defined fiefdoms. They entered into a pact with the authorities; they were to cover up and gloss over black community resistance in return for free rein in preserving their own patriarchy.

It was a colonial arrangement, which prevented community leaders from making radical criticisms, for fear that funding for their pet projects would be jeopardised. Different ethnic groups were pressed into competing for grants for their areas. The result was that black communities became fragmented, horizontally by ethnicity, vertically by class.

This, by Alana Lentin, outlines the position in 2004,

Multiculturalism or anti-racism?

The “top–down” nature of multiculturalist policy–making is illustrated by modern British experience where – as Paul Gilroy’s 1992 essay “The End of Anti–Racism” points out – local governments in the early 1980s instigated it in reaction to the nationalism of Conservative central government. However, the policy’s cultural focus destroyed the autonomous, highly politicised anti–racism of the local “race committees” established in the 1970s in reaction to the far right and institutional racism.

Moreover, the multicultural model is vulnerable to the charge that it uncritically endorses the image of enclosed, internally homogeneous cultural groups, each taking its place in a “mosaic” of equal but different communities – and so ignores both group heterogeneity and the fact that members of minorities often identify with a hybridity of cultural references , including that of the dominant society.

More importantly, multiculturalism’s exclusive focus on culture can present an apolitical picture of “minority” experience and agency that evades the daily realities of institutionalised racism. This emphasis on culture lies at the heart of the problem of multiculturalism, and – I would argue – makes it an unworthy prize for progressive voices now seeking to reclaim it.

Some of those who took this stand were also secularists. That is, we were wary of what we saw as a growing tendency: the acceptance of these divisions on religious grounds.

A  key moment for those who combined this critique with a broader  secularism, had been the defence of Salman Rushdie against the Iranian ‘Fatwa’ in 1989. Reactionary religious, Muslim, demonstrations that included book burnings,  took place in the UK. As Wikipedia notes, “The City of Bradford gained international attention in January 1989 when some of its members organised a public book-burning of The Satanic Verses, evoking as the journalist Robert Winder recalled “images of medieval (not to mention Nazi) intolerance”

After 9/11 there was an explicit shift from ethnic representation towards a ‘multi-faith’ approach. In a process which closely parallels changes in France –  brilliantly analysed in La fabrique du musulman by Nedjib Sidi Moussa (2017) – religion became the obligatory badge of ‘community’.

Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters wrote in 2008,  Defending secular spaces

The current drive towards ‘cohesion’ represents the softer side of the ‘war on terror’. At its heart lies the promotion of a notion of integration based on the assumption that organising around race and ethnicity encourages segregation.

At the same time, in the quest for allies, it seeks to reach out to a male religious (largely Muslim) leadership, and it thereby encourages a ‘faith’ based approach to social relations and social issues.

This approach rejects the need for grassroots self organisation on the basis of race and gender inequality but institutionalises the undemocratic power of so called ‘moderate’ (authoritarian if not fundamentalist) religious leaders at all levels of society.

The result is a shift from a ‘multicultural’ to a ‘multi-faith’ society: one in which civil society is actively encouraged to organise around exclusive religious identities, and religious bodies are encouraged to take over spaces once occupied by progressive secular groups and, indeed, by a secular welfare state.

A similar line of criticism was  taken in 2010  in Rumy Hasan’s Multiculturalism: Some Inconvenient Truth. 

However, in the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, multiculturalism morphed into “multifaithism”, resulting in religion-based identity. This fourth phase, Hasan argues, represents multiculturalism’s failure.

Multiculturalism qua multifaithism is the source of all evils. Ironically, initiated as a way of combating racism, multiculturalism has become hostage to special interests represented by community leaders as well as politicians eager to secure votes.

It is a violation and distortion of the democratic ideal of universal rights because it accords privileges to ethnic-religious communities; it increases segregation and ghettoisation; it fans sectarian hatred within communities; it leads to social harm as it restricts or prevents intimate contact with members of the larger society, who feel alienated as a result; it triggers right-wing extremism among “whites” and “chauvinistic faith-based organisations”; it fosters resistance to “mainstream” culture as well as “psychological detachment”, a condition of being in, but not of, British society.

More important, Hasan sees multicultural policy as a successor to the old imperial divide-and-rule strategy. This means that the state remains aloof from serious social problems that occur within immigrant communities, which it shields by accepting their claim to cultural specificity.

Rumy and Southall Black Sisters’  conclusion is that the defence of secular equality is the best alternative.

Many on the British left, by contrast, have focused exclusively on ‘Islamophobia’. That is the view that prejudice against Muslims, that is people, is identical with hostility to a religion, Islam. Far from challenging multi-faithism they embraced it. The political party Respect, founded in 2004, announced that it was the Party for Muslims. While not a Muslim Party as such  A “local election flyer printed in 2004 featured the slogan “George Galloway – Fighting for Muslim Rights!

It was also ‘anti-Zionist’ “According to the party’s national council member Yvonne Ridley  speaking at London’s  Imperial College in February 2006, Respect “is a Zionist-free party… if there was any Zionism in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out.”

Following Naz Kahn’s appointment as Respect’s women’s officer in Bradford in October 2012, it emerged that Kahn had recently commented on Facebook that “history teachers in our school” were and are “the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler. What have the Jews done good in this world??” David Aaronovitch in The Jewish Chronicle wrote: “‘What have the Jews done good in this world?’ clearly means ‘The Jews do only bad’. The Jews haven’t suffered as much as they say they have, but insofar as they have suffered it’s their own fault and, in any case, they have gone on to inflict equal or more suffering on others. That’s ‘the Jews’ as a group, not ‘many Jews’, ‘some Jews’ or ‘a few Jews.'”[157] Ron McKay, Galloway’s spokesman, said Kahn’s comments had been written shortly before she joined Respect, on an “unofficial site” (the Respect Bradford Facebook page), and that she “now deeply regrets and repudiates that posting.”

Wikipedia.

Respect is an extreme example.

But many other forces on the left have had difficulty with dealing with ‘anti-Semitism’, that is hostility to Jewish people. This is  not least because many of those professing support for ‘Islam’, the galaxy of Islamist groups, and (as indicated in the present case in Bradford), some individuals from the left, not least those involved with the Respect Party, have expressed views which are hostile to Jews.

These are not just casual prejudices.

They reflect, in some cases, religious hatred, but more commonly are part of a ‘conspiracy’ outlook on the word, usually linked to the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’ which sees ‘Zionism’ are the root of the world’s problems.

It is a an utter shame that it took a right-wing weekly to print this article.

France, one out of two racist acts are anti-Semite: En France, l’antisémitisme « du quotidien » s’est ancré et se propage (le Monde. 2.11.17)

Below is an important text from the comrades of Ni Patrie Ni Frontièrs. which may help shed some light on the problems involved.

While France has a a different imperial history to Britain, and migration from its former colonies is not the same, some of the same difficulties have arisen.

The clearest distinction is that while French secularism is part of the political establishment, state, political parties, administration and culture, of the country. Some secularist supporters take an arid view, which is entangled with the same kind of  nationalist stans which in the UK is claimed for ‘British values’.

But….

There is the same shift from ethnicity to religion.

There is the same inability of sections of the left to confront Islamism and ethno-religious politics.

By contrast a  minority of the critical French left has, over the years, developed a stand with close parallels to that of the British, and Irish left (which has its own particular battles to fight) secularists outlined above.

It is to the credit of the critical sections of the French anti-racist left that they have been able to steer a course between the State Secularism of the defenders of a mythicised  Republic and the reactionary cultural turn of those who fail to tackle with the use of religion as a market for ‘identity’.

The case of Tariq Ramadan which crystallises many of these issues of religion and identity, with some crying Islamophobia, and others suspecting the hand of ‘Zionists’ behind the affair, perhaps illustrates a further difference.

In France the accusations of rape against the Oxford Professor, the best known promoter of Islam in the French speaking world, are front page news.

In the UK the extremely serious claims  barely ruffled any feathers.

Ramadan was allowed to continue teaching until the start of last week.

It is worth noting that it was Gita Sahgal who comes from the original Southall Black Sisters was the initiator a petition calling for Ramadan’s removal. A petition, which le Monde registered with the article in Oxford’s student paper, Cherwell, (“A la suite de la publication de cet article, une pétition a été lancée, suivie de la mise en congé de l’enseignant.) and has yet to be mentioned in the British media.

The Economist seems about the only UK source to have registered its full importance.

Tariq Ramadan, a star of Europe’s Muslim intelligentsia, confronts accusations of rape

The Oxford professor, who denies the allegations, has taken a leave of absence

To get a sense of the shockwave these developments have triggered, it helps to understand Mr Ramadan’s unique position in the Islamic firmament, as somebody with a high profile both in academia and on the Muslim street.

His Egyptian grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, was the founder of the global Muslim Brotherhood, yet he strongly denies that his own thinking is merely a reiteration of Brotherhood ideology. His theology is quite conservative but he insists that far from self-segregating, European Muslims should play an active role in society. He has suggested that there is a natural role for Muslims as part of a broad-left anti-capitalist coalition.

In 2004 he was unable to take up an academic post at America’s Notre Dame university because the authorities refused his application to enter and work in the United States. He fought a long legal battle to gain admission to that country, which he finally won in 2009. He has held high-profile public debates with famous atheists and secularists including Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the late Christopher Hitchens. He has condemned suicide bombing and other terrorist acts such as the murderous attack onCharlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly. But he also calls for understanding of Muslim grievances, whether in Europe or Islam’s heartlands. He denounced Charlie Hebdo for publishing drawings which upset an already “stigmatised” Muslim community.

The discourse of Mr Ramadan is very traditional, in the sense of paying close attention to Islam’s founding texts, and very hip and modern, as befits somebody who is well attuned to the anti-establishment politics of the 21st century. For young Muslims in the West who are defensive of their identity but want to move on from their parents’ traditional culture, that is a winning combination.

That’s why the outcome of Mr Ramadan’s saga will be followed closely, from the ivory towers of Oxford to the streets of Brussels and Marseille.

Independent anti-racism.

To give a flavour of the views of the independent anti-racist  section of the French Left, Ni Parti Ni Frontièrs, whose Yves Colman is already familiar to readers of this Blog, here are some links.

The first indicates the similarities and differences between the countries’  independent left-wing secularist  anti-racist movements.

The second takes up the Ramadan case.

The most obvious symptom of this evolution is the quasi hegemony of “competitive memories”, so called “double standards”, which inspired many analyses. Since around 2005 various minorities compare their status to others, starting with the Jews’ status. In France the recognition of the specificity of the Judeocide, but also the full involvement of the French state has only emerged in the early eighties, after
immense anti-racist struggles. But less than thirty years later, these fights have disappeared from the collective memory; fascists have imposed a truncated memory in which Jews are, falsely, presented as “privileged” by state anti-racist policies since 1945. All the victories (the historical recognition of the genocide and teaching of the Judeocide in schools, for example), are transformed into “problems”, into
“symptoms” of a support for Israel, or into an attempt to mask other forms of racism.

Harvey Weinstein, Dominique Strauss-Kahn et Tariq Ramadan : un « parallèle » absurde au sous-texte antisémite

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2017 at 1:44 pm

New anti-Semitism Row as Nasreen Khan Selected as Labour Council Candidate.

with 6 comments

 

Nasreen Khan with Friend (from Sued by Galloway). 

Local paper, the Telegraph and Argus reported yesterday.

Shortlisted Little Horton candidate and former Respect activist Nasreen Khan says remarks she made five years ago were ‘unacceptable’

BRADFORD’S Labour party has found itself embroiled in another anti-Semitism row, after shortlisting for political office a woman who faced criticism for a series of controversial posts about Jews.

Former Respect activist Nasreen Khan issued an apology after making a series of posts about Jews on Facebook five years ago.

Last night Ms Khan, who has since joined the Labour Party, said she had apologised for the comments she made about a video called ‘The Palestine you need to know’ and accepted they were “inappropriate and unacceptable”.

In 2012 using the name Naz Kahn she said: “It’s such a shame that the history teachers in our school never taught us this but they are the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler.

“What have the Jews done good in this world??”

When questioned about the comment, she had added: “No, I’m not a Nazi, I’m an ordinary British Muslim that had an opinion and put it across. We have worse people than Hitler in this world now.”

And, facing further criticism, she had said: “Stop beating a dead horse. The Jews have reaped the rewards of playing victims. Enough is enough!!”

The remarks made headlines at the time, prompting a spokesman for Respect to say Ms Khan had made the comments before joining their party and “now deeply regrets and repudiates that posting”.

“I have travelled a long way since then and learned so much. I profoundly regret the comments I made in 2012 and any offence they caused.”

This had also been posted on the Web,

Letter to Jeremy Corbyn urging deselection of shortlisted Holocaust Denier candidate Nasreen Khan

Date: 10 November 2017 at 15:05:57 GMT

To: “jeremy.corbyn.mp@parliament.uk” <jeremy.corbyn.mp@parliament.uk>

Subject: Nasreen Khan/ Naz Kahn
Dear Mr Corbyn,
I write to you with the gravest of concerns regarding one of the shortlisted candidates Nasreen Khan (previously known as Naz Khan/ Naz Kahn) for the Bradford constituency of Little Horton.
In the past, Ms Khan has expressed deeply anti Semitic views and as a Respect activist, and has worked tirelessly to harass and bully at least two local women (apart from me) over a period of 5 years.

In the 2017 General Election, Ms Khan supported Salma Yaqoob against Naz Shah at local hustings. In fact, Ms Khan claimed that Naz Shah’s claims of harassment & bullying were false and that she herself had never experienced any kind of harassment and bullying. That is not surprising in the least given that Ms Khan herself was responsible for the harassment and bullying of many people while she was a member of the Respect Party and the Respect Women’s Officer. This harassment includes online and physical.

In order to give you a small flavour of the kind of harassment that Ms Khan has engaged in against me, here are a few examples; in 2014, I was subjected to a violent attack by Ms Khan at a local swimming pool, which was reported to the local police.

In December of the same year, Ms Khan rang and cancelled an event for child victims of sexual violence that I had organised at the University of Bradford by impersonating me.

She has also harassed other organisations that have been associated with me, including the Birmingham based Amira Foundation both on social media and by contacting them directly.

In previous years, she has been the subject of legal proceedings and was given an injunction preventing her from contacting a vulnerable, elderly woman whose doors and windows were smashed in on the alleged orders of Ms Khan.

Ms Khan has never apologised for her openly anti Semitic views and has only now denounced those views in light of her potential deselection. Her backtracking of her racist and facist- supporting views seems suspiciously and conveniently timed. It would seem that the local party have not conducted the requisite background checks. Had they done so, all of this and more information would have emerged thus negating Ms Khan suitability to stand as a councillor for the Labour Party.

I now urge you to take a decisive step and distance yourself from a candidate who has consistently shown herself to be a racist, a supporter of fascism and a Holocaust denier.

Kind regards
Aisha Ali-Khan.

Comment.

It is up to those with more intimate knowledge of the facts in this case to make a decision, if, as it seems clear, one needs to be made in the light of the controversy.

It is up to that is those responsible for Little Horton Ward in Bradford as a whole, and the national Labour Party to decide, not “Jeremy Corbyn”. The Party leader should not be dragged into this.;

But two things stand out: the backing for George Galloway and, “In the 2017 General Election, Ms Khan supported Salma Yaqoob against Naz Shah at local hustings.”

These facts, with the other background, are preoccupying.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Moshé Machover, Labour Party Marxists, the ‘CPGB’: Dispelling some Myths.

with 6 comments

This Blog has not the slightest animosity towards Moshé Machover.

But some myths are now becoming established which need dispelling.

As an example we can cite this letter in today’s Weekly Worker. 

Thank you to all the signatories of the open letter in defence of Moshé Machover. You have been part of a successful attempt to rein in the Labour Party hit squad, but much remains to be done. Moshé Machover has been reinstated in the Labour Party following nationwide outrage by party members – over 1,300 individual members signed an open letter deploring his exclusion and many party branches and constituencies passed resolutions calling for his reinstatement.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the letter he received (in the name of the party, but conceived and written by officials hostile to the Corbyn project) is grudging and petulant. It places all blame on Moshé for behaving in such a way that, in their words, “any reasonable person looking at the evidence available in public … would conclude that you have given support to at least one, if not both, of these organisations over a period of 10 years, including while you were a member of the Labour Party”. We remain of the view that “any reasonable person” would have asked him if that was the case instead of rushing to judgement. There is no hint of apology for accusing Moshé of being an anti-Semite – a hurtful and unwarranted suggestion.

They have the audacity to end their letter: “The party would like to urge you to take a cautionary approach towards any actions which appear to be clear prima facie breach of the party’s rules in order to avoid any future misunderstandings regarding your eligibility for membership of the Labour Party.” This continues a woeful practice of the party staffers insisting they were right, even when they fail to produce any evidence for suspension or exclusion. Many members who have not been found guilty of any misdemeanour have received letters which tell them that they remain under suspicion and are, in effect, ‘bound over to keep the peace’.

The campaign in support of Moshé will continue until there is full redress and the causes of this shambles have been eradicated.

Mike Cushman.

Weekly Worker Letters. 9th of November 2017.

Cushman refers to this, (Jewish Voice for Labour).

After Machover’s reinstatement – moving forward.

Push your CLP to pass motions demanding

  • All the damaging insinuations of antisemitism must be publicly retracted
  • A full apology as requested by Moshé must be published
  • The whole system that allowed this travesty of justice, which has brought the Party into disrepute, must be fully investigated and reformed and those who instigated this damaging course of action held to account
  • All the recent expulsions and suspensions to be reviewed and must be revoked where there is no clear evidence of breach of rule.

There must be no more Labour Party kangaroo courts. The Labour Party should adopt Trade Union best practice on discipline of members. Natural justice: not procedural unfairness based on prejudice. Moshé Machover must be the last to suffer this injustice.

Labour Party Marxists have published this interview:

“Discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute”

There is an urgent need to discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute with these scurrilous and unfounded accusations. It is a question of disciplining these individuals. This is important, but there are three additional political points.

First, the campaign to counter the ‘weaponisation’ of the charge of ant-Semitism must continue and be stepped up. This cannot be allowed to continue. The ‘achievement’ of the right has been to make it appear to the outside world that Labour is riddled with anti-Semitism. This is calumny on the Labour Party! An outrageous lie!

This must be fought and stopped dead in its tracks. As I wrote in the article back in May last year, “don’t apologise – attack!” (Weekly Worker, May 18, 2016). This vile campaign must be defeated and expunged from the party.

Since this since to be the accepted story on parts of the left it the following in Solidarity is welcome.

Had it not been distributed as a leaflet at this year’s Labour Party conference, Moshe Machover’s article “Anti-Zionism Does Not Equal Anti-Semitism” would have been just another turgid and distasteful article which had found a natural home for itself in the pages of the Weekly Worker.

A longer version of the same article – entitled “Don’t Apologise – Attack” – had been published in Weekly Worker four months earlier. According to that article:

• Anyone who thought that a retweet by Naz Shah MP – which had suggested that Israel (and, presumably, its population) should be relocated to the USA – “was anything but a piece of satire should have their head examined.”
• Jackie Walker “has been suspended for saying that there was not only a Jewish holocaust but also a black African one too.” (Wrong: that was not the reason for her suspension.)
• There was nothing antisemitic about NUS President Malia Bouattia describing Birmingham University as “something of a Zionist outpost”.
• Ken Livingstone was “certainly inaccurate” in having said that Hitler supported Zionism until he went mad. At the same time, “the point he was making was basically correct”.

The inclusion of a shorter version of the article in a “Labour Party Marxists” bulletin distributed at Labour Party conference rescued it from obscurity.

Overnight, Machover’s article became a cause célèbre for left antisemites (and antisemites in general).

Another post, by Bob from Brockley, took apart the case with some care recently.

On Moshe Machover’s Labour Party membership

 This is a significant section,

In my Storify (below), I set out what was wrong with Machover’s article: (a) the dishonest way it deals with historical sources in order to portray “Zionism” (conceived as a monolithic entity) and Nazism as bedfellows, and (b) the conspiracist claim that “The whole campaign of equating opposition to Zionism with antiSemitism has, in fact, been carefully orchestrated with the help of the Israeli government and the far right in the United States.” Marlon Solomon adds more in this thread, but these are the key ones.

The Nazi/Zionist thing. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, mentioned in the expulsion letter, states that: “Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could… include, but are not limited to:… Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” But that isn’t what Machover did.

David Hirsh points out that

Even the rather hollow Chakrabarti Inquiry report makes clear that Nazi analogies and talk about Hitler in relation to the Israel/Palestine conflict are ‘incendiary’, ‘intended to be incendiary’, ‘bring the Party into disrepute’ and ‘undermine the cause of peace’.

I agree Machover is veering into that territory, but I don’t think Machover is a straightforward case of equating Zionism with Nazism. As the IHRA working definition makes clear, “taking into account the overall context” is vital in determining if a statement like this is antisemitic. I don’t think the IHRA definition is sufficient for ruling this antisemitic.

The conspiracy thing is also in a grey area. It violates the basic principles of anti-racism to say that charges of racism are orchestrated and in bad faith. But Machover avoids explicitly saying that all charges are false, and limits his claim to the supposed campaign of equating anti-Zionism with anti-Jewish racism. He also avoids putting Israel at the centre of the conspiracy: he says “orchestrated with the help of”.

My conclusion, then, is that really there are no clearcut grounds for expelling Machover for antisemitism. But watching out antisemites on social media clamouring for his reinstatement and using the case to push more blatantly antisemitic forms of historical revisionism and conspiracy theory, I cannot, unlike the leader’s office,  feel glad that he is back in the party. In short, the party has probably made the right decision, but Machover is a poor choice for our solidarity.

 This is exactly what he is calling for and more.

“Discipline the rascals who are bringing the Labour Party into disrepute”

The Labour Party Marxists article linked to above Machover  is full of disingenuous arguments

But this stands out:

He complains of the following rule.

A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Labour Party, or supports any candidate that stands against an official Labour candidate … shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member …” (Rule 2.1.4b, Labour Party rulebook).

Machover opines,

First, it does not specify what “political organisation” means. For instance, it is certainly arguable that CND is a political organisation. By the same token, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a political organisation. Does membership of these organisations make you ineligible for membership of the party? A “political organisation” is a catch-all phrase, that is crying out for abuse.

Secondly, what does its means to “support”? For instance, when they accused me of supporting the Communist Party of Great Britain and Labour Party Marxists, I was genuinely not able to say yes or no to the charges. They have not defined what ‘support’ means, let alone shown that ‘support’ for these organisations is runs counter to the existing rules.

Certainly, I support some positions that the CPGB stands on. For example, I support the call for all unions to be affiliated to Labour: so does the CPGB. The CPGB has argued this quite forcibly against other groups on the left – and I think they are right!

On other issues, I don’t agree with them. So how can someone be expelled – let alone automatically expelled! – based on something so indefinable and nebulous?

So, we have the twin, totally undefined categories of “political organisation” and “support” as a basis for peoples’ membership of the party.

A third issue is this word “automatically”! A member is expelled without any chance to defend themselves, to answer their accusers or even know who has said what about them. This runs counter to natural justice. The word “automatically” should be deleted, in addition to the phrase “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Labour Party”.

In his above comments on the “CPGB” Machover again demonstrates an ability to treat facts in a very partial way.

We have to untangle three things.

  • The right of Machover to express his views, which, however  much one may disagree with them, should be met by argument, not administrative measures to suppress them.
  • The broader issue of anti-semitism. As the Weekly Worker publishes another individual, Tony Greenstein, whose anti-Zionism, when he is not denigrating the appearance of his female political opponents,  is extremely virulent, this is a sensitive issue.
  • The CPGB, is it just a body that could be compared to CND and what kind of “support” is is calling for?

The publishers of the Weekly Worker and the ‘inspirers’ of the grandly named Labour Party Marxists are well-known on the left, though apparently not to a new generation of activists.

The full title of the group is the  Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee).

Now the Weekly Worker itself is widely read, and has published many people on the left, including Chris Knight (cited in the Guardian on Corbyn last Saturday The wilderness years: how Labour’s left survived to conquer), Paul Flewers, Toby Abse, and…myself.

It also publishes, as noted above, virulent ‘anti-Zionist’ pieces from this quarter, known as the Monster Raving Greenstein party. Greenstein’s views can be sampled in a pure form on his blog, most recently, “Emily Thornberry – Labour’s Racist Foreign Secretary in Waiting. Thornberry’s support for 2 States equals support for continuing Apartheid. Imperialism in the Guise of Peaceful Progress was always the basis of Labour Support for Empire.” And there are frequent letters from individuals such as Gerry Downing, expelled from Labour for, amongst other things,  his 9/11 conspiracy theories. Downing is well known for his opinions on the international Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, and their “vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers.”

The WW organised the Hands off the People of Iran (HOPI) opposed both to Western Intervention in Iran and (unlike the ‘anti-war’ Stop the War Coalition) was against the Islamist regime in power in Tehran. HOPI drew on a wide layer of support in the labour movement, and included personalities such as Peter Thatchell.

There is another side to their activity.

The group was well-known, as a tiny faction with obscure origins,  called The Leninist, during the last years of the real Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

It was distinguished for its stunts. The most famous was standing outside the last Congress of the CPGB, which re-branded the majority of the party as  the Democratic Left,  shouting, “No matter how you change the name, you still play the bosses game”.

At the time the group claimed 500 members, a figure which in order to be believed would exhaust the salt mines of  Winsford (1)

It is said on the left that the leaders of the Democratic Left allowed the Leninist to take the CPGB’s title to spite the tendency which was and is the  Communist Party of Britain (CPB), the ‘inspirers’ of the Morning Star.

No doubt the leading cadres of the CPGB (PCC) have their own, different, version of this tale to tell.

Anybody acquainted with members of either current can discover that they are not fond of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee). This  may explain that whilst the Morning Star was happy to print supportive articles on the Manchover case, they have remained silent on the expulsion of Stan Keable of Labour Party Marxists.

In its activities inside the various alliances, proto-parties, and parties (including Respect and Left Unity) the group, which people estimate at about 20  members, it has been marked by ‘controversy’.

The support generated by the stunt, there is no other word to describe standing outside the Labour Party Conference with such a violently provocative leaflet with Manchover’s article highlighted, is part of a factional manoevre.

It is intended to propel the Labour Party Marxists (previously more widely known as the Labour Party Marxist) into the limelight.

That has been a success.

It is all the more reason for those who oppose Manchover’s specious writings to respond.

******

(1) For this and more information see: The Enemy Within.  The Rise and Fall of the British CP.  Francis BeckettPostscript. Merlin 1992.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Marine Le Pen Risks Prison for Gruesome Tweets of Jihadist Murders.

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Capture d'écran du tweet (censuré par nos soins) publié par Marine Le Pen le 16 décembre 2015.

La présidente du Front national est accusée d’avoir diffusé des photos d’une victime de l’organisation Etat islamique fin 2015 sur son compte Twitter.

Libération.

France’s Le Pen stripped of immunity over gruesome IS pictures

France 24.

France’s National Assembly on Wednesday lifted the immunity from prosecution of far-right leader Marine Le Pen for tweeting pictures of Islamic State group atrocities, parliamentary sources said.

The decision was taken by a cross-party committee in charge of the internal functioning of the assembly, after a request from the authorities to lift Le Pen‘s parliamentary immunity over a crime that carries up to three years in prison.

France’s National Assembly on Wednesday lifted the immunity from prosecution of far-right leader Marine Le Pen for tweeting pictures of Islamic State group atrocities, parliamentary sources said.

The decision was taken by a cross-party committee in charge of the internal functioning of the assembly, after a request from the authorities to lift Le Pen‘s parliamentary immunity over a crime that carries up to three years in prison.

The leader of the National Front, who ran a failed campaign for president this year, in 2015 tweeted three pictures of IS atrocities, including one of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by the extremists.

“Daesh is THIS!” she wrote in a post accompanying the photos, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

 Faced with outrage on social media and from Foley’s family, Le Pen later deleted the picture of the American, saying she had been unaware he was the man in the picture.

