Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

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

with 2 comments

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…..

Advertisements

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”.

with 7 comments

Image result for Gerry Downing

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.

leave a comment »

Image result for Les Hommes Révoltés. Les origins intellectuelles du réformisme en France

 

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.

with 11 comments

Image may contain: 1 person, text

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.

with 3 comments

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.

leave a comment »

Image result for la vanguardia sondeo electoral 2017 catalunya diciembre 2017

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?

with one comment

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.

with 6 comments

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”.

with 2 comments

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”.

with 4 comments

Image result for choose freedom hattersley

 

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)

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DQcafafVAAAhcYz.jpg:large

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.”

with 5 comments

Image result for galloway and farage

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.

with 3 comments

No automatic alt text available.

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)

with 14 comments

Image result for labour against the witch hunt

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.

with 3 comments

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

Image may contain: text

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.

with 18 comments

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.

with 2 comments

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.

with 5 comments

 

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.

with 4 comments

Image result for Taylor swift trump

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.

with 6 comments

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.

with 3 comments

Image result for skwawkbox fake news

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.

with 5 comments

Image result for Henda Ayari

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.

with 4 comments

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.

with 2 comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

with 6 comments

Related image

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).

Image result for plenel charlie hebdo

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.

Image result for affiche rouge edwy plenel

 

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)

with 3 comments

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:

Image may contain: text

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?

with 7 comments

Image result for nasreen khan

” 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.

with 6 comments

Image result for mugabe

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. 

Image may contain: 1 person, text

Written by Andrew Coates

November 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

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

with 6 comments

Nasreen Khan with friend.

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

Latest from the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And,

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

The Jewish Chronicle reports.

Labour candidate’s antisemitic social media posts revealed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.

Tendance Coatesy posted in 2013,

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

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

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

They go on to say,

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

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

 

Now there is also this:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm

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

with 4 comments

Related image

Freedom, Democracy and Secularism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multiculturalism or anti-racism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wikipedia.

Respect is an extreme example.

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

These are not just casual prejudices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But….

There is the same shift from ethnicity to religion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Independent anti-racism.

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

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

The second takes up the Ramadan case.

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2017 at 1:44 pm

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

with 6 comments

 

Nasreen Khan with Friend (from Sued by Galloway). 

Local paper, the Telegraph and Argus reported yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This had also been posted on the Web,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kind regards
Aisha Ali-Khan.

Comment.

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

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

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

These facts, with the other background, are preoccupying.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2017 at 1:40 pm

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

with 6 comments

This Blog has not the slightest animosity towards Moshé Machover.

But some myths are now becoming established which need dispelling.

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Cushman.

Weekly Worker Letters. 9th of November 2017.

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

After Machover’s reinstatement – moving forward.

Push your CLP to pass motions demanding

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

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

Labour Party Marxists have published this interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Moshe Machover’s Labour Party membership

 This is a significant section,

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

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

David Hirsh points out that

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

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

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

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

 This is exactly what he is calling for and more.

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

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

But this stands out:

He complains of the following rule.

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

Machover opines,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have to untangle three things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is another side to their activity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That has been a success.

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

******

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2017 at 12:46 pm

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

with one comment

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

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

Libération.

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

France 24.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm

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

with 4 comments

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

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

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

Tariq Ramadan. The Messenger 2007. (Page 213)

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

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

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

The Guardian continues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mises en cause dans des affaires de mœurs

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

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

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

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

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2017 at 1:06 pm

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

with 2 comments

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Togetherness and Belonging.

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

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

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

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

Sanders’s Giant Live Experiment.

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

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

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

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

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

********

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2017 at 12:25 pm

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

with 10 comments

 

Image result for tariq ramadan

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

This came out over the weekend,

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

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

This, amongst the other accounts, is important,

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

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

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

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

I think that needs no translation.

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

Oxford professor accused of sexual misconduct with Swiss minors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is worth noting,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book, to be published soon, looks interesting.

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2017 at 10:45 am

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

with 2 comments

Image result for didier motchane

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Mort de Didier Motchane, cofondateur du Ceres

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for le poing et la rose

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

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

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

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

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

These developments were mirrored in their publications.

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

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

Chevènement himself was not completely left out in the cold.

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

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

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

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

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

Mediapart has published these tributes.

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

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

 *****

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 5, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Solidarity with the Anarchist Bookfair.

with 4 comments

Image result for anarchist book fair london 2017 

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

From here.

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

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

Saturday’s events and the Open Letter

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

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

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

The open letter claims

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

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

What is the Anarchist Bookfair?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where next?

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

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

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

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

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

Background:

Transphobia at the London Anarchist Bookfair 2017

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

Comment.

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2017 at 11:52 am

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

with 16 comments

Image result for Henda Ayari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 It became  3 women claiming he raped them.

And now 4

Tariq Ramadan Has His Place in the European Social Forum

Catherine Samary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

November 1, 2017 at 2:37 pm

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

with one comment

 

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

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

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

By

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

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

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

Background Wikipedia.

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

Its best known member is their leader Bart De Wever.

Theo Francken

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2017 at 12:33 pm

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

with 8 comments

Image result for tariq ramadan Channel four news

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

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

Nouvelle plainte pour viol contre Tariq Ramadan Libération.

Image may contain: text

More details here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(With AFP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His most recent column in the Guardian: February 2017.

Tariq Ramadan: ‘Muslims need to reform their minds’

 

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 28, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Will the ‘left’ back this Italian Separatism?

with 3 comments

Image result for Matteo Salvini

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

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

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

 

From the BBC.

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

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Catalunya Once Again.

with 5 comments

 Image result for catalonia demo close ups

Multi-racial Internationalists Say British Left. 

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

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

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

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

Tension mounts in Catalunya 

Mike Phipps.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Brexit Explained.

with 19 comments

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

Us lot In International Solidarity in Norwich.

with 6 comments

 

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

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

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

Allez Les Clive Lewis!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd, sky, tree and outdoor

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, close-up

 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2017 at 10:45 am

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

with one comment

 Image result

Països Catalans Today.

Candidatura d’Unitat Popular

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

Progressive Spain.

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

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

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

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

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

They add, clarifying why he had got elected.

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

Politicians describe him as a savvy strategist.

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

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

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

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

One notes this, as the Financial Times puts it,

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

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

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

Catalan Version.

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

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

What is the CUP?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacobin. 

Excellent resolutions…..

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

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

MoreCandidatura d’Unitat Popular

and Wikipedia.

For more rational politics see:

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 13, 2017 at 1:07 pm

Charlie Hebdo Has a Laugh at Catalan Nationalists.

with 3 comments

https://ep01.epimg.net/internacional/imagenes/2017/10/11/mundo_global/1507733539_710718_1507735493_noticia_normal.jpg

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

This is all over the Spanish media today.

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

El Paìs.

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

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

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

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

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

Stupidity or death !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

And so it goes….

Puigdemont Betrays National Cause of Catalonia – Socialist Worker.

with 4 comments

Image result for Carles Puigdemont

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

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

El País

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

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

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

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

Today’s Socialist Worker.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His climbdown only hands the initiative back to Rajoy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We stand with Catalonia

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

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

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

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

New Internationalist. Marc Almodóvar

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

Government (62)

Confidence and supply (10)

  •      CUP (10)

Opposition (63)

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

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

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

 

Meanwhile about the only people speaking sense are Podemos.

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2017 at 11:19 am

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

with 7 comments

Parlem, hablemos!

Some light is beginning to appear on the Catalan issue,

Podemos’ Alternative for Catalonia. TXEMA GUIJARRO.

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

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

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

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

But the forces of division and hatred continue to operate.

After the Catalan referendum El Pais published this report,

Fake images from the Catalan referendum shared on social media.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Against Spanish Nationalism and the Catalan Independence Movement.

with 2 comments

https://ep02.epimg.net/politica/imagenes/2017/09/08/actualidad/1504872254_629045_1507455934_noticia_fotograma.jpg

Left Should Not Pit One National Flag Against the Other.

Against Catalan Nationalism.

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

Rosa Luxemburg. The National Question.

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

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

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

National Popular.

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

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

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

Collective Will.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a lyrical vein the FI states,

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

Let us support the struggle of the Catalan people

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

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

No Sleeping with the Enemy!

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

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

******

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2017 at 1:42 pm