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Patriotism and Nationalism, from Orwell to Trump Mocking France’s War Dead.

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Nice One Trumpy!

Comrade George Orwell wrote,

 “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

NOTES ON NATIONALISM  Polemic, GB – London, 1945

People have debated these lines and the article for many years.

But Trump has just clarified the meaning of these sentences.

Trump Mocks France for World War Losses

First thing in the U.S. morning, the U.S. president took another — even more pointed — crack at the French leader. After a fractious visit to Paris over the weekend, Trump returned to the theme of a European army to defend the continent’s interests and took renewed offence. In a particularly sharp jab, Trump implied that the French needed the U.S. to rescue them from the Germans in both world wars.

 

The tweet comes after Trump spent a weekend in Paris with other world leaders commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. In an earlier tweet, the American president had called Macron’s suggestion “very insulting.” Trump’s latest broad-side was ill-timed, falling on the third anniversary of Paris terror attacks that killed more than 130 people and left hundreds more injured.

…..

Scroll down to this:

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said in an address to world leaders gathered for Armistice commemorations, with Trump sitting nearby.

His office later tweeted this part of the speech, which went on to say ‘by putting our own interests first, with no regard for others, we erase the very thing that a nation holds dearest, and the thing that keeps it alive: its moral values.”

It was seen as a direct rebuke of Trump’s ‘America First’ policies. Indeed, Macron has used social media to mock the U.S. leader in the past. When Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, Macron launched an initiative to recruit U.S. scientists with the tag line “Make Our Planet Great Again” — a play on Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.”

 

The President persists and signs:

 

French Army response to Trump’s fear of a dose of drizzle:

Trump is still at it:

 

For the moment this is the official French response, no comment: 

L’Elysée se refuse pour l’heure à tout commentaire après cette série de tweets, indique l’AFP.

However much one may normally disagree with Marcon, we are in in solidarity with the French President against this draft-dodging flatulent flaccid fraud US President.

Here is Plantu rendering a loving homage to the other side of America:

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2018 at 5:12 pm

Memorial Ceremony Today for the Bataclan and Saint-Denis victims of Islamist Terror.

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Memorial Ceremony Today in Paris for the Bataclan and Saint-Denis Victims of Islamist Terror.

France on Tuesday is marking the third anniversary of the country’s deadliest ever terrorist attacks with a procession linking the areas in and around Paris that were struck by jihadist gunmen on November 13, 2015.

France 24.

The coordinated attacks, in which 130 people were killed, targeted the Stade de France stadium north of Paris as well as several cafes and restaurants in the French capital and the Bataclan concert hall.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will lead commemorations at all six of the targeted sites on Tuesday morning, accompanied by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and the ambassadors of several countries.

In his latest book, French journalist and writer Matthieu Suc recounts how all the planners of the deadly November 2015 Paris attacks, who operated within the Islamic State (IS) group’s “spy service”, were systematically eliminated.

France 24.

Trois ans après le 13-Novembre, hommage national aux victimes à Paris et Saint-Denis.

Libération.

Le maire de Londres Sadiq Khan assistait également aux cérémonies pour «témoigner de l’amitié très forte qui lie leurs deux villes et de leur solidarité mutuelle face au terrorisme»,

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan will also attend the ceremonies to “bear witness of the great friendship that binds our two cities together and our mutual solidarity faced with terrorism.”

How the planners of the 2015 Paris attacks were systematically eliminated

France 24.

A year has passed since Belgian jihadist Oussama Atar, the last surviving planner of the deadly November 13, 2015, Paris attacks, was killed in Syria by an international coalition strike.

Atar was the head of the IS group’s “CIA”, headquartered in the Syrian city of Raqqa at the height of the group’s control over its so-called caliphate.

But France has not touted the supposed end of the dreaded “amniyat”  the IS group’s intelligence services. It’s the subject of Matthieu Suc’s latest book, “Les espions de la terreur” (Terror’s Spies), which was published in French on Wednesday. A reporter at the French investigative website Mediapart, Suc spent four years working on the book, which is the result of extensive reporting on the intelligence gathered by the French services as they combed through propaganda, interviews and information gleaned from intelligence-sharing.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2018 at 11:09 am

Keir Starmer: Brexit Can be Stopped.

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“Brexit can be stopped.” Keir Starmer. 

Many of us are getting heartily sick of the meme, promoted by the core pro-Brexit constituency around the Labour Party – the “revolutionary socialist” Counterfire and the Communist Party of Britain’s Morning Star – that Brexit is not the issue, “what we need is a general election”.

This reminds me of the previous meme: “I am voting with the nationalist hard right on Trump’s recommendation because I am against racist Fortress Europe.”

About the only good news is that they have given up chanting “People’s Brexit”.

Apart from the decision to call election not being in the gift of the Labour Party, it avoids the issue: what can be done to support Labour Policy to oppose Brexit plans if they do not meet the famous 5 criteria.

Let us concentrate on that.

This is a guide to the present state of play about May and the other Tories’ Brexit plan.

Does it ensure a strong and collaborative future relationship with the EU?  Answer, you are ‘aving a larf!

Does it deliver the “exact same benefits” as we currently have as members of the single market and customs union? Come off it.

Does it ensure the fair management of migration in the interests of the economy and communities? Who is going to trust this lot with migrants rights?

Does it defend rights and protections and prevent a race to the bottom? The Trump supporting free-market crew who want a Brexit back it precisely to weaken social protection. Brexit is a basis for more free market liberalism, not less, as the UK is forced to compete by offering lower standards, and working with Donald Trump.

Does it protect national security and our capacity to tackle cross-border crime? Details on the back of a packet of Woodbine.

Does it deliver for all regions and nations of the UK? All the indications are: no and no.

So it’s not surprising that comrade Starmer says this:

Keir Starmer says Brexit ‘can be stopped’, contradicting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Independent.

Labour’s official policy is to leave all options on the table, including the prospect of a second referendum

He told Sky News: “Brexit can be stopped. But the real question is, what are the decisions we’re going to face over the next few weeks and months?

“Decision one is on the deal; decision two is – if the deal goes down – should there be a general election? And decision three is – if there’s no general election – all options must be on the table, including the option of a public vote.

“That’s the clear position and Jeremy’s signed up to that, I’m signed up to that, and that was the position that was passed at Labour Party conference.”

Labour’s preferred option is to campaign for a general election but as the Brexit talks enter the chaotic final stages, the party is under pressure to soften its stance towards a new public vote.

Delegates at Labour’s conference in September, overwhelmingly backed a motion saying the party “must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.

Sir Keir also received a standing ovation when he told the conference hall that remaining in the EU could be on the ballot paper in a future vote.

…influential figures such as Unite boss Len McCluskey and shadow chancellor John McDonnell are unenthusiastic about a re-run of the Brexit vote.

 

More information: Another Europe is Possible.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2018 at 11:42 am

Norman Geras Falls Foul of Reading University’s ‘Prevent’ anti-Terrorism Strategy.

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Image result for Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution'.

“Security-sensitive material,” Says Reading University.

Several days ago this story appeared on Twitter,

And then on Facebook.

As a result of PREVENT, an academic was required to send this to third year undergraduates taking an optional module […]. The required piece is Norman Geras’ ‘Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution’.

Dear students,

As you will probably be aware, the last of the nine substantive topics considered in this module is the permissibility and appropriateness of revolutionary violence. As a result, the material covered in the module falls within the University’s understanding of its legal responsibilities under the UK Government’s PREVENT programme, which is designed to reduce the threat terrorism poses to the UK.

The University understands its responsibility to require it to control access to security-sensitive material, which includes but is not limited to material which might be thought to encourage the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; material which would be useful in the commission of acts of terrorism; and material which glorifies acts of terrorism. Academic work defending the permissibility or appropriateness of revolutionary violence might well be thought to encourage the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, and may glorify it, at least where terrorism is understood as the use of violence to encourage the government to do things – as it basically is in this context. As a result, you are now all apparently required to complete the form available through the link on ‘Learning Materials’ tab of the module’s Blackboard page and return it to Dr Firstname Lastname. If you are concerned about completing the form, please let me know. I also advise you to contact [the student union] if you find the University’s interpretation of the requirements of the policy in any way worrying, as I think you may well reasonably do so.

When completing the form, I suggest you fill the section ‘Material’ as follows:

The module includes a discussion of the conditions under which revolutionary violence may be acceptable. Students are required to read a journal article which defends the use of revolutionary violence, including against groups and individuals who are not members of the armed forces, in circumstances of obvious injustice, and several other academic pieces on the reading list cover similar topics and express similar views. These articles are widely available through electronic databases to which the University offers students access without any checks.

You should fill out the section ‘Relevance’ as follows:

It is not possible to discuss the possibility of permissible revolutionary violence without considering defences of the idea that some revolutionary violence is permissible and even justified.

I am very sorry that you have to do this. I was informed of this policy after I had put together the module for this year, and would have thought differently about what I included if I had known of its requirements. Please let me know if you have any questions.’

Martin Thomas, on the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty site flagged the story up.

Now the bizarre decision by reading University is on the Guardian website.

Prevent critics slam Reading for labelling ‘mainstream’ academic text as extremist

An essay by a prominent leftwing academic that examines the ethics of socialist revolution has been targeted by a leading university using the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

Students at the University of Reading have been told to take care when reading an essay by the late Professor Norman Geras, in order to avoid falling foul of Prevent.

Third-year politics undergraduates have been warned not to access it on personal devices, to read it only in a secure setting, and not to leave it lying around where it might be spotted “inadvertently or otherwise, by those who are not prepared to view it”. The alert came after the text was flagged by the university as “sensitive” under the Prevent programme.

The essay, listed as “essential” reading for the university’s Justice and Injustice politics module last year, is titled Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution. Geras was professor emeritus of government at the University of Manchester until his death in 2013. He rejected terrorism but argued that violence could be justified in the case of grave social injustices.

The University of Reading said: “Lecturers must inform students in writing if their course includes a text deemed security-sensitive, and then list which students they expect will have to access the material.

“As laid out in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, the University of Reading has put policies in place to take steps to prevent students being drawn into terrorism.” One aspect of this is to safeguard staff and students who access security-sensitive materials legitimately and appropriately used for study or research.”

Norman Geras’s writings were and are important to many people on the left.

To give just one example, I re-read his critique of the ‘post-Marxism’ of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe only a few months ago: Post_Marxism New Left Review. 1/163 1987 and Ex-Marxism Without Substance (a reply to these writers’ response). New Left Review. 1/169. 1988.

They were followed his criticisms of post-modernism and the retreat from Marxism in  Seven Types of Obloquy: Travesties of Marxism (Socialist Register 1990)

Books such The Legacy of Rosa Luxemburg  (1983) and 1983Marx and Human Nature: Refutation of a Legend remain significant essays in democratic Marxist theory.

Like many on the left I had the chance to meet Norman, one of the most approachable of academics.

I had, and have, an interest in ethical theory and asked his opinions on Marxism and morality (see story above). We had some correspondence on the issue, covering what many consider to be the ethical void of Leninism.

In the Essay handled with Kid Gloves he wrote, that sometimes the need for justice trumps the absolute respect for human rights but that,

If there are indeed circumstances to make some moral crimes unavoidable, it is still necessary to have the rules and restraints which define them as crimes and which serve as a barrier against the avoidable ones. Socialists surely have good reason to be on their guard against forms of argument that are used to throw off all ethical constraints from around the conduct of war; and that were used, specifically, to justify opening the latest and potentially the most lethal chapter in the history of human warfare. Where there are established  parliamentary democracies, with a set of basic civil and political rights and freedoms protected under law, there is no right of revolution on account of tyranny. There is a right of social revolution – on account of grave injustice – against the capitalist forms of power, wealth and privilege over which these democracies preside, but the thing is complicated by the claim the latter make to democratic legitimacy.

You can read Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution (Socialist Register 1989, pictured) through this link.

 

When Norman Geras backed the Euston Manifesto(2006), an initiative which my part of the left, the democratic Marxists, roundly criticised them (including an article I wrote in a left-wing paper)  I could not help but feel that this burning concern with justice continued to inspire him.

 

The Euston Manifesto was much less qualified on human rights,

We hold the fundamental human rights codified in the Universal Declaration to be precisely universal, and binding on all states and political movements, indeed on everyone. Violations of these rights are equally to be condemned whoever is responsible for them and regardless of cultural context. We reject the double standards with which much self-proclaimed progressive opinion now operates, finding lesser (though all too real) violations of human rights which are closer to home, or are the responsibility of certain disfavoured governments, more deplorable than other violations that are flagrantly worse. We reject, also, the cultural relativist view according to which these basic human rights are not appropriate for certain nations or peoples.

The Euston Manifesto  Norman Geras.

Reading University has reminded me, and others, not just that we miss Norman, but that it would be good to hear his views today.

I would enjoy hearing or reading his opinions on the work about human rights which some of us have developed, beginning from a different starting point in Claude Lefort and the more Marxist views of Étienne Balibar  and present days debates about Giorgio Agamben. Not to mention the book I am reading at present (in relation to Jacques Rancière’s theories of Dissensus and ‘post democracy’)   Relire la Révolution (2016) by Jean-Claude Milner which turns again to the “ethics of revolution”.

Reading University has also reminded us that there is no fool like a learned fool.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 11, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Daily Express Hails Corbyn’s “Major Blow to a Second Referendum Hopes”.

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Image result for corbyn Brexit

No Alternative from Corbyn to Brexit.

BREXIT LIVE: Corbyn deals MAJOR blow to second referendum hopes – exit ‘can’t be stopped’

JEREMY Corbyn has dealt a major blow to campaigners pushing for a second Brexit referendum as he declared Britain’s exit from the European Union cannot be stopped.

The Labour leader said Theresa May’s negotiating strategy is leading the UK down the wrong path but when asked whether he would stop the split if he could, he said: “We can’t stop it.”

Labour members overwhelmingly backed leaving the door open to a second referendum at the party’s conference in September.

And activists campaigning for a final say on the divorce deal have been hoping Mr Corbyn will eventually cave to public pressure and support another vote.

But the Labour leader, who is a well-known Eurosceptic, today insisted Brexit cannot be stopped.

This is the Interview in Der Spiegel the story is based on,

The man upon whom the hopes of young men and women in Britain rest enjoys taking pictures of drain covers and making jam. He wears baggy blazers and, when necessary, smuggles English cheese into his Mexican vacation lodgings. In other words, he leads the averagely eccentric lifestyle of your standard British retiree.

This is the key section:

DER SPIEGEL: Not just Labour, but the whole country is extremely divided at the moment — not least because of Brexit. If you could stop Brexit, would you?

Corbyn: We can’t stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognize the reasons why people voted Leave.

DER SPIEGEL: And they are?

Corbyn: I think a lot of people have been totally angered by the way in which their communities have been left behind. We had high Leave votes in the most left-behind areas of the country. In a lot of deprived areas, working conditions have deteriorated over the decades, protected by European legislation. Indeed, we would enhance workers’ rights, where the Conservative Party wants to go in another direction of a largely deregulated economy.

This is the “answer” to the issue of what he would do to ensure that Brexit is implemented.

DER SPIEGEL: Wouldn’t you face pretty much the same problems as Prime Minister Theresa May if you were in charge of the Brexit negotiations?

Corbyn: No, because we wouldn’t be trying to face towards the deregulated economy of the United States, which the one wing of the Tory Party is trying to do all the time. We would want to make a new and comprehensive customs union with the European Union, one that would obviously protect the Irish border — that’s crucial — but also ensure that our supply chains worked in both directions. People voted Leave, or they voted Remain, but nobody voted to lose their job. Nobody voted to reduce their living standards or working conditions.

DER SPIEGEL: Some people have argued that if Labour had had a pro-EU leader, the result of the Brexit referendum would have been different. What would the EU have to look like for you to support it?

Corbyn: I’ve been critical of the competitions policy in Europe and the move towards free market, and obviously critical in the past of their treatment of Greece, although that was mostly the eurozone that did that. My idea is of a social Europe with inclusive societies that work for everyone and not just for a few.

DER SPIEGEL: Less neo-liberal?

Corbyn: Well, as you probably gathered from following me, I’m not really in favor of neo-liberal economics.

DER SPIEGEL: Looking at the almost impossible task facing Theresa May, that of sealing a deal not only with Brussels but also with her own party, do you sometimes feel sorry for her?

Corbyn: I am a decent human being, I feel sorry for anyone in distress. But the best way for anyone to alleviate distress is to take yourself away from the source of it.

There are many things one could say about these statements.

Restricting ourselves to one: Corbyn has decided to ignore the decision of the Labour Conference to leave a “second vote” option open.

Labour has taken a significant step towards backing a public vote on Brexit after its annual conference voted to keep open the option of another referendum.

Delegates at the gathering in Liverpool voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion saying Labour “must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote”.

It says that if Theresa May manages to negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU, the government “should not be afraid to put that deal to the public”.

The motion reads: “If we cannot get a general election, Labour must support all options remaining on the table, including campaigning for a public vote.

“If the government is confident in negotiating a deal that working people, our economy and communities will benefit from, they should not be afraid to put that deal to the public.”

Independent. 25th of September.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 10, 2018 at 5:43 pm

The Armistice and the Literature of the Great War.

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Image result for the general sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon.

 

Both of my grandfathers fought in the Great War. My English forebear was, like his brothers, a socialist and a Clarion cyclist. Perhaps inspired by Robert Blatchford’s patriotic seizure at the outbreak of hostilities, Alfred, after a few pints with his friends, walking from Bethnal Green to the City, signed up. My Scottish ancestor,  James, was also a socialist. Less taken by the fight against the Boche and a member  of the ILP, which had a strong anti-war sentiments,  he was swept up by conscription.

I properly got know Alfred when, retired from his work in the Print, and very elderly, he and his wife moved to Bounds Green in North London. He talked of Dickens (I have his complete set) and his Labour beliefs, but never spoke about his war. My mother told me that he had been so desperate in the trenches that had tried to nerve himself up to shoot himself in the foot to get out as wounded. He told her that the officers had been brave, helped by spirits. My grandmother’s first husband, of Huguenot descent like her, had been killed. Left with a small child she got no support from his family. Alfred took to her. They married and had two other children.

Neither of my grandparents ever wore a Poppy. The East Ender said once a few words, not complimentary, about the British Legion who produce them. They did not need to display one; my parents never had one: I do not need to wear one.

Some of the books and poems that we read about the Great War stay in our hearts. Sassoon’s lines in Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man (1928) “And here I was, with my knobkerrie in my hand, staring across at the enemy I’d never seen.” The words of An Irish Airman Foresees his Death (1919) “my country is Kiltartan Cross, My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor, No likely end could bring them loss, Or leave them happier than before.” (W.B. Yeats). And the immortal, “The Old Lie: dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. (posthumously published in 1920, Wilfred Owen).

The chapters in Robert Graves’ Goodbye to All That (1929) on his harrowing service in the first wave of the Somme offensive, holds a special place in the literature. He captures “feeling “empty and lost” amongst the slaughter, death sentences for “cowardice”, army pettiness and incompetence, alongside the soldiers’ good sense and humour. Wounded in the cemetery at Bazentin-le-petit church on 20 July 1916 These experience is complemented by the memorable pages of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth on her work as a nurse  in the Voluntary Aid Detachment, which took her to london, Malta and  France.

The most obvious difference with literature in French and German is that authors from these countries were writing about battles taking place on their own landscape. Barbusse’s, vivid, trench language-filled,  Le Feu: journal d’une escouade, 1916 is blood and fury. Babusse added sonorous appeals against national hatred . With its passion it stands head and soldiers over the to-be-Panthonised, Maurice Genevoix’s Ceux de 14, photographic realism, gutted of politics. Ernst Jünger’s Stahlgewittern (Storm of Steel is technically one of the finest, but politically already full of the nationalism which wroke havoc in Germany.

There is more common decency and humanity in writers such as Graves than anything that a cheap-jack journalist or ‘radical’ has written in the last few days.

Sunday, one hopes, with see these cited amongst the witnesses of the Great War.

Formal legal investigation opened into Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise’s finances.

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Image associée

Mélenchon Faces the Law of the Republic.

Two inquiries have been launched into the campaign accounts of Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the 2017 presidential election and the assistants of his rally La France insoumise’s MEPs. They have been entrusted to investigating judges by the Paris prosecutor’s office, according to a statement issued on Friday 9 November .

Jean-Luc Mélenchon et LFI visés par deux informations judiciaires

Le Monde.

Two judicial information was thus opened against X. The first, relating to the financing of the campaign , mainly for “fraud” and “breach of trust” , while the second, concerning the parliamentary assistants, was opened for “misappropriation of public funds “ .

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his party are therefore targeted by two separate investigations.

The first concerns the accounts of the campaign of Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the presidential election of 2017 where  the fraud is alleged to occurred.

These are extremely serious and range from money-laundering to pure and simple swindling.

The second concerns Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s parliamentary assistants in the European Parliament.

The suspicion is that he and his rally employed parliamentary assistants in the European Parliament  to work for themselves outside of their European tasks. This ultimately amounts to diverting money from Parliament by creating fictitious jobs.

Other MEPs and former MEPs are involved in the investigations into the use of European Parliamentary assistants for domestic party work, such as Brice Hortefeux and Michèle Alliot-Marie (the right of centre, Les Républicains), Edouard Martin (elected on the Socialist Party’s list, now in  Génération.s , of Benoît Hamon) or Yannick. Jadot (Europe Ecology-The Greens,  Europe Ecologie-Les Verts EELV).

Mélenchon has reacted by stating that he is happy that this inquiry is to be led by two independent investigating judges, the “normal” procedure:

Sur Twitter, le leader de La France insoumise s’est félicité que l’enquête soit menée par des juges d’instruction indépendants.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 9, 2018 at 5:20 pm

French President Macron Backs Down on Plan to Honour Pétain at Commemorative Ceremony.

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No automatic alt text available.

The Man Macron Wished to Honour…

CNN reports,

The French government has backed down over apparent plans to pay tribute to Marshal Philippe Pétain — who collaborated with the Nazis in the deportation of Jews from France during World War II — as part of commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

French President Emmanuel Macron came under fire Wednesday after he said it was “legitimate” to honour Pétain’s role as a “great soldier” in World War I.
Hours later, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said in a Facebook post that no tribute would be paid to Pétain in Saturday’s ceremony.
We had announced that we would honour the marshals of the Great War. Some have deduced that Pétain was one of them; this is not the case. If there was confusion, it was because we were not clear enough on that point,” Griveaux said.

 

This follows this in le Monde which gives a different version of the story to that spun by Griveaux.

Macron dénonce une « fausse polémique » sur Pétain, qui ne sera pas honoré le 10 novembre

Le chef de l’Etat a d’abord jugé « légitime » d’honorer le maréchal de 14-18 et dirigeant de Vichy. La présidence a finalement annoncé qu’il n’était pas dans la cérémonie aux Invalides.

The Head of State had at first judged it legitimate to honour the Marshal of the Great War, and the Vichy leader. The Presidency has in the end announced that he will not be commemorated in the official ceremony at the Invalides.

Macron notably stated that one could not rub out the role of Pétain in the Great War.

 Il a été un grand soldat, c’est une réalité. La vie politique comme l’humaine nature sont parfois plus complexes que ce qu’on voudrait croire (…). J’ai toujours regardé l’histoire de notre pays en face. »

He was an important, a great, soldier, that’s the truth. Political life, like human nature, is sometimes more complicated than one would wish to believe. I have always looked history straight in the face.

Many were quick to challenge the role of the Army leadership during that conflict, citing executions of their own soldiers, and the giant causality rates in all the armies.

But the key note was Pétain’s  collaboration with the Nazis.

Clearly earlier attempts to ward off this link failed:

As this did not work they tried to claim that there was never any intention to honour Pétai:

 

Which as I write – nice try Griveaux – is flopping completely.

The response began at lunch-time…..

Background:

French President Emmanuel Macron waded into controversy Wednesday by praising a general who helped win World War I but became a top Nazi collaborator in World War II – comments that triggered outrage among French Jews.

Marshal Philippe Petain’s name appears alongside seven other top military chiefs to be honored this Saturday in a ceremony at the Invalides monument, site of Napoleon’s tomb, to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1.

Touring battlefields ahead of a formal commemoration of the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice that ended the war, Macron said Petain was worthy of the honor for his leading role in the World War I victory.

“Marshal Petain was also a great soldier during World War I” even though he made “fatal choices during the Second World War,” Macron said in the northern town of Charleville-Mezieres.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Roger Scruton Scandal, the “detachment of a Superior Being” faced with the Rabble.

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Fortnight’s Anger, Roger Scruton: “These commissars of political correctness aren’t fit to tie his boots.”

“Roger Scruton claimed sexual harassment “just means sexual advances made by the unattractive” and said date rape victims were “withdrawing consent in retrospect”.

Alex Wickham

BuzzFeed continues,

Conservative pundits leapt to the defence of Scruton in response to BuzzFeed News’ revelations yesterday.

The commentator Toby Young said it was “depressing to see the social media cops trawl through everything Roger Scruton’s ever written in the hope of finding things to be offended by”.

Historian Niall Ferguson praised Scruton as “the greatest living Englishman”, adding: “If only he could be prime minister.” The Guido Fawkes blog tweeted: “He is a moral giant being attacked by midgets.”

Update: Following publication of this article, Roger Scruton said in a statement:

“These highly selective quotes grossly misrepresent an entire lecture. I was in no way suggesting that victims of date rape are not victims of a crime and could have worded my point differently to make this clearer. I’ve spent my life arguing for greater respect between men and women and anyone who takes the time to read my books or listen to my lectures will realise this.”

One of Spiked’s minions writes,

Roger Scruton: thoughtcriminal?

One of his supposedly controversial comments unearthed by Buzzfeedis, ironically, about the marginalisation of conservative viewpoints. ‘In a society devoted to inclusion, the only “phobia” permitted is that of which conservatives are the target’, Scruton wrote, adding that conservatives are ‘frequently marginalised or even demonised as representatives of one of the forbidden “isms” or “phobias” of the day – racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc’.

Those calling for Scruton to be sacked are proving his point. You do not have to agree with a single thing he says to see that the intolerance towards his conservative views has been remarkable and alarming.

Another flunky fumes,

Don’t let the offendotrons take down Scruton

If Twitter offendotrons manage to get Maybot and Co to sack Sir Roger Scruton from his new job advising Building Better, Building Beautiful on housing policy, you can safely stick a fork in British civil society. It’s done.

Poor old Scruton:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Anti-Brexit Momentum Vote, “not Scientific” says Skwawkbox.

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GUARDIAN DELETES FAKE NEWS RE MOMENTUM POLL. REALITY IS VERY DIFFERENT

Fake News Site Skwawkbox (Grenfell Tower ‘D Notice*) is wriggling today (note to Steve Walker, thanks for the tip!).

The complaint from this pot to a Guardian Kettle cannot hide this news:

On Tuesday, Momentum published the results of a poll of its members’ opinions on Brexit and Labour’s priorities.

To Skwawkbox this,

Far from showing strong support for a fresh EU referendum, the poll showed that Momentum members fully recognise the far greater importance of a change of government – exactly the priority of Jeremy Corbyn’s intelligent handling of the Brexit issue.

This will send – or should – cold shivers down the spine of any Labour rebels considering supporting Theresa May’s eventual excuse for a Brexit deal in order to undermine the party’s leadership.

Turnout in the poll was low – around 16% of Momentum’s members – even though voting was electronic and needed only a couple of minutes to complete. Of those who did vote, barely over half – 53% – favoured committing to a new referendum now.

53% of the 16% who voted. The idea of committing to a new referendum could only generate support – from Momentum members, surely one of the UK’s most pro-EU constituencies – of just over half of respondents, while around 84% did not even participate.

The hardcore, mostly-centrist ‘stop Brexit’ faction claims that a Labour commitment to a new referendum would result in a surge of support for Labour. But Momentum’s results show there isn’t even a surge of support for it among Momentum members.

A majority is a majority, let us not forget.

SKWAWKBOX comments: the Poll was “not scientific”.

The Momentum poll was not scientific. Geography and demography were not factored in, for example. Nonetheless centrists – and a few in Momentum – have been trying to cast the results as supporting their claim that Labour should commit to a new EU referendum. The Guardian’s fake news headline was barely more blatant.

Tendance Coatesy Comments.

It is hard to see how this poll endorsed ” the priority of Jeremy Corbyn’s intelligent handling of the Brexit issue.”

Perhaps Walker could explain how his actions (no mention of  Keir Starmer,  supposedly in charge of this policy,  are in line with these parts of the vote, and how he has stood up to his adviser on Brexit, Andrew Murray who is reported  to favour backing May’s Brexit Deal?

  • 92% of members want all Labour MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal
  • 89% believe a no-deal Brexit should be rejected as a viable option
  • 82% believe Brexit is likely to make things worse for their friends, family and community.

The fact is that a majority did vote for a Referendum now.

Skwawkbox makes no mention of the socialist Left Against Brexit, which initiated this vote in Momentum.

Nor of the diehard sovereigntists pro-Brexit forces in the labour movement and the left who voted Leave with the far-right, UKIP  and the Tories.

What of the non-“scientific” claim?

The previous all member vote of Momentum supporters was in 2018 for Members’ Representatives (four for each region.) 13,000 votes were cast – 35 per cent of eligible members. Positions on this “national co-ordinating group (NCG)” also include 4 Momentum members who are Labour public officer holders (of the UK, European or Scottish Parliaments, Welsh or London Assemblies, Elected Mayors or Police Commissioners, or Labour members of a British local authority), 6 members nominated by affiliated trade unions, 4 members nominated by other affiliated organisations (a subject of controversy). Like the consultation on the Constitution of the organisation, is again not comparable to the present ballot.

There have been no previous internal votes on specific issues still less anything comparable to Brexit.

What ‘scientific’ comparison between the (complex) vote on Momentum’s position on Brexit  with the  election of (some) of the Leadership?

What Labour supporter is going to deny the importance of an election to get rid of Theresa May?

But Brexit is a disaster, and cuts us, the left and the labour movement off from the key EU fights for a left project.

Nationalist isolation, the dream of the sovereigntist left, is a dead-end.

The Momentum vote boosts the Left Against Brexit.

 

********************************

* “On 16 June, in an article headed “Video: Govt puts ‘D-notice’ gag on real #Grenfell death toll #nationalsecurity”, Skwawkbox took up the claim made by grime MC Saskilla on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme that the number of victims in the Grenfell Tower fire was far greater than had yet been officially admitted, with as many as 200 people having died.

Skwawkbox used this claim to give credence to rumours that the government was engaged in an attempt to prevent the media reporting the true extent of the disaster: “At the same time, multiple sources told the SKWAWKBOX that the government has placed a ‘D-notice’ (sometimes called a ‘DA Notice’) on the real number of deaths in the blaze.”

Bob Pitt. June 2017: Skwawkbox — an embarrassment to the Left.

Here is another example of their fake news: “DISABLED CLAIMANTS TOLD: 2 YRS TO GET JOB OR BE SANCTIONED FOR A YEAR.”  17th of July. 2017.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 7, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Boost for anti-Brexit left as Momentum Members vote 92% to reject May’s Deal and only 17% reject People’s Vote.

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Image result for left against brexit picture

 

Only 17% of Momentum members are opposed to a People’s Vote on Brexit. 

A Momentum consultation has revealed that 92% of members surveyed want Labour MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal if it fails Labour’s six tests. We’re preparing to campaign on this now, if needed – support us by chipping in £5 here.

Open for ten days on Momentum’s digital democracy platform and completed by more than 6500 members, the consultation asked a broad range of questions including whether a no-deal Brexit should be rejected as a viable option and whether Momentum members prioritise a public vote on Brexit or a general election.

The consultation found that:

  • 92% of members want all Labour MPs to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal
  • 89% believe a no-deal Brexit should be rejected as a viable option
  • 82% believe Brexit is likely to make things worse for their friends, family and community.
  • While 41% of members support a public vote in all circumstances a total of 57% either prioritise a General Election over a public vote or do not want any public vote
  • 97% of respondents signed a petition calling on Theresa May to immediately end the uncertainty around the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU.

The full results of the consultation can be found here

The consultation comes as a group of Labour MPs have implied they could vote for Theresa May’s Brexit deal in Parliament later this month. This follows a vote on the Customs Bill in July when three Labour MPs voted with the Conservatives, saving the government from defeat and a possible general election.

Momentum

The bullet points in the Momentum sites may hide the fact that only 17% of Momentum members said they did not support a public vote at all.

A few days ago we reproduced this report, which figures today in the Guardian Politics Blog.

Turning back to the subject of how Labour might vote on the final Brexit deal, the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush has this very revealing anecdote in a recent column.

True, there are issues on which the leadership’s main players are genuinely divided, such as how to tackle the final Brexit vote. At a recent strategy meeting, Andrew Murray – who works part-time as Len McCluskey’s chief of staff and part-time in Corbyn’s office – argued that the Labour party should vote for Theresa May’s deal to avoid a no-deal exit. At that point, [Diane] Abbott intervened to disagree. She argued that the party’s pro-European membership would never forgive them for bailing out a weak Tory government and that May’s Brexit agreement would in any case be a disaster that Labour should not be seen to endorse.

Then she warned her old friend [Jeremy] Corbyn that their pro-Remain constituents in the north-east of London would be “protesting outside your house” if Labour voted for May’s deal. “That last point really spooked him,” recalls one of the attending staffers.

Will Labour listen to the latest expression of its members’ opinions or the sovereigntist dogma of people like Andrew Murray, the Morning Star and the People’s Brexiteers of ‘revolutionary socialist’ Counterfire?

Labour List reports.

Campaigner Alena Ivanova has said she is “delighted” with the consultation results. She commented: “Momentum members have overwhelmingly endorsed giving the people the final say on Brexit. These results should finally put to bed the idea that Brexit is just an issue for Corbyn’s opponents. We – the overwhelming majority of Momentum members, and Labour members – back Jeremy Corbyn and want to fight Tory Brexit. We are the people who deliver the leaflets, fill rooms and who will put Jeremy into Number 10, and we will not be ignored.”

Another Europe is Possible is one of the pro-EU, pro-Corbyn groups that pushed for endorsement of a ‘people’s vote’ at conference. Michael Chessum, a national organiser who worked on Jeremy Corbyn’s 2016 leadership campaign, said: “The evidence can no longer be ignored – the activist base of the Labour left is overwhelmingly in favour of a fresh referendum if no general election can happen.

“The most popular option on the survey was for a referendum “in all circumstances”, which is an incredibly strongly worded option. Brexit means deregulation, attacks on workers’ rights and the end of free movement. There is simply no excuse – either for Labour as a whole, or for individual Labour MPs – not to oppose this agenda and give the people a final say.”

Momentum leaders tried to explain away the result.

But Momentum are most keen to emphasise that its members overwhelmingly backed the Labour leadership’s position on Brexit, in terms of voting down May’s deal and opposing no-deal.

Becky Boumelha, a Momentum spokesperson, said: “The view of members is clear, Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be a disaster for this country and all Labour MPs must vote it down if it fails Labour’s six tests. It is not in the national interest to slip through the back door a Tory Brexit that will destroy our communities and crash the economy. Propping up a destructive Tory deal will be kryptonite to Labour members, and any Labour MP who votes with the government will have a hard time explaining themselves back in their constituencies.”

These diehards are flaying around:

There is also this:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2018 at 6:44 pm

In Praise of George Soros.

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Soros: Open Diamond Geezer and His Enemies.

Frank Furedi, guru of Spiked,  wrote in the Daily Telegraph earlier this year.

My encounter with George Soros’s bright-eyed missionaries left me deeply disturbed

Soros does not believe in the legitimacy of borders nor in the authority of national electorates. Consequently he feels entitled to influence and if possible direct the political destiny of societies all over the world. Today it is the future of Britain; tomorrow it might be Italy or Hungary that will be the target of Soros’ largesse.

The problem with Soros is not that he is rich. (Note, like the proprietors of the Telegraph, the secretive Barclay brothers).  The rich, like the poor, are entitled to act in accordance with their political views. However, there is something morally wrong when a single individual seeks to use his wealth to alter the will of millions of people who constitute the electorate. It is even worse when an oligarch is able to exercise significant influence over the future of a society that he is not a part of.

Former Revolutionary Communist Party Furedi is not the only disturbed person around:

The Morning Star, happy with millionaire far right-winger Arron Banks backing for the anti-EU cause, and Trade Unionists Against the EU<  threw a wobbly about Soros during the Labour Conference,

The Chuka Umunnas, Anna Soubrys, Tony Blairs, Peter Mandelsons, Vince Cables, Andrew Adonises and sundry nationalist and greenish politicians, bankrolled by George Soros and other financial interests, are linked by their contempt for democracy and their hostility to Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the socialist policies they champion.

Demonising Soros they join the nationalist far-right.

As the Financial Times points out today:

The Soros conspiracy theory goes global

Three years ago, Hungary’s prime minister accused billionaire George Soros of trying to flood the country with Middle Eastern migrants.

In recent weeks, a similar allegation against Mr Soros has emerged in the US: internet conspiracy theorists and some Republican politicians have accused him, without evidence, of funding a caravan of Central American migrants heading for the US border.

Asked last week whether Mr Soros was financing the caravan US president Donald Trump said: “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.”

Mr Soros denies any connection. The frequency with which such unfounded allegations have been aired in the US highlights how divisive the issue of illegal immigration — a favourite campaign theme of Mr Trump— has become. But it also shows how anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories have spread from the fringes to the political mainstream, in both Europe and the US.

Soros can speak for himself. And does:

George Soros has been a prominent international supporter of democratic ideals and causes for more than 30 years. His philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations, supports democracy and human rights in more than 100 countries.

As in this:

budgets

 

George Soros is a supporter of Karl Popper’s idea on the ‘open society’.

In the Open Society and its Enemies  (1945) and the Poverty of Historicism (1957) he attacked ‘holism’ and the claim, notably by those claiming to be Marxists, to have discovered the ‘laws of history’ and to subject societies to their closed views. Popper painted a contentious picture of political philosophy. His account of the history ideas, a broad-brush picture of totalitarian inklings from Plato, to Hegel and Marx, is contested. The idea that there is a “falsification””principle in science which demolishes and claim to objective explanations of historical development, how societies work, or how modes of production and class struggle operate, is not one Marxists – of (probably) all stripes –  would agree with. But there are some who would certainly find fault with “total” explanations and the orthodox and Hegelian use of the term “totality” as a category.

Since democratic socialists, including democratic Marxist, stand for open debate and are not afraid of criticism, one can hardly fault Popper for stirring things up.

There is a vast literature on the debates created by these books, open as can be.

And do we disagree with the concluding words of the Open Society and its Enemies?

For to progress is to move towards some kind of end, towards an end which exists for us as human beings. History cannot do that ; only we, the human individuals, can do it;we can do it by defending and strengthening those democratic institutions upon which freedom, and with it progress, depends. And we shall do it much better as we become more fully aware of the fact that progress rests with us, with our watchfulness, with our efforts, with the clarity of our conception of our ends, and with the realism 28 of their choice.

Instead of posing as prophets we must become the makers of our fate. We must learn to do things as well as we can, and to look out for our mistakes. And when we have dropped the idea that the history of power will be our judge, when we have given up worrying whether or not history will justify us, then one day perhaps we may succeed in getting power under control. In this way we may even justify history, in our turn. It badly needs such justification.

Soros’ writings on ‘reflexivity’ need more a a glace oto get to grips with.

But this can surely be met with some sympathy:

Although the primary manifestation of the reflexive process that Soros discusses is its effects in the financial markets, he has also explored its effects in politics. He has stated that whereas the greatest threats to the “Open Society” in the past were from Communism and Fascism (as discussed in Open Society and its Enemies by his mentor Karl Popper), the largest current threat is from Market fundamentalism.

Faced with the kind of attacks Soros has received this is welcome:

Mr. Soros was born into a Jewish family in Hungary, and survived the Nazi occupation as a child in part by posing as the Christian godson of a government official.

After World War II, Mr. Soros fled Hungary for England as the Soviet Union consolidated control in his home country. He worked as a waiter and a railroad porter and studied at the London School of Economics, where he was deeply influenced by the theories of an Austrian philosopher who taught there, Karl Popper. Mr. Popper wrote about the consequences of what he called “closed” and “open” societies — concepts that shaped Mr. Soros’s investment strategy and philanthropy for decades.

His daring investments in companies and currencies proved hugely lucrative, prompting The Economist to call him “surely the world’s most intriguing investor” in 1987. His decision to short the British pound in 1992 earned his funds a reported profit of $1 billion.

By then, he was turning his attention to democracy-building in Eastern Europe.

Mr. Soros and his foundations supported groups and individuals seeking to bring down Communism, including the Solidarity and Charter 77 movements in Poland and Czechoslovakia. The leaders of both groups would later lead their countries in the post-Communist era.

In Hungary, Mr. Soros distributed photocopiers to universities and libraries as a means to fight government censorship, and he paid for dissidents to study in the West. The recipients included a young Mr. Orban, then a liberal activist.

After the end of the Cold War, with the Open Society Foundations as his main vehicle, Mr. Soros funded new work for destitute Soviet scientists in Russia, paid for free school breakfasts for Hungarian children and set up a college, the Central European University, that later drew the ire of Mr. Orban’s government.

In the United States, where Mr. Soros was granted citizenship in the 1960s, Mr. Soros’s efforts often won bipartisan applause. A professed admirer of President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to topple Communist rule in Eastern Europe, Mr. Soros, who at the time described himself as a political independent, was seen by anti-Communist Republicans as a fellow freedom fighter.

As his activities grew more prominent in Europe, and he began funding drug reform efforts in the United States, he started being cast in the 1990s as a central figure in a shadowy Jewish cabal by extremist figures such as the fascist presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. and allies of repressive Eastern European leaders who were targeted by groups funded by Mr. Soros.

The theories were initially confined to the anti-Semitic fringe, though Mr. Soros is not closely associated with Jewish or Israeli causes, and in fact has been accused of being anti-Israel and was criticized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

From: How Vilification of George Soros Moved From the Fringes to the Mainstream New York Times. October the 31st 2018.

Here are some serious criticisms of Soros (201*

Throughout his career, Soros has made a number of wise and exciting interventions. From a democratic perspective, though, this single wealthy person’s ability to shape public affairs is catastrophic. Soros himself has recognised that “the connection between capitalism and democracy is tenuous at best”. The problem for billionaires like him is what they do with this information. The open society envisions a world in which everyone recognises each other’s humanity and engages each other as equals. If most people are scraping for the last pieces of an ever-shrinking pie, however, it is difficult to imagine how we can build the world in which Soros – and, indeed, many of us – would wish to live. Presently, Soros’s cosmopolitan dreams remain exactly that. The question is why, and the answer might very well be that the open society is only possible in a world where no one – whether Soros, or Gates, or DeVos, or Zuckerberg, or Buffett, or Musk, or Bezos – is allowed to become as rich as he has.

His response:

 I have been a passionate critic of market fundamentalism at least since I first discussed the phenomenon in my essay The Capitalist Threat in the Atlantic Monthly 20 years ago. Moreover, I have been a steadfast promoter of what Bessner calls the “root-and-branch reforms” that could bring about the better world that I and many others desire – for example, I would cite the positions I adopted regarding reforms after the financial crisis of 2008. Anybody who reviews the record will see that my proposals were far from the mainstream “centre left” approach that eventually prevailed. In the same vein, regarding eastern Europe post-1989, Bessner writes: “It was more than a lack of political will that constrained the west during this moment. In the era of ‘shock therapy’, western capital did flock to eastern Europe – but this capital was invested mostly in private industry, as opposed to democratic institutions or grassroots community-building, which helped the kleptocrats and anti-democrats seize and maintain power.” I agree. But Bessner continues: “Soros had identified a key problem but was unable to appreciate how the very logic of capitalism, which stressed profit above all, would necessarily undermine his democratic project. He remained too wedded to the system he had conquered.” To the contrary, my interventions were entirely in support of “democratic institutions and grassroots community-building”, and I urged others, including governments, to follow me in this approach.

Likewise, Bessner’s conclusion that my status “as a member of the hyper-elite and [my] belief that, for all its hiccups, history was headed in the right direction made [me] unable to consider fully the ideological obstacles that stood in the way of [my] internationalism” is unfounded. I don’t think I have ever expressed an optimism that history is headed in the right direction. Martin Luther King famously said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. I am less of an optimist, which is why I have spent my life actively trying to bend the arc in a positive direction. But recognising that I am a biased evaluator of my life’s work, I will submit it to the judgment to history.
George Soros
Open Society Foundations

It is still unfortunate that somebody with money can have a great influence on politics.

But this is hardly ‘post-democracy’ when Soros has helped stir up democratic action and debate from those excluded by the truly powerful – the right and the nationalists.

If we are unlikely to agree with all of his views then, tough.

He is a respected interlocutor.

And clearly, from the enemies he has: Soros is a diamond geezer.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 6, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Mélenchon and la France insoumise in Free-fall.

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Mélenchon : Aux portes du pouvoir par Fayol

Looking Further from the Gates of Power than Ever.

“la vertu est cette capacité à mettre en adéquation les principes qu’on applique dans sa vie avec ceux qu’on voudrait voir appliquer au plus grand nombre au benefice de tous”

Virtue is the faculty to be able to properly line up the principles that you apply in your life with those that you would like to see applied to the greatest number of others to the benefit of all.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. De La Vertu.2017.(1)

Tout commence par la mystique, par une mystique, par sa (propre) mystique et tout finit de la politique.”

Everything begins in mysticism, by a mystique, one’s own mystique, and ends in politics.”

Notre Jeunesse. Charles Péguy. 1910 – 11. (2)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, writes Chantal Mouffe, is a successful left-populist. He has channelled a feeling of being “left behind” and the “desire for democratic recognition” away from the far-right. Mélenchon’s Rally, la France insoumise (LFI) has been able to “federate all the democratic struggles against post-democracy”. Like Jeremy Corbyn his “anti-establishment discourse” “comes from the progressive side”. (3)

Mélenchon has ambitions grander than picking up the votes of La France périphérique, the ‘somewhere people’ stranded on the margins in the age of globalisation. He seeks support in that direction. LFI’s reaching out to protests against the rise in engine fuel, backed by the far-right Rassemblement National (ex-Front National) – despite previous green commitment – underlines the approach. But the goal of the movement is to create the multitude, the common people, are transformed into a People by collective action. The fight against the “oligarchy” the push for equality, what remains of class struggle, the deeply rooted “anthropological” need for sovereignty, are woven together into a vision adequate to the ecological demands of a planet under threat. (4)

Out with Class Based Parties!

In these conditions the old class based “party forms” of the left have consigned the left to a dwindling “archipelago”. Their vertical structures correspond to the old Taylorist and Fordist forms of work. The emergence of the dissatisfied People, broader than the traditional working class, as a category, a potential political subject, facing the financial Oligarchy rends them obsolete. Horizontal on-line debate makes the old ‘rigid’ democratic procedures out of date. His movement, a “brand (“label”) is a vehicle for common action. It is not (his quotation marks) “démocratique”, with different tendencies, factions, or even votes on opposing motions at conferences of elected party representatives from branches. It is, in line with these social changes, a “movement”, in which its politics are visible, and through which supporters are involved not by old-fashioned voting but through selection by lot to participate, to a degree decided by their own wishes, in the grand replacements of the old politics of La France insoumise. (5)

It was hard not to be reminded of this vision when listening to the radio station, Europe  1 this morning. The news began with the results of an opinion poll which put LFI’s list for the 2019 European elections in free-fall, down to  11% (drop of 3%)  three and a half points above the Parti Socialiste (7,5%if Ségolène Royal lead their list, otherwise 6%)   Its follows surveys which indicated that, after his public exhibition of petulant rage over an investigation into the Movement’s finances, Mélenchon himself has lost 7 points in personal popularity though some polls put the loss higher at a drop in 15% amongst those who voted for him in the Presidential elections (Jean-Luc Mélenchon dégringole de 7 points). Marine Le Pen’s  Rassemblement national  (ex-Front National) meanwhile is scoring the same, around 20%,  as La  République en Marche of Emmanuel Macron.

L’enfance d’un chef.

The coup de grâce came with an interview with Mélanie Delattre et Clément Fayol, the authors of a book, to be published this week, on Mélenchon and La France insoumise. Mélenchon : Aux portes du pouvoir.This attempts to unravel “le système Mélenchon” It began with a description of LFI as a “business” (Chef d’entreprise et anticapitaliste), and its Leader’s considerable personal fortune. The canny homme d’affaires prefers, they allege, to squirrel away money in a variety of companies rather than reward his long suffering staff. We were then treated to a sketch of its internal ‘operations’, tightly controlled by those in the ‘club’ around the leadership.

Next, the authors asserted, far from being a ‘new type of open to all, a” participative” structure, it is ruled by ‘Trotskyist’ organisational practice – that it a very special kind of ‘Trotskyism’, the Lambertist centralist type which brooks no opposition. They managed to suggest that his screaming and foot stamping against those officials and police agents trying to investigate some of the secrets of this “business” was a premeditated piece of theatre. In short, the accusation is that Mélenchon has retained the political practice of his youth inside one of the most sectarian narrow-minded nationalist (both of its two existing splinters advocate Frexit) French left currents.

Finally, the interview raised the issue of Jean Luc’s long-standing membership of the Freemason, Grand Orient lodge. This, for those wishing to pursue further, may be compared to the deceased leader of Mélenchon’s former faction Pierre Lambert, who enjoyed a life- time friendship with one of the founding figures of French Trotskyism in the 1930s, Fed Zeller, who passed from the Fourth International to the same loge…(6)

To their credit after his tantrum and disrespect for republican legality the French freemasons have suspended Mélenchon and some have asked for his expulsion (Des francs-maçons veulent éjecter Jean-Luc Mélenchon du Grand Orient à cause de son attitude lors des perquisitions).

Where does this leave  La France insoumise?

Many people have the impression that their intellectual support was from the kind of academic or student who, had they been born at the time, would have admired Péguy. That is, a kind of faith in the capacity of socialism to effect a cultural and spiritual renewal beyond sordid (‘post-democratic’) politics. One can see them warming to the nationalist exaltation of Le Mystère de la Charité de Jean d’Arc (1908) It is to be doubted if they would have belched at the author’s railing at “bourgeois cosmopolitanism” and hatred of Jaurès’ Teutonic socialism. (7) The might well have had a sneaking admiration for the Camelots du roi, armed with lead-weighted canes against rootless youpins. If few would accuse Mélenchon of anti-semitism, LFI, we are informed is none too fond of George Soros, and as for Germans….

Rather than awaiting the Second Coming the supporters of Mélenchon  expect a laïque  révolution citoyenne and the Sixth republic led by the genial LFI Chief – any day now…

The painful realisation that Mélenchon’s ‘mystique’ is evaporating and that they have ended up in the sordid world of less than virtuous politics will be a hard to manage…

Mélenchon aux portes du pouvoir,  published at the end of the week, looks set for the leftist must-read list….

  1. Page 136. Jean-Luc Mélenchon avec Cécile Amar. Editions de l’Observatoire. 2017
  2. Page 115. Charles Péguy. Notre jeunesse. Folio Essais. Gallimard. 1993.
  3. Pages 22 – 23. Chantal Mouffe. For a Left Populism. Verso. 2018.
  4. Le Peuple et son conflit. Pages 142 – 147. Jean-Luc Mélenchon L’ère du Peuple. Pluriel. 2017 (new edition).
  5. Le Peuple et son mouvement. Pages 148 – 156. Op cit.
  6. Fred Zeller. Témoin du siècle. Du Blum à Trotsky au grand Orient de France….Fayard. 2000
  7. This is how he described the German influence on the politics of Jean Jaurès: “une sorte de vague cosmopolitisme bourgeois vicieux et d’autre part et très particulièrement et très proprement un pangermanisme, un total asservissement à la politique allemande, au capitalisme allemand, à l’impérialisme allemand, au militarisme allemand, au colonialisme allemand.”(P 1259) .Charles Péguy: Oeuvres en Prose. 1909 – 1914. Tome ll. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. Avant-proposes et notes. Marcel Péguy. 1961.

The Holiest Day in the Calender: Workers’ Revolutionary Party, News Line Beano.

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Post Halloween Festival. 

Torrance’s WRP is the only surviving Workers Revolutionary Party in the UK and still produces The News Line as a daily paper, and it is also included in a website. The party has been registered with the Electoral Commission since 15 May 2001, with Frank Sweeney as registered leader.[34] As of 2007, the WRP had assets of just over £4,000.[35] It remains electorally active and stood seven candidates for the 2015 UK General Election, six in London and one in Sheffield,[36] gaining a total of 488 votes.[37] It supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

More , a lot more, on Wikipedia.

BBC:

General election 2017: Workers Revolutionary Party policies

The British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, founded by Leon Trotsky, is bidding for five seats at the general election.

The Workers Revolutionary Party’s Frank Sweeney spoke to Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil about what his party thought of the Labour manifesto.

He said that Trotsky was “21st century”, while he described capitalism as “19th century”, and he explained that the whole of the UK was “fertile territory for us”.

Fighting left antisemitism in the 1980s

Sean Matgamna.

Extracts: 

Supporters of Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty find themselves especially unpopular just now [2003] with certain sections of the pseudo-left, because of our attitude to George Galloway MP.

The hostility which our stand on Galloway has aroused reminds me of the heresy hunt organised against some of us, who were then publishing the weekly paper Socialist Organiser, by the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) and its friends in the labour movement.

The issues in dispute were pretty much the same as those raised now by the Galloway affair: the connection of certain ostensibly socialist “anti-Zionist” groups and individuals in the British left with anti-working class Arab governments, and how others should regard those who have such links.

The large-scale campaign launched by the WRP and its Ayatollah, the late Gerry Healy, was an incident within a broader attempt by the WRP and its friends, such as Ken Livingstone, to force our paper Socialist Organiser out of publication.

In 1981, the actress Vanessa Redgrave, on behalf of the WRP, of which she was the best-known member, had sued John Bloxam and myself for libel over things I had written about the WRP in Socialist Organiser and John had repeated in a circular letter to supporters of the Socialist Organiser Alliance.

The WRP embroiled us in expensive and potentially ruinous legal processes for four and a half years. If we hadn’t found a friendly solicitor who helped John and myself do the legal work cheaply — John did most of it — we would have been bankrupted and Socialist Organiser forced to cease publication.

Why didn’t we take the easy way out and issue a tongue-in-cheek apology? We explained why:

‘’We live in a labour movement grown spiritually cross-eyed from the long pursuit of realpolitik and the operation of double standards, a movement ideologically sick and poisoned. In terms of moral ecology, the left and the labour movement is something of a disaster area because of the long-term use of methods and arguments which have corrupted the consciousness of the working class. The most poisonous root of that corruption was the Stalinist movement”. (Quoted in Socialist Organiser 447, 10 May 1990).

For years before 1983, Socialist Organiser had been saying that an ostensibly Trotskyist organisation, the Workers Revolutionary Party, was kept afloat by Libyan and other Arab government (including Iraqi) money. You couldn’t read their press and not know that.

They fawned on Arab dictators, publishing a glossy pamphlet about Iraq and Saddam which could have been issued by the Iraqi Embassy in London and which Iraq certainly paid the WRP for publishing. Their paper, Newsline, carried reports on Libya and its ruler, Gaddafi modelled on the stuff which the Communist Party Daily Worker (now The Morning Star) once published about Stalinist Russia.

They raged against “the Zionists”. They identified and denounced “Zionists”, that is Jews in prominent positions in British business and other institutions, for example, in the BBC. They singled out for special abuse prominent Jewish Tories and Jewish Labour right wingers. These were “the Zionists”. “Zionists” were at the heart of the “imperialist” “conspiracies” all over the world. “Zionists” fomented anti-Arab feeling everywhere.

Socialist Organiser was part of a “Zionist” plot against the WRP and the British labour movement. We were, naturally, “anti-Arab racists”.

They published a raving — in fact Hitlerite — editorial in Newsline asserting that there was a Zionist conspiracy stretching through, and linking, the Tory government, the editorial board of Socialist Organiser and Ronald Reagan’s White House!

When, in April 1983 the BBC, in a low-audience early Sunday evening programme, repeated a mild version of the “Libyan gold” allegations, I wrote a short review in Socialist Organiser saying that the BBC had told some of the truth about the WRP. I protested against unsubstantiated statements in the programme that “the ethnic press” was, like the WRP, financed by Libya.

Those who were using the libel laws against a labour movement paper now launched a political campaign in the labour movement against the BBC… and Socialist Organiser! It was a typically vigorous campaign.

A sizeable number of trade union branches and trades councils were persuaded to pass resolutions condemning “the BBC and Socialist Organiser”, sometimes adding the name of the present writer to the list of those being denounced and condemned.

Frequently the resolutions demanded that Socialist Organiser or I, or both, “retract” our “slanders” and discharge our working-class duty to stand by those being attacked by the bourgeois state by way of the BBC programme.

The WRP’s daily paper, Newsline, devoted a page or most of a page every day for 50 (fifty) issues over nine weeks, to printing (solicited) letters and formal statements denouncing us from people holding office in the labour movement and well-known theatrical personages. As well as that they published feature articles, editorials and a large pamphlet to tell the labour movement what dishonest, unprincipled scoundrels, “Zionists” and agents-provocateur for the bourgeois state we were. They tried to whip up a lynch-mob atmosphere against us. They urged that we — and the writer by name and photograph — be shut up.

Meetings were held to denounce us all over the country at which local shop stewards and convenors, secretaries of trades councils, and occasionally a Labour councillor, and one Labour MP, appeared on the platform.

For example, the meeting held at the Conway Hall in London featured the leader of the then Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone, and the leader of a famously “left-wing” borough council, Ted Knight, amongst a large number of well-known platform speakers.

Meetings held in Scotland featured the Labour MP Ron Brown, a sincere political idiot later thrown out by the Blairites, who believed that Libya and Russia and possibly — I can’t remember — Iraq were socialist states.

In that affair we were spectacularly vindicated — and comparatively soon. In late 1985, the Workers Revolutionary Party imploded. They expelled the aged Gerry Healy, charging the 72-year old with the serial rape of members and other such things. The two initial factions splintered into a dozen pieces, all flying in different political directions. Its warring fractions fell over each other in the rush to spill its secrets, including the secrets of its lavish supply of funds.

One of its “historic leaders”, the academic Cliff Slaughter, denounced the WRP’s leadership, of which he himself had been a part for 25 years, as “fascists” for their amoral attitude to politics and for their deeds. We, who had regarded them as no longer part of the labour movement, had not gone that far; but you could see his point.

Varoufakis and DiEM25: No to the Left Against Brexit.

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DiEM25: No to the Left Against Brexit!

Yanis Varoufakis condemns ‘toxic’ campaign for a second EU referendum.

The Sovereigntist and ‘progressive’ Pro-Brexit Morning Star reports.

FORMER Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis condemned the “toxic” public campaign for a second referendum on British membership of the European Union today.

The economist, who served under the left-wing Syriza government in 2015 when it confronted the EU over enforced austerity politics, accused anti-Brexit campaigners of dumping left politics.

In an interview for Jacobin magazine, he said he had campaigned on the Remain side during the 2016 referendum, but he explained: “I think that we should respect the outcome of the people’s vote.

“I really despise the way that [second referendum campaigners] talk about a ‘People’s Vote’ as if the first one was the wrong people’s vote.

“This kind of toxic language does not suit progressive politics.”

Mr Varoufakis said he backed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for a fresh general election and added that the “silver lining” to Britain leaving the EU was that a Labour government could nationalise industry “more easily.”

Is his interview to the ‘progressive’ Jacobin magazine the former firebrand, speaking “as progressives” he rejected the Left Against Brexit call for a Second referendum, said,

.. let’s not re-run the referendum debate: I think that we should respect the outcome of the people’s vote. I really despise the way that they [campaigners for another referendum] talk about [the need for] a “People’s Vote” as if the first one was the wrong people’s vote. This kind of toxic language does not suit progressive politics.

To me what is now essential is for Britain — and this is possibly something Jeremy and I don’t agree on — to maintain freedom of movement. The Left should always fight to keep borders away and not to create new borders among people. So, for me a “Norway plus” solution would be ideal for Britain and even if that doesn’t happen, our New Deal for Europe, proposed by DieM 25, details how even after a hard Brexit [the UK breaking from all EU-related structures] British institutions and European institutions could coordinate in such a way as to simulate a European Union in which Britain is an integral and progressive part.

DiEM25 members now have the option of choosing between two versions of the “Progressive” acceptance of Brexit.

For DiEM25 to support this important initiative, its members must be consulted and the call must be made compatible with DiEM25’s long standing position in favour of a Norway Plus agreement, as per our all-member vote in the autumn of 2016. The two versions that members are now being asked to endorse differ in the following main way:

Option 1.
Take A Break From Brexit to Give Democracy the Time it Deserves
Proposed and defended by Andrea Pisauro of the thematic DSC justifies the one-year extension of Article 50 by calling not just for a general election, but also to permit the UK’s participation in the European Parliament elections of May 2019, participation to which this extension opens the doors.

Andrea Pisauro’s Call to Take a BREAK FROM BREXIT to give democracy the time it deserves.pdf

Option 2.

Take A Break From Brexit for a General Election
Proposed by Yanis Varoufakis, aims at a campaign for extending by one-year the Article 50 negotiations solely in order to enable a general election to take place so that a new government, with a real mandate, can complete the UK-EU negotiations.

Yanis Varoufakis’ Call to TAKE A BREAK FROM BREXIT for a general election.pdf

As an alliance with the ambition to reshape European politics, in (you guessed it) a “Progressive” direction  DiEM25 is busy building a Europe-wide front for the 2018 elections to the European Parliament.

DiRM25’s latest catch is the French ‘party’ Nouvelle Donne.

Led by  Pierre Larrouturou this new hand of old cards originated in a centre-left current in the French Parti Socialiste, expressing its admriation for the ‘progressive’ US left under the name of the Collectif Roosevelt,. It managed to score 11.5% of the internal congress vote in 2012.

Nouvelle Donne  has laid (optimistic) claims to 11,000 members.

In the European elections of 2014 it won 2,90% of the vote. They backed, after failing to secure support for their own candidate, the sovereigntist  Jean-Luc Mélenchon in 2017. Standing 20 candidates in the Parliamentary elections that followed some are said to have won more than 1% of the ballots cast!

The ideology of Nouvelle Donne, is inspired by the American New Deal, progressisme, l’écologie politiquehumanisme, participatory democracy, and, some say, an element of democratic socialism.

They are also kind to flowers and animals (I just made that bit up.

It has had  two elected figures: David Derrouet, Mayor of the small town, Fleury-Mérogis until 2017, and Fabienne Grébert,a regional councillor in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

Onwards and upwards DiRM25!

Pakistan: Islamists Win Right to Appeal Asia Bibi ‘Blasphemy’ Case – a “death Warrant”.

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Islamists Have Won Right to Appeal Asia Bibi’s Acquittal. 

Asia Bibi’s lawyer leaves Pakistan citing threats to his life

The lawyer who saved Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, from the gallows left the country on Saturday, saying his life was under threat.

Saiful Mulook’s latest victory saw the freeing of Asia Bibi, who spent nearly a decade on death row, after the Supreme Court overturned her sentence on Wednesday.

The decision sparked protests across the country, with major roads blocked in Lahore and Islamabad as religious hardliners called for the death of the judges and those who helped acquit Bibi.

“In the current scenario, it’s not possible for me to live in Pakistan,” the 62-year-old told AFP before boarding a plane to Europe early Saturday morning.

“I need to stay alive as I still have to fight the legal battle for Asia Bibi,” he said.

This is the crucial point:

On Friday night, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party (TLP), which has largely led the demonstrations, announced an end to mass protestsafter reaching a deal with the government.

A five-point agreement seen by AFP, signed by both parties, said the government would not object to an appeal of the verdict, filed earlier in the Supreme Court.

CNN have published the details of this capitulation to the racist far-right,

The terms of the TLP agreement, reached Friday night, include a pledge by the government not to oppose an application by movement members to add Bibi to a list preventing her from leaving the country.

Bibi was still in jail Saturday at an undisclosed location in Pakistan, her lawyer, Saiful Malook, told CNN. Earlier in the week, he said she would need to move to a Western country for her own safety. At least two Western countries have offered Bibi asylum after her release, CNN understands.

Pakistan’s government also agreed not to oppose a review petition filed against the Supreme Court’s judgment in Bibi’s case, to release everyone detained in connection with the protests and to take legal action regarding deaths that may have occurred during the protests.”

The Dawn article continues,

When asked about the outcry, Mulook said it was “unfortunate but not unexpected”.

“What’s painful is the response of the government. They cannot even implement an order of the country’s highest court,” he said, adding that “the struggle for justice must continue”.

According to the agreement, which came after a failed first round of talks, legal proceedings will follow to impose a travel ban on Bibi and stop her leaving the country.

“Her life would be more or less the same, either inside a prison or in solitary confinement for security fears” until a decision on the appeal, said Mulook.

The TLP, founded in 2015, blockaded the capital Islamabad for several weeks last year calling for stricter enforcement of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.

That protest forced the resignation of the federal law minister and paved the way for the group to poll more than 2.23 million votes in the July 25 general election, in what analysts called a “surprisingly” rapid rise.

Asia Bibi: Lawyer flees Pakistan in fear of his life

BBC.

The lawyer representing a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy after eight years on death row has fled Pakistan in fear for his life.

Saif Mulook told news agency AFP he had to leave so he could continue to represent Asia Bibi, whose conviction was overturned by judges on Wednesday.

Officials have since agreed to bar Ms Bibi from leaving Pakistan in order to end violent protests over the ruling.

Campaigners blasted the deal as akin to signing her “death warrant”.

Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a row with neighbours, and many are calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty following her acquittal.

Mr Mulook told the BBC earlier this week she would need to move to a Western country for her own safety. A number of attempts have previously been made on her life.

Several countries have offered her asylum.

Many people on the left have, for many years,  ignored the growth in the Islamist far-right.

Al Jazeera however offers some background on the latest addition to these totalitarian movements which place religion, in the form of a racism against all non-Muslims and hatred against all but their own idea of ‘true’ Muslims,  at the heart of their ideology.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik: New far right campaigns against ‘blasphemy’

Hardline party, which formed last year, rallies support by focusing its political messaging on religious ideology.

The narrow streets of Lahore’s Mazang neighbourhood echo with the sounds of dozens of young men, as someone showers them with rose petals.

They wind their way through this congested, working-class quarter in Pakistan’s second city, some on foot, others mounted on motorcycles.

“Labbaik, labbaik, labbaik ya Rasool Allah!” they chant, raising their arms. “We stand, we stand, we stand with you, O Allah’s prophet!”

Waving brightly coloured green flags, they continue, in tune with an election song: “Hang them, hang them!”.

Meet the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Pakistan’s newest hardline religious party, which calls for blasphemers to be put to death and celebrates those who have murdered the alleged perpetrators.

A year ago, this kind of a political rally, in the heart of the political base of Pakistan’s ruling party, would have been unthinkable.

Formed last year, the TLP has performed credibly in by-elections, first springing to prominence when it challenged the PML-N in this Lahore neighbourhood, securing more than 7,000 votes and finishing third in a poll where its candidate was a virtual unknown.

That vote was for the parliamentary seat vacated by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, who was dismissed as prime minister by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations. A final verdict in the corruption cases against him is expected on Friday.

Now, the TLP is set to put up more than 550 candidates for national and provincial assembly seats across the country, and is confident it can mobilise a religiously-motivated vote on the basis of its anti-blasphemy and anti-corruption agenda.

Blasphemy is a central issue for the party, whose leaders follow the Barelvi sect, a South Asian branch of Sunni Islam that places emphasis on the personage of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

“When it involves the honour of the Prophet Muhammad, the finality of his prophethood or the dishonouring of his person, then every Muslim will become an extremist,” says Ejaz Ashrafi, a senior TLP leader, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

….

Led by firebrand far-right scholar Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP mobilised thousands to block a major highway into the capital, Islamabad, for three weeks in November over a minor change to an electoral oath that Rizvi claimed amounted to “blasphemy”.

….

“If they give me the atom bomb, I’ll immediately bomb Holland, before they are able to hold any caricature competitions on the prophet,” he told reporters.

What have been the reactions of official British Muslim organisations, many of which have strong ties to Pakistan, to this horrific case?

What about campaigns that have opposed the racism of Tommy Robinson and his supporters?

Have any defended Asia Bibi, a victim of religious racism?

Have they condemned the Islamist far-right in Pakistan?

We are still waiting to hear any statements. 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 3, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Coptic Christians Murdered in Attack on Coach in Egypt.

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Violence against Egyptian Christians is on the rise again (Photo: le Matin)

Gunmen killed at least seven people and wounded 14 others when they opened fire on a bus driving towards a Coptic Christian monastery in Egypt on Friday, the Archbishop in Minya said.

France 24.

A security official confirmed the attack in Minya province, adding that there were “dead and wounded”.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on people travelling to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya, 260 km (160 miles) south of Cairo.

Egypt: Deadly attack on bus headed to Coptic Christian monastery

Al Jazeera

Several reported dead and wounded following assault on vehicle headed towards monastery in Minya, south of Cairo.

Al-Azhar, evangelical community condemn ‘despicable’ Minya attack

 

CAIRO – 2 November 2018: Egypt’s top Sunni authority Al-Azhar and the Evangelical community issued statements Friday strongly condemning the ‘despicable’ attack that killed seven Copts who were taking a bus in Minya.

The attack took place near a monastery in Upper Egypt’s Minya. Al-Azhar called the crime “heinous” and affirmed strong will and determination of Egyptians to combat terrorism.

In a statement Friday, Al-Azhar said: “the perpetrators of this cowardly act of terrorism are criminals stripped of humanity. They are far from the teachings of religions that call for coexistence; peace; renunciation of violence, hatred and terrorism, and criminalization of killing innocents.”

The statement added, “Targeting Egyptians will only increase their determination to move forward and united in their war against terrorism.”

Al-Azhar also expressed sincere condolences to all Egyptians and to the families of the innocent victims of Friday’s attack.

At least seven people were announced killed and seven others wounded after the bus was attacked near the monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor, according to the security source.

Background:  Christians in Egypt face unprecedented persecution, report says.  Harriet Sherwood

Guardian. January 2018.

Christians in Egypt are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnap of girls by Islamist extremists intent on forcing them to marry Muslims, a report says.

In the past year, Egypt has moved up an annual league table of persecution of Christians compiled by the charity Open Doors. According to its World Watch List, North Korea is still the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a Christian, and Nepal has had the biggest increase in persecution.

But Egypt, home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, is of particular worry. Officially about 10% of the 95 million population are Christian, although many believe the figure is significantly higher.

The overwhelming majority are Orthodox, with up to 1 million evangelical Christians and 250,000 Catholics. Orthodox Christians celebrated Christmas on Sunday amid tight security, days after at least 11 were killed in attacks. The president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, attended midnight mass at a new cathedral 30 miles (45km) east of the capital as tens of thousands of armed soldiers patrolled streets around churches all over Egypt.

According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm

Andrew Murray Defining Labour’s Brexit Strategy?

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Andrew Murray now a Player at Labour ‘Strategy” meetings.

There were considerable concerns expressed, when it was announced that Andrew Murray, full title,  Andrew Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, whose father was Slains Pursuivant, one of Scotland’s most senior heraldic titles, was to become a key adviser to Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn makes Unite’s Andrew Murray a part-time consultant.

“Former communist, loathed by those on Labour’s right, will help hone party’s Brexit strategy.”

Guardian February the 26th 2018.This worries extended far beyond “Labour’s Right’”.

Those backing the politics of Another Europe is Possible were far from happy to see somebody wedded to the Sovereigntist anti-EU stand of Murray’s former party, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), having a central role in shaping Labour’s policy on Europe.

These views are justified. This key section of an article in the New Statesman yesterday indicates……..

Most of the piece is about taxation.

But this stands out:

At a recent strategy meeting, Andrew Murray – who works part-time as Len McCluskey’s chief of staff and part-time in Corbyn’s office – argued that the Labour Party should vote for Theresa May’s deal to avoid a no-deal exit. At that point, Abbott intervened to disagree. She argued that the party’s pro-European membership would never forgive them for bailing out a weak Tory government and that May’s Brexit agreement would in any case be a disaster that Labour should not be seen to endorse.

Then she warned her old friend Corbyn that their pro-Remain constituents in the north-east of London would be “protesting outside your house” if Labour voted for May’s deal. “That last point really spooked him,” recalls one of the attending staffers.

How the “end of austerity” presents a challenge to the Labour Party Steven Bush.

So, Murray is a player at a Labour “strategy meeting“.

For a different view see (extract)

WHY DEBATING BREXIT IS STILL VITAL FOR THE LEFT

John Palmer says a Schrodinger’s Brexit, neither in nor out, is the likely outcome from the May government unless Labour forces a General Election while keeping a people’s vote on the table.

……….

Labour is right to say to May that unless you produce a deal that meets the six tests we will vote it down. Corbyn can also say that Labour is in a much better position to negotiate a much more satisfactory relationship. Labour is far more supportive of EU-proposed reforms on workers’ rights, anti-discrimination measures and tougher environmental controls than any Tory government. The EU knows this too and would likely allow more time and offer more negotiating concessions to a British government led by Jeremy Corbyn to get an agreement leaving the UK in the EU.

Labour, however, needs to spell out its willingness to be more positive in any new negotiations if it wins an early general election. It is worth remembering the ‘renegotiation’ of Harold Wilson in 1974/5 after Labour rejected the Heath Tory government’s EEC Accession Treaty. It is not unprecedented for Labour to go back and renegotiate with Europe. There is little in Labour’s programme to provoke hostility from the EU. No EU opposition has been expressed to the  proposed nationalisation of rail, energy and utilities, contrary to what Lexiteers have alleged.

The rest of the EU wants the UK to remain – renegotiating a completely new relationship after the past 45 years, post-Brexit, would be a nightmare. If Corbyn wins an election and says to Brussels ‘we would like urgent talks with you’ he is likely to meet a weary but a positive response. You don’t say ‘No’ to a newly elected government. The need for more time might require some extension of article 50. There may soon not only be a new government in the UK. There will also be a new European Commission taking office next year and also a newly elected European Parliament.  So any new negotiation will take time.

In terms of how Labour should approach a people’s vote, I have some sympathy with John McDonnell in not wanting to risk everything on a referendum – if we got anything like the same result as in 2016 the right would be on a rampage. The question is what happens if Labour cannot force an election? In that event, a People’s Referendum should remain on the table. There was a strong consensus on this issue at the party conference. The questions will be set by Parliament not by Government. It would make sense to have tripartite options: ‘support the package’, ‘reject the package’, or ‘reopen negotiations on membership.’

The problem with a referendum is that it can only be indirectly couched within a broader context of policies and arguments on inequality and social justice. I believe the best time for a referendum would be after a new Labour government had returned with its reform and remain package from Brussels. If that has to take place after March next year when we leave the EU, it should include an option to re-apply for membership on the terms negotiated with Brussels.

Meanwhile it will be crucial to work with progressive political forces elsewhere in Europe. Who might they be? Think of the Portuguese left coalition government, Podemos and its allies in Spain, France Insoumise (which has rejected any desire to leave the EU or even leave the Euro), the SDP left, Die Linke and the Greens in Germany, the very successful Green Left and its social democratic allies in the Netherlands and many social democratic and socialist parties from Greece and Italy to Sweden and Finland.

Now is the time for the British Labour party to call for more collaboration with the European left and centre-left parties on a common programme of EU reform and further democratisation. The Labour leadership could call a conference in London to debate the common threats we face and to prepare a common fighting platform to tackle the far right, corruption and climate change across Europe.

Labour should make it clear that following a Labour victory it will prioritise a Reform and Remain strategy for the UK. For now Labour should coordinate with the SNP, Greens and Plaid to ensure a progressive vote against the May deal.

Does Murray even represent the interests of UNITE workers?

Jim Denham argue he does not:

Unite’s McCluskey and Turner – backed by Morning Star – betray automotive workers.

No, I don’t understand what that’s supposed to mean, either: but it sure as hell offers no hope and no way forward for Unite’s automotive members now staring into the abyss at Toyota, BMW, Honda and JLR: presumably, they must be sacrificed to satisfy the pro-Brexit predilictions of McCluskey, Turner and the Morning Star.

Tony Greenstein – welcome at Jewish Voice for Labour event – Defends Jenny Tongue.

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” fair question” says Greenstein.

At the recent Labour Party Conference this was reported,

Expelled Labour activists welcomed at JVL fringe meeting

Greenstein given platform by Corbynite group, as sources say Labour using Palestine debate to deflect from antisemitism row.

The JVL meeting also saw Tony Greenstein – expelled by Labour  in February over his use of antisemitic  slurs, including the offensive term “Zio” – deliver a speech in which he said: “We need to be quite clear, the purpose of the witch hunt is not to get rid of individuals. Its purpose is to topple Jeremy Corbyn.” He added: “Antisemitism is a stick to beat the left with.”

Jewish Chronicle.

Here is what Greenstein says today,

We Demand that Palestine Solidarity Campaign Rejects the Resignation of Jenny Tonge as Patron.

Cowardice Beyond the Call of Duty – PSC forces Jenny Tonge’s resignation and Briefs Against Her

Greenstein’s latest rant is too tedious to reproduce in full but is summed up in his letter here.

Just to make it clearer:

 Jenny’s observation that Israel’s attacks against Palestinians are stirring up anti-Semitism in the West is a fact.  Zionist bodies go out of their way to say that Jews, all Jews, support Israel’s attacks against the Palestinians. Only recently the Board of Deputies defended Israel’s shooting of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza. Is it surprising that when the self-proclaimed body that represents British Jews supports Israel’s murderous actions in Gaza that some people will then blame and even attack British Jews?

And,

The attacks on Jenny Tonge are wholly hypocritical and for PSC Executive and its Secretary Ben Sofa, to have bowed before the tide of Zionist hypocrisy, beggars belief. If PSC Executive don’t retract and either refuse to accept Jenny’s resignation or alternatively invite her to reconsider then I shall move a motion of censure on PSC Executive at the forthcoming AGM.

Now most people would say the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign acted with commendable speed and resolution.

As in this:

In a statement, the PSC said: “Baroness Tonge has offered to stand down as a patron of PSC. In agreeing with this course of action, PSC wishes to acknowledge the enormous work Baroness Tonge has done over many years to bring attention to the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people and to campaign for them to be brought to an end.”

In full:

Baroness Tonge has offered to stand down as a patron of PSC. In agreeing with this course of action, PSC wishes to acknowledge the enormous work Baroness Tonge has done over many years to bring attention to the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people and to campaign for them to be brought to an end.

In the aftermath of the massacre of 11 Jewish worshipers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Baroness Tonge posted a comment on Facebook that suggested Israel’s policies and its treatment of the Palestinians could be contributing to a rise in anti Semitism generally. Baroness Tonge subsequently removed the post.

PSC regards the original post to be deeply troubling. Whilst the post acknowledged that the killings were appalling and a criminal act, it risked being read as implying that antisemitism can only be understood in the context of a response to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Such a view risks justifying or minimising antisemitism.

PSC understands antisemitism to be prejudice, hostility or hatred towards Jews as Jews. It is never to be condoned or justified. The killings in Pittsburgh were an appalling crime motivated by antisemitism and we stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish communities in opposition to antisemitism and all other forms of racism.

 

Will Jewish Voice for Labour do the same and break all ties with this apologist for Carol Tongue’s distasteful views?

Further information:

Antisemitism allegations against Tony Greenstein

Statement by Jewish Voice for Labour, 26 November 2017.

We have reviewed the bulky dossier of material presented as evidence against Tony Greenstein by the Governance and Legal Unit of the Labour Party. To those of us who have known him for many years as a Jewish socialist and an implacable opponent of racism and antisemitism in any form, it is no surprise to find that the dossier does not offer any remotely persuasive substantiation of claims of antisemitism.

There is undoubtedly evidence of language which we would not want to be associated with. But as Shami Chakrabarti stated in her report, even offensive language on its own is only antisemitic if it is coupled with antisemitic intent. Such intent cannot be demonstrated in Tony Greenstein’s case because it is absent.

There are many critical comments we could make about this disciplinary process. We will limit ourselves to one, the issue of representation. Party members with sufficient financial resources are entitled to instruct a lawyer to represent them. Those who cannot afford one are only allowed to have a ‘silent friend’. This clearly discriminates against less affluent party members and in particular against less affluent and less articulate party members who are denied the support of a knowledgeable friend or colleague to speak on their behalf.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Christian Asia Bibi Death Sentence in Pakistan for ‘Blasphemy’ Overturned; Islamists Protest Against the Verdict.

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A poster bearing an image of Asia Bibi.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death on blasphemy charges, after accepting her appeal against her sentence.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel had reserved its ruling on Asia Bibi’s final legal appeal against execution (Asia Bibi v. The State, etc) on October 8.

Follow Dawn.com’s live updates on the protests against the verdict here.

The appeal, accepted by SC in 2015, challenged the Lahore High Court’s October 2014 verdict upholding a trial court’s November 2010 decision sentencing Bibi to death for committing blasphemy in 2009.

“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside,” said Justice Nisar in the ruling.

“Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” he added.

The 56-page detailed judgement has been authored by CJP Nisar, with a separate concurrent opinion note from Justice Khosa.

“Tolerance is the basic principle of Islam,” the top judge read out, noting that the religion condemns injustice and oppression.

“It is a well settled principle of law that one who makes an assertion has to prove it. Thus, the onus rests on the prosecution to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt throughout the trial,” noted the top judge in the order. “Presumption of innocence remains throughout the case until such time the prosecution on the evidence satisfies the court beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the offence alleged against him.

“[…] The expression ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ is of fundamental importance to the criminal justice: it is one of the principles which seeks to ensure that no innocent person is convicted.

“Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” concluded the chief justice.

The court also noted that “it is not for the individuals, or a gathering (mob), to decide as to whether any act falling within the purview of Section 295-C has been committed or not, because as stated earlier, it is the mandate of the court to make such decision after conducting a fully qualified trial and on the basis of credible evidence brought before it”.

The CJP ended the judgement with a hadith of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) on the rights of minorities.

Justice Khosa, in his note, said: “Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant’s religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was also not short of being blasphemous.”

Chaudhry Ghulam Mustafa, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs, rejected the verdict, saying Bibi had confessed to making derogatory remarks against the prophet to seek pardon.

Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Mulook told AFP: “The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings. This is the biggest and happiest day of my life.

Bibi appeared to be in state of disbelief after hearing the decision from her lawyer.

“I can’t believe what I am hearing, will I go out now? Will they let me out, really?” Bibi told AFP by phone from prison after the ruling. “I just don’t know what to say, I am very happy, I can’t believe it.”

Bibi’s husband also hailed the verdict. “I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” said Ashiq Masih.

My wife spent so many years in jail and we hope that we will soon be together in a peaceful place,” he added.

Shortly after the ruling, hundreds blocked a key road linking Rawalpindi with Islamabad. People are also gathering for protests in Karachi and Peshawar. Similar rallies are being held elsewhere as police urge demonstrators to disperse peacefully.

Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich described the SC decision as a “landmark verdict”.

“For the past eight years, Asia Bibi’s life languished in limbo. The message must go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute the country’s most vulnerable minorities.”

The decision to take stringent security measures in the capital was made after a number of meetings held to thrash out a strategy to deal with any unforeseen situation after the verdict.

On Oct 13 this year, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a religio-political party headed by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, threatened to “paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Asia Bibi free”.

Islamabad was put on high alert on Tuesday night. Extra contingents of police and law enforcement agencies have been deployed in the capital.

Paramilitary troops have been deployed in the capital to prevent protesters from reaching the Supreme Court, where security for the judges was beefed up.

About 300 police personnel, along with paramilitary units, are guarding the SC building, adjacent to Parliament House on Constitution Avenue.

Sources in the administration told Dawn that Rangers and Frontier Constabulary had been called as part of measures to step up security in Islamabad. Security of the Judges Enclave and the Diplomatic Enclave has been handed over to Rangers.

The sources said security personnel had been asked to guard the Red Zone as it houses sensitive installations, including the Supreme Court.

According to the sources, when some senior police officers met officials of the apex court, the law enforcers were asked to adopt security measures for the Supreme Court and other key points.

Dawn provides a full account of the background including this:

Case history

The prosecution had claimed that Bibi “admitted” making the blasphemous statements at a “public gathering” on June 19, 2009 “while asking for forgiveness”.

A trial court convicted Bibi for blasphemy in November 2010 and sentenced her to death. The Lahore High Court (LHC) had upheld her conviction and confirmed her death sentence in October 2014.

She had then challenged the LHC verdict in the Supreme Court, which stayed her execution in July 2015 and admitted her appeal for hearing.

The top court had first taken up the appeal in October 2016, but had to adjourn the matter without hearing after one of the judges recused himself from the SC bench. Two years later, the appeal was heard earlier this month and the CJP Nisar-led bench reserved its verdict.

Bibi’s supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute, and the Vatican has called for her release.

In 2011, former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who spoke out in support of Bibi, was gunned down in broad daylight in Islamabad. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder.

CNN: Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has death penalty conviction overturned

Pakistani Christian on death row acquitted. 

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)Pakistan’s Supreme Court has acquitted a Christian woman who has been on death row for almost eight years on blasphemy charges.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five from Punjab province, was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to hang after she was accused of defiling the name of the Prophet Muhammed during an argument the year before with Muslim colleagues.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water Asia Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim. At the time, Asia Bibi said the case was a matter of women who didn’t like her “taking revenge.”

She won her appeal against the conviction and subsequent death sentence on Wednesday.

The court quoted Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in its ruling, saying Asia Bibi appeared to have been “more sinned against than sinning.”

“Even if there was some grain of truth in the allegations leveled in this case against the appellant still the glaring contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution highlighted above clearly show that the truth in this case had been mixed with a lot which was untrue,” the ruling said.

David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization that lobbies on behalf of Christian minorities, said in a statement that “we are breathing a sigh of relief today.”

“These charges stemmed from her Christian identity as well as false accusations against her,” he said. “We are hopeful that Pakistan will now take additional steps to offer religious freedom and basic human rights throughout the country.”

Islamist movement Tehreek-e Labbaik had previously vowed to take to the streets if Bibi was released, and protests broke out in Islamabad and Lahore soon after the ruling was announced.

Within hours, the protests were large enough that government officials in the cities were urging people to stay inside and avoid adding to the chaos.

The Bigots were out in Force:

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a hardline religious political party chant slogans during a protest against the court decision to overturn the conviction of Christian woman Asia Bibi in Lahore on October 31, 2018.

Christians have had to be protected from racist Islamist attacks.

29 minutes ago

Rangers deployed in Lahore’s Youhanabad

Rangers officials have been deployed in the Youhanabad area of Lahore to deter any potential unrest.

Youhanabad is the largest Christian neighbourhood in Pakistan.

16 minutes ago

TLP protesters shut railway lines in Upper Jhelum Canal

The railway line along the three bridges in the Upper Jhelum Canal has been shut completely by TLP protesters.

“The traffic will remain blocked until Asia Bibi is hanged,” the protesters demand.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 31, 2018 at 11:57 am

Sanders and Varoufakis to launch ‘Progressive International’ “Green, Radical Left and……..Liberal”?

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Nobody could accuse them of lacking ambition!

Sanders and Varoufakis to Launch Progressive International

Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders are teaming up to launch a new initiative for common international action by progressives.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is teaming up with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to formally launch a new “Progressives International” in Vermont on Nov. 30, Varoufakis said in Rome on Friday.

Varoufakis, who made the announcement during a Friday press conference in Rome, told BuzzFeed News they were also inviting incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to join the new movement. (López Obrador spokesperson Jesús Ramírez told BuzzFeed News he had received no “formal invitation” to “join a “progressive international” front.)

Varoufakis described the initiative in part as an attempt to counter the work that Steve Bannon, who also made an appearance in Rome last month, has been doing to help nationalists forge a united front in elections for the European Union’s parliament next spring. Varoufakis also accused immigration critics like Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of being part of an extremist alliance.

“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists — like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini — they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.

Sanders and Varoufakis Announce Alliance to Craft ‘Common Blueprint for an International New Deal’

The pair hopes to promote a “progressive, ecological, feminist, humanist, rational program” for not only Europe, but the entire world

After arguing in a pair of Guardian op-eds last month that a worldwide progressive movement is needed to counter the unifying rightwing “that sprang out of the cesspool of financialized capitalism,” former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announced in Rome on Friday that he and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) plan to officially launch “Progressives International” in the senator’s state on Nov. 30.

Varoufakis told BuzzFeed News that the movement aims to challenge an emerging extremist alliance of nationalist political figures—from immigration critics such as Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer to President Donald Trump’s ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, who is working to garner voter support for rightwing parties ahead of the May 2019 European Parliament elections.

“The financiers are internationalists. The fascists, the nationalists, the racists—like Trump, Bannon, Seehofer, Salvini—they are internationalists,” Varoufakis said. “They bind together. The only people who are failing are progressives.”

As Sanders wrote in the Guardian, “At a time of massive global wealth and income inequality, oligarchy, rising authoritarianism, and militarism, we need a Progressive International movement to counter these threats.” Warning that “the fate of the world is at stake,” the senator called for “an international progressive agenda that brings working people together around a vision of shared prosperity, security, and dignity for all people.”

Varoufakis, denouncing the global “brotherhood” of financiers and “xenophobic rightwing zealots” who foment divisiveness to control wealth and politics, said in the Guardian that those who join the movement “need to do more than campaign together,” and proposed the formation of “a common council that draws out a common blueprint for an International New Deal, a progressive New Bretton Woods.”

In addition to the forthcoming progressive alliance—which incoming Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, will reportedly be invited to join—Varoufakis is leading the campaign efforts of European Spring, a new progressive political party, for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

As a European Democratic Socialist – and leftist – it is hard to know what the  term “progressive” means.

In our Continent, the word still has associations with the old Communist Parties and their fellow travellers, often called ‘progressives’. Or, to put it simply, progressive was used to embrace a broad swathe of potential allies. For very obvious reasons this usage is not just out of fashion today, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

More recently. the right-wing of Labour (Progress) , and Emmanuel Macron, are fond  of calling themselves ‘progressives’ .

Both of these usages would put off many left-wingers for a start!

The word reeks.

Yet, apparently in the US ‘progressive’ is  linked to the most liberal wing of the Democrat Party.

I believe that in its origins in US political thought  progressive refers to a broad stream of thinkers, from Transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, to advanced liberals like John Dewey and, more recently Barack Obama.

If it has any meaning the word appears to signify,  “support for or advocacy of improvement of society by reform””, which does not get us very fa.Not when just about privatising fiddle in the UK is called a “reform” for the better.

Still, ‘reform’ could, at a pinch, be extended with more hopeful connotations, to the left, including Sander’s wing of the Democrats.

The Democratic Socialists of America use the word, “the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the United States. DSA’s members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly democratic socialist presence in American communities and politics.”

The European Spring alliance promoted by the Greek former Finance Minister certainly is “progressive” in this sense.That is, if one talks up ‘movement’enough to include self-important commissions and top-heavy public events.

This ‘alliance’ was built originally by DiEM25:

DiEM25 is a pan-European, cross-border movement of democrats.

We believe that the European Union is disintegrating. Europeans are losing their faith in the possibility of European solutions to European problems. At the same time as faith in the EU is waning, we see a rise of misanthropy, xenophobia and toxic nationalism.

If this development is not stopped, we fear a return to the 1930s. That is why we have come together despite our diverse political traditions – Green, radical left, liberal – in order to repair the EU. The EU needs to become a realm of shared prosperity, peace and solidarity for all Europeans. We must act quickly, before the EU disintegrates.

But how many on the left, who  identify with the various strands of democratic socialism, would wish to be in an alliance with liberals? Or indeed, for all the fact that there is  larger constituency who identify with the US Sanders left, or are at least encourage by the fact that it exists, at all, how many  would wish to drop their allegiances to parties like the British Labour Party, and the very long list of European left parties, to join up with a movement headed by these  two individuals on the strength of a few articles in the Guardian?

Assuming that they have read them…..a brief trawl in the French language reveals no trace of this ‘international’ to begin with.

The European Spring Alliance, of “democrats of all political persuasions” does not seem to have much of a basis either.

Their support, such as they are, include (indeed is limited to) for France  Nouvelle Donne.

We are informed the party was named after the US ‘new Deal’ (which is not how I would translate a term normally referring to a ‘new fact*), an experience far from the forefront of the French Left’s collective memory.

Nouvelle Donne is  a classic French political ‘club’, around Pierre Larrouturou. He and his friends have  spent a couple of decades on the fringes of the Parti Socialiste (unsuccessfully bidding for influence  as a ‘current’) and the French Greens, to mention only a few. It has had two elected figures, David Derouet,  who was the Mayor of Fleury-Mérogis until 2017 and Fabienne Grébert, a regional councillor in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

A more serious force, Génération.s, (which claims, optimistically, 60,000 members), one MP, three MEPs and one Senator, was founded by former French Socialist Presidential candidate  Benoît Hamon (6.36% of the vote in the first round), also forms part of the  DiEM25 sponsored European Spring.
That is, after trying for an alliance with the French Greens (EREV) and,  and various leftist  strands described as “« altereuropéennnes »..At one point Mélenchon offered him negotiations .

Two days ago we learnt that Hamon has called his own list of “citizen candidates” outside of the old party machines. He is now  negotiating with the centre-left intellectual Raphaël Glucksmann in the tradition of Michel Rocard (he is also the son of the New Philosopher André Glucksman).

Le mouvement Générations fondé par Benoît Hamon a lancé lundi un appel à candidatures citoyennes pour une liste aux élections européennes située “en dehors des vieux appareils partisans”, une initiative compatible avec la création de “Place publique” par Raphaël Glucksmann

Européennes : Générations de Benoît Hamon lance un appel à candidatures citoyennes

Génération-s may maintain links with The European Spring (though it is unlikely the presence of Nouvelle Donne is welcome).

Facing at least 5 (f not more)  other left-wing or green lists in next year’s European elections, very few people give Hamon’s group and allies much of chance of winning seats.

Experienced commentators (that is, my good self) predict Hamon is going nowhere.

The forces that could be brought together by this new international could include the European Spring. This, at least according to Wikipedia involves  such strange bedfellows as the substantial  Czech Pirate Party the Danish Green splinter party, Alternativet and a Spanish initiative Actúa which seems largely a discussion and networking group (“un espacio de reflexión, debate cívico e intervención política”) outside  the main force of the left, Podemos. Not to mention others…. I’d lay a hefty wager they are not part of the central core of the European left….

Any residual sympathy one might have for this lot evaporates at the sight of this list of supporters behind DiEM25:

Nor is this just a matter of a few signatures:

The more I find out about this, the less I like it:

Tue 10, 2018, 
Update: * Nouvelle Donne according to my trusty Petit Robert, means the, snappy, ” new hand of cards “.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 6:21 pm

Turkey Shells Kurds in Syria.

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Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij

Turkey and US to Jointly Clear Northern Syrian Manbig of Kurdish YPG forces.

While the rest of the world was looking at the Khashoggi killing in the Saudi Istanbul Consulate…

The state run Turkish News Agency Anadolu announces today:

Turkey, US finalize steps for joint patrols in Manbij  Kasim Ileri

‘Mission rehearsals and interoperability training for combined patrols are complete, says Pentagon

Turkey and the United States have completed preparations for joint patrols in northern Syria’s Manbij area, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The patrols are part of a roadmap between Turkey and the U.S. that focuses on the withdrawal of forces of the PKK’s Syrian affiliate YPG to stabilize the city, which is in Aleppo province.

“Mission rehearsals and interoperability (note: ???????) training for combined patrols outside Manbij city are complete,” said Cmdr. Sean Robertson. “Both forces are resetting in order to begin combined patrols.”

Without providing an exact date, Robertson said the rehearsals were grounded in synchronizing Turkish and American forces’ ability to conduct patrols outside of Manbij.

“The mission rehearsals address safety and familiarizations (Note ??????) with combined tactical operations,” he said.

The training program included rehearsals of mounted patrol operations, weapons training, IED procedures, vehicle recovery, stabilizing traffic control points and situation de-escalation exercises.

Another spokesperson for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner, said the patrols “should be in shortly.”

A defense official, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that the patrols are expected to begin in “a couple of days” or in “less than a week”.

This happened on Sunday:

Turkey Strikes U.S.-Backed Kurds After Erdogan’s ‘Final Warning’.

(Bloomberg) — Turkey fired on U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militants in northern Syria on Sunday, moving ahead with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to rout them from his country’s southern border.

Turkish howitzers targeted positions held by the YPG fighters on the eastern flank of the Euphrates River that splits northern Syria roughly into eastern and western halves, state-run Anadolu news agency said. Turkey had earlier pushed out the American allies from most of the border areas to the west of the river, seeing them as an extension of PKK separatists it’s battled for decades at home.

Sunday’s shelling, albeit limited in scope, threatens to increase tensions between Ankara and Washington, which backed the Kurdish fighters because it saw them as best equipped to drive Islamic State fighters from Syria. The attack on YPG came just two days after Erdogan accused the U.S. of stalling on a June agreement to push the group away from the town of Manbij on the western flank of the Euphrates, and said he was warning Kurdish fighters for the last time to retreat.

Turkey shells US-backed Kurdish fighters’ positions in Syria: State media.

Middle East Eye.

Turkey’s military has fired artillery shells at a Kurdish armed group in Syria that is backed by the United States but deemed a terrorist group by Ankara, state-run Anadolu news agency has reported.

The shells targeted “shelters” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River in the Kobane region of northern Syria on Sunday, Anadolu said.

The move comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued what he said was a “final warning” to those who would endanger Turkey’s borders, saying Ankara was determined to focus its attention on Syrian Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates.

The bombardments also come a day after Erdogan hosted a summit in Istanbul on the Syrian conflict with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany, in which they adopted a joint statement committing to work “together in order to create conditions for peace and stability in Syria”.

The strikes targeted YPG positions and trenches on a hill near the eastern bank of the Euphrates, across the river from the city of Jarablus, AFP news agency reported.

The YPG, which has been a key ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State group, took control of large areas of northeast Syria in 2012 as government forces pulled out to fight rebels in the west

However, Ankara is bitterly opposed to the group, regarding it as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a deadly insurgency in Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and its Western allies.

Washington’s support of the YPG remains a major point of contention between the US and Turkey, NATO allies who have seen relations deteriorate over the last two years.

Both oppose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but Turkey’s military incursions have recently focused more on Kurdish fighters near its border.

Turkey has launched two offensives west of the Euphrates since 2016 to repel “radical” fighters from its border and prevent zones under YPG control from joining.

The offensives include an operation against YPG forces in northern Syria’s Afrin region earlier this year, which saw thousands of Kurds displaced from their homes.

Spokesperson says Turkey violates US-Turkish agreement on Manbij

Kurdistan 24.

RBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Sharvan Darwish, spokesperson of the Manbij Military Council (MMC), on Sunday accused the Turkish-backed Euphrates Shield rebels of targeting MMC positions in Manbij and villages near the city, such as al-Harima, Kareidiya, and al-Hamran.

“A woman who was working in an olive field with her family was severely injured. This deliberate acts by these factions, acting under direct Turkish command, violate the terms of the initiative put forward by international coalition forces with the Turkish side to end tensions and conflicts, and establish security and stability in this area,” he said about the Turkish cross-border shelling that happened Sunday morning.

On June 4, Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, met with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, where the two endorsed a “general roadmap” for Manbij that was “conditions-based,” and included the establishment of joint Turkish-US patrols on the demarcation line separating the MMC and the Turkish backed forces. So far, US troops are still in Turkey for training to create these joint patrols.

“We in the MMC, in order to create stability, have worked hard with the international coalition forces to implement this initiative, which is in the interest of our people in Manbij, specifically for the people living near the demarcation line,” Darwish explained.

“The factions operating under the banner of the Turkish army [could damage] any serious and sincere approach [by Washington and Ankara] working for the benefit of the local population,” the official warned.

He accused the Turkish-backed factions and the Turkish army of provoking tensions, which could lead to war and an “end to the stability in Manbij,” suggesting they were “tampering with civilian lives.”

The MMC “confirms to the public that repercussions to these provocations are directly borne by the Turkish military forces, which support and push these factions to carry out these acts,” Darwish argued.

“While we stress that we will take the measures required to deter these successive provocations, we ask the parties concerned to prevent escalation and tension for the Syrian situation to work.”

Darwish also noted that the current tensions were destabilization the security of Manbij, which it had not witnessed “since its liberation from Daesh [Arab acronym for IS].”

Turkish armed forces shelled the People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions east of the Euphrates River, in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), with Turkish state media, Anadolu Agency, claiming the attack was “within the scope of self-defense.”

The Turkish bombardments targeted “the villages of Zormikhar, Charikhli, Siftek, and Ashme, all of them located west of [Kobani], with tank, mortar, and howitzer fire,” the YPG said in a statement.

In the shelling, Mohammed Kobani, a conscript was killed in the village of Zor Maghar, and two others were injured.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) on Sunday accused Western countries of remaining silent toward Turkish provocations and cross-border bombings following a quartet meeting between Turkey, Russia, Germany, and France on the Syrian crisis, in Istanbul.

“We emphasize that, without this position, Erdogan would have not dared to bomb northern Syria,” the PYD alleged.

“Therefore, we call on everyone not to submit to the blackmail and threat of Turkey, and to do their duty to create a solution to the Syrian crisis, without excluding the representatives of the real people of Syria,” the PYD concluded.

Editing by Nadia Riva.

Just to remind people what people in Syria have faced, the tragedy of Yazids has been put on film by the Kurdish activists.

Heartbreaking film on Ezidis introduces the Kurdistan Memory Programme

Written by Andrew Coates

October 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Jair Bolsonaro: Where Populism Meets Fascism.

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Bolsonaro violence after election"

Fascist Wins Brazil Election.

Jair Bolsonaro declared Brazil’s next president

Guardian.

A far-right, pro-gun, pro-torture populist has been elected as Brazil’s next president after a drama-filled and deeply divisive election that looks set to radically reforge the future of the world’s fourth biggest democracy.

Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former paratrooper who built his campaign around pledges to crush corruption, crime and a supposed communist threat, secured 55.1% of the votes after 99.9% were counted and was therefore elected Brazil’s next president, electoral authorities said on Sunday.

Bolsonaro’s leftist rival, Fernando Haddad, secured 44.8% of votes.

In a video broadcast from his home in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro thanked God and vowed to stamp out corruption in the country.

“We cannot continue flirting with communism … We are going to change the destiny of Brazil,” he said.

This result concerns the left across the world.

These are some notes.

For in-depth analysis of the background see:

The most important presidential race in Brazilian history (plus statements from MST & PSOL). James N. Green. Links  – International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

Brazil: will fake news win the election?

As Brazil’s presidential election reaches its second round, support for rabid, homophobic extremist Jair Bolsonaro is being whipped up by an unprecedented tide of ‘fake news’, distributed on social media, particularly WhatsApp,  Red Pepper. Sue Branford.

Brazilian socialist Andressa Alegre spoke to Solidarity about the experience with the governments led by the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) between 2003 and 2016.

More broadly:

Brazil goes back to an oligarch past

 Anne Vigna. le Monde Diplomatique. May 2018.

Post Lula, post Dilma Rousseff, power has shifted to powerful landowners aggressively asserting their rights over land they don’t use but don’t want to lose, and politically motivated violence is up.

Jair Bolsonaro and the threat to democracy in Brazil

Yesterday Brazil voted for a fascist. Jair Bolsonaro is now the President of Brazil.  He comfortably outpolled his nearest rival, Fernando Haddad, a former Mayor of Saõ Paulo and Minister for Education in the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva by 55 to 45 per cent.  Although his lead appears to have narrowed in the final days before polling, it was still a decisive victory. The fourth largest country in the world could now slide from democracy to dictatorship.

Here are some pressing issues.

Brazil’s presidential election: fearful LGBT community prepares for a ‘proud homophobe’.

Tom Phillips. Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières

Activists say that while violence and discrimination against the LGBT community have long existed, Bolsonaro’s brazen bigotry has helped launch a new era of brutality and threats.

“It’s as if the gates of hell have been opened – as if hunting season had been declared,” said Beto de Jesus, a veteran LGBT activist and founder of São Paulo’s huge annual gay pride parade. “It’s barbarism.”

James Green, an American academic with longstanding ties to Brazil’s gay movement, said Bolsonaro’s “repulsive” discourse had left some gay and lesbian couples wondering if it was even still safe to hold hands in public: “He has unleashed all the demons in Brazilian society and they are out there now: unmasked and vicious and violent.”

Renan Quinalha, a São Paulo-based lawyer and LGBT activist, said recent weeks had seen a “frightening” spike in reports of physical or verbal abuse carried out by Bolsonaro supporters. He described a mood of fear and trepidation, both at the violence and the prospect that, as president, Bolsonaro might try to roll back hard-fought gains such as the 2011 legalisation of same-sex unions.

The Rise of the Brazilian Evangelicals

Au Brésil, les évangéliques ont voté Jair Bolsonaro.

The Evangelicals have voted for Bolsonaro – who is himself a Catholic.

There is a good case, given the intolerance, cult of violence, apologies for dictatorship and trumpeting of the most reactionary elements of free-market capitalism, religious bigotry  with themes of law and order,  and threats to withdraw from all international treaties and organisations, to  suggest that Brazil’s President is a figure in which  fascism meets populism.  

But this is far from the end of the story,

Brazilian presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro has flaunted a macho distaste for gays. He’s recommended that parents beat effeminate boys. He’s said he would prefer a dead son to a homosexual one.

And he has the vote of Tiago Pavinatto, a gay lawyer and columnist for O Estado de S. Paulo, one of the nation’s largest newspapers.

Bolsonaro has “flirted with homophobia because he’s an ordinary, rude man and he knows that,” said Pavinatto, 34. “He will be surrounded by people who will ensure gay rights be respected.”

This is no random, one-off case. Pavinatto is part of a surprisingly large segment of the gay community — 29 percent, according to a Datafolha survey this week — who intends to vote for the former Army captain. And it underscores just how strong the desire is among many Brazilians to prevent the party of Bolsonaro’s opponent, Fernando Haddad, from returning to power

Disgust with corruption during the 14-year rule of the Workers’ Party runs so deep that some gay voters have been willing to bet that Bolsonaro’s hostility is a mere ploy. Others support Haddad with great reluctance or are refusing to vote entirely.

Brazil’s gay groups, flourishing in its cosmopolitan cities, have been made a scapegoat in Bolsonaro’s grievance-fueled campaign. The candidate has pointed to homosexuals as evidence of moral decay as he preaches a return to conservative values.

Strong rejection of the Workers’ Party and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva drive Bolsonaro’s backers, and that isn’t different in the gay community. But gays find themselves torn between disapproval of corruption associated with Lula’s legacy and resistance to a candidate who has repeatedly antagonized them.

Why Many of Brazil’s Gay Voters Will Overlook Bolsonaro’s Homophobic Rants  

Apart from the problems with the Partido dos Trabalhadores, Workers Party, the disaster that is ‘Bolivarian’ Venezuela under their eyes- 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2014,-and clashes as some Brazilians have rioted against the presence of over 100,000 refugees – the Brazilian left has lost another potential source of inspiration.  (September. Brazil calls in army after mob attacks on Venezuelan migrants )

In a Video produced by the Left of centre French weekly l’Obs, violent scenes have already taken place in Post-election Brazil.

 

The French Daily Libération underlines the disappointment of the 44.9% who voted for his opponent Fernando Haddad, and the dangers of this result: “You are worth more than Bolsonaro.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 29, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Vox: The Return of the Spanish Far Right.

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Mitin de Vox en el Palacio de Vistalegre.rn rn rn

Spanish Immunity to the Populist Far-Right has Ended.

A couple of days ago The Times stated,

Far right set to win first Spanish seat for decades

A far-right party is on course to win a seat in the Spanish parliament for the first time since the fascist dictatorship of General Franco more than 40 years ago.

Vox, which was founded in 2014, says that its support has risen tenfold since it took a hard line against illegal immigration and the independence drive in Catalonia. Ten thousand people took part in its most recent rally in Madrid and a poll by Metroscopia puts the party on 5.1 per cent, enough to gain a seat.

The European Council on Foreign Relations announced this week that,

Bannon sets his eyes on Spain

Spain’s far-right party Vox draws the country into the continent’s growing anti-European league

Steve Bannon, the controversial former adviser to US President Donald Trump, has set his eyes on the site of his next battle against what he deems the “globalist ideology” and its principal embodiment, the European Union. Making use of his contacts with Nigel Farage in the United Kingdom, Marine Le Pen in France, and Matteo Salvini in Italy, Bannon is setting up The Movement, a Brussels-based group that aims to unify far-right anti-European forces.

Spain, a rare exception on the continent in its relative lack of far-right or anti-EU movements, has largely been spared Bannon’s and the alt-right’s attention so far. Not for much longer, it seems. On 10 April 2018, Bannon declared: “it is very important that in Spain there is a party based on the sovereignty and identity of the Spanish people, and that is ready to defend its borders”. His statement came after a meeting with Rafael Bardají, an erstwhile adviser to former Spanish president José María Aznar who now works as a strategist for far-right party Vox. After Bannon publicly announced his support for the party, Vox asked him for advice on what he is best at: political communication through alternative media and social networks – that is, electoral engineering based both on big data and micro-targeting.

Santiago Abascal, a former member of a conservative party based in the Basque Country, created Vox in 2013. Despite receiving only 46,638 votes (0.2 percent) in the 2016 general election, Vox is now polling at 5 percent (around 1 million votes, which would mean a significant increase in support). Following a very active social media campaign and a series of rallies across Spain, the party achieved a great success a few weeks ago when it gathered 9,000 people for a meeting at Madrid’s Vistalegre arena. If it remains as popular as the polls indicate, Vox will eventually enter the Spanish parliament and, most importantly, may make it to the European Parliament next May.

Vox’s main message is that there is a need to defend the Spanish nation, which it sees as threatened by Catalan and Basque nationalists, immigrants, and the EU. On 7 October 2018, the party released its “100 measures to keep Spain alive”. Its proposals and message fall within the orbit of Le Pen and Salvini, especially on migration and the EU.

Earlier this month there was a spate of articles in the Spanish and European Press on Voz and the above rally.

La nueva extrema derecha irrumpe en escena El País  4th of October.

The New Far Right has burst onto the scene.

Far-right political party Vox attracts 9,000 people to Madrid rally

El País  (English).

Created in 2014, the group drew its largest crowd ever at the weekend as polls suggest it could win a seat in Congress.

Vox speakers take turns listing the party’s 100 proposals for Spain: creating a Family Ministry, revoking the gender violence law and “any other legislation that discriminates against one of the sexes,” lowering income and corporate tax, developing a new water-management plan… But what really rouses the crowd is the proposal to deport “those illegal immigrants who come to Spain not to make it greater, but to receive handouts.”

To support this larger goal, Vox also wants tougher criminal punishment for illegal-immigration mafias “and those who cooperate with them, be they non-profits, businesses or individuals.”

Another major objective, says another speaker on stage, is “taking back our national sovereignty on the application of our courts’ decisions. Terrorists, rapists and serial killers would no longer benefit from the protection of European organizations, as they have to date.”

The secretary general of Vox, Ortega Smith, takes the microphone to insist that “Spaniards come first” and paraphrases Donald Trump: “Together we will make Spain great again.”

“Welcome to the resistance!” he cries. “We have come here to send out a message: we are not ready to let our dignity be trampled!”

The closing speaker is party president Santiago Abascal, who makes a rousing speech about Spaniards rising up against injustice.

“The living Spain has awoken, thank God. Spain does not rise up randomly. A nation reacts when it has historical inertia, when there is blood coursing through its veins, and when it is aggravated, as Spain is being aggravated now.”

L’émergence d’un parti d’extrême droite surprend l’Espagne.

Sandrine Morel. Le Monde.

La formation Vox, créée en 2013 par d’anciens militants du Parti populaire et jusqu’ici très confidentielle, a réuni 10 000 personnes à Madrid.

Background: Wikipedia (English, very incomplete) on Vox.

Vox (often stylized as VOX) is a political party in Spain founded on 17 December 2013, by former members of the People’s Party (PP). It is often considered to be far-rightalthough some media considered it as right-wing or right-wing populist

Explained: Who is VOX? Spain’s latest far-right party gaining popularity.

Fears of a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment and hardline nationalism have awakened in Spain after thousands participated in a Sunday rally at Madrid’s Vistalegre Palace by the far-right VOX party. But who is VOX and should Europe prepare for the rise of populism in Spain?

“Spaniards’ first”

Set up at the end of 2013, VOX aimed to capitalise on what it saw as a void in the Spanish political system, Dr Andrew Dowling of Cardiff University told Euronews.

VOX gained momentum last year as part of a broader rise of far-right populist parties in Europe, said Dowling. At the Sunday rally, Javier Ortega, the party’s general secretary, outlined the party’s first objective: “Spaniard’s first”. He listed a hundred proposals, which included revoking the gender violence law, deporting illegal immigrants and outlawing independence movements that could break up Spain.

However, the fact there was already two conservative parties Partido Popular (PP) and Ciudadanos meant that VOX will find it difficult to create a place for itself in the Spanish political spectrum, added Dowling.

The leader of Vox has declared that they will go it alone in elections, able to take advantage of the social discontent which Podemos, now in Coalition with the Spanish Socialists (PSOE), is unable to reflect.

“Abascal afirma que la vocación de VOX es ir en solitario a elecciones: Podemos aportar muchísimo más que en coalición”  Europa Press. 24 October.

One thing is certain, the issue of “El fascismo” has returned to the Spanish political scene.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Tremble comrade George Soros: you have a new foe, Arron Banks!

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Image result for george soros elders of zion cartoon

The more I hear about George Soros the more I like the bloke.

There is this (just out): All The Incendiary Garbage Fox News Has Broadcast About George Soros Since April

At Fox News, Soros is treated as the Moriarty of liberal America, the spider at the center of a vast web.

This week, similar suspicious packages were mailed to frequent ring-wing targets, including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and former CIA Director John Brennan.

The first one, however, was discovered on Monday outside the New York residential compound of billionaire George Soros. Authorities later determined it contained a pipe bomb.

It’s not yet known who delivered the pipe bomb. What’s not in doubt is that Soros has become the right wing’s main boogeymen over the last decade.

His most vicious critics tend to be members of the Nazi frog set, employing longtime anti-Semitic tropes to depict Soros as a Jewish puppet master. But other critics make their money at Fox News, where Soros is treated as the Moriarty of liberal America, the spider at the center of a vast web.

In the eyes of his most unwavering detractors, Soros is a Nazi-sympathizing, left-wing “globalist” hellbent on using his billions to destroy the conservative movement.

The Sovereigntist Morning Star (22nd of September 2018) has this to say about the man, some say is rapidly becoming the hero of a new wave of radical leftists.

the string-pullers or decision makers behind this “cross-party” initiative, which gathers up the same squalid group of politicians, backed by the same big-business millions, that fought unsuccessfully in our referendum to keep the UK in the EU.

The Chuka Umunnas, Anna Soubrys, Tony Blairs, Peter Mandelsons, Vince Cables, Andrew Adonises and sundry nationalist and greenish politicians, bankrolled by George Soros and other financial interests, are linked by their contempt for democracy and their hostility to Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the socialist policies they champion.

Their fellow thinkers  in the Weekly Worker, paper of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee), say,

there is nothing leftwing about Another Europe is Possible. Not only is it in receipt of Soros money to the tune of £70,000, it promotes politics which are thoroughly liberal and entirely in line with PV’s (People’s Vote, – note) overarching strategy.

Hot in pursuit is the generous donor to Trade Unionists Against the EU, Arron Banks (hat-tip: Alan).

No, you couldn’t make it up!

Written by Andrew Coates

October 26, 2018 at 5:04 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Wobbly Goes Rotten: Where will his leftist admirers stand now?

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Mélenchon Goes Trump:”Have You Still  Got Questions, Bunch of Scumbags?!”

At this year’s The World Transformed, held parallel to the Labour Conference., Jean-Luc Mélenchon, was a star.

Why we’ve invited Jean-Luc Mélenchon to The World Transformed

.. the real reason for Mélenchon’s invitation to TWT is not because he is Corbyn mark 2. No, it is for the same reason that TWT is happening in the first place: as part of a democratic socialist project to shift power towards the people. The fundamental truth about the two men’s successes is that it’s not about them. It’s about what they, and TWT, represent: the left taking hold of the future.

Mélenchon’s presence is not simply a result of similarities between him and Corbyn. It is a sign of a rising internationalist left building socialism from the grassroots. In learning from and debating with one another, as TWT allows us to do, we can help build a world for the many, not the few.

Politis has published an accurate account of the scandal that is shaking Mélenchon’s rally, La France insoumise (LFI).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s far-left freakout

The France Unbowed chief, who came fourth in last year’s presidential election, is taking to Facebook livestreams and iPhone monologues to harp on what he calls a “Macronism-media-prosecutor” conspiracy against him. The early signs are that the ranting and raving are not going down well with the French public, as Mélenchon seeks to build support for an international leftist alliance for next year’s European Parliament election.

The plot alleged by Mélenchon, which presumably draws support from President Emmanuel Macron’s backers, centers around an October 16 raid on the far-left leader’s apartment and office by magistrates investigating suspected campaign finance fraud in his 2017 bid for president. In a video of a standoff between Mélenchon’s followers and the investigators standing outside his office, the 67-year-old firebrand can be seen leaning nose-to-nose with an officer and shouting “La République, c’est moi!” (“I am the Republic!”) as the man quietly asks him to take a few steps back.

Mélenchon was only getting started. Three days after the raids, which targeted the homes of 10 France Unbowed aides in addition to his own, the party leader held a news conference during which he railed against what he called a “political police” and accused Macron of using the judicial system to undermine his movement. He then turned his wrath to the media, vowing to sue news channel BFM for defamation, accusing journalists from public news outlet FranceInfo of being “liars and cheats,” and mocking a female reporter who tried to ask him a question for having an accent from southern France.

Politis does not cover some of the salient details of this one-man melt-down that have since emerged.

Such as the 12,000 Euros, in cash, found during the Police enquiry at the home of one of those close to the Leader.

Or the “close” relation (“extraprofessionnelle”) between the Chief of La France insoumise and the Sophia Chikirou, former head of the LFI linked PR firm,  Mediascop, renamed and called imaginatively Le Média when it expanded into providing ‘news and information’After resigning following  some ferocious rows there she is at present involved in their European election campaign. (Mélenchon, visé par les juges, s’en prend aux médias).

Today brings another batch of details about the accusations concerning LFI’s use of fictitious jobs and dodgy accounts involving Mediscop, his election campaigns and the company set up in the name of one of Mélenchon ‘s dire books, L’Ere du peuple (which announces that class struggle is henceforth absorbed into the fight between the People and the elite Caste): Soupçons d’emplois fictifs et comptes de campagne : les deux affaires qui visent Mélenchon (le Monde).

Mélenchon has responded to media reports of the charges and his hysterical reaction by calling on supporters to “« pourrir ” (which could be translated as ‘give a bollocking to’, bearing in the mind that its root meaning is “to rot”) critical journalists.

Two targets were singled out: Radio France’s France-Inter and the independent Mediapart, set up by the left-wing veteran Edwy Plenel (“Agression” et “ignominie” : Mélenchon s’en prend à Mediapart, qui révèle sa “relation extra-professionnelle” avec sa conseillère Sophia Chikirou “)

Attacking the media, some might say, has become something of an obsession:

With a tear in his eye LFI deputy Eric Coquerel, who has close ties with the exemplary media outlet, RT, tweeted yesterday. He warned of the far-right in Bresil, and fellow Media-hater Trump, and compared Melenchon to French socialist martyr , Jean Jaurès.

Coquerel omitted to mention that Jaurès, opposed to war between the European nations un the build up the Great War,  was insulted for his alleged ‘pro-German’ sympathies, for which he was murdered by a far-right nationalist.

There are not many people around who would accuse the author of “le poison Allemande” of being pro-Bosch.

Image result for le poison allemand

Still, he’s got this backing for his present stand:

There have been many admirers of La France insoumise in the English speaking world, Counterfire for one.

But few are as stalwart in defending Mélenchon as the US magazine Jacobin.

As this reaction to his latest troubles indicates.

Raided by the MachineCOLE STANGLER

17.1018.

Yesterday morning, French police raided the home of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The leftist leader was quick to point the blame at Emmanuel Macron.

……

If anything, this will energize the party’s base even further. Among Mélenchon’s many attributes, he has a powerful social media presence; of the 1 million people who like his page on Facebook and the 1.93 million who follow him on Twitter, a significant portion just witnessed their favorite politician humiliated at his own home.

Not everyone will feel the same; some will even think he went overboard with his reaction. But faced with the judicial offensive, Mélenchon’s own supporters will surely be fired up by the raids.

Unfortunately for this die-hard the opinion polls this week say that not only do 76% disapprove of this attitude but 51% of his voters in the Presidential election do so as well. His support now stands at a shrunken level. His

score has dropped by 7 percentage points since last month, with 22 percent of respondents approving of his job performance. Among hardcore backers — those who voted for him in round one of the presidential election — the level of support had fallen by 15 points.

Tough one…

Spiked Does Funny on the People’s Vote March, Transgenderism, Universal Credit Dependency, and Mansize Wank Tissues.

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Image result for spiked online bias

The Old Ones Are Still the Best.

I like a larf, me.

Spiked is on rare form this week, with top tips like “Bring back the mansize tissues”, Universal credit as an answer to why “many today are so dependent on the state to get by”,  and “Why isn’t transgenderism ‘cultural appropriation’? We chastise white women who have afro hairstyles but cheer men who dress as women.” by Brendan himself.

Not to mention defending the Italian far-right against the Brussels Tyrants.

But this – oh my aching sides! – is surely the best:

The People’s Vote march changed my mind on Brexit. Luke Gittos. 

It was the middle-class, puntastic placards that clinched it for me.

 As we assembled in London’s Mayfair, a working-class Leave voting stronghold, of course, I was blown away by the level of banner bantz.

‘Bears for Brexit’, and was carried by a group of very burly men with beards. I assume they were woodsmen of some kind.

After all, I saw at least 200,000 young people on that march. All we need to do is allow them to vote 87 times each and we will have a majority. That is what I call democracy.

They say this is pretty funny as well:

Luke Gittos is the author of Why Rape Culture is a Dangerous Myth: From Steubenville to Ched Evans.

So why the bleeding fuck do they publish this load of New Age cack that’s there today?

 

Daily life for our forefathers was harsh. The natural world was a brutal environment where life was competitive, callous, ferocious, merciless and short. Like all animals, we faced daily hazards and threats: freezing, drowning, disease, dying of hunger, thirst, and death from predators. This was not David Attenborough’s natural world, a spectacle we can enjoy from the comfort of our heated living rooms on plasma TVs. This was the savage natural world we, like all natural objects, came to exist in; not a Garden of Eden, but a gladiatorial arena ‘steeped in blood’.

Human consciousness, our ability to think abstractly, to develop language and speech, to cooperate and collaborate – in short, our sociality – enabled us to develop the collective imagination and creativity to overcome nature’s limits.

The example of flight illustrates this beautifully. One of the prices we paid for bipedality was that while our arms and hands were freed, they were not wings. Nature ‘forgot’ to give us wings. We could not escape predators by leaping into the air and flying out of harm’s way. Nor could we travel long distances over natural barriers like mountains or rivers. We do not have the size, strength or indeed the appendages to make this possible.

We are able to fly today as individuals because as a society we developed, over centuries, often in the face of a great deal of human scepticism, the knowledge of the materials to manufacture aeroplanes, the expertise to design jet engines and fuels to power them, and the grasp of the laws of aerodynamics. Our ability to fly, once limited by nature, is now a freedom, a new human need as commonplace and safe as walking, and far more impressive than anything conjured up by nature. In overcoming nature’s limitations, mankind has truly shown itself to be collectively ingenious — a species that can fly despite lacking the biological make-up for flight. The expertise developed to achieve this served change far greater than just flight. It helped to push the boundaries of knowledge and expertise in many other areas of human endeavour.

Contrary to the elite narrative, these accomplishments could never have been achieved in isolation from the mass of society, no matter how smart the individuals involved. The elite narrative presents a one-sided story of how innovation works. It mystifies innovation as being solely driven by the experts, while underestimating the critical importance of the many. In reality, experts are not born; they are created by society, through solving the problems confronting society.

Norman Lewis. The Enduring Wisdom.

Novra Media’s James Butler Laments British Labour’s Failure to Read Perry Anderson and Tom Nairn.

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Image result for anderson nairn for socialism

Latest Woke Book for Corbynistas. 

Top Jeremy Corbyn supporter: Britain’s problem is failure to execute the rich

Speaking on Monday for a video on the pro-Jeremy Corbyn media site Novara Media, a Novara founder explained why socialism hasn’t found a natural base in British society.

According to James Butler, “the great problem of British politics is that we never had a successful bourgeois revolution so we never executed all of these people. And therefore they remain in this kind of continual alliance that is extremely powerful between land wealth and a nascent bourgeois. It means that the structure of British politics is weirdly deformed as opposed to the standard European political model.”

Not only this but this!

(Last year…)

On #NovaraFM, Nina Power joins James Butler to talk about ‘decapitalism’ – from severed heads to sovereignty to contemporary anticapitalism and more.

Comrades were not slow to point to the errors in Cde Butler’s analysis.

We, notably Kylie and George, have delved into the depths of the Nairn-Anderson thesis, that Britain “never had a successful bourgeois revolution”.

This are some modest fruits of our research.

There is, about them, the air of an inverted Podsnappery.

“We Englishmen are Very Proud of our Constitution, Sir,” Mr. Podsnap explained with a sense of meritorious proprietorship: “It was Bestowed Upon Us By Providence. No Other Country is so Favoured as This Country …”

“And other countries,” said the foreign gentleman. “They do how?”

“They do, Sir,” returned Mr. Podsnap, gravely shaking his head; “they do – I am sorry to be obliged to say it – as they do.”

But now the rôles are reversed. Mr. Podsnap (who has swelled to engross all British culture over the past 400 years) is being arraigned in his turn.

“And other countries,” said Mr. Podsnap remorsefully. “They do how?”

“They do,” returned Messrs. Anderson and Nairn severely: “They do – we are sorry to be obliged to say it – in Every Respect Better. Their Bourgeois Revolutions have been Mature. Their Class Struggles have been Sanguinary and Unequivocal. Their Intelligentsia has been Autonomous and Integrated Vertically. Their Morphology has been Typologically Concrete. Their Proletariat has been Hegemonic.”

E.P. Thompson

The Peculiarities of the English  (1965)

Since that time many people have been influenced by the debates arising from François Furet’s Penser la Révolution Française (1978).

Many in New Left Review have taken the view that by criticism the paranoiac ultra-nationalist Terror during the French Revolution, and finding some parallels with the Terror in the Bolshevik Revolution, was a key marker in the French intelligentsia’s’ turn against Marxism in the 1970s

Others, who have read the book (really a collection of essays) for themselves,  see a critique of the ‘stage’ theory of bourgeois revolutions. That is the view that only a “proper” political Revolution,with some bloodshed (see Butler) on the model of 1789 can clear the way for a bourgeois society with its appropriate state.

For Marxists the most striking aspect of his essays  is that they pointed out, like Thompson, that there was not one model for the bourgeois revolution, or for the coming of bourgeois society.

There is little doubt that Furet was inclined to hint that the Jacobins foreshadowed, in some way, the Bolsheviks. That the belief that they incarnated “popular sovereignty” and the ‘General Will’ (an object which has never been sighted in the flesh) and convinced of their own Virtue, had something in common with the belief that Lenin’s party embodied the progress of history and the will of the Proletariat. More broadly he signalled how the Jacobin version of direct democracy – restricted to ‘active citizens’ – facilitated their ‘machine’ open to the evocation of this General Will against dissent.

Furet  central point is that the terror and the hysterical fear of ‘aristocratic plots’ cannot be explained away by adverse ‘circumstances’, the need to defend France against foreign intervention, and domestic armed opposition.

Whether the explanation for the repression, the Guillotine, and the ferocity of the revolutionaries,  lies in proto-totalitarianism or in the historically far from unique paranoia of a state of siege, remains an issue for historians.

Jacobin rule, the power of the original Commune de Paris, was overthrow with only token resistance. With a broken jaw a screaming and whimpering Robespierre was guillotined on 10 Thermidor (28th of July 1794).

But to return to Anderson and Nairn.

Nicos Poulantzas commented,

The characteristic conclusions of Anderson and Nairn follow from this short passage, which must seem strange to anyone who has been concerned with British political problems. For in their analysis, what Marx called ‘the most bourgeois of nations’ presents the paradoxical situation of a capitalist formation ‘typical’ in its origin and evolution, within which, however, the bourgeois class has almost never taken the ‘pure’ role of the hegemonic or dominant class. Because of its ‘aborted’ revolution between the 15th and 18th centuries, the bourgeois class did not succeed in changing the objective structures of the feudal state, and remained in practice a class politically dominated until its ‘absorption’ within a ‘power bloc’ belatedly formed by the landed aristocracy.

This aristocracy, by imposing its cultural and ideological hegemony on the British social formation as a whole, remained permanently the determinant class within the structures of political domination of this capitalist society. [6]

The bourgeois class, having missed its vocation as the hegemonic class, did not succeed, as in France, in structuring a ‘coherent’ ideology of its own which could be the dominant ideology in this formation: the ruling ideology of English society as a whole was the ‘aristocratic’ ideology.

MARXIST POLITICAL THEORY IN BRITAIN

More critiques of this false route:

 The Pristine Culture of Capitalism 

Ellen Meiksins Wood on the Nairn-Anderson thesis and the Bourgeois paradigm

The Nairn-Anderson theses, which sparked a wide-ranging and fruitful debate in particular with the historian E. P. Thompson, were elaborated in the 1960s and 1970s in the pages of the New Left Review. Their principal object was to explain the ‘origins of the present crisis’, at a time when Britain appeared to be unique among capitalist countries in its pattern of industrial decline. Some twenty years later, that debate was revived in a context of international crisis and restructuring of capital, which tended to mask any particularly British disorder. This was also a time when the dominant capitalist economy of the earlier period – the United States – began to reproduce the pattern of decline that once seemed peculiarly British. The powerful and influential Nairn-Anderson theses, constructed in the sixties to explain the British decline by tracing it to its historical roots, were called upon to defend not only their explanation of a specifically British disease but also the very notion of its specificity. At the same time, there has emerged a movement for constitutional reform in Britain, whose leading proponents (especially those associated with ‘Charter 88’) subscribe to something very much like the Nairn-Anderson thesis about the incompleteness of Britain’s bourgeois revolution and the immaturity of its bourgeois democracy.

The original Nairn-Anderson theses rested on two principal assumptions: that the British decline was special and unique, and that these specific disorders were traceable to the priority, and consequent incompleteness, of capitalist development in Britain, where a fundamentally unchallenged early capitalism emerged under the auspices of a landed aristocracy instead of a triumphant urban bourgeoisie, lacking the complete sequence of bourgeois revolutions which on the Continent produced more ‘rational’, bourgeois states. This still agrarian and aristocratic capitalist class experienced no need completely to transform the social order and its cultural supports, while the immature bourgeoisie never seized hegemony over the process of ‘modernization’, leaving British industrial capital permanently dwarfed by more primitive commercial and financial forms of capital. An essential corollary of this thesis was that other, late-developing capitalist countries were not subject to the same disorders because they were more ‘modern’ and their bourgeois revolutions more complete.

These major assumptions were later modified in various ways by each of the original authors. Perry Anderson argued in ‘The Figures of Descent’ that the British case may have prefigured a more universal pattern, already replicated in the United States and show­ing signs of ‘its ultimate generalization throughout the advanced capitalist world’. At the same time, he accepted the view, most boldly expressed by Arno Mayer, that the ‘ancien regime’persisted throughout Europe well into the twentieth century, implying that the ‘backwardness’ of Britain is not in itself so exceptional.  Tom Nairn went even further than Anderson or Mayer in his claims for the persistence of the ancien regime in Europe. We may, he suggested in his remarkable book on the British monarchy, only now be ‘living in the first decades of true capitalist ascendancy’ – which he identifies with the triumph of an industrial bourgeoisie and the formation of a state to match.

So Britain is apparently unique neither in its ‘backwardness’ nor even, perhaps, in the pattern of its crisis. Indeed, if Nairn in particular is right in postponing the definitive triumph of capitalism to the 1970s, his theses seem to be in need of substantial adjust­ments: the decade which, according to Nairn, saw the decisive victory of capitalism was also marked by the replication elsewhere of precisely those patterns that supposedly signal a peculiarly British disease – most notably in a capitalist country with none of Britain’s archaic residues.

Perry Anderson’s ‘The Figures of Descent’ concludes by pointing to the signs that the British pattern may become universal through­out the advanced capitalist world. At the same time, he still regards the British instance as specific, in the nature, timing and scale of its decline as well as in the poverty of the instrumentalities available to British capitalism for reversing its industrial decadence. The question for him must be whether the original historical explanation can withstand the generalization of British ‘backwardness’ to include all the capitalist countries of Europe.

The simple option of generalizing his British explanation, so that the universal ‘backwardness’ and uneven development of Europe is invoked to account for the general crisis, is clearly unacceptable to Anderson, not just because it leaves unexplained the American case, which so far has shown the most pronounced inclination to follow the British example, but also because there really are significant specificities in the British case which remain to be explained. Anderson stresses, for instance, the particular scale of British industry, the inclination to favour small-scale production of consumer goods over heavy industry, the resistance to the concentration and centralization of capital and production, and the disproportionate weight of Britain’s investment abroad. There remains, too, a particular cultural configuration which, as Ander­son has argued in the past, sets Britain apart from the general culture and intellectual life of Wes tern Europe, and which, accord­ing to Tom Nairn, has left Britain with a national identity defined by the archaic forms of the monarchy and pre-capitalist ideologies of class.

If other capitalist economies are destined eventually to suffer a similar fate, and if the archaic remnants of Britain’s past must be situated in a larger context of European backwardness, Anderson seems to be suggesting, the particularities of the British decline can still be explained by the peculiarities of its ancien regime. While the Nairn-Anderson theses must be further specified to provide an explanation ‘at a lower level of individuation’ which spells out the specificities of the British ancien regime in contrast to other persis­tent antiquities, the original theses remain fundamentally intact, argues Anderson, vindicated in the court of history.

Yet, these modifications aside, it is possible that two distinct theses have from the beginning competed for primacy in Anderson’s account of British history. Because the two theses tend to be interwoven in his work, the distinctions are not immediately evident; but it is possible to separate out the principal strands.

Thesis 1 (which, on the whole, appears to be dominant) depicts a precocious capitalism and a ‘mediated’ bourgeois revolution, a capitalism stunted by its aristocratic and agrarian origins, the absence of a clear antagonism between bourgeoisie and aristocracy and the failure of the bourgeoisie to escape its subaltern position or to transform the state and the dominant culture. In contrast, Continental capitalisms benefited from more complete and unme­diated bourgeois revolutions, and from clear contradictions between bourgeoisie and aristocracy which issued in a decisive triumph of the bourgeoisie and its thorough transformation of archaic political and cultural superstructures. The relative failures of Britain and the successes of other capitalisms have to do with the premature and incomplete development of the former and the greater maturity of the latter.

Thesis 2 (which could be, though it is not, detached from the dominant thesis and made to stand on its own, with some extrapolation) again begins with a precocious capitalism, but this time the critical factor is not the persistence of the ancien regime so much as the absence of obstacles to the development of this early and unchallenged capitalism. Here, the defects of contemporary British capitalism are ascribed to the advantages it derived from its head­start. It is not simply a matter of first to rise, first to decline, nor even a question of antiquated material infrastructures. The argument is rather that Britain’s early and unrivalled evolution as a capitalist power left it bereft of the means to reverse the decline once set in train, while other European capitalisms were, at least for a time, better equipped. Early English capitalism never faced the need to establish institutions and practices to enhance or accelerate development – for example, certain kinds of state intervention or administrative skills; and its slow and ‘natural’ industrial revolu­tion, unlike, say, the later German process of industrialization, generated no need for ‘the “bureaucratic” creation of a widespread, efficient system of technical education’. So have ‘the triumphs of the past become the bane of the present’.

These two theses do, of course, overlap and are not entirely incompatible; but there are significant differences, not all of which can be reconciled. Thesis 2 (early leadership) can more easily accommodate the persistence of the ancien regime throughout Europe, but Thesis 1 (incomplete bourgeois revolution) could in principle survive the postponement or prolongation of Continental bourgeois revolutions. Thesis 2, however, can explain the replication of British patterns elsewhere, which Thesis 1 cannot. For example, in Thesis 2, although Britain would remain unique because of its early and unchallenged origins, other capitalisms, emerging later and attaining dominance in a more competitive setting, might still reproduce the effects of leadership, ‘trapped and burdened by its past successes’.  The recent history of American capitalism illustrates how a period of dominance can eventually produce its own competitive disadvantages, not least because leaders can for a time make profits without developing productive forces. According to Thesis 2, the priority of British capitalism, its very early leadership, would still account for relatively greater disadvantages, and no later leadership could exactly reproduce the effects of earlier dominance; but in this version, the successes and failures of any capitalist economy have more to do with the conditions of competition than with the persistence of, or ruptures with, a pre-capitalist past.

She continues,

In other words, Thesis 2 could accept, as Thesis 1 cannot, that archaic forms are not necessarily incompatible with a dynamic capitalism -as the examples of Germany and Japan have so vividly demonstrated. The second thesis could even entertain the possi­bility that there may be circumstances in which the survival of archaic forms can promote, rather than impede, capitalist develop­ment -for instance, the availability of bureaucratic state-forms whose interventions can override the inherent contradictions of ‘pure’ capitalism, or the persistence of cultural forms that under­write the deference of workers. Indeed, the first successors of early English capitalism may more exactly fit the case of capitalist development conducted under ‘pre-modern’ auspices, as post­absolutist states responded to the competitive challenge and the example of English capitalism (sometimes also benefiting from the availability of English capital and technology). It was precisely in such cases more than in Britain that a dynamic capitalism could develop prematurely, in advance of fully ripe indigenous conditions and even adapting pre-capitalist relics to the needs of capitalist development.

The two theses, to put it another way, differ in their underlying conceptions of capitalism: the first is predicated on an unambiguously progressive capitalism which, left to its natural logic, will always promote industrial advance and a ‘rational’ state; the other acknowledges the contradictions inherent in the system. The first must attribute failures to the incompleteness of capitalist development; the second can ascribe them to the inherent weaknesses of capitalism itself. It is worth adding that Thesis 2, the early-leadership thesis, is more compatible with arguments put forward by E.P. Thompson in the original debate, and less subject to his persuasive charge that Nairn-Anderson operated with an abstractly idealized model of a ‘Bourgeois Revolution’ drawn – somewhat tautologically – from the experience of Other Countries.

Much of the discussion that follows here will be conducted against the background of the Nairn-Anderson theses, though not always in direct debate with them, sharing their basic premise that the priority of British capitalism provides a key to its current condition, and drawing on their insights about British history and culture, but not necessarily arriving at the same conclusions.

One major point remains indisputable. Britain – or rather England – was the world’s first capitalist society, and its priority profoundly affected its future development. There can be little doubt that its specific course of development left British capitalism singularly ill-endowed to undertake the kind of restructuring, notably the concentration of capital and production, required in the later conditions of international competition. But these facts are susceptible to more than one interpretation. If English capitalism was the first, and hence also the only one to emerge, as it were, spontaneously and not in response to external competitive press­ures from more ‘modern’ states, it is undoubtedly true that this ‘organic’ evolution left archaic forms in place instead of sweeping them away in a series of revolutionary onslaughts. But it may also be true, and for the same reason, that capitalism was more deeply rooted and its laws of motion more firmly established here than elsewhere, transforming the substance while preserving old forms -new wine in old bottles.

This is the decisive point:

Is Britain, then, a peculiar capitalism or is it peculiarly capitalist? That question is no less significant for an understanding of capita­lism in general than for an interpretation of British history in particular. It makes a very great difference whether the flaws in the world’s first capitalism and its pattern of industrial decline are the weaknesses of immaturity and incompleteness, specific to a peculiar case of arrested development, or the inherent contradictions of the system itself.

It may turn out that many of the qualities attributed to the incomplete development of British capitalism belong rather to capitalism as such, while the apparently more complete bourgeois revolutions elsewhere represent deeper continuities with a pre­capitalist past, and even that those continuities have sometimes benefited other European capitalisms. We may also find that, while Britain is indeed remarkable for its attachment to archaic forms and its tendency to revive – or even to invent- obsolete antiquities, and while these forms undoubtedly play an important ideological role, continuities with a pre-capitalist past are here more formal and symbolic than the structural continuities that connect other European states (without the symbolic trappings) to their ‘pre-modern’ antecedents.

There are certain conventional hallmarks of modernity, associated with the bourgeois paradigm, which have been absent in Britain and present in its principal historic rivals – in particular the so-called ‘rational’ or ‘modem’ state, with corresponding traditions of political discourse and cultural forms. It will be argued here that the emergence of these hallmarks in Continental Europe did not signal the maturity of ‘bourgeois’ or capitalist forces but on the contrary reflected the continuing strength of pre-capitalist social property relations. In fact, the appearance of ideas commonly associated with the advent of the modern state – certain conceptions of indivisible sovereignty and nationhood, for instance – testify as much to the absence of ‘modernity’, and indeed the absence of a unified sovereignty and nationhood, as to their presence in reality. The principal case is France, which has given the world its domi­nant model of ‘bourgeois revolution’ and the birth of modernity.

Conversely, what are taken to be the conventional signs of a ‘modern’ state and political culture were absent in England not because the English state was backward or because English capita­lism was deviant and immature. On the contrary, these absences signalled the presence of a well-developed capitalism and a state that was evolving in tandem with the capitalist economy. What England lacked in political discourse it possessed in historical reality. In Britain, then, there has been no fatal disjuncture between a capitalist economy and a political-cultural ancien regime suspended in time somewhere around 1688. On the contrary, the formation of state and dominant culture has been inextricably bound up with the development of capitalism, conforming all too well to its economic logic and internal contradictions. Britain may even be the most thoroughly capitalist culture in Europe.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 24, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Tariq Ramadan, admits to “Lying” in defending himself against Rape Allegations.

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Tariq Ramadan” «Désolé pour ma ‘violence’»: Sorry for my ‘violence’.(le Soir)

On the 25th of July prominent figures backed this campaign for Islamist Scholar Tariq Ramandan.

JOURNALISTS, ACADEMICS, FILMMAKERS EXPRESS OUTRAGE AT TARIQ RAMADAN’S UNJUST TREATMENT BY FRENCH JUDICIARY

We wish to remind the country that affirmed the inalienability of human rights and equality, the importance of respecting principles that ensure the integrity of French justice.”

The letter also expresses deep concern with the inhuman treatment that Tariq Ramadan has been subject to at the hands of French justice.

The signatories conclude by asking, “We ask our French friends: should it truly come to this?

They included:

Ken Loach, UK, Dr Norman Finkelstein, USA, Noam Chomsky, USA, Peter Oborne, London, UK, The Rt Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Cambridge, UK, Yvonne Ridley, Scotland, UK, Baroness Uddin, Charles Taylor, Montreal, Canada, Houria Bouteldja, Paris, France, Karen Armstrong, London, UK.

Now Ramadan has changed his story and admitted to lying.

Leading Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, charged with raping two women in France, claimed Monday that he had consensual sex with both of them after previously denying any physical contact.

France 24.

Ramadan, a well-known TV commentator, has strongly denied accusations that he raped the women in hotel rooms as an attempted smear by his opponents.

His lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny said the Swiss academic had changed his account of what happened on the basis of text messages that have emerged between him and his two accusers.

The messages “show that the plaintiffs lied and that the sexual encounters were wanted, consensual and even sought again afterwards”, Marsigny said.

The unearthing of these messages “has allowed him to acknowledge that he had sexual relations” with the women, Marsigny said.

Ramadan, accused of raping the women in 2009 and 2012, has been in custody since February 2.

He previously insisted he had no sexual contact with his two accusers, feminist activist Henda Ayari and a disabled woman known in media reports as “Christelle”.

Ramadan was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when the rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement late  last year.

The married father of four, whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has repeatedly sought bail arguing that being in prison is making it difficult to treat his multiple sclerosis.

The courts have so far rejected his requests, ruling that he can receive adequate treatment in the prison hospital at Fresnes in the southern Paris suburbs.

Last month a computer expert working on the investigation retrieved 399 text messages between Ramadan and Christelle, whom he is accused of raping in a Lyon hotel room in 2009.

The text messages detailed his violent sexual fantasies ahead of the alleged attack.

Afterwards, the records show that he wrote to her: “I sensed your unease… apologies for my ‘violence’.”

Ramadan previously claimed he was involved in a “game of seduction” with Christelle, online and on the telephone.

But he said their only face-to-face contact was a drink in the hotel bar, describing her as a “compulsive liar”.

Ramadan’s lawyers have also provided details of his exchanges with Ayari, whom he is accused of raping in a Paris hotel in 2012.

The New Straits Times  adds,

Ramadan said he had “relations akin to sex games of the submissive-dominant kind, but always in a consensual and knowing way,” his lawyer said.

“It has been one year now that Mr Ramadan’s defendants have been playing tricks to save his cause. But the truth is that he lied from the beginning of this case by denying he had sexual relations and that it took one year to confess,” Jonas Haddad, a lawyer for the other plantiff, Henda Ayari, told Reuters.

“Will it take him another year to confess the rest?” he said.

Ramadan’s lawyer said a series of text messages found in the two women’s mobile phones showed the relations were consensual. He filed a request for Ramadan, in custody since he was notified of the French investigation on February 2, to be freed.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 23, 2018 at 12:04 pm

People’s Vote March for “neoliberal, racist EU” (Socialist Worker), backed by “neoliberal media” (Morning Star).

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Big Business Agenda, says Socialist Worker.

Socialist Worker leads with,

Huge march for a ‘People’s Vote’ boosts the big business agenda Sarah Bates.

The People’s Vote is a cross party alliance with warmongering spin doctor Alastair Campbellgiving leadership. Many people have pointed out that as director of communications and spokesperson for Tony Blair’s Labour Party he ignored a march against the invasion of Iraq which was three times the size of Saturday’s.

The organised left were largely absent on the march although there was a number of Labour Party banners. There was virtually no trade union presence.

Whatever the individual motivation of marchers, it is a vehicle to deliver the big business agenda of defending the single market and the neoliberal, racist EU.

..

…the People’s Vote campaign is a desperate bid by sections of the ruling class to maintain the status quo.

The Morning Star carries on in the same vein,

Their patronising demand for a “People’s” Vote, with its implication that extraterrestrials or farm animals voted to leave first time round, oozes New Labour marketing style.

Whereas obstacles were placed in the way of the Stop the War Coalition in 2003, from media misrepresentation or censorship to Blair government attempts to prevent marchers gathering in Hyde Park for fear of “damaging the grass,” the neoliberal media, including the BBC, has been wholeheartedly behind the People’s Vote project.

Neither of these two accounts mention the Left Bloc on the March, organised by Another Europe is Possible.

Walsall Wadical Giles Fraser takes another approach,

The pious Padre’s answer for the Walsall un-Washed?

Giles Fraser on People’s Vote:

If you are not religious, you may not like the following parallel. But the core appeal of Christianity is that it imagines a God that is not distant, but that has made himself close to ordinary lived experience by being born as a human in a shed, and has lived among us. This is a God that seeks closeness to people in their concrete reality, so much so that they call Him “Abba”, an intimate term that is better translated “Daddy” than the stern Victorian-sounding “Father”. Today’s global capitalism is a very different sort of religion. In theological terms, it is a form of Deism: a distant god that creates everything but does not intervene in the world. It is a god with whom there is no interaction.

The emotional core of Brexit, and the reason I remain a passionate Brexiter, despite all its problems, is that it seeks to collapse the distance between power and ordinary people.

For some proper reports see:

Workers’ Liberty went on the People’s Vote demonstration on 20 October with placards (see below), red flags, banners, stalls, and chant sheets.

Ours was the only organised left-wing presence on the demonstration. The full count is not yet in, but we must have sold about 300 copies of Solidarity on the demonstration, as well as books, pamphlets, etc., and collected contact details from many people who want to keep in touch.

We distributed the “Left Against Brexit” leaflet produced by the Nottingham and Sheffield Left Against Brexit groups.

We distributed chant sheets. We joined the “Left Bloc” organised by “Another Europe is Possible”, and most of the bloc took up our chants. They were the only chants anywhere on the demo to go beyond “we want a people’s vote” and “bollocks to Brexit”, as far as we could tell.

The demonstration numbers are reported as 700,000, and it was certainly huge. The speakers at the end were more on a Lib-Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru wavelength than left-wing: the middle-of-the-road Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was probably the most left-wing.

There was hardly any Labour Party presence as such. We came across many Labour voters and Labour members on the march. Like the majority of Labour supporters and members, according to many polls, they oppose Brexit, and are unhappy with the Labour leaders’ fence-sitting on the issue.

There were very few banners from Labour Parties or union branches, or indeed from any organisations, on the huge march. The marchers were on average a more prosperous, more Lib-Dem-ish crowd than those who join other leftish protest marches, and non-white marchers were a smaller minority than they are in London’s general population; but given the huge overall size of the march, it was also a big turnout of non-white marchers.

Our aim now is to expand and step up the activity of the network of local “Left Against Brexit” groups.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2018 at 11:46 am

Left Bloc at the People’s Vote March: On lâche rien!

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At the Left Bloc Behind the Banner ‘Stop Tory Brexit’ (Photos from Mike H).

After short speeches in Old Park Lane, by a number of people, including Michael Chessum, Hilary Wainwright and Mary Kaldor, hundreds joined the Left Bloc at the People’s Vote March.

It was felt that a serious left presence was needed to show that the ‘another Europe is possible’ can be a political force within anti-Brexit protests, the Labour Party and the labour movement.

The intervention was well received, apart from unfavourable reactions from a few Liberal Democrats.

At the post-Demo discussion and Party in Lambeth, people thanked the organisers’ for their hard work, which had  paid, off.

The strategy is now to build the campaign for a People’s Vote in the Labour Party and the trade unions.

There was serious discussion on the grounded, mass, and worked out alternative to the ‘Lexit’ sovereigntist left which needs to be built.

It was an exceptional day.

The warmth and enthusiasm of the left bloc reminded this writer of one of his favourite film moments – Blue is the Warmest Colour, (Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2).

On lâche rien!

 

People’s Vote march: ‘More than 700,000 protesters’ call for second referendum on Brexit in ‘largest demonstration since Iraq War’

After the March there was a Post-demo Party in Lambeth.

 

 

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Thanks for to the gallery of photos by Mike Hirst.

And (nicked from LM):

Image may contain: 2 people, outdoor

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 21, 2018 at 10:46 am

Julie Burchill, Suzanne Moore, Socialist Worker…..On the Eve, more Reasons to Back the Stop Tory Brexit Bloc. Tomorrow.

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“Lining up behind big business calls for a second referendum to stay in the racist, neoliberal EU.”Socialist Worker

I won’t be marching for a people’s vote. There has already been one 

Ipswich’s most famous daughter, and former Punter on the Orwell Estuary, writes that “some of her best friends” will be joining the march.

I won’t be joining them. Not because I don’t care about their feelings or voices, but because of the strange denial of what this is all about.

She adds,

So half the country are racist, old, small-minded, poor people who were seduced by a combination of Aaron Banks and the delusions of empire? Spare me please.

Picture of where Moore used to go ‘punting’:

Image result for river orwell at low tide

Spiked: I love rebellion, and that’s why I love Brexit’

Julie Burchill on her new play, the working classes, sex and Brexit.

People Like Us – a new play about sex and Brexit. ”

 I was happy with my semi-retired life, doing volunteer work and having long lunches by the sea with my mates.

….

People Like Us is billed as a play about sex and Brexit. What’s the connection?”

I think that the ruling class – even when they’ve been progressives and actually very helpful, like Marie Stopes, and the Fabians – have always had a parasexual fear of the working class. It’s probably to do with the sort of sex they imagine us having – animalistic rather than caring or whatever – and this is a dark backbeat to Brexit, that we’re seeking to wallow in our own filth, be it racial, sexual or otherwise. It’s not us who’s having erotic spasms – it’s the prissy Remainers, looking under their blameless beds for big bad Brexiteers to treat ’em rough.

It is hard to beat that…..

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From our spaz side.

Only Labour can save Britain from this disastrous Brexit

As a trades unionist, negotiating for workers’ rights is my lifeblood. But never have I seen a negotiating hand played worse. May has led her cabinet into a hole and their inability to tell it straight to the British people means they can’t stop digging. British people crave straight-talking, and they crave a politics in which politicians treat them as grown-ups. Truth-tellers are respected. It’s the liars who can’t be stomached.

So with an extended transition deal set to turn Britain from EU nation state to yoked province, it falls to the people to rescue the country from Tory idiocy. But Labour, too, must rise to what is now becoming a national liberation struggle. The Brexit that was promised to leavers is not remotely possible. The backlash against May as this truth sinks in will finish her. For those of us committed to a Labour government, this is now Jeremy Corbyn’s moment. He can be prime minister-in-waiting if he leads the new battle of ideas for a different kind of Brexit.

Vassal state is not an option Labour can tolerate. Absolutely no one voted to be a colony. It is as ridiculous a political choice as it is unnecessary. The Tories are the party of the binary – we had a yes or no referendum and then a deal or no-deal Brexit. This is no way to do democratic politics. Labour’s position of keeping all options on the table subverts the Tories’ immature binaries – and enables a variety of democratic choices to prevail, including a popular vote on the outcome of negotiations and even a remain option should facts compel us to it.

What is now being offered makes staying berthed inside the EU look like a safe harbour. And Corbyn’s wait-and-see approach has ushered him to the threshold of government. The Tory shambles in which we go from EU nation state with full rights to irrelevant outpost should now be fully opposed. Retaining full EU voting membership until we have negotiated the future trading relationship with our European partners must become a Labour manifesto commitment. This won’t be easy as the EU itself has made leaving a red line for the start of negotiations about the future trading relationship. But the ace up Labour’s sleeve is the fact that we have not ruled out a popular vote once negotiations have been concluded. In the absence of a general election before 29 March, Labour must use parliamentary procedures to counter the government’s policy. To maintain the continued liberation of Britain now falls to Labour. We are ready.

 Manuel Cortes is general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Review: Revolution française. Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation. Sophie Pedder. Bloomsbury. 2018.

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Review: Revolution française. Emmanuel Macron and the Quest to Reinvent a Nation. Sophie Pedder. Bloomsbury. 2018.

Emmanuel Macron is an “anti-Trump”, pro-European and a “liberal internationalist” who unites the centre-left and the centre-right against the extremes. He is a “neo-progressive”, argues Sophie Pedder, whose ideas are “structured around the idea of individual progress for all.” Elected President in 2017, in a run off with the far-right Marine Le Pen, at 39 years old, Macron presented a “a message of hope.” His strategy was “both a means of remaking party politics and a response to the populist threat”. Their campaign laid claim to break the existing party duopoly, and sweep away the existing “political caste”, itself perhaps a “populist” message.

The Head of State’s party, La République en marche (LRM), commands 60% of the seats in France’s National Assembly. It is, like many new ‘parties’ of this millennium, including their rivals La France insoumise (LFI), is less a democratic organisation run by the members than a top-down run movement or ‘rally’. Macron, despite the Benalla affair, and the recent Cabinet resignations of ecology Minister Bernard Hulot and Minister of the Interior Gèrard Collomb, is the master of French politics. He has been, so far, able to carry out his programme. Protests, last year,  against liberalising reform of labour legislation, and the railway service (SNCF), as well as of higher education, failed to have any impact.

Sophie Pedder is Paris bureau chief for the liberal (economically and politically), British weekly the Economist. Largely favourable to the President, the book is unlikely to win a favourable audience amongst those who dismiss Macron as, at best, a “social liberal”. This does not stop Revolution française from being a deft and informed account of Emmanuel Macron’s life and politics.

Modernisation.

Macron, writes Pedder, is a long-standing advocate of “modernisation”. France, from this standpoint, is burdened with regulations that stifle economic initiative. As a Minister of the Economy under Parti Socialiste President Hollande, his 2015 plans (Loi Macron) to loosen the rules on shop opening hours, and rigid legislation governing the ‘liberal professions’ (notaries, pharmacists) were partly thwarted. His Socialist colleagues were to blame, including the influential Mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, a moderate social democrat described as the “standard bearer of the Socialist left”.

This experience, Pedder states, led Macron to conclude that the existing party system kept France stuck in the past. A modernising regroupment needed, “to put together two-thirds of the Socialist Party, all of the centrists, and part of the centre-right. That would give us a pro-European market-friendly majority in favour of modernising the social model.” British readers will not fail to observe a parallel electoral logic with domestic ‘centrist’ projects, however tiny the audience for making the UK social system more ‘liberal’ is.

The achievement of that goal was partly due to good fortune. The “normal” Hollande discredited himself, both by his incontinent deprecation of colleagues revealed in Un président ne devrait pas dire ça (2006), and his causal deception of his partner Valerie Trierweiler. As his Presidential bid took off in 2017 his chief opponent on the right, François Fillon, became mired in allegations of financial misconduct. The Socialists chose the left-Green Benoît Hamon, without many allies beyond his own forces. With their political rivals in disarray Macron’s support snowballed. Socialists, centrists and the right, duly defected in his direction. The movement En marche  soon picked up a large number of the professional politicians targeted above, and inspired a, largely middle class, army of volunteers to campaign for him door to door.

Centre Left Reconciled to the Market Economy.

Revolution française equally offers a readable account of Macron’s ideas. Unlike the Macron, un president philosophe (Brice Couturier. 2017) Peddar does not offer a weighty list of influences, from Hegel to Schumpeter. Instead she singles out the influence of Macron’s teacher, Paul Ricœur, his Protestant humanism, and “confidence in mankind” with a dose of Saint-Simon’s advocacy of technocratic progress. Above all, “His roots are on the progressive centre left that reconciled itself to the market economy.” At the same time, noting some of Macron’s verbal tics, she observes that, “his theoretical abstractions and grandiosity came across as pompous. His sentences were convoluted, meandering and went on for ever.” One could expand further on his grating anglicisms.

Will Macron, the “networking machine”, be able to change France? Has ‘liberal globalism’ found a champion who will step into the breach that has opened up after the failure of ‘third way’? Peddar signals the entrenched difficulties of a divided France, mass unemployment, those cast aside in the banlieue and “la France périperifeque”. Can Macron’s grand romantic mission turn this around?

The ‘nation’ is less important than the people who live in France. There are not many grounds for hope in the recent indications that the richest section of French society is the undoubted winner of the President’s tax reforms. (Les ultrariches, grands gagnants de la fiscalité Macron. Le Monde. 13.10.18). Weakening labour legislation to the point where wage negotiations can take place plant by plant, does not look so progressive from the position of workers in enterprises cut off from national union support. Local tax changes seem designed to weaken municipal finance, not strengthen decentralised initiative. While Macron has tried to stand up to Trump his efforts have few visible effects.

Defeat of the French left.

The French left has yet to recover from the catastrophic defeat of the governing socialists. Hamon was fated, in the words of former PS General Secretary, Jean-Christophe Cambadélis to get the minimal score of left-greens, 6,36 %  (Chronique d’une débâcle 2017). Hamon now has his own party Génération.s. The PS has since seen more defections, this time to Jean-Luc Mélenchon La France insoumise. If LFI won a respectable vote of in the Presidential elections (fourth position and 19.58% for Jean-Luc Mélenchon,  in the first round) , and has, with its allies, 17 deputies, it is far, very far, from securing an alternative majority to Macron. It is unlikely this week’s pantomime response to police investigations into their funding will expand their audience and ‘federate’ the “People”. The left is now so splintered that up to 6 different lists will appear in next year’s European elections. It would appear, if one might say so from a distance, that a long-term war of position to regroup the left into some form of united front would be a better way of building an alternative to Macron that a head on war of manoeuvre. And, unlike LFI,  it is quite possible to be a ‘pro-European’ radical leftist.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Mélenchon on Police Inquiry into La France insoumise’s funding: “La République, c’est moi!”

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 Mélenchon’s sound and Fury: what does it signify?

Investigations have been opened into allegations of violence and threats against Police agents after incidents during the search of the headquarters of La France insoumise on Tuesday (October 16th).

The case, which arose from allegations of fictitious jobs in the European Parliament (that is, diverting EU funds into the movement’s hands to pay party employees in France) and the other examining funding of Mélenchon’s French presidential campaign last year. ,  and the finance of Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential campaign of 2017, has created an unholy row.

France 24 reports,

Anti-corruption investigators on Tuesday raided the home and party headquarters of French far-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who broadcast the raids live from his mobile phone.

The raids, part of a long-running investigation into the alleged misuse of European Parliament funds to pay party employees, took place at the offices of La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) in central Paris and Mélenchon‘s private residence.

Shouting “Resistance!”, hundreds of supporters gathered outside the party’s headquarters to protest against the police action.

Police blocked Mélenchon from entering the premises as the far-left firebrand threatened to break down the door if he was not allowed in.

“Who gave you these orders?” he demanded a police officer blocking the entrance. “I am a parliamentarian!”

Amid the scuffle Mélenchon yelled, “I am the Republic.”

This was the “hallucinatory” scene that ensued,

La France insoumise issued a series of furious statements, stating that the inquiry originated in malicious complaints from the far-right, and the was motivated by President Macron’s wish to discredit his most serious rival (at – at most – around 25% of public support).

They have issued this video of the events claiming that there was a  “will” to intimidate behind the actions.

Coup de force policier, judiciaire et politique

LFI asserts that the French president himself received funding (donations) that infringed laws regulating party finance.

Whatever the truth of these claims (and little can be ruled out in this murky world) Mélenchon’s barking response won the affection of the wits of the Internet.

Here is LFI’s own version of events:

Here is one of the countless parodies:

“You pour water on the tea-bag, you do not put the tea-bag in the water. Never!”

You can see more here, Pose ton  Mélenchon.

Oddly not everybody sees the funny side of this.  Nor have the media and political figures dismissed the unseemly display of anger as “just one of Mélenchon’s little tantrums”.

Showing that after this outburst he has not lost the ability to rub people up the wrong way Merluche yesterday mocked a journalist’s Provençal accent, in a fashion some might suggest was racist….

Mélenchon se moque de l’accent d’une journaliste avec un ton méprisant

The harshest criticism is not the he made a fool of himself but that the leader of the rally, La France insoumise failed to respect the authority of the Law of the Republic ignoring the dictum that, “nul n’est cense ignorer la loi”, (nobody should ignore the law).  Or in plain language, no-one is above the law.

Le Monde’s Editorial today there is talk of his “deadly rage”.

The tone is, to say the least, severe.

Voilà un député, qui plus est président de groupe, qui conteste violemment, entrave et veut discréditer une procédure judiciaire, certes spectaculaire et déplaisante pour les intéressés, mais, quoi qu’il en dise, parfaitement conforme aux règles de la procédure.

Here is a member of Parliament, who is also the president of a Parliamentary group, who violently contests, obstructs a judicial procedure, and who wishes to discredit it,. This is certainly spectacular and unpleasant for those concerned, but, whatever he says, the procedures followed in this case are perfectly in accordance with the rules.

A widely shared view is that the leader of LFI has shown himself incapable of self-control, that he loses his nerve in the face of adversary, and is thus unsuited to hold any position of power.

Rumours that he will be appearing in a London pantomime with Ken Livingstone have not been confirmed.

This will no doubt interest those on the British left who brought the leader of LFI to speak at a meeting outside the recent Labour Cofnerence.

Perhaps a world tour, with Jacobin, is on the cards.

In short, his behaviour has obscured the real issues arising from this judicial operation, summarised here;

The row over Mélenchon has become sufficiently loud to reach even the homegrown English language press.

Allegations relate to staff payments and 2017 presidential campaign accounts

French police have questioned leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon in connection with two funding probes after raids on his home and party headquarters this week.

The firebrand leader of the France Unbowed party, who has led opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms, was summoned to the headquarters of the anti-corruption bureau in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Police are investigating allegations that he used EU funds for European parliament assistants to pay staff for work carried out in France. They are also looking into allegations of irregularities in his 2017 presidential campaign accounts.

The 67-year-old MP, who won 20% of the vote in the first round of last year’s presidential election, has denied any wrongdoing and claims he is the victim of a political witch-hunt.

He reacted furiously to the raids on his home and party headquarters on Tuesday, shouting at police officers, shoving a prosecutor and attempting to force open the door of his party’s offices during the search.

The former Socialist minister has been strongly criticised over his outburst, with members of Macron’s government and centre-right Republicans accusing him of seeking to intimidate public servants and acting as if he were above the law.

Mélenchon, who is famous for his tirades (Note, should have read, “famous for his tirades, full stop”) against globalisation, the EU and elites, admitted later that things “got heated” but said he had “no regrets”.

The Paris prosecutor’s office is investigating him and other party officials for “threats and acts of intimidation against judicial authorities” and “violence against people carrying out public duties”.

Mélenchon’s party has filed a counter-complaint alleging police violence.

Alan Simpson, latest Labour left-winger to join calls from the Left Against Brexit.

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Alan Simpson is a well known and respected figure on the Labour left, and a Labour MP from 1992 to  2010.

He is is currently the Shadow Chancellor’s Adviser on Sustainable Economics.

Meanwhile, living the dream of a People’s Brexit, Counterfire’s Lindsy German opines,

The crisis for Theresa May and the Tories continues to deepen, their only lifeline would be a second referendum.

Most people will dismiss the claim that a Second Referendum, whatever the problems it poses, would help May’s tottering position.

This is rhetoric.

You can turn the Tory crisis into anything you want, PM

Bojo, Rees Mogg as future Chancellor…..

But it is very hard to see how a Second Referendum, which would be ferociously opposed by her right-wing Brexit mad MPs and a substantial layer of her members, would save her from….them.

German does raise a series of core issues which should be answered.

There will be a number of left wingers on it regardless, promoting the myth that ‘another Europe is possible’. It certainly is, but not if you pin your hopes on the EU. The position of ‘stay in and change the EU’ is simply utopian, since there is no democratic mechanism for doing so, and relies on a wilful refusal to look reality in the face. The growth of the far right in Europe is being fuelled by EU policies, and the resultant victories for far right politicians are blithely accepted in most cases. Flexibility at work, low wages, shameful treatment of migrants, all are deliberate policies from the EU. So it’s not the time to be sowing illusions in it, or giving failed politicians a leg up.

The British state has been shaped into a neoliberal institution – right down to the contracting out of the means to solve some of the mess created by Universal Credit to charities.

The government debt is owned by….bond holders, not the people. One might suggest that this indicates that it has something to do with capitalism.

Flexibility at work conditions has been a goal of successive UK governments; one of the constraints on it have been EU regulations (such as the Working Time Directive).

Did the EU stop Chancellor Merkel – while German’s grotesque Stop the War Coalition stood aside – welcoming Syrian refugees and other asylum seekers,  more than 1.4 million, almost half of the total applications across the bloc  in the last decade?

What are the prospects for democratic control over the economy outside the EU?

You cannot wish away the world economy, ‘globalisation’ and inter-Europe production flows.

People’s Brexiteers, so far as I am aware, do not propose to leave the World Trade Organisation(WTO).

This will be a key body regulating the famous “deals” with other countries in a post-EU UK.

The WTO is ‘neo-liberal’, though the polices of neo-liberal free trade at present caught up in the fall out from the sovereigntist attempts by pro-Brexit Trump to put ‘American First’.

Perhaps Counterfire would support launching a UK First campaign in retaliation.

These are just some responses.

For a more systematic reply to the Brexit Bolsheviks see;

Alena Ivanova and Michael Chessum (THE LEFT AGAINST BREXIT AN INTERNATIONALIST CASE FOR EUROPE. ANOTHER EUROPE IS POSSIBLE)

The British left is at a crossroads unlike any other in its history. Just as the Corbyn moment gives us hope, the Brexit moment presents us with an unprecedented crisis. Domestically, we face an entrenched regime of deregulation combined with an emboldened far right whose anti-immigration narrative has soaked into the mainstream.

The choices we face are not unique to us. From the emerging splits in Germany’s Die Linke to the ‘sovereigntist’ approach of some on the French left, the temptation to give in to the politics of nationalism and border-building is stronger than ever.

Our strategy for battling Brexit and the rising far right starts from an understanding that only the left can win against the encroaching darkness. Only a transformative, socialist vision can compete with the politics of hate and the reality of social crisis. And the agents of change will be workers and ordinary people – in all their diversity – not the morally bankrupt establishment. But what comes next is not just a question of understanding or analysis – it is a question of doing. Intervening into the mechanics of Brexit and trying to stop the train crash seems like an arduous task, but it is essential. The price of defeat would be the biggest expansion of immigration controls in Britain’s recent history, a decimation of  46 THE LEFT AGAINST BREXIT our rights, a deregulatory trading agenda that will make TTIP look progressive, and a major economic crisis.

Here is a further response:

STOP TORY BREXIT – MARCH WITH US ON OCTOBER 20TH

It’s time for the left and the labour movement to mobilise – and take the reigns back from the political establishment.

On October 20th, hundreds of thousands will march to demand that the people are given the final say. We cannot allow the anti-Brexit movement to be dominated by the political establishment.

The time has come for the left to march, with a clear message of hope and solidarity. We will bring a sea of red flags, green flags, placards, flares and banners. Bring your trade union branch, your local Labour Party, your local Green Party, your Momentum group, your activist network.

There is only one kind of Brexit on offer – Tory Brexit. It is an attempt to further deregulate the economy, attack migrants, and undermine the rights and prosperity of working class people. When the Tories talk about “getting rid of the red tape”, he means our environmental standards, maternity pay and human rights.

But the fight to stop Brexit is not a fight for the status quo. We want to build a better society, with a radical social and economic programme, and we want to take on the right wing establishment in Brussels just as much the one in Westminster. We need to end fortress Europe, not build fortress Britain.

Join us on October 20th. Meet from 11am outside the Hard Rock Cafe on Old Park Lane/Piccadilly, W1K 1QZ.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 17, 2018 at 1:13 pm

The local election breakthrough of the radical left Belgian Workers’ Party.

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Sunday’s local election results in Belgian saw a breakthrough in the French speaking areas by the Green Party (up by 4,42%) and in Antwerp ( 18,4 %  for De Groen),and a big rise in support for the radical left, le Parti du travail (PTB) Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDAThe latter scored  15, 8 % in Charleroi, in 16,5 % Liège 8,9 % à Anvers, 11,6 % in Bruxelles ville and 13,6 % in  Molenbeek. (le Monde).

In Brussels, the Ecolo/Groen party registered historical gains, coming first or second in several local councils, including Ixelles and Forest, where it displaced the ruling socialist party.

The leftist PTB was the other big winner, although they weren’t expected to enter ruling coalitions in any of the 19 “communes” of Brussels.

The main loser in the capital of Europe is the right-wing MR, the party of Prime Minister Charles Michel, which was challenged in its Uccle stronghold by a rising Green wave.

Elsewhere in Brussels, the socialists registered a symbolic victory in Molenbeek, where they beat MR incumbent Françoise Scheepmans, who came second despite winning praise for her handling of the Brussels terrorist attacks of 2016.

In Flanders, the separatist N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), which advocates the gradual dissolution of Belgium, solidified its leadership although the Green party made gains there as well.

The N-VA’s leadership was also challenged by the far-right Vlaams Belang, which won the commune of Ninove near Brussels, where the Forza Ninove list of Guy D’Haeseleer came in as a clear winner.

Traditional parties hammered in Belgian local election

A number of papers highlighted the election of the first Black mayor in Belgium, Pierre Kompany, the father of Vincent Kompany, the captain of Manchester City , in Ganshoren (De Standaard).

Flanders, apart from the success of the Greens in Antwerp, remains on the right with a return of the far-right Vlaams Belang.  There is already a scandal, this morning about the  Guy D’haeseleer, spreading a racist photo on Facebook, which has led the nationalist NV-A to rule out any deals with them in the far-right’s new stronghold (40% of the vote under the name, “Forza Ninove”) in the Ninove commune of Brabant cited above.  (Ninove: Bart De Wever exclut de gouverner avec le Vlaams Belang après diffusion d’une photo raciste.)

For the left the results for the Parti du Travail (PTB) – which claims around 10,000 members – are of interest across Europe.

Percée de la gauche authentique dans les villes du pays, à Bruxelles, en Wallonie et en Flandre

The PTB begins by noting that they have gone from  50 to 157 local councillors.

These are concentrated in French speaking districts but the PTB has some representatives in Flanders, and won  8,7 % in Antwerp  and got 4 seats on the City council and 19 seats on district councils.

Their President, Peter Mertens, declared that they will celebrate this advance, and called for The Struggle.

Nous nos élus et notre parti seront au service des luttes locales et nationales. Notre avancée doit se traduire par une avancée de la résistance social.

Our elected representatives and our party will put themselves on the side of local and national struggles. Our gains must lead to strengthening the fight-back in society.

The most important fact about the success of the PTB is it has happened in a country, Belgium,  in which the two sister social democratic parties  the Parti socialiste,  and the Socialistische Partij Anders, have never faced a serious challenge from the left. Even if weakened the PS won 32% of the vote in the previous elections in the south of the country.

PTB is often accused of ‘populism’ and might appear part of the wave of ‘left populist’,  parties like La France insoumise (LFI) that have become the focus of interest on the European left,

The PTB strongly denies this, above all the idea that classes are being dissolved into the ‘people’. Their objective is the make workers aware of their identity, and to organise people into struggles for their rights “Il s’agit donc de reconquérir, de faire un travail de conscientisation, de mobilisation, d’organisation de cette classe de travailleurs.”

It is through these struggles that they intend to fight not just the ruling capitalist neoliberal political class but also the far-right.

The PTB also rejects the principle (follow my gaze…) that they should be run by a charismatic leader, (“césarisme ou l’idée de l’homme providentiel”). Councillors live in the  areas they represent and are expected to only take an average salary for their work).

Their strategy is not to govern at any price, but to conquer real power, from the bottom upwards – which one translate as a homage to Léon Blum who distinguished the ‘exercise of power’ in government from the conquest of power.

(More on Le Vent se lève site:  LE PTB FAIT TREMBLER LA POLITIQUE BELGE – ENTRETIEN AVEC DAVID PESTIEAU. Maximilien Dardel.)

To account for the growth in electoral support for the PTB in formerly socialist voting areas one need look no further than this compendium of corruption and other scandals involving the PS over decades.

“Une répétition de scandales en 30 ans de pouvoir”: rappel en archives vidéo

More recently (2017) there was this: En Wallonie, le PS éclaboussé par un vaste scandale.

PS elected representatives were paid  500 euros… à la minute to attend meetings…..

Returning the the issue of ‘populism’, what are the PTB’s views on Europe?

The Left must not fall in one of these two traps. As a Marxist, and coming from an authentic leftist tradition, I think we have to try to radically change Europe from the inside. We should not dynamite the entire European idea, but, like an engineer working on a bridge, dynamite the bad columns.

Defending a position of withdrawal from the European Union in Belgium, at the heart of Europe, is not going to raise public awareness a lot, I think. The situation is obviously different in countries at the periphery of the continent, and I understand that for them the possibility of leaving the eurozone, can be a topic of debate.

Promise on the Belgian Left  An Interview with Peter Mertens. 

That comment stands out in a an interview in Jacobin in 2017, with one of the leading figures of the PTB.

One cannot however, like the interviewer, skirt around the issue of the party’s ‘Marxist-Leninist’ origins nor their defence during the 1980s of Stalin.

Ludo Martens (PTB President from 1979 to 1999) was the author of Un autre regard sur Stalin, Another View of Stalin.

This concludes:

At the end of the twentieth century, humanity has sort of returned to the start state, to the years 1900–1914, where the imperialist powers thought that they could run the world among themselves. In the years to come, as the criminal, barbaric and inhuman character of imperialism shows itself more and more clearly, new generations who never knew Stalin will pay homage to him.

They will follow the words of Mao Zedong who, on December 21, 1939, in the distant caves of that huge China, toasted Stalin’s sixtieth birthday:

`Congratulating Stalin means supporting him and his cause, supporting the victory of socialism, and the way forward for mankind which he points out, it means supporting a dear friend. For the great majority of mankind today are suffering, and mankind can free itself from suffering only by the road pointed out by Stalin and with his help.’
.
Mao Tse-Tung, `Stalin, Friend of the Chinese People’, Works, vol. 2, p. 335.

It is hard to forget that.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 16, 2018 at 11:36 am

Historic Gains for Greens and Radical Left Workers’ Party in Belgium Local Elections.

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Greens and Radical left on the Rise in Belgium. 

Greens and other smaller parties hammered traditional political heavyweights in local elections Sunday in Belgium, in what has been billed as a rehearsal for next year’s federal and European elections.

France 24.

In Brussels, the Green party Ecolo-Groen made a breakthrough in the local ballot, finishing first and second in a number of local councils.

Overall, the party led by Zakia Khattabi and Patrick Dupriez, finished first in four Brussels Region districts, including the EU district of Ixelles, and won up to 29 percent of the vote in other districts.

These results could lead the party to having a number of mayors in the Brussels region, where they currently only have one, in Watermael-Boitsfort.

The election’s other big winner in the Belgian capital was the leftwing Workers Party (PTB/PvdA), especially in the city’s former industrial districts.

The pro-sharia Islam Party lost its seat in Brussels’s Molenbeek district, winning less than 2 percent of the vote.

In Flanders, the Greens also made gains, although the separatist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) — which advocates for the separation between French-speaking Wallonia and the Flemish Flanders — maintained its leadership there.

The ruling socialists remained dominant in French-speaking Wallonia but they were challenged by the rising PTB/PvdA in a number of local town halls.

Commentators say these elections are a mirror for the national, regional and European elections to be held in Belgium in May.

The French version of the France 24 article points out that in the Flemish areas  also points out that  extreme right anti-immigrant  Vlaams Belang has returned with a  strong showing.

Le Vlaams Belang, le parti anti-immigration qui concurrence la N-VA sur sa droite, a enregistré un retour en force dans plusieurs cités flamandes et a revendiqué la place de 3e force politique de la région, derrière les chrétiens-démocrates du CD&V.

Le Monde notes that the Workers’ party, le Parti du travail (PTB, gauche radicale) scored 15, 8 % à Charleroi, 16,5 % à Liège. Le parti marxiste réalise aussi 8,9 % à Anvers, 11,6 % à Bruxelles ville et 13,6 % à Molenbeek, où le PS lui propose une alliance, alors que la direction du parti condamnait jusqu’ici les positions jugées populistes de cette formation.

“En Belgique, forte progression des écologistes et de la gauche radicale aux municipales.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

On the Police Infiltration of British Left Wing Groups. Back the Campaigns Against Spy Coppers.

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Police spies infiltrated UK leftwing groups for decades

 

Police deployed 24 undercover officers to infiltrate a small leftwing political party over a 37-year period, the Guardian can reveal.

The police spies infiltrated the Socialist Workers party (SWP) almost continuously between 1970 and 2007, often with more than one undercover officer embedded within the party.

Four of them deceived women into sexual relationships while using their fake identities. One spy met one of his wives during his deployment and had a child with her.

About one-third of the total number of undercover officers embedded in political organisations that have so far been publicly identified infiltrated the SWP, a Trotskyite party of a few thousand members that advocates the abolition of capitalism through revolutionary means.

Before going any further this is important to bear in mind.

The infiltration also involved nasty coppers who deceived people into having relationships with them, and wroke havoc with their lives.

It involved the notorious Bob Lambert, who became an expert on Islamism (advocating ‘dialogue’ and defended by ‘Islamophobia Watch’ Can those who smear Bob Lambert claim such anti-terrorist success? Posted on  by Bob Pitt )

Robert Lambert MBE is a British former academic and former undercover police officer. He served in the controversial Special Demonstration Squad and posed as a left-wing animal rights activist from 1983 to 1988, fathering a child with an activist during his deployment.[1] Until December 2015 Lambert was a lecturer in Terrorism Studies at the University of St Andrews and a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University‘s John Grieve Centre for Policing.

In the course of his police service, Lambert infiltrated activist groups (environmentalists, animal rights activists and anti-racists) using the alias Mark “Bob” Robinson. To gain credibility as an activist, he formed friendships with other movement members; he also embarked in long-term relationships with women as a means of establishing a cover story.

He fathered a child with one of the activists he was spying on[1] although he already had a wife and children in the suburbs.[8] After that relationship ended he embarked on another with a woman who was politically conscious, but was not herself an activist. His colleagues at Special Branch raided her home in order to bolster his image as a hardcore militant.[9][10]

Lambert was confronted about his past activities by members of London Greenpeace (which he had infiltrated in the 1980s) as he spoke at a conference in October 2011.[7] Lambert subsequently apologised to other activists and to the woman whom he had used as a “lover” (who said she felt “raped by the state” after learning about the deception).[11] Though he had earlier denied that reports in The Guardian newspaper were true, in July 2013 he acknowledged that he had conducted four such relationships under false pretences, saying that he “made serious mistakes that I should regret, and I always will do.”[12]

On 23 October 2014, the Metropolitan Police Service agreed to pay £425,000 to a woman called Jacqui whose child was fathered by Lambert; she did not know at the time of their relationship that he was an undercover police officer. The payment was part of an agreement for her to drop her legal action alleging assault, negligence, deceit and misconduct by senior officers. She was a 22-year-old activist at the time of her relationship with Lambert, who was using the pseudonym Bob Robinson, and she gave birth to their son in 1985. When the boy was two years old his father vanished, and she told BBC News she had received psychiatric care after learning the officer’s real identity.

The unprecedented payment resulted from a legal battle with women who said they were duped into relationships with officers who were spying on them. Scotland Yard said it “unreservedly apologises for any pain and suffering” but added that “the Metropolitan Police Service has never had a policy that officers can use sexual relations for the purposes of policing”. Scotland Yard had previously refused to either confirm or deny whether Bob Lambert was a Special Demonstration Squad operative, despite his own admissions to journalists. However, it was forced to change its position in August 2014 after a legal ruling. Lambert did not respond to BBC requests for comment on the settlement but had previously said that he wanted to apologise to women with whom he had relationships and that he had made some “serious mistakes.

Comrade Helen Steel was also a target of another ‘Sypcop’.

Helen Steel and John Dines: The spy who loved me

In the early 1990s, Helen Steel was a member of a British social justice group called London Greenpeace when she began a relationship with a man she knew as John Barker. They were together for more than two years and he told her he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. Then one day he disappeared. A letter arrived for her a few days later. “If I manage to sort my head out, I will be back,” he wrote.

She was both devastated and concerned about her partner’s emotional state and would spend much of the next decade looking for him. That was before she made a series of shocking discoveries: his real name, John Dines, a record of his marriage, and the death certificate of a child, Philip John Barker, whose identity he had assumed. But it was not until 2010 that she got confirmation her lover had been an undercover police officer employed as part of a secret London Metropolitan Police project to infiltrate protest groups.

Sydney Morning Herald.

This is the site which the Guardian bases its report on:

Spycop Targets: a Who’s Who

Who's WhoEveline Lubbers,

From 1968 to 2011, undercover police officers spied up on more than 1,000 political groups. However, no definitive list of these groups has ever been made public. That is changing now. Working with The Guardian, we present a Who’s Who of Spycop Targets, listing what is known to date from official sources, whistle-blowers and our own investigations

The list gives an idea of the breadth of groups that have been targeted through the years and reveals some patterns, such as the focus on particular groups, and lack of attention given to others. Many of the groups will question why they were infiltrated or reported on.

To help you find out more, you can search for names of groups, on certain periods of time, for specific political categories and by cover name of spycops. You will also find links to profiles of the undercovers published by the Undercover Research Group, to The Guardian or to the SpecialBranchFiles.uk project for a greater insight into the groups and how they were targeted.

Additionally, we also present an interactive timeline of all SDS spycops known to date, and their deployments over the years.

A work in progress

We started from the minimal list provided by the Undercover Policing Inquiry, adding groups that we know were infiltrated from our own research, work done by Rob Evans (and Paul Lewis), and from whistle-blower Peter Francis. We only included groups that were targeted by officers from the Special Demonstration Squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit – the two Special Branch units which carried out the vast majority of such activities.

The Who’s Who project is very much a work in progress, and will be updated as soon as more information emerges. If we have missed any out, please let us know. Likewise, if you have suggestions to improve the descriptions or if you are aware of website we can link to that will help others learn more, do get in touch. Even if you didn’t encounter the undercovers, broadening out our knowledge of the groups is always helpful.

Undercover Research Group, 15 October 2018.

This story has just come out:

 I was 15 years old when I was spied on by the British state.

It’s been well documented that undercover police officers have stolen dead children’s names, had secret families, and spied on activists. I was one of those activists. I met Marco Jacobs in 2007 at No Borders meetings in a time when Cardiff was experiencing a renaissance of political activism as the war in Iraq mobilised the country.

No Borders is a loose network of groups worldwide working to resist and dismantle borders and immigration controls. Marco was funny, charismatic, and outgoing. He was around 5”9, white with a broad northern accent. Marco said that he worked driving trucks, which explained the long periods of time away from Cardiff. He liked heavy metal, cracking jokes and drinking lager. He built our relationship knowingly and slowly with a charismatic personality and a wicked sense of humour. It’s easy to bond with people on things like demonstrations, as we frequently had visible pickets outside the UK Border Agency (now UK Visas and Immigration) in Cardiff, protesting the racist border regime.

Then, he would show up to the same punk gigs I was at, and give us all lifts home afterwards. I always felt extremely safe with him. I had his mobile phone number and he was one of my friends on Myspace. On one occasion, I had acute anxiety at a punk gig where I received repeated unwanted advances from a man nearly 10 years older me, and Marco stepped in and stayed at my side throughout the night. He knew where I lived and what school I went to. I was especially comforted by our conversations where he offered me emotional support when a mutual friend was deported. I was devastated. Now, I wonder if that was genuine concern or part of a wider plan to get me to lower my defences around him.

The Guardian confirmed that Marco Jacobs was an undercover officer sent to infiltrate radical activist spaces, soon after Mark Kennedy – an undercover London Metropolitan police officer who infiltrated activist groups – was outed by climate change activists in 2011. We began to suspect Marco might also be an undercover police officer, and one friend once asked him straight. He deferred the question with  nervous laughter. Within a few months, Marco had left to be a gardener in Cyprus and we never heard from him again.

Many activists and trade union branches support the campaign against Spycops!

(Twitter)

We all should.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Anti-Fascists Block Democratic Football Lads Alliance March – Reports.

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Anti-fascists block route of Democratic Football Lads Alliance London march

Some reports:

Guardian.

Scores of officers and dozens of police vans later separated a group of counter-demonstrators shouting “Nazi scum off our streets” in Trafalgar Square.

A large section of the DFLA march eventually arrived on Whitehall, where a truck was used as a stage for speeches.

The DFLA, a group formed of mainly middle-aged, white male football fans, had planned a mass march from Park Lane to Whitehall. The organisers had said on Facebook that they were protesting against ”returning jihadists”, “thousands of Awol migrants”, “rape gangs and groomers” and “veterans treated like traitors”.

DFLA march in London: Far-right protest spills into violence as police officers attacked

Evening Standard.

Democratic Football Lads’ Alliance march erupts into violence with one supporter threatening ‘to kill police officer’

Independent.

2,000 anti-fascists deal a blow to the far right DFLA

Socialist Worker.

Around 2,000 anti-racists joined a march and rally against the Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) in central London today.

Called by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF), it was an important test in the battle against the resurgent far right.

The DFLA pulled the smallest numbers to date for a national mobilisation—around 1,500 to 2,000 joined its march from Hyde Park to Whitehall. Some stayed in pubs rather than join the march, others left early for the pubs.

And then their generator broke down, curtailing their speeches.

It came on the one-year anniversary of the “original” FLA’s first demonstration, which saw up to 20,000 march under the banner of “united against extremism”.

The SUTR demonstration saw speeches from trade unions, Labour Party members and anti-racist organisations.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott sent a message of support that said, “We’re proud to walk in the traditions of anti-racism campaigners and activists. Your fight is our fight.”

Anti-fascist demonstrators outnumber the DFLA in London 

Counterfire.

Not everybody is so upbeat pointing to the SUTR demo not being *that* big. And there was a separate AFN demo. that tried direct action.

It is also not entirely true that the DLFA march was entirely middle aged male and white, as the video at the bottom illustrates.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 14, 2018 at 11:05 am

French Socialist Party Splits: Emmanuel Maurel and his left leave.

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Image result for Emmanuel Maurel  dessin

Looking towards Mélenchon on “l’immigration” and “la question des frontières.”

This Friday France’s Parti Socialiste, (PS)  which until 2017 under President François Hollande had a working majority in the country’s Parliament, left his historic HQ in the  rue de Solférino near to the National Assembly for more modest premises just outside Paris in Ivry-sur-Seine.

In 2017  their candidate for the French Presidential election, Benoît Hamon, came 5th and won a tiny,  6,36% of the vote. Both before and after the contest a whole swathe of Socialists joined the victor, now President, Emmanuel  Macron’s La République En Marche.  In the legislative elections of that followed they had got only 7,5% of the national ballots, and 30 MPs.

Hamon left the PS and created his own, radical green left  movement, Génération.s.

The former Prime Minister Manuel Valls  went so far as to leave France and  is now seeking office in Barcelona.

The present Macron PM, Edouard Philippe’s Cabinet counts a number of  one time Socialist party figures, , such as the Minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, although the former PS Minister of the Interior, Gérard Collomb, has recently reigned.

Only  37 000 members (out of the already shrunken 42,300)  took part in the vote for this year’s Parti Socialiste Congress.

Under their present General Secretary, Olivier Faure, the PS been unable to define a new strategy to fight back into a position of influence on the French left.

Now the face a new challenge.

The  organisation has haemorrhaged again with the break away of one of their left-wing leaders, the MEP  Emmanuel Maurel  who ran the party current, Maintenant La Gauche which obtained 18.8% of the the ballots in internal PS elections earlier this year.

Emmanuel Maurel : « Ce n’est pas un départ du PS, c’est une scission » reports Le Monde today.

In announcing that the Parti Socialiste no longer corresponds to his idea of socialism Maurel stated that hundreds of local lay office holders and local councillors, as well as the senator for Paris,  Marie-Noëlle Lienemann, would join him. Henceforth Maruel, whose socialism includes hostility to ‘no borders’ is looking in the direction of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise.

An English version of some of this text is given here: Emmanuel Maurel: “It’s not a departure from the PS, it’s a split”

There is a report in English on this site: THE MEP EMMANUEL MAUREL LEAVES THE PS.

Maurel’s politics.

Maurel comes from the “Poperian” tendency within the Parti Socialiste. This current, led in the 1970s by Jean Poperen (1925-1997), embodied, in some eyes, a kind of statist Marxism embedded in the French republican tradition.

Others, more favourable to Poperon, would point to his break with the French Communist Party and activism within both a ‘class struggle’ tradition and leading role in the decidedly non-statist Parti socialiste unifié (PSU).

Le Monde paints Maurel in terms which come largely from the first side of Poperon, “du marxisme et de la tradition jacobine” wedded to the principle of laïcité (Ancienne figure du PS, Emmanuel Maurel veut incarner un « socialisme décomplexé »)

Putting this aspects together we get a “antilibérale, écologiste, républicaine” supporter of  “socialisme décomplexé”, that is, an anti-economic liberal, green, republican unfeigned socialist.

While it is hard to dislike somebody who admires Stendhal’s la Chartreuse de Parme and Baudelaire, there is a distinct ‘Euro-sceptic’ strain in Maurel. (10 choses à savoir sur Emmanuel Maurel).

Recently he declared, “Je suis pour une politique de contrôle des flux migratoires, nous ne sommes pas des “no borders”. La gauche ne doit pas avoir honte de parler de nation, de frontière, de laïcité. On ne va pas laisser ça à la droite et à l’extrême droite. »(Le Monde 25.8.18) I am for the control of the the migratory flows, we are not backers of ‘no borders’. The left should not be ashamed to talk of the Nation, of Borders, and of Secularism (in the French sense, of ” laïcité’). We should not let these issues to the Right and the Far-Right.

This would put him in the line of the nationalist and sovereigntist left represented by the German Aufstehen and Sahra Wagenknecht

Maurel also seems to think well of Jean-Luc Mélenchon and La France insoumise (LFI)  (Emmanuel Maurel quitte le PS : une double bonne nouvelle pour les « insoumis »).

Stating that his first steps are to create a grouping with his friends in the “ gauche républicaine” one of the main themes aligning him with LFI is not ‘socialism’ but “l’immigration” and “la question des frontières.”

The central objective today, he declares is to prepare a new Front Populaire of the 21st century, “Notre objectif est de préparer le Front populaire du XXIe siècle»)  in which  La France insoumisme has a key part to play. (Libération).

He will be on the LFI lists for next year’s European elections.

Whether he will accept the Leadership of the, er Leader, yes, the Leader, of La France insoumise, today’s Maurice Thorez and  Léon Blum combined, is not at all certain.

 

******

 

See also: Valls, Hamon, Maurel, Lienemann… La fuite des ténors du PS se poursuit

Bust up on the Labour Left.

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Image result for Jewish voice for labour

Jewish Voice for Labour Standing Next to….

Labour List reports.

Lansman Slams Left Rival CLPD Slate For Key Disciplinary Committee

Momentum chief Jon Lansman has attacked the slate put forward by left-wing group Campaign for Labour Party Democracy for Labour’s key disciplinary committee.

This morning, CLPD published its slate of candidates – also backed by Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) and the Labour Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (LCND) – in the contest for the national constitutional committee (NCC).

The three left-wing organisations have endorsed Kaneez AktharAnnabelle HarleGary Heather, JVL activist Stephen Marks, lawyer Khaled Moyeed and Cecile Wright.

But Lansman tweeted his disapproval of the South East/London-centrism of the CLPD slate, adding: “I regret that CLPD launched their campaign today without agreement.” Pre-empting a meeting due to be held later today, he confirmed that Momentum would be supporting a different set of NCC candidates.

Momentum were in negotiations with CLPD and other Labour left groups to put together a single left-wing NCC slate and were surprised by the CLPD announcement this morning, LabourList understands.

The Momentum chair’s open criticism of CLPD follows a row held during the summer over the candidacy of Pete Willsman for Labour’s national executive committee (NEC). Momentum dropped their endorsement of Willsman after a recording of his comments on antisemitism leaked – but CLPD remained supportive of his bid, which was ultimately successful.

Stephen Marks, a member of controversial group Jewish Voice for Labour, is thought to be one of the choices Momentum is not inclined to back. Like Willsman, Marks has previously denied claims of antisemitism within Labour, and in 2016 he signed a letter describing such accusations as “part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership”. However, a Momentum source denied the report by Skwawkbox that “Momentum representatives” tried to “veto” Marks at meetings earlier this week.

The Skwawky one has just said.

BREAKING: MOMENTUM SET TO ANNOUNCE OWN SLATE LATER TODAY

Momentum founder Jon Lansman has cited concerns about the geographical balance of the CLPD slate, but says that Momentum had been prepared to back Jewish Voice for Labour’s (JVL) Stephen Marks although Lansman personally expressed concerns.

I shall only make one comment: it seems that Lansman actually knows Stephen Marks. and is aware of his recent political behaviour…

Written by Andrew Coates

October 11, 2018 at 12:35 pm

Force ouvrière union federation faces crisis as new Protests are launched in France against Macron’s ‘reforms’.

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A Paris, mardi.

France 24 reports,

Around 160,000 people joined demonstrations across France on Tuesday, the interior ministry said, heeding union calls for President Emmanuel Macron to “maintain the social model”, which has come under threat from his ambitious reforms.

..

Around 20,000 people turned out in Paris, the largest of some 100 rallies across the country.

The head of the hard-left Confederation of Labour (CGT) union Philippe Martinez estimated turnout higher at 300,000 nationwide. The CGT said about 50,000 people marched in Paris at the urging of six of the country’s labour unions.

“We’re not complaining, we’re revolting!” the students, workers and retirees chanted as they marched in the first demonstration since the end of the summer holiday, referring to President Macron’s recent suggestion that the French complain too much.

Libération covers the 50, 000 strong Paris march organised notably by the union federations FO (which has undergone a ‘left’ turn this year) and the traditional left CGT.

A Paris, le défilé organisé notamment par FO et la CGT a réuni 50 000 personnes selon les syndicats. Une mobilisation en ordre dispersée, sans la CFDT, qui a tout de même plus rassemblé qu’au printemps.

The presence of Force ouvrière (FO) in these and other protests, traditionally a cautious union, based on a complex series of alliances between right-wingers, anti-Communists, and the ‘Lambertist’ trotskyist current, has not gone unnoticed.

Last week Le Monde published this article.

FO se métamorphose en « CGT bis »

Michel Noblecourt observes that under the new leadership of  Pascal Pavageau the FO has undergone a “une rupture radicale avec le passé “.

The federation is now dominated by supporters of Pavagau in alliance with a variety of leftists (including for example, Marc Hébert an ‘anarchist’), but above all the sovereigntist ‘Trotskyists’ of the  Parti ouvrier indépendant (POI).

Interestingly Noblecourt also mentions that said POI is now active in the CGT (once closely led by the French Communist Party, the Parti Communiste français, PCF).

That would perhaps explain why a somebody ‘representing’ the ‘CGT’ was present at a sovereigntist Camden rally for ‘left-wing’ Brexit before the UK referendum.

POI are not to be confused with their arch rivals, the Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID – how we chuckled at the ‘weighty’ name).

The two split, very acrimoniously, a couple of years ago.

POID ran their own  pro-Brexit beano in Paris around the same time, attended by anti-internationalist forces from British unions, including the Aaron Banks backed Trade Unionists Against the EU, and which received fraternal greetings from the Morning Star.

The two are united in opposing internationalism in general and the European Union in particular.

Both groupuscules, though small in number – not that small, POID have a few councilors, like Christel Keiser, (Seine-Saint-Denis) – live, like the Socialist Party in the UK, from their hold on paid union positions.

Who says Lambertist says the dirty deeds needed to keep these places.

Whether they are linked to this skulduggery or not we do not, as yet, know.

This is the news today about FO, Pavageu’s mates apparently spent their time not just plotting against his predecessor, but building up large files of information against him and his supporters:

Des cadres de Force ouvrière fichés par des proches du secrétaire général, Pascal Pavageau

Written by Andrew Coates

October 10, 2018 at 4:09 pm

New Blows for Tony Greenstein Led Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

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Image result for sir roderick glossop

Nerve Specialist Sir Roderick Glossop on Watch as News Breaks of New Crisis for Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

Posts by a Jewish blogger in London have been removed from US-based writing platform Medium after he alleged that the antisemitism rally in Manchester last month was supported by the far-right.

Reports the Jewish News today.

The Medium story has already been revealed by our ace reporters but this aspect is not:

Following a complaint from the Board of Deputies, the site took action against Tony Greenstein, who has been expelled from the Labour Party. He currently co-chairs Labour Against the Witch-hunt, which argues that the party’s antisemitism scandal is purposefully overblown and counts MP Chris Williamson among its supporters.

The Board drew attention to Greenstein’s article titled: ‘NW [North West] Friends of Israel, Tommy Robinson and the EDL [English Defence League] are Holding a Demonstration Against Antisemitism in Manchester.’

Anthony Silkoff of the Board said: “This is a complete lie with no factual basis… There was absolutely no involvement of the EDL and Tommy Robinson, indeed the organisations involved have denounced Tommy Robinson multiple times.”

Meanwhile … Labour Against the Witch-Hunt backer Williamson has difficulties of his own:

Labour MP Chris Williamson Facing Deselection Threat After Union Anger

The Labour MP for Derby North, Chris Williamson, will “definitely” be challenged under new party rules that have made it easier to oust sitting MPs, several sources have said.

Williamson is expected to face a “trigger ballot” in his marginal Westminster constituency as local activists take advantage of changes that mean just a third of union branches are needed to force a contest.

………

He’s definitely going to be triggered,” a source at one of the big trade union told HuffPost UK. “No doubt about it.”

A key figure in another major union, who preferred not to be named, confirmed Williamson would be targeted, as members wanted an MP who was less divisive and who was fully committed to the union link.

Even non-union party members locally are understood to be unhappy that Williamson hasn’t been focusing enough on Derby – where Labour lost control of the council to the Conservatives this year – rather than touring the country.

“He doesn’t realise how unpopular he is,” one said. Another source said that Williamson’s decision to hold his roadshow in the seats of some strongly union-backed MPs was another factor. “If the unions get a strong enough local candidate, he could well lose.”

And in case anybody wonders why many on the left are not fond of Williamson look no further than this article in the Huff Post:

Labour MP Chris Williamson’s Praise For Blogger Who Called Jo Cox A ‘Warmongering Blairite’

The party is ‘looking into’ Chris Williamson’s comments.

 

Noted Nerve Specialist Sir Roderick Glossop is said to be at the ready to help, in a caring way, with any crises that Greenstein may have after reading the Jewish News report.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Rancière: ‘Post Democracy’, Populism, and Anti-Anti-Populism (Part Two: Cultural Revolutions).

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "rancière la leçon d'althusser"

 

Rancière, Part Two. Cultural Revolutions.

“La rhétorique est une parole en révolte contre la condition poétique de l’être parlant. Elle parle pour faire taire. Tu ne parleras plus, tu ne penseras plus, tu feras ceci, tel est son programme.”

Rhetoric is a language in revolt against the poetic state of the speaking being. It talks in order to silence. You shall not speak further; you shall not think further, you shall do this, that’s its programme.

Rancière, Le Maître Ignorant. 1987 (1)

What is the substance of Rancière’s work? Rancière is a critic of the “post-democratic” world of the capitalist present. In this sense ‘anti-anti-populism’ is principally a sign that he welcomes dissatisfaction and protests against a world ruled by the “self-regulation of capital” and the “painless elimination of politics by consensus” Dissensus  “a logic of disruption” “ a process of equality” can enter the scene, an upset to the “consensual order”.

Can we give examples of these moments of dissensus having a real impact? Is Rancière one of those, like the editors of New Left Review, who reacted with all the glee of second childhood at the Brexit result as a blow to the ‘neo-liberal consensus’? The thought seems to have crossed his mind. But it hard to imagine that he sees the triumph of UKIP and the Tory Right, as the advance of a “communism of multitudes”. Are – marginal – egalitarian challenges to ‘post democracy’, such as the Occupy! or Nuit Debout movement better vehicles? Perhaps. He has also celebrated the mingling of artistic forms, protests, modern dance, films by Pedro Costa and Wang Bing, strikes over the organisation of the working day and demands for free time, to register only some examples. (Le Monde 6.6.18) Which, one could say, sounds more like a post-André Breton Manifesto for Nonconformist Equalitarian Taste than service to any political or economic Revolution.

There is no account of the critics of the attention-seeking tendencies of the Occupy! Movement, or of the anti-democratic implications of its own “consensus” decision-making. Yet…..one also hardly needs reminding that Rancière is always on the watch for the moment when these efforts fall apart, leaving only the egalitarian impulse intact.

These contradictory lines of thought indicate some reasons why Rancière’s writings are hard to get to grips with. On top of this his prose is often sarcastic (anti-populists recite “psalms”)  – his admirers call them “ironic”. The title of the book above, the Ignorant Master, evokes the Maître Penseurs, the Master thinkers, a term the New Philosopher André Glucksmann used against Marxism. Rancière hammers home a message through rhetorical anaphora, the marked repetition of words and phrases – his supporters might say they lend it maximum effect. He rages for egalitarianism in opaque literary French with a distinction between le politique (government as such, which he calls “la police”) and la politique (conflict/dissensus). This is intelligible to those – not necessarily every reader – familiar with the later Foucault’s use of the term ‘Police’ to embrace the wider social order, and Claude Lefort’s distinction between the two French nouns in his essay Permanence du théologico-politique (1981). Such instances indicate how his ideas and their presentation could be compared to a geological structure in which many types of sediment have left their trace.   (2)

Slavoj Žižek offers a handle on how to look into these strata. Rancière “…belongs to the field one is tempted to define as ‘post-Althusserian’: authors like Balibar, Alain Badiou, up to Ernesto Laclau, whose starting position was close to Althusser. The first thing to note here is how they are all opposed to the most elaborated ‘formal’ theory of democracy in contemporary French thought, that of Claude Lefort.” Althusser and the act of breaking free from him, is, it has been argued, looms over much more of Rancière’s career. His commitment to intellectual equality, “emancipation”, political equality against the Post-Democratic Elite, and the aesthetic theorising about the egalitarian potentials of the “sensible” can perhaps be made more intelligible by beginning with his defiance of this Teacher Žižek’s critique of the enthusiasm of the “post-Althussarians” for “pure politics” will occupy Part 3. (3)

Rancière’s entry into the annals of Theory began with some éclat. His contribution to Lire le Capital marked participation in one of the key moments in 20th century Marxist thought. (Le concept de critique de la critique de ‘économies politiques des Manuscrits de 1844 au capital. 1965) Some have suggested, generously, that the text – often appearing to be at the stage of seminar notes – is a significant account of Marx’s theory of alienation and “commodity fetishism”. It only came out in English publication in this millennium (2011), long after the better-known sections by Louis Althusser and Étienne Balibar. Their impact does not appear diminished by the absence of Rancière’s pages from earlier circulation in the Anglophone world. The fourth volume, by Pierre Macherey (who has had a career as a critic and theorist of “literary production”) and Roger Establet (who went on to write on the capitalist education system) on the presentation and outline of Capital, was disinterred at the same time. Few seem to have noticed. (4)

Althusser’s project involved, Gregory Elliott has stated, a “critique of existing Marxism in its entirety”. Reading Capital may appear a key text in deciphering the hieroglyphics of capitalist appearance, bringing out the “unseen” mechanisms producing the visible surface. It aimed to stake out exploration of the “continent of history” with new eyes. Others may consider it a conceptual clarification that offered tools that could be developed through concrete studies. Following the philosophical essays in Althusser’s Pour Marx (1965) it aimed to bring conceptual developments, free from the “dogmatism” left by Stalinism inside the Communist movement, to the “science of history”, historical materialism, Elliot underlines that the “thrust” was a Marxism “amenable to rectification and capable of yielding new knowledge” (a view underlined in the Introduction to Pour Marx). Whether Lire le Capital itself formed part of the armoury of the theoretical struggle against a multitude of enemies, from the lingering Stalinists and the liberal Italian, wing, to the theorists of Marxist-Humanism, inside the Communist Party, or was primarily a research project, an end in itself, remains disputed, notably by Balibar.  (5)

Rancière became independently visible, both in France and elsewhere, as an egalitarian, and contrarian, through a polemic on this project, La leçon d’althusser (1974). This was a wide-ranging foray against the Marxist “education” from on high offered by the patron of the circle that produced Lire le Capital, Louis Althusser. The object was wider than the domain of Marxist research. His angle was that the former teacher at the elite École Normale Supérieure (ENS) had (undeniably) extended the interventions of Pour Marx and the writing of Lire le Capital to open participation in internal PCF politics and factional disputes.

La leçon d’althusser.

In La leçon d’althusser (1974) Rancière extended his questioning of the ‘revisionist’ Party line to Althusser’s alleged contempt for the student actors in the 1968 événements. The reasons for this dissatisfaction were clear. Rancière was not just an alumnus of Theory but was also a graduate of these political struggles in, the no doubt weighty, area of student politics. This was the fight against the “ revisionist” Parti Communiste Français (PCF) inside its own campus organisations.  In that role he had been an editor of the mid-sixties Cahiers marxistes-léninistes. Althusser had anonymously written an article for the publication and had encouraged this turn, up to certain, crucial points, until they had begun to create an independent anti-PCF groupuscule and, above all, during May 68. Having lent his weight in their battle against the Parti Communist Français (PCF); when the crunch came Althusser had turned his back on them when they engaged in action outside the Party’s control to merge with the mass struggle.

For Rancière the lesson of Althusser was wrapped up in that moment. The Party bore responsibility for thwarting the revolutionary possibilities of May 68. It had connived in the return to bourgeois rule. Althusser, in his response to the events had connived in its reaction and offered a justification of Order.  In his own shift towards the class struggle in philosophy around the defence of materialism, he had retreated to authorised, or at least permitted, intellectual disputes between ‘idealism and materialism’. (Lénine et la philosophie. 1972) The claim to wage the “ class struggle in theory” masked the inability to fight the class struggle when it happened in practice. For Rancière Althusser had rationalised traditional education. He had ended up by boiling down the class struggle to the clash between true (Marxist) ideas and false (bourgeois) ones. Rancière asked if such intellectuals, placing themselves on the side of a party apparatuses, talk about class struggle on behalf of the workers and the oppressed? Had there ever been in the corridors of the ENS a kind of revolutionary university of Yenan operated by his former mentor?

Rancière included a text (Pour Mémoire, 1969) that asked why Althusser has not considered the institution as one of the “appareils idéologiques” of the state.  Althusser’s 1970s drift into defending the “class struggle in theory”, and his pallid (since, top-down) view of Ideological State Apparatuses skirted around the topic. However it was inside the ‘knowledge’ taught that probably that La Leçon made the most telling points. Althusser’s version of ‘Marxism Leninism’ lacked, Rancière continued, an account of how the original Bolshevik party strategy and the apparatus with which it ruled the USSR, may have contributed to the “reconstitution des formes capitalists de la division du travail”.

Today’s readers would observe that the suggestion that the Cultural Revolution launched by Mao in 1966 offered another path, a “left critique” of Stalinism in practice looked thin then, and thinner now. Rancière’s own attack on this use of Mao, which halted at the description of the USSR as “social fascist”, were equally skeletal. The positive lessons that the Cultural Revolution offered for a challenge to the division of labour are seldom evoked today.  (6)

Althusser took note of Rancière’s  “acerbic” book. In L’avenir dure longtemps (1992) he remarked that the bone of contention was about his wish to remain inside the PCF. He respected the decision of his ‘disciples’ to go directly to the workers, and create a new independent body, the Union des Jeunesses Communiste marxistes-léninistes (UJCm-l).Yet the Communists had real ties with the proletariat, not just in elections, but also through the mass membership of the PCF aligned CGT union federation who had been amongst the few workers to go to the Sorbonne to support the students. (7)

La Gauche Prolétarienne.

Rancière, while he was in ‘Marxist-Leninist’ circle around Althusser, along with Macherey and Balibar, was of different cohort to those, like Robert Linhart and Benny Lévy who did not just split into a propaganda group outside the Party. They tried to engage directly in mass politics. Many of them became full-time activists. With hindsight one might say that May 68 showed not just the PCF’s fear of an uncontrolled uprising, and its unforeseeable consequences. It indicated equally the inability of the left, and (one could add) particularly this left to mobilise enough support to pose a genuine revolutionary challenge. La Gauche Prolétarienne (GP) founded in 1969 was at the time of the publication of La Leçon (1974) in the after-shock of self-dissolution, (November 1973) after some spectacular stunts.

People radicalised by the experience of May 68 led the GP, the result of a link-up between the ‘M-L’ current and some individuals from the broader ‘anti-authoritarian’ leftism that had emerged, such as the Movement Mars-22. From promoting the “all powerful” theory of Marxism-Leninism against Revisionism, it went outwards to the people. The GP was an effort to reach out to the anti-authoritarian spirit of students and young workers in revolt against trade union bureaucracy. Its project was to move with the spontaneous revolt of the masses (hence the nickname, Mao-spontex) but to harness it in a more coherent form.  Was it a Leninist organisation, knit together by democratic centralism, rested on a vertical chain of command?  The GP, tried, it is said, to break this division of political labour through its own practice. Rancière skirts around this issue. His attitude in La Leçon d’Althusser towards the GP’s efforts could be summarised as while the project was “abstract” “at least they tried to do something”. It was an experience from which those involved could look at their politics and culture while the “great unifying syntheses” of leftism on the wider political scene were collapsing.

For all its marginality the short history of the GP is as ample an object in the resilience of traditional hierarchy as Althusser’s Theory. Rancière, it is said, had had links but was not directly involved in the group. Yet he could have asked about the efforts to combat the “division of labour” in the GP. Accounts indicate that it was an intense and pronounced failure. The decision to dissolve the group was made from the top. The unpleasant internal regime and political misjudgements of the GP are widely seen to have contributed to the distaste for left-wing activism that condensed in the 1970s “anti-totalitarian moment”. Famously in Tigre en papier (2002) Olivier Rolin (former head of their proto-armed wing) described the leader of the Gauche Prolétarienne, known as Pierre Victor – that is, Benny Lévy – as the Grand Dirigent, Gédéon, He had “un pouvoir littéralement hypnotique.” There are many tales about clashes around this Authority, and within the central leadership. One of the most contentious arose during divisions over “popular justice”. This confronted the issue of what Rancière would later call the Police, not just in the ordinary sense of the word, but to what he considers to be the wider order-forming elements of society. It would be of interest to hear of his views on “tribunaux populaires” that would carry out class justice, and offer a direct “populist” challenge up to “prosecution” and punishment, not excluding executions. (8)

Althusser did go onto ask questions about the party apparatus. In Ce qui ne peut plus durer dans le Parti communiste (1977). Much of this intervention relates to the conflicts inside the PCF over the 1970s Union de la gaach,. Of more lasting significance, Althusser expressed deep doubts about the PCF’s ‘vertical’ structure of the PCF which partitioned ordinary members from one another and reproduced the leadership’s omnipotence and its  ‘religious conception of the Truth’ that reigned in the Politburo.”  It needs hardly underlining that taking this stand against the leadership of a party still scoring up to 20% of the vote took some genuine political courage. (9)

Rancière’s own questioning of Leninist political structures was more diffuse. As a bystander increasingly remote from activism, in La Leçon he had asked,  “How could we discuss the “ expression autonome de la révolte “ without being trapped in the distance and authority of theory? These issues, of how revolutionary groups could function democratically, or not, remains one of importance for all left political parties. Nevertheless is egalitarian ‘discussion’, the open to all those who speak, the knot from which oppositional politics are born? Is the entire mechanism of “representation”, from the Marxist party’s claim to stand “for” the workers, to the ‘bourgeois’ practice of election through the isolation of the voting booth (the ‘isoloir’ in French) substitutes for democracy?

These thoughts were never followed up by a call for a new form of left political organisation. Nor was there any serious consideration of parties as a crucial focus for politics. Indeed one could say that Rancière’s career, right up till the present moment, is marked by an avoidance and condemnation of organised politics. But what is there beyond the “autonomy of revolt” if not some kind of political body?

Les Révoltes Logiques.

Rancière, Althusser observed, went on to write some “remarkable” works on the dreams and projects of early workers’ movement. Named Les Révoltes Logiques (LRL), Rimbaud’s poetic cry against the rationalist ‘Democratic order’ imposed after the crushing of the Paris Commune, it published papers about popular struggles.   For some LRL intended to parallel the Maoist practice of sending members to work in factories (les Établis). The Review is said to have paid attention to revolts themselves and at first sight looks marked by “spontanéisme”. This angle, in opposition to the gradualism and tranquillity of the evolution of mentalities advanced by the Annals school, was interlaced with the denial that any Party any Official Voice, even one purporting to represent the labour movement, could speak for the people’s diversity. « il n’y a pas de voix du peuple. Il y a des voix éclatées, polémiques, divisant à chaque fois l’identité qu’elles mettent en scène » In this sense  it was neither Maoist, nor a search for a new subject – a unified « plèbe » that replaced the proletariat . The collective lasted from 1975 – 1985, although the review stopped appearing in 1981.  (10)

This voyage into the continent of History discarded the Marxist pretension to uncover the hidden mechanisms that create classes. It was not out to discover workers on the Royal road to modern socialist politics. Rancière’s (un-translated) Louis Gabriel Gauny. Le philosophe plébéien (1983) is one of its results. These fragments from the ‘memory of the people’ rescue works of a Plebeian Socrates. They include  “Opuscules cénobitiques” (a reference to early Christian ‘communist’ communities). They include reflections on the Prison of the Workplace run by “conseils de vampires”. Reflections on industrial production recall Michel Foucault’s Panopticon nightmare, not least because Gauny talked of a  “centre panoptique” while discussing the workers who build prison cells. Gauny also discourses on the “palingenesis (rebirth) of souls”. We are invited to discard the condescension of distance. Yet it is not easy to see the spirit of the enlightenment in Gauny’s theosophical vision of Diogenus and Jean the Baptist glimpsing the “cité future”. In short, the ideas offered by Gauny, and his striving to be somebody outside of his labouring existence, will strike most readers as strange and barely readable.  (11)

Proletarian Nights.

La nuit des prolétaires (1981), which features Gauny amongst a cast of toilers dreaming of emancipation, has found a larger audience. This was, it was asserted, the fruit of a break with both official ‘positivist’ labour history, and the rising Parti Socialiste endorsed (Mitterrand came to power in 1981) version of the left and labour movement. It aimed to explore the fringes of life, independent friendships and associations, snatches of out of work dreams and hopes where the embers of revolt burned What this meant is far from clear, but it appears to have signalled that Rancière aimed for something more than facts, to rescue from oblivion forgotten narratives of rebellion. Admirers claim that it was a voyage into the in-between, the borderlands, where the experience of exploitation and oppression led to attempts to build a better life.

One might expect a fresh look at ‘history from below’ in at odds with the dominant tradition of leftist writing to break the mould of our received perceptions. But if the above remarks have not already forewarned the reader, anybody anticipating a contribution to the ‘making of the French working class’ in La nuit des prolétaires (1981) will be disappointed Of hard-fought strikes, political campaigns, or, to use the words of E.P.Thompson, the poetry and labour of those “working people” who had “nourished…with incomparable fortitude, the Liberty Tree”, there is little sound.  A few glimpses into how worker organisations worked only appear after careful reading. The book, the result of some research in the archives, recounts the afterthoughts, the dreams of special group of toilers, writings and activities of 19th century Saint Simonian adepts of the Proto-socialist New Christianity and Icarian ‘communist’ workers.

Sutar Misha describes this, “instead of a social history of changing forms of work, organisations, or cultural practices, (it is) a history of the collision of arguments and fantasies that occupied a few hundred workers between 1830 and 1851.” To these reveries, and some engagement in associative life, the historical background, the 1848 Second Republic and the aftermath of Louis Bonaparte, is only legible by reference to a chronology attached at the end of the book.  Although there is an effort to avoid the retrospective condescension towards the ideas of the time, if the “principle of organisation” is discussed, it is sketchy. And, always given, in terms of these visionaries readiness to breach the borders between the “ proletariat “ and “bourgeois” utopian speculation.

If Nights of Labour shrivels when compared with the masterpieces of labour history, then this “extra labour” account of nights of non-labour of weary workers was never intended to enter the lists of traditional labour history radical or not. What is it? It is equally not without faults proper to its execution, and in terms of its own ‘egalitarian’ claims to present a new dimension of the past smothered by previous interpretations.. The book has been – abundantly – criticised for failing to distinguish between what the workers said, and Rancière’s own, abundant, opinions. Perhaps one might consider it a roman, a work of imaginative literature?A literary defence that it was written in a “style indirect libre” gives us little hope for greater clarity.  Had Rancière, in this and other ventures of the period, offered a breakthrough in ‘non-positivist’ mode – the word is certainly appropriate, ‘workerist’ history to stand on its own right?  Few, if any,  have followed its direction. Perhaps somebody could seek out  traces of this work.

Le Maître Ignorant.

Rancière’s next effort in the history of 19th century radicalism came with his free rendering of the work and opinions of the pedagogue Joseph Jacotot (1770 – 1840) offered perhaps his most celebrated template for real democratic practice. To Rancière the “méthode Jacotot” grounded on the equality of intelligence, both tried to emancipate minds, and to challenge authority beyond the schoolroom or lecture hall. (Le Maître Ignorant Cinq leçons sur l’émancipation intellectuelle, 1987)

A supporter of the French Revolution, and an educator under both the Directory and the Empire, Jacotot, lecturer in physics and Chemistry, moved to Belgium under the Second Restoration. Working as a teacher of French literature at the State University of Louvain the  Frenchman was faced with Dutch speaking students. He began his course, helped by the presence of an interpreter,  with a bilingual edition of the 18th century novel Télémaque by Fénelon, an appealing (and syntactically uncomplicated) fantasy full of ancient Greek mythology. Without explanations they proceeded to translate and comment on the text. whose description of the utopian kingdom (a « communist monarchy , if marked by ..slavery and a strict hierarchy of functions) of Salente (chapter X) was an early Enlightenment favourite. Rancière asserted in Les nuits that it remained a manual amongst 1820 and 1830s philanthropists and autodidacts, wishing to instruct the proletariat. Although about the only thing most of us know about the context of the short novel is that it was a veiled criticism of Louis the XIV it not endured as classic of subversion. No doubt some British workers read Sir Thomas More’s Utopia (1516)  which has more political merit, and is more widely acknowledged a source of communist thinking, though that also imagines a society with slaves and draconian punishment. (13)

These considerations (not discussed) apart, the novices’ apparent success, on Jacot’s own account, demonstrated the equality of intelligence. But the lesson was not that he had found a new means of teasing out people’s inner talents through a (rather presumptive) exercise in the Socratic – maieutic – method. It all began with a recognition that everyone can learn on their own – and a heavy dose of repetition. For Rancière, it is a stage on the way to indicate that, “L’égalité ne se donne ni ne se revendique, elle se pratique, elle se vérifie” This may be freely translated as Equality is not something given, nor is it something that is demanded, it is something that is proved in practice (14)

For many writers on Rancière, le Maître was a crucial moment in his thought. David Panagia states that, “Jacotot matters to Rancière in the same way that he mattered to the Communards of the Paris Commune: he matters because Jacotot develops an account of equality that refuses the propriety of judgment as a condition of political participation by refusing a priori common standards, including the common standard that to be an eligible participant in politics one must have a faculty of judgment.” But what conclusions can one draw from this? Anders Fjeld in Jacques Rancière Pratiquer l’eqalité (2018) suggests that at first sight the conceptual framework developed in the Maitre Ignorant could serve as a template for Rancière’s political work. But…intellectual and political emancipation are not the same.  (15)

This leads us to our  next section: from Le Philosophe et ses pauvresLa Mésentente La Haine de la démocratie,  and beyond…….

 

*********

References :

 

  1. Page 53. Le Maître ignorant: Cinq leçons sur l’émancipation intellectuelle, Fayard 1987.
  2.  “I know English people who I consider advanced, intellectual people, who say they are rather pleased that it was a Leave vote. I think you absolutely cannot simply reduce the Remain side to progress and universalism and the Leave side to backwardness. I think that you have to understand that with this type of vote there are lots of reasons why people might have voted for it. There is a reaction against foreigners because they are foreigners, but then again there are two very different aspects to the European question. There is the part that is about European power, the excessive power that is accountable to no one. We can speak of a denial of democracy, a denial which the European bureaucracy itself embodies. Then there is the aspect that is about relating to the other, relations with foreigners. So I think that in this situation there are two totally different kinds of question. I think that having this kind of referendum is to mix these questions up, in a rather systematic way. But of course it was not the people from below but the government and Mr. Cameron who did that, trying to divert, we might say, a democratic aspiration into an identitarian one.”  Europe: The Return of the People, or of Populism?  See Claude Lefort Essais sur le politique : xixe et xxe siècles, Paris, Seuil, 1986 (Collection Points. 2001) On Foucault and the Police “The ‘police apparatus’ is linked to the ‘state apparatus’; to the ‘centre of political sovereignty’, it works within the ambit of ‘disciplinary power’ and is a productive as well as a limiting apparatus. As early as in Madness and CivilisationFoucault defines police as “the totality of measures which make work possible and necessary for all those who would not live without it . . .” (p. 46). Again “Down to the end of the ancient regime, the term ‘police’ does not signify at least not exclusively the institution of police in the modern sense; ‘police’ is the ensemble of mechanisms serving to ensure order, the properly channelled growth of wealth and the conditions of preservation of health in general’ (Power/Knowledge p. 170). Thus police has as its main function the production and protection of wealth and protection of general conditions of health (which is obviously related to the first two functions). The production of wealth function includes all kinds of “economic regulation (the circulation of commodities, manufacturing processes, the obligations of trades people both to one another and to there clientele)”. The protection of wealth function is constituted of the ” ‘measures of public order’ (surveillance of dangerous individuals, expulsion of vagabonds and if necessary beggars and the pursuit of criminals” (ibid. p. 170). The production and protection of health function includes the “general rules of hygiene (checks on the quality of foodstuffs sold, the water supply and the cleanliness of streets)” [ibid. pp. 170-171].Police function…
  3. The use of rhetoric in Rancière’s writing a waits if Roland Barthes, but a simply glance through four pages (85 – 89) devoted to populism and the 2005 French EU Constitution referendum in 2005 in La Haine de la démocratie. Jacques Rancière. La Fabrique. 2005) Permanence du théologico-politique (1981) In Claude Lefort, Essais sur le politique. XIXe – XXe siècles. Editions du Seuil.  1986.
  4. The Lesson of Rancière. Slavoj Žižek. In: The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution of the Sensible The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution of the Sensible. Jacques Rancière. Continuum. 2005. The following is influenced by the invaluable framework offered to introduce his writings in Rancière: Pratiquer l’égalité. Anders Fjeld.   Éditer. 2018
  5. See Pages 223 – 226. La leçon d’althusser. Gallimard. 1974 See the account, of the theoretical issues at stake and biographical intersection of Rancière and Althusser, in The Detour of Theory. Gregory Elliott. Brill. 2006. Pages 22 and 25. Althusser’s Solicitude. George Elliott. In The Althusserian legacy. Edited by E. Ann Kaplan and Michael Spinker. Verso 1993.  More widely Conditions, limites et conséquences de l’intervention philosophique dans la conjoncture Althusser à l’épreuve de Rancière Eva Mancuso. 2013. More widely see the dossier in Radical Philosophy: The Althusser–Rancière Controversy Archive.
  6. Pages 271 and 191. La Leçon d’Althusser. Was Rancière the originator of the Althusserian theory of Ideological State Apparatuses? He has stated this and it  is reflected in Reviewing Rancière. Or, the persistence of discrepancies Bruno Bosteels. Radical Philosophy. 170. 211. Perhaps the most obvious point is that while there may be some relation between the ideas, Rancière had no picture of “Interpellation” or sense of how and why these institutions “reproduce” social relations. Rancière’s principal claims, about ideological struggle during the Great Cultural Revolution, have not worn well, unless of course one considers mass bureaucratic violence and repression to be beneficial forms of socialist ideological struggle. For Balibar’s view on the mixture of motives behind Reading Capital see Page 15: Étienne Balibar, L’Illimitation démocratique. Martian Deleixhe. Michalon. 2014.
  7. The whole of chapter 5 of The Detour of Theory. Gregory Elliott. Is devoted to this issue. He notably stated, “ a concrete critique, one which exists in the facts, in the struggle, in the line, in the practices, their principles and their forms, of the Chinese Revolution. A silent critique, which speaks through its actions, the result of the political and ideological struggles of the Revolution, from the Long March to the Cultural Revolution and its results. A critique from afar. A critique from ‘behind the scenes’” (Althusser cited, Page 231) Elliott charitably remarked that, “For over a decade, Althusser was caught up in the Parisian illusion of the epoch.” (Page 353) Amongst “post-Althusserian” theorists Alain Badiou still holds to such Noble Lies about the Cultural Revolutions. Rancière could criticise Althusser’s use of Mao, and his avoidance of looking at the nature of the USSR, but not ask whether the “verbiage” of human rights could have applied to the Cultural Revolution. Pages 196 – 7 La Leçon op cit.
  8. Pages 221 – 225. L’avenir dure longtemps Louis Althusser. Stock/IMEC. 1992.
  9. Page 42. Olivier Rolin Tigre en Papier. Seuil, 2002 Of the voluminous literature on the GP and popular justice Pages 237 – 8. Les Maoistes. Christophe Bourseiller. Plon. 2008. If it necessary  I should point out that the  writer of the present article comes from a very different ‘gauchiste’ tradition. Some details on the workings of the inner circles of the GP and its leader’s bizarre political trajectory, from Mao to the Torah in this fine study: Philippe Lardinois, De Pierre Victor à Benny Levy, de Mao à Moïse ?, Luc Pire, 2008
  10. See Althusser. The Detour of Theory. Gregory Elliott. New Left Review.
  11. On RL see: David Amalric & Benjamin Faure. Réappropriation des savoirs et subjectivations politiques: Jacques Rancière après Mai 68. Dissensus. 2011. « a) « Ni conscience d’une avant garde instruite par la science ni systématisation des idées nées de la pratique des masses. b)Ni l’un ni le multiple : un sujet unifié de l’histoire (la classe ouvrière) ou la multiplicité irréductible des luttes. c) Ni le plein ni le vide : la pleine positivité théorique et sociologique de la classe ouvrière ou la négativité destructrice de la subjectivité rebelle. » In A Thorn in the Side of Social History: Jacques Rancière and Les Révoltes logiques Mischa Suter. Research Centre for Economic and Social History, Zurich. 2012. it is suggested that “établissement and enquête”, the Maoist practice of establishing members as workers and “inquiry” marked the journal. “Au « on a raison de se révolter » de la Gauche prolétarienne, la revue substitue l’attention portée à la révolte, « Nous aurons la philosophie féroce ». In Révoltes logiques, 1975-1981 Vincent Chambarlhac.
  12. Page 73. Louis Gabriel Gauny. Le philosophe plébéien La-Découverte-Maspero. 1983.
  13. Jacques Rancière. La nuit des prolétaries. Plurielle. 2012 Paperback
  14. Page 40 Jacques Rancière. La nuit des prolétaires.Le Maître ignorant: Cinq leçons sur l’émancipation intellectuelle, Fayard 1987 More on this study: Sur « Le maitre ignorant »
    It goes without saying that this tale of instant learning is not widely accepted. See French Wikipedia entry for links on this: Le Maître ignorant. 

  15. Page 7. Rancière’s Sentiments. David Panagia Duke University Press. 2018. Page 53. Jacques Rancière. Pratiquer l’égalitie Anders Fjeld. Michalon.. 2018.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 9, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Britain’s Barmiest Brexiter Comes to Colchester.

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David Icke, arguably the world’s best-known conspiracy theorist, has come out in favour of leaving the European Union, labelling the bloc a “dictatorship”.

In series of tweets and posts on his website, the broadcaster hit out at the “dark suits running your life” and that real reform is “completely absent” in David Cameron’s deal.

Huff Post 2016.

More recently.

Yup, George Soros figures in top reptilian rank according to Icke…

Icke still sings the old tunes though,

Tickets for the Colchester feast for mind and spirit cost £30.00…..

“David brings his Brand New 4 Hour Show to Colchester as part of his UK Tour on the back of his Brand New Book “Everything You Need to Know but have Never been Told” which was released in November 2017.”

Written by Andrew Coates

October 8, 2018 at 11:06 am

Hal Draper and Socialism from Below.

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Image result for The "dictatorship of the proletariat" from Marx to Lenin (

Hal Draper (1914 – 1990) remains a seminal influence on Marxists.

Along with Maximilien Rubel (1905 – 1996, probably less known in the English speaking world) he offered a strongly democratic interpretation of Marx and Marxism based on serious historical and textual study.

Draper’s unraveling of the historical and political origins and use of the term ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’  (The “dictatorship of the proletariat” from Marx to Lenin 1987) is something many turn to whenever the issue of the Russian Revolution comes up.

His  Anatomy of the Micro-Sect (1973) while situated firmly within the context of the marginalised US left and, in this Blog’s view wildly and wrongly indulgent towards Lenin himself, offers insights into the way many small left-wing factions operate across the world.

In this important article Joel Geier offers an overview of Draper’s contribution to the left and not just on those who call themselves ‘revolutionaries’ or indeed agree with his interpretation of Marxism.

Hal Draper’s contribution to revolutionary Marxism

The piece is long but this extract gives some of the flavour.

Fifty-one years ago the Berkeley Independent Socialist Club published Hal Draper’s The Two Souls ofSocialism.1 Of the hundreds of radical pamphlets published in the 1960s, Two Souls has had perhaps the longest-lasting impact. Appearing at a time when various forms of top-down versions of socialism—social democracy, Stalinism, and Maoism—were in vogue, its emphasis on workers’ self-emancipation set it clearly apart. Moreover, Draper did not merely reintroduce genuine Marxism to a new generation; in its originality and clarity, Two Souls—and the subsequent work that elaborated in detail on his arguments—presented a different way of looking at the world, at socialism, and at competing ideologies.

Traditional interpretations maintained that the essential divisions in the socialist movement were between reform and revolution, pacifism versus violence, and democracy versus authoritarianism. Two Souls took a somewhat different angle, namely, that “throughout the history of socialist movements and ideas, the fundamental divide is between Socialism-From-Above and Socialism-From-Below,”2thus introducing the vocabulary, narrative, and ideas of socialism from below as the contemporary representation of revolutionary Marxism.

The unifying feature of the many varieties of socialism from above, Draper argued, is distrust or opposition to the working-class’s potential to recreate society based on its own initiative. Socialism from above, Draper specified, is the idea that socialism “must be handed down to the grateful masses in one form or another, by a ruling elite not subject to their control in fact.”3 Distrust of the mass’s ability to rule and denial of democratic control from below are the core tenets of the many variants of socialism from above that have dominated the history of the socialist movement.

The heart of socialism from below is the understanding that “socialism can be realized only through the self-emancipation of activated masses in motion, reaching out for freedom with their own hands, mobilized ‘from below’ in a struggle to take charge of their own destiny, as actors (not merely subjects) on the stage of history.”4 These few words summarize what Draper would later work for decades to restore and defend as the heart of revolutionary Marxism in his analysis of the entire body of Marx’s political writings, as presented in numerous articles, as well as in his indispensable, magnificent multivolume series, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution (KMTR).

A major thesis of Two Souls was that social democracy and Stalinism, the two major self-styled socialisms from above, despite their real and obvious differences, both identify socialism with the statification of the economy, and both reject workers’ democratic rule as the foundation of socialism. Long before Stalinism, Eduard Bernstein, the theoretical father of social-democratic reformism, was the first to revise Marxism to eliminate working-class self-emancipation from its essence, substituting “superior educated” parliamentary representatives for the “uninformed masses” as the agency for socialism. Social democracy and Stalinism, whose advocates strongly denied their similarities, were the dominant radical ideologies that divided the socialist movement during Draper’s political life, which was split between those who supported “democratic” Washington or “socialist” Moscow. These constrained political choices debilitated the working-class movement long before the wrecking operations of neoliberal capitalism began.

Read the full article on Socialism From Below in the International Socialist Review.

Those who are very far from enthusiasts for Trotsky or ‘revolutionary’ Marxism but who are democratic Marxists have learnt a lot from one of the best socialist writers of the 20th century.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 7, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Morning Star – Brexit Bolsheviks join “La gauche antimigrants”, the anti immigrant Left.

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Image result for The working men have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got

Morning Star Says Brexit Means “Freedom to control our own borders.”

Le Monde has just published a long article on what they call the “anti-immigrant/anti-migrant” left”.

A ‘left in favour of national sovereignty and closing borders.

The French daily cites the German Aufstehn movement of  Sahra Wagenknecht, the “ambiguities” of Jean-Luc Mélecnhon’s La France insoumise, and Danish Labour and ‘populist’ left forces.

Lo and Behold the Morning Star, Britain’s leading organ of the Brexit Bolsheviks has just published this (which will appear in the Saturday print edition).

Time to get tough with the EU and our own anti-democrats

The benefits of being free of the EU neoliberal restrictions far outweigh anything else, writes JACQUI JOHNSON.

What do we do when we are free of the membership fee and from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? Any of these things is complex, open to offers and counter-offers, stand-offs and compromises, but none overrides the ending of our EU membership.

Here is a very prominent ‘benefit’.

Leaving means freedom to control our own borders. Immigration policy can be part of a comprehensive employment plan based on equal rights for all who live and work here.

…..

The benefits of being free of all of these neoliberal restrictions on our economic prospects far outweigh anything else. Rebuilding and transforming Britain does not depend on trading arrangements, it depends on investment in our people to produce and transform society. You can’t trade if you can’t produce.

 

The anti-migrant writer of this, Jacquie Johnson is former president of NATFHE, now UCU,.

She is, by no coincidence at all, linked to the notorious “Trade Unionist Against the EU” – which received funds from far-right millionaire Arron Banks.

From this year’s TUC Fringe,

EMBRACE BREXIT – REBUILD AND TRANSFORM BRITAIN

Brexit offers opportunities we never had while members of the EU. This is now being recognised by almost everyone, even the Guardian. Jeremy Corbyn said, ‘the next Labour government will … [take] advantage of new freedoms outside of the EU to allow Government to intervene to protect our industrial base’. The speakers will explore the opportunities offered by Brexit and discuss how the trade union movement can take part in this most exciting phase in the history of our country. Contributions from the fl oor will be welcome.
Speakers: Mick Whelan (General Secretary, ASLEF), Sarah Wooley (BFAWU), Kelvin Hopkins (MP), Professor Costas Lapavitsas (author of Left Case Against the European Union)
Chair: Jacquie Johnson (former President NATFHE/UCU)
Venue: The Briton’s Protection, 50 Gt Bridgewater St, Manchester M1 5LE
Refreshments provided.

Amongst her further comments we find this:

It is no accident either that one of the most virulent asset-strippers of Greece, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, manages to drape himself in “left-wing” colours . He wants to stay in the EU, “but not this EU”).

“It’s no accident” ………

How that hackneyed  phrase reminds one of these days:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 5, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Yazidi campaigner Nadia Murad wins joint 2018 Nobel Peace Prize with Congolese Doctor Denis Mukwege.

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Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad: Nobel Peace Prize winners

Heroes of the People.

Congolese doctor, Yazidi activist win Nobel Peace Prize for combating sexual violence

Reuters Reports,

They were awarded the prize for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

“Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others,” it said in its citation.

“Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.

Mukwege heads the Panzi Hospital in the eastern Congolese city of Bukavu. Opened in 1999, the clinic receives thousands of women each year, many of them requiring surgery from sexual violence.

Murad is an advocate for the Yazidi minority in Iraq and for refugee and women’s rights in general. She was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014.

“Rape in war has been a crime for centuries. But it was a crime in the shadows. The two laureates have both shone a light on it,” said Dan Smith, Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“Their achievements are really extraordinary in bringing international attention to the crime,” he told Reuters.

Mukwege, a past winner of the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, performed surgery on scores of women after they had been raped by armed men, and he campaigned to highlight their plight. He also provides HIV/AIDS treatment as well as free maternal care.

Although the Second Congo War, which killed more than five million people, formally ended in 2003, violence remains rampant, with militias frequently targeting civilians.

The hospital has also been the subject of threats, and in 2012 Mukwege’s home was invaded by armed men who held his daughters at gunpoint, shot at him and killed his bodyguard.

Shortly before that attack, he had denounced mass rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the impunity for it in a speech at the United Nations.

“He has risked his life to help women survive atrocity,” said SIPRI’s Smith.

Mukwege was in the operation room when he was told the news, Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported on Friday.

The Region adds some details about Murud,

Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 25-year-old Iraqi woman of the Yazidi faith escaped Islamic State sex slavery after three months of captivity and has been advocating for the end of human trafficking ever since.

She was abducted from Kocho near Sinjar, an area home to about 400,000 Yazidis, and held by Islamic State in Mosul where she was repeatedly tortured and raped. She escaped three months later, reaching a refugee camp, then making her way to Germany.

Islamic State militants consider the Yazidis to be devil-worshippers. The Yazidi faith has elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam. Most of the Yazidi population, numbering around half a million, remain displaced in camps inside the autonomous entity in Iraq’s north known as Kurdistan.

After escaping in 2014, Taha described her experience of torture and rape at the United Nations in December 2015 and pleaded to the 15-member Security Council to wipe out the militant group.

At least 9,900 of Iraq’s Yazidis were killed or kidnapped in days following Islamic State attack in 2014, according to the first study which aimed to document the number of Yazidis affected. The study could be used as evidence in trial over IS for the crimes of genocide.

About 3,100 Yazidis were killed – with more than half shot, beheaded or burned alive – and about 6,800 kidnapped to become sex slaves or fighters, according to the report published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine in May.

In August 2014, Islamic State militants launched an assault on the Yazidi religious community’s heartland in Sinjar, northern Iraq.

Murad and her attorney Amal Clooney appeared at a United Nations event in March 2017 to appeal for that the crimes of Islamic State militants to be investigated and perpetrators prosecuted. She criticized the international body for inaction.

In September 2016 Murad was appointed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought along with Lamiya Aji Bashar, another Yazidi woman, in December 2016.

Murad’s intensely moving book, The last girl : my story of captivity and my fight against the Islamic State is available from Suffolk LIbraries.

Image result for the last girl book yazidi

I read it last month.

The book explains the Yazidi society, their poverty, – she fought hard to get an education – their culture, and their loves. The  ancient beliefs of their religion, including the Peacock angel, are  recounted with dignity.

It is a work of searing honesty.

The conflicts and persecution from which the largely Kurdish speaking Yazidi community have suffered are long-standing.

In modern times these have ranged from the state of fear under the Baathist regime, their difficult relations with neighbouring Muslim Arab villagers, to the fighting after the US-led occupation ended and Daesh rose.

The New York Times summarises,

In August 2014 Islamic State militants besieged her village of Kocho in northern Iraq. They executed nearly all the men and older women — including Murad’s mother and six brothers — and buried them in mass graves. The younger women, Murad among them, were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. Raped, tortured and exchanged among militants, 21-year-old Murad finds an escape route when she is sold to a jihadist in Mosul who leaves a front door unlocked. She flees into Kurdistan by posing as the wife of a Sunni man, Nasser, who risks everything to escort her to safety.

The review concludes,

“I want to be the last girl in the world with a story like mine,” Murad concludes. Despite recent gains against ISIS in Iraq, many Yazidis still remain in captivity. As a story that hasn’t yet ended, “The Last Girl” is difficult to process. It is a call to action, but as it places Murad’s tragedy in the larger narrative of Iraqi history and American intervention, it leaves the reader with urgent, incendiary questions: What have we done, and what can we do?

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 5, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Michael Mansfield Withdraws backing from Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

with 4 comments

Greenstein faces New Blow After Michael Mansfield’s statement….

For over 50 years I have been committed to fighting racism in all its forms. Equally I have been a staunch supporter of the rule of law and due process.

I joined the campaign LAWH in order to defend the right of those who wished to voice legitimate criticisms of the government of Israel and their repeated violation of International,law from being unfairly categorised as anti Semitic. An objective shared by fellow campaigners Moshe Machover, Ken Loach and Noam Chomsky.

Recently I have been alerted to the material being promulgated by the campaign,( not by the supporters named above). I was unaware of this and both the tenor and content are unacceptable. For these reasons I wish to,withdraw my sponsorship of the Campaign, whilst at the same time wishing to maintain my enduring support for a responsible and vigorous critique of any government which flagrantly undermines the rule of law.

Michael Mansfield QC

30 September 2018

Official Statement.

More here: Jeremy Corbyn-backing lawyer severs ties with group that calls Labour antisemitism ‘witch hunt’  Lee Harpin

“Michael Mansfield says he was shown ‘material’ the campaign circulated that is ‘unacceptable’.”

All you need to know about this is the following, “The vice-chairman of LAWH is Tony Greenstein.

In another blow to LAW this is today’s news:

Tony Greenstein’s Blog.

Medium Censors Remove My Blog – Outing Zionists and Fascists is ‘targeted harassment’ and contrary to the Corporate Rulebook

Medium have decided, without warning, to make my blog ‘unavailable’

Meandering and ponderous articles are fine but try uncovering foul deeds, tricksters, shysters, fascists and assorted thugs and Media’s Corporate Admen will be onto you like a flash.

Are these two blows related?

Here is one of Greenstein’s previous hits in the medium still left open to him;

View image on Twitter

Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Grande-Synthe Raided: an anti-Semitic Shiite Movement in alliance with fringe French ‘anti-imperialists’ and ‘anti-Zionists’.

with 2 comments

Image result for lISTE ANTISIONISTE

Racist ‘anti-Zionist’ group’s founders  now linked to terror plot.

“The Parti antisioniste  originates with the  centre Zahra, a Chitte Muslim organisation based at Grande-Synthe “

Its best known candidate for elections (2009 and 2012) was the convicted racist, and self-styled ‘revolutionary’ Dieudonné (pictured above doing the ‘quenelle ‘)

An alliance between Islamists, ‘pro-Palestinians’, a few extreme anti-Israel odd-ball shown in the photo, Greens,  ‘anti-globalisers,  individuals from the far-leftist (SUD, former PSU activists) and the far right (including well known Holocaust deniers from Égalité et réconciliation ) it scored few votes (around 1.30% to 1.14%. (1)

There were persistent allegations that it received backing from the Iranian regime.

Today the group behind the Liste is accused of involvement in a terrorist plot.

Grande-Synthe : une nébuleuse chiite dans le viseur de la police

Libération.

NORTH: ANTI-TERROR OPERATION IN GRANDE-SYNTHE AGAINST AN ASSOCIATION OF SHIITES

The police raided on Tuesday the headquarters of an association of shiite during a counter-terrorism operation in Grande-Synthe in the North, the day on which Paris has frozen the assets of two iranian nationals, one of whom is suspected of being involved in a project of attack in Villepinte in June.

Three people have been remanded in custody at the end of the operation, including for the unlawful possession of a firearm, according to a source close to the folder.

A 6: 00 AM, the headquarters of the association of shi “Centre Zahra France” and the homes of its leaders in Grande-Synthe (Nord) have been the subject of searches of the administrative, involving 200 police officers, including officers of the Raid and the BRI, according to the prefecture of the north.

The operation was launched following the “strong support” to “many” terrorist organizations” of the officers of the association, whose assets have been frozen, according to a decree published Tuesday in the official Journal.

The ministries of Interior and of Economy and Finance have also taken a similar measure, in a decree separate, against the internal Security Directorate of the Ministry of Intelligence in iran, and two iranian nationals, one of whom is suspected of being involved in the project of attack in Villepinte in June against a gathering of a group of iranian opposition in France, the Mujahideen of the people (MEK).

“An attempted attack has been foiled in Villepinte on June 30. This act of extreme gravity to be carried out on our territory could not remain without a response”, jointly declare in a press release Beauvau, the quai d’orsay and Bercy.

The article in Libération adds some details about the background of these people.

Kémi Seba, président du Mouvement des damnés de l’impérialisme, condamné plusieurs fois pour incitation à la haine raciale, ou de son ami Dieudonné, condamné, lui, pour propos antisémites. A l’adresse du centre est aussi logé le Parti antisioniste, dont Dieudonné a été le candidat pour les européennes de 2009 et les législatives de 2012. Ce parti n’a qu’un seul but, comme il l’explique sur son site web : «Témoigner, informer et combattre ce mal qu’est le sionisme.»

Kémi Seba, is President of the Movement of the  “damnés de l’impérialisme”, and  has been condemned several times for incitement to racial hatred. and his friend Dieudonné prosecuted for antisemitic remarks. At the address of the centre is housed the Anti-Zionist Party. Dieudonné was the candidate for the 2009 European elections and the 2012 elections. This party has only one goal, as it explains on its website. :“Witness, inform and fight the evil that is Zionism.”

Yahia Gouasmi also heads the Shia Federation of France and is described as close to Iran. Thus, in 2009, he accompanied Dieudonné to Tehran, and met with him Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then conservative president of the country. Alain Soral, essayist of the far right, who was also a candidate of the anti-Zionist Party, had also stated during a dinner in Nice in March 2013 that the money for the European campaign of this movement came from Iran, before retracting and asserting to Rue 89journalists that it actually came from the French Shiite community, via the “who embodies” , Yahia Gouasmi.

********

Names on the racist list:

(1): 1 – Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, 43 ans, présenté comme “humaniste révolutionnaire”.2 – Mireille Walle, 56 ans, mère de famille, vice-présidente du Cercle République sociale.3 – Yahia Gouasmi, 59 ans, président du Parti antisioniste.4 – Noémie Montagne, 33 ans, mère de famille, chef d’entreprise.5 – Alain Soral, 50 ans, écrivain, sociologue, président d’Égalité et réconciliation.6 – Ginette Hess-Skandrani, 71 ans, membre co-fondatrice des Verts, présidente de l’association Entre la plume et l’enclume.7 – Ahmed Moualek, 42 ans, président de l’association et du site La Banlieue s’exprime.8 – Jocelaine Simon, 25 ans, syndicaliste SUD, militante antisioniste.9 – Francesco Codemi, 43 ans, réalisateur, ancien de la Ligue communiste révolutionnaire et des Verts, militant libertaire.10 – Maria Poumier, 59 ans, universitaire (ER) à l’Université de La Havane et à Paris VIII.11 – Jean-Marie Keï, 43 ans, syndicaliste, disquaire.12 – Samia Ayari, 30 ans, cadre ressources.13 – Cyrille Rey-Coquais, 46 ans, scénariste, expert au Conseil de l’Europe.14 – Émmanuelle Grilli, 26 ans, présentée comme “ancien membre du Renouveau français” et cadre du Parti solidaire français.15 – Pierre Panet, 62 ans, postier retraité, syndicaliste, ancien du PCF et du PSU, membre fondateur du collectif Les Ogrees.16 – Fatima Chekkaf, 67 ans.17 – Sébastien Ducoulombier, 36 ans, militant altermondialisme et décroissance.18 – Anne-Marie Hoffmann, 50 ans.19 – Charles-Alban Schepens, 26 ans, président de la Fraternité franco-serbe.20 – Rabha Serbout, 32 ans.21 – Michael Guérin, 25 ans, étudiant, présenté comme “ancien responsable du Front national de la jeunesse“.22 – Souad Sedjai, 35 ans, employée.23 – Christian Cotten, 56 ans, psychosociologue président de l’association Politique de vie.24 – Chantal Fechtali, 59 ans.25 – Joseph Élise, 43 ans, présenté comme “militant antisioniste antillais”.26 – Sandrine Haddad, 34 ans, sans emploi.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 3, 2018 at 1:01 pm