Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Communist Party of Britain Discourages On-Line Adulation of Stalin, Bans Conspiracy Theorising and Holocaust Denial.

with 10 comments

Eddie Dempsey's postings are totally unacceptable | Socialist Fight

Banned from CPB Social Media.

Britain’s Young Communist League has trebled in size, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) is standing in elections, and leading CPB Cdes are leading the fight against Gender Theory Wokeness.

In these conditions a Marxist-Leninist Party has to observe the strictest discipline. Democratic centralism is the watch-word for old and new members. Young comrades and the more elderly must pay attention to the party’s public image. The CPB is always on the look-out for saboteurs, wreckers and elements of the class enemy infiltrating its ranks.

This, carried by our official Organ, UNITY, is a timely warning we gave to members posting on social media,

“We do not construct or promote ‘Conspiracy theories’ “Our class enemy is the ruling capitalist class, not some secretive sinister cabal of Freemasons, Zionists, the Illuminati or the Bill Gates Foundation..”

The CPB also lays down a timely call to the more enthusiastic ‘anti-Zionist’ recruits, “Posting anything on line which “normalises” anti-Semitic conspiracy theories including holocaust denial in any form – is incompatible with Party membership.”

Much-needed reminders!

It is a concern that certain Rotten Elements have got hold of our internal documents. They have just published further, hitherto confidential details, of our top- secret protocols on their deviationist web site.

The Communist Party of Britain disappears comrade Stalin.

The Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain (CPB) issued a set of social-media protocols to its members in August 2021. These warn CPB members, in line with the ‘democratic centralism’ (in fact, bureaucratic centralism) of far-left organisations, that they cannot “undermine well-established party positions” in public. Included in such undermining and harmful endeavours is “adulation of Stalin and support for the substantial abuses of state power which occurred under his leadership”. Such endeavours are “not compatible with our party’s judgment of these matters” as set out in the CPB’s Britain’s road to socialism (BRS) programme.[1] Indeed, in that document last issued in 2020 we find the following lines: “At times, and particularly in the late 1930s following the rise of fascism, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred in the fight against external threats and internal subversion. Large numbers of innocent people were persecuted, imprisoned and executed. This aided the worldwide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international communist movement and the concept of socialism.”[2]

These putrid forces continue,

As one can imagine, this hasn’t gone down at all well among some sections of the CPB, which has always been a generally pro-Stalin organisation, even though, in recent years, this hasn’t been pursued in the more cult-like manner of rivals such as the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML) founded by Harpal Brar in 2004. Ioannis Michalopoulos, a CPB supporter from Yorkshire, opines in his organisation’s current pre-congress discussion that the “CPB’s criticism on Stalin merely resorts to bourgeois/Trotskyite/Khruschevite phraseology and clichés”. He adds: “It is ironic that defending Stalin’s legacy is not considered [by the CPB’s social-media protocol] compatible with the judgment of the BRS, the first draft of which was approved by Stalin himself.”[3]

Head Office shall be having a word with this so-called Blog site.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 18, 2021 at 8:52 am

Class Politics, Identity Politics and Gender Politics.

with 5 comments

A group of masked demonstrators at the University of Sussex staged a protest on campus demanding lecturer Kathleen Stock lose her job

‘New Social Movement’?

In 1985, as Margaret Thatcher was consolidating her rule. Ralph Miliband wrote an influential article, the New Revisionism in Britain (New Left Review 1/150). “One of Miliband’s main aims was to refute the argument that conflicts over gender, ethnicity, the environment and so on were as fundamental as those concerned with class” wrote his biographer, Michael Newman (Ralph Miliband and the Politics of the New Left. 2002).

In the NLR piece the author of Parliamentary Socialism stated, “‘Class politics’ has become the shorthand for much which the new revisionism most strongly repudiates: above all, it has come to stand for the insistence on the ‘primacy’ of organized labour in the challenge to capitalist power and the task of creating a radically different social order.” He noted, “Opposition to new revisionist writings has since then come from journals of the Labour Left such as Labour Herald and London Labour Briefing, from Labour Left figures such as Tony Benn and Eric Heffer, and from Trotskyist journals such as Socialist Worker and Socialist Action. But the main resistance has come from within the Communist Party, notably from a very traditionalist Morning Star, and also from individual party members.” This call to defend class struggle and the unions was a major factor in the eventual break up of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

This approach was developed in his study of class struggle, Divided Societies, written a few years later in 1989, Miliband argued that “without labour movements organised as political forces no fundamental challenge to the existing political order can ever be mounted.” In the chapter on New Social Movements he asserted that class-based motor was central, “whatever feminists, or black people, or gay and lesbians, or environmentalists or peace activists, or any other group may choose to do, even though their actions may well produce advances and reforms.” He added that “a great deal of oppression, discrimination, agression and violence exercised by white men, whether workers or bourgeois against women black people, ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, cannot be traced back in any plausible way to direct or indirect economic pressures.”

On liberal and other types of non-socialist feminism Miliband commented that “This is not deny that women do have certain common interests – for instance, the right to reproductive choice, or the struggle against male violence. But lass, in relation to women, is nevertheless major dividing factor…(and) as a class, wage-earners have the potential for a degree of unity, at least, which women, as such, cannot hope to achieve.” This thought is not developed far but a moment’s reflection indicates that Roman and religious ‘laws’ alone ,sanctioning male supremacy in property and the family, are hard to untangle from history, ideology and custom to reveal a common economic basis across thousands of years. They do not rest on anything as clear as the ruling class appropriation of the social surplus.

The themes of the New Revisionism inspired many articles and books on the ‘retreat from class’ and defences of what became Marxism Today’s New Times project. Divided Societies had a tepid reception from those who were enthusiastic about ‘new social movements’ and is probably unread today. How it could help make sense of ‘intersectionality’, “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalised individuals or groups”? The answer is that Miliband was not concerned with American political concepts/ strategies of legal and political voice but with the goals of socialist democracy based on a unifying social force, the labour movement. It could be argued that political disagreements within the left, which equally cannot be traced to “economic pressures”, from ideology to organisational differences, have played a bigger role in thwarting the forward march of labour than socially and culturally rooted divisons.

The present row over ‘critical feminism’, gender theory, and transgender rights could be seen in this light. Here is a summary of Kathleen Stock’s views that have, in effect, consolidated divides in the gay and feminist movements:

Kathleen Stock explained her views on trans issues in written evidence to Parliament in November 2020 here:

  • Womanhood and manhood reflect biological sex, not gender or gender identity;
  • The claim ‘transwomen are women’ is a fiction, not literally true
  • Sexual orientation (being gay, being lesbian) is determined by same-sex attraction, not attraction to gender identity
  • Spaces where women undress and sleep should remain genuinely single-sex, in order to protect them;
  • Children with gender identity disorders should not be given puberty blockers as minors.

Will this result in the same kind of decade long debate, rows, and sometimes bitter splits as the New Revisionist decade?

Mary Davis, who has announced her colours, is a veteran of that epoch.

This can be seen in yesterday’s post and here where Mary Davis writes for the Red-Brown Full Brexit site which brought together supporters of the Brexit Party, Spiked, sovereigntists and nationalists with members of the Communist Party of Britain, Blue Labour, sovereigntists, and self-identifying left-wingers. The fact that she feels that this is a sympathetic audience indicates that at least some Gender Critical people feel happy with the Family Faith and Flag brigade and the Brexit Party, Spiked/RCP national populist identity politics. Some might argue that the kind of class politics that appeal to them are pictures of idealised traditional working class identity.

Class Politics vs Identity Politics: The Choice for Labour 2020.

Mary Davis

The epithet “woke” is often incorrectly used to describe this phenomenon. However, such a term fails to do justice to the gravity of the political and cultural shift now infecting society. Class politics is based on an understanding that there is a conflict between labour and capital in which those who sell their labour power for a wage are exploited by those who buy it. This is central to the capitalist mode of production. But this is not the concern of identity politics. The version of identity politics which is most damaging steps beyond the collective identity of historically-marginalised sections of the population and which has, in the twentieth century, given rise to important liberation movements, chiefly of women, black people, gays and lesbians. But identity politics turns its back on such collective movements for social change. It renounces class and collectivism in favour of individual self-identity. It has traversed the boundaries of wacky theories to become a mainstream narrative which has permeated all aspects of civil society including the labour movement and especially the Labour Party.

She continues,

Labour has accepted this mantra is evidenced by the recent leadership campaign in which the candidates were urged to accept the twelve pledges produced by the newly formed Labour campaign for trans rights. These pledges include committing the Labour Party to accepting “Trans people as their self-declared gender”, and that “trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary”. Supporters of these pledges argue that the Labour Party must “Organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups… [and] Support the expulsion from the Labour Party of those who express bigoted, transphobic views”. Most of the leadership candidates accepted the pledges or a variant of them – hardly surprising given that most of them, reflecting mainstream ideology, are Labour policy anyway.[1] However, the demand to expel those who campaign for women’s rights through their support of such organisations as Women’s Place UK or the LGB Alliance, breaks new ground. By effectively turning its back on women, half of the population, the Labour Party will be propelled into an uncharted and potentially disastrous course.

This should be a cause for concern. The fact that it is not is alarming for two reasons. Firstly, identity politics is the antithesis of class politics and its theory and practice should induce great anxiety in the labour movement, whose very foundation was rooted in working-class struggle. Secondly, the gender identity issue is of particular concern for women because it conflates biological sex and gender, and wilfully and errantly fails to understand women’s oppression. Trans people (and many other groups) experience intolerance and discrimination but this is not same as oppression. Discrimination itself is not a function of class society even though it is an almost inevitable by-product of the inherent inequalities within it. Women, however, are oppressed, and the basis of such oppression is class exploitation. Oppression, although it may take the form of discriminating against the oppressed, occupies a unique relationship within class society. It is the most important means of maintaining the class relations which support class exploitation and, as such, oppression is a function of class society as well as being a product of it. This is because oppression, unlike discrimination, is linked materially to the process of class exploitation as well as operating at a “superstructural” level through oppressive ideologies which serve to maintain class rule by dividing the exploited. This is why it is impossible to understand women’s oppression without understanding varying forms of exploitation in class society – capitalism in particular. In this way, Labour’s betrayal of women is linked to the betrayal of the working class. This is what Labour needs to understand before it’s too late.

Book review – ‘Women and Class’ by Mary Davis

Lynette Cawthra

Mary Davis’s Women and Class was first published in 1990 by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and has been republished in an updated and revised form in 2020 as part of the CPB’s centenary celebration. Its main aim is to argue for a Marxist feminist perspective of the way in which women are marginalised and exploited. What this perspective means in practice is that the major determinant of women’s marginalisation is the way in which capitalist economies are based on the exploitation of the working class by the ruling class. Women are doubly exploited both as workers and as those who create the conditions for the system to reproduce itself.

The pamphlet is especially critical of approaches to the marginalisation of women which regard class as just one of a number of subjective factors which make up individual identity. It argues that this denies the fact that the economic system creates objective class divisions and the marginalisation of women cannot be effectively opposed unless this is recognised. It regards as particularly dangerous the growth of a ‘self-identity politics’ which questions ‘the commonly understood categories of male and female…hence doubting the fact of biological sex itself.’ Mary Davis states that this has created a situation where ‘the ideological construct of gender has usurped the material reality of biological sex and has become a ruling ideology…[which] has stealthily penetrated all aspects of civil society, including the labour movement.’

Cawthra continues,

The pamphlet expresses concern about the proposal to amend the Gender Recognition Act to allow for gender self-declaration. The concern arises on the basis that it would lead to the possible removal of women-only spaces and effectively end the protected characteristic of being a biologically defined woman. Obviously, this proposal has now been dropped by the current Government in a statement issued in September 2020. The statement by the Minister for Women and Equalities can certainly be seen to implicitly vindicate the argument in Women and Class that identity politics conflates gender and biological sex: ‘Our philosophy is that a person’s character, your ideas, and your work ethic trumps the colour of your skin or your biological sex. We firmly believe that neither biology nor gender is destiny.’ Equally, the individualism within the statement can be seen as evidence for the argument that ‘identity politics is the antithesis of class politics’.

Note this clear alignment with recent critics of Stonewall:

The pamphlet also criticises the state-sanctioned encouragement of non-binary gender classification, e.g. official Government advice to avoid gendered pronouns like he or she. From a Marxist perspective, it regards state advocacy of this as an expression of the ruling ideology and is concerned that non-binary gender classification and the consequent downgrading of the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ has been accepted even within the labour movement.

Women and Class recognises that ‘there are vital areas of social reality which Marxists (including Marx) have simply not addressed.’ It may possible to examine the acceptance of a range of gender identities from a Marxist perspective while recognising the central oppression of biologically defined women. Current evidence seems to show a steady increase in the number of countries accepting as legitimate range of gender classifications including non-binary and transgender. That fact clearly doesn’t indicate that this is necessarily a progressive move from a Marxist perspective and the pamphlet regards it as ‘pseudo-egalitarianism’. From the point of view of the Marxist feminism set out in Women and Class, the question is whether it could be possible that this could contain transgressive challenges to the ruling ideology which sanctions the oppression and marginalisation of women.

She concludes,

As an alternative to the form of Marxist feminism advocated by Women and Class, I’ll end with a quote from Heidi Hartman: ‘Many Marxists typically argue that feminism is at best less important than class conflict and at worst divisive of the working class. This political stance produces an analysis that absorbs feminism into the class struggle. Moreover, the analytic power of Marxism with respect to capital has obscured its limitations with respect to sexism. We will argue here that while Marxist analysis provides essential insight into the laws of historical development, and those of capital in particular, the categories of Marxism are sex-blind. Only a specifically feminist analysis reveals the systemic character of relations between men and women. Yet feminist analysis by itself is inadequate because it has been blind to history and insufficiently materialist.’

Miliband, as can be seen, recognised these points, which puts his 1980s writing ahead of the Communist Party of Britain..

Update.

Kenan Malik writes in the Observer today (Whether freedom of speech or fairness to migrants, some principles are sacred) – a view this Blog endorses:

“It’s a complex debate, with important arguments on both sides. For many trans activists, however, it’s not a debate that should be taking place. Anyone who believes that sex is more important than gender in defining what it is to be a woman – or who would exclude trans women from women-only spaces – is, they argue, “transphobic” by definition and their arguments bigoted. Yet, condemning figures such as Selina Todd, one of Britain’s most distinguished historians of working-class and women’s lives, or the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as if they were feminist versions of Tommy Robinson, strains credulity. Trying to strangle a debate, or mislabelling one’s opponents, is no response to complexity. It also makes harassment and intimidation more acceptable. After all, many argue, if they are bigots, who want to “eliminate” trans people, why shouldn’t they be harassed? The result is to leave female academics such as Stock needing police protection from those who identify as women.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 17, 2021 at 12:14 pm

Breaking: Morning Star Defends ‘Gender Critical’ Feminism.

with 26 comments

May be an image of 2 people

Mary Davis: Back in 2018.

The Morning Star, independent of the Communist Party of Britain and run by the co-op, today carries this article by a leading member of Communist Party of Britain, Mary Davis.

It is safe to say that this is not just an opinion up for debate but reflects the views of strong currents in the Daily’s team and the CPB.

The building of a broad-based women’s movement and a strengthened labour movement must go hand in hand, argues MARY DAVIS.

Extracts,

The unrelenting ideological onslaught on women’s sex-based rights has escalated to the point at which the very definition of “women” as a biological sex is now subject to sustained attack.

This has resulted in the collective rights of women threatened and undermined. The overused term “cancel culture” is wrong and inadequate to describe the current and unparalleled ideological onslaught on women as a biological sex. We are facing erasure in the face of gender identity policy capture.

Note: No direct reference to Stonewall.

This weekend’s FiLiA conference, I hope, along with other gender critical women’s organisations will play an important part in creating a regenerated women’s movement.

The building of a broad-based women’s movement and a strengthened labour movement, which rejects capitalist ideology and understands the vital importance of protecting and extending women’s sex-based rights, must go hand in hand.

However, without a robust renewal of Marxist-feminist theory, which challenges the dominant ideology of identity politics, such a project will remain a distant vision.

Note are all gender critical feminists Marxists or even socialists? Kathleen Stock defines herself in other ways, “am I, or am I not, a feminist? Yes in the broad sense that I’m broadly focused on promoting the rights and interests of women in a world in which they’re often neglected. But not in the sense that I sign up, no matter what, to any particular doctrinal element. I think everything should be up for reasonable discussion. If you think I’m not a real feminist, that’s fine by me. I’m honestly not that attached to the term. What I am attached to is trying to get the underlying actions and attitudes right” Julie Bindel concentrates on the demand to “defend women’s sex-based rights”.

……

The oppression of women is rooted in class exploitation. The super-exploitation of women as workers and their oppression as women is a fundamental prerequisite for the operation of capitalism — economically, politically and ideologically. Hence, the eradication of class exploitation is the essential precondition for the liberation of women.

Socialism provides the only means by which the most complete form of class exploitation (ie that represented by the capitalist system), can be ended.

Whether conscious of its mission or not, the labour movement exists for this purpose. But its socialist mission can only be fulfilled if it expunges capitalist ideology — and that includes any ideological practice which impedes the protection and extension of the rights of women.

..

Both these two movements — a strong and class-conscious feminist-inspired labour movement and a broad-based women’s movement — are essential together as the twin pillars of the challenge to women’s oppression and super-exploitation.

However, we still have a long way to go in ensuring that the labour movement truly represents the interests of 51 per cent of British population, let alone the majority of its members — women!

Recent events have shown that gender identity ideology has permeated the labour movement, with the result that defending women’s rights has taken a back seat.

Currently, a campaign against alleged transphobia has taken precedence over the threat to Professor Kathleen Stock’s employment at Sussex University. She has received no support from the University and College Union.

For socialists, the goal has to be the forging of working-class unity based on a recognition of its historic divisions; divisions founded principally on race and sex.

The first is the ideological battle which has to be shifted away from the “gender” issue per se and on to our terrain of the fight for women’s rights and the understanding of women’s oppression.

Second, the (at present non-existent) “respectful debate” can only be achieved when we women are a mighty assembled unignorable force so that our analysis and our policies lead the debate.

This requires a powerful women’s movement. Thirdly, even at the risk of vilification, our argument must be taken into the labour movement in order to challenge and expose an ideology which erases women and tramples our rights. We are many, they are few.

Comment: this looks like a call for some serious rows. There are points on which this Blog agrees, ‘gender fluidity’ being one. AS one of the ideas in some modern gender theory, promoted by Stonewall, it initially sounds reasonable, but then splinters off into a kaleidoscope of definitions, and even stripped down to a minimum is hard to pin down as a legal or campaigning category. There equally serious issues about women’s spaces which would take a lot more than Mary Davis’ article to draw lines on.

It is not clear that ‘materialist feminism’ is just abut biology and class, or capitalism, there are views about the structural reality of patriarchy for example that exist in many different societies. This open up further into the picture of ” “how women are produced as a category” which in some version (such as the 1970s-early 80s journal M/F), included linguistic ideas and the theories of Michel Foucault about ‘power’. Dos class ‘trump’ everything else? Religious ideologies, embodied in state apparatus like the Islamic state of Iran, have relative autonomy to the class rule of the Islamist bourgeoisie, and the laws restricting women in that country cannot just be explained by capitalist oppression.

There remains concern that words like “onslaught” are intended to provoke a ‘counter-attack’. Davis has, in the recent past, defended Blue Labour pro-family figures like Paul Embery, who has also entered this fray. Will she align with this anti-rootless cosmopolitan in a war against Woke?

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Chris Williamson’s ‘Festival of Resistance’ is Underway.

with one comment

Image

Packed out already!

Speakers represent a wide range of left opinons, from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Workers Party of Britain – Jodi Brar, The Monster Raving Greenstein Party, Jackie Walker, international support comes from the red-brown Grayzone (Max Blumthal and Ben Norton) Calos Garcia Hernandez (Funny Money Man, see note (1)), Vox Political, and so it goes.

Support in Swindon is growing apace:

Resist call itself a Movement for a People’s Party – not workers’ party one has to say.

Williamson has allied with this bloc in the past, before becoming enamoured with George Galloway and the Workers Party of Britain.

Where stands he now?

And…

What is Resist’s line on this new development?

Bringing the left together

The leadership bodies of LAW (Labour Against the Witch-hunt), Labour in Exile Network (LEIN) and the Labour Left Alliance (LLA) are proposing that the three organisations should enter a closer working relationship. 

With two of LAW’s leaders at the Festival, and no doubt many, or at least a few LAW, LIEN and LLA supporters there, this weekend is an ideal occasion to discuss this important development.

******

(1)” Fiat socialism’ would enable an open and prosperous society governed by the principles of modern monetary theory (MMT). A society without unemployment or poverty, in which everybody had a decent job (either in the private sector, or in the public sector) allowing people to fulfil all their basic needs and coordinate their working and private life because of reasonable time schedules. A society in where public services, education and health access were of the highest quality, and in which the level of prices remain stable. This isn’t just a socialist pipedream. By using MMT as a lens to understand the monetary system, it’s a realistic possibility, but it requires the political will to jettison neoliberalism .Carlos García Hernández – Fiat Socialism and Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2021 at 11:19 am

Stonewall, the Nolan Investigation, and the Gender Disputes.

with 4 comments

Must-Listen to Podcasts.

These 10 podcasts are over 5 hours long in total. Some of the material is straightforward and political, trying to find out the governmental and corporate influence of Stonewall, which is one campaigning charity that says it stands for “lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere”. Some of the episodes are disturbing (relating to the Tavistock Clinc and young people referred there and to professional help.). Some (on the multiplicity/fluidity of gender identities) are not so much bewildering as a cause to ask, why on earth bother? The main issue is, has Stonewall’s take on these issues come, without proper open debate, to dominate corporate bodies and state institutions, to the exclusion of other views on gender, without open democratic debate and minimum standards of accountability. One area has come to the fore: does this and has the Stonewall strategy and policies excluded from reasonable public discussion a whole section of feminists – ‘gender critical’ – and parts of the gay movement itself?

Kevin Ovenden expresses what many will think about the need to hear them (I have got to episode 8),

This will not stop instant reactions.

It is a bad sign that the Islamist site 5 Pillars, which campaigned against gender equality teaching in schools, has caught up with this controversy:

Here are the views this web site sees fit to carry,

Who should teach our children about sex? (2019).

In the light of the increasingly heated row over the teaching of sex and relationship education in schools, Dr Siema Iqbal argues that schools have no right to impose lifestyles and beliefs on children because that is the parent’s job.

Who should teach children about sex? The answer should be us, the parents. As parents we are the primary educators and decision-makers for our children and we teach them about family values and relationships, in some circumstances based around our religious beliefs.

At present as parents we currently have the right to withdraw our children from SRE lessons from primary school up to 19 years of age. Concerns raised by parents who object to SRE lessons are commonly about issues such as promiscuity, same sex relationships or gender choice being discussed prematurely with their children.

Exposed and explained: The insidious agenda to foist LGBT on our children (2019).

Faisal Bodi is the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s press officer. 

 in the manipulative hands of the LGBT lobby the Equalities Act, an anti-discrimination tool, has been turned into an official duty on everyone to affirm the acceptability of LGBT behaviours/identities even if they consider them to be morally reprehensible. Accepting this logic one would be justified in asking why the state is not also pushing for schools to promote the beliefs of faith groups as it could be similarly argued that since religion is also a protected characteristic under the Equalities Act it is impossible to teach tolerance and mutual respect without affirming that they are correct.

The Stonewall guide is a real eye-opener and reveals the extent to which the LGBT agenda stands to become woven into the fabric of secondary school teaching. In English for example it suggests studying fiction by LGBT authors, discussing how their LGBT identity may have influenced their writing and advises teachers to introduce LGBT themes in discussions about representation in literatures. Critics have suggested that this undermines educational standards as teachers will be required to choose books not on the basis of their literary qualities but whether they represent LGBT themes.

Then there is this today, from a more considered source.

The Welsh government has been accused of being “dictated to” by an LGBT charity.

BBC.

Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi said the government promoted an “ideological culture” by adopting Stonewall’s interpretation of the Equality Act.

Her comments were in response to a BBC investigation (Note,  the Nolan Investigates podcast) which revealed the Welsh government had adopted Stonewall’s interpretation of equality law.

The Welsh government said its policy was in the “spirit of the law”.

..in a document sent to Stonewall and seen by the BBC, the term “gender reassignment” has been replaced with the term “gender identity” in the Welsh government’s Equality and Diversity Policy.

It is a characteristic not provided for in law, but something Stonewall has been campaigning for.

It could mean people with various gender identities, such as non-binary, would be protected in law.

Critics of Stonewall’s interpretation of the law argue that the term gender identity is too broad and it could undermine sex-based rights protected under the legislation.

Ms Antoniazzi said: “It is astonishing that the Welsh government can so blatantly misrepresent the Equality Act 2010 as dictated to by Stonewall.

“They are promoting an ideological culture and rewriting the Equality Act at the same time. To misrepresent the law in this way shows a contempt not only for the law, but also to anyone who wishes to speak up for women or who has concerns around safeguarding.

“I’d also like to know what other organisations the Welsh government draws on to test their policies and practices, and what their relationship is with Stonewall and the Senedd.

“This situation is risible, and as a Welsh Labour MP I am deeply disappointed that no minister has been available to respond to the BBC to defend their stance.”

Ms Antoniazzi also said there was a “lack of transparency and independence around policy making”.

“I would urge [the Welsh government] to provide a safe space for all staff to express their concerns without fear nor favour,” she added.

The Welsh government works with LGBT charity Stonewall when updating its policies and it has been involved with two Stonewall schemes to promote diversity, including the Workplace Equality Index, which is a public ranking of organisations scored by Stonewall.

Documents, obtained under Freedom of Information laws by the BBC’s Nolan Investigates podcast, revealed what the lobby group was asking organisations to do to improve their ranking on the Workplace Equality Index.

Not everyone agrees:

And here:

And then there is this..

“The witches are being drowned and the bitches burned at the stake. Kathleen Stock, Jo Phoenix, Selina Todd and many other women whose names you will never know are being put through hell.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Homages in France to Samuel Paty, Murdered for Defending Freedom of Speech.

with one comment

Libération (@libe) | Twitter

A Reminder Of How Serious Free Speech Issues Can Be.

Samuel Paty, un prof impliqué devenu héros posthume.

Today French schools will observe a minute of silence in hommage to Samuel Paty,

France honours ‘quiet hero’ teacher killed for showing Prophet Mohammed cartoon

France 24.

Samuel Paty, who was 47, was killed after leaving the middle school where he taught history and geography in the tranquil Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on the evening of October 16, 2020.

His killer, 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdullakh Anzorov, who had been living in France for years, claimed the attack as revenge for Paty showing his class the Mohammed cartoons in a lesson on free speech.

On Saturday, several ceremonies will be held in memory of the popular teacher hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as a “quiet hero” of the French republic.

In Conflans, the ceremonies will include the unveiling of a monument of an open book, while in Paris a square opposite the prestigious Sorbonne University will be renamed in his honour.

“The terrible drama of #SamuelPaty‘s murder took place a year ago . One year later, pay tribute to him, and even more, share knowledge, inspire reflection, sharpen the critical spirit. Against the gravediggers of freedom, let us, even more strongly, support human emancipation.” Clémentine Autain. Radical left MP (Seine-Saint-Denis), La France insoumise, Ensemble!, unambiguous on the anniversary of the killing of Samuel Paty. 

Charlie Hebdo: 40 years ago the Death Penalty was abolished, A year ago it was brought back.

The murder of Samuel Paty (French pronunciation: ​[samɥɛl pati]), a French middle-school teacher, took place on 16 October 2020 in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a suburb of Paris. Paty was killed and beheaded by an Islamist.

Paty had, in a class on freedom of expression, allegedly shown his students Charlie Hebdo‘s 2012 cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[1][2][3] One of the cartoons portrayed Muhammad naked with his genitals exposed.[4] The cartoons having been protested by many Muslims in the past, Paty preemptively permitted his students to avert their eyes or leave the room while they were displayed.[5] The 13-year old girl who made the allegations against Paty has since confessed to lying.[6]

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2021 at 10:56 am

Kathleen Stock Under Fire as LGB Alliance Trustee.

with 7 comments

New LGB Alliance Aims to Evict Trans People From Activism | by Phaylen  Fairchild | Medium

Controversy Grows.

Avant-propos…

As part of this Blog’s coverage of French politics I am reading the most recent book, La Nef des Fous, (2021) by leading red-brown writer and philosopher Michel Onfray It would be helpful were there a word for his kind of philosopher, something like poetaster for poet, to describe the author of over 150 works. Onfray self-identifies as a left wing Nietzschean and post-anarchist, amongst many other identities. The founder of the magazine Le Front Populaire, which brings together ‘sovereigntists’ of all sides, left and right, from articles by the far right (Alain de Benoist), sympathetic coverage of the far right, Florian Philippot, and, amongst others, Génération Frexit (and so it goes..) He recently hosted a beano attended by four thousand people for the hard right wing polemicist of Éric  Zemmour.

La Nef des Fous, (the Ship of Fools, an allegory, see Plato, a state run by dysfunctional crew.) has as its theme ‘decadence’. Hence the sub-title, Nouvelles du Bas-Empire, the declining and falling late Empire. The author modestly says that one could have proposed a book of 500 pages on the subject. In its place we will have to put up with his “impressions”. This he calls an ephéméride which helpfully corresponds to the “obsolete” English “diary or almanac”. In brief, a log. A year. 2000.

This work is a pile of piffle, a mob of moans, and a dustbin of thought. A kind of cross between the Daily Mail and Spiked. It is a series of vicious rants against targets such as Greta Thunberg, left wing parties, trade unions, against Black Lives Matter, rising crime, paedophilia, and…the suing of the Tavistock Gender clinc (he refers without naming her to Keira Bell, 23 and…a transgender woman who demands recognition as the mother of her (biological) daughter. With the wit to which one becomes accustomed to, Onfray remarks, C’est Gide à l’envers: famille je vois aime! (Page 181)

Now that somebody as low as Onfray can ironise over the love of a transgender woman for her daughter gives a flavour of the prejudices these issues arouse. It could be said that reading them written from another country makes them look starker.

Today our Log sees another raft of incidents.

Shadow minister criticises Kathleen Stock for being LGB Alliance trustee.

In a letter apparently replying to a constituent, Taiwo Owatemi, the Labour MP for Coventry North West and the shadow equalities minister, said: “I am greatly concerned by [Stock’s] work as a trustee for the LGB Alliance group

Owatemi said she had read the “strong and principled” request from the Sussex branch of the University and College Union for a university-wide investigation of “institutional transphobia”, which earlier this week caused Stock to say the union had “effectively ended” her academic career at Sussex.

In a later statement, Owatemi said: “I was clear in this letter that I was not passing judgment on Prof Stock’s academic work, and did not call for action to be taken against her.”

Most of the letter was devoted to Owatemi’s criticism of the LGB Alliance, saying that the group “should be rejected by all those who believe in equality. They oppose reform of the Gender Recognition Act, which has long been the position of my party and to which we remain committed.

“Furthermore, the group opposes LGBT+ inclusive education [and] believe that adolescents should not be able to access puberty blockers (in flagrant disregard of the entire concept of ‘Gillick competency’).”

She also claimed the group had criticised measures to make conversion practices illegal and refused to condemn those who were against same-sex marriages.

“Every single one of these stances is diametrically opposed to my beliefs and the position of my party. I note that an appeal against their charitable status is due to take place next year, and I will be monitoring the case with keen interest.”

Owen Jones:

Blue Labour Anti-Rootless Cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery:

The issue of the day.

Despite the above, whatever your position on the issues the criticisms of Stonewall are pretty weighty.

Have listened to 3 of these.

Update.

Having listened to the disturbing evidence about Stonewall in the Nolan Podcasts issues like the below remain,

“Over recent years, women with views like mine have routinely been described as hateful. This happened even when we made it clear that we oppose bigotry and support laws protecting transgender people from discrimination. But what is shocking is the escalating language and threats, to the point where Stock – the author of a well-reviewed book on this subject – was advised by police to install CCTV.

For the avoidance of doubt, I appreciate that for transgender people it is vital to be accepted in the gender to which they have transitioned. I know that this is what the statements “trans men are men” and “trans women are women” mean. I also think it is vital to have words that refer to people’s sex. Of course, it is true that trans men have a cervix and in that sense Duffield’s remark was inaccurate. But it’s also true that for many people, the words “man” and “woman” signify biological sex. And this linkage cannot be severed by diktat.”

 It seems easy, for some, to dismiss any resistance to changing cultures of gender as reactionary (or quasi-fascist). It is true that most of the MPs speaking up for Kathleen Stock so far have been Tories. By not explicitly condemning the demands for her to be sacked, while calling for an “investigation” into “institutional transphobia”, the academic union, the UCU, appeared to side with the campaign against her.

But it is a mistake to imagine that the only people for whom sexual differences are meaningful are evolutionary biologists or religious conservatives. For gender-critical feminists, our politics are underpinned by an analysis of the way female bodies and reproductive labour have historically been controlled and exploited. This is why we describe women’s rights as “sex-based”.

In common with others, including the philosopher Jane Clare Jones, I also see a connection with the environment. I think there are parallels between the failure to address the implications of our planet’s finite resources and our dependence upon it, and the idea that human potential is boundless. While I want people to be free to live as they choose, I also believe that human bodies have limits. And I am concerned about the influence on young people of the idea that, with the aid of medical technology, these can be transcended.

It seems clear that investigations of gender have a long way to go and my own understanding is neither fixed nor complete. I don’t expect most people to agree with the thoughts I have set out above and know that some will strongly object. I know too that for some people their gender identity – the feeling of being male or female – means more than chromosomes or anatomy. I want to find a way for our different ideas to coexist. But I am very worried by the lack of an equivalent recognition of gender-critical beliefs. And I think the most recent round of attacks on feminists should alarm everyone who cares about pluralism.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2021 at 12:27 pm

Kathleen Stock: Free Speech Union, Free Speech and Tolerance.

with 23 comments

Woke students try to cancel feminist lecturer Kathleen Stock | Daily Mail  Online

Defending Kathleen Stock.

Here comes the first response:

The position of this Blog on the Kathleen Stock case is not based on a take on the university world. We leave that to Shereen Benjamin, reproduced below at the bottom of this Post. Our stand is Voltairean, tolerance of difference. Voltaire writings express the paradox of tolerance, stating both, “Tolerance has never provoked a civil war; intolerance has covered the Earth in carnage.”(Traité sur la Tolérance. 1763) and écrasez l’infâme! Crush the loathsome thing, “superstition, le fanatisme et, plus généralement, la religion.” (Written many times see: ÉCRASEZ L’INFÂME!). Put another way, just because you can and should put up with different opinions, including ones you can’t abide, does not mean you have to cosset them.

Stock has views, as a radical feminist, a current of thought which, emphasising patriarchy first, is distinct from socialist feminism’s positon of class and capitalism. It, the broad current, is probably best known in recent years for its anti-pornography and anti-prostitution campaigning, which puts it at variance with much of the Ipswich left and Trades Council who worked with the English Collective of Prostitue during the Steve Wright murders in 2006. We do know Stock’s stand on legislation on these issues, but we suspect that as she considers them part of “sex based oppression” we would guess that she does not have the same position as the Collective on the decrimalisation of “sex workers”.

Much as what the Sussex Professor says is eminently reasonable, ‘materialist’, on the biological basis of sexual differentiation. Sue R outlines much of her take rejecting “gender identity theory” in the comments on this Blog. Phillip Collins says in the New Statesman today, “even if we accept that gender association is a more complex phenomenon than it might seem, it is surely possible to believe in the existence of biological sex and, at the same time, to extend the highest standards of consideration to people who identify with a gender other than that which they were assigned at birth.” In other words, both sides in the dispute have good arguments and causes.

There are more contestable – perhaps sensitive is a better word – areas. She has expressed opinions on “autogynephilia” sexually aroused by the idea of being or becoming a woman” ,which some find offensive. Thus, “we could talk more about autogynephilia in a less toxic way, fewer men would feel they had to transition, and fewer men would feel so ashamed of it that they had to deny it existed. But I do not say this to let men off the hook for wanking in changing rooms.” (Julie Bindel interviews Kathleen Stock and asks her about radical feminism, autogynephilia and her new book Material Girls. June 2021.)

Is there is a right to be offensive? In this case we are not dealing with two goods, but those who would assert that Stock is not good at all. She is a “phobe”, in this case transphobe.

‘Islamophobe, was the accusation levelled at Charlie Hebdo. Attacks on the satirical weekly went beyond that. Norman Finkelstein, now a defender of the free speech of another academic, David Miller, dismissed from Bristol University, declared after the massacre of our comrades in 2015, that the paper was not satire but “sadism”. He compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. (World renowned political science professor says he has ‘no sympathy’ for staff at Charlie Hebdo.)

Before his death Charlie Hebdo Editor ‘Charb’, Stéphane Charbonnier  had written Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racistes (2015). The pamphlet takes aim at many targets, including one which has come up in the Sussex controversy, that the objects of both serious criticism and mockery – in that case Islam and Islamism – are uniquely privileged to judge on what may, or may not, be ridiculed or attacked. They have right to be shielded from those whose excessive dislike creates distress.

At the beginning of the posthumously published polemic the left-wing cartoonist asked, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam.” He concluded, that if you agreed then his book was not for you. He mounted a robust defence of the right to be rude, to make fun of, and throw sallies at all religions, particularly, but not exclusively, ones, like Christianity and Islam, with institutional wealth, power and states upholding them.

After the slaughter at their offices, and the killings at the Hyper-Casher Charlie got a lot of support, including transient defenders from those not known previously as friends of the radical left publication. One can note that their enemies are still active as well: “Erdogan sues Charlie Hebdo over caricature. An ongoing Turkey-France spat deepened after French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a caricature of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prompting legal action from Ankara.” (Al Monitor. 2020). Let us hope that critics of Charlie will not agree with Erdogan against this “libel” which he linked to this, “Unfortunately, we are in a period when hostility to Islam, Muslims and disrespect for the prophet are spreading like cancer, especially among leaders in Europe,” said Erdogan.”

Drift from objecting to what somebody says into wishing to denying them any platform is not the preserve of despotic Presidents. If there is one thing you can guarantee it is that any kind of rows about freedom of expression, perhaps most of all when academic institutions are involved will throw up plenty of very different responses.

For Islamophobia read Transphobia. In both cases there is a drift from asserting the importance of directly lived and felt experience, to making this the basis for a standard of law, or practice, to decide on other people’s rights to express their opinions. It slips from hurt, harm, to punishing so quickly you hardly notice it until it comes along with demands to sack, to prosecute. Measures which under normal law are judged by independent parties (one of the main reasons we have a legal apparatus in the first place), debated through legislation (laws against race hatred, hate crimes, potential laws on misogyny) spread further and further, with people demanding to recreate Blasphemy laws, or to prevent the teaching of views one group opposes. Or as Collins says, “The more we censor for “good” reasons the more we open the door for those who would censor for bad reasons.”

This can be extended much further. Look at Toby Young’s, no doubt well intentioned, intervention. What a fragile bloom tolerance can be seen when we look at those defending ‘free speech’, who immediately summon those who rush into denouncing ‘woke’ and call for the closure of Unis. This is not tolerance, but using one cause to bludgeon another.

*******

Threats to academic freedom today

In today’s commercialised university sector, where universities act like large corporations, academic freedom faces multiple threats.

Casualisation in academia

One comes from employment practices. In 2016 53% of academics were on short-term or hourly-paid contracts. Many employers measure an academic’s ‘value’ according to their student satisfaction ratings and their number of publications in favoured journals. This encourages those who are precariously employed or seeking promotion to avoid controversy and pursue popular and fashionable topics.

The student as “consumer”

A second threat is the perceived need to placate student ‘consumers’. There’s nothing new in students feeling affronted and even offended by ideas that contradict their views. Learning to participate in robust, evidence-based discussion of ideas without resorting to personal attack requires effort and is sometimes painful. The job of universities should be to teach students how to do this. But a focus on recruiting as many students as possible has seen seminar discussions replaced with more lecturing, and time for dialogue between staff and students has been squeezed out by the increasing demands on academics. So instead of challenging students, university managers anxious to achieve student ‘satisfaction’ seek to ensure their protection from ideas that they find uncomfortable or unpleasant.

The corporate Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda

A third threat to academic freedom is universities’ ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ (EDI) agendas. EDI is a corporate branding exercise which has little to do with addressing the most significant inequalities in the sector, such as the growing gap between pay for highest- and lowest-paid staff. How much cheaper and more straightforward to fly a rainbow flag than to address casualisation of the workforce or provide subsidised food and accommodation for students. Small wonder, then, that almost every university has joined Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme which, for a fee, confers the stamp of approval of this exceptionally powerful and well-funded lobby group. The more profound costs of Stonewall membership – complying with Stonewall’s demands about what can and can’t be discussed on campus – seem less troubling to university managers.

A hostile climate for critical discussion of sex and gender identity

These three factors have produced an extraordinarily hostile climate for critical discussion of sex and gender identity. When students and staff launch protests against the platforming of speakers who advocate for women’s sex-based rights, university managers with an eye to their Stonewall recognition fail to condemn the personal attacks, or to insist on appropriate boundaries for protest.

A handful of cases involving feminist academics targeted for their views have reached the mainstream media: for instance, Professor Selina Todd being provided with security escorts to her lectures pre-lockdown following threats on social media. Professor Todd is a senior and established academic. Whatever the psychological costs to her of the campaigns against her, she doesn’t face a threat to her livelihood. Academic freedom does, at least, provide that protection to secure and senior staff. But beyond the media spotlight are the junior academics, and those on precarious contracts, who keep silent for fear of their jobs, who choose to research and teach less contentious topics, and who decide not to organise public engagement events critically examining gender identity theory. It’s impossible to measure what isn’t happening. But at the University of Edinburgh where I work, I counted 12 public events that platformed uncritical discussions of gender identity ideology in the year March 2019-20, compared with just one on women’s sex-based rights. That should tell us something. Universities, instead of providing the fora where gender identity theory can be critically discussed, have become engine rooms for its uncritical promotion.

Time for a left wing defence of academic freedom

It has been especially disappointing to see sections of the political left lining up to restrict discussion of women’s sex-based rights. A low point came at the University and College Union’s (UCU) 2019 Congress when a motion to protect academic freedom in relation to sex and gender identity was defeated. UCU has rightly pointed out that the threats to academic freedom posed by “endemic job insecurity” do not feature in the government’s current proposals. But while UCU (and others on the political left who purportedly care about academic freedom and freedom of speech) are selective in their defence of such freedoms, and themselves join in with misrepresentations and smear campaigns against feminists, they play into the government’s hands.

Only a root-and-branch reform of university funding and governance which re-establishes universities as public institutions for public good is likely to produce an environment in which academic freedom can truly flourish. In the meantime, the job of the left is to ensure that no ideology is considered unassailable on university campuses, and to challenge no-platforming and other assaults on academic freedom when they occur.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Trade Union, UCU Backs “Right to Protest” against Kathleen Stock.

with 16 comments

Image

Image

Does not endorse bullying but backs “right to protest”.

This is the comment of Kathleen Stock,

Here is another response,

Comment,

This statement does not genuinely back a member of staff, by her account a former UCL member, against “bullying” when it defends the right to protest against her. The issue is not “protest” but the demand to sack the gay feminist academic. The sentence about “instrumentalising” employment rights and academic freedom is particularly ignoble. The phrase “institutionalised transphobia” and how a call for a special investigation into how this has affected the “democratic rights and freedoms” of members of Sussex University is another issue, unless it is a sneaked in cover for suggesting that Stock is part of that structure.

Socialist Worker says,

Right wingers and university bosses have rushed to defend University of Sussex lecturer Kathleen Stock after she was accused of transphobia.

The university’s vice chancellor Adam Tickell told BBC News that staff “have an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think”.

The university also tweeted that Stock was being targeted for “exercising her academic freedoms”.

In fact Stock is being criticised for making comments that rightly outrage most trans people and should be opposed by everyone who wants to fight oppression.

The background to the issue is not some calm academic debate. It is that homophobic hate crime in Britain has trebled—and transphobic hate crimes quadrupled—in the space of five years.

The Tories are zeroing in on trans rights as an element of their “culture wars” where groups of people are demonised and scapegoated in an attempt to win votes and divide opponents.

Yet…

Students are right to protest. But calls for sackings don’t fit here and should be directed against fascists and organised racists.

..

Whatabout….

no Tory ministers or right wing media are complaining that Bristol University has sacked Professor David Miller. He has been falsely condemned as antisemitic for his pro-Palestinian views.

The university management says the sacking is because “We have a duty of care to all students and the wider university community”.

Miller was said to have “discomforted” some students—which would certainly apply to Stock.

The latter is a valid point, though we will certainly not defend MIller’s ‘academic’ work.

Counterfire,

Trade unionists should defend workers against management attack, and defend academic freedom in universities, argues Mike Wayne.

And it is not just the right that will play this game. What the philosopher Nancy Fraser calls ‘progressive neoliberalism’ is also very adept at it. The Guardian has run numerous articles claiming that ‘cancel culture’ on university campuses is part of a right-wing conspiracy (that word again) dreamed up by a government pursuing its culture wars. How embarrassing for The Guardian then that this imaginary conspiracy exploded on 7 October at the University of Sussex. Posters appeared there calling for the sacking of Professor Kathleen Stock. Her crime? That she is ‘gender critical’, meaning she believes biology is a co-determinant in the lives of women, and cannot be simply wished away by the belief that anyone can be a woman. Further, she and fellow gender-critical feminists have reasonable cause to think that such beliefs will have negative consequences for women. Again, hardly lunacy.

Unlike Bristol, the vice-chancellor of Sussex has defended Stock and academic freedom, launching an investigation into the campaign to have her fired. One would like to think that the University and College Union (UCU) would have enough of a moral-political compass to follow suit. But alas, at the time of writing, despite many Twitter communiques to the General Secretary Jo Grady, there has been a devastating silence.

UPDATE: The Times Take on this:

Universities union backs trans rights over threatened professor Kathleen Stock

Written by Andrew Coates

October 12, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Islam and Free Speech: Steven Greer, Bristol University, “cleared over Islamophobia claims.”

with one comment

Another Free Speech in University Issue.

Peter Tatchell tweets this today,

  • Human rights academic Steven Greer was cleared over Islamophobia claims
  • Bristol University chiefs rejected complaints that he expressed ‘bigoted views’
  • But Bristol University statement has now said ‘we recognise BRISOC’s concerns’
  • After a five-month investigation, Mr Greer’s module was still pulled from syllabus
  • Critics said his lecture slide about 2015 Paris terror attack was ‘Islamophobic’ 
  • Students called for the module at Bristol University’s law school to be scrapped
  • Mr Greer accused senior academics of ‘capitulating’ to the threats of students 

The story a few days before:

The Muslim Association of Britain, which has links to the hard-right Muslim Brotherhood, got involved.

One of the groups encouraging the witch-hunt, 5Pillars, an Islamist organisation,

The Website 5 Pillars has long been accused of extremism,,

5 Pillars UK: Dangers of Extremist Muslim Media

And,

5Pillars publishes Hizb ut-Tahrir leader advocating military force and a Caliphate to “liberate Palestine and Kashmir” (2021) Policy Exchange.

The UK Islamist news website 5Pillars has published an opinion piece by Abdul Wahid—chairman of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain—arguing that Muslim majority countries, and to a lesser degree some Muslims in the UK, are betraying the Palestinian and Kashmiri causes. Titled, Only a united Ummah can liberate Palestine and Kashmir, Wahid advocates the use of military force and the establishment of the Khilafah, or Caliphate, as the only means for achieving this.

Subtitled “Dr Abdul Wahid, chairman of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, asks when will Muslim states step up to their responsibilities and liberate Palestine and Kashmir,” this piece is primarily an attack on Muslim countries, although it also denounces the United States and Israel—which is referred to by the derogatory term “the Zionist entity”.

In the above, 5 Months ago, 5 Pillars carried the version given by Greer’s accusers: Bristol University Islamic Society demands swift action over ‘Islamophobic’ remarks.

Greer stands accused of this:

A different view is offered by on New Age Islam,

Controversy over Bristol University Professor Steven Greer’s ‘Islamophobia’: Why Critical Discussion of Islamic Tradition Should Not Be Snubbed

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

The complaint against Professor Greer was made by the Muslim student body called the University of Bristol Islamic Society (BRISOC). The group encourages God consciousness, facilitates Muslim students by advising them on appropriate places to eat, find accommodation, etc. It educates Muslims about the necessity of being ‘Islamic’ at all times and one of the ways of doing so, it argues, is through gender segregation. Although it claims to represent the diversity of Muslim experience, it appears that the group is closer to a particular interpretation of Islam which can safely be called fundamentalist.

The campaign against Professor Greer has also been led by the Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS), an umbrella organization of Muslim student groups in the United Kingdom. Started in 1963, FOSIS is perhaps the first Muslim support group to become operative in that part of the world. The group’s philosophy is about faith-based activism which it defines as a ‘transformative journey of progression in faith, skills and habits to become comprehensive Muslims, living to further the cause of Allah’. One of the prominent faces in this forum was Ahmed Deedat, the South African writer and speaker of Indian descent, and who made a name for himself by entering into ceaseless polemics with the Christians.

Indians who are familiar with the work of Zakir Naik will recognise Deedat for the immense harm that such people have caused to inter-religious understanding. Rather than entering into a dialogue with one another, Deedat repeatedly trashed Christianity as a religion which was now superseded by Islam; the implication being that all of them should now become Muslims. Similarly, he has written against Hindu religious beliefs, denigrating them, without in fact understanding much of its philosophy.

Deedat supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie and was sympathetic to the views of Osama bin Laden. In fact, his dawah centre was funded by the bin Laden family. It’s not surprising, therefore, that he was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for his missionary work. In calling people like Deedat to their forum, the ideological orientation of groups like FOSIS becomes clear. And this orientation seems to come from a Wahabi-inspired ideology which wants Islam to become the ruling idea of the world.

The conclusion.

The criticism and censure of Professor Greer is, therefore, not from all Muslims but from Muslim groups which have a distinct political agenda. Most Muslims will not have a problem if a professor, in the wake of a discussion on polygamy and human rights, gives examples from the Islamic society.

Five Pillars have found time to back academics when it suits their cause.

The irony of reproducing this statement about Bristol seems to have escaped them,

In a letter sent to the university today, they accuse the university of caving in to the demands of the pro-Israel lobby and violating the freedom of speech that is necessary for intellectual enquiry.

The boycotters have mastered the jargon of hurt and safety.

In doing so, they say, the university is no longer a safe space for students and staff.

Perhaps they could also call for the sacking of Steven Greer to ensure student safety.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Transphobia, Kathleen Stock, Academic Freedom, and Free Speech.

with 31 comments

Weekly Roundup and the Harassment of Professor Kathleen Stock

The University of Sussex’s vice chancellor has defended a professor after protesters tried to have her sacked for her views on gender identity.

BBC.

Staff “have an untrammelled right to say and believe what they think,” Adam Tickell told BBC News.

An anonymous campaign included posters accusing Professor Kathleen Stock of transphobia, a claim she rejects.

Prof Stock tweeted that students shouldn’t “just expect to hear their own thoughts reflected back at them”.

Posters put up near the University of Sussex campus and an accompanying social media campaign claimed the philosophy professor “makes trans students unsafe”.

Photos also show a masked protester standing on the university’s sign with a banner that reads “Stock out”.

Professor Stock, who recently published a book questioning the idea that gender identity is more “socially significant” than biological sex, completely rejects the claim that she or her work is transphobic.

Kathleen Stock has a Wikipedia entry.

On France Culture a few days ago the writer and broadcaster Brice Couturier was interviewed, “According to the author, those promoting identity politics split up and compartmentalise more than creating equality. This ‘woke cultural revolution’ will, and is, invading France as it did in the United States. ” Brice Couturier the author of an interesting puff for France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, un président philosophe (2017) , has published OK millennials  which traces some of the wokish themes back to what is claimed to be ‘French Theory’, ideas such as that there is a “political economy of truth”, and the alleged ‘relativism’ of all claims to the validity of what you say depend on people’s power.

Is Europe is about to see a new wave of “Red Guards” – a phrase which that risks trivialising the killings and persecutions of the Cultural Revolution? The observation that we can see, “Puritanisme, victimisation, identitarisme, censure (censorship)” seems more to the point.

Puritanism, Couturier argued in the interview, in a Protestant culture, has had a lasting influence. The idea that artistic, and above all, literary criticism is essentially a branch of morality is so widely diffused that it is hardly noticed. The identity of authors and their subjects, the identity of painters, actors and sculptors, is taken as big part of their moral worth.

The French commentator did not refer to the way an essay like  Fautil bruler Sade ? by Simone de Beauvoir (1951) would get treated today. But you can suspect that reflections on Sade’s fantasies and pondering on “la cruauté et le masochisme” and claims to a “liberté sans loi et sans peur” would be off for the bonfire, even wrapped in de Beauvoir’s claim that the Marquis shed light on the relations between human beings and the egoism of the privileged. Sade is, well, deeply upsetting. How could he be read, or taught, otherwise? His work remained censored throughout the 19th century and most of the 20th. A French court case against some of Sade’s works took place as late as 1957-58, the publisher winning on appeal. His full writings had to wait till the start of the 1960s to be widely available in France. In 2014, on the of bicentenary of Sade’s death in 1814, the manuscript of Les 120 journées de Sodome, other texts and letters were exhibited at the Musée d’Orsay.

You could say that if you are going to start banning objectionable sexual politics Sade might be a place to begin with. Except that nobody has got round to drawing up lists of what it’s acceptable to teach, read or, perhaps, attempt to Bowdlerise such writings. Yet.

It looks as if, in the micro-environment of Sussex University teaching on far wider scale is facing would-be censors. Sade would surely have something to say about the ‘hurt’ the group of Sussex students, @antiterfsussex, complained about. Or to list some of their complaints more extensively:

Middle Way:

Counter-thread:

That Kathleen Stock has been backed by Spiked, (she was due to speak at the ex-RCP Front, The Battle of Ideas event and is supported by them Academic freedom or mob rule? Time to pick a side.) Blue Labour, Flag, Faith and Family Paul Embery and even Tony Greenstein DOUBLE STANDARDS: Sussex University’s Defence of Free Speech for Kathleen Stock Contrasts with Bristol University’s Cowardice in Sacking David Miller should not district from the issues this raises.

Defend Kathleen Stock!

This is not just about academic freedom but about free speech and the right to open debate.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2021 at 11:58 am

Socialist Party (TUSC) Beats Liberal Democrats in Nottingham Council By-Election: 76 Votes to 63!

with 6 comments

Socialist Party :: The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is 'up  and running' for the May 2021 elections

Beat Liberal Democrats Fair and Square.

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is the electoral front of the Socialist Party(SP), more specifically (in recent local elections) the Socialist Party in England and Wales and is backed by the  National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. Chris Williamson’s Resist movement were observers, but the busy chap has been spotted more recently supporting George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain. The other front of the Socialist Party is the National Shop Stewards Network.

The SP wishes to create a new workers’ party,

The building of a new mass working-class political voice is needed as part of the fight for a society where measures are taken in the interests of humanity and the environment.

The Socialist Party is working with the RMT rail union and others in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to take steps in that direction, preparing to stand candidates in next May’s elections against Starmer’s New ‘New Labour’ councillors who’ve axed so many jobs and services.

The Socialist.

This is the present mass-line.

The first meeting after the Labour Party annual conference of the All-Britain Steering Committee of the left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) took place on October 6th. The meeting agreed that Labour’s Brighton gathering marked a definitive break with the promise of fundamental change that had been offered by the previous Jeremy Corbyn leadership.

In response TUSC is issuing a call for the largest possible anti-austerity and socialist intervention to be organised in the local council elections scheduled for May 2022 – as a vital next step in the fightback against what is so clearly now a return to Tony Blair’s New Labour politics.” “Part and parcel of building a new mass workers’ party is the struggle for democratic, fighting trade unions.”

What kind of initiative is this? What is the political culture that leads small organisations to launch themselves into electoral fronts in the belief that they can create their very own, “new mass workers’ party” fired up their efforts to build “fighting trade unions”?

A parallel could be drawn from the French ‘Lambertist’ current. They founded the Parti des travailleurs (PT) in 1991, a kind of mini-workers’ party with ‘tendencies’ (who had about as much independent reality as the ‘Christian Democrats’ in the East German Nationale Front der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik). By a process by no means unique to Trotskyism this became the  Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) in 2008, and then underwent an all-mighty split (like the SP and their breakaway, Socialist Alternative) in 2015. Their own rivals called themselves, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), a weighty name.

Apart from a virulent hatred of the European Union the French group shares one thing in common with TUSC: election scores, “During the municipal elections of 2020 , the POID presented lists in a certain number of towns and cities in France, which scored between 0% and 2%.”

TUSC had high hopes a few weeks ago.

The BFAWU bakers’ union agrees to disaffiliate from the Labour Party

Posted: 28 September 2021

A recall conference of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU) has voted to disaffiliate from the Labour Party, after 119 years of membership.

Following the receipt of an auto-expulsion letter from the Labour Party HQ by the president of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson, the union’s executive had decided to recall the delegates who had attended their June conference for a special meeting on September 28 with the sole agenda item on whether the BFAWU should remain affiliated or not.

Here is TUSC in action,

From The Socialist newspaper, 6 October 2021

Nottingham: Punish Labour for cruel cuts

Vote TUSC in Sherwood and St Ann’s on 7 October

Clare Wilkins, Nottingham Socialist Party

TUSC have yet to publish the by-election results.

In the spirit of comradely public service here they are (see Nottinghamshire Live).

TUSC Beat Lib-Dems!

Nottingham UA by election results 6 October
Sherwood ward
Labour 1174 – 47.4%
Nottingham Independents 629 25.6*
Tory 320 – 1.0%
Greens 195 7.9%*
TUSC 76 3.1%* Geraint Thomas
Lib Dem 63 – less!

  • didn’t stand in previous election
    Labour hold

Not so good here..

St Ann’s ward
Labour 1048 +0.9%
Nottingham Independents 204 12.7%*
Tory 193 + 1.2%
Green 92 5.7%*
Lib Dems 42 – 8.0%
TUSC 24 1.5%* Florence Chadwick

Seeing this result no doubt the BFAWU will be enthusiastically getting closer to the SP.

They have already begun a bit of fellow-travelling:

BFAWU RetweetedSocialist Party | Sheffield Branch@SPSheffield· LEEDS 9th October Youth Fight For Jobs

Take a look at that picture:

Image

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2021 at 11:25 am

Populista. The Rise of Latin America’s 21st Century Strongmen, Will Grant. Review.

with one comment

Populista: The Rise of Latin America's 21st Century Strongman

Populista. The Rise of Latin America’s 21st Century Strongmen, Will Grant. Head of Zeus.

In the new millenium new ways forward for the radical left in Latin America seemed open. “For a decade and a half, populist left-wing presidents were in power from the Amazon to the Andes, The leaders of the Pink tide were democratically elected and radical in heir socialist reforms, though not sufficiently communist to be deemed ‘red.” The BBC correspondent in Latin America Will Grant continues, “Yet within a decade and half, the party was over…A movement that had promised so much was either floundering or had crumbled entirely….. several governments morphed into pseudo left wing kleptocracies run by repressive authoritarians. In some cases the constitutions had been changed to allow indefinite presidential re-elections and concentrate power in the hands of the executive.”

Will Grant’s hefty and path-breaking book begins in Venezuela. The early, pre-Presidential biography of the leader the Bolivarian Revolution, a career military man, would-be 1992 MBR-200, golpsita, the is a starting opener. In power from 1999 the “worker President”, Hugo Chávez who promised a “socialism of the 21st century.” Wreathed for years in “unconditional love” he passed away in 2013, still holding the reins of government. Behind the grieving the promise of socialism had already begun to end with the “biggest robbery of national resources and looting of national funds in Latin American history” .

It is hard to summarise what Chavez and his successor’s ‘socialism’ as an alternative to the capitalist system’ was and is. The Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, (PSUV) and millions of members owes a founding loyalty to “Comandante Hugo Chávez” and a mixture of anti-imperialist, patriotic, and a variety of ideas fashionable on the left. It is better to look at its practice. Today far from abolishing capital or bringing workers and peasant power, resources are dominated and exploited by the Boliburguesía, the monied cartel ennobled by this socialist and his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Chavista thugs terrorise political opponents, even the local Communist Party is now banned from running for office. The country’s economy is “in free fall”; infrastructure is wasting away. Cuban trade and help have brought their ruthless secret service in their wake. Conditions are bad enough for over 4 million refugees to have fled. Only die-hard supporters blame these conditions on ‘Imperialism’.

“Venezuela is a stark warning of what can happen when vanity and dogma outweigh pragmatism and common sense” Yet Populista is far from another denunciation of the vain hopes of the left. As he moves from the North to Brazil Grants paints a portait of the extraordinary life of the leader of the Workers’ Party,  Partido dos Trabalhadores(PT) an organisation launched as democratic socialist, with internal democracy and tendencies. Lula da Silva , who went from shoeshine boy to President. He is a democratic socialist and states, “I don’t consider myself a populist I consider myself a leader who dared to govern with the people, who was no afraid” of the people. In this reformist vein Lula created his social programmes, such the family grants, the Bolsas Familias. If Lula’s party has had is share of corruption scandals, he personally had power snatched away by the an openly biased state and judiciary following the Operação Lava Jato. Brazil is now governed by the right wing, extreme right-wing, populist Jair Bolsonaro, recent victories in court cases and his good showing in polls indicate that he may make a strong electoral comeback.

.Populista goes into the achievements of Bolivian indigenous leader, Evo Morales, another remarkable leader, whose first language is Aymara. His ideology, Grant outlines, draws on this heritage, ‘Kataymism’ an indigenous culture, mixed with European pacifism and ecology, and a Guevarist image of the Two Bolivias, “international neoliberal v. exploited nationals’ whites v. Indians, oligarchs v. subalterns; global models v. local experience.” One of Morales’ key measures, the renegotiation of foreign energy (gas and oil) contacts, reflect this outlook Social reform efforts, breaking down the ‘apartheid’ between the “crillios” of European descent, and the peasants and indigenous population run with their grain. Morales made mistakes, the proposed TIPINIS highway driving through indigenous areas which was vigorously resisted, and ended up on an autocratic pathway, self-cocooned by his own councillors, and seeking refuge in “hollow socialist rhetoric”.

Left Populism?

The ideas and policies of Morales can be compared to left populism, pitting the People, el Pueblo, against the European owners of natural resources, 500 years of struggle against the “oligarchy” But Morales did not believe that they were ‘enemies’ that excluded each other. He did not pose as a Caudillo, strongman, who would stamp out his opponents. The president came from the self-organised assemblies of peasant workers (‘cocaleros’, after the coca leaf), by definition accustomed to both action and negotiation. His political party the Moviemento al socialismo (MAS), is said to have a ” bottom-up, decentralised structure, with regional and local branches having a large amount of input on party decision”. Adjustments had to be made, a “plurinational state” created by consent, backed by “overwhelming popular support.”

The personal qualities of the President aside you can’t help thinking that Bolivian history played a major role in injecting caution into the MAS project. Since independence from Spain Bolivia has seen 190 coups, attempted coups and revolutions. The forced “resignation” of Morales in 2019 under charges of terrorism” was widely seen at the 191st.

These are epic histories and biographies. The chapters on Raphael Correda’s authoritarian rule in Ecuador and the sordid tale of Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship in Nicaragua paint pictures on a smaller scale. Correda, described as a “populist”, “a tragedy replete with treachery, sedition and corruption”. The latter the grave-digger of Third-Worldist hopes with a wife and Vice-President, Rosario Murillo, a blend of “Lady Macbeth and Dick Cheney.. Cuba comes across as an exhausted model, its repressions aide, “The island is dysfunctional in the extreme but doesn’t suffer from the violence or extreme poverty seen elsewhere in Latin America.” Why people continue to consider Cuba as a beacon of hope is a mystery. …

In an Epilogue Populista states “In that extraordinary unprecedented line-up of left-wing leaders at the start of the twenty first century the urgent needs of el pueblo were fulfilled for a time.” The cost, outlined in its pages, was great. The “permanent campaigns” of charismatic chiefs peter out, are revived, lift spirits, and, in the case of Venezuela many would say, have caused lasting damage. Brazil and Bolivia remain the focus of wider hopes, but as Grant indicates, did not fit like a glove, if at all, into the “populista” mould and above all the leadership of a Caudillo.

Laclau and the ‘Political Logic of Populism’.

Populism, Ernesto Laclau argued, is a “political logic”. Grant cites the late Argentinian theorist and professor discourse studies at Essex University that it presents itself as “subversive” of the existing order and the starting point of a new one. There are heavy layers of emotion, ‘affects’ attacked to political leaders who can articulate the democratic demands of the people. These can be mobilised by populists of the right or left against the ‘enemy’, globalisers, metropolitan elites, capitalist oligarchs, neoliberals. What is right and what is left are, on this account, constructed ‘relationally’ and ‘discursively’, they have no fixed meaning.

It has been suggested that the reasoning behind the academic’s approach can be traced to his early years on the Argentinean Left. This was faced with the issue of how to engage with Peronism: specifically, how to develop a leftist project that could win mass support in an era when the working class remained linked to a Peronist political identity. 

Laclau’s founding political experience was in the early sixties in a group that called itself the National Left party, (From Marxist to Post-Marxist Populism: Ernesto Laclau’s Trajectory within the National Left and Beyond. Omar Acha 2019) Without going into the small group politics of the organisation founded by figures such as Jorge Abelardo Ramos the “critical support” given by the  Partido Socialista de la Izquierda Nacional (PSIN) to populist leader Juan Domingo Perón and ‘Peronism’ stands out. In semi-colonial countries (Argentina and the rest of South America) the national tasks of the bourgeoisie had be carried out by the working class – no doubt with the PSI indicating what they might be.

Acha’s description of the PSIN as an “appendage” of Peronism can be applied to those who saw, like Laclau, Chavism as a renewed “Latin American populism.” A theoretical justification for the Socialism of the 21st Century that accepts and justifies the idea that “an entire political movement” can be “built on the shoulders of one man” is beyond implausible faced with the results Populista lists in sad detail. Only those practised in “disconnection from reality” can ignore this. The Marxist principle that emancipation comes from the people, the workers, themselves, not from populist leaders, stands in sharp contrast to the populist experience brilliantly narrated and analysed in Will Grant’s riveting book.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Barry Gardiner, Skwawkbox flies the Kite of a Labour Leadership Challenge.

with 6 comments

Image

Skwawkbox Using Barry Gardiner to Fly a Kite?

EXCLUSIVE (to Goggling), BREAKING (on this Blog…):

9th of JANUARY 2000.

Barry Gardiner ditches Labour leadership bid just 24 hours after announcing he might run.

Here we go again:

Our so-called rival, from the alt-media, has been running this story for the last couple of days.

Exclusive: left MPs urge Gardiner to challenge

Alas,

Yet.

MPs clamour for more on Gardiner’s leadership challenge

SKWAWKBOX (SW)06/10/2021 MPs clamour for more on Gardiner’s leadership challenge

Gardiner’s denial does nothing to dampen interest and hope – and others report same ‘rumours’

“reports from MPs about the growing support for a Gardiner move have started to reach other ears in the movement, independently of Skwawkbox’s exclusive..”

On From the Message Board Bog-Brush writes.

I am sure he could unite the Labour party but you need to get a move on if you want to remove the fascist regime now..

Concerned friends of Steve Walker have suggested that the whole story was concocted over a few jars of Dandelion and Burdock, and that this is a load of cobblers: “Skwawkbox has received appeals from a number of enthusiastic MPs for more information on the challenge and how much support it has from other MPs and from unions.”

It must have taken something stronger to come up with this bit, “His denial has done nothing to put a lid on that burgeoning hope and appetite – or to end the reports that it’s ‘on’.”

The Squawking one’s story is so exclusive nobody else is running it.

The whole story reeks of fabrication.

But then, maybe it is true….

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2021 at 11:14 am

David Miller, Socialist Worker, Spiked, and Academic Freedom.

with 8 comments

Image

SWP – “Disagreeing with Miller about the significance of the Israel lobby is far less important than the need for solidarity with him now.”

Academic and intellectual freedom are serious issues at present. Socialist Worker, commenting on the sacking of Bristol lecturer David Miller, says, that the University \\\2wanted to get of Miller, probably as a result of government pressure.” Alex Callinicos continues, “When it couldn’t pin antisemitism on him, it used the hurt his remarks may have caused some students to dismiss him. This manoeuvre is typical of the senior management of contemporary universities, who operate like the bosses of businesses.

“The statement affirms Bristol’s commitment to academic freedom but this is clearly a lie. Freedom of speech is impossible if you punish people for offending others. “Galileo Galilei offended the Pope and his cardinals when he said the Earth went around the sun, but this doesn’t mean the Inquisition was justified in forcing him to recant.” (Defend David Miller and academic freedom Alex Callinicos.)

On Spiked one-time Revolutionary Communist Party Leader Frank Furedi says, “I have little time for Miller or his obsessive fantasy that Zionism is responsible for the evils of the world. But despite his warped worldview, it is still wrong for Bristol to fire him. Academic freedom is a foundational principle in university life – it is far better to challenge Miller’s abhorrent views than to suppress them.” One can only agree with these words, were they not from somebody waging his own culture-war from the National Populist HQ who says little about his own side’s efforts.

The one-time backer of No-Platform, Callinicos, says, “It’s a basic liberal precept that toleration matters precisely when one doesn’t agree with the views under attack. But we live at a time when liberal institutions such as universities don’t respect their principles.”

The problem lies there. As the SWP top-theoretician’s fellow liberal Nick Cohen righty wrote last Sunday, “As it is a familiar experience for contacts to tell me in confidence that they are frightened of speaking their minds, while pretending in public that nothing is wrong, the canard that cancel culture does not exist needs to be tackled.” Shouldn’t progressives be in favour of people wanting to speak their mind? Nick Cohen.

One would nevertheless find it hard to place David Miller in the camp of those opposed to Cancel Culture. Or Socialist Worker as a resolute defender of free speech.

Here is what Alex Callinicos wrote after the murder of our comrades from Charlie Hebdo (Paris attacks are a legacy of imperialism. January 2015),

The closest French equivalent to the Socialist Workers Party, the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), (NOTE, a claim most people would strongly contest) issued a statement condemning the Charlie Hebdo massacre headlined “Barbaric and reactionary madness”.

Of course it was right to condemn the massacre, but the NPA was wrong to call the attack barbarism (and even, in another statement, its perpetrators fascists). This is exactly how ruling classes frame their wars in the Muslim world. 

After 9/11 George W Bush talked about a struggle between civilisation and barbarism. Ex-right wing president Nicolas Sarkozy echoed him on the steps of the Elysée presidential palace last week.

This discourse implicitly justifies the right of Western imperialist states to bring order and freedom to “backward” societies and combat “Islamofascists” worldwide.

The NPA statement goes on to accuse the attackers of “sowing terror, against freedom of expression, freedom of the press in the name of reactionary and obscurantist prejudices”. This effectively endorses the dominant identification with Charlie Hebdo—“Je suis Charlie”—with a magazine that has gloried in publishing horrible, bullying racist caricatures of Muslims.

Not much of defence of Charlie’s freedom of expression there. Those backing Charlie Hebdo, the learned theoretician asserted, stand with a bullying racist horrid weekly. Slaughtering the cartoonists, staff and people who happened to be in their offices, was not “barbarism”. It was highly inappropriate to call the murderers ‘fascists’. They, if “nasty”, were really acting as part of the “legacy of imperialism”, and the fault lies with those that bequeathed that heirloom.

In fact one see here that Callinicos and the SWP have little interest in freedom of expression, except, in the Miller case, when it suits their cause of defending a potentially larger pool of “critical scholars” and showing up university authorities.

The politics of universities, dominated by business-driven managers, and, it is said, competing staff and student identity politics of the right and self-identifying left, is not something this Blog cares greatly about. If Nick Cohen is right this culture has been inflected by narcissism, fear, ‘feelings’, by sneaks, and heresy-hunters, to put it no higher.

We are strongly in favour of free speech and the liberty of debate.

As one of the greatest defenders of this principle put it,

“Let her [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.”
― John Milton, Areopagitica 1644.

Milton claimed to have met Gallio, besting Callinicos, “grown old a prisoner of the Inquisition, for thinking in astronomy otherwise than the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought.”

A lot of the politics at play at present look like, as Milton said, attempts to “expel sin” – reducing debate to rival expressions of moral outrage. That is, liberty of expression reduced “into the power of a few”.

Milton liked people who had done a bit of ground-work, the “deep mines of knowledge”, before speaking,

“When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends; after all which done he takes himself to be informed in what h writes, as well as any that writ before him.” (Areopagitica).

Which certainly does not look like the kind of work behind the ranting about inter-faith chicken soup (and his bizarre conspiracy charts) that Miller went in for and will no doubt continue.

Or as this chap says:

Tony Greenstein started this petition to academics and supporters of civil liberties

Professor David Miller of Bristol University called for an End to Zionism and said that the Union of Jewish Students, which is affiliated to the racist World Zionist Organisation, is using Jewish students as pawns and playing on their fears of anti-semitism.

David Miller has come under vicious attack from the Jewish Chronicle and a full spectrum of Zionist organisations including the Board of Deputies of Zionist Jews, the Union of Jewish Students and a multiplicity of Zionist organisations.

In Israel they imprisoned a dissident Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour who spoke out against the racism that Arab citizens of Israel experienced.  We refuse to allow Israel’s undemocratic norms to become the normal in this country.

We support Professor Miller’s right to speak out about Zionism and the racist State of Israel.

It is not David Miller who should be condemned but the Zionist movement and a state that refuses to supply vaccines to the 5 million Palestinians under its control whilst inoculating its own Jewish citizens.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2021 at 11:34 am

Confusionist Red-Brown Éric Zemmour, and Michel Onfray ‘Debate’ in Paris.

leave a comment »

Red Brown ‘Popular Front’ Debate.

Before beginning we should shed some light on who and what Éric Zemmour is and what he has been doing in recent months.

Éric Zemmour, the will-he-or-won’t-he-run far Right French Presidential candidate has been scoring up to 15% in opinion polls, just behind the candidate of the Rassemblement National, Marine le Pen, at 16%. Both the principal possible candidates of the main right-wing party (they will only choose a Presidential runner at their Conference at the start of December) Les  Républicains – Xavier Bertrand (14%) and Valérie Pécresse (12%) are behind the far-right polemicist in the most recent surveys.  Emmanuel Macron remains at 24 to 25%. According to a recent poll no French left wing candidate has got above 10%.

As Le Monde pointed out on Saturday, this is a drop of 10 points for the leader of the “de-diabolised” far right party. Keen to rub this in her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen (kicked out of the predecessor the RN, the Front National in 2015), commented in an interview with the French daily of record, ““If Eric is the candidate of the national camp in the best position, of course, I will. support him“.

One of Zemmour’s most notorious claims is that the Vichy regime kept French Jews safe from the German occupiers. Le Pen did not lose the opportunity to remark that. It was not Pétain who was the boss, he defended the French Jews and gave up foreigners (to the camps…..) . The French police carried out a procedure in a more humane way. It is easy to say sixty years later “they should have……”  He added, “The only difference between Eric and me is that he is Jewish,” Jean-Marie Le Pen bluntly. concluded, “It’s hard to call him a Nazi or a fascist. This gives him greater freedom. “

Now for yesterday…

Yesterday an audience of 3,700 (tickets were at 24 or 44 euros) came to the Palais des congrès in Paris for a meeting of “sovereigntists from two different sides. ” Michel Onfray once a self-styled libertarian anarchist is the founder of the journal Le Front Populaire, which brings together the extreme right and nationalist ‘anti-woke’ left. He helped organise this friendly conversation-spectacle, billed as a ‘debate’. Most came, reports say, to see and listen to Zemmour.

This meeting illustrates what sociologist Philippe Corcuff describes as “blurring of political boundaries” . “Onfray’s confusionism, cobbled together from the far right to the radical left, endorses the ultraconservatism of Zemmour, which mixes xenophobia, sexism and homophobia in a nationalist framework”, judged the author of La Grande Confusion. How the far right wins the battle of ideas (2021). One could add that both share an anti-European Union position.

The Nouvel Obs estimates that the pair share 92,7% of the same opinions.

Selon notre décompte, Zemmour et Onfray sont d’accord sur 92,7 % des sujet

Both mourn the decadence of our civilisation, our lost sovereignty and the Machiavellianism of Pope Francis. They do not agree on Voltaire and fridges.

Slate magazine has gathered together what they call “the worst” of Zemmour’s statements.

Le pire des citations d’Éric Zemmour.

Were he the French President, “a Frenchman will not have the right to call his son Mohamed” .

Employers “have the right to refuse Arabs or blacks”.

“All Muslims, whether they say it or not,” regard jihadists as “good Muslims”.

Unaccompanied minors (that is, those who come as refugees) “like the rest of immigration […] have no place here: they are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are”.

“I think rap is an illiterate subculture.”

“When General Bugeaud arrived in Algeria, he began to massacre Muslims, and even some Jews. Well, today I am on the side of General Bugeaud. That’s it, being French! ”

“-Shouldn’t power remain in the hands of men?
– Of course it should, otherwise it will be wasted. “

His “humour”: The green of the Greens (ecologists) corresponds, as if by chance, to the green of Islam.”

The death penalty: ” I am philosophically in favour of it.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 5, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Should the Left Back Insulate Britain or Condemn them as an Elitist Hobbyists?

with 13 comments

Desperate woman following mum's ambulance begs Insulate Britain protesters  to move as they block four corners of London

Climate Protest as a Disruptive Hobby.

“For Hobbyists, their left wing politics are their identity, their raison d’être, and the source of much of their self-worth. But unlike earlier radicals, they are not at the vanguard of any movement, but are instead largely removed from the groups they seek to represent.”

David Swift. A Left for itself, Left-wing Hobbyists and Performative Radicalism. Zero Books. 2019.

Swift harked back to groups that claim to stand for a variety of inter-sectional struggles, and he made a sweeping judgement. But you can’t help feeling that the Climate Change and Insulate Britain movements fit the hobbyist bill.

Following the set back to the governing prospects of Corbynism and distant from the mass labour movement they also mark a return to the leftist folk politics of direct action.

A difference with the identity left or right is that they claim to stand for the whole human race and planet, if not a few more things besides. This is the basis on which to act in elitist vanguard ways. They have so far succeeded in alienating ordinary people without an express interest in their cause but have also cut them off from a large section of potential supporters.

Today it is blocking roads. Not long ago it was a variety of counter-produtive actions.

Such as this one:

One of the most ridiculous actions of Extinction Rebellion in East Anglia was the defacement of Ipswich Borough Council’s Offices in Russell Road. In February 2021 a spin off from the movement, Burning Pink, they sprayed the front of the building with large graffiti. Ipswich Council has a Labour majority and takes the issue of Climate Change very seriously.

Two women have been arrested after the main office of Ipswich Borough Council was daubed in pink graffiti by members of a political party.

The council’s Grafton House office in Russell Road was targeted by environmentalists on Monday morning, February 15.

A message in bright pink paint reading “tough love” and “12 demands ultimatum” was sprayed on the front door and windows and the Burning Pink party has claimed responsibility.

Several police cars attended the scene, while the council’s graffiti team removed the message early Monday morning.

A spokesman for Burning Pink confirmed the party were behind the vandalism, which came as part of a move against 15 councils nationwide who in their opinion have failed to act on their promises after declaring a climate emergency.

This is what the left of centre and Green conscious Council said,

The group that is thought to have carried out this vandalism is making demands around climate change. However, the council has already declared a climate emergency, has been reducing its carbon footprint for years and has a plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Just last week the council’s executive agreed to acquire a site for a new carbon neutral depot to run key services from; we’ve already spent millions on new electric and lower emission vehicles, made thousands of council houses more energy efficient through solar panels and better insulation and have planted hundreds of new trees.

“Climate change is everyone’s responsibility – while the council is playing its part, the government and others need to do their bit too.”

Burning Pink, campaigning on climate change and plans to abolish democracy and replace it with a system of citizens’ assemblies chosen by lot to reflect the’ real’ poulation, got these votes.

Date of electionConstituencyCandidateVotes%Position
2021 London mayoral electionLondon-wideValerie Brown5,3050.2%20th (last)
2021 Bristol City Council electionWindmill HillRachel Lunnon901.7%9th (last)
2021 Ipswich Borough Council electionSt Margaret’sSue Hagley781.2%5th (last)
2021 Oxfordshire County Council electionHanborough and Minster LovellDave Baldwin340.9%5th (last)
2021 Suffolk County Council electionSt Margaret’s and WestgateTina Smith1682.1%7th (last)

The latest incarnation of this mouvance is Insulate Britain, ““set up by people in XR and related networks”.

This elitist group is shy about how its internal decisions work. It is suspected that it works by ‘consensus decision making’ between a handful of activists. There is no democratic membership structure. Those prepared to engage in the vanguard politics of blocking roads are largely self-selected. The nature of the protests, which involve potential physical harm to motorists and demonstrators, as well as arrests, excludes mass participation and promotes those willing to ‘sacrifice’ themselves.

Socialist Worker argues that the left should support the campaign.

Climate activists are right to block roads (21st September.)

The Tories and right wing media have launched huge attacks on the climate action group, Insulate Britain. But Sophie Squire argues that in the face of government inaction and repression it’s right for protests to be disruptive.

But the Tories and the right wing press have whipped up a backlash against the “eco mob” and “enviro zealots”.

The left must not line up behind this onslaught and has to defend the need for protests to be disruptive.

The SWP does however note, “Direct action is most effective when large numbers of people take part. Thousands participating in this kind of action at the Cop26 protest could not only block a road but have the power to shut down a whole city.”

This is what people are increasingly saying,

But with their actions causing further division rather than instigating positive change, what are they actually trying to achieve? If it just to raise awareness of climate change – then the vast majority of people agree that something needs to drastically change. However, blocking roads is clearly causing nothing but harm to everyday working people’s lives.

The below are reasons why Insulate Britain are getting spurned:

Few are going to listen to this,

 Insulate Britain released a statement saying: “We share the frustration of the people being delayed on the roads today. Does our government know what to do? The disorder on the roads today suggests otherwise.

“The Insulate Britain protests could end immediately, the government has a choice: make a meaningful statement that we can trust on insulating our homes, or make the decision to imprison those people who are more scared of the destruction of their country than they are of fines or a six-month sentence.”

The self-regarding final sentence says it all.

The voice of would-be martyrs stands out as that of elitist hobbyists.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2021 at 5:30 pm

Lars Vilks, Cartoonist of Muhammed, Attacked for ‘Blasphemy’, Killed in Car Crash.

leave a comment »

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, known for his drawing of the prophet Mohammed, is awarded with the Danish freedom of the press award in Copenhagen, on March 13, 2015.

Lars Vilks, awarded the Danish freedom of the press award in Copenhagen, on March 13, 2015.

Lars Vilks: Muhammad cartoonist dies in car crash while under police protection – reports

The Swedish artist has lived under police protection since his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body, which sparked several death threats.

Shedding some clarity on the nature of the threats against Vilks,

The death threats against Vilks came following his cartoon, with dogs being considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and Islamic law generally opposing any depiction of the prophet, even favourable, for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Al Qaeda had put a $100,000 (£73,692) bounty on his head in response to the drawing.

In 2015, he attended a free speech event at a café in Copenhagen. It was targeted by an Islamist gunman who opened fire, killing a film director and wounding three police officers. The gunman then went to a synagogue and killed a volunteer guard.

Vilks later said he believed he was the intended target of the shooting.

.

This continued.

In 2010, two men tried to burn down his house in southern Sweden. Last year, a woman from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty in a plot to try to kill him.

Vilks was largely known within Sweden for illegally building a sculpture made of driftwood in a nature reserve, triggering a lengthy legal battle.

He was fined, but the seaside sculpture – a jumble of wood nailed together – draws tens of thousands of visitors a year.

Le Monde gives a lot more detail,

Lars Vilks, le caricaturiste suédois de Mahomet, est mort dans un accident de la route.

“His assassination was planned by the American Colleen LaRose , alias “JihadJane”, who would have recruited Islamists for this purpose, according to American justice authorities, before being arrested in October 2009. In May 2010, two young Swedish brothers of Kosovar origin try to burn down his house with Molotov cocktails. He was not there. In June 2010, he was the victim of a head butt during a debate at the Swedish University of Uppsala which turned into a fist fight.

In September 2011, hundreds of people were evacuated from a building in Gothenburg where the Contemporary Art Biennale was inaugurated: the police, who had strong reasons to believe that Mr. Vilks would be attacked, arrested four people.

In February 14, 2015 , a young Danish man of Palestinian origin opened fire when he tried to break into a debate on freedom of expression in Copenhagen , organised after the deadly attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Lars Vilks, who topped the meeting’s bill, with the French ambassador, escaped unscathed, but a 55-year-old Danish director was killed. The attacker then managed to kill a Jewish guard outside the synagogue in Copenhagen, before being shot dead in a face-to-face with Danish police.”

*********

This Blog is not, in general, an admirer of Andrew Boyle.

But he hit the nail on the head when he wrote these words, which apply equally to the drawing of Lars Vilks.

“In an satirical traditions authority is the target whether that takes the form of kings reduced to the status fruit, or ideological figureheads conceptualised in sexually comprising scenarios Charlie Hebdo’s description of Mohammad like its cartoon of the Holy Trinity, in which he Son, the Father and Holy Spirit, are seen engaged in a three-way sexual encounter – are no ‘punching down’ at ordinary Muslims, but ‘punching up’ at the icons of powerful global religions. After all you can’t punch much higher than God.”

“To excoriate these cartoonists for racism is to lock horns with a phantom enemy. If satirists are to self-censor due the possibility of misinterpretation we may as well abandon the genre altogether. (Pages 52 -32. Free Speech. Andrew Doyle. 2021).

Image by Lars Vilks published in Nerikes Allehanda adjacent to the editorial.

The Lars Vilks Muhammad drawings controversy began in July 2007 with a series of drawings by Swedish artist Lars Vilks that depicted the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog (a form of street installation in Sweden). Several art galleries in Sweden declined to show the drawings, citing security concerns and fear of violence. The controversy gained international attention after the Örebro-based regional newspaper Nerikes Allehanda published one of the drawings on 18 August as part of an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of religion.[1]

While several other leading Swedish newspapers had published the drawings already, this particular publication led to protests from Muslims in Sweden as well as official condemnations from several foreign governments including Iran,[2] Pakistan,[3] Afghanistan,[4] Egypt,[5] and Jordan,[6] as well as by the inter-governmental Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).[7] The controversy occurred about a year and a half after the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy in Denmark in early 2006.

And,

9 March 2010 arrests[edit]

On 9 March 2010, seven people were arrested in the Republic of Ireland over an alleged plot to assassinate Vilks. The arrested were originally from Morocco and Yemen and had refugee status.[32][33][34] Of the seven, three men and two women were arrested in Waterford and Tramore and another man and woman at Ballincollig, near Cork.[33] Garda Síochána (the Irish police force), which conducted the arrests with support from the counter-terror Special Detective Unit and the National Support Services, said the suspects range in age from mid 20s to late 40s.[35] The Garda Síochána also added that throughout the investigation they had been “working closely with law enforcement agencies in the United States and in a number of European countries”.[35]

The same day, Colleen R. LaRose from the Philadelphia, US, suburbs, had her federal indictment unsealed charging her with trying to recruit Islamic terrorists to murder Vilks.[36]

2010 Stockholm bombings[edit]

Main article: 2010 Stockholm bombings

An emailed threat sent to a news agency and to the Swedish Security Service occurred made reference to this incident.[37][38] Afterwards, two bombs exploded, injuring two people and killing the would-be attacker.[39][40][41][42]

2010 Copenhagen terror plot[edit]

Main article: 2010 Copenhagen terror plot

At the time of the December 2010 terror arrests, Lars Vilks’ home page was subject to a hacker attack. According to Vilks’ blog, the hacker declared the attacks would be continued with no end and that the targets are Vilks, Kurt Westergaard, and Geert Wilders.[43][non-primary source needed]

2013 Al-Qaeda’s most wanted[edit]

In 2013, cartoonist Stéphane “Charb” Charbonnier was added to Al-Qaeda‘s most wanted list, along with Lars Vilks and three Jyllands-Posten staff members: Kurt WestergaardCarsten Juste, and Flemming Rose.[44][45][46]

2015 Copenhagen shootings[edit]

Main article: 2015 Copenhagen shootings

On 14 February 2015, shots were fired at a public meeting in Denmark attended by Vilks, leaving one civilian dead and three policemen wounded.[47] The attacker fled after a brief gunfight with police and was later shot dead the next day after committing another shooting at a Jewish synagogue, killing one person and injuring two policemen.[citati

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2021 at 12:16 pm

China and the Left Conference: Why does the Progressive International contain the pro-Beijing Qiao Collective?

with 5 comments

Image

“I once informed leaders of the Progressive International—which rather awkwardly includes New Bloom (Note, Taiwan centred youth and political news) , Lausan (Note: Hong Kong left and labour rights) , and Qiao Collective alike—that as a basic rule of thumb, an international should not include members who wish death and destruction on other members as Qiao Collective does on Hong Kong and Taiwan, and that the Progressive International should consult with its existing members more knowledgeable about regional specificities before admitting new members who may have rather questionable politics. This rather basic suggestion has been completely ignored by the Progressive International leadership, who at the start of the venture did not seem to know of any groups in Asia. A list sent by the author of groups to possibly reach out to was ignored in favor of admitting the Qiao Collective. “

Brian Hioe

This Blog agrees 100% with the above.

Essential reading for all democratic socialists a careful, restrained, taking apart of the claims of the new pro-Chinese state left.

THE FOLLOWING TALK, which took place after an hour-long break for lunch, was a keynote by Michelle of the Qiao Collective. 

 Michelle sought to steer this observation toward claims of Chinese superiority, stating “We, in the imperial core, are the unfree ones,” claiming that the US’s failure to control COVID-19 was a form of genocide. Never mind that “genocide” has a specific meaning and does not simply refer to mass death, one need only note the contemporary ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs in Xinjiang through reeducation camps to wonder how Michelle’s moral indictment of US genocide is anything other than a rhetorical diversion tactic. Furthermore, while Michelle claimed that the west was projecting its own boogieman onto China, one need only note that Michelle and other Qiao Collective member’s views of China betray a pernicious form of diasporic projection onto China. At the same time, Michelle would not be the only speaker at the conference to cite the US’s failures in managing COVID-19 as an example of the superiority of the Chinese system. 

MANICHAEISM WITH CHINESE CHARACTERISTICS: A LOOK BACK ON THE “CHINA AND THE LEFT” CONFERENCE

Surprising nobody, the event mostly consisted of uncritical apologia for the Chinese state—however, the mental gymnastics on display are worth remarking on. Ultimately, the depiction of China by the event’s speakers will still be persuasive to members of the western Left who know little about China and for whom China is little more than a faraway land to projected one’s romanticized hopes onto, something reflected in how little most speakers seemed to know about the world’s most populous nation. All this reflects the poverty of much of the western Left’s knowledge of anything outside of western contexts and their projection of readymade frameworks onto any and all non-western contexts—in which they seem unable to see beyond their own Euro-American-centric worldview, failing to grasp the rather basic idea that there can be any empire in the world outside of US empire.

The ‘Progressive’ International:

Members of the ‘progressive’ international include: (Progressive International Site).

The World Transformed, The Nation, Novara Media, Mediapart, Jacobin, Open Democracy (!) and yes, the Qiao Collective.

Another case, the one-time Trotskyist leader of the International Marxist Group, John Ross:

By contrast:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2021 at 2:32 pm

Pabloism and Trotskyism (…and Keir Starmer)

with 2 comments

Image

The Real Pabloites, issue contains interview with Ben Bella.

It is said that Pabloism, that is the Tendance Marxiste Révolutionnaire Internationale (TMRI), an international revolutionary network which Labour Leader Keir Starmer was very close to, dropped Trotskyism in the 1970s

According to “International Trotskyism, 1929–85: A Documented Analysis of the Movement” the IRMT had a conference in 1972 where they dropped the pretence to being the World Party of Socialist Revolution and any allegiance to Trotskyism.

John Rogan. Keir Starmer, Trotskyism and Pabloism. 2020.

This is true in the sense that the TMRI put the self-managed republic and a broadly libertarian version of Marxism at the heart of its politics during that decade – during which their French activists in the Alliance Marxist Révolutionnaire, (AMR) were active in groups like the Parti Socialiste Unifié. (L’Alliance marxiste révolutionnaire rejoint le P.S.U. Le Monde. 1974)

Nevertheless the TMRI always considered Trotsky a ‘reference’, even if they did not wish to confine Marxism to one historical experience (the Russian Revolution) or one figure, Trotsky as the founder of the original Fourth International. In this was the group remained “loyal to the achievements and method of Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Trotsky and Lenin” which meant, above all, being capable of developing in a critical and creative way” Marxism in the present day.

Image

In 1987 one can see in this edition of Sous le Drapeau du socialisme (the theoretical journal of the TMRI) they advocated a form of “transitional programme” for the new conditions on that decade.

Image

This declaration included support for developing a European dimension, and the creation of state groupement that were still broader “ensembles plus large” with a “common market. One could read that as backing for the European Union, as a step towards a world wide self-managed republic.

This is a good overview of the French ‘Pablistes’: Bref aperçu de l’histoire du courant “pabliste” ses suites et ses périphéries en France 1965-1996

Written by Andrew Coates

October 2, 2021 at 6:15 pm

David Miller Sacked from Bristol University After Anti-Semitism Row.

leave a comment »

Image

David Miller’s ‘Research’.

Statement on Professor David Miller

1 October 2021

Following a full investigation, we can confirm that from today (Friday 1 October) Professor David Miller is no longer employed by the University of Bristol.

We have a duty of care to all students and the wider University community, in addition to a need to apply our own codes of conduct consistently and with integrity. Balancing those important considerations, and after careful deliberation, a disciplinary hearing found Professor Miller did not meet the standards of behaviour we expect from our staff and the University has concluded that Professor Miller’s employment should be terminated with immediate effect.

The University regards the principle of academic freedom as fundamental and would like to reiterate that we take any risk to stifle that freedom seriously. The investigation included an independent report from a leading Queen’s Counsel who considered the important issue of academic freedom of expression and found that Professor Miller’s comments did not constitute unlawful speech.

We recognise that these matters have caused deep concern for people on all sides of the debate, and that members of our community hold very different views from one another.

Given the degree of public interest in this matter we hope our community will appreciate the care and attention with which the University must approach it. We cannot provide any further update on this process; in line with ACAS guidance, such internal processes should remain confidential. Professor Miller has a right of internal appeal which he may choose to exercise and nothing in this statement should be taken to prejudge that prospective process. On that basis, the University does not intend to make any further public comment at this time.

The University remains committed to fostering a positive working and learning environment that enriches lives and where the essential principles of academic freedom are preserved.

Response from Miller:

Prof Miller said: “The University of Bristol has embarrassed itself and the entire British academic sector by capitulating to a pressure campaign against me overseen and directed by a hostile foreign government. It has run a shambolic process that seems to have been vetted by external actors.

Israel’s assets in the UK have been emboldened by the university collaborating with them to shut down teaching about Islamophobia. The University of Bristol is no longer safe for Muslim, Arab or Palestinian students.

“I stand by my evidence-based comments and I will be challenging this decision, all the way to an employment tribunal if necessary.”

Neither the above nor the below is going to win Miller many friends outside of the narrow circles who back his ‘research’.

We should draw a distinction between the issues of academic freedom involved in this sacking and that of the academic credibility of David Miller.

.

Miller is the co-founder and co-director of the non-profit company Public Interest Investigations, which has two main projects, Spinwatch, a website]which says it is “devoted to public interest reporting on spin lobbying and political corruption”,

Even the Spikey ones, and one of the most virulent ones, recoil from Miller:

You wonder where former Revolutionary Communist Party cadre, Heartfield (original name James Hughes), now Spiked national populist and sovereigntist, did his ‘warning’ of something as well known as the above.

Rater then rehearse all the arguments, this is a good summary of the issues the case raises.

Why “academic freedom” is no defence of the Bristol University professor David Miller

Dr Dave Rich.

Miller’s conflicts with Jewish students flow from the same analysis of “Zionist” power that he teaches in class.

Professor Miller has said that there is “an all-out onslaught by the Israeli government” to “impose their will all over the world”, and that all university Jewish societies (including Bristol’s), plus the Union of Jewish Students, are “directed by Israel” as part of this effort. More broadly, he says that Bristol Jewish Society belongs to a “Zionist movement” that he has characterised as “the enemy of the left, the enemy of world peace, and they must be directly targeted”. Miller says the goal is to “defeat the ideology of Zionism in practice” and “to end Zionism… as a functioning ideology of the world”. While many consider Miller’s comments to be so inflammatory as to endanger Jewish students, he claims it is university Jewish societies that render Muslim and Arab students unsafe.

At the heart of all this is Miller’s belief that Islamophobia is generated and encouraged by “parts of the Zionist movement”, and that it is “fundamental to Zionism to encourage Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism”. In February 2019 he taught this theory to undergraduates at Bristol using a PowerPoint slide with a network map of Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel organisations and individuals that he had first drawn up in 2013 under the title of “the British Zionist scene”. As the sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris has pointed out, this map was a meaningless mass of names and arrows with no real academic or analytical value. Even worse, by the time Miller taught it to students in 2019, most of the individuals named on the map had either left their posts or died. Jewish students in Miller’s lecture complained and the slide has come to represent, for Miller’s critics, the anti-Semitic nature of his work.

Bristol University was familiar with this aspect of Miller’s research, and even with this specific image, when it hired him in 2018, because Miller had used this same PowerPoint slide in a talk at an academic seminar held by the university’s Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship three years earlier. Speaking to an audience of Bristol academics, Miller described it as showing “the transnational Zionist movement”, which he said connected Israeli state institutions and UK Jewish organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. “It’s important to see this as a transnational affair”, he told his academic audience, which is not limited to supporting Israel but is also a “social movement” that engages in “domestic politics”, including “ultra-Zionist funders” who are “active in Islamophobia”; while the Israeli government, he claimed, “is directly involved in trying to sabotage and undermine the role of Muslims in public life”. 

Miller calls himself “an investigative researcher interested in concentrations of power in society”, and his Spinwatch website describes these networks as using “spin and deception” to “distort public debate and undermine democracy.” His work claims to uncover something hidden and malign, and his purpose is not to describe in a neutral sense but to expose and weaken his targets. The picture of a transnational Jewish or “Zionist” network using finance and lobbying to subvert public life that Miller paints is in keeping with his view of how power operates, but the way it echoes certain facets of anti-Semitic conspiracism should have set off alarm bells for anyone attending that 2015 seminar. This is who Bristol hired; as well as investigating Miller’s comments, the university would benefit from investigating its own recruitment process.

No doubt we shall hear more than the quarter that initiated the below.

Educators and researchers in support of Professor Miller

Dear Professor Brady,

We wish to express our serious concerns about the unrelenting and concerted efforts to publicly vilify our colleague Professor David Miller.

Professor Miller is an eminent scholar. He is known internationally for exposing the role that powerful actors and well-resourced, co-ordinated networks play in manipulating and stage-managing public debates, including on racism. The impact of his research on the manipulation of narratives by lobby groups has been crucial to deepening public knowledge and discourse in this area. 

The attacks on Professor Miller stem from a lecture on Islamophobia that he gave to students at the University of Bristol two years ago. In the most recent instance of this harassment, Professor Miller was approached to provide a statement on Israel-Palestine. When he responded honestly to the query, well-orchestrated efforts were made to misrepresent these responses as evidence of anti-Semitism. A call was then made to the University of Bristol to deprive him of his employment. 

We oppose anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism. We also oppose false allegations and the weaponisation of the positive impulses of anti-racism so as to silence anti-racist debate. We do so because such vilification has little to do with defeating the harms caused by racism. Instead, efforts to target, isolate and purge individuals in this manner are aimed at deterring evidence-based research, teaching and debate. 

Prolonged harassment of a highly-regarded scholar and attempts to denigrate a lifetime’s scholarship cause significant distress to the individual. Such treatment also has a broader pernicious effect on scholarship and well-informed public discourse. It creates a culture of self-censorship and fear in the wider academic community. Instead of free and open debate, an intimidatory context is created and this can be particularly worrying for those who do not hold positions of seniority, influence or stable employment, particularly in times of job uncertainty and in a sector with high levels of casualised employment. As a result, important scholarship is omitted, and this curtails the public’s and students’ right to learn and to engage in thoughtful debate. 

At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has reinvigorated public consciousness about the structural factors entrenching racism, attempts to stifle discourse on Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism are particularly regressive and inconsistent with the values the University of Bristol espouses.

As public intellectuals and academics, we feel duty-bound to express our solidarity with Professor Miller and to oppose such efforts to crush academic freedom. Given your roles within the University and your responsibilities to the wider academic community, we urge you to vigorously defend the principle of academic freedom and the rights to free speech and to evidence-based & research-informed public discourse. We hope that you will uphold the integrity of academic debate.

Professor Noam Chomsky, University of Arizona, Linguistics

Dr Ahdaf Soueif, Writer and Retired Professor in English at Cairo University 

Professor Sami Al-Arian, Istanbul Zaim University, Director, Center for Islam and Global Affairs

Professor Ilan Pappé, University of Exeter, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

Mr John Pilger, Journalist, Author and Filmmaker

Dr Norman G Finkelstein, Political Scientist and Author  

Mr Ronnie Kasrils, Author and Former South African Government Minister (1994-2008)

Dr François Burgat, Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at French National Centre for Scientific Research

Full List on Link.

The crew pictured below have been also leading the campaign to defend Miller…

The David Miller case: A textbook example of anti-Zionism becoming vicious  antisemitism - Israel News - Haaretz.com

Written by Andrew Coates

October 2, 2021 at 1:43 pm

Are the new Joint Green Party Leaders a Left Alternative to Labour?

with 4 comments

Image

Will Greens Encourage Left Politics?

The Green Party has elected its two co-leaders:

.

  • Denyer: “We are at a crucial moment in history and it is clear that the other major political parties have failed”
  • Ramsay: “More than ever, we need strong Green voices to make the compelling case for a Green transition, a just transition”

Like the French Greens (EELV), whose candidate for President in 2022 was announced two days ago it was thought that timing the result to coincide with the German Bundestag result would boost their impact. The German Bündnis 90/Die Grünen– Greens – did well, 14.8+5.8%. But talk of their candidate, Annalena Baerbock, 40,  becoming Chancellor, came to nothing.

This is what the new Green co-leaders say,

“We’re determined to see more Greens elected in England and Wales,” said Mr Ramsay. “We’re here because we want to lead our party to success … to be the real opposition to this feeble Conservative government.”

The Green Party has only one MP, Caroline Lucas, but has three members on the London Assembly and around 400 councillors across England and Wales

In the UK there is now also a new angle.

Immediately commentators have rushed to proclaim that the Greens (that is, the Green Party in England and Wales, GPEW, the Scottish Greens already have a “power-sharing deal” with the right-of-centre, left-of-centre, always nationalist SNP), are about to become a left-wing alternative to Labour,

The Greens are perfectly poised to become a major force on the British left

Matthew Butcher

“The Labour party leadership is trying to shed its leftwing image, but, as journalist Stephen Bush has pointed out, that means potentially losing a serious political constituency. Labour may talk a good game on climate investment, but its economically illiterate allusions to treating the nation’s budget like a “household” is unlikely to wash with the large chunk of the electorate who have emerged from the pandemic wanting higher spending, more generous benefits and public ownership. And that’s before we even begin to speak about Labour’s pledge to continue deportation flights if it enters government, or its refusal to seriously rethink the UK’s failing drug policies. Compare the ideas and energy I saw coming out of the World Transformed festival this week with the shadow cabinet speeches, and you can see the political waters in which the Greens should be swimming.

As fires rage across the world, and homes and businesses are flooded in the UK, it’s no surprise that we see consistently high levels of concern about the climate crisis. The government and the Labour party are taking fairly serious steps forward on the issue, but by focusing on it they only reinforce its importance, and drive many voters toward the only party seen as putting it first – the Greens.”

There is some truth in the idea that the emergence of Green issues, “global warming”, “climate change”, and “climatic disruption”, as well as “environmental destruction”, “weather destabilization”, and “environmental collapse” are going to encourage some to vote Green.

Some people may equally believe this…

Denyer and Ramsay were in some ways the “safe bet” for the party, but their pledge to “transform society to create a brighter future for all” is a bold one.

Supporters of a darker future may disgree.

Having followed the debates in the Green Party in England and Wales I would say that the vast majority of then, when not about what nice people the candidates were, was winning seats in elections, and something about ecological, that is, Green issues. Did they mention trade unions? One may have missed it….

This is what the two successful candidates said about their platform (Left Foot Forward),

They say their goal is to have 900 councillors elected by 2025 and to be in political control of 40 councils. The pair also say they will aim to have a second Green MP elected by then.

They have pledged ‘to take back the Green New Deal from Labour’ and have placed a Green recovery from the pandemic as a major focus point, pledging green jobs, warm homes, a Universal Basic Income, restoring nature and active travel.

Denyer, councillor for the Bristol ward of Clifton Down, proposed the first Climate Emergency declaration in Europe, committing Bristol to go carbon neutral by 2030 and the pair are hoping that their combined political experience will appeal to members.

Nothing about the kind of weighted social and economic transformative programme developed by the team around John McDonnell or this limited list by Keir Starmer,

“We can unite around a programme that is credible and that will put us into a position to go into government.

 promised to spend an extra £28bn a year on making the UK economy more “green”, phase out business rates and ensure tech giants pay more tax, increase council and affordable housing stocks, increase the minimum wage to at least £10 an hour and end charitable status for private schools.

There is no reason to deny that the Greens have ideas to contribute, to the left, and elsewhere, even a possible debate in Universal Basic Income, which doles out the same money to the Duke and the Dustman, and leaves unresolved the issue of a living income for those who would rely on nothing else.

Indeed, the GPEW are not, thankfully, the same as the Austrian Green Party, Die Grünen – Die Grüne Alternative in coalition with the Christian Democrat anti-immigrant, (but less so than the actual far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ)), People’s Party (ÖVP).

We, the European Greens, congratulate Die Grünen for voting in favour of entering a government coalition with the People’s Party (ÖVP).

Green Wave strengthened further as Austria’s Die Grünen become 4th European Green Party currently in government (2020).

Nor are they the same as the French Greens, who have just had a tight race to become the 2020 Presidential candidate, in a primary election open to all who signed a declaration of values and paid a nominal sum.

104,772 people took part to decide on the candidate who does not represent EELV but also,  Pôle écologiste Génération.sGénération écologie, and  Cap écologie

In the GPEW vote,

CandidateCarla Denyer and
Adrian Ramsay
Tamsin Omond and
Amelia Womack
Shahrar Ali
First pref.5,062 (43.9%)3,465 (30.1%)2,422 (21.0%)
Final round6,273 (61.6%)5,088 (38.8%)Eliminated

Jadot, the only French Greens member with nationwide name recognition, has promised a pragmatic “solutions-driven” approach to environmental policies.

His runoff rival Sandrine Rousseau, sometimes called an “eco feminist”, sprang a surprise in the first round of online voting last week, finishing a close second out of five candidates with 25.14 percent, compared to Jadot’s 27.7 percent.

Analysts credited the strong performance to Rousseau’s feminist credentials after she went public with allegations of sexual harassment against a Greens leader during the #MeToo movement.

Her radical proposals on the economy and environment — she wants to introduce a minimum living wage and significantly increase fuel prices and taxes on the rich — have also mobilised the party base

(note this blog watched their lengthy debates, and social issues took second or third place to er, Green subjects)

But in Tuesday’s online primary runoff Rousseau had to concede with just under 49 percent of votes, failing to win over party sceptics who disliked her moves to switch focus from traditional Green concerns into social and economic territory.

People are already suggesting that the supporters of Rousseau are poised to vote for other candidates than Jadot in the 2022 elections.

That’s as may be. But the French ecologists look much more serious than the GPE, if only in the numbers they have involved in their candidate election.

We will watch with attention if, as some are now suggesting, the English and Welsh Greens take the role of a left party. But given the kind of largely non-socialist people who run the GPEW and have got elected as councillors, it is unlikely even that they would take any interest whatsoever in such an idea. Will they get involved in this list of radical campaigns with the broad social and trade union input of the Labour radical left? Would they bring radical left ideas to them? Is “their first challenge is to show they can channel the insurgency of Corbynism, the Climate Strikers and Kill the Bill protesters? One could add, could they turn the elitist avant guard of Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain to mass audiences? It will need a lot of their “new enthusiasm” to make an impact – given the numbers who voted in the GPEW election….11,361.

The small, if not tiny, minority of radical truly left (Marxisant, socialist altermondialistes, or anarchist) greens in the GPEW might however get behind the strategy. They may not be a ‘major force’ to compete with Labour but that looks like at least a potential for them to rival for the SWP and TUSC…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 1, 2021 at 2:04 pm

Weekly Worker – Tony Greenstein – Cheerleads Chris Williamson.

with 3 comments

Joo sur Twitter : "MP lookalikes #1 - Voldemort and Chris Williamson. One,  an evil, shadowy creature who will stop at nothing until darkness is  brought upon us all and the other,

“Brave and principled Labour MP” – Weekly Worker.

A beautiful friendship has blossomed in recent months: Chris, ‘Lord Voldemort’ Williamson, and Tony, ‘Monster Raving’ Greenstein.

Our Super Sleuths, Snappers and Ace Reporters have been on the case.

In the Weekly Worker today Greenstein writes,

Tony Greenstein reviews ‘Labour, the anti-Semitism crisis and the destroying of an MP’ by Lee Garratt (Thinkwell Books, 2021, pp237, £10)

“The suspension and forcing out of Chris Williamson from the Labour Party was a watershed moment in the death of the Corbyn project. Alone amongst Labour MPs, Chris understood that the Zionist so-called ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was not about anti-Semitism, but the removal of Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership.”

“The suspension of Williamson and the refusal to support him when under attack by Tom Watson and the right was perhaps the most shameful aspect of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – more shameful even than the suspension and expulsion of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone and myself.”

“Owen Jones played a particularly disgusting role in the attack on Williamson. He was The Guardian’s faux left columnist who, lacking all arguments, resorted to insults describing Chris as the “king of the cranks” for having something Jones himself lacks – principles. Jones joined the clamour against Corbyn, writing, ‘Jeremy Corbyn says he’s staying. That’s not good enough’ (March 1 2017), a month before the general election.”

“Chris Williamson will long be remembered as a brave and principled Labour MP who was let down and betrayed by those who are only in politics for what they can personally get out of it. All those Socialist Campaign Group MPs are not fit to walk in his shadow.”

For an alternative view of Chris Williamson see:

Will Greenstein be at this event?

Written by Andrew Coates

October 1, 2021 at 9:18 am

Skwawkbox Accuses Starmer of using “Nazi Propaganda Slogan” the “Beauty of Work”.

with 9 comments

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "THE SKWAWKBOX JOURNALISM PRINTING WHAT SOMEONE ELSE WANT PRINTED EVERYTHING ELSE IS PUBLIC RELATIONS. MENU ANPER DER ANALYSIS COMMENT Starmer's 'beauty of work' was a nazi propaganda slogan by SKWAWKBOX (SW) 29/09/2021"

They Say Skwawky has taken “a Turn for the Worse.”

One of the Skwawking one’s followers comments,

He was probably sending out a signal to Nazis and fascists everywhere that you are welcome to come and join the party, just in case they didn’t get the message during the past fifteen months or so!

Another says,

Sir Keir Starmer has shown himself to be a fascistic Tory., as any analysis of his recent speeches will show. 

Small businessman Skwawkbox is said to be a member of the Labour Party.

Leading intelligencer GJ points out that Starmer said, “the beauty of skilled work.”

This is the passage in the Starmer Speech,

There are some lines from Auden that capture the beauty of skilled work: ‘You need not see what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation, you have only to watch his eyes. How beautiful it is, that eye-on-the-object look’… When I was at school, I had music lessons with Fatboy Slim! I can’t promise that for everyone”.

Here, hours of seeking by out tip-top gumshoes can reveal, is what Auden wrote,

You need not see what someone is doing
to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,
forgetting themselves in a function.

How beautiful it is,
that eye-on-the-object look.

Horae Canonicae

Apart from anything else the Nazi slogan, “‘Die Schönheit der Arbeit’ in English form, could have been said by a wide variety of people, beginning with John Ruskin, much admired by early members of the Independent Labour Party. As explored here: THE BEAUTY OF WORK, THE INJUSTICE OF TOIL Why John Ruskin should be a patron saint of the “faith and work” conversation.

Here is what William Morris said in the 1880s about Useful Work, Versus Useless Toil“.

labour, to be attractive, must be directed towards some obviously useful end, unless in cases where it is undertaken voluntarily by each individual as a pastime. This element of obvious usefulness is all the more to be counted on in sweetening tasks otherwise irksome, since social morality, the responsibility of man towards the life of man, will, in the new order of things, take the place of theological morality, or the responsibility of man to some abstract idea. Next, the day’s work will be short. This need not be insisted on. It is clear that with work unwasted it can be short. It is clear also that much work which is now a torment, would be easily endurable if it were much shortened.

The socialist dreamt of time when,

persons, either by themselves or associated for such purposes, would freely, and for the love of the work and for its results – stimulated by the hope of the pleasure of creation – produce those ornaments of life for the service of all, which they are now bribed to produce (or pretend to produce) for the service of a few rich men.

It must be said that this Blog has more fondness for this text, The Right to be Lazy. Paul Lafargue. Sainte-Pélagie Prison, 1883.

“A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization holds its sway. This delusion drags in its train the individual and social woes which for two centuries have tortured sad humanity. This delusion is the love of work, the furious passion for work, pushed even to the exhaustion of the vital force of the individual and his progeny. Instead of opposing this mental aberration, the priests, the economists and the moralists have cast a sacred halo over work. Blind and finite men, they have wished to be wiser than their God; weak and contemptible men, they have presumed to rehabilitate what their God had cursed. I, who do not profess to be a Christian, an economist or a moralist, I appeal from their judgement to that of their God; from the preachings of their religious, economics or free thought ethics, to the frightful consequences of work in capitalist society.”

Jesus, in his sermon on the Mount, preached idleness: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Jehovah the bearded and angry god, gave his worshipers the supreme example of ideal laziness; after six days of work, he rests for all eternity.

Here is more of Skwawkbox’s wit:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2021 at 5:07 pm

“Piers Corbyn and several others are shouting loudly in our faces, claiming the media were to blame for supporting coronavirus “tyranny” and this led to murder of #SarahEverard.”

leave a comment »

Image

Piers Corbyn and Friends.

The ‘I’.

Piers Corbyn has come under fire for using the court case of Sarah Everard’s murder to protest coronavirus restrictions.

The anti-lockdown activist demonstrated outside the Old Bailey on Thursday as a Metropolitan Police officer was handed a whole life sentence for the kidnap, rape and murder of Ms Everard.

In front of a scrum of media at the court there to cover the sentencing of Ms Everard’s murderer, Piers Corbyn used a microphone to complain about the “fake Covid narrative” while people nearby shook their heads in disbelief.

Mr Corbyn, accompanied by a handful of other protestors, also claimed the media were to blame for supporting coronavirus “tyranny”.

A member of the public walked up to Mr Corbyn and shouted “how dare you hijack Sarah’s death for your own cause”.

One of the group with Corbyn claimed the protest was relevant because Couzens used the pretence of Covid laws to stage her false arrest and kidnap Ms Everard.

One reporter at the scene said the appearance was “staggeringly inappropriate”.

Channel Four News reporter Anja Popp posted a tweet saying she she had asked a member of the protest if he thought “they were being respectful to Sarah Everard’s family inside” to which he replied to her  “yes I do, God bless you”.

From Confusionism to Scum…

Heiko:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 30, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Keir Starmer’s Speech, Friends, Enemies, and Others.

with 4 comments

Keir Starmer speech: Labour leader finally seizes moment to show party is  once again about power, not protest

Has he made Labour “a serious party again”?

This Blog’s general impression of the Keir Starmer Speech was first of all this:

extract from Stephen Bush’s take for the New Statesman.

This was a speech that showed both Starmer’s familiar strengths (that big political argument, whatever you think of its merits, is coherent, while his efforts to demonstrate change from the Corbyn era are likewise, coherent whatever you make of their merits). He did a good job of dispelling doubts about his ability to deliver a big conference speech and the address did a good job of casting his steadiness and lack of flash as strengths, not shortcomings. But the speech also showed his familiar weaknesses: too many announcements, denied their moment to shine, announced with seemingly no thought as to how they fit into the party’s big political dividing lines.

The Tendance adds, the speech began well, “

Rent up, especially for those on the lowest incomes. Yet at this very moment, the government is putting up tax on working people. Putting up tax on small businesses and slashing Universal Credit. We have a fuel crisis, a pay crisis, a goods crisis and a cost of living crisis – all at the same time.” His family histiry ahd the ring of the genuine about it. The call for a plan to “Make Brexit” had no details, probably because Brexit is not going to ‘work’ for most people.

You wonder who will remember this, however well intentioned it is,

Leadership founded on the principles that have informed my life and with which I honour where I have come from.

Work.

Care.

Equality.

Security.

I think of these values as British values. I think of them as the values that take you right to the heart of the British public. That is where this party must always be.

And I think of these values as my heirloom. The word loom, from which that idea comes, is another word for tool.

Work.

Care.

Equality,

Security.

These are the tools of my trade.

And with them I will go to work.

Attacking Boris Johnson was a high point,

Sir Keir Starmer has described Boris Johnson as a “trivial man” and “a trickster who’s played his one trick”, during his closing Labour conference speech.

Attacking Mr Johnson’s government as “lost in the woods”, Sir Keir added: “Once he’d said the words, ‘get Brexit done’, his plan ran out. There is no plan.”

Not to mention, “”my dad was a toolmaker, but in a way so was Boris Johnson’s”.

So,

This is where is began to go downhill:

Or as Owen Jones puts it:

This was being briefed pre-speech and will no doubt be hyped up now.

Sir Keir Starmer has indicated he is ready to see Labour’s far-left split from the party, declaring that winning the next general election is more important to him than maintaining internal unity.

Will those who do not feel much empathy for whatever the left-wing Campaign Group, or the majority of Momentum have got up to, rejoice at these voices? They are highly unwelcome.

“A hard rain is going to fall on the Corbynistas,” said one ally of party leader Sir Keir Starmer, referring to supporters of “hard-left” .

Starmer’s pro-business stance, emphasis on fiscal discipline and embrace of patriotism is reminiscent of Tony Blair – Labour’s thrice-elected former prime minister. But his poll ratings are far behind Blair’s at the same point in his leadership.

Financial Times.

These pearls, learnt by young factionalists at the feet of Baron Peter Mandelson it is said, keep on coming…

“Another shadow cabinet member told The Times: “We have nailed the hard left into their coffin and there’s a lot of screaming because they know they’re not coming back to life. We’ve banished the monster. People can have the confidence to vote Labour knowing they’re not going to wake up and find Jeremy Corbyn is prime minister.””

The Times.

In a more restrained mode this is the same basic story.

Shadow cabinet member Andy McDonald quit Labour’s front bench amid a contentious attack on Sir Keir.

In his resignation letter, he said Sir Keir had made Labour “more divided than ever”.

Mr McDonald also accused the Labour leader of not honouring his pledges to members.

Source

Then there was this embarrassing and counter-productive presence.

Here is the Hard_left (Outside Labour) in person….

Then there was this reaction inside Labour’s conference – you felt a cringe every minute.

Independent.

Sir Keir Starmer was disrupted by repeated heckling from left-wing Labour members waving red cards in the air during his first in-person conference speech to the party faithful.

“Normally this time on a Wednesday it’s the Tories who are heckling me. It doesn’t bother me then – and it doesn’t bother me now,” he joked as other members of the audience told the hecklers to “shut up”.

A small group of Sir Keir’s critics held up red cards and shouted “£15” at various points during the speech — a reference to the Labour leader’s refusal to back a £15 minimum wage earlier this week.

Another heckler chose to direct their anger at Sir Keir’s Brexit policy during his tenure in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, while others opted to shout “boring”, or ask the Labour leader: “Where’s Peter Mandelson?”.

Forced to raise his voice over the hecklers, Sir Keir told members: “Shouting slogans or changing lives, conference?”.

He also told his detractors in the hall “you can chant all day,” before going on to claim he had used the conference to “get our own house in order”.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 29, 2021 at 12:07 pm

Keir Starmer Faces a New Wave of Critics.

with 7 comments

Labour conference set to approve new complaints process for antisemitism |  Jewish News

Paul Mason, “patience is running thin with Starmer.”

In the last weeks Starmer has lost a lot of good will from different sections of the Labour Party without any clear objectives of his own. This runs across many parts of the left, and centre-left, affecting those who had voted for him as Leader and had given the MPs for Holborn and St Pancras support during discouraging opinion polls and media comment. He has alienated the non-Corbyn left with the plan to go back to the days of the Electoral College run by the Aldermen of the Party and the embarrassing Contribution Society. He lost a lot of the soft left not backing PR. He has no clear line of the continuing disaster that is Brexit, nor has he demarcated himself from the ‘left’ and traditional Labour nationalist wing that backed leaving the EU.

Policies and debates at the Brighton Conference have yet to inspire. While some claim to see firm leadership in the proscription of marginal groupuscules and the peremptory expulsion of a wider swathe of critics, for good and, very often, much less clear reasons, other see a diversion. Starmer is only ‘in charge’ by virtue of office.

It would be a mistake, in these conditions, to call left critics of Starmer’s policies ‘Corbynistas’. They come from a variety of backgrounds. People on the centre and right of the party can be heard making comments about a lack of ‘oomph’, and a lack of direction. If a small number of factionalisiers, said to be friends of Peter Mandelson, are active, with friends in Apparat, and even, the CLPs, they have not the roots or depth to replace what was, not that long ago, Corbynism.

Is Corbyn still a living political presence. At present we can see many different lefts emerging, and different centres and rights. In any case Corbynism without Corbyn in charge never made much sense. Those mourning their loss were never going to be a force to change the world. Others, one doubted their long-term sincerity at the time. Now, you wonder what kind of left they were in the first place.

Look at the puff of the some of the ‘alt-media’ pro-Corbyn left these days..

Let us hope Bastani stays as long away from Labour politics as possible and goes into the family luxury ice-cream business.

This about a milliard times more important:

Keir Starmer would not have been elected as Labour leader if he had suggested publicly or privately that he intended to re-establish weighted votes for MPs in leadership elections, taking power away from regular members and ensuring future leadership contests would be less inclusive than the one he himself won. Labour party members would not have voted to abrogate their own rights. The triumphalism of some on the party’s right following the changes to the party’s rulebook will be greeted with resentment by thousands of party members.

One of the chroniclers of the disillusion of Starmer’s supporters is Paul Mason.

He is now explaining his evolving positon:

I find this prospect very unlikely.

This Blog stands with the weighed criticisms made by Paul Mason. Others are saying the same thing.

Corbyn can make, sometimes, relevant, critical statements on Labour’s present policies (the minimum wage for example). But Corbynism is dead. Two millennia there was one inspiring figure who is said to have returned from the dead. But while there were witnesses their testimony remains disputed. The MP for Islington North does not look a candidate to follow in his footsteps.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 28, 2021 at 2:36 pm

Beyond the Fringe: Chris Williamson’s ‘Resist’ has more Side-Shows at Brighton.

with 5 comments

Image

How we chortled.

Chris Williamson who canvassed for George Galloway’s Red Brown Workers Party of Britain in the Batley and Spen By-Election is out on the bords again today.

They know how to tell ’em!

Plugging an old friend.

It was the Betrayal of Chris Williamson by Corbyn, Formby and Lansman That Paved the Way to Starmer’s Stasi.” Tony Greenstein.

Chris Williamson will long be remembered as a brave and principled Labour MP who was let down and betrayed by those who are only in politics for what they can personally get out of it. All those SCG MPs, such as Russell Lloyd-Moyle who lied to me about Chris Williamson, aren’t fit to walk in his shadow

There are many matters of great concern with recent suspensions and expulsions from Labour.

John McDonnell says ‘Labour Party’s purge is having a severe impact on mental health of members’

21st of September, (from the centre left, Left Foot Forward).

Labour MP John McDonnell has condemned what he says ‘is a good old fashioned purge’ of party members by the party and is warning that the leadership and party bureaucracy must recognise the impact it’s having on the mental health of members.

According to the party’s own election records, by November 2020, it was reported that 50,000 members had left the party since Keir Starmer became leader, however McDonnell says the number has now reached 100,000.

He has since been critical of the way in which the Labour Party’s disciplinary procedures have been applied against members on the left of the party.  

In July, the party’s ruling body proscribed four groups, Socialist Appeal, Labour in Exile Network, Labour Against the Witchhunt and Resist.  Three of the groups (Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile network, and Resist) were criticised by party officials for downplaying anti-Semitism.

McDonnell has since told the BBC that left-wing members of the party were now facing disciplinary action through guilt by association and that action was being taken against members ‘retrospectively’.

In a separate incident, the chair of Labour’s youth wing, Jess Barnard, received a letter telling her she was under investigation for “hostile or prejudiced” behaviour, with the Labour party later apologising and saying it was a mistake that happened amid an attempt to clear a backlog of complaints.

Kate Osborne, the party’s MP for Jarrow was also issued with an investigation warning for allegedly breaching party rules. Osborne swiftly responded with a lawyer’s letter, and, within an hour, Labour retracted the investigation and issued an apology for the ‘administrative error.’

Commenting on the wider issue of suspensions and investigations, McDonnell told LFF: “Elements of the right in the Labour Party now are close to the leadership and the bureaucracy and they’ve launched an old-fashioned purge that’s what it is”.

He said the suspensions and expulsions put members in an ‘extremely difficult situation when they’re under investigation’, as it stymies them from undertaking political activity and demotivates and demoralizes a large number of other people.

“We’ve lost over 100,000 members, some people say 150,000, that’s the army that goes out and fights the elections for us”, he said.

“The Labour leadership need to be worried and concerned about the impact this is having on people’s mental health, when you receive that letter you’re under investigation or you received the charges, you can’t recognize them against you, you get worried, then it drags on for months and months, the stress builds up. I think it’s causing a severe impact on a large number of people’s mental health and I think the party really needs to be concerned about the impact this is having on party members wellbeing.

“I’ve been particularly concerned about how members of Jewish Voice for Labour have been treated because the accusations against them, and I find it bizarre and ironic, that some of the accusations against our Jewish members are around anti-Semitism. Our concern about tackling anti-Semitism both in our party and in our society has resulted in Jewish members being disciplined or expelled, it’s ridiculous.”

One can support the welcome Conference decision to back this without stopping criticism and opposing these exclusions:

Some things needs saying.

People, from all parts of the left can agree, and in this Blog’s case, disagree strongly with the groups proscribed.

But charges such as bringing the party into discredit, the rest of 2.1.8 (“be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever if occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party.” were already there.

Supporting candidates against Labour, the case of Chris Williamson’s Resist, is also something you can be expelled for. There have been been ways to get rid of people who overstep the mark.

Why action against factionalisers in marginal networks, messianistic grouplets (Socialist Appeal) with no influence, is needed has never been properly explained. The charge does not seem to be against the possible damage that may have done, but on a Maoist basis that amongst the hundred flowers of Labour thought they are “poisonous weeds.”

The clear out now seems to have seeped much further than the original targets. Some worry that it has become a pretext to get rid of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL). As Dave Lister argues in the latest issue of Chartist (September/October 2021), it is time for “halt to the purge of Jews from Labour.” “Of JVL’s 17 officers and committee members nine have been investigated for anti-semitism and three are are currently suspended.” Lister states, “criticisms of Israel and support for Palestinian rights is not racist unless it is couched in racist terms“. (Jewish Voice stifled?)

Opposition to these administrative measures is not helped by these antics by one of Chris Williamson’s many best friends:

JVL clarifies, implying that Greenstein is not a member of the JVL – something they have said to those of us who asked, but which has then got contradicted by assertions that he is.

We hope that Richard Kuper can clarify matters:

Meanwhile in another world some political steps forwards are taking place.

UPDATE.

LBC’s Political Editor Theo Usherwood explains how he was forcibly removed from the Jewish Voice for Labour fringe event by Tony Greenstein – a man expelled from the Labour Party for “virulent anti-Semitism”.

Tony Greenstein caught my eye from across the room. He seemed oddly angry that I had arrived at the Jewish Voice for Labour event at the Mercure Hotel on the seafront. 

I knew the meeting was going to be rowdy but I had no idea it would take the turn it did. 

Greenstein – a man expelled from the Labour Party for virulent anti-Semitism – started by snatching my mobile phone from my hand. I managed to get it back after he threw it across the room. 

But then, boxed into the corner, I was told by Greenstein that he wanted to kick me out of the meeting. When I refused to go, I was told they were calling the police. I said that was fine, only for Greenstein to grab my arm and force me out of the hotel’s ballroom. 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 27, 2021 at 1:55 pm

Piers Corbyn heckles his Brother on “Global Warning Inquisition” at Brighton.

with 2 comments

Image

Our hard working family of gumshoes, newshounds, and citizen journalists, give the low-down on the story that even the Squawking one dare not run.

BREAKING: EXCLUSIVE TO TWITTER, THE MSM AND ALL BRIGHTON PUBS.

Family reunions like one sees everyday:

Now hitting the MSM.

Those at the event said the request prompted shouting from a man in the audience, who was then removed, and Piers Corbyn then accused the event organisers of assault.

READ MORE

Our chapter on Piers in Confusionism in the UK is getting bigger and bigger.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2021 at 5:04 pm

Left begins debate at Labour Conference as ‘Resist’ fringe pushed aside.

with 2 comments

The Resist! Event

Entertainment for the Last of the Headbanger Left.

There are real debates taking place at the Labour Conference in Brighton. Aside from the row over voting rule, which we could have well done without, there are different political visions being advanced. Groups like Labour First, the ‘moderates’ have a strategy they say could win. Their recently discovered eternal loyalty to Keir Starmer, without much more to back it up, although with a genuine wish to get Labour elected, can be contrasted with left wing criticisms of Keir Starmer put forward by former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

It is good to see the left of the party engaged again in real pollical and strategic thinking. It is perhaps sad, but inevitable, that the people at the Rialto, from the CPGB (PCC) Labour Party Marxist, Tina Werkmann’s fronts Labour in Exile/Labour in Exile , Greensteinism/Walkerism and Stan Keable in Labour Against the Witch-hunt, the Labour Campaign for Free Speech (“Reject the IHRA so-called definition of antisemitism”), and Chris Williamson’s merry band (which is pro George Galloway’s Workers Party of Britain, the ‘Resist’ Movement have pushed themselves to the margins. One hopes at least that the music is good this afternoon. They can then bang their heads till evening comes.

By contrast many of us on the different wings of the democratic socialist left, will find much to think about in the judgements in McDonnell’s most recent article:


Dump the New Labour playbook, Keir Starmer, and set out your programme for radical change

John McDonnell

The party conference has been planned as the major relaunch of Starmer. It’s blindingly obvious that he has to change course if Labour is to stand any chance of winning the next election but rehashing New Labour just won’t work. That model crashed to defeat in 2010, with Mandelson running the campaign, in which the party slumped to 29% of the vote. The truth is no faction of Labour has found a winning formula post-bank crash – and we need to unite with some humility to find that. Starmer became leader on that basis, but is squandering goodwill internally and looking increasingly out of touch to the electorate.

There were people on different sections of the left who did not closely identity with Jeremy Corbyn’s views on international issues, and felt that Corbynism’s ‘left populism’ lacked depth on social and economic strategy. The influence of the Four Ms on the Labour leader, who pressed for a revamped version of the 197s Alterative Economic Strategy (AES) and backed Brexit, was a drag on Labour.

McDonnell, by contrast, brought together a talented team seriously worked on policies such as the reforming the unjust personal and business taxation system ,ideas about developing workers’ rights and new forms of socialisation. They advanced more internationalist ideas on the European Union. Both, nevertheless, as the McDonnell says, joined a long list of those unable to find “a winning formula post-ban crash”. This remains an issue open to many different responses.

Is he right to call for bolder policies, that, against this hope, “In prospect is a policy review that subjugates a meagre policy programme to the lowest common denominator demands of the rightwing media, big business and the City” ? The signs are not good, “Labour refocuses on concerns of working families ahead of the next election”. That,

Starmer will use his keynote speech this week to vow to give all pupils an “education fit for the future”.

It is set to include digital, work and “life skills”, as well as greater access to professional careers advisers. The plan would see the compulsory citizenship programme taught in schools widened to include practical issues such as applying for a mortgage and understanding employment and rental contracts.

What will be the content of Miliband’s Green New Deal? Every left and ecological party in Europe has one, so we can expect at least something in this direction.

But what of the rest of the package? Starmer’s pre-rbiefed announcement does not look that promising. .is training in how to apply for a mortgage and “life skills”, “someone sticking up for them and offering the hope of something better”? School students are taught in a system full of the inequalities and problems created by Academies. The idea does not look like from a break from the stultifying drive to make education at all levels an arm of business studies Does ‘work experience’ help deal with the problems of young people entering an employment system that keeps many in precarious causalised jobs? What of those continuing studying? Are there plans to tackle the reshaping of a higher education system with the crippling student loans system, and profiteering senior managers and chiefs?

Starmer, as this Blog has argued, seems short of social democratic reformist ambition.

That said the following will find people agreeing from many side of the party.

..As it is, we’ve wasted five days now that have completely overshadowed important policy announcements by Lucy Powell on housing and by Angela Rayner and Andy McDonald on workers’ rights. All the while, the government has been floundering as petrol stations run dry and energy companies collapse. Before any attempt at a New Labour rerun, it might be best to consider the words of an old German philosopher: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.”

There are other issues facing Labour.

Today there is,

Keir Starmer faces a crucial test on Sunday in his attempt to rid the party of antisemitism as delegates vote on plans for a new independent complaints process to tackle the scourge of racism.

I will not look good if this turns out to be true:

That minority will not achieve anything and only give hope to the ‘Resist‘ crew.

As indicated above these debates and issues have pushed aside those beyond the fringe. They are now on a trip to somewhere one of their supporters Alexei Sayle calls a place where people from Cloud Cuckoo Land holiday in when they get tried of its mundane reality.

Do the organisers of the Rialto event seriously think there are people out there willing to be hoodwinked by somebody like Williamson?

Written by Andrew Coates

September 26, 2021 at 8:36 am

Official: Sir Keir Starmer forced to drop leadership rule change but 20% of MPs needed to nominate leadership candidates.

with 3 comments

Keir Starmer: Radical who attacked Kinnock in Marxist journal | News | The  Times

The Youth of a Leader.

Labour conference: Sir Keir Starmer forced to drop leadership rule change.

BBC.

Sir Keir Starmer has been forced to drop changes to the way Labour elects its leaders after they were rejected by the party’s left wing.

(Note: and the soft left centre, and people with any sense who is against turning over Labour to rule by a special class of alderpeople, and those who dislike factionalising right-wingers).

He had wanted to scrap one-member-one vote – but opponents said that would give Labour MPs too much say over who gets the top job.

Sir Keir is now hoping to get members to back a watered-down package of reforms in a conference vote on Sunday.

He says they will help the party win the next general election.

The row over Labour’s constitution began earlier this week, when the leader proposed changing the way his successors would be chosen.

….

The shelving of the plan to put Labour alderman and women before anybody else in Labour leadership elections is to be welcomed.

But…

Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a diluted package of reforms earlier on Saturday, but they will also need to be agreed by party members.

The package includes:

  • A rule that any candidate would need the backing of 20% of party MPs to get onto the leadership ballot – up from the current 10%
  • Increasing the percentage of local party members needed to trigger a reselection process for their MP – up to 50% from a third
  • Scrapping registered supporters – where voters can pay a one-off fee to vote in the leadership election
  • Another rule where people will have to have been a party member for six months before they can vote for a leader

These new plans were agreed by 22 votes to 12.

Speaking after the meeting at the party’s conference in Brighton, Sir Keir said: “I’m very pleased these party reforms have got the backing of our NEC.

“These proposals put us in a better position to win the next general election and I hope constituency and trade union delegates will support them when they come to conference floor.”

**

20% of MPs is a high bar, and look, because it is, an attempt to prevent left-wingers getting nominated for a contest.

In the 2020 leadership elections “Long-Bailey, who is backed by John McDonnell and Diane Abbott, secured 26, while Phillips had 22 and Nandy 24, putting them just over the threshold needed to make it on to the ballot.” That’s when the bar stood at 10% and the number of nominations needed was 22.

Now candidates will have to get 40/4` nominations.

Had that applied in 2020 there would have been one candidate on the ballot paper, Keir Starmer.

It’s an interesting question as to how ‘Labour members’ can decide on these proposals since they only pulled out of a hat, or written on fag-packet, in the last day. Nobody at CLP meetings will have discussed them.

Starmer’s support from the reasonable left is peeling away:

The Tendance Central Committee met this morning to discuss the backsliding by one-time Pabloite Starmer.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm

The Labour Civil War Should Not Take Place.

with 17 comments

Image

Some on both sides seem rearing up for a fight.

Before anybody says anything else…

There are solid grounds to criticise proposals to replace One Member One Vote in Labour leadership elections with a system of plural voting for special people, MPs, and Union leaderships, (few seem to have come up with a system that gives all trade unionists an effective say but then rabbits do jump out of hats).

The weight to be given to MPs does however have an intellectual precedent, pre-dating the 1918 Constitution of the Labour Party. it came from the centre-ground, where we are told elections are won or lost…

John Stuart Mill was an advocate of democratic elections but ” In any future Reform Bill which lowers greatly the pecuniary conditions of the suffrage, it might be a wise provision to allow all graduates of universities, all persons who have passed creditably through the higher schools, all members of the liberal professions, and perhaps some others, to be registered specifically in those characters, and to give their votes as such in any constituency in which they choose to register; retaining, in addition, their votes as simple citizens in the localities in which they reside.”  Considerations on Representative Government, 1861.

Labour MPs residing in the University of Parliament were long accustomed to having the  degree of superior influence due to it, and sufficient as a counterpoise to the numerical weight of the least educated class, the Labour membership. They, supporters of restoring the restricted the suffrage argue, will ensure that the “spirit of the institutions”  are given the strongest stimulus to the growth of intelligence (which) is that of rising into power.

As Labour adopts the goal of a “contribution society” what could be more apt than giving those who contribute the most, the brainiest who got elected to Westminster and their burley trade union arms, the biggest say in the administration of the fruits of their industry?

Er…

The very idea of taking votes, or rather, voting power, away from people sticks in the craw. Normally it would be laughed out of court.

The skirmishes over this rumble on…

It is hard to think of a more pointless exercise than this battle, and the leadership score no points for exacerbating it.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2021 at 6:24 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon Debates Éric Zemmour on BFMV.

with 4 comments

Image

Opinion Polls this week had put a Zemmour Candidacy ahead of Mélenchon.

Last night on BFMT there was a two hour debate between the leader of La France insoumise (LFI) Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the far-right self-proclaimed Presidential candidate Éric Zemmour.

I watched it. Zemmour’s hatred for immigration, that is immigrants, in general and Muslims in particular stood out. The theme of the ‘great replacement’ (grand remplacement) and the end of the French nation was never far from the polemicist’s lips, as was crime, social security fraud, and allegations of a brewing civil war. Islam was the opposite of the country, “aux antipodes de la France”.  C’est une guerre de civilisation qui nous est menée, une guerre de pillages, une guerre de viols, une guerre de meurtres.” (A war of civilization which is being waged against us, a war of looting, a war of rape, a war of murder.) said he. The ‘polemicist’, who is from a Jewish background, generously allowed that possibly some Muslims might be assimilated to the French republic, on the model of his own community’s integration. Those who did not fit in should leave.

To British eyes it seemed extraordinary that this unbridled hatred was given an airing. Fact-checks on some of the wilder claims did not diminish that impression. Experienced in communication and media techniques (having seen him on C-News) Zemmour got away with the ravings of a bigot.

Not one to take this claims lying down Mélenchon called his opponent a racist with court convictions for it, “Vous êtes un raciste, condamné pour ça. » On immigration Mélenchon defended “créolisation”, that is cultural mixing. On the name issue (Zemmour wants children to have French forenames) he rightly said that a French prénom was a name of a French person. The left populist also cited the claim that Couscous was France’s favourite dish – reminding people that not everybody has the British taste for curry.

The LFI leader tried, many times, to get the discussion back to issues that could be rationally, or at least, calmly talked about. His election programme included retirement at 60, blocking the prices of energy and certain food products – as well as increased agricultural ‘sovereignty’ for France – leaving NATO or increasing the minimum wage to 1,400 euros. Taking up some of his favourite themes Mélenchon vaunted France’s maritime role and the potential of space exploration. .

Zemmour attacked Mélenchon for daring to criticise heavy-handed – brutal – policing, for his Trotskyist past, questioned how anybody from a Marxist background could back green energy, and for good measure peppered his speech with attacks on the “obese” welfare state and people living on benefits.

Both figures linked the growth of abstention in French elections to the lack of effective change on offer. Emmanuel Macron, Zemmour said, stifled politics, representing both the liberal right-wing and the liberal-left wing.

Hell, those two hours were dire.

Zemmour, who has still not officially announced his candidacy for President, is eating into Marine Le Pen’s electorate.

Before people smile:

“Eric Zemmour would collect 10% of voting intentions in the first round of the presidential election and Jean-Luc Mélenchon 8% if Xavier Bertrand would be the right-wing candidate and Yannick Jadot the EELV Ecologists) candidate. Same score if Xavier Bertrand and is a candidate and Sandrine Rousseau is committed for the Greens. Eric Zemmour would total 10.5% of the vote and Jean-Luc Mélenchon 7.5% if Valérie Pécresse wears the colours of the right and Yannick Jadot defends EELV. Last scenario: Eric Zemmour is credited with 10.5% of voting intentions and Jean-Luc Mélenchon with 8% in the event that Valérie Pécresse and Sandrine Rousseau are candidates.”

La Dépêche. 23.9.21.

There has been a debate on the French left as to whether it was wise to debate with Zemmour.

Here is a good introduction to Zemmour’s ideology:

Le «zemmourisme», un ultranationalisme intégral.

This is what Britain’s ace reporters are interested in today:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2021 at 9:16 am

Keir Starmer’s ‘Contribution Society’: a step backwards from Social Democracy.

with 14 comments

Image

Family, Hard Work, Communities, and Patriotic Pride.

Since the years when Tony Blair’s Third Way flourished demands for equality of opportunity have dominated centre-left politics. Stronger demands for equality, the hallmark of many different kinds of socialism, were shelved.

The 1950s ‘revisionist’ current inside the Labour Party, which remained influential until the 1980s, had believed that a society of abundance had arrived, that issues of public ownership were echoes of the past, still held to the principle. Anthony Crosland wrote The Future of Socialism, (1956) He believed that a broad sweep of progressive legislation could be achieved because, “the absolute rule of private property, the subjection of all life to market influences” and other features of classical capitalism had been reformed by post-war governments. They had created a consensus around the mixed economy and the welfare state. With this backdrop, socialism was not a matter of doctrine about ownership of industry or class struggle, but concern for the “bottom dog” and a vision of a “just, co-operative, classless society.”

How, here and now, could the cause of the downtrodden be promoted? For the academic and Labour politician the case for equality rested on the objectives of a “better society”, ethical goals of social justice, and ending the tragedies of wasted lives. To further these goals, Egalitarian changes were needed in education, the “distribution of property, the distribution of resources, in periods of need, social manners and style of life, and the location of power within industry. and. but certainly a smaller changes in respect of incomes from work.” (Page 148). In Britain, equality of opportunity and social mobility […] are not enough. They need to be combined with measures […] to equalise the distribution of rewards and privileges so as to diminish the degree of class stratification, the injustices of large inequalities and the collective discontents.” (Page 169) The “revisionists” considered that reforms to achieve these aims could be achieved in a society in which ownership is “mixed up”, nationalised, private, co-operative, mutual, in a pluralist society promoting “liberty and gaiety”.

Crosland believed a whole-scale conservative “counter-revolution ” to restore full-bloodied capitalism unlikely.

That happened. Thatcherism came to set down a new consensus, based on free-market mechanisms privatising nationalised industries, and making the state serve the market.

Labour in the 1990s adapted and accepted much of the outline of what would come to be known as neo-liberalism (1)

The emergence of the Third Way: Giddens and Blair (David Morrison New Labour, citizenship and the discourse of the Third Way).

(Giddens) argues that ‘[a] democratic society that generates large-scale inequality is likely to produce widespread disaffection and conflict’.12Giddens argues that promoting equality means more than merely promoting equality of opportunity13 and that equality should be seen as inclusiveness.14 He explains: ‘Inclusion in its broadest sense refers to citizenship, to the civil and political rights and obligations that all members of a society should have not just formally but as a reality of their lives.’15 It is notable that Giddens does not mention the social rights that were once seen as integral to post-war social democracy. In contrast, Blair’s account of the Third Way barely mentions equality. Instead it offers ‘opportunity’, with but a single reference to ‘equal worth’.16 Gordon Brown, who argued that in the context of the 1990s equality meant equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome, made clear the meaning of equality for New Labour.17

How does this relate to Labour today?

The Road Ahead begins uncontroversially enough,

“The next Labour government will be focused on creating jobs people are proud of, reimagining our public services for those who use them, creating a new and better relationship with business and delivering world-class health and education. And we will build his on solid foundations, with security at home, in the workplace, on the streets and from those who would do us harm.”

But lets go straight to the many problems about the pamphlet:

Kier Starmer’s ‘Contribution Society’ does not make many, if any, steps forward from that period, Its emphasis is “on “hard-working families”, the need to be “rewarded fairly” if you “work hard and play by the rules”, government being a “partner to private enterprise”, a rejection of “waste” in public spending, and the importance of being “proudly patriotic” but not engaging in “the divisiveness of nationalism”.

The Guardian cites Starmer,

Highlighting the challenges facing children from low-income backgrounds, he says Labour would help provide the “soft skills” that allow private school pupils to emerge with “enviable self-confidence, self-worth and belief,”

That would mean ensuring that by the age of ten they have the opportunity to “play an instrument, join a competitive sports team, visit the seaside, the countryside, or the city, go to cultural institutions, ride a bike and learn how to debate their ideas.”

“From my days at university, through my legal career and as a politician, I’ve seen supremely talented, hard-working people from ordinary backgrounds held back, not just by material circumstances but by self-doubt or a sense they don’t quite ‘belong,’” he says.

In other words, this is a programme for equality of opportunity starting from the school. It is also dosed through and through with a kind of family-centred, patriotic Blue Labour lite. That is, the need to be “once again be Britain’s bricks and mortar – a symbol of solidity, reliability, shelter and the prospect of building something new and better”.

Ideological dressing up can be quickly tossed aside, less masonry than puffery. Nevertheless, this is praise beyond the needs of product placement. Starmer will get the “resources of the state and the innovative brilliance of the private sector to work together rather than against each other”. Dusting off the memories of the Blair years it implies continuing the Conservative pioneered, “partnership” with the private sector” which seems like an excuse not to rid the public sector of private parasitical companies ‘delivering services’ from ‘training’ on the dole, ‘outsourcing’, to provision that should be in-house in the NHS. Not to mention the removal from democratic control of public goods like transport, trains and buses, and the hiving out of local government work.

And yet….The real problem is the premises, the kind of fairness and equality, such as it is, advocated. That is “fair pay for fair work”.

Starmer offers no step forward on a central issue of socialism, equality.

This can be seen not only by comparing his words with Crossland’s call for a push for egalitarian reform, progressive taxation onwards. You can also see it by looking at critics of meritocracy.

Interviewed about his book The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? (2020) the ‘Communitarian’ US political philosopher Michael Sanders, observes,

“The solution to problems of globalisation and inequality – and we heard this on both sides of the Atlantic – was that those who work hard and play by the rules should be able to rise as far as their effort and talents will take them. This is what I call in the book the ‘rhetoric of rising’. It became an article of faith, a seemingly uncontroversial trope. We will make a truly level playing field, it was said by the centre-left, so that everyone has an equal chance. And if we do, and so far as we do, then those who rise by dint of effort, talent, hard work will deserve their place, will have earned it.”

The article, Michael Sandel: ‘The populist backlash has been a revolt against the tyranny of merit’ (Guardian. 2020) continues,

Sandel has two fundamental objections to this approach. First, and most obvious, the fabled “level playing field” remains a chimera. Although he says more and more of his own Harvard students are now convinced that their success is a result of their own effort, two-thirds of them come from the top fifth of the income scale. It is a pattern replicated across the Ivy League universities. The relationship between social class and SAT scores – which grade high school students ahead of college – is well attested. More generally, he notes, social mobility has been stalled for decades. “Americans born to poor parents tend to stay poor as adults.”

But the main point of The Tyranny of Merit is a different one: Sandel is determined to aim a broadside squarely at a left-liberal consensus that has reigned for 30 years. Even a perfect meritocracy, he says, would be a bad thing. “The book tries to show that there is a dark side, a demoralising side to that,” he says. “The implication is that those who do not rise will have no one to blame but themselves.” Centre-left elites abandoned old class loyalties and took on a new role as moralising life-coaches, dedicated to helping working-class individuals shape up to a world in which they were on their own. “On globalisation,” says Sandel, “these parties said the choice was no longer between left and right, but between ‘open’ and ‘closed’. Open meant free flow of capital, goods and people across borders.” Not only was this state of affairs seen as irreversible, it was also presented as laudable. “To object in any way to that was to be closed-minded, prejudiced and hostile to cosmopolitan identities.”

There have been books that have made this point from a more explicitly left wing standpoint. Pierre Rosenvallon’s  La société des égaux (2011). The influential French writer (like many I have read many many of his books and followed his public lectures on-line) traced out the British debate about revisionism, Crosland, equality and ‘meritocracy’. He underlined, as Starmer does not, he massive increase in inequality over the last decades. Rosanvallon offered acid criticisms of equality of opportunity (‘égalité des chances’) and proposed his own substantive egalitarianism as part of broader social relations, “relation sociale”. These themes, taking account of the complexity of equality and inequality, have been developed in his more recent books and articles.

Une brève histoire de l’égalité, Thomas Piketty (2021) has just been published.  The author of the internationally debated Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014) and Capital and Ideology (2020) advocates restoring levels of progressive taxation on high incomes – as was the case between 1930 and 1970 -, a capital endowment paid to everyone at the age of 25 equal to “60% of the average wealth per adult (ie 120,000 euros) ”in the case of France, a carbon tax proportional to income, the “de-commodification” of sectors of common interest (education, health, culture, transport, energy) entrusted to “public, municipal, associative or non-profit structures” .

That is the kind of social democratic reformism, or ““democratic, Green socialism.” you could warm to. A lot more than putting ” contribution and community at the centre of our efforts” and the prospect of a “nation remade”.

Or indeed this,

“Self-managing socialism aims at reducing the role of the state to its coordinating functions whereby various self-managing initiatives can be brought together, just as they might be at local, regional, national and international level. What is important is that any state-level ‘coordination’ must, by very definition, come and be controlled from the ‘bottom up’.”

“..the emergence of new social movements mens that we mus rethink ‘socialism’ in such as way that their emancipatory demands blend into an alliance with the demands of the fighting sections of the working class.”

Keir Starmer. ‘Wapping: End of the Street?’, Socialist Alternatives, vol. 2 no. 1, April/May 1987

*****

(1) A convenient list:

Areas of political consensus after Thatcher

  • Britain was now in a globalised market and needed to improve the education and skills of the workforce and remove many labour regulations to help firms compete against those in other countries.
  • Wealth creation by business and particularly entrepreneurs was to be encouraged and would provide the resources to pay for public services. This would also raise incomes overall so that there was no need to redistribute wealth by taxation of the rich.
  • The trade union reforms of the 1980s would remain in place. Blair distanced himself from the trade unions that were affiliated to the Labour Party and did not involve them in developing policy.
  • There would be no reversal of the privatisations carried out by the Conservative Government.  The provision of public services could be contracted out to the private sector if they were cheaper and more efficient. Private finance could be used to build major public projects such as hospitals by means of the Private Finance Initiative.
  • Consumer choice was important in all areas.   People should be able to choose between schools and where to have a hospital operation.  Public service reform would be carried out through league tables and performance measures so that local authorities and hospital trusts worked efficiently.
  • People should be encouraged into work and off benefits by programmes to help them do this but with sanctions, if they did not participate.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 23, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Labour Party: Proposed Abolition of One Member One Vote (OMOV) Meets Strong Opposition.

with 7 comments

May be an image of text

Here is the ‘soft left’ Ann Black and Open Labour.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will re-open a bitter internal dispute just days ahead of his party’s conference.

BBC.

In a risky move, he will try to convince trade unions to back a plan to scrap the leadership rules which enabled predecessor Jeremy Corbyn to get elected.

Currently grassroots members elect the leader – a system introduced by Ed Miliband.

But Sir Keir wants to return to an “electoral college”, where ordinary Labour Party members would only account for a third of the votes in a future leadership contest.

Some people have pointed out that sections of the left opposed One Member One Vote (OMOV). There was a long-standing preference not just for giving trade unions a big block vote, but also for the idea that it should be constituency party meetings and not a postal ballot who decide. The view was based on the lingering idea of “active democracy” as opposed to passive home voting. That argument had largely vanished by the new millenium but the call to keep union power, that is the power of national executives and General Secretaries in place remained. Backers of OMOV pointed out, amongst other things, that unions had no obligation to consult their members of their votes – under the previous system I cannot recall being asked (T & G/UNITE) and if anybody was please tell (some suggest that NUPE did…).

That some of  the loudest yelps against the move backwards come from the drivers of an anti-Labour message (Starmer tried to make challenge threshold 100+ MPs, backed down under pressure from unions Skwawkbox) should not distract us. The fact is that the abolition of OMOV is wrong. It will be felt as a slap in the face. The very idea that important folk, MPs and Union chiefs, will have more votes that anybody else would be laughed out of court were it not a real proposal.

Jon Lansman has the decency to admit he was against OMOV.

The 2014 Collins Review, which introduced OMOV was also titled, Building a One Nation Labour Party.

This was its successful recommendation.

The Electoral College for leadership elections should be abolished and replaced in party rules by a new system based on the principle of OMOV.


Multiple voting in leadership elections should be ended.


The eligible electorate should be composed of members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters.


Members of affiliated organisations who are not already party members may take part in the ballot if they register with the party as affiliated supporters. This will require them to declare their support for Labour values, provide the party with personal contact details and be on the electoral roll.


Individuals who are not already party members or members of an affiliated organisation may take part in leadership elections by registering with the party as a supporter. This will require them to declare their support for Labour values, provide the party with personal contact details, be on the electoral roll and pay the party a fee.


The NEC should agree the detailed procedures for leadership elections including issues regarding registration, fees and freeze dates.

Responsibility for nominating and shortlisting leadership candidates shall remain with the House of Commons members of the PLP.


Nominations for the post of leader or deputy leader of the party must, in all circumstances, be supported by 15 per cent of the Commons members of the PLP to be valid.

Jon Lansman’s blog Left Futures, carried this piece from the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLDP),

What is the future of the Labour-union link? Peter Willsman. March 2014.

After Collins, what of the future? Of the collective link between the Labour Party and the trade unions as organisations representing the organised working class? The composition of the implementation committee is quite encouraging, and its actions may avert our worst fears in the immediate future. For example, Labour Uncut have suggested that the implementation committee  might change the basis of the London mayoral primary, and any early leadership election so that union members can be fully involved. They, of course. wish to prevent that. So the battle continues to preserve effective union involvement in party decision-making.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the collective link may be on a slippery slope. For the first time since they set up the Labour Party, the trade unions face being slowly edged out. It is true that the unions have the power at the moment to prevent this happening, but it has often been the case in the past that when push comes to shove, some trade union leaders prefer to fight the next battle rather than the one they’re faced with.

This issue has been a long-standing one.

People supporting the ‘soft left’, around Chartist, and other magazines and networks, long backed OMOV but generally speaking it was seen a weapon of the right-wing ‘modernisers’ in Labour.

This is an explanation for the change of heart on what used to be called the ‘hard left’.

The change in Labour’s membership is different to the 1980s, but could be just as dangerous

Trevor Fisher. 2016.

The Corbyn phenomenon is starting to attract academic attention, and is clearly not understood at any level by the parliamentarians and other observers. It is time to take the phenomenon seriously, as it will not go away. However unlike the 1980s left surge, which was largely activist driven so the approach of the party establishment was to shift to OMOV to outflank the activists with a mass membership, the current surge seems to be a mass membership of Corbynites – though Momentum may not be critically significant –  while the activists are resistant. The recent YouGov poll puts the support for Corbyn highest in new members and  lowest in the older membership.

Trevor Fisher was a member of the Labour Coordinating Committee executive 1987-90 and secretary of the Labour Reform Group 1995- 2007

Written by Andrew Coates

September 22, 2021 at 11:09 am

How to Stop Fascism, History, Ideology, Resistance. Paul Mason. A Review.

with 10 comments

Paul Mason on Twitter: "How To Stop Fascism: History, Ideology, Resistance  comes out this Thursday, published by Allen Lane in ebook, audiobook and  hardback ... check my website https://t.co/6qVyE4t2Pb to preorder👇🏼…  https://t.co/8eF21dOJ2p"

How to Stop Fascism, History, Ideology, Resistance. Paul Mason. Allen Lane 2021.

Last weekend there were demonstrations across the world for “freedom”, against Health Passes and all Covid-19 restrictions. In London There was a presence of anti-vaxxers London saw one of Britain’s best known, Covid Confusionist Piers Corbyn out yelling about Vaccination centres. In France the far-right, Florian Philippot’s Patriotes and a galaxy of extreme-right groupuscules marched in many towns and cities, sometimes physically clashing with far-left protestors, also opposed to Macron’s Pass Sanitaire.

At a rally against anti-Semitism called the Réseau contre l’anti-semitisme place Baudoyer in the 4th arrondissement held by the some of the best people you could   ever wish to meet, from the Ligue des Droits de l’homme (founded after the Dreyfus Affair), moderate left-wingers, greens, civil society campaigns, the radical left, including to the anarchist federation. Speakers denounced the prevalence of anti-Semitic ideas circulating in the movement against the Health Pass. A few hundred attended. The anti-Pass movement drew fewer numbers than in previous weeks, down to around 80,000 across France – at their height in July 200,000 marched across the country.

Today “Fascism is back” writes Paul Mason (site). Right-wing populist parties have not stemmed its rise. The failures of free-market globalisation have turned established ideas to dust. Right wing populists, in power in countries like Hungary and Poland with influence across Europe, and with the (former) Donald Trump Presidency, no longer act as a “firewall” that stops the flames of fascism spreading from the more extreme right.  Fascism has grown, he says, through the “salience of its ideas” spread through social media.

Neoliberalism is broken, the “neo-liberal self” is in crisis, competitive democracy is decaying, the planet is burning, the pandemic has been a golden opportunity for extreme conspiracy movements, The “sudden ideological collapse of neo-liberalism and rapid concentration of online power into the hands of the far right” has combined with these developments. This indicates¸ How to Stop Fascism argues,  “Fascism, is “a recurrent symptom of system-failure under capitalism.”

“In the 2000s it is possible that the rules-based global order will shrive, even if a few, isolated right-wing populist regimes persist. But it is more likely that the world order will break, that we need up with competing power blocs…. that will force through the globalisation that prevailed between 1989 and 2008.” In this “fascism” – while the far right considers itself the sworn enemy of the “globalists” – will be a “willing helper.”

The appeal of modern fascists, which have “spread rapidly through social media” is to offer a “new utopia based on racism, misogyny and violence”. Their goal is “a global race war that reshapes the world into ethnic monocultures.” What the American neo-Nazis call “leaderless resistance” are one part of “movements perpetrating symbolic violence against the left, minorities and democratic institutions.” Indeed, such is their strength that there “is a non-negligible risk of a fascist breakthrough”.

Fascist Ideology.

The rallying call, based on anti-fascist ethos’ has to be, Mason argues an “alternative vision and an alternative practice” has to be axed around new forms of the Popular Front. The “mutually hostile offshoots from the Enlightenment, liberalism and Marxism, can at least now mount a joint defence operation against fascism.” This democratic front, assuming that either of these diverse sides would wish such an alliance, is probably the argument of this important book that will get the most attention.

Paul Mason offers many well-argued passages about the nature of fascism, citing writers as diverse as Hannah Arendt (totalitarianism as the “temporary alliance of the mob and the elite’, William Reich (fascism as the ‘fear of freedom), Eric Fromm (who developed this idea);) the historian John Paxton (‘stages’ of how fascism develops) and Ernest Nolte (his earlier writing, underlining fascism’s anti-Marxism). Whether these replace or add to Marxist explanations of the role of fascism in crushing and atomising working class movements, is open to debate. No doubt there will be those who wish to defend a “united front” (the Trotsky version) against Mason’s history and defence of the Popular Front in Spain and France.

The (relative) free-floating ability of fascist ideology to take ideas from all sources, including anti-democratic currents on the left, or, more directly the claim that it grew from ” a synthesis of anti-materialist socialism and nationalism” (Zeev Sternhell) is another avenue to be explore. Red-Brown movements, defending both ‘Britain’ and the “Working class, taking bits from ‘Marxism’-Leninism’ and patriotic tub-thumping have not disappeared.

The confusion between left and right, or the far-right claim to be neither right nor left, is explored in Ni droite ni gauche. L’idéologie fasciste en France (1983) and other writing by Zeev Sternhell. although his views on Georges Sorel, like Paul Mason’s, have been hotly contested in other studies of the revolutionary syndicalist , L’Illusion du politique. Shlomo Sand. 2986). Sternhell gives a much denser (if often contestable) account of ideological shifting and confusion than, say, the ‘discourse’ approach to populism and fascism of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe

Today in France many defenders of the ‘somewhere’ ‘peripheral’ real national and working class people against ‘metropolitan elites’ trace the original fault of the French left to that experience. It dates back to the late 19th century Boulangist movement, when a section of the left initially welcomed the anti-Parliamentary agitation around the ‘Charismatic’ General Boulanger, along with anti-Semites, royalists and ultra-nationalists, while others stood with republican democracy. This alliance, formal and informal, reached at a peak during the Dreyfus affair, when socialists of many stripes co-operated with the republicans and ‘bourgeois’ democratic side. This early ‘human rights left’ was incarnated in the figure of the socialist and democratic Marxist Jean Jaurès.

Populism.

Enzo Traverso has suggest that populism” is a style, not an ideology. We can see that in British P.M Boris Johnson’s bluster and British boosting, the populist identity ‘anti-woke’ politics of Spiked, and GB News. But it there more at stake? Post-fascism Traverso argues, is not ideologically as strong as that embodied in the fascist regimes of the 1930s, embodied in totalising mass parties, and, above all, states. Ethno-states are the banner of a fringe. The far right today is a machine manufacturing demands for economic protectionism, national sovereignty and the defence of “national identities. (Les nouveaux visages du fascisme, 2017)

This right is interested in  “identification” controls of the population, registering and documenting foreigners, criminals, subversives, and the control of nations imagined as if there were “living bodies “ (corps vivants). The French Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen stands for, as it has done since the days of the Front National, la préférence nationale, giving nationals preference over others. This is a realisable programme, not gestures and ways of addressing and claiming to speak for the “people” and attacking the metropolitan ‘left’ ‘liberal’ elite.

Éric Zemmour, potential candidate in the 2002 French Presidential elections to Marine Le Pen’s right, now standing at above 10% in opinion polls, talks of a rigorous policy of assimilation – extending to forenames. (1) Zemmour, who is of a North African Jewish background has promoted the Great Replacement conspiracy theory, contending that Frances population will be replaced by immigrants. Yet biological racism seems largely absent. By contrast the marginal US Richard B. Spencer, influenced by the French Nouvelle Droite, and despite this ‘culturalist’ background, says bluntly “Race is the Foundation of Identity. “ Nobody is talking of Spencer or his race-comrades, as future contenders in electoral American politics

Going into the backdrop to the support for national populism and the far right Mason tackles the ‘culture wars’. He makes many acute observations on the “new divisions in the working class”, a globally spread “reactionary ethos” and a “new kind of working class conservatism”. He offers some hope that the “new working class” in urban areas can be drawn into progressive movement- or, as those who are close by will say, often to be on “our – the left’s – side”. Put simply many do not put up with appeals to some mystical common heritage when they know and experience what being working class, always close to, if not on, benefits, has become.

But it is not just the material problems that causal, ‘flexible’, employment have brought with them that are an obstacle to the left, Parts of the left itself have contributed to the confusion that allows national populist ideas to get hold. In Britain the ‘Lexit’ supporters of Brexit imagine that national sovereignty, Parliamentary power, could break the strength of ‘neo-liberal’ EU. There is also the issue of ultra anti-Zionists, a marginal but real presence on the left, with its own Rothschild conspiracy theories.

National Neo-liberalism.

Neoliberalism, what Paul Mason has called in the past, ‘national neo-liberalism’ – the dominance of private enterprise extend right into public functions with a dose of global ‘buccaneering’ trade deals – has not gone away. The collapse of classic borderless neo-liberalism has been replaced by ‘more borders’ national populism and internal economic liberalism. It was never a ‘firewall’ against the fascist right, but a shifting ground where themes from the extreme meet up with classic conservative nationalism, the ‘rooted’ politics of the old ruling classes, the new surveillance capitalism, popular and working class conservatism, and right wing identity politics. Or, to put it simply, a bridge to a bigger political audience.

The left needs the kind of call to arms against these new forms of right and far-right politics made by Paul Mason, even if we may not agree on the details of his programme. Against the far-right and against populism alliances with democrats, socialists and progressives (which formed the basis of 1970s anti-National Front campaigning) are needed. Yet, how, people will ask, exactly can they be fought if their matrix is in the hyper-reality of cyberspace? There does not look like a systematic return to the street marches and direct confrontations of previous decades, though some kind of counter-protests at anti-vaxx events would be welcome.

There remains one issue. Is, looking at things more simply, a mass movement – even virtually – that we can call Fascism really on the march to power, or decisive influence? How far have they got? Are they really, even in the bud, headed for a ‘breakthrough’? The limited physical and electoral presence of the fascist right, even their broader identitarian fronts, and the shrinking attendance at the anti-Health pass events in France, not countered by a rise in this agitation across the world last weekend  suggests that they have some way to go.

(1) This is not a joke. Zemmour has said he would make French forenames compulsory for children: Le polémiste d’extrême droite Éric Zemmour… souhaiterait interdire en France les prénoms d’origine étrangère. There is a lot, a lot, more to say about Zemmour, from his defence of Vichy, his loathing of May 68, to his ‘masculinist’ hatred of feminism. Eric Zemmour: A French Trump or a French Farage? John Lichfield

*****

A National Populist review:

If this is ‘anti-fascism’, count me out. Brendan O’Neill.

It is hard to know where to start with How To Stop Fascism. Parts of it are just batshit crazy. 

I knew the Remain elites felt a visceral hostility towards the working-class communities that ensured a victory for Brexit, but even I did not know that it ran this deep, that it was giving rise to a new theory of fascism that views the working classes as the likely key component in the next mass panic of authoritarianism. This explains Mason’s hostility to democracy. Even in this book in which he lists the view of democracy as ‘dispensable’ as a core fascistic belief, Mr Mason cannot help but expose that his fear of populism is at root a fear of the democratic will. He slams the charismatic leaders of the new right for fetishising the ‘will of the people’.

 …this is the 21st-century Labour left summed up. It is a poisonously elitist project. If fascism were ever to return, I know who I would trust to stand against it – not Mason and the other cushioned, comfortable loathers of democracy who make up the supposedly radical left, but rather ordinary working people who oppose extremism, are wary of experts who claim to have all the answers, and who believe that national sovereignty is really worth fighting for

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Confusionism: Piers Corbyn, Boris Johnson’s Climate Guru, Back in the News Again.

with 12 comments

Piers Corbyn and Kate Shemirani.

Back in the News Again.

This Blog’s project of building an encyclopaedia of confusionism, following in the footsteps of our ‘look up to’ Phillipe Corcuff has been gathering pace.

With our hard-nosed news hounds we have been tracking the red-brown movements like the WPB, Galloway, Williamson, the Farage coat-tailers and national populist identitarians, of Spiked, The Full Brexit, and former New leftists recycled into Brexiteers, anti-rootless cosmopolitans like Paul Embery, and the overt “conspiracy movements and far-right parties and action groups”. Not to mention by-ways such as the music of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist Leninist) troubadour Cornelius Cardew.

A mighty task, and even our best gumshoes find it difficult to keep track of our star confusionniste, Piers Corbyn, and his latest antics.

As recently as 2015, Johnson claimed “global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation”.

He also wrote an article in 2013 suggesting the government should consider preparing for a mini-ice age caused by solar activity, drawing on a discredited theory by the climate denier Piers Corbyn – brother of the former Labour leader. And in the same year, Johnson said windfarms – now a key part of the government’s plan to transition to net zero – couldn’t “pull the skin off a rice pudding”.

Guardian. Today.

There is this as well:

There is a confusionniste explanation of why Piers is in the news again, and trending on Twitter.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2021 at 5:15 pm

Human Rights Groups, Anti-Racists, Trade Unions, Students, and Left Unite in Paris to Protest Against Anti-Semitism and Conspiracy Mongering.

leave a comment »

May be an image of one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoors


Condamner l’antisémitisme et combattre tous les racismes !

RAAR press release The RAAR is pleased with the success of the gathering it organised today in Paris on the Place Baudoyer (Town Hall of the 4th district).Several hundred people there demonstrated their strong determination to combat anti-Semitic propaganda. …..

The presence of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his party La France insoumise made the news:

Libération published this ‘Tribune’ on Saturday.

It begins….

“The Covid pandemic has given rise to a surge in anti-Semitism and conspiracy-mongering.  It has taken the form of the comparison between vaccination and the health pass (Vaccination ‘passport’) to the Shoah. Yellow stars have been brandished . There have been talk of the ‘Nazi Pass’ and analogies to the words written on the gates of Auschwitz.

Anti-Semitic words and acts have multiplied during and outside of recent demonstrations. There have been those who have not hesitated to blame Jewish figures for the health situation, in direct and explicit form, or through the use of the coded anti-Semitic meme Qui? “Who?” (a call on marches, as in ‘Who is to blame?” – not far off QAnon thinking).

Image

The open letter underlines the leading of the far-right in the recent anti-Macron, anti-Health Pass demonstrations.

The supporters of the far right are at the forefront of this campaign. But tolerance of anti-Semitic words and speeches goes well beyond that. 

This is a longer list of those backing the rally:

Liste des organisations signataires de l’appel au rassemblement du 19 septembre :

Juifves VNR ; Juives et juifs révolutionnaires (JJR) Mémorial 98 ; Mémorial des nomades et forains de France ; Union des juifs pour la résistance et l’entraide (Ujre) ; Une autre voix juive (UAJV) ; Ligue des droits de l’homme (LDH) ; Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitié entre les peuples (Mrap one of the oldest anti-racist groups in France) ; Mouvement de la paix ; Fédération syndicale unitaire (FSU) (teachers’ trade union); Mouvement national lycéen (MNL) ; Union syndicale Solidaires ; Cedetim ; Collectif Collages judéités queer ; Collectif Agitations ; Collectif Cases rebelles ; Collectif Nta rajel ? ; Collectif national pour les droits des femmes (CNDF) ; Comité Vérité pour Adama (anti-fascists and anti-racists from the banlieue) ; Lallab ; Debunkers de hoax et rumeurs d’extrême droite ; Dijon antifa ; Droit au logement (DAL) ; Fédération nationale des maisons des potes ; Attac-France (linked to Le Monde Diplomatique and ‘alter-globalisation’ movements) ; Fondation Copernic (left think-tank) ; Assemblée citoyenne des originaires de Turquie (Acort) ; IBUKA-France ; SOS Racisme (known for its big anti-racist demos in the 1980s); La Horde ; La Jeune Garde ; 1 001 Lesbiennes et Queers ; Mouvement du christianisme social ; Pour une écologie populaire et sociale (Peps) ; Editions syndicalistes ;

From the radical left and the Communist Party:

Revue «Révolution prolétarienne» ; Vigilance et initiatives syndicales antifascistes (Visa) ; Gauche démocratique et sociale (GDS) ; Les jeunes écologistes ; Ensemble ! ; Fédération anarchiste ; Parti communiste français (PCF) ; Union communiste libertaire (UCL).

More backing:

Background:

French Anti-Pass Demonstrations.

By: John Barzman New Politics. September 16, 2021

Extract:

What is the role of the right in these demonstrations? Who makes up these rightwing groups?

John Barzman – Beyond the broad social and semi-political layers described above, two organized categories should be distinguished: issue-oriented groups and clearly identified ideologies and organizations.

The first category is best represented by Reinfocovid. It has appeared at various moments as denying the gravity of the pandemic, opposed to masks, or vaccinations, and now to the «pass» and to any «vaccinal obligation». It includes dissident embittered nurses, medical doctors, researchers, whose scientific credentials are often unclear. There are also parents concerned with the ability of their children to flirt. And internet influencers too. They tend to support Didier Raoult and his various proposals for alternatives to the best-known remedies, as well as guru Louis Fouché. After July 12, these networks encouraged the formation of Facebook pages titled «Anti pass sanitaire» followed by the name of a city or region, which immediately recruited hundreds of thousands of subscribers. They have equipment : sound systems, musical instruments, disguises (all-white uniforms), speakers and a hierarchy of influencers. They often admire the Trumpist movements of various kinds in the US and imitate their tactics.

The second category encompasses organized far-right groups, generally acting undercover or combining open interventions and quiet infiltration. The context is the decision of the main far right leader, Marine Le Pen, to present her party, Rassemblement national, as conventional republicans («banalisation») uninvolved in violence, and capable of uniting the French people («apaisement», «union nationale»). Her acceptance of the euro caused a split. Her number two leader, Florian Philippot, split and formed the Parti des patriotes with a more «sovereigniste» (nationalist) message. As Philipot was stagnating, he seized the opportunity of widespread social discontent, police demonstrations and the anti-pass moment to organize demonstrations in his own name, or in alliance with sections of the Gilets Jaunes. Other far-right groups known as «identitaires» have engaged in similar work. They combine this with infiltration of the broader movement promoting the actions called by their leaders, as well as the slogan «Freedom», and a ban on «corrupt» political organizations and trade unions. All of this is quite compatible with a future sudden call for unity behind the far right candidate, be it Marine Le Pen, Eric Zemmour, François Asselineau, or Nicolas Dupont Aignan, in exchange for prominent positions on the Marine Le Pen team. Or a far-right and right coalition, as advocated by Marion Maréchal Le Pen (Marine Le Pen’s niece).

Another strong far right current is the Catholic fundamentalist («intégrisme catholique») group Civitas. Most recently, this organization acquired a mass audience and experience with organizing demonstrations and tactical relations with middle-of-the-road allies, in demonstrations against the law extending the rights of homosexual couples to marry (the «Mariage pour tous» law) in 2012-2013, actions which were dubbed «Manif pour tous» (the demonstration for everybody). There has been a constant resistance since then to each new measure going in that direction, in the name of protecting children, a theme which reemerges today as «protect our children against the evil vaccine».”

Libération reports that week after week there have been clashes between the far left and the violent wing of this far-right, “Semaine après semaine, les affrontements opposant militants d’extrême droite et antifascistes se multiplient dans les cortèges. “

It would be a step forward in Britain if a similar united front could be shown against the anti-vaxx and their far-right allies here.

Like this lot:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2021 at 11:01 am

Chris Williamson Praises ‘Inspirational’ Joti Brar, Calls for Unions to Defund Labour…

with 12 comments

Joti Brar (@joti2gaza) | Twitter

“Great to share a platform with the inspirational @joti2” (left in photo)- Chris Williamson.

The passion between George Galloway and the micro-Stalinist Communist Party of Great Britain, (M-L) (the word is not abuse, the founder of the groupuscule, Harel Brar, is a proud member of the Stalin Society) has blossomed in the last few years. The ‘party’ essentially make up the cadre of the red-brown Workers Party of Britian.

Historians of the labour movement have written up the story.

Galloway and the CPGB-ML: notes on a romance.

the CPGB-ML are loyal foot soldiers of Galloway in the Workers Party of Britain (WPB), so it would be interesting to know what the Brars now think of this 2004 characterisation of their new leader. This relationship is not being squirrelled away by the WPB. Joti Brar is deputy leader of the WPB and according to its website: “The Communists [the new branding of the CPGB-ML] have a long history of working with George on various issues. In 2019, The Communists stood alone with George on many questions, not least the defence of the Brexit referendum result and opposition to Labour’s treachery on this question… The Workers Party wants communists to play an active role, and we’re appealing to British workers, whether they have formerly been in the Brexit Party, UKIP, the Labour Party, a socialist organisation or none, to get involved with and build this party.”[2]

True love blossoms

George Galloway, the CPGB(ML) and 9/11.

John Rogan.

Bastions of US Imperialism Crumble –

“For the millions who never thought it would be possible to wreak vengeance on the all-powerful United States aggressors for the suffering inflicted on them and on those they loved, the success of the attacks on the most powerful symbols of US financial and military might has been a matter for great satisfaction and even joy.

Now it seems that another suitor of the CPGB (M-L) has appeared. Chris Williamson is courting the favours Jodi Brar, daughter of Harpal, now Vice Chair of the CPGB (M-L) and also Deputy Leader of Galloway’s ‘Workers Party’ of Britain.

“Great to share a platform with the inspirational @joti2gaza

The mutual love-in continues,

The CPGB-ML opposes Trotskyismsocial democracydemocratic socialism and what they term revisionist (including Khruschevite) parties. In 1995 former CPGB-ML chairman Harpal Brar published a book called Social Democracy: The Enemy Within.

More madness, they call it madness! from Joidi’s Joint,

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2021 at 2:47 pm

Far Right Confusionists out today for “World Wide Rally For Freedom”.

with 3 comments

Image

Indiana Jones: Confusionists: I hate these guys.

In an in-depth, important, article on the French anti-Health Pass movement John Barzman notes, the increased influence of the confusionist, conspiracy movements and far-right parties and action groups..” (French Anti-Pass Demonstrations. September 16, 2021).

Today saw this:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2021 at 4:47 pm

Chris Williamson and Tosh to Speak at Birmingham Workers Party of Britain Rally, or is it Williamson to speak Tosh?

with 7 comments

Who's afraid of the Democracy Roadshow? | Morning Star

Hairy Biker and Comrade to Speak at Galloway Workers Party of Britain Beano.

Chris Williamson has a long friendship with Tosh:

The WPB (as nobody calls it) is “the working-class patriotic alternative to fake woke anti-British ‘Labour’. The leader George Galloway worked hand in hand with Nigel Farage to back the Bosses’ Brexit in the European Referendum Its cadres in the CPGB (M-L) backed the Brexit Party in the 2019 Euro Elections. “The Workers Party stands with all those countries that have attempted to break free of imperialist domination and build a different kind of world. We defend the achievements of the USSR, China, Cuba etc, not least the debt owed by humanity to the Soviet Union and Red Army in their war of liberation against German fascism.”

We shall defend the positive historical legacy of the Soviet Union as well as all those today who struggle for socialism; for an alternative world order.

Its HQ address (kidding, not) is  274 Moseley Rd, Birmingham. B12 0BS.

Deputy leader of the WPB, Jodi Brar, has contributed to this classic: Identity Politics and the Trhttps://s3-eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/s3.cpgb-ml.org/TransgenderTrend_read.pdfansgender Trend (2019). This a publication of the CPGB (M-L) and carries this notice at the end.

The following resolution was passed overwhelmingly at the party’s eighth congress in September 2018, following a six-month inner-party debate.

Identity politics are anti-Marxian and a harmful diversion from the class struggle.


While being totally opposed to discrimination on grounds of race, sex or sexual proclivity, this congress declares that obsession with identity politics, including sexual politics, is anti-Marxian.


Congress therefore resolves that the propagation of identity politics, including LGBT ideology, being reactionary and anti-working class and a harmful distraction and diversion from the class struggle of the proletariat for its social emancipation, is incompatible with membership of the party, rendering those involved in its promotion liable to expulsion.

Well established opinion is that this resolution was the end product of some considerable rows amongst the cadres who now run the WPB.

On Williamson there is now this claim,

on Saturday’s demo against the arms fair in Liverpool with Jeremy Corbyn refusing to share a platform with Chris Williamson who told me that he wasn’t allowed to speak

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2021 at 8:18 am

John McDonnell calls for talks to “defuse the row” over Exclusions from the Labour Party.

with 10 comments

The Labour Party, Trotskyism and Pabloism. | Tendance Coatesy

Days When Keir Starmer was a “radical anti-imperialist ecosocialist”.

This is an important intervention.

In a BBC interview, he suggested that disciplinary action against some members on the Left of the party had made many others feel “unwelcome”, and in some cases “intimidated”.

He is calling for the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to call a summit with his critics next week, as Labour prepares for its in-person annual conference, to address their ‘grievances”.

Otherwise, he said, an internal party row could dominate the first day of the Labour conference in Brighton.

And he was critical of the way Labour’s disciplinary process is being applied.

He told the BBC: “What’s happened is a number of groups have been proscribed and we are now receiving reports of large numbers of members of the party being excluded from the party on the basis of statements or retweeting something from one of these groups before they were proscribed.

“This flies in the face of natural justice… It is like being guilty of pre-crime.”

He said he believed that this had consequences far beyond those who are directly affected.

“This sends a message throughout the party to some members that they are not welcome.

“My understanding is we have lost at least 100,000 members so far. If you start losing that mass membership, we are undermining our ability to fight elections – which is appalling.”

The effects of the exclusions, as John McDonnell, have extended beyond what Private Eye calls in the latest issue (17th of September) the “ragtag gang of S[artists and anti-Zionists who believe the party’s antisemitism crisis was mostly made up” – aka Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

When somebody of the moderation and good sense of Ann Black signs this you know something is wrong.

Update, September 9thLabourList understands that Ann Black, thought of as a ‘soft left’ NEC member and not one who was backed by Momentum as a candidate, has now also signed the joint letter. There are now 13 signatories.

12 members of Labour’s ruling body have written to David Evans and Margaret Beckett to say they “feel deeply uncomfortable” about the way the ban on certain groups is being implemented, LabourList can reveal.

in a letter to the general secretary and NEC chair, the group of 12 NEC members – all considered to be on the party’s left – have now raised concerns over retrospective action being taken and how ‘support’ is being defined.

They have highlighted reports of Labour members being given “notice of auto-exclusions applied retrospectively”, with evidence of their support for a group originating from before the ban was agreed.

The NEC members are also concerned that the definition of ‘support’ being used is not the same as the specific indicators of support that were set out in the NEC papers in July, which means the parameters are being set by staff.

“We don’t believe that how they are implementing the proscription is how it was represented in the NEC meeting,” one NEC source told LabourList. “It’s not fair, I don’t think, the way this has been applied.”

Labour sources have pointed out that banning support for a political organisation other than the Labour Party was already in the rulebook, and members of Socialist Appeal had been expelled from the party before the July NEC meeting.

It has also been said that the lists of ways in which members could be deemed to have demonstrated support for the banned groups were non-exhaustive, and other forms of support – such as social media activity – also count.

TSSA’s Andi Fox, FBU’s Ian Murray, ASLEF’s Mick Whelan, Unite’s Jayne Taylor and CWU’s Andy Kerr, all from the trade union section of Labour’s NEC, have also signed the letter.

Below is the full text of the letter from a group of NEC members.

Dear Margaret Beckett and David Evans,

Members of the National Executive Committee feel deeply uncomfortable about the way in which the proscription of political organisations paper has been implemented subsequent to the decision of the meeting of the 20th July 2021. It is the view of those who have signed this letter that the true intent of the decision, as to how it would be applied to individuals, was concealed and/or misdescribed.

We have been made aware that members of the Labour Party, said to be supporters of proscribed groups, have had notice of auto-exclusions applied retrospectively, in so far as it is alleged support prior to the decision of the NEC and that is being used as justification for auto-expulsion.

At no point in the NEC discussion about proscription of political organisations, and nor within the officers papers, was it suggested or stated that members would be subject to suspensions or auto expulsions for past support given to any of the proscribed organisations. Such alleged support of an individual would of course have been given when the organisation in question was implicitly or expressly welcomed into Labour. The mere fact that Labour took no action to either proscribe the grouping or suspend an individual for giving alleged support to such grouping, is reflective of that fact that at that time neither the grouping in question, nor an individual’s support, was considered contrary to Labour values. This retrospective application is unfair, likely contrary to our rules and not something that the NEC should be taken to have agreed to without specific debate.

If this retrospective application is to be applied consistently then anyone who has ever been a member of another political party (proscribed by Labour) can never become a member of Labour. An MP can never cross the floor to Labour.

We are further alarmed at the definition of ‘support’ for the organisations now being applied by GLU. It is a definition that is not only all encompassing but one that’s application is subjective. It is a paid member of staff, not the NEC, who now decides what actions amount to ‘support’ of a proscribed organisation and subject to auto-expulsion.

The examples given to the NEC of what amounted to support were clearly understood by the signatures to this correspondence, intended to be definitive. If the list of what constituted “support” was to be added to then this would be in consultation with the NEC. We accept the papers use the Latin “inter alia”, although the meaning of this Latin term was not explained to the NEC members, it does not mean that the authority for deciding the meaning of “support” would transfer from the NEC to paid staff. This is obviously of the utmost importance as members being accused of “support” are then being subject to auto expulsion and denied the opportunity to make their case to the NEC.

This is against natural justice, contrary to the fairness principles that run through our Rule Book but also entirely contrary to the custom and practice of the application of the auto expulsion rule which until now has been precise as to the member’s conduct and not open to such a level of subjective analysis.

Based on the discussion at the NEC and information contained in the the papers, it is our opinion that the Labour Party administration is current acting outside of the authority granted by the NEC.

The officials must now recall the NEC to have a clear and transparent debate about whether the retrospective application is either fair or capable of consistent application. The recalled NEC must also clearly define what future actions will constitute “support” and confirm that it is for the NEC to consider any additions to the list of actions considered by the administration to be capable of constituting “support”. If the NEC is not recalled we wish to formally request to have this matter added to the agenda for our next meeting on 17th September.

If the integrity of the NEC decision making process is to be upheld then the recall must happen without delay and before any further auto expulsions occur.

Yours sincerely,

Laura Pidcock
Nadia Jama
Gemma Bolton
Lara McNeill
Andi Fox
Ian Murray
Yasmine Dar
Mish Rahman
Mick Whelan
Jayne Taylor
Andy Kerr
Ellen Morrison
Update: Ann Black

Starmer’s own Left Background.

Perhaps this is the moment to mention that Keir Starmer also has had strong links with the radical left.

In the recently published Red Knight, Keir Starmer the Unauthorised Biography, by Michael Ashcroft, there is a whole chapter on the Labour Leader’s activity in the Socialist Society and his links with the Pabloite Tendance Marxist Révolutionnaire Internationale (TMRI). It includes a rare interview with his comrade Ben Schoendorff:

 “We were radical anti-imperialist ecosocialists,” said Ben Schoendorff, the leader of the seven-member editorial team, including Starmer, 23, that ran Socialist Alternatives. The magazine was inspired by Michalis Raptis, a Greek former Trotskyist known as Pablo, whose faction, the Pabloites, wanted to broaden socialism to include feminism and green politics. The first issue was published in July 1986, proclaiming that its vision of socialism was “the generalised self-management of society as a whole”; it claimed to be “concretely working towards a radical extension of popular control over wealth and power” by integrating the traditional labour movement with “new social movements”.

Independent.

The book, which also cites a certain A. Coates, does not mention just how radical that anti-imperialism was. This is the leader of the group, the tendance marxiste-révolutionnaire internationale (TMRI).

Michel Raptis “was personally closely involved in supporting the Algerian national liberation struggle against France, which led to imprisonment in the Netherlands in connection with counterfeit money and gun-smuggling activities. A campaign for his release was launched by Jean-Paul Sartre. In 1961, Pablo was finally sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, and liberated at the end of his trial. He took refuge in Morocco. After the victory of the Algerian revolution, he became a (very junior, note) minister in the FLN government.” Michel Pablo

While Schoendorff was equally part of the French section of the TMRI, the Alliance Marxiste Révolutionnaire (TMR) – a group this Blog writer was close to. They were involved in the ‘self-management’ (autogestion) currents of the French left, which many of us are still inspired by.

There is a distinct memory of Keir Starmer being at one, the 8th and the last, International Conference of the group, held in Paris in 1985. He did not speak French or Spanish, the main languages of the event, and I was asked to translate for a person very similar to the present Labour leader. Our little joke these days is that if the meeting had been held in Latin the lawyer would have had no difficulty participating.

In the days before Screen Shots there is no way to prove this, but one can say that the delegates included people whose radicalism and participation in the ‘struggle’ would put groups like the marginal messianic cult, Socialist Appeal, in the shade.

It is worth saying that Socialist Appeal is not accused of Anti-Semitism. Grounds for auto-exclusion of supporters are that:

“Socialist Appeal has its own programme, membership, and structures; that we are part of an international organisation, the International Marxist Tendency; and that our organisation is a continuation of the Militant Tendency, which was similarly proscribed by the Kinnock leadership in the 1980s.”

Leaving the last bit aside (who these days cares about the Millies, and their unloved, floundering (if not foundering) offspring TUSC.

Ealing council, London, Hobbayne ward by election result of 16 September Labour 1617, 52.2%Tory 865, 27.9%Green 362, 11.7%Lib Dem 207, 6.7%Tony Gill, TUSC (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition) 48, 1.5%

But the rest surely applies to the TMRI…

****
More.

Benjamin Schoendorff is a licensed psychologist and international trainer living near Montreal with his wife, baby child and two step daughters.

Benji has a passion for helping people get unstuck and move toward valued living and travels the world over to train clinicians from all backgrounds in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP).

In addition to his clinical and training practice, he currently researches ACT in the treatment of Obsessive Complusive Disorder as part of the Montreal university mental health institute.

As an author and trainer, Benji is renowned for his down-to-earth, authentic, relationship-centered and deeply compassionate style. He believes effective science-based methods to get unstuck are too precious to remain confined to academia and has made it his life mission to disseminate them in an engaging and easily accessible way. Simple, but not simplistic. Benji dreams of a scientific psychology in the service of spreading love, peace and understanding.

He has written books and chapters in French and English. His next book, The ACT practitioner’s guide to the science of comapssion and co-authored with Dennis Tirch and Laura Silberstein, is due to be published by New Harbinger in december 2014.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

French Greens Face Challenge from Historic Ecologist, Antoine Waechter, opposed to idea that ecologists are part of the “political landscape of the left.”

leave a comment »

Antoine Waechter, le 16 mai 2014.

72 Years Old and still Fighting Left-Wing Ecologists.

Today one of the historic figures of the French Green movement announced his own, unasked for, candidacy for the Presidency of the French Republic.

 The ecologist Antoine Waechter candidate for the presidential election.

The 72-year-old environmental engineer wishes through his candidacy “to affirm what constitutes the identity of ecological thought, beyond the right and the left“. (1)

Dubbed by some ‘the walking dead’ Waechter is somebody this Blog (which can recall his antics in the 1980s…) would happily qualify as the personification of everything wrong with Green “beyond left and right politics.” And a lot more. He is standing under the banner of the Mouvement écologiste indépendant (MEI).

This is the current line up of declared and potential Presidential candidates from the French Left. Some, such as Anasse Kazib from Révolution Prolétarienne, will struggle to get the 500 nominations from elected figures (which include local councillors, right down to the small councils which in the UK would be known as ‘town’ councils which here have little power). There are, for example, 35,000 mayors in France.

As indicated below the Ecologists (EELV) and their allies, Génération.sGénération écologieCap écologie et le Mouvement des progressistes)  have yet to decide on their candidate. 112,000 people who have signed a statement of broad agreements and paid a nominal sum began voting in the first round today, the 16th of September. That will end on Sunday, the 19th. Without an outright winner there will be a second round between the 25th to the 28th of September. It is said that is timed to coincide with the German Federal elections (26th of September) in which their counterparts, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, were expected to do well.

Although the French Greens have debated democratic Constitutional Reforms, education, employees’ democracy in enterprises, and taxes for the wealthy and big companies, the bulk of their platform and proposal concerns issues such as climate change, ending nuclear power, and the protection of the environment and animals.

Waechter may call them left-wing but the front runner, Yannick Jadot has talked in the past  « pragmatisme », and une écologie au delà du clivage gauche / droite (beyond the left-right divide). One could say that some of the candidats’ interest in ‘de-growth’ (décroissance), a steady-state or severely limited growth economy stands at odds with the socialist and Marxist approach to developing the productive forces in a durable and sustainable way. Eco-socialism is not on the agenda of the French Greens, they have no clear views on the socialisation of production and full equality There are equally issues which even the most radical Greens have only begun to tackle, like the use of private cars, which is a major cause of ecological damage.

Eagle-eyed readers will note Pierre Larrouturou listed, who from the micro-party, Nouvelle Donne (once close to the Parti Socialiste), who is standing in the initiative the ‘primaire populaire ‘, a self-organised effort at holding a primary for all the left. 83,000 people signed up.

Speaking on France-Inter this morning Christiana Taubira, who has been at the top of those said to win the primaire populaire, even “plebiscited” by it, said, that she does not want to “contribute to the splintering of the left” in an election the left “cannot afford to lose”. To avoid a further multiplication of campaigns on the left she did not wish to be the 7th or 8th left candidate. Taubira, she underlined, would still find her place in backing the left during the 2022 elections.

Declared

NamePartyPrimaryDeclaration
Nathalie ArthaudLOLutte Ouvrière December 2020
Anasse KazibRPRévolution ProlétarienneApril 2021
Philippe PoutouNPANouveau Parti anticapitalisteJune 2021
Jean-Luc MélenchonLFILa France insoumiseNovember 2020
Fabien RousselPCFcommunist designation
(designated)
March 2021
Sandrine RousseauEELVecologist primaryOctober 2020
Éric PiolleEELVecologist primaryJune 2021
Yannick JadotEELVecologist primaryJune 2021
Delphine BathoGEecologist primaryJuly 2021
Jean-Marc Governatoriecologist primaryJuly 2021
Pierre LarrouturouNDpopular primaryJuly 2021
Anne HidalgoPSsocialist primarySeptember 2021
Stéphane Le FollPSsocialist primaryAugust 2021
Arnaud MontebourgDVGSelf-announcedSeptember 2021
Xavier BertrandDVDSelf-announced.March 2021
Jacline MouraudDVDSelf-announced.December 2020

(1) Antoine Waechter practically invented the “beyond the left and right” line in the 1980s. Making his intentions clearer – that is the phrase is directed against the left he often stated, ” «L’écologie n’est pas à marier” marry, ally, that is with the radical left back in 1984. Left the main Green party, les Verts, in 1994 on the line that, “He considers ecology as a political project in its own right, distinct from the right and the left, but being able to ally with one as well as the other. Amongst many cases of his centrist/centre right politics Waechter backed the centre (right) François Bayrou for President in 2007.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2021 at 6:40 pm

The Gazi Black Hammer Cult.

with 9 comments

USA: Separatist group 'Black Hammer' acquires 200 acres in Colorado to establish a communist utopia

This is a very, very, serious problem: a cult which claims to be ‘revolutionary’ and anti-colonialist. Or as they say, “Black Hammer is a revolutionary organization whose ultimate goal is to achieve freedom for Colonized people under the leadership of the international colonized poor and working class. Their mission statement says that “Under the leadership of the Colonized proletariat, our mission is to use our collective building power to strengthen all sectors of the Colonized Nation.” Their symbol, the Black Hammer, represents breaking the chains of oppression and building a sustainable future for all colonized people worldwide.

This Blog only posts because it is claimed that Black Hammer is “Black Hammer has since grown to become an international organization with Chapters (note, that is, Branches, or…Sections?) in Nigeria, Puerto Rico, The Philippines and the United Kingdom.”Black Hammer Organization. And, this, deeply wounding, activity by Black Hammer,

Anne Frank trending on Twitter is rarely a good thing. From January to May this year, Black Hammer, which calls itself a “revolutionary organization” working for “all colonized people worldwide,” tweeted monthly statements condemning the most famous victim of the Holocaust as a “colonizer” and a “bleach demon.” In one video, Gazi Kodzo, the founder of the organization, says “Anne Frank is white, and white equals colonizer.” He later calls her a “parasite.” Another post features a photo of “The Diary of a Young Girl” next to a fire, implying it will be burned.

The following post links to their critics, who make charges of enormous seriousness. Let those who have direct experience of Black Hammer speak for themselves, with no added comments.

The Devil Wears Dashikis: An Exposé on the Black Hammer Cult (Pt. 1)

September the 13th.

The demagogic YouTuber known as Gazi Kodzo wanted to be “the leader of the anti-white revolution.” Instead they may go down as one of the more repulsive cult leaders in recent Black history

Agents of Disruption And Deception: Exposing Black Hammer’s Plot To Destroy Revolutionary Leadership And Manipulate The People (2020), by Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party

Communist Group ‘Black Hammer’ Is Building Ethnostate On 200 Acres: 7 Things To Know.

Mugoldon Nation.

A Black communist organization known as Black Hammer wants to create a separate state or ethnostate on 200 acres in Colorado and the project is already in development.

An ethnostate is a sovereign state whose citizens are restricted to members of a particular racial or ethnic group.

Black Hammer has named its ethnostate Hammer City. On its website, its says Hammer City will create a “city for all people of color to be free” with no “discrimination of nationality, gender, age or mental/physical differences.”

Hammer City will exclude all white people based on their race and the ethnostate says it will provide residents with “jobs, housing, food, and healthcare” while retaining a “no cops, no rent, no coronavirus” and “no white people” policy, Opindia reported.

This the Leader, a real Tasty Geezer...

A tough-loving revolutionary mama

Gazi might be a tough mama, but they’re also a revolutionary mama—they got the people’s pum-pum!

And a revolutionary mama doesn’t just make revolutionaries, they take care of them so that they can live long enough to see freedom.

On top of everything else, Gazi makes time for each comrade personally, to know each of us and what our needs are. Their compassion is larger than a subjective, personal relationship. It’s large enough to unite with all poor and working class Colonized people.

His compassion stretches its arms backwards and forwards, for the comrades who have laid down their life for the movement, and for the comrades who haven’t yet found their home in the revolution. Every time one of us falls, he doesn’t just make sure we get up, he creates a program in place so that we don’t fall down again.

What other organization has a physical trainer, a self-defense instructor, and an on-call therapist to keep it’s membership healthy, physically and mentally? An organization birthed by the people’s pum-pum!

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2021 at 12:58 pm

George Galloway sees Labour “Spies” off with “their Blood Running Cold.”

with 11 comments

Image

Labour “Spies” Seen Off with “their blood running cold.”

Here is more of this little operation.

After the collapse of Respect there were rumours that George Galloway had dusted off an old project and was about to produce “Dusty Springfield, the musical.” “It will not be just about her musical talent but her whole journey through life, her sexuality. It won’t shirk from any of that.”

Instead the talented entertainer turned his hand to writing children’s books, writing this much-loved classic, “Red Molucca: The Good Pirate.”

The matinee idol has never been far away from his star turns on Celebrity Big Brother. Galloway has kept his hand in with the variety shows Sputnik and The Mother of All Talkies. Word was that an appearance on Desert Island discs was imminent; people were already queuing up to fund a life-long trip to a remote Pacific isle.

Yet the Man in the Fedora has always hankered after the glory days at the centre of national politics, the time as the Green Shirts MP for Bow Bells, and the epic that he led, as charismatic figure-head of the Bradford Spring.

Ally of Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party in the 2019 European Elections, Galloway was the Leader of All for Unity in the 2021 Holyrood Elections in Scotland. That alliance with the progressive British bourgeoisie (er, Tories), in the cause of national sovereignty, was thwarted by jealousy in high places. 2021 Scottish Parliament election George Galloway, South Scotland All for Unity 5,521, 6th, 1,5% of the vote may have played a part

At the Scottish Parliament election, All for Unity failed to win a single seat

Election 2021 23,2990.90 / 560 / 129

 7th Not in parliament

Undaunted by his third place in the more recent (2021) Batley and Spen by-election the dapper gent, with his supporters in the Workers Party of Britain, and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) are building a red base in this Yorkshire area.

Latest: you can’t keep an old Trouper down,

Controversial politician George Galloway sells personalised video messages – a year on from wanting to be Rutherglen MP

9th of September.

Mr Galloway is charging £25 per message.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2021 at 11:06 am

The Living Flame, The Revolutionary Passion of Rosa Luxemburg. Paul Le Blanc. Review.

leave a comment »

The Living Flame

The Living Flame, The Revolutionary Passion of Rosa Luxemburg. Paul Le Blanc. Haymarket Books.

This short review appears in the latest Chartist Magazine.

Rosa Luxemburg is a figure who has a special place in the heart of the left. The American socialist writer Paul Le Blanc begins The Living Flame by noting her “profound warmth and humanity”. Murdered after the Berlin Spartakus uprising by right wing Freikorps in 1919 she continues exert an influence. Her inspiring values, he continues have made her accessible to a large audience, one growing with the publication in English of the Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg. Le Blanc continues by recounting his own introduction to her in C. Wright Mills’s book The Marxists (1961) a still valuable paperback anthology of the wrings of founding Marxists.

The present work contains a selection of Le Blanc’s accessible essays including an interview on Rosa Luxemburg. A central theme is her commitment to workers’ democracy. The leading critic of ‘revisionism’, the anti-Marxist tendency in the German Social Democratic Party she was also an early critic in the 1900s of Lenin’s Bolshevik centralism. Le Blanc argues that his hostile views on Lenin’s ‘Blanquism’ simply “cannot hold up under the weight of facts” At the same time Blanc notes the “sectarian potential in Lenin’s conception…”

A lengthy attempt to justify Bolshevik organisation in the wake of mass strikes of 1905 follows. He claims a number of times that Luxemburg respected and liked Lenin. The writer does not make comparisons with contemporary left groups whose own versions of democratic centralism have faced strong criticism over the decades often from making reference to ‘Luxembergism’.

In a not distant vein le Blanc writes of Luxemburg’s criticisms of the Bolshevik regime after the Russian Revolution that she was wrong to attack the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly. The soviets were more democratic – a view he does not back up with evidence. Yet he states, “for me, her defence of freedom and democracy as being at the core of socialism is essential.”

We shall never know how the workers would have voted in a 1920s free and fair Russian general election as they only had Lenin’s party and its fellow travellers to vote for in the Soviet system.

The Living Flame draws attention to Luxemburg’s writing on capital accumulation imperialism and their influence on figures such as Hannah Arendt, and more recently, the economist David Harvey. With Paul Le Blanc’s clarity and depth of reference this short book can be recommended to anybody interested in socialism and Rosa Luxemburg.

Andrew Coates.

Counterfire has its own take,

The Living Flame: The Revolutionary Passion of Rosa Luxemburg – book review

Orlando Hill.

The next step was to distort her ideas and create false controversies. An example of this is Luxemburg’s 1904 critique of Lenin’s ideas on revolutionary organisation. The myth propagated by anti-Communists, reformists and even some on the anti-capitalist left is while Lenin defended the concept that the revolution could only be carried out by a centralised group of professional revolutionaries, Luxemburg thought that the revolution was a result of the increasing understanding and participation of the masses. In other words, she believed in the spontaneity of the proletarian masses while Lenin’s ideas led to the dangers of bureaucracy and eventually Stalin.

In the essay Luxemburg and Lenin on Revolutionary Organization (p.40), Le Blanc dispels the idea that Luxemburg disapproved of organisational centralism. In fact, the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania, which she led and had to operate in underground conditions similar to Russia’s, was far more centralised than the Bolshevik party under Lenin. Luxemburg’s critique also must be put in context. When she refers to professionals her focus is not the Bolsheviks, whose professionalism led the Russian masses to a victorious revolution, but the German professionals who had become careerists, and bureaucrats responsible for the ossifying of the party machine.

Another problem is that in 1904, most well-read Marxists outside Russia were influenced by Lenin’s Menshevik opponents. Much of Luxemburg’s polemic against Lenin can only be understood in this context. Lenin, in a not very well-known reply, goes through her critiques one by one clearing away various false arguments. Le Blanc points out that there is far more common ground between the two revolutionaries than is generally acknowledged. Both agreed on the necessity of a party which ‘possess the gift of political mobility, complemented by unflinching loyalty to principles and concerns for unity’ (p.52).

Luxemburg’s critique is that a centralised organisation without internal democracy can degenerate into a sect isolating itself from the masses, which would make it incapable of leading a revolution. Lenin agreed and emphasised the democratic aspect of democratic centralism. Le Blanc concludes by stating that it makes little historical sense in counterposing Lenin and Luxemburg regarding revolutionary organisation. More fruitful would be to see the polemic as a dialogue between two comrades.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2021 at 1:23 pm

Norway: Left Election Win and the Much Exaggerated Death of Social Democracy.

with 3 comments

Latest Norway Election Results

Norway’s left-wing opposition wins election in a landslide

Labour expected to form coalition with other left-leaning parties as it seeks to reduce inequality and wean the economy off oil.

Norway election results in brief

  • Jonas Gahr Støre’s Labour Party are the biggest single party. He is set to be Norway’s next prime minister, leading a coalition of Labour, Socialist Left and the Centre party.
  • Erna Solberg’s 8-year tenure as prime minister is over. She has congratulated Støre on his victory.
  • The battle for the 4% threshold to win levelling seats was a fascinating one. Far-left party Rødt made it over for the first time, winning an expected 8 seats.
  • Venstre were the only former government party to retain support, staying above the threshold to retain 8 seats.
  • Despite a very visible campaign in the closing weeks, the Green Party failed to make it over the threshold, picking up just an expected 3 seats.

Is this a result with wider implications? The German left, notably the Sozialdemokratische Partei DeutschlandsSPD, looks as if it may perform well in their national elections on the 26th of September.

This comes against a much less encouraging backdrop for European centre left and left wing political parties. They are often said to be facing long-term decline, if not existential crises.

This has a history going back some decades. In the final chapter of The Retreat of Social Democracy (2000) John Callaghan outlined what he described as “epoch making changes” that had weakened left parties across Europe. First of all was the decline of the manual working class in the ‘post-Fordist” economies no longer based on mass production and revolutionised by the robotic and information based transformation of production. The possible end of the “class mechanism” behind voting patterns, “class solidarity” indicated by drops on party membership (not only on the left), and the decline of trade union membership was, it had been argued, long-term mechanisms undermining any form of left of centre politics.

This for example, more recent observations What happened to Europe’s left? Jan Rovny (2018)

Having lived in Gothenburg, Sweden, the home of the Volvo, I eagerly visited the Volvo factory, looking forward to meeting the contemporary proletariat. What did I see? Halls and halls of conveyor belts shuffling skeletons that would become fancy SUVs in about an hour, while silver robotic arms added various parts to them. And the working class? I saw precious few of them. They were mostly young women, sitting on comfortable chairs surrounded by computer screens and keyboards, listening to their iPods… I later learned that these workers earn as much as Swedish university professors (that means – a lot).

To continue,

The traditional working class as we imagine it from the times of Henry Ford does not exist anymore. Most of the workers at Volvo with their above-average pay, comfort and job security can hardly be considered as such. Today’s working class is much less visible, and much more atomised. Today’s working class are the masses of unskilled service workers who predominantly cook, clean or drive. Often, their jobs are short-term or part-time, and low-paying. These people do not come into contact with each other nearly as much as the traditional factory-floor workers did. They are more often than not from diverse minority backgrounds, and thus are separated by cultural boundaries. In short, these people have significantly reduced ability to organise, and they do not. As my research with Allison Rovny shows, their political belonging is weak, and – in the absence of a formative subculture – it is malleable.

Callaghan nevertheless concluded his study by observing that Labour and other parties from the reformist tradition had adapted to the environment consolidated by globalisation and neo-liberalism pursuing “market orientated strategies” that expanded their appeal to non-socialist voters. In Scandinavia and Germany the “case for managing capitalism in a social democratic way” remained strong and had popular appeal.

The British socialist left, after years of fighting Tony Blair and the Third Way between capitalism and (what?), trying to make the Labour Party more left-wing, tended at the time when Callaghan wrote, to focus on the possibility of creating socialist vehicles. Was Labour potentially one? Written in the spirit of Ralph Miliband’s Parliamentary Socialism (1961) The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour. Leo Panitch and Colin Leys (2001) argued that “the route to socialism does not lie in transforming New Labour”.

There have been attempts to find a path to socialist politics outside the Labour Party. The Socialist Alliance (1999 2003) which included a few people from the Labour left (coughs), grouped for a few years, until being dissolved into Respect, small parties such as the SWP, the Socialist Party and other groups. Unlike Respect the SA had no electoral success. It also proved impossible for many democratic socialists to work at close quarters with ‘revolutionary’ organisations. The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) had more success, winning 6 seats in Holyrood in 2003. Internal disputes around Tommy Sheridan broke the SSP apart. Its supporters are now backers of the More Borders campaign for Scottish Independence.

The dream of creating a new socialist party in Britain has been revived by some individuals, ‘in exile’ or still on the margins of the Labour Party. But the nightmares of the SA, the SSP, and, obviously George Galloway’s Respect – not to mention his present red-brown vehicle, the Workers Party of Britain – weigh heavily on the living.

What does remain is the belief in the long-term decline of social democracy. Study and debate has focused on the cultural effects of the halting of the forward march of labour. The development of a new form of working class Toryism, and its counterparts across Europe, in ‘left behind’ and formerly industrial regions, is one issue. Another is the appeal of national populism to a cross class constituency, bringing together self-identifying ‘real’ working class and wealthy right-wingers. The rise of far-right identity politics, the ‘anti-woke’ and anti-immigration, has parallels across our continent. Sovereigntist ideas (the basis for the pro-Brexit left), nationalism, political confusionnisme, and other issues come into the mixture of ideas that have, it is said, weakened the appeal of classical social democracy and democratic socialism.

Over the last couple of years – that is since Jeremy Corbyn left the leadership of the Labour Party – the threat of “Pasokification“, named after the the Greek centre-left party that lost three-quarters of its voters in just three years.- has been brandished. “Recent decades have seen the decline of social democratic parties across Europe, with some becoming so atrophied as to lose any hope of winning office. “With more resonance than the collapse of the French Socialist Party vote in the Presidential elections in 2017 (a result partly diffused by the deft switch to Emmanuel Macron of some Socialist figures) this theme became ubiquities in the pages of the US left populist journal Jacobin, and such organs as Novara Media.

How will the supporters of this theory explain Norway away? Bets are being laid on Scandinavian exceptionalism.

This poor chap has his own pet theory:

Full election statistics.

2021 Norwegian parliamentary election.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2021 at 9:29 am

Stalinist Ultras, Conspiracy Theorists, Anti-Zionists, Brexiteers, and ‘Others’ join Chris Williamson for Nottingham Festival of Resistance.

with 13 comments

Image

Confusionnistes Barely Covers This One.

Joti Brar:

Head of the Stalin fan-club and pro-North Korea Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) Joti Brar

Max Blumenthal is an American journalist, author, blogger and filmmaker. Max established ‘The Grayzone’ in December 2015; he is the website’s editor and one of its contributors.   Max appears regularly on independent media platforms, including ResistanceTV and The Jimmy Dore Show.  The Grayzone investigative journalists host channels on YouTube at The Grayzone and their website is https://thegrayzone.com/

Abby Martin is an American journalist, TV presenter and activist. She helped found the Citizen journalism website ‘Media Roots’ and serves on the board of directors for the ‘Media Freedom Foundation’, which manages ‘Project Censored’. Abby also hosts her own YouTube Channel ‘Empire Files’ https://www.youtube.com/c/EmpireFiles

9/11 Truth movement

In 2008, Martin was part of the 9/11 Truth movement,[13][14][15][16][17] starting her own 9/11 Truther group in San Diego.[18][19] In a 2008 video of a 9/11 truth movement demonstration, she said: “I’ve researched it for three years and every single thing that I uncover solidifies my belief that it was an inside job and that our government was complicit in what happened.”[20]

Shortly after beginning her show on RT, Martin stated in an interview with Mark Crispin Miller that “the media dismisses things that are too controversial as conspiracy theory”.[21] In March 2014, Martin told the Associated Press that she “no longer subscribes” to the theory that 9/11 was an inside job, as she had earlier.[22

However,

” in recent years she has moved away from the more extreme elements of the 9/11 truth movement.”

Then there’s this Funny Money Crank.

Bill Mitchell is a professor of economics at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, and Docent Professor of Global Political Economy at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is one of the founding developers of Modern Monetary Theory.

Why the Leave victory is a great outcome.

Bill Mitchell – Modern Monetary Theory 2016.

Macroeconomic research, teaching and advocacy

GILLET JAUNES MOVEMENT

Well-established rumour has it that this will be Fly Rider, real name, Maxime Nicolle , born in 1987 in Limoges , is a French activist who is one of the main figures of the yellow vests movement. Is he the “Movement” that will speak?

(automatic translation)

presented by the media as adhering to conspiracy theories 3 and relaying them in his communications, Maxime Nicolle mentions in particular, the Dec 3, 201817 , the rumor according to which the signing of the Marrakesh Pact by President Emmanuel Macron would amount to “selling France to the UN and accepting the arrival of 480 million immigrants in Europe” 18 . He defends himself, declaring: “The conspirators, for me, they are people who fabricate. What I am saying has been seen and filmed 6  ” . But he admits to not trusting “ mainstream media  ” , and relying on “what people say” in Facebook groups 3 . However, France Info analyzes the” Significant number of false information or unverifiable rumors” that Maxime Nicolle relays – the infox on the Marrakesh Pact being considered by France Info as one of the “most fanciful which circulates persistently in the Facebook groups of yellow vests  ” 19 .

In a video by december 2018, Maxime Nicolle affirms to have consulted the documents of a certain “Mr. X” which would prove the existence of a “lobby of the lobbies” able to start “the nuclear war” 20 . theDecember 6, he organizes a meeting with “Mr. X” and a few yellow vests, filmed in ”  Facebook live” from two hours 21 , and which, according to Le Parisien , is “punctuated by multiple eccentric theories” 22 . The conference is described by the press as “strange” 23 , “delusional” 24 , “chaotic” 25 , “astonishing” 21 , “hallucinating” 22 , “bad joke” 25 .

In a video broadcast in february 2019, he attacks the Freemasons he accuses of plotting, adding that Emmanuel Macron would be a pawn raised to his post by “the lobbies, and all the little friends he has in Freemasonry” . However, this speech is far from gaining the consent of a majority of yellow vests 26 .

the March 24, 2019he relays in a video posted on Facebook a rumor according to which Roma are trying to kidnap children, a false rumor since the police quickly explain that no kidnappings have been reported, but which nevertheless triggers a surge of violence against Roma ” with real lynching scenes ” 20 .

Man of deep principle: Tosh McDonald, a friend and ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn,

March 2021.

The now independent councillor, who joins his wife Nikki following her resignation from the party, said he will ‘encourage anyone who rides a powered two wheeler not to vote for any Labour candidates’ in the upcoming elections and added that Labour controlled authorities are an ‘unsafe place for motorcycle riders’.

Prominent Marxist historian Alexei Sayle has many followers in the radical intelligentsia.

Perhaps there are some serious people appearing. But the name of the host, Chris Williamson, should have warned anybody on the left away.

Last General Election, 2019.

Image

Written by Andrew Coates

September 13, 2021 at 9:20 am

Mass Murderer, Shining Path Leader Abimael Guzman, Dies in Prison.

with one comment

People gather outside the anti-terrorism directorate to celebrate the death of Abimael Guzman, founder and leader of the Shining Path guerrilla movement, in Lima, Peru, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. Guzman, who was captured in 1992, died on Saturday in a military hospital after an illness, the Peruvian government said. He was 86. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Celebrating the Death of Mass-Murderer Guzman.

From the Morning Star.

THE founder of the Peruvian Maoist group Shining Path, Abimael Guzman, died in a naval military prison hospital on Saturday at the age of 86.

A statement from the prison authorities confirmed that he had died “at approximately 6.40 in the morning in the maximum security detention centre of the El Callao Naval Base,” due to complications with his health.

He was serving a life sentence on charges of terrorism and other crimes.

Known as Comrade Gonzalo, the former philosophy professor founded the Shining Path in 1980, hoping that a peasant-led revolution would take control of the countryside before moving in to urban areas.

At least 30,000 are believed to have been killed in the ensuing war against the Peruvian state which lasted until he was caught in the capital Lima in 1992 soon after 150 were killed in one of the group’s deadliest attacks.

It waged a bombing campaign targeting Peru’s infrastructure, while Shining Path guerilla fighters were accused of killing political opponents, including trade unionists and members of other Marxist organisations.

One can only agree with the Morning Star’s report.

Hacking to death 69 poor peasants in 1983: Guzman revelled in this “hard blow” by his killers against the exploited and oppressed.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo said: “The terrorist ringleader Abimael Guzman, responsible for the loss of countless lives of our compatriots, has died. Our stance of condemning terrorism is firm and unwavering.”

In April 1983, Shining Path (SP) militants responded to the killing of one of their members by killing 69 people in Lucanamarca in the province of Huancasancos. They killed eighteen children, one only six months old, eleven women, some of whom were pregnant, and eight elderly people between fifty and seventy years old. [1]Most of the victims died by machetes and axes but some were mercifully shot in the head.

This was the first massacre committed by the Shining Path against the Peruvian peasantry. Countless others followed until the capture of Abimael Guzmán, the founder and leader, in 1992 effectively ending the reign of terror. Here he admits they carried out the massacre and justifies it by using the name of Lenin:“In the face of reactionary military actions and the use of mesnadas (local defence squads against their SP ‘liberators’ – TF), we responded with a devastating action: Lucanamarca.

Neither they nor we have forgotten it, to be sure, because they got an answer that they didn’t imagine possible. More than 80 were annihilated, that is the truth. And we say openly that there were excesses, as was analyzed in 1983. But everything in life has two aspects.

Our task was to deal a devastating blow in order to put them in check, to make them understand that it was not going to be so easy. On some occasions, like that one, it was the Central Leadership itself that planned the action and gave instructions. That’s how it was. In that case, the principal thing is that we dealt them a devastating blow, and we checked them and they understood that they were dealing with a different kind of people’s fighters, that we weren’t the same as those they had fought before… If we were to give the masses a lot of restrictions, requirements and prohibitions, it would mean that deep down we didn’t want the waters to overflow. And what we needed was for the waters to overflow, to let the flood rage, because we know that when a river floods its banks it causes devastation, but then it returns to its riverbed.

I repeat, this was explained clearly by Lenin, and this is how we understand those excesses. But, I insist, the main point was to make them understand that we were a hard nut to crack, and that we were ready for anything, anything”—Abimael Guzmán. [2]

They routinely assassinated state officials, trade union organisers, other leftists, including Maoists, voters in elections etc. On 16-7-84, a group of between 30 and 40 members of the Shining Path used pickaxes, hammers, stones and guns to slaughter around 100 villagers in several locations in the south of Ayacucho province, in a case known as the “bus of death”

The Lucanamarca massacre

Tony Fox (from Michael .P.)

Mass murderers still have their defenders:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2021 at 2:36 pm

Socialist Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, Announces French Presidential Bid.

leave a comment »

Image

Paris mayor Hidalgo announces French presidential bid

France 24. 

“The Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, on Sunday announced plans to run for president in next year’s election, joining a growing list of challengers to centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking in the northwestern city of Rouen, Hidalgo, who has been mayor of Paris since 2014 said: “I have decided to be a candidate for the presidency of the French Republic.”

The 62-year-old daughter of Spanish immigrants, who fled Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, is the hot favourite to win the nomination of the Socialist party.”

Comment.

There are obvious echoes of former right-wing President Jacques Chirac who, Mayor of Paris, went from there to launch successful Presidential campaign in 1995. That is, despite the ‘De-Parisianisation’ of Hidalgo hitting off the campaign away from the Capital, in Rouen.

Hidalgo’s book, “Une femme française“, will be published on Wednesday the 15th of September. This is clearly intended to give gravitas, personality and political substance to her bid.

Opposition from other parts of the fragmented French left is expected. But personal attacks look as if they will seem awry, against somebody with serious political experience.

This will not stop some.

Already, a couple of days ago, Jean-Luc Mélenchon got his first attack on Hidalgo in. The Leader of la France insoumise went for the call by Hidalgo (in her forthcoming book) to double teachers’ salaries. The Left Populist suggested, with the deft irony he is famous for, that this was an irresponsible, costly measure at odds with prudent ‘governing’ culture.

The Parti Socialiste (PS) Hidalgo governs Paris in a working alliance with the Greens (EELV), Communists (PCF),  Génération.s,  (led until last week by former PS 2017 Presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon) and others on the left and centre-left. The single La France insoumise councillor (amongst 163) sits with the Opposition on the Conseil de Paris.

Whatever one thinks of her (moderate left) politics and person (she can be steely with her opponents on the above body), many think Hidalgo is a good thing.

More news and commentary:

The internal Parti Socialiste vote on their candidacy will soon take place.

The ‘operation’ to boost Hidalgo is now going full steam.

It is unclear if there be other candidates. About the only publicly announced alternative candidate to Hidalgo is Stéphane Le Foll Mayor of Mans, and if he spoke of this way back in July he not exactly promoted a bid.

Former Socialist Minister Arnaud Montebourg has declared he is running for President off his, and his supporters’ own initiative, without the PS’s support.

What are the background politics involved?

Here are extracts from the political ‘orientation of the Parti Socialiste.

Today we are once again heard and respected. We have found our place in the heart of the left. The Socialist Party has become the driving force behind the unification of the left and the ecology. We have regained our voice.

The current health crisis, the social and economic tragedies which are emerging, prove the foundations of socialist and social democratic thought right.


This crisis requires us to reinvent our social, economic and democratic model.

We Socialists know how to articulate and balance together social, ecological and democratic questions We are strongly behind our ideal of social transformation and our desire to act concretely in the service of citizens in France and in the Overseas Territories. We belong to a large European and international political family while having retained, through our elected representatives, our activists, a strong anchoring in reality and the capacity to exercise office at local and national levels.

Opinion Polls give Anne Hidalgo between 8 and 9% of the vote in the Presidential elections.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2021 at 11:54 am