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Revolution against Reform. Jules Guesde. L’anti-Jaurès? Jean-Numa Ducange. Review.

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Revolution against Reform. Jules Guesde. L’anti-Jaurès? Jean-Numa Ducange. Armand Colin. 2017.

“17th of January 1911. Dinner with Guesde. The way we will make the Revolution. Dictatorship for 4 days. During these four days we will post an appeal to the peasants and the workers across France: a reduced working day and double pay. During these four days a movement will spread throughout France such that nothing will be able to abolish the new regime. During these four days the papers will be suppressed.

Marcel Cachin. (1)

Jules Guesde (1845 – 1922) was one of the founders of a current that became the first French Marxist Party, the Parti ouvrier, PO, (1879). If people on the left outside of France have heard of the leader of a body, which marked the entry of socialism into the country’s local government and Parliament and represented an ‘orthodox’ strain of thought in the Second International, they probably know three things about him.

The first is that Guesde was the ‘Marxist’ referred to when Marx said, “I am not a Marxist”. The second is that he was accused of sectarianism to the point that he was nicknamed, a ‘Torquemada in Lorgnettes”.

The third, and the most important, is that there was famous debate in 1900 between Guesde and the French socialist leader, Jean Jaurès, known as the “two Methods”. The public expression of a deep dispute, held in Lille 1900, before an audience of 8,000, centred on the entry of independent socialist Alexandre Millerand into the 1899 government of “ Défense républicaine” led by Waldeck-Rousseau.Jaurès defended Millerand’s act, in the name of the need to stand by republican liberty in the face of the reactionary groundswell around the Dreyfus Affair. Guesde denounced it as a betrayal of the class based socialism.

Jean-Numa Ducange’s biography of Guesde is a, successful, attempt to understand the socialist leader “in his time”. The author, a specialist in the history of French and German speaking lefts, goes deeply into the context of Guesde’s political career. Amongst its many virtues is its account of the much wider range of issues at stake in the clash between Jaurès and Guesde. Ducange covers the socialist leader’s life, from pro-Commune republican, member of the “collectivist” current that differentiated socialists from both legalist and radical republicans, intransigent Marxist, to his participation as Minister without portfolio in the 1914 government of Défense National in 1914, against “Prussian imperialism”, and opposition to the adherence of the Socialist Party (SFIO) to the Third International in 1920.

From the Commune to the Parti Ouvrier.

Jules Bazile, who took his mother’s name to become Guesde, entered politics as a supporter of the Paris Commune, authentic patriots fighting the Republican traitors whose repression of the insurgents carried out the work of the Prussian invaders. His support led to exile, contact with anarchism. A return to France, under police surveillance, was marked by the evolution of the most radical republicans towards the workers’ movement and the creation in 1877 of the journal L’Égalité – taking the most socialist of the words of the Revolutionary device. Shortly before the Parti Ouvrier’s creation, in 1878, his “subversive” writings earned him a stay in the prison of Saint-Péalgie.

Ducange covers his development from that date. Guesde was a journalist and an activist. But it was as a skilled and inspiring orator that Guesde made his mark – an outstanding trait which the British socialist, Belfort Bax would note, decades later. (3) L’anti-Jaurès? not only captures the socialist leader’s ability to hold different audiences spellbound, but that Guesde never produced anything paralleling the works of the German socialist movement, the SPD, his model of organisation. Instead he wrote popularising propaganda pamphlets, a Marxism of a simplicity that often annoyed Marxists of the rank of Frederick Engels (Page 52).

Guesde was a factionalist, frequently accused of sectarianism, and opposed to a variety of other left-wing currents, from the ‘possibilists’ of Paul Brousse and Benoît Malon, the left-wing Allemanists, of Jean Allemane, to the independent socialists, best known through the figure of Jean Jaurès. That did not prevent the Guesdist Parti ouvrier français (POF as the PO became in 1893) from developing roots in the North of France, and his own election as a deputy for Roubaix-Wattrelos in 1893.

Which brings us to the debate with Jaurès over the role of elections, Parliament, and the Millerand controversy. Ducange begins with the events of 1889 when the socialist deputy accepted a post in a government of National Defence, led by Waldeck Rousseau, which also contained the notorious murderer of the Communards, General Gaston de Galliffet). Jaurès as a move to protect the Republic against the anti-Semitic and anti-democratic right defended this decision.

The background, the Dreyfus Affair, was omnipresent. Guesde had eventually supported the Dreyfus cause, although only against “militarism”. His own organisation, Ducange observes, had published in its regional press articles of an anti-Semitic tone (“relents antisémites” while not being systematically filled with hatred of the Jews and within a context in which the national party denounced this hatred. (Page 97) he adds that the notorious Jew baiter Édouard Drumond believed that Guesde was sympathetic to his cause, but that no agreement between ever occurred. Other historians, notably Zeev Sternhell, have gone further and state that some were “overtly anti-Semitic” (3)

The Second International was opposed to Millerand’s decision although left possible vague “certain conditions” (which later became even more open) in which being part of such coalitions might be possible. As it grew the controversy became connected to the wider dispute about “revisionism”, begun in Germany with the publican in Germany by Eduard Bernstein of attacks on the Marxist “breakdown” theory (the inevitable ruin of capitalism), dialectics, and the place of class struggle as the motor of socialism politics

In these terms, the support Jaurès (at the time temporarily outside Parliament) gave to working with a bourgeois-republican government was a harbinger of a strategy based on piecemeal reform. Whether Jaurès, or any French socialist, ever thought in terms of how capitalism might “adapt” rather than collapse is far from clear, since they largely avoided economics. But it might be argued that reformists, perhaps Jaurès but certainly Brousse, saw socialism less I terms of a new mode of production, forged through new forces growing within it over its ruins, but as a kind of gradual increase in the strength of the workers’ movement reflected in government legislation. Rosa Luxemburg talked of his “confusion.” For her it was not a partial conquest of the bourgeois state by the socialists, but the conquest of the socialists by the bourgeois state. To extend her point one could see “legal-reformism at work amongst the defenders of Millerand. (4)

Ducange recounts the way in which this dispute became part of the general ‘revisionism’ debate. But the 1900 Lille stage was not inhabited by actors in the same drama. A great deal of opposition (reflected in the cries from the audience) to Millerand came from those who loathed Gallifet – for good reason as the memories of one the leaders of the non-Marxist radical left, Jean Allemane, who suffered greatly after the Commune, and was exiled to New Caledonia testify (Mémoires d’un communard: des barricades au bagne.1906).

Guesde defended the orthodox view, represented in the German SPD, that elections and Parliamentary work were part of a general preparation for socialism, which rested on class struggle. Support for republican democracy, not The Republic, was the means, not an end in itself. Another feature is that Guesde did not only pour scorn on collaboration with the bourgeoisie and the Republic. In defence of intransigent class independence drew on an analogy with the revolutionary bourgeoisie on the eve of the French revolution. Should the grand bourgeoisie have defended the ancien régime, hoping to reform it but by bit, he asked? No. The socialists, class against class, should take the Bourgeois Bastille as they took the feudal Bastille. (Les deux methods conférence / par Jean Jaurès et Jules Guesde, à l’Hippodrome lillois. 1900)

Guesde, like his British counterparts in the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) was sceptical about trade unionism, a largely defensive form of struggle. . Neither did his class struggle correspond to the creation of a kind of popular ‘will’ against capitalism, that Rosa Luxemburg detected in mass strikes. The reference to a bourgeoisie, which overthrew the French feudal system in 1789, would find only a limited audience today.

 The SFIO.

Guesde himself came to compromise, at least in accepting unity with the new socialist party in 1905, inside a party, Parti socialiste, section française de l’Internationale Ouvrière (SFIO), This brought him together with Jaurès and the majority of other socialists, but in a ‘citizens’ party’ with no organic links with the trade unions.

How is that Guesde could be so hostile to reformism, and the republic, and yet turn into an ardent defender of France in 1914? One of the strengths of L’anti-Jaurès is that it helps explain this. Some germs of this could be seen in such turns as his backing for French colonialism in the 1900s – a project for a ‘socialist’ colony in Morocco. The socialist leader’s earlier criticism of interventions overseas began to seem on a par with the arguments of late 19th century British radicals against imperial wars, on the grounds of cost and damage to French domestic interests.

But there are deeper reasons to think that the reaction of 1914 was far from foreign to his deeper beliefs. Guesde’s early refusal (1884) to prefer the French Republic to other forms of bourgeois rule was not rooted in a rejection of the Nation. (Page 50) Guesde, announcing in 1893, that to be socialist “’c’est également être patriote” was, during his backing for the Commune, against the Prussians. During the conflict he became as hostile to peace moves – though defended the rights of those who opposed the war – as he had earlier been to reformist socialism. French socialism, like socialisms elsewhere, then as now, has never completely separated itself from the problem of nationalism.

Jules Guesde is an achievement. It is written with easy clarity, offers final chapters on the way its subject has been considered since his death in 1922, and opens up afresh a period of socialist history which, with the debates on fundamental issues, has assumed, with the collapse of the French left, great importance today. If one comes away with a general picture of Guesde that falls well short of admiration there is this: his last “proposition de loi”, in 1919, as a deputy in Parliament, was to back a law to establish full civil, optical and economic equality between men and women. (Page 166)

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  1. Carnets, Marcel Cachin. Cites at Page 141. Jules Guesde. L’anti-Jaurès? Jean-Numa Ducange. Armand Colin. 2017. Whether or not Cahin, who as a leading figure in the 1920s French Communist Party (whose creation Guesde opposed had a special reason to remember this simplistic claim by Guesde this has strong echoes of earlier republican revolutionary belief in the rapid triumph of their cause. Compare: “l’armée, la magistrature, le christianisme, l’organisation politique, simples hais. L’ignorance, bastion formidable. Un jour pour la haie; pour le bastion, vingt ans. “The army, the legal system, Christianity, political structures, just hedges. Ignorance, a mighty bastion. One day for the hedge, twenty years for the bastion. Auguste Blanqui. Page 151. Auguste Blanqui. Textes Choisis. Les Classiques du peuple. 1971
  2. Page 132. Reminiscences and Reflections of a Mid and Late Victorian, Ernest Belfort Bax. 1918. Reprint: Augustus M. Kelly. 1967.
  3. Page 239. La Droite révolutionnaire. Zeev Sternhell Editions du Seuil. 1978. 
  4. Page 251. Jean Jaurès Gilles Candar, Vincent Duclert. Fayard. 2014. See also, Rosa Luxemburg on Socialist Tactics. Rosa Luxemburg. Translated by Rida Vaquas, Clarion Editor

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Written by Andrew Coates

January 22, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Michel Collon, Conspiracies, Political Confusionism and…… Steve Hedley (RMT).

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Michel Collon, Conspiracy Theorist and Confusionist. 

Michel Collon is a member of the Parti du travail de Belgique  PTB (English here) and sits on its central committee. This party, which counts around 10,000 members, has 47 local councillors and 2 MPs in the Federal Parliament and a number of other representatives, and at present is said, according to opinion polls to be the second largest political force in Wallonie. It is of a ‘Marxist-Leninist” origin, that is pro-Chinese ‘Maoism’, publishing in 1994  a book in support of Stalin, Un autre regard sur Staline (éditions EPO) and supported Kim Il Sung. Since 2008 it claims to have become an “open” party, turned towards electoral campaigning as a party of the working class, with references to other European lefts from different traditions, including the Portuguese Communist Party (Parti du travail de Belgique : du maoïsme au parlementarisme ?). It’s success in the last year owes a lot to the massive corruption scandals affecting the Belgium  Parti socialiste  and the PTB’s ability to carry out grass-roots campaigns on immediate issues such as public services.

Collon has his own past which includes, “Il a participé à la conférence “anti-impérialiste” Axis for Peace, organisée en 2005 par Thierry Meyssan du Réseau Voltaire“. That is he took part in a conference held by the far-right, conspiracy (9/11 Truthers) Meyssan and the Réseau Voltaire which has been accused of anti-Semitism. It is at present, pro-Assad in Syria. In 2015  Collon claimed that the murderers of the Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper-Cacher were armed, trained and indoctrinated by French Socialist Minister Laurent Fabius as part of the war in Syria and Libya, “en réalité, ils ont été armés, formés militairement, endoctrinés par Monsieur Fabius et ses amis ; qui ont envoyé pendant trois ans des milliers, des dizaines de milliers de frères Kouachi, faire encore pire qu’à Charlie, en Syrie et en Libye. ” (Michel Collon sur les attentats de Charlie Hebdo : « les frères Kouachi ont été armés par Fabius »).

In his most recent book Collon has nevertheless attacked the conspiracy theories Alain Soral, on the grounds that Soral does not understand the mechanisms of capitalism behind these affairs. (Pourquoi Soral séduit  2017). It goes almost without saying that he is a writer for RT (Russia Today) defending Putin’s regime against US plots to demonise the state. (A quoi sert la diabolisation de la Russie ?)

Collon now runs a web site, InvestigAction (founded in 2004) which publishes in French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and (American) English. It is a classic “conspi” site, whose aim is as follows, “Investig’Action’s mission is to provide an alternative point of view about the world news and denounce medias’ lies.

 This is from their mission statement,

How did the Western media cover the various wars that followed the first Gulf war? Are there similarities regarding the way the media covered each of these events? Are there major “war propaganda” principles? Yes, there are.

 Hiding the interests. Our governments fight for human rights, peace, or whatever noble ideal it might be. A war should never be presented as a conflict between divergent economic and social interests.Each war must be preceded by a spectacularly big media lie in order to win public support. And after that, keeping on demonizing the enemy, especially by showing continually pictures of atrocities the latter committed.Hiding History. Hiding the historical facts and geography of the region, making local conflicts that are stirred, or even provoked by the Great Powers themselves, incomprehensible. Organizing the amnesia. Avoiding any serious reminder of past cases of media manipulation – it might make the public too suspicious.

Without tiring the reader this is an example of their approach to the popular protests in Iran,

Q: Why do you think the western countries are trying to use people against Iran and not use military force? What is the difference?.

Followed by,

Iran: Surviving another attack supported from abroad

Venezuela,

Western Journalists Threaten Venezuela.

North Korea, (Robert Charvin).

In spite of everything, and paying the price for it, the People’s Republic of Korea has remained sovereign, counting only on its own capacities, creating a spirit of uncompromising resistance to this day, blending in its ideology Marxism and Confucianism, in which journalists from the great Western press do not have the least bit interest.

I think we can guess before reading what their views on Israel and Zionism are.

But here it is, (November 2017)

Two stories reported by Haaretz on Wednesday underscore the unchanging goal of Zionism: the destruction of the Palestinians as a people and as viable communities, and the theft of their land for exclusively Jewish colonial settlement.

The site has received numerous criticisms from the French speaking left including this,  Michel Collon, un militant de la confusion ! (2014) which amongst other descriptions in the same vein calls it an “une imposture journalistique”. Ornella Guyet notes that Collon has attended events, alongside figures from the far-right,  to support the following, “Mouammar Kadhafi et de Bachar Al-Assad”.

Steve Hedley is a former member of the Socialist Party (resigned in 2013).  He is Senior Assistant General Secretary of RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers. An active campaigner for leaving the European Union he attended the ‘European’ Rally of the small Trotskyist party, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID) in May 2016.

He has now found another odd far-left  crew to talk to, Investig’Action.

Brexit, Corbyn and trade unions: interview with Steve Hedley (January the 14th 2018).

Responding to the question as to why he and his union are against the Eu Hedley replies.

Very simply, because the European Union was and is a rich man’s club. It was set up as a bulwark against the Soviet Union. NATO was the military arm and the European Union was the economic arm. It’s a trading bloc that is competing against other trading blocs. If you look at the history of the European Union, it has free movement of capital, free movement of labour, and a neoliberal economy written into the treaties. Therefore to be part of the European Union is to accept all of those things.

More grist to the mill of Collon’s conspi site.

 

Labour NEC Winner Yasmine Dar And Pro-Iranian Rally.

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“It’s an absolute honour… honourable guests here today thank you so much for this opportunity… we’re here for a celebration, a happy time, 38 years of the Iranian Islamic revolution so I’m absolutely happy, it’s the third year that I’ve been coming… I keep it in my diary and make sure that I’m here… I feel I am absolutely proud when I hear the stories about Iran was based on diplomacy…”

From here.

The Weekly Worker states today,

Yasmine Dar is now primarily known for being one of the main speakers at an event in February 2017 in Manchester which “celebrated” the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, her hair modestly covered by a hijab.

This celebration of a far-right Islamist regime which is at present repressing protestors – our comrades –  in Iran is bad enough, but there is more.

Labour NEC vote winner condemns anti-Zionist comments by economist she shared a platform with

The Jewish Chronicle writes (17th of January 2018).

Momentum-backed Yasmine Dar condemns “reprehensible comments” made by Professor Rodney Shakespeare at pro-Iran rally.

The Labour activist elected onto the party’s governing body with the largest overall vote has condemned comments made by a notorious anti-Zionist academic who she appeared with at a rally to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the Iranian Islamic revolution.

Yasmine Dar, one of three Momentum-backed candidates to be elected on to Labour’s national executive committee, (NEC), told the JC:  “I strongly condemn the reprehensible comments made by Rodney Shakespeare, and antisemitism in all its forms.”

Ms Dar issued her response on Wednesday after the JC revealed how the Jewish Labour Movement had written to her last November asking her to explain her presence at the event in Manchester at which Professor Shakespeare, an economist spoke.

JLM claimed Prof Shakespeare had previously backed anti-Zionist conspiracy theories.

Ms Dar failed to respond to the JLM letter. But she now insists that she was unaware of Prof Shakespeare’s previous statements.

She told the JC: “I attended because I think it’s important to maintain strong links with all of our communities across Greater Manchester.

“I didn’t expect to speak, having been asked at the last minute to step in after I arrived at the event. I was entirely unaware of the identity of the other speakers.”

Ms Dar – who had stood for the Labour parliamentary nomination in the Manchester Gorton constituency last year – also emphasised her past record working with inter-faith community organisations.

She said: ”I have been long active in many interfaith and community cohesion organisations, including the Challenging Hate Forum based at Manchester Cathedral and the Nisa-Nisham Jewish-Muslim Women’s Network. I am myself a multi-faith prison chaplain. “

On Tuesday the JC revealed how the JLM letter asked Ms Dar to clarify her position on the hard-line Iranian regime, on antisemitism, and whether she regretted appearing at the same event as Prof Shakespeare.

In the past Prof Shakespeare has claimed 9/11 was a Zionist plot while discussing a United Nations report on climate change.

The Iranian regime Dar had the “honour” to celebrate.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Jon Lansman, Tony Greenstein, Ann Black and Christine Shawcroft.

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Left NEC Success.

In Patrick Cockburn’s Chaos and Caliphate: Jihadis and the West in the struggle for the Middle East (2016) the author compares the effects of the multiple civil wars in the Middle East to the mass murders, ethnic and religious cleanings that followed the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the history of Eastern Europe in the decade after 1939. Hundreds of thousands have died, murders have culminated in  acts of genocide, whole communities have been uprooted – the fate of the Christians and other non-Muslim minorities is dire,  Shia and Sunni sectarian battles rage, the Kurds are (again, today) menaced by Turkey, and there are millions of refugees. Governments routinely use torture. Daesh, is still around, after having, as Cockburn puts it, tried to create an Islamic ‘Khmer Rouge” state.

Despite this, or perhaps because of this, some people on the left continue to consider that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians  is the central international issue the Labour Party should be taking up, not only in the region, but  globally.

This has reverberated to damaging effect inside the Labour Party. Apart from a hyper-sensitivity – given the gravity of the some of the language and images ‘Anti-Zionists’ have employed against Israel, an understandable reaction –  there are those who wish to bring alongside Corbyn’s success their own overwhelming interest in promoting the hardline anti-Zionist side on the issue.

Militant anti-Zionism is contentious, it avoids confronting the apocalyptic destruction that is happening right now in Syria and Iraq, not to mention Yemen and elsewhere.

It is divisive, and promoted, no doubt by a minority, as such.

Such a reaction came with the results of Labour’s NEC and particularly with this from one of the dividers, Tony Greenstein,

The witch-hunting of socialists under the bogus pretext of anti-Semitism, i.e. opponents of the world’s only Apartheid state, Israel, is coming to an end in the Labour Party.

Greenstein, considers that the religious and sexual apartheid of states and militias inspired by varieties of Islamism and the mass killings taking place in the region  unworthy of his attention.

He is clear about own thing, and indeed yelps with joy at it, above all the attention he has received in the wake of a result to which he contributed nothing,

A Momentous Day for Democracy as Chief Witch-hunter, Ann Black is sacked

Christine Shawcroft is a good socialist and she has stuck up for her principles in the past, notably over her support for Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

No doubt Greenstein, revelling in this “success” forgets this (Jewish Chronicle 2016),

Mr Lansman says there is no reason why Zionist Labour supporters cannot find a place in the Corbyn Labour Party.

“I have Zionist friends in the party. Jeremy supports the existence of Israel, he wants peace and co-existence. Why should Israel supporters not have a place in Labour? Of course they should. I’ve been arguing for two states long before it was acceptable within the Jewish community to argue for two states.

Many will agree with this. A critical stand towards the Israeli government, and backing for – however difficult it may seem at present, a comprise two state solution. This is not the militant anti-Zionist view which is against the existence of  Israel.

In his jouissance Greenstein may have equally forgotten this,  (Jewish Chronicle December 26th 2017), another interview with Jon Lansman,

He described Mr Greenstein – a Jewish anti-Zionist who has been suspended from the party over comments he made about Jewish MP Louise Ellman – as “probably the rudest person I know in politics. He says many offensive things, most of the time”.

On the NEC elections like many people I am happy with the result – not least because the candidates I voted for won.

I am not happy that Ann Black is no longer chair – the details of her politics and decisions are less important than that she is a respected person (I was part of the original Grassroots Alliance that backed her). She has stood up to supporters of Tony Blair in the past. Ann is particularly liked for having kept in close contact with ordinary members during her service on the NEC.

Christine has many good qualities but like many people I have concerns – illustrated not just by her support for the anti-Labour Lutfur Rahman (and the involvement of her close allies with this individual)  but also  her own split as part of the ‘Original’ Labour Briefing with the ‘LRC’ Labour Briefing (Labour Briefing… and now there are two). Her qualifications for the role as the neutral chair of the Disputes Panel do not look promising.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Victory for Environmental Protesters Against Notre-Dame-Des-Landes Aeroport.

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‘Zadiste’ (Zone à défendre), protest occupation against the  Airport Plan.

The projected creation of an Aeroport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes has been resisted since the start. From its relaunch in 2000 opposition has become increasingly radical. Ecologists, alter-globalisers and radical leftists began protests. Public  interest has been heightened by the ‘Zadistes’ (Zone to Defend) have occupied the area to prevent any construction work, although there was widespread criticism and opposition to the plan.

Huts built in 2012 to block work on the site.

There have been numerous demonstrations, some violent.

The Green party (EELV) backed opposition to the plan and effectively brought it to a halt during the last Socialist government under François Hollande

The present Minister for the environment, Nicolas Hulot, has backed those against the plan.

The campaign has received scant notice in the English language media but has accumulated great real and symbolic importance, not just for the principle of defending the environment but for the self-managed ‘zones’ created by the Zadistes.

These protests could be compared to those against the building of a military camp in Larzac in the 1970s.

The Fight for the Larzac refers to a non-violent civil disobedience action by farmers resisting the extension of an existing military base on the Larzac plateau in South Western France. The action lasted from 1971 to 1981, and ended in victory for the resistance movement when the newly elected President François Mitterrand formally abandoned the project.”

France’s government said Wednesday it was shelving plans to build a new airport in the west of the country, ending a dispute that has prompted nearly a decade of sometimes violent protests.

 Reports France 24.

French government drops divisive airport plan after years of protests

In an avidly awaited announcement in France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the “stiff opposition” made it impossible to proceed with the proposed new airport near the bustling city of Nantes, adding: “The project is therefore abandoned.”

Instead, Philippe said existing airports in Nantes and the Breton city of Rennes would be expanded to meet the growing demand for air transport in the region.

President Emmanuel Macron, who took office in May, promised a quick decision after years of indecision and political squabbles over the development. The issue has poisoned French politics and spawned a hardline protest movement.

Prior to the announcement, police deployed extra forces to the airport’s proposed site of Notre-Dame-des-Landes20 kilometres north of Nantes, where protesters have been camping out for years in a bid to halt the project.

Proponents of the airport have long argued that the region needs a larger hub to boost its economic prospects, while opponents say the airport is unnecessary and a symbol of exploitative globalisation.

Farmers trying to protect their land have joined forces with environmental activists and anarchists groups, who call themselves ZADists, based on the French acronym for “development zone.”

An initial attempt, in the autumn of 2012, to evict the squatters ended in violent clash between hundreds of riot police and activists hurling sticks, stones and gasoline bombs. Subsequent attempts also ended in failure.

More:  Notre-Dame-des-Landes : l’exécutif enterre l’aéroport. Libération.

This notes that the occupiers will not be made to leave until the Spring.

Supporters of the plan are not happy.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Red-Brown Alliances: Russia, Ukraine, Syria, And The Western Left.

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Heroes of a certain far-right. 

 

The growth of political “confusionism”, the mixture of “conspi” (conspiratorial), nationalist, far-right and apparently ‘left-wing’  has been one of the features of the last years. This is one of the factors that has made overt anti-semitism an issue today.

Paul has indeed just retweeted this.

Tendance Coatesy has been amongst the Blogs which have covered this issue but this latest article is a landmark in setting both the context and the details (thanks to Jim for signaling this).

An Investigation Into Red-Brown Alliances: Third Positionism, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, And The Western Left.

ARoamingVagabond

Extracts,

On Some Obscure Strains Of Fascism

I will first provide some historical context by exploring the history of some lesser known forms of fascism which, unlike the majority of Western fascists who supported the United States’ anti-Communism during the Cold War, instead actively supported and rallied around the Soviet Union.

The European New Right

Yockey would become the ideological predecessorof the Third Position and the European New Right, among whose prominent members are Jean-Francois Thiriart, Alain de Benoist and Aleksandr Dugin. A main feature of the European New Right is its criticism of American imperialism and of the “economism” of liberalism and its attempt to form alliances or infiltrate far-left opponents of Western imperialism and globalization.

Third Positionist Fascism

Among the movements close to the European New Right is Third Positionism, a strand of fascism which stands in opposition to both capitalism and communism and has its origins in “classical” fascism and in the Strasser brothers.

Red-Browns in Russia

Russian National Bolshevism.

The LaRouche Movement

The LaRouchite Cult And Its Ideology

While LaRouche and his movement are easily dismissed as being a ludicrous group of weird conspiracy theorists and cranks, researchers Chip BerletMatthew Lyons and Matthew Feldmansaythis outward image acts as a smokescreen for the real nature of this organization: a violent fascistic cult which is an inciter of hate against Jewish and British people as well as presently the prime worldwide distributor coded anti-Jewish literature based on the anti-Semitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Rodina and the Russian Imperial Movement, another Russian far-right party, organized the founding conference of the World National-Conservative Movement (WNCM), which Alexander Reid Ross calls an attempt at creating a fascist internationale [archive] (Ross should know better than publishing this on the red-brown cesspool that CounterPunch is though). The chairman of the WNCM was Yuriy Lyubomirskiy, a member of Rodina.

While Ross suggests the WCNM grew out of the conference organized by the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia in 2014 (which I explore below in the post), Anton Shekhovtsov seems to be more accurate by asserting the WNCM as an outgrowth of the IRCF which had also been organized by Rodina that same year.

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party

Which thus leads to, obviously, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a fascist organisation founded in 1932 by Antun Saadeh, an admirer of Hitler who was well-acquainted in Nazism, and is described as a “Levantine clone of the Nazi party in almost every aspect”, being extremely anti-Semitic from its onset (which was about a decade before the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the creation of the colonial Israeli state), adopting a reversed swastika as party symbol and singing the party’s anthem to the tune ofDeutschland über Alles, the national anthem by the Nazi regime. Saadeh would later however come to openly deny his organisation was fascist following an attempt by the SSNP to obtain assistance in the form of military training from Nazi Germany was rejected by the then German consul to Syria, though his party never ceased to be a fascist organization in practice, as evidenced by a reactionary diatribe on the Facebook page of its Iraqi branch in 2017 railing against “Cultural Marxism”, political correctness and feminism [archive]

 

The SSNP, Fascists And Syria

Before the outbreak of the Syrian Revolution, the SSNP and the Lebanese branch of the Baath Party appear to have contributed interviews to an edition of Geopolitica in 2007 to which Claudio Mutti, Tiberio Graziani and Webster Tarpley also contributed to [archive]. The unsurprising result was that since the people’s uprising started in Syria, Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah media consistently ran a number of conspiracy theorists more or less close to the fascist network including William Engdahl[archive], Webster Tarpley [archive] (who was in Syria in 2011 [archive]), Chossudovsky [archive], Thierry Meyssan [archive] and Kevin Barrett [archive] who immediately branded the uprising as a Western plot.

Thierry Meyssan

Thierry Meyssan started as a leftist in the 90s as a member of the French left-wing Parti Radical de Gauche, and founded the Voltaire Network as a source of investigations into the far-right and in support of secularism before moving into the milieu of conspiracy theories in the 2000s by publishing 9/11: The Big Lie and Pentagate, two conspiracist books alleging the 9/11 attacks had been done by the US military-industrial complex to find a pretext for a supposedly long-planned war on Afghanistan, and which were among the prime vehicles for 9/11 conspiracy theories worldwide.

The following years were marked by increasing anti-Semitism on the Voltaire Network, with former members testifying administrators were speaking of “Jewish lobbies” and branded Jewish members of the Network involved in Palestinian solidarity as “Zionists” due to the influence of red-brown militants advocating for querfronts against Western imperialism, and Meyssan seeking to obtain financing from various authoritarian states. In 2005, Meyssan admitted Claude Karnoouh, a Holocaust denier, to the administrative council of the Voltaire Network during a general assembly where an anti-Semitic movie by Dieudonné Mbala Mbala was played.

[Note: Dieudonné Mbala Mbala, more commonly known as simply Dieudonné, started as a left-wing anti-racist activist opposed to the French National Front in the 90s before moving to the far-right in the 2000s, associating with neo-fascist Alain Soral and allying to Jean-Marie le Pen (who became the godfather of Dieudonné’s daughter), platformingHolocaust denier Robert Faurisson and disparaging Holocaust memorial in 2008, and wishing atrocities committed during the Holocaust on a Jewish celebrity in 2013, following which his shows were banned.]

People really should read the article for the details.

These are some other elements:

Some Strange American Stalinist Parties

The Workers World Party (WWP)

The Workers World Party is a small Stalinist party formed out of a faction led by Sam Marcy which split in 1958 from the Socialist Workers Party, a US Trotskyist party, due to disagreements between Marcy’s faction’s support for the Chinese revolution and the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian revolution, which was at odds with the positions of the SWP.

Cynthia McKinney

The WWP has worked with Cynthia McKinney, a former US Congressperson for the Democratic Party with a history of 9/11 conspiracism and outright anti-Semitism. McKinney has been close to the vice-president of the LaRouche Movement’s Schiller Institute [archive] Amelia Boynton Robinson[archive] since 2005, and in 2009 she wrote an article blaming George Soros of plotting to install a “one-world government” [archive] (another form of far-right “New World Order” conspiracy theories) before later blaming the “Zionists” for her electoral failure after she ran for the 2008 US Presidential elections as candidate for the US Green Party (which was endorsed by the WWP [archive]).

We see a familiar figure pop up here:

The Strange Case Of Sputnik Radio

Brian Becker, the aforementioned co-founder and co-leader of the PSL and National Coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition happens to have a show, called Loud & Clear on Sputnik (whose French branch openly collaborates with far-right members in the orbit of the National Front and GRECE), which premiered in December 2015. Becker’s fellow PSL member Walter Smolarek is a producer for the show..

George Galloway, former MP of the British Labour Party and staunch supporter of Saddam Hussein…..

This is the conclusion,

In a report for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Martin A. Lee warns of the possibility of a resurgence of fascism under hidden forms, especially in the context where fascist critiques overlap with genuine left-wing radical critiques of globalization, and unfortunately the PSL and the WWP have knowingly worked to enable this.

As radical leftist anti-fascists, anti-racists, anti-colonialists, anti-Zionists and anti-capitalists struggling for liberation, we can fight against imperialism, against racism, against fascism at the same time, and we can oppose the American war machine and oppose colonialism without siding with reactionary and oppressive entities. We can support liberation in Palestine, Bahrain, India, Venezuela and everywhere else where people are struggling against oppression without allying to fascists or allowing them to try co-opting our movements. Unfortunately sections of the radical movement have failed or have been purposely misled by crypto-fascists.

Having started writing this post on the centenary of the Russian Revolution and published it today, exactly 99 years since the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht by counter-revolutionary forces within the so-called “Left”, even as protests are rocking Tunisia on the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the Arab Spring, I have only one thing to say: we badly need to do better, comrades.

Comment.

There is doubtless a lot of detail to be added about the European left, from the backing for the sovereigntist side in the EU Referendum, the ‘left’ groups in the UK who backed Putin over Ukraine,   to the sympathies of some for the Assad regime.

On the Russian link see (a rather exaggerated account but with some truth): Don’t ignore the left! Connections between Europe’s radical left and Russia. PÉTER KREKÓ and LÓRÁNT GYŐRI. 

More specifically there is this episode:  Trotskyism’ in Wonderland: ‘Workers Power’ and Ukraine.

On Syria see one contribution in French,  Syrie – Légitimité de l’action de Poutine et d’Assad : une narration du conflit syrien à l’épreuve des faits .

There is equally this on the Nationalist Arab Brigades fighting for Assad, la Garde nationaliste arabe (GNA),  La garde panarabe de Bachar Al-Assad  Quatre brigades aux noms symboliques. Nicolas Dot-Pouillard. Le Monde Diplomatique January 2018. The author notes how the volunteers from across the Arab world are now in groups which miux arab nationalism, a degree of ‘socialism’, with Islamic identity. 

A valuable overview from a Francophone perspective  is available here from our friends at Mondialisme:  Extrême gauche/Extrême droite. Inventaire de la confusion (6) Convergences inattendues and the articles here: 36-37 : Extrême droite, extrême gauche : Inventaire de la confusion.

Not to mention here:   Liste non exhaustive des sites conspirationnistes et confusionnistes.

You can start with, Alan Soral and  the site  Égalité et Réconciliation. 

Read the post…..

Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Mark Fisher (1968 – 2017) a Tribute from Ipswich.

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Image result for mark fisher capitalist realism

 

Mark Fisher (1968 – 2017)

On Saturday, on the anniversary of her friend’s death, Nina Power circulated a beautiful tribute, In Memoriam. She wrote, “Since you have gone I find it hard to go back to your writing. I think it is because there is still so much life in your words, but so much ghostliness too. And it was just so good, it just is so good. You captured exhilaration in writing like nobody else.”

This is also a contribution to Mark’s memory, written since our paths crossed at an Suffolk People’s Assembly meeting in Ipswich (Exiting the Vampire Castle), and because this recent reader of Capitalist Realism. Is there no Alternative? (2008) is deeply impressed by the work he left behind. (1)

Mark Fisher was a radical cultural critic. This expression barely covers the career of talented man whose research in the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit writings on the K-Punk Blog were marked by keen radical political feeling.

Capitalist Realism.

Capitalist Realism was, and is, a landmark study. It hits you from the first page with its quality. The book hooks the reader by an account of the film The Children of Men (2006), less a “cinematic dystopia” than a permanent state of emergency. Fisher reflects that it reminds him of a phrase attributed to Frederic Jameson and Slavoj Žižek, “that is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism.” This captured the meaning of “capitalist realism”, “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.” (Page 2)

The scenario of The Children of Men, which revolves around mass sterility, the end of public space and where nihilist religious eschatology is all that is left for the masses wandering in camps to cling to, is striking in itself. While the state had yet to be reduced to the military and police, Fisher extended the plot to capitalism, a world now where, “all that is left is the consumer-spectator, trudging through the ruins and relics.” (Page 4).

Jean Baudrillard wrote of the French Socialist governments of the 1980s, well before the collapse of Communism, of the “end of the dialectic” “the end of history” and above all the “power of simulation”. (La Gauche Divine. 1985). Fisher evokes other French theorists, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, whose Capitalisme et schizophrénie. L’anti-Œdipe (1972) to him saw capitalism as a “dark potentiality” and “unnameable thing” which has only begun to be deterritorialised through finance. One might suggest that something of this complex work, which is, amongst many things, a critique of psychoanalysis remains in Fisher’s concern with the link between the new forms of capitalism and mental illness, though the relation with Guattari’s own therapeutic practices remains to be discussed. (2)

Fisher captures these themes in the sense of “sense of exhaustion, of cultural and political sterility”, preferring capitalist realism to the term “post-modernism”, an expression, he justly noted, loaded with ambiguities, ranging from politics, economics  and cultural trends. Perhaps more significantly the idea that that there is “no alternative” focuses on the propositional nature of the expression. That is it can be contested, without succumbing to the belief of theorists of the Baudrillard school, that the world has been absorbed in the “hyper-real” in which nothing beyond trivia  happens any more.

Capitalist Realism indeed describes the effects of free market liberalism; an iron cage of its own imposed in the area he knew best, education. Managerialism, targets, a bureaucracy that “invades all areas of work” (P 51). The Big Other, the “bewildered frustration of the individual in the call centre labyrinth” is an “expression of the ultimate cause-that-is-not a subject capital. (Pages 65 and 70) If the latter seems a reflection of an Althusserian subjectless process commentators have been more struck by the expression of ‘hauntology” – the individual’s nostalgia for “lost futures”.

New Political Terrain.

This reader was more impressed by Fisher’s effort to think beyond these limits. The final chapter of Capitalist Realism ends with a defence public services, what is slightly tongue in cheek called a ‘Marxist supernanny”. Not that he was anything but critical of defensive politics. “It’s well past time for the left to case limiting its ambitions to the establishing of a big state. But being ‘at a distance from the state’ does not mean either abandoning the state or retreating into the private space of affects and diversity”. (page 77)

If capitalist realism survived the credit crisis of 2008, and the end of capitalism was not in sight, a “new political terrain” remains to be conquered. With its own authentic universality, a term he understands in Alain Badiou’s ‘ontological’ that is foundational, sense), This implies, “resurrecting the very concept of a general will, revising – and modernising – the idea of a public space that is not reducible to an aggregation of individuals and their interests.”(Page 77) He defended ‘worker autonomy’. How the General Will can subordinate the state, at a time when the People has emerged in some left circles as a substitute for the working class, remains to be seen. (3)

Mark Fisher’s Exiting the Vampire Castle begins with a description of his dispirited state, looking at the left, and squabbles on the Internet, which was  rendered acute by attacks on Owen Jones. It continues,

One of the things that broke me out of this depressive stupor was going to the People’s Assembly in Ipswich, near where I live. The People’s Assembly had been greeted with the usual sneers and snarks. This was, we were told, a useless stunt, in which media leftists, including Jones, were aggrandising themselves in yet another display of top-down celebrity culture. What actually happened at the Assembly in Ipswich was very different to this caricature. The first half of the evening – culminating in a rousing speech by Owen Jones – was certainly led by the top-table speakers. But the second half of the meeting saw working class activists from all over Suffolk talking to each other, supporting one another, sharing experiences and strategies. Far from being another example of hierarchical leftism, the People’s Assembly was an example of how the vertical can be combined with the horizontal: media power and charisma could draw people who hadn’t previously been to a political meeting into the room, where they could talk and strategise with seasoned activists. The atmosphere was anti-racist and anti-sexist, but refreshingly free of the paralysing feeling of guilt and suspicion which hangs over left-wing twitter like an acrid, stifling fog.

I was one of the organisers of that meeting and can say that this passage cheered me up immensely. There are people on the left who have “exited” the Vampire Castle of ‘identities’ (perhaps code for an academic cultural left) that Fisher described, although our own fortresses are no doubt just as daunting. It is of interest that many of the people at the Fore Street Co-op Education Centre were active in the Labour Party at the time, and many more are today, from the present Ipswich MP, councillors, to trade unionists.

We are trying to make real if not the General Will, at least Left politics, and have a good stab at the ‘capitalist realism’ comrade Mark Fisher so brilliantly described, and for which we will remember him.

See also:  Journey back into the vampires’ castle: Mark Fisher remembered, 1968-2017

Thanks to Roger for sending me a copy of Capitalist Realism.

(1) We may well have directly met. I recall a conversation in Ipswich with somebody about post-modernism and Derrida – not one may imagine a frequent topic in the town.

(2) See Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari. Biographie croisée. François Dosse. La Découverte. 2009. This book contains a wealth of details about their lives and theories. Guattari was a supporter of a version of ‘anti-psychiatry. Some consider that Mille plateaux (1980)  is more useful for its description  of how states “capture” people and territories. 

(3) Ed Rooksby’s review of Capitalist Realism in Historical Materialism, Vol 20 No 1. 2012, asked how literally we could take these suggestive ideas.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 15, 2018 at 2:02 pm

7th Anniversary of Tunisian Uprising Marked by Protests.

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Front Populaire on the March in Tunisia Today.

Tunisia protests mark seven years since Arab Spring uprising

France 24.

Tunisia, shaken by days of nationwide unrest over price hikes, is marking seven years on Sunday since the North African nation drove out its long-time autocratic ruler.

Tunisians are calling for peaceful protests on the anniversary to tell the country’s new leaders that they have failed to fix problems that stirred the revolution.

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile on Jan. 14, 2011, transforming the country into a budding democracy that inspired the Arab Spring – then defied it by being the only country to keep its transition peaceful.

Now, protesters are driving home the message that they believe that six governments in power since then have crushed hopes of social and economic justice, and left them feeling betrayed.

Citizen’s Against the Right-Wing Islamist Party.

On this 7th Anniversary the trade union, L’UGTT, has called for a march in the centre of Tunis. They will be joined by the left wing Tunisian alliance, the Front Populaire (FP) has described government measures taken in response to these protests, which include a minimum wage for the poorest, and universal heath care,  as a “masquerade”. They do not satisfy the needs of the people. The FP has called for continuing demonstrations against the Finance law – austerity.

Al Jazeera has just published an interview with people from Fech Nestannew.

Al Jazeera spoke to Tunis-based protest organiser Warda Atig, 25, about how the Fech Nestannew movement came about, its demands, and whether the Tunisian government may revise its economic policies.

Al Jazeera: What is the idea behind Fech Nestannew?

Warda Atig: Fech Nestannew is a movement created by Tunisian youth after the government’s finance act of 2018 came into effect. Following this act, the prices went up and the state stopped recruiting for public sector jobs.

That’s why we decided to create this movement, in order to push the government to cancel this financial measure.

Al Jazeera: How did your protests begin and when?

Atig: When we first heard about this law, in November and December of last year, several youth factions from the different progressive political parties organised discussions [about] what the law was and what the impact of the law would be on society.

We were waiting for the government to make the law official and we chose the date of our first action to be January 3. The date is very symbolic because, on January 3, 1984, there was the Intifada al-Khubez (bread uprising) in Tunisia [over an increase in the price of bread].

On January 3, we made a declaration in front of the municipal theatre [on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in downtown Tunis] and we distributed pamphlets with our demands. We were about 50 activists.

Al Jazeera: What are those demands?

Atig: We want the government to end the increase in prices, cancel the moratorium on recruiting in the public sector, provide security and healthcare, end privatisation and put forward a national strategy to counter corruption.

These demands [are in response to] decisions taken by the government … [and] they are within the context of the finance act of 2018. So we are asking [the government] to cancel this act.

If they don’t cancel it, they will privatise national companies, they will not fight corruption, they will continue to increase prices. We are explaining to people that we have to say no to this act.

Al Jazeera: Protests have taken place across Tunisia. How did these different regions get involved in your movement and do you have a coordinated strategy?

Atig: First, we created a group on Facebook. Then, there were many reactions from people in other regions. People started to ask themselves, “What are we waiting for?”

People from student unions and other young people who were very active regionally also got involved.

It started here (Tunis) with different groups, including student unions and groups of unemployed graduates. Everyone here helped spread this campaign … and what happened in Tunis happened in all the other regions.

This isn’t only [a movement] for Tunis; it’s for all of Tunisia.

More via above link.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 14, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Catalonia: Revolution Postponed as Puigdemont backers say he will be President on the 31st of January……

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Image result for puigdemont caricature

Puigdemont with Adviser in Brussels.

Los diputados de Junts per Catalunya en Bruselas: “El 31 de enero Puigdemont será el presidente”

MPs of Junts per Catalunya in Brussels, “On the 3st of January Puigdemont will be President. 

Once upon a time, a long time back, a few weeks before Christmas….. Catalonia was on the threshold of a revolution.

Socialist Appeal echoed many a sage  left-wing commentator in stating, “the Catalan revolution: the struggle for the Socialist Republic of Catalonia, to serve as the spark for the Iberian Socialist Revolution, and the prelude to the European Socialist Revolution.”

As recruiting posters for a new Durutti column began to appear in Hoxton Quinoa bars, the left press was awash with stories from the front line.

Grizzled journalists made their way across snow swept Pyrenean trails to send back reports from Catalunya.

The Socialist set the tone, ” Spain/Catalonia: “Like a massive football match, with a revolutionary atmosphere!” Supporters lined up to cheer.  Socialist Worker advised, “Workers’ mobilisation” was the key to success.  Counterfire began an appeal “To support in any way possible the emergence of a broad based solidarity movement in the UK.” In an exercise of considerable imagination Red Pepper published a piece stating, “Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism”. Some Anarchists, no doubt excited at the prospect of visiting Hemp Milk Cooperatives off the Ramblas, saw a resurrection of the CNT as this tiny union backed independence. (1)

Spain’s PM, Rajoy seemed to act out of his way to reinforce the hostility of Catalans.There were justified protests in Catalonia against the repression unleashed against the ‘referendum’ and gaoling of Catalan MPs.  There were some strikes, many backed by employers, public functionaries and business, that failed to take off in the factories and the majority of the working class. Theyw ere more effective in snarling up road traffic than anything else.

But internationally the event the only demonstrations of support for Catalan nationalism, led by a large section of the Catalan bourgeoisie, and its main party, JuntsxCat were organised by the Scottish Nationalist Party, and, in Brussels, a curious event which saw Trotskyists march with the extreme-right Vlams Belang.

In the event the regional elections on the 21st of December saw a marginal victory for the assembled Catalan nationalists and a crushing defeat for the pro-independence radical left.

CataloniaParliamentDiagram2017.svg
Parties and coalitions Popular vote Seats
Votes  % ±pp Total +/−
Citizens–Party of the Citizenry (Cs) 1,109,732 25.35 +7.44 36 +11
Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat)1 948,233 21.66 n/a 34 +3
Republican Left–Catalonia Yes (ERC–CatSí)1 935,861 21.38 n/a 32 +6
Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC–PSOE) 606,659 13.86 +1.14 17 +1
Catalonia in Common–We Can (CatComú–Podem)2 326,360 7.46 –1.48 8 –3
Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) 195,246 4.46 –3.75 4 –6
People’s Party (PP) 185,670 4.24 –4.25 4 –7

The loudest voice braying for Catalan nationalism, Socialist Appeal, was exultant, “The victory of the pro-independence bloc is a blow to the Rajoy government and the Spanish regime as a whole.” They explained away the defeat of their own favoured force, the CUP, as follows,

The anti-capitalist, pro-independence CUP had a bad result: 4.45 percent of the votes and only 4 seats. For comparison, it had 8.21 percent and 10 seats after the 2015 elections. It ran a very good and militant campaign, in which it insisted on the defence of the Catalan Republic and the mandate of the 1st October referendum, linking these to the question of winning and defending social rights, and talking openly about socialism and internationalism.

But these strengths in the CUP’s campaign were offset by a number of factors. Firstly, the memory of its past mistakes in supporting JxSí and its budget of cuts. Secondly, the fact that many of its votes in 2015 were on loan from ERC supporters who did not want to support JxSí and who have now gone back to ERC. Thirdly, and perhaps more importantly, the fact that during the crucial events of the Catalan October, the CUP was not seen clearly enough as offering an alternative leadership.

 On odd left group that backed austerity……

I think we can guess who, in the eyes of Socialist Appeal,  is ready to offer such a “leadership”.

About the only force to emerge from these events with any credibility is Catalunya en Comú–Podem (aligned to Podemos) who also lost support (less drastically, from 8.9% to 7,5%).

Some of those who had previously criticised Podemos for the way its ‘populism’, the identification of the ‘people’ against the ‘casta’ as the main political conflict, suddenly  found in the Catalan ‘people’ led by the nationalist bourgeoisie a new progressive vehicle.

Podemos, by contrast stood for a ‘multi-people ‘ or plurinational Spain and defended the Catalans’ democratic right for decide their future for themselves.

In terms of real politics the biggest historic left nationalist party, the Republican left (ERC), is back to its previous position of propping up the right-wing Puigdemont led bloc.

Which leads us back to the present dilemma:

Catalan separatists agreed on Wednesday to try to re-elect Puigdemont as regional leader, raising the scenario of the fugitive former leader governing by video link from Belgium. He faces arrest in Spain for sedition and rebellion.

“Parliamentary rules are very clear,” said Spanish government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo at a weekly press conference. “They do not contemplate the possibility of a (parliamentary) presence that is not in person.”

“This aspiration is a fallacy, it’s totally unrealistic and it goes against the rule books and common sense,” he added.

(1) I note however that some retained, to their honour, their senses: Against all states, old and new! Down with patriotism! Down with borders! Long live the international class struggle!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 13, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Third Night of Riots in Tunisia: Front Populaire Backs Peaceful Protests and Denounces Violence.

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Fech Nestanew: Young Tunisians in latest protests against Austerity.

Le Monde reports:

Tunisia is governed by a working arrangement between a President Beji Caid Essebsi, his republican centre Nidaa Tounes party and the rightwing Islamist Ennahda party.

Agence France Presse reports,

200 arrested, dozens hurt in Tunisia unrest.

More than 200 people have been arrested and dozens of police hurt during clashes in Tunisia, the interior ministry said Wednesday, as anger over austerity measures spilt over into unrest.

The North African country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition since a 2011 revolt that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, but seven years after the revolution, tensions over economic grievances are high.

Tunisia has seen rising anger over hikes in value-added tax and social contributions after a tough new budget was applied at the start of the year.

Interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani told local radio that 49 police officers were wounded during a second night of clashes across the country Tuesday to Wednesday and that 206 “troublemakers” were arrested.

Properties were damaged, he said, including a branch of the Carrefour supermarket chain in a suburb of Tunis that was looted.

After a calm day on Wednesday, residents said demonstrators in the evening took to the streets of Tebourba, a town west of the capital Tunis where a man in his 40s died in unrest Monday night.

On a visit to a nearby town, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed condemned acts of “vandalism” that “serve the interests of corrupt networks to weaken the state”, pointing the finger at a leftist party that called for protests.

Fresh clashes broke out Wednesday night in the northern town of Siliana, where youths threw stones and molotov cocktails at security forces. Police responded with tear gas, an AFP correspondent said.

There were similar scenes in Kasserine, a town in Tunisia’s neglected central region, with protesters burning tires to block roads and some throwing stones at police.

The army has been deployed around banks, post offices and other government buildings in the country’s main cities, the defence ministry said.

There have been no figures given for the number of protesters injured in the clashes.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of young people took to the streets of Tebourba for the funeral of the man who died.

In the central town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the protests that sparked the 2011 uprisings, youths blocked roads and hurled stones, and the police retaliated with tear gas, an AFP reporter said.

The recent unrest started with peaceful protests against the austerity measures last week, but escalated into clashes with police in the night of Monday to Tuesday.

On the back of the protests which Libération describes as the result of a general state of anger (un «ras-le-bol généralisé») at the country’s conditions, racist Islamist elements have been involved (Guardian)

Among the hundreds arrested on Tuesday were two radical Islamists who had helped storm a police station in Nefza town, the interior ministry spokesman said. In Tunis, a crowd stormed a Carrefour market.

On Tuesday, petrol bombs were thrown at a Jewish school on the southern tourist island of Djerba, home to an ancient Jewish community.

Front Populaire.

The left wing alliance, the Front Populaire, (15 MPs out of 217) has stood by the protests and called for street demonstrations. Le Front populaire appelle à la mobilisation de la rue pour le retrait de la loi de Finances 2018.

The leader of the left wing Front Populaire Hamma Hammami (English link) criticised the government and its response to the protests while making it clear that they do not support the violence of “milices criminelles” who are exploiting the unrest.

In response to statements by Youssef Chahed, Head of Tunisia’s present government, which accuse them of encouraging the “troubles”  he stated yesterday that one should not confuse peaceful mass movements, which his alliance backs, and acts of vandalism and violence carried out by criminal organisations. (“la confusion entre les mouvements militants pacifiques que nous appuyons et les actes de vandalisme et de violence que font des milices criminelles” Huffington Post).

They have called for an independent inquirty in the repression and violence.

After asking whether these groups which had been involved in pillaging and exacerbating tensions  had a relation with the mafias and other corrupt forces linked to the government Hammami stated that the Front Populaire would continue to support protests against the economic policies of the state.

Manifestez en étant unis et autour d’un slogan claire qui est la suppression de la hausse des prix et contre ces mesures qui détruisent la vie des Tunisiens”.

Demonstrate in unity around the clear demand for an end to price rises and against policies which are destroying the lives of Tunisians.

More on the young citizens’ movement, Fech Nestanew (what are we waiting for?): Qui sont les militants de « Fech Nestanew », qui mobilise contre la vie chère en Tunisie ? Jeune Afrique 11.1.18.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 11, 2018 at 1:38 pm

French Petition Attacking ‘Totalitarian’ Feminism, Feminists Begin to Respond.

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Image result for catherine deneuve petition balance ton porc

« Nous défendons une liberté d’importuner, indispensable à la liberté sexuelle »

Reads the controversial public statement that made headlines published in Le Monde this week.

Le viol est un crime. Mais la drague insistante ou maladroite n’est pas un délit, ni la galanterie une agression machiste.

Rape is a crime. But chatting up,  however pressing and clumsy, is not an offence, and compliments are not a macho aggression.

Note: the French verb drageur comes from the English to trawl, to drag line as in Fish.

Variety sets out the story,

Iconic French actress Catherine Deneuve is among 100 women who have signed a public letter blaming the #MeToo anti-harassment movement for creating a “totalitarian” climate that unfairly punishes men for flirting “insistently or clumsily,” infantilizes women and undermines sexual freedom.

The letter says that #MeToo, the hashtag that emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has led to a campaign of public denunciation and summary justice. The victims have been “men who are sanctioned in their work, pushed to resign, etc., when their only wrongdoing was to touch a knee, try to steal a kiss, speak about intimate things during a professional dinner or send messages that are sexually loaded to a woman who wasn’t attracted to them,” the letter says.

“Rape is a crime. But flirting with insistently or clumsily isn’t a crime, and chivalry is not a machismo aggression,” the letter says, adding that men should have the “indispensable freedom to offend and bother” women and that the #MeToo movement encouraged “puritanism.”

French star Catherine Deneuve defends men’s ‘right’ to chat up women.

France 24.

France’s most revered actress, Catherine Deneuve, hit out Tuesday at a new “puritanism” sparked by sexual harassment scandals, declaring that men should be “free to hit on” women.

She was one of around 100 French women writers, performers and academics who wrote an open letter deploring the wave of “denunciations” that has followed claims that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted and harassed women over decades.

They called it a “witch-hunt” that they feel threatens sexual freedom.

“Rape is a crime, but trying to seduce someone, even persistently or cack-handedly, is not — nor is being gentlemanly a macho attack,” said the letter published in the daily Le Monde.

French feminists were not slow to note that Deneuve was also a very recent defender of Roman Polanski.

 

In the continuing case against the charge that he had violated a minor, she stated last March that that the 13 year old woman was brought to Polanski’s by her mother and that she did not act according to her age, and that the word “rape” was excessive in the context. (En mars dernier, l’actrice Catherine Deneuve avait déjà fâché des associations de défense des femmes en estimant à la télévision que Samantha Geimer, la jeune fille de 13 ans dont Roman Polanski avait abusé en 1977, « avait été amenée chez Roman par sa mère », et « ne faisait pas son âge de toute façon ». « J’ai toujours trouvé que le mot de viol avait été excessif », . BALANCE TON PORC: BATAILLE DE TRIBUNES AUTOUR DES VIOLENCES SEXUELLES FAITES AUX FEMMES

 

I note that one of the signatories, Elisabeth Lévy, is a writer at the contrarian magazine Causer. 

This is her most recent article,  9th of January, denouncing ‘totalitarian’ feminism.

2017, l’année des balances Le totalitarisme féministe a (encore) progressé

Bang on cue Spiked on Line defends, er the same line.

 

Background, from the Petition side:  Une tribune de femmes face à une “guerre des sexes en train de prendre un tour absolument absurde et hallucinatoire”.Abnousse Shalmani explains, or tries to explain, that the petition is against “puritanism” not in favour of any kind of sexual harassment (drague lourde). It is against the idea that women are not all “victims”. Shalmani does not like the idea that ‘balance ton porc’ (grass up your pig) is a kind of call for a puritan purge.
The author also claims the title, which could be (very easily) interpreted as an apology for ‘importuning’ in the English sense of the word, was supplied by Le Monde.
Comment, she spends a lot of time trying to wriggle out of the way the Petition was obviously going to be interpreted.
More from their critics here:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 10, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Pressure Grows on Labour to Defend Human Rights in Iran.

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The Clarion publishes this:

The following motion was passed unanimously at a meeting of 60 Labour Party members at Stretford and Urmston CLP in Manchester on 5 January.This CLP supports the working class and popular protests in Iran that started in the city of Mashad on 28th December 2017 and which have since spread to over 40 cities in the country.

We note that the protests:

• Directly oppose poverty and the systematic corruption of the “Islamic Republic” regime.
• Include the wide participation of working class people – men and women – many of whom are young and unemployed.
• Demand an end to the “Islamic Republic”, the end to rule by “Supreme Leader” Khamanei and “President” Rouhani and the dissolution of the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
• Demand an end to military interventions in Syria and Lebanon.
• Call for freedom for political prisoners in Iran and an end to the dictatorship.

We therefore call on the National Executive Committee and Party leadership to:

• Support the protests and the calls for workers’ rights and an end to repression and dictatorship.
• Support campaigns in solidarity with political prisoners in Iran such as the Solidarity with Middle Eastern Prisoners campaign organised by The Alliane of Middle Eastern Socialists who are calling for the release of: Reza Shahabi from the Tehran Bus Workers’ Syndicate; Narges Mohamnadi from the Centre for Defence of Human Rights in Iran; and Zeynab Jalalian, a Kurdish women’s’ activist.
• Cease any co-operation between the Party or Labour MPs with “Press TV” – the English-language arm of the clerical-fascist regime in Iran.
• Urgently investigate how best to co-operate with and support worker and popular organisations in Iran who share Labour’s commitment to socialism and freedom and build support for their activities.

Let us know what you think? theclarionmag@gmail.com

This comes as appeals for solidarity multiply.

Hamid Taqvaee: To: Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party

Dear Mr Corbyn

In solidarity with the heroic struggle of the people of Iran against one of the most despotic, brutal, anti-working class and misogynistic regimes in the world, and on behalf of the largest working-class party of the left opposition in Iran, I am writing to ask you to distance yourself immediately from the disgraceful comments made yesterday by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry. I am asking you to break your silence and to come out unreservedly on the side of the people in Iran in their heroic struggle against their oppressors.

Siding with the oppressors of the people or even staying silent or prevaricating on the rightful protests by the workers, women and the youth in Iran against the corrupt and reactionary Islamic Republic, whose leaders have amassed billions, while subjecting workers to abject poverty, smashing workers’ organisations, throwing trade unionists to jail, committing state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against women and LGBT people and executing dissidents in their tens of thousands, would be a grave political folly for the Labour Party. Once this regime is overthrown by the ongoing heroic rising of the people, the people of Iran will not forget who was on their side and who sided with their oppressors.

Your declared aims of fighting for a better world, for economic equality and for social justice won you great following among millions of people in Britain and internationally, who enthusiastically supported you in your leadership campaigns and in the 2017 general election on a progressive platform to address the widening inequality and the growing injustice in the UK.

However, these are exactly the same issues – on a far harsher and more brutal scale – that have brought millions of people onto to the streets of Iran today. The workers, women and youth in Iran are protesting against grotesque levels of inequality, lack of basic political and social freedoms and a medieval religious dictatorship that is an affront to the collective conscience of humanity in the 21st Century. People in Iran do not want the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the 1% and the billionaire clergy while they try to survive on a minimum wage that is one-fourth of the official poverty line. They do not want the vile state discrimination against women, which officially defines them as minors and the property of their male guardians; they do not want compulsory veiling and gender apartheid. They do not want the imposition of a religious state and religious thought. In one word, the people of Iran do not want the Islamic Republic. They have risen up against the Islamic Republic because they want economic equality and political and social freedoms. They want a better world and a life worthy of human beings. They are right to demand this, and should have the people of the world’s unreserved support.

Siding with such an obnoxious regime and disgracefully declaring, as Emily Thornberry has, that it is not clear who is right or wrong in this struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors will forever stay in the memory of the people of Iran. It will seriously harm the credentials of a progressive and egalitarian party that you are trying to build. It will disillusion millions of your supporters who rushed to your support precisely because they believe in equality and social justice everywhere. It will alienate your grassroots from the leadership, and mark a shameful moment in the life of your new party. It will be an irredeemable political folly and a historic moral disgrace for the Labour Party.

I hope the utterances of Emily Thornberry were an isolated case, which she will come to regret and openly apologies for. In any case, I urge you, as the Leader of the Labour Party, to distance yourself in the clearest terms from those comments and to come out unreservedly and unambiguously on the side of the people of Iran in these momentous days.

Hamid Taqvaee,

Leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran.

The Morning Star meanwhile publishes this article.

THE United States slapped sanctions on five subsidiaries of Iran’s Defence Ministry yesterday as the war of words between Washington and Tehran escalated.

The sanctions are related to allegations that the subsidiaries are involved in the production of ballistic missiles used by Houthi rebels in the Yemen war, and are unconnected to the wave of protests that has swept Iran over the past week.

The US says Iran is the main sponsor of the Houthi movement, whose takeover of Yemen in 2015 prompted a murderous Saudi assault on the country in which the US and Britain have supplied weaponry used in air raids on hospitals and schools.

The sanctions came after Iranian Prosecutor-General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri claimed the anti-government demonstrations were instigated by the CIA, with the aim of turning them into an armed insurrection against the Islamic Republic by mid-February.

At least 21 people have been killed in the protests, which broke out last Thursday over widespread poverty and unemployment, and included calls for an end to theocratic rule.

The communist Tudeh Party of Iran says some of the deaths were “false flag” killings by government agents to justify a heavier crackdown, and a source in the party told the Morning Star over 1,000 people have been arrested — around half in Tehran — for involvement in the protests.

At the same time, the government has organised major pro-regime demonstrations, “significantly slowed internet access generally” and cut access to some areas and networks completely in order to impede the spread of unrest via social media. On Thursday it announced that all unregistered mobile phones would be denied connection to the internet.

The Interior Ministry placed the total number of participants in anti-government protests at 42,000 and said the biggest single rally involved 1,500 people.

The size and duration of the protests, which it said were drawing to a close, were testimony to the “leniency, restraint and tolerance” with which the government had responded, according to Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli.

But more protests — including some involving tens of thousands of people — were breaking out on Thursday night, according to the Tudeh Party source, though they acknowledged that the “deployment of the most brutal militiamen and thugs” to the streets to crush the protests was beginning to stifle the upsurge.

To get a grasp of the forces opposing the growing consensus of support for the protests from the left,  the US ‘Conspi’ (conspiracy) ‘left’ site, Counterpunch publishes  this,

Thoughts About Iran on Twelfth Night

The US is ravenous to destroy Iran. It’s hard to know if the CIA instigated the recent demonstrations as Iran claims but it is our usual modus operandi. UN Ambassador Haley’s bloodthirsty cries (“The people of Iran are crying out for freedom! All freedom-loving people must stand with their cause!”) certainly match, in both intensity and ignorance, those of Secretary-of-State Clinton, before we destroyed Libya seven years ago.

Our role in Iran’s impoverishment however is undeniable. As the three Wise Men swung along on their camels, discoursing on Peace (for that is what they thought the Baby was to bring) could they possibly have conceived of such malignant phantoms, in their starlit visions,  as The Plan for the New American Century and its vicious nihilism, 2000 years into the future?

Written by Andrew Coates

January 8, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Emily Thornberry and Labour ‘Cautious Approach” to Defending Human Rights in Iran.

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Thornberry, Cautious Approach to defending Human Rights when it comes to Iran. 

The shadow foreign secretary said a ‘cautious approach’ to the protests was needed because it was difficult to determine the political forces behind them

Guardian.

Thornberry told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “Our approach now is one of extreme caution when it comes to Iran and a recognition that the society in Iran is an immensely complex one, and seemingly contradictory.

“For example, with these current riots, sometimes they are calling to reinstate the monarchy, sometimes they’re calling out against the [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for Khamenei, sometimes they’re calling for the price of eggs.

“It’s very difficult, in those circumstances, to actually come to a conclusion as to what political forces are behind the current disputes on the streets of Iran. So we take a cautious approach to Iran and we don’t want to leap to judgment and say: ‘Well, we don’t like the regime in Iran, these people are against it, they must be the guys with white hats.’ Because it doesn’t work like that. We’ve seen that in Syria, we’ve seen it in Libya, we see it time and time again.”

Some have commented that Thornbury seems to think Iran should be like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the goodies in the Scooby Gang fighting the First Evil before Labour will take a stand.

Meanwhile these have no hesitation in defending human rights.

Iranian human rights defenders: “We support the protests”

A group of Iranian human rights defenders have issued a statement in support of the popular protests launched in Iran and Rojhilat and demanded an immediate unconditional release of detained protesters.

Support for the popular protests launched by the peoples of Iran and Rojhilat (Eastern Kurdistan) against poverty and the oppressive policies of the regime continues to pour in. 6 human rights defenders who live outside the country issued a joint statement and announced that they stand by the demands of the people.

Most famous human rights defenders in Iran, Muhamed Ewliyayîferd, Mehmud Rehmanî Îsfahanî, political prisoners’ rights activist Nesrîn Studa, Muhamed Seyfzade, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Şirîn Ebadi and human rights defender Ebdulkerim Lahici issued a joint statement declaring that the right to protest is the most fundamental right.

Human rights defenders stated that they support the protests launched by the peoples of Iran and concluded their statement with the following: “Citizens on the streets are not pro-violence, but the regime forces do resort to violence. Many protesters have lost their lives to date. We offer our condolences to the families of the deceased and a swift recovery for the wounded. We demand an immediate unconditional release of the detained and arrested protesters.”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 6, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Hold The Press: Labour Against the Witch-Hunt Faces Key “political fight for democracy”as Keabalism Tries to Shut down Debate.

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Britain’s leading Esperantist Communist Accused of Manoeuvres against Socialist Fight. 

The international consortium of investigative journalists on the latest in the developing story that is Labour Against the Witch-Hunts. 

04/01/2018 by socialistfight

STOP PRESS: This evening at 22.45pm, first Ian Donovan and then Gerry Downing received the email from Stan Keable that had previously been sent to selected non-SF LAW supporters (see below), inviting them to a meeting at an un-named ‘nearby’ new venue this Saturday 6th Jan at 12pm. Democratic forces on the left should go to the Calthorpe Arms at 11.30am and be prepared for a political fight for democracy.

This was after the same comrade had been emailed by Tony Greenstein and told that the meeting was off, and SF would not be welcome at future LAW meetings.

Evidently the landlord of the Calthorpe Arms, good socialist that he is, feared making excessive profits from drink sales if significantly larger crowds, mobilised by articles in the Independent and the Times of Israel, descended on his pub on a Saturday afternoon.

More grounded, materialistic people might suspect that someone feared they would lose the vote a second time and ‘arranged’ this. They still could. And even if they don’t, this messing with venues and trying to exclude people who voted entirely legitimately on 2 Dec, would tarnish any votes taken.

This is fearful stupidity.

And thus LAW’s misleadership brings the whole thing to the level of farce. How on earth did they think they would get away with this on the left in the internet age?

 

The Plot Thickens

Tony Greenstein tells us the meeting is cancelled, Stan Keable tells a selected core (containing a Socialist Fight snout, unfortunately for him) that a nearby alternative venue has been found.

Read more, if you dare….

Written by Andrew Coates

January 5, 2018 at 1:47 pm

As Labour against the Witch-Hunt Rocked by Latest Revelations in the Independent, Robbie Travers to Mediate?

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International Mediation Called in as latest Row Shakes Labour Against Witch-Hunt.

Group set up to protest Labour’s expulsion of members accused of antisemitism expels members for alleged antisemitism

Labour Against the Witchhunt is accused of pursuing ‘shameful witch hunt’.

The Newshounds of the Indy and their top team, based on exhaustive investigation of me and my mates’ Facebook Pages can reveal,

A campaign group that was set up to protest against the expulsion of Labour Party members for alleged antisemitism has expelled some of its own members who it says are antisemitic.

Gerry Downing, who was excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), has accused the group of conducting its own witch hunt against him.

He is now planning a protest at the same location as a LAW meeting on Saturday, in a bid to be readmitted to the group.

Setting up a Facebook page called “Reject Bogus Left Antisemitism”, Mr Downing accused LAW of wanting a “witch hunt [against] genuine anti-Zionists and revolutionary socialists”.

He claimed the group wanted to demonstrate to Labour’s General Secretary, Iain McNicol, “that they really will never cross the line from defence of the democratic rights of Palestinians to advocating revolutionary solutions to these situations”.

An international  appeal from Robbie Travers has called for mediation.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 3, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Solidarity with Iranian Protests. Nine dead in overnight clashes – state media

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Nine more people have been killed overnight as clashes between protesters and security forces continue in Iran for a sixth day, state media report.

The latest violence, in the central Isfahan region, brought the number of reported deaths to at least 22.

Six protesters died in what was described as an apparent attempt to seize guns from a police station.

Elsewhere, a boy aged 11 and a man were reported killed in clashes along with a member of the Revolutionary Guards.

The protests in cities across Iran are the largest since the disputed 2009 presidential election.

They began last Thursday in the city of Mashhad, initially against price rises and corruption, but have since spread amid wider anti-government sentiment.

Hundreds of people have been arrested.

President Hassan Rouhani said protests were an “opportunity, not a threat”, but vowed to crack down on “lawbreakers”.

The US has stepped up support for the protesters’ “bold resistance”.

BBC.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 2, 2018 at 11:07 am

Posted in Anti-Fascism, European Left, Human Rights, Iran

Tagged with

Leftist Trivia Quiz 2017.

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Following the a soaraway  success of Hatful of History’s quiz we have our own for 2017.

  1. Who developed an interest in Lenin’s support for Nudism this year?
  2. In 2016 Ben Chacko, Editor of the Morning Star, organ of the Communist Party of Britain,  sent a message of solidarity to a pro-Brexit  Trotskyist rally in Paris. What is the name of this Trotskyist group and why were they in the new again in 2017?
  3. What are the names of the groups that Gerry Downing’s Liaison Committee for the Fourth International has links with?
  4. Who is the former bag-man for George Galloway and now best mates with Counterfire, who was prepared to fight to the last French person against the Front National in this year’s Presidential election?
  5. The name of the former faction in the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) of Labour’s present Executive Director of Strategy and Communications was i) LGBT Left. ii) Straight Left.
  6. Which  issues of Socialist Worker in 2017 carried heartfelt denunciations of sexual harassment?
  7. Which group was ruled ineligible for Labour Party membership?
  8. What is the current name of Workers’ Power, British Section of the League for the Fifth International?
  9.  What is the name of the People’s Assembly 2017 Xmas song (hard one this).
  10. Who is the other member of the Monster Raving Greenstein Party?

Written by Andrew Coates

December 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

Iran – Islamic Regime Detains 230 for “Mixed Gender Partying”.

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An Islamic Guidance patrol arresting young Iranians for "immoral behavior". File photo.

Iran: “Islamic Guidance” Patrol Arresting Young People for “immoral behaviour”. 

A few days ago Le Monde published a long inquiry into the fate of atheists in the Islamic world.

L’athéisme, ce tabou du monde musulman

Du Maghreb au Pakistan, en passant par l’Arabie saoudite, les athées sont de plus en plus nombreux. Enquête sur cet athéisme qui dérange et effraie le monde musulman.

From social ostracism by families in the West, to repression wherever Islamist ideas have a hold on power, to murder, atheists face perscuction.

It was heartening to see that the “Ex-Muslim” movement is campaigning back.

The French daily of record gave prominence to this event,  Largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history

The International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression, the largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history, was held during 22-24 July 2017 in London.

Comrade Maryam Namazie’s sterling work was given a special mention.

Now we hear this, scenes from the life under Sharia law in Iran.

Islamic law does not just forbid and repress atheism but having fun and drinking in mixed company.

The BBC reports,

Iran’s moral police have arrested 230 people at two winter solstice celebration parties in Tehran.

The shortest day of the year is traditionally celebrated in Iran, where it is known as Yalda.

Col Zulfikar Barfar, head of Tehran’s moral-security force, said the partygoers had been drinking and dancing at the mixed parties.

Drinking alcohol can be punishable by 80 lashes, although in recent years perpetrators are often fined instead.

Morality police are known in Persian as Ershad, meaning guidance. They also ensure women adhere to Islamic dress code.

Police said 140 of the people were arrested in a garden in the Lavasan area, while the other 90 were attending a celebration in the northern district of Fermaniyeh,

Two singers who were performing at the events were among those detained, and some alcoholic drinks and drugs were confiscated.

Col Barfar said images from the parties had been shared on Instagram.

230 detained at 2 mixed-gender parties in Tehran

Iran Human Rights Monitor

The capital’s The Moral Security Police Chief announced the arrests of 230 young men and women on December 21, 2017 in two night parties, according to the state-run Tsensim News Agency.

The State Security Force raided what have been described as a mixed-gender party in Lavasan and Farmanieh in the northern part of the capital Tehran.

The young men and women were celebrating Yalda night, one of the most celebrated traditional events in Iran which marks the longest night of the year, that is, the renewal of the sun and the victory of light over darkness.

Iranian authorities have a history of clamping down on parties. With the SSF shutting down get-togethers and arresting those in attendance.

Such restrictions have become a regular feature of Iranian life since the 1979 Islamic revolution, as members of the morality police appear on the streets, or are deployed in vans at public places, to tackle women defying the compulsory hijab, men with non-approved hairstyles, or men and women partying together.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm

Posted in European Left, Iran, Islam, Islamism

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More Fake News from Fake Left Skwawkbox.

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BBC NEWS CHANNEL – NO MENTION OF MAY’S DOWNING ST MEETING WITH ‘RUSSIAN SPY’?

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 The BBC News channel, like most of the mainstream media, has given extensive coverage this morning to comments by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson about cyber-threats to the UK from Russia.

It seems not, however, to have mentioned revelations that Theresa May conducted a meeting in Downing Street with her Ukrainian counterpart in the presence of a man who has just been arrested in Ukraine as a Russian spy.

Sky News is giving the matter prominence – but the nation’s state broadcaster, so far, appears conspicuously silent about it.

Steven Walker, Skwawky himself, tweeted on this rubbish.

As in here:

BBC 21st of December.

Ukraine accuses government interpreter of spying for Russia

Ukraine’s main security agency has arrested a senior government translator and accused him of being a Russian spy.

Stanislav Yezhov, who accompanied the country’s prime minister on numerous trips, was detained in Kiev on Wednesday.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said Mr Yezhov had gathered information about government activities.

In July, he was part of a delegation that visited UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street.

Bob Pitt recently wrote another attack on the fake-news site that claims to be on the left,

Corbyn and the peace prize: Skwawkbox embarrasses the Left again

In this article comrade Pitt suggests that “Steve Walker has clearly lost all sense of proportion.”

The way Skwawky is going now we would say he has lost his marbles.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 22, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Labour Against the Witch Hunt: Downing Versus Greenstein Battle joined by “Pro-Imperialist” Fourth International.

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Downing: Responds to Witch-Hunting in Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. 

While Tony Greenstein eats his weight in mince pies, and sets up a cash appeal that the wits of the Web have dubbed, “the Greenstein Pie Fund”, Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight have not been idling away their days scarfing down seasonal goodies.

Nor has out tip-top team of international investigative reporters on the trail of the latest developments in Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW).

A 700 pages defence of Socialist Fight’s democratic rights hit the Net a couple of days ago,

Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism

Socialist Fight statement on renewed witchhunting in ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’.

Workers’ democracy is under attack in the infant Labour Party campaign group ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’. Despite a clear rejection by a properly constituted meeting of LAW on 2 Dec, of the executive’s attempt to exclude by dictat supporters of Socialist Fight, some members of the executive are defying that decision and have launched a campaign to overturn it. A flimsy motivation for this has been penned by Tony Greenstein, with the backing of the guru of the CPGB, Jack Conrad, whose organisation printed Greenstein’s article in their paper on December 14th.

On the 19th of December the Labour Movement was roused by the latest revelations from Socialist Fight.

Defend Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan

Comrades and friends,

Please see if you can make this. We would appreciate some help and votes on 6 January.

Gerry

The LAW meeting is at 12 noon on 6 January in the Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR.

Defend Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan against the Tony Greenstein/Weekly Worker Witchhunt in Labour Against the Witchhunt on 6 January

Dear Comrades,

 On 9 March 2016 Gerry Downing, a leading member of Socialist Fight, was expelled from the Labour party without a hearing or a right to appeal on the instigation of right wing Tory blogger, Guido Fawkes, which prompted David Cameron to ask a question in the House of Commons on his anti-imperialist positions on the Twin Towers and ISIS.

He was auto-excluded within two hours. On 2 April John Lansman followed up the witchhunt by getting a unanimous vote to expel him from the Labour Representation Committee for anti-Semitism. This had to be withdrawn because their Barrister would not say who presented the charge, what the actual charge was and refused to define anti-Semitism.
The Left Unity Disputes Committee rejected earlier charges of anti-Semitism against Ian Donovan laid by the Weekly Worker’s Communist Platform on 14 September 2014.

Finally, a broad campaign, Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), was launched on 21 October 2017 because professor Moshé Machover was auto-excluded, and, as the Labour Party Marxists reported he was only “one of a long line of socialists, Corbyn supporters and defenders of Palestinian rights expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-Semitism”. Socialist Fight participated in that launch in the persons of Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan and contributed to the discussion and to the collection, expecting to assist in its work.

 The sorry tale continues,

However soon after that launch one Lee Rock began a vitriolic witch hunt against us, claiming we were anti-Semitic and should be expelled from LAW. The three remaining LAW Steering Committee members, Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable and Jackie Walker (Peter Firmin had resigned), duly obliged by auto-excluding us without a hearing or right to appeal, the very practice the group was set up to overturn in the Labour party. We were instructed not to attend to next LAW meeting as we were no longer members and we were blocked from the LAW Facebook page.

However, we did turn up early for the meeting on 2nd December with 3 supporters and, as Tony Greenstein reported the meeting was “effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight” i.e. our band of 5 managed to persuade the meeting, some 24 at its height, to refuse to accept the undemocratic, not to say autocratic, decisions of the triumvirate. We were accepted back in and reinstated in the Facebook page by Tony Greenstein.

 

For those who retain the will to live after reading that there is this:

 

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the matter. On 14 December Tony Greenstein resumed the witch hunt in an article in the Weekly Worker, Anti-Semites not welcome, Tony Greenstein explains why Socialist Fight must be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt. In it he pledged to try again to expel Socialist Fight from the next LAW meeting. This is his stance:

“There is no future for Labour Against the Witchhunt if Socialist Fight and its members remain an integral part of the organisation. For that reason I believe that it is essential that the next meeting, on January 6 should overturn the previous decision. If my views do not prevail, then I will resign from the organisation – as I believe will Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth of Grassroots Black Left.”
 
This is an appalling political stance, a refusal to accept labour movement democracy unless his views prevail, and demanding others walk out with him. Neither Gerry Downing nor Ian Donovan not any member or supporter of Socialist Fight, past or present, are in any way anti-Semitic. We are members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and are well-known defenders of Palestinian rights and opponents of the state of Israel. No one can point to a single act or political stance that is in any way racist or anti-Semitic except in the minds of those who want to appease the Labour party bureaucracy of Ian McNichol by proving they are neither revolutionary socialists and agree with him that Trotskyists should not be afforded any democratic rights whatsoever, a throwback to the Great Purges in the USSR in the 1930s and 1940s.

 Finally….

 

We appeal to you comrades to:

1.     Attend the meeting on 6 January, come a half an hour early, and speak and vote in our defence. It is an open meeting.
2.     Append you name to this statement by email or on our website, see below:
I defend the right of Socialist Fight Comrades to attend ad participate in the Labour Against the Witchhunt and reject the slurs of anti-Semitism directed against Socialist Fight and its two leading comrades, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

What promises to be the must-be-at event of 2018 will be even spicier than one of Greensteins’ many pastries after the latest spat.

We expect to see some interesting scenes at the entrance to the Calthorpe Arms.

Will LAW exclude Socialist Fight and its allies from attending?

Massed petitions, Greenstein throwing stale mince pies, and lots of wobblies, are not ruled out.

It is called Socialist Fight after all.

To add to fuel to the fire another controversy has just broken out.

The Fourth International in Manchester Group published today an unkind piece of cde Downing which included the following,

Downing, not to be confused with Gerry Healy (though that little Gerry was once the big man for our future star), has written reams about the break-up of the WRP, and he will surely beat Donovan for the role, but this time in a rather more downbeat version of the film, ‘Bus Driver’ perhaps. Socialist Fight, which proclaims itself to be the British Section of the ‘Liaison Committee for the Fourth International’ (with three other appendages), is the latest incarnation of Downing after his Workers International League and its paper ‘Workers Action’ hit the buffers. Donovan, meanwhile, has form in many different roles, having been through more far-left groups than you have had hot dinners, and he’ll get a bit part. Just as he does now in Downing’s Socialist Fight, which has given Donovan a home following his well-deserved expulsion from the CPGB-PCC. The film-score, by the way, will be by jazz saxophonist and antisemite Gilad Atzmon.

Phew!

And,

In the tiny narcissistic and paranoiac world of Socialist Fight, there is a ‘Jewish Bourgeoisie’ that has intimate direct ties to the State of Israel, and it is this conspiratorial vision of the world that supposedly explains why the Jews who are, we are told, ‘over-represented’ in the ruling class must be called out. Full-blown ‘anti-Zionism’ must, according to Downing and Donovan, name this Jewish bourgeoisie as an influence to be rooted out, and so (as many hard-line Zionists would predict and wish) anti-Zionism shades into antisemitism. This is no longer socialism as such. No wonder these two are admired by Gilad Atzmon who has made a disgusting speciality of celebrating self-hatred – a Jew who hates, he says, every bit of him that reminds him that he is Jewish – and no wonder that they return the favour.

the Manchester Fourth Internationalists compare Downing to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, who “doesn’t really have a plan or know where he is going”.

Ideological debate on this is intense. Many other comrades think a character out of The League of Gentlemen is more appropriate, somebody who brings a certain joy to the lives of local people.

Image result for league of gentlemen

 

Naturally this roused the ire of cde Downing.

The Fourth International in Manchester attack Socialist Fight. From the group that is now so pro imperialist left that it gave full support to the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya on behalf of NATO via the renegade Trotskyist Gilbert Atchcar (sic) and Syria via the imperialist backed jihadists and the fascist-led Maiden coup in Ukraine.”

And now this shower of Trotskyist renegade attacks the principled anti imperialism of Socialist Fight, whose record of support for every anti imperialist struggle, beginning in Ireland and ranging from Libya to Syria to Ukraine, South Africa and North Korea and Cuba and Zimbabwe. Unconditional but critical support via the Anti Imperialis United Front as opposed to all that grovelling before the masters of life for the FIIMG.

Socialist Fight.

All is not lost.

We learn that the Downingites have also recruited a valuable ally against Greensteinism and all of its works, and no doubt the Fourth International, “My group the International Bolshevik Tendency has disagreements with Socialist Fight but Downing is quite good at sticking to issues and steering clear from ad hominem, slander and what have you. The same can’t be said for some on the left.”

 

 

The British Communist Party and the Soviet Union. An Introduction.

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https://hatfulofhistory.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/img_0374.jpg?w=350&h=467

“Stalin, whose great work tends to undervalued today, was a great creative statesman, however much he may have blundered in his later years. It is doubtful whether any less determined leadership would have laid the foundations of socialism.”

John Lewis. Socialism and the Individual. Lawrence and Wishart. 1961.

“The achievements of socialism, once a distant dream, are now a reality for all to see, in many countries of the world.”

The British Road To Socialism. Communist Party Programme. 1968.

Nick Cohen recently wrote of “Corbyn surrounding himself with aides from the Communist Party of Britain and the fragments of the Socialist Workers Party. (9.12.17. Observer). We can largely dismiss the histrionic overtones of the columnist’s polemic. But what is he talking about? Many on the left are familiar with the SWP, or at least its placards. Even the Taafites, who have taken to imitating the hand-held-poster-road-to-socialism have a degree of public recognition, as “formerly the Militant.”

Yet apart from an awareness that the organisation exists, about 1,000 strong, and that it dominates the small circulation but widely read in the labour movement, Morning Star, the views of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) are not widely known even on the left.

The fate of the unpublished letters to the Guardian by one of the CPB’s leading representatives, Nick Wright, further indicates a lack of interest in the left of centre MSM (Last month’s unpublished letters to the Guardian).

This short introduction hopes to remedy the gap.

To begin any discussion of the Party (usually capitalised in their documents) one has to start with….Communism. As Evan Smith has underlined, “The Communist Party of Britain was, and remains, probably the most significant party that was sympathetic to the Soviet Union and Soviet-styled Marxism-Leninism.” (1)

John Lewis and the 1960s editions of the British Road to Socialism indicate that strong support for the Soviet Union was long dominant in the party the CPB came out of, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). This continued right up till the 1970s, with party members (I am citing personal experience) reading Soviet Weekly and Sputnik. This is not the place to describe the clashes which ended in the dissolution of the Party in 1991 and the processes that led to the CPB foundation in 1988. The strand we concentrate is their position, post refoundation, on the USSR.

In a section of the present edition of the (CPB) British Road to Socialism – devoted to the reasons for the end of the Soviet Union – it is asserted that,

Russia and the other countries of the Soviet Union were transformed from semi-feudal, semi-capitalist monarchist dictatorships into modern societies with near-full employment, universally free education and healthcare, affordable housing for all, extensive and cheap public transport, impressive scientific and cultural facilities, rights for women and degrees of self-government for formerly oppressed nationalities. This was achieved through a world historic break with capitalist ownership and social relations, on the basis of social ownership of industry and centralised economic planning.This was achieved through a world historic break with capitalist ownership and social relations, on the basis of social ownership of industry and centralised economic planning. (2)

The CPB’s account of how they came to consider flaws in this praiseworthy society, (from “full employment” “social ownership”, to “degrees of self-government for formerly oppressed nationalities”) is set out in The Communist Party 1920–2010 (Robert Griffiths, the present Party General Secretary, and Ben Stevenson). It is as follows,

“the downfall of the Soviet Union and the socialist states of Eastern Europe compelled Britain’s Communists – and serious Marxists everywhere – to analyse the reasons for counter-revolution.”

“The reconvened 41st Congress of the CP in November 1992 made its assessment; ‘The root cause if the collapse lay in the particular forms of economic and political structure which developed in the Soviet Union. Specifically, the great mass of working people came to be progressively excluded from any direct control over their economic and social destiny. This erosion of the very essence of socialism increasingly affected all aspects of Soviet society’.” (3)

The build up to this statement is outlined in the Hateful of History article already cited. The Morning Star had begun to lay out this view during the collapse of the Soviet Union. They flagged up the,

….authoritarian straitjacket’ that was ‘suffocating’ the Soviet Union was a theme returned to repeatedly in the Morning Star’s reporting on the final days of the Soviet Bloc. While the paper and the CPB commended the Soviet Union for transforming Russia ‘from its state of backwardness in 1917’ into ‘a highly industrialised state with enormous potential’ and defeated the Nazis in the Second World War, it criticised the ‘inertia of the bureaucratic-command system that it created’ and argued that during the Cold War, this centralised command economy ‘ultimately stultified social development and limited the democratic participation of the people.’ (4)

Stalin.

What did they have to say about Stalin’s rule? The Communist Party 1920 – 2010 states, that for its admirers, it had its good side, “For much of the 1930s, the Soviet Union had appeared a bastion of peace and stability amid a world of mass unemployment, fascist aggression and colonial exploitation, Communists everywhere helped publicise its enormous economic, scientific and cultural achievements.” (5)

On the Terror and the Gulag they wrote principally about the Moscow Trials, “When respected lawyers, politicians and diplomats attended the Moscow Show trials and confirmed that the defendants had indeed confessed to being members of a ‘Trotsky-fascist;’ campaign of espionage and subversion, Britain’s Communists were not alone in believing that such plots had indeed existed.” (6)

It was only after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had taken place, and Khrushchev revealed the extent of the horrors, many Communists around the world were shocked to learnt that violations of socialist democracy and human rights had taken place on such a scale.”(7) Despite this, and the armed Soviet intervention in Hungary to “protect the socialist state”, “For many Party members, the class struggle at home provided reason enough to stay” (Ibid).

The section following the favourable account of the Soviet Union’s achievements, in the British Road to Socialism (reprised and modified by the CPB) ,  makes this side of their analysis of the Soviet Union clear “‘a bureaucratic-command system of economic and political rule became entrenched. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the trade unions became integrated into the apparatus of the state, eroding working class and popular democracy. Marxism-Leninism was used dogmatically to justify the status quo rather than make objective assessments of it.At times, and in the late 1930s in particular, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred. Large numbers of people innocent of subversion or sabotage were persecuted, imprisoned and executed. This aided the world-wide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international communist movement and the concept of socialism. (8)

Most readers will have seen that the statement avoids saying why the predecessors of the CPB, the CPGB, and its fellow travellers, avoided a global critique of the USSR, from the pre-war period up to the 1980s. The reason is perhaps too obvious to state: they supported the Soviet system. That was the reason why the Communist Party existed. While the CPGB (at least after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968) allowed partial criticisms of Moscow policy, the current that became the CPB was founded on the idea that it was part of a ‘world historic break’ with capitalism. When it comes down to it, it claim that, however much it may have lacked “popular democracy”, the actually existing form of the “concept” of ‘Socialism’ had to be defended against “lies and distortions”.

Marxism-Leninists’ own History.

The ‘science’ of Marxism-Leninism is a poor guide to the thinking of the CPB. A sceptic would remark that the history Griffiths and Stevenson present, is a projection backwards into the minds of those who in the 1930s gloried in the Socialist Sixth of the World and would not recognise that they had been wrong. But to conjure up, today, the hopes raise by the defeat of Nazi Germany with the USSR’s decisive contribution, and the spread of the ‘socialist’ social system in Eastern Europe and the victory of the People’s Liberation Army in China is not a help to understanding the history of the Soviet Union. This is an account by those willing to put blinkers over their eyes faced with the evidence of Soviet repression that came out in the post war years trying to retrospectively justify their forebears.

There are reasons not to off hand dismiss the account.  If we take this imaginative step further we can see that our resurrected Communist activist of the past would have had other reasons for not listening to those opposed to Stalinism. As Paul Flewers has pointed out, during the 1930s, that to admit faults in the homeland of socialism would have been to agree with the Right, even the far-right which they could see only too well in Nazi Germany and Italy. In Britain, he writes, it was largely from the “many “traditional anti-Communists” who pointed to the mass murder and “extreme authoritarian rule” in the USSR. While there were reservations about Stalin by social democratic and Labour figures there were only isolated critics from the left. Indeed, “the idea that the “Soviet regime under Stalin was essentially a conservative counter-revolutionary force – was seldom is ever publicly broached in the political mainstream, and only occasionally elsewhere.”(9)

After the Second World War this tendency was reinforced. Even with evidence and acknowledgement of mass repression there were earnest debates amongst French intellectuals like Merleau- Ponty (Humanisme et terreur. 1947) and in the following decade around Jean Paul Sartre’s  Les communistes et la paix (1952)  over whether Stalinist terror was justified in the name of building a communist future. Flewers points out that the Communist defence of the Soviet Union continued during the Cold War, when polarisation of opinion meant that many on the left continued to feel that they had to “take sides”. It was in this context that John Lewis offered a defence of the “justified” use of “compulsion by a “constitutionally elected Socialist government” and qualified but “globally positive” picture of Stalin in laying the ‘foundations’ of socialism. (10)

It was not just on the Communist Party that people believed that some kind of ‘jump’ into a different social system, socialism, had taken place in the years following the October Revolution. The existence of the USSR, followed by China and other ‘socialist states’ was considered part of the progressive development of history. This held even for those who considered that the Soviet regime was “deformed” or “degenerated”. This thinking continues to inform many in the orthodox Trotskyist movement, which has had almost as may difficulties coming to terms with the collapse of Official Communism as its Stalinist opponents.

The Linear History that the USSR Failed to Follow.

One interpretation of Marxism, which goes back to Engels, is that modes of production exist in a “linear” schema”. In this view the USSR was a society in “transition” through forms of collective ownership, and a socialist transformation of social relations, towards a new mode of production, communism. This was accepted even by many of those who criticised the way this change was enforced by a party bureaucracy. By the revolutionary advance to power by a proletarian party, the Bolsheviks began the transformation of the relations of production and distribution by the exercise of workers’ power.

From a variety of standpoints a “detour” back towards capitalism could only happen by a “counter-revolution”, that is in terms not far off the CPB’s broad analysis. Marcel Van der Linden’s Western Marxists and the Soviet Union (2007) describes this as the “unilinear” approach: once you began this “world historic break”, a new social trajectory (social ownership of the means of production you were embarked on a voyage. How it fared was up to those in control of the helm. But the trip had started.

Outside of this consensus a miniature galaxy of critical left wing theories on the nature of the Soviet Union which was built, including those who challenged the premise of this assertion, that Lenin’s Bolsheviks ever embodied the interests or the views or the working class.

However, as der Linden describes, the unilinear approach faded away for other reasons. Gradually the ‘sequence”, or proceeding along a line, picture of the USSR as undergoing a ‘stage’ in world history, not least “towards” anything at all, had been eroded. And study after study shed light on the social and economic reality of the state and its satellites were written, as literary and historical studies of the Gulag appeared, the magic of a new world had evaporated. The determination in the last instance was economic, “Increasingly dominant in all currents of thought became the idea that the Soviet Union had embodied a model of economic growth which, although it had initially been successful using extensive methods of industrialisation and extra-economic coercion, could not maintain its economic and military position in the competition with ‘globalising’ world capitalism, because of growing inefficiencies and the absence of a transition to intensive growth.” (11) Eric Hobsbawm expressed a similar thought more directly, “The tragedy of the October revolution was that it could only produce its kind of ruthless, brutal, command socialism. (12)

Labour Totalitarians?

One can criticise the CPB for its failure to come to terms with more than the surface difficulties which were, by the time the Soviet Union collapse, no secret. One can attack their inability to see that there was more at stake than “errors” and authoritarian rule that is commands on the basis of the science of Marxism-Leninism or arbitrary legal producers. It is right to deny them the comfort of believing that they were serving the cause of the future, a location in which communism is to come. But one thing they cannot be accused of it is complete blindness.

Andrew Murray, until recently a member of the CPB, and now, it is said, a key Labour actor, is one of those, one can assume targeted by Cohen. But is he culpable of endorsing the Soviet Union’s totalitarian terror? This is not the case. Murray written of the Stalinist period, “The killing of former oppositionists is now known to have been a small part of a very much larger and more horrifying operation.” And, “Stalin was both greater and more terrible than Trotsky knew. He is long since indicted with vast crimes” (13).

The difficulty is, and remains there, is that Murray, reflecting a view expressed many times elsewhere, also observes, “The USSR won the war and Stalin emerged stronger than ever, with socialism spreading to half of Europe and much of Asia, perhaps the most significant of the many circumstances which left Trotskyism without Trotsky stillborn as a major political movement.” (Ibid) It is not Trotskyism to comment that until the CPB and those still wrapped in its way of thinking that calls such states ‘socialist’. You can indeed can them anything you like, you can invent, he suggests a “new political vocabulary”. But but very few are going to want to admire, still less emulate, these ‘socialist’ regimes or their legacy, today. (14)

********

(1) The Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star and the legacy of the Soviet Union. Dr Evan Smith.  Hatful of History.
(2) Britain’s Road to Socialism. 8th Edition. 2011.
(3) Page 41.The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Robert Griffiths and Ben Stevenson. Communist Party History Group. 2010.
(4) The Communist Party of Britain, the Morning Star and the legacy of the Soviet Union.
(5) Page 15. The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Op Cit.
(6) Page 16. The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Op cit.
(7) Page 26.The Communist Party 1920- – 2010. Op cit.
(8) Britain’s Road to Socialism. 8th Edition. 2011.
(9) Page 221 The New Civilisation? Understanding Stalin’s Soviet Union 1929 – 1941. Paul Flewers. Francis Boule. 2008. To illustrate this point further a key text from an early Menshevik critic of Lenin, Fedor Il’ich Dan’s Two years of Wandering, (1922) has only recently appeared in English (translated by Francis King. 2016). Some other important works, such as the first hand account of the rise of the Stalinist system, published in French by the dissident leftist circle round Boris Souvarine, notably Vers l”autre flamme après seize mois dans l”U.R.S.S., Panaït Istrati.(1929) remain largely unknown in the English speaking world
(10) Page 79. Socialism and the Individual. Lawrence and Wishart. 1961.
(11) Page 303. Marcel Van der Linden. Western Marxism and the Soviet Union. Brill. 2007.
(12) Page 498. Eric Hobsbawm. Age of Extremes. The Short Twentieth Century 1914 – 1991. Abacus 1994.
(13) Trotsky on Stalin. Andrew Murray. October 2016.

(14) For some of the many reasons, the tragic wrecked lives in the former Soviet Union given voice in Second-hand time : the last of the Soviets. Aleksievich, Svetlana. (Translated by Shayevich, Bela). Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2016.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Morning Star Joins “Counter Narrative” – “White Helmets” linked to Terrorist Factions.

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Image result for white helmets

“Leadership of the White Helmets is some of the most hardline terrorist groups in Syria” says Morning Star.

There has been a lot of very distasteful material circulated about the White Helmets in Syria.

This began to be widely noticed last year.

Amongst others former leftist Tariq Ali joined in the smears against the humanitarian organisation just after the murder of comrade Jo Cox,

Yesterday the Guardian published a robust defence of the White Helmets.

Olivia Solan reported in great detail on the continuing efforts to besmirch them.

The main charge is that they are “a fraudulent terrorist organisation”.

Before reading some of the article we should recall that the “Daily paper of the Left”, the Morning Star,  recently published this:

Is BBC Panorama just a useful propaganda tool?  Alison Banville. Morning Star, 14th December 2017.

Two days before the episode was aired, independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley published a deep expose of the entire affair based on her own on-the-ground, investigations inside Syria.

“During my time in East Aleppo in 2016/17 with Syrian journalist Khaled Iskef, we translated documents (in Arabic) found by Iskef that referred to two British organisations, Adam Smith International (ASI) and Integrity Global in connection with the funding of Syrian ‘opposition’ structures in East Aleppo,” she recalls.

The next thing Beeley says is crucial to understanding what this story is really about. “These documents were found among the debris of the various Nusra Front (al-Qaida in Syria) centres, East Aleppo Council buildings and White Helmet centres. It is noteworthy that these three entities operating in what was terrorist-occupied East Aleppo until December 2016, always worked alongside one another, either sharing facilities and buildings or next door to one another in the various districts of East Aleppo where they centred their activities.”

Now, let me first point out that you may not be used to the phrase “terrorist-occupied East Aleppo” if your only sources of news are western corporate ones which routinely and reflexively describe the exact same place at that time as “rebel-held East Aleppo” in line with the official government narrative..

But if, like myself and my travelling companion, fellow independent journalist Mike Raddie, you had walked the streets of East Aleppo in April this year and listened to the people there who came out to meet us, you would have heard them talk not of “rebels,” but only of “terrorists.”

Because that’s what you call people who terrorise you. And when a man stands in front of you and tells you that these occupiers killed his six children, you simply do not have the right to call them anything else. If you’re in any doubt about the correct nomenclature here then more first-hand testimony from East Aleppo residents gathered by Beeley can be found at 21stcenturywire.com, and you might ask yourself as you read why it wasn’t brought to you by Channel 4 News, ITV News or the BBC?

……

This brings us to my second point regarding Beeley’s quote. “Nusra Front (al-Qaida in Syria) centres, East Aleppo Council buildings, and White Helmet centres,” where the documents confirming the Adam Smith Institute’s involvement were found, represent entities which “always worked alongside one another.”

Oh dear. This would be difficult to explain to the public wouldn’t it?

The White Helmets are eulogised by the entire western establishment and its duteous media. How could Panorama have accommodated the affiliation of these civil defence “heroes” with Nusra Front terrorists without undermining the entire edifice of propaganda propping up the White Helmets’ mythology? And without exposing them as what John Pilger has described as “a complete propaganda construct in Syria”?

Again, Beeley has done the on-the-ground work that so-called journalists in the “mainstream” media should have done and compiled “categorical” evidence that “the leadership of the White Helmets is some of the most hardline terrorist groups in Syria,” all the while being funded to the tune of £200 million by the British government.

White Helmets have been filmed standing on the dead bodies of Syrian Arab Army soldiers, celebrating executions, staging fake rescues and sawing the head off a 12-year-old child.

White Helmet members have been photographed in their “civil defence” uniforms and then the same individuals pictured holding guns as they pose with their terrorist factions.

The White Helmets are not recognised by the Switzerland-based International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) but the REAL Syrian civil defence is.

Oh yes, they do exist and, unlike the White Helmets, this genuine group works in all areas, saving civilians without discrimination, not just in the areas controlled by terrorist groups. They even have an emergency phone number that citizens can call for aid. it’s 113, in case you were wondering.

Panorama could have made their programme about this and included the evidence that the Free Syrian Police — that’s the Orwellian use of “free” by the way — and the local councils being funded by the British taxpayer through the secretive and unaccountable Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and doled out by the Adam Smith Institute and Integrity Global are, along with the White Helmets, working alongside Nusra Front.

That is the real story, but they didn’t tell it.

No corporate media outlet is going to expose this huge propaganda exercise that is designed to destabilise Syria rather than, as the Foreign Office’s claims, “make communities in Syria safer by providing basic civilian policing services.”

This is not the first time they have used this ‘source’ as Paul tweeted earlier this year.

Yesterday the Guardian published this:

How Syria’s White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine

The Russia-backed campaign to link the volunteer rescuers with al-Qaida exposes how conspiracy theories take root: ‘It’s like a factory’

by

The Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organisation.

The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).

The White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defence, is a humanitarian organisation made up of 3,400 volunteers – former teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters – who rush to pull people from the rubble when bombs rain down on Syrian civilians. They’ve been credited with saving thousands of civilians during the country’s continuing civil war.

They have also exposed, through first-hand video footage, war crimes including a chemical attack in April. Their work was the subject of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary and the recipient of two Nobel peace prize nominations.

In spite of this positive international recognition, there’s a counter-narrative pushed by a vocal network of individuals who write for alternative news sites countering the “MSM agenda”. Their views align with the positions of Syria and Russia and attract an enormous online audience, amplified by high-profile alt-right personalities, appearances on Russian state TV and an army of Twitter bots.

The full article is long and can be read through the above link.

But one point should be underlined.

The source the Morning Star relies on, Vanessa Beely, and her 21stcenturywire.com, stink to high heaven.

Some of the most vocal skeptics of the UN’s investigation include the blogger Vanessa Beeley, the daughter of a former British diplomat who visited Syria for the first time in July 2016; a University of Sydney senior lecturer, Timothy Anderson, who described the April chemical attack as a “hoax”; and Eva Bartlett, a Canadian writer and activist who said the White Helmets staged rescues using recycled victims – a claim that’s been debunked by Snopes and Channel 4 News.

It continues,

Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also an editor at Infowars.com.

In 2016, Beeley had a two-hour meeting with Assad in Damascus as part of a US Peace Council delegation, which she described on Facebook as her “proudest moment”. She also was invited to Moscow to report on the “dirty war in Syria”; there, she met with senior Russian officials including the deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov and Maria Zakharova, director of information and press at Russia’s foreign affairs ministry.

RT duly responded,

Question less: The Guardian whitewashes all criticism of Syria’s foreign-funded White Helmets

The Guardian has cast aside self-awareness, seized the moral high ground (its self-proclaimed permanent base), and jumped to the defense of Syria’s ‘White Helmets,’ painting the group as victims of an “online propaganda machine.”

Journalist Olivia Solon, in an article headlined ‘White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine,’ is keen to make sure that any questions about the motives of the group are dismissed as a ‘counter-narrative.’ That’s what others might call the ‘other side of the story.’ In full effect is the journalistic trope of our times… RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE!

The White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defense, is a humanitarian organization made up of 3,400 volunteers – former teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters – who rush to pull people from the rubble when bombs rain down on Syrian civilians. They’ve been credited with saving thousands of civilians during the country’s continuing civil war.”

Even someone who eats lentils for every meal would have to admit that the passage above lacks a certain journalistic cynicism. Whether you like it or not, there are very definite questions hanging over the White Helmets – some of them are raised by Solon, but only in a mumbly, out-of-the-corner-of-the-mouth, staring-at-the-floor kind of way, before being roundly dismissed.

How can they be bad? the White Helmets starred in a movie that won an Oscar for heaven’s sake. (Of course it’s not relevant, but so did Kevin Spacey).

These guys wear white helmets and surely only good guys wear white! They’ve reportedly fallen victim to the worst villain there is, Darth Vad… erm… Russian Social Media!!

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars,” Solon writes.

Indeed! Just as this article is itself a case study in lacking self-awareness, strategically balancing non-sequiturs and omissions and displaying a complete unwillingness to engage with the complexity of life, geopolitics and Syria.

The UAE based National describes those joining with the above,  “Alongside these channels there have been online attacks by a loose coalition of vocal activists and trolls, including anti-Western bloggers and far-right conspiracy theorists railing against the MSM [mainstream media], as well as evidence of Twitter bots furthering the reach of the smears.”

And the Morning Star.

I will conclude with one of the latest Tweets from the, no doubt also lentil-eating,  ‘terrorists” themselves.

The Morning Star and the Left. “Why I will no longer write for the Morning Sta. Rabbil Sikdar.”

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The Morning Star Newspaper by Party9999999

Paper of a Faction of the left?

Some people on the left, more than a few at any rate, read the Morning Star.

It has good labour movement, that is trade union, reports. There are useful articles about social issues, like Universal Credit. There is proper reporting on the goings on of  those privateers trying to milk profit from second rate public services and those demanding rent for providing utilities.

The daily is accessible, and has a human side, even if not everybody would wish to follow the recipes of hard-line vegetarian Commie Chef (typical: take 200 grams of brown organic rice. Boil. Serve with grated turnip).

Following Andrew Murray’s use of the paper to launch a factional bid to readmit George Galloway to the Labour Party questions are being asked about the paper’s  ‘broad’ remit.

The Star is clear about where it is coming from – if your read the fine print,

Since 1945 the paper has been owned by a broad-based readers’ co-operative, the People’s Press Printing Society (PPPS). The paper’s editorial line remains anchored in the political programme of the Communist Party of Britain but it offers a broad left perspective on political, industrial and international issues.”

More ambitiously it describes itself as the People’s Daily and, often, as the paper of The Left.

To critics the daily is in fact the paper of a small section of the left, the pro-Brexit, pro-Assad Left with more than a few bees in its bonnet about Israel and a tolerant (though not uncritical) attitude towards Russia’s President Putin.

Rabbil Sikdar launched a relevant attack on this left a few months ago in the Huffington Post.

The Left Are Losing Their Internationalism

It’s the left that backs Brexit and the left that can witness a massacre take place and deny its existence if the west wasn’t responsible for it. It’s the left who will criticise the USA and Saudi Arabia but ignore Russia and Iran. To them, it’s futile to criticise others and more useful instead to focus on one’s own government and allies. Theresa May and the Tories are rightly criticised for indulging Saudi Arabia despite their treatment of women yet Jeremy Corbyn has never been criticised for taking money from Press TV, the state channel for Iran – a country that violently represses gays and women. When it comes to ethical consistency in foreign policy and relations, the left are dangerously wayward. Oz Katerji, a journalist, explained this to me as “hypocrisy based on outdated ideological assumptions about the world where discussing our international responsibility to protect civilians from harm, a fundamental precept of international law, is gas-lighted as British imperialism.”

He concldued,

Genocide happens and parts of the left simply erase it on a consistent basis. I dialled down my criticisms of Corbyn after 8th June but it’s immoral to remain silent over something as important as this. The Labour Party is becoming a political home for awful genocide apologists and it runs right through to the leader himself.

It is far from the case that the Labour Party, and the Corbyn leadership can be so brutally accused.

What might be true is that the Labour leader, like everybody else, has no easy answer to the problems of violence across the world.

It is equally the case that this left is not the left.

There are many, from radical left groups to left-wing defenders of human rights who would not recognise themselves in Sikdar’s broadside.

But there is a section of the left, which has a stand about a key area that matters a great deal at present – Syria – which is at odds with basic human rights politics.

Sikdar focused last year on Syria in an  attack the embodiment of this left, the Morning Star.

His views had all the more force in that it is a paper he had written for.

Why I will no longer write for the Morning Star Rabbil Sikdar

I wear my socialism on my sleeves and will never shy away from that. Every Political Compass test has me basically nailed down as a ‘hard left’ person. The things I believe in, radical to some, sensible to others define my sense of socialism: fair wages, fair taxes, strong public sector, social housing and a compassionate welfare system.

He announced,

 I no longer write for the Star and for a while had been winding down my contribution. By the end it was just sport content because of my respect for the sports editor. For the other part, I have a lot of things to be angry about with the Star.

For a newspaper that subscribes to left wing values, that should include free speech and right to criticise politicians. Unfortunately this never extended to criticism of Corbyn’s failing leadership, or Diane Abbott; it didn’t include the ‘Lexit’ vote — and where it mattered most crucially, it did not include Russia and Assad.

The paper has never criticised the Assad regime or Putin. Lines that go along with “we’re no fans of the Assad regime but…” are poor condemnations. In fact, they’re not condemnations at all. Someone recently described it quite well as imagining defenders of the British Empire dismissing the Amritsar Massacre. Likewise, saying “we condemn all bombings” gravely misunderstands who is doing the bombing and draws a false equivalence between aggressive actors and those responding to the violence. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported in 2015 that the Assad regime was responsible for more than 10,000 deaths. ISIS, for all their barbarism, had killed just over a thousand. Since then, those statistics have continued in underlining the basic fact that Assad — backed up by Russia — has been responsible for the brutal carnage.

And this,

One of their long-time contributors John Wight, a staunch unwavering supporter of Assad and Russia, called me a “liberal apologist for murder” (paraphrasing here) in a heated Facebook row. It led to one of the editors apologising to me, but it was then I began noticing something.

Wight is known to this Blog as a former author at Socialist Unity, until he fell out with Andy Newman.

Always a bit of an amateur military strategist Wight now produces material for Putin’s Sputnik.

It is a relief to find him anti-Brexit, but as for the rest, well,

The launch of the military operation to liberate Idlib province in northwestern Syria brings with it the prospect of a final military victory over Salafi-jihadi terror groups in the country, which congregated there upon the liberation of Aleppo back in January.

Together with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial withdrawal of Russian troops and personnel from the country, it is evidence that the conflict has entered its last stage.

Sputnik.

That aside, the chief, and most significant complaint, is what Sikdar “began noticing” – the following,

Whenever I wrote articles that were critical of Assad and Putin, they were never published. I never even got responses on them. Other times articles had lines critical of Assad tweaked, removed entirely often. I wrote a football article about the Middle East, talking about Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and also Syria. The point about Syria was enough to get the entire article pulled. What was the point? “In Syria, the Civil War saw the football destroyed. Players and coaches took sides, willingly or reluctantly, Assad or the pro-democracy rebels. There were more who were neutral. Others left the country, compelled by intimidation or fear for safety. Some players such as Musab Balhous were imprisoned for supposedly helping rebels. More left because they came to regard the Syrian national team as associated with Assad…Incidentally, though the league system has been resuscitated, the power has shifted, tilting towards clubs in Damascus who are free from Assad’s ruthless bombing. Since the league was restarted, the last two titles have gone to Al-Shorta and Al-Jaish, clubs from the capital. Those from rebel-based cities have suffered immensely.” Again, this paper failed to acknowledge even the slightest of criticisms of Assad. Why?

Sikhar concludes,

My anti-imperialism is consistent and just as with my socialism, it’s not something I’ll ever apologise for. It applies to America and Russia. Saudi Arabia and Iran. Assad’s Syria and Netanyahu’s Israel. It doesn’t excuse and apologise for a genocidal fascist simply because USA are on the opposite side and because he’s a secularist. We measure the barbarism and cruelty of ISIS by the thousands they have killed. Well, Assad has killed hundreds of thousands. But the Star would have us believe this man is a “liberator”. And they would silence internal criticisms within the paper.