French authorities launched an investigation into the incident but could not press charges while Le Pen had protection from prosecution.

At the time Le Pen was a member of the European Parliament.

That assembly voted in March to lift her immunity over the pictures but three months later she won it back after being elected to the French parliament.

Le Monde notes that the initial Public Prosecutor investigation into “spreading violent images”   began in December 2015, and that from that two further inquiries were initiated.

Une enquête préliminaire avait été ouverte en décembre 2015 par le parquet de Nanterre pour « diffusion d’images violentes » visant Mme Le Pen et Gilbert Collard, également député FN (du Gard). Deux informations judiciaires avaient ensuite été ouvertes.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Finally….Tariq Ramadan on “Leave of Absence” from Oxford. Bye-bye Tariq….?

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Many supporters of Tariq Ramadan say that the accusations are a “plot” by ‘Zionists.’

(Des centaines de soutiens de Tariq Ramadan déclarent sur les réseaux sociaux voir dans ces accusations un complot réalisé par les “sionistes”)

Islamic modest dress is  “spiritual training and asserting a femininity that is not imprisoned in the mirror of men’s gaze or alienated within unhealthy relationships of power or seduction.”

Tariq Ramadan. The Messenger 2007. (Page 213)

Islamic scholar to take leave of absence by mutual agreement after multiple sexual assault allegations made against him.

Oxford University has agreed to place the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on a leave of absence after multiple allegations of rape, assault and sexual harassment were made against him.

“By mutual agreement, and with immediate effect, Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies, has taken a leave of absence from the University of Oxford,” the university said in a statement.

The Guardian continues,

Ramadan did not respond to requests for comment but posted his response to what he called a “joint communique” with Oxford via social media.

“I salute the position taken by Oxford University since this matter first arose. The university has defended the principle of presumption of innocence without minimising the gravity of the allegations against me,” he wrote.

“Contrary to reports in the French-language press, I have taken leave of absence upon mutual agreement with Oxford University, which will permit me to devote my energies to my defence while respecting students’ need for a calm academic environment.”

This so-called Mutual Agreement came after voices were raised across the Net, including a Petition, and, above all, this:

Oxford professor to take leave over rape allegations Cherwell (Oxford Student Paper)

University announces Tariq Ramadan will be suspended from his role as Islamic Professor after student anger

Tariq Ramadan, the Oxford Islamic studies professor accused of multiple accounts of rape, has taken a “leave of absence” from the University.

The University released a statement today stating that Ramadan, who has denied the allegations, was leaving “by mutual agreement, and with immediate effect”. It added that Ramadan will not be present at either the University or College during this time, and his teaching, supervising and examining duties in the Faculty of Oriental studies will be reassigned.

The decision follows student backlash at Ramadan’s continuing presence in the Faculty after the allegations first surfaced.

The statement said: “The University has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process.

..

The faculty apologised for their “lack of communication” with students following the allegations, blaming the delay in responding to the claims on the fact that the allegations were made in a foreign country with a different legal system.

They also told students last week that they intended Ramadan to continue to supervise and tutor on his return to Oxford, although arrangements could be made with individual students about how their supervisions would proceed.

Libération today reports on the Cherwell article and its own latest inquiries.

Un porte-parole d’Oxford University a déclaré à Libération que «même si nous reconnaissons à quel point les allégations sont graves et inquiétantes, il n’y a pas eu d’inculpation formelle. Le professeur Ramadan n’a pas été détenu, interrogé ou informé s’il serait poursuivi. Qui plus est, il dément catégoriquement les accusations contre lui. Le professeur Tariq Ramadan a demandé personnellement à ses avocats de poursuivre les accusatrices pour diffamation. En tant qu’employeur […] nous avons le devoir – comme quiconque – d’être juste envers les accusateurs et l’accusé».

A spokesperson for Oxford University has stated to that “even if we recognise how serious and worrying this accusations are, there have been no formal charges. Professor Ramadan has not been arrested, questioned, or informed if he will be charged. He categorically denies the accusations. Professor Ramadan has placed a personal request to his lawyers to bring charges of slander against his accusers.  As employers we have a duty to be fair to both the accusers and the accused.

Le Monde today notes that the University’s snail pace reaction, not to mention the way the British media has barely paid any attention to the case of Europe’s best known Islamic scholar and Public Intellectual,  can be contrasted to the way Michael Fallon was forced to resign after he was accused of putting his hand on a woman’s knee,

Curieusement, alors que, dans la foulée de l’affaire Weinstein, le ministre de la défense britannique, Michael Fallon, a dû démissionner le 1er novembre après avoir reconnu avoir mis la main sur le genou d’une journaliste, les plaintes pour viol en France et les témoignages rapportés par la presse suisse contre Tariq Ramadan ont mis du temps avant d’être pris en considération, non seulement à Oxford, mais dans les médias britanniques.

Strangely, while in the wake of the Weinstein affair, the British Defence Minister, Michael Fallon, had to resign on the 1st of November after having admitted that he put his hand on a journalist’s knee, the accusations of rape and the accounts printed by the Swiss press, took some time to be registered, not just at Oxford but in the British media.

For anybody wishing to begin a serious look into this case they could begin with the French version of Wikipedia on Ramadan and this section:

Mises en cause dans des affaires de mœurs

Now there is controversy over those who have defended Ramadan in the past. We note that Edwy Plenel, who is respected for his generous anti-racism, if perhaps misjudged on the Islamologue before,  has not defended Ramadan in the present case. That said, Fourest shows plenty of evidence of his collaboration with the Ramadan circus, and we also note the presence of Karen Armstrong, one of the most dull-witted apologists for Islam, and any religion going, there is.

To those who think there are any merits to Ramadan’s politics – about the most radical he got was denouncing “injustice” and “oppression” and advocating Islamic enterprises based on fairness , Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, 2004,  see

Submitted by AWL on 26 July, 2007 – 3:16 Author: Yves Coleman

“40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary bigot” was written by the French Marxist, Yves Coleman and has been reproduced by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL). The text presents factual information about the politics of Tariq Ramadan.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George Monbiot. A Socialist Review.

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Image result for Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George Monbiot. Verso 2017.

 

Out of the Wreckage. A New Politics for an Age of Crisis. George Monbiot. Verso 2017.

A feature of some left wing groups, which persists well beyond adolescence, is the imaginary friend. For decades this companion has been The Working Class. Uncorrupted by bureaucrats (that is, elected trade union leaderships), the proletariat, is not so much a collection of people whose needs and demands are the springboard for socialist politics, as a byword for all the virtues.

More recently, the daughters and sons of toil have been joined by a new comrade, the Nation, or rather certain Nations. The last months have seen Catalonia occupy centre stage. According to a recent article in Red Pepper the Catalans are blessed with not just a run of the mill ‘civic nationalism’ but “The opposite of nationalism” participatory democracy with a “project for social transformation.” (Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte)

George Monbiot is the author of The Captive State (2000). That book was one of the first to offer systematic criticisms of the growing influence of corporate power on British public institutions. Long before it became the fashion he signalled the faults of the Private Finance Initiative, introduced under Tony Blair, which transferred “control and ownership of the nation’s critical infrastructure to private business” (1) Monbiot concluded that governments should reassert their control over corporations, leaving it rather vague as to how exactly “troublemaking” would achieve that goal.

Now in Out of the Wreckage the author, whose works include A Manifesto for a New World Order (2003), that proposed more concrete measures to regulate international trae, and to create a World Parliament,  has discovered a friend. This is The Community. We are faced with the ravages of neo-liberal globalisation, a system that “puts a price on everything and a value on nothing”, and promotes economic development above human welfare. Our connections with our “neighbours and neighbourhoods” are weakened to point where there is an epidemic of loneliness. There is “social breakdown”.

Togetherness and Belonging.

What could be the answer? Two “great healing forces – togetherness and belonging” should make way for a “thriving civic life” animated by “altruism and mutual aid”. (Page 25) Our new best mate is “community life”, aka, Good Fellowship.

In Out of the Wreckage there are flashes of Monbiot’s perceptive approach to the destructive influence of business culture on public life. He describes many workplaces where people are dominated by a “humiliating regime of impossible requirements, meaningless exhortation and panoptical monitoring”. Those on benefits are subject to similar rules (Page 59).

But does he seriously think that social media, that is Facebook, has the following effect: “It intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves”? (Page 63) That our friends’ FB photos (which personally I enjoy seeing) are some kind of competition between “idealised images”?

The merits of Monbiot’s advocacy of Community Ownership, Universal Basic Income, Participatory Budgets (for municipalities), Electoral reform – he advocates The Single Transferable Vote, can no doubt by discussed. As can some kind of post-Proudhon world federalism, though one suspects that the era of Cosmopolitan Democracy is not about to dawn.

Sanders’s Giant Live Experiment.

Far less clear is the idea that European social democracy, and the British Labour Party in particular, has much to learn from the Bernie Sander’s Campaign, a “gigantic live experiment”. Sanders did not grapple between principle and election. He did not stand for the Presidential election, and his programme would, in European terms, put him somewhere on the right wing of most of our left parties, not far to the left of Progress in the UK.

Sanders’ Big Organising – the US talent for marketing is undisputed – is surely a good technique. Readers who have helped put on or attended demonstrations over the years, or decades, will be impressed by suggestions about shorter speeches and adding musical entertainment  with an “energiser”. We learn too that marches ought to be “against the forces we oppose” and, apparently, to show “the better future we envisage”. (Page 174) The ordinary goal of drawing attention to a stand on an issue looks rather humble now.

Despite reference to early 20th century British socialism, the themes of Out of the Wreckage are close to another US approach, communitarianism. That is, the line of thought developed by, amongst others, the political philosopher Michael J Sandel, which envisages an alternative to  the distributive systems of markets by bringing people closer together though a ‘thick’ communal life (What Money Can’t Buy. Michael Sandel. 2012).  Monbiot scorns comparison with David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ of busybody Lords and Lady Bountifuls. It will be based on the Common Weal, “self-motivated networks of volunteers”, grounded upon our “innate urge to cooperate”. Yet to achieve that end, “enlarging the commons” there will probably be “conflict with both the state and corporations.” (Page 99)

So, Monbiot wants co-operation but the path to it can only be through fights. Does this stop after we Have Come Home to Ourselves? Chantal Mouffe has observed that politics are not just a transient clashes but are marked by “the permanence of conflicts which cannot have a rational solution”. It does not take much thought to see that this ‘agonistic’ aspect of politics applies to communities – let us begin with religious groups…- as much as to the elected institutions of pluralist democracy (2)

We do not need a new made up friend, Community. The democratic socialist position on the free market erosion of democracy and equality is simpler. It is to advance public provision for public goods, in conditions of equality, through the democratic institutions which we can influence. That is, not just communities outside the state, but through it. That is, secured if need be, against the opposition of the ruling forces, the political embodiments of one class interest, by those very far from imaginary forces that make the left, the labour movement and the Labour Party.

********

(1) Page 91. Captive State. The Corporate Takeover of Britain, George Monbiot. Macmillan. 2000.
(2) Page 138. Agonistics. Thing the World Politically. Chantal Mouffe Verso. 2013.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Tariq Ramadan, still at Oxford, accused of sexual relations with his underage students in Switzerland.

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Image result for tariq ramadan

Oxford Don Ramadan, recently seen “laughing” with faculty members.

This came out over the weekend,

Tariq Ramadan accusé d’avoir eu des relations sexuelles avec des élèves mineures.

You can read the full report on this link from BFMTV.

This, amongst the other accounts, is important,

Une d’entre elles, âgée de 14 ans à l’époque, dit avoir refusé de coucher avec Tariq Ramadan: “Il a mis sa main sur ma cuisse en me disant qu’il savait que je pensais à lui le soir avant de m’endormir (…) C’était de la manipulation. Il disait qu’il pensait à moi mais qu’il était marié. J’étais mal, mais je ne pouvais rien dire. C’était mon prof”, raconte-t-elle en décrivant un “homme possessif et jaloux, (…) tordu, intimidant, qui usait de stratagèmes relationnels et pervers et abusait de la confiance des élèves”.

One of them, 14 years old at the time, said that she’d refused to sleep with Tariq Ramadan, “He put his hand on my thigh saying that he knew that I was thinking of him in the evening before going to sleep…it was manipulative. He said that he thought of me although he was married. I felt ill, but I couldn’t say anything. He was my Teacher…”. She described a “possessive and jealous person, warped, intimidating, who used a game of  perverse ploys, and who abused the trust of his students.”

Comrade Edwy Plenel author of Pour les musulmans (2014), commented, while rejecting the “diabolisation” of Tariq Ramadan, the following,

Edwy Plenel: le cas de Tariq Ramadan “ressemble à celui des prêtres pédophiles”

I think that needs no translation.

Here is the Telegraph’s report on the latest developments.

Oxford professor accused of sexual misconduct with Swiss minors

An Oxford University professor and government adviser on tackling extremism is facing new allegations ​including sexual misconduct with minors.

Prof Tariq Ramadan was accused of rape last month by a French feminist author. He has denied the allegation and said he will sue for libel.

He is now facing new accusations from four Swiss women who say he made sexual advances to them when they were studying under him as teenagers in Geneva.

One of the women told Tribune de Geneve newspaper Prof Ramadan made unsuccessful sexual advances to her when she was 14 years old.

Another alleged he had sexual relations with her in the back of his car when she was 15 years old.

The other two women said they were 18 when they had sexual relations with him, but accused him of abusing his position of power as their teacher.

 Prof Ramadan was accused of rape by the French author Henda Ayari last month.

Since then two more women have accused him of rape. He has denied the accusations and filed a case for libel in the French courts.

In statements posted on Facebook, he claims he is being targeted by “a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my longtime adversaries” and says he has been advised by his lawyers not to comment further.

Currently Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford, he was chosen by Tony Blair to work on a task force to help tackle extremism in the UK following the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005.

He has also worked with the Foreign Office’s Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, chaired by Tory Peer Baroness Warsi.

The Telegraph has sought comment from Prof Ramadan about the allegations.

The law in Switzerland permits sexual relations at the age of 16, but those taking advantage of their position in an educational establishment who have sexual relations with their students up to 18 years old risk up to 3 years in Prison.

In this case however, because the alleged acts took place in the 1980s/90s they have passed the time limit for prosecution,

La majorité sexuelle est fixée à 16 ans en Suisse, mais le fait de “profiter des rapports d’éducation” pour obtenir des actes sexuels auprès d’un(e) mineur(e) de 16 à 18 ans, est passible de trois ans de prison au plus.Cependant, les cas des quatre Genevoises sont tous prescrits.   Nouvel Obs.

 We learnt this last week, (Cherwell 3rd of November).

Students at the Oxford Middle East Centre have reacted in anger to the University’s response to the mounting accusations of rape against Islamic professor Tariq Ramadan, accusing senior figures of acting “as if nothing had happened”.

Ramadan is currently being investigated by French authorities over two allegations of rape, sexual assault, violence and harassment. Ramadan has described the allegations as a “campaign of lies” and said he is suing the alleged victims for “slander”.

Since the first allegation of rape surfaced two weeks ago, the professor has reportedly taught a seminar in Oxford and been seen “laughing” with faculty members.

In response to requests from students, senior figures in the faculty held a meeting on Tuesday “to address implications for student welfare arising from the allegations”.

The faculty told students they intend Ramadan to continue to both tutor and supervise on his return to Oxford from Qatar – although students may ask for another faculty member to be in the room if they wish.

At the meeting, held at St Antony’s College, several students expressed anger at the “lack of communication” from the University, claiming they had heard of the allegations by “word of mouth” without any acknowledgement from the department.

Director of the Middle East Centre Eugene Rogan repeatedly apologised to students for taking ten days to respond to the allegations, blaming the delay on the fact that the controversy was happening in another country with a different legal system.

This is worth noting,

Rogan reminded students: “It’s not just about sexual violence. For some students it’s just another way for Europeans to gang up against a prominent Muslim intellectual. We must protect Muslim students who believe and trust in him, and protect that trust.”

Rogan should perhaps also consider his position as a member of staff after the latest accusations show what kind of “trust” is involved.

Many staff members encouraged those present not to speak to the media about the furore. Professor Rogan told students: “We can’t tell you what you should say. But I encourage everyone to use their moral judgement about how they voice their concerns – not to victimise the women who’ve made the allegations or the men who’ve been accused of things they’ve not yet had the chance to defend themselves against.”

One postgrad said: “There should have been a more open and frank discussion with female students about how to make them feel safer,” she said. “Women won’t come forward here and say how they feel.”

A number of students expressed concern about Ramadan continuing to teach and be present in the faculty. One claimed that immediately following the first allegation, Ramadan was seen “walking and laughing in the hall as if nothing had happened.”

Head of humanities Karen O’Brien told students that Ramadan is still a supervisor, but his doctoral supervisees could have individual discussions about how they would like their supervisions to proceed.

She stressed that their priority was that the students’ education could continue uninterrupted, adding:“The situation will be kept under review. We can’t prejudge outcomes.”

A Middle East student told Cherwell: “Frankly, I’m shocked by how badly the University has dealt with this incident. While Professor Ramadan must be assumed innocent until proven guilty, this does not excuse the absolute lack of communication between the Middle East Centre and affected students.

“This story broke two weeks ago. At very least, we should have received an email [from the faculty].

“Also disappointing is how Professor Ramadan was allowed to teach MPhil students as usual last week, despite these serious allegations having been made.”

In a statement to Cherwell, Eugene Rogan said: “Tuesday’s meeting was focused on addressing student welfare issues emerging from the allegations against professor
Ramadan, to ensure the Faculty responded to student concerns as we move forward.”

He added: “The Faculty has been in contact with all of Professor Ramadan’s supervisees to arrange meetings to discuss their concerns and wishes.

“The University acts to ensure that its welfare services and support systems are readily accessible; its harassment and sexual assault reporting systems are confidential, totally supportive and clearly understood. We have arrangements in place for confidential discussion of individual anxieties and for any questions related to immediate personal safety, and graduate student supervisory arrangements will always be responsive to the concerns of the student.”

This book, to be published soon, looks interesting.

It is perhaps hardly worth mentioning that if a humble teacher at an ordinary school was accused of the above he would be out on his ear while the law took its course. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2017 at 10:45 am

Didier Motchane, central figure of the 1970s French Socialist Left, passes.

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Image result for didier motchane

Didier Motchane – under the Symbol of the Rose he designed. 

In yesterday’s Guardian there was a long article The wilderness years: how Labour’s left survived to conquer. Describing how the left began the 1980s Andy Beckett writes, “Livingstone told me recently, “François Mitterrand was elected president of France on a socialist platform. We were all thinking: ‘The world’s about to change.’

Mitterrand was indeed elected in 1981  on a radical Socialist Programme, 110 propositions pour la France.

 

Didier Motchane, has just passed away. He was one of the  architects of the 1981 Projet Socialiste, which lay behind this list of proposals. It outlined a detailed strategy for self-management, autogestion, within a wider perspective of nationalising companies,  a line put forward in 1975 as “les quinze theses sur l’autogestion du parti socialiste“. So radical was this programme that it clearly set forward the Socialists’ structural economic and political reforms, including legal changes to defend human rights, and backing for workers’ power, within the perspective of a transition to socialism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projet socialiste - pour la France des années 80 - Couverture - Format classique

Mort de Didier Motchane, cofondateur du Ceres

Ce proche de Jean-Pierre Chevènement, figure emblématique de la gauche, est décédé dimanche 29 octobre, à l’âge de 86 ans.

Motchane was a key figure in the Centre d’études, de recherches et d’éducation socialiste, CERES, (1966 – 1986)  a left wing current which (as the Wikipedia entry notes) had few parallels in other social democratic parties with the exception, perhaps,  of the British labour Party.

As a ‘think-tank’ its influence was its height during the 1970s, and, as noted above, on the formulation of many aspects of Mitterrand’s 1981 electoral platform.

For some on the British left Motchane had been already noted in the 1970s for his debate with the Marxist political theorist Nicos Poulantzas and other left wing figures in the Mélusine discussion group, and his interest in Antonio Gramsci (Bob Jessop).

Motchane was radical enough to have considered  at one point in the early years of that decade that the la Ligue communiste, which became the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire, should have joined CERES. (1)

He was also open to a wide variety of radical left ideas and broader philosophy from Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas to the sociology of  Pierre Bourdieu, Didier. Le grand Motchane et mes années CERES.

His career began in the higher spheres of the French administration.

“Didier Motchane was the son of industrialist and mathematician Léon Motchane, was born in Paris on September 17, 1931. Bachelor of Arts, Graduate of History and Institute of Political Studies of Paris, a graduate of the top administration college, ENA  He became a senior official, assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A man of great culture and fine intelligence, he founded, at the end of 1965, the Ceres with Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Pierre Guidoni and Georges Sarre.”

CERES became a key player in the Parti Socialiste in the mid-1970s. Their intention was to bring socialism into social-democracy.

Inside the Parti Socialiste apart from his influence on the 1981 programme he created the famous red rose and fist logo which has become the international symbol of the socialist parties. (Didier Motchane est mort, l’inventeur du logo socialiste “le poing et la rose” avait 86 ans.)

Image result for le poing et la rose

The left wing programme of Mitterrand was not fulfilled.  Motchane, with Chevènement, opposed Mitterrand’s turn to financial ‘rigour’ in 1983. Motchane accused the government of having left the French proletariat behind while expressing support for the Polish Solidarity movement (“pris congé du prolétariat en France au moment où ils ont découvert la classe ouvrière en Pologne )

He began a long journey, from radical democratic socialism, opposed during the latter half of that decade and into the 1990s to the ” social-libéralisme” of the current around Michel Rocard, to an increasingly nationalist republicanism.

Motchane’s evolution took place in close relation to his close comrade Jean-Pierre  Chevènement.

Chevènement was Minister of Research and Industry from 1981 to 1983, when he resigned, for the first of three times in his career. He disagreed with the change in economic policy made by President Mitterrand in order to stay in the European Monetary System. He has said that “a minister has to keep his mouth shut; if he wants to open it, he resigns” (Un ministre, ça ferme sa gueule ; si ça veut l’ouvrir, ça démissionne ). However, he returned to the cabinet as Minister of National Education from 1984 to 1986.

Appointed Minister of Defence in 1988, he served until 1991, when he resigned due to his opposition to the Gulf WarAfter this he opposed the Maastricht Treaty, an issue on which Mitterrand and the PS led the “yes” campaign. In 1993 he left the PS and founded a new political party: the Citizens’ Movement (Mouvement des citoyens or MDC).

These developments were mirrored in their publications.

From the left wing socialist journal En Jeu, they began a systematic critique of the Parti Socialiste’s (PS) politics which moved them increasingly  outside of the party’s orbit and, eventually beyond socialism itself.

Motchane left the PS in 1993, at the same time as Jean-Pierre Chevenement to participate with him in the creation in 2003 of the  Mouvement des citoyens (MDC) which became the Mouvement républicain et citoyen (MRC). Eurosceptic they became ‘sovereigntist’, putting national control of the economy, and the power of the French Nation, at the centre of their politics. This meant opposition to European integration, from the Maastricht treaty (1992) onwards.

Chevènement himself was not completely left out in the cold.

The MDC participated in the Gauche Plurielle (Plural left, Socialists, Communists, Greens, left radical party) which between 1997 and 2002, under Jacques Chirac’s Presidency nevertheless held  the post of Prime Minister and ran the Cabinet.  The MDV leader became  member of this government, led by Socialist Lionel Jospin, and was soon known as a hard-line Interior Minister (1997 – 2000). He left his post after expressing opposition to decentralising measures for Corsica.

Outside the PS his Euroscepticism and sovereigntist turn has developed into a position ‘beyond’ the left right division.  During the 2002 Presidential election  hevènement hoped for a candidate who would be neither of the Right or the Left (ni de droite, ni de gauche). In 2015 he spoke of the need for unity between ‘patriots’ of the right and left, (réunir tous les patriotes de droite comme de gauche).  Strongly secular (a defender of laïcité) he was nominated in 2016 by President Hollande as…President of the  Fondation pour l’islam de France.

Motchane was perhaps more subdued in his turn to sovereigntist politics.

During the 2012 presidential election, Didier Motchane lent his support to Left Front candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

But the Le Monde obituary notes that Motchane moved from socialism to a politics centred on the Nation – in French terms, The Republic.

Mediapart has published these tributes.

Régis Debray sent the following message that he asked me to read you:

Unable to be at your side, allow me to greet in a few words more than an old friend: one of those men of commitment who have never sacrificed their convictions to their careers, and who are not numerous…….We will try, dear Didier, not to forget you.

 *****

(1) Mais il m’a appris que, au début des années 1970, il avait souhaité que la Ligue communiste – le groupe d’extrême gauche pour lequel il avait le plus de considération intellectuelle – rejoigne le CERES.  

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Solidarity with the Anarchist Bookfair.

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Image result for anarchist book fair london 2017 

A statement in solidarity with the London Anarchist Bookfair Collective. From some friends of the Bookfair.

From here.

On Saturday 28th October the 2017 London Anarchist Bookfair took place in North London. As usual several thousand anarchists and fellow travellers from diverse tendencies attended, ran stalls, held meetings and other activities.

The Bookfair is organised by a small voluntary collective of five, with a wider group of supporters who help out with setting up, facilitating areas or aspects of the events on the day, collecting donations to cover costs of this free event, tidying up at the end, and so on. It is a monumental amount of work, that generally falls on this small group of people (with families and lives, like the rest of us), who come together to spend much of the year running up to October facilitating the staging of an event and a space for several thousand others in the movement. The Bookfair Collective have always shown willing to take on board suggestions, follow up ideas, and include people and organisations with a view to broadening the range of ideas encompassed and the diversity of the program. They have always been open to more involvement in running the Bookfair.

Saturday’s events and the Open Letter

There were a series of incidents at the Bookfair this year which included distribution of leaflets about the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act being consulted on and an ensuing stand-off. Several people intervened to stop what looked like a developing potentially physically violent incident against a lone woman activist by a group of people. We would hope that most people reading this would do the same.

Some of the people who intervened to do this were members of the Bookfair Collective but they were not doing so as a group in ‘authority’ on the situation, but as individuals and friends supporting a comrade; just as other bookfair-goers in the past have stepped up to stop others being chucked out. We would suggest it is a misinterpretation of events, and the role of the collective, to see this as a ‘Bookfair Collective intervention’ in order to stop the self-organisation of the group involved.

In the wake of the events on Saturday, an Open Letter has been written and circulated online, calling for changes to, and a potential boycott and/or picket of, next year’s Bookfair. Other public statements are also being discussed around withdrawal/disaffiliation with the Bookfair, here for instance.

The open letter claims

“a pattern of response from Bookfair organisers where incidents of transphobia, anti-semitism, islamophobia, racism and misogyny are ignored” and “organisers have stepped in to defend and support those who use oppressive, violent and dehumanising language to perpetuate racist, colonial and patriarchal systems of oppression.” and the collective “allows racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair”

We would dispute this and would call for specific examples for any of the above, and evidence that we can reasonably judge from, enough to prove a pattern that the Bookfair Collective have refused to deal with them when raised.

What is the Anarchist Bookfair?

More fundamentally, we would ask to whom are the demands in the open letter really directed?

The Bookfair is not set up to be the representative body for anarchists, nor can it be. It is neither a membership organisation, nor are members of the collective Mediation Practitioners, there to settle the sometimes seismic differences and different perspectives that attendees bring to the event.

Come the day of the Bookfair that space the organisers have facilitated is filled with the politics brought into it by the anarchist movement itself, in all its initiatives, vivid colours and traditions. If a chasm of difference exists over issues that flare up, such as last weekend, the Bookfair Collective are not in a position, nor have the physical resources to arbitrate. So we ask: whose responsibility is this and how do disagreements (sometimes leading to threats of violence or actual violence) get dealt with? The existing statement on these issues can be found on the Bookfair’s website.

We are left to wonder whether anarchist practice has become so inculcated by ‘customer service’ culture that even the Bookfair is attended by consumers forgetting the fundamental essence of DIY, self-organisation and self-regulation of events.

The Bookfair Collective operates on the principle that it is not for the small collective that organises it to take on defining and enforcing a rigid policy on safety and behaviour; it is for the wider movement that takes part in the Bookfair to do so, along anarchist principles of opposing centralized authority with dispersed and grassroots responsibility.

Points raised in the open letter call for a radically different event, with a much more centralized program, organized or tightly overseen by the collective. If we as a movement, decide that this is what we want, many more of us will need to commit time and energy to organising and supporting this annual event.

Where next?

We reject transphobia and have all actively supported struggles against oppression. We support the right of trans identifying people to live their lives free from harassment and abuse, to organise, campaign and engage in debate with whoever they choose; and to be addressed by the gender pronouns of their choice. We support the rights of all women to be heard. We recognise that both trans activists and gender critical feminists are currently feeling attacked, at times to the level of their very existence and identities. We would hope that everyone participating in London Anarchist Bookfair would treat each other respectfully and continue to believe that dialogue is possible so that we can strengthen our struggle against oppression and build a better world. We reject bullying and intimidation – in physical or written form.

The Bookfair can never be the ‘dreamed of Utopia’ the open letter imagines, despite all our desires and dedication. We agree with the open letter on one thing, that we should all always be challenging ourselves and each other to widen liberation and ensure the Bookfair is a safe and respectful event, drawing in communities, and reflecting them. But we also believe it needs to allow for discussion and dissent, while excluding hatred and oppression.

We are not members of the Bookfair Collective but some of us have been in the past, and some of us have been involved in wider support work for Bookfairs. All of us are long-time attendees of the Bookfair. As such we hope that it continues, we offer our solidarity and practical support to the Bookfair Collective. We urge the Collective to look beyond the signatories of the open letter to the many wider groups and individuals who attend and take part in the event every year, and to realise that they do have a groundswell of support out there.

Rather than calling for a boycott of the Bookfair, we would challenge the writers of the open letter to engage meaningfully with the Collective and others to help create the change they want. In the light of the statement’s refusal to engage with the Collective until their minimum demands are met, the Bookfair Collective would be reasonably entitled to ignore the open letter.

So we stand by the Bookfair Collective, and salute how the Bookfair is organised; recognising the immense work done in making it happen every year. But it remains up to all of us who attend and take part in it to ensure that it measures up to the standards of love, solidarity and empowerment that we all desire. It is not possible for the small collective that currently facilitates the space to police them. Nor is it fundamentally anarchism.

Background:

Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

Reading this ‘debate’ makes me if anything more supportive of the above declaration.

Comment.

I am not an anarchist but like many people I consider our anarchist comrades fundamentally part of the left.

I am not an anarchist but I have attended this bookfair in the past and found it a good event, an important occasion to learn and to talk.

I am not an anarchist but I stand in fundamental solidarity with this statement. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2017 at 11:52 am

Storm Grows over Rape allegations against Tariq Ramadan as Henda Ayari Speaks out in Le Monde.

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Henda Ayari: for him you are either Veiled or Violated.

Henda Ayari  is one of the women who’ve accused Muslim pundit Tariq Ramadan of rape.

She has just had a ‘Tribune” published in le Monde.

Every woman should find the courage to speak out as I have done.

In anger and in depth, it is an essay of great eloquence.

It calls out for women to speak for justice, against male aggression, and in particular the violence that Islamist males like Ramadan, using their ‘religious authority‘  inflict on women.

Written from the heart and the head, in the clearest of styles, it would take a professional translator to do Ayrai’s text justice.

The link is to only part of the full article, which I read in the print edition of Le Monde yesterday.

Henda Ayari : « Chaque femme doit trouver le courage de prendre la parole comme j’ai osé le faire »

Ramadan is well known in France. So well known I shall not add to this but a Wikipedia link.

He is also an Oxford Don, Guardian columnist and a frequent guest on British television programmes notably Channel Four.

Ramadan was a speaker at the European social forum in 2003 and, no doubt because his books are full of half-baked references to left thinkers and people like Foucault, is considered by some a “progressive” supported by some people who claim to be on the left.

BBC

French prosecutors are investigating allegations by two women who say they were raped by Tariq Ramadan, a renowned Islamic scholar and Oxford professor.

One of them, Henda Ayari, told a French TV interviewer that Mr Ramadan had assaulted her in a Paris hotel in 2012.

“He literally pounced on me like a wild animal,” she said.

In a Facebook post Prof Ramadan denied the accusations, calling them “a campaign of lies”, and said his lawyer was suing the women for “slander”.

Ms Ayari used to wear the Islamic full-face veil but is now a secular feminist activist.

She said the sexual harassment scandal surrounding Hollywood film mogul Harvey Weinstein had emboldened her to accuse Mr Ramadan explicitly.

Many women worldwide have shared accounts of sexual harassment using the Twitter hashtag #MeToo. In France the equivalent is #balancetonporc, meaning “expose your pig”.

Ms Ayari had previously published an account of an alleged assault in a book, without naming the man.

Speaking on BFMTV, she said she had gone to Mr Ramadan’s hotel room to ask him questions about Islam and at the time “I admired him very much”.

Referring to the alleged rape, she said “he kissed me really hard… then for a few seconds he choked me, I really thought I was going to die”.

The second woman – a convert to Islam – has alleged that she was raped by Tariq Ramadan in a hotel in Lyon in 2009.

Mr Ramadan denounced the allegations as “a campaign of slander clearly orchestrated by my long-time adversaries”.

He is a controversial and influential figure among Muslim scholars. He challenges fundamentalist Islam, but some critics accuse him of promoting political Islam.

A Swiss national, he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since 2009 he has been professor of contemporary Islamic studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has also sat on a UK Foreign Office advisory group on freedom of religion.

 It became  3 women claiming he raped them.

And now 4

Tariq Ramadan Has His Place in the European Social Forum

Catherine Samary

This open letter was written just before the beginning of the European Social Forum in Paris in November 2003. It was addressed to the Coordination des Associations pour le Droit à l’Avortement et à la Contraception and the Collectif National pour les Droits des Femmes, after they had circulated a petition calling for Tariq Ramadan to be excluded from the ESF. The letter also answers the leaflet produced by the Collectif Féministe pour un Altermondialisme Laïc, which was translated and published by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and formed the basis for a resolution by the NUS executive (subsequently overturned) calling for Tariq Ramadan to be removed as a speaker at the 2004 ESF. The author is a leading French feminist and intellectual, and a supporter of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire.

On inequality. The feminist collective tells us: “Tariq Ramadan recognises the equality of men and women before God, but believes in a complementarity – and thus a difference – of the sexes on the social and family level.”

The difference between the sexes is a commonplace idea which includes many variants – within the feminist mileu too! One essential point for us is the independence that women (even believers) can gain through education and work. Yet if Tariq Ramadan recognises that Islam attributes to the man the responsibility for earning the family’s money (the woman having a central role in the management of the family, in Islam as in all traditional cultures), he is at the same time in open debate with the currents who wish to ban women from leaving the home. Islam, he recognises, puts the emphasis on the “right” of women “not to work”. But that does not imply opposing the right (if they so choose) to work! Cf. the Gresh/Ramadan debate, op. cit., where Ramadan says:

“I have had some very vehement debates in Europe with certain representatives of the FIS over the place of women and their interpretation of economic reality: banning women from working, asserting that unemployment was due to the presence of women on the labour market and … presenting the act of sending them back to the home as ‘the’ Islamic remedy provoked a reaction on my part. I criticised without compromise these reductionist and simplistic readings. They … characterised me as a ‘soft or light, westernised Muslim’.”

It is true that he makes explicit his search for religious texts in order to remain within the framework of the Muslim world – but he says he wants to carry out “a coherent and more just adaptation” of these texts starting from an “internal” reflection linked to a study of the evolution of contexts – thus of societies and practices:

“I am thinking about the recognition of the independence of women, their social status, marriage, divorce, etc …”

While he was employed by Ken Livingstone later in that decade  Pitt published a whole series of pieces defending Ramadan on his site, Islamophobia Watch.

In 2004 Ken Livingstone hosted a conference to ‘defend the veil’ which was  addressed by Tariq Ramadan.

It would be interesting to hear the reaction to these charges from those who defended Ramadan so vociferously in the past.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Far-Right – N-VA – Belgian minister: Catalan Leader Puigdemont can seek asylum here.

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Belgium Far-Right Flemish Separatist Minister Francken offers  Puigdemont Asylum.

Quand Theo Francken embarrasse le gouvernement dans toutes les languesLe Soir. 

A Belgian minister said Catalan ex-President Carles Puigdemont, removed from office by the Spanish government last week, could apply for asylum in Belgium.

By

“Catalan people who feel politically threatened can ask for asylum in Belgium. That includes President Puigdemont. This is 100 percent legal,” Theo Francken, the state secretary for asylum and migration, told public broadcaster VRT late on Saturday.

This has immediately been rejected by the Prime Minister of Belgium as adding fuel to the Fire.

Francken prêt à accueillir Puigdemont en Belgique, Charles Michel demande de ne “pas jeter d’huile sur le feu”.

Background Wikipedia.

Nieuw-Vlaamse AlliantieN-VA)[4] is a Flemish nationalist[5] and conservative[6][7][8] political party in Belgium, founded in 2001.[9] The N-VA is a regionalist[10][11] and separatist[12][13][14][15]movement that self-identifies with the promotion of civic nationalism.[16] It is part of the Flemish Movement, and (This bit is not coincidence whatsoever)  strives for the peaceful[17] and gradual secession of Flanders from Belgium.

Its best known member is their leader Bart De Wever.

Theo Francken

In October 2014 several political parties demanded Francken’s and Ben Weyts‘ resignation after the two were present at the birthday of Bob Maes, a former member of the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond, a party who collaborated with the Nazis in the Second World War.[2] In the same month Theo Francken also came in stormy waters after the leaking of some old mails with allegedly homophobic statements and a Facebook post where he questioned the “added value” that immigrants from Morocco, Congo and Algeria bring to the Belgian economy. Subsequently, Theo Francken apologised in the federal parliament.[3]

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Tariq Ramadan, Prominent Muslim Intellectual, Guardian Columnist, and Oxford Don, Accused of Rape, Sexual Harassment and Violence.

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Image result for tariq ramadan Channel four news

Tariq Ramadan Given Star Treatment on Channel Four News (Feb 2017).

Tariq Ramadan accusé de «viol, agressions sexuelles et harcèlement» Le Figaro.

Nouvelle plainte pour viol contre Tariq Ramadan Libération.

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More details here.

A complaint was filed Friday in France against the Islamist philosopher and theologian Tariq Ramadan, for rape and sexual assault, following accusations of raping Salafist-turned secular liberal activist Henda Ayari.

Three days after the opening of an investigation similar accusations against him, were filed on Friday, reported AFP.

Ayari lawyer Eric Morain added that he has received other testimonials from women who are thinking of filing a complaint against the intellectual for harassment or sexual assault.

Ayari filed a case on October 20 against Swiss-Muslim thinker Ramadan, the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood founder, of raping and sexually assaulting her in a Paris hotel room in 2012.

She was interrogated for six hours by police in Rouen (Normandy, north-west), said her lawyer, the day after the opening of an investigation by the Paris prosecutor for “rape, sexual assault, violence and death threats “.

According to Le Parisien, a new complainant is filled by a disabled 42-year-old woman, who converted to Islam claiming brutal sexual violence at a big hotel, in autumn 2009.

In the aftermath of the first complaint, Tariq Ramadan denied the accusations and in turn complained Monday for “slanderous denunciation” against Ms. Ayari.

Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood Hassan al-Banna and currently a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

(With AFP)

French prosecutors investigate claims Oxford professor raped feminist campaigner France 24.

The prosecutors’ office said Tuesday it had opened a preliminary investigation into allegations made by Henda Ayari, a 40-year-old Salafist turned secular activist who says she was abused by Ramadan.

Ayari filed a complaint last week alleging rape, sexual assault, harassment and intimidation by the Swiss scholar, who is a well-known figure in France. She claimed the attack took place in 2012, on the sidelines of a congress of the Union of Islamic Organisations of France (UOIF).

Her lawyer, Jonas Haddad, said the plaintiff did not report the assault earlier out of fear, but had been emboldened by women talking of sexual harassment in the wake of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

“After revelations over the past few days of rape and sexual assault claims in the media, Henda has decided to say what happened to her and take legal action,” Haddad said.

Last Friday, Ayari wrote on Facebook that she had been “a victim of something very serious several years ago” but did not reveal the name of her alleged aggressor because of “threats” by him. She said she had described the assault in her book “I Chose to be Free”, published in November 2016, giving her aggressor the made-up name “Zoubeyr”.

In the book, Ayari describes being attacked by an intellectual in a Paris hotel room, saying that when she fought back she was insulted, slapped and treated violently. On Friday, she named the attacker as Ramadan.

His most recent column in the Guardian: February 2017.

Tariq Ramadan: ‘Muslims need to reform their minds’

 

Still somebody – from the French far-right as his happens – has his own response. Blaming one of  France’s best known secularist gay campaigners.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Will the ‘left’ back this Italian Separatism?

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Image result for Matteo Salvini

Matteo Salvini. New Poster Boy for the Separatist ‘Left’?

The ever reliable Daily Mail reports on another brave struggle for regional autonomy,

Italy’s richest regions begin push to claw back cash from Rome after historic referendums to gain more autonomy fuelled by complaints their taxes are wasted on the poor south

 

From the BBC.

Two of Italy’s richest northern regions have voted for more autonomy, according to their leaders.

More than 90% of voters in Lombardy, home to Italy’s financial capital Milan, and the Veneto region around Venice, voted yes in the non-binding referendum, their presidents claimed.

Both men are members of the Northern League, which has long argued that the north is subsidising the poorer south.

The regions together account for about 30% of Italy’s national wealth.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Catalunya Once Again.

with 5 comments

 Image result for catalonia demo close ups

Multi-racial Internationalists Say British Left. 

Catalunya, Cataluña, or as we refer normally to it in Occitan, Catalonha, is still in the news all this week.

Support for Catalan nationalism has grown significantly in recent years. It’s estimated that about half of those who supported separatist parties in 2015 did not back secession a decade earlier. In 2015, Catalans elected a pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament and a pro-independence president, Carles Puigdemont.

Like Scottish nationalism, the Catalan independence movement used to be dominated by middle class layers. On the Catalan national day (the Diada) in 2013, when protesters joined hands to form a human chain across Catalunya, “the parking lots were filled with BMWs and it really looked as if the Catalan bourgeoisie was having a fun day out,” observed one commentator, quoted in Raphael Minder’s recent book The Struggle for Catalonia (Hurst, 2017).

Yet the presence of conservative forces within Catalan nationalism should not overshadow the popularity of the cause among ordinary people – and not just Catalans. 2016’s Diada in the northern town of Salt,with its 40% migrant population made up of 70 nationalities, saw contingents participating from the town’s African, Latin American and Asian communities, with banners calling for independence in Arabic. There has also been growing involvement by poorer, working class young people, who see in the fight for independence an opportunity to escape the austerity policies of the Spanish state, much as similar sectors voted yes in Scotland’s 2014 indyref to opt out of Cameron’s Britain.

Tension mounts in Catalunya 

Mike Phipps.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Brexit Explained.

with 19 comments

From my mate.https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DMVt6zWWsAEquYe.jpg

Written by Andrew Coates

October 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

Us lot In International Solidarity in Norwich.

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In the spirit of international solidarity us lot from Ipswich went to Norwich yesterday to back the Smash the Pay Cap demo.

After our internationalist duty was done, ending up, as you do, in the Queen of Iceni pub – and ignoring the chants of some tasty geezers shouting from the bridge while going to the Canary match, “We hate Ipswich, We Hate Ipswich, We are the Ipswich Haters” (this is not made up) – we resolved to visit Norwich more often.

There is some type, I believe he has something to do with Norwich, Clive is his name, with his arm round my shoulders.

Allez Les Clive Lewis!

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2017 at 10:45 am

Candidatura d’Unitat Popular – a Catalan Left, from Independent Republic to Leaving the European Union.

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Països Catalans Today.

Candidatura d’Unitat Popular

The CUP defines its economic platform as socialist and favours the nationalisation of all financial institutions, transportation and communication networks. It also promotes the complete independence of Catalonia from Spain and subscribes to the broad definition of Catalonia as incorporating the Catalan Countries (Països Catalans), which in addition to Catalonia proper include Spanish regions of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, the Catalan-speaking eastern franja or border region of Aragon and the Catalan-speaking region of southeastern France. The party also favours the withdrawal of an independent Catalonia from the European Union (EU) and from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Progressive Spain.

The French site of Ensemble describes CUP’s  origins in currents such as the third-worldist, Marxist-Leninist and pro-Basque armed struggle group, the Partit Socialista d’Alliberament Nacional dels Països Catalans (PSAN) which has more splits and fusions than even the maddest of UK leftist faction  and a Marxist Leninist groupuscule, coming from the armed organisation, called terrorist, Terra Lliure. They also list some of the more recent  groups which joined in the CUP, some of whom it describes as Trotskyist, such as En Lucha (tied to the British SWP), Corriente Roja (section of the IWL,  Morenoist), Lucha internacionalista (La Unidad Internacional de los Trabajadores (UIT-CI) and Revolta Global-Esquerra anticapitalist which has links with the Izquierda anticapitalista and the Mandelite Fourth International,various activist campaigning groups, the original and important Occupy Movement in Spain, the Indignados, (not the US counterpart), the peasant  Pagesos per la Dignitat Rural Catalana. Okupas (Occupy, on housing and land issues),  self-managed social centres, (CSOA), etc.

They also indicate the key role CUP played in the promoting the right-wing Carles Puigdemont, as President of the Catalan Representative body, the Generalitat.

Ensemble:   Catalogne : Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP), une organisation « assembléiste » et indépendantiste.

France 24 concurs on their role in pushing the right-wing Puigdemont forward,

He’s the successor to Artur Mas who was pushed out by the far left after Mas was accused of implementing a policy of austerity.

They add, clarifying why he had got elected.

Puigdemont has had to forge a tenuous coalition of separatists (Junts pel Si), made up of a range of parties that extend from the far left to the centre-right, and vary widely on their positions on economic and social issues.

Politicians describe him as a savvy strategist.

“He’s a person who listens a lot then decides with total and absolute liberty,” says his friend and biographer Porta.

Puigdemont doesn’t worry too much about economic or social issues, says José Antich, director of El Nacional, a Catalan online newspaper.

His priority is independence, independence, independence,” he adds.

He also has to deal with the CUP, which is not part of the official coalition of right and nationalist left  but is needed to get voting majorities through the Parliament.

One notes this, as the Financial Times puts it,

Despite its radical roots and positions (which include taking an independent Catalonia out of Nato and the EU), the CUP has so far made common cause with the more centrist, business-friendly elements of the independence movement.

One obvious reason for the alliance between self-styled leftists and the Catalan nationalist bourgeoisie is that although it makes much of being anti-capitalist the CUP puts the official promotion of the Catalan language and National Identity at the heart of its politics. Generously allowing for private use of other tongues, the reinforcement of the cultural texture of  the “Països Catalans”, that is including the above “Catalan counties” beyond the existing legal borders, form the centre of its programme (item 5 out of 6).

La defensa de la llengua i la identitat nacionals. Promoció i oficialitat del català en tot el territori nacional sens perjudici de les parles de l’àmbit privat, garantia de la unitat de la llengua, indústries culturals pròpies i autocentrades, reforçament del teixit cultural d’arrel popular arreu dels Països Catalans.

Catalan Version.

Oddly, or perhaps not, this item is absent from their English language version, which contains this dithyrambic oration,

The CUP’s rupturist position is opposed to the hegemonic Catalanist position, as independence for the country without a breakaway from capitalist institutions is not something that the CUP’s revolutionary position would support. Significantly, the CUP is opposed to the reformist position of the other independentists, as it doesn’t desire social democratic reforms, rather a rupture from the capitalist system.

What is the CUP?

Other parts of the CUP’s International section  include a few articles in Spanish and others in approximate English, (“a hooligan state policy by Bourbon orders”)  and French (though I am rather fond of the ” le cinisme (sic) criminel qui nous protège en nous tabassant” though less endeared with “nous nous sommes rebellés contre l’Europe honteuse. En prenant l’humble décision de ne pas reculer”).

Although some claim that it is one of the biggest radical left groups in Europe its own site only lays claim to around 2,000 members, albeit with 385 councillors and 10 MPs in the Catalan Parliament.

D’aleshores ençà l’organització no ha parat de créixer, local, nacional i políticament. A hores d’ara ja compta amb quasi 2000 militants, 385 electes als municipis i més de 150 assemblees locals i assembles o nuclis de suport arreu dels Països Catalans. Les eleccions del 27 de setembre de 2015 van permetre l’entrada de 10 diputades i diputats al Parlament de Catalunya.

There is little doubt that there vote has grown over recent years.

Finally the CUP lays claim to social laws, all of which are laudable, although you can’t help being a bit reminded of European local councils in the 1980s who passed resolutions making their towns and cities “Nuclear free Zones”

The last fifteen laws we have passed in the Catalan parliament have been banned by the Spanish state. But these are not independentist laws — many of them are social laws: for example, a law about sanctuary for those fleeing persecution, a law banning energy companies from turning off people’s electricity, and a law for a higher minimum wage. We want to use our autonomy to improve people’s lives and we are forbidden. People see this and respond. They want to decide the future of Catalonia and that is not possible in the current arrangement.

Luc Salellas –  councilor for the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP) in Girona and a member of the party’s national executive.

Jacobin. 

Excellent resolutions…..

Meanwhile the CUP have just demanded that sets a timetable to declare a Catalan Republic (compartirLa CUP pide por carta a Puigdemont que proclame la república catalana) 

You can listen or watch these events on the Madrid State’s official Catalan language Radio  (Ràdio 4) and Television (TVE Catalunya) services.

MoreCandidatura d’Unitat Popular

and Wikipedia.

For more rational politics see:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Charlie Hebdo Has a Laugh at Catalan Nationalists.

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Catalans Bigger Bleeding Idiots than the Corsicans. “We Demand a Debate”.

This is all over the Spanish media today.

“¡Idiotez o muerte!” La feroz burla de Charlie Hebdo al ‘procés’ catalán

El Paìs.

The Catalonia based  El Periódico (which publishes in Spanish and Catalan)  is less enthusiastic, describing the cartoon and editorial with the word – who would have guessed it, “provocative” –  but takes it all in good stride.

‘Charlie Hebdo’ se burla del ‘procés’: “Los catalanes, más tontos que los corsos”

Some of the Tweets they publish take exception to the comparison with the violent FLNC, but in our view the journal comes out of this in a good light by indicating this one.

There are too many other reports to signal here, but ask Comrade Google.

The Riss Editorial (pictured on the left, above)  is sure to win Charlie new friends as well:

Stupidity or death !

The Catalan independence referendum has shaken Europe. If all the European regions with their own language, history and culture start claiming independence, the Old Continent will soon break up like pack ice under global warming. Given that there are 200 languages in Europe, why not create 200 new countries?
…..

“the worst dictatorship the world has ever known, the European Union.”

“Independence. A flamboyant word sometimes hiding less noble concerns.”

“We can almost hear the despicable Margaret Thatcher again: “I want my money back”.

“Besides these mercenary considerations… certain voices on the Left claim …a blow for cultural identity”.

“Why should the cultural identity claimed by Catalans be OK when the Christian identity claimed by European xenophobes isn’t?”

“Right wing nationalism and left wing nationalism have one thing in common: nationalism”

“When Catalonia has broken the shackles binding  it to the Spanish Monarchy and the Holy  European Empire what will happen?”

“Proud independentists will march through the streets to the sound of drums and fifes, taking themselves for the Durutti column, young girls will throw rose petals at the militants..”

“And when the evening comes everyone will go home and collapse in front of the telly to watch Wheel of Fortune and  Barça  in the quarter-final of the League. Catalonia will have really deserved that.

 

And so it goes….

Puigdemont Betrays National Cause of Catalonia – Socialist Worker.

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Image result for Carles Puigdemont

Puigdemont: Betraying United Catalan National Cause, Say British Leftists.

El presidente de la Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, declaró este martes la independencia de Cataluña pero abogó por suspender durante varias semanas los efectos de esta declaración para lograr una mediación.

El País

La suspensión” of the full implementation of the declaration of independence was in all the media this morning.

You can watch the right-wing leader’s speech here.

It must have been easy for the SWP to write this, immediately.

Carles Puigdemont betrays hopes of Catalan independence – but the fight is not over 

Today’s Socialist Worker.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has betrayed the hopes of the movement for independence from Spain by saying that “dialogue” must come first.

He told a session of the Catalan parliament on Tuesday night that he would “suspend the effect of the independence declaration” in “a gesture of responsibility in favour of dialogue.”

Before the referendum—held on 1 October in defiance of repression by Spanish cops—Puigdemont had vowed to declare independence within 48 hours of a yes vote.

Some 90 percent voted for independence. But Puigdemont did nothing until Tuesday, 48 hours and one week later.

By then he only said, “The voting said yes to independence and this is the way I’m going to follow”—eventually. First, “We have to start a dialogue because otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to reach our goal.”

But the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy has shown no interest in dialogue, responding only with repression and blackmail.

Puigdemont urged politicians and the media to “calm” and “de-escalate” the bitter row rather than ratcheting it up. He called on businesses moving their legal headquarters from Catalonia to return.

His climbdown only hands the initiative back to Rajoy.

Outside the park that contains the parliament building, where thousands of demonstrators were watching the speech on big screens, many responded with anger and disbelief.

Members of the pro-independence anti-capitalist party CUP shouted, “Shame on you”. They warned Puigdemont’s party—whose government CUP props up, that “It’s the end of our patience”.

Others were more positive, telling reporters they hadn’t expect Puigdemont to risk a unilateral declaration of independence yet. One man told the Euronews channel it felt like “The first day without the king of Spain.”

The fight for independence clearly isn’t over, but Puigdemont’s speech is a major setback.

Senior European Union (EU) politicians may have helped broker the backsliding.

Socialist Worker ends this article by supporting the movement for “democracy and independence.”

Today the Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, CUP, demands that Puigdemont fixes a limit, a date, for negotiations to end.

Their twitter feed is full of demands that Catalan sovereignty be recognised, but little that is recognisably socialist.

The most recent declarations of the other main left nationalist group, 

No doubt Catalan national unity, and  demanding that  Carles Puigdemont, a right-wing career politician, leads the struggle for Independence come what may, against the Spanish Government, and the European Union, is more important in the fight for the Nation than class struggle, or any form of socialism or social democracy.

Meanwhile, for entertainment, we note this: (Socialist Party).

We stand with Catalonia

  • For a socialist republic of Catalonia!
  • The workers can finish what Puigdemont won’t!

This groupuscle managed to see a working class moblisation at the centre of the Independence Campaign.. NO doubt the workers were hard at inside the main cultural force for independence, the wealthy, business and Catalan government funded Òmnium Cultural, not to mention…see below.

Meanwhile in the Catalan Parliament, Junts pel Sí (the bloc behind right-wing  Puigdemont, which includes the so-called Republican left, has 62 seats, the CUP has 10.

Despite having only 10 of the Catalan parliament’s 135 MPs, this anti-capitalist force has become one of the central kingmakers in the process of self-determination conducted by the Catalan government. Its deputies are crucial for ensuring a separatist majority in the chamber, and so, while voting to put a pro-independence government into power, its radical anti-capitalist view has frequently clashed with the Catalan establishment and the liberal parties in charge of the Catalan government.

New Internationalist. Marc Almodóvar

That has not stopped the CUP setting aside such differences in the interest of the Catalan Nation and People and reaching an agreement to keep the right in power.

Government (62)

Confidence and supply (10)

  •      CUP (10)

Opposition (63)

This another example of ‘left-wing’ drivel being circulated at the moment.

Update: SWP calls for international support for coalition of right and left fighting for an independent Catalonia.

Please organise yourselves. Set up united solidarity campaigns with Catalonia. Mobilise in support of democratic rights in Catalonia and against repression. If they smash us, they can smash you tomorrow. Everybody has a stake in this.”

 

Meanwhile about the only people speaking sense are Podemos.

Francesc Xavier Doménech, deputy for Unidos Podemos, tells the Spanish government: “You are denying reality. This is a state crisis. This crisis cannot be resolved by applying the same measures taken to date, which are basically repressive measures.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2017 at 11:19 am

Accusations of Catalan Nationalists Circulating Fake Images as Podemos Shows Positive Alternative.

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Parlem, hablemos!

Some light is beginning to appear on the Catalan issue,

Podemos’ Alternative for Catalonia. TXEMA GUIJARRO.

Amidst an increasingly-polarized climate, international press coverage has tended to overlook the position of En Comú Podem, the political alliance which has won the last two general elections in Catalonia. This grouping comprising Ada Colau’s Catalonia En Comú and Unidos Podemos has tried to carve out a middle road in the current confrontation.

It recognizes last Sunday’s vote as a legitimate political mobilization but doesn’t view it as a valid referendum. It also defends Catalonia’s right to decide but favors a plurinational, federal Spain. In this respect Colau, who is Barcelona’s mayor, voted in solidarity with those facing police repression but left her ballot blank.

We, as somebody who wishes the peoples of Spain well, can only endorse the conclusion of this interview,

At times I feel we are at the edge of an abyss. But we have to see the crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate to the Spanish people that there are alternatives. We are not condemned to this collision between Madrid and Catalonia. A key reference for me is Barcelona mayor Ada Colau whose handling of the crisis has been exemplary. She represents the only real point of intersection in the region between those in favor of independence and those opposed—bringing them together around a discourse defending civil rights and democratic freedoms. So yes, there is a positive way out of this conflict but it really depends on us being able to govern, to start changing things in this country from the executive.

But the forces of division and hatred continue to operate.

After the Catalan referendum El Pais published this report,

Fake images from the Catalan referendum shared on social media.

Some photos and videos that were widely circulated via social networks and appeared in the media were not taken on October 1.

Today there are many more accusations of fake images, after the far-right British Daily Mail and Julian Assange circulated claims of widespread Falangist participation in anti-Independence marches.

Le Monde has just published a break down of some of these these falsehoods:

Drapeau franquiste, salut nazi : les images trompeuses de la manifestation contre l’indépendance en Catalogne.

Des images anciennes et des tweets manipulés ont circulé sur les réseaux sociaux pour discréditer les rassemblements de dimanche, selon les médias espagnols.

According to the Spanish media old images and manipulated tweets have circulated on social media in order to discredit Sunday’s marches.

 

The examples start with the use of photos taken in 2015, one taken in September this year, far from Sunday’s march, the use of a – real – image of people giving a Fascist/Franco salute, in a small group of around 30, to suggest a mass far-right presence, and the image spread by the far-right Mail, taken of a tiny band of extreme-right hooligans coming out of bar as if they were representative of the massive march. .

‘Fexists’ is Catalan  for Fascists. This is particularly obvious fakery since the demonstrations took place during the day while this is taken during the night, and it turns out to come from a pro-Franco march, not authorised by the police, which occurred in Madrid during September 2015.

A Spanish Tweet account tries to distinguish the real from the ‘bulo’ false (fake, hoax).

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Against Spanish Nationalism and the Catalan Independence Movement.

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Left Should Not Pit One National Flag Against the Other.

Against Catalan Nationalism.

The “nation” should have the “right” to self-determination. But who is that “nation” and who has the authority and the “right” to speak for the “nation” and express its will? How can we find out what the “nation” actually wants?”

Rosa Luxemburg. The National Question.

The Catalan referendum has burst on the European scene without, apparent, warning. That this is not in fact true can be seen in an informative article in the Socialist Workers Party journal, International Socialism, which concludes by putting the issue of Catalonia centre stage ( Héctor Sierra Podemos, Catalonia and the workers’ movement in the Spanish state  Issue: 155) That it has been at the heart of Catalan politics for some time is well known; that there is a long history failed negotiation over recognition of the Catalan nation, and, perhaps, more pressing, calls for greater financial and political powers for the Generalitat, failing to recognise the laws that they passed, has become common knowledge in the last week. That the Rajoy government was prepared to act, brutally, on its threats against voting on independence, has stirred deep emotions, far beyond the Iberian Peninsula.

But perhaps a sign of the lack of urgency the issue recently evoked in Spain itself can be seen in the exchange between a leading figure in Podemos, Iñigo Errejón and member of the country’s right-wing government, José María Lassalle on the latter’s Contra el populismo (2017) in El País (9.9.17 and 16.9.17) at the beginning of September.

In this erudite discussion, the Minister of State cites Laclau, Gramsci and Stuart Hall in support of his view that the affective and political “people” has not been broken, and that the “institucionalidad democrática” remains open to the “admirado Errejón”. In Lassalle’s recognition of democratic dysfunctions, alongside a eulogy of European social peace, there is no mention of Catalonia, or of any method of dealing with those his boss considers less “admirable”.

National Popular.

It takes, nevertheless, little imagination to see how many of the ideas circulating in Podemos, of the People, of the National Popular, taken from Laclau, and used, as Lassalle suggests, as a kind of political “cartography”, would become important during the Catalan crisis. Within Podemos the current, Anticapitalistas, “Podemos en Movimiento” (13% at the February 2017 Congress), have long criticised the “populism” of its leadership, which seeks to ‘federate the people” of Spain against the ruling political ‘Casta”. A central charge it that they, both the Errejón tendency (Recuperar la Illusion, bring back the Hope), 34%) and the leader Pablo Iglesias’ grouping, (Podemos para Todas, 51%), have failed to recognise that there are effectively many “peoples” in Spain. (1)

In dialogue with Chantal Mouffe Errejón, has called for a “new democratic national-popular identity”. ”The issue in Spain is whether it’s possible to build a national narrative at the service of subaltern majorities that is also respectful of pluri-nationality and the right to decide.” (2) Translated into the present, this has involved the, entirely reasonable, attempt to open dialogue between the pro-independence forces in the Assemblea Nacional de Catalunya (ANC) and the central government. What this clearly does not do is encourage people to separate, to form a distinct “us” in Catalonia, aside from the wider struggle for an “emancipatory and radically democratic project” and “popular sovereignty”.

It would be interesting to trace how supporters of Catalan’s own path to “popular sovereignty”, or as it would better be described, ‘sovereigntistism’ the belief that the major political social and economic problems of the day be solved by getting one’s hands on the sovereign powers of a state, could perhaps defend some of the original axioms of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s ‘post-Marxism’. That is, the idea that the working class is not the dominant political subject of emancipatory politics, but only one element in the “plurality of agents” brought together by “relations of equivalence” constituting democratic movements and demands, making up the figure of these Peoples pitted against the Spanish State. Some may radicalise the later Mouffe. That the Catalan partisan collective will has overflowed the boundaries of one state, created its own “relations of exclusion” against the institutions of ‘Madrid’. It would be free to create its own agonistic site where, it can create its own “agonistic democracy”, and let the fight against neo-liberalism begin on a new terrain (3)

Collective Will.

But in fact we now have a free for all for those wishing to build a “collective will” against the said administrative structure. Appealing for international support for their cause some Catalan enthusiasts have not hesitated to describe the Spanish state as ‘fascist’ ‘Francoist’, full of loathing for ‘Madrid’, no doubt hinting that one of George Orwell’s most celebrated books was Homage to Catalonian Independence. Perhaps they trust to at least some of their audience’s ignorance of the Siege of Madrid, which fell some months after Barcelona.

Others, apparently more reasonable, have wheeled out the view that Catalan nationalism is welcoming, “Catalan national feeling is like Scottish in that it is “civic”, non-violent, opening impatiently to the new global world. It’s unlike Scotland – and more “ethnic” – in its passionate emphasis on Catalan language, history and culture.” It will not be source of exclusion, but will find its way back to “intimate” ties with Spain. (Neil Ascherson. Catalans are not alone. Across the world, people yearn to govern themselves .Observer. 24.9.17)

Laclau’s study On Populist Reason (2005) deals with the “nature and logics “ of collective identities. He envisaged the possibility of a People out of a plurality of ‘ethnic identities’, as well as its opposite, “ethno nationalism”. Podemos would not be untrue to this way of thinking to attempt the former. (4)

But those on the left pushing the Catalan separatists have other fish to fry. The SWP argues first and foremost for the dissolution of the Spanish state, as a potential springboard for a wider anti-capitalist struggle.

The damage to the Spanish ruling class that the loss of Catalonia would cause is unimaginable; Catalonia makes a large contribution to the state’s revenues, with 18.8 percent of national GDP. The centrality of national unity to the dominant ideology of the ruling class would also turn the event into a political earthquake. A victory for independence would thus precipitate a crisis of unforeseeable consequences, throwing into chaos not only the PP but Spanish capitalism as a whole.

Socialism can only be achieved internationally, but by opening new prospects for the left in Catalonia and by breaking the consensus imposed by fascism in the transition to democracy, Catalan independence would advance the cause of the entire working class. And, if a triumph of the Catalan left would be a positive development for workers in the rest of the state, what would the consequences of its defeat be?

Héctor Sierra Podemos, Catalonia and the workers’ movement in the Spanish state  Issue: 155

The Fourth Intentional, reproducing an argument familiar to those who have heard the radical Scottish nationalist refrain of the Break up of Britain are vaguer though equally optimistic for the future of the left, and keen for, as they put it, “the democratic rupture throughout the State”.

In a lyrical vein the FI states,

It is more than a mere historical anecdote that the Catalan independence flag is directly inspired by the flag of the Cuban revolutionaries who defeated the Spanish colonial army on the island in the late 19th century, a defeat that would decisively contribute to the ruin of the first Bourbon restoration. The struggle in Catalonia has certainly hurt the second and a republican victory would allow us to imagine a new rise of the popular movement and an update of the anti-capitalist and eco-socialist perspective in Catalonia, the Spanish state and throughout Europe.

Let us support the struggle of the Catalan people

These aspirations are no doubt of comfort to those who, after what El Periodico commentators have repeatedly called a new May 68 – complete with vote – now confront potential economic chaos. Aware of these difficulties the nationalist bourgeois politicians who are running the independence show are divided on their immediate tasks, although the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, looks determined to press ahead with a declaration of independence. Sacrifices to achieve that end are to be made in the name of a possible, not yet visible, anti-capitalism, or more broadly the eternal right to self-determination or, in their own eyes, for Catalunya. What is more precious than national independence and sovereignty? 

Many will without hesitation support the wish for negotiations with these demands, hard though the first two may be to put into any specific form. We can be sceptical about Iglesias’ efforts to capture the ‘floating signifier’ of the Patria for the projects of Podemos, yet see in their stand some hopes for compromise. Equally, on some things on which no agreement can be reached: one should do more than just oppose Rajoy and his clampdown, one can moblise against it.

No Sleeping with the Enemy!

But nobody has yet to explain convincingly why the world in general, and the left-wingers in particular, should stand behind the cause of a prosperous region of Spain, led by a coalition of right and left, to ‘take control’ in the name of the People. Rosa Luxemburg reminds us that the ‘right’ to declare this a separate entity rests on the political parties who backed the referendum,  Junts pel Sí​, held together a coalition of right and left, while the Podemos inspired grouping Catalunya Sí que es Pot  abstained, and the other opposition parties opposed it. 

This, if carried through, will be an act that immediately divides the Spanish people, gives full rein to populist ressentiment on all sides, and obscures the issues of the different class and political interests behind the pro-independence bloc (not to mention the ingrained corruption of some of its elements). To put it simply, no left worthy of its name enters into systematic long-term coalitions with right wing nationalists. They are, to use a term often cited by Chantal Mouffe, taken from Carl Schmitt, the enemy.  (5)

******

(1) A useful account of Podemos, which underlines that Laclau and Mouffe are far from the only intellectual influences on the party is in Chapter 10 La Gauche du 21e Siècle, Christophe Aguiton. La Découverte. 2017.

(2) Page 148 –9. Podemos in the Name of the People. Iñigo Errejón and Chantal Mouffe. Lawrence and Wishart. 2016.

(3) See Agonistics. Chantal Mouffe. Verso 2013.

(4) Page 198. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau Verso. 2005.

(5) For all our sympathy for the Podemos attempt at rational dialogue, the concepts of the People, and the National Popular function in this crisis as signs that confuse debate. See. Debating Catalonia Izquierda Unida MP Alberto Garzón debates the Catalan independence referendum with the CUPs Pau Llonch. This is a concrete example of how ‘left wing populism’ sliding around on the Catalan national issue obscures a left strategy that gives priority to building a left. Which leads us to reject the strategy of ‘people’ versus “oligarchy”, the ‘us’ and the ‘them’ and the Mouffe-Laclau problematic: See: Populisme le grand ressentiment. Éric Fassin. Textuel. 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm

On the Moshé Machover Labour Party Expulsion.

with 25 comments

Leaflet Handed Out at Labour Conference. 

Key Sentences  of Machover’s article,

Nazi collaboration

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisation and collusion with anti-Semitism.

Jewish Socialists’ Group statement in support of Dr Moshe Machover

Dr Moshe Machover – a lifelong Israeli socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, who has lived in Britain since 1968 – has been expelled from the Labour Party.

Dr Moshe Machover – a lifelong Israeli socialist, anti-racist and anti-imperialist, who has lived in Britain since 1968 – has been expelled from the Labour Party accused of writing “an apparently antisemitic article” and accused of “involvement and support for” two organisations, the Labour Party Marxists and the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The accusation regarding the “antisemitic” article references the controversial, flawed definition of antisemitism, which the JSG and many others on the left have challenged:http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/fight-antisemitism-and-defend-free-speech

Moshe Machover has been a friend of the Jewish Socialists’ Group for more than 30 years. He has spoken at JSG meetings, written for Jewish Socialist magazine, and participated in campaigns for social justice with us. We know him as an outstanding and sophisticated thinker and analyst, a fighter for human rights and social justice, and a consistent opponent of all reactionary ideologies and actions.

The JSG is not affiliated to the Labour Party but we have strongly criticised the right wing-led campaign to smear left wing activists as antisemiteshttp://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/statement-on-labours-problem-with-antisemitism-from-the-jewish-socialists-g

The Labour Party has a duty to take action against genuine examples of antisemitism and other forms of racism and bigotry. In line with the Chakrabarti Inquiry, however, we:
• favour education rather than heavy-handed disciplinary measures
• expect transparent, fair and just process with regard to complaints against members
• support Shami Chakrabarti’s desire to encourage respectful free speech within the Party.

The JSG chooses to support individuals suspended or expelled from the party on a case by case basis. In this case we fully support Moshe Machover and call for his expulsion to be rescinded and for his immediate reinstatement as a member of the Labour Party.

The JSG recognises the article by Moshe Machover, that has been cited, as a critique of the political ideology of Zionism, not of Jews. Indeed the article exposes antisemitic ideas.

The JSG rejects any McCarthyite-style attempt to expel members for alleged “involvement and support for” other left groups on the basis of writing articles and attending and participating in meetings. It is common practice for Labour members of all levels to speak and participate in events of other groups, and have articles published, representing their individual viewpoints, in a range of publications.

Solidarity with Moshe Machover!

The controversy began when the Times reported this leaflet being distributed outside Labour Party Conference.

The Weekly Worker asserts the following:

Expelled for saying the unsayable

Labour Party Marxists attracted much praise and support from delegates at the Labour Party conference, in particular because of the excellent ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’ article written by Moshé Machover. Since then the right has taken its revenge. Around the country anyone who has expressed a liking for the LPM online or forwarded an article could well be on the receiving end of an expulsion letter. One of them is Moshé Machover. LPM’s Reg Kingston spoke to him.

The man himself blames Israel and the “useful fools” of Labour’s Right Wing for his loss of Party membership.

Frankly, I enjoyed your article, but I didn’t anticipate it would cause so much fuss. How do you explain the vehemence of the attacks? Why is this happening?

It’s the result of a conjunction of two things. I follow the Israeli press very closely and the wider political discussions in Israel in general. Quite some time ago – and I’m talking about before anyone imagined that Corbyn would be Labour Party leader (least of all himself!) – there was a feeling in Israeli establishment circles that they were losing the propaganda war. They responded with the Hasbara campaign.1

This was part of a decision to go onto the offensive: in a sense, it’s the last-ditch attempt to rescue the international reputation of this state. They are losing credibility in the arena of what could be called ‘international opinion’, but – more importantly – they are losing the Jewish public outside Israel, especially those under 30. There is a clear generational shift in opinion. These people are becoming very critical of Israel and its colonisation project.

You could see a sign of this at the Labour conference on September 27, in Jeremy Corbyn’s closing speech. His call for Israel to stop the oppression of the Palestinians and to end their savage treatment won loud applause.2 This was a sign of the times. It’s an indicator of what the general public has come to feel – including a large percentage of Jewish people, especially the youth.

Remember, the Israeli establishment identified this quite some time before Corbyn’s breakthrough was on the agenda. They had already decided to go on the attack internationally, using this ‘dirty bomb’ tactic of labelling as ‘anti-Semitic’ any criticism of Zionism and its colonisation project.

In the UK, they found useful fools in the form of the Labour right wing. The Israeli state’s propaganda tactic of smearing all criticism of itself as anti-Jewish coincided with the Labour’s right’s need to discredit Corbyn and the left of the party.

Now Corbyn has plenty of enemies – both inside and outside the party! So this smear tactic was eagerly seized upon – including by people who care absolutely nothing about the issues of Israel-Palestine, the Jews, Zionism and all these important questions. They are totally cynical in their use of these issues. As Chris Williamson’s phrase goes, the Labour right ‘weaponised’ the sensitive and complex issue of anti-Semitism for the sake of narrow, factional advantage against a left in the Labour Party that was growing and threatening to overwhelm them.

It’s a dirty war.

  1. Hasbara is a Hebrew word for the public relations efforts of the Israeli state to disseminate abroad positive propaganda about itself and its actions. 

More information.

As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’

Comment:

The grounds for this expulsion appear weak, Manchover’s convoluted, most would say, twisted argument about the details of the relations between ‘Zionism’ and Nazism merit taking apart not being slammed down.
It is a well-known trope – that the Nazis wanted to be rid of the Jews, and the Zionists wanted Jews to settle in Israel, so they could negotiate for new people to populate Palestine. So they did deals. He provides few qualifications for this picture, as can be seen in this sentence, “its collusion and collaboration with anti-Semitism, including up to a point with Nazi Germany”.
He then ends in an extremely contentious, many would estimate, deeply insulting, claim, based on an extension of the phrase “up to a point” to the assertion of systematic “collusion with anti-Semitism.”

We see the flaws in this kind of argument by applying it elsewhere.

It would be interesting for those who claim to support Black Lives Matter to imagine what if people were to go on about the links between Marcus Garvay, considered a founding figure in the movement for black liberation,and the Klu Kkux Klan.

In 1919 Garvey formed the Black Cross Navigation and Trading Company. With $10,000,000 invested by his supporters Garvey purchased two steamships, Shadyside and Kanawha, to take African Americans to Africa. At a UNIA conference in August, 1920, Garvey was elected provisional president of Africa. He also had talks with the Ku Klux Klan about his plans to repatriate African Americans and published the first volume of Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.

Now in point of fact Marcus Garvey was a figure of some courage and stature, who fought John Crow and Racism.

Nobody is going to base a whole critique of his politics on this incident.

Nobody with any honesty, who is not out to launch a stunt, is going to offer a serious set of alternative politics to the Israeli government and the politics of the different strands within the Zionist movement with the kind of tendentious stuff offered up here.

There is a better response to those seeking to pit themselves against the ‘Hashbarh’ with these rusty arms, it is to answer them, and not expel them.

Now we can see some of the results.

This is one recent comment on the expulsion.

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2017 at 12:49 pm

European left in confusion faced with Catalan ‘Cross Class Unity’ for National Independence.

with 3 comments

Image result for catalan independence cartoon

El Paìs leads today with the story that the right-wing leader Puigdemot will go to the Catalan Parliament on Monday with a possible declaration of Independence.

Puigdemont irá el lunes al Parlament para la posible declaración de independencia

The Spanish daily cites the BBC’s report, Catalan referendum: Region’s independence ‘in matter of days’.

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Spain’s King Felipe VI on Tuesday accused Catalan secessionist leaders of shattering democratic principles and dividing Catalan society, as thousands took to the streets to protest against a violent police crackdown against the banned independence referendum held on Sunday.

The televised speech, a rare intervention by the 49-year-old monarch who is normally silent on politics, was a sign of how deeply Spain has been shaken by the Catalan vote and a police crackdown that injured 900 people.

On Tuesday tens of thousands of Catalans demonstrated in the streets of the northeastern region against action by the police who tried to disrupt Sunday’s vote by firing rubber bullets and charging into crowds with truncheons.

Tuesday’s protests shut down road traffic, public transport and businesses.

Socialist Worker comments,

Some Catalan politicians and pro-independence organisations played down the role of workers and emphasised that the whole nation was out.

The support of small business certainly added to the strike’s impact in key sectors such as food and retail. Public sector bosses told workers that they wouldn’t even lose pay for striking.

But the main bosses’ organisation in Catalonia condemned the strike. It took workers’ organisation to enforce it.

The SWP appears to consider that ‘the workers’ should lead a campaign for independence.

This seems to ignore that the Catalan government which is said to be about to declare independence is led by the right wing, Carles Puigdemont of the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català, PDeCAT.

Andy Durgan has offered this analysis in

Spanish state out to smash Catalan independence referendum

…any decisive shift to the left would mean breaking completely with the neo liberal PDECat. The temptation to accept some form of “national” government is strong, not only inside the left nationalist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (which forms part of Junts pel Sí) but also among some sectors of the CUP.

Such a government would mean more austerity and cuts and this would also reinforce the rejection of independence that already exists among some sections of the working class in Catalonia; in particular workers of Spanish origin.

More specifically, revolutionary socialists should work to build the CUP, defending both its political independence and the need for practical unity with others on the left.

Whatever happens on 1 October, the political crisis that the Catalan movement has triggered in the Spanish state will only get deeper.

The crisis has indeed deepened.

But why should the left, and the Catalans are not shy in calling for support from the left in the rest of Europe, support the goal of independence.

For what end?

Some claim that the roots lie in the way the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal invalidated in 2010 the new autonomy statute (Estatut).

But what is a lot clearer is the demand to free the wealthy region from the ‘burden’ of Madrid.

Linguistic, cultural and a big degree of financial and administrative  autonomy, as the name Estatut d’Autonomia de Catalunya indicates,  are guaranteed already, even if they have stumbled faced with a hostile central government.

Does the fact that the right-wing PPR, in power in the Cortes, has, in the last few years, thwarted legitimate attempts to extend this make full independence justified?  Was the removal of the definition of Catalonia as a “nation” the tipping point?

What of the left?

To Durgan,

For most socialists support for the self determination of oppressed nations is accepted on principle. But in the case of a Catalonia, where the movement appears to be led by the right, providing such support may not seem so clear. For instance, the President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont is a member of the bourgeois nationalist PDECat (European Democratic Party of Catalonia), which, has enforced cuts and austerity.

But the campaign for independence is far from being a mere tool of the Catalan bourgeoisie. While the immediate demand for independence came out of frustration with attempts to reform the Statute of Autonomy, the resulting movement was also shaped in the context of the economic crisis, the emergence of the Indignados movement in 2011 and the return of the PP to central government.

Indeed, but…..the movement’s unity was forged by blaming austerity on ‘Madrid’ and sought a solution in national sovereignty for Catalan which the following only seeks to hide.

The tone of its propaganda and its demonstrations is markedly progressive; talk of a republic that defends social justice and ethnic diversity is central to its propaganda. The main social base of the independence movement is among the Catalan speaking middle and working classes. In contrast, the main employers’ organisations, even those linked to the nationalist right, are opposed to independence.

Durgan does not consider in detail the Republican Left, the Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, with 9 seats, Puigdemont’s junior allies in the Parlament de Catalunya. Their project for a Greater Catalonia, including parts of France and the neighbouring areas of Spain in Valencia, is above all cultural and  “regionalist” carried into a state-building project.

The Candidatura d’Unitat Popular, CUP, with this vote 2015 336,375 8.20% and 10 out of the 135 seats in the Catalan parliament, are no doubt significant in holding the “balance of power” in the Parliament.

The CUP, which plays a central role in the movement, is undoubtedly the largest anti-capitalist grouping in Europe at present. Apart from its 10 MPs and 340,000 votes, it has some 370 local town councillors and around 30 mayors. Its militant anti-racism, feminism and internationalism, its opposition to the EU, set it apart from the rest of the left.

The first part of the assertion may well be contested, from the La France insoumise  (17 seats on the French National Assembly, nearly two and half million votes in those elections, over 7 million votes, 19,48% in the first round of this year’s Presidential ballot), onwards.

The second part apparently links internationalism with being anti-EU…..

One could naturally go for the maximum and start dreaming of this: Por una Catalunya independiente obrera y socialista, en la perspectiva de una Federación Libre de Repúblicas Socialistas Ibéricas

Back to the mundane real world: what of the actual left, notably Catalunya in Comύ, of Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona,? They have strongly denounced the repression, took part in yesterday’s protests, but hold the view that the October the 1st referendum was a “mobilisation” and call for a real referendum. Podemos, for all that one might criticise Pablo Iglesias’ ‘national popular’ strategy, and efforts to take the ’empty signifier’ of La Patria and shape it to the left, calls for negotiations and dialogue. 

Apparently this is confused, because they hesitate to weld together the demand for independence and sovereignty as the key aims for …the left. (L’instant de vérité pour le mouvement indépendantiste catalan).

Perhaps they should keep quiet about issues which oppose the left, root and branch, with the Catalan right, and wait until independence and national sovereignty are achieved.

Better in fact to oppose sovereignty and nationalism, Spanish and Catalan, from the word go.

More background.


The Catalan independence referendum is a smokescreen for other issues. Eleanor Rosenbach
Independent.

The ruling party in Catalonia, PDeCAT, has been plagued with allegations of corruption; debate around which has receded as demands for independence have increased. Spain’s governing party, the Partido Popular, for its part, has often sought conflict as a means of garnering public support.

Both sides in this debate are using the referendum to further their own political agendas. Spain’s governing party, the Partido Popular (PP), is a right-wing party housing a spectrum of thought from neoliberalists to the hard-line right. The ruling party in Catalonia, PDeCAT, is a centre right party of the Catalan bourgeois which has historically been the natural ally of PP and not a traditional supporter of independence. Interestingly, their move to advocate a referendum has stopped their support from dropping in recent months.

Alongside this, neither the national government nor the Catalan parliament are strangers to corruption in politics. PDeCAT has been plagued with allegations of corruption, debate around which has receded significantly as demands for independence have increased. PP, for its part, has often sought conflict as a means of garnering public support. Positioning this referendum and the spectre of independence as a threat to Spanish citizens and their economic future – as well as tugging on the strings of nationalist patriotism in demanding the continued unity of Spain – PP has engaged widespread support. In recent days, Spanish flags have poured from windows and balconies, and in towns throughout Spain people have cheered the Civil Guard – Spain’s law enforcement agency which operates on military lines – with football chants advocating the defeat of the opposition.

Of wider interest:

El Paìs reports,  There’s fake news in Catalonia too.

After a month of intense activity, primarily on Twitter, these pro-Russian profiles have managed to successfully place the secessionist challenge among the most relevant issues in international politics on internet forums. But the issue has not been presented as a dispute between the majority of Catalans who want to decide on their independence and the rest of the Spanish people, but rather as a crucial part of a crisis in the model of Western democracy and the European Union as an institution. Officially, the Kremlin has stated time and again that the referendum is an internal Spanish affair. However, the accounts that less diplomatically promote the Russian government’s interests on social media spoke yesterday of the EU’s imminent decomposition.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Nigel Farage: Catalonia Demonstrates EU Democratic Failure.

with 4 comments

Catalan officers stand in front of protesters as they gesture at Spanish police a day after the referendum.

Main unions’ statement, “CC OO and UGT are not calling the general strike for October 3,” said the country’s top two unions in a joint release. “Our organisations in Catalonia are encouraging participation in protests against the excesses committed on October 1. In no way are we going to support positions that provide backing for the unilateral declaration of independence”

“The regional government and Barcelona City Hall are allowing their employees to strike today without docking them the corresponding day’s pay, as would usually be the case for a stoppage.”

“All three production lines at the Seat carmaking plant in Martorell (Barcelona) are working at full speed. The factory has not been affected by the general strike and only a reduced number of employees have decided to stay home, said the works council.”

El Pais.

The  repression in Catalonia continues to have a wide international fall-out.

“Right-wing British politician Nigel Farage expressed support for the Catalan separatists’ cause inside the European Parliament, where he strongly criticized the Spanish government over the events of last Sunday. Esteban González Pons, leader of the Spanish delegation in the European People’s Party group, said that it is the far right that supports independence in Catalonia.”

In Catalonia we have seen how the EU does ‘democracy’. Why can’t Remainers see it too?

Telegraph.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2017 at 10:23 am

Against Madrid’s Repression, Against Middle-Class Catalan Breakaway State.

with 27 comments

 

Catalan Independence Supporters to Oversee Polling Booths in Break-away Election.

Grupos de activistas pro referéndum toman las escuelas para garantizar su apertura el domingo)

From the Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International (Northite).

Rarely do we agree with this group, but here they say some important truths which most of the English speaking left seems unable to articulate.

We would add that it is astonishing that anybody who claims to be socialist or left, in the case of the Catalan ERC  Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, ERC; IPA:  and the smaller  pro-nationalist ‘radical’ left outside, can justify an alliance of the Catalan nationalist left with a corruption riddled (and much larger) pro-business party, the Partit Demòcrata Europeu Català, PDeCAT), also known as the Catalan Democratic Party (CatalanPartit Demòcrata Català). It was founded in Barcelona on 10 July 2016, as the successor to  the now-defunct Democratic Convergence of Catalonia. Why the name change from its former incarnation, the Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya   ? There is one family name that sums the reasons up, Jordi Pujol, a byword for sleaze and insider backhander, something that marks out modern Catalan nationalism.

The strategy of this alliance, which won 47% of the regional vote in 2015,and 71 out of 135 seats in the devolved parliament, has been to blame ‘Madrid’ – with overtones of the profligate, lazy ‘Southerners’- for all their economic and political problems.

Appararently this is ‘civic nationalism’.

But then there are people who can convince themselves that the SNP is ‘left-wing’.

 

30 September 2011

Oppose the state crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum!

For working class unity! No to separatism in Spain!

 

Catalonia is Spain’s richest region, representing a fifth of the country’s GDP. The separatist parties aim to create a new mini-state, through which they can claw back taxes presently paid to central government, while establishing direct relations with the global banks, transnational corporations and the European Union. They hope to transform Catalonia into a low tax, free trade area based on stepped-up exploitation of the working class.

The Catalan nationalists and their pseudo-left backers dress themselves up as progressives. However, nothing fundamental distinguishes Catalan separatism from similar separatist formations across Europe—the Scottish Nationalist Party in the UK, or those of an explicitly right-wing character such as Italy’s Northern League and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang. In all these instances, separatism has emerged in regions enjoying some economic advantage over the rest of the country, which the local bourgeoisie seeks to exploit to its own benefit.

An “independent” Catalan republic, were it established, would be nothing of the sort. It would be even more dependent on the major powers, in Europe and internationally. In alliance with the EU, it would continue the policies the Catalan separatist parties pursued in their alliance with Madrid: brutal austerity, slashing funding for education, health care and other social needs and using police to smash strikes and protests. It would be a dead end for workers.

 

Against capitalist Spain and the creation of a capitalist Catalonia, the ICFI calls for building the United Socialist States of Europe!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2017 at 8:56 am

Labour’s Great Leap Forward.

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Image result for labour conference

 

Labour’s Great Leap Forward.

The 2017 Labour Party Conference was a success. Above all a series of policy decisions, on ending PFI, re-establishing public ownership of key sectors, rail and utilities, represents the first serious challenge to the regulative stand that has dominated European social democracy since the 1980s. It strikes at the neoliberal principle that as far as possible the functions of the national and local state should be hived off to private enterprise. Decisions in favour of union rights replace the idea that the workplace is a place of creative energy with only accidental conflict that can be sorted out with a minimum of legislation. Government intervention in the economy has been re-established as a principle. Taxation will be rebalanced in favour of the less-well off. The Health Service will be regenerated, free of the burden of hived-off services.

Labour has taken the first steps towards refounding social democracy and democratic socialism within a common framework. That is to bring together the aspiration for Crossland’s more just form of distribution (The Future of Socialism. 1956) with the long-standing socialist commitment to public ownership and an end to the “automatism of the competitive capitalist economy” that Aneurin Bevan advocated (In Place of Fear. 1952) One can only hope that new policies for social security, afflicted by the disaster that is Universal Credit, at present a site under construction, will receive the same attention.

The New Synthesis and its Limits.

Labour has not resolved its divisions on Europe, making claims about a new consensus – after a vote on the issue, including Free Movement – was avoided. Ideas that the EU would forbid public ownership, even that the presence of migrant workers – whether used by employers or not – is a problem were floated by the leadership.

The claim that competition regulations automatically rule out all forms of public ownership is clearly false, as this article indicates, Nationalisation Is Not Against EU Law. The associated theory, that a sovereign Parliament under Labour control will be freer to make its own economic policies under Brexit, remains. The view that ‘market forces”, in the shape of holders of government bonds, pounds, banks and financial institutions, will weaken in a country outside the EU is not widely held. It is unlikely that the “deep state” of international capitalism is kinder, or more open to influence, than the pooled sovereignty of the European Union.

The other element in Labour’s ‘synthesis’ between different strands of left thinking, human rights, is represented in the stand taken against anti-Semitism. Its persistence on the fringes has to be confronted. Controversy will continue on international issues, with a small, but entrenched, section of the party convinced of the merits of backing any enemy of the West.

The regeneration of the party has been accompanied by the growth of Momentum, a significant influence of Labour delegates. This has brought to the fore newer ideas, which some trace to the ‘alter-globalisation’ movements of the 21st century’s first decade. Perhaps some Momentum activists are influenced by “intersectionality” (drawing together a variety of fights against oppression) and a leading figure from that time, invited to their Conference event, Naomi Klein and her commitment to the Leap Manifesto, a  call for “energy democracy”, “Caring for the Earth”and restoration, in Canada, to the “original caretakers of this land” (No is not enough. 2017). Others on the European left make a more general point. For Christophe Aguiton the network has helped Labour regenerate, capturing within its own structures the kind of social discontent about austerity and radical politics associated with Podemos in Spain. (La Gauche du 21e Siècle .2017)

Labour’s mind will now turn to electoral strategy. Some will be concerned with gaining support amongst those, often Northern and working class, who backed Brexit. Influenced by David Goodhart’s distinction between “anywheres” and “somewheres” Labour should now concentrate on winning over the rooted, provincial electorate, disaffected with both austerity and cultural change, the ‘left behinds’ who reject the “metropolitan elite”. (The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 2017). To some left-wingers this tallies with a version of identity politics, in which working class culture, embodying virtue, resists cosmopolitan liberalism – the EU. This electorate is “more real” than, say, the Canterbury students who helped get a Labour MP into Parliament in a Tory safe seat. That layers of the Somewheres have cast their ballots for UKIP may perhaps explain the Conference declarations against migrant workers.

Left blocs. 

Bruno Amable and Stefano Palombarini deal with dilemmas for the French left many of which echo these issues, L’illusion du Bloc bourgeois (2017). Written in the run up this year’s Presidential election the authors race the steady erosion of the social ‘bloc’ which tied together the electorate of the French left, public sector workers and the working class.

Amable and Palombarini trace how the interests of this bloc, in workers’ rights, social protection, raising living standards, all enveloped in policies of state intervention, were eroded by successive ‘Socialist’ (that is, Parti Socialiste) led governments since the mid-1980s. The 1983-4 ‘turn’ to market driven policies, under the Mitterrand Presidency, was marked by the ideology “modernisation” which projected onto the construction of Europe the domestic priority for liberalising the economy. It weakened their base, undoing the assent for the party.

This modernising turn shook up workplace relations, gave priority to ‘flexibility’, greater power to financial markets, and has had a direct impact on people’s lives, their career paths, their job security, and sapped their ability to negotiate better terms and conditions. Rather than cultural shock at the ‘new’ – reactions to greater social liberalisation, and to immigration – has eaten away at left support. In other words, it’s not that the ‘Somewheres’ (known in French as ‘la France périphérique). are reactionary, they cannot recognise themselves in a political party – or electoral alliance – which does not meet their goals. The fate of the PS, reduced to dust in this year’s elections, is the result of a long process in which their leadership has failed to listen to their voice, and objective needs. 

Modernisers.

That British ‘modernisers’ around Tony Blair appealed to ‘globalisation’ rather than the European Project illustrates that the EU is not the convenient target for all the faults of neoliberalism that some suggest. Blair’s own strategists, less worried about left-wing competitors than the French PS, and keenly aware of Labour’s monopoly of the left-voting working class, found their own worker figure. This was the “aspirational” worker discussed by Philip Gould, as well as by Roger Liddle and Peter Mandelson (The Unfinished Revolution. 1998, The Blair Revolution. 1996).Labour could only secure of a majority for its own ‘left bloc’ by reaching beyond its traditionally organised workers, public and private, to this electoral pool. Seemingly unconcerned with the less attractive effects of flexibilisation and marketisation, these figure were to be equipped with new skills to compete on the “global market”. The welfare state was resigned to be a ‘launch pad’ for employment, not a ‘safe home’ for the causalities of capitalism, or for those in need, the basic right for all for a decent life. That we now see people in absolute poverty living on our streets shows the way this has turned out. 

Yet the result appears the same. After the 2008 Banking Crash the appeal of unfettered markets waned; the ‘bloc’ behind Third Way modernisation cracked. There was not enough money, apparently, around to shore up the remaining public and organised union base, while the ‘aspirational’ workers looked to those who embraced austerity wholeheartedly. Not surprisingly, as Amable and Palombarini, argue for France, a real problem is that the section of the base which has been shaped by the opportunities which better social protection, the welfare state, social security, abstains.

In France there have been efforts to rebuild the ‘left bloc’ around the ‘Sovereigntist’ (reasserting French national state power over the EU) or ‘Left Populist’ line of federating the People against the Oligarchs. The nature and the future of this attempt, around the figure of Jan-Luc Mélenchon, is not our concern here, except to note that half-hearted populist efforts by Labour leaders to evoke populist themes, which draw on “resentment” at oligarchical – business and financial – power have not been met with success.

Labour’s Path.

Labour’s strategy sets out a different path. It is already a movement, with trade union, large constituency parties, and deep roots in civil society. It is not an appeal to an abstract ‘construction’ the people, or heavily dependent on a Web network. It is policies that are developed for, and by these constituencies that Labour needs to win. Two themes stand out: social ownership and equality. They are shaping into a framework that could take them up. That is to expresses both the social democratic goal of “society protecting itself” (Karl Polanyi), and the radical aspiration for democratic ownership, and that the workplace becomes a place where people have rights and are not the objects of flexible markets. Both point, it hardly needs saying, to far more radical changes to come.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 28, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Calls to Expel “Labour Party Marxists” for Leaflet alleging “Zionist-Nazi connection” and “collaboration”.

with 13 comments

 

anti-Semitism large

 

The Times,

Jeremy Corbyn has been called on to investigate a left-wing group accused of producing and circulating antisemitic literature on the fringes of Labour’s conference.

Labour MPs and the Holocaust Educational Trust demanded a personal intervention by the Labour leader to identify and discipline members of the Labour Party Marxists group, which disseminated a leaflet quoting a prominent Nazi.

The organisation is not affiliated with Labour officially, but James Marshall, a senior figure in the group, said that all of its supporters, including himself, were card-carrying members.

The leaflet handed out in Brighton discussed the “commonality between Zionists and Nazis”. It quoted Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi architect of the Final Solution, saying in 1935: “National Socialists had no intention of attacking Jewish people.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “I don’t understand how it is acceptable to be handing out such disgusting literature outside Labour’s conference quoting one of the 20th century’s most notorious antisemites and architects of the Final Solution, Reinhard Heydrich.”

She added: “The Labour Party Marxists’ guide to motions at the conference suggests that at least some of their supporters are party members — Labour needs to identify who is linked to this group.”

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group against antisemitism, said: “The Labour Party Marxists should all be thrown out of the party, every single one of them. We want them investigated and then thrown out. Their scurrilous publication, which contains antisemitic material, is good only for the recycling bin.”

As the row threatened to overshadow the party’s four-day gathering, the Labour leader of Brighton & Hove council warned that it could be the last time the party hosts its conference in the seaside town unless it gets a grip on the problem. Warren Morgan said he was very concerned at “the antisemitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference”.

Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, also joined the row, telling TalkRadio: “Some people have made offensive comments, it doesn’t mean they’re inherently antisemitic and hate Jews. They just go over the top when they criticise Israel.”

Mr Livingstone, 72, has been disciplined by the party for comments he made about Hitler last year and is banned from holding office in Labour until next April, but is still a member of his local party.

A heated debate took place in the conference hall on a rule change on antisemitism. Mike Katz, a delegate from the Jewish Labour Movement, welcomed Mr Corbyn’s backing for the new rule, which strengthens the party’s disciplinary process for dealing with antisemitic and other forms of prejudicial views and behaviour.

During the debate one delegate, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, accused the party of policing “thought crime”, saying: “Obviously if you express hateful opinions you’ve got to be disciplined, or at least educated — but holding them? We can’t be having it.”

Yesterday the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said Labour needed to do more to prove it was not a racist party.

Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, said: “Anyone who says Labour doesn’t have a problem with antisemitism is in cloud cuckoo land.”

Mr Corbyn rejected accusations that Labour had become the new “nasty party”. “Nobody should be abused, whoever they are,” he said. “We have just passed a motion on racism and antisemitism which is comprehensive and inclusive and is supported by all wings of the party and unanimously agreed by our national executive.

“Anyone using antisemitic language, anyone using any form of racist language, is completely at odds with the beliefs of this party.”

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, last night claimed the row was “mood music created by people trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn”.

Mr Marshall, of the Labour Party Marxists, said: “The idea the Labour Party Marxists article in question is antisemitic is risible. It was written by Moshé Machover, a Jewish Israeli. They [the critics] are equating antisemitism with antizionism.”

Jewish Labour Movement
The only Jewish community socialist society officially affiliated to Labour. The pro-Zionist organisation boasts MPs and councillors among its supporters. The JLM helped to devise the rule change that Labour backed yesterday strengthening the party’s disciplinary process. Some Labour members, including Jewish party backers, have complained the JLM does not represent their views.

Free Speech on Israel
The independent group says it “was founded as a predominantly Jewish campaign group in Spring 2016 to counter the manufactured moral panic over a supposed epidemic of antisemitism in the UK. Criticism of Israel and of its founding ideology, Zionism, has been misrepresented as antisemitic.”

Labour Party Marxists (1)
The independent group has published many articles about Israel. It was accused of producing literature quoting Reinhard Heydrich, architect of the Final Solution, that was antisemitic — an allegation it rejected — and handing it out on the conference’s fringes.

And here the article by Moshé Machover, a lifelong anti-Zionist Jewish Israeli campaigner.

Most of the article is Moshé’s well known views on the topic of Israel and Zionism.

But this breaks, dare one say it, new ground, in its explicit linking of Zionism with Nazism.

Nazi collaboration

Let us turn now to the Zionist-Nazi connection. In fact it sounds more shocking than it is, because we are talking about the early days of the Nazi regime. Today the holocaust is taught in schools, so people may know when the policy of extermination of Jews actually started officially – in January 1942, when a Nazi conference was convened in Wannsee under the chairmanship of Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was second in command to Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS.

The minutes of this conference are actually online and in them a change in policy towards the Jews, ratified by the Führer, was declared. Although it is phrased euphemistically, it is clear that what was being talked about was both deportation to the east and extermination.

This change occurred following the attack on the Soviet Union, when the Nazis felt they had to find different ways of dealing with the ‘Jewish problem’. Until that time the official policy was for the exclusion of the Jews from political and civic life, for separation and for emigration. Quite naturally the Zionist leadership thought this set of policies was similar to those of other anti-Semitic regimes – which it was – and the Zionist approach was not peculiar to the Nazi regime. The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed out that anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted to rid them of the Jews. That was the common interest.

In 1934 the German rabbi, Joachim Prinz, published a book entitled Wir Juden (‘We, the Jews’), in which he welcomed the Nazi regime. That regime wanted to separate Jews from non-Jews and prevent assimilation – as did the Zionists. Philip Roth’s novel, The plot against America, is based on actual people, including Prinz, who emigrated to America and became a leader of the US Jewish community – the fact that he was a Zionist is not mentioned.

Anyway, the Zionists made overtures to the Nazi regime, so how did the Nazis respond? Here are two relevant quotations. The first is from the introduction to the Nuremberg laws, the racist legislation introduced in Nazi Germany in 1935. This extract was still present in the 1939 edition, from which I am quoting:

If the Jews had a state of their own, in which the bulk of their people were at home, the Jewish question could already be considered solved today … The ardent Zionists of all people have objected least of all to the basic ideas of the Nuremberg laws, because they know that these laws are the only correct solution for the Jewish people too …4)

Heydrich himself wrote the following in an article for the SS house journal Das Schwarze Korps in September 1935:

National socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.5)

In other words, a friendly mention of Zionism, indicating an area of basic agreement it shared with Nazism.

Of course, looking back at all this, it seems all the more sinister, since we know that the story ended with the gas chambers a few years later. This overlap is an indictment of Zionism, but the actual collaboration between the two was not such an exceptional thing, when you accept that the Zionists were faced with the reality of an anti-Semitic regime.

By the way, half of what Ken Livingstone said is not very far from the caricature uttered by Netanyahu in 2016 during an address to delegates at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. According to Netanyahu, “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews” until he met the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, in 1941. Netanyahu claimed that “Al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here’.”

Of course, the allegation that the idea of extermination originated with the grand mufti has been rejected with contempt by serious historians, but Netanyahu was at least correct in saying that emigration, not extermination, was indeed Nazi policy until the winter of 1941-42.

Let me repeat: we must go on the counterattack against the current slurs. It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisation and collusion with anti-Semitism. Don’t apologise for saying this. If you throw the sharks bloodied meat, they will only come back for more. At the moment the left is apologising too much, in the hope that the right will let up. They never will.

I will just say a few words to Moshé’ in response to this farrago: the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. (2)

I am not alone is being deeply saddened by this.

To those who deny that anti-semitism is a problem in labour and that this has contributed to it, read the following:

Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place

The evidence was there in Brighton if you were willing to see it. There were the Labour party Marxistshanding out a paper that repeated Livingstone’s toxic claim of ideological solidarity between the Nazis and those German Jews who sought a Jewish homeland.

There’s the testimony of John Cryer MP, who sits on Labour’s disputes panel. He says some of the anti-Jewish tweets and Facebook posts he has seen from Labour members are “redolent of the 1930s”.

There were loud calls for the expulsion of Jewish groups, one of which has been part of the Labour movement for a century. Hardly a surprise that some Jewish activists turned away from the conference, describing an atmosphere that felt too hostile to endure.

But no – for Len and the Kens and their allies, it’s all made up. Perhaps they don’t realise that that itself is a tired anti-Jewish trope: that Jews invent stories of suffering to drive a secret political agenda. Or, to put it more simply, that there is a Jewish conspiracy.

(1) Labour Party Marxists was set up by supporters of The Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Committee), notably Stan Keable. It is an offshoot of what it better known as the Weekly Worker. Their membership is generously estimated at 20. The Weekly Worker has been a small faction within every left regroupment going, from the Socialist Alliance, Respect, Left Unity to the LRC. The paper publishes, apart from Moshé Lewin, who until now was respected on the left, numerous articles on ‘Zionism’ by Tony Greenstein.

 

 

(2)Wikipedia.

“Two Jewish underground organisations fought in the Warsaw Uprising: the left wing Żydowska Organizacja Bojowa (ŻOB) founded in July 1942 by Zionist Jewish youth groups within the Warsaw Ghetto;[16] and the right wing Żydowski Związek Wojskowy (ŻZW), or Jewish Military Union, a national organization founded in 1939 by former Polish military officers of Jewish background which had strong ties to the Polish Home Army, and cells in almost every major town across Poland.[17][18] However both organisations were officially incorporated into the Polish Home Army and its command structure in exchange for weapons and training.[19]

Marek Edelman, who was the only surviving uprising commander from the left-wing ŻOB, stated that the ŻOB had 220 fighters and each was armed with a handgun, grenades, and Molotov cocktails. His organization had three rifles in each area, as well as two land mines and one submachine gun.[20][21][22][23] Due to its socialist leanings, the Soviets promoted the actions of ŻOB as the dominant or only party in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a view often adopted by secondary sources in the West.[18]

The right-wing faction ŻZW which was founded by former Polish officers, was larger, more established and had closer ties with the Polish resistance, making it better equipped.[24][25] Zimmerman describes the arm supplies for the uprising as “limited but real”.[26] Specifically, Jewish fighters of the ŻZW received from the Polish Home Army: 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light machine guns, 21 submachine guns, 30 rifles, 50 pistols, and over 400 grenades for the uprising.[27] During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, ŻZW is reported to have had about 400 well-armed fighters grouped in 11 units, with 4 units including fighters from the Polish Home Army. Due to the ŻZW’s anti-socialist stand and close ties with the Polish Home Army (which was subsequently outlawed by the Soviets), the Soviets suppressed publication of books and articles on ŻZW after the war and downplayed its role in the uprising, in favour of the more socialist ŻOB.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

Labour to Adopt New Rules to Fight Anti-Semitism.

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This Blog is amongst those who consider that anti-Semitism is a problem.

It has become increasingly to the fore as what our French comrades call “political confusionism” has infected a part of the left. This ranges from those who adopt the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, that is taking the attitude that Israel is the major threat in world politics, and that ‘anti-imperialists’ have to align with the opponents of ‘Zionism’ to outright anti-Jewish individuals.

A range of political belief, parties and groups, centred on the belief that the state of Israel is the legitimate expression of Jewish national aspirations, without necessarily agreeing on the actions of that state, or its policies, is always referred to as “Zionism”, without qualification.

It is possible to be opposed to this from many standpoints.

We could start with the position of Hannah Arendt, who for all her distance from orthodox socialism,  has deeply influenced a whole part of the left, including the writer of this Blog.

Arendt had been a tireless advocate for Jewish victims and for the existence of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, but she envisioned the homeland as a federated, pluralistic, democratic, secular state — a homeland for Palestinians and Jews coexisting peacefully as neighbours without an official state religion. This may seem a pipe dream now, but in early Zionism this was called the “general” view. The “revisionist” view that Israel must be a Jewish state and a homeland only for Jews did not come to dominate the discourse until the end of World War II, when the Holocaust was revealed in its full terror and destruction.

Arendt’s statement, ” to a principled liberal, truth and justice must always be higher values than patriotism.” applies a fortiori  to socialists.

We do not share her latter belief in the overwhelming  virtues of citizenship wedded to national sovereignty for the following reasons:

  •  internationalists who are against nationalism, or putting the interests of one ‘people’ first, rather than universal interests, would be opposed to  movements that give priority to a nation,  even if few would be so childish as to deny people’s self-defined right to form a state that is national.
  •  one can oppose the specific forms of nationalism that various Zionist groups and parties have taken – that is the founding moment of Israel as a territory, state and administration.  Arendt
  • Many more people may be against specific policies, such as the occupation of the West Bank the failure to reach agreements with the Palestinians to the legislation inside Israel that favours one section of the community over the other.

Put simply, we can criticise Israel from the standpoint of universal values.

Those who are dedicated to fighting for the national rights of the Palestinians and yet who oppose the existential right of Israel, that is its existence, seem in a poor position to criticise the nationalist premise of Israel.

For reasons many of us find hard to grasp Israel is considered as the embodiment of evil, far outclassing the threats posed by, say, Assad, the genocidal Islamists of ISIS, the ethnic cleansers of Burma, the murderous armed bands at work in Central Africa, and, so it goes.

Modern-day anti-semitism is often mixed in with self-descriptions as Anti-Zionism, as in the French based Parti anti-Sioniste, which finds evidence of Zionist activity even in Algeria: “It seems that Algeria is still under increased supervision and threat from US-ZIONISTS as shown by the recent seizure of spy equipment at Algeria’s airport in a flight from Qatar.” In 2012 these ‘anti-Zionists” stood Holocaust denier the ‘humoriste Dieudonné ” as a candidate in legislative elections.

That indicates clearly that while we agree wholly that anti-Zionism -is not in itself at all  anti-Semitic, many anti-Semites call themselves anti-Zionist.

With this in mind we look at the following:

The Labour Party has reached this decision:

Labour is to adopt tough new rules to tackle antisemitism following a heated debate at the party’s annual conference, but some activists have accused the party of policing “thought crime”.

The change comes after Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, pledged that the party would investigate how it gave a platform at a conference fringe event to a speaker, Miko Peled, who said people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust happened.

Senior Labour figures will hope that the passing of the rule change on Tuesday will send a signal that the party is prepared to get tough on anti-Jewish hate speech within its ranks.

The rule change proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement, which has been backed by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the party’s national executive committee, will tighten explicitly the party’s stance towards members who are antisemitic or use other forms of hate speech, including racism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia.

Momentum, the grassroots leftwing group that has been Corbyn’s key support base, told delegates in its daily alert on Tuesday that they should vote in favour of the motion. The majority of the delegates at this year’s conference are aligned with Momentum; the group’s backing for the rule change means it is highly likely to pass.

Although the majority of Labour members are expected to back the amendment, there was heated debate after the change was proposed in the conference hall.

Delegate Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who chaired the controversial fringe event on Monday night, was one of those who spoke against the rule change.

Wimborne-Idrissi, one of the founders of the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Labour, said she was concerned the change referenced the “holding of beliefs” as opposed to expressing them. “Holding them? That’s thought crime, comrades, and we can’t be having it,” she said.

Hastings and Rye delegate Leah Levane also attacked the JLM’s change, saying the group did not speak for all Jews in the party.

Levane’s local party had proposed an alternative change, which described anti-Zionism as “legitimate political discourse” that should not be taken as evidence of hatred of Jews, but it said she would withdraw this because “the pressure is too great … We are not going to be risk being seen as the splitters”.

This row remains live:

The party was engulfed in an antisemitism row on the morning of the rule change debate, after remarks by Peled, an Israeli-American author, at an event on free speech and Israel. The Daily Mail reported that he said: “This is about free speech, the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum. There should be no limits on the discussion.

“It’s about the limits of tolerance: we don’t invite the Nazis and give them an hour to explain why they are right; we do not invite apartheid South Africa racists to explain why apartheid was good for the blacks, and in the same way we do not invite Zionists – it’s a very similar kind of thing.”

At the same meeting the Daily Mirror reports,

During the discussion, Michael Kalmanovitz, a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, said the claims were part of a right-wing effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the left.

He went on to call for two pro-Israeli groups to be expelled from the party.

He said: “The thing is, if you support Israel, you support apartheid. So what is the JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) and Labour Friends of Israel doing in our party? Kick them out.”

Loud cheers, applause and calls of “throw them out” erupted in the room of around a hundred activists in response.

The Guardian continues,

Watson said Labour’s conference organising committee would investigate how Peled had been given a seat on a panel at the event.

“I’m sure these allegations from the fringe, which is nothing to do with the Labour party, will be investigated,” he said. “It is disgusting to deny the Holocaust. These people are cranks, they have no role in the mainstream of politics and we certainly don’t want them in the Labour party.”

Watson said antisemitism “has always been there on the fringes … But it is a very small number of people in our society, if they get involved in the Labour party we want them out”.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, also condemned Peled’s remarks and gave his backing to the rule change. “I hope the conference votes for that motion because we should have absolute zero tolerance when it comes to the quite disgusting and pitiful antisemitism that sadly we’re sometimes seeing on social media these days,” he said.

A party spokesman said: “Labour condemns antisemitism in the strongest possible terms and our national executive committee unanimously passed tough new rule changes last week. All groupings in the party should treat one another with respect. We will not tolerate antisemitism or Holocaust denial.”

Responding to the row in a series of tweets Peled said he did not deny the Holocaust, and suggested that Watson and Ashworth were confusing freedom of speech with antisemitism

“Oh boy! … free speech is now antisemitism too… @UKLabour should know better” he said in one tweet.

 He followed this with the following comment, referring to the ‘Holocaust’ of Global Warming,

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2017 at 5:02 pm

German Elections and the AfD.

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Police blocks demonstrators protesting against the nationalist 'Alternative for Germany', AfD, party in Berlin

Turn left: Smash Nationalism!

Der Spiegel Editorial 

Democracy at Stake: Germany’s Slide to the Right

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats lost massive support in Sunday’s parliamentary election while the right-wing populist performed better than expected. What happens now?

This year’s general election in Germany has been heralded as an epochal shift. Merkel’s “grand coalition,” pairing her conservatives with the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), was voted out of office and the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) became Germany’s third-strongest party. In the search for reasons for the shift, the language of politics is a good place to start. The AfD professed to be clear and decisive, their language was explicit — and voters rewarded them for it. The chancellor, by contrast, sought to avoid discussions and to completely ignore major issues focused on by the populists: foreign migrants and German uneasiness. Merkel’s political style, which is characterized by avoiding clashes, was punished to the greatest possible degree.

And the center-left Social Democrats were unable to settle on a strategy early on — or at least they were unable to stick to the tactics they found late in the campaign. It was only after the election, at 6:05 p.m. on Sunday evening, that the disappointed SPD, no longer bound by the discipline of the campaign, finally managed to define what differentiates it from Merkel’s Christian Democrats — which was touchingly awkward. Because in democracies, after the election is too late.

 It seems clear what will now happen: a coalition matching Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) with the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP) and the Green Party — almost certainly under the leadership of a Merkel who suddenly seems shrunk and fainthearted, and whose days as her party’s leader no longer seem infinite. The only alternative would be new elections or — in a few weeks — a reversal on the part of the SPD. The party pledged on Sunday night that it would not be part of a coalition with Merkel going forward, and an about-face would be extremely damaging.

How should we look at this from the rest of Europe?

The success of the Alternative für Deutschland, (AfD) is the most immediately striking result.

International Viewpoint summarises this.

The AfD reached 12.6% of the votes compared to 4.7% in 2013 and becomes the 3rd force in the Bundestag with 94 deputies. Moreover, the AfD becomes the 1st party in Saxony with 27% of the votes against the CDU with 26.9%, and in general 1st force in the male electorate of the new Länder of East Germany. In Bavaria, the AfD comes in second place behind the CSU in many constituencies.

The AfD was able to take more than one million votes in the CDU / CSU, almost half a million in the SPD and almost 400,000 in the party Die Linke party, and mobilize more than one million of those who were not to go to the polls in 2013, in the framework of a participation of 76.2% of the electorate compared to 71.5% in 2013. Despite the great electoral success, the conflict reigns at the summit of the AfD after these elections: Frauke Petry, who obtained a direct mandate in Saxony, co-chair of the party with a more “moderate” profile than the first candidates of the party, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, has just announced that it will not be part of the parliamentary fraction of the AfD to the new Bundestag. The words of Alexander Gauland announcing “to open the hunt against Merkel” and its fascistoid verbal provocations displeased her.

Many people will be wary of taring Germany with the far-right brush, particularly in view of the as large (UKIP) far-right vote recently in the UK, not to mention the Front National vote in the second round of the Presidential elections (Marine Le Pen, 10, 638, 475, 33,9%) this year. Not to mention a series of other countries’ far-right votes, from the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie,  in Belgium, 2014, , 1,366, o73, 20,3% to the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ, , 2013  958.29520,51 %40.

But Taz puts its finger on a major problem racism which it observes, the inherits and Afd is playing with. synthesise the ideas of the New Right and the Identity movement, the latter which has echoes across Europe.  Die Erben des Rassismus. This is something all of us have to confront, from the fall-out in the UK from Brexit, and the ambiguous response of some on the left to freedom of movement, to the problems with confronting right-wing ‘populism’ elsewhere, the AfD does concern us.

We are not going to fight racism and extreme nationalism by playing another form of ‘identity politics’ against the AfD’s identity politics but only through  movements based on universal emancipatory principles.

Bang on cue we hear this:

Germany’s new far-right party AfD says it will fight an ‘invasion of foreigners’ (Independent)

“One million people – foreigners – being brought into this country are taking away a piece of this country and we as AfD don’t want that,” Mr Gauland told the press conference.

“We say we don’t want to lose Germany to an invasion of foreigners from a different culture. Very simple.”

It is some consolation that the AfD is as rent with personality clashes and factionalism as UKIP.

Frauke Petry ‘drops bomb’ on rightwing nationalist party by announcing she will instead serve as independent MP.
The entry of the AfD into the Bundestag is already provoking protests.
 https://twitter.com/chefreporterNRW/status/912011834026336261
Yesterday:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2017 at 4:41 pm

Back Free Movement at Labour Conference, Make Sure it Gets Prioritised!

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Labour can’t accept a Brexit deal that ends free movement, says pro-Corbyn union

A pro-Corbyn trade union leader has submitted an emergency motion to Labour conference that would commit the party to opposing any Brexit deal that would end free movement.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: “This motion will ensure Labour resist this pernicious attack on working people’s liberty by ensuring the Tory attempt to ban free movement is opposed at every opportunity.”

Cortes was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s earliest backers and his union is affiliated to Momentum. The motion is likely to be controversial, however, as it would lock the Labour leadership’s hands on a Brexit deal.

Whilst the frontbench position on Brexit has softened recently, to favouring an extended transitional arrangement in the single market, Keir Starmer has ruled out staying in the bloc indefinitely unless a new deal on free movement could be struck.

Cortes added: “Theresa May is about to further embarrass our country abroad today when she attempts to lay out the terms of her Tory Brexit in Florence. Whose crazy idea was it to lay out terms of British decline in a city that is the symbol of the European renaissance?.

“Do the Tories not get that Europe will get along just fine without us? But British workers are already being burned on the alter of Tory Brexit with rising costs and falling real wages and the by the loss of our EU workers which is exacerbating problems in our public services and food and agricultural industries. If the Tories get away with ending free movement they will turn Britain into a jail for British workers because the terms of Tory Brexit won’t just lock EU workers out, they’ll jail British workers in.

A shock poll released today suggests that if the EU referendum rerun, Remain would win. 

The full emergency motion tabled to conference states:

Conference notes:
1) The publication of Boris Johnson’s Telegraph article on 15th September exposing Tory chaos over Brexit;
2) William Hague accusing government ministers of “lacking coordination” over Brexit on the 19th September;
3) The lack of a coherent Tory plan for Brexit and continuing differences over the nature of talks with our European Union (EU) partners;
4) Chaos within the Brexit department as another senior civil servant departs whilst the Brexit minister has been sidelined.

Conference believes:
1) Tory Brexit shambles is hurting our economy and livelihoods and is likely to lead to deregulation in areas like workers’ rights;
2) A ‘no deal’ outcome looms large due to Tory Brexit plans;
3) Retaining tariff-free trade access to the EU’s Single Market is vital for our industries, our jobs and our livelihoods;

Conference strongly condemns those who blame migrant workers for low wages. It’s unscrupulous bosses and our Westminister engineered deregulated Labour market who are at fault – not migrants.

Conference resolves that Labour will:
• Leave all options open on our future relationship with the EU;
• Re-regulate our labour market including implementing a real living wage and ending bogus self-employment;
• Install sectoral collective bargaining so there is a rate for every job and a trade union in every workplace whilst also ensuring greater workforce planning with more apprenticeships in place to close our yawning skills gap;
• Oppose any deal which doesn’t allow the continuation of freedom of movement between the European Economic Area and the UK and vice verse.

Word reaches us that the CDLP and Momentum are not prioritising this motion and that elements within the Labour leadership, some of whom are anti-EU, wish the issues to be buried.

If this is true a clue to the thinking behind this can be seen on the site run by Momentum chief Jon Lansman  who is close to the CLDP, Left Futures.

This article by David Pavett virulently attacks Free Movement, from the standpoint that it would interfere with the “control” of capital, and labour, that a planned economy would require.

A Spectacular Own Goal?

A new group called the Labour Campaign for Free Movement has been launched. It says that thousands have already signed up to its campaign statement. It is also clearly hoping that the model resolution it has circulated will make it through to annual conference.

The truly astonishing thing is that the people signing the statement would appear to see no connection between this (generously motivated) liberalism and the doctrines of neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is only interested in national government insofar as it facilitates the freedom of big capital to operate just as it wants to across national borders and entering into every sphere of social life. That is the basis of the EU’s four freedoms. Behind the free movement of people lies the free movement of capital which is its determinant. There is not the slightest hint of a recognition of this in the Campaign Statement.

..

Not only Labour but even Maynard Keynes opposed the free movement of capital on the grounds that it would undermine national economic planning. Let me say that word again because it is so important: “planning”. Without overall control of resources the economy and therefore social development cannot be safely planned. How much do we need to argue that after 2008? This is the elephant in the socialist room.

Currently many on the left want to oppose racist anti-immigration with its opposite: absolutely free immigration. But just as the proper opposition to white minority rule in South Africa was never properly “black majority rule” (a phrase never used by the ANC) but “majority rule” (a point never understood by many on the left), the proper opposite of uncontrolled immigration is not no immigration but “controlled immigration”.

To those on the Labour left attracted by free movement rhetoric I think we should say “Just where do you put national democratic economic planning for social purpose in all this?”. My guess is that the triumph of neo-liberal ideology has meant that many of them have long since ceased to believe in the possibility of such a rationally and democratically organised socialist society. All that remains is managing capitalism and fire-fighting its crises.

..

If this isn’t a drive towards a spectacular own goal then I don’t know what is. That it should be advanced with such astonishingly poor arguments speaks volumes about the current state of debate within the Labour Party. I hope that people who take this issue seriously will acquaint themselves with the case made and will be ready to respond to it wherever comes up e.g. at LP branch and GC meetings.

Apart from comrade Jim Denham’s excellent reply on the site, there is also this by Don Flynn, a comrade from Chartist, who was the director of the Migrants’ Rights Network.

Don Flynn

You clearly haven’t got a clue as to what is involved in the business of managing migration. Your statement that “The vast majority of migrant workers in a controlled migration system would be here by agreement and would therefore have a clear status and a clear reason for being here” is breathtakingly naive.

The essence of being a migrant is that your residence rights are conditional on remaining compliant with the terms of your entry. This means that every migrant has to be kept under surveillance in order to ensure that they haven’t broken any rules. Since the rules themselves are constantly changing – 40,000 changes during T. May’s period in the Home Office – and run into volumes that cover not just the migrant herself but also just everyone who comes into contact with her – then this surveillance operation functions a machine that creates the conditions for breach of the rules and illegality.

Employers, landlords, university tutors, bank staff, social services departments, housing officials, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, Jobcentre staff, teaching staff at schooks- the list goes on.

To justify a policing opelation of this scale politicians have to ramp up public anxiety about the migration system being abased and too many of the ‘wrong’ sort of immigrants are getting into the country. The public is appealed to to be vigilant and use Home Office hotlines to report suspicions about ‘illegal’ immigrants moving into their neighbourhood. To show that officials are taking these anxieties seriously periodic campaigns have to be mounted, with street level ID checks and raids on
businesses that are run by migrants.

The outcome of all this action has to show up in government statistics that show more people are being arrested and detained – currently around 30,000 people a year go through detention centres – and more people are deported from the country. To ensure that challenges to this level of state action are kept to the minimum rights to legal aid are taken away and the opportunity to appeal reduced to the barest minimum. Civil society organisations that attempt to stand up for the rights of migrants also get caught in the net- accused of aiding and abetting illegality.

You think this climate of each treated hostility is one in which migrants can look forward to their eventual integration into British society? Dream on. Look at what managed migration has come to mean in any of the destination countries of the world – state thuggery and the ramping up of racism. Wake up and check out what is really going on out there!

More on Shiraz Socialist Labour conference: prioritise Brexit; vote for free movement, The Clarion and the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

And this: Labour could support free movement if single market was reformed, says John McDonnell.

Independent.

 

Labour would be in favour of keeping a form of free movement after Brexit if a “changed single market” could be formed, John McDonnell has said.

The shadow chancellor hinted at a softening in his party’s position on the single market after the EU withdrawal, suggesting European leaders might agree to reforms which retained some of the benefits of the existing deal.

Mr McDonnell said it would be “difficult to see” how Britain could stay in the existing agreement due to “exploitative” freedom of movement rules that allow employers to undercut wages.

This outrageous generalisation was followed by,

It comes as Jeremy Corbyn said he was prepared to listen to Labour members who want to remain within the EU trade agreement as he acknowledged there would be “a lot of movement” by EU workers after Brexit.

Speaking on the first day of Labour’s annual conference, Mr McDonnell told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “In that way, we think we can achieve all the benefits of the single market, overcome some of the disbenefits that were perceived in the referendum and in that way achieve a close and collaborative relationship with Europe in all our interests.

Asked if he would remain in the single market if suitable changes were made to freedom of movement, he said: “It wouldn’t be the single market as we now know it, based on the four freedoms (of movement of goods, services, capital and labour). Those four freedoms would be adjusted.

“We believe we can reform freedom of movement of people on the basis of protecting wages. That would be a changed single market.”

He called for “a relationship which is based on tariff-free access, the structures renegotiated but the objectives are the same” after Britain leaves the bloc.

Clear?

I thought not.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm

As Macron Signs Labour ‘Reforms’ into Law, Mélenchon’s La France insoumise holds its own Protest.

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Melenchon: the leftist aiming for 'pharaoh' Macron

Protest against the Social Coup Today.

 

Macron signs sweeping labour reforms into law. France 24.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday signed sweeping changes to France’s complex labour code into law, sealing a signature reform after four months at the helm.

The measures, which have triggered mass protests, are designed to give employers more flexibility to negotiate pay and conditions with their workers and makes it easier to lay off staff.

In signing the measures, Macron was making good on a central campaign vow, overriding objections from some trade unions and the hard-left opposition.

The 39-year-old centrist believes that making the job market more flexible will help drive down the unemployment rate, now at 9.6 percent, but opponents say the reforms are a gift to bosses while workers will suffer more job insecurity.

The reforms overhaul large parts of the 3,300-page labour code which details workers’ rights, with some chapters dating back over a century.

Rosa Luxumberg is said to have once commented that Jean Jaurès could not address the French Parliament  without appealing to the “heavens and the stars” ( au ciel et aux étoiles ).

It is hard not to be reminded of this remark when hearing a lesser figure, Jean-Luc Mélenchon in full flow, and not only when he is talking about his plans for French space exploration.

Today Mélenchon‘s movement, La France insoumise is marching against Macron’s ‘coup’, in bringing in the above laws, or as they put it, the President’s  “coup d’état social”.

Image result for la france insoumise marche en direct twitter

This promises to get off to an interesting start as the Black Bloc has announced that it intends to take over the head of the demonstration:

They call themselves the “real insoumises”.

More on the page Mouvement inter-luttes indépendant (MILI).

 

Others who will join the Great Orator include, le Mouvement du 1er juillet fondé of rformer Socialist presidential candidate,  Benoît Hamon, qui  Attac (alter-globalisation movement) ; Nouvelle Donne ; les trotskistes du Parti ouvrier indépendant (Lambertist) ; Ensemble (note: le mouvement of deputy Clémentine Autain). The Parti communiste français  will send a delegation and the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste (NPA)  will assemble at some point.

 This front page needs no further comment:
 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Split in French Far Right, as Marine Le Pen’s Number 2, Florian Philippot, Leaves Front National.

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rien ne va plus entre les deux dirigeants du Front National.

Best Mates Fall out.

This was on the French radio this morning, as it happened.

Good start to the day….

It has even got on the BBC site:

Florian Philippot: Le Pen’s top aide quits National Front.

The war began some time back but reached a pic a few days ago when Philippot was found in a Couscousserie .

His one-time comrades in the FN accused him of “collaboration” (espèce de collabo... ) for eating the Arab dish (this one is beyond me, I have eaten Couscous in a restaurant run by Pieds-noirs).

 

Philippot, apart from being the major player behind the move to make Marine le Pen acceptable, playing down anti-Semitism and racism generally, and being liberal on gay issues (he is gay), s best known as a virulent ‘sovereigntist’ who has applied to the ‘left’ nationalist strain of the same name. On the radio this morning the name of former Socialist Minister and arch sovereigntist, JeanPierre Chevènement  got mentioned in this context.

Philippot already has his own ‘micro-party’,  “Les Patriotes“, to fall back on.

Split looms in French far right as Marine Le Pen’s key aide quits.

France 24.

Florian Philippot, for many years the closest aide of French far-right politician Marine Le Pen, said on Thursday he was quitting the National Front party, opening up a likely split in the country’s far-right ranks.

Philippot, whose responsibilities for strategy and communications were earlier removed by Le Pen, told France 2 television that he did not like being “ridiculed”.

“They told me that I was vice-president of nothing,” he said. “Listen, I don’t have a desire to be ridiculed. I have never had the desire to do nothing, so of course I am quitting the National Front.”

Philippot’s departure is a big blow for the far-right as it struggles to portray itself as the main opposition to President Emmanuel Macron.

 After Philippot’s announcement Thursday, the leader of the National Front said she was ‘sad’ about his decision.

“It’s sad to witness such a waste, but unfortunately, since this is how he wanted things, it can’t be stopped,” Le Pen told Le Figaro. “There were many attempts to reason with him, but they were always rejected.”

“The National Front is in a period of crisis,” RFI’s political editor Philip Turle told FRANCE 24. “Marine Le Pen’s tenure is no longer assured.”

Cracks have been appearing ever since the party’s election defeat earlier this year. After the National Front lost to centrist president Emmanuel Macron, Philippot started his own group ‘The Patriots’. His movement fast became a source of tension but when Marine Le Pen asked Philippot to leave it, he refused.

Philippot wanted to steer the party away from its traditional anti-immigration focus towards economic nationalism. His rivals in the National Front blame him for turning off many voters by pushing France to quit the European Union and leave the eurozone.

But Marine Le Pen appears not to want to soften her party’s stance on the issue.

“National sovereignty is a mainstay of our struggle,” she told LCP television on Thursday morning. “We will continue to fight the European Union with all our soul because it is an instrument for the elimination and impoverishment of our people.”

The firing earlier this month of regional official Sophie Montel, a close friend of Philippot, set off more sparks. Montel was a vice president of Philippot’s association. Shortly before she was fired, Montel said that the party was “re-toxifying”.

Party officials believe the rift between leading party figures over policy has drawn supporters to other parties, including to the far-left party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is emerging as the main opposition.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

Catalan Crisis: Between Opposing Repression and Opposing Nationalist Separatism.

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Left-Wingers in Spain who Call for a Boycott of the Catalan Referendum.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police have detained 14 Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organising a banned independence vote.

Tensions were already high before Josep Maria Jové, number two in the Catalan vice-presidency, and others were held.

Thousands of Catalans took to the streets in protest and the regional leader complained of a power grab.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the state had been forced to act.

Catalonia’s separatist government is defying a Constitutional Court order to halt the planned 1 October vote, which has been condemned by the Madrid government as illegal.

BBC.

Some on the Spanish left wholeheartedly support Catalan Independence, others, the right the hold the referendum.

In reaction to this clamp down it is unlikely that we will hear in the left media much about those who, while disagreeing with the Spanish government’s tactics, refuse to participate in the vote or those who are simply opposed to the break away of one of the most prosperous parts of the Iberian peninsula.

Here is a link to the former group, which includes  figures on the left: ‘1-O Estafa antidemocrática. ¡No participes! ¡No votes!’.

El Periódico notes two names of interest, the anti-corruption investigator activist and  (see below) Carlos Jiménez Villarejo  and the former coordinator of the Izquierda Unida (United Left) Paco Frutos.

The around 1,000 people behind this statement describe themselves are left wing figures, or a variety of ideological, cultural and political backgrounds, who have fought for freedom against Francism, against terrorism and against war, for the rights of women and social minorities, and today against cuts and austerity, the corruption and who oppose the policies of the Rajoy governments. The signatories seek a common future, freely chosen, in a pluralist Spain in which all the different people’s identities are recognised.

.. personas de izquierdas, de variada adscripción ideológica y de distintas culturas políticas, que hemos luchado por las libertades contra el franquismo, contra el terrorismo y contra la guerra, por los derechos de las mujeres y de las minorías sociales, y ahora contra los recortes, la corrupción y que rechazamos las políticas del gobierno de Rajoy, y con el convencimiento de que es posible un futuro común, libremente elegido, en el marco de un España plural donde estén reconocidas todas las identidades de los pueblos que la integran:

They charge the Referendum process with a lack of democratic transparency, with no proper rules, such as a minimum level of participation, and with having been launched “unilaterally” without the agreement of the opposition forces in Catalonia – all of which are indeed true.

It is also more widely the case that forming a breakaway state, that is to oppose the Catalan ‘people’ against the diverse People of Spain, rather cuts against the Podemos Laclau-Mouffe inflected self-declared aim of ‘federating the people’. It could be said to be a case of what Chantal Mouffe calls the “constitutive Other”, making the rest of Spain, lined up behind the ‘State’, the Enemy in the constitution of this new sovereign ‘People’.

This is a different view: Solidaridad con Cataluña! Viento Sur.

Solidaritat amb Catalunya! Kataluniarekin bat! Solidariedade con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridá con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridad con Catalunya!

La suspensión del autogobierno de Catalunya y la escalada represiva que están emprendiendo el gobierno y el poder judicial suponen la instauración de un estado de excepción permanente frente a la voluntad mayoritaria del pueblo catalán de decidir su futuro a través del referéndum el 1 de octubre.

In English from the Fourth International.

 

It is of interest to those Trotskyists in the UK now supporting the alliance between the right of centre Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, the representative of  regional capitalist interests, and various left nationalists, including apparently some on the ‘far left’  in their fight for a breakaway from Spain to read Trotsky himself on the past of the issue. 

In the 1930s Trotsky did not back the creation of another bourgeois state in Catalonia.

Leon Trotsky The National Question in Catalonia

(July 1931)

  • Maurín, the “leader” of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, shares the point of view of separatism. After certain hesitation, he has resolved himself with the left wing of petty bourgeois nationalism. I have already written that Catalan petty bourgeois nationalism at the present stage is progressive. But on one condition: that it develops its activity outside the ranks of Communism and that it is always under the blows of communist criticism. To permit petty-bourgeois nationalism to manifest itself under the Communist mask means at the same time to deliver a perfidious blow to the proletarian vanguard and to kill the progressive significance of petty bourgeois nationalism.
  • What does the program of separatism mean? The economic and political dismemberment of Spain, or in other words, the transformation of the Iberian Peninsula into a sort of Balkanic Peninsula, with independent states, divided by, customs barriers, and with independent armies conducting independent Hispanic wars. Of course, the sage Maurin will say that he does not want this. But programs have their own logic, something Maurin hasn’t got.
  • Are the workers and peasants of the various parties of Spain interested in the economic dismemberment of Spain? In no case. That is why, to identify the decisive struggle for the right to self-determination with propaganda for separatism, means to accomplish a fatal work. Our program is for Hispanic Federation with the indispensable maintenance of economic unity. We have no intention of imposing this program upon the oppressed nationalities of the peninsula with the aid of the arms of the bourgeoisie. In this sense, we are sincerely for the right to self-determination. If Catalonia separates, the Communist minority of Catalonia, as well as of Spain, will have to conduct a struggle for Federation.

Background,

During the first part of the 20th century, the main nationalist party was the conservative Lliga Regionalista, headed by Francesc Cambó. For the nationalists, the main achievement in this period was the Commonwealth of Catalonia a grouping of the four Catalan provinces, with limited administrative power. The Commonwealth developed an important infraestructure (like roads and phones) and promoted the culture (professional education, libraries, regulation of Catalan language, study of sciences) in order to modernize Catalonia. The failure in being granted an Estatute of autonomy in 1919 within the Restoration regime, led to radicalisation of the moderate nationalist parties in Catalonia, leading in turn to the creation of Acció Catalana (Catalan Action) and also Estat Català (Catalan State),[12] drifting apart from the Lliga. Among the leaders of Acció Catalana founded in 1922 and chiefly supportive of liberal-democratic catalanism and a catalanisation process were Jaume Bofill, Antoni Rovira i Virgili and Lluís Nicolau d’Olwer.[13] It also featured an internal elitist faction, moved by the thinking of Charles Maurras and Action française of which Josep Vicenç Foix and Josep Carbonell were representatives,[14] while Jaume Bofill was ambivalent to the extreme right French thinker.[15] Estat Català, somewhat more attached to the idea of downright independence, was founded right after the creation of Acció Catalana by Francesc Macià.

Currently, the main political parties which define themselves as being Catalan nationalists are Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, Unió Democràtica de Catalunya. The Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, although deriving from nationalism, refuses the term “nationalism” and prefers to describe itself as pro-independence; so does Soldaritat Catalana

The most prominent figure in the Catalan politics in  the post-Franco years was Jordi Pujol President of the Generalitat de Catalunya from 1980 to 2003.

Pujol, and Catalan nationalism, have been associated with the massive corruption scandals he was involved with.

In July 2014, Jordi Pujol released a note explaining that for 34 years, including 23 as the President of Catalonia, he had maintained secret foreign bank accounts inherited from his father. The note apologized for his actions and explained that the millions had been declared and taxes paid. The scandal erupted in the Spanish media as it involves allegations against many family members, including trafficking of influence, bribery, money laundering and public corruption. At this time, his sons Jordi and Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola are being investigated by tax authorities. Another son Oriol Pujol resigned from his leadership position in CiU earlier in the month to face charges of public corruption as well. As a direct result of Pujol’s admission on 29 July, Judge Pablo Ruz issued an indictment against Jordi Pujol Ferrusola and his wife for money laundering and tax evasion. [10][11][12][13][14]

On 29 July Catalan president Mas, after a meeting with Pujol i Soley, announced that Pujol renounced both his salary and the office that he had been assigned as ex-president, as well as the honorary title of founding chairman of CDC and CiU.[15] The opposition parties from both left and right, nationalist and non-nationalist, have demanded he testify before the parliament. The main government allies in the Catalan parliament, Esquerra Republicana, have declared that they support stripping Pujol of all his honors.[16] The Catalan government has declared this a “private matter” that will have no impact on the movement for Catalan independence and the referendum scheduled for 9 November 2014.[17] In announcing his resignation from all party offices, President Mas initially stated that Pujol would keep the right to be called “The Right Honorable” as a former president of Catalonia.[18] Hours later the party spokesperson Francesc Homs stated that Pujol must “forfeit everything,” including the Medalla de Oro of Catalunya and all honorifics previously awarded to him.[19] Indicative of the conflicted reaction of many Catalan nationalists, his personal friend Xavier Trias, the Mayor of Barcelona, lamented on Catalonia Radio “He must disappear…He failed us. It is a disaster that has taken place and the shadowy times of Pujol are finished while a new era begins.”[20] Perhaps no one is more deeply conflicted than current President Mas who has acknowledged that Pujol is his “political father” and has stated that “he does not know the details and he is not interested in them either.” [21] The impact of the Pujol family scandals on the Catalan independence movement, the CIU party and Mas’ political future remain to be seen.[22]

Pujol and his family have been suspected for many years of cashing in on the political power he amassed as a 23-year president of Catalonia. In 1984 his family’s bank went bankrupt and was taken over by the Spanish government. His children have amassed a fortune in private businesses that frequently did business and received contracts from the Catalan government. Pujol’s wife and children have investments in the tens of millions of dollars in Mexico, Panama and Argentina. Financial records show the movement of money between foreign banks in Andorra, Switzerland, Jersey, Cayman Islands and other tax havens in excess of €100 million. Critics, including Jordi Pujol Ferrusola’s former girlfriend, charge that this family wealth could not be accumulated from a family inheritance or successful business practices.[23][24] Ever since the 1984 bankruptcy of Banca Catalana, as well as in subsequent years, whenever corruption allegations were made against Pujol, his supporters claimed that the charges were politically motivated against Catalonia.[25][26]

The matter is still under Investigation in 2017.[27][28]

While parts of the left in Spain support Catalan Independence, others charge them with wishing to free the wealthiest part of the country from the ‘burden’ of the poor South and compare them to the Italian  Lega Nord.

The Socialist Party, the PSOE, itself not stranger to corruption and other scandals, sides with the government against the Referendum.

Ahead of planned Catalan poll, main opposition Socialist Party sides with government. El País

SOE leader Pedro Sánchez shows support for PP’s attempts to deal with secessionist challenge.

In these conditions to reject the heavy-handed approach of Rajoy, and to call for a return to democratic norms, should not be confused with backing for the middle class separatist aspirations of Catalan nationalism.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Cable Street and Anti Fascism in the US Today.

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https://i1.wp.com/www.socialist.net/images/new-stories/History/CableStreet/cable_streetthe-daily-worker.gif

No, Antifa, This is Not the 1930s and We Don’t Need to Punch a Nazi

It is not often, indeed it has not been never, when I commend an article in Counterpunch, but this is important, if contentious, contribution to what is a very divisive debate in the US today.

The author draws on Daniel Tilles, “The Myth of Cable Street.” History Today, and does not refer to other critical sources well-known to the British and Irish left such as Out of the Ghetto  by Joe Jacobs. His account of his involvement in the famous defence of the East End against an attempted march by Mosley’s fascists is important and a different version to that published by Communist leading figure on the day, Phil Piratin (Our Flag Stays Red, 1948).

Joe describes events leading up to the march, including the changes in the CP leadership’s tactics as they finally realised their calls for a peaceful demonstration elsewhere would be ignored. His account “corrects false impressions later created by official Communist versions of the events”. The Battle of Cable St, 1936 – Joe Jacobs.

The “Battle of Cable Street” is a key event in the “creation myth” of the anti-fascist movement. It goes like this:

On Sunday, October 4, 1936, about 5,000 members of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Oswald Mosley, planned to march in full Blackshirt regalia through several Jewish neighborhoods in London’s East End. Six thousand police were assigned to protect them from about 100,000 anti-fascist protesters. The anti-fascists fought the police and erected barricades to block the marchers. When the fascists saw there was no possibility of moving beyond the barricades, they abandoned the march and dispersed. [1]

Some accounts of the battle claim that the fascists and anti-fascists fought hand-to-hand, but Reg Weston, a journalist who was in his early twenties when he actually participated in the battle, makes it clear that the two sides never clashed. The police and barricades kept them apart. It’s a myth, Weston says, “that the ‘battle’ was between the protesters and the Blackshirts. It was not — it was a battle with the police.” [2]

Nevertheless, the crowd celebrated that day. The “Battle of Cable Street” went down in history as a victory for anti-fascist forces and to this day is part of the heroic mythology of the ultra-left: “For many members of contemporary anti-Fascist groups, the incident remains central to their mythology, a kind of North Star in the fight against Fascism and white supremacy across Europe and, increasingly, the United States.” [3]

I am less than sure that European leftists outside of the Isles are aware if Cable Street (see this very small Wikipedia reference in French. The German Wiki entry signals the passing of the Public Order Act as the main result). Anybody familiar with the violent clashes that took place in France in the 1930s, which led to dissolution in 1936 of the far-right, Croix de Feu, Ligue d’Action française, Parti Franciste, and the Camelots du roi, would be tempted to  consider it a sideshow, above all since those groups would be part of the reigning power a few years later under Vichy.  If “white supremacy” enters into accounts of the Battle against Nazism and Fascism, in the shape of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), I have only just heard of it. Finally, if the British Left considers Cable Street, for all its importance, does not generally consider it something of a significance on a par with, say, the International Brigades, or the Resistance.

Yet Contursi asks a relevant question.

But was it really a victory?

After the battle the fascists grew stronger 

Unfortunately, the anti-fascists celebrating their victory in 1936 couldn’t have known that their actions would ultimately do nothing to stop either the Nazi juggernaut that descended upon Europe three years later, or the immediate popularity of the BUF. In fact, the BUF benefitted from the violence and became even stronger over the next four years, until 1940, when it was banned by the government.

What the anti-fascist forces did achieve at Cable Street was a singular victory in stopping a single march. But at what price? In the aftermath of that action, membership in the BUF grew. Rather than smashing fascism, the battle turned out to be a recruitment tool for the BUF. The organization gained an additional 2,000 members immediately, and its membership continued to climb steadily. Seven months before the battle, BUF membership was around 10,000; one month after the battle, it rose to 15,500. It continued to rise until, by 1939, the BUF had about 22,500 members. [4]

The anti-fascist actions didn’t dampen the peoples’ enthusiasm for Mosely’s message. In the weeks after the battle, pro-fascist crowds in the thousands turned out for BUF meetings, listened to Mosley’s fascist proselytizing, and marched through London without much opposition. [1] An intelligence report on the battle noted that afterwards, “A definite pro-Fascist feeling has manifested itself. The alleged Fascist defeat is in reality a Fascist advance.” [1]

Violence, it seems, provided free publicity for the fascists. The BUF “thrived off the publicity that violent opposition produced. The national media, under pressure from the government, largely avoided reporting on Fascist activity other than when disorder occurred. A leading Mosleyite lamented the ‘total silence’ in the press when BUF events passed without incident, complaining that only after disruption by opponents did newspapers show any interest.” [1]

So,

The lesson from Cable Street is clear—the anti-fascists succeeded in shutting down one march. But in the aftermath of that action, fascist membership grew and, within a few weeks, the BUF was marching again—with little or no opposition.

It is a long piece and the rest has to be read in full.

There is discussion of  the experience of Nazism, but no reference is made to early battles with Mussolini’s squadristi, (we used to call street fighting antifafs ‘squadists’) of the importance, in the context of Cable Street of the start of the defence of the Spanish Republic.

We learn that the 1930s were a different time……where Nazism and Fascism were in power  in Europe.

That said, it is easy to sympathise with those making a stand against the ‘anti-fascist’  hysteria which apparently has gripped sections of the US left.

Whether ” Nonviolent direct action” is the answer is open for them to answer.

Janet Contursi makes her case clear:

1) Violence is not an effective long-term tactic against Nazi hate groups. When Mosley’s fascists were perceived to be the victims of violence, their membership grew; but when they were perceived to be the perpetrators of violence, it dropped.

2) What does work, but is more difficult for peace groups to achieve, is applying economic pressure to the fascists’ financial base and swamping their propaganda with truth. This requires a long-term organizing strategy beyond the occasional demonstration or peace march (a good example of a long-term nonviolent strategy is the BDS movement).

To repeat, it is hard to disagree with the view that the US far-right, fragmented and marginalised, is not about to be a major threat that needs the kind of violent tactics that some indicate.

But others believe that they must be confronted. 

Nevertheless, since Contursi  draws parallels between our very different societies and politics (to say the least: there is no equivalent of the Labour Party or the socialist inclined trade unions in the US), can one say that mass street action has always been ineffective against the British far-right?

What of the conflicts between the British far-right and left  in the 1970s and later?

Contursi neglects any discussion of the British experience of fighting the National Front in the 1970s, not to mention subsequent battles withe British Movement, the BNP and, more recently, the English Defence League.

There is a good case that the street activism of the 1970s, which was centred on the goal of confronting the far-right,  helped, in the context of a much wider cultural anti-fascism and a grass-roots movement, the ANL, local anti-racist and anti-racist committees,  and Rock Against Racism, had it place in preventing a ‘break through’ of the far-right into national politics at the time, for all that people will cite Thatcher as the ultimate benefactor of the racist undercurrents at work.

Since that time European far-right groups have grown in a number of countries.

Nobody could have prevented the rise of UKIP – which is clearly far-right – by street battles, nor would this have been desirable for democratic socialists intent on challenging their ideas, not physically standing up to their  members.

It would equally be ridiculous to imagine that any large-scale street fighting could have defeated the French Front National.

When their first electoral successes happened in the mid-1980s I was met with laughter by my French left-wing comrades when I suggested similar tactics to the ANL and anti-fascists, anti-racist street campaigning groups. In fact what happened in France was SOS-racisme which – with something like Rock Against Racism’s cultural approach, moblised people against racialist ideology.

The legacy of SOS racisme has been contested, involving a whole series of cultural issues which we, and others, have taken up (La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa: ‘Manufacturing Muslims’.).

Clearly the very  the possibility of the far-right winning substantive political power in France, and elsewhere in Continental Europe, is of a different degree and nature to the problems US anti-fascists face.

But anybody interested in more than “myths” about the extreme right and their opponents should be more concerned with looking at these developments than backwards to the 1930s.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Corbyn to Back Tough New Anti-Semitism Rules in Labour Party.

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Image result for fight anti semitism

Jeremy Corbyn will back change to allow tough line on antisemitism

Guardian.

Backers of antisemitism motion say unified Labour position on rule change is vital to win back Jewish voters.

Jeremy Corbyn is to back a significant rule change so Labour can take a tougher line on antisemitic abuse, which supporters hope will send a signal at the party’s conference that it is serious about tackling hate.

Supporters of the motion say it is vital the party has a unified position on the new antisemitism motion when it is agreed by Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday, although the exact wording of the rule change was still being fiercely debated late on Sunday.

Momentum, the party’s leftwing grassroots movement, has said its support for the motion is not assured and will depend on the final wording. Its backers, including the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), have argued there is a need to make a significant gesture in order to win back Jewish voters.

The proposed change would also mean a tougher stance on sexism, Islamophobia, racism and homophobia. At the moment, party members cannot be disciplined for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions”.

But the motion, which will be voted on by members at the party’s conference in Brighton next week, argues that rule should not apply to those who express racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or antisemitic views.

The proposed change has been brought by JLM, the largest group of Jewish Labour members and supporters, who say the current wording led to a more lenient approach to remarks by the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, that were widely perceived as antisemitic, when he was found by the party to have breached the rules.

..

A Labour source said Corbyn was in favour of the change in principle. “Jeremy is committed to tackling antisemitism and is hopeful that the NEC will pass this motion,” the source said.

The change has already been agreed in principle by Labour’s equalities committee and will be debated when the full NEC meets on Tuesday to decide the motions delegates will vote on in Brighton.

Senior Labour sources backing the JLM motion said they were still concerned it may be watered down before it goes before conference. Some leftwing party activists, including the shadow fire minister, Chris Williamson, have accused Corbyn’s critics of “weaponising antisemitism” in order to attack the leader’s supporters.

Labour List confirm the story,

Labour officials set to back rule change on anti-Semitism in run-up to conference

Labour is set to back the Jewish Labour Movement’s rule change on anti-Semitism ahead of next week’s conference.

The proposed change is expected to be put before Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) tomorrow, and, dependent on final wording, is likely to get wide reaching support, sources suggest.

The motion’s supporters believe it is key to ensuring the party can win back Jewish voters, which in certain key target seats is thought to have made the difference to Tory MPs clinging on in June.

The rule change would mean a tougher line from the party’s compliance unit on anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia. Presently, members cannot be disciplined simply for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions,” and the motion would change that for these examples.

The Jewish Labour Movement was not slow to react:

For reasons best known to themselves the Guardian presents  the main opposition to the motion to be Labour Party Marxists (founder, Stan Keable, membership around 20, though no doubt on this issue backed by the Monster Raving Greenstein Party) that is the Weekly Worker,

In a conference voting guide published this week, Labour Party Marxists called on delegates to oppose the motion, calling it “anti-democratic” and likely to stifle free speech. “This is supported by the Jewish Labour Movement, which already tells you that you should probably oppose without even having to read it,” the voting guide reads, adding that the motion “removes the need to rely on rational evidence”.

These other examples of Labour Party Marxist policy get less coverage, but no doubt their time will come:

Our 10-point-programme to transform the Labour Party

  • Our goal should be to transform the Labour Party, so that, in the words of Keir Hardie, it can “organise the working class into a great, independent political power to fight for the coming of socialism”.2) Towards that end we need rule changes to once again permit left, communist and revolutionary parties to affiliate. That is what we mean by a united front of a special kind. As long as they do not stand against us in elections, this can only but strengthen us as a federal party. Today affiliated organisations include the Fabians, Christians on the Left, the Cooperative party … the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Business. Allow the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party in England and Wales, CPGB, the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain, etc, to join our ranks.
  • Being an MP ought to be an honour, not a career ladder, not a way for university graduates to secure a lucrative living. A particularly potent weapon here is the demand that all our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker – a principle upheld by the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik revolution. Our MPs are on a basic £67,060 annual salary. On top of that they get around £12,000 in expenses and allowances, putting them on £79,060 (yet at present Labour MPs are only obliged to pay the £82 parliamentarians’ subscription rate). Moreover, as leader of the official opposition, Jeremy Corbyn not only gets his MP’s salary. He is entitled to an additional £73,617.3) Let them keep the average skilled worker’s wage – say £40,000 (plus legitimate expenses). Then, however, they should hand the balance over to the party. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott ought to take the lead in this.
  • We must establish our own press, radio and TV. To state the obvious, texting, Twitter and Facebook etc have severe limits. They are brilliant mediums for transmitting simple, short and sharp messages. But, when it comes to complex ideas, debating history and charting political strategies, they are worse than useless.
  • Programmatically, we should adopt a new clause four. Not a return to the old, 1918, version, but a commitment to working class rule and a society which aims for a stateless, classless, moneyless society, which embodies the principle, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”. That is what socialism is all about. Not a measly £10 per hour “living wage”, shifting the tax balance and a state investment bank. No, re-establishing socialism in the mainstream of politics means committing the Labour Party to achieving a “democratic republic”.4)

You can’t help feeling that this is a complete distraction from an important issue.

 

This Blog completely backs the changes but it is wrong to try to present – even if only by implication – critics as part of the same pool of thought as the ‘Labour Party Marxists’, still less their close associate, Monster Raving whose ‘writings’ can be sampled here.

As controversy continues over defining Jew-hate, read a Marxist view.

Appealing for an outbreak of sweet reason between Zionists and anti-Zionists is never easy, especially when undertaken by a veteran Marxist with political views a long way from those of the average JC reader.

But, at the risk of displeasing both sides, I want to urge the hard-left to back the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. Then let me double down, and urge Jewish organisations to commit to using this reasonable instrument in a reasonable way.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Le Parti communiste français (PCF), Skirmishes Continue.

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https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DJ_Jfk7XkAIo4QE.jpg:large

The traditional  Fête de L’Humam a vast popular event, 550, 000 strong,  organised around the left daily lHumanité, was by all accounts a great success.

But politics did not stop for the music and gastronomy.

Amongst the debates that took place the disputes between the  Parti communiste français (PCF) and La France insoumise (LFI), which claims to be leading opposition to the government of Emmanuel Macron.

A la Fête de « L’Humanité », le PCF et La France insoumise règlent leurs comptes

Pierre Laurent, the national secretary of the  PCF, made a number of critical comments in the direction of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of La France insoumise. He referred to the simplistic slogans of “« les sirènes dégagistes” , the sirens of “get out”!, away with the old guard,  launched by Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen  and Jean-Luc Mélenchon during the Presidential elections.

Laurent defended his party’s decision to vote against Le Pen in the second round of the contest, in contrast to Mélenchon who refused to back the ‘republican front’ against the far-right.

Mélenchon was not present, he is on tour offering his opinions to the French colonial citizens of Martinique.

But some of his supporters, including the Deputy Eduard Coquerel, were displeased at any criticism of their Leader. Coquerel called Laurent’s speech “violent and contemptuous” and that he and his friends had not come to the Fete with this spirit in their hearts.

Laurent however intends to participate, with a PCF ”delegation’ at the ” Marche contre le coup d’Etat social ” organised by La France insoumise (LFI)   on the  23rd of  September. Despite this the Communist leader, while attacking the new President and his policies,   continues to question Mélenchon’s self-assigned role as the “Leading Opponent” (premier opposant) of Macron. (le Monde)

A further report on Laurent’s criticisms of  Mélenchon’s ‘solitary strategy’ here:  La guerre des étoiles à la fête de l’Huma  (Libération).

*******

One of the most recent critiques of La France insoumise and its’ populism’ come the libertarian left here:

Populisme ? « La recette de la France insoumise est usée » CORCUFF Philippe, GRAULE Pauline

In this interview Corcuff states that  Mélenchon’s rally uses the theorists of radical ‘left populism’, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe  as a source of  “légitimité intellectuelle” to back up his claim to be the “leader” in the construction of the “People”.

 Classical Marxism rested on the basis of challenging people’s frustrations into a project of ending exploitation  through positive measures. LFI he notes, faces two  major pitfalls,   moblising resentment against the “oligarchy” around the dead end of conspiracy politics “conspirationnisme”  or devoting themselves to an electoral ‘reformist’ strategy which  is not designed, or capable,   of transforming society in depth.

Amongst the 500,000 people who have clicked on the Internet and joined LFI (for free, I am, incidentally, a ‘member’), there are many different kinds of people, although, Corcuff  notes, there is little sign of any significant “popular”, that is working class and poor, voice in their campaigns.

There remains some hope, Corcuff concludes, amongst the capacity of local groups, independent of the leadership, who may through their own initiatives create something.  But over the last 20 years, starting with the experience of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), new movements on the French left have not lasted. and we will see what happens with LFI.

 

 

Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan. Review.

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Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan. Translated, Edited and Introduced by Francis King. Lawrence and Wishart.

Fedor (Theodore) Dan was a leading figure in Russian social democracy. A prominent Menshevik during the 1917 Revolutions, he had chosen their side after the 1903 split with the Bolsheviks in the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Workers; Party). During the Great War, King notes, Dan was a “Siberian Zimmerwaldist”, that is he opposed the conflict while under administrative exile in Russia’s far East and during his compulsory mobilisation as a Doctor in Turkestan. King writes, that Dan was described by Nikolai Sukhanov as, “one of the most major figures in the Russian revolution, one of the most outstanding actors in both the Russian workers’ movement and the events of 1917.” (Page 9)

Known to many on the left as the author of The origins of Bolshevism (in English, 1964), this is the first translation into any language of Dan’s Two Years of Wandering. Francis King is the Editor of Socialist History. His introduction outlines Dan’s background and his role in the crises of 1917. Dan, in conditions of political freedom, was part of the leadership of the Petrograd Soviet. Still calling for a “general peace” he took the Menshevik line of ‘revolutionary defencism”, which committed the country to continue fighting until this could be reached and support for a coalition Provisional Government.

This policy, opposed by its left wing around Martov, played a key role in the ‘end’ of Dan’s career in Petrograd. Bolshevik victory in October was not the only indication of their political dead-end. In the All-Russia Constituent Assembly elections of 1917 they won just 3% of the vote.

Continuing to support, “the idea of popular sovereignty, universal suffrage, and the Constituent Assembly” and demanding an end to terror for economic liberalisation, the Mensheviks tried to work within the new soviet structures. But what had begun in the Spring and Summer of 1918 with the “arrests and harassment of non-Bolshevik activists”. In June 1918, they, and the Socialist revolutionaries, were removed from the Soviet CEC. Yet they continued political activity. They focused on the defence of “the rights of labour” and the “defence of trade unions, with as a backdrop plans to make unions agents of “labour discipline” and “compulsory labour service” or the “militarisation of labour” exalted by Trotsky in Terrorism and Communism (1920). With their position set out in What is to be done: The Menshevik Programme July 1919 they had had a wider echo, Marcel Liebman and others record, within the official bodies (1)

For Trotsky the Mensheviks had in 1917, “together with the bourgeoisie, declared civil war against the Soviets”. In the Winter of 1920-1 the Mensheviks were systematically suppressed. (2)

In Lenin’s Gaols.

Dan’s serious travails began in 1919, when he spent 3 months in the Butyrka prison. Mobilised, again, in his medical capacity, he was put in charge of the Surgical Subsection of the Department of Medical Supplies. This was impossible task, faced with general chaos, the “constant inference of organs of the Cheka”, the sabotage of those who hoped for a return to private ownership and the prevalence of bribery. After protests, in an atmosphere of increasing hostility to the Mensheviks, Dan was reposted in what he describes as “official exile” to Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg), where he continued his “work service”. Further “wanderings”, which took him back to Moscow, then to Minsk and the Front in assault on Warsaw and finally to Petrograd, his native city, where Dan was finally caught in the Bolshevik repression and sent to Peter-Paul Fortress.

Two Years of Wandering is shot through with insights into those years of upheaval, the gaoling and exile of “thousands of socialists and non-party workers who (had) been so bold as to doubt the divine infallibility of the Bolshevik authorities, with all their fantasies, scandals, petty tyranny and occasional 180-degree turns. “(Page 53) From the famous 1920 visit of the British delegation to a meeting addressed by Printers’ leaders and Mensheviks, which criticised the “terrorist dictatorship of the minority”, the last Congress of Soviets at which the opposition was reluctantly tolerated, to the crackdown after the Kronstadt (1921) which marked the beginning of systematic elimination of dissent, the Mensheviks were disorganised. (3) A party that “had adapted all its tactics to the struggle for an open existence despite the Bolshevik terror.” was unable to mount any effective challenge (Page 98).

Dan was in prison during the Kronstadt revolt, which, when the news of this, following a strike wave, reached them, convinced those arrested that they were about to be shot. There were indeed mass killings. A gaoler, ‘S’ regaled Dan with tales of massacring whites. He also had this anecdote, “some Jewish trader they had arrested on suspicion that the leather he was carrying in his cart had concealed weapons under it. There were no weapons, but before letting the trader go, he wanted to have his ‘little joke’ at the expense of the ‘bourgeois’ so he stood him against a wall and ordered that he be shot – but they fired blanks. They did this three times – just to they could bring a little happiness to their prisoner when they told him he was free to go – although he could easily have died of heart failure.”(Page 121)

Sent to Remand gaol, Dan observed waves of new arrivals. Protests and demonstration were followed “on each occasion, a few intellectuals and party workers, together with hundreds of grey, non-party workers, would pass through the prison. There were tramway workers, workers from the Skorokhod, Obukhov, Putilov and Rechkin factories – all of working class Petersburg.”(Page 138) Conditions deteriorated, but perhaps what was most striking is that “once entering a Soviet prison, nobody can know even approximately how long he will be in there and how the imprisonment will end.” (Page 142)

Dan met an American ‘K’, identified by King as Adolf S Carm, arrested at the Third Congress of the Communist International “According to him he had been arrested on the strength of a denunciation by another American delegate, Haywood, in revenge for a polemical pamphlet K, had published against him in America. K was obviously very frightened and repeatedly stressed his devotion to everything the Bolshevik government did, including the practices of the Cheka.”(Page 155) Carm was released a couple of months later….

Dan was then sent to Butyri, a Cheka ‘internal prison’, a place where the “smell of human blood” was in the air. “the most dreadful aspect of it is the ordinariness of the circumstances in which this mass slaughter of people is taking place, where it has become an everyday occurrence.” (Page 145)

Hunger Strike and Exile.

For Two Years of Wandering hunger strikes, and a campaign “waged in the workers’ parties and working-class press of Europe” rather than kindness towards people who “had been in the same organisation at the Bolsheviks” The first response of the Bolshevik leadership came to them in the shape of the news that the All-Russia Cheka Presidium had sentenced all Mensheviks to be exiled for one year, and members of the party Central Committee for two years. As negotiations proceeded, their strike ended with the alternatives of, for imprisoned Mensheviks, either administrative exile in remote areas, or departure from Russia (Pages 179- 80) He chose Germany and arrived in Berlin in the winter of 1922.

As Francis King writes in his introduction – a significant contribution to the history of Menshevism in its own right – “it is the immediacy of this book which makes it so valuable” (Page 36). Dan shows understanding towards a variety of people, including anarchists, and a grasp of the plight of even imprisoned ‘whites’, that demonstrates the highest “common decency”. But Two years of Wandering is more than a personal memoir; it illustrates the “creation of a “large body of political of political police, operating with few constraints” built to enforce the governing monopoly of one party, the Bolsheviks” (Page 37).

Nevertheless, the Menshevik project of creating a ‘bourgeois’ democratic regime without a bourgeoisie that backed it was far from a viable alternative to the Bolsheviks, lacking, as King observes, both the “will” to govern and the instruments to do so. Dan’s evolution towards a form of “reform communism” also missed the tide of history. Yet, apart from its striking honesty, the book, smoothly translated, is a powerful antidote, written from the losing side of history, to the view that the early years of Bolshevik rule were only a joyous carnival of the oppressed.

********

(1) Trotsky’s reply to the Menshevik was, “If it were true that compulsory labour is unproductive always and under every condition, as the Menshevik resolutions says, all our constructive work would be doomed to failure. For we can have no way to socialism except by the authoritative regulation of the economic forces and resources of the country, and the centralised distribution of labour-power in harmony with the general state plan. The labour state considers itself empowered to send every worker to the place where his work is necessary.” Page 153. Terrorism and Communism. Leon Trotsky. New Park Publications. 1971. Pages 249 – 251. Leninism Under Lenin. Marcel Liebman. Merlin. 1980.

(2) Page 15. Social Democracy and the Wars of Intervention. Russia 1918 – 1921. Leon Trotsky. New Park Publications. 1975.

(3) King reproduces the speech of the Socialist-Revolutionary leader Viktor Chernov to this meeting with the British Labour delegation in Appendix 1. Liebman called his invitation ”an act of provocation” Liebman. Op cit. Page 251.

See Socialist History Society Newsletter.

Also, What is to be done: The Menshevik Programme July 1919

Economic Measures

1. The peasants should retain, on a collective or individual basis as they may freely decide, the public and privately owned lands which they seized and parcelled out at the time of the Revolution. Other lands, not as yet distributed, should be leased on a long-term basis to needy peasants and peasant associations, except for those lands on which large-scale model husbandry is being, and can continue to be, carried out by the state or by leaseholders. The decrees abolishing the Committees of the Poor should be put into effect without exception.

Agricultural communes should not be established by force, either directly or indirectly. Government-held supplies, agricultural implements and seed should be equitably distributed not only among communes but to all peasants who need them on communes and soviet lands.

2. The present food supply system should be replaced by one on the following basis:
a. The state should purchase grain at agreed prices involving a large application of the barter principle; it should then be sold at low prices to the poorest dwellers in town and country, with the state making up the difference. The state should make purchases through its agents, co-operatives or private traders on a commission basis.

b.  The state should purchase, at a price equal to the cost of production, a certain proportion of the grain surpluses held by the better-off peasants in the more fertile provinces, the proportion being decided with the advice of freely elected representatives of the local peasantry.

c. Grain should be purchased by co-operatives and workers’ organisations, who should at the same time make over the stocks they have procured to government organs concerned with food supply. The state retains the right to requisition supplies from large landowners who are deliberately hoarding them for speculative purposes. Transport arrangements are under the primary control of the state, co-operatives and workers’ organisations. All anti-profiteer detachments should be disbanded. The transfer of foodstuff from a particular locality shall not be prohibited save in exceptional circumstances and by a decision of the central legislature.

The state shall assist, materially and by administrative measures, the transfer of workers and their families from places where food is scarcest and their resettlement in fertile areas.

3. The state should retain control of major industrial enterprises that are fundamental to economic life, such as mines, metallurgical plant, the chief branches of the metal-working industry, etc. However, in all places where this seems likely to improve or animate production or to extend its range, recourse may be had to organising such enterprises by a combination of state and private capital, by the compulsory formation of a trust under state control or, in exceptional cases, by means of a concession.

All other large industrial enterprises except where state control is desirable for fiscal or other reasons and would not be deleterious to production, should as a rule be gradually transferred into private hands, by leasing to a co-operative or a new entrepreneur, or to the former owner on  condition that he accepts the obligation to restore and organise production. The state shall regulate the distribution of fuel and raw materials to different branches of production, enterprises and areas.

4. Small-scale industry should in no case be nationalised.

5. The state shall regulate the distribution to different areas, in accordance with a fixed plan, of the chief articles of mass consumption such as textiles, farm implements, salt, lighting materials etc with the aid of co-operatives and private traders.

6. As regards trade in other articles of the firs necessity and also in luxuries, the state should refrain from imposing restrictions and should allow co-operatives and private enterprises to function freely except in cases where regulation or even monopoly is desirable on account of the extreme scarcity of the product, e.g. medical supplies.

7. The credit system should be so reorganised as to facilitate in every way the use in trade and industry of available funds accumulate by producers in town and country and to afford scope for private initiative in trade, industry and agriculture.

8. The repression of speculation and trading abuses should be left to the courts and governed by specific legal provisions. All arbitrary acts of requisition, confiscation and the detention of goods should be punished. The law should protect rights of ownership in the case of all industrial and commercial concerns that are released from nationalisation. In future, when expropriation is required by the public interest it should take place on the basis of a decision by the supreme legislative bodies and on conditions determined by them.

9. Workers’ unions, in addition to taking a direct part in the work of regulatory bodies, are also and primarily representatives of the interests of the proletariat vis-a-vis the sate and private entrepreneurs. In this latter capacity they should be wholly independent of any state bodies.

10. Wage rates in state enterprises should be raised and minimum rates fixed for private enterprises in accordance with the commercial price-level for necessary goods….

11. The decree on consumers’ communes should be revoked. Workers’ and general co-operatives should be preserved as autonomous organisations, without the imposition of appointees or other interference in their internal affairs. They should also have the right to carry on non-commercial activity such as publishing, education, etc.

Political Measures

The right of voting for members of soviets should be extended to all workers of both sexes. Town and village soviets should be elected by all workers, with a secret ballot and freedom of canvassing by word of mouth and by the press. Soviets and Executive Committees should be subject to re-election at fixed intervals. Soviets shall not be entitled to exclude individual members or groups from their midst on political grounds. All officials and public bodies shall be subordinate to local soviets and Central Executive Committees.all workers of both sexes. Town and village soviets should be elected by all workers, with a secret ballot and freedom of canvassing by word of mouth and by the press. Soviets and Executive Committees should be subject to re-election at fixed intervals. Soviets shall not be entitled to exclude individual members or groups from their midst on political grounds. All officials and public bodies shall be subordinate to local soviets and Central Executive Committees.

2. The Central Executive Committee of Soviets should once more function as the supreme legislative and administrative body, its proceedings being open to public observation. NO law shall come into force without being discussed and approved by the CEC.

3. Freedom of the press, of assembly and of association should be restored, and any party representing the workers shall have the right and be allowed to use premises for meeting, paper supplies, printing workers. Etc. Any restriction of this right that may be necessitated by the war against counter-revolution shall be established and clearly defined by the legislature; it shall not infringe the basic liberty and shall be applied only by the courts and institutions under their direct control.

4. The Revolutionary Tribunals shall be reorganised in such a way that the judges are elected by all the workers. Together with their subordinate investigatory commissions they shall have sole responsibility for combating counter-revolution. All officials should be directly liable to prosecution before these Tribunals for illegal acts committed in the execution of their duties, at the suit of the injured party in each case. Terror shall be done away with as an instrument of government; the death penalty be abolished , and likewise all investigatory and punitive organs independent of the courts, such as the Extraordinary Commission (CHEKA).

5. Party institutions and cells should be deprived of state authority, and party members of all material privileges.

6. The bureaucratic apparatus should be simplified by the extension of local self-government.

7. A policy of understanding should be pursed vis-a-vis the nationalities which have for any reason broken away from Russia, in order to put a speedy end to the Civil War an restore the unity of the state on a basis of national self-determination. The Cossack districts – Don, Kuban, Tersa, The Urals, Astrakhan, Orenburg, etc – should be allowed the widest possible autonomy and there should be no interference in their internal affairs or system of land tenure. Siberia should have regional self-government, and the independence of Finland and Poland should be recognised.

Central Committee of the RSDLP, 12 July 1919
Sotsial-demokratiia i revolutionsiaa. Sbornik dokumentov (Odessa, 1920), pp 9-15.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Pakistan: Christian Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy.

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Demonstration last Year in Pakistan. 

Pakistan Sentences Christian man to death for blasphemy.

Nadeem James was arrested in 2016 after he allegedly sent a poem ridiculing Prophet Mohammad to his friend on WhatsApp.

A Christian man has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by a court in eastern Pakistan after a close friend accused him of sharing anti-Islamic material, the defendant’s lawyer said.

Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and insults against the Prophet Mohammad are punishable by death. Most cases are filed against members of minority communities.

Nadeem James, 35, was arrested in July 2016, accused by a friend of sharing material ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad on the WhatsApp messaging service.

Lawyer Riaz Anjum said his client intended to appeal against the verdict, passed on Thursday by a sessions court in the town of Gujrat.

READ MORE: In Pakistan, a shrine to murder for ‘blasphemy’

There was widespread outrage across Pakistan last April when student Mashal Khan was beaten to death at his university in Mardan following a dormitory debate about religion.

Police arrested more than 20 students and some faculty members in connection with the killing.

Since then, parliament has considered adding safeguards to the blasphemy laws, a groundbreaking move given the emotive nature of the issue.

While not a single convict has ever been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, there are currently about 40 people are on death row or serving life sentences for the crime, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Right-wing vigilantes and mobs have taken the law into their own hands, killing at least 69 people over alleged blasphemy since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

In March, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the immediate removal and blocking of all online content deemed to be “blasphemous” to Islam from social media – and for those responsible to be prosecuted.

Background:  Persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

Most recent story, September the 11th.

Christian Member of the National Assembly Khalil George and others paid a call to Sharron Masih’s bereaved family. 17-year-old Christian student was callously lynched by his classmate at Government MC Model High School for Boys in Burewala city of Vehari District. MNA Khalil George offered condolences to the Ilyasab Masih and family ensuring them of an all-out support and assistance.

MNA Khalil George who also holds the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Religious Affairs met with Ilyasab Masih and told him that the perpetrators will be duly punished. On this occasion, parents of Sharoon Masih detailed the incident to Khalil George; expressing grief over the fact that their son lost his life to anti-Christian sentiments of his mates. MNA Khalil George was accompanied by Bishop Abraham Daniel, Major Michael Paul, Elder Dilber, Pastor Peter Imran and Pastor Arthur Daniel.

Parents of Sharoon Masih strongly believe that their son was lynched for drinking water from a glass which was used by all the students. They said that the assaulter did not relent until Sharoon breathed his last. Afterwards, Bishop Abraham Daniel offered prayers for the bereaved family. He prayed for peace and comfort for the friends and family of Sharoon Masih.

Previously, talking to a local media stated: “His teacher, Nazeer Mohal, sent him back home because he was not wearing the proper uniform. His mother told me later that evening that Sharoon had told her that the teacher had hit him in front of the whole class and also called him a Choohra, among other curse words. She said that he was quite upset at being humiliated in front of the whole class on the very first day of school.”

Detailing the excruciatingly agonizing moments he said: “Sharoon went to school wearing his new uniform. Hardly a few hours later, a Muslim neighbor whose son studies in the same school told us that Sharoon had been killed in school.”

“I cannot express the agony I went through when I saw my son’s dead body lying motionlessly on the hospital stretcher, his new blue shirt covered in dirt and blood,” Ilyasab said as he sketched the horrific incident. Sharoon’s family was told by his classmates that Ahmad Raza engaged Sharoon in a brawl; expressing annoyance because Sharoon had drunk water from the glass used by all students,” he told the media.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Boris Brexit Bid, as Ipswich Tories hear call for fight back against “totalitarian fascists” behind EU.

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Boris Johnson today sets out a grand vision of Britain’s “glorious” post-Brexit future as a low-tax, low regulation economy paying nothing to the EU for access to the single market.

In a 4,000-word article for the Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary restates the key demand of the Leave campaign – that £350m a week currently sent to Brussels should be redirected to fund the NHS.

He says that Britain should not continue to make payments to the EU after Brexit and that ongoing membership of the European single market and customs union would make a “complete mockery” of the referendum.

While talk nationally is of Boris making a bid for the Tory leadership on a hard Brexit stand, Rees Mogg craze shows no sign of abating amongst the Tory grass roots youth, in Suffolk, well known Conservative intellectual and poet Kevin Algar has got over his months’ long grizzling at the defeat of Ben Gummer.

With this stirring appeal against the EU and for militant struggle to defend Brexit, Kev is mounting a fight for hegemony within the Ipswich Conservative Association.

So the  former PM of Luxembourg and Little Napolean, Juncker has said that Britain will regret Brexit. Early last century a little Austrian bloke said something similar. But there is absolutely no way that we are going to regret Brexit. Because in his speech he talked about bringing about the death throes of European democracy by giving more power to people like him, eroding national sovereignty and having an EU army to  crush decent amongst the plebeians of Europe. It doesn’t matter to Juncker that the people of Europe are against it. He seriously doesn’t care. To him the federalist project must continue. The people can end up in poverty, become destitute while he and his cohorts get rich because he doesn’t care. Because of the fascists in Brussels Brexit talks have been delayed again. They want to pretend it isn’t happening and continue their evil project regardless because they are ideologically driven, foaming at the mouth lunatics. Juncker is so loathed in is own country of Luxembourg that he dare not go there. Recently he was visited by another former PM who is loathed in his own country, Tony Blair. The meeting was obviously about how they could both keep the gravy train rolling.  Guy Verhofstadt‏ has launched an attack on Theresa May. What makes him think that as a member of of a quango he can attack a PM of a soon to be independent, sovereign state is anybodies guess. Make no mistake. Scratch away at the left wing, liberal veneer and it is revealed that we are dealing with totalitarian fascists. They will stop at nothing to  achieve their aims and will continue to inflict misery on the people  of Europe.

A Riverside View. 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2017 at 11:37 am

Feminists Attacked by Transgender Activists.

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Yesterday evening I went to a meeting. It was a meeting similar to any other I have been to in my 40 years of socialist political activism. It involved a discussion about legislation, it was a feminist meeting. I was meeting up with friends to go.

And there the similarities end because this meeting was actually unlike every meeting I have ever been to. Firstly the meeting was targeted by activists, not of the right but claiming to be on the Left who harassed the venue and got the meeting closed because of fears of the “risk” posed by a left wing feminist meeting. Sisters spent the day organising a new secret venue that could not be targeted. The trans activists spent hours trying to find and close down the second venue.

We were given Hyde Park Corner as our rendezvous. A big group of women were there when I arrived. One woman approached me saying are you here for the feminist meeting and I said Yes, how did you know? And she laughed saying :because you look older”. This was true the point being we looked like a group of older, mainly middle aged women. How threatening is that?

Also at the rendezvous were a group of trans activists with banners. At the time I was there they were in a huddle. A couple had banners, one saying ‘support trans’ another something about TERFs. There were several males amongst them wearing military type boots and make-up. I don’t want to make an assumption about how they identified but want to say this mobilisation for a meeting of feminists was sickening. One of them randomly yelled ‘kill TERFs’ at us whilst I was there.

Each of us was given a piece of paper with venue details written on it. We were told to drift off in small numbers to make our way to the venue. I heard that the trans activists had snatched the phone from one of our speakers, Transwoman, Miranda Yardleyand been threatening towards her. How deeply ironic and sickening i thought that Miranda was being harrassed.

I left Hyde Park Corner with my friend and we went to the meeting so I did not see what happened next. A 60 year old woman was knocked to the ground and assaulted by the military bearing males. Her statement is attached.

The meeting started late. The trans activists found out where we were meeting. They made trouble on the door. 60 of us gathered finally in a room. There were many young women there as well as the stalwarts. It was an amazing room, books lined the walls, a wooden lecturn was placed at the the front, outside a group of people were chanting “burn it down”.

The meeting took place. The police arrived and stood outside. The speakers were brilliant under the pressure. We had the meeting. Outside the protest seemed to be losing it’s momentum. We left in groups for protection to just five people shouting “shame on you”. I still have the paper on which the venue was written and I will keep it because This was a watershed meeting.

This was a feminist meeting in 2017. Everything has changed.

This is beyond belief, as are attempts by some people to try to explain this away.

It is not the time to make points about the difficulties that transgender issues and feminist responses in ‘intersectional politics’ face except to note that “no platform” is the worst possible reaction in these conditions.

 It is not the first time that a hostile  protest has happened, but it the first occasion on which such violence has been seen.

There is no doubt that violence in these conditions is beneath unacceptable.

Update: Trans Activist Men Attack, Beat Dissenting 60-Year-Old Woman

The DailyWire.

The “tolerant” transgender activists beat up a 60-year-old woman at a protest meant to silence a transsexual speaker with whom they disagree.

On Wednesday night, 60-year-old U.K. woman Maria MacLachlan was attacked by male transgender activists while she was videotaping a protest at Speakers’ Corner in London.

A scheduled forum on gender and the 2004 Gender Recognition Act set to take place Wednesday night was initially cancelled due to “safety reasons,” according to New Cross Learning, the host of the event. A number of trans activists posted threats against “TERFs” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) online before the forum.

(Note from TC, it’s worth looking at the unpleasant comments this Tweet met, from all quarters) 

The discussion, which included guest speakers Miranda Yardley, a writer who identifies as transsexual, and Dr. Julia Long, a lesbian feminist, was eventually relocated but was cut short due to the protest outside the event, where MacLachlan was assaulted.

Per MacLachlan’s account, which is backed by video evidence, the 60-year-old was first attacked by a transgender activist who attempted to steal her camera. As the scuffle over the camera broke out, another trans activist ran over and punched the 60-year-old before others piled-on.

MacLachlan told The Daily Wire she estimated her assailants to be males in their 20s, whom she classified as “students virtue signalling.” To her knowledge, none of protesters were trans; in fact, MacLachlan suspects “the only trans person was our speaker Miranda, who they were trying to silence.”

“Basically I was hanging around at Speakers Corner, chatting to people as we waited to be told the new location for the meeting that New Cross library had cancelled thanks to the actions of trans activist bullies. A load of these bullies had turned up at Speakers Corner and one or two had shouted ‘Kill all terfs’ and there were a few arguments going on between people on our side and some of them,” wrote MacLachlan of the incident.

The woman said the protesters then began chanting, “when terfs attack, we fight back” before the unprovoked attack against her:

“Nobody was attacking anybody but they were obviously trying to intimidate us,” she said. “As I was filming I asked them, ‘Who’s attacking?’ They had no answer of course, they just increased their volume, so I asked again and again and then suddenly some kid in a hoodie ran past me and tried to knock the camera out of my hand but it was attached to a loop round my wrist so he came back at me, I think trying to get my camera. I was determined not to let him get my camera and I was also terrified that my glasses were going to get broken because then I wouldn’t be able to see. I don’t remember much else except that somehow I ended up on the ground and it felt like a few of them were punching and kicking me and it seemed to last forever but I guess it was just a few seconds.”

Further Update, Background: Trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERF; also Trans women exclusionary feminism or TWEF) is a subgroup of radical feminism characterized by transphobia, especiallytransmisogyny, and hostility to the third wave of feminism. They believe that the only real women are those born with a vagina and XX chromosomes. They wish to completely enforce the classic gender binary, supporting gender essentialism.

1. THREATS OF VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT, AND ABUSE

Threats of violence towards ‘TERFs’, lesbians, radical feminists, and anyone critical of the ideology

More via  link.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

French Union Protests Make a Good Start Against Macron’s Labour ‘reforms’.

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Protests took place yesterday  in cities across France against changes to the country’s labour laws.

Libération today carries extensive reports on the 12th of September day of action against the new wave of labour code ‘reforms’, which will weaken workers’ bargaining ability and rights, including their compensation from Employment Tribunals. (Loi travail : de Lille à Marseille en passant par Grenoble, la rue gronde).

La mobilisation syndicale presque au niveau des débuts de la fronde anti-loi El Kohmri

Le Monde notes that at 5000,00 people across France (230,000 according to the police) the level of people taking part was nearly at the same level as those against the previous Labour ‘reform’, the El Khomri law – despite the fact that this time around two union federations, the CFDT and FO did not take nationally take part. There were some welcome local exceptions of total union unity (Front syndical uni : des manifestations rares, mais qui mobilisent).

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The first anti-El Khomri marches on the 9th of March 2016  gathered  450 000 et 500 000 ( 224 000 police figures).

The main organiser, the CGT, joined by the small left union grouping, the Solidaires, education and student unions, the FSU and UNEF announced that the day had been a success. The government has aid it remains “serine” faced with the protests. (Réforme du code du travail : l’exécutif affiche sa sérénité face aux manifestants.)

The left daily, l’Humanité, called it a promising springboard for future action (400 000 contre la loi travail XXL, un beau tremplin pour la suite).

On the 23rd of September Mélenchon’s rally,  La France insoumise  has organised its own event, the  “marche contre le coup d’Etat social”.

This has been criticised, some noting Mélenchon’s claim to be effecting the “replacement” ( remplacement) of both the Parti Socialiste and the rest of the left, and, some accuse him,  trade unions, by his own movement.

The CGT and the Parti communiste français (PCF) are participating in Peace marches on that day (Le Mouvement pour la Paix appelle à une grande journée de mobilisation partout en France le 23 septembre).

However, former Socialist Presidential candidate ( 6,36 %), Benoît Hamon who has left the PS and founded  the Mouvement du 1er juillet, is going to join Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.58% in the same first round of this year’s election) on the 23rd (Contre toute attente, Mélenchon et Hamon s’allient)

The CGT has its own next moblisation on the 21st of September (Journée d’actions, de mobilisations et de grèves).

This is the report in France 24.

Tens of thousands of hard-left trade unionists marched through French cities on Tuesday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s labour law reforms, although turnout appeared lower than at demonstrations in previous years.

France 24 puts this story under the headline, no doubt for the benefit of its transatlantic readership under the heading, “Hardliners protest French labour reform as Macron chides ‘slackers’.

Translation, “Militant Trade Unions Protest Against French Labour Reform as Macron condemns ‘lazy’ workers.

The word used against workers was ” fainéant”, literally, “do-nothings”.

 

Hitting back at Macron‘s pledge to give no ground to “slackers”, some in Paris carried placards reading: “Slacker on Strike” while in Bordeaux demonstrators chanted: “Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the streets.”

The Paris prefecture said 24,000 protesters turned out in the capital, where riot police clashed with hooded youths in isolated skirmishes on the fringe of the march led by the Communist Party-linked CGT union.

That was under the 28,000 estimated by police during March 2016’s demonstration.

Labour unions have scuppered previous attempts to weaken France’s labour code, but this time there was comfort for Macron as two other unions, including the largest, the CFDT, declined to join the protests.

“We’ve been passing laws which take apart the labour code for 20 years. The answer (to unemployment) doesn’t lie in rolling it back further,” said Maxime Durand, a train driver on strike.

After weeks of negotiation, the government last month set out measures including a cap on payouts for dismissals judged unfair and greater freedom for companies to hire and fire.

The reform makes no direct reference to the 35-hour week, a totem of the labour code, though it hands firms more flexibility to set pay and working conditions. The government plans to adopt the new measures, being implemented by decree, on Sept. 22.

During a trip to Athens on Friday, Macron told the local French community: “I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners.”

He said the “slackers” comment was aimed at those who had failed to push through reforms in the past, although political opponents and some unions took it as an attack on the unemployed or on workers making the most of job protection.

“We will make Macron back down,” far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has become Macron’s most vocal opponent in parliament, said on the sidelines of a protest in Marseille.

Cherished rights

French workers have long cherished the rights enshrined in the labour code, but companies complain it has deterred investment and job creation and stymied economic growth.

Unemployment has been above 9 percent for nearly a decade.

Macron’s reforms are being followed in Germany as a test of his resolve to reshape the euro zone’s second-biggest economy, a must if he is to win Berlin’s backing for broader reforms to the currency union.

The CGT is France’s second-biggest union, though its influence has been waning. Its leader Philippe Martinez said Tuesday’s nationwide protests were the “first phase” and more would follow. He called Macron’s reference to “slackers” an insult to workers.

“The president should listen to the people, understand them, rather than cause divisions,” Martinez told France 2 television.

CGT workers from the rail, oil and power sectors heeded the strike call but by the afternoon there was no apparent impact on power and refining production, spokespeople for utility EDF and oil major Total said.

Just over 11 percent of the workforce at EDF, which operates France’s fleet of 48 nuclear reactors, took part in the strike, a spokeswoman for the state-owned utility said.

The demos saw people with handmade placards with slogans that strongly suggest, dare I say it, something very similar to a British or Irish sense of humour,

Macron: a Good for Nothing is Worth Two of You Mate! Lazy-bones of the World Unite!

Here: Lazy. Cynical and Extreme!

Too idle to Find a Slogan!

Dennis Skinner Votes with Tories for Repeal Bill (EU).

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Image result for dennis skinner votes with tories

 As we vote on the it was a pleasure to see Dennis Skinner joining us in the Aye lobby.

The Telegraph reports,

Dennis Skinner rebels against Jeremy Corbyn as he votes with Tories for Repeal Bill

Dennis Skinner MP, who has previously flicked the V-sign at Labour rebels and claimed to never have contemplated doing “cross-party stuff”  shocked many as he voted against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for the Repeal Bill on Monday night.

He has also said in the past he refuses to be friends or work with Tories — so his vote may surprise those who count on him as a Jeremy Corbyn supporter.

Mr Skinner, who is usually on the side of Jeremy Corbyn, voted for the Tory bill along with Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, and Graham Stringer.

14 Labour MPs, including Caroline Flint, abstained on the bill.

Corbyn supporters have said that MPs who voted against the whip should “find new jobs”.

Dennis Skinner is the MP for Bolsover – which voted for Brexit by a large margin. 70.8 per cent voted Leave, while 29.2 per cent voted to Remain.

He also was a staunch supporter of Brexit during the referendum, saying it was because he wanted to escape the capitalism of the EU and protect the future of the NHS.

 

The Telegraph notes that Labour supporters have called for those who backed the Tory bill to be deselected, and asks if this applies to Skinner.

This is how one Tory reacted:

The best the Telegraph could find to explain Skinner’s vote was an (unsourced) article in the Morning Star, from which this quote is taken.

Mr Skinner said at the time: “In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist government in Germany, but there’s not been one for donkeys’ years. At one time there was Italy, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, Portugal, Spain and us. Now there’s just one in France and it’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.”

Here is the original, Morning Star, Friday 10th of June 2017.

Speaking to the Morning Star yesterday, he confirmed he was backing a break with Brussels because he did not believe progressive reform of the EU could be achieved.

He said: “My opposition from the very beginning has been on the lines that fighting capitalism state-by-state is hard enough. It’s even harder when you’re fighting it on the basis of eight states, 10 states and now 28.

“In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist government in Germany, but there’s not been one for donkeys’ years.

“At one time there was Italy, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, Portugal, Spain and us.

“Now there’s just one in France and it’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.”

Even some on the pro-Brexit left argued against the Tory Repeal Bill.

Counterfire published this: A very British coup: May’s power grab Josh Holmes September the 11th.

If Theresa May carries off her coup, the Government will be given a majority on committees, even though it doesn’t have a majority in the House. This may sound merely technical and a little arcane, but it has the most serious consequences for democracy. It means that the Tories will win every single vote between now and the next election – which may well be in five years’ time.

May says she needs these powers because, without them, it will be hard for her to pass the Brexit legislation. She is right: it will be hard, and the legislation probably won’t end up looking like what she wants. It will be subject to proper scrutiny, and Labour, the SNP and every other party in Parliamentwill have a real say in shaping its final form. Britain’s post-Brexit future will not be written by the Tory party alone.

Skinner has many good points, and many weaknesses, which are well known in the labour movement.

I shall not go and see this soon to be released film for a start:

Dennis Skinner film director on Nature of the Beast

A film director has been given rare access to follow Dennis Skinner for two years to make a documentary.

Daniel Draper, who has made Nature of the Beast, told Daily Politics presenter Jo Coburn it was “fair criticism” for some who claimed he was guilty of hero-worshipping the Bolsover MP.

Image result for dennis skinner the nature of the beast

Update:

This is the  Skinner’s ‘explanation’ for voting with the Tories, “With all the treaties, Maastricht and the others, I don’t decide who’s in the lobby – some rag tag and bobtail of Tories plus a few unionists.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Brouhaha over New York Times Op-Ed: “Emmanuel Macron Will Be Yet Another Failed French President.”

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Image result for macron comme jupiter

French President Macron, as his Fans see Him.

For reasons most people will find hard to grasp a rude article about French President Macron in the New York Times, a paper of very limited circulation in France, or indeed elsewhere in Europe, including Britain (this is the first time I have read anything in it since…for ever), has been met by outraged brouhaha in France.

One thing that is easy to get is the idea that “fake news” is spreading like bad margarine over our daily political bread.

Libération today has this article, a factual piece in answer to claims that it was an editorial (apparently somebody can’t tell the difference between Op-ed, an American expression which I think means opinion piece), Editorial and report,  and  (Confusion entre tribune d’opinion, édito et article.) as well as  demolishing the idea that the author is a Le Pen supporter.

L’auteur de la tribune anti-Macron n’est ni journaliste au «New York Times»… ni lepéniste

A Government type (Secrétaire d’État auprès du Premier ministre, chargé des relations avec le Parlement, porte-parole du . Team ) claimed the Le Pen link, soon afterwards followed by another professional Macron fan (Hugues Renson @huguesrenson Vice-Président de l’Assemblée Nationale – Député  – 13eme circonscription de Paris – Commission des affaires étrangères).

The tale is taken apart in even more rigorous detail here: Comment une tribune du New York Times a assassiné la presse française

Emmanuel Macron Will Be Yet Another Failed French President

President Emmanuel Macron of France is liberalism’s new poster boy. Hailed as the answer to Europe’s populist tide, he has brought a buzz back into French diplomacy by facing down President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. “The Macron method,” a leading European think tank gushed recently, is the new Third Way, threading the needle between technocracy and populism.

At home in France, it’s a very different story. A recent poll found that Mr. Macron’s popularity fell by 14 points in August, after a fall of 10 points in July. Only 40 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the president’s performance.

To be fair, Mr. Macron never had much popular support to begin with. In the first round of the presidential election in April, when the vote was split among four main contenders, he won just under 24 percent. (By comparison, François Hollande received 28 percent of the vote in the first round in 2012. Nicolas Sarkozy won 31 percent in 2007.) Mr. Macron won the second round handily, but only because he was the lesser-evil candidate in the runoff — his competitor was Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right populist National Front party.

Electoral arithmetic explains only so much. Mr. Macron’s popularity suffers from something more fundamental: Macronism. His entire political project has been far too focused on his personality. Much of his appeal has come from his youth, his dynamism, his good looks and his oratorical skills. This hyper-personalized approach always carried the risk that once his charm wore off, there would be nothing left for his supporters to like, which is exactly what is happening.

Since taking office, Mr. Macron has put off many people by trying to recapture the grandeur of the presidency. In a phrase that may stick to him for the rest of his time in office, he said he wanted to make the presidency more “Jupiterian,” comparing himself with the powerful Roman god Jupiter, who ruled the skies. When he brought the Senate and Parliament together at the Versailles palace and spoke to them about his ambitions for the presidency, many in France bristled at the monarchical overtones.

 

The above Chris Bickerton, who shows few signs of more knowledge of French politics than can be picked up from a few newspaper articles, is a pro-Brexit tosser, claiming to be on the internationalist  ‘left’ for reasons which remain obscure but are apparently linked to the idea that being anti-EU is a hand of friendship to the world,  whose views count for very little anywhere.

To just cite the pillock, on why people should vote Leave, (Brexit is not the property of the political right. The left is disenchanted too.

I believe we can make this into the basis for a new internationalism in Europe, one that gives Europe a political meaning far more profound than the shallow cosmopolitanism that comes with the economic integration of the single market. A vote for Brexit is also a universal message to all other Europeans that politics can be about change and not just about defending the status quo.

The main interest of the story, apart from indicating the mechanisms of fake-news, is that it shows just how twitchy Macron’s mates are.

Meanwhile this demo is taking place tomorrow , against Macron’s Labour Code reform:  Code du travail : première épreuve de rue pour Macron

Les syndicats, à l’exception de FO et de la CFDT, manifestent mardi 12 septembre contre les ordonnances sur la réforme du droit du travail.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm