Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Red London: Political Confusionism.

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Red London and associated images

The Kind of Thing that Beggars Belief. 

Red London is a Stalinist meme Facebook page and Twitter account which spreads fake news about Trotskyists and others on the left whom they don’t like.

Founded some time in 2015 Red London is a clique of individuals in Labour and Momentum, including some involved in the hostile takeover of Lewisham Momentum last month. The people who organise around Red London have a constellation of social media outlets for their bile, platforms which selectively and strategically share content, including Red London, London Young Left (formerly the voice of London Momentum Youth and Students before the group was shut down by Jon Lansman for its bullying behaviour), and the blog Check Their Minutes, dedicated to spreading lies about Workers’ Liberty and bullying people who work with us.

AWL

There are a few loony bins in Suffolk on the same wavelength.

One type, around 19. He was going about his Grindr’ :} Account, how he liked Stalin, the IRA, whilst sipping his G & T.

They are no friends of the Labour Party.

They are forces deeply hostile to democratic socialism.

They have no place in our movement.

 

 

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Labour Against the Witch-hunt Vice-Chair Calls for Expulsion of ‘Zionists’ and attacks ‘racist Zionist’ Jon Lansman.

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Image result for TOny Greenstein

Now Says, “Corbyn has effectively surrendered to the Right and the Zionist lobby “

 

It’s time to expel Luke Akehurst and break the links with Labour Friends of Israel 

Part of the problem is that Momentum is led by a racist Zionist Jon Lansman. The other reason is that Corbyn has effectively surrendered to the Right and the Zionist lobby over ‘anti-Semitism’.

Today under the baleful influence of Momentum’s dictator, most of the parliamentary left has become infatuated with an Israel which has moved yet further to the racist right

Monster Raving Tony Greenstein. Vice Chair of Labour Against the Witch-hunt.  Friday 18th of May.

 

This clearly reflects the wider thinking of this front organisation for the CPGB (Provisional Central Committee) Weekly Worker.

Spotted hyenas and the Labour right

William Sarsfield of Labour Party Marxists reports on the campaign against the witch-hunt.

 Far from being a source of strength, the Labour right’s support for the Zionist state – and the United States’ reactionary strategic goals in the region – can be turned into a huge weakness for this scab faction in our ranks.

This report also contains some exquisite humour.

Apparently the meeting was introduced by this type, Alexei Sayle, a former member of one of the maddest groups on the UK left, the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

His  most famous quote on that experience is of course,

Sayles tells me. “They genuinely wanted a better world. But as in all cults, what’s central to the Communist Party is the belief system and the elimination of nuance. From there you’re very slowly led down the road to fanaticism and mass murder.”

The meeting kept to this humourous  standard…..

Extracts:

Moshé illustrated this same observation via a sideways detour. There is – apparently – a tiny number of spotted hyenas in Norway (in zoos). However, if you hear of a spotted hyena trackers’ expedition – organised with an extravagant disregard for the huge amount of time, energy and money expended – a rational conclusion to draw might be that these people have a thing about Norway, rather than the spotted hyenas.

This is how the article ends, a call to attack Momentum,

There were some gently regretful criticisms of Corbyn’s and the core LP left leadership’s passivity to – even accommodation with – this witch-hunt. This generosity was not all-encompassing – on the strength of this meeting and others I have attended over the last year or more, there are now very few on the left with any compunction about laying into Momentum nationally. The local groups can be good, even very good, but the national organisation and its ‘CEO’, Jon Lansman are deeply discredited.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

Spiked-on-Line – former Revolutionary Communist Party – Go Mad on Gaza.

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Now Justifying Gaza Killings. 

One of the many bizarre things about British politics is seeing former revolutionary Marxists , and not just any odd bod like Peter Hitchens but a hard organised crew – appear on the telly all the time giving out far-right views.

There was one last Sunday, she came across as a free market loony in full blast.

In my youth the faction, known as the Revolutionary Communist Tendency used to flog their unreadable journal to us lot in the IMG. They denounced us for our ‘reformism’.

Later they broke from the group they were part of (the RCG – don’t even ask) and became this group:

The RCP took a number of positions coined to distinguish independent working-class politics from statist reformism. These included

  • The rejection of all controls on immigration.[5]
  • Opposition to any national economic recovery strategies, such as import controls, which aimed to pit British workers against those overseas.[6]
  • Free abortion and contraception on demand.[7]
  • Decriminalisation of homosexuality.[8] and complete equality under the law.[9]
  • Unconditional support for the struggle against British imperialism in northern Ireland, on the grounds that “British workers cannot ignore the cause of Irish liberation without renouncing their own class interests”.[10]
  • A claim that the police occupied Brixton: “We have to organise on the streets and housing estates to keep the police out.”[11]
  • The party’s campaign Workers Against Racism aimed to organise physical defence against racist attacks.[12]

Now I have a bit of a history with them, I wrote a letter to their paper Living Marxism which caused some controversy.

But not compared the right-wing shite they are now putting out: from pro-Brexit onwards.

 

The demonisation of Israel is nurturing a new kind of conflict.

Brendan O’Neill.

Here is a grim irony to the florid condemnations of Israel being made by Western observers and politicians following the killing of 60 Palestinians at the Gaza border yesterday. Many of these people who are so disgusted by Israel’s behaviour, so agitated by what it has done that they plan to take to the streets later today to register their fury, have played a significant role in the great beleaguering of Israel in recent years. In the transformation of Israel into an illegitimate entity. In the reduction of it to a uniquely ‘rogue’ state. In the treatment of it as fair game for isolation, boycotting, attack, and possibly destruction: Israel is the only nation on Earth whose erasure can casually become a topic for dinner-party chatter.

And you cannot beleaguer a state like this and then feign surprise when said state feels beleaguered. You cannot contribute to the moral isolation of Israel and then be shocked to discover that Israel feels isolated, and fragile, and possibly on edge, and consequently deeply concerned with defending its borders – borders that so much of the world hates or at least contests – from a hostile incursion. At least, if you are a serious person you cannot do this.

But the second way to view yesterday’s tragic events is as the bloody offspring of the siege of Israel. As the latest, quite easy-to-predict consequence of the beleaguering of Israel both physically, in the region itself, and morally, by much of the Western intellectual elites who in recent years have come to view Israel as the key source of the world’s troubles, and even to question its validity as a nation. Every nation can be expected to defend its borders against a threatened and attempted hostile incursion; a nation whose existence is continually called into question, by everyone from extreme Islamists to Western thinkers, might be anticipated to defend its borders with a particular concern.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 16, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Communism, Israel, Trotskyism

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Dennis Nilsen: SWP Contact Dies.

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Actually, Dennis Neilson was a contact for both Militant and the SWP; but it means nothing.

 

 

 

 

Ray’s selective memory is a revelation, Neilson’s affiliation to the party was well known in the SWP when I was a member, and membbers used to joke about the comrade who had to bring him round his paper popping in for a cuppa.

 

Dennis Nilsen: Serial killer dies in prison aged 72.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 13, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Anti-Fascism

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The French comrades react: Fuck you Daesh!

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Image result for paris attack

 

When I heard the news of the latest atrocity in Paris it struck me, as somebody who worked a few metres from where this happened .the French comrades reacted exactly the same way as I did.

A thought for the victims of the attack near the opera. I continue to plead for a firm, full and unconditional condemnation of terrorism, the methods and ideology of the djihadisme, by the orgas and militant forces who claim to be on our side, because it is not frankly and always the case. I also keep worrying about media ritournelles that the bastards were every time they were on file. If that means that the rg needs to spend more time watching Islamists instead of extreme-left militants, then okay. If it is a ritournelle to prepare for habeas corpus and to take us to administrative internements, bad days will be announced.

 

S.

 

C’est ma ville, la ville des douleurs et des sourires mélangés du monde entier. La ville où tu sens à chaque instant l’odeur du temps et celle des gens du présent, la ville où le monde entier s’est échoué sur des terribles campements .La ville où mon grand-père s’est échoué aussi, il y a si longtemps, et la France n’en voulait pas, mais Paris , têtue, reste la ville monde où , à chaque instant, même dans le désespoir le plus noir, on se dit , devant la nuit qui brille et chavire en même temps, que l’échec ne durera pas toujours, forcément, qu’il y aura les révoltes des Printemps, où les arrivés d’hier , depuis la Commune et même avant, sont toujours devant, fièrement.

C’est ma ville, où le FN ne crève jamais le plafond, malgré les fascistes qui attaquent les gens sur les campements, malgré les terroristes qui font couler le sang.

C’est ma ville, qui tangue de douleur et d’effroi devant tous les droits dans leurs bottes, mais ne sombre pas, c’est la haine qui finira par se noyer dans les rires mêlés des mômes de banlieue, des touristes endimanchés et des réfugiés fatigués mais qui vont rester, t’inquiète, et dans trois générations , leurs enfants me ressembleront, Parisiens accrochés aux bords de Seine, certains de passer leurs soirées dans la ville la plus belle du monde, qui sera toujours à tout le monde.
Fuck you Daesh.

N.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 13, 2018 at 12:20 pm

The Anti-68 (La Pensée anti-68 amongst others)…

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Quarante ans de contre-révolution triomphante en Occident nous ont affligés de deux tares jumelles, également néfastes, mais qui forment ensemble un dispositif impitoyable: le pacifisme et le radicalisme.”

“Forty years of triumphant counterrevolution in the West has left us with twin defects, equally deadly, but which together form an implacable apparatus: non-violence and radicalism.”

À Nos amis. Le Comité Invisible. 2014.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, is now “well liked” in Germany and “loved” in France – part of the national DNA (1968: Power to the Imagination. NYRB). Our happiness at this recognition – perhaps one day to be extended to our national treasure, Tariq Ali – inspires us to reflections on the uprisings that made the Green leader’s fame.  The 50th anniversary of the événements has been, and will be, greeted in France with a flood of articles, books, radio, television programmes and, what one might call “teach-ins”. There is a lesser, but audible, interest in the English-speaking world and elsewhere. In homage, the tête de cortège on this year’s Paris May Day promised in a communiqué, in tribute to the enragés of the Mouvement du 22 Mars  a re-enactment of the May riots in the Quartier Latin. Those promoted by the friends of Le Comité Invisible ended up with a little smashing up of the nearest MacDonald’s and some bus shelters.

For some commentators on the legacy of 68, from the left, Cohn-Bendit stands out not just as a sign of middle-aged mellowing into the political mainstream, and a warning about the transience of elfin cuteness. The Franco-German politician represents the capture of its radical forces by Capital. Others, from more centrists position, state that what remains of the far-left has been “absorbed” by the French political system, the latest stage being Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise which pitches its objectives not at creating communism, or socialism, but a left populism aiming at a Sixth Republic.

A more thorough-going stand is to claim, in common with parts of the right, that 68 was a wrong turning in the first place. That it was the rise of the Me (too?) Generation in alliance with cosmopolitan capital which has sapped the sovereign rights of the People…or the Nation.

The “liberal-libertarianism” of the cherished contestataire and his ecological current already dominant in Die Grünen is in close communication with the “right and left” modernisers now assembled behind President Macron. Is this just their choice? For some Cohen-Bendit’s career is concomitant with post-Fordist culture, supple politics in the mould of the diversity of flexible production. In promoting, in his fashion, the politics of the right to be different and the cultural needs of identity, with liberal  economics, Danny le Rouge has assumed his role in “turning the entire social field into commodities. “

The many readers of Régis Debray’s repetitions of forty years will recognise this theme. Danny le rouge was one of the litter born in the “cradle of a new bourgeois society”. “Capital’s development strategy required the cultural revolution of May”. May 68, dubbed a “demand for identity” was a “marketable object”. He “communion of egos on the barricades becoming generalised egocentrism, the gift of self, the cult of me, the exaltation of liberties, the enshrinement of inequalities…” (1)

Debray has never abandoned this refrain, edging ever closer to nationalism as he ribs against the process of “Americanisation”, the global marketplace, and the vogue for “sans-frontiérisme” (Éloge de frontiers 2010). Perhaps he is haunted by the melancholy mercantile state, Orsenna, pictured by his favourite author, Julien Gracq in Le Rivage des Syrtes (1951). The encirclement never ends…..

Guy Debord, from the Situationists, celebrated post-facto in the 68 events, to whom the Tête de Cortege owe some debt, wrote of the victory of the “integrated spectacle”, and also of the “Americanisation of the world”. It is dominated by secret societies manipulated by nameless ‘elites” (Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. 1988)

More modestly, and accurately Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello in the New Spirit of Capitalism (1999), described how everything from managerial ‘science’ to cultural production has used themes of autonomy and choice in capturing a new post-68 public for companies and the market. There is equally,  no doubt something more still to say about ‘post-modernism’ and the post-68 development of capitalism.

La Pensée anti-68.

The theme that ‘68’ has been absorbed by capitalism, energised into forms of ‘liberalism’, is as well known, as it is coterminous with the events themselves. It is tackled in Audier’s indispensable La Pensée anti-68. (2009) Audier has little trouble pointing out that it was the most conservative section of the Parti Communiste français (PCF) which declared that the student revolutionaries were playing the bosses’ game.

The critique of individualism, Audier points out, appeared in France in a variety of forms. Many, from both right and left, were influenced by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 Culture of Narcissism (from a certain US left), and a host of overtly right-wing writers out to defend the Nation and a cohesive society against the egotism of marketisation. An ‘anti-68’ cast of thought has developed. This extends from the obvious targets on the right, pessimistic cultural commentators such as Alain Finkielkraut (the list of others in this vein is long, very long), to the ‘anti-liberal’ admirer of George Orwell’s ‘common decency” another critic of the ‘doublethink’ of the “society of the spectacle”, Jean-Claude Michéa (La double pensée. 2008).

He is less convincing when attacking the theorist of ‘menaces’ against collective identity, Pierre-André Taguieff, also a former Situationist. Subsequently Taguieff has attempted to explain populism and the appeal of the far-right, not to support it (La revanche du nationalisme. 2015). The treatment of other writers, such as Luc Ferry and Alain Renault, who constructed a ‘geology’ of 68 ideas, including well-known names such as Foucault, Bourdieu and Althusser, only retrospectively connected with the events is better framed. But Audier ignores some of their well-targeted shafts against the ‘research’ that went into Madness and Civilisation’s account of the incarceration of the insane, the banality and circulatory of Bourdieu’s concepts of ‘cultural capital’ in social reproduction, and Althusser’s ‘anti-humanism’ taken to ethical conclusions – above all his failure to begin to tackle the issue of Stalinism.

La Pensée 68 is, above all, remarkable for its account of the complexities of liberal thought. This does not just include ‘neo-liberalism’ but a sceptical and democratic strain represented by Raymond Aron (he indicates – far from opposed to ‘68’ en bloc) to the various forms of American progressivism, such as John Dewey with which I suspect many of us in Europe are less than familiar with. He puts his finger on the real issues behind ‘neo-conservatism’ and neoliberalism. This is far from a far from a 68 ‘permissive;’ ideology. Stuart Hall, called Thatcherism ‘authoritarian populism’ and the first word has real weight. Cultural liberalism, against Michéa, and a host of others, is not reducible to the ‘market’. We should not lightly reject the liberal value of tolerance, as opposed to such authoritarianism as the libertarian left.

The principal argument of La Pensée anti-68, then, which has worn well since the publication of La Pensée a decade ago, is that the hatred of the symbolic moment of 68 should be understood as more than a reaction. It is denial of what he calls, citing Claude Lefort celebrated 1980 essay on human rights, the opening up of new terrains of social affirmation. (2) In this sense it was not the grass roots May comités d’action, documented in an accessible form in Loyer’s book, which were harbingers of the political future. Particular forms of struggle may change, but the expansion of the political terrain for humanist self-assertion which is the enduring legacy of May 68.

Gauchisme Culturel. 

The counter-culture, or, more broadly, the wish to live ‘differently’ without repression, affirming autonomy and creativity, might be seen as a the ground for longer-lasting changes To Jean-Pierre Le Goff in his Postscript to Mai 68, l’héritage impossible (2002), the counter-cultural “liberation of désir”, the critique of authority, a wish for self-development and sexual freedom, cultural leftism “gauchisme culturel”, is the most important legacy of the time. While political leftism, attempts to make a real revolution, failed, the diverse ‘social movements’, as they used to be known, for women’s rights, gay rights, green politics, and what is today called “intersectionality” did not only have a cultural impact.

Perhaps, regrettably, Le Goff has joined the ‘anti-68ers’. From the 1980s, onwards Le Goff argues in the essays collected in La gauche à l’agonie? they have served as a mask, or a radical substitute, for the governing French left’s adoption of neo-liberal economics. The final articles are denunciations of a further 68 inheritance, multi-culturalism, a Third Worldism that’s become, “islamogauchisme” and efforts to “understand” Jihadism by the French equivalents of Giles Fraser.

One would listen to Le Goff’s catchphrases if he managed to reaffirm internationalist universalism. Does he stand like a rock with the leftists, democrats and liberals fighting Islamism in Muslim countries? He does not. In place of such commitment Le Goff ruminates over the managerial use of the youthful creativity, in a pseudo-68 liberation, the debris of French republican nationalism, and the narcissism ( a word one wishes vaporisation in the next edition of Newspeak) of those who declare themselves citizens of the world.

In the absence of history’s ability to repeat its experiments it is hard to disprove the view that May 68 played a part in regenerating capitalism. More pressing, as Serge Audier states in Le Monde this March, is the persistence and radicalisation of the anti-68 reaction ( Le discours anti-68 s’est radicalisé ).

The importance that its alternative, whether disguised as the Republic or not, the Nation, or National Sovereignty, the ultimate Identity, has taken hold of political debate in France and most of the West cannot be underestimated.

In Britain as the editors of New Left Review giggled at the result, a number of leftists have joined in the ‘anti-68’ Carnival or Reaction that has followed Brexit, and found merit in les anglais de souche who supported the anti-European break (55 Arguments for Lexit). La France insoumise drapes itself in the Tricolor, and chants the Marseillaise. Give me the cosmopolitan sans-frontières with their universal human rights any day.

 

********

(1) A Modest Contribution to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Tenth Anniversary. Régis Debray. New Left Review (First series). No 115. 1979.

(2) The Politics of Human Rights in. The Political Forms of Modern Society Bureaucracy, Democracy, Totalitarianism Claude Lefort. Edited and Introduced by John B. Thompson. The Politics of Human Rights. MIT Press. See also Les droits de l’homme et l’Etat providence. Reprinted in Claude Lefort essays sur le politique. Seuil. 1986.

******

L’événement 68. Emmanuelle Loyer. Champs histoire. 2008/2018.

La Pensée anti-68. Serge Audier. La Découverte/Poche. 2009.

La gauche à l’agonie? 1968 – 2017. Jean-Pierre Le Goff. Perrin 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 10, 2018 at 12:45 pm

Syria: *The* Issue for the International Left.

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Syria: The World’s War.

At the end of last week BBC 2 showed a thorough, moving, pair of documentaries on Syria.

Syria: The World’s War

Lyse Doucet tells the story of one of the biggest humanitarian crisis of our age, the Syrian civil war – seven years of brutal conflict, surpassing the length of World War II. In this two-part series, Lyse Doucet, who has reported on the conflict from the start, explores how peaceful protest for change spiralled into unspeakable savagery – half a million people killed, millions of lives shattered and so much of Syria in utter ruins.

The series tells the inside story of the war from multiple perspectives. It hears accounts of the experiences of Syrian people from different sides – civilians and fighters who stayed loyal to the government of President Assad as well as those who rebelled.

This second film in the series picks up the action as Raqqa falls to a mixture of Islamist and moderate forces. The story of the extraordinary events of the following months is told by two characters. One is a protester who aims to build a new civil society based on democracy, the other is a torture victim who joins the Islamists as a hired assassin. Within a few weeks of the fall of Raqqa, a new, even more extreme Islamist group arrive – ISIS. The civil society activists ends up being tortured in an ISIS jail, the other ends up joining ISIS and working his way through a kill list they have given him. Each tell their story with extraordinary candour.

As Raqqa descends into chaos, arguably the most important battle of the war is entering its second year – Aleppo. Lyse meets the militia leader who was a key player in the government fightback against the rebels who had occupied a large part of the city. On the other side we meet the bomb-maker who takes us inside the Islamist forces as they dig tunnels underground to blow up government buildings on the other side of the frontline. To gain greater understanding of how this catastrophe unfolded, Lyse also speaks to politicians and soldiers from within Syria and also from western and regional powers. She asks difficult questions of the foreign minister of Syria itself, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, concerning their involvement in the decisions that shaped the conflict. She also gains candid interviews with the key Western leaders from the time, such as the then foreign secretary William Hague and US Secretary of State John Kerry. They tell the story of how the US and then the UK finally enter the war – not against Assad, but against ISIS.

By 2015, four years since the start of the war, the Assad government is under real pressure. The crucial battle is Aleppo. We talk to the fighters on both sides who felt that the city could have been lost to rebels – something that might have proven a mortal blow to the regime. Through interviews with politicians close to the action, Lyse tells the story of how Russian intervention turned the war in President Assad’s favour. In the final terrible months of the siege of Aleppo, we see the suffering of civilians under the massive bombardment through the eyes of a doctor whose hospital is repeatedly hit. Lyse interviews a local politician who claims the hospital is an Al Qaeda base – something denied by those who worked there.

The recapture of Aleppo by Government forces in late 2016 arguably marked the point at which President Assad could no longer be removed by force. The film tracks the most recent year of the war ending with the recent events in Eastern Ghouta and Douma – incidents which mark Assad’s gradual re-assertion of control of the areas around Damascus.

This two-hour series provides the most comprehensive account to date of how the tragedy of Syria unfolded. Importantly, it gets as close to a 360-degree account of some of the key moments in a war that by now has drawn in 75 countries and counting.

I realise that we in the UK have other pressing issues on our minds than the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the millions of refugees.

But perhaps this indicates the gravity of what is happening,

The worst humanitarian crisis of the century. A conflict that has gone on longer than the second world war, drawing in 75 countries and counting. Half a million killed. Millions displaced. A country in utter ruins. And still, seven years on, no military solution, no prospect of a diplomatic answer and no end in sight. This tremendous – and necessarily distressing – documentary (part two is on Friday), fronted by the veteran correspondent Lyse Doucet, begins with the now stock phrases and statistics that trick us into thinking we know this war. Then it tells the story of what actually happened. The facts, as they used to be known.

And we need to be reminded. The appalling truth of a war so long and entangled in world politics is that you become confused, disengaged and desensitised. Despair blots out the need to know and keep knowing. This is how we begin to forget why wars started in the first place.

But those on the left in other lands have been writing on the issue.

This, from the excellent site Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières, (there is much more in the French language section).

How Assad chases, tortures and kills the best of Syria’s young pacifist leftists – For Syria’s disappeared. For Syria’s future  by WESSELS Joshka

Last week Rami Hennawi’s family received the news from Syrian authorities that their son and partner died in prison and they can collect his body. Rami was a pacifist leftist young activist who was detained in 2012. Five years he spent in the most inhumane conditions in one of Assad’s torture houses. Rami came from Sweida, a majority Druze city under regime control and considered in general pro-Assad. But in fact, the underground resistance against Assad in Sweida is strong. If anything, local people in Sweida remembered the anti-colonial hero Sultan Basha al-Atrash, leader of the 1925 Great Syrian Revolt, and took the opportunity several time to congregate in front of his statue to voice their opposition against Assad. This is why the Syrian regime is very wary of the underground opposition from Sweida.

According to one of my sources from the area, at the moment, Sweida inhabitants are under repression by many different factions of pro-Assad shabiha, who kill to steal motorbikes, teenagers get killed because of fights at the schoolground and Assadist shabiha rape at random, terrorizing the local girls and women. There is a sense of lawlessness, and those who are supportive of the regime benefit from this situation. Those who now legally carry weapons in Sweida, have a history of violence and can do all illegal activities they aspire because no one is stopping them.

“The war in Syria only benefits the counter-revolutionary forces” – A comprehensive outlook  DAHER JosephFARAS AntonisTHEODOROU Lina

The issue of Syria is a burning one for the international left.

The founder of the Marxism List, which links to many valuable articles in the same vein, Louis Proyect has engaged in a furious war for the truth against ‘red brown’ (a ‘left’ admirer of Marine Le Pen) conspis like Diana Johnstone on the issue of Syria.

Johnstone now puts Assad in the ‘axis of resistance’

This is his latest bulletin.

Diana Johnstone’s attack on Tony McKenna.

Like a lot of people who were radicalized in the 60s, Johnstone developed a reverence for Stalinist strong men as a way of overcompensating for LBJ, Nixon, et al. Totally alienated by American society, she became infatuated with men like Assad, Putin, Gaddafi and anybody else who was pilloried in the bourgeois press. Like the fraternity boys who kept posters of Ronald Reagan chopping wood on dorm room walls, her heart flutters for Vladimir Putin and anybody else who embodies her romantic idealization of men and women on horseback.

This would include Marine Le Pen, the ultraright Islamophobe that she described once as “basically on the left”. When people came out to protest Donald Trump’s viciously racist immigration crackdown, Johnstone described them with as much malice as Ann Coulter: “Whatever they think or feel, the largely youthful anti-Trump protesters in the streets create an image of hedonistic consumer society’s spoiled brats who throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want.”

Most people with their head screwed on right understand that Le Pen is a nativist just like all the other scum that are rising to the surface in Europe, from Viktor Orban in Hungary to Nigel Farage in England. In 2017, Johnstone decided that the real issue in the French election was national sovereignty and who better to defend it than Marine Le Pen? After all, Johnstone states that “Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion.” Oh, how nice. This politician said that if she was elected, she’d stop all immigration to France.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 9, 2018 at 5:36 pm

Fall out from Anti-Semitism and Barnet, from Morning Star to Conspiracy Site Skwawkbox .

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Image result for Barnet anti=-semitism

Owen Jones Talks Sense.

Hat-tip Jim D.

Letter in today’s Morning Star:

Before the idea takes root among Star readers that the Barnet Labour group of councillors is a nest of “hard-core of the Labour right” determined to “attack the left and their own party” (M Star May 5-6), I can assure anyone that is willing to listen that that is far from being the case.

On the electoral impact of perceptions of anti-Semitism, as on other issues, denouncing the messenger does not change the truth of the message. Group leader Cllr Barry Rawlings and ex-councillor Adam Langleben just told it as it is – the great majority of of Labour-inclined Jewish voters in Barnet are horrified at the national party’s response to incidents of anti-Semitism in the party and far too many have withdrawn their support, while Jewish Tories are far more certain to turn out against us.

And not voting for Jeremy Corbyn as leader does not put any of us in the “hardcore of the Labour right” or make us some sort of traitors to the party. Apparently the Star’s contributor Kevin Ovendon has belonged to more than one party opposed to Labour, unlike Jeremy Corbyn who, like me, has fought the party’s cause under a variety of national leaders.

Belatedly, Jeremy has acknowledged that we have to do better on anti-Semitism and, yes, it has been weaponised against him.

Weaponising issues is mainstream activity in politics. It is time that all the left recognised, as Momentum has done on this issue, that your opponents raising an issue does not imply in itself that the issue is fabricated or exaggerated.
GEOF COOKE
Chief Whip, Barnet Labour group and Morning Star reader.

Cooke is restrained.

Kevin Ovendon is the former bag-man for Gorge Galloway’s Respect party. He stood by when there were calls to make the organisation, “Zionist free” – to cite one of the many anti-Semitic incidents that marked the organisation’s career (Respect Party:Wikipedia)

This is what Ovendon wrote in the Morning Star.

The furore about “Labour anti-semitism” doubtless had an impact. How could it not? It is not only that it has been weaponised by the Tories. It has been adopted for two years by a hardcore of the Labour right to attack the left and their own party.

And that includes by Labour councillors in Barnet — all but two of whom backed rivals to Corbyn in the leadership elections. Far from helping to deal with the issue, they’ve taken up the claims emanating from the Tories.

So the leader of the Labour group Barry Rawlings says it all should have been dealt with two years ago, but it was the Labour general secretary supported by the right over those two years who failed to do so or to implement the comprehensive recommendations of the Chakrabarti report dealing with the matter.

Unsurprisingly, that has not stopped anti-Corbyn elements of the Labour Party, in collaboration with the Tories, trying to use the result not to seek the implementation of that report but to reheat the political assault.

Ovendon appears to think that concern on the issue of anti-Semitism is “weaponised” – he later talks of  “sabotage”.

What words does he have for the Morning Star’s opposition to Labour policy on Europe, its backing for Brexit, and its support for the Arron Banks funded Trade Unionists Against the EU?

More fall out has appeared in the shape of Skwawkbox.

Labour Has Betrayed Jewish Voters – Corbyn Must Take Action Now

Tonight I will ask that Corbyn comes to Barnet and apologises to the Jewish community.

Adam Langleben

Former Labour councillor for West Hendon

Chalutzim’ means ‘pioneers’ in Hebrew. Many of the early founders of the Labour Movement were Chalutzim from the mainstream Jewish community. That is why what happened last Thursday in the local elections is so distressing. It was the first complete electoral collapse of Jewish voters for Labour.

……

But some wish to paint a different picture. The alt-left blog Skwawkbox, which has a record of spreading fake news, claims that because Labour increased its share of the vote in Barnet and in Gateshead, there is no problem.

In response, and to his credit, John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, messaged me and asked for a meeting to discuss this issue and the wider issue of Labour antisemitism and its impact on Barnet. I am seeing him tonight and what I will be telling him is that fake news, conspiracy theory websites such as Skwawkbox provide a dark place for antisemitism to fester and be nurtured. Antisemitism’s dark past started with conspiracy, ending in gas chambers. History has taught us this. He and others should come out and say clearly that such websites are not part of our Labour movement’s discourse and that they are detrimental to our success and to our anti-racist, evidence-based Enlightenment values.

I look forward to talking to John. I am going to tell him hard truths: that there was rarely a canvass session over the past month in Barnet where we did not lose votes over antisemitism. And I am going to ask that he, Jeremy and the Shadow Cabinet come to Barnet as soon as possible to apologise to our activists and the Jewish community. The issues raised by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council remain outstanding. The Party can no longer hide behind process.

Huff Post.

Previously  Langleben had said in the Huff Post.

As I am filming this, an alternative left-wing news website called Skwawkbox is going through all of the tweets attacking me, as a Jewish Labour Party member, now former councillor, that accuses me of being a Mossad agent, that accuses me of trying to undermine the leadership, accuses me of all sort of things and it is propagating this bollocks, propagating anti-Semitism.”

He added: “The Labour leadership can do something very simple and easy and say that these alternative fake news websites do not speak for them.

This pouting does not seem to have impressed the Labour Party.

I was a Jewish Labour councillor in Barnet – and I warned Jeremy Corbyn what was coming.

 ADAM LANGLEBEN.

On the doorstep I heard lifelong Labour voters say anti-Semitism was driving them from the party. When I told Labour HQ, I was ignored.

We were asked about Jackie Walker’s views on Jews and the slave trade. We were asked about Ken Loach’s Jew-splaining. We were asked about Ken Livingstone’s Holocaust revisionism.

….

Ken Livingstone’s repeated outrageous ramblings on Zionism, Hitler, the Holocaust and Jews – and the party’s lack of action – compounds the situation. The more I think of his words, the more I hear implication of what he says – which is that Jews were complicit in their own genocide. Nothing is more offensive than that. Surely that cannot be compatible with membership of the Labour Party?

Since we lost in Barnet, our Labour candidates have had lots of support from MPs, Momentum supporters, members and others who are desperate to fight anti-Semitism. However, there is a small but very vocal hard-left group within the party – certainly not the majority even within Momentum – within which this sickness festers, and it is to these people that Jeremy Corbyn needs to clearly state: this is not in my name.

 

Here.

Fred Leplat (Socialist Resistance) Expelled from Labour Party.

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Image result for Fred Leplat

Fred Leplat: stalwart of the left.

The Jewish Chronicle says,

Hard-left ‘revolutionary’ who met Jeremy Corbyn in Barnet ahead of local elections is expelled by Labour Party.

A left-wing activist who sent a letter allegedly signed by 33 members of Barnet Labour Party to news organisations, including the JC, attempting to defend Jeremy Corbyn’s record on antisemitism has been expelled from the party following an investigation into his conduct during the local election campaign.

Can I say, as somebody who has known Fred for some (very long) time, and has respect for Socialist Resistance(SR), that this report is more than incomplete.

Why was this expulsion so rapid? 

Fred and SR have never made the slightest secret about their politics.

LePlat is well known, and liked, by many people on the left and the labour movement as his position as Barnet Momentum secretary indicates.

The views of SR on broader issues in the Middle East – one of the few groups on the left to defend consistently Syrian Democrats against Assad  – should be taken into account.

As in, “Fred Leplat writes about the barbarism unleashed by Assad on the people of eastern Aleppo.” (2016)

They are what they say they are, and the letter Fred mounted is in defence of Corbyn’s support for the Palestinians and opposition to anti-Semitism, not the wild ‘anti-Zionism’ that people are rightly concerned about.

It states, opposition to  “conflation of antisemitism and criticism of the actions of the state of Israel”.

We, Labour Party members in Barnet, are firm opponents of all forms of racism, fascism, antisemitism, Islamophobia and all other kinds of oppression.

Many of us have been actively campaigning against them for many years, often alongside Jeremy Corbyn.

We know antisemitism exists in society and needs to be combated, including in political parties. But we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is too often conflated with anti-Semitism. But anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism.

What we are now seeing is an attempt to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, thereby weakening genuine anti-racism and opposition to antisemitism.

The real target of these critics is Jeremy Corbyn, because they oppose both his record of internationalism, in particular his lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians, and his commitment to socialism.

In the last two years, more than 300,000 people have joined the Labour Party to support its progressive politics.

Not all of them will have much experience of, for example, recognising anti-Semitic tropes. We believe the best way to combat any such naivety, lack of knowledge or problematic choices of words among Labour’s membership is through open debate and discussion.

We therefore welcome the direction by Jeremy Corbyn to the new Labour general secretary, Jennie Formby, to at last implement the recommendations of the 2016 Shami Chakrabarti report about the party’s disciplinary procedures, based on natural justice and due process.

We pledge to mobilise with members of all faiths and none to end the attacks against the Labour Party, which damages the party’s effectiveness in helping those people most harmed by the austerity and cuts-obsessed Conservative government and Barnet Council.

Ham and High.

I and many of my comrades do not support their take on these issues, notably the blanket use of the term “Zionism”, but there is room in a democratic socialist party for disagreement within these boundaries. I note that the letter states, support for implementing the “recommendations of the 2016 Shami Chakrabarti report”.

It is not the place for this Blog to comment further on the way the letter was presented or if membership of SR is an offence leading to automatic expulsion.

Here is the full Jewish Chronicle article.

EXCLUSIVE Fred Leplat – who sent a letter which falsely claimed to have been signed by 33 Barnet Labour members to the JC supporting Mr Corbyn’s record on antisemitism – has been expelled by Labour.

Lee Harpin.

A left-wing activist who sent a letter allegedly signed by 33 members of Barnet Labour Party to news organisations, including the JC, attempting to defend Jeremy Corbyn’s record on antisemitism has been expelled from the party following an investigation into his conduct during the local election campaign.

The JC can reveal Fred Leplat was kicked out of Labour – for membership of the far-left Socialist Resistance group – only hours after he had joined other hard-left activists at a breakfast meeting with Mr Corbyn at a café in Finchley last week.

The meeting between Mr Corbyn and local activists at Café Buzz on Finchley High Road last Tuesday infuriated many mainstream campaigners involved with the Barnet Labour group.

Mr Corbyn had failed to notify them he was visiting in advance and then failed to meet any of the local election candidates to boost morale ahead of last Thursday’s polls – and it is unclear if Mr Leplat was technically suspended by Labour when he met the leader.

The disciplinary investigation into Mr Leplat started after an official complaint was made last month about the letter he had sent out attacking the “conflation of antisemitism and criticism of the actions of the state of Israel”, in a defence of the Labour’s record on antisemitism.

It claimed Party’s antisemitism crisis was in part an attempt to “deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism” which was purportedly signed by 33 members of the Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet Labour parties.

The JC later learned several of the signatories had not wanted their names on the letter  – and that a majority at the Barnet Momentum group opposed the letter being sent out ahead of the elections, believing it disrupt their campaigning activity in the crucial final weeks.

A source confirmed: “The letter that Fred Leplat was involved with had circulated in various draft forms for some time.

“But he clearly took it upon himself to circulate the letter to six different news organisations in a decision that would only serve to stoke the antisemitism row that had dogged the Barnet election campaign even further.

“There were some people who had not even signed the letter, and others who had no idea it was going to be sent out to newspapers.”

Sources have also confirmed to the JC that during the investigation into Mr Leplat’s conduct, his membership “of an organisation incompatible with Labour Party membership” became apparent.

Mr Leplat had previously been involved with the hard-left Left Unity party(1), but joined the Finchley and Golders Green Labour CLP after Mr Corbyn became leader.

Labour’s disciplinary committee was said to have reached its decision after finding articles and speeches Mr Leplat had made for Socialist Resistance – a group describing itself as a “revolutionary, ecosocialist feminist organisation” which publishes a “Marxist periodical of the same name”.

The source added: “In the aftermath of the disappointing local election result for Labour in Barnet, the fact that Mr Corbyn ended up in a breakfast meeting with people like Fred Leplat only days before the electorate went to the polls speaks volumes.

“We kept telling Mr Corbyn to come down to Barnet and meet the ordinary voters on the street, especially those within the Jewish community, but he just wouldn’t listen.”

(1) SR make no secret of their political trajectory.

Supporters of Fred say, “There is an email trail showing people agreed to add their names to the letter.”

Some might conclude that this is an easy target but as the above indicate there are serious questions about the move.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 8, 2018 at 11:54 am

French protest against Macron: la Fête à Macron.

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Thousands of people demonstrated in central Paris on Saturday amid a heavy police presence to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s sweeping reforms, a year after he came to office.

France 24.

Some 2,000 security forces including riot police were deployed as marchers gathered from midday in warm early summer sunshine in the central Opera square for a protest dubbed a “Party for Macron”, a tongue-in-cheek “celebration” of the 40-year-old centrist’s first anniversary in power.

Smaller rallies took place in the southern cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux while the Paris variant kicked off with a mass picnic which drew numerous families.

l’Humanité reports that the marches were backed by all the French left, except the former ruling Parti Socialiste (not asked), trade unionists, and civil society associations.

Génération.s Benoît Hamon, Pierre Laurent PCF, Philippe Poutou and Olivier Besancenot for le NPA,former leaders of the protest movement,  Nuit Debout  such as Frédéric Lordon, some of the union federation,  CGT (their chief, Philippe Martinez  refused to take part), the far-left union blocs SUD,  Solidaires, and the anti-globalisation network, Attac..

Huffington Post.

Libération states that activists are now looking to redouble their efforts to moblise opposition to Macron by looking for new struggles. (Après la Fête à Macron, des manifestants en quête de lutte).

 

Those with strong stomachs can watch, and hear, Jean-Luc Mélechon “do music”.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

May 6, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Stuart Jeffries Spits on Charlie Hebdo Graves: Guardian Review of “The End of the French Intellectual From Zola to Houellebecq by Shlomo Sand”.

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Image result for shlomo sand to sand end of intellectuals

Verso and the Guardian Spit Again on the Grave of Charlie Hebdo Martyrs. 

Stuart Jeffries is an admirer of the French sovereigntist and nationalist “Je ne suis pas Charlie” Emmanuel Todd.

Todd : le liseur de cartes… qui préfère le FN à Mélenchon (2015)

Todd backtracked during last year’s French Presidential elections. Denouncing the leader of the FN, Marine Le Pen as xenophobic and a a vote for Macron as “soumission aux banques, à l’Allemagne, (subservience to the banks and to Germany) he abstained in the second round (Emmanuel Todd: «le FN ne veut pas le pouvoir»). Le Pen, he opined, is not a “true patriot”.

Jeffries is a staunch admirer of Emmanuel Todd.

After the Bataclan massacre, and in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher killings, led to mass mourning,  he wrote in 2015,

Emmanuel Todd detects in his book was that these marches in January were not based on the grand old French revolutionary notion of fraternity. When Paris marches in solidarity with the murdered – as it surely will – it needs to march in true fraternity, rather than in the masquerade Todd anatomises. That is the kind of defiance that Paris needs now.

It is with little surprise that we read in yesterday’s Guardian that Jeffries finds much to agree with in Shlomo Sand’s The End of the French Intellectual a book built around Todd’s Qui est Charlie ? : Sociologie d’une crise religieuse. (2015).

This gives the flavour of the review.

Review – from Judeophobia to Islamophobia.

Sand starts his history with the Dreyfus affair and ends it, nauseated, in 2015, as the French establishment marches in solidarity with murdered workers at Muslim-baiting magazine Charlie Hebdo and there are calls for Michel Houellebecq to be inducted into the Académie Française for his novel Submission(one that imagines France busted down to a mere province of a Mediterranean caliphate). “The modern Parisian intellectual was born in the battle against Judeophobia, the twilight of the intellectual in the early 21st century is happening under the sign of a rise in Islamophobia,” Sand argues.

……..

 

Perhaps it takes an outsider Jew to diagnose the sickness of French intellectual life. Near the end of the book, Sand looks at a cartoon of Muhammad published in Charlie Hebdo, “a cruel-looking bearded figure wrapped in a white jellaba, his eyes hidden and holding a long pointed knife”. He has seen that image before. Where? In the Jew-hating cartoons published in the 1890s in La Libre Parole to whip up antisemitic sentiment during the Dreyfus affair. “It is surprising to see how much the ‘Semitic’ Jews of the past resemble the ‘Semitic’ Muslims of today: the same ugly face and the same long and fat nose.”

No wonder, then, that when some 4 million French people joined the march for Charlie Hebdo’s murdered court jesters three years ago, Sand was not one of them. He is not the kind of guy to sport a “Je suis Charlie” badge – his admiration for French intellectuals, such as it is, does not extend to self-identifying with Islamophobes.

After this it may  help to read this, in the Observer today: On 7 January 2015, terrorists burst into the offices of the satirical magazine, killing 12 people. In an extract from his new book, published to huge acclaim in France, here is one survivor’s astonishing story by 

Here is a proper review: (September 1, 2016 .)Scroll down to the section at the end on Charlie Hebdo.

La Fin de l’intellectual français? De Zola à Houellebecq. Shlomo Sand. La Découverte. 2016.

 

 

 

Internationally celebrated for The Invention of the Jewish People (2009) Shlomo Sand is a redoubtable controversialist. That study, which argued that those following the Jewish religion only began to consider themselves a “people” during the Middle Ages, continues to be debated. Sand’s assertion that most Jews owes their origins to religious conversion, and not to ancient Hebrew origins, was intended to strike at the heart of the “National Myth” of the state of Israel. How I stopped Being a Jew (2013) announced a wish to break with “tribal Judocentrism”. Warmth for the secular ideals of Israel, and for the Hebrew language, has not protected him from vigorous criticism from a wide variety of Zionist critics.

La Fin de l’intellectuel français has equally iconoclastic ambitions. Apart from frequent autobiographical notes, during which we learn he was once a Marxist who wished to change the world, it is no less than a charge, an accusation,against Europe, and against France in particular: that the Continent is lifting the drawbridges against the “Muslim foreigners”. A “contagious plague” of Islamophobia, uniting left secularists and traditional nationalists, has infected the Hexagone. For Sand, “media intellectuals” (intellectuels médiatiques) both circulate this “code” and pile up its symbolic property. “A une vitesse suprenante, une puissante intelligentsia médiatique s’est constituée pour qui la stigmatisation de l’autre’”… “La détestation de la religion musulmane” has become “le nouvel opium de l’intellectuel’ ‘antitotalitaire.” (Page 238) At an amazing speed, a powerful media intelligentsia  has been built around the stigmatisation of the Other. ” “The loathing of the Muslim religion” has become the “new opium of the anti-totalitarian intellectuals.”

Put simply, to the author the stars of the modern Parisian media salons, those setting the tone, the style and the substance are small in number. They include (putting them in British terms) Éric Zemmour (a ‘declinist’ second cousin to our historians nostalgic for the Empire with specific French gripes against the ‘héritières de mai 68’, ), Alain Finkielkraut (a ‘philosopher’ of the erosion of educational and grammatical standards, and what one might call “Parisianistan’, an even closer co-thinker to Melanie Phillips), Renaud Camus (a professional  indignant xenophobe railing at the ‘replacement’ of Europeans by foreigners, and potential Editorialist for the Daily Express), and Michael Houellebecq, who needs no introduction, even, one hopes, to dimwits.

The Intellectual.

The bulk of La Fin de l’intellectuel français consists of chapters on the historical role of French intellectuals, and considerations of their social functions, from Gramsci, Pierre Bourdieu to Régis Debray. There is mention of lesser-known writings, such as Harman and Rotman’s Les Intellocrats (1981) which highlighted the small Parisian world of publishing, and heralded the birth of the new “media intellectuals” that came to the fore in the late seventies with the nouveaux philosophes, André Glucksmann, Bernard-Henri Lévy and others, long forgotten, defying the totalitarianism they had freshly rejected.

As a pared down version of Michael Scott Christofferson’s Les Intellectuals contre la Gauche (2014 – French, expanded, edition), this history, a grand narrative, charges the French intellectual class with having abandoned Marxism and the left. Amongst many other faults it ignores that the left continued to exist during that decade. Mitterrand’s 1981 victory – initially ruling in coalition with the Parti Communiste français (PCF) – was supported by the mass of the intelligentsia, within which an unbroken critical, if minority, left – never once mentioned in La Fin – has continued its own way, up till the present. This indicates one of the many ways in which the dominance of ‘media intellectuals’, in, unsurprisingly, the media is not the same as the kind of more entrenched intellectual hegemony that Gramsci outlined.

Readers unfamiliar with the history of the term intellectual and the politics of French intellectuals, from the “critical collective intellectual”, Zola and his cohorts, that arose during the Dreyfus Affair, Julien Benda’s defence of disinterested universalism (La Trahison des clercs. 1927), Paul Nizan’s Leninist commitment to the “soldats de la plume” (Les Chiens de Garde. 1932), will find, at least some passages to reflect on.

The Collaboration, the Resistance, post-war ‘engaged’ thinkers, in the mould of Sartre, Beauvoir and Camus, receive particular attention. The less reputable aspects of the Existentialist couple’s war record and minimal participation in real resistance were, for Sand a stumbling block for his own hero worship. Those who have not stumbled across writings such as Carole Seymour-Jones, A Dangerous Liaison (2008) that portrays in more depth than La Fin de l’intellectuel français the worst side of the pair’s war-time treatment of their Jewish lover, Bianca Bienenfeld, may even now be shocked.

Sand is, while not widely known outside of specialised circles, is the author of a fine study of Georges Sorel, L’illusion du politique (1984) Based on his PhD thesis this intellectual biography demolished a number of misconceptions, including the idea that Sorel was a proto-fascist, while making the various writings and stages in Sorel’s thought as clear as is possible. He followed this (echoed in the present volume) with a dispute on fascism, with the Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell. Apart from demonstrating again that 1920s and 1930s French ‘non-conformist’ admiration for Mussolini, and then (to a lesser extent) Hitler, indicated just how far real fascism did not take root in France, Sand demonstrates analytical fineness. He even admits that the far-right (and most notorious intellectual Collaborator) writer Drieu la Rochelle had talent (Page 158). Indeed the text displays – against Sartre’s belief that no anti-Semitic novel had any merit – a serious acquaintance with the romancier’s (in our opinion) interminable and tedious Gilles. (1939) (Page 215)

Islamophobia.

None of this delicacy is offered in the concluding chapters of La Fin de l’intellectuel français. It is tale of French Islamophobia, of nationalism and bigotry masquerading as Universalist secularism that would have been lifted from the pages of Socialist Worker or the web site of Counterfire. It is with no surprise that we learn that his first salvo against Charlie Hebdo, appeared in the far from philo-semitic ‘wise-guy’ publication, Counterpunch (,A Fetid Wind of Racism Hovers Over Europe. January 2015) a site which has published articles contesting the pardon of…Dreyfus. (1)

Sand loathes Houellebecq, who is perhaps an acquired taste. This may be why he fails to pick up on one of the few funny jokes in Soumission, the creation of the “Indigenous European a direct response to Indigénes de la République” – one group of racists giving ideas to another. Je Suis Charlie, is not, as it is for many of, the emblem of love and freedom. For the nuanced connoisseur of French pre-War ideologies, it was a publication that produced, week in and week out, a “representation méprisante et irrespectueuse de la croyance d’une minorité religieuse”  a picture that shows disrespect for a religious minority. (Page 225). No doubt that explains why Muslims, frustrated, unhinged with only a fragile belief to cling to, decided to react with murderous folly (Page 227). Doubtless it also accounts for why they killed at the Hyper-Cacher….

That the middle class demonstrated on the 11th of January 2015 in solidarity with Charlie we do not doubt. But oddly, Sand does not deeply cite his authority on this point, Emmanuel Todd, for whom they also showed the spirit of Vichy, Catholic Zombies (walking unconsciously in the steps of their religious past), soaked in the ‘culture of narcissism’, objectively xenophobe, like the Parti Socialiste, and …pro-Europeans – the (Sociologie d’une crise religieuse. Qui est Charlie? 2015). So, with every one of his bugbears wrapped together, what next? Todd, we are not astonished to learn, despises this bloc, the MAZ, prefers those who rejected the Maastricht treaty, and….is himself a nationalist, or, as they call it today, a “sovereigntist” who wishes to reassert French Sovereignty over the economy, against the European Union….

Laïcité.

In his pursuit of allies in the fight against French laïcité Sand might consider a much deeper problem than hostile reactions to Islam or those who make summary judgements about ‘Islamo-gauchisme’. It lies in this sovereigntism: a nationalists turn with far deeper roots than religious or ethnic hostility: a true xenophobia, embraced not just by the Front National, but by the centre-right, and that section of the left which shares Todd’s loathing of the European Union, if not other European states (not to mention the US). There is a name for this, which we have already used, xenophobia, and the point where nationalism slides into racism.

One can accept that that anti-Muslim feeling is prejudice, that there is a strong dose of racist defence of “la terre et les morts” against all classes of immigrants but particularly Muslims, and Catholic Mayors suddenly discovering that are secular republicans. That one can pretend that specifically French forms of secularism are universal at one’s peril.

One can accept all of this, even some gestures towards the sub-existentialist phrases about fear of the Other …but, are there not some problems about violent forms of Islamism, some difficulties, as indicated in Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran, to halt just there. That amongst contemporary forms of Islamism, the status of the Kufur, the rules governing women, most visibly their ‘modesty’ and punishing the ‘immodest’, bedrock human rights issues, remain…issues.

Sand passes in silence over the ideas of the strongly left-wing and pro-Communist Charlie editor, Charb. Perhaps he should read his posthumous Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists (2015). If that proves too much for him he has no excuse whatsoever for ignoring the mass of serious literature in French on Islam, and Islamism, from Gilles KepelOlivier RoyFrançois Burgat, Gilbert Achcar  in French.  The vast majority of these writings, are as nuanced, as profoundly researched as one could wish, with all due consideration for the immense difficulties of marginalised Maghrebian and African populations. I would recommend he begin with a genuine intellectual with knowledge of both the evolution of former Maoists towards ‘anti-totalitarianism’ and Islamism, Jean Birnbaum, and his Un Silence Religieux. La Gauche Face au Djihadisme. 2016. He is certainly not a sign of the ‘end’ of the species.

The secularist Ligue des droits de l’homme has been at the forefront of the fight against the ‘Burkini ban’ (l’Humanité) So much for Sand’s recent claim that “La laïcité, comme autrefois le patriotisme, s’avère, de nos jours, l’ultime refuge de l’infâme ” (Nouvel Obs. 24.8.16.)

(1) THE DREYFUS CASE, REVISITED: Israel Shamir sifts through the Dreyfus case: was he really a victim of anti-semitism?

On Barnet, Labour, Anti-Semitism and Labour Party ‘Marxists’.

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The failure of the Labour Party to take Barnet council is already overshadowing, for at least some people, the solid local election results won by the work of activists and councillors. Labour did well. There remain problems about attracting those who supported Brexit. The Shadow Cabinet’s line on the EU remains chalks and cheeses, defence of EU legislative gains, pro-Customs Union, with a curtsy towards Sovereignty. There are difficulties about Labour’s policy, or lack of it, in key areas such as welfare and Universal Credit.

These are hard, real issues. It is easier to talk about Barnet. Haringey, where the party lost a few seats to the perennially opportunist and locally persistent Liberal Democrats, does get a mention. But above all it’s Barnet, High, New, Friern (Colney Hatch?), Hendon, Finchley and Golders Green. Names, as the last indicates, with which to give vent to opinions about Anti-Semitism, Labour and the ‘Jewish vote’.

As a principle this Blog has sympathy with sceptics and scoffers. Even so, to read the bile poured over party supporters who spent time and energy trying to convince people to vote for them is to ingest a great dollop of dislike. It appears that Owen Jones is a laughing-stock for his efforts – not a virtue of many national newspaper columnists – to help on the ground. Momentum is, it seemed, doubly at fault, in one aspect a Jeremy Corbyn glee club, in another, a vehicle for unpalatable ‘anti-Semitic’ ideas. The idea that the pressure group may be largely made up of well-meaning and valuable people will have set some noses wrinkling already.

We can add that Jewish Labour members got elected in Barnet and that overall the party’s performance was not dented.

No automatic alt text available.

Yet, there is, as with the population at large, some belief in “conspi” ideas, often involving a “‘international Jewish banking conspiracy’. There is religiously based anti-Semitism which takes a political turn amongst those influenced by forms of Islamism. There is, above all, amongst a vocal minority, a hysterical identification with the Palestinian cause and extreme ‘anti Zionism’. Some hold views, not far off the recent declarations of President Abbas, about Jewish responsibility for prejudice against them. Some ‘anti-imperialists’ defend Abbas, and the more evidently anti-Semitic Hamas. Amongst them there are those who call for the ‘destruction of Israel’.

Together this is a noxious brew. But it is so far from a majority one that it’s hard to begin to take it apart.

One way is to out the Labour Party Marxists (the main force in Labour Against the Witch-hunt)  article issued yesterday.

Zionism is the real problem

‘Carla Roberts’

This whole campaign is, of course, only about Corbyn insofar as he cannot be trusted to run Britain in line with US foreign policy, not least in the Middle East. Despite his shameful complicity in the witch-hunting of his own supporters, for the establishment he remains a loose cannon. And, crucially, at least historically, he has been firmly on the side of the Palestinians. No amount of bending over backwards to the pro-Zionist lobby will make them forget that. Corbyn remains unreliable, despite everything.

She cites Moshé Machover.

Anti-Semitism hysteria … has much to do with the hyenas positioning themselves for the next major Middle East war … The likely pretext for western military action this time will not be simply ‘humanitarian intervention’, but coming to the aid of Israel in order to ‘prevent another holocaust’. Those who demur will be branded as ‘anti-Semites’.

She adds,

No wonder that Zionists are so keen to try and outlaw comparisons between Nazis and the Israeli government. They are too close to the truth.

The article continues,

The anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party only makes sense if seen in this international context. When it turned out that Jeremy Corbyn could not simply be humiliated into giving up his post as party leader, the next stage of the campaign was launched: Operation Tame Corbyn. And this is going rather better than the chicken coup, unfortunately.

Britain is expected to take part in this latest campaign for war in the Middle East. If not by dropping bombs, then at least by providing political cover for this necessary war to “prevent another holocaust”. A Labour leader and potential prime minister who has been an outspoken supporter of the Palestinians is, in this context, untenable. Labour cannot be allowed to become an anti-war party

Foreign policy is an area of  powers competing for influence, it is a banality to recognise. There is little doubt that a state such as Israel will do what it can to get international support.

But this is equally to bury the issues brought about by conspi politics by insisting that the importance given to anti-Semitism issue is …a conspiracy.

Comparing the state of Israel to Nazis is hardly likely to bring clarity to the row.

What words have they left for  the tortured, the dead in Syria and those inflicted their fate on millions of refugees?

But that is to misunderstand.

The Weekly Worker’s front-organisation uses the comparison of Israel to Nazis as a political tactic. 

Radical nationalist and the violent leftist fringe in the 1970s often operated with a three-pronged strategy: ferocious demonstration-repression-recruitment.

The CPGB (Provisional CC/ Weekly Worker) trilogy is: provocation- Labour disciplinary action- recruitment.

It is nothing more: a way to get attention, to polarise and to gain influence.

On television last night the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle stated that concern about the issue of anti-Semitism was not limited to the Jewish community. We can dispute that there is anything like “a” Jewish community. But he went on to say, accurately, that there are many people have close ties, friendship, with Jewish people – indeed he could have added that in Europe inter-marriage is widespread. It would be preferable if our moral imagination was firmly universal, but the sense in which a political and ethical “we” exists does operate through these bonds.

I need hardly add that I spent part of my adolescence hanging round Golders Green and going to the parties of – predominantly secular – Jewish friends. There are many of us. Many of us are also part of the left, and…the Labour Party. Perhaps it’s because of this that the LAW statement stating that ‘Zionism’, not anti-Semitism, is the “real problem” and comparing Israel and the Nazis repels me as much as it does.

We might speculate that with the crumbling of traditional class identifications that the “masses” – open to fluid opinion forming on-line – are open to anti-semitism. It would be equally accurate to say that with these deep moral ties we have been, are, and will be, resolutely opposed to anti-Semitism and prepared to fight those who further their sectarian recruitment aims by fishing in these waters.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 5, 2018 at 11:37 am

Livingstone and that them there Hitler: Galloway accuses former London May of “political senility”.

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“The more I learn about Hitler, the more I dislike him. He was mad.”Alan Partridge.

“Horrendous” Ken Livingstone on the Nazi Party.

 George Galloway attacks Livingstone:

 

Ken Livingstone has sparked outrage yet again after repeatedly bringing up Adolf Hitler within the first seconds of an interview about Labour’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism.

The former London mayor is currently suspended from the Labour party following a series of remarks he made in 2016 about Hitler supporting Zionism.

He was being interviewed about the failure of Labour to win the north London borough of Barnet – an area with a large Jewish population – which many have blamed on the recent anti-Semitism row. 

Several Barnet candidates have attribute the inability of their party to oust the Conservatives on Mr Livingston’s comments and the lack of action taken against them.

When asked about this in a Sky News interview, he began speaking again about Hitler and Zionism and said that that accusations of anti-Semitism were acting as a “distraction” from Labour policy.

He also said the allegations were part of a “smear” campaign against him.

His comments prompted a flurry of criticism, with Labour politicians ad campaigners questioning angrily why the “irrelevant man” was acting as a spokesman on the issue.

In the Friday morning interview, Mr Livingston said: “There’s a lot of Jewish people – not just in Barnet but all over the place – that believe I said Hitler was a Zionist – that was the big smear on the day I was suspended.

“You only have to go on Jerusalem’s Holocaust website…one of the document’s you can download is about Hitler’s deal with the Zionists in the 30s.

“Hitler wanted to get all the Jews out of Germany and the Zionists wanted to create a Jewish state in Palestine and so they collaborated to do that.”

He then referred to the Nazi party as “horrendous”.

Speaking about the anti-Semitism row in Labour he added: “We have had a general secretary until very recently who just allowed this to bubble on … so many people suspended.

He was then asked if he agreed that his repeated comments were “alienating the Jewish community in places like Barnet.”

Rethinking Democracy, Edited by Leo Panitch and Greg Albo. Socialist Register. 2018. Review.

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Review “Populism and Socialist Democracy” 

Rethinking Democracy, Edited by Leo Panitch and Greg Albo. Socialist Register. 2018. Merlin Press. 

(This appears in the latest issue of Chartist May/June 2018 no 292).

For Leo Panitch and Greg Albo “the social revolution of building capacities for self government” is more important than gaining state power. “Actually existing liberal democracy” is entangled with anti-democratic institutions. The 2018 edition of the Socialist Register explores the potential of “socialist democracy” against reactionary “populist appeals in the name of defending ‘our’ democracy’”. In doing so some contributors see merit in forms of ‘left-populism’. 

The electoral appeal of democratic socialist ideas – they cite Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders – inner-party democracy and social struggles have come to the fore. Ramon Ribera Fumaz and Greig Charnock offer a valuable account of the ‘citizens’ revolution’ attempted by Barcelona en comú (BeC). But, away from its ideology and programme, what of the political history of BeC’s ally, Spain’s national Podemos, from personalities to strategic difficulties? The electoral bloc that has enabled the Portuguese left to win power and govern successful, involves not just ‘new’ forces but some old ones, including the Socialists and the very old Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)

Do neoliberal elites ‘fear’ democracy? A number of contributors work with Jacques Rancière’s ‘anti-institutional’ picture of radical democracy. The French theorist claimed that Western elites, are believers in technocratic competence, and have a veritable hatred of the demos. James Foley and Pete Ramand detect this in a fear of referendums. Rancière claimed that the No vote in the 2005 French Referendum on a European Constitution was a major set back to those who wished their “science” to be acclaimed by the masses (La Haine de la démocratie. 2005).

That popular consultation witnessed a division on the French left, inside both radical and reformist camps. It was between those supporting national sovereignty and those who favoured European unity, however imperfect. (1) The rejection of the European Constitution only happened with the help of the votes of the far-right Front National, and conservative ‘Sovereigntists’. The result, many say, strengthened not democracy but appeals to France, the Nation, not just by the right but also by left-wing French politicians. After eventual French endorsement, the EU went ahead with its plans anyway.

Denis Pilon’s ‘Struggle over Actually Existing Democracy’ offers critique of ‘proceduralist’ democracy. Alex Demiorović considers Radical democracy, from Miguel Abensour (1939 – 2017) who was indebted to  council communism, Rancière, to the familiar figures of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe. Adepts of abstract theory will find much to mull over.

Do these theorists offer “innovative democratic strategies”? Should we consider one of the few concrete ideas offered by Rancière, who looked to Periclean Athens and found public office open to selection by lot? The French La France insoumise (LFI) led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon,  uses this procedure widely, including for selecting a majority of delegates to its Conferences. It means that there are no formal currents, organised differences of opinion, inside his movement. This is even less attractive than the “consensual” decision-making imposed in the Occupy! movement.

The ‘fear’ of populists of the left and the right fails to look into why socialists may oppose populism. It is not disdain of the great unwashed, but differences over the claim that there is left-wing potential in the present ways the “people” can be mobilised against the ‘elite’.

Donald Trump once declared, “The only important thing is the unification of the people – because the other people don’t mean anything.” Can the People become Sovereign on conditions that they are hurled against the ‘not-People’?

Foley and Ramand take on board Perry Anderson’s critique of the ‘vagueness’ of the term elite, and the idea that this is the Enemy. Three contributions on the media also register another side of his doubts, the way it neglects the way hegemonic ideas gain acceptance. They offer useful insights into the role of the media in constructing ruling class hegemony. The revelations about Cambridge Analytica indicate that grand ideas, from Laclau and Mouffe, about the Enemy, and the need for democratic dissensus, may be less attractive in the face of manipulated hatred. The benefits for the equally elusive People in this form of politics are less than evident.

This fear of Others perhaps sums up right-wing populism, and mass conservative ideas, too neatly. If liberals, or the very different European left, turn to Othering the rightwing Populists – and why not? – it is because their policies place them as Corporate ventriloquists. Martijn Konings brings us back to the importance of economic rationality. He indicates how a “commitment to the speculative logic of risk” continues to be attractive to some voters. It can, paradoxically, be worked into appeal to the People. While many during the Brexit Referendum claimed to defend our Home against the outside, the neo-liberal wing of the Brexit campaign offered to make Britain a free entrepreneur on the world stage. Trump embodies both at the same time: he is a free-marketer and determined opponent of open markets.

Rethinking Democracy is thought provoking rather than answer-offering. The accelerating crisis of most of European social democracy is now provoking reflection and soul-searching. Recent elections have left Italian socialists of all stripes voiceless, the Dutch Labour Party has been overtaken by the Greens, and, after the long-signalled melt down of the Parliamentary left, the anti-populist President Macron and his La République en marche (LRM) holding all the reins of power. There is much to think about.

******

See (1) Pages 135 – 4. 68 et Après. Les heritages égarés. Benjamin Stora, Stock,. 2018.

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Paris May Day: Trade Unions Prevented from Marching by Black Bloc Violence.

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Black Bloc Halts Trade Union May Day in Paris.

In Paris on Tuesday, the traditional trade union parade was deflected and then dispersed even before arriving in the Place d’Italie because of violent incidents.

A Paris mardi, le traditionnel défilé syndical a été dévié puis s’est dispersé avant même d’arriver place d’Italie à cause de violents débordements.

(Libération)

The march was slowed to a halt by a large group of demonstrators clad in black, with many wearing balaclavas and some with gas masks, who broke into a chant of “Everyone detests the police” on the Austerlitz bridge across the Seine. The Paris police prefecture estimated the size of the group at 1,200 so-called “black bloc” protesters.

Some 276 protesters were arrested, 109 of whom remained in custody as of Tuesday night, police said, adding that 31 businesses had suffered damage, two of which had been set ablaze.

France 24.

The traditional autonomist  tactic of trying to take over the head of the march this year led to a  burst of exceptional violence.

Antifas, black blocs, anars : ce « cortège de tête » qui a fait dérailler le 1er-Mai syndical  (le Monde)

The French media refers to them as “masked casseurs”, (casseurs encagoulés). That is those who riot and smash things up, from casser, to smash, to shatter, to break.

Initially one of the best known figures of the French left,   Jean-Luc Mélenchon  (la France insoumise) claimed that they were ” issus de “bandes d’extrême droite”. (bands from the far right).

He has since recognised his error, directing his opprobrium for the  “fils à papa” (daddys’ boys, spoiled brats) who smashed up the MacDonald’s (Les Black blocs cassent le 1er mai: Jean-Luc Mélenchon admet s’être trompé en désignant les “fachos“)

The anarchist movement properly speaking, FA, la CNT, CGA and AL , had its own peaceful march in the afternoon. (le Monde libertaire).

About 2,000 people attended.

Background (2016),  Tonino Serafini.

«Pour les autonomes, l’objectif est de rendre visible une guerre invisible»

The Ministry of the Interior calls them “ultra-leftist” or “anarcho-autonomous ” activists ,but they generally reject any form of categorization. They meet and often act on affinity (some sociologists speak of “amilitants”). These are often students who take part in actions in support of undocumented migrants or against police repression. They try to integrate their libertarian political ideal in all spheres of their life, making sure to be perfectly autonomous, that is to say, to depend neither on the State, nor on an owner, nor of an employer to subsist. There are many who live in community squats where they grow, for example, their food to spend money as much as possible.

Most of them are outside the classical political spectrum and see themselves as neither left nor right. From their point of view, far-left organisations are part of the “system”, the “Empire” to use their terminology. They themselves categorically refuse to participate directly or indirectly in this society, and thus despise political parties such as trade unions. Between them, they are called “totos”, in reference to the autonomous movement.

What are the historical origins of this movement?

The autonomous movement appeared in Italy in the 60s and developed in France on the ashes of May 68 to take various forms, the most famous will lead to Direct Action. Today, these groups are of course no longer at such a level of violence, even if injured police officers and broken windows are now challenging public opinion.

More than a movement, the autonomists form a movement, an informal network crossed by many divergences, and whose members do not share any fixed ideological corpus, apart from their libertarian aspirations. They do not have a clear political line. The debates between them are quite lively: some refer to Marx, while others are part of an anarchist doctrine.

What relationship does the autonomous movement have with violence? Is it a key element of their political strategy?

Autonomous women generally see violence as the only possible answer to the violence of the “Empire”. The main objective of this violence is to make visible to everyone the invisible war that is going on according to them in our societies. That’s why they incorporate protests, usually covered in dark, masked outfits – the so-called Black Blocks – to generate maximum disorder by confronting the police, whom they see as the “guardians of the peace of the rich “. They are difficult to approach: they are as suspicious of journalists as they are academics who they say are part of the system.

This is a very broad-brush introduction.

For the views of those involved, cretinous as they are, see:

Suite aux menaces proférés par Delpuech Michel, préfet de police de Paris, à l’encontre de la manifestation du 1er mai, le service de la communication du « cortège de tête » diffuse ce communiqué.

1ER MAI – COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE DU CORTÈGE DE TÊTE

Essentially it says they would react to the “provocation délibérée” by Paris Police Chief, Delpuech Michel. The Head of the March (oh how we giggled…) said they wished to rise beyond the levels of May 68 attacks on property, and the traditional attacks on estate agents, car dealers, banks and insurance companies (no mention of the all important globalising bus shelters!) They ended with a call for an invasion of the Latin quarter when the May Day demo ended.

Very funny.

You can ‘ave a further laugh by following this lot: La coordination contre la répression et les violences policières .

Meanwhile the NPA ( Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste) has some sympathy with destroying McDos, perhaps reviving the thwarted dreams of the days of the early ’70s Front communiste révolutionnaire (urban guerrillas?)

Si nous ne partageons pas la politique des groupes autonomes, nous comprenons la colère grandissante d’une partie de la jeunesse, qui fait face à la violence sociale et policière dans sa vie quotidienne. C’est du gouvernement que vient la responsabilité de la confrontation actuelle.

If we don’t share the strategy of the autonomists, we understand the growing anger amongst young people, who live confronted with  police violence in their daily lives. It’s the government that bears the responsibility for the present violence…..

Malgré les violences policières, la mobilisation se poursuit

And they wonder why people do not trust the NPA…..

Between 143.500 people took part in May Day marches  210.000 in France.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 2, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Trade Unionists Against the EU, RMT, Leave EU and Kate Hoey, Shared Confidential Labour Data with Far-Right Arron Banks and Cambridge Analytica.

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Worked Hand-in-Glove with Far Right Arron Banks. 

James Patrick – 30/04/18

Sensitive personal data of Labour voters was processed by a third party and shared with Arron Banks’s Leave.EU, Cambridge Analytica, and others associated with unofficial groups campaigning to leave the European Union in February 2016.

Data based upon demographics, class, finances and ethnicity, was used to identify core groups of Labour voters to be targeted with UKIP-led messaging and was instrumental in deciding where Nigel Farage appeared to speak during the Brexit campaign.

Leave.EU, Cambridge Analytica, the RMT Union and Trade Unions Against EU, and Labour MP Kate Hoey – associated with Labour Leave – gained access to the information via Labour’s 2015 general election data guru before referendum campaigns were officially designated by the Electoral Commission.

Blue Collar workers, struggling families, students, and ethnic minorities were among those specifically designated valuable to tailored social media targeting and doorstep canvassing. The data provided specific postcodes to be targeted on and offline, in order to attract millions of votes across the country – enough to swing the divisive referendum result.

Sensitive personal data, which includes ethnicity, was allegedly compiled from Labour Party information by a third party consultant and shared with Arron Banks’s Leave.EU campaign group, Cambridge Analytica, Brian Denny of the RMT Union, and the MP Kate Hoey.

The huge dataset, based on the information of millions of Labour voters across the country, was allegedly built using Mosaic demographics and the results of party canvassing. It is believed to have been amassed during 2015 by political consultant Ian Warren, before he passed it on in a series of detailed briefings and a postcode targeting spreadsheet in early 2016.

He first met with Cambridge Analytica to discuss the use of the information as part of Leave.EU’s campaign at the end of 2015.

Warren was head-hunted by Labour for the 2015 election campaign after his successful work with UKIP and continued to be closely associated with the party, polling members and working with Owen Smith on his leadership challenge during the remainder of 2016.

Leave.EU’s Andy Wigmore said: “He ran Ed Milliband’s team and the general election campaign in 2015 for the Labour Party. He was and still is the Labour Party guru.” A self-taught statistician and political consultant, Warren trades under the name Election Data Limited, based in Bolton.

When asked whether he was still working for the Labour Party at the time of the leak, Warren said: “I’m sick of speaking to journalists about this. I’ve nothing to say.”

When asked whether he had the right to retain and use the data, Warren terminated the phone call.

Full story through below or this link.

Trade Unionists Against the EU was backed by the Morning Star, the Socialist Party, and the ‘Lexit’ left.

After this, and the revelation that they received funding from Banks, dodgy dealings between them and the far-right Brexit campaigns.

As for the connections between the Leave UK, Hoey, and, last but not least Galloway (a regular on Bank’s Westmonster),  a campaign which “made more of immigration-related issues”, it is hardly a surprise.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 1, 2018 at 12:51 pm

Ayn Rand Cultist – New Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

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Sajid Javid is Ayn Rand Cultist.

Ayn Rand

A thousand years from today…one 20th Century name will stand out as being unique in the most startling and positive way – the name, that is, of the onlyoriginal thinker of this century: Ayn Rand.

When all the government-manipulating looters of our time, in company with all the left-wing, state-worshipping reactionaries – the blind followers of the ever-running gospel of Plato, Augustine, Ambrose, Aquinas, Luther, Kant, Hegel, Saint Simon, Proudhon, Marx and Marcuse – who have turned so much of the world into a collectivist cesspool, are rotten and forgotten in their graves, one name will still be as bright as the brightest star: Ayn Rand.

NICHOLAS CARTER

Palm Desert

Who is Sajid Javid, the UK’s new home secretary?

His other hero apart from Thatcher is Ayn Rand – he recounted once that he regularly rereads the courtroom scene from her novel The Fountainhead, telling the Spectator he admired its description of “the power of the individual … sticking up for your beliefs, against popular opinion”.

Javid,

Just before Christmas, Sajid Javid performed a ritual he has observed twice a year throughout his adult life: he read the courtroom scene in The Fountainhead. To Ayn Rand fans, it’s famous: the hero declares his principles and his willingness to be imprisoned for them if need be. As a student, Javid read the passage to his now-wife, but only once — she told him she’d have nothing more to do with him if he tried it again. ‘It’s about the power of the individual,’ he says. ‘About sticking up for your beliefs, against popular opinion. Being that individual that really believes in something and goes for it.’

Spectator.

Cde Michael Ezra says,

Ayn Rand Worship

While not official doctrine, Objectivists were nonetheless expected to believe that (1) Ayn Rand is the greatest mind since Aristotle and the greatest human being who ever lived; (2) [Ayn Rand’s novel] Atlas Shrugged is not just the greatest novel of all time, but the greatest achievement in human history; (3) Rand is the ultimate authority on what thoughts, feelings, and aesthetic tastes are appropriate to human beings.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 1, 2018 at 12:30 pm

American Jacobin Magazine Advises UK Left to “embrace Brexit” and National Sovereignty.

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 El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Why the Left Should Embrace Brexit 

THOMAS FAZI WILLIAM MITCHELL.

“A progressive, emancipatory vision of national sovereignty radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals – one based on popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity, and  effectively the socio-ecological transformation of production and society – is not only necessary; it is possible.”  What Is Needed Is A Progressive Vision Of National Sovereignty  

In the article the authors argue,

The Left’s anti-Brexit hysteria, however, is based on a mixture of bad economics, flawed understanding of the European Union, and lack of political imagination. Not only is there no reason to believe that Brexit would be an economic apocalypse; more importantly, abandoning the EU provides the British left — and the European left more generally — with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible.

Fazi and Mitchell knock down a straw man, that the Remain left considers that Brexit “will lead to an economic apocalypse. Their arguments are based on the idea that the pro-EU left’ accepts the idea that markets are optimal, that “free trade” is the basis of pro-Remain economics, and that we agree that, ” A crucial tenet of the Single Market was the deregulation of financial markets and the abolition of capital controls.”

The authors, one safely based in Australia, conclude,

Indeed: a democratic socialist government led by Corbyn is the best option for the majority of British citizens and for the British economy. This leads to an obvious conclusion: that for a Corbyn-led Labour government, not being a member of the European Union “solves more problems than it creates,” as Weeks notes. He is referring to the fact that many aspects of Corbyn’s manifesto — such as the renationalization of mail, rail, and energy firms and developmental support to specific companies — or other policies that a future Labour government may decide to implement, such as the adoption of capital controls, would be hard to implement under EU law and would almost certainly be challenged by the European Commission and European Court of Justice. After all, the EU was created with the precise intention of permanently outlawing such “radical” policies.

That is why Corbyn must resist the pressure from all quarters — first and foremost within his own party — to back a “soft Brexit.” He must instead find a way of weaving a radically progressive and emancipatory Brexit narrative. A once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity has opened for the British left — and the European left more in general — to show that a radical break with neoliberalism, and with the institutions that support it, is possible. But it won’t stay open forever.

They ignore this:   New report: the Corbyn moment and European socialism.

Today we are launching a major new report, outlining a fresh strategy to “Remain and Reform” in the EU.

8th March 2018

Transnational institutions such as the EU are essential to pushing forward radical and progressive change, and only if the UK remains in the EU can Corbyn have the necessary influence to achieve these aims.  The report identifies a number of key areas where a Labour government could use the EU to implement its radical programme. These include:

  • Taxing multinationals, including harmonising corporation tax rules and clamping down on tax avoidance.
  • Regulating banks, including with a new financial transaction tax
  • Protecting migrant workers’ rights and strengthening trade unions
  • Digital Rights, where Labour has already played a leading role in the global debate
  • Climate change, using its weight shift EU institutions and overcome big business lobbies
  • Addressing global conflicts, prioritising the security of people, rather than the interests of states, on a humanitarian basis
  • Ending fortress Europe, by radically altering the discourse, opening up legal routes for entry, and treating the refugee crisis as a humanitarian issue, not a security one
  • Reforming the Eurozone, by playing a supportive role and example for progressive anti-austerity parties inside it

A strategy based on National Sovereignty ignores the fact that no country alone is a “sovereign” of the economy, that pooling sovereignty in the EU is the means  to promote these objectives.

If the EU is, as they assert, a “de facto supranational constitutional order “,  what is the British constitutional order? The body administering these processes, the State, is ‘capitalist’, that is, is institutionally wrapped around the existing power structure. It is organised to promote the interests of business. We do not need an elaborate theoretical framework to see this nor can we wish it away by appealing to ‘real’ sovereignty.

The left has to grapple with this problem, just as it would have had to deal with the limits that “pooled sovereignty” creates.

Our strength does not lie in the nation state but in our popular support and the labour movement: expressed by how far we can condense this power in the administration, not just by legislation but by grass roots backing. It would, we hope, be expressed by Parliamentary representation.

What could a Labour government negotiate within a probable framework after an election?

John Palmer has argued (Corbyn Should Stop The UK’s Drift Out Of The EU January 2018)

Labour should drive home the message that being part of a stronger and reforming EU is an essential means for advancing its programme for radical economic and social reform at home. Social democratic, socialist and green parties in the EU believe this is the real basis of Jeremy Corbyn’s approach which is one reason why he was so warmly received during recent meetings in Europe.

If Corbyn is elected PM before the die is cast on the final shape of the UK/EU relationship, he should seek immediate negotiations of his own with the EU. As the incoming PM, leading a government with a new mandate, this would be very unlikely to be denied.

If, however, Labour does not take power until the UK is fully outside the EU, a Corbyn-led government should unilaterally pledge to fully match all future progressive economic, social, labour and democratic reforms agreed at EU level, coordinate closely with the EU on a new Europe-wide economic recovery strategy and serve notice it will seek renewed full membership of a reforming EU at the earliest opportunity.

What exactly is a break with ‘neo-liberalism’?

Only those gifted with immense “political imagination” consider that a  ‘sovereign’ UK  can negotiate a break with capitalism with the WTO and the EU.

The rest of the Fazi list of idées reçues, , “progressive, emancipatory vision…radically alternative to that of both the right and the neoliberals…. popular sovereignty, democratic control over the economy, full employment, social justice, redistribution from the rich to the poor, inclusivity,….the socio-ecological transformation of production and society” is long on rhetoric, short on specifics.

The final rupture with capitalism is, nevertheless, clearly off the cards.

A Labour government would face, inside or outside the EU, a hard task in untangling the multinational ownership of  “mail (Postal services), rail (ways), and energy firms.” Capital controls is a vague term, but it hardly looks an easy objective to carry out on the world stage, a kind of Bretton Woods of one.

Would Labour, having avoided a “soft Brexit” be in a position to reach trade deals with the ‘soveriegntist’ Trump government, or any other, that favour these objectives?

The key issue for a Labour government is austerity. It will face challenges with tackling the under-funding of the NHS,  public services and social security.

Would it be able to wrangle a way of making arrangements with the EU that untie all the legislation regulating the production and trade flows of companies and rebuild them to its wishes in the British Isles?

What kind of socialism aims for ‘national’ sovereignty other than one which restricts this power to this one nation’s people?

The goal of socialists is not a vision of national but international emancipation.

The irony of a US publication being the vehicle for a lecture to the British left on how to embrace sovereignty cannot have escaped many.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Amber Rudd Resigns in Shame, Now Vote Labour on Thursday!

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PM accepts Rudd’s resignation after 200 MPs sign letter accusing her of making up immigration policy ‘on the hoof’.

Amber Rudd has dramatically resigned as home secretary, after repeatedly struggling to account for her role in the unjust treatment of Windrush generation migrants.

The home secretary was forced to step down after a series of revelations in the Guardian over Windrush culminated in a leak on Friday that appeared to show she was aware of targets for removing illegal migrants from Britain.

The pressure increased late on Sunday afternoon as the Guardian revealed that in a leaked 2017 letter to Theresa May, Rudd had told the prime minister of her intention to increase deportations by 10% – seemingly at odds with her recent denials that she was aware of deportation targets.

Something of a wild card Javid has been known to indulge himself in the House: “Sajid Javid threatened with legal action after calling Momentum ‘neo-fascist’.” (Evening Standard 29th of March 2018)

Two figures stand out in the campaign on the issue.

Diane Abbott (Shadow Home Secretary) and David Lamey.

 

More than 200 MPs have signed a letter to the prime minister calling for government promises to Windrush migrants to be written into law.

The letter, co-ordinated by Labour MP David Lammy, said concerns over compensation, housing and legal rights had not been settled.

BBC.

David made an enduring  impression by speaking from the heart.

David Lamey was one of the people who supported the protest against Anti-Semitism.

The patron of Labour Against the Witch-hunt Ken Loach issued a demand that all the MPs who attended this event – including Lamey – be booted out of the Labour Party.:

Kick them out’: Ken Loach demands removal of Labour MPs who attended rally against antisemitism. (April the 11th)

Ignoring this side-show a better approach would be to follow our local MP’s advice and get out to support our hard-working local Labour candidates.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 30, 2018 at 11:18 am

Some Political Background on Mark Wadsworth.

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Image result for marc wadsworth

Before beginning I wish to make it clear that I am completely opposed to the expulsion of Mark Wadsworth.

But this background has been the subject of intense discussion in recent days and should be more widely known rather than filtering through through other mediums.

How far this account is 100% accurate I do not know but I have some acquaintance with it – I was at the ANL (Anti Nazi league) demo cited below and had some contacts with the ARA  (Anti-Racist Alliance).

From: Ken and the rise of Socialist Action.

Andrew Hosken, Ken: The Ups and Downs of Ken Livingstone, Arcadia Books, 10 April 2008.

At the forefront of the campaign was the journalist and left-wing activist, Marc Wadsworth, who worked closely with John Ross to secure support for black sections from the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs. Ross promised to use his influence with the Campaign Group. ‘If the Campaign Group did not support black sections,’ wrote John Ross to Wadsworth in March 1986, ;this would lead to a problem between Socialist Action and the Campaign Group, not between Socialist Action and the black section. Support for the black section is a bedrock of politics’.[44] The Campaign Group did support Wadsworth[45] and despite Kinnock’s initial reluctance,[46] black sections under the umbrella of the Black Socialist Society were eventually recognised by the Labour Party in October 1990.[47]

In 1991, Marc Wadsworth set up the Anti-Racist Alliance, or ARA, an organisation which would be predominantly led by black people in the struggle against neo-Nazis and racism. The organisation acquired offices in Red Lion Square in Clerkenwell and soon secured the support of powerful trade unions like the Transport and General Workers Union. [48] Wadsworth approached John Ross for Socialist Action’s support for the new campaign. Wadsworth says: ‘I went way back with Socialist Action. Socialist Action not only supported the principle of self-organisation for black people’s campaigns but they also appeared at the time to support that much thornier issue of black leadership. We had white allies but we did it ourselves. Socialist Action appeared to us to be very good on principles very dear to our heart.’

Ross suggested appointing Ken Livingstone, as co-chairman of the ARA, a titular position only, leaving the bulk of the work with co-chair Leela Ramdeen. Eventually, approximately seven Socialist Action members were put on the executive committee, including some who later became Livingstone’s mayoral advisors.

The establishment of the ARA acted as a ‘provocation’ for Socialist Action’s main rivals on the Trotskyist far left, the ‘Socialist Workers Party, or SWP, which then decided to resurrect its own dormant anti-racism organisation, the Anti-Nazi League, or ANL. These two anti-racism organisations and the causes they espoused now became proxy warriors for two Trotskyist organisations – the SWP and Socialist Action – fighting to control this important campaign. Ken Livingstone went to extraordinary lengths to help join Socialist Action in its sectarian scraps with its main rival.

  • (← p. 265)

The SWP/SA race war rapidly forced itself on the attention of the Socialist Campaign Group of hard left Labour MPs who had always strived to make links with their fellow travellers on the Left outside the PLP and were often perplexed by their uncomradely feuds. Tony Benn’s diaries make it clear that the spat was already an issue in early 1992. On 15 January 1992, Benn wrote that there had been a ‘flaming row between those who support the Anti-Nazi League in its recreated form’ and the Anti-Racist Alliance ‘supported by Ken Livingstone and the Black Sections’ adding: ‘It is absolutely absurd that there should be these arguments between anti-racist organizations. It is left-wing politics at its most ludicrous.’ [49]

At the annual general meeting of the Campaign Group a fortnight later, another row broke out between Bernie Grant, the black MP for Tottenham who supported the ANL, and Ken Livingstone when Wadsworth attempted to distribute an ARA leaflet. Grant tried to prevent distribution, at which point Livingstone stood up to leave saying, ‘I am leaving if this behaviour continues… This is how Kinnock behaves. We have always been allowed to distribute literature.’ Benn observed, the ‘boiling hatred’ between the two groups, describing it as ‘so crazy’.[50] It perhaps was not that crazy when you realise the increasing importance that Trots placed on anti-racism politics. During the early 1980s, black people had been predominant among those rioting in Brixton, Toxteth and Bristol. Here was a large group of people possibly in need of leadership who really understood oppression and injustice.

The ARA highlighted what it claimed to be a rapid increase in the number of racially motivated attacks in Britain, from 4,383 in 1988 to 7,780 three years later. [51] But within two years the ARA would be destroyed in a nasty internal battle over campaigning strategy between Ken Livingstone and Socialist Action on one side and Marc Wadsworth and his supporters on the other. The trigger was the most infamous racial murder since the war.

The murder of Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black student, by a gang of white racists on 22 April 1993 was a shocking and seminal event. He was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack near a bus stop in Well Hall Road near Shooter’s Hill in southeast London. It later led to an inquiry by the judge Sir William Macpherson who strongly criticised the failure of detectives to bring the killers to justice and condemned ‘institutionalised racism’ within the Metropolitan Police. [52]

Marc Wadsworth, as national secretary of the ARA, contacted Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and played a significant role in bringing the tragedy to public attention. According to one BBC commentator later: Wadsworth was determined to present the Stephen Lawrence case differently, and to break through the indifference of the tabloid press towards black victims of racism’. Wadsworth highlighted the fact that Lawrence wanted to be an architect and that he had been law abiding, diligent and respectful. ‘We were saying to white society: “Stephen Lawrence was like you.” [53] Few people thought .it a coincidence that the bookshop-cum-headquarters of the far right British National Party were in Welling, not far from where Lawrence died.

Wadsworth says he came under increased pressure from the Socialist Action contingent to use the Lawrence couple more aggressively in the ARA campaigns: ‘They wanted complete control and the problem was how they were going to move that campaign along. Their primary aim was their sectarian battle with the SWP. They wanted to use the Lawrence campaign to trump the Anti-Nazi League.'[54] He says he told Socialist Action: ‘We’ve got to have a much more softly-softly approach to this couple. They’re not a pushover; not that I would want them to be. I’m black myself and a parent. You can’t just use them as pawns.’

Racial tensions increased during 1993 and culminated on 17 September 1993 in the shock victory of the British National Party a by-election cor- Millwall, a seat on Tower Hamlets Council in east London. The flash point came in October 1993 when the ANL and the ARA held rival protests on the same day. Wadsworth’s ‘crime’ was to organise a peaceful anti-racist demo of 3,500 people for 16 October 1993 in central London after police consultation while 12 miles away up to 15,000 people attended a violent ANL demo at the BNP’s bookshop. To make matters worse, Doreen Lawrence attended part of the ANL protest. [55]

It is clear that the Lawrence parents were becoming increasingly confused about being caught in the crossfire between the two groups. They had come to realise that the ANL was a ‘front for the Socialist Workers Party’. Writing later, Doreen Lawrence said,’… the various groups that had taken an interest in Stephen’s death were tearing each other apart and were in danger of destroying our campaign which we wanted to keep focused and dignified.'[56] In the end, Doreen and Neville Lawrence wrote to both the ANL and ARA to demand that they ‘stop using Stephen’s name’.[57]

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Wadsworth claims that Ken Livingstone and Socialist Action now colluded to get rid of him because he would not do what they wanted, ‘Socialist Action thought they could impose decisions on me including how we focused on the Stephen Lawrence campaign,’ says Wadsworth. ‘When I refused to go along with that they said, OK we’re going to get rid of you.’ Through late 1993 and early 1994, the ARA deteriorated rapidly.

A former Socialist Action member of the ARA insists Wadsworth’s strategy was wrong, both in terms of the Lawrence campaign and towards the BNP by-election victory in the East End: “The correct response was to have a demo in the East End and Marc didn’t want to do that so he was increasingly separating himself out from the most important issues that were going on in racism in order to pursue his own things.’ [58] On 17 March 1994, Livingstone chaired a meeting of the ARA executive. [59] During the four-hour ‘rowdy meeting’ in a House of Commons office, Wadsworth threw a punch at Livingstone. He says: ‘It was at one of these crazy meetings where he was making these rulings and telling me to shut up that I launched at him. I didn’t actually hit him. I hit his hand. I was going to hit him. This had gone on for months and he treated me like a boy sitting next to him.’ [60] At another meeting, on 30 March 1994, Livingstone and the Socialist Action contingent failed by only one vote to persuade the executive to dismiss Wadsworth on grounds of professional misconduct. [61]

The infighting continued for another six months as Livingstone and Socialist Action attempted to wrest control from Wadsworth. On 23 September 1994, the Anti-Racist Alliance issued the foil towing statement: ‘Ken Livingstone, supported by a faction called Socialist Action and a handful of unprincipled and unrepresentative members of the executive committee, has been waging relentless campaign to sack the national secretary. This behaviour is undemocratic and has led to unnecessary divisions in the ARA which the chair has made even worse by his repealed attacks on national office staff.’ [62]

  • (← p. 268)

‘When they come for you they are incessant and they are like pit bulls,’ Wadsworth says of Socialist Action. ‘It’s just incessant obsessive politicking.’

On 30 September 1994, Livingstone went to the High Court to determine voting rights for the delegates to the ARA’s forthcoming annual meeting and an out-of-court settlement was reached. At the meeting on 15 October 1994, both Livingstone and Wadsworth stepped down; Wadsworth gave way to Kumar Murshid, a future Livingstone mayoral advisor on race but not a member of Socialist Action. Murshid walked away from the job after turning up at the ARA offices to find that Wadsworth had changed the locks. ARA collapsed rapidly after unions including the Transport and General Workers Union withdrew support. By February 1995, the National Assembly Against Racism, or NAAR, had been established largely by Socialist Action members, namely Redmond O’Neill, Jude Woodward and Anne Kane. [63] Former member Atma Singh says that Socialist Action was so used to splits and sectarianism that ‘breaking one organisation and creating a new one is nothing dramatic for them’. [64] Lee Jasper, who became Livingstone’s senior mayoral policy advisor on equalities, was its first secretary. He had also been one of the few non-Socialist Action opponents of Wadsworth on the ARA.

Today, the NAAR is one of Britain’s biggest anti-racism groups with several subsidiary organisations, all supported strongly by Mayor Livingstone. Members of Socialist Action would continue to work closely with Livingstone throughout the 1990s. But they would come into their own when Livingstone became the first directly-elected mayor of London.

Nicaragua: After Police Kill Protesters, Giant Demonstration for Peace and against Daniel Ortega

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Manifestation au Nicaragua pour réclamer la fin des violences, le 28 avril.

Nicaragua se vuelca en una gigantesca marcha contra Ortega.

Tens of thousands march for peace and justice in Nicaragua

The protests have expanded beyond the original opposition to the social security changes to include broader anti-government grievances.

Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have joined a march for “Peace and Justice” called by the Catholic Church, the second massive demonstration in less than a week following a wave of deadly protests against social security reforms.

The two marches in Managua came after protests and looting last week that Nicaragua’s Permanent Commission on Human Rights said left at least 63 people dead, 15 missing and more than 160 wounded by gunfire.

The government of President Daniel Ortega has not confirmed or denied the casualty figures.

Mr Ortega, who began his third five-year term in office last year, withdrew the social security overhaul that sparked the social convulsion last Sunday and agreed to meet with different sectors of society.

The rescinded changes would have imposed higher contributions by workers and employers and required retirees with pensions to give up 5% of their checks for medical care.

But the protests, which have been largely led by university students, had expanded beyond the original opposition to the social security changes to include broader anti-government grievances. Protesters at times were met with violent with police repression and attacks from Sandinista youth and motorcycle-riding thugs

Guardian: A correspondent in Managua and  in Mexico City

Tens of thousands have joined student-led protests, which started as an outbreak of fury over social security reforms and morphed into a broader revolt against the authorities’ violent response – and Ortega’s 11-year rule. At least forty-two people have died in the unrest, including a journalist shot dead while broadcasting on Facebook Live.

“We came in memory of the university students who fell fighting a dictatorship,” said Cinthia Madrigal, 30, who joined a march in Managua. “We took to the streets peacefully … and Daniel ordered us to be killed.”

During the 1980s, Ortega became a poster boy for the global left: a mustachioed Marxist feted for overthrowing the despised dictator Anastasio Somoza and for his David versus Goliath cold war struggle with Washington.

Ortega, now 72, suffered a chastening setback in 1990 after losing a presidential election he had expected to walk.

In 1998, his step-daughter – Murillo’s daughter, Zoilamérica Narvaez – publicly accused Ortega of having sexually abused her for a number of years from the age of 12. Murillo chose her husband over her daughter, and gradually moved to the centre of power; both parents deny the allegations.

After two failed attempts to reclaim the presidency, Ortega staged a dramatic comeback in 2006 – a victory in Murillo is thought to have played a key role.

In his victory speech, Ortega pledged to rule for the poor and for the people and “create a new political culture”. Yet he returned a changed and to many a tarnished man.

Former Sandinista comrades began turning away from the Nicaraguan president amid accusations of cronyism and corruption and anger over his support for a highly controversial Catholic church-backed ban on abortion.

Background:

Nicaragua on the Brink, Once Again.  

New Yorker.

The present convulsion began earlier this month, after President Daniel Ortega proposed a change to the country’s social-security provisions that would have forced taxpayers to pay more for the program while simultaneously cutting payouts to beneficiaries. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries of Latin America, and public reaction to this change was furious and swift, with demonstrators taking to the streets to protest. The government’s ensuing response was as ill-considered as it was cruel. Police around the country fired live ammunition to break up the protests; as many as sixty people are believed to have died in the chaos that followed, including Ángel Gahona, a young reporter who was shot in the head while conducting a Facebook Live report in the streets of the Caribbean coastal town of Bluefields.

As the civilian deaths mounted, Rosario Murillo—Ortega’s wife, Vice-President, and spokesperson—issued a stream of belittling comments, calling the protesters “bloodsuckers,” “criminals,” and “vampires.” This only raised the ire of many thousands of ordinary Nicaraguans, and, just as happened in the late nineteen-seventies, when the dictator Somoza tried to stamp out dissent with harsh measures, the sentiments on the street have only hardened.

It’s clear now that, for all their pragmatic backpedalling on the social-security bill, Ortega and Murillo’s long time in power, and their near-total control of Nicaragua’s public institutions, have left them out of touch with the feelings of many of their countrymen. Ortega initially rose to power after the 1979 Sandinista revolution, when he was known as a Marxist firebrand, and he served as the country’s strongman President until 1990, when he ceded power after losing elections. He returned to the Presidency, in 2006, after dropping his Marxist tag, allying himself with former politicos and enemies that included Nicaragua’s corporate class and its archconservative Catholic archbishop, and declaring himself a belated follower of Jesus Christ. In the years since, Ortega and his wife have steadily consolidated their power, eliminating their opponents through a canny combination of economic co-option and, when necessary, outright repression.

In addition to the executive branch of government, Ortega and Murillo dominate Nicaragua’s Congress and judiciary. The couple’s children, in turn, run the family’s business empire via a web of public-relations firms and media companies that functions as the government’s communications department. The Ortega-Murillo regime, in other words, exists in an echo chamber.

More background: (2016)  Nicaragua’s compromised revolution

Memories of the 1979 Sandinista revolution remain strong in Nicaragua, but today’s FSLN is a very different organization, reports Jonah Walters from Managua.

The FSLN of today is not like the Sandinistas who led the left-wing government for a decade after the revolution, with Ortega at its head then, too.

After enduring a decade of economic strangulation and counterrevolutionary military attacks by the contra armies, the Sandinistas lost power to the U.S.-backed right-wing opposition in 1990.

Since then, the FSLN leadership has restricted internal democracy, colluded with the corrupt conservative governments that succeeded them and sought power again through cynical backroom deals. Its political stances became more and more moderate, if not downright conservative–in 2006, on the eve of Ortega winning the presidency again, the Sandinistas endorsed a law that banned all abortions in Nicaragua.

The Sandinistas once represented a vital revolutionary force–an inspiration to leftist movements all over Latin America and the world. But how should we make sense of the FSLN in the current moment, after decades of degeneration and behind-the-scenes maneuvering have compromised the organization?

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm

Vice Chair of Labour Against the Witch-Hunt Falls out with “good boys and girls” of Jewish Voice for Labour.

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Image result for tony Greenstein

“It is unfortunate and unacceptable that some people react to support for the self-styled ‘Jewish’ state by resorting to anti-Semitism but the blame rests firmly with those who imply that Israel is acting on behalf of all Jews.”

Tony Greenstein. Labour Against the Witch-hunt, Vice Chair, 20th of April 2018.

Yesterday it was CIA and Mossad plotting behind the anti-Semitism controversy.

Today it’s….

 

Jewish Voice for Labour Surrenders to Wes Streeting’s White Parliamentary Lynch Mob

When Jewish Voice for Labour was formed last summer I welcomed it whilst warning of the dangers of not having clear politics, strategy or direction. I opposed not only its two tiers of membership – Jewish and non-Jewish – but its refusal to squarely support the Palestinians’ fight for justice and the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees.

Although most JVL members are opposed to Zionism there is a belief that some things are best left unsaid.  The group is also unclear as to whether its main purpose is as some kind of Jewish cultural formation or whether it is primarily a political organisation.

We are tenterhooks to get the nitty-gritty so here goes.

Monster Raving on the MPs who went with “creatures” like Ruth Smeeth,

When Streeting and his 20 white racists reached Church House, the venue where the Kangaroo Court was sitting, it was they who felt intimidated and Streeting could be seen bleating about how terrible it was that people had exercised their right to free speech.

The Greenstein Party denounces every Jewish left group,

Whilst the Zionists are on the rampage JVL decided to do nothing.

Originally Free Speech on Israel, which consists of many of the same people as JVL, was set up because of the weaponisation of anti-Semitism.  It would appear that they have given up on free speech.  Likewise the Jewish Socialists Group, which worked alongside Black anti-racist activists like Marc, have kept quiet over the witchhunt and appear to have given up on socialism and Jewish Voice for Labour seem to have lost their voice altogether.

Strategic advice:

Far from abstaining from protests we should be redoubling our efforts to reselect creatures like Streeting, Smeeth, Berger and Ryan.

 While Greenstein checks his shoes to make sure Mossad does not get them Corbyn says,

Jeremy Corbyn has rejected claims by close ally Len McCluskey that “Corbyn-hater” Labour MPs were using an anti-Semitism row to “smear” him.

Mr McCluskey said he backed action to stamp out anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

But the Unite union leader warned MPs trying to “re-toxify” Labour by attacking Mr Corbyn they “can expect to be held to account”.

Mr Corbyn has repeatedly vowed to stamp out anti-Semitism in Labour.

Asked if he agreed with Mr McCluskey that there was a smear campaign against him, Mr Corbyn said: “No, because we have to deal with the issue of anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is a poison in our society, I am determined to drive it out of our society, including wherever is raises its head in my own party and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

BBC

More sense from Jim: Labour antisemitism: Shut up Len!

This does not mean being in favour of this:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 27, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Vice Chair of Labour Against the Witch Hunt, T. Greenstein, Says Israel and the United States Behind Anti-Semitism in Labour Claims.

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“It is unfortunate and unacceptable that some people react to support for the self-styled ‘Jewish’ state by resorting to anti-Semitism but the blame rests firmly with those who imply that Israel is acting on behalf of all Jews. “ Tony Greenstein. Labour Against the Witch-hunt, Vice Chair, 20th of April 2018.

 

There was a lobby of the Labour Party in defence of Mark Wadsworth yesterday.

Or as Greenstein puts it,

Whatever happened it was all overshadowed by this bombshell giving the inside story of what’s behind the Labour and the problem of anti-Semitism  and correcting Jeremy Corbyn’s carefully thought out and welcome statement on the issues raised.

The Mirror reports,

Expelled Labour activist says anti-Semitism claims were ‘manufactured’ by CIA spies and Israel

The Mirror spoke to Tony Greenstein, who was expelled from Labour in February this year over anti-Semitism claims he brands “false and malicious”.

He backed Peterborough candidate Alan Bull, who was accused of promoting Holocaust denial. Mr Bull’s case triggered the resignation of Labour’s disputes chief Christine Shawcroft when she also lent her support.

Mr Greenstein revealed he had “exchanged e-mails” with Ms Shawcroft after she quit – and said she supported him in person at his own expulsion hearing as a “silent witness”.

When asked what was behind the anti-Semitism row, Mr Greenstein said: “The State of Israel, the State of Israel. And also the Americans I imagine.”

He added: “There isn’t a problem of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. What there is is a problem of false accusations.

“When Corbyn became elected he’s anti-Nato, he’s anti-American intervention, if that didn’t set off alarms in the American Embassy amongst the spooks and the CIA, what else have they got to do? That’s what their job is.”

Asked if the row was about getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn he said: “Yes, yes that’s the aim, yes. Most of it. 99% of it, yes, of course.”

He added: “In 30 years’ time, when some enterprising young researcher at universities does a Freedom of Information Act on the US files, they’ll find out how it was organised

“We know the Israeli government was involved because of the lobby, the programme by Al Jazeera.

Asked to clarify he meant claims of anti-Semitism in Labour he said: “Yes, undoubtedly. It’s been stimulated, it’s been manufactured, it’s artificial. It didn’t come from nowhere.”

He continued: “I’m not privy to the secrets of the Israeli Embassy. All I can say is it isn’t about anti-Semitism. Who is behind it? I suspect Israel and the United States. Why? Because the United States doesn’t like Corbyn, any more than Benjamin Netanyahu does.

Other recent posts by Greenstein,

Emina Ibrahim, Vice Chair of Momentum,  A Collaborator in this Racist Outrage.

This comment, 

Unlike the fools who agreed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, Daniel Blatman know something about the atrocities of the Nazis as well as the atrocities and similarities of the mentality of Israel’s rulers with the Nazi state.”

Well-established rumour has it that at the rate Monster Raving Greenstein is going he will soon be accusing Mossad of stealing his shoes.

Where he’s going seems to be a place followed by this lot – the other half of Labour Against the Witch-hunt, Labour Party marxists (aka, the Weekly Worker, CPGB, Provisional CC).

We leave it to specialists to read more than the headline and the last sentence.

Call time on Corbyn fanboyism Jim Grant.

The Zionists and also opportunistically pro-Zionist rightwingers are loud, and they are nasty, and they have the media on their side, but they are numerically tiny. Yet they have a habit of outmanoeuvring our much more numerous troops, who – surely – have the potential to be far more militant than appears currently to be the case.

Yet there is always a grain of truth to these things. In this case, it can hardly be denied that the political level of Corbynite Labour activists is very low, and does not seem to have risen at all in the last couple of years. No chinks have appeared in the armour of identity politics. No slogans have emerged as a stiffer alternative to ‘For the many, not the few’. Strikingly, there seems to have been no noticeable growth in the organised far left at all – not those parts of it energetically tailing Corbyn, not those taking a sectarian stand against it, nor any of the other approaches that have been tried. We starve amid plenty.

The strategy of the movement’s leadership is to avoid as strenuously as possible conflict over issues which it does not plan to fight an election on, which in practice means issues that divide the Labour left from the centre. In practice, this means the single issue of austerity. So much the worse for the Palestinians; for the policy on Israel and fake anti-Semitism accusations is simply to give ground, again and again, to no noticeable effect. Why bother denouncing such allegations if even Ken Livingstone gets thrown to the wolves?

The abiding lesson of this fiasco, then, is a simple one: the time for Corbynite fanboyism is very much over.

Meanwhile some cretins prove that left-wing anti-semitism exists belle et bien,

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 26, 2018 at 4:15 pm

Ken Loach and anti-Semitism: Row Grows over Honorary Doctorate from Université Libre de Bruxelles .

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Image result for Labour against the witch-hunt ken loach

Ken Loach speaking for Labour Against the Witch-hunt (30.1.18) Greenstein (far-left) now says, Labour “anti-Semitism claims were ‘manufactured’ by CIA spies and Israel” (Mirror.  25.4.18)

The controversy over the award today of an honorary doctorate by the Université Libre de Bruxelles  to Ken Loach today by the was the top story on the Francophone public radio La Première this morning. The University’s rector, Yvon Englert. defended the decision. The distinction was the work of the cinéaste which has brought to light his personality. It was not for his politics.

He nevertheless affirmed that there was no question of Loach being tainted by Holocaust denial or anti-semitism.

Going further into the issues involved, which touch above all on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and disputes within the Labour Party, the University Head stated that it was not their position to  “entrer sur ce terrain politique.”  That was Loach’s affair, his alone, although Englert noted, that his own family had been touched by the Shoa and that the university did share all of the director’s views on the Palestine-Israel issue.

(You can watch this: Ken Loach Docteur Honoris Causa: malgré la polémique, l’ULB maintient sa décision).

These are fair comments and the award is certainly justified.

But Loach has done his cause no favour with his support for abusive cranks like Greenstein who is notorious for his rants against ‘Zios’.

The Guardian reports,

Belgium’s prime minister has criticised one of the country’s leading universities over its plan to honour the film director Ken Loach, following complaints that it has overlooked alleged antisemitism.

In a speech at Brussels Grand Synagogue to mark the 70th anniversary of Israel’s foundation, Charles Michel said on Wednesday night that Loach’s comments about Israel and its policy towards Palestinians justified the withdrawal of the honour.

….

“Michel’s statement may be read as a rejection of the honorary doctorate,” the prime minister’s office told the Belgian news site De Standaard on Wednesday night. “The prime minister has studied the file and believes that [Loach] has recently made controversial statements that justify the withdrawal of that honorary doctorate.

“Obviously, the prime minister does not have to deal with academic freedom, the university does not need the permission of the prime minister in any way, but he does give his opinion. At the moment it does not seem appropriate to him to honor such a person.”

It was not clear what remarks by Loach the prime minister was referring to, although the director has strongly defended the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, against accusations of allowing antisemitism to continue in the party. Loach said this month said that Labour MPs who joined a protest against antisemitism should be kicked out.

 

Petition against the honour for Loach:

“Ken Loach ne doit pas être honoré par l’ULB”

A rival open letter has accused those opposing Loach of mounting a Witch-Trial.

Quelle “face hideuse de Ken Loach”? C’est un procès en sorcellerie! (OPINION)

(La Libre Belgique)

The public letter tries to defend Perdition, and his ” confusion et maladresse ” around a statemement to the BBC on the Holocaust. The authors state that the real reason that their is a campaign against awarding the honorary dotatorate lies in Loach’s defence of the Palestinian cause and his support for Jeremy Corbyn.

Belgian Jews slam decision of Brussels university to honour Ken Loach

The umbrella organisation of Belgian Jews has sharply criticised the French-speaking Free University of Brussels (ULB) for its decision to honour British filmmaker and far-left activist Ken Loach.

In a statement, the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish organisations (CCOJB) – the country’s EJC affiliate – “took note of the decision of the Free University of Brussels to honour Ken Loach despite repeated calls for reason.”

CCOJB President Yohan Benizri said: “The honour of Ken Loach in the present circumstances is at best an inexcusable mistake of the Free University of Brussels, at worst a moral mistake.”

“We have questioned and increased contacts with the ULB and his rector, Mr Yvon Englert, to explain that the major challenge for our collective was to combat the falsification of the history of the Holocaust as a basis for political activism,” the statement went on. “We warned the university against the risk of ridicule and dishonour by not listening to the voice of a large part of civil society.”

The CCOJB noted that the ULB “seems to be satisfied with a communication from Ken Loach in which he claims not to be antisemitic or a Holocaust denier.

“The CCOJB protest against this charade,” the statement said. “What were we expecting? That is completely out of the question and that does not take the conviction of those who judge acts rather than words. The ULB acts as if it were merely clarifying a misunderstanding, as if all this was only the result of a lack of awareness of Ken Loach’s positions in Belgium. Nothing is less true.”

“In fact, the ULB has received a letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD), who have been occupied daily in the last few days, with the problem denounced in our complaint. They know Mr. Loach very well and make the same statement as us in a letter to the Rector.”

To quote the BoD letter: “Given the complex situation in the United Kingdom concerning the rise of antisemitism in the Labour Party, honouring Mr Loach would be unreasonable, detrimental and frankly shameful.”

Written by Andrew Coates

April 26, 2018 at 11:45 am

Jeremy Corbyn Issues Welcome Statement on Banishing Anti-Semitism from the Labour Party.

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The cover of today's London Evening Standard

An important and dignified statement.

Some sections, which grapple with points which many people have made, are in bold.

Instead of taking notice of the reactions of those hostile to the Labour Party we should take them to heart.

The Jewish Chronicle reports,

Jeremy Corbyn has issued a direct apology to the Jewish community over the Labour Party’s continued antisemitism problem.

In a statement issued only hours before his meeting with leaders of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Corbyn writes: “We have not done enough fully to get to grips with the problem, and for that the Jewish community and our own Jewish members deserve an apology.

….

Writing in the Evening Standard, Mr Corbyn admitted the party’s monitoring of antisemitism had “been simply not fully fit for purpose” and also suggested that under his leadership the party “did not look closely enough at ourselves”.

Jeremy Corbyn: What I’m doing to banish anti-Semitism from the Labour Party

Evening Standard.

Anti-semitism is a poison that must be challenged wherever it raises its head, across Europe and at home. Hatred and bigotry towards Jewish people has no place in our society, whether on the streets or online. And that of course goes for the Labour Party too.

Today I am meeting leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council to discuss working together to tackle both old and new forms of anti-Semitism.

We have a particular duty to lead the fight against anti-Semitism in and around our party and movement. Jews have found a natural home in the Labour Party since its foundation, and been central to our movement.

The party has a long and proud record of standing against anti-Semitism. Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.

But we must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively.

The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

So let me be clear. People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party. They may be few — the number of cases over the past three years represents less than 0.1 per cent of Labour’s membership of more than half a million — but one is too many.

We are taking action. In the past fortnight more than 20 individuals have been suspended from party membership, and more are being investigated. But we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.

We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism has surfaced in our party, which has always stood for equality for all and opposed racism and discrimination.

As I indicated in my letter last month to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, there are two particular contemporary sources. First, individuals on the fringes of the movement of solidarity with the Palestinian people can stray into anti-Semitic views.

The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people and an end to their dispossession is a noble one — just as a genuine two-state solution is essential to lasting peace in the Middle East. But when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.

Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.

Second, there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. That is only a step from hoary myths about “Jewish bankers” and “sinister global forces”.

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These views do no service to the struggle for a just society. Instead, they reproduce the sort of scapegoating that we recognise when directed at ethnic or religious minorities.

Anti-Semitism was responsible for the worst crimes of the 20th century. According to a survey conducted last year by two leading Jewish community organisations, anti-Semitic views are held by a minority in Britain, and are more likely to be found on the right of politics. But we did not look closely enough at ourselves.

I also believe our party’s structures, built to service a far smaller membership than we have now, have been simply not fully fit for purpose when it has come to dealing with complaints about anti-Semitism.

The problem has been aggravated by social media, which is where most of the instances of abuse appear to take place. Some high-profile cases have also been delayed by legal proceedings, and the reforms proposed by Shami Chakrabarti two years ago to make our response more effective were not fully implemented.

That is why our new general secretary Jennie Formby has, on my instruction, made it her priority to get on top of this problem and ensure that all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly, with investigations resourced as necessary. She will be setting out her plans in the coming weeks, including the appointment of a new legal adviser, and we are already taking action in many cases.

We will also embark on a programme of political education to deepen Labour members’ understanding of what anti-Semitism is and how to counter it.

When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not “smears”.

I want to engage with the full range and diversity of Jewish organisations and have no truck with any attempt to divide the Jewish community into the “right” and “wrong” sort of Jews. Debate and pluralism are abiding characteristics of the Jewish community, and I celebrate them both within and without the Labour Party.

I hope that by taking the steps outlined, Labour will be reconnecting with our finest traditions of solidarity and equality. We stand with any community beleaguered or subject to hateful prejudice.

 

We cannot and will not fail our Jewish brothers and sisters now.

Key issues for the left include challenging those for whom an anti- Zionist position – that is criticisms of the belief that Israel is the legitimate aspiration of a Jewish nation, and criticism of the Israeli government – have strayed into “attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis.”

The latter is particularly striking and has been the cause of major rifts within the left of the left, as well as within the broader labour and progressive movement.

The problem of “people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system.” which many have underlined for some time, is broader than anti-Semitism. It represents a wider failure of the socialist movement to educate supporters.

This which appears in the Guardian is a good place to begin from, even if it underlines some serious difficulties.

The central problem is that much (although by no means all) of the antisemitism in the Labour party has emerged from the online-fuelled grassroots movement that has been a major factor in sustaining Corbyn’s leadership.By its very nature, this movement resists control. The passion that drives it is not conducive to careful speech. Antisemitism is more than just carelessness (for some it is very deliberate) and it is more than just speech, but any attempt to address it must begin with serious attention to language in an age in which communication – on any issue – constantly threatens to spiral out of control.

While many in the Labour party are aware of the problems that unrestrained speech can cause, there are few practical suggestions as to what to do about it. Owen Jones has called for a mass “political education” campaign, but it will be difficult to corral Labour supporters into the institutional frameworks necessary for this. In any case, antisemitism is one symptom of a wider culture of tit-for-tat purging and abuse that has permeated the party for decades. Those who currently hold the whip hand (Corbynites now, New Labour in the past) are never eager to address it.

Corbyn has repeatedly condemned abuse, antisemitic or otherwise, although he rarely goes into specifics. Yet his supporters tend to ignore his less convenient pronouncements. He does not wield his authority with an iron fist and is unlikely to have the ability or the will to lead a mass disciplining of unruly Labour voices

While no one who sees themselves as part of the grassroots Labour movement really knows how to draw on its productive energies without its dark side, there is another section of the Labour left that does understand discipline and control. Parts of the trade union movement – and those, such as McDonnell, who are close to it – have considerable experience in these political arts. Formby’s appointment, backed by Unite, as Labour general secretary, backed by Unite, and the failure of the bid for the post by the Momentum founder Lansman, were a demonstration of the vulnerability of grassroots politics when it comes up against machine politics.

Cynics might therefore suggest that Jewish organisations who want Labour antisemitism addressed should concentrate on building ties with Formby, McDonnell and with the unions. Although some of the more authoritarian leftists within the party have themselves been accused of antisemitism, they are also pragmatic, and they have the ruthlessness to rid the party of antisemites and the message-discipline to refrain from hateful language – should they feel it’s in their interests to do so.

Of course, not only am I not advocating such an alliance, no appetite exists for it on either side. For one thing, ties between the Jewish community and beleaguered Labour centrists, including the centrist-leaning Jewish Labour Movement, are strong and deep. But the prospect of the decentralised grassroots Labour left eventually being subjugated by its centralising cousins is a very real one, whether or not it is antisemitism that provokes it.

Those who value the idealistic passion that permeates the Labour grassroots (including, with much ambivalence, myself) need to grapple with how its abusive, uncontrollable tendencies can be curbed, since these invite its suppression. Facing up to antisemitism and to the wider issue of abuse on the left isn’t just the right thing to do for its own sake, it is the key to ensuring the resilience of the movement.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

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Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (ArmenianՄեծ Եղեռնի զոհերի հիշատակի օր Mets Yegherrni zoheri hishataki orRussianГеноцид армян День памятиGenotsid armyan Den’ pamyatiTurkishErmeni Soykırımı Anma Günü) or Armenian Genocide Memorial Day is a national holiday in Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh and is observed by the Armenian diaspora on 24 April. It is held annually to commemorate the victims of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, hundreds of thousands of people walk to the Tsitsernakaberd Genocide Memorial to lay flowers at the eternal flame.

24/04/1915: DEPORTATION OF ARMENIAN INTELLECTUALS FROM ISTANBUL

24 April 1915 is a symbolic date for commemorating the victims of the Ottoman Empire’s near total destruction of its Armenian population.

This day saw the arrest of 235 leading members of Istanbul’s Armenian community – amongst them poets, doctors, religious leaders and political dissidents representing some of the most prominent Armenian intellectuals in the Ottoman Empire.  Many of the 235 would be tortured and publicly executed in the months following their arrest.

Armenians within the Ottoman Empire already occupied a precarious position when the First World War broke out in 1914.  Major pogroms during 1894-96, and again in 1909, had seen thousands massacred.  After a number of military setbacks in the First World War, Ottoman leaders undertook measures to deport Armenian populations from their homes despite the vast majority not being located in areas of military activity.

The Armenians were deported along a number of routes to desert areas that could not sustain them.  When the Armenian community of Van, a town in the southeast of Turkey, resisted attacks against them on 20 April 1915, Ottoman leaders decided to make deportations an empire-wide policy.  The Armenians forced to undertake these death marches were deprived of food and water.  Rapes and murders were routinely committed against those deported.

Satenig Ehranjian was an Armenian deported with her family from Erzurum in June 1915.  The authorities had already taken her fiancé when she was forced from her home.  After several days walking towards the desert, she was separated from her mother and sister.  Her mother was too ill to continue on the torturous journey and her sister was abducted.  As with her fiancé, Satenig never saw her mother or sister again.

Deportations like this occurred across the Ottoman Empire throughout 1915 and 1916.  By the end of the First World War, Ottoman policies of expulsion and extermination had resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children.

Adolf Hitler later referenced the systematic destruction of the Armenians as the Nazis planned the extermination of European Jews.  Today, many communities across the world come together on 24 April to remember the victims of the Ottoman Empire’s campaign to annihilate its Armenian population.

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Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan has issued an address on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Dear compatriots,

The year of 1915 made it into the history of the Armenian people as the year of the Armenian Genocide – the villainous program implemented in the Ottoman Empire at a state level.

On 24 April the whole Armenian people mourns and bows before the sacred memory of the Genocide martyrs. It is a tribute to 1,5 million our compatriots, innocent children, elderly people and women, workers of culture and arts, state and political figures, ordinary people who have fallen victims of Turkish scimitar only because they were Armenians. Hundreds of thousands of people became refugees leaving their homes and finding shelter in different corners of the world.

Our people managed to survive this bloody catastrophe, not only to survive, but also build new homes and hearths, develop their native land and defend it, celebrating great victories. The guarantees of these victories today are the two free, independent and sovereign Armenian republics that due to the united efforts and dedication of our hardworking and creative people, our sisters and brothers from the Diaspora, are steadfastly moving towards a reliable future.

The Genocide is severe pain and open wound of the entire Armenian people, which obliges us always be on alert and vigilant, do everything possible for the continuous development and strengthening of the independent Armenian statehood. To be firm, consolidated and united, believe and rely on our own strength, considering national interests and values above everything else. This is the only way of our people’s progress, this is the most important lesson of the Armenian Genocide.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 24, 2018 at 10:58 am

5 Star Movement Gets a Viva! from Galloway!

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Gets Galloway’s Viva!

George Galloway, formerly (?) a leading figure in, amongst others, the Stop the War Coalition, is a star columnist on the far-right site, Westmonster.

Yesterday he wrote this patriotic piece;

Galloway: Lords push to undo Brexit as voted for by the British people is an act of high treason

This act of political arson will be seen in hindsight as having lit a fuse on a mountain of democratic gunpowder. The subsequent political explosion will make Guy Fawkes look like a mere effigy. The House of Lords, which partied long into the night at your expense last week, is fiddling while the anger of the British people slowly burns. Nursing their wrath to keep it warm…

Now his attention and enthusiasm has turned to Italy’s Five Star Movement, Movimento 5 Stelle.

Italy’s president to turn to 5-Stars to lead coalition talks amid impasse

Italy’s president is launching another round of consultations to try to overcome the impasse from inconclusive March 4 elections. Sergio Mattarella is expected to turn to the populist 5-Star Movement to head up talks, AP reports. President the 5-Star president of the lower chamber of deputies, Roberto Fico, was summoned to the Quirinale Palace on Monday. Mattarella will likely give Fico a mandate to explore the possibilities of finding an alliance that can win a parliamentary majority. Previous rounds have failed. The 5-Stars were the biggest single vote-getter in the March 4 vote, but finished behind a center-right coalition made up of the right-wing League, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and a smaller party. That centre-right alliance won a regional election Sunday in southern Molise, boosting its standing in national talks.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 23, 2018 at 5:20 pm

Macron, Un Président Philosophe. Brice Couturier. The Anti-Populist Progressive? Review.

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Macron, Un Président Philosophe. Aucun des ses mots n’est le fruit de hasard. Brice Couturier. Editions l’Observatoire. 

An interview which broke with the deferential traditions of the 5th Republic made the French headlines all week. On Sunday the 15th of April the journalists Jean-Jacques Bourdin and Edwy Plenel questioned the head of state for two hours on the balance-sheet of his administration. Elected with a sweeping majority for the party La République en marche, he defended a policy of immediate reforms, from the rail service, to higher education. Macron “listened” to the anger of opponents – the railway workers, students, aeroplane pilots, functionaries, and the squatters occupying the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. But republican norms had to be respected. Universities were victims of “professionnels du désordre” (le Monde 17.4.18).

As the exchange got underway Plenal, the anti-Macron founder of the independent Mediapart, and a former member of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, interrupted. “You are not our Teacher, and we are not your pupils”. An Editorial in Le Monde the previous day talked of Macron as a pedagogue ready to lecture, regardless of the wishes of his audience, until he had completed his lesson. (Macron au cours préparatoire. 14.4.18) Excluding the possibility that the President was unaware of his interlocutor’s troublemaking potential one assumes that a snappy put down far from a chance part of the course.

The Anti-Populist Progressive? 

But what syllabus is France’s President instructing us from? This is far from an issue limited to the Hexagone. There are policies on the European Union. Macron’s “camp progressiste” has stimulated interest amongst homeless supporters of the Third Way, Die Neue Mitte, and the liberal centre. For many of these people Macron represents a successful ‘anti-populist’ unifying force.  Much of the French left, which saw many transfers from the right of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and allied figures, to the new President’s camp, by contrast, announced immediately after his victory that this was a Presidency for the wealthy, for the ‘elite’. For former Socialist Minister Anicet Le Pors, he is “mandated” by international finance, the ruling circles of the EU, the bosses, the administrative technocracy, show business, and nearly all the media. (April 2018. Le Monde Diplomatique)

With the present unrest attracting attention the English-speaking left has been quick to label Macron a neo-liberal, a spin of Tony Blair and Thatcher, out to attack the labour movement and impose markets on the public sphere. The ‘bromance’ with Donald Trump over Syria adds force to the comparison with the former British Prime Minister.

Perry Anderson, in a peremptory post-election account, went deeper. Adorned in best periodic style, he suggested that the “neoliberal reformation of France”, attempted for over three decades, had been impeded on different sides by the constituencies of right and left. Macron, in effect, cut through the various knots tiring up the centre left and right, and formed a real “bloc bourgeois” ready to carry out a liberalisation of the economy, and free up entrepreneurial energy. (1)

But some clarity is needed about the beast in power. There are already plenty of books about the President, and the electoral campaign that swept him to the Élysée. But what is his ideology, beyond carrying out his neoliberal “mandate”? ‘Macronism’ appears a less promising candidate than Thatcherism or even the rebarbative Blairism. A suggestion by Régis Debray that – the reader will have guessed this – that the Head of State represents Americanisation, with a ‘Protestant’ twist (see below), this does not take us far. It might be better said that his ideology is something picked up and stuck together as the result of an academic, administrative, business and political career.

In Macron, un président philosophe, Courtier who has a solid academic, and media background, and a less firm commitment to a form of left wing liberalism, offers us a series of insights into this broad picture. As he indicates, the former assistant to the philosopher Paul Ricœur, graduate of French elite Political and Administrative colleges, Finance Inspector, Rothschild Banker, and Minister under François Hollande, offers rich intellectual pickings. Blair, the erudite few may recall, had the lecturer Peter Thompson at Oxford, and the lessons of reciprocity from John Macmurray, behind his Christian socialism. Macron has somebody, Ricœur, a thinker with a Protestant backdrop, whom people have often heard of, if not read.

The President, we learn, has many many more figures in his hinterland. French books have a vexing lack of indexes. It would be hard work to list every sage cited in un Président philosophe, they range from Hegel, Marx, Carl Schmitt, Nietzsche, Peter Sloterdijk, Joseph Schumpeter, Michael Young (meritocracy), to Jürgen Habermas. This only follows the reference-laden writings and speeches of the book’s subject.

From Ricoeur to Saint Simon. 

It would be useful to boil this down to the essential. To begin with here is the debt to Paul Ricœur. For Courtier he offered the germs of an “identitié narrative” from the individual to the nation, to history. The use for a President of certain ideas about France, recently indicated in recognition to the importance of the legacy of Catholicism, is obvious. Macron has, in other words, considers cultural legacies, the presence of memory, to hold the country together – a view whose originality or interest is not immediately apparent.

Next Macron can be compared to Saint-Simon, the prophet of a society run by “industrials” and “intellectuals”. In this vein he is said to consider globalisation as a system of fluxes to be organised and regulated (Page 253). Finance, the mark of neo-liberalism, is to be channelled to the long-term greater good.

If Macron is a believer in capitalism he acknowledges it is not a system that works smoothly, if with great effort, like some building a planetary network of Saint-Simonian canals. There are moments of creative destruction (Schumpeter), clearing out the old inefficient enterprises, bureaucratic burdens and the “corporatism” of organised labour. ‘Progressive’ states, and the transnational European project, are needed to both facilitate and harness this process. .

Finally, there is building European Sovereignty, and the problems that globalisation creates. Courtier refers to David Goodhart in outlining the problems France faces. (3). Can Macron bring together the France of the “zones péripheriques”, the old working class far from the elite, and the metropolitan “gagnants de la mondialisation” (winners of globalisation), regarded as Macron’s core backing, if not electorate, together? (Pages 291 -2)

The difficulty of reconciling the “somewhere’ salt-of-the-earth folk and the – scorned – “nowhere” cosmopolitans would appear hard for somebody identified with the (however misleadingly) with the latter “bobos”. The task of bringing integration against the ‘identitarians’ of the far-right and those who assert the absolute right to multicultural difference, by the “modèle republican français” appears equally arduous. The often reverential, if not hagiographical tone of Un président philosophe, does not help resolve the difficulties. The use of Goodhart to bolster his opinions indicates a rightward slant with no countervailing force. 

The philosophical commentator Alain famously declared that when somebody says that they are neither right nor left, he is sure of one thing – that they are not of the left. Macron is always careful to declare that he is of the right and the left. But there is a little indication of the latter. Pierre-André Taguieff has represented him as the herald of “successful globalisation”, a Europe in which France would be a “nation-start up” and the “État-enterprise”. To decipher the business-talk Anglicisms that pepper Macron’s speech is to confirm this view.

Managerialism, Saint-Simon, Schumpeter, both far from any conception of “bottom up” democracy, political or economic, and a homeopathic communitarian philosophy suggested by Courtier’s reading of Goodhart, do not make an attractive picture of France’s President. If this is what “progressivism” has become in Europe, than it is doubtful if it will attract many enthusiasts beyond France, and certainly not from left-wingers (3)

The European Project and the left.

In the article cited above Anderson pins the ultimate root of this strategy on the European Project. In the trickle down from his approach, others seize on every obstacle to the EU – Brexit included – as an advance against neo-liberalism. Today’s French strikes and protests – regardless of their specific causes or aims – are considered part of this movement.

But the real issue for the French left, in the aftermath of their defeat, may be said to have been whether Macron could be opposed by the “left populist” strategy of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI), to ‘federate the people” against the “elite” or by a new “left bloc” based on alliances between the parties (now stretching from the remains of the PS, Benoît Hamon’s group, the PCF, LFI and its allies, what is left of Les Verts, Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste, NPA) with the social forces presently fighting the wave of Macron reforms. This, as Stefano Palombarini suggested last June, would require an internationalist strategy towards changing the EU that breaks from the populist drift to ‘sovereigntism’. (4)

It is said that with his steam-roller reforms Macron has now been abandoned by whatever support he had from the ‘reformist’ liberal left. That after a year’s presidency he has veered towards authoritarianism  to “jacobinisme vertical”. Whether this is true or not the left is not united. There is no indication that the largest group in the French National Assembly, LFI, at the moment engaged in a “war of movement” to capture hegemony over the left, intends to explore this possibility. It might still be said, that to wrestle the European issue out of the hands of the Macrons and the existing EU system of governance, while fighting the sovereigntists, remains the key issue for our continent’s left, in all its diversity, strengths and weaknesses.

****

(1) The Centre Can Hold. Perry Anderson. New Left Review. No 105. May/June 2017. See: L’Illusion du Bloc Bourgeois. Bruno Amable. Stefano Palombarini. Raisons d’agir. 2017. Speculation that François Hollande and his immediate circle played a part in Macron’s Presidential ascension has waned with the publication of memories reproaching his one-time protégé for his actions.

(2) The Road to Somewhere. The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics. David Goodhart. Hurst & Company. 2017.

(3) Page 283. Macron: miracle ou mirage? Pierre-André Taguieff. Editions l’Observatoire. August 2017

(4) Face à Macron, la gauche ou le populisme? Stefano Palombarini

France, Manifesto Against the “New anti-Semitism”.

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A woman carries a poster reading "I am a jew" as she attends a silent march to honor an 85-year-old woman who escaped the Nazis 76 years ago but was stabbed to death last week in her Paris apartment, apparently targeted because she was Jewish, and to denounce racism, in Paris, France, March 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

More than 250 French dignitaries and stars have signed a manifesto denouncing a “new anti-Semitism” marked by “Islamist radicalisation” after a string of killings of Jews, published in the Sunday edition of Le Parisien newspaper.

The country’s half-a-million-plus Jewish community is the largest in Europe but has been hit by a wave of emigration to Israel in the past two decades, partly due to anti-Semitism.

“We demand that the fight against this democratic failure that is anti-Semitism becomes a national cause before it’s too late. Before France is no longer France,” reads the manifesto co-signed by politicians from the left and right including ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy and celebrities like actor Gérard Depardieu.

The signatories condemned what they called a “quiet ethnic purging” driven by rising Islamist radicalism particularly in working-class neighbourhoods. They also accused the media of remaining silent on the matter.

“In our recent history, 11 Jews have been assassinated – and some tortured – by radical Islamists because they were Jewish,” the declaration said.

The murders referenced reach as far back as 2006 and include the 2012 deadly shooting of three schoolchildren and a teacher at a Jewish school by Islamist gunman Mohammed Merah in the southwestern city of Toulouse.

Three years later, an associate of the two brothers who massacred a group of cartoonists at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo killed four people in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

In April 2017, an Orthodox Jewish woman in her sixties was thrown out of the window of her Paris flat by a neighbour shouting “Allahu Akhbar” (God is greatest).

The latest attack to rock France took place last month when two perpetrators stabbed an 85-year-old Jewish woman 11 times before setting her body on fire, in a crime treated as anti-Semitic.

Her brutal death sent shockwaves through France and prompted 30,000 people to join a march in her memory.

Condemning the “dreadful” killing, President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his determination to fighting anti-Semitism.

“French Jews are 25 times more at risk of being attacked than their fellow Muslim citizens,” according to the manifesto.

It added that some 50,000 Jews had been “forced to move because they were no longer in safety in certain cities and because their children could no longer go to school”.

Libération reports on the Manifesto and adds,

Les actes antisémites ont été pointés en repli en 2017 (-7%) pour la troisième année consécutive, selon les données du ministère de l’Intérieur. Mais cette baisse globale masque l’augmentation des faits les plus graves (+26% des violences, incendies, dégradations, tentatives d’homicide…). La communauté juive, qui représente environ 0,7% de la population, est la cible d’un tiers des faits de haine recensés.

According to the Interior Ministry antisemitic incidents were in decline in 2017 (minus 7%) for the third year in a row. But this overall decrease hides a growth in the most serious acts (plus 26% in violence, arson, damage to property, attempted murder). The Jewish community, who represents around o,7% of the population has been the target of a third of all hate crimes recorded.

However caution about statistics in this area is always in order.

Le Monde  published in March this lengthy analysis of how difficult it is to make these judgements.

L’antisémitisme, une réalité difficile à mesurer précisément

While the main thrust of the Manifesto will find an echo, the value of signatories such as former PM Manuel Valls, Gérard Depardieu and Nicolas Sarkozy on an anti-racist Manifesto is doubtful.

Pointing to a problem, that of “la radicalisation islamiste – et l’antisémitisme qu’il véhicule”, and stating that the difficulty in France is exacerbated by the political calculations of French political parties, is not a very constructive way of addressing the fight against Jihadist Islam.

Others will remark that stating that “l’antisémitisme musulman est la plus grande menace qui pèse sur l’islam du XXIème siècle “, when armed Islamists have attacked and murdered rival Muslims, Christians and secularists, and have, above all, tried to wipe Yazidis off the face of the earth, is not to take full measure of the depth of the problem.

Manifeste «contre le nouvel antisémitisme»

Le Parisien.

« L’antisémitisme n’est pas l’affaire des Juifs, c’est l’affaire de tous. Les Français, dont on a mesuré la maturité démocratique après chaque attentat islamiste, vivent un paradoxe tragique. Leur pays est devenu le théâtre d’un antisémitisme meurtrier. Cette terreur se répand, provoquant à la fois la condamnation populaire et un silence médiatique que la récente marche blanche a contribué à rompre.

Lorsqu’un Premier ministre à la tribune de l’Assemblée nationale déclare, sous les applaudissements de tout le pays, que la France sans les Juifs, ce n’est plus la France, il ne s’agit pas d’une belle phrase consolatrice mais d’un avertissement solennel : notre histoire européenne, et singulièrement française, pour des raisons géographiques, religieuses, philosophiques, juridiques, est profondément liée à des cultures diverses parmi lesquelles la pensée juive est déterminante. Dans notre histoire récente, onze Juifs viennent d’être assassinés – et certains torturés – parce que Juifs, par des islamistes radicaux.

Pourtant, la dénonciation de l’islamophobie – qui n’est pas le racisme anti-Arabe à combattre – dissimule les chiffres du ministère de l’Intérieur : les Français juifs ont 25 fois plus de risques d’être agressés que leurs concitoyens musulmans. 10 % des citoyens juifs d’Ile-de-France – c’est-à-dire environ 50 000 personnes – ont récemment été contraints de déménager parce qu’ils n’étaient plus en sécurité dans certaines cités et parce que leurs enfants ne pouvaient plus fréquenter l’école de la République. Il s’agit d’une épuration ethnique à bas bruit au pays d’Émile Zola et de Clemenceau.

Pourquoi ce silence ? Parce que la radicalisation islamiste – et l’antisémitisme qu’il véhicule – est considérée exclusivement par une partie des élites françaises comme l’expression d’une révolte sociale, alors que le même phénomène s’observe dans des sociétés aussi différentes que le Danemark, l’Afghanistan, le Mali ou l’Allemagne… Parce qu’au vieil antisémitisme de l’extrême droite, s’ajoute l’antisémitisme d’une partie de la gauche radicale qui a trouvé dans l’antisionisme l’alibi pour transformer les bourreaux des Juifs en victimes de la société. Parce que la bassesse électorale calcule que le vote musulman est dix fois supérieur au vote juif.

Or à la marche blanche pour Mireille Knoll, il y avait des imams conscients que l’antisémitisme musulman est la plus grande menace qui pèse sur l’islam du XXIème siècle et sur le monde de paix et de liberté dans lequel ils ont choisi de vivre. Ils sont, pour la plupart, sous protection policière, ce qui en dit long sur la terreur que font régner les islamistes sur les musulmans de France.

En conséquence, nous demandons que les versets du Coran appelant au meurtre et au châtiment des juifs, des chrétiens et des incroyants soient frappés d’obsolescence par les autorités théologiques, comme le furent les incohérences de la Bible et l’antisémite catholique aboli par Vatican II, afin qu’aucun croyant ne puisse s’appuyer sur un texte sacré pour commettre un crime.

Nous attendons de l’islam de France qu’il ouvre la voie. Nous demandons que la lutte contre cette faillite démocratique qu’est l’antisémitisme devienne cause nationale avant qu’il ne soit trop tard. Avant que la France ne soit plus la France. »

« Le Nouvel Antisémitisme en France », Ed. Albin Michel, 213 p., 15 euros.

La liste des signatairesCharles Aznavour ; Françoise Hardy ; Pierre Arditi ; Elisabeth Badinter ; Michel Drucker ; Sibyle Veil ; François Pinault ; Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt ; Marceline Loridan-Ivens ; Radu Mihaileanu ; Elisabeth de Fontenay ; Nicolas Sarkozy ; Pascal Bruckner ; Laure Adler ; Bertrand Delanoë ; Manuel Valls ; Michel Jonasz ; Xavier Niel ; Jean-Pierre Raffarin ; Gérard Depardieu ; Renaud ; Pierre Lescure ; Francis Esménard ; Mgr Joseph Doré ; Grand Rabbin Haïm Korsia ; Imam Hassen Chalghoumi ; Carla Bruni ; Boualem Sansal ; Imam Aliou Gassama ; Annette Wieviorka ; Gérard Darmon ; Antoine Compagnon ; Mofti Mohamed ali Kacim ; Bernard Cazeneuve ; Bernard-Henri Lévy ; Philippe Val ; Zabou Breitman ; Waleed al-Husseini ; Yann Moix ; Xavier De Gaulle ; Joann Sfar ; Julia Kristeva ; François Berléand ; Olivier Guez ; Jeannette Bougrab ; Marc-Olivier Fogiel ; Luc Ferry ; Laurent Wauquiez ; Dominique Schnapper ; Daniel Mesguich ; Laurent Bouvet ; Pierre-André Taguieff ; Jacques Vendroux ; Georges Bensoussan ; Christian Estrosi ; Brice Couturier ; Imam Bouna Diakhaby ; Eric Ciotti ; Jean Glavany ; Maurice Lévy ; Jean-Claude Casanova ; Jean-Robert Pitte ; Jean-Luc Hees ; Alain Finkielkraut ; Père Patrick Desbois ; Aurore Bergé ; François Heilbronn ; Eliette Abécassis ; Bernard de la Villardière ; Richard Ducousset ; Juliette Méadel ; Daniel Leconte ; Jean Birenbaum ; Richard Malka ; Aldo Naouri ; Guillaume Dervieux ; Maurice Bartelemy ; Ilana Cicurel ; Yoann Lemaire ; Michel Gad Wolkowicz ; Olivier Rolin ; Dominique Perben ; Christine Jordis ; David Khayat ; Alexandre Devecchio ; Gilles Clavreul ; Jean-Paul Scarpitta ; Monette Vacquin ; Christine Orban ; Habib Meyer ; Chantal Delsol ; Vadim Sher ; Françoise Bernard ; Frédéric Encel ; Christiane Rancé ; Noémie Halioua ; Jean-Pierre Winter ; Jean-Paul Brighelli ; Marc-Alain Ouaknin ; Stephane Barsacq ; Pascal Fioretto ; Olivier Orban ; Stéphane Simon ; Laurent Munnich ; Ivan Rioufol ; Fabrice d’Almeida ; Dany Jucaud ; Olivia Grégoire ; Elise Fagjeles ; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen ; Yaël Mellul ; Lise Bouvet ; Frédéric Dumoulin ; Muriel Beyer ; André Bercoff ; Aliza Jabes ; Jean-Claude Zylberstein ; Natacha Vitrat ; Paul Aidana ; Imam Karim ; Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine ; Lydia Guirous ; Rivon Krygier ; Muriel Attal ; Serge Hefez ; Céline Pina ; Alain Kleinmann ; Marie Ibn Arabi-Blondel ; Michael Prazan ; Jean-François Rabain ; Ruth Aboulkheir ; Daniel Brun ; Paul Aidane ; Marielle David ; Catherine Kintzler ; Michèle Anahory ; Lionel Naccache ; François Ardeven ; Thibault Moreau ; Marianne Rabain-Lebovici ; Nadège Puljak ; Régine Waintrater ; Michèle Anahory ; Aude Weill-Raynal ; André Aboulkheir ; Elsa Chaudun ; Patrick Bantman ; Ruben Rabinovicth ; Claire Brière-Blanchet ; Ghislaine Guerry ; Jean-Jacques Moscovitz ; André Zagury ; François Ardeven ; Estelle Kulich ; Annette Becker ; Lilianne Lamantowicz ; Ruth Aboulkheir ; Christine Loterman ; Adrien Barrot ; Talila Guteville ; Florence Ben Sadoun ; Michèle Anahory ; Paul Zawadzki ; Serge Perrot ; Patrick Guyomard ; Marc Nacht ; André Aboulkheir ; Laurence Bantman ; Josiane Sberro ; Anne-Sophie Nogaret ; Lucile Gellman ; Alain Bentolila ; Janine Atlounian ; Claude Birman ; Danielle Cohen-Levinas ; Laurence Picard ; Sabrina Volcot-Freeman ; Gérard Bensussan ; Françoise-Anne Menager ; Yann Padova ; Evelyne Chauvet ; Yves Mamou ; Naem Bestandji ; Marc Knobel ; Nidra Poller ; Brigitte-Fanny Cohen ; Joelle Blumberg ; Catherine Rozenberg ; André Aboulkheir ; Caroline Bray-Goyon ; Michel Tauber ; André Zagury ; Laura Bruhl ; Eliane Dagane ; Paul Zawadzki ; Michel Bouleau ; Marc Zerbib ; Catherine Chalier ; Jasmine Getz ; Marie-Laure Dimon ; Marion Blumen ; Simone Wiener ; François Cahen ; Richard Metz ; Daniel Draï ; Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux ; Stéphane Lévy ; Arthur Joffe ; Antoine Molleron ; Liliane Kandel ; Stéphane Dugowson ; David Duquesne ; Marc Cohen ; Michèle Lévy-Soussan ; Frédéric Haziza ; Martine Dugowson ; Jonathan Cohen ; Damien Le Guay ; Patrick Loterman ; Mohamed Guerroumi ; Wladi Mamane ; William de Carvalho ; Brigitte Paszt ; Séverine Camus ; Solange Repleski ; André Perrin ; Sylvie Mehaudel ; Jean-Pierre Obin ; Yael Mellul ; Sophie Nizard ; Richard Prasquier ; Patricia Sitruk ; Renée Fregosi ; Jean-Jacques Rassial ; Karina Obadia ; Jean-Louis Repelski ; Edith Ochs ; Jacob Rogozinski ; Roger Fajnzylberg ; Marie-Helène Routisseau ; Philippe Ruszniewski ; André Senik ; Jean-François Solal ; Paule Steiner ; Jean-Benjamin Stora ; Anne Szulmajster ; Maud Tabachnik ; Daniel Tchenio ; Julien Trokiner ; Fatiha Boyer ; Cosimo Trono ; Henri Vacquin ; Caroline Valentin ; Alain Zaksas ; Slim Moussa ; Jacques Wrobel ; Roland Gori ; Nader Alami ; Céline Zins ; Richard Dell’Agnola ; Patrick Beaudouin ; Barbara Lefebvre ; Jacques Tarnéro ; Georges-Elia Sarfat ; Lise Boëll ; Jacques Wrobel ; Bernard Golse ; Céline Boulay-Esperonnier ; Anne Brandy ; Imam Karim ; Sammy Ghozlan.

Here.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 22, 2018 at 12:58 pm

French Conspiracy Theorists Backing Assad.

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Parce que c'est Notre Projeeeeeet !

French Conspis.

France is the birthplace of one of the grandfathers of modern conspiracy theory, the ‘complotiste’ Thierry Meyssan.

The author of one of the best-known 9/11 ‘Truth’ books, L’Effroyable imposture, (2002),  Meyssan is at present installed in…Syria.

He is a journalist for the Russian weekly magazine Odnako (Однако).

This is how he presents himself, “Political consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in French – Sous nos Yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump (Right Before our Eyes. From 9/11 to Donald Trump).”

Those less friendly towards him observe his obsession with “l’Occident et les sionistes” (the West and the Zionists).

This is latest post, which he publishes translated into approximative English.

Washington forces its allies to accept a bipolar world

By firing missiles on Syria with its French and British allies, the strange President Donald Trump has managed to force the Western powers to accept the end of their unilateral domination of the world. The insignificant result of this demonstration of force drags NATO back to reality. Without having made use of its weapons, Russia now succeeds the Soviet Union in the balance of world power.

..

The Allies pretend that Syria kept stocks of chemical weapons, despite its membership of the Convention which prohibits them. They claim that they targeted only areas linked to these weapons. And yet, for example, they fired four missiles at the international commercial airport in Damascus, an exclusively civilian target. Happily, the Syrian Arab Army managed to intercept them all.

On the 15th of April Meyssan singled out the White Helmets,

 …Casques blancs » (White Helmets). Celle-ci, qui se présente comme une « association humanitaire », est en réalité partie au conflit. Elle a officiellement participé à plusieurs opérations de guerre, dont la coupure d’eau des 5,6 millions d’habitants de Damas durant une quarantaine de jours [3].

They, who claim to be a “humanitarian association” are in fact part of the conflict. They have officially participated in several war operations, including cutting the water supply off to 5,6 million Damascus inhabitants for around forty days.

Réseau Voltaire also publishes this item (20th of April) ,

The Russian army has discovered an underground chemical laboratory set up in Douma in the area that the jihadists who had occupied the city, have now abandoned.

17 April 2018: Alexander Rodionov, an expert on chemical weapons, declared on Rossiya TV, that basic ingredients for chemical weapons such as thiodiglycol and diethanolamine, had been discovered in the lab. Importantly, such chemicals are used to manufacture mustard gas.

Translation
Anoosha Boralessa

Another pro-Assad propaganda agency is the French far-right site, Égalité et Réconciliation, is a paradigm of political confusionism.

It is a political association created in June 2007 by Alain Soral, who claims to be a former activist of the French Communist Party, and also a former member of the central committee of the National Front (2007). Other founders are Jildaz Mahé O’Chinal and Philippe Péninque, two former activists of Groupe union défense (GUD), a violent extreme right student group now disappeared.

The political association describes itself as cross factional and “left nationalist.”[2] The association also that its intention is to bring together “citizens who are part of the nation that determines political action and social policy which are the foundations of the Brotherhood, an essential component of national unity,” and that it is “on the Left for the workers and on the Right for morals.”

Wikipedia (edited).

“Égalité et Réconciliation se mobilise pour la défense des régimes baasistes, le nationalisme arabe étant perçu de longue date par les nationalistes révolutionnaires comme un opposant au communisme et au capitalisme anglo-saxon »”

It supports in defence of the Baasit regimes, having, as nationalist revolutionaries considered, for a long period, Arab nationalism as an opponent of communism and anglo-saxon capitalism.”

(French Wikipedia)

As can be imagined it takes a keen interest in Syrian events.

Chroniques de la paix universelle est une émission d’ERFM animée par Youssef Hindi et Gearóid Ó Colmáin.

They peddle the usual conspi line about a world riven by plotting Powers.

These authors are linked to the this site, Agoravox.

It publishes this, claiming, you guessed it, that the most recent chemical attacks never happened.

That they are a set up.

Syrie : L’enfant soi-disant victime d’une attaque chimique raconte que tout est faux (18/04/18)

 

There are many further long standing links between the Syrian regime and the French far right:  Les liens entre l’extrême droite française et le régime syrien des Assad.

These may be the far-right fringes but a far wider layer has taken up similar themes, as the excellent site Conspiracy Watch indicates,

Syrie : un « centre pharmaceutique » détruit par les frappes de la coalition… ou une intox complotiste ?

One of the further problems in France is that some of the strands working in  Égalité et Réconciliation, “sovereigntist” nationalism, has a wider resonance. The defence of national sovereignty overrides everything else.

Assad is seen as defender of this principle against the New World Order, led by the US and darker powers.

Marine Le Pen’s position is well known.

In 2017 she declared, “French Far-Right Leader Says Backing Assad ‘Least Bad Option’ In Syria.”

It is alleged that a part of the French left is not immune to these ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 21, 2018 at 12:42 pm

In Defence of Richard Seymour – “Labour’s Antisemitism affair” largely gets it right.

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“Media-Manufactured Anti-Semitism Crisis” Says Weekly Worker: Richard Seymour Disagrees.

There is no joy like that of Tendance Coatesy’s at the welcoming back of a sinner into the fold.

In celebration this Blog’s editorial committee – a powerful and influential body on the international left – has sent to the rubbish bin one of our posts criticising the esteemed comrade.

Not everybody is of the same view.

The Monster Raving Greenstein Party expresses his opprobrium, at great length, in the latest issue of one of his many House Journals, for whatever faction he is now leading, the Weekly Worker.

No doubt piqued by the fact that Seymour does not mention him once he states, in words that could have been written by that master of revolutionary polemic Gerry Downing,

“Seymour’s article, entitled ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism affair’, on Labour’s media-manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, proves the maxim that those who leave the SWP invariably drift to the right.2 In Seymour’s case this involves a wholesale abandonment of class politics in favour of subjectivism and a crude empiricism.”

Here is the master polemic:

Both sides of the fence. Leftist intellectuals have taken fright when faced with the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign. Tony Greenstein responds to Richard Seymour

No doubt piqued by the fact that Seymour does not mention him once this is one of his other opening comments,

Seymour’s latest article in Jacobin suggests he is wandering aimlessly across the left, dragged in the undertow of conflicting political currents without either ballast or firm conviction.

Followed by, blah blah…..

..mired in the swamp of identity politics and this is causing him to lose his political bearings.

To sum it up ,in words that could have been written by that master of revolutionary polemic Gerry Downing  Greenstein asserts,

Seymour’s article, entitled ‘Labour’s anti-Semitism affair’, on Labour’s media-manufactured anti-Semitism crisis, proves the maxim that those who leave the SWP invariably drift to the right.2 In Seymour’s case this involves a wholesale abandonment of class politics in favour of subjectivism and a crude empiricism.

Few will be arsed to read further, so let’s look at comrade Seymour’s contribution in its own right.

Labour’s Antisemitism Affair.    RICHARD SEYMOUR

Lenny begins by describing the absurdities of the Corbyn ‘Beetroot’ scandal and Judass (although as a seasoned far-left internet-surfer, they have largely only been at the corner of the Tendance’s interest).

Warning signs about anti-semitism begin to flash when he sees that,

“Some Corbyn supporters signing a petition defending him against a “very powerful interest group,” toxic language to use in this context.”

Delving into the nitty gritty of recent events, tackles  the Christine Shawcroft affair.

Seymour  suggests that her most recent behaviour at Labour’s NEC, which led to her ignoble resignation after it was discovered she’d defended a Holocaust denier,  may be explained, “Given her long-standing commitment to defending members against a hostile bureaucracy, it is plausible that Shawcroft acted on autopilot.”.

The Tendance is less generously inclined on learning, after this article will have been written, the following, (Leaked minutes show Labour at odds over antisemitism claims).

The minutes also reveal Shawcroft refused to recuse herself as chair when the panel heard the case of a Labour councillor who has been accused of using a racist term to describe a black council candidate and co-ordinating with the party of the disgraced Tower Hamlets former mayor Lutfur Rahman against Labour.

Shawcroft, an active member in Tower Hamlets who was once herself suspended for defending Rahman, was asked to recuse herself after other NEC members said she had acted as a “silent friend” of the councillor during his investigatory interview, but refused, the minutes said.

But from this point the article really gets into its stride.

The context is well set out,

Corbyn was not supposed to win. The fact that he did, with a landslide, was treated by many Labour MPs as a matter for counter-subversion. Rather than reflecting their weakness, they insisted, it was proof of the infiltration of Labour by a “hard left plot”: new virulent strain of Militant. For both the right-wing and the hard-center of the British press, it was evidence that an unthinking mob had taken over — akin, said the Financial Times, to the supporters of the Third Reich.

Then we have, amongst other cases, including, (an old star on this Blog) “Gerry Downing, a seasoned sectarian hack, was the next to appear in the headlines, for urging on ISIS victory against the US, and describing Israel as a form of “the Jewish question.”

And, he looks at Ken Livingstone going on about them there Zionists and Nazis.

Livingstone was making a gratuitous hash of a history which wasn’t particularly relevant to the issue, and dropping his party in a huge and unnecessary mess. He was suspended, amid a huge furor.

And …Jackie Walker at the Jewish Labour Movement training……

The nature of her intervention left no doubt that Walker was there to wage factional war, attacking the JLM’s approach to antisemitism and the political valences of Holocaust Day by suggesting (wrongly) that it was not “open to all people who experienced a holocaust.” On the most generous reading possible, Walker chose the worst terrain and format for making points that would have required nuance and careful unpacking. The audience was on edge as soon as she spoke, and her roundly heckled comments were secretly recorded and leaked. To anyone not steeped in Walker’s politics, this looked at best tendentious. In the coverage, it looked as though she was splitting hairs, belittling antisemitism. Walker’s tactical misadventure inadvertently damaged her own cause, and she was drummed out of the Momentum leadership.

One imagines this raised some hackles.

It’s a complex and well-researched  article – though some reference to very real anti-semitism not just in Hungary or the US but in the rather closer France where allegations of left-wing complicity have arisen would not have been amiss –  which merits being read in full.

Seymour rightly focuses on ” the traditions of anti-Zionism emerging in the post-1967 era tend to be socialist and internationalist. For example, Moshé Machover” and,

Mike Marqusee (who) was a celebrated figure on the Labour left whose moving memoir challenged Zionism’s claim on Jewish identity. The Jewish Socialist Group and the radical group Jewdas, (who) take their inspiration from the tradition of secular, anti-nationalist Bundism.

He concludes,

 As I have argued, while the issue of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is vitally important, Israel is not a major source of polarization in British politics. It has, however, become a displacement, a pseudo-explanation for much larger and longer-term social processes.

For some on the Left, meanwhile, the fight to defend Corbyn’s leadership has come to mean defending it against Labour Friends of Israel, the Board of Deputies, and the Jewish Labour Movement: in a word, the “Lobby.” But such groups are neither as cohesive nor as powerful as the “Lobby” thesis implies. If they were even a tithe as powerful as Unite, for example, Corbyn’s leadership might be in danger. Such groups merit criticism, but a singular focus on them cannot found a sensible politics.

It is, alternatively, possible to walk and chew gum. To refute bad-faith accusations of antisemitism, assert the simple justice of Palestinian rights, and recognize that the Left is not exempted from racism. The rise in antisemitism is not separate from the general increase in racism, and nor is it eternally marginal and out-of-power. At a time when nascent far-right movements are surfacing, with antisemitic tendencies linked to state power in Hungary and the United States, the Left has a particular responsibility to lead on this issue. It can’t do that if it’s so focused on the “Lobby” that it can’t see the problem clearly.

In other words some people on the left are obsessed about ‘Zionism’ to the point of losing any sense of judgement and that this ‘displacement’ has  mighty pissed a lot of others off, including a large section of the left.

That we had better direct attention to wider issues about racism, which includes an anti-semitic element – see above comment in the present article about France.

So what of poor old Monster Raving’s objections?

After dismissing the whole piece on the grounds that “It is not for Richard Seymour to now lecture us on the evils of anti-Semitism.”  Greenstein does say one thing worth of note:

I was surprised that Jacobin published Seymour’s article, but reassured that the current editor, Bhaskar Sunkara, has told me that he completely disagreed with the thrust of the article. The previous editor, Max Ajl, has told me that he would never have published “such a shoddy piece”! So I still find it puzzling why Jacobin thought it worthy of publication, when so many rightwing sites would have welcomed such a ‘repentant sinner’!

Which confirms everything progressive opinion thinks of the oddly named Jacobin.

And provided the opening sentence of the present post.

That Sunkara even talks to this creature….

 

 

Conspiracy theorists, Sarah Abdallah and Syria.

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Tweet by @sahouraxo: "Nobody is happier about Trump's illegal attack on #Syria than Al-Qaeda, Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu. McCain and Hillary too. #SyriaHoax"

‘Sarah Abdallah’. Followed by “supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.”

Anybody with a Facebook or a Twitter account who’s got an interest in politics, let alone the Middle East and Syria itself, has seen conspiracy theorists posting in abundance over the last weeks.

There is a constant drip drip of  claims that the reports of chemical warfare come from doubtful sources, “jihadist groups” and the “white helmets” “funded by countries committed to regime change”. Opponents of Assad are, apparently, not to believed. They have an axe to grind. Unlike those reporting at length on the crimes of the jihadists, Western intervention and the misdeeds of all those who wish to get rid of the Baathist regime.

The Morning Star published this yesterday,

Inspectors unable to investigate alleged chemical attack due to Western missile strikes.

EXTERNAL inspectors visited the site of an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma today.

Experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in the capital Damascus on Saturday but were unable to carry out investigations in Douma due to that morning’s missile strike by the US, Britain and France.

Syrian state media agency Sana reported the investigation team entered Douma last night.

France said it is “highly likely” that evidence disappeared from the site before the inspectors arrived in the area.

Britain, France and the US continue to say that they have evidence of a chemical attack which they insist was carried out by the Syrian government.

Their sources include jihadist groups and the White Helmets, founded by a former British military intelligence officer and funded by countries committed to regime change.

President Bashar al-Assad denies his forces have used chemical weapons and Russia has stated that it has “incontrovertible evidence” that British intelligence staged the attack to justify military intervention.

There are more systematic efforts to tie these threads together.

The ‘conspis’ (as French handily shortens this expression) have now got the attention of the BBC.

Syria war: The online activists pushing conspiracy theories

As the investigation continues into another alleged chemical attack in Syria, one group of influential online activists is busy spreading their version of events.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are attempting to access the previously rebel-held town of Douma, where medical organisations and rescue workers say President Bashar al-Assad’s forces dropped bombs filled with toxic chemicals in an attack on 7 April, killing more than 40 people.

The Syrian government and its key ally, Russia, say the incident was staged. But the US, UK and France – who support the opposition to Mr Assad – say they are confident that chlorine and possibly a nerve agent were used.

Despite the uncertainty about what happened in Douma, a cluster of influential social media activists is certain that it knows what occurred on 7 April.

They’ve seized on a theory being floated by Russian officials and state-owned media outlets that the attacks were “staged” or were a “false flag” operation, carried out by jihadist groups or spies in order to put the blame on the Assad government and provide a justification for Western intervention.

The group includes activists and people who call themselves “independent journalists”, and several have Twitter followings reaching into the tens or hundreds of thousands.

..

The network of activists includes people like Vanessa Beeley. She has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and writes for a news outlet that the website Media Bias/Fact Check calls a “conspiracy and conjecture site” that has “an extreme right bias”.

In response to a list of questions, she called BBC Trending’s story a “blatant attempt” to “silence independent journalism” and repeated unsubstantiated claims about alleged chemical weapons attacks.

But in the online conversation about Syria there are more influential activists, about whom much less is known.

Sarah Abdallah (@sahouraxo on Twitter) has more than 125,000 followers, among them more than 250 journalists from mainstream media outlets. Her follower count is comparable to BBC journalists who regularly report on Syria, such as BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen (167,000) and BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet (142,000).

In addition to pictures of herself, Sarah Abdallah tweets constant pro-Russia and pro-Assad messages, with a dollop of retweeting mostly aimed at attacking Barack Obama, other US Democrats and Saudi Arabia.

In her Twitter profile she describes herself as an “Independent Lebanese geopolitical commentator” but she has almost no online presence or published stories or writing away from social media platforms. A personal blog linked to by her account has no posts.

Her tweets have been quoted by mainstream news outlets, but a Google News search indicates that she has not written any articles in either English or Arabic.

She refused to comment several times when approached by BBC Trending and did not respond to specific requests to comment on this story in particular.

The BBC goes onto to underline this point:

The Sarah Abdallah account is, according to a recent study by the online research firm Graphika, one of the most influential social media accounts in the online conversation about Syria, and specifically in pushing misinformation about a 2017 chemical weapons attack and the Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the “White Helmets”.

They go on to observe,

Graphika found 20 million messages about the White Helmets, split between tweets in support and in opposition. Among the opponents, Kelly says, Sarah Abdallah was “by far the most influential”, followed by Vanessa Beeley.

The firm found that Sarah Abdallah’s account was primarily followed by a number of different interest clusters: supporters of pro-Palestinian causes, Russians and Russian allies, white nationalists and those from the extremist alt-right, conservative American Trump supporters, far-right groups in Europe and conspiracy theorists.

These groups were instrumental in making the hashtag #SyriaHoax trend after the chemical weapons attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

That hashtag, pushed by Sarah Abdallah and influential American conservative activists, became a worldwide trend on Twitter. Many of those tweeting it claimed that the chemical weapons attack was faked or a hoax.

Here is a sample of ‘her’ work.

She admires Robert Fisk,

Some are a lot blunter than the BBC about this creature,

The real Sarah Abdallah – Part I

Meanwhile:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

Parliament debates anti-Semitism.

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The Mirror reports on John Mann’s speech in the Parliamentary debate on anti-semitism yesterday.

A Labour MP’s wife was threatened with rape and was sent a dead bird through the post after he was appointed to lead a Parliamentary group on anti-Semitism, he told MPs.

In a powerful speech to the House of Commons, the furious Bassetlaw MP said he had been singled out for abuse for showing solidarity with Jewish Labour members.

“But worse than that,” he told MPs, “explicitly targeting Jewish members of the parliamentary Labour party because they are Jewish.””That is what is going on at the moment. I didn’t expect when I took on this voluntary cross-party role for my wife to be sent by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite a dead bird through the post.

“I didn’t expect my son after an Islamist death threat to open the door in the house on his own as a schoolboy to the bomb squad.

“I didn’t expect my wife, in the last few weeks from a leftist anti-Semite in response to the demonstration, to be threatened with rape. I didn’t expect my daughter similarly, and have to be rung up in the last few weeks by special branch to check out her movements in this country.

“No, I didn’t expect any of that.”

The paper also carries this: 

‘Denial is not an option’: Watch Luciana Berger’s powerful speech describing the anti-Semitic abuse she’s faced in full

Speaking in a general Commons debate on anti-Semitism, Ms Berger said she received her first piece of hate mail aged 19, saying it described her as a “dirty Zionist pig”.

Labour MP Luciana Berger gave an emotional speech describing some of the vile anti-Semitic abuse she has faced.

The Liverpool Wavertree MP was applauded by members on all sides of the house, after she spoke of the abuse she’s endured, including from people claiming to be supporters of Jeremy Corbyn .

Speaking in a general Commons debate on anti-Semitism, Ms Berger said she received her first piece of hate mail aged 19, saying it described her as a “dirty Zionist pig”

Standing on a Commons back bench, in front of the “More in Common” memorial plaque to murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, she told MPs: “Here starts my 18-year experience of contending with anti-Semitism.”

Ms Berger said she has been attacked by the far-right and far-left, later saying anti-racism is a central Labour value and there was a “time not long ago when the left actively confronted anti-Semitism”.

She added: “One anti-Semitic member of the Labour Party is one member too many.

“And yes, as I’ve said outside this place in Parliament Square, and it pains me to say this proudly as the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, in 2018 within the Labour Party anti-Semitism is more commonplace, is more conspicuous and is more corrosive.

“That’s why I have no words for the people who purport to be both members and supporters of our party, who use that hashtag JC4PM, who attacked me in recent weeks for my comments, they attacked me for speaking at the rally against anti-Semitism, they’ve questioned my comments where I questioned comments endorsing that anti-Semitic mural, who say I should be deselected or called it a smear.”

Jewish Voice for Labour makes these relevant points,

JOINT STATEMENT ON TORY LINKS TO ANTISEMITISM IN EUROPEAN POLITICS

As the House of Commons holds a debate on antisemitism called by the Conservative Party, we are calling on the Prime Minister  to confront the political parties and governments in Europe that have exploited and fuelled a rising tide of antisemitism.

Last month, Latvia’s National Alliance opposition party called for the commemoration of Latvian soldiers who fought under the swastika banner to be reinstated as a national holiday. The party is formally affiliated to the Tories through their shared membership of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.

Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party is the Tories’ major partner in this group (based on seats in the European Parliament). Earlier this year, their leader and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki defended a controversial new law criminalising anyone who calls out the complicity of Poles in the Nazi genocide by stating that Jews were also perpetrators of the Holocaust. This came barely a month after Theresa May’s visit in which she signed a new defence and security pact with the Polish government and celebrated the “relationship between the United Kingdom and Poland, based on a shared history and a shared tradition”.

And just last week, Boris Johnson congratulated Viktor Orban and his autocratic Fidesz party on their election victory in Hungary, referring to them as his ‘friends’. This in spite of a campaign widely criticised  for its relentless anti-Semitic undertones, targeting and accusing Jewish philanthropist George Soros of a conspiratorial plot to take over the country.

This is not about guilt by association. If the Tories are serious about confronting antisemitism wherever it surfaces, they can no longer turn a blind eye to the deeply offensive rhetoric and actions of some of their European political partners, nor the dangerous precedent set by Poland’s recently enacted Holocaust law. We call on Theresa May to unequivocally condemn these parties for harbouring and mobilising antisemitism; to acknowledge and apologise for her failure to confront this in the past; and to withdraw the Tories’ membership of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group until it is genuinely free of all racist elements, including antisemitism.

Independent Jewish Voices
Jewish Socialists’ Group
Jewish Voice for Labour
Jews for Justice for Palestinains

From one of the splinters of Labour Against the Witch-hunt Tony Greenstein replies in his own fashion,

50 Years After Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood Speech’ Parliament Debates Fake ‘Anti-Semitism’ and Applauds Zionist MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth.

This ‘anti-Semitism’ is an entirely bogus and fake exercise.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

Labour Against the Witch-Hunt splits (again).

with 4 comments

Our dogged Newshounds are awaiting more official statements from both the Labour Against the Witchunt (FB – continuity wing) and Labour Against the Witchhunt. 

Nothing has yet appeared on their site (indeed nothing new since the start of April).

Labour against the witch-hunt

As it is only insiders from HP have commented,

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Opposing the Air Strikes on Syria; Solidarity with Democratic and Progressive forces against Assad.

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Against Air-Strikes; Against Assad.

It is far from clear what is the best position to take faced with the hecatomb of the Syrian civil war.

Few can reasonably argue that a few military strikes are going to end the horrors, or that a full-scale invasion is either about to take place, or would help anybody.

If a sentence could sum up the stand of many of us on the left it’s the one put forward by the group Socialist Resistance. 

Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad.

As  Joseph Daher points out: The butcher Assad’s regime is “a despotic, capitalist and patrimonial state ruling through violent repression and using various policies such as sectarianism, tribalism, conservatism, and racism to dominate society”. No socialist can support it.

But neither can socialists support imperialist intervention against it. A US led coalition could only bring the regime down by sending in large numbers of troops, a move that would condemn the country to a worse hell than that inflicted on Iraq, in a regional and political situation which is even more volatile. The regrettable fact is that the secular and democratic forces which tried to bring down Assad have been seriously weakened, benefiting the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces on the ground. A settlement based on aggression by the French, Americans, British and their regional supporters will do nothing but create a worse sectarian and ethnic bloodbath.

In more detail the Fourth International publication International Viewpoint explains (“Our Destinies are Linked”: Joseph Daher on the Syrian Revolution.)

How should the internationalist left respond to calls from some Syrians and Kurds for assistance from the United States military?

There is definitely no easy answer, especially when people are getting massacred on one side and, on the other, the USA has no willingness of any regime change in Syria, as has been the case since the beginning of the uprising, or, as we saw, to stop the Turkish intervention against the Kurds in Afrin.

Today the main issue is really demanding the end of the war, an end to all military interventions and guaranteeing rights for the civilians. I expanded on this issue in the last question.

However, while disagreeing with groups demanding military interventions, we should still maintain our solidarity with all the democratic and progressive forces in Syria as well as the Kurdish socialist and democratic forces that resist against the two actors of the counter revolution: the Assad regime on one side and the jihadist and Islamic reactionary forces on the other side.

From this perspective, what we can argue is that it is necessary to defend a local dynamic of self-defense rather than increasing the stranglehold of imperialism, and therefore we should also support the provision of weapons and arms to these democratic forces in the region to combat both counter-revolutionary forces. These are important element that could empower the democratic and progressive forces on the ground and give them the tools to defend themselves.

For the people who don’t feel at ease with the fact of demanding arms and weapons with no political conditions and strings attached from the West, I would like to invite them to read Trotsky’s “Learn to Think.” [2]

This does not mean of course that we are uncritical of the leadership of these groups that have such demands, and we should maintain our independence and critical opinions, even when dealing with them.

We have to be clear that imperialist actors and regional powers all act according to an imperialist logic that maintains authoritarian and unjust systems. They all oppose the self-determination of the peoples of the region and their struggles for emancipation. Hence, anti-war activists whether in the Middle East or the West need to address all forms of repression and authoritarianism, and condemn all forms of foreign intervention against the interests of the people of the region.

Joseph Daher continues,

What are some direct actions that anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians can take in solidarity with the Syrian people, including those being massacred in Ghouta, Idlib, and Afrin?

Multiple things should be done. I think anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians should call for an end to the war, which has created terrible suffering. It has led to massive displacement of people within the country and driven millions out of it as refugees. The war only benefits the counterrevolutionary forces on all sides. From both a political and humanitarian perspective, the end of the war in Syria is an absolute necessity.

Likewise, we must reject all the attempts to legitimize Assad’s regime, and we must oppose all agreements that enable it to play any role in the country’s future. A blank check given to Assad today will encourage future attempts by other despotic and authoritarian states to crush their populations if they come to revolt.

We have to guarantee as well the rights of civilians within Syria, particularly preventing more forced displacements and securing the rights of refugees (right of return, right for financial compensations in case of destruction of their houses, justice for the losses of their relatives, etc.).

Assad and his various partners in the regime must be held accountable for their crimes. The same goes for the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces and other armed groups.

We need to support the democratic and progressive actors and movements against both sides of the counterrevolution: the regime and its Islamic fundamentalist opponents. We have to build a united front based on the initial objectives of the revolution: democracy, social justice, and equality, saying no to sectarianism and no to racism.

We of course need to oppose all imperialist and authoritarian actors intervening in Syria.

Effectively the same position is taken by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and others:

One theme that has caused great concern on the left is the absence of any clear condemnation of Assad from the main anti-war groups.

Supporters of Counterfire, a split from the Socialist Workers Party, which has paddled in the ocean of revolution but found its home in the safer pond of British pressure group politics, occupies leading positions in the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

Lindsey German is a member of Counterfire and the national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition.

The StWC claims to oppose Assad. But her most recent article on the anti-war movement does not find the time to mention “the butchery” of the Assad regime” once.

A primed anti-war movement finds the new warmongers much the same as the old warmongers, writes Lindsey German.

April the 16th.

The strikes carried out by the US Britain and France this weekend have achieved nothing in terms of stopping the suffering of the Syrian people or of making the world a safer place. They are purely a gesture to show that western imperialism can ‘punish’ Russia and Syria, and to help determine the outcome of the war in Syria.

…….

Western imperialism has no clear strategy except more lashing out with little purpose – which is the net effect of this latest attack. The unintended consequence of the war in Iraq has been the strengthening of Iran. The failed strategy of regime change in Syria has also strengthened Iran. So now Iran will move to centre stage.

Donald Trump has appointed advisers, especially Secretary of State John Bolton, who are neocon hawks determined to overthrow the Iranian government. Next month Trump wants to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and to tear up the Iran nuclear deal – both likely to prove major flash points in the Middle East.

And Russia? Politicians and commentators are sighing with relief that they have managed to pull off a strike that was weak enough to avoid direct conflict with Russia. But the tensions between the powers are worse than at any time since the Cold War, and we have nuclear powers involved in clashes in a cockpit of war.

We live in dangerous times and this strike just made them more dangerous.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 17, 2018 at 12:43 pm

Giles Fraser, former Guardian Columnist and Present Priest of St Mary’s, Newington, Touts for Assad in Syria.

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Giles Fraser, Vicar, former Guardian Columnist Touts for Assad.

Hat-Tip JP.

This will remind many people of the kind of criminal lies and delusions spread by the fellow travellers of Stalin.

As in  David CauteFellow-Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment,  1973 (revised edition, as The Fellow-Travellers: Intellectual Friends of Communism,  1988.)

He is not alone:  London Times articles about Assadist university professors  Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist)

Fraser has a more recent history of deluded apologies for murder.

2016:

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebdo.

Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

She leads a clandestine existence, on the move and under 24-hour guard as France’s most protected woman. Yet Zineb El Rhazoui, the Charlie Hebdo journalist who happened to be in Casablanca on January 7 last year, the day terrorists “avenging the Prophet” massacred nine people at the satirical magazine in Paris, believes she has a duty to defy Islamists desperate to silence her.

Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” since she helped produce the publication’s first survivors’ issue following the attack — and spoke about it in Arabic for the Arab press — the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

The Anti-Imperialism of Idiots.

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The ‘anti-imperialism’ of idiots

This morning I was struck, listening to Europe 1 to hear people in Syria, including Kurds, saying that they welcomed bombs on Assad’s military resources, though they doubted that the present air strikes would have any real effect.

Amongst other thoughts were the need to respond to this criticism in the Guardian,

Labour calls for the attack on Douma to be “fully investigated”. That sounds unarguable. But then what? Jeremy Corbyn issued the same call after the chemical attack that killed at least 74 at Khan Sheikhoun a year ago: demanding there be a “UN investigation and those responsible be held to account”. The UN duly investigated and in October concluded unambiguously that the Assad regime had used sarin gas. But Corbyn greeted that verdict with silence. So unless there’s a plan for action once guilt is established, demanding an investigation sounds a lot like an excuse to do nothing in the hope that soon we’ll all be talking about something else.

And then, the nature of the Syrian civil war and the anti-war movement comes up….

Not to mention the complexities of the far from admirable leadership of  East Ghoutta:

La Ghouta orientale, tombeau de la révolution syrienne  (Le Monde yesterday).

Les exactions des insurgés et le siège cruel imposé par le régime de Bachar Al-Assad ont provoqué la chute de cette ancienne oasis agricole, située aux portes de la capitale Damas.

The abuses by the insurgents and the Assad regimes cruel siege have brought down the old agricultural oasis located at the doors of Damascus, the Syrian capital.

This has to be read in full.  The Anti-Imperialism of Idiots.

A British Syrian whose been  involved in human rights and social justice struggles in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East since 2000.

I was a founding member of Tahrir-ICN a network connecting anti-authoritarian struggles across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Co-author (with Robin Yassin-Kassab) of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War (Jan 2016)

Contributor to Alford, Wilson (eds): Khiyana-Daesh, the Left and the Unmaking of the Syrian Revolution(April 2016)

These paragraphs are particularly important.

Once more the western ‘anti-war’ movement has awoken to mobilise around Syria. This is the third time since 2011. The first was when Obama contemplated striking the Syrian regime’s military capability (but didn’t) following chemical attacks on the Ghouta in 2013, considered a ‘red line’. The second time was when Donald Trump ordered a strike which hit an empty regime military base in response to chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhoun in 2017. And today, as the US, UK and France take limited military action (targeted strikes on regime military assets and chemical weapons facilities) following a chemical weapons attack in Douma which killed at least 34 people, including many children who were sheltering in basements from bombing.

The first thing to note from the three major mobilisations of the western ‘anti-war’ left is that they have little to do with ending the war. More than half a million Syrians have been killed since 2011. The vast majority of civilian deaths have been through the use of conventional weapons and 94 per cent of these victims were killed by the Syrian-Russian-Iranian alliance. There is no outrage or concern feigned for this war, which followed the regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful, pro-democracy demonstrators. There’s no outrage when barrel bombs, chemical weapons and napalm are dropped on democratically self-organized communities or target hospitals and rescue workers. Civilians are expendable; the military capabilities of a genocidal, fascist regime are not. In fact the slogan ‘Hands off Syria’ really means ‘Hands off Assad’ and support is often given for Russia’s military intervention. This was evident yesterday at a demonstration organized by Stop the War UK where a number of regime and Russian flags were shamefully on display.

I no longer have an answer. I’ve consistently opposed all foreign military intervention in Syria, supported Syrian led process to rid their country of a tyrant and international processes grounded in efforts to protect civilians and human rights and ensure accountability for all actors responsible for war-crimes. A negotiated settlement is the only way to end this war – and still seems as distant as ever. Assad (and his backers) are determined to thwart any process, pursue a total military victory and crush any remaining democratic alternative. Hundreds of Syrians are being killed every week in the most barbaric ways imaginable. Extremist groups and ideologies are thriving in the chaos wrought by the state. Civilians continue to flee in their thousands as legal processes – such as Law No.10 – are implemented to ensure they will never return to their homes. The international system itself is collapsing under the weight of its own impotence. The words ‘Never Again’ ring hollow. There’s no major people’s movement which stands in solidarity with the victims. They are instead slandered, their suffering is mocked or denied, and their voices either absent from discussions or questioned by people far away, who know nothing of Syria, revolution or war, and who arrogantly believe they know what is best. It is this desperate situation which causes many Syrians to welcome the US, UK and France’s action and who now see foreign intervention as their only hope, despite the risks they know it entails.

One thing is for sure – I won’t lose any sleep over targeted strikes aimed at regime military bases and chemical weapons plants which may provide Syrians with a short respite from the daily killing. And I will never see people who place grand narratives over lived realities, who support brutal regimes in far off countries, or who peddle racism, conspiracy theories and atrocity denial, as allies.

Here is one outstanding idiot:

The far-right in Europe is against the air strikes:

From the French left (notably Jean-Luc Mélenchon) to parts of the right and the far-right (including Philpott’s split from Marine Le Pen’s party) there is opposition to the air-strikes.

Le chef de file de la France Insoumise, comme une partie de la droite et de l’extrême-droite a vivement critiqué samedi les frappes menées contre le régime syrien Libération.

The leader of the mainstream right party, les Républicains,  Laurent Wauquiez, has expressed doubts about the use and the objectives of the airstrikes (Syrie : Laurent Wauquiez ne comprend “ni l’utilité ni le sens des frappes punitives“)

Response?

Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad

Socialist Resistance.

they will not force Assad out of power. Indeed it is not clear that the imperialist powers want to see an end to this barbarous regime and certainly they are opposed to self-determination for the people of Syria.

The entire Labour Party must back Corbyn in his opposition to more bombing and war and we should make sure that party banners are highly visible at demonstrations opposing military intervention. We need to be demanding an end to the war and all foreign interventions, including those on behalf of Assad from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. We must continue to offer political and material support to the secular and democratic opponents of the dictatorship and Labour must call on European governments to offer sanctuary to Syrian refugees.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 15, 2018 at 10:44 am

Oppose the Attacks on Syria, Oppose Marching with Assad Supporters.

with 8 comments

Can the left March with Assad Supporters?

Then there is the latest tweet from this:

 

Iran, the other prop of Assad with Putin, is a theocratic Islamist dictatorship with a  blood-stained record.

Its own militias (Islamic Revolutionary Guard CorpsQods For) and Lebanese allies, Hezbollah, are fighting for their own religious and political interests.

Or daily papers of the left (Morning Star)  that publish this:

Russia claims it has ‘irrefutable’ evidence chemical attack was staged by foreign intelligence.

MOSCOW claimed today to have “irrefutable” evidence that an alleged chemical attack in Syria was staged by foreign intelligence agents pursuing a “Russophobic campaign.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference that an unnamed country was leading a campaign against Russia.

“We have irrefutable evidence that it was another staging and the special services of a state which is in the forefront of the Russophobic campaign had a hand in the staging,” he said.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov accused Britain of staging the attack.

“We have … evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organising this provocation,” he said.

Mr Lavrov warned that a strike against Syria risked a similar outcome to previous wars in Libya and Iraq.

Not to mention this a few days earlier.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Many on the Left state rational opposition to Air strikes, other go loudly Mad – John Wight makes a Comeback.

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“Pattern of alleged chemical weapons attacks”.

By now the pattern of these alleged chemical weapons attacks is set in stone. They come at seminal junctures in the conflict, when Syrian government forces are on the verge of a significant strategic victory or advance against the alphabet soup of Salafi-jihadi groups that are operating in the country.

On Sputnik News RT writer  John Wight (lately of Socialist Unity until he fell out with Andy Newman)  continues,

Though no one is suggesting (at least certainly not me) that no attack took place, or that the footage of children stricken in the aftermath was fabricated, until independent verification is forthcoming the claim of Syrian army culpability cannot be taken at face value — not when we are dealing with probably the most heavily propagandized conflict of modern times, wherein the information war has been elevated beyond the status of an adjunct to the conflict on the ground to the point where it is now a key and crucial front in of itself.

 …

The clamour for Western military intervention follows these alleged attacks is deafening, whipped up by the usual complement of neocon ideologues and regime change fanatics for whom every day is a cruise missile day. Meanwhile, Trump’s threat that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would pay a “big price” is redolent of the posse-speak that has come to exemplify his administration’s engagement with a world that has long been straining under the weight of US hegemony.

By contrast Comrade Paul Mason has written a reasonable article on the Syrian crisis.

Futile air strikes on Syria won’t defeat Assad and Putin

The West should impose punitive economic and diplomatic measures on Russia and Iran, and back a secular-led military opposition.

I am against Britain joining a military strike on Assad’s Syria. It’s an inadequate and cynical gesture designed for domestic consumption by governments whose own legitimacy is being eroded. The idea that it will save significant numbers of lives is rubbish, and known to be rubbish, by the politicians and retired military people advocating it.

What would, in the short-term, save lives in Eastern Ghouta would be to place massive economic and diplomatic pressure on Russia and Iran, who are the real powers controlling Assad’s war in Syria; and to back or re-create a secular-led military opposition on the ground, starting with the Kurds of Rojava. But that is not going to happen.

..

A left foreign policy and defence strategy for Britain in a disintegrating global order has to start from the principle of defending human rights and observing international law and building capacity for democratic opposition in the countries stirring up conflict. The alternatives to a shower of guided missiles require more than bravado and rhetoric.

To bring the perpetrators of the war crime in Douma to justice means unblocking the multilateral system at the UN and the International Criminal Court. That in turn means persuading the Russian people to elect a government that does not sanction torture, chemical weapons attack, the assassination of opponents and the conquest of territory by brute force.

..

But strategically what’s going to end the regimes of Putin, Assad and Rouhani is the one event the west won’t countenance: their political overthrow by secular, democratic and pro-social justice movements. That’s my weapon of choice against the perpetrators of the Douma attack.

Meanwhile if you think this reasonable Wight does not.

Paul Mason replies to this kind of rubbish:

The big demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq gathered a very broad group of people together.

They included parties of the far-left, many Labour members, unions, the Green Party, the Liberal Democrats, and, under the aegis of the Stop the War Coalition, the Muslim Association of Britain, a group led by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. (1)

Today will we see MAB demonstrate against air strikes in Syria?

It is doubtful.

MAB deplores Syrian regime war crimes and massacre of innocent civilians

8th of April.

Last night forces loyal to Syrian dictator and war criminal Bashar Al-Assad used chlorine gas and other unidentified chemical weapons, banned under international law, in Douma near the capital Damascus. To date, 70 people have suffocated to death, with scores more still suffering, including women and children. The death toll is expected to rise. This comes amid continuous bombardment of the surrounding areas in Ghouta, which has levelled complete neighbourhoods and has left thousands dead and wounded.

What we will see is people like Wight who clearly back the Assad regime.

As in here, (September 2016).

Why the Syrian People Won’t Accept a Deal to Remove Assad

The Syrian government’s crime in the eyes of the West is not the lack of democracy – how could it possibly be given the longstanding alliance between Western governments and Saudi Arabia, run by a clutch of medieval potentates? – but rather the fact that Syria under Assad has long refused to bend the knee to US and Western hegemony, especially with regard to the country’s support for the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, and its friendship and alliance with Iran. Together they make up an axis of resistance which Washington and its regional allies have long been intent on breaking.

Despite the courage and tenacity of the Syrian Arab Army and people, there is little doubt they would have succeeded in this endeavour without Russia’s intervention in the conflict, beginning at the end of September 2015. When Vladimir Putin addressed the 70th General Assembly of the United Nations days prior to Russian aircraft flying their first sorties against anti-government forces in Syria, he effectively announced the birth of the multipolar world demanded by Russia’s recovery from the lost decade of the 1990s, caused by Washington and its European allies’ attempt to impose a Carthaginian peace on the country in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, along with China’s ferocious economic growth and global footprint.

Russia’s military intervention was and continues to be a remarkable achievement of logistics, planning, and organization, necessary in the successful projection of hard power thousands of miles beyond its own borders. It has allowed it to showcase some of the most advanced aircraft, missile systems, and technologically advanced weaponry in the world today, beating Washington at its own game in the process. This, to be sure, is the real reason for the demonisation of Putin that has been a mainstay of Western media coverage over the past year and more.

The presence of such individuals, not to mention Wight’s new best friend, the notorious Neil Clarke (Hard Facts is with Neil Clark) and their groups will create great problems for an anti-War movement.

Who wants to march with those defending war criminals?

******

(1) On the latter’s involvement see Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent : inside British Islam  Bowen, Innes, 2013.

As Alternative Facts Sites Deny Growing Proof, Anti-War Patrick Cockburn, “Mounting Evidence” of Chlorine Gas Attack in Douma.

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Alternative Fact media and Web sites continue to cast doubt on the Chlorine gas attacks in Syria.

Yesterday  the Morning Star published this,

Today, the pretext for escalating Britain’s military involvement in Syria is that the Assad regime — the internationally recognised, legitimate and elected government in Damascus — is guilty of a poison gas attack on the citizens of Douma.

Film of the aftermath, broadcast across the world in recent days, shows a troupe of very camera-conscious young men washing down the victims, all of whom are children, most of them looking more bewildered than wounded or incapacitated, and without a distressed parent or relative in sight.

Skwawkbox peddles this line,

The gas attack

The video footage of distressed children and adults being given inhalers and oxygen in Douma has been powerful – but has not been verified.

Russia has said it found no trace of a chlorine attack in Douma when its personnel visited the town. Many will immediately and understandably dismiss that statement – but the Russians may not have been the only ones to visit.

Russian media claim that the Red Crescent – the equivalent of the Red Cross in Muslim areas – also visited the city and found nothing to suggest a chemical attack had taken place. This information can currently be found only in Russian sources – but should be easily verifiable if true. The SKWAWKBOX has sent a press enquiry to Red Cross headquarters to ask whether the organisation will verify or deny the claims.

Horrific incidents in the Middle East have been fabricated on at least one occasion. The ‘Nayirah testimony’ to US politicians in 1990, for example, helped to cement the case for the 1990-91 invasion of Iraq.

The Canary makes the following speculations,

1) Syrian opposition forces may have chemical weapons.

2) Assad regime was on the verge of victory in the area anyway.

3) The sources are linked to the anti-Assad opposition.

By contrast on the ground reporter and long-term writer on the region Patrick Cockburn writes today,

How can we know that a chemical weapons attack took place in Syria?

Analysis: Even seemingly blatant war crimes can be denied in a war characterised by lack of access. But evidence pointing to chemical attack continues to mount

…the Russian military claim that the attack was faked by pro-opposition activists and that samples taken from the site of where the civilians died were not toxic. The Syrian government issues blanket denials when accused of using poison gas.

But there is mounting evidence from neutral observers to confirm that chlorine was used last Saturday. The World Health Organisation says that local health authorities in Douma, with whom it is cooperating, confirm that on the day of the alleged bombing they treated 500 patients with the symptoms of exposure to toxic chemicals. It reports that “there were signs of severe irritation of mucous membranes, respiratory failure and disruption to the central nervous systems of those exposed”.

Other evidence for the gassing of civilians is cumulatively convincing: large gas cylinders, like those used in past chlorine gas attacks, were filmed on the roof of the building where most bodies were found. Local people report that Syrian government helicopters were seen in the area at the time of the attack. Such helicopters have been used in chlorine gas bombings in the past.

The Russian and Syrian government accounts of what happened, varying between saying there were no attacks or that evidence for them has been fabricated, are contradictory. A Russian spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the use of “smart missiles” on Syrian government forces could be an attempt to destroy the evidence.

Will an attack by the USA, endorsed by President Macron and Teras May help?

For all the furore about the proposed missile strike on Syrian forces – likely to happen in the very near future – it is difficult to see what it will achieve other than as a general sign of international disapproval of the use of chemical weapons. Hawks in the US and Europe may want to use the occasion to reopen the door to armed intervention in the Syrian civil war with the aim of weakening or displacing Assad, but the time for this is long past, if it was ever there.

There is a widely held myth that US air strikes against government forces in 2013, which President Barack Obama is blamed for not having carried out, would have brought the war to a different and happier conclusion. But such air strikes would only have been effective if they had been conducted on a mass scale and on a daily basis in support of ground troops. These would either have been Sunni Arab armed opposition forces, which were already dominated by al-Qaeda-type movements, or the US army in a rerun of the Iraq War of 2003.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 12, 2018 at 3:37 pm

Jeremy Corbyn: “More bombing, more killing, more war will not save life.”

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Yesterday, BBC.

Jeremy Corbyn warns against US-Russia ‘hot war’

Air strikes in response to an alleged chemical attack risk triggering a “hot war between the US and Russia over the skies of Syria”, Jeremy Corbyn says.

The Labour leader also said Parliament should “always be given a say” on any military action.

US president Donald Trump has warned Russia to “get ready” for missiles being fired at its ally Syria.

Theresa May has said the use of chemical weapons “cannot go unchallenged”.

She said investigations were continuing but that “all the indications” were that the Syrian regime of president Bashar al-Assad, which denies mounting a chemical attack, was responsible.

The UK and its allies were looking at ways to “prevent and deter” the use of chemical weapons, she added.

Speaking during a visit to Plymouth, Mr Corbyn said he had been making the case for Parliament – which is currently in recess for Easter – to be given a say on any military action for “many, many years”.

He said all countries had to get “around the table” to come up with a political solution to the war in Syria, adding: “We cannot risk an escalation any further than it’s gone already.”

Mr Corbyn opposed military intervention in Syria in the 2015 vote when MPs backed action against so-called Islamic State.

Asked what it would take for him to back action this time, he said: “Listen. what happened last weekend was terrible. What we don’t want is bombardment which leads to escalation and a hot war between the US and Russia over the skies of Syria.”

The SNP also called for Parliament to have a say before any UK military action is authorised.

Defence spokesman Stewart McDonald urged the UK and its allies to “clamp down on the development and use of chemical weapons”.

He added: “Air strikes have not prevented these attacks and will not provide the long term solutions needed to end the war.”

Oppose the Trump-led attacks which will solve nothing!

Let’s begin with this tragedy:

Written by Andrew Coates

April 12, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Ken Loach Calls for Purge of Labour Party “Enough is Enough” Protestors.

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Ken Loach: Wrong Kind of Witches.

Kick them out’: Ken Loach demands removal of Labour MPs who attended rally against antisemitism

Ken Loach accuses MPs who marched against antisemitism within Labour of ‘dirty tricks’

Film-maker Ken Loach has demanded that the Labour MPs who demonstrated against antisemitism in Parliament Square be kicked out of the party.

Referring to the group of more than 30 MPs from Jeremy Corbyn’s party who joined the Enough is Enough protest organised by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Loach said: “These are the ones we need to kick out.”

In a speech delivered to 1,500 supporters near Bristol, the I Daniel Blake director said: “Unless we get Labour MPs who believe in that manifesto last year we won’t get in power.

“If they’ve been going to the demonstration against him outside Westminster… those are the ones we need to kick out.”

Loach has tried to wriggle out of these reports,

When contacted by the newspaper over his remarks at the meeting, Loach, who produced party broadcasts for the Labour Party during last year’s general election, said the quotes “do not reflect my position”.

He continued: “Reselecting an MP should not be based on individual incidents but reflect the MP’s principles, actions and behaviour over a long period. Being an MP is not a job for life.

Independent.

Loach spent years in Respect, supporting the unspeakable George Galloway.

He did not raise a public protest at these comments of leading Respect figure and election candidate Yvonne Ridley,

Ridley said: “[Respect] is a Zionist-free party… if there was any Zionism in the Respect Party they would be hunted down and kicked out. We have no time for Zionists.” She explained that government support “goes towards that disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East”.

She went on to attack the Tories and Lib Dems, saying that all the mainstream parties are “riddled with Zionists”. I found it hard to comprehend how the notion that “[Respect] encompasses a broad church of ideas and opinions” could be compatible with the hunting down of supporters of an Israeli state.

Or,

Addressing a Viva Palestina meeting, 2009:  “The Zionists have tentacles everywhere. We’ve seen with the disgraceful behaviour from the BBC that this interference goes right to the very top of the media, into the very heart of our homes.”

Further back in his dodgy record on the issue of anti-semitism there was his production of Perdition (The “Perdition” affair.)

Loach is now a supporter of the fringe ‘anti-Zionist’ band of Stop the Labour Witch-hunt (somewhat out of kilter with his call for a witch-hunt against people he dislikes).

His views get no respect from me.

Nor apparently from some people in Belgium as he is about to be honoured for his (overrated) films.

(Conspiracy Watch)

 Pas en leur nom » : la mise à l’honneur de Ken Loach fait polémique en Belgique.

Following the announcement that the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) intends to honour Loach on the 26th of April with a  docteur honoris causa a  “Collectif Ken Loach docteur honoris causa – not in our name”   has called for this to not take place.

In a detailed indictment, the Collective opposes awarding this distinction on three grounds.

That Loach is guilty of trying to

  • rewrite the history of the Holocaust, presenting in particular  “the Kasztner affair”  emblematic of an alleged “Zionist collaboration” with the Nazis in order to facilitate the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine;
  • of Holocaust denial, stating in an interview with the BBC that  “the Holocaust is a historical fact that deserves to be debated”  (Ken Loach later returned to this statement following the media storm provoked by his words held at the end of September 2017 );
  • relativise  the problem of anti-Semitism inside the Labour Party by denying, against all the evidence, the cases that have arisen over  the last months.

Some reasonable reactions have followed Loach’s call for a purge.

Galloway Urges Opposition to War on Syria “on Behalf of ISIS and Al Qaeda”.

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Image result for video of chemical attack syria 2018

Doubtful Evidence From Syria Says George Galloway.

Anybody with doubts about Syria remember this is Galloway’s position.

One wonders if he will be speaking at Stop the War Coalition events on this theme?

For a left response see:

 Simon Nelson. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

After nearly seven years of unrest and civil war in Syria, Assad’s chemical attack on the civilian population trapped in Douma, a city near the capital Damascus, no longer seems shocking; it was the action of a regime that is able to kill and maim with impunity.

The attack on the city followed negotiations which ended on 25 March with an agreement for a cessation of armed attacks, to allow for civilian evacuations. People were allowed stay, including members of the main rebel group there, HTS, on condition they became civilian police. 4,500 people were evacuated before the attack.

But on April 6, 2018 the heavy shelling of Douma which culminated in the two chemical attacks continued. 350 airstrikes were carried out in 48 hours. Syrian helicopters dropped 120 barrel bombs.

Assad did not need to use chemical weapons against the civilian population. The regime was on the cusp of taking control of this area and is in control of all but a handful of areas in the entire country. (Idlib in north-west Syria, is the largest area that is not under his control, and still has rebels who wants Assad replaced.)

The attack was about showing that his regime and his Russian and Iranian allies are in control and will not tolerate any dissent of any kind.

The small pockets of resistance to Assad are now dominated by the jihadists of Jaish al-Islam (HTS) who are unable to win the war. Meanwhile Turkey, the major backers of the Free Syrian Army, is focused on repressing the Kurds. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states know it is increasingly futile for them to back the various jihadist factions scattered across Syria.

Russia claims the attack simply didn’t happen, while the US, France and the EU condemned it.

As we go to press Donald Trump is threatening airstrikes against Assad and his allies in response. A targeted airstrike on 8 April, was probably carried out by Israel following missiles being launched from Lebanon. This was a warning to Iran not to set up military bases near Syria’s border with Israel.

Some on the left have questioned why Assad would launch such an attack when he is so close to victory. Those influenced by Stalinism and a desire to see Russia as a bulwark against US imperialism have even said that it could not have happened.

An inability to recognise and condemn the brutal nature of the Assad regime was reflected in the Labour Party’s woeful statement. That calls on “all those” who have used chemical weapons to be punished and describing the rebels in Douma as “occupying”. Those rebels are not friends of the left, women, the labour movement or minorities, but they are no more occupying than the regime is. Except of course, these rebels are not backed up by Russian jets and Iranian and Lebanese militias. The statement’s talk of meaningful dialogue to find a lasting political settlement is a fantasy. Assad has won the war and is celebrating his victory with a gruesome show of power.

The Labour leaders’ inability to squarely face reality mirrored Corbyn’s initial response to the poisoning of ex-KGB agent Sergei Skripal, when he refused to blame Russia for the poisoning and stressed that a third party could have carried out the attack.

Assad is now very likely to make more such attacks to enforce his grip on any area that has been a rebel stronghold. For seven years Syria has been the battleground for clashes of regional imperialist rivalries, with Russian and the US supporting their own chosen sides as and when they chose to.

The displacement of refugees both within Syria and outside its borders has caused a huge humanitarian crisis. This will, in the immediate future, get worse as Assad restores “order”.

Here is the video.

Video shows Syrians affected by chemical attack

Several Syrian activist groups reported barrel bombs with toxic gas were dropped by helicopters over the rebel-held city of Douma left dozens of civilians dead and scores wounded. Syrian state news agency SANA has cited an “official source” denying the allegations.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 11, 2018 at 11:58 am

From French Trotskyism to Social Democracy. “68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora” Review.

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Image result for 68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

The present wave of strikes and student protests in France have drawn comparisons with the stoppages and protests against the 1995 ‘Plan Juppé”. This reform of state health and retirement insurance, including the railway workers’ pensions, struck at the heart of the French welfare state. There is a strong resemblance between this social movement and the opposition of public sector workers and undergraduates to President Macron’s efforts to ‘modernise’ the French rail system and Universities, (Le Monde 28.3.18).

Others, notably in the English-speaking left, have evoked the spirit of ’68. Some on the French ultra-left, who might be considered to inherit a fragment of the soul of that year’s revolts, state in Lundimatin, that they “do not give a toss” (on s’en fout) about the anniversary of the May events. (Nicolas Truong. Le Monde 15.3.18) Rather than commemorate, or organising Occupy or Nuit Debout style alternatives, they will be busy tearing into Macron, speaking truth for the Coming Insurrection. (1)

That section of the far-left is, of course embroiled in the continuation of the Tarnac trial. Others from a close milieu are involved in resisting the clearing of the last self-organised squats at Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

Benjamin Stora’s 68, et Après is written from a standpoint both familiar internationally, the fall out from the crushing defeat of the French left in last year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections, and one far less well-known, the history of a section of Gallic Trotskyism, the ‘Lambertists’.

It is also an autobiography, from his origins in as a North African Jews, his education, his many years of activism, and university career. Stora  has produced important studies of French Algeria, the war of liberation, and post-independence Algerian history, including the exile of its Jewish population. There is a finely handled account of the tragic death of his daughter in 1992. Stora’s commitment to study the Maghreb did not wholly override political commitment. Opposition to the Jihadists – and be it said, the Military – during the 1990s civil war in Algeria – led to Islamist intimidation. After a small coffin inscribed with words from the Qur’an, and a death threat addressed to Unbelievers, Jews and Communists arrived at his home the historian was forced to leave France and spend time in Vietnam, the occasion for further fruitful reflection on post-colonial societies.

Generation 68

Stora argues that the notion of a 68 ‘generation’ (popularised in Hervé Hamon and Patrick Rotman’s landmark 1987 book of the same name) is misleading. He notes the two volumes lack of attention to his own tradition. A full-time activist in the 1970s the former Lambertist suggests, notably, that his own tendency, whose internal regime and (to put in terms this reviewer, whose background is amongst its left-wing rivals) stifling narrow-minded morality (up to hostility towards feminism and gays), was also part of the post-68 radical movement. This is indeed the case, although not many beyond their circles had a taste for denunciations of “petty bourgeois deviations” and ritual revolutionary socialism. (Page 31) Those familiar with the history will suspect the reason for their absence (one Index reference to Lambert) in Génération. That is, the Lambertists’ call during one of the most celebrated moments of 68, for students to disperse from the Boulevard Saint-Michel rendered, “Non aux barricades” and to go to the workers at Renault, Michel (Night of 10-11th of May). (2)

The history of this highly disciplined current, around the figure of Pierre Lambert (real name Boussel) in 68 known as the Organisation communiste internationaliste (OCI) is long and, to say the least controversial. But their imprint is not confined to the fringes. Lambertists have played an important part in the recently governing Parti Socialiste (PS). Amongst one-time members are the former Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, and the ex-Socialist  leader of La France insoumise, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Stora, like PS General Secretary until last year, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, was part of a several hundred strong Lambertist faction which joined the PS in 1986. Cambadélis, in his most recent book, Chronique d’une débâcle (2017) makes passing reference to a Trotskyist past (his ability to spot sectarian manoeuvres is undiminished). L’après 68 gives an extensive account of the organisation, from weekly cell meetings, whose minutes were rigorously kept and transmitted to the party HQ, to their exploits in the student unions and ‘mutuals’, friendly societies which play an important part in assuring student health and other forms of insurance.

Stora’s La Dernière Génération d’Octobre (2003) covers, he remarks, the post-68 culture and politics of his time in the OCI. The present volume gives probably more attention to the way in which his faction from this generation moved from full-time Lambertist activism, often paid for by one of the fractured French student unions, the UNEF-ID, in some cases by Teachers’ unions) into the late 1980s Parti Socialiste. Going from a clandestine fraction, led principally by Cambadélis, suspicious of surveillance by a group whose way of dealing with dissidence was not too far off the British WRP’s, they broke with Leninism. This was not just in opposition to the vertical internal regime, and the reliance on the “transitional programme” but, as they saw it, to establish a left-wing force within the democratic socialist spectrum represented in the post Epinay PS.  

A deal reached with Boussel, to avoid the violence and rancour traditionally associated with splits, was soon behind them. Despite the author’s best efforts it fails to disperse the suspicion, which those of us who are, let’s just say, not greatly fond of their tradition, had that some kind of arrangement also took place between Lambert and the PS itself over their entry into the party. (3) 

Inside the Parti Socialiste.

An organised PS current, Convergences socialistes, with all the self-importance that afflicts parts of the French left and academics, they numbered around 400 members. Of these a few moved into open professional politics. As a coherent body it is hard to find much trace of them in the shifting alliances within the PS, although one may find some remaining allies of Cambadélis as he clambered  up the party hierarchy. 

Just how adept former Lambertists could be in the PS game is registered by Stora’s portrait of an individual who had joined the PS some years before, Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The present chief of La France insoumise, with a seat in the senate’s august halls, shared a wish create a new vanguard with his own tendency, the ‘Gauche socialiste’. He was equally  marked by burgeoning admiration for François Mitterrand. This did not go down well. Stora recalled the President’s role in the repression of Algerian insurgents…(Page 49 – 50). In a critique of Mélenchon’s present politics, Stora draws comparisons with the old Communist Party’s wish to impose its hegemony on the left, and keep its activists preoccupied by frenetic activism (Pages 150 – 153).

The root cause of the present  débâcle is  Parliamentary left lost touch with the people, part of an autonomous political sphere. The history of how a section of the radical left made the transfer from revolutionary full-timers to PS MPs and functionaries (and a galaxy of dependent positions) is not unique. It could be paralleled on a smaller scale by the career of the UK Socialist Action in Ken Livingstone’s London Mayor administration. The insulated, amply rewarded, lives of politicians, is, it is often said, one of the causes of the break down of the traditional French parties of right and left. Stora does not neglect his own current’s involvement in the student mutual, MNEF, corruption scandals, (Page 129). Whatever remains of the difference between ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘reformists’ fades into the distance faced with a managerial-bureaucratisation enveloping the current. The same processes, born of their reliance on union positions and opaque funding are not without effects on the remaining loyal Lamberists in the le Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI) , and their split,  the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID).

After 68?

Après 68 is above all is a rousing condemnation of the “neo-nationalism” grounded on French “identity” and fear of “decline”. This, from the 2005 European Constitution Referendum (which divided the French left including, Stora notes, some on his section of the radical left)  dominates French politics, left and right, up to its presence in the ‘synthesis’ offered by President Macron. French political space, he observes, no longer dominated by the Parti Socialiste, is open. From 1968, writes both the historian and left winger he keeps two passions, for History (the source of his productive career) and the internationalist defence of those without rights, the desire for a common human civilisation. Staying hopeful that hopes for a new world have not been extinguished, L’après 68 is full of important messages from an old one.

*****

(1) See: A nos Amis. 2014. Le Comité Invisible 2014. Page 64. “Voilà ce qu’il faut opposer à la « souveraineté » des assemblées générales, aux bavardages des Parlements : la redécouverte de la charge affective liée à la parole, à la parole vraie. Le contraire de la démocratie, ce n’est pas la dictature, c’est la vérité. C’est justement parce qu’elles sont des moments de vérité, où le pouvoir est nu, que les insurrections ne sont jamais démocratiques.”

(2) Pages 467– 469. Les Trotskyistes, Christophe Nick. Fayard. 2002.

(3)See for example, the series in le Monde by Nathaniel Herzberg in 1999 on the subject commented on here:  De la « génération » comme argument de vente… A propos d’une série d’articles sur la « génération MNEF ».

Small Demonstration against ‘Marxist’ Labour Party led by ‘anti-Semite’.

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Maureen Lipman.  2014: Labour  under Miliband makes her vote for “almost any other party”.

2018, “Corbyn Made me a Tory”.

There has been a problem with fringe anti-Semites in the Labour Party, and the way some extreme ‘anti-Zionists’ have been complacent, if not complicit in ignoring this.

But it is not hard to see why tens of thousands of Labour Party members, busy at the moment leafleting, canvassing and putting their hearts and souls in the coming local elections, are deeply offended by the accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ now being hurled against the leader they elected, and, by extension, themselves.

One effect, it is to suspected, is that most want nothing to do with anything linked to this area of controversy.

It is a measure of such an effect is that only a couple of thousand turned out to a pro-Palestinian march on Saturday (Angry protest in London against Israeli attacks on Palestinians) , and a only a few hundred for Sunday’s protest.

Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside Labour’s headquarters in London to campaign against antisemitism in the party. A crowd waving union flags and placards converged on the party HQ in Westminster on Sunday for a demonstration organised by the Campaign Against AntiSemitism.

Messages on placards read “zero tolerance for antisemitism”, “Labour hold Corbyn to account” and “antisemitism is racism”.

There were some shouts of “racist” and “shame”, and jeering when the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, was mentioned by speakers at the rally. There were also boos for the Momentum leader, Jon Lansman, and for Christine Shawcroft, the former NEC member who resigned last month after backing a party member accused of antisemitism.

Guardian.

The Mirror reports, 

Jewish actress Maureen Lipman joined hundreds of furious protesters outside Labour HQ and said Labour leader had ‘made her a Tory’.

The 71-year-old claimed she was attending the demonstration as a ‘disenfranchised socialist’ and that she could never return to the party with an ‘anti-Semite at its head’.

Mrs Lipman said: “He is standing with elements who are against everything that we stand for; hardworking, decent Jewish people of whom I am incredibly proud.”

She continued: “By doing nothing he is telling us the same thing he has been telling us for the last 30 years.

“He wants a Marxist party. Because it’s worked so well in the rest of the world.

“Everything you have heard today points to the fact that we have an anti-Semite at the head of the British Labour Party .”

..

In 2014, Ms Lipman said she could no longer vote for Labour while it was led by Ed Miliband.

In an article in Standpoint magazine, she condemned Mr Miliband for supporting a backbench motion to recognise Palestine as a state.

Ms Lipman, previously a Labour supporter, said she would vote for “almost any other party” until Labour was once again led by “mensches” – meaning people with integrity and honour.

….

Steve Silverman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism complained of “platitudes” from the Labour party.

He told Sky News: “Our view is we cannot expect Jeremy Corbyn to fix this problem. In order to do so he would have to stop being Jeremy Corbyn.

“We are here today to demand the Labour Party investigates Jeremy Corbyn’s role in this whole sorry mess.”

He added: “I don’t know what’s going on in Jeremy Corbyn’s head [but] he consorts with anti-Semites, he supports Holocaust deniers.

This is one response:

Time for Labour’s leaders to call their opponents’ bluff

Labour must declare that between now and those elections, it will not be diverted by negative headlines and accusations of being soft on antisemitism, from the task of delivering a result that will bring many more anti-austerity and anti-racist councillors into office, who will make a profound material difference on the ground in their local communities. Labour should state that it expects every single Labour politician at national and local level to make this their number one priority. It was a good sign that no Labour politicians joined the CAA rally yesterday.

Labour should declare that it will take no lectures on this from the Tory Party that, at the European level, happily works with openly xenophobic, anti-migrant and antisemitic parties, while here in Britain it maintains fluid boundaries with antisemites, Holocaust deniers and revisionists, alt-right eugenicists and identitarians, through the Traditional Britain Group which is led by the active Tory members, Lord Sudeley and Gregory Lauder-Frost.

And Labour needs to demand something of its own supporters and activists: that they should be wise to provocations, and refuse to be drawn into any more petty confrontations with those perpetuating diversionary debates.

We need to keep our eyes on the prize – an overwhelmingly positive result in the local elections that will be the springboard for defeating the party of privilege and division, and their cynical supporters, at the General Election.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2018 at 11:07 am

Suspected Assad Chemical Attack in Douma, Syria.

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Syria war: At least 70 killed in suspected chemical attack in Douma

At least 70 people have died in a suspected chemical attack in Douma, the last rebel-held town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, rescuers and medics say.

Volunteer rescue force the White Helmets tweeted graphic images showing several bodies in basements. It said the deaths were likely to rise.

There has been no independent verification of the reports.

Syria has called the allegations of a chemical attack a “fabrication” – as has its main ally, Russia.

The US state department said Russia – with its “unwavering support” for Syria’s government – “ultimately bears responsibility” for the alleged attacks.

En Syrie, les rebelles dénoncent une attaque au chlore à Douma. Le Monde

Syrie: frappes sur Douma après une attaque chimique présumée du régime.  L’Express.

Syria chemical attack: Scores killed in Douma, rescuers say.

Al Jazeera.

The White Helmets, a group of rescuers operating in opposition-held areas in Syria, said on Saturday that most of the fatalities were women and children.

“Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds are still suffocating,” Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets, told Al Jazeera, adding that the death toll was expected to rise as many people were in critical condition.

Al-Saleh said that chlorine gas and an unidentified but stronger gas were dropped on Douma.

“White Helmet volunteers are trying to help the people but all that we can do is evacuate them to another area by foot because most of the vehicles and centres went out of service.”

One member of White Helmets told Al Jazeera that an entire family had suffocated to death as they hid in their cellar, trying to seek shelter from air raids and barrel bombs.

The US government has warned of a global response against Syria if reports of the chemical attack are confirmed.

The Syrian government, however, is calling it a fabrication, dismissing talk of the Syrian army using poisonous gas as “farcical”.

Here

Written by Andrew Coates

April 8, 2018 at 12:26 pm

Gilad Atzmon, Anti-Semitism and the Left.

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Former star at SWP and Respect events. 

Near the end of of one his humorous articles for the ‘I’ Mark Steel yesterday made this serious point (Who knew Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitic beetroot would cause such anger at the Daily Mail?)

Parts of the left promoted the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who stated we should “take seriously” the idea that “Jews are trying to take over the world”. To be fair to him, constructing an argument that the race trying to take over the world is the one that came nearest to being systematically wiped out, is setting yourself quite a task, especially if you try to do it as a solo on the saxophone.

Indeed they did.

Which parts?

Gilad Atzmon and the SWP: a brief chronology

Bob from Brockley. 

Summer 2004: Gilad Atzmon speaks and performs at the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism 2004 event. Atzmon criticised by SWP blogger Richard Seymour as “disgraceful, incoherent and completely at odds with what the SWP stands for” and a “crank”.

April 2005: Atzmon rave review in Socialist Review by Brian Richardson, announcing forthcoming gig at Marxism event.

Summer 2005: The SWP’s Socialist Review has a rave review of Atzmon’s Orient House ensemble tour (only note of criticism is that he likes Ken Livingstone too much), and Atzmon plays Marxism 2005 as well as speaking at Bookmarks. Jews Against Zionism picket the Bookmarks event. JAZ are not by any means an oversensitive pro-Israel group, but made up of left-wing people like Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover and Hilary Rose. Leading left-wing anti-Zionist website Labournet plays major role in this. SWP responds with a statement that refuses to accept any truth in the allegations.

2006: SWP organises “Five for Trane” concerts featuring Atzmon and the SWP’s Martin Smith. At least six gigs (MarchJuneOctoberetcetc).

Autumn 2006: Atzmon speaks and plays alongside George Galloway (then in alliance with the SWP in Respect) and Martin Smith at an SWP-organised Stop the War event in Tower Hamlets. (The SWP boasted it was a successful fund-raiser for them, and Smith interviewed Atzmon for Socialist Worker. Atzmon told Smith “I will be playing at the Cultures of Resistance concert because I support the Socialist Worker appeal… “For me to play jazz is to fight the BOB (Bush, Olmert and Blair) world order.”)

January 2007: Michael Rosen, a high profile Jewish anti-Zionist very close to the SWP, criticises SWP for hosting Atzmon. Organisers of the SWP’s Cultures of Resistance (Hannah Dee, a current SWP CC member, and Viv Smith, a former CC member) deny he is an antisemite (archived). Evidence? “We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.” Therefore impossible that Atzmon could be a racist, because he was invited to our event.

Summer 2007: Atzmon plays Cultures of Resistance gig at Marxism 2007, and reprises the Martin Smith collaboration in Liverpool, and later Pete Segal in Socialist Review gives another rave review of his CD Refuge, with no note of criticism or mention of Rosen’s letter.

Autumn/Winter 2007: Atzmon plays an SWP fund-raiser, Now’s the Timer, with Martin Smith. Four gigs. Positive reviews (“Politics continues to drive Atzmon’s music forward”) of his records in Socialist Worker. Martin Smith also mentions him in another Socialist Review article.

January 2008: Atzmon now an explicit Holocaust denier, as revealed by Tony Greenstein and others, eliciting no comment from the SWP, despite their close association with him.

May 2008: Socialist Review again promotes Atzmon, listing him in their “Five things to get or see this month”

April 2009: Another Socialist Review rave review of an Atzmon CD, In Loving Memory Of America, again no note of criticism.

October 2010: SWP promotes the Jazza Festival, featuring Atzmon and several Atzmon-linked groups.

November 2010: No trace left on any SWP website of their earlier statements and clarifications about Atzmon.

Summer-Autumn 2011: Richard Seymour’s publisher, Zero, publishes an antisemitic book by Atzmon. Seymour and other authors issue statement against the publication, published on Seymour’s blog.

 

The American Socialist Worker (No relation!) published this in 2014.

A pass for anti-Semitism?

The career of Gilad Atzmon is an instructive case. Atzmon is an Israeli-born Jew and musician turned Palestine activist. His writings on Zionism contain venomous attacks on Jews, including the argument that Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians are not a product of imperialism but represent something wrong with Jews. Atzmon calls the accusation of anti-Semitism “a common Zionist silencing apparatus.”

In spite of this, a number of Left institutions have excused or rationalized Atzmon’s bile. For a few years, Atzmon regularly performed at the British Socialist Workers Party’s annual conference, before he was quietly dropped without an explanation or apology from the SWP’s leadership. Atzmon’s writings still appear in Counterpunch, perhaps the most widely read online publication on the American left. Finally, Zero Books, a British publisher that has published authors like Richard Seymour and Laurie Penny, published a treatise on Jewish identity by Atzmon which is still available through their website.

Another example is “leftist” academic James Petras, whose articles on Jewish control of the media and government still appear on Dissident Voice and in Counterpunch. A single pass for someone like Atzmon or Petras is a case of bad judgment. Multiple passes represent a pattern of unwillingness or inability by the left to address anti-Semitism.

Instead of an instinct to show solidarity with Jews, the pro-Palestine left has developed an instinctive skepticism towards reports of anti-Semitism, which makes the movement more open to real Jew-haters.

Weekly Worker 2008.

Time to say goodbye

Why does the SWP not break its links with holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon? Tony Greenstein has more evidence of his anti-Jewish racism

 George Galloway was (and as far one can tell, is) another supporter of Atzmon.

Image result for atzmon George Galloway

We shall leave it to others to remark on Greenstein appearing on the same Galloway platform.

Here are some of Atzmon’s latest views.

How Antisemitsm Became Noise

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm

Lord Sugar, Poet Laureate of the Palace of Westminster, Tackles Anti-Semitism.

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Alan Sugar, the Swan of the Lords Temporal.

“Jeremy Corbyn, a bit of a scruff

Asked what he could do to come over less rough

His fashion advisers worked on a new look

And a fifty quid Matalan suit’s all it took.”

Up to half the people who read this Blog are not based in Britain or Ireland.

Just how bizarre things have got in the turmoil about anti-Semitism and the Labour Party, and just how demeaning some of the criticism of Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has got, has probably passed them by.

But here is the latest Ode from one of Britain’s top wordsmiths, Lord Sugar.

Some have suggested that it be set to music.

If so it will surely out-rival this hit of yesteryear.

Close Textual Analysis has begun of the Merry Rhymester’s oeuvre A close reading of Lord Alan Sugar’s poem about Jeremy Corbyn. Some practical criticismJONN ELLEDGE

This is a more common reaction.

In the meantime, miffed at people laughing up their selves,  Sugar has reported Corby to the Rozzers.

Lord Sugar DEMANDS Scotland Yard investigate pro-Corbyn groups ‘inciting VIOLENCE’

A GROUP of cross-party peers including Alan Sugar have written a letter to Scotland Yard calling for an investigation into pro-Corbyn Facebook groups and forums which are anti-Semitic and “inciting violence”, it has been revealed.

Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan on “falsification of the Auschwitz death toll.”

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A journey has begun, perhaps it will end where the Veille Taupe finished (1).

Excellent piece from Ian Donovan:

Gerry Joseph Downing

The original falsification of the Auschwitz death toll was Stalin’s doing. He was trying to palm off responsiblity for some of his greatest crimes onto Poland.

He trusted his pact with Hitler, cretinously, and was taken by surprise by Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. Few military preparations were made, what were done were so despite Stalin, not because of him and the core of his regime.

But worse than that, as part of appeasing ‘democratic’ imperialism, prior to his pact with Hitler, he murdered Mikhail Tukachevsky and his comrades; the Red Army’s military cadre who had been pulled together by the founder of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky, and had defeated 13 invading capitalist armies and the White Guards in the Wars of Intervention/’civil war’ from 1918-21.

Stalin murdered them after falsely accusing them of working for Hitler; the same lie he used about Trotsky. In doing so he effectively opened the gates to Hitler, and permitted the most incredible massacre of the Soviet people, including Soviet Jews.

This is such an incredible act of treachery that it had to be covered up and played down. The USSR lost 27 million dead in the war against Hitler, though for many years this was also covered up and claimed to be only 7 million.

The inflation of the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz was part of the same cover up. By making it appear that millions of Jews who actually died in Russia, killed by mobile SS death squads that were allowed to run amok in Soviet territory, instead died in Auschwitz, the Stalinist regime could hide its own responsibility for millions of deaths through its criminal treachery and collaboration with both ‘democratic’ imperialism and Hitler.

That was the reason why the figure at Auschwitz changed after a generation or more since the death of Stalin. That was not the only figure that changed, when it was safe to do so, ie. when the people who had something to hide were finally no longer in power.

Unfortunately the ‘democratic’ social counterrevolution was more truthful than the degenerated bureaucratic regime it overthrew, which betrayed the Russian Revolution but was unable itself to finally destroy its remnants until then.

This follows,

Defend Jeremy Corbyn against latest ‘anti-Semitism’ fraud!

25/03/2018 by Ian.

Luciana Berger’s allegation that Corbyn defended an ‘anti-semitic’ mural in 2012 is a poisonous smear. Unfortunately he has already shown signs of retreating before it. There is nothing that attacks Jews as Jews in this mural. The caricatured are old white men, not Jews. See this 2012 YouTube video explaining the background to it.

The painter mentioned both the Rothschilds and the Rockerfellers as the archetypes he was working from. Ie. a mixture of Jewish and non-Jewish bankers, living off the enslavement and death of the working class.

Actually, though the majority of such people in the real world are not Jewish, a large minority of the super rich, some sources say 40% or more, including bankers and media moguls, are Jewish. Whereas the Jewish population of the USA is only 2% of the total; in the UK only 0.5%.

More recently Gerry Downing has written,

The Zionism of the AWL is truly disgusting.

Is Downing still a member of any left organisation apart from his own?

 

(1) In 1979 Pierre Guillaume approached Gérard Lebovici with a proposal to publish the Holocaust denial text Le Mensonge d’Ulysse by Paul Rassinier. Lebovici refused, so in 1980 Guillaume relaunched La Vieille Taupeas a negationist publishing house. Rassiner’s book was the first published. Many of Guillaume’s former associates deplore his reuse of the name for a purpose they regard as completely at odds with their former involvement. Some also regard Guillaume’s suggestion that Guy Debord was a secret negationist as obscene. Some people view ultra-left negationism as evidence that the ultra-left and ultra-right are very similar – the meeting of the extremes. However most ultra left activists would distance themselves from all forms of negationism, and regard Guillaume’s more recent development as a sad decline. Guillaume sees La Vieille Taupeas a genuine ultra left venture which concentrates on “exposing the lies of the capitalist victors of the Second World War“, even if most of the people who listen to him are from the far-right.

In fact it closed in the late 1980s, followed by another venture which shut its doors in 1991.

 

After that, “À partir de 1995, Pierre Guillaume a fait publier une revue La Vieille Taupe, à parution très irrégulière. Le second numéro, qui sort en décembre 1995, est un texte de Roger Garaudy, « Mythes fondateurs de la politique israélienne » à teneur négationniste qui finit par faire grand bruit, apportant à cette nouvelle Vieille Taupe, un souffle médiatique et financier inespéré25.

L’adoption de la loi Gayssot et la condamnation de Pierre Guillaume par l’ensemble de l’extrême gauche ont considérablement réduit depuis ses activités.

There was another ultra-left negationist (Holocaust deniers) from that time  La Banquise.

Since those days there are a number of anti-semite groups in France which have a certain ‘ leftist’ tinge, such as   Réseau Voltaire.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 5, 2018 at 1:27 pm

Council Officer Stan Keable (Labour Party Marxists) Suspended Amid Allegations that he said ‘Zionists’ ‘Collaborated’ with the Nazis.

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Alleged to have said  Zionists “collaborated” with the Nazis.

Stan, an indefatigable supporter of the Weekly Worker, is well known on the left.

He comes from an old Communist family.

I knew his brother Ken, as an adolescent, in the  Woodcraft Folk.

That he should be threatened with the loss of his job for  views on ‘Zionism’ that owe a lot to  Moshé Machover  – ones I heartily disagree with – is outrageous.

This Blog backs protests against this move.

London council officer suspended after claiming Zionists ‘collaborated’ with Nazis.

London council worker has been suspended after being caught claiming Zionists “collaborated” with the Nazis.

Stan Keable has been removed from his duties as an environmental enforcement officer for Hammersmith & Fulham Council after saying: “The Nazis were anti-Semitic. The problem I’ve got is the Zionist government at the time collaborated with them. They accepted the ideas that Jews are not acceptable here.”

The Left-wing activist made the comments, shared in a clip on Twitter, at a demonstration outside Parliament led by the Board of Deputies of British Jews protesting against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He was in a counter demo which said Jeremy Corbyn has been unfairly smeared as an anti-Semite.

A council spokesperson said he had been suspended while an investigation was carried out and that it “does not tolerate anti-Semitism”. His job includes inspecting private landlord properties. He does not work with social housing tenants.

Conservative MP for Chelsea & Fulham, Greg Hands, said: “I am shocked someone expressing hateful opinions could have a job meeting vulnerable tenants. The council leader should launch an inquiry into whether there are others of his ilk in the council.”

Mr Keable also works for union Unison, which said it is investigating and “takes allegations of anti-Semitism seriously”. Labour expelled Mr Keable last autumn for his role as the secretary of Labour Party Marxists.

Mike Katz, of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “To try to twist the history of the Nazis to fit an anti-Zionist narrative is offensive.”

When contacted by the Standard, Mr Keable said: “I am sorry for any offence I may have caused. But the Nazi regime and the Zionist Federation of Germany collaborated, through the Haavara agreement, in the emigration of some 60,000 Jews to Palestine between 1933 and 1939.” He said he did not insinuate that Jews collaborated with the Nazis.

On March 27, the day after he attended the counter demonstration in Parliament Square, organised by Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Party Marxists secretary Stan Keable was suspended from work by Hammersmith and Fulham council. The suspension letter states that there are “serious allegation(s) which, if substantiated, could constitute gross misconduct under the council’s disciplinary procedure” and which “could result in your dismissal from the council’s service”.

Stan has not yet been informed of the exact nature of the alleged “inappropriate comments”. However, it seems very likely that they relate to a short video clip tweeted by BBC Newsnight editor David Grossman. It seems that Grossman – without asking for permission – filmed Stan on his mobile phone while he was talking to a supporter of the anti-Corbyn demonstration.

Like other LPM comrades, Stan had approached the Zionists with the intention of engaging with them. He handed out Labour Against the Witchhunt leaflets and spoke to numerous people. Most discussions were friendly, if a little one-sided: “People on the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration were a mixture of Tories, Labour Party members and ex-members,” says Stan. “They told me they were there because of the ‘huge problem’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but when I asked if they themselves had experienced discrimination, they could not give me any concrete examples.”

The conversation in question was several minutes long “and the guy and I shook hands afterwards”. The 105 seconds that Grossman has published – again, without even asking for permission – are entitled: “Anti-Semitism didn’t cause the holocaust and Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”. As we show in the transcript below, this is seriously misleading. But, as you would expect from such a headline in the current climate, the short clip has caused quite a stir on social media.

Outraged Progress leader Richard Angell has called for Stan to be expelled from the Labour Party, only to be rather disappointed when somebody pointed out that he had, in fact, already been booted out under Labour’s witch-hunting rule 2.1.4.B. This automatically bars from membership anybody “who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party” and has led to the expulsion of dozens, if not hundreds, of Marxists and socialists, including supporters (or alleged supporters) of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and  Socialist Appeal, as well as Labour Party Marxists.

Angell then demanded that Jeremy Corbyn should “make clear to him that he never wants to see him in a Labour sticker ever again and that he does not speak for the Labour leadership. Corbyn could tweet at him, write to him and make it clear beyond any doubt.”

Somebody then alerted local Tory MP Greg Hands, who sprang into Twitter action, demanding that Hammersmith and Fulham “investigate and urge action. Enough is enough.” And they quickly did his bidding. Less than 18 hours after the demo, Stan was suspended by the council (which is run by Labour, incidentally).

Let us take a closer look at the short clip then. We see Stan talking to a man who is, rather outrageously, trying to “make a connection” between Corbyn’s throwaway comment about the ‘anti-Semitic mural’ and the holocaust: “Are you saying it’s unreasonable to extrapolate that the mural reflects tropes that have existed for hundreds of years and that have really resulted in the anti-Semitism that led to the holocaust?”

Stan replies: “I don’t think anti-Semitism caused the holocaust, no. The Nazis used anti-Semitism …”

The man then interrupts him: “Yes, it was anti-Semitism that caused the holocaust! Are you really saying it wasn’t anti-Semitic?”

Stan replies: “No, I’m not saying that. Of course the holocaust was anti-Semitic. The problem I’ve got is that the Zionist movement at the time collaborated with them …” He then gets shouted down, while trying to elaborate that “the Zionist movement from the beginning” accepted the idea that Jews did not belong in Europe.

There are a number of points to make about this conversation and the reaction to it.

First of all, Stan’s comments were clearly part of a longer discussion and are taken out of context. Had he been properly interviewed or written an article, he could have explained more fully what he was trying to say. Of course, anti-Semitism by itself did not cause the holocaust. It existed long before the Nazis, eg, as promoted by the medieval Catholic church. The Nazi, at first, used anti-Semitism as a propaganda tool to link communists and social democrats together with finance capital. Both the labour movement and banking were supposedly dominated by Jews. There was an element of truth here – there were many Jewish communists and social democrats and more than a few Jewish capitalists. But, according to the Nazis, they were united in a world-wide conspiracy to rule the world. A form of social madness that led the Nazis first to ban the Communist Party (February 1933), then the trade unions (May 1933), then the social democrats (July 1933), then, in September 1935, this same ideology saw them introduce the Nuremburg race laws and, on November 9-10 1938, a full scale assault on Jewish owned businesses.

It was, however, Stan’s comment that “the Zionist movement at the time collaborated with [the Nazis]” which has really got the right incensed. It was for this he has been labelled a “holocaust denier” online. You could criticise the slight factual inaccuracy contained within the words “at the time”, which implies that Stan meant during the time of the holocaust. But his attempts to clarify that he was talking about the Ha’avara agreement of 1933 between the Zionist movement and the Nazis (which broke the non-Zionist Jewish-led call for an economic boycott of the Nazi regime) was simply shouted down. This notorious agreement, however, is a historical fact.

Most seriously though is the culture of fear around the question of anti-Semitism displayed by this episode. Stan’s suspension letter states that, “suspension is a neutral act and does not in itself constitute disciplinary action or imply guilt”. But even the briefest look at the clip should show the leaders of Hammersmith and Fulham council that there is nothing contained within those 105 seconds that could “bring the council into disrepute” or constitute “potentially a breach of the Equality Act 2010”.

The right has been incredibly successful in creating a moral panic. By manipulating, by misrepresenting, by imputing, by lying the left can be charged with peddling a line which is supposedly anti-Semitic. Presumptions of innocence go out of the window in such a toxic atmosphere. Stan will now have to prove that he is not an anti-Semite or a holocaust-denier – not just to his employer, but also the thousands of people who have seen the reports and comments about the short clip (which has also been published by the Daily Mail – again without anybody approaching Stan, despite the fact he was clearly identified online).

Marxists believe in open, free and robust debate. We believe such debate is absolutely crucial if we ever want to see a working class confident enough in defending and arguing its ideas to become the ruling class in society.

Some say it would have been better to shut up when there might be a camera pointing at you. Of course, we have been advised to keep quiet about plenty of other things too: our open criticism of Jeremy Corbyn right from the day he won the leadership contest; our transparent reporting of meetings of the left; our analysis of disagreements between politicians in the Labour Party. You name it, we’ve been publishing openly about it.

This is also reflected in the behaviour of our comrades at events: we do not shy away from debates, discussions. Even if that leaves us open to misinterpretation, wilfully or otherwise. That comes with the territory and there is only one way to avoid it: saying nothing at all. Something we are most certainly not going to do.

This article was updated on April 2 to more accurately reflect the recording of the discussion at issue.