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Morning Star backs Nicaraguan regime repression against accusations of human rights violations.

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Portada de El Nuevo Diario (Nicaragua)

39th Anniversary of Nicaraguan Revolution: Regime Chief Says Bishops in “Coup Plan”.

Nicaragua strongman blames ‘satanists,’ bishops, U.S. for unrest.

Agence France-Presse July the 20th.

Daniel Ortega says the protesters, financed by the ‘North American empire’ and domestic business chiefs, had been conspiring to mount a coup d’etat against him.

Standing on a stage alongside the Cuban and Venezuelan foreign ministers and his wife Rosario Murillo, who is also his vice president, Ortega spoke as if his security forces had finished with the public dissent after armed offensives launched over the past week.

“The satanists have to be exorcized,” he said.

“It has been a painful battle. Painful because we have confronted an armed conspiracy financed by internal forces we know and external forces,” he said.

The 3 months of unrest in what used to be one of Latin America’s safest countries has seen more than 280 people killed, most of them protesting youths, according to rights groups.

Ortega made no mention of those deaths, instead rattling off a list of two dozen police officers he said were killed by “terrorists.”

Le Monde today is moved to Editorialise on the anniversary speaking of the regime’s moral disarray and excessive use of force (“déroute morale, provoquée par un usage excessif de la force”).

The Spanish language press has talked for some time of the violence of Ortega’s henchmen, the “turbas sandinistas“.

Faced with the mounting violence most of the international left has backed the protests against the corrupt Nicaraguan regime’s bloody repression.

THE BATTLE FOR NICARAGUA’S STREETS

June 21, 2018 US Socialist Worker (no relation at present with UK publication of the same name).

The two-month old uprising in Nicaragua against the government of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo (Ortega’s wife} has turned into a city-by-city battle for control. Students began the protests with opposition to cuts to Social Security, but now, the chief demand of the spreading movement is the resignation of the Ortega-Murillo government.

At one point, the government seemed to teeter, but government-backed paramilitary forces are waging a campaign of terror to intimidate the population into submission. Meanwhile, the government is negotiating with a fractious grouping of opposition representatives in an effort to resolve the crisis. Ortega has indicated he may be willing to accept early elections in 2019, but not leave power any sooner. But it’s unclear whether this is a sufficient concession to demobilize the anti-government protests.

Oscar René Vargas is a Nicaraguan sociologist and political analyst who was a militant in the Sandinista revolution, and is now a critic of the political and moral degeneration of the FSLN and the Ortega government. This article first appeared in Correspondencia de Prensa and was translated by Lance Selfa.

The Guardian reports today, Tom Phillips: Nicaragua: what’s driving the uprising and what comes next?

The initially student-led protests in April were met with a shower of police bullets and since then Nicaragua has been gripped by a highly unpredictable wave of violence and government repression. Victims have included several babiesan altar boy and numerous teenage protesters as well as police officers and some government supporters.

Journalists critical of Ortega’s government have been targeted or threatened. Key roads and cities, including the former Sandinista stronghold of Masaya, have fallen under rebel control.

Recent weeks have seen violence intensify as government troops and paramilitaries began clearing protest camps and roadblocks that had brought swaths of the country to a standstill.

“It is an ugly moment,” said Geoff Thale, a Central America expert and activist from the Washington Office on Latin America advocacy group.

“Paramilitary groups and snipers and others have aggressively … tried to dislodge people from the National University. They’ve tried to dislodge tranques [roadblocks] in Masaya. They have pushed around priests, they have gone into churches. It is really pretty intense.”

Meanwhile Nicaragua’s government and its supporters have blamed the bloodshed on “coup mongers”, “terrorists” and “criminals”.

..

Nicaraguan officials have repeatedly cast protesters as criminals and “terrorists” involved in a US-backed conspiracy. The vice-president, Rosario Murillo, has accused the “satanic” opposition of driving the violence and attacked what she calls a “false” anti-Ortega media witch-hunt.

In response to these accusations Tom Phillips notes,

However, there is widespread and growing consensus within the international community that Nicaragua’s government is in fact largely responsible for the bloodshed.

This week 13 Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay – called for an immediate end to the repression and the dismantling of paramilitary groups and denounced “the acts of violence, intimidation and the threats directed towards Nicaraguan society”.

The United Nations accused Ortega’s government of “a wide range of human rights violations … including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, and denying people the right to freedom of expression”. “The great majority of violations are by government or armed elements who seem to be working in tandem with them,” a UN spokesperson added.

Uruguay’s former leftwing president José Mujica also spurned Ortega, admitting the Sandinista “dream” had gone astray.

These reports stand in stark contrast with the Morning Star which appears hell-bent on denying the facts:

Nicaragua celebrates 39th anniversary of the revolution and defeat of coup attempt.

Morning Star July the 19th.

A government offensive is underway, dismantling roadblocks that have damaged the Nicaraguan economy and been used to launch attacks against Sandinista supporters and the police.

The coup attempt began on April 18 following protests over pension reforms.

Mr Ortega announced a national dialogue backed by most layers of Nicaraguan society including trade unions and the country’s official student body.

Despite this, opposition groups continued to wage violent attacks, demanding the resignation of Mr Ortega. On Sunday an arsenal of weapons, including bomb-making equipment and home-made mortars, was found at the occupied National Autonomous University of Nicaragua.

Fearing potential attacks on today’s celebrations, critics warned that international organisations have sided with the coup-plotters.

They accused Amnesty International and “fellow coup apologists” such as Bianca Jagger and SOS Nicaragua, along with media organisations including the Guardian, BBC, Telegraph, Washington Post, New York Times, Al Jazeera and CNN of covering up human rights violations committed by opposition activists trying to oust Nicaragua’s legitimate government.

This article is far from alone in the self-styled Paper of the Left’s coverage.

HUGE cache of arms has been found at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) as the Sandinista government launched an offensive against armed right-wing terrorists over the weekend.

Morning Star. Monday July 16th.

Vargas and many, many, others, tell a very different story.

It’s time Labour spoke out against this brutal and corrupt regime.

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Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2018 at 12:19 pm

France: Top Macron Minder, Alexandre Benalla, Filmed Hitting May Day Protester.

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Alexandre Benalla: “After  attacks quickly slipped off afraid of being recognised”.

L’Indépendent,

“Cet homme s’est ensuite rapidement éloigné de peur d’être reconnu…”

The Guardian reports, “Benalla, wearing a police visor, is seen first grabbing and dragging a woman, then dragging, hitting and stamping on an unarmed young man who seems to be in pain.”

“The many riot police close by appear to let Benalla carry out the violence untroubled.

One witness who saw the incident said: “What I watched was not normal, it was extraordinary, it was not legal and it was not techniques used by the police. It’s unacceptable, I’m extremely angry and I want to see action by the justice system, police and administration against this member of staff of the presidency.”

One of President Emmanuel Macron’s top security officers was at the centre of a potentially damaging scandal for the French leader on Wednesday after being filmed hitting a protester.

France 24.

Le Monde newspaper published a video showing Alexandre Benalla hitting and then stamping on a young man while wearing a police visor during a demonstration in central Paris on May 1.

Benalla, who is not a policeman and previously worked as bodyguard, had been given permission to “observe police operations” during a day-off on the May 1 public holiday, Macron’s office said.

The presidential palace added that Benalla had been suspended for two weeks after the incident came to light and had been transferred out of his job, which was organising security for Macron’s trips.

“This sanction was to punish unacceptable behaviour and it was a final warning before being sacked,” presidential spokesman Bruno Roger-Petit told reporters.

Prosecutors in Paris opened a probe on Thursday into possible charges of violence by a public official, pretending to be a policeman and the illegal use of police insignia.

Benalla was a popular and ever-present member of Macron’s campaign team, usually found several steps behind the then-candidate, and transferred to the presidential staff in May 2017.

Opposition MPs immediately suggested there had been a cover up and questioned why the incident had not been referred to the police when it came to light in May.

“This video is shocking. Today, we have the feeling that in Macron’s entourage, one is above the law. It is obvious that Macron has to speak up about this,” Laurent Wauquiez, president of conservative opposition party Les Républicains told Europe 1 radio.

Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure said there was “a double standard” in how Benalla had been treated compared to any ordinary French citizen.

Alexis Corbière, an MP for the hard-left France Unbowed party, said Benalla “deserves to be punished with a prison sentence, at least a suspended sentence and with very heavy sanctions”.

Supporters of Macron claimed that the punishment handed down to Benalla – suspension without pay for two weeks and a transfer to an administrative job – was appropriate.

In fact le Monde has just reported that the French prosecution service has now opened an inquiry into the incident:

 Le parquet ouvre une enquête visant un collaborateur de Macron

As is the way  Videos of the incident are already freely available.

 

It is astonishing, and outrageous, that Benalla  thought he could get away with this behaviour.

As the person who filmed the incident, Taha Bouhafs, says,

Ça montre que quand on est conseiller d’Emmanuel Macron, on peut tabasser quelqu’un et être mis à pied quinze jours seulement. Est-ce que la sanction aurait été aussi légère si ça n’avait pas été un proche du pration.résident ?

This shows that when you’re an aide to Emmanuel Macron, you can beat up somebody and only get suspended for a fortnight. Would this have been the penalty faced by anybody other than somebody close to the President?

Libération: Agression d’un manifestant par un collaborateur de Macron: «Il l’étrangle et lui met plusieurs coups de poing par derrière»

Written by Andrew Coates

July 19, 2018 at 11:50 am

Trade Unionists Against the EU – “Former” Leading Communist Party of Britain Member worked with Arron Banks

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Worked Hand in Hand with Hard Right Millionaire Arron Banks.

Trade Unionists Against the EU was a key front for the Brexit left, supported by, amongt others, the Morning Star and the Socialist Party.

It is a strange beast, as today’s Unherd outpouring from their national Organiser Paul Embery illustrates,

…for those of us on the more traditional Left, the concept of family, far from being antithetical to our socialism, is the very essence of it. It is within the family unit that we first learn about obligation, sacrifice, loyalty, compassion and solidarity. It is one place where the common good will almost always transcend self-interest, where you are in every sense your brother’s keeper. What better example is there of socialism in action?

That’s why we socialists should defend the family unit against all-comers. And that means resisting not just the cultural war against it, but the economic one too. Austerity, low wages and poverty have all weakened family ties, as has the explosion in the number of families in which both parents go out to work, often not through choice but financial necessity.

..

Confucius had it right 2,500 years ago when he said, “When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation.”

Why won’t our spineless politicians stand up for the family?

In a more traditional vein Trade Unionists Against the EU made much of their imaginary support amongst the European left.

It is true that some on the Continental  left – generally known as ‘sovereigntists’ and others who could be called anglophobes – resented the UK and some may have backed Brexit.

I recall one of the leading figures of TUAEU,  Enrico Tortolano, speaking loudly in public about his internationalism, and citing in evidence the ‘millions’ of Greeks who has stated that they wished the ‘Leave’ campaign would win.

Yet, as we known, the Greeks actually voted in a pro-EU left government, for all its faults, led by Alexis Tsipras.

The only concrete evidence of this pan-European  Lexit alliance,  came from a, they claimed at the time, a mass Paris Rally. In reality this was a hook up with the French trotskyist splinter (too small to stand in the most recent Presidential elections), the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique, (POID One of its best known members, Gérard Schivardi,was the last Presidential candidate (standing on a platform of backing for local Mayors’ power)  from this current, in 2007. He got  0,34 % of the vote.

Is this an “internationalist” movement?

POID is known for its support for reasserting  French National sovereignty against the European Union. The EU, they assert, has deprived Parliaments of their sovereign will, and reduced them to a subsidiary role to the EU  which imposes its will directly on nations. (“Parlements privés de toute velléité de souveraineté étant réduit à un rôle subsidiaire, les décisions de l’Union européenne s’imposent directement à toutes les nations. La Tribune des travailleurs).

That particular jamboree (2017) can be viewed here: LE GRAND MEETING INTERNATIONALISTE DE PARIS PORTE DE CHARENTON’ en 20 minutes et version sous-titrée:

 

More recently Trade Unionists Against the EU has developed a good rapport with the Spiked-on-Line linked Sovereigntist, grouping, the Full Brexit, which includes Murdoch’s Man in Brussels “The founding statement of a group called ‘The Full Brexit’. Good to see the statement signed by some well-known figures in the labour and trade union movement.” (5th of July): Trade Unionists Against the EU

Yesterday John Rogan  published:

Lexit and Brexit collaboration-what did the Morning Star know?

One long standing Lexiter is leading Communist Party of Britain member Brian Denny (also of the RMT union who backed Brexit). He has written extensively on the need to get out on the CPB’s website (“Trade Unionists need to take the lead against the EU”14 Aug 2015) and was a co-ordinator for NO2EU (Lexit electoral alliance), organiser for the (“Eurosceptic Labour Movement”) Campaign Against Euro-Federalism (CAEF) and a founder of Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Image result for Brian Denney rmt and arron banks

Denny’s contributions also take up some space (see here)  on the Trade Unionists Against the EU site.

Rogan continues,

Denny (CPB) and Banks (Ukip) worked together to maximise the Leave vote. Here’s an extract from Arron Banks’s “Bad Boys of Brexit” (28 Jan 2016) where Banks saw Labour voters as key to winning and the need to fund an anti — TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) leaflet produced by Trade Unionists Against the EU (TUAEU).

Here is some evidence of the collaboration between the leading Communist and the far-right Brexiteer.

Rogan Notes,

Arron Banks is currently under investigation by the Electoral Commission for funding of Trade Unionists Against the EU (£54,000) and other organisations. Some more background to this can be found here and here.

So far we have heard nothing from those accused of collaboration with the hard right.

Brian Denny, meanwhile, regularly retweets Spiked-on-Line….

 

Trump and the Implosion of Neoliberalism.

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“Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism”

“the neoliberal order continues to implode.” “..Trump has proved to be deadly serious about undermining the post-war liberal international order.”

Alex Callinicos. Darkening prospects. International Socialism. Issue: 159 June 2018

Trump’s chaos tour will unleash far right. Alex Callinicos. 17th of July.

Trump had in his sights precisely the European extreme centre, and more particularly the centre right that currently dominates the European Union (EU).

…….

His attacks on Merkel were semi-orchestrated with the far right governments that have taken office in Europe. They are Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Sebastian Kurz in collaboration with the Nazi Freedom Party in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

Similarly, Trump’s intervention in the Tory factional struggle over the terms of Brexit was intended to bolster Boris Johnson and other Brexiteers in rebellion against May.

As the Financial Times newspaper put it, “The US president is clearly intent on forming a new kind of transatlantic alliance with insurgent political forces.”

Luckily Johnson is probably too lazy and cowardly to take full advantage of Trump’s support.

But Orbán, Kurz, and Salvini are no clowns. They already have Merkel and other leaders of the European extreme centre such as Emmanuel Macron in a headlock.

The SWP leader continues,

So Trump is trying to subvert the political institutions of neoliberal capitalism on both sides of the Atlantic by promoting the forces of the far right. This is very dangerous.

In the first place, neither he nor his European allies have a real economic alternative to neoliberalism. Their most potent weapon is anti-migrant racism, and the extreme centre is adapting to their demands.

Secondly, Trump is giving confidence to genuinely fascist forces, as we’ve seen on British streets in recent weeks.

Trump has been successful in undermining the “political institutions” of what Callinicos calls ‘neoliberalism’. IN the last week alone he has ridden roughshod over liberal democracy, beginning with all normal forms of inter-state protocol.

He and his allies have equally boosted the European far-right. We just seen this work in the open with Steve Bannon’s support for Tommy Robinson. he has railed about ‘immigration’ in ways that recall Enoch Powell. In his Brexit and Helsinki interventions, it by acting as if his Gang wishes to make real the Russia Today vision of ‘Chaos Europe. Domestically his contempt for his own legal agencies such as the FBI has created unprecedented turmoil.

Iy well be that Trump’s intervention were ‘semi-orchestrated’ (which half we are not clear on) with the European populist right.Whether he will also achieve the weakening of the “extreme centre” is less certain. Callinicos adopts the term from a little read book by Tariq Ali (The Extreme Centre: A Warning 2015, now reissued., It described a period in which a ‘consensus’ of free-market social ‘reforming’ dominated European politics, centre left to centre right, from Germany to the UK. Ali was concerned to rescue the radical left from the ‘sealed tomb’ of this period.

The time of the Extreme Centre is already long past. Ali’s jibes at the “indistinguishable  political elite” have a different, more sour taste, when we realise that  far-right radicals, many with electoral success in their hands, now use that language. But it is not confined to these forces. The intense battles inside Britain’s Conservatives also show the rise of the national-populist right inside the former ‘centre’.

Chancellor Merkel  has shifted clearly to the right, the result of pressure not just from the AfD but the CDU. Some commentators suggest German Christian Democracy  may have its own alliances with the central European populists at hand.

Post World Cup, Macron’s ‘deadlock’, over issues such as EU immigration policy, does not mean that the French president’s wider politics are going to be thwarted by any “semi-orchestration”from outside.

Those who gamble on “Insurgent forces”, such as Italy’s Salvini,  take great risks.

Can a coalition around a populist-nationalist right emerge to dominate Europe?

There are many reasons to doubt such an outcome.

This is not just because (as Callinicos states) they have no economic alternative to neo-liberalism, but because they have no serious economic policies at all.

And, far-right ‘internationals’ – riven with differences too obvious to detail – have proved in the past more ephemeral than any Trotskyist splinter.

How can this be fought?

Alliances against the nationalist-populists (notably without the very pro-Brexit ‘left’ which helps the Trump strategy) can be built but one thing is missing.

We are still without an in-depth  explanation of why the rise of neoliberal “globalisation” is now coming undone.

America has been the global Leader not by acquiring ownership of other sovereign countries, but by being the ‘guardian’ of geopolitical and economic stability. If Trump is not longer a pillar of a world order, if he abandons even the pretence of humanitarianism and human rights in favour of nation state sovereignty, what are the economic drives behind his shift?

One of the main themes of globalisation theory from the 1990s till the financial crash of 2008 is an account of financial, production and distribution flows have become ‘deterrorialised’.

Trump can, provoking serious crises along the way, “re-territorialise” international politics around  what he and his team take to be the interests of the US Homeland.

It remains to be seen how he can bring economics under national political control.

No doubt the sovereigntist left who, rarely in public, but sotto voce, rather admire Trump for standing up for ‘his’ folk against the WTO and globalisation, will also be following this with interest.

Trump Leaves Brexiteers, from Hard Right to “People’s Brexit’ in Disarray.

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“Those who are not prepared to fight to the finish to break free from the iron cage called the European Union are doomed to capitulate.”

Stathis Kouvelakis Borderland. New Left Review. 110. March-April. 2018.

The EU wants to break our national will — Brexit victory would be like winning the Falklands War.

Sir Bernard Jenkin. MP for HarwichThe Current Bun. 14th of July.

For the King’s College academic and  Greek supporter of La France insoumise (LFI), who claims, as is the custom of such academics, to speak for the “European left”, beyond the reaches of social democracy, the Brexit vote was welcomed by many on that radical fringe.

The British left, Kouvelakis said after the UK Referendum result, in the American journal Jacobin, should adapt to the result. Prime amongst our change of strategy should be a ” positive, conquering attitude at the level of the national formation”, that is to the British nation. The  task of the left in these Isles is to see (he cites Étienne Balibar, as one does) into the reasons for the Brexit vote, notably recognising that racism is “a displaced form of class struggle” and act henceforth to remedy this.

With this consoling thought in mind – no doubt reassuring for the victims of racialist attacks who can come to terms with their injuries by reading Balibar’s debates with Judith Butler in this latest work, Des Universels. Essais et conférences, Éditions Galilée, 2016 – he advocates a new approach.

This requires hegemonizing the very concept of “the people” that constitute the living substance of the nation to transform it into an inclusive, multiracial, multicultural, welcoming, and sovereign body politic.” (An Open Letter to the British Left. 2016)

The Nation as a political object for the left is suspect for many reasons, one of which appears in Flaubert’s Le Dictionnaire des idées reçues: “Nation. Réunir ici tous les peuples.” Nation: Unite here all the Peoples.

But is would perhaps be more appropriate to cite an old saw of Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau adopted by some strategists of La France insoumise which Kouvelakis so supports, that ‘federating the people’ requires constructing an “us” against a “them“.

It is no doubt the moment to point out that this ‘Other’ , the ‘them’ – a capitalised word that  sends many of ‘us’ reaching for our updated version of Flaubert’s work – has been doing a lot of work recently.

LFI prefers some nebulous alliance of the “popular classes” against a shifting spectrum of the “elite”.

Trump has his own Schmittian Enemy:

President Trump Calls the European Union a ‘Foe’ of the U.S.

Pro-Trump demonstrators in London on Saturday remain fixated, a little more explicitly than the ‘left behind’ but still salt-of-the earth ‘real’ voters Kouvelakis and his mates are so worried about, on immigration.

This was followed by this instruction from the US:

Bannon Calls for Brexit Supporters to Take Up Arms and Fight to Take Back the U.K.

Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, told Nigel Farage on LBC radio Sunday: “You’re going to have to fight to take your country back, every day. Whether it’s Italy, France, England, or the United States. If we quit, they’re going to be in control.”

Theo Usherwood, LBC’s political editor, said: “That sounds like a call to arms.” To which Bannon replied, “Absolutely. This is war.”

Others have different targets.

Sir Bernard Jenkin is not alone in wishing a decisive battle with the EU.

Other calls from Brexitering Tories against soft Brexit ‘traitors’ (Remainers in all but name) has an echo in the desperate rantings  of the ‘People’s Brexit’ cheerleaders.

John Rees of Counterfire writes,

UK big business and their EU allies are increasingly looking to the Labour Party to deliver them from the chronic, systemic incompetence of the Tory party. And most Labour MPs would love to help.

Stuffed shirt lawyer Kier Starmer is signalling like a sailor lost at sea that he’d love to deliver a soft Brexit and is constantly trailing his openness to a second referendum. Chuka Umunna and his allies would love to deliver the double whammy of defeating Corbyn and defeating Brexit.

On Sunday the Morning Star screamed,

The labour movement’s “red lines” should be clear. To support investment, trade and jobs, we need a Labour government with the freedom outside the EU to implement its left and progressive policies.

The problem is that nobody, absolutely nobody, takes the call for this “freedom” from the EU “iron cage” seriously anymore.

As for the ‘People’s Brexit’ – what mass moblisation have they to show for their campaign to “take back control”?

Step forward Trump – who has been the object of some protests…..and support:

Here is his latest….(BBC)

Donald Trump told Theresa May she should sue the EU rather than negotiate over Brexit, she has told the BBC.

The US president said on Friday at a joint news conference he had given Mrs May a suggestion – but she had found it too “brutal”.

Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr what he had said, she replied: “He told me I should sue the EU – not go into negotiations.”

And,

The US president has simply pointed out the obvious: the UK cannot maintain free trade with the European Union and at the same time strike new trade deals with other countries, such as the US. If the UK commits to follow EU rules and regulations in goods and agricultural products, as it said last week that it wants to do, then it will not be able to sign a new and different trade deal with the US .

As Trump put, in his interview with the Sun: “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal.” He half backed away from this yesterday – saying a trade agreement could still be on and backing away from the “ kill the deal” comment. But he was right the first time – if the UK does stay tied to EU rules, there won’t be any point.

Irish Times. Cliff Taylor.

There is also this (BBC):

Justine Greening calls for second Brexit referendum.

Justine Greening has called for a second referendum, labelling the prime minister’s Brexit deal a “fudge”.

Writing in the Times, the former education secretary described Theresa May’s proposals as “the worst of both worlds”.

The final decision should be given back to the people and out of “deadlocked politicians” hands, Ms Greening said.

She states there are three options: the PM’s deal, staying in the EU or a clean break from Europe with no deal.

Ms Greening, who resigned after the cabinet reshuffle in January, said the referendum should offer a first and second preference vote so that a consensus can be reached.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Greening said the government’s proposals were a “genuine clever attempt at a compromise that could work” but “suits no-one”.

The MP for Putney said: “The reality is Parliament is now stalemated. Whatever the proposal on the table, there will be MPs who vote it down. But Britain needs to find a route forward.”

But then no doubt trade deals, new referendums,  and all the rest probably mean little to readers of Balibar and “constructors of the People” Independent of the EU.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Pro Trump Thugs Demonstrate in London as US Lobbies for Tommy Robinson.

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Trump, “I think they like me a lot in the UK” – pro-Trump London Demo.

Today London played host to a raft of far and radical right leaders from around the world as pro-Trump and free Tommy Robinson demonstrations merge in Whitehall.

Hope Not Hate.

The day kicked off with a ‘Welcome Trump to London Demonstration’ near the US embassy in Vauxhall. Despite being organised by the oddball Make Britain Great Again group, led by the equally bizarre Luke Nash-Jones, the event attracted a number of UKIP speakers including Elizabeth Jones from UKIP NEC and UKIP London chairman Freddy Vachha.

The most high profile speaker was the Australian anti-Muslim activist Debbie Robinson from the anti-Muslim party, the Australian Liberty Alliance. Robinson, who was accompanied by Avi Yemini, is also President of the key Australian ‘counter-jihad’ organisation, the Q Society of Australia. 

Martin Costello of Make Britain Great Again addressed the crowd screaming “round up all illegal immigrants and get them out of here” and “we shall never surrender” into the microphone.

FREE TOMMY ROBINSON DEMONSTRATION

The main event happened in central London and kicked off just after 3pm in the wake of the shocking revelation that Sam Brownback, the US ambassador for international religious freedom, lobbied the UK on behalf of Tommy Robinson (AKA Stephen Yaxley-Lennon).

As the stage and screen were erected just in front of the Monument to the Women of World War II on Whitehall, notable figures from across the international far right and the right-wing alternative media began to gather. Members of Lennon’s team such as George Llewelyn-John and co-founder of the English Defence League (EDL) Kevin Carroll helped set things up alongside Siegfried Daebritz from the German anti-Muslim street movement PEGIDA. Also milling around the stage area was American “alt-light” figure Jack Posobiec.

The Guardian Reports,

A union leader has said he was the victim of an “unprovoked” attack by a mob after he addressed a counter-protest to a rally in support of Donald Trump and the jailed far-right leader Tommy Robinson.

Steve Hedley, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT, was among a number of officials assaulted by Robinson supporters, according to the union.

Witnesses said a mob ambushed a group at the Westminster Arms pub in central London on Saturday afternoon in a targeted attack.

In a video on social media, Hedley said: “We got attacked by a load of thugs, completely unprovoked.

“We defended ourselves obviously and there were a lot of casualties on both sides. But it was a completely unprovoked attack – we were just sitting there having a drink.

“If you oppose Tommy you get attacked by a glass and a chair – we have to stop this.”

He described the attackers as being from the far-right English Defence League, which Robinson used to lead.

One witness, who asked not to be named, said: “They [the attackers] knew what they were doing.”

Guardian.

AMERICAN THINK TANK FUNDING TOMMY DEMOS

Hope Not Hate,

it has emerged that Lennon has also been receiving significant financial assistance from across the Atlantic, receiving money for legal help from the Philadelphia-based organisation the Middle East Forum (MEF), led by Daniel Pipes.

Worryingly, MEF also claims to have held an “organizing and funding” role in both today’s protest and the previous protest in June, which was marred by violence and vandalism and saw nazis and other antisemites among the crowd.

MEF’s blog claims that they “provided all the funding and helped organized the first “Free Tommy Robinson” event held June 9 in London.” The event in question attracted around 10,000 people and saw police officers being chased and attacked near Trafalgar Square. Sections of Lennon’s supporters also hurled metal barriers, bottles and street signs, injuring five people and resulting in the arrest of nine.

Despite this, the MEF also decided to once again contribute to the funding and organizing of today’s Free Tommy demonstration in London, writing that it was arranging for US Congressman Gosar to speak at the rally. Gosar has previously courted controversy when, in an interview with VICE News, he suggested that the August 2017 alt-right Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, which led to the murder of counter-protester Heather Heyer, may have been organised by an “Obama sympathiser” and raised the possibility that it may have been funded by Hungarian philanthropist George Soros. Gosar also accused Soros of having “turned in his own people to the Nazis”.

Spare a Thought for the Pro-Trumpists.

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Ipswich Protest: C’est dur, dur, d’être bébé Trump.

Donald Trump visit: London protesters stage ‘one of UK’s biggest rallies in years’

Protesters young and old, from the UK and beyond, were united in their opposition to the US president, writes Sky’s Mark White.

Organisers claimed 250,000 people turned out for the huge demonstration in London.

While police have not given an official estimate, to my eyes this was one of the biggest rallies in recent years.

It was mass mobilisation by many disparate groups, all united in their belief that President Donald Trump should not have been afforded an official welcome to the UK.

It must be hard from the admirers of ‘Mr Brexit’ to put up with this:

And this:

Not to mention the latest spluttering about “fake news” – Trump’s recorded interview in the Current Bun.

So hard that they have spluttering into their Chlorinated Earl Grey and Texan Cornish pasties all day:

Portada de Daily Mail (United Kingdom)

DAYS OF MIDDLE-CLASS RAGE

Writes horney handed son of toil, TOM SLATER DEPUTY EDITOR

The Trump protests are more about therapy than politics.

..therapy, not politics. And if there’s anything truly striking about political life today, it’s not the illiberal blowhard that is Trump – it is how hysterical, disconnected and feeble the left has become.

Followed by even hornier Brendan O’Neill.

It is censorious to brand Trump a bigot for criticising the mayor.

Did you say censorship?

Reach for the genetically modified Bourbon!

Trump Orders Change in British Brexit.

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Trump has not just shat on the table after a good Feed at Blenheim Palace….

“I told May how to do Brexit but she wrecked it — the US trade deal is off, says Donald Trump”

The Current Bun.

Amongst further reasons to hate Trump are these:

George Orwell once wrote (Notes on Nationalism) of those on the British left who has a “transferred” nationalism, “one who looks upon the U.S.S.R. as his Fatherland and feels it his duty to justify Russian policy and advance Russian interests at all costs..”

It looks as if the present crop of British nationalists look to Trump’s America as their new Homeland.

We confidently expect the keeper of the Presidential Potty, Nigel Farage, to come up with some justification for this tirade of tripe.

He has already opined thus:

Meanwhile:

 

Amongst the protests against Trump today this is our local one:

 

 

 

Football: a Lament for the Two Englands.

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "baudrillard sur le football"

Pseudo-Cosmopolitan Sneers Get Robust Answer From Spiked online.

 

“England for him was no longer a real place, but a consecrated isle in the lake of forgetting, where the God of the English still strode through an imaginary Eden, admiring His works.”
― Roger ScrutonEngland: An Elegy

THE TWO ENGLANDS.

Brendan O’Neill

There’s the England where we gathered in pubs and parks to go wild for the team, and in the process made new friends, hugged strangers, helped inebriated people into Ubers, and there’s the England that frets that this heaving mass of fans will turn violent and harm women and girls.

“Human beings, in their settled condition, are animated by oikophilia: the love of the oikos, which means not only the home but the people contained in it, and the surrounding settlements that endow that home with lasting contours and an enduring smile.”
― Roger ScrutonHow to Be a Conservative

And,

There’s the England that pursues of the promise of nationhood, and the England that views the nation as outdated. There is the England that feels national pride and sometimes even waves the English flag, and there is the England repulsed by such ‘jingoistic’ behaviour. Even in London itself, you can have a working-class estate adorned in England flags not far from Corbynista-inhabited parts of London where the only flag you’re likely to see is the EU one. Two Londons. The England that sees itself as a nation, and the England that sees itself as a small cog in the pseudo-cosmopolitan machine of Brussels whose wise counsel is apparently preferable to the opinions of ordinary Brits. Especially the ones who wave that bloody flag and beat their wives when England lose.

“When the chips are down, Orwell argued, our workers do not defend their class but their country, and they associate their country with a gentle way of life in which unusual and eccentric habits – such as not killing one another – are accepted as the way things are. In these respects, Orwell also thought, the leftist intellectuals will always misunderstand the workers, who want nothing to do with a self-vaunting disloyalty that only intellectuals can afford.”
― Roger ScrutonHow to Be a Conservative

I know which of the two Englands I prefer. Like millions of others, I experienced it many times over these past few weeks, and I know it is not the foul, prejudiced, violent land of the new technocratic elite’s nightmares, but rather is a place where people value collectivity over individual identity, talent over race, and pulling together rather than waiting to be enlightened by those who presume to know more than us. En-ger-land – it’s not so shabby.

Brendan O’Neill

For further information on the new politics of Spiked see:

Iranian Islamist Regime Cracks Down on Women Dancing.

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Islamist Bigots Crack Down on Unveiled Dancing Women.

Woman arrested in Iran over Instagram video of her dancing

Guardian.  Iran correspondent.

Arrests of app users including Maedeh Hojabri after posting videos prompt outrage.

Iran has arrested a number of people over videos that were posted on Instagram, including a young woman who filmed herself dancing to music.

According to activists, Maedeh Hojabri was one of a number of users behind popular Instagram accounts who have been arrested. The identities of the other detainees have not been confirmed.

Her account, which has been suspended, was reported to have had more than 600,000 followers.

Hojabri has since appeared on a state television programme with other detainees, in which she and others made what activists say were forced confessions, a tactic often used by Iranian authorities.

State TV showed a young woman, her face blurred, crying and shaking while describing her motivation for producing the videos.

“It wasn’t for attracting attention,” she said. “I had some followers and these videos were for them. I did not have any intention to encourage others doing the same … I didn’t work with a team, I received no training. I only do gymnastics.”

Little is known about Hojabri’s personal life, or which city in Iran she is from, but since her arrest her videos have been shared by hundreds of people, giving her a reach beyond her account.

They appear to have often been taken using a camera in her bedroom while she danced to western pop and rap music without wearing a hijab, which is required in public.

Just in case anybody had forgotten the everyday religious tyranny that the Iranian Islamist regime shackles its people with.

But…

Iranians Mock Clerics After Teen Girl Arrested Over Instagram Dancing

Iranian women post video of themselves dancing in public after Maedeh Hojabri, 18, arrested for videos in which she appeared without compulsory headscarf

https://twitter.com/AlinejadMasih/status/1015641765272084480

Solidarity.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 11, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Brexit: A Requiem.

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Did Magna Carta Die in Vain for this?

“The Brexit dream is dying” Boris Johnson.

As “we are truly headed for the status of colony” spare a thought for those who dared to dream.

There is a thorpe in England, Bell End, Bertywoostershire.

Nay but a hamlet, but full, in every nook and herne, with  platoons, little and large.

In the ale-house, on the warm ingle-bench, the smock-frock’d boors sigh heavily o’er their loss.

The day is weary but they recall the merry match when Lord Tariq, wi’ sturdy northern folk from Counterfire, played the cricket team, and took a Beamer from Sir Arron, while wrinkled Vicar Giles smiled gently on.

The Squire, Sir Farrage, and his valet, Mr Galloway, would have many a cream tea at the neighbouring Big Boris Mansion.

Once a mouser was stuck high in the oldest Oak tree, the Lord of the ancient holt, and Yeoman Embery came a-runnin’ to save the feline.

The innocent of the village, Brendan O’Neill, made a tasty stew with that moggie….

The Very Honourable Ress Mogg with his Morris Players…. a sight to behold!

Alas.

Now gone.

Brussels ad portas.

Melanie Phillips Goes the Full Farage: “Sack May, give Farage a peerage, make him party leader and PM.”

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Phillips Leads the March on Downing Street!

Hat-Tip: The Seer of Hegemony.

Melanie Phillips is Britain’s answer to Alain Finkielkraut.

Both of ’em likes to whinge about falling educational standards, the loss of national identity and the perils of cosmopolitan multiculturalism, as in their parallel works, All Must Have Prizes (1996), Guardian Angel: My Journey from Leftism to Sanity (2018), and the Frenchman’s L’identité malheureuse (2014 – which reads like a line by line French version of Phillips’ oeuvre).

But one hesitates to imagine even  Alain Finkielkraut going outright raving nationalist as in the above and the below.

FAITHLESS, CRAVEN AND COWARDLY – THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S BREXIT BETRAYAL. Melanie Phillips.

we can say with near-certainty is that what Mrs May has done is put in serious doubt a Conservative victory at the next general election – and maybe at any further general election for a long time after that.

For she and her cowardly and faithless colleagues have betrayed Brexit voters, betrayed democracy and betrayed the British people.

..

the worst danger of all from this debacle: that the British people will simply lose faith not just in the wretched Conservative party but in the democratic process which will become increasingly meaningless.

That said, this thing is far from over; indeed, it may have only just begun. For if the EU sticks to its previous intransigence, it will reject the British government’s offer and insist that it makes further concessions to the EU’s rules which even Mrs May dare not make.

Which means, prepare now for “no deal”. Which Britain should have done right from the start.

But however this finally ends, Mrs May and her craven colleagues have done real damage – to themselves as politicians, to the Conservative party and to democracy itself.

 

These chaps are already moblising for the March on Downing Street to speak for the “disdained masses who have been championed by Melanie Phillips..”

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Socialist Workers Party Thuggery Returns.

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“SWP stewards overturned the AWL stall, stole leaflets and threatened violence while we were leafleting at Marxism, for our meeting on the left and Brexit.”

Today (Saturday 7 July), a group of Workers’ Liberty supporters went along to the SWP’s annual Marxism festival. We wanted to talk to attendees and challenge some of the SWP’s politics, and especially their support for “Lexit” during the European referendum.

We were leafleting for a fringe meeting hosted by ourselves – The Left Should Oppose Brexit. One of the guest speakers was from Another Europe is Possible/Left Against Brexit.

The result of this activity? The SWP first overturning and breaking our stall while it was set up outside the Institute of Education. The material overturned from the stall was picked up by SWP organisers and put on the floor on the footpath. One of the organisers stole a chunk of the Brexit event leaflets. Some of the material was torn up.

Later, when standing outside Student Central (Malet Street) SWP members stood round our leafleters making petty comments and obstructing them for over an hour.

Behaving like police enforcers against picketers or demonstrators we were continually asked to move one or two metres in order to stand on the pavement. One SWPer challenged one of our members to a fight.

The image shows the result of a gang of them coming to remove us from IoE: the stall on it’s side, broken with a pile of material in the gutter, including some which has been ripped up.

The SWP have form here. At Marxism 1993 two of our comrades were physically assaulted by SWP thugs (see what we published about it here). At the time the AWL launched a campaign against violence in the labour movement. We said then and we repeat it now: the left has disagreements but these should always be resolved by discussion and debate.

It should be completely taken for granted that the left should interact without resorting to physical obstruction, removal from venues, destroying literature and threatening physical fights.

Workers’ Liberty.

The SWP has promoted a call for ” a united mass movement” against the rise in racist far-right street protests and this,

Unity protest against Tommy Robinson, Trump and the far-right.

Some on the left (Socialist Resistance) have already noted that,

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) mobilised about 300 people against them. Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership. They are sometimes able to get Diane Abbott or Jeremy Corbyn to speak at their events but they have no relationship with Labour Party members and many on the left are unwilling to work with them because of their leaderships’ role in dealing with an allegation of sexual assault. Whatever one’s political judgement on that view, it’s a fact which won’t go away.

What kind of unity can we have with the burly SWP toughs who act in this way against political critics on the left?

Having been to the Chartist AGM yesterday where one of the main speakers in the morning was the same as the one addressing the later in the day meeting the AWL were advertising (see above), Alena Ivanova (Another Europe Is Possible), perhaps the SWP should had come to Toynbee Hall and beaten us up as well.

Some History:

This year’s Marxism was marred by a disgraceful physical assault by SWP national organiser Martin Smith. Mark Fischer demands the setting up of a workers’ commission to investigate

On July 7, the second full day of Marxism, Socialist Workers Party national organiser Martin Smith physically assaulted comrade Simon, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Tower Hamlets branch of Respect.

Weekly Worker 11.7.2007.

Martin Smith is better known as Comrade ‘Delta’.

In 2010 a man called Martin Smith (“Comrade Delta”) was the National Secretary of the SWP, its day to day leader, the person who employs the other party workers. In July of that year, a 19 year old woman (“Comrade W”) complained that he had mistreated her. She didn’t use the word “rape”, but the people who met her and heard her knew what she was talking about.

More here.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

World Cup: “Pure Patriotic Ecstasy” Spreads to Giles Fraser.

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Cleric Giles Fraser: in “pure patriotic ecstasy”.

Some people read the future of today’s Cabinet meeting in taxi  phone numbers and train time-tables.

Others will pontificate on global warming at the opening of a tin of baked beans.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, brings out the worst in commentators than waffling about the political and cultural implications of the World Cup and the English team.

A whiff of victory and they’re all over the players’ aprons.

A couple of days ago Counterfire published this, sub specie eternal cultural studies bore,

Success for England will mean what we make it mean

Mark Perryman.

A popular Left politics must surely connect with such episodes as metaphor, to translate what we see on the pitch into the changes beyond the touchline we require to become a more equal society. So here’s my maxim for Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues. If Labour cannot explain the meaning of the World Cup why should I listen to what the party has to tell me on how they’re going to fix the mess the NHS is in? Not the flimsy populism of Blair when he adopted the ‘Labour’s Coming Home’ message after England’s last tournament semi, Euro ‘96, but a political practice rooted in popular culture because here, more than anywhere else, ideas are not only formed, but also changed.

Perryman has an  admirer in the highest ranks of the Clergy who picked up on this passage.

But the point is that a St George Cross draped in the colours of multiculturalism has at least the potential for the beginnings of a journey away from racism. It has a reach and symbolism like no other, touching the parts of a nation’s soul no anti-racist placard thrust in our faces is ever going to. This is the meaning of modern football and when England begin to scale the heights of 2018 World Cup ambition the reach of that message is amplified still further on a scale and in a manner that ’66 could never have done, and ’90 barely began.

It’s Prelate Pontificus Maximus Giles Fraser:

In that moment of pure patriotic ecstasy, the pub seemed united in an unusually intimate form of togetherness. After all that, Neil and I had a rather messy argument about Brexit. “If we win the World Cup, Theresa May will call an early election,” someone else suggested. Then we all drank up and staggered home.

What we think about patriotism positions us squarely on possibly the moral question of our day. From Brexit to Trump, from Hungary to Israel, the question of putting our country first has a divisive feel that enrages liberals and internationalists. Because when it comes to patriotism, what liberals understand to be a defining feature of proper moral reasoning, communitarians think of as a vice. And what communitarians think of as an essential aspect of a flourishing moral community, liberals think of as bigotry.

The Cannon adds is some stuff about (former International Socialist)  Alasdair MacIntyre, if anybody can be bothered to read his half digested reflections.

Let us end with this:

For communitarians, my hugging the fat English stranger (steady down Padre!) , my “Come on En-ger-land” at top volume, are crucial to our morality solidarity. And it’s just the same with my mate Emilliano shouting for Colombia over in the Elephant shopping centre.

And this,

The problem, of course, is that what MacIntyre and I (Note: on the basis of one essay written long ago),  consider moral solidarity, liberals think of as prejudice, even proto-fascism. And what liberals call morality, communitarians view as a dangerous dilution of moral solidarity. And there, in a nutshell, are the culture wars that presently divide us.

After Virtue me old cock!

Claude Lanzman director of the ‘Shoah’ dies aged 92: A Great Voice for the Just Passes.

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Claude Lanzmann has died in Paris at the age of 92.

Esteemed French journalist, ‘Shoah’ director Claude Lanzmann dies aged 92.

Agence France Press.

laude Lanzmann, the esteemed French journalist and director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, died at his Paris home on Thursday at the age of 92.

“Claude Lanzmann died at his home. He had been very, very weak for several days,” a spokeswoman for publishing house Gallimard told AFP.

Lanzmann was the chief editor of “Les Temps Modernes”, the ground-breaking literary review founded by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir after World War II.

Lanzmann was a friend of the philosophers, and famously became involved with De Beauvoir while working as Sartre’s secretary. He was 26 and De Beauvoir was 44.

The golden couple of French intellectual life had a famously open relationship, and enjoyed – and endured – a number of similar love triangles.

Lanzmann went on to make the acclaimed Holocaust documentary ‘Shoah’, the nine-and-a-half hour epic which is, for many, the most haunting film made about the murder of six million Jews during World War II.

The chronicle took Lanzmann 11 years to make and is his best-known work.

Lanzmann was born November 27, 1925 in the Bois-Colombes suburb north of Paris. His Jewish parents immigrated to France from Eastern Europe where they raised Claude, his sister Evelyne, and younger brother Jacques.

His first act of resistance as a Jewish schoolboy in wartime France was to refuse to write an essay in praise of its collaborationist leader Marshal Petain. He later took to the hills to join fighters in central France ambushing German patrols as part of the Mouvement Jeunes Communistes de France (MJCF), a political youth organization close to the French communist party.

Review, 2011.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. A Review, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Israel.

Andrew Coates.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie. Claude Lanzmann. Gallimard 2009 (Paperback 2010)

Claude Lanzmann (born 1925) is the director of Shoah (1985), the landmark film on the Holocaust. Against the documentary’s theme of methodically organised death, his title, Le Lièvre de Patagonie, evokes the Hare, a symbol of fertility and renewed life (the original ‘Easter Bunny’). Lanzmann’s book, he states, was written with this animal constantly in mind.

In Shoah while Rudolf Vrba talks off-camera of his escape from the Birkenau extermination camp there is a shot of a hare sliding under the barbed wire. Lanzmann likes the creatures, he respects them as noble, and if there were transmigration of souls he would wish to be reincarnated as one. Glimpsing one of a legendary South American species in his car’s headlights in Patagonia signalled the moment that he felt fully in the land, vrais ensemble (truly together). The hare is a sign of a vital leap to freedom that infuses his own “joie sauvage” (wild happiness). It is this incarnation that constantly springs to Lanzmann’s mind as he unravels this account of his life.

Le Lièvre de Patagonie is a record of Lanzmann’s out-of-the-ordinary intellectual, political and creative career, infused with joy, and sadness. It passes from the youthful résistant, to the culture and commitments that led him to Jean-Paul Sartre, and a “quasi-maritale’ companionship with Simone de Beauvoir (from 1952 to 1959). A contributor from 1952 onwards to Les Temps Modernes (publisher’s site here) he provides an important first-hand account of this review’s active support for anti-colonialism during the Algerian war for independence.

The memories are much more than a record of events; they are an affirmation of his beliefs, and loyalties. Lanzmann’s commitment to Israel, expressed in the partisan documentary Pourquoi Israel (1970) remains at the heart of his being. In Le Monde last year Lanzmann was cited saying that, “Je suis d’autant propalestinien que je suis pro-israélian, et récroproquement” (I am as pro-Palestinian as I am pro-Israeli and the other way around). But there is little doubt that his empathy for the Jewish state marks his recollections the more, making the author a rare living defender of the left’s post-War support for Israel.

Lanzmann does not just feel an affinity, as somebody with a secular-Jewish cultural background, with Israeli people. He considers that he is, despite the intensity of his French culture (to the depths of his prose). He remains “Français de hazard, pas du tout ‘de souche’” – French by chance, not of French stock. (Page 330) The Jews are “mon peuple”.

Visiting the new state in 1948 Lanzmann found that compared to real Israelis, who had their country in their “os et le sang” (bone and blood) he was “un elfe” who weighed nothing. He has always, without Biblical faith, been astonished and full of “admiration” for the Jewish religion (Page 730). Such opinions (and his eulogy  of  Israel’s army in the film Tsahal, 1994), are in Lanzmann’s marrow. To this extent his praise of the Hebrew state’s military is  impossible to forgive or forget.  

La Guillotine.

Lanzmann begins with the words, “La guillotine – plus généralement la peine capitale et les différents modes d’administration de la mort – aura été la grande affaire de ma vie” – the Guillotine – and more widely capital punishment and the different forms of meeting out death – will be the main concern of my life. An adolescent trip to the cinema in the late ‘thirties to see L’affaire du courier de Lyon (under the post-Revolutionary ‘Directory’) was his introduction to the horror of watching an innocent executed. The view of the scaffolding around the  blade, and the fact that the sentence was carried out in public, preoccupied him for months.

Lanzmann is haunted by tortures, by Hitler and Stalin’s mass murders, Goya’s Fusilamentos del 3 de Mayo, and the hostages that Islamists put to death and record like “films pronographiques”. His life was dedicated to standing for right against repression. The national liberation struggle in Algeria was met by French repression, which included the death penalty. Lanzmann and de Beauvoir worked with the lawyer Jacques Vergès to defend the condemned under this threat. He campaigned for the Catalan anarchist, Salvador Puig Antich, condemned by the Caudillo to die by the garrotte in 1974.

This was not just the indignation of the righteous. It was bound to Lanzmann’s own past. Under the Occupation in 1943 while studying at the lycée Blaise-Pascal, at Clermont-Ferrand (in the Auverne) he decided to join the Resistance. He became involved with the Communist Party (PCF). The former school student was soon amongst maquisards in the Haute-Loire, and a member of the FTP (Communist, Francs-tireurs et partisans). For refusing to carry out a suicidal mission – transporting weapons through German controlled areas – the local PCF put him under sentence of death.

Escaping this fate Lanzmann resumed his education in post-war Paris, in the prestigious “hypokhâgne” at Louis-le-Grand (preparatory course for the elite French ‘Grandes écoles’). The PCF were active in the college. Undaunted he approached the secretary of the school’s Communist cell to ask that the “sentence de mort prononcée contre moi par le Parti” be carried out (Page 207) The official, later a well known left Socialist politician, Jean Poperen, did not, on this occasion, as the representative of the Party of the “75,000 shot”, add another number to the total.

There is so much rich detail, often supplied at a tangent with the unities of space, time and action, in Le Lièvre de Patagonie that the linear narrative of Lanzmann’s life is sometimes hard to keep steadily in mind.  There is his troubled family background. There is his period as a proto-academic, enraptured by Sartre’s trilogy, Les Chemins de la liberté (1945), studying Hegel, and so poor he stole books from the shop of the Presses Universitaires de France, to resell – until memorably caught and disgraced.

There is Lanzmannteaching in post-War Berlin at the Freie Universität, where he exposed much of the teaching staff’s unrepentant National Socialism. There is the moving story of his actress sister, Évelyne, who was Gilles Deleuze’s lover, and then, after acting in Sartre’s plays, became his lover, only to later commit suicide in 1966. And there is the meeting with De Beauvoir, le Castor, holidays across Europe, and their political activism.

Little emerges  in Le Lièvre on Les Temps Modernes’ relations with International Communism, or on Sartre’s judgement that a friendly stand towards the PCF was a “means of access” to the French working class. By contrast there are interesting accounts of Lanzmann’s role in the activities of the group around Sartre and de Beauvoir during the Algerian war, which came to dominate the country’s political life during the 1950s. By the end of that decade their alliance with the Algerian fighters for independence, led to what became known as ‘third worldism’. They stood up for anti-colonialism in the hardest conditions, risking their lives to defend Algerian prisoners, and the rights of North Africans. All who has signed the celebrated Manifeste de 121(1960) which called for those conscripted in the French army to refuse to serve in Algeria were under threat. Jobs were lost, and Sartre’s flat was attacked with plastic explosives.

In 1958, with 4 more years of the Algerian war to go, Lanzmann was a journalist (writing for France Dimanche as well as Les Temps Modernes). As a man of the left he, like Sartre and de Beauvoir, made his own pilgrimage to ‘socialist’ lands. He visited North Korea and China as part of an organised delegation (with Western Communist participation). In the land of Juche and “pression stalinienne…effrayante” (fearful Stalinist pressure) Lanzmann had a fleeting contact with a Korean woman, more a Brief Encounter (which he evokes to describe the fleeting tryst) than an affair. China, though more relaxed, offered the less compelling charms of an interview with French-speaking Chen Yi, Foreign Affairs Minister, on the country’s geopolitical strategy.

Third-Worldism.

The Sartre-Beauvoir circle embraced Third-Worldism (though the author of the Second Sex appears never to have been wholly convinced. This was most marked in their relations with the Algerian resistance. While Sartre and de Beauvoir replaced interest in the old Soviet bloc, for Cuba, and in 1960 they did some safe revolutionary tourism there, it was Lanzmann who got closest to its dangerous side.

A small number of people on the French left had worked closely enough with the Algerian revolutionaries, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) to become “porteurs de valises” (carrying arms for them). While far from engaged in the armed struggle Lanzmann met the FLN in person, in its Tunisian bases. It was there that he encountered Franz Fanon, the renowned theorist of anti-colonialism (and today largely, if remembered, largely appropriated by Anglophone ‘post-colonial’ studies).

Sartre would write the Preface, as Fanon requested, for The Wretched of the Earth (1964). He asserted that “The native cures himself of colonial neurosis by thrusting out the settler through force of arms” “For in the first days of the revolt you must kill; to shoot down a European is to kill two birds with one stone, to destroy an oppressor and the man he oppresses with one stone”. That is, the, highly contestable, claim that the physical fight for freedom is the route to cathartic self-assertion.

Despite his unwavering anti-colonialism Fanon seemed equally aware of the FLN’s internal disputes, the occasion for a different kind of catharsis, a purging of emotions onto any human object to hand. These were, he alluded to Lanzmann, were ferocious, though “secret”. His interlocutor sensed that the Martinique himself “connaissait la peur” (knew fear) (Page 492). With good reason, Lanzmann observes. The FLN and its supporters, not to mention ordinary Algerians, were the victims of a terrifying level of repression, with 500,000 troops at under French command, and special units prepared to use torture, while the French Algerian ultras, in the Organisation Armée Secrète (OAS) rained down terror against all Maghrebin rebels (including those on the French left deemed supportive of them).

The Algerian National Liberation Front, (FLN) and its army’s (ALN) cadres were responsible for extreme acts of violence against their nationalist opponents (the Mouvement pour le triomph des libertés démocratiques, MTLD) and civilian critics. They suffered from vicious quarrels inside the apparatus, and readily resorted to force to settle disputes. On top of this were rivalries between clans, and ethnic groups, Arabs and Kabyles. The reality showed that violence was not a vehicle for liberation and therapy.

For Lanzmann, however, the need to back the struggle meant a self-imposed silence (with an eye to possible FLN reaction). He therefore kept information about the use of terror inside the liberation movement to himself. He wrote nothing, and said nothing (Page 501). One must say however that Simone de Beauvoir in 1963 did not hesitate to cite Fanon’s allusions to “les dissensions, les intrigues, les liquidations, les oppositions…” without seeming bound by a revolutionary omerta, even if she gave no details. (La force des choses. Vol ll.) An element of religious conservatism, including support for polygamy, was already manifesting itself.

After Independence in 1962 there were retributions against real and alleged collaborators with the French that exceeded France’s 1945 épurations. The socialist aspects of the Algerian revolution did not last long. The FLN’s military wing, under Boumediene, soon took charge of an independent nation and laid the foundations for an authoritarian state run for the benefit of its rulers and their clients.

Lanzmann barely touches on this: he is more concerned that early promises of friendship (by a certain Captain Bouteflika) with Israel were not kept. An Independent Algeria announced that it would send 100,000 men to liberate Palestine. As a sign of the times, Fanon’s widow had re-married, to a militant anti-Israeli, whose views she adopted to the extent of wanting Sartre’s famous Preface to The Wretched of the Earth suppressed, – after the philosopher had signed a 1967 petition, following the 6 Day War backing Israel. The balance-sheet was not positive, “Je croyais qu’on pouvait vouloir en même temps l’indepéndence de l’Algérie et l’existence de l’État d’Israël. Je m’étais trompé.”(Page 505) – I believed one could wish for an independent Algeria and the existence of the Israeli state at the same time. I was wrong.

Israel and 68.

For years Lanzmann was convinced, despite his own experience of the French Communist Party’s cynicism and treachery during the 2nd World War, and what he knew at the time (still less at present) about the dark-side of Stalinism, that the USSR was “le ciel sur ma tête” – the sky over my head (Page 546) That this gradually evaporated seems less significant, as we have just indicated, than what he saw massing against Israel. That was a real menace: to destroy the Jewish state.

It is forgotten today that many on the left shared Lanzmann’s views in the late sixties. In 1967 he edited a special issue of Les Temps Modernes where Arabs and Jews debated with relative good-will. Sartre, during the Six Day war, and the Yom Kipper war, backed Israel. Sartre naturally is better remembered for another standpoint. During his period of close association with the Mao-Spontex Gauche Prolétarienne (GP), he became pro-Palestinian. As Lanzmann notes, with regret, the ageing thinker wrote in La Cause du Peuple a strident defence of the Munich massacre, saying that “Dans cette guerre, la seule arme dont disposent les Palestiniens est le terrorisme.” – the only arm which the Palestinians have at their disposal is terrorism. (Page 573)

Lanzmann attempts to explain, and even to explain away, Sartre’s violent streak. He notes that Sartre’s Preface to The Wretched of the Earth, which outdid Fanon’s psychological justification of aggression, appears to have been an exercise in “philosophie concrète” (concrete philosophy) and conceptual clarity Which seems a roundabout way of saying he didn’t really mean to endorse mass killings and cruelty in any form. As evidence, Lanzmann claims that there were some concrete limits Sartre posed to European terrorism.

Lanzmann believes that it was largely Sartre’s influence that prevented the French far-left from passing to full-scale terrorism on the German or Italian model (Page 575), though in fact, a small group did travel in this direction, and became the 1980s band, Action Directe. It’s true, he indicates, that Algeria has seen a state and society long bathed in “le sang des innocents” (the blood of innocents). It’s also the case that post-Munich, nationalist Palestinian terrorism has been supplanted by Islamist mass murder. This, and the US-led armed interventions the world over, illustrate that violence is a spiral not a release.

One wonders how far one push responsibility for this acceleration of ferocity, or its dampening it down, onto any philosopher, however cretinous or emollient his rhetoric may be. Like Fanon’s assertion that FLN fighters were busy absorbing Sartre’s Critique de la raison dialectique (Page 493), to make such claims is to use arguments of an astonishing légèrté.

One will not find much in Le Lièvre on the controversy surrounding Sartre’s secretary, and one-time GP supporter, Benny Lévy. De Beauvoir had her say in La Cérémonie des Adieux (1981). Whether the future Talmudic student determined the utterances of the Universal Intellectual or not, without his influence it hard to see how Sartre moved from this ultra-revolutionary stance to his support for the 1979 ‘Boat for Vietnam’ campaign – to save people from Vietnamese Communism. It is hard perhaps to see Lanzmann seizing the spirit that drove the Gauche Prolétarienne, from strident ultra-leftism to the anti-communist (with a small ‘c’) apostasy of many of its leading figures, in the first place.

May 68, the French gauchistes’ genitor, Lanzmann witnessed from the “extérieur”. He was an outsider from another generation (Page 570). More than that he appears never to have seized the fact that Sartre’s philosophy, even in its Marxisante form in the Critique de la raison dialectique (written 1956 – 8) had been become not just unfashionable, but unintelligible to much of the post-68 left. While the novels, literary criticism and some of the plays (Les jeux sont faits, 1947 and Les mains sales, 1948)are as bright as new pennies, Sartre’s philosophy has not worn well. The focus of the memoirs shifts completely away from talking about disgreeable topics.

Lanzmann as the ‘sixties ended had begun to be more and more concerned with one thing: defending Israel. He recounts how he came to produce the film Pourquoi Israel (with no question mark). This work continues to cause controversy. Having never seen the picture it is impossible to judge the description in Le Lièvre. Yet, according to the author, it was the spring-board for one of the last century’s greatest documented oral history, Shoah.

Researching, filming and producing Shoah was exceptionally arduous. The film consists of interviews, people left to speak for themselves as participants and witnesses of the greatest genocide of the 20th century. It aims to indicate those who were slaughtered, to show their traces, to hear the echo of their voices. It would be no exaggeration to say that the screening of the nine and a half  hour long documentary mediation on the Holocaust, which took place on British television some years back, was a major political and ethical event. As a measure of its impact the Biblical and Rabbanic word Shoah, catastrophe, disaster, extermination, used to describe the Holocast, has passed into current usage in many languages. Given the enormity of what it refers to it would be better for the pages of Le Lièvre de Patagonie to speak for themselves than to be described here.

The shattering experience of producing Shoah gives an edge to what is already for many a defining moment in their understanding of the Endlösung. After De Beauvoir’s death Lanzmann finally became the Editor of Sartre’s old journal (1986) marking another significant moment in an exceptional biography.

A Major Biographical Memoir.

Claude Lanzmann’s classical prose provides a luminous structure to a complex biography. Le Lièvre de Patagonie is beautifully wrought, and offers a description of that part of the French left which gravitated around Les Temps Modernes. It sheds light on some of the key moments of modern French political and intellectual history, the ideas, relationships, culture and feelings of the circle around Sartre and de Beauvoir, above all their participation in the campaign in support of Algerian independence. For these reasons alone it is of outstanding importance.

Less compellingly the book tries to present a case for Israel. It is unlikely to convince those (like myself) who are, while reluctant to be ‘anti’ Israelis, see little admirable in a state with a confessional, ultimately ethnic, basis. Not everyone has a strong urge to feel a part of a national “souche” (stock). Lanzmann’s passionate beliefs and emotional tissue cannot cloud critical judgement. States are to be judged on political not affective grounds. On democratic, military and human rights criteria Israel is severely wanting. One is equally unmoved by its description of the politics of Les Temps Modernes. As with the declaration of love for Israel, it does not convert those unable to fall under an emotional spell.

For all the beauty of Le Lièvre de Patagonie, on this matter at least, one could say that the Lanzmann’s retrospective gaze casts little light on such heat.

A tribute, a bibliography and a filmography appears on the site of Lanzmann’s publisher, Éditions Gallimard.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann.

Disparition de Claude Lanzmann

Guardian:  Claude Lanzmann obituary

Director of Shoah, the epic film about the Holocaust presented through individual testimony

Britian’s Biggest Union, UNITE, on Brexit, “open to the possibility of a popular vote being held on any deal.”

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UNITE on Brexit, ” open to the possibility of a popular vote being held on any deal….”

The Guardian reports,

Britain’s biggest union has left the door open to another referendum on the government’s Brexit deal.

Unite, Labour’s most generous donor, also said it was highly unlikely that Labour would vote for Theresa May’s deal on leaving the European Union.

The development is being interpreted by some observers as an incremental move towards accepting a second referendum, and could increase pressure upon Jeremy Corbyn to do the same.

It also makes it clearer than previous statements that Labour may well vote against the EU withdrawal agreement. Earlier this year, senior frontbench figures including the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, were arguing that it was likely that Labour would vote in favour of the deal.

In a statement issued at the union’s annual conference in Brighton, the executive said: “It remains highly unlikely that the final EU-UK Brexit deal due to come to parliament in the autumn 2018 will satisfy the criteria that Unite and the wider labour movement, including the Labour frontbench with its six tests which must be met, have set.

“At such a moment, Unite will mobilise against the deal. Our priority will be to force an early general election which can lead to the election of a Labour government which would, among other things, reach a better deal with the EU and improved relations with Europe all round. We are also open to the possibility of a popular vote being held on any deal, depending on political circumstances.

It is understood that Corbyn’s office insist they are relaxed about Unite’s policy development.

By contrast the pro-Brexit Morning Star, with links to the hard-right Arron Banks Funded Trades Unionists Against the EU (such as its chair, Doug Nichollsgave this report,

 

UNITE threw its might behind Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today, vowing to get him into No 10 as the union said No to a second referendum on Brexit.

Speaking at the union’s biennial policy conference in Brighton, general secretary Len McCluskey took aim at the media misrepresentation of the union’s position on a second referendum, telling delegates: “Let me be clear – we are not calling for a second referendum.

“Our decisions are made by our conference, not by any unrepresentative opinion polls commissioned by God knows who.”

His attack was aimed at a poll briefed to the press last week by anti-Brexit organisation Open Britain, which claimed that a majority of Unite members do not trust Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Brexit and desire a second referendum.

The union’s executive statement condemned the government’s “abysmal” handling of Brexit negotiations and advocated Britain’s “barrier-free” access to the single market as well as securing a customs union with the EU.

As it remained “highly unlikely” that the final Brexit deal negotiated by the Tories will satisfy Unite members, the union’s priority will be to “force an early general election which can lead to the election of a Labour government” which could “reach a better deal with the European Union” and improve British-European relations.

Mr McCluskey warned of the dangers of a no-deal “cliff-edge” Brexit and said that the British people voted to leave the European Union, not for increased unemployment or the erosion of social rights.

People voted leave, said Mr McCluskey, because they “wanted control over political decisions to be returned to our elected politicians in Westminster” and “as democrats we respect that vote.”

Mr McCluskey condemned the “shadow of job losses” hanging over the heads of Unite members and criticised Prime Minister Theresa May’s “nightmare of uncertainty” in her Tory Brexit plan.

“Theresa May has lost all authority, she has lost all capacity to make decisions, or all power of initiative,” he said.

“She is being held prisoner by the dogmatists and fantasists of the far right.

“These people see in Brexit the chance to turn Britain into the low-wage, deregulated, race-to-the-bottom society of their dreams.”

Reiterating Mr Corbyn’s calls for Britain to stay in a customs union and access to, rather than membership of, the single market, Mr McCluskey said that “staying or leaving the EU matters less than getting Jeremy in office.”

Delegates engaged in debate over several hours about their attitude towards a Britain outside of the European Union.

This was the occasion for the Morning Star to give a voice to those who agreed with its pro-Brexit policies.

Nabila Ahmed, a Unite young member from Watford, expressed her concerns that a second referendum “would give a boost to the far right” and claimed that the “ultimate agenda” of “Europhiles” demanding a second referendum would be to “break Jeremy Corbyn.”

Damian Bailey, chair of Unite’s north-west young members’ committee, told conference that that “the most important thing for young members is not to re-enter the European Union, but electing a Corbyn government.”

He told delegates that “union members should not be grateful for the meagre rights the European Union gives us” and that “we should have unions fighting for us, like Unite.”

Mr Bailey warned delegates to ignore the fearmongering spread by employers, highlighting that “the same people who threaten to move our jobs abroad after Brexit are often the same people who would threaten to move our jobs abroad if a Labour government gets elected.”

But Mick Graham, convener of the Land Rover plant in Solihull, also reminded delegates that “we are internationalists, and we must reaffirm our commitment to solidarity across all borders.

“Defending our members and communities has to be our priority.”

Contrasting with the statement made by the Lexit leaning Morning Star Unite’s official statement says (as the Guardian notes),

 it remains highly unlikely that the final EU-UK Brexit deal due to come to parliament in the autumn 2018 will satisfy the criteria that Unite and the wider labour movement, including the Labour front bench with its six tests which must be met, have set.

At such a moment Unite will mobilise against the deal. Our priority will be to force an early general election which can lead to the election of a Labour government which would, among other things, reach a better deal with the European Union and improved relations with Europe all round. We are also open to the possibility of a popular vote being held on any deal, depending on political circumstances. Within these principles, the Executive Council has authority to respond as it thinks best to a fast-changing political situation.

Unite policy conference 2018 – Executive statement on Brexit

UNITE’s criteria for an acceptable deal include the following,

  • deliver barrier-free access to the Single Market to ensure ongoing exchange of the goods and services which thousands of our members’ jobs rely on.
  • secure a customs union with the European Union
  • enshrine and enhance working rights, social and environmental protections which are currently based in EU law. These must be transferred into UK law through primary legislation, open and democratically.
  • not undermine the Good Friday Agreement or the economic integrity of the island of Ireland. There must be no hard border between the Republic and the north.
  • protect the integrity of Gibraltar and the right for Gibraltarians to determine their own future.
  • grant the immediate and guaranteed right to remain for European citizens in the UK and their dependents and secure the rights of UK citizens working in other EU countries.
  • retain membership of beneficial European-level institutions or regulatory bodies which are vital to our industrial sectors such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), ECHA (REACH) and Euratom.

And, ” it remains highly unlikely that the final EU-UK Brexit deal due to come to parliament in the autumn 2018 will satisfy the criteria that Unite and the wider labour movement, including the Labour front bench with its six tests which must be met, have set.  At such a moment Unite will mobilise against the deal”.

So in other words, Brexit is a disaster. UNITE policy is not that of Trade Unionists against the EU and all the other Lexiters’ who say, “Embrace Brexit and Shape the Future”.

Opening up to a possible challenge to the whole process of leaving the EU, and negotiating new world trade deals with the such as Donald Trump, is bound to be complex.

But as commentators have remarked, this statement reflects a ” a shift in tone” away from a pure and simple acceptance of Brexit as a fact.

As does the reminder that the union is not going down the path of a national go-it-alone ‘Lexit’ (left Exit).

As Unite says, “The global trade union movement must respond to these historic challenges by renewing our fundamental principle of internationalism, while offering working people a genuine route for taking control of their own lives, in the workplace and beyond.

Unite will always reject malign and reactionary right-wing nationalism. We will resist any attempts to divide us. Instead we must recommit ourselves to this eternal truth: we are internationalists or we are nothing.”

The immediate issue is how to best oppose the way Brexit is unfolding within the context of the need to elect a Labour Government.

Not at all the ringing rejection of a new Referendum that the Pro-Brexit Morning Star would wish.

 

 

A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. A Democratic Socialist Review.

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A Party with Socialists in it. A History of the Labour Left. Simon Hannah. Pluto Press 2018.

(This review article appears in the latest Chartist magazine).

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party in 2015 victory and his re-election in 2016 have been followed a number of pacy biographies. There have larger number of efforts to explain the victory, often as part of a global rise of “outsider” politics. By contrast Simon Hannah’s A Party with Socialists in it, is an account of the North Islington MP’s leadership within the long history of the Labour left inside the party.

An issue hangs over A Party with Socialists in it. There may be socialists in Labour but can Labour become a vehicle for socialism? The late Ralph Miliband, Hannah observes, came to consider the party unfit for socialist purpose, unable to create a “radically different social order” (Postscript to Parliamentary Socialism. 1973)

The Labour Party, Hannah states, was created as a Broad Church designed to represent the “entire labour movement”. He suggests that the seating is arranged around two wings. There is the ‘transformative’ current – the socialist left – which aims to change society radically, facing sustained opposition from the Establishment. Seated separately have been the ‘integrative’ battalions in the Parliamentary party and major trade unions. Outside and inside office, they try to avoid friction by making peace with the Powers that Be.

A Party with Socialists in it ably covers more than a century of differences between right and left from the foundation of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 onwards – a vast sweep. But historical reminders are often extremely relevant.

To explain the background to Blair and Brown’s modernising project it is useful to look at the 1950s ‘revisionist’ debate, between figures such as Anthony Crosland and Aneurin Bevan. This centred on the balance between social and private ownership and making property serve “social purposes”. In the 1970s this again became a live issue. While the first stirrings of the neo-liberal privatisation agenda could be seen inside the Conservative Party, Labour appeared to be rethinking the “balance” between public and private in the opposite direction.

Alternative Economic Strategy.

The Alternative Economic Strategy (AES) came onto the Labour agenda. Stuart Holland’s version of the AES aimed to create a “new public ownership and social controls in the meso-economic sector”. It included nationalising the 25 top manufacturing companies to “harness the market power of big league firms”. Along with planning and rights to workers’ participation, it aimed to tackle inefficiency, to create jobs and end the decline in British profits and competitively. Hannah notes that the AES included protectionist measures. (Strategy for Socialism. Stuart Holland. 1975)

As Hannah notes, capitalists were unlikely to welcome the AES without ferocious opposition. Wilson, the figure of the ‘integrationist wing of the party, never intended this to happen. Only a shadow of the AES, a National Enterprise Board, that helped prop up some failing enterprises and the Bullock Report’s plans for corporatist works’ councils, “torpedoed” by the unions themselves, remained. (Pages 146 – 152) Avoiding ruffling the established powers ended with accepting an austerity programme in response to IMF demands. For Hannah this was “capitulation to international finance”. Efforts to bring together companies and workers through ‘Social Contract” wage restraint ended in the 1979 Winter of Discontent.

The 1980s rise and fall of ‘Bennism’, and the narrowly thwarted deputy leadership bid in 1981, saw the left rally around the former Cabinet Minister. Benn’s socialism, in Hannah’s account, was that of a “constitutionalist political reformer”. He based his ambitions on “genuine national sovereignty” and wider democracy including extra-parliamentary activism. Some saw this as a transformative ground for socialist activism; others considered that it placed too great a hope in a reformed Parliamentary system. It encouraged the belief that if the levers of the Labour Party were won, a sovereign left government could detach itself from the world economy, and bodies such as the IMF and implement the discarded AES. This idea remains popular on the left amongst those who wish for an independent Britain ‘taking back control’ from the European Union. 

Hannah surveys the left’s defeats in the 1980s. The first pitched battle was on the question of inner-party democracy (Page 164) The Chapter The Broad Church Collapses is valuable in covering with a critical eye on the main players, the inward looking and often fractious activities of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP) and the Labour Coordinating Committee (LCC).

Neil Kinnock’s modernising ambitions, a move to the centre, are widely said to have foreshadowed the 1990s dominance of Tony Blair’s team. Did Neil Kinnock isolate the left only by ditching radical policies and purging organised factions? (Page 197) Certainly Kinnock’s moves to remove policy making from Conference and NEC control were important to activists.

Forward March of Labour?

Others suggest that the search for policies adapted to the new constituencies appearing with ‘post-Fordist’ times played a part in the modernising agenda. A fierce inter-left polemic took place on the decline in the power of the industrial working class. (The Forward March of Labour Halted? 1981) Ideas about a post-Fordist production or a postmodern world may have had a limited appeal. But wholesale industrial run down, the defeat of the miners’ strike, and the wholesale closures that followed, saw the pillars of the labour movement disappearing. .

There were efforts to develop a response through new left policies in the late 80s, notably at the Socialist Movement Chesterfield Conferences called by Tony Benn, the Socialist Campaign Group and the Socialist Society, including Labour left journals and radical non-Labour forces. They attempted to learn from the experiences of municipal socialism shut down by Thatcher and the balance-sheet of the 1980s class conflicts. This initiative merits more coverage than the many pages devoted to the expulsion of the Militant platoons that claimed to represent the socialist vanguard

The Blair leadership appeared to cut off any chance of these Labour left or these ideas continuing as a serious ‘transformative ” current in the party. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, dedicating their book to the independent left-wing academic, concluded, at the zenith of New Labour, that the “route to socialism does not lie in transforming the Labour Party” (The End of Parliamentary Socialism 1997).

Nevertheless the mid-1990s the Centre Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA), broke the ‘sealed tomb’ of the left under Tony Blair, and in 1998 got 4 left-wingers elected to the Labour’s NEC. The CLGA was broader than the CLDP or, Labour Briefing. There is no account of the role in the CLGA of Labour Reform and other ‘soft left’ forces, including Tribune and contributors to the present magazine.

Progressive Umbrella. 

Blair and Brown may have ended in a progressive umbrella hard to distinguish from a liberal desire to inject justice over market outcomes. Yet they were not only an acceptance of the neoliberal consensus but also a response to its appeal and to changing class configuration. Their relaxed attitude to finance and acceptance of privatising public services, not to mention participation in the invasion of Iraq, were disasters. The Third Way ideology was vapid cover.

But not every single policy was unwelcome, as can be seen as Universal Credit replaces Tax Credits. Stealth redistribution, nevertheless, means little as the modernisers’ centre-ground has dried up. There is little space for Labour in a “neo-liberal” consensus following the 2007-8 banking crisis. Accepting Conservative austerity plans, apparently eternal fiscal features means attacks on bedrock public services. Put simply, why indeed should the majority pay for their mistakes?

Hannah states that the 1940s left tended to assume that their main disagreements with the Labour leadership was over the speed of change, not over principles. The collapse of the Ecumenical endeavour during the Blair-Brown years, largely put an end to this way of thinking. For many on the left the turn to “social liberalism” cut the ground under the feet of any common endeavour.

In the light of this those who had given up on transforming the Labour Party would also deserve a mention, not least because many of them are now against party activists. A Party has nothing about the short-lived Socialist Alliance (its main challenge in the 2001 election, with derisory votes), Respect (George Galloway MP), or the more recent Left Party. All of these bodies involved Labour left-wingers. Many could offer not entirely happy experiences of working directly with left-factions and the larger Leninist groups which shape their take on Corbyn’s Labour left and Momentum. This gap contrasts with the large space devoted to Militant. No doubt it was “witch-hunted” but Militant’s top-down discipline and claims to lead the socialist fight have long limited its impact within the Labour left and more recent attempts to form electoral alternatives to the party.

Another initiative, which Hannah could have mentioned, is that the People’s Assembly movement of protest against austerity united trade unionists, the Labour and non-Labour left with a wide range of activists. The status of affiliated supporters allowed many to have a voice within the party, which it was easy to transfer into full membership after Corbyn’s election.

It is striking that British Labour is alone amongst established European left parties to have undergone change in the wake of Corbyn’s victory, perhaps indicating that its structures are not such an obstacle to the left after all.

An “invaluable account”.

A Party is an invaluable account not just of the history of the Labour left but of the future prospects of the Corbyn leadership. Hannah ends with hope that ‘capitalist realism’ is ending. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership may open up many possibilities As John McDonnell puts it in his Introduction, Labour can be a “genuinely transformative party”.

Momentum, in this view, is not just an effective electoral machine to support Jeremy Corbyn. It helps extend Labour’s influence amongst the public, and tips towards being a social movement for change. It would be to equip the practical idealists with the Parliamentary muscle to carry open-minded socialist ideas into effect. If Labour came to power would it also be needed to counter business and right wing attempts to sabotage the project? Could it develop a new better, version of the AES that avoids its pitfalls? The alternative, offered by the factionalising remnants of the modernisers, is an attempt to jump on a ‘progressive’ bandwagon driven by French President Emmanuel Macron. It is a bit of everything, except a realistic way of tackling a decade of government austerity.

Postscript 2nd of June.

 

The present Labour Party debate and splits on the fall-out from Brexit can can be seen in the light of the lingering influence of the ‘Bennite’ claim that the objective of the party should be ““genuine national sovereignty”. Those , a shrinking but still influential current,  advocating a ‘People’s Brexit’,  with the bare bones of a 20th century version of an national Alternative Economic Strategy, seem to reproduce the same difficulties and, in their sovereigntism, fall well short of an internationalist democratic socialist goal.

Fragmentation of the French Left: Génération.s, ( Benoît Hamon, former Socialist presidential Candidate) holds its first Conference.

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Benoît Hamon: “le mouvement anti-identitaire.”

Benoît Hamon stood as the candidate for the French Socialist Party (PS) and the ‘belle alliance populaire’ in the 2017 Presidential elections. He was selected by a Primary, in which 2 013 743 people voted in the final run off. Hamon’s victory momentarily gave a ray of hope for the party. His Pour la Génération Qui Vient (2017) promised to free the land from the “liberal nightmare” and to launch a “democratic awakening”, Citizens’ Initiatives, and a  human centred approach to the technological revolution. Apart from green policies, he advocated Universal Basic Income.

In the contest Hamon received a humiliating 6,36 % of the vote. In the following contest for Parliament he lost his seat in Yvelines, eliminated in the first round with only 22,59 %.

Critics of his campaign, such as PS Secretary Jean-Christophe Cambadélis criticised his  “solitary” campaign, which was unable to bring together people outside of his circle, and not even talking about the world of work – that is appealing to trade union support. The winner of the PS Primary snubbed his own party. Hamon, he said wanted to be the leader of an alternative alliance of the left of the Socialists with the Greens and acting accordingly. (Chronique d’une Débâcle. 2012 – 2017. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. L’Archipel. 2017.)

With Hamon’s “Green Party” campaign, you got,  Cambadélis said, a “Green Party score (“campagne d’écologiste, score d’écologiste” Page 111)

The Socialists  suffered deep depression after many of their members and allies left to back Emmanuel Macron (his ‘treason’ still rankles with François Hollande). Those with some will to continue are torn into mutually recriminating factions, and have only 30 MPs.

Hamon and his allies created their own party. Most of the Young Socialists ( MJS) joined as well as former MPs, and councillors from the left of the PS.

Wikipedia has a useful entry in English,

Génération.s, le mouvement (English: Generation.s, the movement) is a French political party created on 1 July 2017[2] by Benoît Hamon who, according to its founder, aims to “Refound and gather the left”[3] in France. Sometimes rendered Géneration(s) or Génération·s, it was formerly named Mouvement du 1er Juillet (1st July Movement), and has also been known by the short name M1717.

Its foundation follows the sharp decline of the Socialist Party in the 2017 presidential election, where Benoît Hamon was a candidate, and the legislative elections, in which he lost his seat as a deputy.

The movement presents itself as an initiative to assemble the forces of the left in France.[3] The political ideologies it supports are European federalism, ecosocialism, and democratic socialism.[4]

The new party claims to have 60 000 members and a thousand or so local committees.

But their profile in national politics is uncertain.

The weekend Convention, attended by up to 1500  activists  discussed alliances with Yanis Varoufakis, and the DIEM25 for the next European elections. Negotiations with what remains of the French Green party, the EELV., have not gone well. La France insoumise, engaged in its own battle for ‘hegemony’ on the left, under the leadership of  JeanLuc Mélenchon were sniffy. But the genial leader has now offered a “pact of non-aggression”. Which is very kind of him.

The  response from Hamon’s side, whose target is not hard to guess, made mention of not aligning with “ left-wing nationalism” (le Monde)

There is talk of an agreement with the PS… (Après un an d’existence, Génération.s cherche sa place à gauche).

In the meantime Hamon’s party has called for a new ‘humanist’ response to populism and the politics of identity, “ On veut être le mouvement anti-identitaire » his right hand man, Guillaume Balas has stated. (Génération.s cherche un nouveau souffle « humaniste »)

More information:  Le Manifeste de Génération·s.

Discours de Benoît Hamon à la convention nationale de Génération•s le 1er juillet 2018

Pressure Grows on Labour to Oppose Brexit.

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Image result for brexit cartoon june 2018

#StopToryBrexit – A Final Say For The Many.

The Conservative Party is now in open warfare over the terms of Brexit,

Michael Gove has literally ripped up Theresa May’s plan for a new customs partnership with the EU. To the surprise of the officials present, Gove tore the document in two at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Customs will be one of the biggest bones of contention at the Chequers. I understand that there is talk that the model favoured by Brexiteers, MaxFax, might be altered to include tariff alignment with the EU.

But if that’s the case, then Britain won’t be able to have a proper, independent trade policy. One of the Brexiteers close to the discussions warns that this is the ‘breaking point of what people are prepared to accept’.

Michael Gove rips up Theresa May’s customs plan 

Meanwhile the call for a People’s Brexit from anti-EU left (A People’s Brexit that unites the left is the only way to confront an increasingly bold neoliberal mafia, argues Lindsey German) is increasingly marginalised.

The assertion that shouting  “taking back control” would inspire a post-Brexit radical movement  is dead in the water.

Only the far-right has benefited, launching its own campaigns.

The idea that a Sovereign Parliament, free from EU rules will be then able  to turn the capitalist system into a Beacon of Socialism is crumbling faced with the prospect of disrupted production and distribution chains. What kind of ‘independent tariff policy’ with bargaining power is possible in the post neo-liberal world of Trump’s Trade Wars.

Only on the fringes  only those still wedded to the idea of ‘ourselves alone’, a Britain perhaps reinvigorated by Pharaonic  irrigation projects –  the removal of the surplus urban population to dig canals and grow rice in the countryside, continue on, regardless.

Then there remains the issue, which the pro-Brexit Trade Unionists Against the EU campaign and their allies in the Morning Star and the Socialist Party have failed to respond to, of the £54,000 donation the front received from far-right millionaire Arron Banks donated to their cause.

The Labour Party is now debating the serious issues that Brexit creates.

In the New Statesman PATRICK MAGUIRE comments,

 

The campaign for a second Brexit referendum is fatally flawed but it could still hurt Labour

There is undoubtedly a significant gap between Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on Brexit and the softer one most of the membership would prefer. Recent polling shows that 87 per cent would like to see the UK remain in the single market, and 78 per cent want a referendum on the final deal.

 

In other words, the only thing keeping the line behind Corbyn is fear of public division, not any popular left wing support for a Popular Brexit tailored to help a radical left government implement its programme.

 

Some in Labour are now speculating the campaign for a second referendum – or People’s Vote, to use its sickly-sweet brand name – could similarly dominate this year’s conference.

There is good reason to think so. The failure of Tory rebels to deliver MPs a meaningful vote on the final deal has given impetus to the campaign at the grassroots. Lots of constituency Labour parties are largely Europhile, and activists from 62 of them have already promised to table a motion demanding a second referendum.

As my colleague Stephen says in his column this week, it’s a given that the leadership won’t acquiesce. If it is voted on, then it may well be that Corbyn’s distance from his members on Brexit will be much harder to hide. If chicanery from his allies prevents a potentially embarrassing vote on Brexit for the second year in a row, then attention will be drawn to the gap anyway.

The campaign has many shortcomings. There is no majority in the parliamentary Labour party, nor the Commons, for a second referendum, and its advocates are making the same mistake as David Cameron: what happens if they lose? While the 2016 referendum left room for ambiguity on the shape of the Brexit deal, there would be no doubt as to what an endorsement of the government’s deal meant. Despite them, it is still likely to cause headaches for Labour.

The probable shape of a  ‘final deal’ is something no Labour leadership should accept.

What can we then do?

The last paragraph makes some serious strategic points, but faced with disaster that is Brexit you can’t help feeling that many will consider that the gamble is worth it.

Growing pressure on Jeremy Corbyn from Momentum to turn against Brexit

Financial Times. , (today)

Momentum, the grassroots political movement that helped to sweep Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of Britain’s Labour party, is putting growing pressure on him to turn against Brexit and even push for a referendum on the final deal.

At last September’s Labour conference, Momentum played a key role in preventing delegates from voting on the party’s Brexit position (and we note, specifically on Freedom of Movement).

But this year, by contrast, several Momentum members said it could take the opposite role and force a vote among delegates on whether there should be a “people’s vote” on the final Brexit deal.

“Labour’s leadership fears that any tilt towards being anti-Brexit could cost the party the support of working-class voters in Wales, the Midlands and the North.” – not to mention that key Corbyn’s advisers such as Andrew Murray of UNITE are pro-‘People’s Brexit’.

This is the crucial point, “But the leadership of Momentum, while currently supporting Mr Corbyn’s position, is facing an upswelling of anti-Brexit sentiment among its membership of largely younger, more urban, supporters. One member of the shadow cabinet said the mood was changing and a general election could be won without the support of Brexiters. “There are people who want to keep the strategic ambiguity, there is a fear that if we are pushed too far on this it could screw up Labour’s electoral chances,” added one senior figure inside Momentum. “It’s possible that there could be an electoral route through being pro-Remain and that wouldn’t lose us votes, but it would be a risk.”

At a meeting of the Momentum version of its Central Committee,

Sam Tarry, political officer from the TSSA union, made an argument for a second referendum, while Mr McDonnell spoke against. With the attendees at odds over the issue they eventually agreed to put off a final decision until September.

The  petition of Momentum members calling for a second referendum stands (today) at 2,703 Signatures Collected. It needs just above 4,000 — 10 per cent of the group’s membership — to oblige a vote of all members.

It appears that Momentum supporters, as befits a left-wing organsiation, are more pro-Remain than even the heavily pro-EU Labour membership.

Venezuela Hyperinflation at the One Million Mark as Maduro Regime Faces Breakdown. 

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Venezuela Hyperinflation Index Reaches the One Million Mark

…just two years ago, when we launched the Bloomberg Cafe Con Leche Index, a coffee cost 450 bolivars. Or that today’s price is the equivalent of almost one-fifth of the monthly minimum wage. Or that to buy a cup with the most common bill in circulation — the 100-bolivar note — you’d need to gather up a stack of 10,000 of them.

Libération 22nd of June, François-Xavier Gomez.

In Venezuela, the minimum wage has now been raised  to 1 dollar.

For the fourth time this year, President Nicolás Maduro has raised the minimum wage for Venezuelans. On the 1 st July it will pass to  million bolivars, against 1 million since 1 st May To this sum is added a monthly food voucher for a value of 2.2 million bolivars. On 1 st January, the minimum wage stood at 250,000 bolivares. The inflationary spiral that is devastating the country’s economy renders any attempt at conversion useless. The government keeps the figures of the price rises hidden from its own public, while external sources (World Bank or International Monetary Fund) put them  at 2,700% for 2017, with a forecast at 13,800% for this year.

These incredible  figures mean that a month’s minimum salary will buy you, ” deux bouteilles d’huile, ou un kilo de poulet, ou une douzaine d’œufs” two bottles of cooking oil, a kilo of chicken and a dozen eggs.

More than 120,000 Venezuelans have formerly asked for asylum in Peru alone – outnumbering those fleeing to the USA,  which is overwhelmed by the flood of refugees who total more than  353.000 of whom 16.000 are children. They have added to a country’s difficulties where already 60% work in the ‘informal’ economy.

The Maduro ‘Bolivarian revolutionaries’ – once the best known example of ‘populism’ claiming to be on the left and a central  inspiration for some European left leaders, such as the Spanish speaking Jean-luc Melechon (MÉLENCHON : “CHAVEZ, C’EST L’IDÉAL INÉPUISABLE DE L’ESPÉRANCE HUMANISTE, DE LA RÉVOLUTION“) – are trying to hold onto power through repression.

El estado de derecho está “virtualmente ausente” en Venezuela.(Noticias ONU).

Rule of law ‘virtually absent’ in Venezuela, UN report says. Government forces carry out killings with impunity.

Guardian 22nd of June,

Government security forces in Venezuela carry out unjustified killings without any apparent consequences, as the rule of law is “virtually absent” in the country, according to a new report by the United Nations.

The UN human rights office called on the government to bring perpetrators to justice and said it was sending its report to the international criminal court (ICC), whose prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation in February.

The report published on Friday cited “credible, shocking” accounts of extrajudicial killings of young men during crime-fighting operations in poor neighbourhoods conducted without arrest warrants. Security forces would tamper with the scene so that there appeared to have been an exchange of fire, it said.

“The failure to hold security forces accountable for such serious human rights violations suggests that the rule of law is virtually absent in Venezuela,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights. “The impunity must end.”

Perú, desbordado por la migración venezolana

El País 29th of June.

Más de 120.000 venezolanos han pedido asilo en el país andino, que ahora supera a Estados Unidos en número de solicitudes

In the left-leaning Vice Tommy Walters reported last week  on those who seek to deny these realities.

Why Are People on the UK Left Supporting Venezuela’s Authoritarian Regime?

Prominent Labour figures held a gathering in London to show their solidarity with a human-rights abusing government.

The obvious irony of denouncing other countries’ human rights records while simultaneously ignoring the Venezuelan government’s own crimes seemed to be lost on many. It would only have taken Williamson a second to find the numerous videos and reports from international human rights organisations documenting unlawful detentions and the repression of protesters in Venezuela. As the VSC builds closer links with UK trade unions, such as Unite and the Transport Workers Federation, the Venezuelan government continues to imprison its own union leaders.

Walters summarises,

Today, any remnants of the optimism of the deep social reforms of Maduro’s revolutionary predecessor Hugo Chávez are long gone, replaced by a successor who turns to violence and coercion to keep his citizens in line. Emblematic of this is the perpetual imprisonment of Leopoldo López, an opposition leader who is currently under house arrest, and has been described by Amnesty Internationalas “deprived of his freedom” in a “politically motivated attempt to silence dissent”. At the meeting, Amnesty International was widely discarded as being funded by “neo-liberals”, while the single mention of López dismissed him as an illegal provocateur “rightly convicted of fermenting street violence”.

To explain the dismal economic performance, the VSC blamed US imperialism, while ignoring the role of Chavez’s years of high borrowing and over-reliance on oil revenues. The Venezuelan economy had been contracting for four years before Trump imposed sanctions last year.

True to form the last few days have seen the Morning Star has rushed to defend the predatory clique running Venezuela in the name of ‘socialism’.

OLIVER VARGASresponds to an article by liberal hipsters Vice and its misrepresentation a recent Venezuela Solidarity Campaign event.”

Calling the above an “episode in red-baiting” the author flays around trying to find the cause of the economic difficulties of the country in the policies and actions of the comprador clique that’s taken over the mantle of left populism.

Nothing to do with them: it’s about:

The fact that the price of oil crashed almost overnight in the first year of Nicolas Maduro’s presidency is ignored.

The crippling sanctions are ignored. The siphoning of essential goods across the border by Colombian paramilitaries is ignored.

The distorting effects of currency speculation by international finance are ignored.

The economic impact of the wave of opposition riots, vandalism and blockades is ignored.

Maduro must have the healing powers of a living saint to keep people in monthly eggs and cooking oil, with a bit of poultry, in these conditions and after all these attacks!

With an airy wave of the calloused toiler’s hand Vargas dismisses reports (by the UN amongst others) about repression.

“Intimidation”, you’re having a laugh, “After all, Chavistas have been putting up with personal insults for much longer.”

The real problem is “pernicious terrorism that citizens have suffered at the hands of the opposition.”

With a call to order Vargas thunders:

Chavez represented the first successful defeat of the “end of history” and US triumphalism.

In those times of defeat for the left, Chavez built an economy that provided both significant GDP growth together with equality. He combined that with a thoroughly internationalist outlook that encouraged social movements around the world.

The huge changes in the country together with popular mobilisation mean that those who had been excluded from politics for 500 years were finally able to take leadership of their own country for the first time.

Maduro is the continuation of that legacy, though with an incredibly difficult external situation as the key factor separating them.

For all these reasons, I expect Chavez will pass into popular folklore as Che Guevara has done. Western writers may oppose that and the movement he represents but if they’re to write on it then it is incumbent on them to at least try to objectively understand why Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution still have the energetic support of the poor majority in Venezuela.

Human Rights Watch will disagree:

Written by Andrew Coates

June 29, 2018 at 5:08 pm

 Rudolf Steiner: Marx and Engels “reincarnations” of 9th century feuding Landowners out to “set right what they had done to one another.”

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Marx-Engels, “metamorphosed in the course of the long journey between death and a new birth into an impulse and urge to balance out and set right what they had done to one another ” (Rudolph Steiner)

In the latest Le Monde Diplomatique there is a long article by Jean-Baptiste Malet  about Rudolf Steiner and the tightly run, wealthy, and influential cadre movement that continues to propagate his esoteric doctrine ( L’anthroposophie, discrète multinationale de l’ésotérisme).

That the followers of Steiner are very odd, and their various ‘educational (including their schools one of which is state funded in the UK)’ ‘biodynamic farming’, the Threefold Social Order, and a raft of alternative medical practices, including lucrative medicine ventures  and the rest are part of a religious cult is well known.

There has been controversy about their schools in the UK: (2017) Top Steiner school ordered to close by Government over child safety fears

Rudolf Steiner School

To recap on a few points:

Steiner Fact 1: Steiner’s esoteric belief system, which determines the nature of Steiner Education, is a religion.

Steiner’s set of esoteric beliefs, which he called Anthroposophy (to distinguish it from Theosophy, of which it is an off-shoot) clearly constitutes a religion. The legal definition of a religion in Australia was given by the High Court in 1983 in the Scientology case:

… for the purposes of the law, the criteria of religion are twofold: first, belief in a supernatural Being, Thing or Principle; and second, the acceptance of canons of conduct in order to give effect to that belief, …

Steiner and the Anthroposophists believe in a range of supernatural beings, including the Christian Trinity:

… the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit … is a reality deeply bound up with the whole evolution of the cosmos;

Rudolf Steiner: ‘The Mystery of Golgotha’, Oxford, 27 October, 1922

the four Archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel); two evil spirits, Lucifer and Ahriman:

These two figures — Lucifer and Ahriman — must be clearly distinguished from each other. For Lucifer is a Being who detached himself from the spiritual hosts of heaven after the separation of the sun, whereas Ahriman had already broken away before the separation of the sun and is an embodiment of quite different powers.

Rudolf Steiner: An Outline of Occult Science

and many other spirit beings.

Moreover, the practices of Steiner’s followers in education, agriculture, medicine and art are undoubtedly intended to give effect to those beliefs.

..

The Steiner movement has some of the characteristics of a cult

Newcomers to Steiner are generally not told about the cult-like group of chosen initiates at the heart of the Anthroposophy movement, or if they are it is only in very general terms. The group is called the School of Spiritual Science or ‘First Class’ as it is often called. The Australian website describes it as follows:

After two years or more [of involvement in Anthroposophy] you can apply to join the School of Spiritual Science. … [B]y joining the School of Spiritual Science a member now commits to represent Anthroposophy in the world at large. … [This] involves working with certain meditations and mantra, which were given by Rudolf Steiner.                             [http://anthroposophy.org.au/membership.htm]

What they don’t say is that the activities of the School of Spiritual Science/First Class are secret and known only to initiates. The only independent but relatively sympathetic book-length study of the Steiner system describes it as follows:

… the door of the First Class is by no means opened to all who knock. Somewhere between 10 to 30 per cent of General Society members probably also belong to this inner society, which, to outsiders, appears mysterious. At least two years’ affiliation to the General Society is a pre-condition for joining. Also, ‘inner responsibility’ for Anthroposophy has to be accepted. Rudolf Steiner, who was distressed at the state of Anthroposophy, founded the First Class in 1923 as a regenerating organ.

The First Class adapts Steiner’s meditative path for individuals; the latter is generally available in publications such as Occult Science And Knowledge of the Higher Worlds.

More here: 6 Facts You Need to Know About Steiner Education.

What I did not know, and which Jean-Baptiste Malet helpfully brings to a wide audience, is that Steiner had discovered that Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were reincarnations of two 8th/9th century feuding landowners, Engels the robber, and Marx the robbed. 

Karmic Relationships:
Esoteric Studies – Volume II

 Rudolf Steiner Archive 

These events also took place in the 8th–9th century — a little later, however, than the time of which we were just now speaking. It was before the formation of large States, in the days when events took place more within smaller circles of people.

In the region, then, which to-day we should call the north-east of France, lived a personality who was full of ambitions. He had a large estate and he governed it remarkably well, quite unusually systematically for the time in which he lived. He knew what he wanted; there was a strange mixture of adventurousness and conscious purpose in him. And he made expeditions, some of which were more and some less successful; he would gather soldiers and make predatory expeditions, minor campaigns carried out with a small troop of men with the object of plunder.

……..

With such a band of men he once set out from north-east France. Now it happened that during his absence another personality, somewhat less of an adventurer than himself, but full of energy, took possession of all his land and property. — It sounds fictitious to-day, but such things actually happened in those days. — And when the owner returned home — he was all alone — he found another man in possession of his estate. In the situation that developed he was no match for the man who had seized his property. The new possessor was more powerful; he had more men, more soldiers. The rightful owner was no match for him.

In all these people who were now serfs where formerly they had been masters, a certain attitude of mind began to assert itself, an attitude of mind most derogatory to the principle of overlordship. On many a night in those well wooded parts, fires were burning, and round the fires these men came together and hatched all manner of plots against those who had taken possession of their property.

In point of fact, the dispossessed owner, who from being the master of a large estate had become a serf, more or less a slave, filled all the rest of his life — as much of it as he was not compelled to give to his work — with making plans for regaining his property. He hated the man who had seized it from him.

And then, when these two personalities passed through the gate of death, they experienced in the spiritual world between death and rebirth, all that souls have been able to experience since that time, shared in it all, and came again to earth in the 19th century. The man who had lost home and property and had become a kind of slave, appeared as Karl Marx, the founder of modern socialism. And the man who had seized his estate appeared as his friend Engels. The actions which had brought them into conflict were metamorphosed in the course of the long journey between death and a new birth into an impulse and urge to balance out and set right what they had done to one another.

Read what went on between Marx and Engels, observe the peculiar configuration of Marx’s mind, and remember at the same time what I have told you of the relationship between these two individuals in the 8th–9th century, and you will find a new light falling upon every sentence written by Marx and Engels. You will not be in danger of saying, in abstract fashion: This thing in history is due to this cause, and the other to the other cause. Rather will you see the human beings who carry over the past into another age, in such a way that although admittedly it appears in a somewhat different form, there is nevertheless a certain similarity.

And what else could be expected? In the 8th–9th century, when men sat together at night around a fire in the forest, they spoke in quite a different style from that customary in the 19th century, when Hegel had lived, when things were settled by dialectic. Try all the same to picture to yourselves the forest in north-eastern France in the 9th century. There sit the conspirators, cursing, railing in the language of the period. Translate it into the mathematical-dialectical mode of speech of the 19th century, and you have what comes to expression in Marx and Engels.

I hope that’s cleared a few things up..

Written by Andrew Coates

June 28, 2018 at 4:55 pm

George Galloway and Ken Livingstone in Eagerly Awaited Beanfeast.

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Galloway is a busy bunny these days.

To  past glories such as,   Dusty Springfield, the musical (2010) and children’s books about an ‘ethical pirate’ (2017, we have this, the Show of the Century!

Image result for George Galloway children's pirate books Red Molucca the Good Pirate,

The masses are on tenterhooks…

To crown our joy we also have the following, a spectacle of spectacles:

Topple Galloway
Coming up from D-Day the 6th of June: a brand new show Topple Gallowaytopical gorgeousness, irreverence and lacerating commentary topped off with ribald repartee. George Galloway joins vocabulary forces with independent journalist and commentator Steve Topple of the canary.co. Tune in on Tuesdays for two of Britain’s top talkers in one show!

Here is the some Wit from noted Japester Steve Topple.

 

We look forward to Ken’s response to this Galloway tweet:

EU People’s Vote, Liberal Elite Versus “community, place, belonging ” (Paul Embery).

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Image result for far right unity demo 24nd June 2018

“For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet“?

Those familiar with French politics will know all too well the gaggle of former left-wingers who have discovered patriotism, moral order, and nationalism barely disguised as “republicanism”.

Amongst many many others, Jean-Claude Michéa (admirer of George Orwell’s ‘common decency’) “«Les classes populaires ont presque entièrement disparu du champ de vision de l’élite et des classes moyennes… », Alain Finkielkraut “Alain Finkielkraut fustige ”une nouvelle élite barbare” et les ”collabos de la modernité” Michel Onfray, ( Michel Onfray contre les élites ) Michel Houellebecq (Les élites haïssent le peuplehave for a long time attacked the liberal ‘elite’, political ‘correctness’, the ” “nouveau progressisme”, unbridled free markets, fragmented identities, and  individualism.

The alternative?

France, the French People, perhaps the terroir, maybe the land and its memories – whatever takes their prejudiced fancy.

Many are, like the anti-Charlie Emmanuel Todd, advocates of “national solidarity,  leaving the Euro and economic protectionism (“il faut sortir de l’euro et pratiquer le protectionnisme.  la solidarité nationale et la fraternité.)

If like Todd they do not generally support Marine Le Pen it is because she does not include all the French people in this destiny.

It would not take long to find these currents  in the ideological soup across the whole continent.

So it no surprise that we are now seeing a similar stream of support for Family, Flag and Community against the” liberal pro-EU elite” as they call it)  in this country as the Carnival of Reaction following Brexit unfurls.

Disgracefully not unfrocked Priest, Giles Fraser, micturated recently with a stream of urine against ‘rootless cosmopolitans’.

Paul Embery, a public shit house for Family, Faith and Flag, is world class in this game of who can pee higher against ‘liberal elites”.

Brexit voters weren’t duped by propaganda.

PAUL EMBERY 26th of June. Unherd.

This is his comment on the Saturday People’s Vote march.

“Listening out for the hysterical outpourings of the grieving liberal intelligentsia can be an interesting pastime. It’s almost as if they are trying to outdo each other in their paroxysms of utter contempt for the mob.”

Indeed the stout working class types pictured above did not get as much publicity as the People’s Vote elite.

Embery has a word of advice for the limousine liberals (as the US original of this copied ‘patriotic’  diatribe had it in the past). The “explanation for why millions of working-class people voted for Trump and Brexit. But you’d need to rub shoulders with them every once in a while to know it.”

Thanks for the tip!

Here it is at greater length:

Left behind by globalisation, witnessing their communities rapidly changing from the effects of deindustrialisation and large-scale movements of people, suffering the effects of low wages and poor housing, they took the opportunity to hit back against a cloth-eared liberal establishment that had treated them with disdain for too long. Treat people like cattle, and you’ll get kicked.

You don’t have to be a cheerleader for Trump or Brexit to recognise this obvious truth.

Me old china, the Leave campaign was led by the wealthy (like his mate Arron Banks), and the public school educated and supported by the mass right-wing press.

And, we shall say to Scholar and a Gentleman Embery, that, well, let’s just just say that Disdain is Trump’s middle name….

That if they were ‘left behind’ – every tout for Brexit’s cheapest answer to everything – they are going to be stuck in the wilderness  after this bunch of chancers running EU withdrawal get their way.

Yet….

Apparently this is not the main issue.

Emberey’s new conspi theory it that the same ‘elite’ is now out to attack ‘free speech’.

For the new sinister agenda is not just to subvert the referendum result, but also to establish a compliant media where, in future, only the ‘facts’ as interpreted by these enlightened progressives and their chosen experts may be allowed to see the light of day.

Of course they know they can’t get away with crude bans on platforms giving air to alternative opinions, so their methods are more insidious. Thus we see increasingly restrictive laws designed to suppress freedom of speech, support for state-backed regulation of the press, boycotts of mainstream newspapers, and the sinister threat to reputations and livelihoods for the crime of saying the wrong thing.

He continues, outraged,

This mix of draconian legislation on the one hand and a repressive and intimidating public atmosphere on the other is toxic. The end goal is to batter us into submission so we think twice before expressing unfashionable opinions.

You can see it in the activities of outfits such as Stop Funding Hate – an authoritarian and menacing campaign dressed up as ethical and progressive. This group demands a boycott of any company which advertises in newspapers spreading “hate” (for which read ‘newspapers whose editorial line we dislike’). Several firms, fearful of damage to profits and reputations, have capitulated. They know the group is serious. It would happily see businesses, large and small, go to the wall and be forced to throw thousands of ordinary workers on to the scrapheap for the crime of advertising in the ‘wrong’ newspapers. So much for its high-minded ethics.

Its target isn’t really hate, of course; it is alternative opinions, particularly those traditional, some might say old-fashioned, opinions to which millions of Britons still hold true, but which are considered beyond the pale by the liberal elite.

Here is the wily plotters’ statement,

After what it called “decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion”, the United Nations has accused some British newspapers of “hate speech”. UK experts are now warning that hate crime is being “fuelled and legitimised” by the media. Relentlessly hostile and often inaccurate headlines have been described by charities as “dangerous”. But, indirectly, nearly all of us are funding them.

We’re taking on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support.

There is a version of Godwin’s law that rightward drifting left-wingers always cite George Orwell at some point.

So it is no surprise that Embery says, “Our radical tradition is that of the Levellers and Chartists, of Tom Paine and George Orwell…”

He ends with this,

I along with millions of other working-class people voted for Brexit for reasons of democracy, community, place, belonging and accountability. Don’t tell us we did so because of something we read in the Daily Mail or on the side of a bus. For if you believe that, you really understand nothing of your own country.

No I know nothing.

Though I would say that “community, place and belonging” sound to me very much like ideas that echo the ideas of the far-right French writer Maurice Barrès (1862 – 1923) of la Terre et les morts, the notion that we are above all else rooted in our national soil and carry on the memories of our ancestors, and the same author’s criticism of the  Déracinés – the cosmopolitan rootless.

I would add that my fights (sometimes physical) with those at school and in my North London homeland, including in a factory,  with those who used to say “good ‘ole Enoch” in the late sixties and ‘seventies,  did not take place with ‘left-wingers’ of the Embery stripe telling me that really Enoch Powell has a point….

 

Pro-Corbyn Left Pro-EU Campaign Launched: Labour for a People’s Vote.

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“…essential that there is clear red water between the mainstream centrist remain campaigns and any serious attempt to get Labour to strengthen its Brexit position,” (Guardian.)

The pro-Brexit Morning Star, living the dream as this disaster unfolds, publishes this comment on the Saturday People’s Vote March,

Left Leave campaign Lexit convener Alex Gordon told the Morning Star that Saturday’s march was “a reactionary, lavishly funded protest.”

He said: “At its heart is the complaint by the entitled upper middle classes in British society that they have not been allowed to get their own way as usual.

“The fact that the People’s Vote march rapidly became a focus for anti-Corbyn slogans tells you all you need to know about the political outlook and class interests of those supporting it.”

This is the internationalist left reponse:

The Tories are making a mess of Brexit.

Their deal will harm working people and the communities Labour works to represent. Tory Brexit is an attack on our rights, jobs, wages, public services and democracy.

Only a radical Labour government can lead Britain into a fair and socially just relationship with Europe. Working together we can stop Tory Brexit and build a better future for everyone.

Join us to campaign for a People’s Vote to fight for jobs, wages and the NHS – and for a socialist Labour government.

Labour for a People’s Vote.

And here:

Sign Our Statement

Labour for a People’s Vote is a grassroots campaign run by Labour members across the UK.

We are proud supporters of the Labour Party. The election of a radical Labour government, to deliver a future of hope, solidarity and equality, is our first priority.

For the political and economic elite, the consequences of Brexit might seem like a game. But as trade unionists, and activists and politicians of the left, we know the impact that a bad deal will have on the people and communities we represent. The Conservatives have no mandate to tear up our rights and freedoms, or to drive our economy off the edge of a cliff, yet that is what their Brexit plans would lead to.

We believe that the Brexit currently being negotiated by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, to peace in Northern Ireland and the future of our NHS and public services. If a Brexit deal is signed which wrecks the British economy, binds us to a future of risky trade deals and American-style deregulation, and irreversibly undermines the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law, a new Labour government will be unable to deliver on its promises.

We do not believe that membership of the EEA offers a viable way forward. While it may offer short term stability it is not tenable for the UK to be a rule taker with no seat at the top table. We would also lose vital international cooperation in a number of areas.

We are therefore coming together to urge the movement of which we are a part to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical and hopeful vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent and create a Europe fit for the many.

Only by holding a popular vote on the terms of the deal can we move on from the mess of the Brexit process and get on with building a better society. Any other outcome will lack democratic legitimacy, drag out the process, and leave us poorer in every sense of the word. The people must have a final say.

Labour List. 25th of June.

Corbynites Launch Pro-EU Labour For A People’s Vote Campaign

Today key left-wing figures call for another referendum on Brexit as party activists launch Labour for a People’s Vote campaign. Supporters of the new movement include Ann Pettifor, an adviser to John McDonnell, the TSSA’s Manuel Cortes and Momentum activist Michael Chessum.

The campaign has already got members in over 60 constituency Labour parties (CLPs) vowing to submit its motion for debate, and expects many more to join as the movement becomes public.

Those involved are almost all on the left of the party, some having worked with groups including Another Europe is Possible while others are simply pro-EU, pro-Corbyn local organisers.

Labour for a People’s Vote is urging the Opposition to vote down Theresa May’s final Brexit deal, which they say is likely to fail Keir Starmer’s six tests, and subsequently to back another referendum on Brexit – including the option to remain in the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn, who has a Eurosceptic voting record and was criticised by many both within and outside of the Labour Party for not campaigning wholeheartedly enough for Remain during the referendum, has come under increasing pressure to back a ‘people’s vote’.

While in the past that pressure has mainly been coming from the Corbynsceptic wing of the party, namely MPs such as Chuka Umunna and pressure group Progress with its LabourSay.EU campaign, Corbynites are now emerging as a prominent lobbying force for the same cause.

Michael Chessum, who worked on Corbyn’s 2016 leadership campaign, denied wanting to undermine the current leadership, saying the intention of Labour for a People’s Vote was “quite the opposite”. Leaders of the new campaign hope that its political tone, which is explicitly of the left, in addition to its grassroots nature, will have a better chance of making an impact.

Many on the left of the party are stepping up Remainer efforts in the belief that intra-factional pressure over Brexit will be more successful than inter-factional campaigns.  Valerie Bossman-Quarshie, a party member in Corbyn’s own seat of Islington North, said she rejoined the party thanks to the Labour leader but supports LPV because “as a local activist I think we have to support a people’s vote”.

Last week, Momentum activist Alena Ivanova launched an online petition demanding a vote for all Momentum members on “whether to oppose Tory Brexit, and whether to campaign for Labour to hold a vote at annual conference in September on giving the people the final say on the Brexit deal”. Ivanova said Momentum should have a clear position on Brexit.

The Labour for a People’s Vote launch statement rejects the option of a Norway-style EEA deal, unlike 74 Labour MPs who recently defied the whip to vote in favour of the EEA, describing it as “untenable”. The motion argues that a Tory Brexit is set to “wreck the British economy” and therefore “bind the hands of a future Labour government”, making it more difficult for Labour to deliver manifesto promises.

The motion has been signed by activists including Billy Hayes, economist Ann Pettifor, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, Paul Hilder, Julie Ward MEP, Seb Dance MEP, Richard Corbett MEP, Mary Honeyball MEP, journalist Zoe Williams, Professor Mary Kaldor.

More reports: Guardian.

The grassroots Labour for a People’s Vote group, which is led by several former Momentum figures, as well as trade union leaders, has the backing of more than 60 constituency Labour parties (CLPs) to try to force a vote at this year’s party conference to change Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy.

The group will call for Labour to oppose the government’s final Brexit deal, which the party has said it would do if the deal with the EU did not meet six tests set by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer. The group will then campaign for the party to go further and campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to stay in the EU should voters reject the deal.

Activists from 62 local Labour parties have pledged to raise the issue in a motion at the party’s conference this September, which the group said was a major shift among the Labour grassroots members, the majority of whom are Corbyn supporters.

Independent.
Corbyn-backing group calls on Labour to back fresh Brexit referendum

Left-wing members are urging Labour to steer away from Theresa May’s ‘kamikaze’ Brexit  Ashley Cowburn

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 25, 2018 at 11:42 am

Giant Protest for Final Deal Brexit Vote; Counterprotest for Brexit and Free Tommy.

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People’s Vote demonstration in London culminates with speeches in Parliament Square

The rabble described below held their own Carnival of Reaction.

“The pro-Brexit march attracted a wide range of groups, from Ukip supporters to the “alt-right” White Pendragons and Generation Identity.

The mood among the pro-Brexit marchers was one of anger and defiance as far-right groups such as The White Pendragons and For Britain took their place alongside Veterans’ and People’s Party and Ukip with the sound of God Save the Queen and “Free Tommy” booming through the streets.

But many melted away as a long succession of speakers took to the platform with just a few thousand supporters left at the rally two hours later.

The Ukip leader Gerard Batten urged people to join the party and fight against what he saw as an imminent loss for Brexit supporters. “There is a real danger we will leave in name only,” he said. “MPs don’t care how many people go on this march, it doesn’t affect them … the only thing that affects them is losing their seats.”

Speaker after speaker followed decrying the anti-Brexit MPs and the BBC.

Anne Marie Waters, the leader of the far-right For Britain, said she was appalled that the business secretary Greg Clark was proposing to keep the borders open to keep business leaders happy. “The company’s voice is not louder than ours,” she said referring to the 17.4 million who voted for Brexit. “Companies, they can adjust,” she added.

Waters said the BBC had “taken great pleasure” at reporting the Airbus threat to leave the country because of Brexit. “It is not because of Brexit but because of the incompetence of the government, which two years later can’t tell companies what sort of Brexit they want.”

Andrew Peck, a pro-Brexit and White Pendragon supporter, came from Nottingham. He described himself as a floating voter who had supported Ukip in the last elections but otherwise “whichever party was best for the NHS”. “I don’t want anything to do with the EU, it’s nice to see lots of people like me here,” he said. “

Guardian.

Banner Below says, Note to Police. Stop the Rape of our Kids.

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The SWP reports this march without mentioning the pro-EU one…

2,500 racists march through London in a display of far right unity

Around 2,500 racists marched through central London on Saturday in another sign of the growing confidence of the British far right on the streets.

The crowd chanted, “Whose streets, our streets” as they marched from Victoria Station to Parliament. And a big focus on the march was jailed Nazi Tommy Robinson—whose supporters organised a 15,000-strong rally on Whitehall on 9 June. 

Marches broke into spontaneous chants of “Oh, Tommy, Tommy” and “We want our country back”. It was a popular chant on mobilisations of the English Defence League (EDL), a group previously led by Tommy Robinson. 

The march was organised by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA), Veterans Against Terrorism and a host of other racist groups.

The DFLA is acting as a bridge between the fascists and the racist Ukip party. Flags from Ukip were one of the most visible elements on the demonstration—much more than on previous mobilisations in recent months. 

It confirmed that the party leadership is orientating on the far right in the hope of rebuilding after its wipeout in the local elections last month. 

At the rally Ukip leader Gerrard Batten urged marchers to join the party. “If you want to change things you have to organise politically,” he said. “The MPs in the House of Commons don’t mind how many join a march. 

“You have to join a political party, help fight elections and win power.” 

By contrast this is a good article on the context.

 Michael Chessum

The Left Against Brexit is an initiative that seeks to take back what should be the common-sense left wing position on Brexit, and stand out from the more centrist establishment anti-Brexit campaigns.

David Miliband may believe speaking out with Nicky Morgan and Nick Clegg from a rice factory will do the trick. We don’t.

The left has slipped back on its ideas around the EU since the referendum. A lot of the left and not just in the Labour Party, is of the view that is it better to keep your head down and hope for a Labour government to sort it out. I think that is totally misplaced for a number of reasons.

We have 18 locations lined up for the Left Against Brexit speaker tour. We would like to do more. The first are 4 July in Manchester and 11 July in London. We are on course to sell out both venues.

Organisers who were previously involved in AEIP across the UK are excited about it and we are finally getting back to some of what we did during the campaign.

Personally I want there to be a national demonstration against the Brexit bill. That would be broader then just calling for a “People’s Vote”. It should be based around the idea of “Block the bill”. That way it would get people who don’t support the “People’s Vote” coming onboard.

I hope we can bring organisations including the NUS onboard in backing that.

Brexit is not just a policy. It is a project. That project comes with a narrative as to who is to blame for the crisis. It blames migrants for a crisis caused by the political and economic elite.

That narrative is kryptonite to the left and will damage us very severely in the long run, if we concede to any of it.
We’re also dealing here with a process that will wreck the economy. Socialists are rightly sceptical about “doing what is good for the economy”; but here we are in going to be in a position of major austerity, and the only way for Corbyn to get out of that would be a hugely accelerated socialist programme. I would be in favour of this but I am sceptical about the Parliamentary Labour Party being willing.

Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie are unlikely to walk through the division lobbies in favour of nationalisation and expropriation on the scale that will be needed with a major economic downturn?

The British people voted to leave the EU, and we do respect that. But the multiplicity of what Brexit meant to people means lots of different options were in effect voted for. There is now just one version of Brexit. We ask, does that version of Brexit have a majority?

Will people looking it straight in the eye say that is what they want? Or better than being in the EU?
People are allowed to change their minds.

Below the surface 80% of Labour members agree with us, and think there should be a referendum on the terms of the deal. This tour is about banging a big drum that says “we are on the left and are opposed to Brexit” and getting people to put their heads above the parapet.

There is a lot of pressure to keep your head down and stay in line with the leadership. But the leadership have never brought their policy for Brexit to conference. Corbyn has not run on a programme of supporting Brexit during his leadership elections or in the 2017 General Election.

In fact Labour has a conference position from 2016 that says that there would be a final say on the Brexit deal whether that was via referendum or a general election and that Labour should vote against the deal unless it meets its six tests.

I want to see Conference very proudly restate that and win a majority round to vote against the deal in Parliament and to support a referendum on that deal.

The underlying politics of the issue are about campaigning in favour of free movement.

We combat the idea that social problems are caused by freedom of movement and assert the need to campaign for strong trade unions, abolishing the anti-union laws, a socialist government that creates an irreversible shift in the balance of power that gives people control over their own destiny.

Rhetorically now the Labour Party is the best it has ever been on immigration, but the actual policy is no different to if Ed Miliband was still in charge! We have a triangulation to the right on immigration which must be causing Corbyn, McDonnell and Abbott some problems in their own heads. I think are probably very torn about this.

It isn’t that hard for Labour to have a left wing immigration policy, defend and extend free movement, and improve people’s lives at the same time. The vast majority of Brexit-supporting Labour voters and indeed Brexit supporters in general do not rank freedom of movement or even immigration as their number one issue. They rank housing, public services, wages and jobs just as much as anti Brexit people. If you give people real solutions on those things then you win time and space to convince them on other things.

Extending freedom of movement will benefit the workers’ movement as a whole. If migrant workers win more rights, the levelling up will benefit everyone. The more rights you take from migrants, the more precarious they become and the more difficult it is to organise. Labour should say that it will keep free movement, improve social housing, keep wages above inflation, provide more funding in schools and increase public investment.

That is how Labour should deal with people’s “immigration concerns”.

My own impression, from UNITE and elsewhere, is that the prospect of damaging UK industry, from Airbus onwards, will weigh more heavily than a March on Labour’s need to take an anti-Brexit stand. 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2018 at 12:27 pm

The Full Brexit: Alliance of Labour Patriots, Spiked-on-Line, Immigration Obsessives, Left Sovereigntists and other Oddballs.

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Image result for The Full Brexit cartoon

Full British Brexit’. Not ‘bog roll Brexit’!

What does a leader of Trade Unionists Against the EU, concerned about ‘easy divorce’ and immigration, somebody who defends “Flag, faith and family” and who (2011), wanted Labour to be an organisation, “that involves those people who support the EDL within our party”, a prominent contributor for the left-wing magazine Jacobin, a founder of a new Social Democratic Party, the  former editor of Prospect magazine, a pamphleteer for  Labour Leave, a Harvard Professor, Murdoch’s Man in Brussels, a well-known figure in the British Communist Party (CPB), and a small battalion of former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party and contributors to Spiked-on-Line, have in common?

Answer: THE FULL BREXIT

 

The Full Brexit is not a political party. We do not all agree about each and every policy or document on this website. But we do agree, first, that the left’s proper role is to be the architect of a better, more democratic future and, second, that a clean break with the EU is needed to realise that potential.

To this end, we will provide analysis of the present political situation and proposals for the future. We will engage with the public, politicians and anyone who shares our democratic ethos. And we will conduct our work in solidarity with those on the left in other European countries to develop a genuinely internationalist and democratic politics of national sovereignty.

Brexit offers an unprecedented opportunity to reshape Britain for the better. Please join us in that mission.

The common sovereigntist thread (Popular Sovereignty and “Taking Back Control”: What it Means and Why it Matters), the links with Spiked-on-Line (Revolutionary Communist Party, RCP) of the signatories below  – you might be tempted to call it a Brendan O’Neill front – and the ever more right-wing drift of these people makes this a more authentic  warning from Hell.

Beginning with Paul Embery and Trade Unionists Against the EU recent comments on Trump splitting up arrested migrant families.

Founding Signatories

​Christopher Bickerton, University of Cambridge. Extensive Spiked on Line Archive.

Philip Cunliffe, University of Kent, “University of Kent’s Dr Philip Cunliffe: Brexit is a triumph for the people over the elites.”

Paul Embery, Trade Unionists Against the EU:  The left-wing zealots are threatening our freedom.

…..try discussing with these people – the self-appointed guardians of enlightened society – the idea that immigration levels are too high and should be reduced. You’re a xenophobe. Try saying that kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex. You’re a homophobic bigot. Don’t believe someone with the anatomy of a man can suddenly become a woman just because he says he is? Transphobe.

Thomas Fazi, Author and Journalist. ‘Left’ Sovereigntist: WHAT IS NEEDED IS A PROGRESSIVE VISION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY May 2017.

Maurice Glasman, House of Lords. Blue Labour. “Work, family, community.” wanted Labour to be” a party that brokers a common good, that involves those people who support the EDL within our party” (Labour isn’t working. 2011.)

David Goodhart, Author and Journalist. Founding editor of Prospect. The Road to Somewhere 2017. “A fault line in Britain existed, he suggested, between Somewhere, those people firmly connected to a specific community which consists of about half the population, “Inbetweeners”, and Anywhere, those usually living in cities, socially liberal and well educated; the latter being only a minority of about 20% to 25% of the total, but in fact had “over-ruled” the attitudes of the majority.”

Matthew Goodwin, University of Kent. “Concerned” about Immigration, “Brexit Britain is in denial over immigration Debate since Brexit referendum has failed to tackle immigration — the key motivator behind the Leave campaign.”Politico.

Pauline Hadaway, University of Manchester. Spiked-on-Line extensive Archive.

James Heartfield, Author and Journalist. “In the 1980s he was a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party.” Fanatical Sovereigntist.

Kevin Hickson, University of Liverpool.

.. Kevin left the Labour Party in the summer of 2017.  Never a fan of Jeremy Corbyn, he accepted the outcome of the leadership contest but was increasingly uneasy with the sneering attitude of some within the Labour Party to the working class and all things British.  This reached its peak, he felt, in the constant attempts to undermine, if not stop the Brexit process.  It was this which led to him resign from the party.

With his belief that political principles are futile unless put into action he joined the SDP which is the only party, Kevin believes, to offer the correct combination of left-of-centre social and economic policies and a commitment to uphold the will of the people to leave the European Union. Having previously worked closely with Labour Leave on Brexit, Kevin is now the organiser for SDP’s North West region and keenly engaged in raising the profile of SDP, locally and nationally.

Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London.  THECURRENTMOMENT 

Puts its faith in the Mother of Parliaments, “as The Current Moment argued all along, Brexiteers made the mistake of failing to trust representative democracy, and instead rushed to trigger Article 50 and marched unprepared straight into the EU’s favoured terrain: meeting-rooms safely closed off from democracy where they may bully smaller negotiating partners.”

Costas Lapavitsas, School of Oriental and African Studies (author of the recent so-called ‘left’ article backing Brexit in the US Jacobin magazine).

Tara McCormack, University of Leicester.  Spiked on Line.  19th of April 2018. SYRIA, THE TIMES AND FREE SPEECH.”The Times states that by questioning the British government’s stance we are apologists for Assad. More absurd still, it claims that by questioning and debating British foreign policy we are somehow shutting down debate.”

March 2018: THE EU: WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?

“Krastev argues that the migration crisis in the EU has pulled national politics or, perhaps to be more precise, the national electorates, back into the picture, as the borderless, cosmopolitan ideal is forced to confront the reality and impact of migration, and attendant concerns over welfare, identity and rights.”

“Moreover, questions around identity and values do need to be discussed freely. It is certainly reasonable to ask if significant migration of other religious groups will impact on post-liberal or conservative values in Europe. Yet such debate is considered unacceptable by the EU, leaving the resentments to be expressed by right-wing populist groups.”

Jasper Miles, Goldsmiths College, University of London. Joint author of Labour Leave pamphlet, “The Labour Case for Brexit.”

Peter Ramsay, London School of Economics. Linked to THECURRENTMOMENT 

“…as The Current Moment argued all along, Brexiteers made the mistake of failing to trust representative democracy, and instead rushed to trigger Article 50 and marched unprepared straight into the EU’s favoured terrain: meeting-rooms safely closed off from democracy where they may bully smaller negotiating partners.”

Richard Tuck, Harvard University​. “Tuck has long believed that Brexit would benefit the British Left — both by killing the drive for Scottish independence, and by opening up a new space for radical left politics in Britain.” Policy Exchange 2017.

Bruno Waterfield, Murdoch Journalist – Brussels Correspondent — The Times.

Philip B Whyman, University of Central Lancashire. Sovereigntist fantasist, “Beyond Brexit: how to build an independent British economy.”

Suke Wolton, Regents Park College, University of Oxford. Author of “Marxism, Mysticism and Modern Theory. 1996. Not known to have moved on since.

Amongst others attaching themselves to this bandwagon I note Mary Davis (Communist Party of Britain).

People’s Vote.

We will doubtless hear today dire warnings from the Brexit left about splitting the labour movement by marching with anti-Brexit campaigners in the People’s Vote Campaign.

Given their own background in dividing the Labour and trade union vote to Remain this is like hearing Satan preaching against Sin.

But it’s Full Brexit alliance that ought to be kept  in mind when hearing attacks on the People’s Vote campaign against Brexit.

What a bunch!

John Cleese Joins Brendan O’Neillism: Blasts “Lazy, Fat, Beer-Sodden Belgium Bastards.”

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Biggus Dickus Rails at Lazy Fat Belgium Bastards.

The world is in the grip of Brendan O’Neillism.

After Paul Embery’s whinges about Left Wing Zealots, John Cleese, star of the occasionally funny Monty Python is replaying his old parts.

It all began with this (Telegraph)

John Cleese has accused the BBC of “social engineering” after its head of comedy said Monty Python’s white Oxbridge males were out of step with modern television.

Cleese joked that Python’s members met the BBC’s diversity targets because they included a “poof” and “no slave-owners”, and suggested his Ministry of Silly Walks sketch would now be considered “a slur on the handicapped”.

Shane Allen, who runs the BBC’s comedy output, said earlier this week that sketch shows should feature “a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world”, and that times have moved on from Python’s “six Oxbridge white blokes”.

The noted wit replied,

 

Shane Allen, who runs the BBC’s comedy output, said earlier this week that sketch shows should feature “a diverse range of people who reflect the modern world”, and that times have moved on from Python’s “six Oxbridge white blokes”.

Having got a taste for political controversy the leading Brexiteer (Artists 4 Brexit) has tweeted this.

Which provoked this reply,

Hasselt is Dutch-speaking (he later corrected his tweet to “pseudo-Dutch”, which is at least linguistically accurate).

Belgians are lazy, fat drunkards, John Cleese? Hold my beer

Cleese remains undaunted.

But nobody beats the O’Neill at this kind of thing…

Anti-Trump emotionalism has become a menace to reasoned debate.

…anti-Trumpism looks increasingly like a rash and elitist pseudo-movement in which signalling your sorrow and shame is far more important than putting forward a political critique or political ideas. ‘I fucking hate Trump’ – that’s all they have.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Labour Should Back Legalising Cannabis.

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Canada Plans to Legalize Marijuana, Nationwide, in 2017

UK Should Follow Canada’s Lead.

Canada legalises recreational cannabis use.

BBC.

Canada’s parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide.

The Cannabis Act passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed, and sold.

Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September.

The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug’s recreational use.

Uruguay became the first country to legalise the sale of cannabis for recreational use in December 2013, while a number of US states have also voted to permit it.

War on cannabis ‘comprehensively and irreversibly lost’, William Hague says.

Independent.

Current policy is ‘revealed to be inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date’.

William Hague has urged Theresa May to consider legalising cannabis as he claims the war on the drug has been “comprehensively and irreversibly lost”.

The remarks from the former foreign secretary heap political pressure on the prime minister amid an escalating row in the cabinet over the government’s approach to medical cannabis and growing outrage over a 12-year-old epileptic boy’s use of the drug.

The intervention from Mr Hague – Tory leader between 1997 and 2001 – also comes after Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, suggested a “different way” was required after cannabis oil was confiscated from Charlotte Caldwell.

The government has rejected a call from Lord Hague to consider legalising the recreational use of cannabis.

BBC

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the former Tory leader said the war on cannabis had been “irreversibly lost” and a change of policy was needed.

His call was prompted by the case of a boy with epilepsy who was given a special licence to use cannabis oil.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has told MPs there will be a review of the medical use of cannabis in the UK.

The Home Office has set up an expert panel to review the rules on the therapeutic use of the drug, but a spokesman stressed that the existing laws on the recreational use of cannabis would not be changed.

“Any debate within government about the efficacy and therapeutic use of cannabis-based medicines emphatically does not extend to any review regarding the classification of cannabis and the penalties for the illicit possession, cultivation and trafficking of cannabis will remain the same.”

There are too many arguments in favour of legalising cannabis to list them all.

But the essential ones are:

  • Cannabis smoking is a matter of personal choice and its alleged dangers are open to debate.
  • The fact that it is illegal helps create a vast criminal industry.
  • Those who fall foul of the law risk substantial penalties despite the de facto relaxation of the law, “Between 2010 and 2017, the number of cannabis possession offences has decreased by 48 per cent – from 160,733 to 83,591 as officers turn a blind eye to focus on other priorities.”
  • Yet tolerance is itself a matter of where you live, “the realities of policing in 21st Century Britain, means in some areas of the country possession of cannabis has already effectively been decriminalised.” “Plenty of people smoke cannabis openly. You just have to look around you. The police aren’t interested in cracking down on it. For them it’s not a priority. They know that Class A drugs and alcohol are a far bigger issue in terms of anti-social behaviour and crime.” “Around the country users have also started to gather together at impromptu ‘cannabis cafes’, where they can buy they can either buy the drug or bring their own and enjoy it in the company of others.” (Telegraph).
  • Past statistics, which are unlikely to have substantially changed, indicate that prosecution for possession of cannabis hits heaviest on black people (Ethnic Disparities In The Policing And Prosecution Of Drug Offences In England And Wales. 2013.)

Until recently statements from Labour by shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott failed to deal with this issue.

She said (March 2018).

“It is not Labour’s policy to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes. We would not be discussing the legalising of cannabis for recreational purposes.”

However, she said Labour would expand drug treatment facilities as a better way to cut the numbers of addicts than the criminal justice system.

But now (Politics Home) there is a chink in the Labour prudish armour emerging.

The Shadow Home Secretary, who just three months ago opposed relaxing laws around cannabis, called on ministers to drop the “heavy-handed and bureaucratic approach” to health-related drug use.

It comes amid the controversy surrounding a severe epilepsy sufferer’s mother having cannabis oil confiscated at Heathrow airport after flying in from Canada last week.

In the spirit of peace and love for which this Blog is celebrated we hail the position of Socialist Worker this week on the topic,

As Tories split over spliffs – we say legalise cannabis.

Former Conservative leader William Hague is the latest high profile Tory to call for cannabis law reform.

The Tories are split on the issue following the case of a 12 year old whose medicinal cannabis oil was confiscated at Heathrow Airport.

The Home Office returned some of the medicine to Billy Caldwell after medics confirmed he needed it to deal with severe epileptic seizures.

Hague called for a “decisive change” in the law. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the law wasn’t working properly. Yet Theresa May has played down the prospect of change.

Labour is divided too. Jeremy Corbyn said he backs legalisation of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes. But the party said last year that it remains opposed to wider legalisation.

Now Labour says it may have a review.

Cannabis is a Class B drug— after being reclassified by Labour from Class C in 2009. That means possession can lead to five years in jail. Police in England and Wales recorded over 83,000 offences for cannabis possession in 2016-17.

Yet it’s generally safer than legal drugs such as tobacco and alcohol. And many people use it to alleviate chronic pain and anxiety.

Socialist Worker believes that cannabis should be legalised for recreational and medicinal purposes. The “war on drugs” has failed and is a mechanism for hounding and harassing working class, poor and black people.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 21, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Toff Priyamvada Gopal Throws a Wobbly Over Uppity King’s College Porters.

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‘Madam’ ne sied pas à son altesse, Dr Gopal.

Priyamvada Gopal is a person with a bit of a history.

Support for gender segregation in 2013, See, Gender Segregation and the Postmodern Politics of Despair.

Attack on Mary Beard earlier this year: Oxfam scandal sparks Twitter row between Cambridge academics.

Her latest escapade was not in long in getting into the media.

The Cambridge academic Priyamvada Gopal announced today that she will refuse to supervise any students at Kings’ College, due to what she described as “consistently racist profiling and aggression by Porters”.

The Cambridge Student.

This is apparently the substance of her charges.

She described one of her experiences at the college: “‘I repeatedly asked them to address me as ‘Dr Gopal’ and repeatedly failed to get them, including the aggressive Head Porter to whom I attempt to complain to address me as anything other than ‘madam.’”

Gopal apologised to students but pointed to similar testimonies from other members of the university from ethnic minorities. She said that a King’s student told her that “the issue of racial profiling and unconscious bias at the King’s gate is something we are aware of”.

The response from King’s College Visitor Service was described by the academic as a “classic nopology” – the head of the department stated “it has not been my experience”, according to Gopal.

The professor, who came to Cambridge in 2001, has been involved in several public controversies in recent months, including an argument with Mary Beard over the Oxfam scandal and a Daily Mail article depicting her as a “hate-filled don”.

She has also been an active user of Twitter as a platform for defending her beliefs, having 18,000 followers. In March, however, she announced she would tweet less as she feared “turning into an anti-troll”.

King’s College have said the following: “We have investigated the incident and found no wrongdoing on the part of our staff.

“Every visitor was asked to show their card during the course of that day, as the College was closed to everyone except King’s members.

“Non-members such as Dr Gopal were asked to take alternatives routes, around the College.”

“This was a matter of procedure, not discrimination.

Some might observe that Madam Gopal is the embodiment of conservative upper-class entitlement masquerading as the fight against oppression.

Apparently she has taken the following action ” I have finally decided on my behalf & of other people of colour.”

 

Bless!

Written by Andrew Coates

June 20, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Paul Embery, National Organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU, hits out at Immigration and “Left Wing Zealots”.

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Image result for Paul Embery Trade Unionists against the EU meeting

Paul Embery  at TUSC anti-EU tour (June 2016).

“…try discussing with….. the self-appointed guardians of enlightened society – the idea that immigration levels are too high and should be reduced. You’re a xenophobe.” “Try saying that kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex. You’re a homophobic bigot.” (June 2018)

There’s been a lot of guff written recently claiming that the campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit is a Blairite plot to divide the Labour Party.

Zoe Williams has written a firm reply to this which this Blog feels no need to add to: Jeremy Corbyn, take note: leftwing remainers won’t stay silent on Brexit.

This Blog has tracked some of the shifts in the supporters of Brexit, who claimed to be on the left,  from sovereigntism, but communitarianism.

But few have been so openly right-wing in their drift as Paul Embery.

He is a FBU officer and National Organiser of the Arron Banks backed Trade Unionists Against the EU which the Morning Star, the Socialist Party and others from the ‘Lexit’ left supported and to which they gave wide publicity.

From campaigning for Brexit to the following whinge  copied from Spiked-on-Line (which Embery contributes to), peppered with why-oh-why’s about high immigration levels, and “kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex”, is but a step.

The left-wing zealots are threatening our freedom

19th of June 2018.

As a socialist and trade unionist, I despair of the modern Left and its propensity to do everything in its power to alienate the very people for whom it purports to speak. So wrong is its stance on so many social and moral questions, that you wonder whether it even wants the votes of traditional left-wing voters anymore. Perhaps it would be happier as a self-indulgent protest lobby, its ranks of middle-class, city-dwelling, bohemian types smoking their weed and listening to Bob Dylan tracks.

These people preach peace and harmony, while reciting the mantra of ‘Live and let live’ and speaking of the need for ‘tolerance’, ‘diversity’ and ‘respect’ – all the usual buzzwords. Except that in practice they do the precise opposite of these things, openly frowning upon the lifestyle choices of working-class folk, while displaying a sneering intolerance towards their opinions and demanding rigid conformity of political thought.

For example, try discussing with these people – the self-appointed guardians of enlightened society – the idea that immigration levels are too high and should be reduced. You’re a xenophobe. Try saying that kids are better served being raised by two parents, one of each sex. You’re a homophobic bigot. Don’t believe someone with the anatomy of a man can suddenly become a woman just because he says he is? Transphobe. Believe multiculturalism, the active promotion of separation and difference, has been a monumental failure? Racist. (A bizarre one this, since one can of course be a committed multiracialist while disavowing multiculturalism.)

The modern Left’s contempt for alternative opinions derives not only from an innate sense of its own moral superiority, but also from the absurd notion that to promote one way of living – to suggest that society benefits more from one taking one path rather than another – is to somehow discriminate or show prejudice against ‘the other’.

But a month before he was even more explicit.

The Sun 4th of May 2018.

PAUL EMBERY 

Our working class is not racist — they’ve just been shafted by the liberal elite

It is between these places that a new and unintended coalition has emerged, born out of resentment at having  to watch their old-fashioned, socially conservative — what some describe as “faith, family and flag” — views shunned and disparaged by the liberal elite.

You can see something similar writ large across England: An accidental alliance between once-loyal Labour voters in the post-industrial towns and Conservatives in the shires.

It’s an alliance which manifested itself most starkly in the Brexit vote.

..

The indigenous population cried out for respite. The letters page of the local paper was filled with correspondents begging to be heard. But nobody in power took a blind bit of notice, other than to patronise them with trite arguments about improved GDP and cultural enrichment.

Rather than rally to their support, the Left — including, shamefully, the Labour Party and trade unions — treated these marginalised working-class folk like an embarrassing elderly relative, imploring them to “stop blaming migrants” (something they hadn’t done in the first place).

What was genuine bewilderment and disorientation on the part of local citizens was, inexcusably, dismissed as casual racism and bigotry.

Yet it wasn’t their sense of race that had been violated by the sudden upheaval in their community. It was their sense of order.

So, in 2006, locals took the only route of protest they thought left available to them and returned  12 British National Party councillors at the local elections.

….

But the whole debate around immigration has been toxified by what the ruling elites imposed on places such as Barking and Dagenham.

They shook a kaleidoscope then stood back in surprise when the pieces didn’t fall exactly where they wanted. Remember all this the next time you hear someone speak of London as the greatest city in the world.

Chances are the words are being spoken by a politician or a celebrity or a middle-class liberal from one of the trendier parts of town.

For there are, in reality, two Londons. One half — alienated, neglected and resentful — represents a potentially formidable army at the ballot box.

Then there is this:

Who will be so bold as to back this standpoint?

Our bet is that there are many other Emberys out there.

Here’s his Great Uncle:

Alf Garnett: Well, I mean, see if we go into Europe…

Else Garnett: I thought we was in Europe. I mean, I thought we always have been.

Alf Garnett: I know that, yer silly moo. I’m not talking about that aspect am I? I’m talking about the Common Market aspect of the going into Europe.

Alf Garnett: Old Enoch’s against it, in’t ‘e, eh? He don’t want no more bloody foreigners over here. We got enough bloody foreigners here as it is. Bloody country’s swarming with Eities and Krauts and Froggies and Spagnollies and Brussel Sprouts. All coming over here and taking our jobs off of us, aren’t they?

Else Garnett: Well, we can go over there and take the jobs off of them.

Alf Garnett: I don’t want to go over there, do I?

Else Garnett: Wish you would.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068188/quotes

 

France: Emmanuel Macron’s ‘Reforms’ to Continue on Track?

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Image result for maree populaire

Protest Against Macron Calls for General Strike. May 2018.

Is France’s President Emmanuel Macron about to win his battle against the rail strikers?  

Last Friday after the French National Assembly the Senate passed legislation reforming the country’s railway system, the SNCF by 245 against 82. The principal change is that from an “établissement public à caractère industriel et commercial (EPIC) » to « société anonyme (SA) ». That is, it will become a limited company, which will remain under public ownership.

No new recruit will benefit from the existing ‘statut’, the terms and conditions, of existing employees. This open the way for the end of free travel for employees, lower pay, more worker ‘flexibility, and the abolition of the right to retire at 55 for train drivers. A principal argument behind these, and other changes, is that the public railway company must resolve its debt problem to be competitive.

There will be competition between the rail-service and other companies, extending the existing opening to freight. There are suggestions (Spinetta report) that some unprofitable branch lines may be done away with. Maintenance will also be open to private companies (l’Humanité. 15.6.18). From 2019 regional services will be affected and in 2020 the TGV will, leaving the position around Paris in the l’Ile-de-France to be clarified between 2023 and…..2039.

These changes follow European Union directives on public debt and competition. They have been issued with the agreement of the counties of the EU, dominated by supporters of the marketisation of public services, and not from some hidden Brussels cabal.

Strikes, strongly supported by those working for the SNCF, against the ‘reform’ began on the 3rd of April, co-ordinated by the ‘intersyndical’ of rail unions (CGT, UNSA, SUD, CFDT, and FO). As collective bargaining begins in the light of the new law stoppages continue, intended to weigh on the negotiations. Despite suggestions that the ‘reformist’ unions (such as the CFDT) might reach a conciliatory agreement on their own this has not yet happened. What looks likely happen as talks get underway is that strikes will become reduced to a means of pressure for the best possible outcome, within this framework.

Despite a parallel conflict in Air France and a student movement, including militant occupations, against the reform called ORE (“d’orientation et de réussite des étudiants”) which gives universities the power to set admission criteria and rank applicants , a ‘social movement’ against Macron’s moves has not taken off. The wider public appears not to have identified with the fight of the cheminots (rail workers) as they did in 1997. Jean Luc-Mélenchon has stated that while he is drunk with his own self-satisfaction,  59% of those polled have a ‘negative’ opinion of the President. But ‘marées populaires” ‘ (tidal waves of protesters) at demonstration of solidarity with the strikers by his rally-party, have failed to flood the streets.  La France insoumise, the radical left, and other parts of the fragmented green, Communist and socialist left, trade unionists and students, have not created an ‘ insurrection  citoyenne’. Many of the public, lukewarm at the defence of what much of the media has presented as “special interests”  do not identify with the strikers.

Macon now feels free to tackle the welfare state. He has complained about the “pognon de dingue” (daft amount of dosh)  spent on welfare, suggesting wholesale changes in the benefit system. Replacing the complex French pension system with a uniform regime is in his sights. At the same time today it’s confirmed by right wing Economy Minister, Bruno le Maire, that the les Aéroports de Paris, la Française des Jeux (National Lottery) and Engie (unsurprisingly an energy firm) will be privatised (France’s Le Maire set to unveil inflammatory privatisation bill.)

It is sometimes suggested that Macron poses as ‘above’ left and right to cover his neoliberal policies. But is the struggle against neo-liberal globalisation what it was at the turn of the new millenium? The nature of ‘liberal’ policies, when not only European countries like Italy, Poland and Hungary, displaying signs of the less attractive side of anti-liberalism, but the US is engaged in trade wars that strike up the pillars of what was assumed to be ‘globalisation ‘ is in a state of flux. It is all very well for Mélenchon to shout that the President is an “EXTRÊME-LIBÉRAL”. But that part of the French left, including sections of La France insoumise, like other currents in Europe, including Britain, consider that ‘socialist’ version of ‘sovereigntism ‘ that is national control of the economy, is the answer to the difficulties created by years of market reform and liberalisation only adds to the confusion.

The French President himself claims to be a « progressive » both of the « right, the centre, and the left ». (Macron, un président philosophe. Brice Couturier. 2017) Put in less exorbitant langue he is, in effect, claiming the mantle of the 5th Republic, designed by de Gaulle to make the Head of State appear « above » parties and social divisions. Taking this further Macron presents his fight against workers and social rights as a struggle against outdated ‘ corporatism ‘.

A more bogus sets of political assertions would be hard to find. Saint-Simonian top-down technocratic reforms are the opposite of changes inspired by grassroots democratic struggle. But until there is a left united enough to challenge Macron and the domination of the National Assembly by his La République En Marche!  they will be hard to put down.

Brexit Dividend for the NHS Lie Revived by Tories.

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Image result for sunday express front page brexit victory

Far-right British Press: Cesspit of Lies.

BREXIT VICTORY: £600MILLION A WEEK to go to NHS in huge victory for Leave campaign.

As in:

Image result for bus brexit divided nhs

But…..

This important piece by two senior figures at the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows how “Brexit has reduced rather than increased the funds available for the NHS (and other public services) both in the short and long term”. Shiraz Socialist.

 

Or pithily…..

Here.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 17, 2018 at 12:02 pm

 ‘People Before Tory Brexit’ Gains Support: Rally, Thursday June 21.

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Union Moves Towards People’s Vote on Brexit.

In the Daily Mirror it’s been argued by Alison McGovern that,

It’s hard to argue that this disastrous Tory government is doing anything but make a mess of Brexit.

In the past fortnight calls for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal have been getting louder , and in the months to come, I suspect the argument for the public to have their say – in the absence of a general election anyway – will become irresistible.

This follows this decision.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes,

“Our conference last weekend mandated us to campaign against this Tory Brexit which is failing our country before it lands us in even deeper water. We have been instructed by our members to work with others of like mind to put their concerns and those of other workers at the fire of the Brexit debate.

“Our members also made it clear that Brexit should not be used as another stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with. For us, a Labour government committed to a manifesto for the many is a far bigger prize than Tory Brexit. I am delighted that we will be hosting voices from across the trade union and labour movement who agree with us that the Brexit squeeze on workers is already not worth the juice and want to formulate a pro-Corbyn Brexit exit strategy.

“Tory politicians got us into the mess of Brexit in the first place as they put their party and political ambitions before country. As the late Robin Cook said, when he rightly resigned over the Iraq War, the longer he spent in Parliament the more he came to trust “the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people”

“Our members believe the British public, now better informed than in 2016, have had a Brexit cooling-off period. The right thing to do now is to trust the collective wisdom of the many by giving them a say on the final outcome of Brexit negotiations in a referendum. No-one wants a continuation of this ruinous Brexit other than the Tory few who are guiding it”.

TSSA

Labour List reports.

Today the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association has announced it will hold a rally to launch its campaign for a ‘people’s vote’ on Brexit.

The move suggests a pro-EU stance on the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting Left of the Labour Party is gaining traction.

Earlier this week, as reported by LabourList, TSSA became the first trade union affiliated to the Labour Party to formally back a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Delegates at the union’s conference in Leicester also voted in favour of giving 16- and 17-year-olds a vote in such a referendum.

The transport and travel industry union now plans to hold a ‘People Before Tory Brexit’ rally on Thursday 21st June at Congress House in London.

Lord Andrew Adonis, TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, Labour MEP Julie Ward, Labour MPs Catherine West and Geraint Davies are expected to speak at the rally, which is set to be hosted by left-wing NEC member Andi Fox.

Commenting on the event, union chief Manuel Cortes said: “We have been instructed by our members to work with others of like mind to put their concerns and those of other workers at the fire of the Brexit debate.

“Our members also made it clear that Brexit should not be used as another stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with… I am delighted that we will be hosting voices from across the trade union and labour movement who want to formulate a pro-Corbyn Brexit strategy.

“Tory politicians got us into the mess of Brexit in the first place as they put their party and political ambitions before country. As the late Robin Cook said, when he rightly resigned over the Iraq War, the longer he spent in parliament the more he came to trust “the good sense and collective wisdom of the British people”.

“Our members believe the British public, now better informed than in 2016, have had a Brexit cooling-off period. The right thing to do now is to trust the collective wisdom of the many by giving them a say on the final outcome of Brexit negotiations in a referendum. No-one wants a continuation of this ruinous Brexit other than the Tory few who are guiding it”.The ‘People Before Tory Brexit’ rally takes place on Thursday June 21, at 7pm at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London.

In a scatter-gun  article, A People’s Brexit that unites the left is the only way to confront an increasingly bold neoliberal mafia, Lindsey German, of the group Counterfire which leads the once influential People’s Assembly, argues against this movement.

Amongst her charges against the EU are the following:

“President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, last week insulted Italians for not working hard enough, being corrupt and not being serious. ” “the hero of many liberals, Emmanuel Macron, uses his presidency to launch vicious attacks on workers and students and to attack their rights.”

Apparently because many European countries are led by people whose politics German dislikes this is proof enough that the EU is rotten.

She concludes,

It’s really time to stop trying to reverse Brexit and start organising to deliver the sort of policies which can break the neoliberal consensus and challenge the far right.

It is hard to see, given the clashes she sketches between “populists” (from the furthest right to their allies such as the Movimento 5 Stelle ) and “liberals”, and the concessions of the latter to the former, what exactly this “consensus” is.

It is even harder to say what remains today of neoliberalism’, with its keynote free trade, and , minimal government intervention in business,  when Donald Trump has just announced another front in his trade wars, imposing 25% tariffs on Chinese goods followed by Beijing’s retaliation.

In fact it can be said with some certainty that the antics of those promoting a ‘People’s Brexit’ were a factor in boosting the British hard right, their ballot box allies.

German cites the sovereigntist economist,  Costas Lapavitsas who in an article (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour vs. the Single Market) in the US publication Jacobin “demonstrates how the EU regulations would prevent the development of policies which would benefit us all.”

Martin Thomas has dealt a death blow to these arguments.

The economist Costas Lapavitsas, who has done important work on financialisation, has written a widely-cited article for the US magazine Jacobin (30 May) to argue that Labour should back Brexit after all.

ndeed, his article systematically cites the “hardest” sort of Brexit — where Britain has no arrangement with the European Union to reduce economic barriers other than that given by general World Trade Organisation rules — as preferable.

Up to now, very few pro-Brexiters, outside a few right-wing nationalist Tories, have described that “no deal” Brexit as anything other than an admittedly damaging “worst case”.

Lapavitsas was a member of Syriza, one of the left-wingers who quit after the Syriza-led government capitulated to the EU-ECB-IMF impositions to form the Popular Unity party. Popular Unity’s line of agitating for “sovereignty and independence… against the new colonialism”, rather than for explicit socialism or a Europe-wide working-class policy, has proved unproductive. Although PU started with 25 of Syriza’s 149 MPs, and other prominent Syriza figures, it lost all its MPs in the September 2015 election, now polls between 1% and 2%, and has not rallied a large part of Syriza’s former left-wing base.

….

But “hard Brexit” cannot be a left-wing policy. The struggle for socialism is an affair of workers vs capitalists, not of Britain vs a “Europe” identified solely with neoliberal Brussels officials. Consider four points.

First: EU rules would not block anything in Labour’s 2017 manifesto. Domestic capitalist power would try to block some measures, and might try to draw the European Commission in on it, but by far the main obstacles to those measures lie within Britain.

Second: The frontline measures which the socialist left wants to see added to that manifesto would not be blocked either.

Restoring union rights to solidarity action, to quick responses, to picketing, would not be against EU rules. In fact, France has wider, better union rights than Britain had before Thatcher.

Restoring NHS funding would be against no EU rule. Both France and Germany spend markedly more on health care, as a percentage of national income, than Britain.

Restoring local government autonomy and funding, and thereby reviving social care and libraries, would be against no EU rule. Ditto for restoring welfare benefits.

Large measures on those lines would face domestic capitalist resistance much more than any hindrance from EU rules.

Third: the Single Market rules have become neoliberal not because they are “European” and “foreign”, but because they represent a trend of capitalist development pioneered… in London.

“Europe” in Lapavitsas’s picture, is just the neoliberal officials in the European Commission and the ECB. Workers? Labour movements? The argument proceeds as if no such things exist anywhere in Europe except in Britain and Greece.

Labour should certainly be pushed to policies which really would contradict Single Market rules. If the British labour movement rouses itself that far, then it can and must rouse labour movements elsewhere in Europe to do similar.

The reaction elsewhere in Europe to socialist mobilisation in the labour movement in Britain (if Britain happened to go first) would not just be anger from neoliberal officials in Brussels. Workers and labour movements across Europe would be inspired and energised.

The outcome would depend on the conflict between capitalists and workers right across Europe, not on legal battles between the British government and the European Commission.

Fourth: right now we face the danger of a real “hard Brexit”, not Lapavitsas’s imaginary “socialism in one (British) country”, or rather “‘industrial policy’ in one country”.

That Tory, or modified-Tory, “hard Brexit” will set us back in many ways. We should fight it, not accommodate to it by way of telling ourselves tales about it mutating into “semi-socialism in one country”.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 16, 2018 at 11:22 am

General Strike In Nicaragua. Left Condemns Ortega who “Puts Down Protests Violently”.

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General Strike in NIcaragua: Demonstrator in Burnt-out Bus in Tipitapa.

Nicaragua protesters stage national strike as clashes persist.

A 24-hour general strike has brought much of Nicaragua to a standstill, as anti-government campaigners demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega.

Streets have been deserted and businesses closed in the capital, Managua, but violent protests have broken out in other cities.

Reports say at least three people died on Thursday, bringing the total killed in eight weeks of clashes to about 160.

Fresh talks aimed at ending the stand-off are due to take place on Friday.

The protests began on 19 April after the government imposed cuts to pension and social security programmes.

The cuts were later scrapped but the protests evolved into a rejection of the Ortega government and thousands of people have since taken to the streets.

Nicaragua se paraliza mientras Ortega mantiene la represión

El País

A detailed report on the strike, which has already resulted in deaths,  has just appeared:

Paro total y varios muertos: la huelga general en Nicaragua pone aún más contra las cuerdas a Daniel Ortega

Nicaragua paralysed as Ortega continues the repression.

Despite the report in the Sun today on British apologists for the repression (“Top Corbyn allies ‘help spread propaganda for murderous dictator who’s killed dozens of protesters in Nicaragua”)  there have been strong left criticisms of the Ortega regime from the left.

A massive violation of human rights” Mike Phipps

From the latest Labour Briefing.

In late April, civil unrest swept across Nicaragua. Over 40 people were killed, ostensibly over social security reforms proposed by Daniel Ortega‘s government. Many more were injured at the hands of the police who used live rounds, or in beatings by pro-government groups, western media reported.

One local blogger reported: “Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government proposed a rise in employer contributions, a smaller one in employee contributions and a 5% cut in pensions (offset by stronger health care entitlements). The employers’ federation, which is opposed to paying more and would prefer more drastic cuts, called for protests. University students obliged. The government dispatched anti-riot police who – having never done so before – fired live rounds.”

Pitched battles followed in several cities and the army was deployed amid widespread looting. Independent media were censored and Nicaraguan state news outlets blamed the protesters. The unpopular social security overhaul was suspended and the violence subsided.

For some. President Ortega continues to enjoy huge legitimacy as a  key figure in the 1979 popular revolution that overthrew the decades-long Somoza dictatorship. Through the 1980s, Nicaragua pursued policies popular with most ordinary Nicaraguans – in the teeth of armed subversion by the USA. The Sandinistas lost power in 1990, but bounced back in 2007, with Nicaragua receiving economic help from Venezuela, but facing renewed pressure from the US.

Last year, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, which would cut the loans Nicaragua receives from international financial institutions. This legislation is currently stalled in the Senate. Nicaragua’s uncharacteristic violence comes at a convenient time for US policymakers seeking to tighten the screws on the country.

Additionally, the US National Endowment for Democracy has been channelling money – over a million dollars last year – to student and civil society groups opposed to the Nicaraguan government. For some, the recent violence resembles unrest in Venezuela, both in its choice of weapons – homemade mortars and rockets – and in the prominent role played by students, who are not directly affected by the social security reform.

But for others, the involvement of many young people, often from Sandinista families, underlines their anger at the corruption of revolutionary values by the Ortegas. Ortega’s latest term in office has seen power centralised, with presidential term limits scrapped and the unpopular first lady, Rosario Murillo, made vice president – potentially the successor.

The Ortegas dominate Nicaragua’s Congress and judiciary. Their children run the family’s considerable business empire and the government’s radicalism has been superseded by an alliance with conservative sections of the catholic church, exemplified by harsh anti-abortion legislation. The government’s latest target appears to be social media and the internet.

The Economist accuses Ortega of “establishing a family dynasty reminiscent of the dictatorship he overthrew in 1979,” comparing him to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, “re-elected last year in a vote widely believed to have been fraudulent.” This is cynical obfuscation: Honduras, remember, saw its elected government overthrown in a US-backed coup in 2009. It quickly became one of the most dangerous countries in the world for political activists and its current president is a US placeman.

But this longstanding hostility in the mainstream media  to Nicaragua’s government makes the left wary of criticising it. Activists in Nicaragua allege violence on both sides, saying some protesters had highly hostile political agendas. One reported significant vandalism, for example of mobile health clinics. A Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign statement confirms this analysis with considerable detail.

But other reliable local sources alarmingly report that the Ortegas now hire thugs from the poorest neighbourhoods to put down protests violently. Videos show goon squads in pickup trucks, driving up and beating protesters with pipes and clubs despite the presence of the police. A leading member of the country’s Human Rights Commission was herself injured in such an attack while observing a peaceful protest.

The Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights, whose director is Vilma Núñez, a woman of great stature who was imprisoned and tortured under Somoza and served on Nicaragua’s Supreme Court following the 1979 Revolution, has produced a scathing report. It lays the blame for the “massive violation of human rights” that it documents squarely on the Ortegas. As for the Truth Commission set up to investigate the bloodshed, the Report concludes, “ Nicaraguans can in no way accept the manoeuvre of setting up a Truth Commission by the President of the National Assembly, who has not the moral authority or credibility to initiate something of this nature.”

This view is widely shared: critics see a whitewash in preparation. Ortega’s time in office may well have been shortened by recent events, but what follows is uncertain – especially as violence flared up again in mid-May.

There is from Paul Canning.

For Sandinistas, who aren’t Danielistas, it’s Time to Serve your Country.

The hour for our nation has come, for a new republic, with new thinking that has been incubating in the new generation of Nicaraguans.

The civic struggle, headed by the university students, stands out for their refusal to use the methods of war to confront the State repression against Nicaraguan society. The densely populated citizen marches and the roadblocks are their principal instruments of struggle. The civic struggle has reached the heart of the people and shown itself to be an effective tool for awakening political conscience. The organized repression of the National Police, the paramilitaries and the so-called “Sandinista mobs,” all respond to political orders from a unified command.

Everything seems to indicate that the capability of the Police to order and repress was outflanked in the first days of the civic insurrection. Ortega’s paramilitary bodies, the mobs who identify themselves as Sandinista Youth, and the incorporation of the so-called nostalgic Sandinista combatants and retired military officers into reserve squadrons, became, and continue to be, the reconstructed forces for repression.  It’s this new conglomerate that the masses of people have been facing, and they’ll continue doing so peacefully and civically with a great cost in lives. Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan Army maintains its political commitment to remain in their barracks.

The massacre of young people from all social classes and religious creeds, students and workers from all trades, is a wound that won’t close nor should it ever close in our people’s memory.

More than anyone else, it was Sandino who taught us the importance of national sovereignty in constructing the foundation for a republic. Sandino pointed us to the specific import of this fundamental value.

The confiscations permitted under Law #840 (the canal law), have offered up our national sovereignty to a Chinese magnate in exchange for the promise to construct an inter-oceanic canal across our national territory. Where does that situate Ortega’s government and those who organized this so-called public-private model? We should recall that the leadership of Danielismo, plus the Private Enterprise Council (COSEP) and its spokespeople greeted the handing over of our National Sovereignty as an inevitable trade-off for Nicaragua’s economic and social progress.

How far did that model get us? What should we recognize as good and what should we censure and correct in it? The rural residents who have fought against Law #840 in favor of sovereignty and against the canal are now part of the current struggle against the tyrant and his dictatorship. How do the spokespeople of large capital see them and weigh their actions?

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, his wife, fed on that stew of our political history. They abandoned the ideas inherited from the peoples’ revolutionary struggles against colonialism, imperialism, capitalism and those of our own history as exemplified by Sandino. They abandoned the patriotic education of their early political days for the unholy practice of forging pacts with the lowest elements if such alliances brought them closer to the political power they desired.

As architects of evil, they elaborated a mixture of strange and hybrid ideas that allowed them to pact with large capital, preach a socialism with no genuine substance and a Christianity with esoteric practices of dolls and pins. Daniel and Rosario filled the vacuum left by the ideological emptying of Sandino’s thought, and skillfully embraced cynicism, the art of deceit, “banditry” as cunning and practice.  Internationalists abandoned him for his empty praises, false discourses and undisclosed agreements.

The activists who hold Sandino in their hearts but are naïve enough to maintain that in Nicaragua Danielism is developing a new stage of the FSLN’s revolutionary project are either fools or acting the fool for convenience.  On the other hand, those citizens who are FSLN militants but who consider themselves Sandinistas but not Danielistas, are called upon to reflect profoundly about their political militancy in this dark hour. Because the hour has come to defend our nation, and we should only see light emerging from it. To act the fool or ignore the murderous repression that Ortega and Murillo are leading is to become an accomplice of the entire tragedy we’re living through.

Justice and democratic institutions are the themes of the dialogue that simultaneously opened and closed the people’s expectations. From the guts of the youth who head the civic rebellion, the slogan was born: “Ortega Out!” The couple have equaled Somoza in many things and they’ve outdone him in others, because as they say out there, history repeats itself either as a comedy or a tragedy. Nicaraguans today are going back through the tragedy of yesterday. The popular struggle comes at an opportune moment, and opens a historic window on a new Nicaragua, with clear rules for democratic coexistence, the legal Rule of Law, with transparency and accountability before the eyes of Nicaraguans of all territorial and social sectors.

The condition that the young students and representatives of the farmers’ movement have imposed for continuing the Dialogue is correct and healthy for assuring a response and stopping the tyrant from spilling so much young blood. With the pair of dictators out of the national territory, other architects the public knows and believes in will be able to create the new figure of the Republic that we’ve dreamed about.

Students and farmers are the crucible of our struggle: the different strata of our society are headed towards developing a potent force capable of finishing off the resistance of the tyrant and his woman.

There are many indications that Ortega is militarily shoring up his residence in El Carmen. He’s equipping himself to resist and improve his negotiating position – not before the kids and the anti-canal farmers, but with large capitalists. “If they want to screw just me, well then we’ll all get screwed.” He doesn’t care about the political verdict on his proven murders, just as he cares little about the conclusive preliminary report of the IACHR.  Or about the upcoming documenting of the experts from the IACHR, because in his desperate clutching to sick, brute force, he prefers to think that like Hitler, he’ll die in his bunker before he’ll be made accountable for his crimes.

The figureheads of large capital, in particular Pellas, have proposed Ortega’s exit by the institutional route, that is, by moving up the date for elections. Some of his spokespeople have called that initiative “the soft landing.” This isn’t a possible solution. Force is what can and will move Ortega. The Ortega Murillo family and those close to them also understand the interests of large capital. There will come a moment in the people’s fight in which his family members and close circle reflect on the exit from power. It will involve an arrangement, and in such an arrangement the young people and the rural residents can’t be erased.  Large capital has a part in this scenario. Pontius Pilate has nowhere to wash his hands in this game; and Judas shouldn’t be at the table either.

If we need to count on strength and the Constitution, the elections should take place in October at the latest, with the necessary structures in place, even if they’re transitory ones to be perfected later. The Episcopal Conference should continue facilitating the solution, but good faith isn’t enough in this commotion.  The Catholic temples like the University halls should be ready for the final battle. The National Army must be pressured; there shouldn’t be any room for conjecturing whether the snipers, an active contingent in the savage repression of the protesting masses of citizens, are coming from their ranks. The presence of Dragonov weapons has been uncovered, and this type of rifle is principally the property of the National Army. The communiques from the National Army urge the citizenry to believe hook line and sinker in their declarations, but the proof in these situations can be deceiving.

Ortega Out! Murillo Out! Long live the April Mothers! Eternal memory for the immolated youth!

Written by Andrew Coates

June 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm

Fully Automated Luxury Communism: Confusionism for Happy Bunnies.

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Image result for playpower richard neville

Oddly Absent from Aaron Bastani’s pick of five books to understand Marxism (Guardian. May 2018)

I had hoped that by ignoring Bastani he would go away.

Apparently not.

Respected commentators, or sages as we call them, such as Hegemony describe him in terms of a “huckster and half baked ideas” and the below as “essentially what you get if you filter the Utopianism of the hard left through Iain M Banks’ Culture science fiction novels, and then have the result narrated to you by a gym-bunny.”

Then,

Very redolent of the late 60s and early 70s, an era of hucksters and grifters pushing half-baked ideas on the populace, mystics and futurologists competing in the marketplace of ideas and actually being taken seriously.

So here is some background.

Located on the futurist left end of the political spectrum, fully automated luxury communism (FALC) aims to embrace automation to its fullest extent. The term may seem oxymoronic, but that’s part of the point: anything labeled luxury communism is going to be hard to ignore.

“There is a tendency in capitalism to automate labour, to turn things previously done by humans into automated functions,” says Aaron Bastani, co-founder of Novara Media. “In recognition of that, then the only utopian demand can be for the full automation of everything and common ownership of that which is automated.”

Bastani and fellow luxury communists believe that this era of rapid change is an opportunity to realise a post-work society, where machines do the heavy lifting not for profit but for the people.

“The demand would be a 10- or 12-hour working week, a guaranteed social wage, universally guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and so on,” he says. “There may be some work that will still need to be done by humans, like quality control, but it would be minimal.” Humanity would get its cybernetic meadow, tended to by machines of loving grace.

Guardian.

Many people will have thought he was a bleeding idiot on this basis alone.

And,

In the run-up to the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Bastani initially campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union. Bastani went on to change his position on pragmatic grounds two weeks before the referendum.

 

But Bastani keeps popping up , including on the paradigm of luxury communism, the Venezuelan media TeleSUR,

 

 

Bastrani has his eye on the future,

Interplanetary Gold Rush  

As outlandish as it sounds, space exploration, like AI and renewables, is an important terrain on which a rising left must fight. The technology is changing, as are the legal frameworks; we need a politics which understands the possibilities of the future and puts them at the service of social justice and abundance – the province of us all – rather than private profit and scarcity.

Not everybody likes the idea,

Fully automated luxury communism: a utopian critique  mcm_cmc

Fully automated luxury communism thus rests on a highly optimistic vision of the potential of technology to meet our desires with a minimum of human labour. But is this a practical vision? One point that challenges the luxury communist notion is the way in which conceptions of goods as luxurious are often tied up with exclusivity. For example, a Cartier watch isn’t valued for its superior timekeeping abilities as compared to other watches or for its staggering beauty (they are often quite ugly) so much as that they are known for being expensive and thus owning one confers the status of being able to buy something other people cannot afford. ‘Cartier for everyone’ would thus make it meaningless as a status symbol and destroy the very reason it was viewed as a luxury in the first place.

Beyond this, the well established problems of limited natural resources and the damage done to the environment by production raises questions about the possibilities for the growth in production that luxury communism must be predicated upon. Our reliance on maintaining the earth’s environment for our very survival means that sustainability is a key concern to any future vision whilst the new technologies of late capitalism, including technologies such as the internet that rely on vast banks of mainframes consuming large quantities of electricity, have a major impact on the environment, the effects of which we are already seeing. There may well be technological developments that can attenuate or even go some way to reversing these effects, however it would be foolhardy to assume that technology will pull through and avert disaster in the end.

In addition, the limited quantities of materials available for production must inevitably act as a limitation on productive expansion. Thus environmental concerns must limit this promise of ‘luxury for all.’ Older limitations of scarcity may have been overcome, but the problem of environmental scarcity is more pressing than ever before.

Finally, by focusing on work as the production of goods, fully automated luxury communism risks overlooking other forms of labour such as those involved in social reproduction and care. Care work, such as the raising of children, looking after the sick, disabled and the elderly and the everyday tasks required for staying alive remains a large (and proportionately growing) burden of labour time, one for there seems no easy technological fix. Sure, care robots and other forms of automation have been suggested and implemented in part, but these are ill suited to accommodate the complex needs, requirement for human interaction and demands for dignity and agency which must surely be a key part of the provision of care in any future communist society.

As Sylvia Federici argues ‘while production has been restructured through a technological leap in key areas of the world economy, no technological leap has occurred in the sphere of domestic work significantly reducing the labour socially necessary for the reproduction of the workforce.’5

****

If production isn’t infinitely expandable and the scope for the technological replacement of labour power is limited then we will need to rethink what we mean by ‘luxury’, and indeed what we mean by ‘communism’. Here it is necessary to think more generally of a transformation of social relations and relations between humanity and nature, looking towards the creation of a ‘public affluence’ rather than the ‘private luxury’ of capitalist desires.

Luxury communism focuses on the fulfilment of privatised, materialistic desires as they exist now through technologically created plenty. This approach has the benefit of clearly resonating with popular demands without telling people what they ‘should’ want, however if this plenty is limited then we need to look more carefully at the transformation of social relations and how desires are constructed.

For example, the promise of a work free society resonates with people’s unhappiness in work; work is something we do to survive and given the choice we would prefer to not do it. However, if it isn’t possible to replace all these tasks with machines what should the alternative be? Aaron Bastani touches on this with the promise of a 10 hour week, and certainly this would be preferable to working 40+ hours. However, this would still mean 10 hours a week in the same miserable, unsatisfying labour.

Readers of this Blog will hardly need reminding of James Bloodworth’s book Hired which describes the use of new technology to make people’s lives a misery of surveillance and hard labour. Not to mention the fate of those ‘freed’ from work relying on benefits. Or the fact that the Italian Movimento 5 Stelle , now in power, has, faced with the obvious difficulties of implementing the idea in a large country, quietly shelved the idea of a Universal Basic Income.

We can “demand” full automation and full common ownership as much as we like, but without agencies organising people with an interest in socialisation, and without real plans to divest the present owners of their power, this has much likelihood of any effect as Richard Neville’s Oz era advocacy of the ‘alternative society’ replacing the old world with playful “heads”.

For a more in-depth analysis of some these ideas on the end of work in the form advocated by André Gorz, see, André Gorz. Une Vie. Willy Gianinazzi. Review.

 

Communist Party of Britain-Marxist Leninist (CPGB -ML) and Stop the War Coalition on the Trump/Kim Jong Un Meeting.

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Image result for CPGB-ML Harpal Brar discusses DPRK on BBC’s primetime The One Show
 

On BBC’s One Show. Really…

On Monday 11 June, CPGB-ML chairman Harpal Brar joined guests on the BBC’s primetime One Show to discuss the historic meeting between US President Trump and Marshall Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers Party of Korea, in Singapore this week.On this video, you can see both the package that was broadcast by BBC One and the rest of the comments made by Comrade Brar during the course of the hour-long recording session.As the only person in the room supporting the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),

Comrade Brar put a strong and persuasive case in favour of the Korean people, their government and their hopes for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. Contrary to years of hysterical hyperbole demonising the north, its socialist system and its leaders, journalists in the capitalist press are now having to concede that the DPRK’s decision to arm itself with a nuclear deterrent was a wise one, and that the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Un and the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) has been anything but ‘crazy’.For our part, we have always fully upheld the Korean people’s right to work for peace and reunification without outside interference. It is US imperialism that stands in the way of this strong desire of the masses of both the north and the south of Korea, not the DPRK government, which has long pursued a policy of striving towards reunification.

That is why one of the most popular slogans of the WPK and the DPRK masses for decades has been and remains:
Korea is One!

This is closest we’ll get in Britain to the DPRK’s response.

It is laughable but Harpel Brar is seen strutting around – unchallenged – on most London left demonstrations.

Some on the left are more concerned with what they claim are “regime change” plans for North Korea than about the reality of this tyranny.

Just before the summit (11th of June) the Morning Star was issuing warnings on this theme:

Nagging doubt hang over Trump’s talks with North Korean leader

But, until reality dictates otherwise, a nagging doubt remains that Washington — especially the plethora of neoconservative cold warriors surrounding the president — has something more sinister in mind.

The likes of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo find it difficult to talk in anything but ultimatums, demanding “the Libya model” as the basis for Pyongyang’s agreement to renounce its nuclear weapons programme.

After the summit this was their response:

Trump and Kim agree to work towards the denuclearisation of Korea

While the global response to the meeting has been largely positive, Iran warned North Korea against trusting the US after Mr Trump recently pulled out of the 2015 international nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran last month.

John Rees of the Stop the War Coalition takes the regime change angle equally seriously while dismissing depth of the concluding agreement,

Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.

What does the Trump-Kim summit mean? Not much, says John Rees.

We may all welcome the retreat from earlier war-mongering rhetoric but this deal will not preclude it’s sudden return because there’s nothing of substance in it.

Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.

…..

What Trump has actually done is to tear up a functioning nuclear deal with Iran and replace it with a meaningless multilateralist statement of intent with North Korea.

We may all welcome the retreat from earlier war-mongering rhetoric but this deal will not preclude it’s sudden return because there’s nothing of substance in it.

Kim Jong Un must be laughing all the way to the DMZ. In a single bound he’s escaped from the dunce’s corner of international relations and now bestrides the world as, well, if not quite a colossus, then at least the admired ally of the most powerful head of state in the world.

China too will be relieved that any likely further pressure to contain their ally has just sharply decreased.

The real lessons of the circus in Singapore are two-fold.

One, this is another episode in the decline of US power. The initiative was taken out of US hands when North and South Korea began another round of détente at the Olympic games and it has never regained it. Trump has merely managed to grandstand on a stage that he neither created nor on which does he control the action.

Two, the age of populist leaders is an age in which foreign policy goals are determined as much by domestic campaigning priorities as by traditional international relations strategy. US Presidents are supposed to at least make a show of pursuing goals agreed on by the entire foreign policy elite, otherwise known as the ‘national interest’. Trump isn’t interested in that, although he sometimes has that approach forced on him by the wider US power structure.

…..

If there is one thing more dangerous than a US President following the dictates of the foreign policy elite, as Bush did with the Project for the New American Century, it’s a President following his own mercurial interpretation of what viewers of Fox news think is a good idea. But that is where US economic decline wedded to overwhelming military power, plus the aftermath of defeat in Iraq, has brought us.

In other words Trump is still a danger.

There remain three principal points to make:

  • North Korea, the DPRK, is a totalitarian tyranny. Yet, “Trump seemed to play down the severity of human rights violations in North Korea. “It’s rough,” Trump allowed after being asked about North Korea’s human rights record. He then said: “It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way. Not just there.” (Kim Tong-Hyung). We did not expect the CPGB (M-L) to mention this either, but Rees, acting as a chess strategist on the world stage, fails to tackle the issues which the New York Times has just summed up as “Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions”. Perhaps these are more important than the “decline of US power.
  • On the DPRK some parts of the left have a serious analysis. Shiraz reposts a piece from the US Socialist Worker by David Whitehouse. It says, “During a period of famine in the 1990s, Kim’s father looked the other way while Northern citizens developed private markets for farm produce and other goods. If Kim Jong-un really shifts resources away from military investment, North Koreans can look forward to making even more money from their private efforts.Meanwhile, soon after coming to power in 2012, Kim embarked on structural economic reforms that provide freedom to managers at the enterprise level — freedom to hire and fire at will, set wages at variance with national guidelines, and cultivate their own suppliers and buyers without going through the national planning process.

    These reforms, which mirror the early measures of Chinese economic liberalization in the 1980s, have promoted the development of a new middle class, at least somewhat independent of the ruling party hierarchy. This group definitely has an interest in Kim following through with diplomatic engagement that can open the economy even further.

    North Korea’s working class is overwhelmingly poor. Anecdotal reports, including from asylum-seekers who make it into South Korea, suggest that workers harbor intense hatred toward the rich upper layers of the party hierarchy and toward residents of the city of Pyongyang, where wealth is concentrated.

    To some extent, Kim seems to be able to use the popular cult of the Kim family to deflect popular anger away from himself — and toward those just a few layers below him. Right now, says North Korea specialist Andrei Lankov, “Kim Jong-un is popular. Everyone supports him.”

    Kim wants to keep it that way. The burden of domestic expectations has helped drive him toward the Singapore summit, where he hopes that de-escalation of hostility with the U.S. will bring relief from sanctions — and open up export possibilities, access to international finance, and investment from countries such as China and South Korea.

  • If Rees suggests that ‘populism’ is now the engine of US foreign policy, does this mean that Trump tore  up the Nuclear deal with Iran to please Fox News watchers? What exactly does the term American imperialism mean if instead of “military industrial” interests we have crowd pleasing as the motor of decision-making? Does it mean that ‘anti-imperialism’ now signifies fighting the mob and its leader’s “sound and fury”?

It may well be that there will be less than a massive response in London to a Stop Trump protest against the US President who’s a”walking shadow, a poor player,that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.”

Cult Figure Robbie Travers Surfaces in New Gallery Exhibition.

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Royal Academy Summer “Fringe” Exhibition: Book now 

 

 

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From Art Critics, Billy, Heg and AT. 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2018 at 11:54 am

Posted in Culture, Free Speech

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City of Ghosts: from Syria to Europe and the fight against the far-right.

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Image result for City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts was shown on BBC 4 last night.

This moving documentary about a group of Syrian activists, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.  (RBSS)

The hopes of an Arab Spring resounded in their home, the city of Raqqa in the north of Syria. Protests against the Assad regime were countered by violent repression. The arrival of ISIL, in April 2014, the country’s branch of  Islamic State, was followed by the rule of their version of Islamic ‘law’. There were public beheadings, firing squad executions, mock crucifixions and  Volkish placard shaming.

At great risk to themselves RBSS opposed the take-over in the only way they could. They reported and filmed undercover the regime of what became the de facto capital of Daesh.

The documentary showed images of clandestine protests against Daesh and the slaughters the jihadists committed. Perhaps the most disturbing moments were when the new rulers tried to bring the young into their fold. “Children are Isis’s firewood” they said, and we saw a band of joyful babes and youngsters following a bearded fighter chanting their hate. A near-infant was filmed being trained to stab and behead on a large teddy bear.

This backdrop confirmed the worst scenes in Peter Kosminsky’s The State.

Many RBSS activists left the city, though they kept a core group of courageous witness inside Raqqa.

They used social media and the Net to broadcast their message. ISIL devoted a great deal of time to trying to search their supporters out.

In May 2014, Al-Moutaz Bellah Ibrahim was kidnapped by ISIL and murdered. In July 2015, ISIL released a video showing two men being strung up on trees and shot. Though ISIL claimed the two murdered men had worked with RBSS, one of the founders of RBSS denied they were members. Another friend of the group was similarly executed. Hamoud al-Mousa, the father of one of the group’s founders, was killed in ISIL custody. On October 30, 2015, RBSS activist Ibrahim Abdul Qadir (age 20) and his friend Fares Hamadi were found stabbed and beheaded in Urfa Turkey. It was the first acknowledged assassination outside of ISIL controlled territory. (Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently)

The sight of Hamoud al-Mousa’s execution, followed by that of the same RBSS activist’s brother’s murder, being watched in a safehouse in Germany was harrowing.

City of Ghosts deserved the highest awards.

But above all the activists of RBSS, merit the greatest respect we can possible give to other human beings.

Avoiding fruitless debate about the essential nature of ‘Islam’ one of them says,

“It is not my Islam”.

Europe.

Towards the end of the documentary there were scenes in which the Syrians were  confronted by  the German far-right Pegida calling for the removal of refugees.

There was also  commentary on the actions of Daesh in Europe, including the Bataclan massacre.

This opens up the issue of how we should both support the fight of groups of democrats like RBSS and combat the racist far-right.

With the Tommy Robinson campaign in Britain this has become an issue of burning importance.

People have noted that the groups Stand up to Racism and Unite against Fascism are dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (“Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership.”  Socialist Resistance)

In 2014, as Raqqa fell to the genociders Socialist Worker published this article by Hassan Mahamdallie, co-director of the Muslim Institute.

There is resistance to this frenzy of Islamophobia

The beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, was horrific. But is the Nigerian military slitting the throats of 16 young men and boys any less horrific?

Or last week’s Israeli air strike that blew to smithereens the wife and seven month old son of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif? Surely that was horrific and disturbing too?

..

In the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army.

It must have been the fault of their Welsh Methodist upbringing.

But Howells’ drivel was modest fare compared to the truly millennial frenzy that was gathering pace.

In authentic End of Days tones, US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel said Isis represents “an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group. This is beyond anything we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.”

I much preferred the response of the spokesperson from south east London’s Lewisham Mosque.

The press asked him to condemn a tweet from a woman “Jihadi” in Syria who might have once attended the mosque.

He retorted, “The young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard”.

He rightly attacked the press’s demand, as “loaded with an Islamophobic assumption that Muslims by default condone such brutality”.

It was good to see someone refusing to bow to the frenzy, a spark of resistance in a very dark week.

There was much in a similar vein, from the SWP and groups such as Counterfire, understanding the ‘radicalisation’ of those who volunteered to be part of Einsatzgruppen and concentrating their fire on the prospect of Western intervention in the civil war.

Unlike RBSS their criticisms of the Assad regime was fairly muted.

This ambiguity continued.

When Charlie Hebdo (12 deaths) and the Porte de Vincennes Hypercacher (5 deaths)  attacks took place  in 2015, the same forces took it upon themselves to understand why this “blowback” against France in general and the ‘Islamophobic” satirical weekly took place. Charlie “had it coming to them”. Counterfire railed against ” a crude and absolutist fetish of free speech”.

These people are unable to confront violent Islamism.

With such a tainted history these groups have no moral authority whatsoever.

There are many many people on the lest who do not back groups which fail to take a resolute stand against the jihadist Islamism, and against Assad.

The fight against Robinson’s supporters, many (from the Clarion to Socialist Resistance) suggest, should come from the mass organisations of the labour movement and the Labour Party.

We cannot unite around  “defeating fascism” as Lindsey German puts it, until we have a clear view that the violent jihadists and the mouvance around them, with roots in Europe as well as the Middle East and the Maghreb,  are also enemies of the far right.

And we need to back the Syrian democrats, whose heroism is so powerfully illustrated in City of Ghosts.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2018 at 10:37 am

Free Tommy Robinson Rally Ends in Violence.

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Fascist Gammon Rally For Robinson.

Far-right activists stage violent protest calling for Tommy Robinson to be freed

The Independent.

Five people have been arrested during a violent protest that saw crowds of Tommy Robinson supporters in a tense stand-off with riot police.

Hundreds of far-right demonstrators descended on the capital on Saturday afternoon, occupying the road around Trafalgar Square.

Supporters chanted “Free Tommy Robinson” and hurled missiles and smoke bombs at police. Right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders also delivered a speech.

The protest is the latest in what appears to be a bid to secure the former English Defence League (EDL) leader’s release from jail.

A spokeswoman for megasightseeing.com said: “Our London sightseeing bus was on its normal route when it got caught up in the demonstrations.

“The bus was stormed by demonstrators and the driver and a small number of customers got off.

“The demonstrators have caused a significant amount of damage to the bus which meant it had to be towed away.

“We have reported this to the police and will help them with any investigations.”

The report adds,

Dutch far-right MP Geert Wilders, who campaigned last year to become Dutch Prime Minister, was among those attending, as was UKIP leader Gerard Batten.

The demonstration has been picked up internationally:

Libération: Heurts au cours d’une manifestation de l’extrême droite à Londres

Le Parisien Londres : une manifestation de l’extrême droite dégénère

Here is some footage (Russia Today carried a live stream).

 

Anti-fascists are concerned at the size of the rally.

But there were anti-fascists there to protest against the fascist mob.

Hope not Hate states,

BIG NUMBERS AND VIOLENCE AT FREE TOMMY ROBINSON DEMONSTRATION

The demonstration, which started at Trafalgar Square before marching down Whitehall, saw speeches from Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders, The For Britain Movement’s Anne Marie Waters, former Breitbart London editor Raheem Kassam, co-founder of the EDL Kevin Carroll and several others.

The event was held to demand the release of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon after he was jailed last month for jeopardizing a just outcome in an ongoing court case.

The crowd, possibly as many as 10,000, was extremely hostile towards the police and violence erupted with a group of roughly 500 demonstrators going on a rampage near Trafalgar Square. Bottles, sticks and cones were hurled at police officers and vehicles were attacked. At one point the police were outnumbered and forced to flee the scene in a hail of flying projectiles, pursued by the angry mob.

Another group of angry demonstrators attempted to force their way into Downing Street but were held at bay by the police.

The rally is the latest in a series of street demonstrations with Lennon as figurehead, marking an ongoing cooperation across the British far right around an anti-Muslim agenda.

Upon Lennon’s incarceration there were ugly protests outside Downing Street, but today was the largest event organised in his support.

Like previous events such as the Day For Freedom, todays event saw groups from across the far right come together around a single issue. In attendance today were activists from the EDL, UKIP, For Britain, the FLA, and a contingent of roughly 10 people from Generation Identity, among others.

Also on the demonstration were a number of notable far-right activists including the Holocaust denier Nicholas Kollerstrom and Luke Nash-Jones from Make Britain Great Again.

ANTI-MUSLIM AGENDA

Wilders, founder and leader of the People’s Party for Freedom (PVV), one of the largest parties in the Netherlands and one of the most prominent anti-Muslim activists in the world, whipped up the crowd and demanded the release of Lennon.

Waters, who is currently campaigning ahead of the 14 May Lewisham East parliamentary by-election, told the crowd “the globalist elites want our borders open” and that the government are “accelerating the islamisation of our country for their political gain”.

Meanwhile Raheem Kassam referenced Enoch Powell and claimed he had received a supportive text from Steve Bannon.

Kevin Carroll said that they will return to London for another demonstration on the 14th of July.

In addition to the London demonstration was a Free Tommy Robinson event in Belfast and a small event in Budapest organised by Generation Identity.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 10, 2018 at 11:16 am

Political Satire and its Critics: From Spitting Image to Tracey Ullman.

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Image result for Tomorrow belong to me, SPitting image

Trigger Warning: Satire!

The reaction to Charlie Hebdo in the English-speaking world has always been marked by po-faced people telling the cartoonists what should and what should not be satire.

The usual hostility to French secular leftists by the likes of Giles Fraser, the ex-SWP supporting Priest, now a Patriot with a wanion, is one thing.

Now we see the same kind of reaction to Tracey Ullman.

As somebody who tabled a resolution at Warwick Students’ Union in the late 70s mocking Larry O’Nutter (something like, “we shall smash the trumpeting bourgeoisie; throwing the error-strewn imperialists apologists into smithereens i.e. into the gutter”) and got a counter-resolution in return taking the piss out of Andrew Coates (First line, “Marxism is all-powerful because it is true, it is not true because it is all-powerful – Louis Althusser), perhaps I have a decades old thick skin.

Ullman’s sketch on Corbyn last week raised the hackles of a swarm of his supporters.

It only offended me because her feeble attempt to give him a North London accent – speaking as Geezer born in his constituency.

 

Now there is this:

Being made of stern stuff I recall this, which I may guess few leftists would object to.

 

So there we have it.

Defeat of the po-faced.

 I fucking hate Tories!

 

 

Giles Fraser, Guardian Columnist and radical Priest attacks “Cosmopolitans” and calls for New Patriotic Party – “Home”.

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Giles Fraser: Fighting “Rootless Cosmopolitans”. 

Clergyman Giles Fraser is a bit of character.

During his time at St Paul’s – as Canon – he backed the Occupy! movement.

More recently he has embarked on a journey which began with his studies of Nietzsche, then passed through his staunch denunciation of the ‘atheist’ French revolution, and, above all, Charlie Hebdo, who misused freedom as “white atheists to sneer at non-white believers”.

Then he attacked the “The oppressive individualism of human rights.

As you do.

Pride is not normally considered a Christian virtue, but this has not stopped our Padre this week from terminating his voyage with his very own proud call for a new political party.

He begins with this lament for the past.

The Labour party began as a party for the working class, reflecting the patriotic communitarian commitments of working class people. Many who were not themselves working class were attracted to its values of fairness and social solidarity.

But towards the back end of the 20th century, the party was increasingly taken-over by those who espoused a cosmopolitan and liberal philosophy of individualism that was too relaxed about the effect of market forces and indifferent to the importance of communal life.

There was a dangerous hubris about the way liberals accepted no limit to individual self-assertion. Under the banner of progress and spreading liberal values, we invaded Iraq and brought the world to the very edge of another world war.

Enough is enough. It’s time for a new political party. My one would be called Home. It wants a United Kingdom that is generous at home and reluctant to intervene abroad.

Liberals, human rights – all vanity.

In touch with Twilight of the Gods Fraser has thus spake.

Let’s Concentrate on Home

Home is a party that accepts we are no longer a global power. The empire is long behind us, and, therefore, we do not need an expensive global military to go with it. We would immediately cancel Trident and substantially reduce our budget for the armed forces. We will be extremely cautious about foreign military interventions. Withdraw all forces from the Middle East. We need more police and fewer soldiers.

Exit EU, without a deal if necessary: no to the Single Market, no to the Custom’s Union. We must have a home of our own, and others should respect we have our own way of doing things. We need a British Bill of Responsibilities and Rights. The seat of government should move to Manchester during the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament, and an English Parliament should remain there when the United Kingdom government returns to Westminster.

Home is a patriotic party. Not narrowly nationalist, but nonetheless proud of our heritage. It believes in stable communities, full of people who are very definitely citizens of somewhere. Deracinated cosmopolitanism, and its accompanying philosophy of liberalism, has transformed us into a society of atomised individuals, cut off from each other and ill at ease together. Home is a proposal for the fightback.

Liberalism has broken us – we need a new party to call Home.  7th of June.

This looks, probably because as it is, like 1930s neo-socialism, a half-way house to the nationalist far right.

Fraser is only one anti-EU figures to go in this direction.

Sovereigntism, a “home of our own” is the maison commune of many an anti-globaliser.

Communities, the real destination of the once influential communitarian thought of Michael Sandel and others, end up being exclusionary Nation States for all this fretting Man of the Cloth’s warm words.

Fightback Forsooth!

Rootless Cosmopolitans. 

There are those, less enchanted, and full of resentiment who have picked up on some of his language.

More on HP.

 

Here is a recent example of how Fraser is Beyond Good and Evil.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 8, 2018 at 11:37 am

Solidarity with Lush Campaign Against Spy Cops!

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Tell Lush They Are Right and Have Support!

We are ex-wives of undercover police officers who had relationships with other women without our knowledge, while we were married with families, and write with regard to the Lush campaign and reaction to it (Report, 5 June). We trusted our husbands (and their managers) and now feel betrayed. Although we have been recognised as core participants in the undercover policing inquiry, our voices have yet to be heard in public or within the public inquiry.

When she was home secretary, Theresa May set up a public inquiry to investigate undercover policing and the related concerns of significant malpractice. It was due to report back within three years. Three years on, the inquiry has yet to hear any evidence, including our own. Although the events in question took place many years ago, they continue to have a profound effect, and we are still waiting for the officers concerned (as well as their chain of command) to give an account in public. These officers, together with the Metropolitan police, have spent a significant part of the last three years seeking both anonymity and continuing secrecy as to their conduct within the inquiry. While this process continues and the evidence stage is further delayed, our view is that the amount of public money spent to date for such little progress is of far greater concern than the Lush campaign.

In bringing this issue to the attention of the general public, Lush has achieved far more in a weekend than the inquiry has in three years. Its campaign has not only drawn attention to the plight of some of the victims, but has also brought into focus legitimate concerns about how the inquiry is proceeding, which we also share. We would like supporters of the police who are criticising Lush to be aware that we, as affected police ex-wives, endorse the points that Lush are now publicising.

Although we are not involved in the Lush campaign, we recognise that it draws attention to legitimate concerns about how the inquiry is proceeding. Lush’s campaign is not an attack on hard-working police officers and we ask critics of the campaign to hold an open mind, look into the facts of this issue (which relate to a specific unit of undercover officers only – see uk.lush.com/article/spycops-statement) and to note that the families of undercover officers are also victims of this scandal. Together with other core participants, we still await answers.
“S” and “HAB”
Core participants in the undercover policing inquiry

Guardian

This Blog covered the case of Bob Lambert from when it first broke.

Sack Bob Lambert! – Police spy, agent provocateur, exploiter of women.  2014.

Bob Lambert, Police Spy, Sex Infiltrator, State Adviser on Islamism: The Met Pays Out.

Bob Lambert, Police Spy, Resurfaces to Offer to Advise Government on Islamists.

Today his name figures in this excellent article in the ‘I’:

Lush ‘Spycops scandal’ has real PTSD truths for every day life too

Deborah Orr

The cosmetics group, Lush, has been condemned for using what has become known as the “Spycops scandal” in an advertising campaign. Critics say that it was a cynical and exploitative stunt, and all just to flog bath bombs. Victims are considerably more enthusiastic about the attention it has drawn to the horrific psychological crimes they were subjected to, or suspect that they may have been subjected to. No one knows how many people were targeted in a protracted undercover operation run by Scotland Yard, which involved police posing for years as the lovers of women involved in political, environmental and animal rights campaigns that the government didn’t like, even going as far as marriage and children in the service of their false identities. They were called the Special Demonstrations Squad (SDS).

One name now in the public domain is Jim Boyling, who married and had two children with one of the women he spied on. Another is Bob Lambert, who had a son with a woman in her early 20s and left without trace when the child was two years old. He had a “real family” with someone else, and continued to have relationships with other women while secretly investigating their lives in their various protest groups.

The promiscuity of Lambert’s investigations allowed various women to put two and two together. The mother of his son didn’t realise what had happened until Lambert was outed by others. The woman had suffered psychological distress significant enough to call for psychiatric treatment. She took legal action and was awarded a compensation payout by the Metropolitan Police. Still, they refused to confirm or deny that Lambert had been a detective working for the SDS until a high court ruling forced them to. There has not been a great deal of progress since all this happened four years ago. The Lush campaign sought to highlight the need for a full public inquiry into the operation, particularly so that victims can ascertain whether they were deceived in this deeply intimate way. Many people involved in these groups, who met and had relationships with men they later lost touch with, have no idea at all whether they were duped.

Go to Lush and Back their Campaign for our Comrades!

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2018 at 5:38 pm

French Assemblée nationale debates law on “Fake News”.

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Not Good Company for Macron.

Taking aim at so-called fake news, France’s Parliament on Thursday is set to begin debating a tough bill aimed at repressing phony news items, one pushed by President Emmanuel Macron amid criticism that it poses a potential threat to press freedom.

The measure would allow judges to block content deemed false during a three-month period preceding an election.

Mr. Macron, stung last year by a phony internet-spread story claiming he had an offshore account in the Bahamas, has made fighting “fake news” a priority. His opponent, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, brought up the Bahamas story during a critical presidential debate. Now, she is attacking the proposed law as a “liberty killer.”

Shortly after the new year, Mr. Macron told a press gathering that he would aim to “protect our democracy from these false stories” by cracking down on phony reports.

New York Times.Adam Nossiter

Libération reports today (Fake news : une loi qui fonce la tête dans le bidon Amaelle Guiton , Jérôme Lefilliâtre)

Originally supposed to fight “against false information” (contre les fausses informations) , the bill to be discussed on Thursday in the National Assembly was renamed to target “the manipulation of information.”(la manipulation de l’information).

This change of name was decided in view of the law’s stated objective of reacting to “destabilisation operations” carried out by foreign powers (Russia, especially), whereas in first formula appeared to many as a possible way of making news conform to what the authorities in place consider to be the truth.

There are many problems.

The first is that the main axis of the law , “creates two tools supposed to fight against the large-scale dissemination of false info that could compromise the “integrity of  of an election” (scrutin).

In other words the law is aimed at allegations of outside interference in electoral contests (one can also imagine Britain’s vote on Brexit would serve as an ideal-typical example).

Digital platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, “will have to indicate the identity of the customers who paid for the stories, as well as the sums involved,  to promote “information related to a debate of general interest”.

The other instrument put in place, more formally legal, attacks the propagation of false information.

During the same pre-election period, a judge in a legal hearing may within within forty-eight hours, ” lay down all proportionate measures necessary to stop the dissemination of this false information.

One can imagine that any democratic legal system is not equipped to deal with such cases so rapidly.

The second is that the law increases the powers to sanction of the Superior council of audio-visual (CSA) with regard to the audio-visual media “controlled by a foreign state or under the influence of this State” if they have been found being guilty of a false info. This implicitly targets, the Russian TV channel RT.

The text presented this Thursday is limited to specific periods and limited cases. For example, the judge will only be able to rule if false information is “disseminated in bad faith, artificially or automatically and massively”,that is, if it is the product of a deliberate strategy.

How this could operate in the face of a sophisticated operation like RT is hard to see. What is false and what is not? The Russian media outlet gives a platform to far-right and nationalist ‘republican’ politicians in France, far-right and anti-European ‘left’ politicians in the UK. It carries endless stories about ‘Chaos Europe’, and stokes fear of migration. It hosts pro-Russian, and pro-Assad voices, and some claiming to campaign to the Stop the War in Syria. t broadcasts opinion-news on the turmoil in the Middle East more widely, and extends its operations across the world. Most obviously it boosts Putin’s immediate interests in Russia itself. I

Which part of this web of misinformation, fear-stoking and promotion of divisions in European society could a law bring to a halt?

These and other obvious ambiguities in the law have already resulted in amendments.

More are expected today, while the whole principle of legislating against Fake News is questionable.

As Hervé Saulignac states in the New York Times piece,

“The potential risk in this law is if it winds up in the hands of a government with the wrong motives,” said Hervé Saulignac, a Socialist member of Parliament who is leading the opposition. “That’s where it could lead to catastrophe.”

Mr. Saulignac said, “There is no clear frontier in the law between journalists who follow the rules, and all the rest.” Mainstream journalists, he said, “could be attacked for fake news, simply because, for instance, you have attacked me.”

Beyond that, he said, “How can it be proved in just 48 hours that I don’t have an account in the Bahamas?”

“At a time when the press is threatened around the world, it is better to protect the press,” Mr. Saulignac said.

le Monde is of a similar opinion, stating that a Law cannot settle the issue of Fake News>

Loi sur les « Fake news » : la confiance dans l’information ne se décrète pas

More background: Fake news : une loi pour rien ?

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 7, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Labour splits on access to EU single market; Morning Star peddles fantasy “progressive, pro-worker” Brexit.

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Now is the Time To Fight Brexit.

Brexit: Labour too divided to back Norway-style deal, says Starmer

Guardian.

European Economic Area amendment does not have full support within the party

Keir Starmer has hit back at claims Labour will squander the chance to defeat the government over an amendment to keep the UK in a Norway-style deal after Brexit, saying his party was too divided to back it.

Labour’s frontbench has announced a new amendment to the EU withdrawal bill, which returns to the Commons next week, proposing “full access to the internal market of the European Union”.

However, the new amendment stops short of calling for the full single market membership sought by a vocal group of Labour MPs, after the Lords backed a Norway-style membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Meanwhile the Morning Star, the paper of choice of a Corbyn adviser on Brexit (“part-time consultant, as Labour hones its Brexit strategy) and the EU, Andrew Murray, publishes this.

Ian Scott, “a Unite member and president of Birmingham Trades Union Council”, blames the EU for “younger people working longer hours on lower wages under harsher job contracts”, ” the closure of car manufacturing at Longbridge, Birmingham, with big job losses.” and the Lisbon Treaty for calling for the “the end of welfare state”. Not to mention “poorer pensions”.

POST-BREXIT Britain is not necessarily the confusing issue it is deliberately made out to be.

Much of the mess we are in today is also due to many of our MPs allowing EU legislation “on the nod” to go through our Parliament and, more often than not, without the content of directives being explained to them and, unsurprisingly, without knowing what the implications could be.

The 2016 referendum saw the largest turnout in a Britain-wide vote since 1992, the people spoke clearly for many issues of concern.

Since the referendum, there’s been much doom and gloom and much panic about the loss of trade, jobs and rights.

Yet, on workers’ rights, one such claim for EU benefits, I was incensed on reading a young electrical worker’s contract of employment which said — with reference to the EU’s working time directive (WTD) — that the employee was required to work up to 48 hours per week. In other examples, the WTD has extended the working week for many (mainly younger) workers.

All this to the negation of what our fore parents fought for. In a nutshell, we will witness younger people working longer hours on lower wages under harsher job contracts, only to retire later than 65 years of age just to receive poorer pensions than what many pensioners enjoy today.

If the above statement is not an indictment of corporate greed exacerbated by EU policy, a question arises about the type of trade union necessary to fight for change. A corporate union interested in the role of corporate business would do nothing for workers, let alone youth who currently working on zero-hour contracts. Did the EU Commission not endorse this type of contract many years ago?

Similarly, more up-front trade unions need to wake up and learn a trick or two on contracts of employment, a powerful tool that needs to be fully researched and an area where trade unions can stand up to erroneous employers in Britain and, importantly, improve their standing with their employees to promote union membership — for job security and conditions.

Remember that 99 per cent of employees work in a workplace employing 250 people or fewer. Just 13 per cent of employees in the private sector are members of a trade union.

Here is an opportunity for trade unions to improve their standing and base of support within the “missing” 87 per cent by forwarding these policies.

A trade union call for better procurement policies to improve domestic trade will resonate with both employees and employers and the public accordingly.

Likewise, from the public perspective, how many who voted Remain would be happy to learn that the EU Commission signed off the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (Ceta) on September 10 2017? This would have huge implications for the future of our NHS as well as trade deals, especially on food and other services.

The role of the EU serves corporate interest by essentially legitimising the flow of capital that contributed to the demise of manufacturing in Britain, for example HP Sauce, Peugeot, jobs that moved abroad and at lower wages. The debacle of EU regulations has led to the closure of car manufacturing at Longbridge, Birmingham, with big job losses.

It is hardly surprising that the largest Leave vote was recorded in both the East and West Midlands, with these two areas witnessing the greatest industrial losses because of EU policy. Also, nationally, with the EU being the driving force behind privatisation, to the closure of car manufacturing at Longbridge, Birmingham, with big job losses. this has led to inferior job contracts and lower wages for fewer people remaining in employment.

We cannot return to the EU’s neoliberal failed economic model, which Italy and Greece are also thinking of leaving. Iceland voted to drop its application to join the EU some years ago and its economy is currently doing well. We need to move on.

Brexit is presenting an opportunity for trade unionists and public groups to demand what type of society and future for Britain we wish to see outside of the EU. I am concerned over any vaunted customs union, a sly manoeuvre that would keep us within EU regulations. Progressive inputs from an enlarged trade union and public base of support will also strengthen the case for a future Labour government to carry out our demands. There is no time to fail.

The Tory Cabinet is currently edging towards a settlement with the EU that will likely include an agreement to only enable services and finance to escape regulation. We cannot continue to sacrifice even more industrial jobs. We need state aid for industry, comprehensive public ownership, a state investment bank and the use of public procurement to buy local and to enforce decent wages, trade union rights and collective bargaining.

Trade unionists need to come together urgently to campaign for a progressive, pro-worker outcome and to put pressure on our political representatives to do so in Parliament.

Remember how the Lisbon EU 2020 programme in 2000 effectively called for the end of welfare state? It restricted “early exit from work” (increasing pension ages), removed “disincentives to work” (reducing benefits) and substituted “flexicurity” for existing employment contracts (casualising the workforce).

To discuss this and more, I make this open call for the biggest and broadest national post-Brexit conference to be held in Birmingham for this September and I seek your maximum support in organising for this.

Ian Scott is a Unite member and president of Birmingham Trades Union Council and writes in his personal capacity.

The tissue of fabrications which lead Scott to blame the EU for successive British governments’ neo-liberal policies, thus include blaming the working Time directive (limiting working time) for long hours and the notion that Thatcher privatised British Leyland at the behest of Brussels, are hardly worth considering.

The Morning Star will no doubt be blaming Brussels for the Iron Lady next!

And for Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron, May……

And their policies…..

How exactly is a post-Brexit UK going to escape the world of the ITO, the IMF, and international finance, and how could a Labour government  operate outside its major market and the rules that govern it?

Better procurement policies – for public services – well, why not!

No doubt Scott’s new best mate Donald Trump will make a ‘deal’ with the UK to ensure that food and services are protected from his own corporations…..

Er, No.

Then there is this. on the car plants Scott is concerned about…

European businesses advised to avoid using British parts ahead of Brexit

The car industry fears a “catastrophe” as the EU warns exporters they may lose free trade access if they use UK parts post-Brexit.

In its advice rolled out to all Dutch businesses, the Dutch government has told its exporters that “if a large part of your product consists of parts from the UK” domestic exporters may lose free trade access under existing deals.

The advice says: “Brexit will have consequences for exports outside the EU.

“After Brexit, parts made in the UK no longer count towards this minimum production in the European Union.”

As the Guardian article indicates: “EU negotiators have repeatedly made it clear there can be no cherry picking or division of the four freedoms of the single market, including free movement of people.”

They also include, “the free movement of goods, capital and services”.

A Norway style deal or not, these remain pillars of our economy.

But they cannot stand alone.

Another Europe is Possible campaigns for:

The 6 progressive elements of EU membership.  We identify those as:

  • Rights at work
  • Environmental protections
  • Freedom to move
  • Human rights
  • Education and innovation
  • Science and research funding

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2018 at 11:28 am

Internationalist solidarity with the Syrian people! (Fourth International).

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Syria’s Devastation Continues. 

For this blog the civil war in Syria overshadows every other single international tragedy.

Around  400,000  people have died (Casualties of the Syrian Civil War).

Figures in 2016 state that 13.5 million Syrians require humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria, and around 5 million are refugees outside of Syria

The news in the last weeks that millions of refugees will have their property in Syria seized is another blow.

Analysts say law leaves citizens who have opposed Assad regime facing permanent exile.

Repression continues by the Assad regime.

 

The refugees still streaming outwards, including to Europe, have not gone away.

That supporters of the Jihadist genociders have just been gaoled in the UK illustrates that the war is not in some remote ‘out there’.

The Fourth International has the decency to get its priorities right on this burning issue.

Internationalist solidarity with the Syrian people is more necessary than ever!

The Fourth International reaffirms its solidarity with all the bombed, massacred, tortured, starving and displaced civilians in Syria; its solidarity with the democratic and progressive forces that continue to defend the aspirations of a heroic insurrection. Seven years after the beginning of the Syrian popular uprising, it has been gradually transformed into a deadly war with an international character, the situation in the country is catastrophic at all levels.

Probably more than half a million are dead and missing, over 80% of whom were killed by the regime’s armed forces and allies. More than 6 million people have fled across borders and 7.6 million are internally displaced, out of a population of 22.5 million in 2011. Over 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. The World Bank estimated in June 2017 that about one third of all buildings and nearly half of all school and hospital buildings in Syria had been damaged or destroyed.

Against the Assad regime and its allies, first component of the counter-revolution!

The Fourth International condemns once again the barbarity of the despotic regime of the Assad family and its allies, symbolised at the beginning of 2018 by their offensive on Eastern Ghouta near Damascus. Military offensives and bombardments against civilians, including the use of chemical weapons, continue in various areas outside the control of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Since 2015, the latter, which was in desperate straits at the time, seems to have continued to strengthen itself and to increase the territory recovered by relying on its Russian and Iranian allies, as well as on Lebanese Hezbollah. Today, Damascus controls almost 60% of the territory and over 80% of the population.

It is in this context that state actors with very diverse and even contradictory political and economic agendas but which all bombed and participated to the destruction of Syria, are now raising the question of reconstruction, whose costs are currently estimated at more than 350 billion dollars. For Assad, his relatives and the businessmen linked to his regime, reconstruction is seen as a means of consolidating the powers already acquired and re-establishing their political, military, security and economic domination, also with the forced resettlement of populations. This process would also reinforce the neoliberal policies of a heavily indebted regime that does not have the capacity to finance reconstruction on its own.

At the same time, the countries allied to the Syrian regime, in particular Russia and Iran – after their direct participation in the worst crimes against the population – but also China, are in the front line to benefit economically and strategically from the reconstruction.

Jihadists and Islamic fundamentalist forces lose ground but retain the ability to harm

The jihadists of the Islamic State (EI or “Daesh”) have lost the vast majority of Syrian and Iraqi cities and urban centres they occupied. Only isolated border regions between Iraq and Syria currently remain under EI control, in addition to a few pockets on Syrian territory. Other Jihadist and Salafist organizations – sometimes opposing Assad regime while fighting democratic forces – have also lost ground.

However, the loss of vast territories by these organizations does not mean the end of their existence and their ability to strike by terrorist attacks.

The Fourth International reaffirms its opposition to these ultra-reactionary organizations, which constitute another side of the counter-revolution. We must never forget that their rise to power against the democratic forces of the insurgency is as much due to the manoeuvres of the Syrian regime seeking to justify its unlimited repression in the eyes of the world as to the intervention of financiers and advisers from other states in the region. We must stress the need to tackle the sources of their development: the authoritarian regimes in the region that repress all forms of democratic and social resistance, regional and international foreign interventions, neoliberal policies that impoverish the popular classes.

PYD attacked, Kurds threatened

In January 2018, the Turkish army, assisted by Islamic and reactionary militias of the Syrian armed opposition, launched a massive air and ground offensive against the north-western Syrian province of Afrin, with the majority Kurdish population controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG). This region is now occupied by forces of the Turkish army and Syrian militias in its pay, who are continuing human rights violations and forced displacement of the population.

The Turkish military operation against Afrin in Syria and the rejection by the Iraqi government of the result of the referendum on independence organised by the Barzani leadership. in Iraqi Kurdistan in October 2017, show once again that the international and regional powers are not prepared to see Kurdish national or autonomist aspirations come true. It is clear that Moscow and Washington’s support to YPG at different times, such as YPG’s support to the Russian military and air campaign alongside Assad’s regime launched in late September 2015 around Aleppo, did not prevent Ankara’s military aggression against Afrin. In his rush to dictatorship, Turkish President Erdogan wants to crush the Kurdish people like any democratic aspiration in his country.

The Fourth International reaffirms the right to self-determination of the Kurdish people, a right which can take various forms in the different countries of the region (such as independence, federalism or recognition of the Kurdish people as an entity with equal rights within a State). We welcome the heroic commitment of the forces that are leading this struggle against the obscurantist forces, even if we can express more or less strong criticism of their leadership, particularly in Iraq concerning the Barzani leadership, but also in Syria concerning the tactics of the PYD – while welcoming the emancipatory experiences it has attempted in Rojava. In any case, the widest solidarity with the Kurdish people is necessary against the fierce repression they suffer in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, which is also reflected in the practices of European countries.

Internationalist solidarity with the Syrian people in all its components!

All the counter-revolutionary forces, despite their rivalry, acted simultaneously to defeat the Syrian revolution.

- Whether they are those who support the Bashar al-Assad regime (Russia, Iran and their militias) and who are involved in serious war crimes;
- the American and European imperialists who made declarations of principle about democracy but refused to allow the democratic components of the uprising to defend themselves, and also bombed civilian populations in the name of the fight against terrorism;
- the Turkish regime which used the Syrian revolution to appear as the leader of the “peoples of Islam” and transformed itself into an occupier of part of northern Syria, and bombed cities to fight Kurdish organisations;
- or the Gulf States which financially support all ultra-reactionary movements and militias as long as they serve their objectives;
- and finally Israel which, by carrying out targeted bombardments in Syria in order to weaken Assad and prevent the military expansion of Iran and Hezbollah, in fact strengthens them politically.

In this context the Fourth International calls:

– for the cessation of all military offensives. This means that all means of pressure must be used to sanctuarise the last regions that have escaped the regime and where hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians have taken refuge.

– to continue to denounce all foreign military interventions, that oppose aspirations for democratic change in Syria, whether in support of the regime (Russia, Iran, Hezbollah) or by proclaiming themselves “friends of the Syrian people” (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, United States, etc.). The Syrian popular classes struggling for freedom and dignity have no friendly state in their struggle… even if they may seek to take advantage of inter-imperialist rivalries to advance their own interests while maintaining political independence and autonomy.

– to reaffirm the opposition to the Assad regime, to refuse its relegitimisation internationally, not to forget the war crimes, the tens of thousands of political prisoners still tortured in the regime’s jails , the disappeared, the refugees, the internally displaced, etc. A blank cheque given today to Assad and his crimes would be a further abandonment of the Syrian people and their heroic revolt, and would inevitably increase the sense of impunity of all authoritarian states, allowing them in turn to crush their populations if they were to revolt. Similarly, all actors who have committed human rights violations against civilians must be punished for their crimes.

Internationalist solidarity with the Syrian popular classes is more necessary than ever!

Then there is this:

Syria’s President Assad ‘to visit North Korea’

Written by Andrew Coates

June 5, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Hired. Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain. James Bloodworth. The Must-Read of the Year.

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Hired. Six Months Undercover in Low-wage Britain. James Bloodworth. Atlantic Books. 2018.

Over the weekend it was reported that last year there were just 79 strikes, the lowest number since 1893. Union membership continues to decline.

The GMB, meanwhile, stated that ambulances had been called to Amazon warehouses at least 600 times in the last 3 years. On half of these occasions patients had to be taken at hospital. The union put some of the blame on the severe working conditions that company enforces on its employees.

James Bloodworth begins Hired in an Amazon warehouse – the size of ten football pitches – in Rugeley, “a place with the atmosphere of what I imagined a prison would be like”. Feel-good slogans were plastered on the walls saying that everybody was having a wonderful time. The workers, mostly Eastern European, were brought there by agencies, who hammered home that they could be sacked the instant they made any trouble. The work as “pickers” – in hard shifts – meant, “dashing around”. There was no real contract and no there were no real rights. People were under a full-time “cloud of suspicion”. Wages – for the author £227 a week but regularly underpaid, or involving tax shambles – barely kept up with ordinary expenses. Not to mention the rent to rapacious landlords.

Bloodworth got to know some of the migrants, from Romania. Life in their country was “bullshit”. If they were slaves in the UK, they still had money. These “anonymous foreign drudges” were like H.G.Wells’ Morlocks, while the customers dwelt, like the Eloi, enjoying cheap products.

Hired  is about  a world in which very few people are real Eloi. In Blackpool working for a company supplying care workers as council services have crumbled over the years, Carewatch, Bloodworth comes across the homeless. He sees an old man “buried under a pile of corrugated cardboard and bin liners”. In Blackpool’s main library there are people “who had been sent like badly behaved children to ‘job club’. There were the down-and-outs there too, “holding filthy carrier bags”, some falling asleep to be thrown back onto the streets. At moments like this you realise that only a comparison with George Orwell’s best writing will do.

The home caring job with the elderly came with heart-rending incidents. A colleague who told of having to deal with a client “with basically her bowels hanging out”. Payments, as with Amazon, were again a problem. Some migrant workers employed found the English needed for the job near impossible.

South Wales.

Bloodworth explores the Welsh Valley based Call Centre Admiral in cafés and drinking in Ebbw Vale Wetherspoons he hears the rancour of people left behind by the closure of the mines. As in Rugeley there is fear of migrants, and the targeting of Europe for the “pain inflicted over recent decades.”

Hired comes across many Leave voters. But “taking back control”, was not just a product of resentment at migration, unemployment, precarious jobs, and minimum wages. It was, we could note, promoted by the Sovereigntists of the left, and those who considered it a “transitional demand” to install the chaos that would lead to a left Brexit (Brexit). This was not just against the interest of the South Wales communities, whose remaining social projects were funded by the EU. For many workers, and all the major unions, this disruption would snarl up the supply, production and distribution chains that keep what is left of the country’s industry going. The present state of Brexit proves the case for Remain. The right-wing nationalists, who were its real promoters, have drowned any Lexit  (Left Brexit) voice out.

The book concludes with first-hand experience with the ‘gig economy’ of Uber and others in London. Here the workers, in the shape of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) were fighting back, establishing a collective bargaining agreement with Deliveroo.

Trade Unions.

A major theme in Hired is the contrast between the strength of the trade unions before Thatcher and today’s deregulated (that is, regulated by the managers of companies) labour market. Perhaps the example of former mining communities is too strong tot transport to London. My friends in 1970s London worked for cleaning agencies where conditions were not too far off today’s poorly paid posts under heavy surveillance. And the gig economy is not that new. I myself spent a Christmas period as an (illegal) stallholder flogging puzzle rings in Oxford Street., paid cash in hand. Nor were unions that powerful. A shop-steward friend of my parents got sacked from a big engineering company in the Lee Valley for union militancy. The AEU did not get his position back.

The book is the first I have read about modern Britain that talks about the world I live in. It speaks about people I know working in warehouses, to those catching what they can in short term jobs, the experiences of care-workers, the treatment of the out-of-work, to the lives of migrants.  There are cheap stores, like B & M, both where people work for another group of grinders and where we often shop. Bloodworth maps up the incomes and costs of how people get by, the constant worries and the little hopes and pleasures that keep them going. If he is perceived as an outsider, he has clearly touched ground. To those who might question how Bloodworth knows the details of their difficulties one can only say: this is what people talk about.

In low-wage Britain problems do not comes from an “ill educated working class” – terms that, given the intelligence of my mates, would make them laugh. Increased social mobility, meritocracy, is not the answer. The heart of the inequalities generated by the economy has to be tackled. They are fostered by deliberate political choice. The first response lies in exactly the daily grind of trade union politics, for rights, for good conditions, and, above all, for solidarity between diverse groups in their common interest. A Labour government would have to begin by strengthening union power. 

I expected Hired to be good. 

It exceeds that.

It is the essential read of the year.

Every trade unionist and socialist should get hold of it.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 4, 2018 at 11:29 am

New Split in Labour Against the Witch-hunt as Grassroots Black Labour Leaves.

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New Split After “difficulties encountered on the LAW SC”

Official statements from: Grassroots Black Left leaves LAW

Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson of Grassroots Black Labour have decided to part company with Labour Against the Witchhunt to concentrate on GBL.

GBL’s statement announcing their withdrawal

Grassroots Black Left has decided to withdraw its representatives from the Labour Against the Witchhunt steering committee. GBL will continue to work with individuals and organisations in the fight against unjust Labour Party suspensions and expulsions, as long as they respect the important principles of black self-organisation and self-determination.

We will vigorously resist any attempts to make GBL subordinate to the will of individuals and groups who choose to misuse their power or positions. While recognising the good work LAW has done, particularly by its local activists who have helped GBL, Jewish Voice for Labour and the Labour Representation Committee make the #Justice4Marc national speaking tour a success, difficulties encountered on the LAW SC have made it impossible for us to stay on that body.

A broad-based, non-sectarian, mass campaign against the purge is desperately needed by all those comrades affected by it. GBL notes many of the victims have been black people, Muslims and Jews. They must therefore be at the heart of the fightback. GBL is totally opposed to anti-black racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. But we deplore the cynical weaponisation of false accusations of anti-Semitism, which have undermined the genuine fight against racism and support for the Palestinians. When the targets have been black, including GBL member Marc Wadsworth, this has damaged much-needed unity between black people and Jewish people.

We recognise the main objective of the right wing, who have been driving the purge, is to attack Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive leadership of the Labour Party. Appeasement and capitulation is not the best way to defeat them.

GBL will continue to work with JVL, LRC, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Red Labour, supportive LAW groups and others committed to stopping the purge, getting Marc reinstated by Labour and the Shami Chakrabarti report recommendations on the party’s disciplinary procedures implemented.

The LAW steering committee sent the following short reply

Dear GBL comrades,

We regret that Grassroots Black Left has decided, in its May 27 statement, to withdraw its representatives, Marc Wadsworth and Deborah Hobson, from the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt. We hope that GBL and LAW can cooperate fully in campaigning against all unjust suspensions and expulsions of Labour Party members, including for the reinstatement of Marc Wadsworth.”

It was signed by remaining SC members Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Steve Price, Jackie Walker and Tina Werkmann (SC members are elected as individuals, not as delegates, by voting at membership meetings).

….

Grassroots Black Labour: Labour Party black sections reborn as a new movement (2018)

Grassroots Black Left is a new grouping aimed at revitalising black and ethnic minority participation. DEBORAH HOBSON reports from its parliamentary launch

 

********

Comment: One can only guess at the ‘difficulties’ involved but the name of the first individual (aka Monster Raving)  suggests one possible reason, another  is perhaps the involvement of Labour Party Marxists, that is,  the Weekly Worker.

The latter had got extremely hot under the collar with the Tendance and our allies all last week.

Now we know one of the reasons why they were so vexed with left criticisms of their campaign – not the principle,  the campaign.

Still LAW representatives have been busy, including, we hear, giving an interview on Iranian regime Press TV. 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Trump, Virtual Reality (Baudrillard) and Brexit.

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A Prophet Whose Time Has Come.

Andy Warhol once said that in the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.

The Tendance has a view that now everybody’s theory is true for 15 months.

The cultural critic Jean Baudrillard had the view that under the present stage of capitalism “the simulacrum precedes the original and the distinction between reality and representation vanishes. “Simulacres et Simulation 1981).

Apart from Baullroard’s claim that “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place ” which asserted,

Saddam liquidates the communists, Moscow flirts even more with him; he gases the Kurds, it is not held against him; he eliminates the religious cadres, the whole of Islam makes peace with him … Even … the 100,000 dead will only have been the final decoy that Saddam will have sacrificed, the blood money paid in forfeit according to a calculated equivalence, in order to preserve his power. What is worse is that these dead still serve as an alibi for those who do not want to have been excited for nothing: at least these dead will prove this war was indeed a war and not a shameful and pointless hoax …

That is about all most of us can recall about his ideas (and I have a pile of his books from the 1980s).

This week has had ample proof of the Baudrillardian thesis  that simulacra have taken over from reality.

First we had large numbers of people, particularly in America, claim that far-right Tommy Robinson is some kind of martyr slung into the gaols of the British state by the regime.

It was not very amusing to see them put out pictures of the well-liked and respected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan with a hangman’s noose over ‘Tommy’.

Then we had the lighter spectacle of President Trump holding a top summit with Kim Kardashian, whose claim to fame is that she has a large bum,  on reforming the American penal system.

 

Now we have  ‘neoliberal’ Trump’s trade war with Europe and the rest of the world.

Europe, Canada and Mexico are planning retaliatory moves after President Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports to the US.

The European Union issued a 10-page list of tariffs on US goods ranging from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to food products.

It also plans to challenge the move at the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Trump claimed the tariffs would protect US steelmakers, which were vital to national security.

BBC

Or as this  cartoonist (Belgium) put it today (bringing the two events together)

Mr Brexit, as Trump styled himself, has let down his friends on the UK right who thought they were going to negotiate a special deal.

In return for letting Chlorinated chicken, Cornish pasties made in Houndstown Texas, and GM crops, into Britain they would be able freely  to export to America.

The left for a long time has claimed that US capitalism is the engine of neo-liberal globalisation, that it works to demolish barriers between national capitals, production and exchange.

Apparently not so!

This leaves the backers of a ‘People’s Brexit’ in a bit of a quandry.

Will they back a UK government that follows Trump’s lead and imposes tariffs to protect national industry?

FIghting the free flow of capital……

Which reminds me of the other event that did not take place in the last few days: Roseanne Barr went from claiming to be a socialist to Trump supporter. to backing Tommy Robinson…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ernest Mandel in 1968 – Berlin and Paris Friday 18 May 2018, by STUTJE Jan Willem

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Just Short of the “Conscious Leap”: Ernest Mandel in 1968 – Berlin and Paris

STUTJE Jan Willem

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières 

An excerpt from the book which details Mandel’s experiences during 1968 in Berlin and Paris.


On 9 October 1967, the world learned of the murder of Ernesto Che Guevara. Convinced that guerrilla warfare was the only way to victory, he had gone to join the Bolivian struggle. His body was found mutilated in a remote village. This was the death of a revolutionary, a modern-day warrior chief. The left was in mourning; poets wrote elegies, laments that ended with calls to rebellion. In an interview with Gerhard Horst (pseudonym of André Gorz), an editor of Les Temps Modernes, Mandel spoke of “a severe shock, all the more as I regarded him as a personal friend.” In La Gauche he mourned “a great friend, an exemplary comrade, a heroic militant.” On the Boulevard St-Michel in Paris and Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, in London and Milan people shouted: “Che, Che, Gue-va-ra!” The chopped syllables formed a battle cry against the established order. Neither Moscow nor Beijing had expressed even the most grudging sympathy. In openly showing their regret the Italian and French Communist parties proved they still possessed a little autonomy.

Mandel’s sympathizers in the French Revolutionary Communist Youth (JCR), a radical group founded in 1966 in a split from the Union of Communist Students, refused to accept his death. “Che was our best antidote to the Maoist mystique,” Daniel Bensaïd recalled. In the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Mutualité, temple of the French workers’ movement, was full to overflowing. Mandel spoke alongside Maurice Nadeau, just back from Havana, and Janette “The Cuban” Habel. He portrayed Che as he had come to know him in 1964. Emotion crested as those present softly hummed “The Song of the Martyrs,” the mourning march from the 1905 Russian Revolution, before launching into, “You have fallen for all those who hunger” and belting out the chorus, “But the hour will sound, and the people conquer . . .”

In Berlin too people were deeply moved. The SDS called for intensifying actions. Che had been Rudi Dutschke’s inspiration. With Gaston Salvatore, a Chilean comrade and friend in the SDS, Dutschke had translated Che’s last public statement, with its famous appeal for “two, three, many Vietnams,” from Spanish into German. Like Che, Dutschke lived the conviction that there “is no life outside the revolution.” He named his recently born son Hosea Che. Latin America would not let Dutschke go. In 1968 he wrote a foreword to The Long March: The Course of the Revolution in Latin America, a collection of articles by such figures as Régis Debray, Castro and K.S. Karol. Meschkat was surprised to see letters from Gisela, which she had sent him from Havana in the summer of 1967, printed in the book. As far as he had known, Dutschke had asked only for permission to read them.

 Berlin 1968: with Rudi Dutschke

In the summer of 1967 Mandel and Dutschke grew closer. Dutschke noted in his diary: “Discussion with Gisela and Ernest, [Adorno’s student Hans- Jürgen] Krahl, etc. about organizational questions and preliminary theoretical discussions for a conference in Berlin.” Shortly before, Dutschke and Krahl had presented a so-called organization report to an SDS conference in the old refectory of the University of Frankfurt. Krahl was for Frankfurt what Dutschke was for Berlin — the undisputed chief ideologue. The SDS was growing dramatically, with 2,000 members and easily several times that many sympathizers, including not only university students but also high school students and young workers. They were for reform of the universities and against the Vietnam War, against the Greek dictatorship, against the emergency decrees and against the “emperor of torture,” Shah Reza Pahlevi of Iran. Participating in their actions cost Benno Ohnesorg, a twenty-six-year-old student, his life. On 2 June 1967 he was shot dead by the police in Berlin, setting off a month-long rebellion.

More on site. 

The present Blog published a review of Stutje’s book when it appeared. 

The Bright Side of Things

Ernest Mandel. A Rebel’s Dream Deferred. Jan Willem Stutje. Verso 2009.

From the latest Chartist.

In 1976 Ernest Mandel observed that Europe’s far left had been able to “accumulate sufficient forces” in this “revolutionary period” to have the “realistic possible of winning over the majority of the working class.” (New Left Review. No 100.)

As a young member of the same Fourth International as Mandel I read many of Mandel’s similar exhortations. Even to us ‘ultra-leftists’ in the International Marxist Group, only a few believed that this was true in Britain. Most were wary of what Stutje calls his “exuberant optimism”.

Yet someone with a command of serious Marxist theory, a democrat and a revolutionary socialist, opposed to the official Communist parties of the day, a tireless activist, deeply impressed us. That our International had someone with such fierce intelligence, not a bullying leader of a sect, was a source of pride. A Rebel’s Dream Deferred tries to do justice to this Mandel. Somebody with the ambition to influence and take part in not just Europe’s but the World Revolution is no easy subject.

If Stutje’s biography does not unearth a forgotten figure, Mandel’s writings remain in circulation; it confronts us with aspirations that have seemed, for a long period, from another epoch.

A “Flemish internationalist of Jewish origin” Mandel was born (1923) in Hamburg and grew up in Antwerp. His father was a leftist refugee from Hitler, who became a diamond dealer and then insurance agent; he was linked to the small Trotskyist movement opposed to Stalin.

Mandel was brought up in an atmosphere of high European culture, and classical Marxism. Soon after the founding of the Fourth International in 1938 he joined the Belgium Trotskyists. Under German occupation Mandel remained politically active. Arrested once, and released (or ransomed, Stutje recounts), he was finally tried again for giving German soldiers anti-militarist leaflets. Deported to a labour camp in Germany, he was freed in 1944 full of expectation of the coming revolution.

He had a lasting impression, “The alliance against fascism had consolidated both the democratic and Stalinist regimes, but under working class pressure.” Mandel threw himself into a lifetime of ratcheting up that pressure.

From the 1940s hope that Europe’s workers would rise in socialist revolution, to the joys of ’68, the left’s rise, and impasse, in the decades that followed, Mandel plunged into far-left politics.

Stutje recounts the saga of the Belgium left (through the microscope of Trotskyism), and Mandel involvement in the Fourth International. Or rather, the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. He is fair to Michel Raptis (‘Pablo’), for years his closest collaborator and rival, praising his “political intuition”, and his faults, “imperiousness”. They separated mid-60s, on Pablo’s unconditional support for anti-colonialist movements. Mandel too, as the sixties wore on, had been wrapped up in ‘third-worldist’ causes – Struje cites close contact with Che Guevara. But his principal faith lay in the working class in industrialised counties.

At the same time the party man was writing serious, if (critics comment), too all-embracing works, such as Marxist Economic Theory (1962), and the unfortunately titled Late Capitalism (1972) – how ‘late’? These consolidated his academic position at the Dutch language Free University of Brussels. That aside, few consider Mandel as the founder of a ‘school’ of Marxist political economy. As Stutje remarks, his study on the ‘long waves’ theory of crises (1978), lacks the institutional details of how capitalist accumulation developed post-war. But his influence was wider. Amongst prolific writings, which read as if stitched together from Europe’s press, Mandel produced real gems, his Introductions to the Penguin edition of Capital, and on Marx’s wider intellectual development. Perhaps his greatest political contribution – a break with the Leninist past as great as Eurocommunism’s – was to envisage socialist democracy. Strange to say, in retrospect, this was a major turning point for those reared in the harshest interpretations of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It would be impossible to imagine a left capable of confronting the collapse of Official Communism without this return to democratic roots.

In the 1970s Mandel was banned from entering several countries, including Germany, France, and the US. Not only Mandel envisaged – in this case, feared – revolutionary upheavals. Even when this prospect subsided in the early 1980s the Fourth International peaked at 10,000 active members.

But it did not weather the Thatcher-Reagan years well, nor adapt easily to the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. They foresaw everything but the neo-liberalism that ran riot across the globe. Yet till his death in 1995, Mandel remained bound to the “moral imperative” to continue to fight. Mandel was too much part of the real left – perhaps obscured in Britain through his brief canonisation by the most politically sterile faction of the New Left – to retreat to the Watchtower.

A Rebel’s Dream Deferred pays tribute to the sheer ethical drive of the man. That the Fourth International’s Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, now the Nouveau Parti Anti-capitaliste has been a real player in French politics demonstrates that he was not entirely mistaken.

Andrew Coates.

Also read Phil Hearse (Fourth International) on this book here.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Roseanne Barr, from Socialism, to Trump and…Tommy Robinson.

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EDL founder Tommy Robinson is currently under arrest following an incident on Friday 25 May outside Leeds Crown Court. Tommy Robinson supporter empties can of Stella on top of Downing Street gates The controversial nationalist and far-right commentator, real name Stephen Lennon, was posing as a ‘reporter’ when police officers approached him. Known for leading protests against the influence of Islam in Britain, Tommy has a huge following, who abide by slogans like ‘White Lives Matter’.

Metro.

Flash backwards to the ancient past (2012)

As Roseanne Barr continues her presidential campaign as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate, she has a attention-grabbing message: We need more socialism.

“I do think that we need a little bit more socialism in this country at this time,” Barr told Sean Hannity Monday night. “We need to move stuff from the top to the middle and the bottom, because it keeps on staying at the top.”

Roseanne not joking: More socialism

Then……..

Roseanne Barr defends her Trump support with F-bomb on ‘Tonight Show’

 

Roseanne Conner Has Become a Trump Supporter. Just Like Her Creator.

After 21 years, “Roseanne” returns to ABC, and Roseanne Barr’s portrait of working-class Americans is as topical as ever.

 

And now:

 

Mind you Robinson has a bit of interesting  previous:

2013: EDL March With Muslims In Ipswich In Memory Of Lee Rigby

 

Ipswich: Former EDL leader to address event on Holocaust Memorial Day (2014)

The event on Monday, January 27, was originally planned to take place in conjunction with the Education Quarter Multi Faith Chaplaincy at Suffolk New College and University Campus Suffolk.

However the colleges have since disavowed themselves entirely from the talk and organiser JIMAS has decided to proceed independently.

Muhammad Manwar Ali of JIMAS, who is also a fellow of Suffolk New College and a member of the chaplaincy for SNC and UCS, said it would be a “solemn occasion” to mark the Holocaust.

After protests the event did not take place.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 29, 2018 at 11:42 am