Perhaps they will answer.

For us we would also ask: is the Morning Star the paper of the Left or a faction of the left?

If it has tried to open its pages to a wider range of writers is it, on Syria (and we can be sure, on Brexit) it has, on this evidence, begun to narrow their selection down.

A much more recent example was their indulgence of Andrew Murray and his cracked call for George Galloway to be admitted into the Labour Party.

No doubt they do not fit with the “political programme of the CPB” “people’s sovereignty” and all  the stale remains of the British Road to Socialism…..

Written by Andrew Coates

December 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm

Labour Against the Witch Hunt Rocked by New Anti-Semitism Scandal. Exclusive: Downing Answers the “Great Lie”.

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Socialist Fight Faces Call to be Purged from Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

“It may seem incongruous to have an anti-witchhunt group itself excluding people, but we have no choice.”

So begins an article in the august pages of the Weekly Worker.

In a lengthy text the leader of the Tony Greenstein Party continues,

It is a fact that the Labour Party’s witchhunt primarily takes the form of the weaponisation of anti-Semitism – the smearing of people as anti-Semitic for no other reason than their support for the Palestinians and opposition to Zionism.

‘Weaponisation’ sound serious.

But apparently it is not a ‘”smear” to say the following.

It therefore flows, as night follows day, that LAW cannot include in its ranks people who advocate politics which are anti-Semitic. To include Socialist Fight or its members within LAW, given their stated policies, would be to concede that the Zionist attack on the left as anti-Semitic has some substance. It would be political suicide.

Not wrong, just politically misjudged….

The background,

On December 2 a Labour Against the Witchhunt meeting was effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight. A series of close votes was taken, the result of which meant that the previous decision of the steering committee, that Socialist Fight should no longer participate in meetings of LAW, was overturned.

Stan Keable, the secretary of LAW, had written to inform SF that it was no longer welcome at our meetings, but despite this their comrades turned up. For various reasons – not least that most people were unaware of the full extent of the anti-Semitic positions of Socialist Fight – those present voted against the steering committee position.

The official Spokesperson concludes his long screed,

Anyone who seriously believes that Socialist Fight can be part of Labour Against Witchhunt prioritises the rights of Socialist Fight above the fight against the witchhunt. If that is the case then Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and myself will all be forced to walk away from LAW. It will not be of any help to our cases to be associated with Socialist Fight, however indirectly.

One might ask who were those who supported the right of Socialist Action to participate?

Are they not also guilty of supporting anti-Semitism?

Should they be excluded?

Will Socialist Fight and its backers be physically prevented from attending future LAW meetings?

An investigative team of top international journalists found this statement on Gerry Downing’s Facebook Page.

In his attack on Socialist Fight in the current Weekly Worker Tony Greenstein calls for the witch hunt to be stepped up until we are driven out of Labour Against the Witchhunt (you couldn’t make it up) and obviously from the entire labour movement, to complete the work begun by Guido Fawkes, David Cameron, Iain McNicholl and John Lansmam because, amongst other equally ridiculous charges to refer to “the Jewish bourgeoisie” is antisemitic.

Here is the great lie, the old Trotsky fascist amalgam of the 1930s “Ubi est Nin? In Salamanca o Berlin” from the Spanish civil war (the POUM leader had defected to the fascists was the big lie – in fact the Stalinist GPU tortured him to death and still he refused to ‘confess like the defendants in the contemporaneous Moscow Trials).

Jimmy Reid’s attack on the miners’ strike and on Arthur Scargill in the Sun; the far right and militant workers’ leaders like Scargill were ideological blood brothers, he raved. And Trotsky was in the pay of Hitler and Japan to overthrow the USSR etc, the basis of the Great Purges and the Moscow Trials….

He continues in this restrained vein,

The thinking seems to be that Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan and Socialist Fight are trying to get Tony Greenstein and Jackie Jacqueline Walker and Mark Wadsworth expelled from the Labour party by their antisemitism so must be driven out of the labour movement to prove to Iain McNicholl that we are certainly no revolutionary Trotskyists and would never consider such ridiculous notions as world revolution.

More here (It is a public page).

Supporters of Downing and Donovan point to his sterling work for LAW and predict a dire future for their respected comrades.

Image result for moscow trials

Only just over a week ago and it seemed to be all going swimmingly,

Democracy prevails in ‘Labour against the Witchhunt’

To our considerable relief and greatly to the credit of those attending the meeting, the proposal to exclude Socialist Fight from the Labour Against the Witchhunt campaign, made by the three members of the executive, was rejected. In fact, two votes were held effectively on the proposed exclusion, one was closely lost and one slightly different but in effect the same was tied, therefore also falling. Our own broader motion was lost 5 votes for, 8 against and 8 abstentions.

Now another leading member of LAW also writes,

And in any case, anyone with any knowledge of me knows my antipathy to Gerry Downing in particular is long standing. I will not share a platform with Downing or Donovan because their ideas lead in the direction of anti-Semitism, as well as to ‘the socialism of fools’.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm

The Origins of Reformism: Les Hommes Révoltés. Les origins intellectuelles du réformisme en France (1871 – 1917). Emmanuel Jousse.

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Les Hommes Révoltés. Les origins intellectuelles du réformisme en France (1871 – 1917). Emmanuel Jousse. Fayard. 2017.

Reforms, reformism, and socialism, are words so familiar on the left that few pause to unpick their meaning. In the wake of the Russian Revolution the critique of ‘reformism’ in the name of that conquest of power was adopted by Western Communist Parties and more widely adopted by other sections of the radical left. In France, Jousse begins Les Hommes révoltés, the “passion révolutionnaire” of the left could be considered an overwhelming force, in opposition to “raison réformatrice”. Reasoned reforms, government acts to improve social conditions onwards, were considered second best, or worse, in comparison to the total transformation of society.

Revolutionary ardour, at its peak in the identification of the Bolsheviks and Jacobins formed the “architecture” of the 20th century French left. It may have faded; its ‘moral primacy’ tainted by Stalinism. Yet, as Marc Lazar, who introduces the present work, has remarked, the imprint of the “culture communiste” remains. (1) Some of this residual scepticism towards promised reforms is not, one might consider, always a bad thing. One of the consequences of the defeat of the Presidency of François Hollande, and his avowedly reformist Socialist team, by Emmanuel Macron and his movement En marche! is to throw – the previous and the incoming President’s record justifies, the term ‘reform’ again into discredit.

Reformist Origins.

Les Hommes révoltés is about the roots of socialist reformism. That is, it gives the term meaning by showing the development of reformisms on the French left before the Leninist scission took place.. It is an historical reconstruction of the early years of French socialism when the movement took shape in a recognisably modern form, when themes of sexual equality, workers’ rights social protection and welfare were first advanced. It is also about the politics very un-modern Third Republic in which women had no vote, workers’ could not freely organise, and there was nothing resembling social security. A ‘notable’ dominated Republicanism dominated the political culture and a Right that could trace their symbols and culture back to the 18th century.

The study, developed from a doctorate, offers a richly documented account of key moments in the development of the French left. It is “contextualist”, inspired by the methods of Quentin Skinner, to recreate the conventions in which these figures developed their ideas, and carried out their political acts. Against a backdrop of dominant republicanism on the left, the 1870s saw more radical forces, socialists, coalesce around ‘collectivism’, and then torn apart by the fall-out from disputes in the First International, and their own ideological differences. Marx’s name sometimes appeared as something of a battle cry, or hissing-and-by word, rather than a serious doctrinal dividing line. Jousse indicates, though has no need to set out at length, that French socialism, like its counterparts in British radicalism and the labour movement, had its socialist and republican writers and no pressing need to refer to Marxism,

In this lucidly set out framework Jousse introduces portraits of figures, some unfamiliar to many on the left today, such as the ‘possibilist’, Paul Brousse, Benoît Malon, editor of La Revue Socialiste, and one of Marx’s first translators but also the advocate of a non-Marxist “socialisme intégrale”. In later parts of the book there is a sustained account of the first, controversial French Socialist Minister Alexandre Millerand. There are many appearances from Jean Jaurès. Towards the end the Minister of Armaments in the War-time Union Sacrée, Albert Thomas, whose connections with the educated elite and proto- ‘think-tanks’ marks him out, in Jousse’s eyes, as not too distant to contemporary reformist politicians.

For those already partly familiar with the disputes that pre-existed and followed the creation of the Parti Ouvrier français (POF) in 1879, any detailed account may seem daunting. That, for its brief united life (3 years), it was not a party in the modern sense but a federation of different currents and local groups adds to the potential for getting lost. (2)

But Jousse is adept in separating the wheat from the chaff. Some description of the 5 tendencies that emerged in the initial stages of French socialism is on any judgement inevitable. While the centre of gravity is Brousse’s reformist and non-Marxist Fédération des travailleurs socialistes de France (FTSF), other actors appear, Guesdists (after Jules Guesde, the leader of the ‘orthodox’ Marxists)) the Allemanists (after Jean Allemane, federalist working class revolutionaries), the supporters of Éduouard Vaillant (who owed something to the last representative of the pure ‘insurrectionist’ tradition, Auguste Blanqui) and the ‘independents’ whose best known figure was Jean Jaurès. Their history is followed up to and after the creation of the unified socialist party the SFIO, in 1905.

Les Hommes Révoltés is also a guide to the potentials these politicians, activists and thinkers offered, within the supple contours of French socialism. The importance of “public services”, which the ‘reformist’ wing began to create wherever they could, offers a thread which connects to democratic socialists today. Not so appealing perhaps are the writings of from the period, as shown in the rarity of enduring texts beyond the articles that appeared in the Revue Socialiste. Malon’s books may indicate why. A British writer at the time described, not inaccurately to one who has ploughed through it, the Histoire du socialisme (1882), as “a crude heap of undigested theories”. (3)

While, as the author underlines, the prospect of a French Labour Party emerging from the organised workers’ movement never got off the ground, the various socialist parties has close links with trade unions. These included affiliations with the multiplicity of trade and craft associations, as well as less warm relations with ‘mutualists’ and the cooperative movement who were often, in the tradition of Proudhon, hostile to political parties as such. Despite their splits the French left had by the following decades succeeded in winning council seats wider social influence, and it had entered the National Assembly.

Le Cas Millerand.

Another is the account of the Alexandre Millerand controversy, the entry of a self-proclaimed reformist socialist into a government of Republican Defence during the fall-out from the Dreyfus Affair. That the same Cabinet contained, Gaston de Galliffet, the butcher of elderly Communards in 1871, was far from a “légende noire”. It was a living memory for many French socialists, including survivors of the Commune such as Vaillant. A large part of the socialist movement recoiled from this appointment.

Jousse traces a whole series of differences that underlay the row. These involved opposing stands on how to defend republican legality – Dreyfus – against the anti-Semitic right, to the necessity of compulsory ‘mandating’ of socialist MPs At the same time this point of principle tended, Jousse emphasises, to be confounded with wider questions within the international socialist movement. Was Millerand a French Bernstein, a “revisionist”? The fact that pure Marxist economics, rather than a general vision of class struggle, played a marginal, if any, part in French socialist politics, still less the Bernstein controversy over capitalist “break-down” and the capacity of capitalism to adapt and continue developing the productive forces, and should have ruled the comparison doubtful.

By contrast there is little doubt that the reformists, Millerand at the fore, did have something in common with the German revisionists. They preferred improvements in the here and now to promises about the future. Jousse manages to establish Millerand’s work in his post as Minister of Commerce and Industry, labour reforms within the limited competence of a “non-Régalian”, that is, without independent powers and budgets post. He set up a network of committed advisers and operated closely with trade unions and co-operative associations. As such his work was not seen by all the socialist grass roots as “treason” (Page 250) On the evidence presented, the wide social basis of this support, cannot be dismissed, as Leninists used to do, as the “aristocracy of labour”.

This, is we are to believe Les Hommes Révoltés was perhaps a first effort at establishing a socialism capable of putting ideas into practice. It used the tools of solid research and the ability to listen to voices on the ground. Lacking the practitioners’ own words – he notes that Millerand’s text Le Socialisme réformiste francais (1903) barely measures up to the British Fabian’s own self-consciousness of this role, he constructs on himself. That is, that an “open socialism”, found in this reformist past,  needs something of Jürgen Habermas’ programme of agreement and rational discussion. That debate can be the ground for advancing the common good in a socialist direction through government – local and national – action.

A more sceptical reader might point to the way that key figures in French reformist socialism, from Millerand to the Minister for Armaments, Albert Thomas, were not known for impassioned rationality during the patriotic hysteria of the Great War. One might add that there is a short distance from technical help to technocrat, and that a public domain free of the operation of constraints on rationality of private profit and irreconcilable passions still has to be created.

Landmark.

Les Hommes Révoltés is a landmark in studies of socialist history. It is elegantly written with the clarity that shows the French language at its best. In his opening words and conclusion Jousse also attempts to establish the moral credentials of socialist reformism, in the tradition of Albert Camus’ l’homme révolté (1951) from which his present study draws its name. That is, the stand (“la pensée du midi”, the anti-authoritarian thought of the South)) that revolt against existing conditions, for a better world, has to be wedded to respect for others, the central value of individual autonomy and choice, and above all a refusal to sacrifice lives in the name of History or in a civil war. Whatever else, these are inspiring, thoughtful, goals.

****

(1) Conclusion. Le communisme une passion française. Marc Lazar. Perrin. 2005. For the clearest identification between the most radical moment of the French Revolution and Bolshevism see: Bolchévisme et Jacobinisme. Albert Mathiez. 1920.

(2) On the formulation of the famous programme of that party, generally ascribed to the dominant influence of Marx and Engels, he suggests that the pair may have served only as one inspiration amongst others (Pages 97 – 99) It could be that some further details on the troubled past between Brousse and Marx – including the reformist’s anti-authoritarian anarchist original dislike of Marxism – would help clarify the stakes at hand. . The importance of this research can be seen in that the Penguin Edition of Marx’s Writings, The First International and After. Political Writings Volume 3. 1974, asserts Marx’s authorship Page 376. The programme which contains key references to democratic liberties in its ‘minimum’ section, has long represented a thread is often cited by Marxists who defend human rights.

(3) Page 403. The Choice of Books. Frederic Harrison  1886.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Purging Mania Sweeps Tory Factionalists and ‘left’ Sovereigntists foam as Parliamentary Sovereignty Asserted.

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Purging mania.

No-nonsense Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has called for Remoaner MPs last night who secured politicians a veto on Brexit to be deselected and barred from standing for the Tory Party again. Westmonstor. 

The one time Revolutionary Communists of Spiked on Line  set the pattern for fellow sovereigntists.

MPs’ ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit is a blow to popular sovereignty. Brendan O’Neill. 

The Remoaner joy over the meaningful vote captures brilliantly how ridiculous and elitist the pro-EU side has become. First, there’s their treatment of an incredibly tight vote in parliament as some kind of historic win for the institution of democracy. In their minds, 17.4million people voting to leave the EU – the largest number of Brits that has ever voted for anything – is a mistake, a cry of hatred, a crime, and definitely not ‘the will of the people’, but pro-meaningful-vote MPs beating anti-meaningful-vote MPs by a poxy four votes – 309 to 305 – is a ‘great day for democracy’. These people are hilarious

The great man pauses, the Remoaners,  the ridiculous poxy anti-meaningful elite aside, it is time for some reflections on what is going on behind the hilarity “in their minds”.

O’Neill has the knack for getting the low-down behind the vote,

Secondly, there’s the small matter that these people have not the remotest interest in defending parliamentary sovereignty. If they had, they would not be fighting tooth and nail in defence of an institution – the EU – which is almost entirely devoted to weakening parliamentary sovereignty.

At the risk of running out of stale metaphors O’Neill continues.

The EU and its apologists are only cheering parliamentary democracy now to the extent that it might be wielded to undermine popular democracy; because they think it can be used to slow or scupper that decision made by the largest group of people in British democratic history. This is the level of cynicism they have reached: they increasingly see parliament, not as a true tribune of the people, but as a possible counter to the people, the sensible, cool restraint on the masses’ dangerous anti-EU passions. They are setting up parliament against the public, which is a very sinister thing to do..

The ghosts of the English Civil War are rising,

 …..we defended an ideal that the English fought a civil war over and which millions of Brits marched and fought for against an EU elite and a British parliament that had become cavalier about this ideal; we offered parliament the backbone, the authority, that it had lost. We saved parliament, we saved representative democracy. And what thanks do we get? None. Less than none, in fact. We now have parliamentarians who spy in the ‘meaningful vote’ a chance to slow or wound the people’s historic defence of parliament, of them. They do not deserve us.

A cruel and thankless world indeed.

Poor ‘us’.

But History will surely absolve Spiked-on-Line’s offer of “backbone” that “saved Parliament”.

Bang on cue Labour Leave retweeted this:

Not forgetting the supporters of Nationalist Chaos Theory.

Note Paul Embry is Paul Embery is the Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and National Organiser of Trade Unionists Against the EU. He has written for the far-right Westmonster site:  TRADE UNION MOVEMENT MUST RECONNECT WITH WORKING CLASS POST-BREXIT

 

A different view:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm

David Icke Attacks Antifa and Endorses Chomsky.

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Our old friend David Icke has a new Mentor, Noam Chomsky,

This is the link.

It is a puff for this, obviously a must-read for Conspi-buffs.

Noam Chomsky has criticised the anti-fascist movement and argues its tactics are a gift to the far right and US state repression. 

Read more: Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a gift to the far right and US state repression (as David Icke exposes in his new book)

I must say that after reading Icke criticisms of Antifa rather fade away.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 13, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Catalan Elections: Far-Left (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular), CUP, loses half of its support in Latest Poll.

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Far-Left CUP Slumps.

Nothing is settled about the result of the Catalan regional vote on the 21st of December.

In the last poll intentions to participate in the vote ( 82%) the Catalan nationalists (ERC, Jx Cat and CUP) have largely retained support and would have I seat over the absolute majority needed to control the Parliament (69 just over 68). La Vanguardia.

Rising support for the Catalan Socialists (up from 16 seats to 22), and above all the centre party Ciutadans/Ciudadanos(25 to 30 t0 31) remain important trends.

Podemos allies,Catalunya en Comú–Podem, are down from 11 to 8.

But the most dramatic shift is the halving of  support for the ‘left nationalists’ of CUP (Candidatura d’Unitat Popular), from 10 to 5.

CUP likes to claim that it was a key player in the declaration of independence by Spain’s most prosperous reasons, tired of paying for poorer areas and anxious to assert its cultural identity.

It also claims to represent radical leftist economic views, ecological policies, feminism, and part of social movements. As such is regarded by some in the rest of Europe as  part of the “rise of new left and progressive forces” .

Those unsympathetic  have described it as follows, “La CUP es una amalgama de siglas de pequeños grupos que están en continua ebullición y permanentemente en tensión” – an amalgam of acronyms for small groups which are at a non-stop boiling point, and permanently in friction with each other.” (The liberal digital newspaper, El Confidential).

The alliance indeed includes many different factions,  some of whom it describes as Trotskyist. The International Marxist Tendency (Grantists) promote “Endavant, calls himself a Marxist and fights for a Catalan Socialist Republic” others which have been listed include Poble Lliure and, in an earlier Blog post here, En Lucha (tied to the British SWP), Corriente Roja (section of the IWL,  Morenoist), Lucha internacionalista (La Unidad Internacional de los Trabajadores (UIT-CIand Revolta Global-Esquerra anticapitalist which has links with the Izquierda anticapitalista and the Mandelite Fourth International,various activist campaigning groups, the original and important Occupy Movement in Spain, the Indignados, (not the US counterpart), the peasant  Pagesos per la Dignitat Rural Catalana. Okupas (Occupy, on housing and land issues),  self-managed social centres, (CSOA).

The impression one gets, apart from the fact that their policies are nationalist, is that this is a fine collection of odd balls.

The CUP participated at last week’s demonstration in Brussels in favour of Catalan nationalist demands (La CUP serà demà a Brussel·les per denunciar la repressió de l’Estat espanyol contra els catalans i les catalanes)

Le Monde noted, that in the 45,000 strong march, that aprt from Cataln flags Belgian supporters also brought along their own nationalist ones, of the Flemish Lion,

Le défilé est porteur de beaucoup de slogans et de pas mal de contradictions. Des militants flamands d’extrême droite saluent leurs « frères » catalans, tandis qu’un peu plus loin un militant trotskiste belge explique que « c’est la question sociale qui a réveillé la question nationale et, en tant que marxiste, on ne peut donc que soutenir la volonté populaire ». La Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, le parti indépendantiste flamand qui a remisé son programme institutionnel et privilégie désormais la participation au pouvoir fédéral belge, assure également une présence, somme toute assez discrète.

The march saw many slogans and not a few contradictions. Flemish activists of the extreme right saluted their Catalan ‘brothers;, which not far away a Belgian Trotskyist explained, hat “it’s the social issue which has awakened about the national issue, and, as a Marxist one can only support the popular will”. The (hard right) Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, the party for Flemish independence, though at present putting its place in Belgian federal politics first, had a presence, if discreet.

The CUP is strongly anti-European Union….

COP publishes a few articles in what is claims is English.

This is the most recent.

“And wanting to be a republic, we have learned to be a people”, by David Fernández

10/10/2017“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.” Blade Runner.

That our ‘hackers of the impossible’ – my thanks, once again – won the difficult technological battle, always unequal, in order to keep alive the single census during the whole day, under free software schemes and encryption, gives food for thought. Plenty of it. Neither in analog (sic) or in digital: the Big Brother State did not get away with i, (sic)

Some on the pro-nationalist  left, which includes the equally odd Platypus,  believe various versions of the following, from Jorge Martin (International Marxist Tendency)

Struggle for self-determination as a revolutionary task

In a nut-shell, this summarises the position in Catalonia. Against the Spanish 1978 regime, the exercise of the right of self-determination is a task which can only be accomplished by revolutionary means. The Catalan bourgeois and petty-bourgeois politicians are not prepared to use revolutionary means. Some of them are not even committed to a Catalan Republic, other than as a threat with which to extract concessions from Madrid. The only way forward in the struggle for a Catalan Republic is a battle to remove the current leadership of the movement and replace it with one firmly based on the workers at the head of the petty-bourgeois masses: a leadership prepared to use revolutionary means to face and bring down the 1978 regime.

We await the “revolutionaries'” actions.

What “means” they propose to carry out their revolt,  based as they would be on not a single workers’ council – to start with – remain open to speculation.

Still the Vlaams Belang, Counterfire, the SNP, The International Marxist Tendency, Platypus and the  Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie will fight to the last Catalan to secure their national freedom.

By contrast Podemos, while not gaining support has not suffered the dramatic decline – if polls are confirmed – of the CUP and continues to speak sense,

In Podemos we have always said that the only solution is through the ballot box, offering Catalans the choice in a negotiated referendum to either remain as part of a new plurinational Spanish state or to pursue an independent Catalan republic.

..

Podemos sees Spain as a project to be constructed, we aim for a new country where nobody wants to leave because nobody is forced to stay. This federalised Spain would require the reordering of the states’s institutional and constitutional architecture so that there is no conflict between being Spanish and belonging to another national community existing in the state. It would be a polycentric Spain where not everything passes through Madrid, and where Madrid is converted into a federal district along the path to a less unitary state. Ultimately a plurinational Spain has to do with reinventing Spain’s own identity so that it ceases to be a weapon used to attack other Spaniards.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 12, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Syria, Hasna al-Hariri: Will the Left Speak Out Against Assad’s Tortures and Rapes?

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Image result for Syrie, le cri étouffé,

Assad’s Prisons: It is hard to get out alive from this place. In the corridors you see heaps of corpses.

The Stop the War Coalition’s official position on Syria is the following,

1. The STWC has never supported the Assad regime. Just as we never supported the Taliban, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi. Only in the minds of ‘them or us’ pretend patriots does the opposition to our own government’s wars mean support for dictators or terrorists. Our case has always been that war will worsen the problem and not solve it. We were right in that analysis in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

2. The STWC has never supported Russian intervention in Syria and issued a statement opposing the bombing as soon as it began.

3. The STWC does believe that it is the people of Syria who are the only ones who should decide the fate of their country free of all great power and regional power interference.

4. The STWC is utterly opposed to the IS as a totally reactionary and, in the Arab Spring, counter revolutionary force.

5. The STWC believes that the invasion and dismemberment of Iraq, and western support for Saudi Arabia, were and are instrumental in the creation of the IS.

6. The STWC does not support calls for western invention, including an air war to establish a no fly zone, whether those calls emanate from Syrian exiles or anyone else, just as we did not support such calls from anti-Taliban or anti Saddam Afghans or Iraqis. Syrians do not all speak with one voice but many are opposed to western bombing.

At the end of the declaration is this:

The STWC concentrates on campaigning against UK government policy because this is where we are citizens and voters. No one else can change UK government policy but a movement in this country. But of course we support anti-war movements in other countries who, rightly, are focussed on opposing their own governments. This is how genuine internationalism work

It is a very narrow take on “internationalism” that excludes the duty to come to the aid of people suffering the brutality of,  which is too often ignored on the left, the Assad regime.

That this is not just the result of the actions of the ISIS genociders or the result of bombing by outside forces is clear.

This was published in Le Monde last week: « En Syrie, le viol était le maître mot »

It is, to say the least, a harrowing account of the  tortures carried out by Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

The full article is behind a pay-wall (or in the print edition, where it takes up a full page).

In the main section Hasna Al-Hariri,  54 years old, talks of the cruelty to which prisoners are subjected, a long calvary of horror.

Women, raped, later give birth amid ” la crasse, les poux, les infections, à même le sol”, filth, lice, infection and the soil.

Victims who are released have been shunned as ‘dishonoured’.

LesInrocks rightly says, the account by “freezes your blood”.

Enfants nés de viols, tortures, humiliations : une survivante raconte l’enfer des prisons de Bachar Al-Assad.

L’Echo published this letter to Hasna Al-Hariri,

Votre mari a été assassiné en essayant de vous libérer de prison contre une grosse somme d’argent. Vous avez été emprisonnée trois fois, pendant de longs mois. Pendant vos détentions dans ces centres de “renseignement”, vous avez été torturée. Vous avez été violée. Vous avez vu des femmes, de 55 ans, de 40 ans, de 25 ans se faire violer. Vous avez vu des adolescentes se faire violer. Vous avez vu des petites filles de 13 ans se faire violer. Vous avez vu une enfant de 13 ans se faire violer devant sa maman.

Vous avez aidé à la naissance de cinquante bébés. Vous avez vu mourir dix bébés. Vous avez vu mourir cinq mamans. Vous n’aviez aucun matériel pour ces accouchements, pas un drap, pas un essuie, pas un seul bout de tissu, pas même d’eau.

 

Your husband was murdered trying to free you from prison with a large bribe. You have been imprisoned 3 times, during many long months. During your time in gaol in the “investigation” centres you were tortured. You were raped. You have seen women, 55 years old, 40 years old, 25 years old, violated. You have seen adolescents raped. You have seen young women of 13 years old being raped. You saw a child of 13 years old being violated in front of her mother.

You have helped 50 babies be born. You have seen 10 babies die. You have seen 5 mothers die. You had no material to help with these births, no towels, no  wipes, not a shred of a tissue, not even water.

The letter continues,

Vous avez vu une jeune femme qui avait ses règles. Pleine de sang. Vos geôliers lui ont jeté des rats. Les rats lui ont dévoré l’entrejambe. Elle est morte.

You saw a young woman having her period. She was covered with blood. Your gaolers threw rats on her. The rates ate her crotch. She died.

I stop there, it is already distressing.

This discuss the documentary, Syrie, le cri étouffé, revealing the horrors to which women are subject in Assad’s prisons, and  which forms the basis for these articles.

 

This is the only account I can find in English.

Atem Al Zinzaneh (Darkness of Jail)

Hasna al-Hariri—the mother of martyrs, or Syria’s Khansa’ [traditional heroic Arab female symbol of stoic heroism], as she likes to be known—is a 65 year-old lady and Syrian Revolution activist since its inception in 2011 from Deraa. She is today’s Atem al-Zinzaneh’s guest.

Hasna never for one day expected that either the regime or the Syrian army would shoot, for the mere cause of Deraa’s people asking for their detained children. She never imagined that they would abuse Deraa’s elders, or their wives and honor. This was the main reason behind her own participation in the Revolution. She was arrested for the first time in May 2011—for attempting to bring medicine, bread, and food to children during the siege of Deraa—in the Deraa branch of military security.

Hasna tells of seeing Hezbollah men inside the branch in May 2011. She personally saw Hussein Hamiyyeh, an officer of the Lebanese Hizbollah. Investigations then centered on the extent of Israel’s, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s, role in financing the demonstrations. Hasna was surprised how they would think of foreign intervention—but not at all care for the injustice to which Syrian citizens are subjected. She was arrested for a second time with her daughter Bushra at the 12th Brigade of the Syrian army, then transferred to the Deraa military security branch.

Hasna al-Hariri remember that rape cases in the branch were perpetrated by Brigadier General Abu Habib in the Suweida branch; and by Brigadier Wafiq Nasser, Captains Zuhair al-Ali and Abdullah Amoury, and officer Rawad in Deraa. She tells of incidences of sexual assault of both males and females inside the military security branch; in addition to forcing them to sexually assault one another. She also mentions the killing of more than one hundred and twenty young men, whose blood flowed to reach the women’s prison dormitories.

More on the crimes of the Assad regime:  Syria Solidarity Campaign.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Labour Right-Wing Factionalism, Labour First.

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This, circulated yesterday,  is causing a stir.

 

Labour First is increasingly behaving like the ‘factionalists’ is derides,

Labour First

Labour First, founded in 1988, is a pre-Blairite pressure group seen as the voice of the party’s traditional right. Headed by campaigner and former councillor Luke Akehurst, this faction supported ABC (Anyone But Corbyn) in the leadership election, while Akehurst himself backed Yvette Cooper. In the deputy race, it emphasised its ties to Tom Watson. The group made headlines during the leadership contest by urging fellow centrist group Progress to promote the other non-Corbyn candidates as well as its first choice, Liz Kendall. The groups have since held events together espousing moderate Labour values. Labour First says it “exists to ensure that the voices of moderate party members are heard while the party is kept safe from the organised hard left”.

Before going further it is important to note that the AWL is not, how shall I put it, at the forefront of Momentum.

Next I would point out that, Lord Hattersley notwithstanding,  there are not large real factional divisions in the Labour Party, but differences on policy issues.

Such as this:

Or this,

Just a suggestion, but if Labour First is going to go in for factionalism, they should consult the real classic studies not just do a bit of ‘organising’.

Such as this book:

 

Trigger-warning: factionalist activity in meetings is not universally appreciated. 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Ken Loach to speak in defence of Anti-Semites of Socialist Fight? – Ken Livingstone and Tariq Ali “invited”.

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This Week: Mass Support for Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

The Newshounds of Shiraz have scooped us on this one, but this remains an interesting development in the shambles that is LAW.

Reporting on the latest rows in Labour Against the Witchhunt the latest Weekly Worker states,

The meeting included a discussion on the participation within LAW of Socialist Fight. The steering committee had taken the decision to exclude SF from the campaign because of the group’s position on Jews, which can only be described as anti-Semitic.

SF declares that Jewish “overrepresentation” amongst the bourgeoisie is a major factor explaining imperialist backing for Israel. At the meeting itself SF’s Ian Donovan stated that, while this “overrepresentation” “doesn’t determine everything”, it “determines quite a lot”. He also talked about the undue influence of “Jewish communalist politics”, while the SF leaflet handed out at the meeting stated that “Jews” today have become “an oppressor people”.

The SC sought approval from the meeting for its decision to exclude SF from LAW – on the basis that a campaign which places a large emphasis on its opposition to the disgraceful, knowingly false accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ wielded by the right against principled anti-racists should not itself tolerate individuals whose public pronouncements are clearly anti-Semitic. To do otherwise opens us up to claims that we cannot be taken seriously when we say the right’s accusations are nothing but smears – after all, it would then appear that we ourselves cannot tell the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Labour Party Marxists put forward a motion, directed against not only Socialist Fight, but also the social-imperialist Alliance for Workers’ Liberty:

LAW does not wish to be associated with those who excuse the ongoing witch-hunt in the Labour Party: ie, support the expulsion of Ken Livingstone. Nor do we wish to associate with those who advocate anti-Semitism: ie, those who explain US and other imperialist countries’ foreign policy on the basis of the number of Jews in the ruling class.

Unfortunately neither this motion nor one from the steering committee, which called for its decision to exclude SF to be endorsed, was successful. Only nine comrades were in favour of endorsing the SC position, with 12 against, plus a number of abstentions; as for the LPM motion, there were 12 votes in favour and 12 against, and so it was not carried either.

The organ of the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) admits,

the participation of Socialist Fight remains in our view a problem that might well have to be revisited.

But let that not detract from the useful role that LAW intends to play – now is the time to really step up the campaign.

They add,

In the meantime, LAW is organising what it hopes will be a public launch meeting on January 29. Ken Loach has already agreed to speak and a number of others such as Tariq Ali and Ken Livingstone have been invited.

Former prominent Liberal Democrat Tariq Ali, (“In the tightly fought battle for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, the Liberal Democrats have received the support of prominent writer and film maker Tariq Ali, who says he will be backing the party in the forthcoming General Election. Mr Ali, who lives in the constituency, is a long-time critic of the Government over the war in Iraq.”March 2005) may have second thoughts when asked about his participation, as no doubt might Livingstone.

Our ace reporters will chase up Ken Loach….

In the meantime Socialist Fight publishes this today,

The United States would be blamed, rightly, for encouraging Israel to annex East Jerusalem and all that follows. This is why previous administrations, even when they pandered to the most hardline elements of the powerful Jewish-Zionist caste within their own ruling class (and their fellow travellers), hesitated to actually do this. Obama paid lip service to this idea when he was trying to get elected but shied away from it in power.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 8, 2017 at 1:13 pm

Roy Hattersley, Momentum, and ‘Labour’s worst crisis”.

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Roy Hattersley, Momentum, and ‘Labour’s worst crisis”

“Socialism requires the use of collective power to increase individual rights and to extend individual freedom.”

“Public ownership in the form of state corporations, centrally owned, planned and administered, is essential for the public utilities.”

Pages 120 and 185. Choose Freedom. The Future for Democratic Socialism. Roy Hattersley. 1987.

Sunday’s Observer saw elder Labour statesman, Roy Hattersley, launch a call to arms (This is Labour’s greatest crisis. Time to fight back. 3.12.17). Momentum, the pressure group dedicated to winning elections for Labour and supporting the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, aims to move the party to the “far left of the political spectrum”. The “threat” to Labour from their “extremism”, “Corbyn’s revolutionary guard” is carrying out a “cull of councillors” and the “replacement of moderate MPs”. It must be “beaten”. The task is to “save British social democracy from extinction”.

Hattersley’s polemic has its moments. Many enjoyed the phrase struck, with successful comic effect, describing former Militant supporters, “the old gang” in Liverpool now apparently active again in the party, “All that is changed is that the Militant now travel to meetings with their bus passes.”

Less appreciated was his effort to explain other local developments. On the challenge to Haringey’s Labour leadership, the former Labour Deputy leader is seriously awry. Aggressive newcomers were also at work. ‘New recruits’ brandishing a call for “democracy” were to blame for new councillor selections. A reference to the disastrous implications of the council’s plans to redevelop council housing by removing some estates from “public ownership” and handing them over to a private dominated development (“the biggest transfer of local authority resources to a private entity in UK history, and would see Lendlease own a fifty per cent stake in a company which will profit from public assets for at least twenty years”)  in which the poor have no place is missed. Absent too was the long, very long, history of disputes over ‘modernising’ Labour in Haringey, which predate Momentum by….several decades. (1)

 

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Momentum.

Momentum can no doubt reply for itself and there are already many commentaries on Labour’s Greatest Crisis. It is hard to identify the pressure group with the ‘far left’. When Militant, now known as the Socialist Party, tried to move in en masse, attempting to create its own “Trade Union Momentum”, they were rebuffed. Another group of left-wingers, after several figures were removed from national office, put some effort in forming Grass Roots Momentum. It has foundered. No doubt individuals from various leftist factions are active in Momentum, a proportion of the membership put at lower single figures.

Some on Labour’s right appear to believe that Momentum’s interest in ‘extra-parliamentary’ activity is anti-democratic. The term is misleading. Public protest is no more opposed to electoral work (which is the core of the movement’s existence), than UNITE Community’s Day of Action against Universal Credit, or demonstrations on the NHS. Or indeed, at the labour movement’s foundation, strikes for better pay and conditions leading to negotiations for collective agreements. Complaints about UNITE’s efforts to influence Labour more directly seem even more paradoxical, if criticism is directed at anti-Westminster politics.

There are legitimate concerns about some aspects of the way the Momentum operates. Conferences attended by delegates selected by lot, a practice adopted in France by President Macron’s En Marche! party and used for a percentage of attendees at Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise, may quell factionalism. But despite reference to the ancient Athenian Constitution, this method of choosing representatives is not today widely accepted as a democratic method.

No doubt we will learn just how democratic the opposing slate of candidates for Labour’s NEC emerged. At present there are none.

On what other grounds does Hattersley accuse Labour of moving to the far-left? The party programme, its policies? Labour is committed to re-nationalising public utilities. One might disagree about the claim that “market distribution” can be fixed to respond to “demand” when, as he noted in Choose Freedom, that income is so unfairly distributed. The objective of developing a replacement for Universal Credit, still in its early stages, can surely be modelled in with traditional social democratic redistribution. In his 1987 book he cited John Rawls’ ‘difference principle”, that is judging reforms by their ability to make the poorest better off. This remains a workable gauge of real reform of welfare. Hattersley’s “struggle for democratic rights” equally remains an objective which unites otherwise divided strands of democratic socialism. The Corbyn and McDonnell leadership indeed puts it at the centre of their policies.

Sunday’s broadside is a shot from the bows at ..what? The vast majority of members are united around the need to elect a new Labour Government. Yet, behind this there are serious issues at stake within the party. They do no neatly fall into a division between “far left” and “moderates”, or even different appreciations of the Blair and Brown years.

New Dividing Lines?

At the risk of whittling down a whole forest of contentious issues some stick out.

  •  Europe. The Labour Party contains both a small right wing ‘patriotic’ anti-EU current, a left-wing ‘Lexit’ (left-exit) current, and a big majority, from the centre to large parts of the left, which wants the smallest possible break from Europe. Some do not want to leave the EU at all. The Lexit left is in disarray as their glee at seeing Britain leave the ‘Bosses Club’ has turned to ashes faced with the complexities of exit, and the prospect of being at the mercy of the WTO and stronger economies, from the EU itself to the USA.
  • Specific Policy. Labour’s stand on Brexit, is seeking the ‘best deal’ and letting the Tories tear themselves apart in Brexit negotiations, while balancing its statements with an electoral strategy that attracts anti-EU voters. This has left many unsure about what a possible Corbyn led government will do. On a key aspect, failing to debate the Freedom of Movement at Conference, an issue brought up by left wing activists, does not mean the issue has disappeared.
  • Internationalism. While the majority of the Labour party, including the activist left, are committed to defending universal human rights (leaving aside weighty philosophical agreements on the topic), there are differences on where to start. Some groups, in numbers only groupuscules about with wider influence within the Party, give priority to fighting ‘imperialism’, that is the USA. Those backing ‘anti-imperialist’ forces have watered down their public rhetoric. But as recent pronouncements by Andrew Murray, chief of Unit’s political strategy and the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), and of the indicate, there remain elements prepared on international issues who are prepared to align openly with forces hostile to democratic socialism.

As this sketch illustrates, disagreements within the Labour Party and broader left, have moved on from the stark divisions with which Roy Hattersley tries to frighten his readers. Far from being in a position to stifle these differences in a Labour Party that excludes “everyone with whom they disagree” Momentum is obliged to confront them. The progress made so far to elaborate a “synthesis” between different strands of thought in Labour in a policy platform that is resolutely democratic socialist gives one grounds for hope.  That they, Momentum, – and it is hard to call such a disparate group a ‘they’ – have a core objective it is an eminently Parliamentary one, electing the next PM. One hopes the former deputy leader will do his best to work for that. .

 

(1): On this see: “We Took the Last Option”: The Fight for Democracy in Haringey. New Socialist.

Fight the Campaign to Get Reactionary Galloway into Labour Party, “Murray: Time That ‘Vicious’ Galloway Bar Is Overturned.”

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Galloway with Ally Farage.

Andrew Murray is indulging himself in a damaging campaign.

It is “long past time” for the “vicious, illegal and disgraceful decision to expel George Galloway from the Labour Party” to be overturned, Andrew Murray said yesterday.

The Unite chief of staff, who was a long-time chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, praised Mr Galloway for his role in “the leadership of that movement” which organised the largest march in Britain’s history against the Iraq war on February 15 2003.

His backing could be significant as he is close to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and helped run the party’s highly successful 2017 election campaign.

Former MP Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party on October 23 2003 for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute, including by calling on British soldiers not to obey orders in the illegal invasion of Iraq and for saying that then prime minister Tony Blair and US president George W Bush had assaulted the country “like wolves.”

No disciplinary action has ever been taken by Labour against Mr Blair over the war, which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and the birth of extremist Islamist movements such as Isis, despite evidence that he lied to Parliament to justify British participation.

Following his expulsion, Mr Galloway helped found the anti-war Respect party, for which he won the Bethnal Green and Bow parliamentary seat and later Bradford West, losing the latter to Labour’s Naz Shah in 2015.

Since Mr Corbyn won the Labour leadership in that year, Mr Galloway has expressed a desire to return to the party and a change.org petition calling for his reinstatement has received over 5,000 signatures.

Morning Star.

Here are some reasons why Galloway should not be allowed into the labour Party:

George Galloway compares relationship with Nigel Farage to Churchill and Stalin

‘We are not pals. We are allies in one cause. Like Churchill and Stalin…’ February 2016.

George Galloway: Trump is better than Clinton 06/07/2016.

George Galloway attacked over Assange ‘rape’ comments. August 2012.

George Galloway has been criticised by anti-rape campaigners after suggesting Julian Assange was accused of nothing more than “bad sexual etiquette”.

Mr Assange is wanted in Sweden to face allegations – which he denies – of sexual assault made by two women.

The Respect MP said the women’s claims were “totally unproven” and the Wikileaks founder had been “set up”.

Rape charity Crisis said Mr Galloway’s comments were “offensive” and “deeply concerning”.

There is this as well,

Naz Shah: ‘I pity George Galloway for being so desperate’ May 2015. Telegraph.

Exclusive: Newly elected Labour MP Naz Shah tells Radhika Sanghani she thinks that her opponent George Galloway led a ‘sexist smear campaign’ but she will not let him stop her doing her job

More reasons here (Bob from Brockley), which deal with his antics in the Respect Party, which stood against Labour.

Murray has only recently joined the Labour party, after a life-time in the Communist Party of Britain and after serving as a member of its leading bodies.

Forces alien to the labour movement will greet Murray’s statement with satisfaction.

One just has, Neil Clarke, whose dodgy record as a Conspi and friend of  Belarus speaks for itself, as does his wobbly when he was going to sue this Blog.

This is profoundly unwelcome:

Anger is already growing:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Catalan Nationalist Support Slumps as Puigdemont’s Call for UK Style Break from the EU Falls on Deaf Ears.

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The tragedy of Catalonia continues as Spain refuses bail for top Catalan politicians, as decision on Carles Puigdemont extradition delayed.

But the repressive acts of the Spanish PP government have not meant a surge in support for the Catalan parties backing independence.

Latest voting projections based on today’s opinion poll published in El pais suggest a big drop in pro-Catalan nationalists  in latest opinion poll,: ERC (Republican left), (down from 62 to 32),  party, Carles Puigdemont the Junts pel Sí (from 62 to 25-6) and the “radical left” odd balls of the CUP, Candidatura d’Unitat Popular,  sinking from 10 to 9.

The main story is the rise of pro-Spanish unity, centrist Ciudadanos (up from 25 to 31-2 to 11) and growth in PSOE (Catalan wing, PSC) backing (16 to 21. There has been a small decline in Podemos involved alliance, CeC-Podem (9, down from 11), backing.

Catalan nationalists look like losing an absolute majority in the coming, 21st of December Catalan Parliament ballot.

Ciudadanos será la fuerza más votada el 21-D según el CIS

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 4, 2017 at 4:46 pm

As Labour Against the Withchunt Collapses in Infighting: “Third-Camp Stalinoids bring Witchhunt into ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’ (that’s enough Witchhunts ED)

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Witch Hunters themselves, say Socialist Fight.

Amongst the eternal classics of the workers’ movement, As Soon as this Pub Closes stands tall.

A dog-eared copy exists in the Coatesite archives.

It opens with this,

THE entrance to the conference hall is nearly deserted. The delegates have retired to adjacent hostelries to sink enough pints to allow them to sleep through the afternoon debate, so most literature sellers have taken a break.

Only two groups remain. One, the Spartacist League, are chanting ‘General Strike Now’, while another, the International Communist Party, try to drown them out with ‘Build the ICFI’ – International Committee of the Fourth International to the uninitiated. Do they hope to convert each other? Or myself, the only other listener? Surely not, but each feels that the first to leave would be chicken. I am glad my daughter is not in sight as she is probably warm and dry – on the other hand, she has my coat. Resisting the temptation to raise my own slogan – ‘Smash neo-Kantian revisionism!’ – I leave both groups to the sardonic screaming of the gulls. The rain drizzles from a lead-grey sky as I walk to the station. ‘So what’, you may say, ‘I never did care for Brighton.’ However, the two groups, and their rivals who have gone to lunch, form the core of organised British socialism. If a bureaucrat temporarily wakes from his slumber during the afternoon and feels any guilt about applauding the hypocritical rhetoric coming from the platform, he has certainly in his youth been a supporter of one of the socialist groups. This work is to be commended for providing the uninitiated with a guide through the labyrinth.

Yet the Tendance considers that even John Sullivan would find it hard going navigating this one.

Breaking news from our Ace reporters…

Hold the Front Page: anti-semites not to be expelled!

To our considerable relief and greatly to the credit of those attending the meeting, the proposal to exclude Socialist Fight from the Labour Against the Witchhunt campaign, made by the three members of the executive, was rejected. In fact, two votes were held effectively on the proposed exclusion, one was closely lost and one slightly different but in effect the same was tied, therefore also falling. Our own broader motion was lost 5 votes for, 8 against and 8 abstentions.

In the interests of getting LAW on an even keel, we are not going to go into more detail. But we do note that SF supporters were the only organised left tendency present arguing for a non-exclusionist united front campaign of the entire Labour Left against this witchhunt, with the only real condition for participation being a complete, principled opposition to all exclusions of the people on the left. Outside of that, there should be no exclusions of any left-wing current from the campaign.

We in Socialist Fight welcome this victory for working class norms of democracy and will do everything we can to build LAW as such a principled united front campaign, aimed precisely at broadening the space in the Labour Party for political and programmatic debate, including over contentious questions involving political Zionism and the Middle East.

Once the issue of our non-exclusion was resolved, there were some useful discussions on among other things organising a LAW public meeting in January in London, with another one planned for Birmingham on 30th Jan also. There were some important debates about the wider Labour Left and the witchhunt; the meeting voted to withdraw support from Ann Black as an NEC member nominated and supported by the left who has participated enthusiastically in the witchhunt, and to demand a wider repudiation of Ms Black by the left.

There was a powerful speech by Grassroots Black Left activist Mark Wadsworth, a Labour member and long-time anti-racist campaigner who was outrageously suspended by Labour for ‘anti-semitism’ for challenging the collaboration of right-wing MP Ruth Smeeth with the Tory media at the Labour press conference on the launch of the Chakrabarti Report into antisemitism on 30 June 2016. The comrade’s address drew considerable applause. A model motion for Labour Party bodies, coming from the Grassroots Black Left, containing a very powerful attack on the unlawful trawling of social media by the witch hunters, was approved by the meeting. We will reproduce it later when we have the text.

LAW resolved to meet monthly; we will hold the next meeting in early January. And the interim executive was expanded to include Steve Price of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy and Deborah Hobson of the Grassroots Black Left, making a broader-based five-strong executive.

Seek ‘Safe Space’ from real Anti-Imperialism/Anti-Zionism

It would seem absurd in the middle of a campaign against socialists in the Labour Party, for part of the left, itself under attack with suspensions and expulsions, to refuse to defend others and imply that some socialists really are worthy of expulsion. Such behaviour would surely be regarded as grotesque treachery by any class conscious worker.

Apparently three members of the Steering Committee of ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’, an organisation that has held one national meeting (on October 21st) have decided that Socialist Fight, one of only two organised Marxist trends at the initial meeting, are to be excluded. A statement to this effect was published in the Weekly Worker of 23 November..

Socialist Fight (SF) finds the weak point in the arguments used by this crew. Why exclude the AWL for their hostility to all forms of anti-semitism, including a left-wing version, when they’ve got rid of their groupuscule on the grounds that it is ‘anti-semitic’ (in reality, informed sources suggest that the reason is that SF is seen by even committed ‘anti-Zios’ as too wild, a tactical rather than principled decision).

So apparently the AWL are unwelcome, not for their actions, which our intrepid three cannot quarrel with in principle judging by the above, but for their ideas. Conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and thus believing in ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ which is apparently a ‘myth’.

But if ‘left-wing anti-semitism’ is a ‘myth’, how come Socialist Fight is being excluded on the basis of the same myth? For two of the three signatories of the above statement are fellow-travellers of the Weekly Worker/CPGB, supporting its allied group in the Labour Party, known as Labour Party Marxists, as is comrade Keable, or a years-long sympathiser and contributor, as is comrade Greenstein. It is not clear where comrade Walker stands with regard to this, but she appears to concur with them in any case, so the question is abstract.

Consistency is not the CPGB’s strong suit. Their anathema against our analysis of the role of Jewish bourgeois in the diaspora in bolstering Israel’s strength in the older imperialist countries goes back to 2014, when one of our now-leading members was driven out of the CPGB-initiated ‘Communist Platform’ in Left Unity, before the Corbyn movement emerged. That anathema stated that our comrade had to be driven out because..

We leave it to Cds to read the rest, though this stands out as an indication of how fast this lot are disintegrating,

This would be too ‘anti-imperialist’ for the CPGB, whose cowardice here is similar to their flinching over the witchhunt against Galloway over Iraq in 2003-04. We submitted our motion on 19 Nov. On 22 Nov we received the following communication from Stan Keable on behalf of the three-person rump steering group of LAW (Pete Firmin, the fourth member, had resigned due to difficulty in working with some of the others).

Pete is, unfortunately for Donovan, a real human being and a genuine democratic socialist…..

Not to mention this,he CPGB are sabotaging the potential of Labour against the Witchhunt to unite socialists in Labour against the witchhunt. They actually are trying to turn it into a confessional sect, in their own terms. We would actually have no objection to working even with the Alliance for Workers Liberty in a body like LAW, provided they were prepared to defend all victims of the Labour bureaucracy against the right. Of course, this is a big if. But ideological proscriptions, based on spurious smears, in a body whose purpose is to unite the left against a witchhunt, indeed amount to sectarian sabotage. Even more so when the ideological proscriptions are incoherent and self-contradictory, as demonstrated above.

Observers may feel that Donovan has a point.

How can Greenstein go on claiming that there is no such thing as left wing anti-semitism, or, in a weakened form, that the charges of anti-semitism against  people in the Labour Party are trumped up ‘Zionist’ fabrications and then go on to exclude poor old Gerry and Ian for anti-semitism?

There is more to this spicy soup – we leave it to others to relish the attack on Hal Draper – on grounds one can guess…..

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the author of this text, one Ian – International Jewish bourgeoisie – Donovan suggested that George Galloway lead the campaign.

  • The claim that left-wing anti-semitism is a ‘myth’ appears accepted by all sides of this barney and is the bone of contention.
  • The claim that there is a “witchhunt” against Socialist Fight.
  • None of them accept the findings of the Chakrabarti Inquiry, in particular ” Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.”
  • This puts them at odds with Labour Party policy.
  • The whole crew are barmy.

Evidence, M’Learned Friends,

Greenstein’s Blog,

A Sense of Humour Failure – The case of the JLM’s Ella Rose
Ella Rose is a free transfer from the Israeli Embassy to the Jewish Labour Movement where she is now Director.  She played a starring role in the Al Jazeera undercover programme, The Lobby. She came across as a petulant, foul-mouthed, potentially violent young woman.  She threatened physical violence against Jackie Walker because ‘she’s like 5’2” and tiny’ and ‘’if it came to it I would win that’s all I really care about’ which is a perceptive comment on Zionism and its ideals.  In the course of her musings Ms Rose stated ‘I’m a Zionist, shoot me.’  To which I responded that it was tempting.

 

Labour Against the Witchhunt splits amidst bitter row on ‘anti-Zionism’ and Anti-Semitism.

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Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) has split.

The declaration below rejects the participation of anybody who does not accept their own stand on ‘anti-Zionism’.

The meeting that decided this was followed by angry exchanges by various supporters. One group, Socialist Fight, wrote a letter reproduced below.

A bitter row has also developed over the last few days after a post, by a prominent LAW supporter, on the suspension of a Labour Party member following complaints by Adam Langleben about antisemitism (Labour member suspended months after councillor reports anti-Semitic posts. BBC.) The Evening Standard reports that, “One tweet reported by Mr Langleben read: “Hear it from a Jewish grandmother how Jews love money and are a bunch of crooks”.”

This is one of the Tweets by a, as yet unnamed woman, that he reported.

On the Facebook page here are some of the comments on a post   – since deleted – commenting on Adam Langleban and this suspension.

Image may contain: text

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This is the declaration of the split.

Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW) is a Labour Party campaign. We urge all those who oppose Labour’s witchhunt against Corbyn supporters and critics of Israel/Zionism to stay in the Party and fight.

Labour Against the Witchhunt welcomes the participation of all people who support its three key aims:
1. an end to automatic suspensions and expulsions;
2. rejection of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
3. abolition of Labour’s ‘compliance unit’.

Those, like the Alliance for Workers Liberty, who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of left anti-Semitism, are not welcome in LAW.

Those who, like ‘Socialist Fight’, promote the “socialism of fools” – the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW.

LAW Steering Committee
Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable, Jackie Walker

First fall out from the division.

Letter in latest Weekly Worker (30.11.17) protesting against their exclusion by Socialist Fight – Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

Oppressor Jews

It would seem absurd in the middle of a campaign against socialists in the Labour Party, for part of the left – itself under attack with suspensions and expulsions – to refuse to defend others and imply that some socialists really are worthy of expulsion. Such behaviour would surely be regarded as grotesque treachery by any class-conscious worker.

Apparently three members of the steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt have decided that Socialist Fight, one of only two organised Marxist trends at the initial meeting, are to be excluded. A statement to this effect was published in the Weekly Worker of November 23:

“Those, like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, who promote the false anti-Semitism smear, who conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and who promote the myth of left anti-Semitism, are not welcome in LAW.

“Those, like Socialist Fight, who promote the ‘socialism of fools’- the view that imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of Jews – are also not welcome in LAW” (signed by Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable and Jackie Walker).

Aside from the anti-democratic nature of this decree – apparently we are to be excluded without any kind of hearing or democratic process, purely for our political views on the Israeli/Jewish question, there is a glaring contradiction between the two paragraphs above.

Apparently, the AWL are excluded, not because of their actions– refusing to defend leftwingers, which would be correct and rational – but purely for the ideas, from which those actions flow. This is no accidental formulation: if people were to be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt for refusing to oppose the witch-hunt, then surely these comrades would, on the basis of this statement, have to exclude themselves.

After all, by excluding expelled Labour member Gerry Downing from LAW, they are behaving no differently from the AWL: seeking to exclude Labour socialists whose programmatic and political stance they oppose, contrary to the elementary working class maxim that “an injury to one is an injury to all”. Whatever anyone may say about the politics of Socialist Fight, we are the only tendency demanding a genuine united front defence campaign and the reinstatement of all socialists expelled from Labour.

So the AWL are unwelcome for their ideas – conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and thus believing in “leftwing anti-Semitism”, which is apparently a “myth”. But if “leftwing anti-Semitism” is a myth, how come Socialist Fight is being excluded on the basis of the same myth? For two of the three signatories of the above statement are fellow-travellers of the Weekly Worker/CPGB, supporting its allied group in the Labour Party, known as Labour Party Marxists, as is comrade Keable, or a years-long sympathiser and contributor, as is comrade Greenstein.

Consistency is not the CPGB’s strong suit. Their anathema against our analysis of the role of Jewish bourgeois in the diaspora in bolstering Israel’s strength in the older imperialist countries goes back to 2014, when one of our now-leading members was driven out of the CPGB-initiated Communist Platform in Left Unity, before the Corbyn movement emerged. That anathema stated that our comrade had to be driven out because “Advocacy of anti-Semitic ideas is not the exclusive preserve of the far right … there is a left anti-Semitism too. Sadly that is still the case …. Anti-Semitism, especially its leftwing version, plays directly into the hands of the Israeli government” (‘No place for anti-Semitism’ Weekly WorkerSeptember 18 2014). So it seems that the ideological rationale by which CPGB fellow travellers seek to exclude AWL supporters from Labour Against the Witchhunt is one that the CPGB are also guilty of. It is key to their rationale for purging Socialist Fight.

This exclusion decree from the CPGB’s fellow travellers has the name ‘Jack Conrad’ written all over it. It is his practice, in the past and now, to sabotage real political and programmatic debate on the left through bureaucratic tricks. His motion in the Communist Platform in 2014, quoted above, was designed to stop discussion of the document, ‘Draft theses on the Jews and modern imperialism’, submitted for debate within the Communist Platform.

This time around, the exclusion has a similar purpose: stopping the kind of principled political debate that a genuine united front campaign should engage in to arm the workers’ movement politically against the Zionist/Blairite witch-hunt.

The CPGB’s fellow travellers accuse Socialist Fight of believing that “imperialism’s support for Zionism and Israel is because of the influence of a Jewish component of the capitalist class”. It is factually demonstrable that there exists a Jewish component within the ruling classes of western countries that exceeds, by many times over, the proportion of Jews in the general population, and that this part of the ruling class is overwhelmingly loyal to Israel. This does not determine the bare existence of a western alliance with Israel. What it does, however, is play an important role in transforming what would otherwise be a ‘normal’ relationship, similar to that of the US, UK, Germany, etc with each other, into a servile relationship, where states like the USA give barely critical support to Israeli atrocities against Palestinians that certainly do not accord with obvious US, UK, etc imperial interests.

This is an empirically obvious fact that has been noted by a wide range of observers – from Israeli dissidents like the late Israel Shahak and more recently Gilad Atzmon to Jewish diaspora dissidents like Norman Finkelstein, and even conservative US bourgeois observers like Mearsheimer and Walt.

Yet the CPGB and its allies deny that this phenomenon exists, and seek to deny workers’ democracy to those who draw attention to it. This is not an anti-racist struggle on their behalf, but a pandering to the nationalism and communalism of an oppressor people – as Jews have become today insofar as under Zionist leadership they manage to act collectively.

Socialist Fight
email

In the same Weekly Worker he writes:

Zionism and holocaust abuse. It is completely legitimate to draw comparisons with the Nazis, insists Tony Greenstein.

Extracts:

There are clearly similarities between Israel today and Nazi Germany. This is not to say the two states are identical or that Israel is fascist or planning to exterminate the Palestinians (although genocidal ideas are indeed common in Zionism today). Israel is a settler-colonial state, the most racist state in the world. Israel calls itself a ‘Jewish democratic state’, but in practice it is democratic for Jews and Jewish for Arabs.

..

The Zionist movement understood how the holocaust could be exploited to serve Zionist purposes. As early as September 1942, when most of Europe’s Jews were still alive, the Zionists were thinking of creating a memorial to them. The creation of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, was proposed. This was seen as “the very last opportunity to score any financial success”.39 At this time the Jewish Agency had not even acknowledged that there was a holocaust.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Culture Wars on the Left, The Gender Recognition Act, and Transphobia in the UK.

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Image result for helen steel anarchist book fair

Helen Steel: Attacked by Trans Activists.

For some years the left has rightly taken up LGBT issues.

But the ‘T’, transgender, side of this has become increasingly fraught and the word itself is now an invitation to argument.

For some people Transgender people are (also?) women or men.

The Gender Recognition Act has brought the issue to the fore.

The Socialist Feminist Network – a site that should be compulsory reading for those commenting on the subject – has this,

What do Socialist feminists say about gender identity ideology?

The proposed changes by the Tory government to Gender Recognition Act are a fundamental change to the legal definition of the sex categories man and woman allowing individuals to opt into their chosen gender. Women are currently protected as a sex under the equality act. If anyone of the male sex identify into this protected characteristic it renders it meaningless. Males who identify as women will have legal protection but the female sex will lose protection as a distinct category.

They go on to say,

Under the Transgender umbrella a number of self- identities exist including non-binary, bi gender, gender queer and gender fluid. If the effect of the Bill, is in practice, to give male bodied people access to female intimate space that will be an unacceptable outcome. The stereotypical criticism of women as “pearl clutchers” for expressing concern over access to toilets is a horribly sexist dismissal of the idea of the importance of safety for women and girls. There are concerns about toilets, yes, but also about male access to female sport facilities, to refuges for women fleeing violence and to the female prison estate etc.

We believe that there may be possibilities that strengthening sex discrimination law will have the effect of improving rights to express gender more freely whilst not undermining existing laws that protect women.

This is probably the most controversial section,

We do not accept that transwomen are women and trans men are men. We associate this with unscientific thinking and the demand that it is an accepted truth of progressive politics as worryingly authoritarian. The demand that the left adopts this level of irrational thinking is often associated with vicious misogynist attacks, usually against feminists, on those who will not submit to the lie. There is a worrying trend of silencing women associated with transgender activism, petitions demanding feminists lose jobs, memes suggesting that we are hateful, petty snarking etc. and this is unacceptable. We are confident that our movement will back us and provide support to us in this.

They conclude,

Repeatedly feminists refuse to acknowledge the term “cis” women to describe themselves. It is simply a descriptive word, why object so strongly?

Our view is that women’s struggle for rights are part of a wider class struggle and should be at the centre of our movement. However gender theory denies us the vocabulary to discuss our biology or be explicit that even reproductive rights are for women. This is not just a problem in Ireland; recently students at Oxford University demanded the removal of references to women’s biology from abortion rights literature on the grounds that they were “transphobic” and “cis sexist”. Not only did they demand the removal of words describing female biology but they also threatened disaffiliation from abortion campaigns.

Language determines consciousness, or to put it less strongly, the structure of language influences cognition and world view. Therefore we will not simply shrug our shoulders at attempts to re-classify the meaning of a word as fundamental as “woman”. By demanding that we drop some words that describe our reality but insisting that we utilise others that frame a new context, gender theory is seeking to determine new classifications. At a minimum the left should try to unpack these new frameworks to understand what lay behind these motivations.

We should always try to understand the relevance of seeking to reframe language both in relation to the world around us and in relation to power. To place the word “cis” in front of the word woman immediately makes the actual woman/ adult human female “other”. In this classification anyone who “self identifies” is more oppressed than a “cis woman”. It creates a hierarchy of women, soon to be manipulated into new insidious classifications such as “cis women” having “privilege” or in some way being oppressive to those who “self-identify” as non cis or part of the transgender umbrella. These kinds of mental gymnastics have resulted in the absurdity of a major British political party, the Greens, calling women “non- men”. In this post- modern construction feminists become “cis sexist” and are then the valid target of abuse, this abusive behaviour, not surprisingly, follows familiar patterns of misogyny but that now have the cover of the cis / trans binary.

This is the pit in which liberal feminism currently thrashes around, a post- modern word salad, insisting feminism must centre everyone, except ourselves. This will not do. Instead we want a socialist feminism that unapologetically centres women, particularly working class women, in our movement. We say, unapologetically, feminism is for women.

The following article appeared in the Observer this Sunday.

UK transgender rights row intensifies as book fair is cancelled. 

Accusations of ‘transphobia’ have led to bitter divisions within Labour and the Women’s Equality party, feminist and anarchist movements.

An annual book fair that has served for more than three decades as the most important meeting point for the British anarchist movement has become the latest casualty of widening splits over the issue of transgender rights.

Organisers say that they no longer have “the appetite or the energy” to stage next year’s London Anarchist Bookfair, following fraught scenes at the event last month. A group of feminists were confronted by other activists who accused them of distributing “transphobic” leaflets that promoted prejudice against transgender people.

The acrimony follows highly publicised splits in universities, women’s organisations and political parties over the issue. Lily Madigan, a 19-year-old who has just won a vote in Kent to become Labour’s first women’s officer from a transgender background, has been at the centre of a row within the party.

…….

The increasingly angry disputes follow government proposals to streamline the process for how people can change their gender, under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). A public consultation is to be held on speeding up and demedicalising the process, with the current need to be assessed and diagnosed by clinicians seen by some as intrusive.

Choosing whether one is a man or a woman is a matter of self-identification, trans activists assert. Some opponents of the GRA have warned that this may lead to young, vulnerable people making decisions they later regret. Others have suggested that self-identifying undermines the status, rights and experience of biological women.

The rows “are going on within all sorts of social movements”, said Helen Steel, the veteran social justice campaigner known for her role in taking on McDonald’s in the 1997 “McLibel” case.

She said she had been left traumatised by her experience at the book fair, claiming she was surrounded by a “baying mob” after intervening to stop the bullying of two women who had been distributing leaflets about the GRA. (1)

“I have been aware that women have been bullied on this issue for a long time now but, until it happened to me, I was not aware of the extent of the bullying and am shocked by it,” Steel said. “I have been an environmental and social justice campaigner for most of my life. In all that time, I have never experienced such a toxic environment.”

Opponents of Steel and the other feminists assert that to have allowed the distribution of the leaflets was to create an environment in which transphobia was encouraged, discriminating against a group of people who already experience high rates of suicide, poverty and persecution.

Spiked-on-line’s  Ella Whelan had already opined, LILY MADIGAN IS NOT A WOMAN

Having a 19-year-old boy as a women’s officer is ridiculous.

Lily Madigan, a transgender teenager formerly known as Liam, has been elected as the women’s officer for the Labour Party branch in Rochester and Strood in Kent.

Madigan’s election has caused a stir — something this teen is used to doing. At 18, he hired a solicitor and threatened to sue his mixed Catholic secondary school for not allowing him to use the girls’ changing rooms or dress according to the girls’ uniform code.

……

So, here we have a trans teen who has previously been part of an effort to undermine a women’s officer’s career now being elected as a women’s officer. Understandably, some are angry about this. How can a teenager who has only recently declared himself to be a woman be eligible as a women’s officer? As Teresa Murray, vice-chairwoman of the executive committee of Rochester and Strood CLP, said: ‘Lily will have to work very hard to convince other people that her very presence there is not going to undermine them.’

The role of a women’s officer is important, feminists argue, because the lived experience a woman is something men cannot understand. Therefore, in order for women to feel politically represented, they must be represented by women. Now, some of us may disagree with this and think that it elevates the narrowness and divisiveness of identity politics over the idea of politics as a universal democratic pursuit. But it is what some people believe, and of course have a right to believe. And yet identity politics and the cult of diversity have now gone so far that women in politics are being pressured to accept a man as their ‘female representative’.

The new obsession with transgenderism is throwing up many difficult questions. What does it mean to be a woman? Is simply looking like a woman enough? And what about the rise in transgender feeling among young people? Are we comfortable with children fixating on their gender — with girls binding their breasts or boys taking drugs to prevent puberty? These are serious issues and they must be discussed openly, without fear of ostracism or demonisation. But that isn’t happening. Tragically, transgender politics has become a new dogma, promoted by almost every wing of the elite, and that is bad for young people, for women, and for freedom and critical thinking.

It is tempting to reject anything the ex-RCP says but Labour does not appear to have been thought through the difficulties this appointment raises.

But do we agree with this?

Theorising Feminist Transphobia Phil Burton

“According to Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire, trans women represent patriarchal agents within the women’s movement. In plainer language, she argues they are men who have surgically altered their bodies to become simulacra of women’s bodies, but that does not make them women. The socialisation of being brought up male, along with its myriad entitlements, privileges, expectations, and complicity in the reproduction of patriarchal social relationships remains. Therefore the acceptance of trans women runs the risk of constituting an alien presence within the women’s movement”

After further analysis of this current of thought, from the marketing of femininity,  a concern “with all women’s experiences and seeks to articulate them, which includes trans women, and is characterised by inclusion and an interest in the individual” and the contrasting, “marketable commodity” of feminist transphobia, with “roots in anxiety”,  Phil concludes,

There is no reason why, for instance, the existence of trans men and trans women should reinforce the gender binary, especially when the performance and resistance of gendered practices vary as much among trans as they do among cis people. Indeed, by arguing that treatment/surgery should not take place isn’t one upholding the binarism by forcing people to inhabit the gendered bodies they received? Additionally, the existence of a gender industry no more delegitimises trans people than the gay men’s health care “industry” (or the so-called pink pound) does gay men.

Yes, both try and produce subjects of particular kinds, but all institutions and constellations of institutions do so, sometimes for profit. So what? Furthermore, some elements of second wave feminism are exclusionary of women, and there remains perspectives that criticise BDSM lesbians, butch lesbians, indulge bi-erasure and critique bisexuality, and of course, there is the small fringe of lesbian separatism. The difficulties some feminists have with trans women are inseparable from identity border wars, but simultaneously newer generations of feminists view these feuds as old hat and irrelevant to the main job of critiquing and opposing patriarchy and capitalism.

The comrades from the Socialist Feminist Network raise legitimate concerns.

Not least, for political activists,  is the following, “To place the word “cis” in front of the word woman immediately makes the actual woman/ adult human female “other”. In this classification anyone who “self identifies” is more oppressed than a “cis woman”. It creates a hierarchy of women, soon to be manipulated into new insidious classifications such as “cis women” having “privilege” or in some way being oppressive to those who “self-identify” as non cis or part of the transgender umbrella. ” And, “recently students at Oxford University demanded the removal of references to women’s biology from abortion rights literature on the grounds that they were “transphobic” and “cis sexist”.

Many will sympathise with the wish to be inclusive and to understand the point of view of trans activists and to fight against the prejudices towards them.

But Phil raises a number of straw figures to argue against, beginning with the idea that critics of trans people who wish to identify as women, be recognised as women is linked to the wilder claims of those who consider them as “patriarchal agents within the women’s movement”.

It is very far from clear what “forcing people to inhabit the gendered bodies they received” means. Perhaps it implies that we can leave our bodies for new ones.

But one thing overshadows anything else.

The hatred against so-called Terfs, (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists), extended to anybody who criticises trans-activists, is repellent just as is some of the language used by some feminists against them.

Or this litany of lies.

Related image

The more recent sight of people screaming “TERF Nazis” at radical feminists is not easy to forget or forgive.

Image result for Terfs

Biological differences between men and women exist. There is a limit to the social construction of identity, and those limits, outlined in Norman Geras in, Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend (1983), include physical differences in our “corporal organisation” which no gender reassignment can deconstruct. We can begin with reproduction and menstruation, or, the Socialist feminists call it “women’s biology”.

Kindness towards people does not include the obligation to remain silent about these issues.

 

*******

(1) Comrade Helen Steel’s statement includes this:

  • Half an hour later, I was surrounded for over an hour by a baying mob of around 30 trans activists who shouted misogynistic abuse in my face and at others, and who would not leave me alone. This included: ugly Terf, fucking Terf scum, bitch, fascist and more. That kind of behaviour should have no place in anarchism or any other progressive politics.
  • Despite that provocation, I did not at any time threaten or assault anyone. No trans activists were threatened by anyone else in my sight or hearing.
  • While I was surrounded, I saw a man’s hand moving towards my face and when it was within inches of my face I blocked it and pushed his arm away. He then started shouting that I had assaulted him and I should be thrown out.
  • Some of those in the baying mob tried to stoke anger and division by calling me a snitch, making false claims that I had filmed them assaulting a feminist at Speakers Corner and had handed that footage to the police. Footage of the incident is available and actually shows me intervening to protect the victim of the assault, not filming it. The videos embedded in this article show what actually happened, please do watch them and see the truth for yourself.

Image result for Terfs anarchist book fair

Her opponents’ views can be seen on Phil’s Blog and here: Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

 

Update: This by Helen Saxby, one of the best overviews of the whole debate,  has been signaled by a feminist socialist comrade on Facebook. When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

Pakistan, Government Caves in to Islamist ‘Blasphemy’ Protests.

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Caving in to Faizabad protesters’ demand, Law Minister Zahid Hamid is ready to resign

According to sources, the law minister, who is ready to resign, is concerned about his safety. His ancestral home in Pasrur also came under attack from protesters on Saturday.  He discussed his safety concerns at length with the chief minister in the meeting that lasted about an hour.

Hamid reportedly said he was ready to resign but wanted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership to play an active role in clearing his name from the controversy.

The minister also released a video message on Youtube to assure the people that he believed in the finality of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  He read out the oath from the existing law and said, “I believe in finality of Prophethood. I am not a follower of any claimant of prophethood, nor do I believe that any such claimant of prophethood is a Muslim. Neither do I belong to any Qadiani Group or Lahori group, nor do I call myself as Ahmadi.” He said the Constitution of Pakistan declared Qadianis, Ahmadi Group and Lahori Group as non-Muslims. “I love Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) from the core of my heart and am a true lover of the last Prophet (PBUH). I and my family are prepared to lay down our lives for the honour and sanctity of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”

The message is yet another attempt from Hamid to clear his name from the controversy that may jeopardise not only his political career but also his life. Some reports suggest that two ministers, including Hamid, may tender resignation if the stand-off persists.

This is from the Ahmadis on the threats they face:

Pakistan’s Anti-Ahmadi Laws

30 years ago the Government of Pakistan enacted a series of anti-Ahmadi laws (Ordinance XX) that made it a criminal offence for Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims.

The law states that Ahmadi Muslims cannot:

  • Call themselves Muslims
  • Refer to their faith as Islam
  • Call their place of worship a ‘Mosque’;
  • Make the call for prayers (Adhan)
  • Say the Islamic greeting ‘Assalamo alaikum’ (Peace be on you)
  • Preach or propagate their faith

Any of the above will be punishable by three years imprisonment and a fine.

If the offence is regarded as blasphemy then an Ahmadi could be sentenced to death.

This makes the Ahmadi Muslim community unique in Pakistan as being the only religious community in Pakistan to be targeted by the state simply on grounds of faith.

The Financial Times states,

“The government stands defeated, the protesters have won,” said one senior government official. “Now we must consider the consequences for the future of Pakistan.” The weekend’s events are the latest sign that Pakistan’s powerful army, which has run the country for almost half of its 70 years as an independent state, is once more gaining the upper hand over the civilian government.

They add,

On Sunday, Gen Bajwa met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and according to officials, made it clear that the army would not use force to restore order. Instead, Mr Abbasi agreed to concede to one of the protesters’ main demands by removing Zahid Hamid, law minister, as well as withdrawing a two-day ban on Pakistani news channels.

By Monday morning, the leaders of the protest had signed a formal agreement to stand down, in which they particularly thanked Gen Bajwa, “whose special efforts helped to put the agreement together and averted a major disaster for the nation”.  Another signatory is Major General Faiz Hameed, the head of the counter-intelligence division at the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), further underlining the military’s role in brokering the agreement.

 

More: Pakistan Today,  Tehreek-e-Labaik using Facebook to incite hatred; social media ‘inaccessible’ in Pakistan

Written by Andrew Coates

November 27, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Stalin. Waiting for Hitler. 1928 – 1941. Stephen Kotkin. A Democratic Socialist Review.

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Stalin. Waiting for Hitler. 1928 – 1941. Stephen Kotkin. Allen Lane. 2017.

The Yugoslavian communist, A. Ciliga, a sincere man and an unimpeachable witness, one of the few who has escaped alive from the Soviet convict gangs, has written in his book, Au pays du grand mensonge: “Those who have not lived in the Soviet prisons, concentration camps and places of exile in which are shut up more than five million convicts, those who are not familiar with the greatest jail history has ever seen, where men die like flies, where they are beaten like dogs, where they are made to work like slaves, can have no idea what Soviet Russia is, what Stalin’s ‘classless society’ means.”

Boris Souvarine. Postscript to Stalin: a critical survey of Bolshevism. 1935

The first volume of Kotkin’s study of Stalin, Paradoxes of Power, 1878 – 1928. (2014) portrayed the dictator as the product of “immense structural forces”, the legacy of Tsarism, the mode of government he took over from Lenin and the Bolsheviks “castle in the air” version of socialism. But the author could not neglect the character of his subject, whose “cold calculation and the flights of absurd delusion were products of a single mind, he was shrewd enough to see right through people, but not enough to spare him a litany of nonsensical beliefs.” (1)

That these “closely mirrored the Bolshevik revolution in-built structural paranoia” is only one of the many elements that contributed to the harrowing themes of the present book. This begins with the mass murders, starvation and famine of agricultural Collectivisation, followed by the mid-1930s Great Terror, and concludes with Stalin’s’ miscalculations faced with the threat of Hitler’s Germany

There are few grimmer tasks for the left than facing up to the reality of Stalin’s Russia. What enthusiasm can be mustered for the October Revolution has to face the totalitarianism that followed. This is not a new dilemma. That Stalin was, in his own and Kotkin’s opinion, a “communist and revolutionary” and that he developed within “the moral universe of Marxism-Leninism” was galling – and contestable – to radical left critics of the first hour, like Boris Souvarine.

This cosmos was bleak. The collectivisation and war against the Kulaks, the first Five Year Plan, took place against the background of famine and epidemics which “probably killed between 5 and 7 million people between 1931-33. Perhaps 10 million more starved nearly to death ” (Page 127) In response Stalin accused peasants of “not wanting to work.” (Page 128) Yet industrialisation began, investment quadrupled to 44 % of GDP in 1932. At the time well-wishers of the burgeoning New Civilisation were enthusiastic But, Kotkin observes, “unrelenting optimism spread alongside famine, arrests, deportations, execution, camps, censorship, sealed borders. (P 305) “Stalin’s anti capitalist experiment resembled a vast camp of deliberately deprived workers, indentured farmers and slave labourers toiling of the benefit of an unacknowledged elite.” (Ibid)

The Great Terror.

Stalin. Waiting for Hitler tackles the Great Terror. There is a lengthy account of the assassination of Kirov by Nikolayev, the pretext for the mass killings and imprisonments that followed. The hysteria reached its peak in the Great Trials of the middle of the decade. At its height, “just for two years, 1937 and 1938, the political police, the NKVD, would report 1,575,259 arrests, 87% of them for political offences, and 681,692 executions.”(Page 305)

It is hard to get a measure of the suffering of so many victims. Vsevolod Meyerhold, one of the country’s top theatre directors was one of the countless to fall into the hands of the butchers. In 1939 he was tortured and made to confess to spying for Britain and Japan. After systematic beatings, “Meyerhold’s interrogators had urinated into his mouth and smashed his right (writing) hand to bits” (Page 649) A footnote adds that while this was happening NKVD chief Beria awarded the larger part of his flat to one of his mistresses (Page 1029). He was executed by firing Squad in February 1940. 

Kotkin is not engaged in the history of the Gulag, only the contours of the Archipelago are sketched, and there are no Kolyma Tales Nor are there accounts of how Communist self-criticism ended in denunciations, or the whispers by a population-turned-delators to the NKVD. We are brought instead to the party machine and to Stalin’s Little Corner in the Moscow Kremlin, where he scanned lists of those caught in the lights of the hunt. “At least 383 execution lists signed by him have survived, containing the names of more than 43,000 ‘enemies of the people’, mostly the highest-level officials and officers (P 490). What kind of man performed filled his days with this never-ending work? Faced with a flood of letters of those appealing for those caught up in the murders, he “showed no sign that he was in the least tormented by the slaughter” (Ibid).

This was a war that hit the masses and the elite, clearing the way, Kotkin suggests for an intentional renewal of the bureaucracy. The new cadres, who took the posts of those found out as ‘wreckers’ ‘spies’ of anti-Soviet elements’, were described as “healthy young representatives of a healthy young people”. With rising salaries they were rewarded as such (Page 603) Stalin engineered human souls reinforced an already privileged caste, “The terror that murdered officials en masse accentuated the ascendancy of the functionary class.”(Page 604)

Over half of Stalin. Waiting for Hitler is occupied, as its title indicates, with Soviet foreign policy and, above all, with the build up to the war with Hitler’s Germany. From the Spanish Civil, an occasion to further Stalin’s obsession with Trotsky through attacks on the ‘Trotskyist’ (anti-Stalinist Marxist) POUM, Trotsky’s 1940 assassination, the ill-judged war with Finland (met with mass resistance by the Finns), the division of Poland with little perceivable long-term gain, to his wavering dealings with Mao in China, there were few signs of strategic genius.

Above all Stalin failed to prepare properly for the confrontation with the German army. This was not just the result of the purges of competent military and intelligence personnel. His tactical abilities were flawed. “Instead of acting cunningly, Stalin fooled himself. He clung to the belief that Germany could not attack before defeating the UK….”(Page 897)

A landmark.

Kotkin’s achievement as a historian of Stalin should not be overshadowed by the often hard to digest text. Key developments risk being submerged by lengthy day-to-day accounts. The plodding style, and turns of phrase such as the “wee hours” are not a help to the reader. But nobody can fail to recognise that the work is a landmark.

With such a protagonist in his sights Waiting for Hitler raises deep issues about the nature of the USSR under Stalin. One commanding thread lies in an effort to come to terms with the basis of the tyranny of the ‘vozhd’, the Leader, as Stalin came to be called. The author’s observation that he operated within a “near permanent state of emergency” could be said to cast light on the nature of Stalin’s rule. Lenin has used exceptional measures – a monopoly of political power, imprisonment of opponents, execution of ‘counter-revolutionaries’, censorship – in ‘defence’ of the revolution. These were indefinitely prolonged. That alone gave the Lenin appointed General Secretary scope for his efforts to impose his brand of ‘Marxism Leninism’ on his most “precious resource”, the people of the USSR.

Could both the original disregard for law and independent justice in the name of higher interests, the need to fight the Enemy, be compared to the pro-Nazi political theorist, Carl Schmitt’s speculation on the foundations of politics? Does the justification of the “state of exception” as a “transcendence” of normal politics cast light on the arguments of those who try to justify the “exceptional” circumstances of the Bolshevik Revolution to treat its opponents with contempt? In Stalin’s career, there is little doubt that the division of the world into friends and foes, with no-holds barred in the fight, “gave free rein to his savagery”. To those who seek psychological explanations for his behaviour Kotkin states, “Stalin’s sociopathology was to a degree the outgrowth of dictatorial rule”. (Page 5)

“Marx had never advocated mass murder but freedom” (Page 302). This may be scant consolation for those crushed by Stalin, his successors and emulators. But it important for those of us who are democratic socialists to make sure that the real history of Stalin’s rule is as familiar inside our own camp as that of those whom we venerate. We look forward to reading Kotkin’s Death of Stalin.

******

(1) Page 736. Stalin. Paradoxes of Power. 1878 – 1928. Stephen Kotkin. Allen Lane. 2014.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

Taylor Swift: an envoy for Trump’s values and Nazi Icon? The Guardian’s Editorial.

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Trump Backs Swift.

The Guardian view on Taylor Swift: an envoy for Trump’s values?

Swift’s songs echo Mr Trump’s obsession with petty score-settling in their repeated references to her celebrity feuds, or report in painstaking detail on her failed romantic relationships (often, there is crossover). The message is quintessentially Trumpian: everyone is out to get me – but I win anyway. Seeded with clues to the identities of her famous associates, her lyrics reel in and solidify a hardcore fanbase – usually young, female followers known as “Swifties” – who passionately defend her honour on social media by attacking her detractors.

Swift seems not simply a product of the age of Trump, but a musical envoy for the president’s values.

The danger is even greater according to this reliable News Site, Vice, which the Guardian’s Newshounds have consulted

Can’t Shake It Off: How Taylor Swift Became a Nazi Idol

Nazis and members of the “alt-right” consider Taylor Swift an Aryan pop queen who is “red pilling” America into a race war through her pop hits.

Hard-bitten reporters have dug the following out.

Taylor Swift – A Nazi Icon?

What do Taylor Swift and Nazis have in common? To most, not much. To Nazis, just about everything. When it comes to the Aryan beauties they admire most, modern neo-Nazis seem to take a liking to Taylor the best. According to white supremacist blogger Andre Anglin, Taylor Swift is a secret Nazi in disguise, just waiting for her chance to unveil her aspirations for a fascist regime.

“Firstly, Taylor Swift is a pure Aryan goddess, like something out of classical Greek poetry. Athena reborn. That’s the most important thing,” Anglin said. “It is also an established fact that Taylor Swift is secretly a Nazi and is simply waiting for the time when Donald Trump makes it safe for her to come out and announce her Aryan agenda to the world. Probably, she will be betrothed to Trump’s son, and they will be crowned American royalty.”

Ranker.

This is not the first time in recent months when Swift’s name has entered the political world.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2017 at 11:39 am

Slave Auction in Libya, After Outrage, Protests Begin.

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This morning on Europe 1 there was the harrowing testimony of a 17 year old man, Arnaud,  from Cameron who had escaped from slavery in Libya.

“Chaque jour, il y a des tortures, des bastonnades, des électrocutions et des travaux forcés”

Every day there were tortures, beating, electrocutions  and forced labour.

“”Tu deviens un objet. Ce qu’on nous a appris à l’école sur la traite négrière, tu comprends que c’est revenu”,

You become an object. What you learnt at school about the African slave trade, you can see that it’s come back. 

Arnaud, now a refugee in France added,

“En Libye, le mouton vaut plus que l’homme noir.”

In Libya a sheep is worth more than a Black Man.

In France there has been a strong moblisation against Slavery in Libya.

Manifestation contre l’esclavage, à Nouakchott, en Mauritanie, le 29 avril 2015.

Paris, des milliers de personnes ont manifesté samedi à l’appel du Collectif contre l’esclavage et les camps de concentration en Libye (CECCL).  (Le Monde. 23.11.17).

Rwanda has announced that it is willing to take 30,000 victims of the slave markets, (Jeune Afrique,Marché aux esclaves en Libye : le Rwanda prêt à accueillir 30 000 migrants africains“).

Background:

Video Of Migrants Sold In Apparent Slave Auction In Libya Provokes Outrage Worldwide

“I am horrified,” the UN secretary-general said.

After a video surfaced showing migrants apparently being sold at auction in Libya, people worldwide have been calling for action.

Last week, CNN published a report on modern slavery in Libya, featuring a video that reportedly was shot in August and appeared to show a man selling African migrants for farm work.

“Big strong boys,” the man said in the video, according to a CNN narrator. “400 … 700 … 800,” he called out the mounting prices. The men were eventually sold for about $400 each, CNN reported. The Libyan government said it has launched an investigation into slave auctions in the country.

Following the CNN report, demonstrators took to the streets in Paris and other cities last week to express their outrage, and Libyans showed their solidarity on Twitter with the hashtag #LibyansAgainstSlavery.

Solidarity!

Written by Andrew Coates

November 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Skwawkbox – ‘left’ Fake News Site – Loses Appeal to Independent Press Standards Organisation over…..its own Fake News.

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A Byword for Fake News.

Skwawkbox is notorious, not just in the MSM but on the left, for spreading misleading stories.

One that stuck in the craw was this claim, in July this year,  “DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.” Another , in August, was that Venezuela was a horn of plenty,  UNDERCOVER VIDEO SHOWS FULL SHELVES IN #VENEZUELA SUPERMARKETS.

The Blog site with big pretensions did score a scoop not too long ago with an interview with Dennis Skinner….defending his House of Commons vote  with the Tories for a the government Brexit. Skinner defended his action in these words, “With all the treaties, Maastricht and the others, I don’t decide who’s in the lobby – some rag tag and bobtail of Tories plus a few unionists.”

But it was there lies over Grenfell Tower that really hit a nerve.

Former Ken Livingstone employee Bob Pitt and wrote this,

On 16 June, in an article headed “Video: Govt puts ‘D-notice’ gag on real #Grenfell death toll #nationalsecurity”, Skwawkbox took up the claim made by grime MC Saskilla on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the number of victims in the Grenfell Tower fire was far greater than had yet been officially admitted, with as many as 200 people having died.

Skwawkbox used this claim to give credence to rumours that the government was engaged in an attempt to prevent the media reporting the true extent of the disaster: “At the same time, multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a ‘D-notice’ (sometimes called a ‘DA Notice’) on the real number of deaths in the blaze.”

By contrast, BuzzFeed News took the trouble to contact the Defence and Security Media Advisory Committee — which, as a quick google would reveal, is the actual body responsible for issuing D-Notices, not the Home Office. BuzzFeed was able to report that it had “confirmed with the DSMA secretariat that there are no advisories issued about the fire at Grenfell Tower, that notices would not be sent in relation to civilian disasters such as this one, and that so far as the DSMA secretariat is aware there is no national security element whatsoever to the tragedy”.

Faced with the collapse of its story, Skwawkbox was forced to back off and post a grudging retraction: “EDIT: the SKWAWKBOX is now satisfied that no D-notice was issued. No plain answer to this blog’s question of otherrestrictions on information about lives lost at Grenfell has yet been provided, but a ‘D-notice’ (or DSMA-notice as they are now termed) was not.”

Did Skwawkbox apologise for getting the story wrong and offer assurances that there would be no repetition of this stupid and provocative reporting? You must be joking. Instead, Skwawkbox’s proprietor was stung by the well-deserved criticism of his article into posting an indignant defence of his shoddy journalistic methods. In a quite astonishing display of chutzpah, he declared that he himself had been the victim of “fake news”!

Skwawkbox — an embarrassment to the Left

We learn now that not only has Skwawky no regrets about its story but that its owner, a certain Steve Walker (cited below), had the cheek to take the Mail to the  Independent Press Standards Organisation because the right-wing rag dared to call his public  pissoir a conduit for fake news.

After examining this case, and another, in which the site alleged that the PM was under investigation for conflicts of interest over Brexit,  he has just been sent away with his long tail between his legs.

The judgement says:

  • The complainant’s blog had reported claims made by third parties that a D-notice had been issued in relation to the Grenfell fire disaster. As these claims had proven to be untrue, it was not significantly misleading for the publication to have said that the complainant had “spread” “fake news”.
  • The Committee also noted that the complainant denied the report that he had published “false allegations” that Theresa May was under investigation for potential conflicts of interest relating to Brexit, as he had merely repeated claims that had been made about Mrs May. However, the article had made clear that the blog had “repeated claims” that the Propriety and Ethics Team had launched an investigation into Mrs May. As such, the article was not significantly misleading on this point.

This is how he responded to the judgement:

ATTACKS ON SKWAWKBOX INTENSIFYING AND DESPERATE. WONDER WHY..

Now the story brokejust before last week, and they have not replied beyond insulting the people they made an appeal to.

Hence we republish it for people to make their own minds up about the judgement.

But clearly Skwawkbox is unrepentant and feels free to continue spreading his version of reality on the Web.

Decision of the Complaints Committee 16690-17 Walker v Mail Online

Summary of complaint

  1. Steve Walker complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that Mail Online breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) and Clause 2 (Privacy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Revealed: Far left blogger behind ‘fake news’ story that government is gagging media over true scale of Grenfell deaths is corporate boss who sells services to the NHS” published on 30 June 2017.
  2. The article reported that an “anonymous, left wing blogger” who published the “fake news story” that the government had gagged the media over the Grenfell fire disaster, was a “corporate CEO who sells private services to the NHS”. It said that the story that the government had issued a D-notice, an official request to editors not to publish sensitive information, had gone viral, but no such government D-notice had been issued. The article also said that the blog had falsely reported that Theresa May was being investigated by the Cabinet Office for a conflict of interest on Brexit. The article named the complainant as the blogger and included photographs of him. It said that his company had made money from the NHS by selling it a mailing system.
  3. The complainant said that the article had inaccurately reported that his company sold services to the NHS, and that it benefited from the privatisation of the NHS, implying that the articles published on his blog were hypocritical. He said that the company provided a free service: clients were given access to the mailing system for free, and the company made money from the traffic generated, at no cost to the client.
  4. The complainant also disputed that his blog had spread “fake news”. He said that his blog, which stated that Theresa May was being investigated by the Cabinet Office for a conflict of interest on Brexit, made clear that this was a claim being made elsewhere in the media. Similarly, the blog reporting on the D-notice made clear that these were claims being made by sources, and that the claims were unconfirmed. Contrary to the article, he had not published “false claims”; the report of the claims was true; and when the claims were proven to be unfounded, the blog was amended.
  5. The complainant said that the article had included images taken from his Facebook profile without consent, including an image of him posing with his family.  The complainant also raised concern that his interview with the journalist had been recorded, without his explicit consent.
  6. The publication said that the article was accurate. It said that the complainant had spoken on the record to the reporter, and the reporter had a recording of the conversation to ensure that the subsequent article was accurate. The reporter had interviewed the complainant and had asked him whether he made a profit out of his business, and the complainant had said that as a business, it had to make a profit. It noted that the complainant’s job title was Sales Director, and the company website included testimonials using phrases such as “excellent value for money”.
  7. The publication said that it was not inaccurate to report that the complainant’s blog had been accused of spreading “fake news”. Irrespective of whether the blog had made clear that it was reporting claims, the information it had distributed had been false.
  8. With regards to the D-notice story, the publication said that the complainant’s blog was the first outlet to publish it, and the complainant had since accepted that it was inaccurate. It said that the blog had been widely criticised for spreading “fake news” following this story, and it considered that it should have been immediately obvious to the complainant that the allegations were false as D-notices were only used for matters of national security. It also argued that the blog had asserted that the claims were likely to be true: it had stated “if it is true that the government has issued a D-notice – and every instinct is screaming that it is” and went on to state that if it were the case “then the government has placed a national security gag on mainstream news editors to prevent them from disclosing what’s already known about the number of lives lost at Grenfell Tower.”
  9. The publication also noted that its article had stated that the complainant’s blog had reported “claims” that Theresa May was under investigation by the Cabinet Office. It said that there was no evidence in this blog that the author had made any attempt to verify the claims.
  10. The publication accepted that the complainant’s company distributed mailing software to clients for free, but it said that the company charged its clients for the letters sent using the software. It did not consider it significantly misleading for it have asserted that the “system” was sold to the NHS, as it was a fact that the “service” was sold to it. The publication said that the article had not accused the complainant of hypocrisy; rather, it had juxtaposed his business activities against the views he had expressed on NHS privatisation.  Regardless, it offered to amend the assertion that the complainant’s company sold the mailing system to the NHS, to make clear that it “provided” the system to the NHS. During IPSO’s investigation, it made further amendments to the article to make clear that the blog had reported claims, and it offered to append the following footnote, with a similar wording to be published as a standalone correction:

A previous version of this article said that Foojit made money from the NHS “by selling its mailing system to the Levenshulme Health Clinic in Manchester”. Mr Walker has contacted us to point out that in fact Foojit’s mailing system software was provided to the Clinic for free. What the Health Clinic pays for is any letters it sends using Foojit’s services. In addition the article has been amended to say that the Skwawkbox blog posts published by Mr Walker reported on claims made by other sources. We are happy to make this clear.

  1. The publication said that the photographs were sourced from the complainant’s open Facebook site and could also be found on his wife’s Facebook site. They merely showed the complainant, his wife and adult child; the child’s face had been blurred at the complainant’s request. The remaining images were sourced from publicly available resources, such as social media postings relating to the complainant’s business. The publication did not consider that any private information had been disclosed by publishing any of the images.

Relevant Code provisions

  1. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
  2. i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
  3. ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.

iii) A fair opportunity to reply to significant inaccuracies should be given, when reasonably called for.

  1. iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

Clause 2 (Privacy)

  1. i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.
  2. ii) Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent. Account will be taken of the complainant’s own public disclosures of information.

iii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals, without their consent, in public or private places where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Findings of the Committee

  1. The complainant’s business provided mailing software to its clients for free, and the business had charged the NHS for mail sent using the system. As such, it was not significantly misleading for the publication to have described this model as the complainant selling a “mailing system”, “mailing solutions” and “private services” to the NHS, and to claim that his company benefited from the privatisation of the NHS. There was no failure to take care over the accuracy of the article on this point. While this point did not raise a breach of the Code, the Committee welcomed the publication’s offer to publish a clarification to address it.
  2. The Committee noted the complainant’s concern that the publication had accused him of spreading the “fake news” story that the government had “gagged” the media over the Grenfell fire disaster, when his blog had made clear that he was reporting claims that a D-notice had been issued.
  3. The complainant’s blog had reported claims made by third parties that a D-notice had been issued in relation to the Grenfell fire disaster. As these claims had proven to be untrue, it was not significantly misleading for the publication to have said that the complainant had “spread” “fake news”. There was no breach of the Code on this point.
  4. The article under complaint had not made clear that the complainant’s blog had repeated claims made by third parties about the D-notice: it had said that he was “behind the ‘fake news’ story”, and that he had “reported that officials had placed a D-notice”. However, the Committee also noted that the complainant had given significant weight to this claim in his blog. Indeed, the blog had strongly suggested that it was true: it had said “every instinct is screaming that [the claims are true]”. Given that the complainant had endorsed the credibility of the claims and had effectively adopted them, it was not significantly misleading for the publication to have said that the complainant had “reported” that the government had issued a D-notice. There was no breach of the Code on this point.
  5. The Committee also noted that the complainant denied the report that he had published “false allegations” that Theresa May was under investigation for potential conflicts of interest relating to Brexit, as he had merely repeated claims that had been made about Mrs May. However, the article had made clear that the blog had “repeated claims” that the Propriety and Ethics Team had launched an investigation into Mrs May. As such, the article was not significantly misleading on this point. There was no breach of Clause 1.
  6. The publication had published images that had been taken from the complainant’s Facebook profile and from social media sites relating to the complainant’s business. The images showed the complainant’s face and did not disclose information about which the complainant had a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  7. Where the complainant was aware that he was speaking to a journalist, the journalist was not required to obtain his permission to record the conversation for note-taking purposes. There was no breach of Clause 2.

Conclusions: The complaint was not upheld.

20.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2017 at 5:37 pm

Tariq Ramadan’s Accuser, Henda Ayari, Receives Anti-Semitic Death Threats as More Allegations Surface.

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Paid by ‘Zionists’ to attack Tariq Ramadan, say Oxford Don’s militant  Supporters. 

This story was on the French radio this morning:

Menacée sur les réseaux sociaux, la première accusatrice de Tariq Ramadan, Henda Ayari, porte plainte Huffington Post.  22/11/2017

Threatened on social media, the first accuser of Tariq Ramadan, Henda Ayrai, has lodged a formal complaint to the police.

She is now under Police protection.

The Parisien reports,

“Les insultes et menaces évoquent que je serais payée par les juifs, les sionistes, que l’homme qui me battait [son ex-compagnon] devrait être respecté… Ils disent que je fais du fric en surfant sur l’islamophobie, également sur le sang des Palestiniens”, raconte-t-elle au Parisien.

The insults and threats claim that I am paid by the Jews, the Zionists, and the home who beat me (her ex-partner) should be respected…They say that I’m making money and surf on a tide of Islamophobia, and on the the blood of the Palestinians.

Europe I  states that there have been 21 Pages of death threats.

 

It took a minute to find some examples of gross abuse and anti-semitism (there are more on Mediapart).

Image result for Henda Ayari sioniste

The National ( a private English-language  newspaper published in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) reported yesterday that more accusations of sexual abuse have surfaced.

 

‘Tariq Ramadan’s victims could be in their hundreds’ – new exposé

The prominent Islamic scholar is facing a string of accusations of rape and sexual assault.

The victims of Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan are in the tens, if not hundreds, stretching back over more than two decades, according to a new exposé.

Majda Bernoussi, a woman of Moroccan origin, kept a daily journal throughout her tumultuous relationship with the prominent Islamic scholar, extracts of which have been unveiled in French magazine Le Point.

While Ms Bernoussi was herself not raped or beaten in the five year relationship, which lasted from 2009 to 2014, she claims to have been threatened by his fans when she tried to denounce him for his “predatory” behaviour towards women.

She is now planning to publish her journal, entitled: A voyage into troubled waters with Tariq Ramadan.

The latest development follows a string of damning allegations about Mr Ramadan, who is a professor at Oxford University and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

It is completely abnormal that the British media and establishment, both liberal and not so liberal,  who have treated this creature, the Oxford Don and media invitee, Tariq Ramadan, with respect, should largely ignore this affair   and the dire straits  Henda Ayrai is in.

What kind of Oxford ‘Professor’ has supporters who rave against a women and her “Jewish” paymasters?

What kind of Oxford College still employs – on “leave of absence” – a man embroiled in a scandal like this?

Written by Andrew Coates

November 22, 2017 at 12:39 pm

The Defeat of the French Left: Chronique d’une Débâcle. 2012 – 2017. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis.

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Image result for Chronique d’une Débâcle. 2012 – 2017. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis.

 

Chronique d’une Débâcle. 2012 – 2017. Jean-Christophe Cambadélis. L’Archipel. 2017.

How could the French Socialist Party, (Parti Socialiste, PS) fall from the political heavens to the nether depths? Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, was until the 18th of June PS General Secretary of the  opens his Chronicle with this question. 

Cambadélis has no need to dramatise. The political force which broke decades of right-wing rule with the election of François Mitterrand in 1981, helped nudge the previously front-running Communists to second place, and then the sidelines. Until this Spring it has dominated France’s left, culturally and politically,  for forty years, running the country for up to twenty of them, and has been in charge of many levels of local and regional administration. 

Yet this April and May saw a humiliating PS score of 6,35% for Benoît Hamon in the first round of the Presidential elections. It was followed by the reduction of the PS Parliamentary representation from 280 to 31 seats. Cambadélis lost his own Paris constituency.  During the campaign, sensing coming an electoral rout, and fearing the strength of Marine Le Pen, leading members called for going beyond traditional political divisions. That is, he suggests in the book,  meant the revival of a long-standing call for alliances with the centre-right – perhaps, in British terms, seen as the equivalent of the Liberal Democrats (Page 119). In the event, outgoing Socialist Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, vocally backed a vote for Emmanuel Macron. Others also welcomed his ‘parti-enterprise’ En Marche! They glimpsed, as the Chronique observes, in the former Minister of the Economy under François Hollande, a “planche de salut” (last hope) as defeat loomed. (Page 118)

Their defection did not stop there. Two Ministers of the newly elected President Philippe Cabinet, Gérard Collomb and Jean-Yves Le Drian, are former leading Socialists. The PS’s Presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon, left the party and created the Mouvement du 1er Juillet with ecological policies and ambitions to create a new “common House” for the left. Supported by a number of regional elected figures he was joined last week by two resigning PS Euro-deputies.

Some of the answers lies in the difficulty of the left internationally, where from Latin America to Europe, the “progressives” have not been able to sustain reforming politics in power (Chili is the most recent example), even to mount effective opposition in more than a handful of countries, such as Britain.

But the French case is particular. The disaster for “la gauche du gouvernement’, that is a party which has been capable of governing the country, has taken place amongst a wider fragmentation of France’s left. It marks the end, as Cambadélis puts it, of a “cycle” which began with the creation of modern Parti Socialiste at the Congrès d’Epinay in 1971 and the “stratégie d’alliance” of different lefts. (Page 39) We have a “moral” defeat, where elected politicians have come to think not in terms of strategy but of “careers” in which power has become just an end in itself. (“une simple fin en soi.” Page 10) For those who see a silver lining in the result of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, 9.58% and his 17 elected representatives in the Assemblée Nationale, this is of less importance, but Cambadélis gives reasons why the left internationally should not celebrate their presence without reservation.  

With these opening remarks in mind the present book tries to rise above a settling of accounts (a charge many reviewers have made) to consider the failings of the left, both the camp of and his opponents, with the context of wider issues about the future of the French left. It is both narrative and analysis. The Chronique is also very acute account from somebody with a reputation for a “fine political nose”. 

 How Many Divisions?

The French left is famous for its division between a nominally ‘revolutionary’ radical left-wing and a ‘reformist’ wing. Yet during the  period of the Gauche plurielle under Lionel Jospin (1997 – 2001), – which ended in its own splintering – many sections worked together. In this decade, by contrast, the left was divided from the moment François Hollande’s Presidency began in 2012.

The forces at that point aligned in the Front de gauche, notably the Parti Communiste français (PCF), and Mélenchon’s ‘club-party’ the Parti de gauche,  were unwilling to offer it support. The PS’s own opposition, the ‘Frondeurs’, largely but not exclusively drawn from its left, began to act in earnest in the 2014. They took their criticisms of policy to Parliamentary votes and hampered legislation to the point where direct decrees, in the leadership’s view, forced upon them. Most of their only serious left allies, the Green EELV, left when Manuel Valls became PM in 2014 and the government’s “social liberalism” policies became anathema to the left.

But it was Jean-Luc Mélenchon, by  founding La France insoumise (LFI) – a would-be  mass movement with a large virtual Web membership, who fundamentally divided the left. Whether one has more sympathy for Mélenchon or not, it is certain that he has not been out to accomplish is a new “union of the left”. The  theme of “dégagisme”(get out!), a French version of the ‘anti-caste’ strategy of Podemos and other ‘populists, has run through the wider politics of “federating the people”. LFI demands that the whole ‘rotten’ political establishment be removed. That this includes the entire Parliamentary left beyond les insoumises – loudly in the case of the PS and as near as they can publicly say it about the PCF reflects a belief, which Cambadélis hammers home, that only the Sovereign People, that is, themselves, can restore political virtue through a new, 6th, Republic, a theme taken up by Mélenchon in the modestly titled de La Vertu (2017).

Cambadélis calls Mélenchon the “fils du lambertisme et du mitterandisme” (Page 10) This is a helpful reminder not only of the Leader of LFI’s past in one of the most dogmatic, and patriotic French Trotskyist currents, and his cult of the former French President, but of the author’s own background as a student activist member of Pierre Lambert’s OCI, and 1980s transfer to the PS with the benevolence of the Élysée….

Betrayal? 

Yet how has this anti-system left grown? Why has the legacy of 5 years of Socialist Party rule been so toxic, even beyond the traditional quarters ready to cry “betrayal”?

On the balance sheet of 5 years in office Cambadélis tries to find some glimmers of hope. There was a dignified Presidential reaction to the Islamist slaughters that have soiled Europe and above all France in the last years. He attempted some international initiatives to fight Jihadism in Africa and seek peace elsewhere. His Prime Ministers, Ayrault  and Valls, introduced gay marriage, a dialogue on the environment, a faltering reduction in unemployment, better growth rates, and the start of efforts to deal with high rates of national debt. He is less tender towards the proposal to remove French nationality from those accused of terrorism Cambadélis is equally less than sympathetic towards the labour reforms, la Loi El Khomri, largely on the grounds of its unilateral implementation – now pursued by the in-coming Macron.

The Chronique claims there was some effort to control Finance on a European level (in banking), and having kept Greece within the Euro (Page 171) There is nothing to support the idea, held to by some English speaking left-wingers, that French domestic policies – that is the failure to confront ‘neoliberalism’, a tax on the hyper-wealthy aside – are either forced upon them by the EU, or that France subordinates its governance to the construction of Europe.

None of this adds up to a sustainable case for the successes of Hollande presidency, or the Prime Ministers of Ayrault and Valls. Some welcome reforms, some moves towards economic improvement, contestable international interventions, and, nothing to promote the security and rights of working people, the unemployed – very little reform except in the sense of reshaping,  that is weakening existing labour legislation. In short, nothing to shout proudly about from the rooftops.

This lack of reforming deeds, democratic socialist egalitarian economic policies, an equivocal stand on civil liberties, symbolise don the permanent state of emergency, are one aspect of the problem, The other is that Hollande’s ‘method’ appears to have boiled down to an inability to left events dominate his action, wrapped in an immense capacity for self-satisfaction at his residence at the Élysée.

The smugness that lead the President, during his term of office, to sanction the publication of the interminably lengthy Un Président ne devrait pas dire cela (2016), full of causally wounding comments about his colleagues and the tossed our phrase, “il faut un hara-kiri pour le PS”.  stems from this complacency. He engaged in – slatternly – affairs. For those – and they are numerous – uninterested in the details of politics his partner, Valérie Trierweiler’s  enraged response in Merci pour ce moment (2014) gave an unpleasant insight into the man. Amongst many flaws he was not unafraid to patronise the working class poor, the “sans dents” (toothless). Few would be those who would shed a tear over the subsequent ‘Hollande-Bashing’. The two publications rendered him un-re-electable,  a fact which the Head of State took a long time to recognise.

A 5-year term of a President, who wished to be “normal” in abnormal times, was marked by deciding not to decide, and “absence de sens” (page 176) and on the hoof decision-making. This culminated in letting Macron create his own party straight under Hollande’s nose, in the belief that it would weaken the moderate right. (Page 185) In the meantime the Chronique endorses from the beginning to the end the view of many observers that the PS had become addicted to exercising power for its own sake. This attitude was present, equally,  within the ranks of their within their allies during the first years of government. The green EELV  turned from a party into a vehicle for the individual careers of its deputies (Page 177)

Hamon: Green Party Campaign, Green Party Score.

Benoît Hamon’s victory in the Socialist ‘Primary’ momentarily gave a ray of hope for the party. His Pour la Génération Qui Vient (2017) promised to free the land from the “liberal nightmare” a “democratic awakening”, Citizens’ Initiatives, a human centred approach to the technological revolution, and apart from green policies, he advocated Universal Basic Income.

Why then did the Socialists lose so badly? The ex-General Secretary is harsh on Presidential candidate Hamon. He accuses him of waging a “solitary” campaign, unable to bring together people outside of his circle, not even talking about the world of work – that is appealing to trade union support. The winner of the PS Primary snubbed his own party. He accuses Hamon of wanting to be the leader of an alternative alliance of the left of the Socialists with the Greens and acting accordingly. (P 110) He allowed Mélenchon, with whom he claimed to have few disagreements, to appear, as polls began to show that La France insoumise was ahead, to be the most useful to vote for. He was simply not Presidential, and….he spurned Cambadélis’ own construction, la Belle Alliance Populaire (a grouping of tiny ‘progressive parties’ behind the PS)….

The Chronique has a pithy way of explaining the disastrous the result. With Hamon’s “Green Party” campaign, you got a “Green Party score (“campagne d’écologiste, score d’écologiste” Page 111)

Cambadélis makes a strong case when he argues, from electoral arithmetic, that the French left will not win power back from Macron without unity, or some kind of alliance. This holds however narrow the President’s political support is (as indicated by the massive abstention rates). Or that  strategy of confronting important social layers in the interests of flexible business and ‘modernisation’  is likely to bring about deep conflict. It does not matter that his ‘party’  is virtual’ or his cadres from the upper scale on the class structure. To win you, to build an alternative majority, the left cannot wait for Macron to fail. It is through unity, the capacity to work together, that left parties with democratic structures (he recommends his own…) should work towards.

Left Futures?

Is this probable? Mélenchon, the “orator” the Chavez of Saint-Germain, can laugh at the “coffin” of the defeated PS but, “En brisant volontairement et unilatéralement l’unité des forces de gauche pour prétendre au monopole du peuple, il rend la reconquête impossible”(Page 17) In deliberately and voluntarily breaking the unity of the forces of the left, and claiming to have a monopoly of the People, he has made the Reconquest impossible. 

It would be pleasant to say that this obstacle can be overcome. But, given the PS’s understandable reluctance to reject its entire record of government, and given Mélenchon’s own self-image, it does not look probable that this political log-jam is going to clear in the near future. Perhaps as a girondin believer in decentralisation Cambadélis could pin his hopes on a united front from below

Charles Manson, 1934 – 2017 – Psychedelic Fascism.

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Oz Magazine No 40. 1972.  (Crumb).

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost interest in the American Left after this: 

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

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

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Charlie Hebdo Claims Plenel Ignores Ramadan’s Behaviour.

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

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

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

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

Ramadan…

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

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

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

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

But Caroline Fourest indicates one aspect of it….

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

Hatred Between Charlie Hebdo and Mediapart.

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

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This the full Editorial.

 

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

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

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Which not suprisingly got this reply.

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

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

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

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

Secularism.

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

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

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

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

Anti-Semitism.

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

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

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

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

********

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

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

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

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David Icke  Supporters Fight Back Against ‘Them’.

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

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

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

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

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

agenda 21 icke

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

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

icke soros live

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this one:

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

Icke has no doubt who is responsible:

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

And,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 17, 2017 at 5:36 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 Telegraph and Argus.

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

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

We post these tweets awaiting confirmation or denial.

 

And,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 16, 2017 at 12:45 pm

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

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

The BBC reports.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guardian,

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

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

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

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

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

Zimbabwean socialist Munya told Socialist Worker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment:

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

Human Rights Watch,

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

2016 (World Report 2017)

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

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

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

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

Freedom of Expression and Media

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

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

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

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

Somebody’s opinion people will listen to,

Written by Andrew Coates

November 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm

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

with 2 comments

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

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

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

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

And who says Greenstein has no sense of humour?

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

 

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

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

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

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm