Stand up for Your Homeland: Brexiters Follow Lead of Austrian Anti-Immigration Far-Right.
Left Socialist Blog
Always Pleased with Himself.
Asked if he was sorry, Mr Livingstone said: “I’m sorry to Jeremy and to the Labour Party,” but followed it up with saying, “It wasn’t me that started this.”
Asked if he regretted his comments, he said: “How can I regret stating the truth.”
Offering a rather qualified apology for his remarks, he said: “I’m sorry that I’ve said that because I’ve wasted all this time.” He says he wants the focus to be on the upcoming elections.
Ken Livingstone remained defiant over the Labour anti-Semitism row he fuelled – and used a rape comparison when asked about his suspension from the party.
He said: “If a woman turns up at a police station and says, ‘I’ve been raped’, the police have to investigate that.
“And as I’m on the national executive that oversees those investigations, you understand that person should be suspended.
“Given a lot of Labour MPs are accusing me of being anti-Semitic, that’s really something the party has to investigate.”
Livingstone’s narcissistic ‘politics’ have now reached their terminus.
Anybody wishing to go further into this topic – there is also a rebuttal of Livingstone’s source Brenner on Facebook by Jewish Socialist leaders – should read begin with these contributions:
Timothy Snyder, Yale University history professor and author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015) BBC.
It is inconceivable that Hitler could have wanted to move Jews to Israel, because there was no such place in 1932.
Using the word “Israel” when what is meant was “the British mandate of Palestine” has the unfortunate consequence of stripping away the actual historical context and putting the words “Hitler” and “Israel” in the same sentence.
Hitler was not a supporter of Zionism.
He believed, on the contrary, that Zionism was one of many deliberately deceptive labels that Jews placed upon what he believed to be their endless striving for global power and the extermination of the human species.
From Hitler’s point of view, Jews were precisely not normal human beings because they did not care about territory, but cared only about global domination.
“He was supporting Zionism” is categorically false and reveals a total and fundamental misunderstanding of what Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all about.
Tens of thousands of German Jews did emigrate to Palestine before British policy made this all but impossible. And some German officials did take an interest in Zionism. But there was never a German policy to support Zionism or a future Israel.
On the contrary, the German orientation in the Middle East was to support Arab nationalism. The official German policy, enunciated clearly in 1937, was to oppose the creation of a State of Israel.
Before, during and after 1932, Hitler referred to the Jews as a problem for the entire world, not simply for Germany.
When the Holocaust took place, the vast majority of Jews killed were people who lived beyond Germany.
Both in theory and in practice, Hitler’s extermination of Jews was international, applied to millions of people. For this reason as well, it is logically inconceivable that his ideas could ever have been limited to sending German Jews to Palestine.
Well before 1932, in his book Mein Kampf, Hitler had made clear that the Jews were, in his view, a “spiritual pestilence” that had to be removed from the face of the earth in order to rescue the human species, the natural order of the planet, and God’s creation.
It was not clear just how this could be carried out; but there is no sense in which the idea of deporting Jews to Palestine is sufficient to this vision.
Just to cite one passage:
The picture painted by Brenner is one of reactionary Ukrainian pogromists gaining the full collaboration of the Zionists. But the facts are as follows: the Ukrainian nationalists came to power on a socialist and inclusive platform; but the Zionists anticipated pogroms and tried to prevent them, while boycotting the government blamed for the subsequent atrocities. Brenner’s brief treatment of these events is a tissue of distortions and falsehoods.
Brenner is a propagandist, not a historian, and only a fool or a knave would rely on his books.
Again to quote some passages,
The Nazis’ plans for “concentrating” Jews in specific territories, be they Palestine or Madagascar, had nothing whatsoever to do with self-determination. These were expressions of the complete opposite: the use of force to strip Jews of all their rights, property and dignity.
As was proved by the establishment of the General Government in central Poland in October 1939, the Nazis were not in the least concerned that the territories where they intended to “concentrate” Jews were in a position to help their populations sustain themselves. They were looking for dumping grounds for Jews and other “undesirables”. These people were at best treated as ‘assets’ to exploit or, later, a stock of slave labour, and at worst simply expected to die of disease and starvation.
Any claim that Nazis and Zionists ever shared a common goal is not only cynical and disingenuous, but a distortion of clearly established historical fact.
We wonder how Livingstone – not to mention others, such as George Galloway, square up to this (Wikipedia):
From late 1944, Joseph Stalin adopted a pro-Zionist foreign policy, apparently believing that the new country would be socialist and would speed the decline of British influence in the Middle East. Accordingly, in November 1947, the Soviet Union, together with the other Soviet bloc countries voted in favour of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine,[which paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel. On May 17, 1948, three days after Israel declared its independence, the Soviet Union officially granted de jure recognition of Israel, becoming only the second country to recognise the Jewish state (preceded only by the United States’ de facto recognition) and the first country to grant Israel de jure recognition.
Golda Meir was appointed Israel’s minister plenipotentiary to the Soviet Union, with her term beginning on 2 September 1948 and ending in March, 1949. During her brief stint in the USSR, Meir attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the Moscow Choral Synagogue.
In addition to the diplomatic support, arms from Czechoslovakia, part of the Soviet bloc, were crucial to Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. During the war, the Soviet Union supported Israel when it was attacked by Arab countries that opposed the 1947 United Nations General Assembly resolution for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
Detailed articles. The forgotten alliance. The establishment of Israel owes much to the Soviet Union and the wide range of support — diplomatic, demographic and military — it offered the young state. Michel Réal. (Quand l’Union soviétique parrainait Israël. Michel Réal . Le Monde Diplomatique September 2014.) Aux origines du soutien soviétique à Israël. Gabriel Gorodetsky. le Monde Diplomatique February 2016.
Livingstone: “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”
27 April 2016
Earlier today, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark made the following statement about events following the revelation that Naz Shah MP had posted antisemitic statements on Facebook some time before her election as an MP:
“Naz Shah is a politician who is clearly on a political journey, from a Respect firebrand in the choppy waters of local Bradford politics to the Labour Party. She courageously stood up to George Galloway’s bigotry at the General Election. However, her historic remarks and posting were repugnant and completely unacceptable.
Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.”
Shortly after this statement was released it was announced that Shah had been suspended. Jeremy Newmark commented:
“The suspension of Naz Shah by the Labour Party is fair and consistent. I hope it will provide the context for a programme of education as we, at JLM, have set out.”
Jim comments on Shiraz Socialist.
It was right and also inevitable that Naz Shah was suspended from the Labour Party following the revelation of anti-Semitic Facebook posts suggesting that Israel should be “relocated to the US” and likening Zionism to al-Qaida (made, incidentally, before she was an MP).
In her defence it should be noted that (1) she made an immediate and unequivocal apology, with no attempt to claim that this was just “anti-Zionism” and (2) she has been brought up in a political culture in which saying offensive things about Jews, Israel and Zionism is considered acceptable and in which many people don’t even recognise that anti-Semitism is much of a problem: check out Ken Livingstone’s reaction, for instance.
(More on site…)
I note in passing that the Facebook post – which Shah did not create – was shared by many people, that it was one of many virulent posts circulating during the Israeli military actions against Gaza.
I, like many, opposed these armed repressive actions, and said so.
If some people got caught up in their emotions and have since, as Shah has, thought through her politics on a democratic basis then all credit to them, and to her.
This response does not help (Politics Home).
Speaking to BBC Radio London, Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone accused the “Israel lobby” of a campaign to smear its critics as anti-Semites, after Labour MP Naz Shah was suspended for sharing a post calling for Israel to be relocated to the United States.
“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic…
“It’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians.
“And there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”
“As I’ve said, I’ve never heard anybody say anything anti-Semitic, but there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic. I had to put up with 35 years of this…
“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War.
“Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as anti-Semitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”
He hit back at Lord Levy’s criticism of the leadership’s response to the anti-Semitism storms in Labour.
“After Jeremy became leader I was having a chat with Michael and he said he was very worried because one of his friends who was Jewish had come to him and said ‘the election of Jeremy Corbyn is exactly the same as the first step to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power’.
“Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as anti-Semitic from the moment he became leader. The simple fact is we have the right to criticise what is one of the most brutal regimes going in the way it treats the Palestinians.”
There are many aspects to this controversy, which has been envenomed by Livingstone’s comments.
One is the claim that some people are deliberately making wild claims about antisemitism on the left which may, as Livingstone alleges, be connected to a broader attack on the socialist left.
This indeed happens and could be seen on Newsnight yesterday.
Lady Neuberger claimed the issue in Labour was “attached to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader”, and “an issue within the hard left”.
A measure of how wide Neuberger was prepared to extend her net was that she included ‘Militant’, that is the Socialist Party in the charge.
This is a good illustration of just twisted the debate has become.
The Socialist Party has been both an opponent of boycotting Israel and a supporter of the right of the Jewish people to their own state (Boycotts of Israel: Will they help the Palestinians?)
Israeli Jewish workers are also inevitably alarmed when some of the staunchest advocates of boycott action in Britain and elsewhere, such as the SWP, have a record of opposing the right of the Jewish people to their own state. Whereas in the case of South Africa, a majority of black workers there supported international sanctions against the ruling white elite, Israeli workers are not in agreement with sanctions against Israel.
A boycott under these conditions is a mistake, and a gift to the Israeli right.
The Palestinians and the Israeli Jews have a right to their own separate states. But achieving such states, with lasting, peaceful co-existence and decent living standards, will be unviable on a capitalist basis.
The only way that will be possible, will be on the basis of Israeli workers building the workers’ movement in Israel to challenge the power, profit and prestige of the Israeli capitalist class, and of Palestinian workers also building their own united movement.
I would say that the Socialist Party reflects what is in fact the mainstream left position of the issue, although one can be, to say the least, sceptical about the possibility of socialist states in the region.
If many of us are opposed to the policies of the Israeli government, if we are critical and the structures it is built on, we continue to hold to this two-state position. Equally we have every sympathy for the Palestinians, their plight, and efforts to create their own independent state and society.
Another is the fact that in some quarters of the left, notably those influenced by the ‘anti imperialism of fools’, there is a strain of hatred against ‘Zionism’ which shades into antisemitism.
Livingstone’s remarks about Hitler’s support for Zionism indicates that his claim about never hearing anti-Semitic remarks in the Labour Party disproves the widely-held view that he loves the sound of his own voice.
But everybody else heard him.
In response all I can say is that if that if anybody thinks for one fucking minute that the majority of the left, and the part of it the Tendance belongs to, will ever stop fighting antisemitism and will cease from defending the right of the Jewish people to determine their own future and state, and that they have any sympathy for would-be genociders, they are fucking joking.
from the Jewish Socialists’ Group
Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.
Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.
Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy beyond the Pale.
Accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.
A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.
The accusations do not refer to antisemitic actions but usually to comments, often made on social media, long before Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership. Those making the charges now, did not see fit to bring them up at the time, under previous Labour leaders, but are using them now, just before mayoral and local elections, when they believe they can inflict most damage on the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.
The attack is coming from four main sources, who share agendas: to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour; to defend Israeli government policy from attack, however unjust, racist and harmful towards the Palestinian people; and to discredit those who make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy or Zionism as a political ideology. As anti-racist and anti-fascist Jews who are also campaigning for peace with justice between Israelis and Palestinians, we entirely reject these cynical agendas that are being expressed by:
• The Conservative Party
• Conservative-supporting media in Britain and pro-Zionist Israeli media sources
• Right-wing and pro-Zionist elements claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community
• Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour party.
The Jewish Socialists’ Group recognises that ordinary Jewish people are rightly concerned and fearful about instances of antisemitism. We share their concerns and a have a proud and consistent record of challenging and campaigning against antisemitism. But we will not support those making false accusations for cynical political motives, including the Conservative Party, who are running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, and whose leader David Cameron has referred to desperate refugees, as “a swarm” and “a bunch of migrants”. The Conservative Party demonstrated their contempt for Lord Dubs, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, when they voted down en masse an amendment a few days ago to allow 3,000 child refugees into Britain while Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, gave total support to Lord Dubs and his amendment.
The Jewish Socialists’ Group sees the current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.
We stand against antisemitism, against racism and fascism and in support of refugees. We stand for free speech and open debate on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.
While some of the Jewish Socialists’ points about the origins of the present furore are borne out by the facts there remain problems about this statement.
Apart from underestimating the growth of overt antisemitism, not just from stray comments but from full-blown Ant-Semites of the type described by Sartre in Réflexions sur la question juive, this downplays the extent to which by denying the right of Israel to exist at all – and thus of the Jewish people where large numbers wish to – has a coherence within the framework of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’.
Support for the view that Socialist Fight’s claims about a ‘pan-national Jewish bourgeoisie’ at the heart of world-wide Zionism, may seem a lunatic fringe affair.
But backing, sometimes unconditional, for the Islamist Hamas – which makes no secret about its hatred of the Jewish population in the Middle East – on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds is much more widespread.
We note that within the Labour Party and the wider left there are strong critics of these positions, and that John McDonell has been sufficiently concerned to issue a declaration calling for there to be no place for antisemitism in the movement.
This careful and lucid examination of the media-famous incidents ignores the points raised in the previous two paragraphs: Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do.
SWP Predicts End of Tories if Brexit Comes.
It’s probably hard to make a good speech when you’re uncomfortable with the message you’re communicating.
That’s why Jeremy Corbyn made such a dull and uninspiring presentation launching Labour’s pro-European Union (EU) campaign last week.
The SWP National Secretary has his own unique theory as to why Corbyn calls for a Remain Vote:
It turned out the way to make Corbyn back the EU was to elect him Labour leader. He compromised to keep at least some of the right vaguely on side.
The reappointment of Pat McFadden as shadow minister for Europe was seen as the first victory for Labour’s right under Corbyn’s leadership. The announcement that the party would campaign to stay in the EU followed.
McFadden eventually resigned, but was replaced with another strongly pro-EU figure.
Kimber accuses Corbyn of being pivotal in moblising the ‘Remain’ vote.
If Corbyn backed Leave, it is highly likely that the vote would be to break from the EU. Polls suggest that Corbyn is far more trusted on the issue than Tories on either side.
His support would banish completely the myth that only the right wants to exit. He would particularly appeal to young people who presently see the EU as a left wing project.
In place of any argument about workers’ rights, social Europe, or internationalism, or whatever the SWP used to dredge up as ‘principled’ reasons to stand for Little Britain, Kimber places this centre stage
Corbyn insists a Leave vote would boost the right. But with the political feeling in Britain at the moment it is more likely it would see Cameron’s resignation, turmoil in the Tory party, the loss of their parliamentary majority and an early election. This offers the hope of the end of the Tories before 2020, surely something to be grasped.
In other words, don’t vote just against Europe, but to get rid of the Tories….by replacing Cameron by a more right-wing anti-European Tory.
One can imagine the SWP National Committee…..
The comrades are respectfully silent.
Kimber is gazing into the dialectical crystal ball.
The Leave side has won!
The Organiser sees movement, a hideous Tory party, a gnashing of teeth, resignations, fights, disarray, messages of international support to Socialist Worker.
A new regime, perhaps of the hardest of hard rights.
Outrage, strikes, divisions: the regime falls.
Kimber continues his divination. An election, which will….. – here the prophecy grows dark: only the shifting shapes of masses of workers and protesters can be seen.
There’s a glimmer….
2,000, perhaps 200,000 thousand copies of Socialist Worker sold!
Lowestoft recruits ten new members!
The comrades smile: the Seer of Socialism has Seen!
In French this is known as la politique du pire: the worse the better.
After the exalted visions the SWP cannot resist a sharp, but more mundane, attack on Barack Obama.
Chief SWP theoretician Alex Callinicos finely analyses the speech of the Monarch of the global Empire,
Obama’s intervention stops anyone pretending any longer that they haven’t noticed where global capitalist interests are lining up. The Emperor himself has told them in words of one syllable that Brexit will harm his empire.
Meanwhile the Carnival of Reaction from the Leave camp continues:
NIGEL Farage has given his most rousing speech to date by declaring that a vote for Brexit will become Britain’s Independence Day.
Murdered Bangladeshi gay activist Xulhaz Mannan (From Paul C).
Homage to the Martyrs!
The Hindu reports,
Two people were hacked to death Monday at an apartment in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka, police said, with a local television channel identifying one of them as a leading gay rights activist.
“Unidentified attackers entered an apartment at Kalabagan and hacked two people to death. Another person was injured,” Dhaka Metropolitan Police spokesperson Maruf Hossain Sorder told AFP.
He did not identify the dead, but private television Channel 24 said one of them was the editor of Roopbaan, the country’s only magazine for the LGBT community.
The BBC continues.
A leading gay rights activist and editor at Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine has been hacked to death, media reports and officials say.
Another person was also killed and one person injured when attackers entered an apartment in Dhaka, police said.
Julhas Mannan was an editor at LGBT magazine Roopbaan and previously worked at the US embassy, friends said.
The killing comes two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants.
Since February last year suspected militants have killed several secular or atheist writers and members of religious minority groups.
BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, which had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk.
Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.
Meanwhile Bangladesh’s best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday.
Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed “very soon”.
Earlier this month, a Bangladeshi law student who had expressed secular views online died when he was hacked with machetes and then shot in Dhaka.
Last year, four prominent secular bloggers were also killed with machetes.
The four bloggers had all appeared on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.
There have also been attacks on members of religious minorities including Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi Muslims, Christians and Hindus.
Stand up for Your Homeland: Brexiters Follow Lead of Austrian Anti-Immigration Far-Right.
Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove try to turn referendum debate back in leave side’s favour after Barack Obama intervention.
This stands out,
Duncan Smith said: “You cannot reject anybody unless you can demonstrate categorically that they pose an immediate threat to the life and livelihood of the UK.
“The reality is that we have to accept people, even criminals. There are a number of cases of people who have got criminal records, then come over here and commit crimes, and we can’t even get rid of them without permission of the European court of justice.
“We would have a policy to have controlled migration, it’s not an end of migration. It means you want people to come in here where there are needs for them – software engineers, engineers generally, skills that are required.”
The Financial Times reports,
Michael Gove, justice secretary, said Britain would be subject to a migration “free for all” as the next wave of EU applicants joined the club, a reference to countries including Serbia, Albania and ultimately Turkey.
Mr Gove claimed in the Times that the NHS faced “unquantifiable strain” if Britain remained in the EU.
The Brexiters’ campaign immediately follows the success’of the far-right in Sunday’s Austrian Presidential Election..
The British far-right daily, the Express, gleefully reports,
Norbert Hofer, the candidate for Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party, won 36.4% of the vote, and will face an independent candidate in the final vote next month.
It was the Freedom Party’s best result in a national election after a campaign that focused on the impact of the migrant crisis.
More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in Austria since last summer.
The migrant crisis has divided the country and in a major U-turn the government, who initially backed German chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy, shut Austria’s borders.
Mr Hofer, who has run an anti-immigrant and anti-Europe campaign will now go head-to-head with environmentalist and pro-refugee Alexander van der Bellen Van Der Bellen on May 22 for the post, which is largely a ceremonial role.
The Austrian results saw the collapse of the Social Democrats’ (SPÖ) vote in their historic heartland, Vienna.
They got just 12,31% for their candidate, Rudolf Hundstorfer, in the Capital. The far-right Hofer got 29,28%, and the Greens’ ally, Griss obtained 18,71%. (Wikipedia).
For more see: Grün-blau oder: Das Ende des roten Wien.
Apart from its anti-immigration programme the Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ (Freedom Party, Wikipedia) offers an extreme cultural version of national ‘sovereigntism’.
From the mid-1980s, the concept of Heimat (a word meaning both “the homeland” and a more general notion of cultural identity) has been central to the ideology of the FPÖ, although its application has slightly changed with time. Initially, Heimat indicated the feeling of national belonging influenced by a pan-Germanic vision; the party assured voters in 1985 that “the overwhelming majority of Austrians belong to the German ethnic and cultural community.” Although it was noted then that Austria was the mother country which held the national traditions, this would later be favoured more explicitly over the pan-German concept. In 1995 Haider declared an end to pan-Germanism in the party, and in the 1997 party manifesto the former community of “German people” was replaced with the “Austrian people”. Under the leadership of Strache, the concept of Heimat has been promoted and developed more deeply than it had been previously. After his reelection as chairman in 2011, the German aspects of the party’s programme were formally reintroduced.
One-Man Carnival of Reaction.
Scenes from British Political Confusionism.
“How different too it is turning out from what some predicted would be a ‘carnival of reaction’ ahead of the Euro referendum.”
Counterfire. April 2016.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, claims that Barack Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestry” has resulted in anti-British sentiment. So intense is this dislike that the US President removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office. This slight on the Manes of Albion was compounded by the President’s support for the European Union. The EU, it appears, makes 60% of our laws. Bludgeoning home the Brexiter message, Johnson complained that America would never dream of sharing its sovereignty over anything.” (Guardian. 23.4.16)
Sovereigntism, the belief that all went wrong when Parliament pooled its decision-making powers in areas related to the single market, is an ideology shared by Tories in the Leave campaign, and a large part (if anything in this alliance could be called ‘large’) of the ‘left’ quit camp, Lexit. For UKIP and the rest of the hard right, making the running in the referendum debate, hysteria about migration and about such as topics as Obama’s ungrateful memories of British rule in Africa, is mobilised to gain backing for this principle. Left efforts to “keep racism out of the Referendum”, notably from those who underline the principle of sovereignty, have had no effect whatsoever.
The ‘left’ case is obscured by the suggestion, voiced by Counterfire, the “Tories crisis is our opportunity”. That the removal of Cameron by a victorious vote in the poll will result in opportunities, apparently not just for Johnson and his allies, but also for the labour movement most of which, and not least the Leader of the Labour Party, supports the Stay side. It is to be suspected that the latest Boris outburst has left a nasty taste in many people’s mouths. So, if it has weakened the Leave camp, is the converse true: that a Stay win will mean a defeat for the left, including the vast majority which advocates it?
Complaints about EU ‘neo-liberalism’ remain rhetoric unless there is a basis for policy. The anti-EU left believes that increased control over national decision-making power will enable a fight against capitalist globalisation. How exactly the UK will detach itself from global capital flows, financial markets, on the basis of rule by Westminster, perhaps split with Holyrood, is hard to grasp.
If the Lexiters propose regulation to control markets and capital then surely a large area, let’s call it Europe, is a better place to begin with. If they propose socialisation then what could be more ‘social’ than a number of different societies getting together, from places, let’s call them the Continent and its adjacent Islands, to form an economic bloc sufficiently large to stand up to international markets and capital? If they wish to remain internationalists then what better place to begin to practice inter-country and cross national solidarity then with the people next door to this one? If they wish political co-operation, well we can co-operate in a common organisation, Since it would begin with Europe, the first part of its name is obvious, and, perhaps, as we are on the left, the next bit, a Union, comes naturally.
Imagine that the left is on the road to power in Britain. The prospect of a way out of neo-liberal capitalism, helped by the “rising wave of protest”, “growing struggles” (Counterfire) is on the horizon. Fantastic! Until the next Brexit outburst…..
George Galloway is currently polling at 0 per cent in the London mayoral race
Fans of George Galloway, look away now – that said, there’s not many of you.
The Respect candidate is currently polling at 0 per cent, according to the latest YouGov/Evening Standard poll of 1,000 Londoners on the Mayoral race.
Clearly this did not work:
All out for one last effort!
In case this doesn’t work there is this:
Mayoral candidate George Galloway is already planning to take Sadiq Khan’s Tooting seat if the Labour candidate beats him to City Hall next month. SW Londoner.
Mr Galloway has thrown his hat into the mayoral race and will be representing the Respect Party in May’s election but is eyeing up his post-Mayoral race career.
With swipes at Zac Goldsmith ‘I respect him but no one should vote for him’ and ‘boring robot’ Sadiq Khan aside, he agrees with the other candidates that the housing crisis is the biggest issue plaguing London.
He said: “We need hundreds of thousands of council houses. It is the only democratic form of renting because you can evict your landlord and elect a new one.
“That would drive rent down in the private sector. We have the highest rents and house prices in the entire world,” he added.
However when asked where he would build these homes, Mr Galloway admitted that London may have to sacrifice London’s open spaces in order to solve the crisis.
“We need to build on brownfield sites, NHS and TfL land. We won’t be able to solve it just by building on brownfield we need to build on select greenbelt lands.”
He felt that Boris Johnson’s efforts to create affordable housing was not good enough and determined that 50% of London’s new housing should be affordable.
Mr Galloway also argued that Sadiq Khan’s promise to be the most ‘pro-business mayor’ is the wrong tactic.
He said: “Big business doesn’t need a mayor, it is the people who work for businesses that do. I will be the most pro-worker, the most pro-tenant.”
In regards to transport, he acknowledged that his plans to give all students free travel are radical.
He said: “All students will travel for free because of the theft of the EMA and the crippling tuition fees – these people need a break.”
When asked how he would pay for this he noted that seats are empty on buses already so the government are already paying for it.
On London congestion and air quality he said: “All delivery trucks would be banned from London in the daylight hours so they would have to deliver during the night.
“If your vehicle is highly polluting you will have to pay very dearly indeed.”
Mr Galloway believes that the Mayor of London need to have both a strong personality and strong policies in order to succeed, which is where he feels the frontrunners are lacking.
He said: “Both of the main candidates are above all else boring.
“Both of the previous mayors have been big figures. They were nobody’s robot. Sadiq Khan in particular even speaks like a robot.
“Zac Goldsmith looks the part until he speaks. I know him well, I like him and admire him. He is a principled and honourable guy but he is a Tory so nobody should vote for him.”
Mr Galloway did announce that should Sadiq Khan win the election, he would look to take his seat as Tooting MP in the by-election.
He said: “I think a by-election in Tooting would be very swift.
“It is easier to win a by-election than a general election, as you don’t have a national tide of feeling to compete with.”
However he is not giving up the top job without a fight, expressing his long-held desire for the position.
He said: “I have always wanted it. When Ken Livingston first ran I remember thinking ‘I wish I could have done that’.
“I watched his victory as an independent over Labour and that got me. It is a great and big job in every sense of the word.”
Anti-Jewish Riots and Killing in Constantine 1934.
Malia Bouattia, new President of the NUS, stood on a radical grassroots platform and made headlines last year after opposing a motion to condemn Isis reports the Guardian.
The new president is a controversial figure among many students, coming to prominence in the national press after speaking against an NUS motion “to condemn the IS and support Kurdish forces fighting against it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military intervention”.
The motion failed to pass and Bouattia said she had objected to the wording, issuing her own statement expressing solidarity with the Kurds against Islamic State and condemning the group’s “brutal actions”.
“We recognise that condemnation of Isis appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamophobia,” she said at the time. “This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”
Obviously this issue interests an audience on the left far wider than the student movement.
A particularly ridiculous response is offered by Lindsey German of Counterfire, who simply ignores the subject of the Kurdish fight and ISIS and states this,
Her most recent profile has been round a series of meetings opposing the government’s Prevent strategy. Her background as someone of Algerian descent gives her a first-hand knowledge of imperialism and racism. That means she understands the concerns of many of the students she will be representing.
The backlash against her has begun on day one. She will need all the support and solidarity that she can get. But today marks a victory for those who oppose war and racism. And a defeat for those who don’t.
We note that anybody from an Algerian background, which saw a civil war in 1991 break out between the repressive Algiers state and violent Islamism (MIA, GIA, GSPC and the still active, Al–Qaïda au Maghreb islamique, AQMI) should express a position not just on imperialism and racism, and not only the blood-drenched Algerian military, but on a very specific type of racism and persecution: that embodied in various forms of Islamism (Guerre civile algérienne).
This is what she says,
….describing how her family had been forced to flee civil war in Algeria when she was child .
“I know too well the price of terrorism, the consequences of racism and oppression,” said Ms Bouattia, a leading figure in the Students Not Suspects campaign against the Prevent anti-terrorism agenda.
“I saw a country ripped apart by terror and was forced into exile,” she explained, adding: “I know too well the damage done by racism and persecution.”
She explained how her university lecturer father was almost killed by a bomb and her school had been attacked by gun-wielding militia, causing her family to flee.
“I know many of you will have seen my name dragged through the mud by rightwing media, and might think I am a terrorist and my politics driven by hate,” she said, adding: “How wrong that is.”
Bouattia comes from Constantine, Algeria.
The city is also infamous for the French far-right Parti Social Français, PSF, and their successful efforts to incite Muslims against Algerian Jews that led to the antisemitic pogrom of 1936 (link gives another version of the causes) in which 25-34 Jews were killed and some 200 stores were pillaged. There is a long history of anti-Semitic activity in Algeria (by both pieds-noirs and Muslims) and the Vichy regime instituted official anti Jewish legislation.
In the present example 1941 around 18 to 20% of the City’s population were Jewish.
There have been no Jewish community in Constantine since the end of the Algerian war of Independence.
We would be interested to hear her views on this and more details about her – horrific – experiences in Algeria.
Indeed we would be curious to know how the Algerian civil war was a creation of ‘imperialism’.
But it is about a contemporary Islamist movement, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria that the present controversy has erupted.
Here is the background: Report on that Motion (2014) by Daniel Lemberger Cooper
Two motions debated at NUS NEC
The meeting then turned to motions submitted by NEC members. Unfortunately this part of the meeting was no feast of reason. There are two motions I want to focus on: Iraqi solidarity and Israel/Palestine. I urge you to read the motions before continuing.
The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).
The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.
(I must also put on record that after only a single round of speeches, Toni Pearce moved the debate on. This was wrong: there was no opportunity to respond to Bouattia’s allegations. I had my hand up to speak in response, but was not called.)
Let us look at Bouattia’s arguments: is the motion anti-Muslim or pro US intervention?
The motion was partly written by a Kurdish student activist, and presented by the International students’ officer, Shreya Paudel. I have looked again and again at the contents of the motion, yet I cannot track any Islamophobia or racism.
The US occupation, and its aftermath, has been an utter disaster for the people of Iraq. Resulting governments, led by Nouri Al-Maliki, have been authoritarian and carried out virulent Shia sectarianism. A civil war in the mid 2000s killed 34,000 civilians. Today there are 1.6 million refugees.
The dynamics in 2014 are complex. ISIS, who have grown out of Al-Qaeda, have seized huge swathes of the country; there is a new, shaky, shia-sectarian government; and a Kurdish regional government, whose self determination I believe we should support.
The ultra-Islamist group ISIS is a threat to all the people of Iraq. It is repressing and persecuting minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and Sunni Muslim Arabs. On the 29th June it declared a “caliphate” (a religious dictatorship). It has carried out rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as weapons against women in IS-occupied areas.
These developments have been exacerbated and driven by US policy deliberately fostering sectarianism.
The situation is desperate.
In this situation, it is fundamental that the political Left, trade union and student organisations, like NUS, show our solidarity with the Iraqi people, in particular the hard-pressed student, workers and women’s organisations, and those fighting for democracy and equality.
It is unclear whether Western forces (which congregated in Paris the day before the NEC meeting, on the 15th of September, to announce a “game plan” to defeat ISIS) will send boots onto the ground in Iraq. We know already that French aircrafts have begun reconnaissance flights over Iraq; and that US aid has assisted the Kurds and Yazidis. However it is unlikely they will want a re-run of a war that even they believe to have been a colossal failure. It may be more likely that the USA assists established forces from afar to defeat ISIS.
However, the motion cannot be clearer in saying that such forces cannot be relied upon to deliver democratic change in Iraq: “no confidence or trust in the US military intervention.” If one were to believe it is not sufficiently clear or that the motion is not worded strongly enough, fine: make an amendment to the motion; or seek to take parts to remove or strengthen a particular aspect. Instead, the whole motion – which calls for solidarity with oppressed forces in Iraq – was argued as wrong. This is a grave shame!
It is also true – and Left-wingers should think this over – that the Kurds and Yazidi’s thus far would not have been able to survive if it had not been for aid from the Americans. Calling simply for an end to this intervention is the same as calling for the defeat of the Peshmerga forces by ISIS. The policy is based on a negative criteria – opposing the US and UK – instead of positive criteria – solidarity with the oppressed.
Perhaps this is what Bouattia meant when saying that the motion is pro-intervention? Such a suggestion is arrived at only when one’s “analysis” becomes an issue of principle: that even within limited parameters, that to suggest that imperialism is not the only problem is somehow to “support” imperialism. This is the basis of “Stalinist” politics on international questions: that one considers forces that oppose the US as either progressive or, at worst, not the real issue -no matter how barbaric and reactionary and fascistic that force is. This is not a useful or effective way of looking at the world
The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty published a short time afterwards some important qualifications about this report: Fact and fiction about the Kurdistan row in NUS.
Daniel Cooper: I objected to Malia opposing the motion on Iraq proposed by me, Shreya Paudel and Clifford Fleming, and responded to her claims that it was Islamophobic and pro-imperialist. Some people have claimed I misrepresented Malia. The only justification I have heard for this is, firstly, that I did not state that Malia condemned ISIS. That is because it was so blindingly obvious: before the right-wing attacks on Malia, the idea that anyone on NUS NEC would not condemn ISIS had not even occurred to me. And, secondly, that I failed to report that Malia offered to support a different motion on Kurdistan at the next NEC if it fitted with her politics. Whether or not I should have reported this or not, it is hardly decisive! Does anyone seriously believe that if I had stated either of these things it would have prevented right wingers distorting and making use of what I wrote?
The AWL now comment,
The controversy surrounding Bouattia’s attitudes to Islamism and to anti-semitism over the last two weeks is not simply a matter of interpreting this or that comment at a meeting, or exchange on the internet. It has deeper political roots, which we are precisely attempting to sketch out here
Last year, Bouattia denounced a left-wing motion to NUS NEC in support of the Kurdish national liberation struggle as “racist” and “imperialist” and helped get it voted down. This sparked wide criticism from Kurdish and left-wing students, but when some right wingers including in the press noticed this and tried to whip up a storm against her by absurdly and shamefully portraying her as a supporter of Daesh, she responded by whipping up a storm against the proposer of the motion, Workers’ Liberty comrade Daniel Cooper.
We remind the movement of this because we believe that Bouattia behaved like a petty and unprincipled factionalist, putting her resentment at her bad luck, her prestige and the chance to attack a political grouping she doesn’t like above the massive issue of the Kurdish struggle. Although the NEC eventually, two months later, passed a motion about Kurdistan, NUS circles spent far more time and energy on the row than on supporting the Kurds. So much for anti-imperialism!
We have little confidence that an NUS led by Malia Bouattia would be more habitable for political minorities and dissenters, more democratic or more serious about political debate and discussion than one led by Megan Dunn.
There remain a host of other issues about the new NUS President, not least the fact that some on this left backed her.
That is a matter for students.
The Gerry Downing-Socialist Fight style anti-imperialism of fools which led, and justified a rejection do support for the Kurdish people in their hour of need signals a broader problem.
The central question for a wider activist public is: what is Bouattia’s stand on Islamism?
How does she qualify, judge and assess the different Islamist movements?
If she does not support the misguided state ‘Prevent’ strategy does she offer any other way of combatting and fighting these anti-working class, anti-liberal, anti-feminist, anti-left, and violent groups?
Who’s Pedalo Captain Now?
Europe 1 reports on the latest opinion polls for next year’s French Presidential election.
Alain Juppé (Les Républicains looks an easy winner at present with 35% (plus 4 points since December) in front of Marine Le Pen 26% (minus 2 points). François Hollande only gets 13% (minus 7 pts) Jean-Luc Mélenchon (12%, +1).
In effect Melenchon wavers between 12% and 16% in the polls, according to the survey.
It is important to note that Marine Le Pen is in first place in the case if Les Républicains (the main right party) is presented by either ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, François Fillon or Bruno Le Maire.
Les Républicains have yet to designate, by ‘primary’ elections, who their candidate will be. Deep divisions continue.
But this, one of many identical polls, strengthens Juppé’s hand.
Neither the Socialists nor the Front de Gauche (of which Mélenchon remains nominally a member) have decided on their official candidate.
A sign of Mélenchon’s trajectory is that he already has 95,000 people signed up to his personal candidacy and claims that 500 groups exist to campaign for him.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon is reported to be on Cloud Nine (Jean-Luc Mélenchon se sent « sur un petit nuage ») enjoying the taste of success while it lasts.
With his customary generosity and dislike of sectarian point-scoring Mélenchon has commented, (DL)
Je regarde passer le corbillard des Verts et le Radeau de la Méduse du parti communiste.
I am looking on as the Hearse of the Greens and the Communists’ Raft of the Medusa pass by.
Mélenchon is now predicting that he will go to the second round in the Presidential elections:
Frédéric Lordon: Diamond Geezer of Nuit Debout?
In the March’s Le Monde Diplomatique Frédéric Lordon’s Pour la république sociale discussed the end of social democracy and its surrender to the “empire du capital”. He called for the “socical republic”, a slogan with deep resonance on the French left, going back to the 1848 Revolution, and to the writings of Jean Jaurès.
The goal of this republic should be expanded ‘total’ democracy but equally,
…l’abolition de la propriété lucrative — non pas bien sûr par la collectivisation étatiste (dont le bilan historique est suffisamment bien connu…), mais par l’affirmation locale de la propriété d’usage (6), à l’image de tout le mouvement des sociétés coopératives et participatives (SCOP), des entreprises autogérées d’Espagne ou d’Argentine, etc. : les moyens de production n’« appartiennent » qu’à ceux qui s’en servent.
The abolition of profit-making property – not by state collectivisation (whose historical balance-sheets is sufficiently well known…) but through the local assertion of the right to use property, on the model of the broad co-operative and participative movement, self-managed enterprises in n Spain and Argentina, etc; the means of production belong only to those who make use of them.
Having read Lordon’s writings (see also his Blog), with respect if rarely complete agreement, for some years it was nevertheless a surprise to see his rise to national prominence in the wake of the Nuit Debout movement.
Lordon played an instrumental role in the rise of the Nuit debout movement. He wrote a piece in the February 2016 issue of Le Monde diplomatique on François Ruffin‘s film, Merci patron!, describing the film as a clarion call for a potential mass uprising. This prompted Ruffin to organise a public meeting which led to the organisation of the public occupation of Paris’s Place de la République on 31 March 2016. Lordon delivered a speech at the 31 March protest, highlighting the goal of uniting disparate protest movements. He subsequently refused to talk to national media about his role in the movement, explaining that he did not wish to be seen as the leader of a leaderless movement.
Verso has just published (amongst other Lordon material) a translated an interview with the radical economist and social theorist which carries some important observations about the Nuit Debout movement, and more widely, about the crisis of the European left.
Apart from an illuminating account of the origins of the protests (which have spread to scores of French cities and towns, though drawing predominantly educated crowds rather than people from the banlieues) and the role of François Ruffin’s film Merci patron! this section is of great interest to those tending to emphasise the convergences between Nuit Debout and the political expression, Podemos, of the Indignados movement:
Podemos in Spain has repeatedly said that we should no longer speak of Left and Right, but rather of top and bottom, the 1 percent against the 99 percent. Do you agree ?
I completely disagree with this stance of Podemos. In France the denials of the Left-Right split have had very bad echoes. We hear this in the mouths of both what I would call the general Right — namely, the classical Right and the new Right that is the Parti Socialiste; if you will, the general Right is the undifferentiated party of managing neoliberal globalisation — and the far Right. Someone in France who says he is “neither Left or Right” is unfailingly right-wing, or will end up being so. Similarly, I don’t think that monetary inequality — on which basis Podemos converts the Left-Right split into the split between the 99 percent and the 1 percent — is a very incisive political theme. The topic of inequalities is, in any case, becoming a kind of flabby consensus — we even find the OECD or a liberal magazine like The Economist talking about it…
The true question is not the inequality of incomes or wealth, but the question of the fundamental political inequality that capitalism itself establishes: that wage-earners live under relations of subordination and obedience. The wage-relation is less a principle of monetary inequalities than a relation of domination, and this is the principle of a fundamental inequality — a political inequality.
There remain issues about Lordon’s outlook.
New Left Review recently published this overview of his writing:
L’État général prend de nos jours la forme de l’État-nation ; et l’affect commun correspondant est l’appartenance nationale. Ces deux affirmations (peu fondées théoriquement) conduisent FL à minorer l’importance des clivages et des rapports de forces sociaux à l’intérieur des frontières « statonationales ». Mais on voit bien le lien avec la vision des institutions proposée par Imperium : l’État capte la puissance de la multitude, et produit un corps politique qui tient sur la base du sentiment d’appartenance nationale. Les institutions découlent de l’État. Dans ce cadre, le conflit social est complètement neutralisé — l’affect « commun » est majoritaire, la construction institutionnelle est cohérente et le corps politique viable —, ou alors producteur de chaos : l’affect « commun » ne permet plus la viabilité d’un corps politique destiné à mourir (et à renaître sous d’autres formes : mais la forme même de l’État-nation sera alors destinée à disparaître). Cohérence institutionnelle et reproduction sociale, ou bien explosion du conflit, chaos et bouleversement complet des structures sociales. Il n’y a pas de place, dans ce cadre théorique, pour le conflit et le compromis comme sources des changements institutionnels qui accompagnent la vie d’une société et le développement d’un État. Nous avons aussi signalé que FL a le plus grand mal à analyser les rapports entre État et capital sans faire violence à son propre cadre théorique. Et on comprend pourquoi : le capital a bien impulsé des changements majeurs non seulement dans l’architecture institutionnelle mais dans les formes mêmes de l’intervention étatique, sans besoin de rendre socialement minoritaire l’affect commun de l’appartenance nationale, et sans produire le chaos qui accompagnerait la mort des corps politiques « statonationaux ».
Mais les changements institutionnels qui caractérisent la réalité concrète dans laquelle nous vivons ne sont pas l’objet central d’Imperium, qui s’intéresse bien davantage au contenu d’une perspective « révolutionnaire » bien particulière. Celle qui consisterait non pas à renverser les rapports de domination sociale existants, mais à marcher (difficilement et éternellement) vers le règne de la raison, dans lequel les hommes « règlent leurs désirs et leurs comportements sur ce qui ne peut rien produire d’autre que leur concorde ». Idéalement donc, plus de pouvoir ni d’institutions. Cet idéal — nous dit FL — est inatteignable, mais on peut s’en rapprocher en choisissant les « bonnes » institutions. De façon là encore assez étonnante, FL indique dans les « institutions de la science qui contraignent les scientifiques à la vertu scientifique, au moins autant que leur désir propre de la vérité scientifique » un modèle à imiter : « la vertu devient l’objet d’une politique des institutions bien agencées » (p. 306). Il ne s’agit donc pas de lutter pour des institutions correspondant à des rapports de forces différents, à une modification de la frontière dominants/dominés, mais de sélectionner les institutions sur la base de leur teneur d’universalité, de leur capacité à créer un environnement favorable au développement de la raison : les « bonnes » institutions sont celles qui nous déterminent à la « vertu ».
Galloway Evokes Battle of Britain Spirit in London Mayor Bid.
This nationalistic posturing reminds me of what’s been happening in France.
While there are admirable protests about the projet de loi Travail (El Khomri) and the interesting Nuit Debout movement anti-Europe nationalism.
They call it “souverainisme“, demands for national sovereignty, migration, border controls, security, the constitution and cultural identity.
Most of those associated with this trend are clearly on the right, if not the extreme right.
But some on the French left have also been attracted by these themes.
This article from last year describes how some have passed over to the French nationalist right:
PARIS — When the newspaper Libération last month accused self-professed “left of the left” philosopher and best-selling author Michel Onfray of “doing the [far-right party] Front National’s bidding,” French intellectuals circled the wagons.
Onfray, who declined a request for comment for this article, went on to accuse France’s successive governments of “being contemptuous of the people” — what he calls, using the English term, “the ‘old school’ people”: French blue-collar workers, the unemployed, the poor, the pensioners. As for National Front leader Marine Le Pen, he said: “I don’t resent her as much as I resent those who made her possible.”
The first is the fate of France’s poor and working class – the “proletariat” Onfray says has been abandoned by the right and the left alike. In that vision, the governing left’s policies favor the globalized elite and the well-to-do, while catering to the needs of minorities (“the margins,” says Onfray) — such as immigrants, homosexuals and women.
The second theme is the visceral hostility towards Europe and the euro, seen as constraining economic and social policy and a fatal blow to the infamous “exception française,” a large and costly welfare state that’s supposed to shield the French from the turmoils of the global economy.
The drama is being played daily in the court of public opinion. Think of it as “the people vs. the euro.”
Onfray is well known for this vein of rhetoric.
They despised the common folk:
Les gens qui vont voter Non à la constitution européenne sont des crétins, des abrutis, des imbéciles, des incultes. Petit pouvoir d’achat, petit cerveau, petite pensée, petits sentiments. Pas de diplômes, pas de livres chez eux, pas de culture, pas d’intelligence. Ils habitent en campagne, en province. Des paysans, des pécores, des péquenots, des ploucs.
The people will will vote to the European Constitution are cretins, morons, imbeciles, uncultivated. They are hard up, small-brained, narrow mined and inward looking. They have no qualifications, no books at home, no culture, no brains. They live in the country, in the provinces. They are peasants, rustics, bumpkins, yokels.
Clearly Onfray hopes to repeat the result of the referendum on the European Constitution.
He however faces a nebulous target.
But British nouveaux réactionnaires have a unique opportunity: the UK Referendum on the European Union.
Brendan O’Neill takes up the Onfray challenge:
Railing against those “a Byzantine system of governance largely beyond the reach of Euro-plebs” the former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and writer for Living Marxism muses, for the anti-elitist Spectator magazine, on The strange death of left-wing Euroscepticism
The further removed the left becomes from everyday people, the more it views the public as an obese, probably racist blob to be re-educated rather than as political citizens to be engaged. The left’s turn from hating the EU to at least wanting to stick with it is directly proportionate to its loss of faith in the masses. Democracy is no longer seen as a tool of progressive change. Lefties now trust EU suits more than they do the loud, odd locals of their own towns.
This comment from Briançon’s article sums up the empty nature of this stand,
““Europe here serves as proxy for globalization,” said a government adviser, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of “adding fuel to the fire.” “I call it the defeatist wing of French intellectual life: There’s no chance we’ll be able to make it, so let’s retract and retreat.”
Will others, hostile to ‘capitalist’ EU but more specifically to the free movement of labour, a substantial group inside the so-called Lexit camp, follow their French counterparts and align, like Galloway, with the hard right?
Allied with UKIP for the European Referendum Galloway looks a trail-blazer.
(The book will be presented at Berkeley: Towards a Politics of Revolutionary Love – Houria Bouteldja. 04/19/2016 – 1:00pm to 2:30pm. 691 Barrows Hall, UC Berkeley.
http://crg.berkeley.edu/node/990oWe invite you to hear her presentation of her book, just published a few weeks ago in France, and already the object of a very highly mediatized controversy. Live translation of Houria Bouteldja’s presentation into English will be provided.)
Review: Post-Colonial Race-Baiting.
“Et que penser de la discussion sur les mérites culinaires comparés de la viande de nègres, d’Allemands et de Marseillais, ou sur la meilleure manière de civiliser les sous-hommes d’Afrique ou des Indes en les réduisant en poussière avec la « fée Dum-Dum », alias « balle Nib-Nib »?
And what to consider about the discussion on the relative culinary merits of the flesh of Negroes, Germans, and the inhabitants of Marseilles, or on the best way of civilising the African and Indian sub-humans by reducing them to dust by ‘Fairy Dumdum’ alias, the ‘Nib Nib bullet’?
Le Jardin de Supplices. Octave Mirbeau. 1899. (The Torture Garden).
Segré and Pérez have systematically shredded this historical picture to pieces. We can bin the idea that empires are a European invention, and, most fundamentally, that European colonisation began outside Europe, and not in the conquests of the East, and of Ireland. On the darker side of the history of the Arab rule in Iberia and of the Caliphate’s incursion and domination of large parts of Europe she is, perhaps understandably, more or less silent. Flowing amongst her would-be lyrical invective Bouteldja offers a few valid ideas. One stands out, that the Atlantic slave trade and violent colonialisation provided models for the Nazis. This insight is nevertheless amply considered elsewhere (by Hannah Arendt, to only give the best known). One might extend the idea and examine Timothy Snyder’s argument that Hitler was a ‘zoological’ ideologue who thought that ‘race’ was real and that struggle between races was the ultimate reality of history. Unfortunately this comes rather too close to Bouteldja’s allusions to the idea that ‘whites’ are engaged in the fight to the death with ‘blacks’…. (1)
Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous
ess with Jean Paul Sartre. Shoot Sartre (Fusillez Sartre) is her refrain, which sounds perhaps better in her armchair than on the paper. The Intellectual, novelist and philosopher, is an analogy for the French left. Why? This turns out to be well known, and may be summarised quickly. In the Maspero edition of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1968) his famous preface was withdrawn, on the insistence of Joie Fanon, who called Sartre a Zionist because he defended Israel in the Six Day War of June 1967.
Bouteldja is keen on the equally famous – and morally cretinous – Sartre lines expressed in that text: that killing a colonialist serves two purposes: the death of an oppressor and the making of a freedom fighter’s independent manhood. She admires Fanon, one of her titular figures along with James Baldwin and Malcolm X. But, like his widow, she detests Zionists. Exit – as she might say in one her numerous attempts at pithiness – Sartre. Welcome the unconditional supporter of the Palestinians, Jean Genet, “What I like about Genet is that he doesn’t give a Fuck about Hitler.” (“Ce que j’aime chez Genet, c’est qu’il s’en fout d’Hitler” Page 20)
The European Civil Religion of the Shoah needs, Bouteldja is not shy to assert, needs blasphemers. Not to deny the Holocaust, or (?) not to give a toss about it, but to remove the moral legitimacy that atoning for the genocide gives the West and Israel. The Jews have turned from ‘dhimis’ (that, is second class citizens) in Europe, to become their colonial soldiers in the service of ‘imperialism’ (Page 51). The Jews, post 1945, have accepted the “racial pact of the Republic”, become part of the ‘Jewish-Christian civilisation”, “part of the race of the Lords”, trading their history and memories for a “colonial ideology” (Page 53) And in that context, for the ‘South’ the Shoah is less than a ‘detail’ of history, it is nearly invisible. Anti-semitism is European (Page 55). Arabs are not philosemites, but they are not anti-Semites either (Ibid). The European religion of commemorating the Holocaust is just that…European, a distant sound for those suffering from colonialism. Only by abandoning Zionism can the Jews drop their white masks and become comrades, sharing the skin of the noirs In other words, do what Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous tells them to do.
Bouteldja is a master of racial baiting, shouting down her opponents. These passages effectively deny self-determination to one group of people, the ‘Jews’, along with some unpleasant claims that insult people’s right to give genocide the importance it has. Her panders in academic post-colonial studies will no doubt be able to explain away these passages. They will surely be at Berkley in the near future. Some such people, and her domestic allies, will no doubt dismiss the sexism, homophobia and racism attacked by Segré and Pérez. No doubt there is an audience for an assertion and exploration of the identities and oppressions of the multiple communities of immigrant origin in Europe, ill-served by all the states, including the formally egalitarian France. Many writings exist. There is a need to talk about the new forms of anti-racism. There are occasional gleams of interest in the present work of personal experience, overshadowed all too often by slabs of pre-digested ideology. Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous, indeed has also the most ambitious possible intention: to speak for “nous”, the ‘noirs’ the ‘indigènes’ and to hail, with a shout the Vous, the Whites. Without doubt we should include the text on the reading lists. But, but, but…….
But behind the rodomontader there is a lack of substance. There is absolutely no discussion of the horrors taking place across the whole Middle East, from Yemen to Turkey, passing by Iraq and Syria, not to mention Israel and Palestine themselves. There are genocides happening there right now. But Bouteldja ignores them. Expect for a brief sentence about young people in the banlieue falling for violent extremism she ignores the international phenomenon of Islamism and, most significantly, the popular fight against it. The pamphlet avoids these, and other, profound issues in a puppet theatre, the crudest of seaside shows, with the Jews dangling on the strings of Imperialism, as if their cords only need to be cut for peace and justice to reign.
Faced with a culture ruled by White “égoists et individualistes”, a West “in decline” what does Bouteldja offer? Is there a way out of oppression? She proposes a “radical questioning of Modernity and a consideration of an alternative civilisation.”(Page 92) What is this superior option to the White Republic and is false promise of liberty equality and fraternity? Fanon’s Third Worldism, American Black Power ideology steps aside. She summons god, Allah, for a world without hierarchy, a “une seule entité et authorité à dominer: Dieu” – a single entity authorised to rule: god. “ a côtés de tout leurs frères et soeurs en humanité” – alongside all their brothers and sisters in humanity. (Page 133).
(1) Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and warning. Timothy Snyder. Bodley Head. 2015.
Some notes from Frantz Fanon. A life, David Macey. Granta Books. 2000.
Of interest in this context.
“Even when Fanon is remembered in Algeria, the memory can be clouded by partial amnesia and ignorance, Fanny Colonna, who taught as the University of Tizi-Ouzo until she was forced by the rising tide of violence and xenophobia to leave for France in the early 1990s, recalls meeting school students who had read Fanon in their French class but did not know that he was black.”(Page 8)
““The Third Worldist Fanon was an apocalyptic creature; the post-colonial Fanon worries about identity politics, and often abut his own sexual identity, but he is no longer angry. And yet, if there is a truly Fanonian emotion, it is anger. His anger was a response to the experience of a black man in a world defined as white, but not to the ‘fact’ of blackness. It was a response to the condition and situation of those he called the wretched of the earth. The wretched of the earth are still there, but not in the seminar rooms where the talk is of post-colonial theory. They came out in the streets of Algiers in 1988, and the Algerian army shot them dead. They have been subsequently killed in there tens of thousands by authoritarian Algerian governments and so-called Islamic fundamentalists. Had he lived, Fanon would still be angry. His readers should be angry too.”(Page 28)
“Anti-Semitism was by no means unusual in North Africa, and no, despite all the talk of African and Afro-Arab unity, was anti-black racism. In both Algeria and Tunisia black people were commonly referred to as Al-âbid (the singular is ‘Ab’d’), meaning slave’ –a reminder that the corsairs of the Barbary Coast had enslaved black as well as white.”(Page 316)
“the function of the violence of the colonised is to negate and transcend the seriality created by the violence of colonisation. In doing so, to create a group-in-fusion with a common project and praxis.”(Page 485)
“The themes of Third World solidarity and unity, of a version of pan-Africanism and of the liberating power of violence have not worn well. Fro a generation, Fanon was a prophet. He has become a witness to the process of decolonisation but, whilst his discussion of racism remains valid, he has little to say about the outcome of that process.”(Page 503)
‘Communists’ Against Mass Migration.
The Communist Party of Britain (Marxist–Leninist) (CPB(M-L)) is an example of the development, post-Mao, of ‘Marxist-Leninist’ groups towards nationalism.
The party was formed in 1968 by Reg Birch as a split from the Communist Party of Great Britain, siding with the Communist Party of China. The party published The Worker from 1969 until 2000, when it became Workers. The CPB(M-L) sided with Enver Hoxha in theSino-Albanian split, and came to support the Soviet Union for a period in the 1980s, before dropping this line over Mikhail Gorbachev‘s reforms.
A key part of the CPB (M-L)‘s case against the European Union is that weakened national sovereignty and borders has let in too many migrants into Britain.
The role of mass migration and “free” movement of labour in undermining wages and union organisation was contrasted with the assertions (or lies) that EU legislation protects workers.
They backed this recent meeting,
7 April 2016, 7 pm
Hunter Halls, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G128 QQ
With speakers Nigel Farage MEP, Dr Liam Fox, Peter Bone MP, Eddie McGuire (trade unionist), Mike Gold (CAEF), David Coburn and Brendan Chilton with more to be announced.
The way this group works is easy to trace: Eddie McGuire, ‘Trade Unionist’ turns out also to be:
And (CPB- ML site): Composing British unity
Draw your own conclusions about which political party he backs….
The New Communist Party (a member of the Labour Representation Committee) has, according to Wikipedia, also signed up.
The NCP has endorsed in March 2016 Grassroots Out the cross party movement launched to campaign to leave the EU.
If this is not the case we will be happy to post a correction.
Another one of the anti-EU alliances has just formed:
A new left-wing anti-EU campaign group dubbed Lexit has been set up following a meeting in London.
The new alliance formed on Monday night from rail union RMT, Trade Unionists Against the EU, the Communist Party of Britain, the Indian Workers Association (GB), the Bangladeshi Workers Council of Britain, Scottish Left Leave, Counterfire and the Socialist Workers Party.
Other trade union, socialist and workers’ groups are expected to join Lexit in coming weeks.
Lexit will hold a series of rallies across Britain in the coming weeks and produce films and other publications to promote what it calls the “working class, left-wing and internationalist case” for voting to leave the European Union in the referendum on June 23. Some Labour MPs and prominent trade unionists have also indicated a willingness to appear on the group’s platforms.
Lexit chairman Robert Griffiths said that the EU debate until now had been “dominated by pro-big business and anti-foreigner arguments” on both sides.
“It’s high time that the interests of working people, their public services and their common aspirations regardless of race, religion and nationality were heard,” he said.
“The reality is that from Ireland and Portugal to Cyprus and Greece, the EU has been spearheading the drive for ruthless austerity and wholesale privatisation, dividing people and creating the conditions in which racist and fascist groups can thrive.”
Mr Griffiths said it was no surprise that most of the City banks and big companies that fund the Tory Party wanted Britain to stay in the EU.
These groups are on on the fringes of the labour movement.
Far from being left-wing or working class their actions help those who wish to build a “bonfire of rights”, as Jeremy Corbyn has put it.
And please, let’s have less of these phony words about “Internationalism”.
With the CPB-ML we can at least see the real direction where this stand leads them.
Labour Movement Rallies for Europe.
The country’s three biggest unions – Unison, Unite and GMB – have announced they will campaign for remain reported the Mirror yesterday.
Unison today became the latest major union to announce it would campaign for the UK to stay in the European Union.
The public sector union joins Unite and GMB, which between them represent more than 3million workers, in deciding to back remain in June’s referendum.
General Secretary Dave Prentis said a consultation with Unison members showed overwhelming backing for the union to campaign to stay.
Top of their concerns were fears that Brexit would see the loss of employment rights such as parental leave, paid holidays and protection for part time workers, the consultation found.
Almost four in five (78%) Unison branches wanted the union to take a stance in the EU referendum, and of these 95% wanted their union to campaign for the UK to stay in Europe.
The BBC is now running this story:.
Jeremy Corbyn is setting out the “socialist case” for remaining in the EU in his first major intervention in the referendum campaign.
The Labour leader said the party “overwhelmingly” backs EU membership despite its “shortcomings”.
And he argued that Britain must remain in, to fight for reform.
He cited protection of workers’ rights, environmental standards and consumer safeguards as reasons to vote to Remain on 23 June.
In a speech in central London, Mr Corbyn said: “Over the years I have been critical of many decisions taken by the EU, and I remain critical of its shortcomings; from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services.
“So Europe needs to change. But that change can only come from working with our allies in the EU. It’s perfectly possible to be critical and still be convinced we need to remain a member.”
The Guardian leads with,
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has responded to calls for him to step up the fight for Britain to remain in the European Union with a speech stressing the need for international cooperation to boost workers’ rights, tackle climate change and crack down on corruption.
Speaking to an audience of Labour-supporting students and trade unionists in London, Corbyn repeatedly pointed to the shortcomings of the EU in its present form – but said he wanted to forge alliances with leftwing parties across Europe to reform it.
“You can’t build a better world unless you engage with the world,” he said, urging young people to “make sure you register to vote, and vote to keep the UK in Europe in June”, and warning that a Conservative government would take the opportunity of Brexit to slash protection for workers, in a “bonfire of rights”.
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“We want to strengthen the protection of every worker, all over Europe, not just in Britain,” he said, promising that a Labour government would co-operate with socialist allies to halt the “race to the bottom”.
Corbyn said the EU had helped to underpin “investment, jobs and protections for workers, consumers and the environment”, and working together with European allies offered “the best chance of meeting the challenges we face in the 21st century”.
He compared the decision to his own choice to remain within the Labour party, even when he had profound disagreements with its leaders. “I’ve had a few differences with the direction the Labour party has taken over the last few years, some people may have noticed. But I have been sure that I was right to remain a member of the Labour party.”
He added, smiling: “Some might say I’ve managed to do something more recently about changing the direction of Labour, and I’m enjoying that as well.”
For arguments against the increasingly isolated Brexit ‘left, see: Shiraz Socialist.
Re-run of 1970s Battle by Tariq Ali and ‘IMG Sealed Knot’ Society.
The real left meanwhile…
Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice: هيئة الأمر بالمعروف و النهي عن المنكر
There has been much talk of ‘conservative’ Islamic values.
Here’s somewhere where one version of them are put into practice by a special politice force.
The BBC reports.
The Saudi authorities have moved to curb the powers of the notorious religious police, or “mutawa”.
Members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice will no longer be permitted to chase suspects or arrest them.
They must instead report observations to security forces personnel.
Religious police officers, who roam the streets enforcing strict standards of social behaviour, are frequently accused of abusing their powers.
Several were reportedly arrested in February for allegedly assaulting (YouTube video) a young woman outside a shopping centre in the capital, Riyadh.
In 2013, four officers were accused of causing a fatal car crash when they pursued two brothers who had refused to turn the radio down in their vehicle. However, a court subsequently acquitted them.
‘Gentle and humane’
The new law governing the religious police was approved by the cabinet on Monday, but was not published by the official Saudi Press Agency until Tuesday.
Officers will continue to help enforce strict segregation of the sexes, an absolute prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, a ban on women driving and many other social restrictions.
But the new law stipulates that their mission has been amended to “carrying out the duty of promoting virtue and preventing vice in a gentle and humane way, after the model set in this regard by the Prophet [Muhammad] and his rightful successors”.
They will also be obliged to display clear identification, showing their names, posts, jurisdictions and official working hours.
The law stipulates that officers will no longer be permitted to pursue suspects, arrest them or ask for identification – only report suspicious behaviour to regular police and anti-drug units, who will decide whether to take the matter further.
|Riyadh: The powers of the powerful Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the religious police in Saudi Arabia have been limited and they have been banned from chasing, arresting or asking for the identity papers of anyone.
As per a new structure and set of regulations endorsed by the cabinet at its weekly meeting, the commission will not move into action themselves and will report suspicious cases to the police or the anti-drugs squads who will be fully in charge of all the measures including chasing, arresting, detaining and questioning suspects.
The role of the commission will be limited to promoting Islamic values and supporting the specialized anti-drugs agencies in the fight against drugs by explaining their negative effects on families and the community.
Commission members will carry out their tasks in markets and public places and will work within specific times scheduled by their centres.
According to the new regulations, every member must display prominently a badge that carries his name, position, centre, and official working hours.
Conditions for recruiting new members include a high education degree, competence to promote virtue and prevent vice, a good reputation and satisfactory behaviour.
The commission has often waded into controversy over its specific role and immense powers, following incidents, clashes and standoffs with Saudi citizens that triggered calls to reduce its prerogatives and hand them over to the police.
In February, a video clip that showed a girl being beaten up in front of the Nakheel Mall in the capital Riyadh sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia. The girl and her friend were reportedly walking near the mall when they had a ‘bitter standoff’ with members of the commission.
Outside the Trial a Demonstration Against Homosexuality (4th April).
This story broke a few weeks ago.
A Moroccan court has convicted one man and is trying a second for homosexual acts, after a group of youths attacked and brutalized them on the night of March 9, 2016. The youths broke into the home of one of the men in the city of Beni Mellal, beat them, and dragged them naked onto the streets.
The case attracted international attention when a video clip appeared online on March 25, showing two men cowering naked, one of them covered in blood, being beaten, kicked, and dragged outside, while anti-gay slurs and “Call the authorities!” – apparently uttered by the assailants – can be heard on the soundtrack.
“Beaten, bloodied, and pushed naked into the street, and then sent to prison for your private life,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director. “This verdict will discourage victims from seeking justice and increase the likelihood of homophobic crimes.”
In March 15, the Beni Mellal Court of First Instance convicted one of the victims, A.B., for “acts of sexual deviancy with a person of the same sex,” under penal code article 489, and “public drunkenness.” The defendant, who according to his police statement had waived his right to legal counsel, was sentenced to four months in prison and a 500 dirham (US$52) fine and remains in prison. The same court that day convicted two of the attackers for assault and sentenced them to suspended two-month sentences.
Libération reports today that after spending 26 days in Prison the two victims have finally been released.
Homosexuality in Morocco is punished by six months to three years in gaol.
Two of the attackers have been discharged, two others who had been sentenced to two months suspended sentences have now been sent respectively to to four and six months. A fifth attacker, who is a minor, will be judged on the 20th of April.
The case drew international attention when a video appeared of the two men, their faces covered in blood, being dragged by their attackers along the street (La vidéo insoutenable de l’agression homophobe d’un couple homosexuel).
On Monday members of the group Femen appeared and attempted to demonstrate, with bare chests. “«Alors qu’une centaine de personnes manifestaient en défense des agresseurs homophobes, Femen est venu dénoncer l’homophobie d’Etat au Maroc», indique un communiqué des Femen qui réclame la libération des personnes «emprisonnées du fait de leur simple orientation sexuelle». While a hundred people have showed up to defend the homophobic attackers, Femen has come to denounced State homophobia in Morocco, they indicated in a communique, who demanded the people imprisoned for their sexuality be freed.
Femen protesters arrested.
The Scorpion and the Frog: a Model Fable Taught in SWP Cadre schools.
Last September the SWP issued this statement,
The Socialist Workers Party congratulates Jeremy Corbyn on becoming Labour party leader.
His success is a clear sign of the feeling against austerity, racism and war. His victory is an utter rejection of the warmongering and veneration of big business that were the hallmarks of the Tony Blair eras.
We look forward to continuing to work with Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters against the disastrous Tory policies that threaten to destroy key public services, deepen poverty, whip up racism and plunge British armed forces into more imperialist wars.
SWP national secretary Charlie Kimber said, “Jeremy Corbyn’s victory is a boost to everyone who hates austerity and racism. It comes as tens of thousands of people across Britain are marching to say ‘Refugees are welcome’. Jeremy Corbyn’s rallies have seen large and enthusiastic audiences come to cheer a socialist message. Those people must become a movement in the streets and the workplaces that can block and then remove this Tory government.”
Careful observers will have noticed the sting in the tail, “we need a movement independent of Labour.”
The SWP’s Charlie Kimber’ writes today in Socialist Worker on the faults of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
It he has not called on people to demonstrate—probably because he does not want to upset the pessimistic and timid steel unions.
A Corbyn-backed call for protests in Port Talbot and Scunthorpe could have put tens of thousands on the streets.
It could have given confidence to steel workers to launch militant resistance.
Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have called for some sort of temporary steel nationalisation.
But their vision is to nurture the plants back to health and speedily hand them back to private firms—with all that means for jobs and pay.
Labour will not come out in support of the junior doctors’ strikes.
John McDonnell does as an individual, and attended picket lines. But Labour’s official position is just to criticise the Tories, regret the events that have led to strikes and demand proper negotiations.
Constrained by the opposition of Labour MPs, and anxious to preserve “party unity”, Corbyn makes concessions to the right. Corbyn and McDonnell did not call for people to take to the streets last weekend when Cameron faced calls to resign.
Kimber sagely notes,
Our main task is to build resistance alongside Corbyn supporters, whether they’re in the Labour Party or not. At the same time we have to debate how Labour won’t be able to challenge austerity, racism and capitalism effectively.
To point out effectively the errors of their ways and to further build ‘resistance’ alongside Labour Party Corbyn people and other members an important method is to stand candidates against the party in the May local elections.
The left alternative to Labour is small. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) supports, will be running some 300 candidates in the councils.
They will show up the faultlines in Labour’ politics,
It wants to highlight the need to fight the Tory cuts and Labour’s failure to do so..
The SWP will not stand against anybody who agrees with their political line.
Care has been taken to avoid standing against any councillor who is pledged to vote against all cuts or supports Corbyn.
But they warn to be on guard against backsliding:
Of course, deciding not to stand against a candidate doesn’t mean being responsible for what they do in the future.
There follows some kindly advice to Labour’s mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan.
Oddly they do not back the SWP’s former best friend, George Galloway. Instead they call for a vote for Khan.
This Islamist Facebook Page is still up (735 Likes, mid-day Monday),
“Ghazi Tanveer Ahmed Qadri killed A False Prophet Asad Shah Kazzab IN Scotland 25 march 2016 Thursday.” ” Father of Asad Shah Kazzab Curse on him.”
This is his declaration on Haq Bat
English:Ghazi Tanveer Attari from MirPur Azad Kashmir currently residing in Scotland has killed Liar Asad Qadiani and send him to hell who claimed to be a Prophet. Asad Qadiani was a News agent and also owned a General Store and many people were attached with him. Asad Qadiani also used to accept and declare Kufria – Non Islamic beliefs of christians to be right. That is why british establishment gave him high protocol. Ghazi Tanveer Attari entered his shop and got on him and stabbed him 30 times in his chest and sent him to hell. European Media is publishing wrong name of Ghazi Tanveer as Muhammad Faisal. He is arrested at the moment and his martial status is married and also has a son. May Allah Protect him. Aameen.The blasphemer was killed on 24th march.
‘Kill’ Leaflets Found In Stockwell Green Mosque In South London.
Leaflets calling for the killing of a sect of Muslims have been found in a south London mosque, days after the Muslim Council of Britain issued a statement sayingMuslims should not be forced to accept Ahmadis.
Flyers saying Ahmadis should face death if they refuse to convert to mainstream Islam were displayed in Stockwell Green mosque, the BBC reported.
The broadcaster said the leaflet was authored by an ex-head of Khatme Nabuwwat, a group which lists the mosque as its “overseas office”.
The Metropolitan Police are yet to state whether or not they will investigate the matter.
A mosque trustee was reported as saying he had never seen the leaflets and suggested they were fakes or left there maliciously. However, on Friday it was reported that similar leaflets were being distributed in universities, mosques and shopping centres across London.
Police are yet to respond to a request for comment on the leaflets which say those who refuse to convert to mainstream Islam within three days should face a “capital sentence” – or death penalty.
On Thursday the Huffington Post UK revealed how tensions had been reignited between Muslims and the Ahmadiyya community following the murder of Asad Shah in Glasgow on March 24.
The Ahmadi shopkeeper was killed after wishing Christians a happy Easter and the man accused of his murder later issued a statement saying “if I had not done this others would”.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) issued a statement last week saying it wanted to clarify its position on Ahmadis, and that Muslims should not be “forced” to regard them as belonging to their religion.
A spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK responded by saying there were “a few positives” in MCB’s statement but criticised the timing of it given an “Ahmadiyya person had just been killed for his faith”.
Love and solidarity to all our Ahmadi sisters and brothers: #Ahmadiyya
Badiou: raves against ‘Machinations’ Behind Spoof of his Oeuvre.
Alain Badiou et le réveil de la farce (1) was published over a full page in Le Monde des ideés yesterday (full article only available on-line to subscribers)
It explores the amusing – we are still laughing – hoax carried out on the prestigious Badiou Studies by two genial pranksters Philippe Huneman and Anouk Barberousse (see: Un « philosophe français » label rouge. Relecture tripodienne d’Alain Badiou).
Mediapart, reports Badiou being struck by « l’ignorance totale de [son] œuvre que révèlent les manœuvres de deux ratés de la philosophie qui s’égarent dans leurs minuscules machinations » – the complete ignorance displayed in this work, which revealed the manoeuvres of two philosophical failures engaged in nanoscopic machinations.
The Le Monde article cites one reaction: that the jape was a way of avoiding a serious debate on Badiou’s august philosophy.
It would indeed be a mighty task to do so, but the parody was targeted at the respectful attention ‘cultural studies’ (as Le Monde puts it) gives to anything spread with enough of Badiou’s speculations.
We will simply ask: by what ‘truth procedure” can anybody impose as a “grid” this ontology, as cited by the admirable Retraction Watch)?
Sets are what gendering processes by reactionary institutions intend to hold, in contradiction to the status of the multiplicities proper to each subject qua subject. This tension between subjectivity and gender comes to the fore through the lens of the ‘count-as-one’, the ontological operator identified by Badiou as the fluid mediator between set-belonging and set-existence. After having specified these ontological preliminaries, this paper will show that the genuine subject of feminism is the “many” that is negatively referred to through the “count-as-one” posited by the gendering of “the” woman.
Badiou is said to have originated his ideas in Althusser’s anti-humanism.
So, regardless of his later use of set-theory (rather than, say Athusser’s ‘Spinozist’ monist ontology of substance) it is “useful” (quotation marks) to ask in what sense is there a “theoretical practice” at work? What raw material do Badiou and his acolytes employ? Or to put is more clearly: what are their ’empirical’ (more quotation marks) material – their data?
The underlying impression is that Badiou uses a picture of who the world is structured – the ground of existence – which comes from his own head. Assuming that he is not a new Pythagoras and sees numbers in stones and stars (and perhaps refuses to eat beans) one would like to know how this theory relates to the central aspect of Badiou’s politics: not the structures of Events (though we would like to know how their uniqueness is more unforeseeable hapexes, (that is wholly new occurrences, from apparently ‘nowhere’) that is Humean aetiology), but how set theory operates in history, and in the Idea.
Badiou’s “‘pure doctrine of the multiple” (with very obvious echoes of Mao-Tse-Tung’s writings on ‘Dialectics’) presents exactly the problems – that it can be simply imposed on material – that the parody of Ontology, Neutrality and the Strive for (non) Being (Benedetta Tripodi) was designed to illustrate.
That is, a group of ideas that can be spread without any rigour or regard to reality, in an academic text which ‘consecrates’ the authority of the Master, Badiou.
In case anybody does not believe that Badiou’s ideas are deeply problematic see the Wikipedia entry.
Badiou uses the axioms of Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory to identify the relationship of being to history, Nature, the State, and God. Most significantly this use means that (as with set theory) there is a strict prohibition on self-belonging; a set cannot contain or belong to itself. This results from the axiom of foundation – or the axiom of regularity – which enacts such a prohibition (cf. p. 190 in Being and Event).
These sets are, in line with constructible ontology, relative to one’s being-in-the-world and one’s being in language (where sets and concepts, such as the concept ‘humanity’, get their names). However, he continues, the dominations themselves are, whilst being relative concepts, not necessarily intrinsic to language and constructible thought; rather one can axiomatically define a domination – in the terms of mathematical ontology – as a set of conditions such that any condition outside the domination is dominated by at least one term inside the domination. One does not necessarily need to refer to constructible language to conceive of a ‘set of dominations’, which he refers to as the indiscernible set, or the generic set. It is therefore, he continues, possible to think beyond the strictures of the relativistic constructible universe of language, by a process Cohen calls forcing. And he concludes in following that while ontology can mark out a space for an inhabitant of the constructible situation to decide upon the indiscernible, it falls to the subject – about which the ontological situation cannot comment – to nominate this indiscernible, this generic point; and thus nominate, and give name to, the undecidable event. Badiou thereby marks out a philosophy by which to refute the apparent relativism or apoliticism in post-structuralist thought.
Let us jump from this can ask: how can we ‘decide upon the undecidable event’, tied by a kind of Sartrean commitment (fidelity) to the supreme Events of Communism? What indeed are the Events in question, their concrete structures which leave such deep traces that the furnish the material for his “hypotheses” – of Communism?
In the extremely clear dialogue in Que faire ? Dialogue sur le communisme, le capitalisme et l’avenir de la démocratie, d’Alain Badiou et Marcel Gauchet, (Philosophie Editions 2014) All the set theory, all the set of dominations, all the generic sets, fall away. Badiou simply repeats that, er well, the Revolution and specifically the Chinese Cultural Revolution (given or take some minor quibbles about this or that decision taken at the time), remains a fixed point of reference and hope for Communism.
Since many would strongly dispute that the Cultural Revolution was a Communist Event, the basis on which he elaborates his “communist hypothesis”. That by contrast it was created by a faction fight between various nationalist and Stalinist bureaucrats , and the highly dubious ‘communist’ Mao, Badiou has to answer on the terrain of History. As illustrated at length in the writings of Pierre Ryckmans (28 September 1935 – 11 August 2014), who also used the pen-name Simon Leys, and who had an enormous effect on the European radical left in the 1970s, though apparently not on Badiou. (1)
A settling of accounts with that blood-stained History is something Badiou has never done.
All he can do is to repeat, when presented with these and other facts, is that, “la démocratie, sous sa forme parlementaire, interdit tout changement d’ampleur ” – parliamentary democracy banishes all form of substantive change.”
Many leftists would not see the commands of the Great Helmsman as an alternative to democracy tout court.
Anouk Barberousse and Philippe Huneman are therefore right to highlight the abstract absurdity of a system based on a system based on an ontological system.
If anything they are too kind about Badiou’s groupuscule’s past.
The second comment in the article comes from le Monde’s Julie Clarini. She asks whether the hoax is not part of a fight within the radical left (gauche radicale).
Indeed it is – here. Badiou decides on the ‘Event’ of the cultural revolution. His practice (which Wikipedia registers only in his ephemeral L’organisation politique) goes back to the subject of this Blog post below – not to mention the Tendance’s own political background as a Marxist and leftist opponent of the kind of ‘Maoism’ Badiou stood for.
(1) Laurent Joffrin, (Libération) with whom we do not always agree, probably almost never agree with, makes this salient summary of this appalling position,
On se permettra donc de rappeler, sur le même ton de légèreté, que cet amusant «bond en avant», lancé par Mao pour mettre en œuvre son «hypothèse communiste», a déclenché l’une des plus terribles famines que la Chine ait jamais connues, pendant laquelle, sans doute pour se donner un air d’anticonformisme révolutionnaire, les familles affamées mangeaient des écorces, des rideaux ou des excréments et, dans certains cas, encore plus distrayants, mangeaient leurs jeunes enfants pour survivre. Au total, on estime que la politique de Mao à cette époque a causé la mort de plus de vingt millions de personnes, sur lesquelles on passera rapidement dans le souci de ne pas gâcher l’ambiance. Comme le dit Badiou en parlant de Mao et de son régime, «les caricatures sont tellement faciles».
Put briefly Laurent remarks that the jolly old Great Leap Forward alone resulted in intense suffering and countless millions of deaths.
So here is a look at the ‘Marxist-Leninist’ past of Badiou:
Badiou: Deleuze, Guattari and the ‘fascisme de la pomme de terre’.
Guattari and the ‘fascisme de la pomme de terre’.
Alain Badiou’s political philosophy is, apparently, grounded on singular situated truths and potential revolutions. Fidelity to the invariant truth is a matter of procedure. What he calls an ‘Idea’’ has three basic elements, “a truth procedure, a belonging to history and individual subjectivation”. Authenticity, we might say were we admirers of Sartre’s philosophy, hangs in there.
This has a range (to put it as its most modest) of applications. But Badiou is best known for his politics (which are not renowned for their modesty).
On the Chinese ‘Cultural Revolution’, the professor has aroused controversy time and time again by giving a positive, glowing, account (“at any rate from 1965 to 1968” although he does not give the exact day of the week in this time-span) of this “political truth”. (1) These have had local, indeed spatial, moorings, no doubt, for example, in Maoist re-education camps as well as some time in Shanghai. There is the also the possibility of becoming a “militant for the truth”, perhaps, one might hazard, exemplified in the acts of the Union des communistes de France (marxiste-léninistes), the UJM (M-L) founded in 1969 by Alain Badiou and others whose names, sadly or not, few can recall or care about.
On the issue of Communism the professor has declaimed that the “Idea of communism, subjectivation constituted the link between the local belonging to a political procedure and the huge forward march towards its collective emancipation. To give out a flyer in a marketplace was also to mount the stage of History” (2) In the light of, er, recent and not so recent events, Badiou is not enthusiastic about the State’s ability to deliver Communism. A True Communist Event occurs only when it is “subtracted from the power of the State. “ Yet he notes with pleasure that Mao “had begun” to deal with this issue, incarnated by Stalin, “in a number of his writings” – which Badiou has commented on “guided by the eternity of the True.” (3)
Alain Badiou is perhaps reticent, for reasons which will become apparent, to mention that he too has mounted History’s stage. He too has experience of the “vigorous subjective existence of the communist hypothesis.” Indeed as Francis Dosse’s biography Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée (2009) illustrates in a fascinating snapshot, it was indeed “vigorous”.
In the journal of the UJM (M-L) Cahier Yénan (No 4. 1977) Badiou attacked the celebrated joint work of Deleuze and Guattari, L’anti-Œdipe as “vulgar moralisers”, and for ignoring the scientific teachings of Marxism-Leninism. The second piece under the pseudonym of Georges Peyrol, was titled, Le fascime de la pomme de terre. Badiou observed that the pair were “pre-fascists”. Badiou frothed at the metaphor of the “rhizome”, to grasp the tentacles of multiple being, the proliferation of social shoots (most celebrated in their Mille plateaux1980). The Ontologist detected a parallel with Lin Biao’s revisionism, the One that dived into Two, had subtly become the One that symbolised the Tyrant. (4)
Revisionists!Pre-Fascists! During the 1970s these words did not just hang in the air in the Vincennes campus where both Badiou and Deleuze taught. Tendance Coatesy has already recorded the history of the oh-so-sage Professor’s Maoist troops during that period. Their efforts to imitate the Shanghai Commune included their assaults on another ‘revisionist’, Maria Antonitta Macciocchi. In this instance a colleague ran the intimidation from the same department of philosophy.
At the beginning the hostile M-L claque’s presence ensured that the lectures ended early. Later they would try to disrupt Deleuze’s lectures by claiming that a student union meeting to back a workers’ struggle was being held; other times the more erudite mentioned the bogey-name of Nietzsche (Deleuze’s 1963 study on whom no doubt proving by its title alone proof of serious pre-fascism). The admirers of the Little Red Book also assailed others, Jean-François Lyotard, and François Châtelet.
The stunts of the little band of Badiou’s Marxist-Leninists petered out as the decade proceeded. That has its own history, one which awaits Badiou to tell with anything resembling the truth.
When Deleuze passed away in 1995, Badiou, Dosse recounts, gave him a “vibrant homage.” He considered himself a “worthy successor” of Deleuze in his present Chair, on condition that one read him in the light of the “bonne philosophie” (the right philosophy). According to Dosse Badiou revealed that in 1991 he had proposed to Delueze to hold a public exchange of views (at the time when one of the Deleuze’s best-known works, What is Philosophy, was published). This was refused but as the resulting correspondence, giving reasons for this refusal, was apparently important. He equally refused to let this be published, which left Badiou with material he could not render public.
The book which did get to the printers, is Badiou’s, Delueze. La Clameur de l’Être (1997). It no doubt interests those fascinated by the obscurity of a (until very recent) apologist for the Khmer Rouge, and a conformed admirer of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. What rankles Dosse is that Badiou baldly repeats a much earlier idea: that Deleuze’s philosophy centres on the ONE, “C’est la venue de l’Un, renommé par Delueze l’Un-tout, que se consacre, dans sa plus haute destination, la pensée.” (5) In other words, he repeated, at the core of this ‘study’ the ridiculous claims he made back in the days of Cahier Yénan dressed up in more elliptical and pretentious language. He further – we note ourselves – charged that Deleuze was something of a Stoic – which to many people has more than w whiff of his old ‘cultural revolution’ or more exactly Gang of Four thinking about attacking ‘Confucius’.
Still, at least he didn’t call him once more a ‘pre-fascist’.
That’s Badiou for fidelity, hein?
(1) Page 2. The Idea of Communism. Alain Badiou. In The Idea of Communism. Edited Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Žižek. Verso. 2010. (2) Page 4. Badiou. Op cit. (3) Page 10. Badiou. Op cit. (4) Pages 432 – 434. Francis Dosse Gilles Deleuze Félix Guattari. Biographie Croisée La Découverte. 2009 (5) Page 435. Dosse Op cit.
Then raise the workers’ bomb on high,
Beneath its cloud we’ll gladly die,
For though it sends us all to hell,
It kills the ruling class as well.
The Workers’ Bomb.
(See: Posadist Paul Memes.)
Paul Mason is at the centre of new controversies, about his left politics, and about his support for nuclear weapons.
This is what he says about the former. (Paul Mason Blog).
As to Mr Osborne’s claim that I am “revolutionary Marxist” it is completely inaccurate. I am radical social democrat who favours the creation of a peer-to-peer sector (co-ops, open source etc) alongside the market and the state, as part of a long transition to a post-capitalist economy. There’s a comprehensive critique of Bolshevism in my latest book, Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future.
Paul Mason was, we are informed, a member of the groupuscule, Workers Power, now better known amongst the masses for its ‘revolutionary’ Labour Party journal Red Flag.
Paul Mason’s book PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future (2015) uses many Marxist concepts (echoing Ernest Mandel on Kondratiev waves as in Long waves of capitalist development: the Marxist interpretation. 1980). This is the idea that capitalist development and crises, innovation and stagnation, are long-term cycles (we are on the downward one at present).
The core of PostCapitalism is a reflection, often interesting, on “immaterial”labour, and the development of postcapitalism, a form of social order and economics, within capitalism itself, fostered by the (apparent) central role of information in the economy, civil society, and the state. His key concept is “networks v hierarchies”. This is a belief that that there is an inherent desire for a “beyond” capitalism in the search for human autonomy, although since he does not appear to have read Castoriadis or the current inspire by his works he would not use this term. He asserts, however clear tendencies in the direction of the current of thought that began with the 1950s/early 60s review Socialisme ou Barbarie, and now has an influence on radical European ecologists”Eventually, work becomes voluntary, basic commodities and public services are free and economic management becomes primarily an issue of energy and resources, not capital and labour.” It is important to note that in this objective everybody (as the Castoriadists would say) has an ‘interest’ in the ‘project’ – farewell then to the central agency of the working class and labour movement. (1)
That Mason has drawn on rather more radical politics and ideology than ‘radical social democratic’ ideas in the distant past (2011/12) can be seen in the book that preceded PostCapitalism. His Why It’s Kicking off Everywhere, The New Global Revolutions, uses the ‘autonomist’ idea of the ‘multitude’ – rather than just everybody – amongst other terms, to express the growth of resistance to the existing state of affairs. The multitude is the many against the few, Empire, or, in ‘populist’ form, the ‘elite’.
“the political theory that influenced the events of 2009-11” was Autonomism. They “had theorised very clearly the idea of a struggle between the ‘general intellect’, the suppressed human being and capitalist legal norms.” One can see that this offers at least one vehicle to express opposition to economic policies, to inequality, to lack of power. The ability to share and form new agencies of opposition has been made stronger by a technological and social order that needs instant, unrestricted, communication.
To Mason there are signs of the “emancipated human being” emerging “spontaneously from within the breakdown of the old order”. The illumination of the multitude can be seen in the “act of taking a space and forming a community” – from Tahrir Square to Wall Street. This showed “the deployment of digital communications at work, in social life, and now in the forms of protest.” But in the tradition Mason refers to, there are more sceptical strands. Capital and the state can colonise such “smooth spaces” (democratic and equal areas) and make them “striated” (integrated into established exploitation and power) is less obvious (A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles Deleuze. Félix Guattari. 2003)
This is the theoretical background:
These theorists considered that globalisation and ‘Empire’ (its political-economic inter-tangling) were creating a new ‘nomadic’ (Félix Guattari) form of resistance: the “multitude”. (Multitude. Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri 2004) Negri, Hardt and others from the ‘autonomist’ tradition considered that in contemporary capitalism, the “general intellect” and ‘immaterial labour” (production and communication by the manipulation of symbols) were centre stage. Paulo Virno described post-Fordism as a “communism of capital”, “A communality of generalised intellect without material equality.” (A Grammar of the Multitude. 2004.)
For Hardt and Negri a general figure, made up of “all the diverse forms of social production”, emerges. This the multitude. It is “an open and expansive network in which all differences can be expressed freely and equally, a network that provides the means of encounter so that we can work and live in common.” It is a “living alternative” to the domination of Capital and Empire – the entangled economic, “biopolitical” and sovereign rule of Nations. This ‘network’ is the future paradigm for revolutionary change, its imprint flourishes everywhere, its future open.
Negri and Hardt observed examples of this operating, in the anti-globalisation campaigns of the 1990s, and early new century. Such resistance showed up most famously in the Mexican Zapatistas, and, travelling down to a region where revolts never died down, in the rest of Latin America. For John Holloway, building on several decades of similar work, there was a world-wide “Scream of refusal” of people refusing to accept Capital and the State (Crack Capitalism. 2010).
Negri also talked of how the proletariat was enlarged, giving it “productive functions that were once typical of the middle class” (Goodbye Mr Socialism. 2008). May 68 was only the “first revolt of the post-Fordist and cognitive proletariat” against global capitalism. Europe was not resigned to the rule of business. 1996 saw France explode in nation-wide union-led strikes and protests against neo-liberal public reforms that brought down Alain Juppé’s Cabinet (though not the President). Many at the time saw that as defining set back for neo-liberalism. Negri enlarged the field of class conflict to the “precariat”, the partially employed and often unemployed, and saw this as a social factor behind the 2006 “local insurgencies” in the French banlieues.
No doubt Mason has changed the distant time of 2012, when it must be underlined that these ideas circulated in a rich broth of concepts, emotions, and reports. For the present it is indeed hard to see how his more recent belief (in Postcapitalism) that the pro-business Scottish Nationalist party, dedicated to looking after its “ain folk” or claim that the populist leader centred (Pablo Iglesias) and hierarchically organised Podemos represents a ‘network’.
Mason’s views on the Bomb are now the centre of interest, not all of it of the most serious quality.
This is his call:
Vote for renewal of a Trident-capable force of four submarines, while retaining the right move from CASD to a CASD-capable submarine force, subject to parliamentary approval. At the same time, if the Scottish government votes to scrap Trident, Labour should advocate the removal of the base from Faslane to a base in England.
Labour cannot un-invent its unilateralist wing, and it must listen to those who took to the streets calling for it to scrap Trident. Having listened, it must offer them something more important: a Labour party ready to rule; a government ready to break the cycle of failed expeditionary wars; which can fight terrorism effectively and stabilise NATO’s relationship with Russia in Europe.
To do this Labour needs more than just a position on Trident. It needs a defence doctrine.
- a conventional force designed around Britain’s NATO mission in Europe, to deter potential Russian aggression and to facilitate the major powers of Western Europe taking charge of stabilising the region, rather than having to jump to the demands of immature democracies of Eastern Europe.
- an enhanced anti-terror capability pre-authorised to operate on British soil in the face of a Mumbai-style attack, and whose surveillance and intelligence operations come under increased democratic scrutiny.
Since neither Mason nor the Tendance are defence experts, or indeed have views of any depth on these topics, we leave it to others to comment.
Meanwhile we intend to have a good laugh.
(1) Recent books on this which are worth reading include: Manuel Cervera-Marzal, Eric Fabri (dir.), Autonomie ou Barbarie. La démocratie radicale de Cornelius Castoriadis et ses défis contemporains, éditions du Passager clandestin, 2015. Cornelius Castoriadis et Claude Lefort : L’expérience démocratique 2015. François Dosse, Castoriadis, une vie, La Découverte, 2014. Cornelius Castoriadis ou l’autonomie radicale Broché – 23 avril 2014
Nazimuddin Samad: Murdered for Criticising Islam.
The Dhaka Tribune reports.
Student on hitlist killed by militants Mohammad Jamil Khan
A masters student of Jagannath University was killed by suspected Islamist militants in Old Dhaka’s Sutrapur area last night.
Nazimuddin Samad, 28, was a student of the law department’s evening batch.
He was attacked at Ekrampur intersection around 8:30pm by three assailants while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing classes at the university near Bahadur Shah Park.
The youth accompanying the victim has remained traceless since the incident, police said.
Nazim is the son of Shamshul Haque from Bianibazar area of Sylhet. He was the information and research secretary of Sylhet district unit Bangabandhu Jatiya Jubo Parishad. He was also an activist of Gonojagoron Moncho’s Sylhet wing.
His friends said that Nazim used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists. A day before the murder, he expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post.
Police said that the killers who came on a motorcycle first intercepted them and then attacked Nazim with machetes. At one point, he fell on the street and then the attackers shot him to confirm death before leaving the place.
Businessmen of the area closed the shops immediately after hearing the gunshots.
During the murder, the killers were chanting “Allahu Akbar,” police said quoting locals.
Visiting the spot, the Dhaka Tribune reporter found the crime scene cordoned by the law enforcers and all the shops closed. Police recovered a bullet shell from the spot.
Nurul Amin, assistant commissioner of Sutrapur division, told the Dhaka Tribune that police went to the spot on information and found the body in a pool of blood. They were confirmed about his identity by the ID found in his pocket. Later, the police informed the university authorities and sent the body to hospital.
Doctors at Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital declared him dead at 9pm.
AC Nurul further said that it is clear that the assailants kept an eye on Nazim’s activities for long and were aware of his way back home. “We are investigating the case sincerely to know the motive of the murder,” he added.
JnU Proctor Nur Mohammad said that Nazim got admitted to the university two months ago. “We have informed his family about the murder and are taking detail information about him,” he said.
Shamir Chandra Sutradhar, inspector (investigation) of Sutrapur police station, told the Dhaka Tribune: “Even though the spot was crowded at the time of the murder, they are not sharing any information with the police.
“However, we are trying to identify the assailants by talking to the shopkeepers and residents of the area.”
Comrade Samad’s background is described here:
Samad, a student of Jagannath University, used to write frequently against religious extremism. He had written “I have no religion” on his Facebook profile under religious views. In some of his recent posts, Samad had supported a petition to remove Islam as Bangladesh’s state religion, according to the New York Times.
“Evolution is a scientific truth. Religion and race are invention of the savage and uncivil people,” he reportedly wrote on Facebook. However, about a month back, Samad deactivated his Facebook account at the request of his family.
According to the Times, Samad’s Facebook page identified him as a member of the Shahbag movement, which seeks punishment for Bangladeshis who fought for Pakistan during the 1971 war for independence.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union has published these moving reflections,
Tributes and alarmed messages are flooding in on Nazimuddin’s personal Facebook page, where he regularly posted atheist and feminist criticism of Islam. He was critical both of the Islamist political parties, and against the failings of the current government. Shortly before he was killed, he wrote a post implying that the ruling Awami League party would fall if it did not make swift changes, writing (in Bengali): “The situation of the country, deterioration of law and order in the country, speak that maybe you cannot stay long in power.”
In earlier posts, Nazimuddin responded to a cleric’s violent speech against women which referenced the Quran, contrasting the speech with the claim that “Islam is the highest honor given to women!” He asked for justice for a girl known as Tonu, who had been raped and killed in the military area of ‘Cantoment’, Comilla.
Nazimuddin recently criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s support for madrassa (Islamic schools), which are increasingly associated with Islamist radicalism and militancy in the country. Nazimuddin had also shared posts from Washiqur Rahman Babu who was killed last year in a similar attack, carried out by two madrassa students who claimed they were acting on orders from someone associated with their Islamic schools.
In another post, he proposed a satirical strategy to overcome the aggressive push toward Islamism in the country, writing: “Please let’s have Sharia Law for just five years in Bangladesh. Rule the country with Medina Law. I guarantee you, after this 5 years, no Muslim of Bangladesh will ask for Islamic law! The loss and damage we will have after five years, it will take 1400 years to restore us to a modern country.”
Nurul Amin, assistant commissioner of Sutrapur division police, is reported as saying that the assailants must have kept an eye on Nazim’s activities ahead of the attack, and were aware of his route home. “We are investigating the case sincerely to know the motive of the murder,” he said.
President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Andrew Copson, commented tonight:
“It is clear from Nazimuddin’s Facebook posts and protest activity that he was a politically and socially engaged young man. He offered criticisms of certain radical religious figures and doctrines, thoughts of a kind that many people, not just atheists and humanists but also many religious people, express all over the world, every day.
“Every time a thoughtful and honest person like Nazimuddin is hacked or gunned down, apparently for doing nothing more than speaking their minds on secularist, political and religious topics, we and others will make a point of finding out what he said, what he did, what he wrote about, and sharing it. It will be seen by more people than ever would have seen it before. And we will remember his name and the growing list of names of those who were singled out and killed, by small-minded, hateful extremists who appear to think that words can be killed. They cannot.”
We mourn deeply this death, and extend love to all Nazimuddin’s family and friends.
Guardian and its like have never pardoned French secularist satire.
After the Charlie Hebdo/hypercacher slaughter The Guardian could just not wait to spit on the corpses of the dead.
Seamus Milne, former Comments Editor at the paper, (now something to do with the Labour Party) stated of its cartoons, “This wasn’t just “depictions” of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.” Milne put the blame for the attacks down to Western policy in the Middle East and the ‘war on terror’.
This is their angle during the present week:
In blaming all followers of Islam for terrorism, the French magazine is finding its catharsis in bigotry.
The editorial then laid the blame squarely on two factors – the complicity of the average, unaffiliated Muslim, and the erosion of secularism by a conspiracy of silence. Terrorism was fomented, it said, and people died because society could not voice discomfort at the many little “iceberg tips” of religious expression that had cumulatively eroded laïcité – the secularism written into the French constitution. Terrorism happened, in short, because freedom of speech was curbed.
The editorial gives credence and sanction to the view that there is no such thing as an innocent Muslim. That even those who do not themselves commit terrorism, somehow by just existing and practising, are part of a continuum that climaxes with two men blowing themselves up in Brussels airport.
I assume Malik is not a French speaker, or she would have read that the Editorial – in the original – was signed by Riss, somebody not held in universally high regard in secularist left quarters.
That is to say, it’s more what English speaking journalists would call an “Op-Ed”, an opinion piece, than an authoritative statement of the weekly’s views.
It is also translated into what one can only call an “approximate” English; a task in any case facing difficulties for Riss’s highly colloquial style. (1)
The English title reads, How did we end up here?
The French reads: Qu’est-ce que je fous là ? – which most would agree is somewhat different to the former.
Riss asks, after the Brussels attacks,
In reality, the attacks are merely the visible part of a very large iceberg indeed. They are the last phase of a process of cowing and silencing long in motion and on the widest possible scale. Our noses are endlessly rubbed in the rubble of Brussels airport and in the flickering candles amongst the bouquets of flowers on the pavements. All the while, no one notices what’s going on in Saint-German-en-Laye. Last week, Sciences-Po* welcomed Tariq Ramadan. He’s a teacher, so it’s not inappropriate. He came to speak of his specialist subject, Islam, which is also his religion. Rather like lecture by a Professor of Pies who is also a pie-maker. Thus judge and contestant both.
I assume the Guardian has no French speaking journalists, or at least those that follow French politics.
Ramadan, who “puts himself forward as a man of dialogue, someone open to a debate” has hit the French news recently (19th of March) because of this:
Tariq Ramadan reconnait avoir rejoint l’Union mondiale des savants musulmans (UMSM)*. Une organisation sur la liste des organisations terroristes des Emirats Arabes Unis. L’Union mondiale des savants musulmans est dirigé par le sulfureux théologien des Frères Musulmans : Youssef Al Qaradawi.
L’homme, recherché par Interpol, est un « savant » antisémite, homophobe, auteur d’une fatwa autorisant à mener des attentats suicide. Une fatwa que l’on retrouve sur plusieurs sites du Hamas. Youssef Al Qaradawi a aussi réclamé la destruction de mausolées chiites et justifié l’assassinat de personnalités comme Mouammar Kadhafi et Saïd Ramadan Al Boutih.
Tariq Ramadan has admitted having joined the International Union of Muslim Scholars. This organisation is on the Arab Emirates List of terrorist organisations. It is run by the Muslim Brotherhood theologian Youssef Al Qaradawi.
This man, wanted by Interpol, is a ‘scholar’, who is anti semitic and homophobic. Qaradawi
isthe author of a Fatwa authorising suicide bombings – found on many Hamas sites. He has also called for the destruction of Shiite Mausoleums and justified the killings of Gadafi and Saïd Ramadan Al Boutih.
The controversy over whether one should debate with this figure – in view of the above facts about his racist far-right links, has been stormy.
This appeared a couple of days ago:
As for blaming the ‘average Muslim’ for genocidal terrorism I find no evidence in Riss’ article.
What he does do, and in a highly questionable way, is to place the spread of cultural Islam – with all its intolerance and attempts to impose its ‘law’ on everyday life, alongside the fact of the killings.
“From the bakery that forbids you to eat what you like, to the woman who forbids you to admit that you are troubled by her veil, we are submerged in guilt for permitting ourselves such thoughts. ”
The device of citing anecdotes about bakeries and the Burka in the context of murder is more than doubtful:.
It is precisely the kind of ranting which prevents secularist opposition to the religious imposition of veiling (a declaration of ‘purity’ against the ‘impure’) getting a hearing.
But that is Riss, and a good reason why his thoughts are not treated with seriousness that the Guardian and like-minded mates claim for it.
Another Guardian article by their ‘religious correspondent Harriet Sherwood (Charlie Hebdo criticised for linking all Muslims to Brussels bombings) lists their manufactured outrage.
As Sarah Brown says,
I was looking again at the possibilities I started out with and thought I should make clear that I don’t think this is ‘an attack on all Muslims as potential fifth columnists’. Some have been saying it as good as paints all Muslims as terrorists and that’s clearly not the case.
To repeat, Riss puts alongside these observations, he does not link them in a causal chain.
The magazine characterises its mission as war with a “silencing” establishment, and sees only one way to prevail: more freedom of expression, more secularism. But its thesis needs to be challenged. Is this silenced, hesitant, subdued France that Hebdo describes the country in which a minister called women in hijab “negroes who accept slavery”? If that is too timid, what would it propose: banning hijabs, banning beards?
To employ Hebdo’s own concluding rhetorical device, let us ask “the world’s oldest and most important question”: how the hell did we end up here? Imagine being that liberal, energised by the moral certainty of your secularism, sustained by belief in the supremacy of your values and righteous indignation. Mightn’t you ask yourself: how the hell did I end up here, advocating bigotry and prejudice?
Perhaps Malik might care to make some observations about the bigotry and prejudice of the scholarly organisation the eminent Oxford Professor, Tariq Ramadan has recently joined?
But, no, silence.
The Guardian one notes does not exactly open its pages to defenders of Charlie Hebdo either.
(1) This is today’s example of the ‘English’ version of the Editorial:
This week’s big debate was about the reality of Salah Abdeslam’s perpetuity. About his eventual sentence. Whether ‘life’ was going to mean life. A wind of panic swept over some of us when we realised that the possibility of a life sentence (that most perpetual of perpetuities) was not quite ‘real’ because, in the normal course of things, after a few decades of imprisonment, there was a chance that he might be released.
We Wish Our French Comrades Well!
The NuitDebout (Night on Our Feet) movement, which has occupied Paris’s Place de la République for four nights in a row, is not your average French protest, but could it reach the levels of the Occupy or Indignados movements?
NuitDebout started like many other French demonstrations. Student and workers groups who oppose François Hollande’s planned labour reform law, which they say will make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers, organised a protest march on March 31.
But after the march many participants wanted to continue the protest and expand their message. They proposed three nights of occupation in République, which they called March 31st, 32nd and 33rd, and came up with the name NuitDebout to express their defiance. Between 1000 and 2000 people attended each night, according to organisers, although by 8pm on Saturday there were probably a few hundred.
“Most protests in France, we go in the street, we express ourselves and then each of us goes home. It’s a little sad,” one NuitDebout protester explained on Saturday night. “But here [in République] something else is being built.”
“We aren’t on our knees, we aren’t in bed, we’re standing up,” explained a communications spokesperson and initiator of NuitDebout, who asked to be identified as Camille.
Protesters point to diverse motivations for the movement, including the proposed labour reform, popularly known as the El Khomri law; the hit documentary film “Merci, Patron!“, which ridicules France’s richest man, billionaire Bernard Arnault; solidarity with French Goodyear tyre plant workers who kidnapped their bosses in 2014; and objections to the controversial Notre Dame des Landes airport project.
A crowd of Camilles
For now though, NuitDebout protesters are avoiding specific demands. Instead, they emphasise their dissatisfaction with France’s treasured republican ideals, which they see as not truly democratic.
“The people who come here don’t agree with the way the government runs things. The idea is to reconstruct a system that starts with the citizen,” said another protester, who also asked to be identified as Camille.
That’s right, when speaking to the press they all want to be identified as Camille, a gender-neutral first name in French.
But this policy of vagueness and anonymity is strategic. NuitDebout is taking many cues from the Occupy movement in the United States and the Indignados movement in Spain, both of which mobilised hundreds of thousands of people in anti-corporate and anti-austerity protests in 2011 and 2012.
NuitDebout is hoping, as Occupy and Indignados participants did, that a focus on organisation and structure will allow them to build a movement that can sustain itself and be taken seriously in the long run.
“Usually citizens movements [in France] are associated with a political party or a union, but here there’s no flag in the square,” said Camille the communications spokesperson. “It’s completely directed by the citizens.”
Much of their organisational structure is borrowed from the American and Spanish movements: Committees of 30 to 100 people each direct the movement’s communication, logistics, security and entertainment. Major decisions are made at a “general assembly” at 6pm, where anyone can put their name on a list to speak. People show approval by waving, and votes are decided by a simple show of hands. So far there have been two general assemblies, on Friday and Saturday, where the main issue being voted was whether to come back the next night.
The communications committee maintains a stylish social media presence on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. The NuitDebout pages feature attractive anti-corporate graphics that could have been designed by advertising firms, and their posts carefully avoid inflammatory rhetoric.
One member of the communications committee explained that he also works in communications in his professional life.
“A kind of awakening”
There has been a conscious effort to put NuitDebout in an international context alongside Occupy in the United States and Indignados and Podemos in Spain. Spanish headlines and have referred to a “primavera francesa”, or French spring, and social media users frequently put #NuitDebout and #Occupy in the same posts. Camille, the communications spokesperson, said organisers from Spain had come to Paris to advise NuitDebout.
But while the Indignados protests drew about 20,000 people in May 2011, and the Occupy movement gathered between 2,000 and 15,000 protesters in 2011 and 2012, NuitDebout has so far reached at most 1000 to 2000, according to organisers. The general assembly on Saturday night saw only a few hundred.
Marta, a student from Barcelona who lives in Paris now, has participated in both the Indignados and NuitDebout protests, and was at République on Saturday night.
“We see that there’s a kind of awakening of people who are mobilising, but for the moment I think their demands lack precision,” Marta said. “There are lots of groups with lots of demands, but they haven’t converged yet.”
Riot police again showed up at Républque around 5 o’clock Sunday morning. But this time there weren’t enough protestors to disperse. Instead, as people snapped photos that would show up on the NuitDebout Twitter feed the next day, the police took off their helmets, chatted with protesters and smiled.
More protests are taking place this week Contre la loi travail, une semaine sociale sur tous les fronts.
The Nuits Debout movement continues.
Originally called by the collective Convergence des luttes and backed by the journal Fakir, (Journal fâché avec tout le monde – angry with everybody) Nuits debout (Nights standing up) began after last week’s demonstration against the new Labour Laws. They occupied the Place de la République. They were removed by the police. They came back. They are still there (La « Nuit debout » continue de rassembler place de la République à Paris).
Their objective extends well beyond defeating the ‘El Khomri’ labour law: this is but a branch of a tree which must be felled («Cette loi n’est qu’une branche d’un arbre immense qu’il faut abattre»)
Discussions in general assemblies are taking place on the whole gamut of social problems in France. Decisions are taken with some elements of Occupy practice with direct democracy and voting by hands raised (but no enforcement of the stifling ‘consensus’ model: “ces suggestions sont votées à la majorité et notées dans un registre”), such as the use of a “moderator” and calls for a clam exchange of views. Unfortunately we note that a series of bizarre ‘ipster’ gestures are used to participate in debates. We strongly suspect the model of the ‘Zadistes’ (French Swampies) at work in importing this practice. (1)
There is a cultural wing, including a “gang of clowns”, and the use of social networks.
The movement has expanded across France (details to follow…)
(1) Zadistes, ZAD, from Zone à Defendre, that is places to defend against development, notably against the construction of the airport at Notre-Dame-des Landes, (a ‘funny’ turnaround of the official term, zone d’aménagement différé).
Gerry Downing Unanimously Booted out of LRC.
Gerry Downing was this afternoon expelled from the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), by unanimous decision of the national committee, on grounds of his antisemitism.
From D. O. Saturday 2nd April.
Now that Downing has been kicked out, not just from the Labour Party but from the left-wing LRC, where does his campaign stand?
His pretend Fourth International has called for a united campaign to defend him.
This is their latest statement.
Tony Greenstein partially defended Downing, on narrowly democratic grounds, while solidarising with the witch-hunters on the substantial allegation of ‘anti-semitism’ despite testifying that our comrades are not ‘personally’ racist. This inherently contradictory stance, which coincides with the capitulatory politics of the CPGB whose sympathiser he is, nevertheless did not save him from being witchhunted himself. We welcome his support as far as it goes but continue to demand a proper united front campaign with full freedom of propaganda for the left tendencies to argue their views.
We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that are of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences
We reject all restrictions by self-appointed ideological censors on the freedom of Marxists to analyse ruling class politics, including those of the parts of the ruling class that is of Jewish origin. Anyone seeking to restrict freedom of historical materialist analysis in this way is crossing class lines, and siding with bourgeois politics against Marxism. We defend Tony Greenstein despite these important political differences.
He is the latest victim of the renewed onslaught by the supporters of Tony Blair in the Parliamentary party and in the bureaucracy of the Labour party. Whatever our political differences with him for over thirty years he has been the foremost advocate and fighter for the cause of the oppressed Palestinians against their Zionist oppressors in the British labour movement.
This document usefully highlights the fact that now it’s the case of Cde Greenstein that is coming to the fore:
Telegraph 1st of April.
Activist who derides critics as ‘Zionist scum’ admitted to Labour in latest anti-Semitism scandal to hit Party
Labour admitted a previously barred activist who refers to his critics as “Zio idiots” and “Zionist scum”, and claimed that Jews supported the Nuremberg laws, it has emerged.
Tony Greenstein, a prominent campaigner from Brighton, was barred from entry to the Party last summer when vetting of new applicant was stepped up during the leadership contest to prevent a surge of “entryism” from groups who did not share the “aims and values” of Labour.
However, following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, Mr Greenstein slipped back into the party unnoticed.
Evidence compiled by Labour’s compliance unit when Mr Greenstein attempted to join the party last summer, seen by The Telegraph, included his claims in online forums Margaret Thatcher was an “obviously legitimate” target for the IRA and that “Zionists collaborated with the Nazis”.
John Mann MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee into Anti-Semitism said that it was “hugely inappropriate” for Mr Greenstein to have been admitted to the Party.
For those on the left who have not been in a cave five hundred metres underground for the last ten years Tony Greenstein is a familiar figure.
He writes for the Weekly Worker, almost entirely on Zionism and Israel.
Although that paper has many articles worth reading – and I say this not just because many of the authors are friends – Greenstein’s obsessive works are not amongst them.
Greenstein’s activities, as an ‘anti-Zionist’, but more significantly within the labour movement and left have earned him an impressive number of enemies over the years. Those who cordially loathe him include not only union ‘bureaucrats’ (hard-working and respected employees of the TUC and Northern Unemployed Workers’ Centres), but also people from every section of the left right up to a members of an array of anarchist and libertarian groups.
About his only admirers appears to be New Left Review. In 2013 published a strange article, denying that anti-Semitism was a problem in France, and giving a long list of people with Jewish names who are apparently the intellectual ‘gatekeepers’ of the country’s media. It cited Greenstein’s blog (Tony Greenstein’s Blog) as an authority on something to do with Israel (Gabriel Piterberg Euro-Zionism and its Discontents.)
Greenstein, to his honour, does not deny that anti-Semitism is a problem and that some people can use the issue of Israel for a racist anti-Jewish agenda.
He has campaigned against the ‘anti-Zionist’ Gilad Atzmon precisely on this issue.
On the Downing case he has had this to say (last week).
I have no doubt that neither Downing nor Donovan are anti-Semitic in a personal sense and that is why I would not support their expulsion. But at a time when the anti-Zionist left is under attack in the Labour Party and I am under threat of expulsion personally, I would want to have nothing to do with any campaign Gerry might mount against his expulsion. His behaviour and his politics are insupportable and have weakened the position of anti-Zionists in the party, myself included.
The Times and the Telegraph are therefore completely off the ball.
Recently Cde Greenstein joined the Labour Party.
Because of his past -standing as a candidate in Brighton local elections against Labour, and ‘difficult’ (to say the least) relations with Brighton Labour Party, not to mention the kind of antagonism outlined above, it is hard, even with the best will in the world, which I do not have, not to see this as a self-serving stunt.
We intend to treat it as such, and could not care less about the outcome of the Labour Party’s internal review of his membership.
To get involved is to to get entwined.
More importantly it is to divert attention from the cases of serious left-wing activists caught up in attempts to remove them from the Labour Party.
Compare and recall:
Tony Greenstein on Andrew Coates:
However none of that is to justify Andrew Coates chauvinism and racism either. Coates has repeatedly given support to the Israeli state and its claims there on the basis of some Biblical ‘return’. In other words he justifies the colonisation of the West Bank in much the same way as he justifies Israel’s colonisation of Israel behind the Green Line (which has long since been eradicated).”
The Left https://www.facebook.com/groups/869685873109930/?… 25th of March 2016.
Let me be clear, I do not support the ‘Zionist state’: I support the right of the Jewish people to exist in the Middle East.
The problem with anti-Zionism in its present form is that many of its supporters are aligned with people who deny that right.
Further discussion on the issue of Israel – its past and present wrongs – has to begin from this observation.
Staff T-Shirt in Craft-Beer and Quinoa Hoxton Bistro.
This recently appeared: Badiou Studies Volume Four, Number One. Ontology, Neutrality and the Strive for (non)Being Benedetta Tripodi. Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza, Iasi, Romania.
Unfortunately, as this just published piece explains, Un « philosophe français » label rouge. Relecture tripodienne d’Alain Badiou, the article is a pastiche and satire – albeit with serious intent.
Which reminds us of this: the Sokal Affair.
The Sokal affair, also called the Sokal hoax, was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University and University College London. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal’s intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether “a leading North American journal of cultural studies – whose editorial collective includes such luminaries as Fredric Jameson and Andrew Ross – [would] publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions”.
The article, “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity“, was published in the Social Text spring/summer 1996 “Science Wars” issue. It proposed that quantum gravity is a social and linguistic construct. At that time, the journal did not practice academic peer review and it did not submit the article for outside expert review by a physicist. On the day of its publication in May 1996, Sokal revealed in Lingua Franca that the article was a hoax, identifying it as “a pastiche of left-wing cant, fawning references, grandiose quotations, and outright nonsense … structured around the silliest quotations [by postmodernist academics] he could find about mathematics and physics.
Last autumn the ‘peer reviewed’ academic journal Badiou Studies called for papers for a special issue, “towards a queer badiouian feminism “.
The merry pair, Anouk Barberousse & Philippe Huneman, sent their text off and it was accepted.
We hear that the learned Badiou Studies has just now rumbled the prank.
Badiou is, as they observe, highly regarded not just in France (where he is at the pinnacle of a certain academic establishment, while being cordially loathed by those in different camps) but in the world of Cultural Studies, Film Studies, White Studies, Heritage Studies, Postcolonial Studies and one could add Verso books who publish his ponderings. Terry Eagleton has called him The Greatest Philosopher since Plato and St Ignatius of Loyola” – the latter no doubt not without a ring of a certain ‘truth regime’.
Badiou is also known for his ‘Maoist’ past, his support for the Khmer Rouge, and the bullying of other leftist and academics by his 1970’s groupusucle the Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml).
He remains unwavering in his glorification of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. This apparently is one of the Events that demonstrate the Truth of the Communist Idea to which he remains faithful.
As Barberousse and Huneman remark, most of Badiou’s admirers like his politics – his ‘Communist Hypothesis’ – while grasping little or nothing of his metaphysics (“Badiousiens « politiques » se satisfont de savoir que cette métaphysique est profonde, mais ils n’y comprennent rien.”)
Their approach is the following,
Aussi incroyablement irritantes que puissent être certaines des postures d’Alain Badiou, entre mégalomanie et violence verbale réminiscence des plus belles heures de feu la gauche prolétarienne, c’est sa place et son aura intellectuelles qu’il s’agit de déconstruire ici. Nous n’avons pas tant voulu produire une argumentation à charge, qu’une illustration par l’absurde de certaines failles dans son système de positions comme dans l’engagement de ses sectateurs.
As unbelievably irritating as certain of Alain Badiou’s posturings may be, between megalomania and a verbal violence which recalls the incandescence of the glory days of the gauche prolétarienne (French ultra-Maoist group of the early 1970s), its his position and intellectual aura which we aimed to deconstruct. We did not want to produce a charge-sheet but show by illustration the absurdity of certain weak points in his system and seize them with a pair of secateurs.
Pour clarifier le projet Tripodi, il faut tout d’abord décrire en
They contest what is in effect a legitimation of philosophy by an abstract ontology (une légitimation pour la métaphysique du philosophe). Or to be more clearly, the idea that you can produce a rational picture of the world by intellectual fiat while concealing the many difficulties it involves.
The parody is designed to undermine the foundations on which the ontology of the ‘Master’ rests, its use to determine how social relations work, how radical politics can be based, and, apart from anything else, is highly amusing.
The ‘paper’ Ontology, Neutrality and the Strive for (non)Being begins:
As established by Badiou in Being and Event , mathematics – as set theory – is the ultimate ontology. Sets are what gender in g processes by reactionary institutions intend to hold, in contradiction to the status of the multiplicities proper to each subject qua subject. This tension between subjectivity and gender comes to the fore through the lens of the ‘count as ‘one’, the onto logical operator identified by Badiou as the fluid mediator between set belonging and set existence. After having specified these ontological preliminaries, this paper will show that the genuine subject of feminism is the “many” that is negatively referred to through the “count as one” posited by the gendering of “the” woman. Maintaining the openness of this “many” is an interweaving philosophical endeavour. It is also a political task for any theory receptive to the oppressive load proper to the institutions of sexuation, as deployed through modern capitalism that is, any queer theory. In its second step, the paper will therefore expose the adequacy of the Badiousian ontology to provide theoretical resources for articulating the field of a genuine queer nomination. It will finally appear that “non gender” structurally corresponds in the field of a post capitalist politics of the body to what Francois Laruelle (1984) designated as non philosophie within the field of metaphysics.
This is priceless.
“To sum up, non-gender cannot but only be thought of, by a radical philosophical gesture, as a supplement of this philosophy itself. As such a supplement, non gender hasto be where philosophy is not meant to be, even when it shows instead of saying(according to the well known Wittgensteinian distinction) or, shows through its non saying that this situation is a non situation, or, in Badiousian words, that we have the situation of a condition that is a non condition.”
What matters to this truth is a faithfulness to the “many” that was unnamed but arising in the event of feminism. It is the faithfulness to the Impensé of the gendering institutions proper to late capitalism – in other words, a faithfulness to the (non) gender (Bersanti 1987; Magnus 2006). Here, we reach the limits of what philosophy – conceived of in Badiousian terms, as exposing the conditions of an authentic event of truth through the subjectification of a subject– can frame, or, more generally, can utter.
The suggestion that Jacobin was about the publish an interview with Benedetta Tripodi has been denied.
On Lâche Rien!
Several thousand people launched an occupation of the place de la République, Paris, at the end of Thursday’s demonstration against the new labour law. The group, Convergences des luttes (converge of struggles) was behind the initiative. Up to 4,000 people were present at the height of the protest.
The left weekly, Politis, says it’s the birth of a new, unprecedented, movement (Nuit debout», acte de naissance d’un mouvement inédit).#
A statement read to the crowd from the philosopher and economist Frédéric Lordon observes,
Il est possible que l’on soit en train de faire quelque chose. Le pouvoir tolère nos luttes lorsqu’elles sont locales, sectorielles, dispersées et revendicatives. Pas de bol pour lui, aujourd’hui nous changeons les règles du jeu. En donnant au capital des marges de manœuvre sans précédent, cette loi est génératrice de la violence néolibérale qui frappe désormais indistinctement toutes les catégories du salariat et, par là, les pousse à redécouvrir ce qu’elles ont en commun : la condition salariale même.
It’s possible that we are in the middle of doing something. Those in power tolerate our struggles when they are local, by a particular social or employee group, separated, around specific demands. Today they have run out of luck: we are changing the rules of the game. Giving capital unprecedented freedom, this (labour) law creates neo-liberal violence which will henceforth hit every type of employees, and for that reason, pushes workers to discover the thing they have in common: the condition of being a wage-earner.
Le Monde asks if this is the first step towards a movement, which many compare to the Spanish ‘indignados’ (the indignant) which gave rise to Podemos, that the supporters dream will sweep the country.
The occupiers took decisions on the basis of a 80% majority of support for motions (that is, not “consensus” model that bedevilled the Occupy movement).
A key proposal is to draw up, cahiers de doléances, the lists of grievances that preceded the French Revolution. They hope to spread the movement across France.
This morning the CRS removed 500 occupiers from the Square.
Est-ce l’amorce d’un mouvement qu’ils rêveraient « lame de fond » ou peut-être « déferlante » ? Est-ce l’annonce d’un « sursaut citoyen » qui mettrait dans la rue des Français de toutes conditions avides de protester et débattre, en criant leur défiance abyssale envers leurs élus et envers un système ? Est-ce le prélude d’un processus dit « révolutionnaire » ?
Whether they carry the “wind of revolution”, as one participant stated, remains to be seen.
The Tendance’s favourite recent French left group, HK et les Saltimbanques, sang.
We wish the young comrades well!
This music really sums up the wrongs of the world and how to fight back.
More here: «Nuit debout» : expulsés à l’aube.
Le 31 nous ne sommes pas rentrés chez nous après la manifestation.
Au plus fort de la nuit, nous étions plus de 4 000 Place de la République.
Concerts, débats citoyens et projections ont ponctué cette nuit qui s’est déroulée sous les hospices de la bienveillance et de la fraternité.
Mais à 5h45, la police a encerclé notre rassemblement pacifique, et maîtrisé jusqu’au bout, avant de nous contraindre à quitter les lieux manu militari et sans explication.
Nous nous insurgeons contre cette violence injustifiée étant donné la légalité absolue de notre occupation de la Place.
Nous appelons dès aujourd’hui, toutes les forces progressistes à rejoindre et amplifier ce mouvement en nous rassemblant à nouveau Place de La République dès maintenant ce 1er avril et jusqu’à dimanche soir au moins.
Une assemblée générale est prévue vers 17h. Et ce soir des débats et de la musique encore…
Vendredi 1er avril depuis la Place de la République
Libération reports that over 200 marches and protests have taken place in France today against the Valls’ government ‘reforms’ of labour law.
There was a strong presence of school and university students.
There have been violent incidents on the margins of the demonstrations.
France 24 says,
Clashes broke out on the streets of France on Thursday during fresh protests over labour reforms, as workers went on strike in protest against the planned changes to working conditions.
Some French train drivers, teachers and others were on strike, while a separate strike by air traffic controllers threatened travel chaos for thousands of passengers.
The industrial action has not affected Charles de Gaulle airport, although 20 percent of flights at Orly airport have been cancelled.
State railway company SNCF has warned of disruptions to national and regional train traffic. International lines to London and Brussels should not be affected.
The travel chaos resulted in more than 400 kilometres of tailbacks on motorways around the capital.
The Eiffel Tower is closed all day. The company operating the monument said in a statement that there were not enough staff to open the tower with “sufficient security and reception conditions”.
Riot police flooded the streets and clashed with protesters in the western cities of Nantes and Rennes, among 200 demonstrations expected across the country.
Police said around 10 people had been arrested in the capital, where demonstrators marched under banners reading, “We want better” and “A giant leap forward to the 19th century.”
The Socialist government is desperate to push through reforms to France’s controversial labour laws, billed as a last-gasp attempt to boost the flailing economy before next year’s presidential election.
But protests by unions and students turned violent last week, and demonstrators vowed an even bigger turnout on Thursday.
They are angry over plans to make it easier for struggling companies to fire workers, even though the reforms have already been diluted once in a bid to placate employers.
Hollande’s government was still reeling from his decision Wednesday to abandon constitutional changes that would have allowed dual nationals convicted of terrorism to be stripped of their French citizenship.
The measure had been derided as ineffective and divisive, including by left-wing rebels within the Socialist party – many of whom also oppose the labour reforms.
Note: the measure has been derided because it will weaken the rights of employees (see earlier detailed post on Tendance Coatesy: France Mass Protests: Unions and Students against ‘reform’ of the Code du travail, the “Loi Myriam El Khomri”. March the 9th) .
Communist Senators protest against the law today in the Senate:
Unemployment still rising
Already the least popular president in France’s modern history, François Hollande is seeing his numbers continue to fall, with another poll on Wednesday showing he would not even make it to a second-round run-off in a presidential election.
Hollande, 61, has vowed not to run again if he cannot cut the country’s stubbornly high unemployment figures – long hovering at around 10 percent – and he hoped the labour reforms would encourage firms to hire more staff.
But pressure from the street and parliament’s back benches caused the government to water down the proposals so that they apply only to large firms.
Some reform-minded unions have given their support to the changes, but last week’s demonstrations saw cars burned in Paris and more than 30 people arrested as protesters clashed with police, who responded with tear gas.
A recent opinion poll found that 58 percent of the French public still opposed the measures.
Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri said this week that she understood why “such a profoundly reformist text has raised questions and requires debate”, adding: “It is not a blank cheque for companies”.
Bosses are also unhappy, particularly over the removal of a cap on compensation paid for unfair dismissal, and the scrapping of plans that would have allowed small- and medium-sized companies to unilaterally introduce flexible working hours.
Parliament is set to vote on the reforms in late April or early May.
Zionists to the Gulag: the “excellent Houria Bouteldja (Richard Seymour).
The left-wing political scientist, Thomas Guénolé, recently (18th March) rowed with the spokesperson of the Parti des Indigènes de la République, Houria Bouteldja on the French television (France 2) programme, “Ce soir (ou jamais !)” sur France 2 (Atlantico).
He took out a photo of her posing with the slogan, Zionists to the Gulag (note, which adds, Peace, mais gulag quand même, but Gulag even so).
“si une femme noire se fait violer par un homme noire, il est légitime qu’elle ne porte pas plainte pour protéger la communauté noire”.
If a black women is raped by a black man, it’s right that she does not go to the police in order to protect the black community.”
On gays, “comme chacun sait, la tarlouze n’est pas tout à fait un homme. l’arabe qui perd sa puissance virile n’est plus un homme”.
Everybody knows that a poof is not completely a man, the Arab who loses his potency is no longer a man”.
Her reply was to state that she couldn’t give a toss what Guénolé thought, and that his fundamental accusation against her was that she was not white.
Now is the time to return to a critical examination of the ideas of this person and her group.
Houria Bouteldja, the “excellent Houria Bouteldja” as Richard Seymour calls her (here), is the spokesperson for the Indigènes de la République. She is known to the American left from the reprinting of their statements by the International Socialist Organization, and a star article, with Malik Tahar Chaouch, translated by somebody who should have known better (The Unity Trap) in the oddly named Jacobin, which claims to be ‘reason in revolt”.
Her group, which opposes “race-mixing” and attacks the “philo-Semitism” of the French State, amongst many other criticisms of ‘Jews’ and ‘Zionists’ has also received a respectful audience in Britain, including a ‘Blog’ and billing at meetings of the Islamic ‘Human Rights’ Commission. Verso has published a book recently criticising French secularism by one of the Indigènes’ ‘white’ supporters, the former leftist and self-styled ‘feminist’ Christine Delphy..
Rumours that an English version of Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous is in preparation at Verso, with an introduction by Ian Donovan have been strongly denied.
This is not a translation of Segré’s tonic review of Bouteldja but a discussion of some key points. The article begins with a summary of the authoress’ views which will perhaps explain that the prospect of a full account of the text – after all a honest attempt to make intelligible a picture of the world that bears comparison with such landmark thinkers as David Icke – would be hard to accomplish. But we salute comrade Sergé for having waded through this singular oeuvre. This is just to make known to an English speaking audience some of his main points
Sergè provides an outline of the Bouteldja contribution to historical materialism. White imperialism since the key date of 1492 is structured by racial inequality. With this legacy imprinted across every ‘white’ society, legislation for equality puts ‘whites’ (blancs) first and relegates the “indigenes” (indigenous, that is, native American, African Blacks, Arabs from the Maghreb from 1830, and the peoples of Asia). As part of this process white women’s rights have been obtained through both their owns struggle and through the existence of imperialism.
The fault lines lie deep. The French declaration of Human Rights (first version, 1789) was inspired by the African Declaration of Independence of 1776, created on the basis of the massacre of the indigenous population. Indelibly marked by its murdering, enslaving colonial origins the bourgeoisie invented the category of the white race to divide, and to prevent any alliance with its indigenous slaves. For those in the Third World today even those of immigrant descent, including herself, are ‘white’ from the fact of living in (imperialist) Europe.
Amongst the many discoveries Bouteldja makes during her exploration of the history of ‘white’ imperialism is Sartre. He is the incarnation of the French left, even the revolutionary left. As such, in the allegory for the history of that left, he was botha fighter against French colonialism and a supporter of the creation of the state of Israel. The author of Réflexions sur la Question Juive, was a ‘Zionist’. That affiliation cannot be tolerated: “Fusillez Sartre !” (shoot Sartre!). The thought could be developed…..Sartre is an emblem, a symbol of the gauche Française. Should they also be shot?
It can be seen that Boutelja has a keen interest in the ‘Jewish Question’. For her, anti-Zionism is the crucial issue: confrontation between the indigènes and the ‘whites’, a clash over the State of Israel, is the site of a historic battle between “us” (her side) and “you” – well, you. She reveals the Jewish task, “they have been chosen by the West” for three cardinal missions: to settle the crisis of moral legitimacy for the white world – the result of the Nazi genocide – to sub-contract republican (that is, French) racism, and to be the armed wing of Western imperialism in the Arab world. (“élus, par l’Occident », et cela « pour trois missions cardinales » : « résoudre la crise de légitimité morale du monde blanc, conséquence du génocide nazi, sous-traiter le racisme républicain et enfin être le bras armé de l’impérialisme occidental dans le monde arabe » (p. 51).
From the – reasonable – point that the Shoah was an extension of colonial barbarity into Europe itself, the zoological view of history as a struggle for mastery between ‘races’ that would resort to extermination – to the other two ‘missions’ is not a leap, but a change of topic. Bouteldja considers that the “Arab essence” and ‘Arab land” is colonised by the Jews – Israel- as a result of a conscious ‘white’ decision, “they have offered Israel to you.”
It is without surprise that we learn that Bouteldja rejects “white rationality”.
This is the leading Indigène’s alternative: Allah Akbar! “In Islam divine transcendence induces humility and a continuous awareness of transience. The wishes, the projects of the faithful are marked by cries of ‘in cha Allah’. We begin one day and we will end one day. Only the all-powerful is eternal. Nobody can rise up against Him. Only the proud believe that they can. From this pathology of pride are born the blasphemous theories of the superiority of Whites over non-Whites, of the superiority of men over women, of the superiority of the human race over animals and nature. One does not need to be a believer to interpret this philosophy and apply it to the mundane. (*)
Followers of the Qu’ran have never been known to practice slavery and religious or racical superiority….
The Charnel House has published an excellent translation of earlier critique of this group: Toward a materialist approach to the question of race: A response to the Indigènes de la République.
* … Allahou akbar ! Et il ajoute : Il n’y a de Dieu que Dieu. En islam, la transcendance divine ordonne l’humilité et la conscience permanente de l’éphémère. Les vœux, les projets de ses fidèles ne sont-ils pas tous ponctués par ‘in cha Allah’ ? Nous commençons un jour et nous finissons un jour. Seul le Tout-Puissant est éternel. Personne ne peut lui disputer le pouvoir. Seuls les vaniteux le croient. De ce complexe de la vanité, sont nées les théories blasphématoires de la supériorité des Blancs sur les non-Blancs, de la supériorité des hommes sur les femmes, de la supériorité des hommes sur les animaux et la nature. Nul besoin d’être croyant pour interpréter cette philosophie d’un point de vue profane » (p. 132).
Un Silence Religieux. La Gauche Face au Djihadisme. Jean Birnbaum. Seuil 2015.
“Quand on voudra s’occuper utilement du bonheur des hommes, c’est par les dieux du Ciel que la réforme doit commencer.”
When we wish to carry out some useful work for human happiness, reform will have to begin with the gods in the heavens.
D’ Holbach. Système de la nature. 1777. (1)
The Brussels killings, have “nothing to do with Islam” said the Belgian Muslim on Sky News on Saturday. Amongst the disarray that follows each atrocity, the dignified quiet of mourning, there is this statement, “It has nothing to do with Islam” – Jean Birnbaum cites the official, the specialist, the columnist, and the academic in France, as across the world. Charlie Hebdo, the Hyper-Cacher, the Bataclan, and now Brussels; the slaughters in the Middle East, North Africa, Nigeria, and so many elsewheres, have nothing to do with Islam. These are, we are informed, acts of terrorism, with ‘causes’, about which the interested will find a very long, very weighty, list. But one is stubbed out: religion, left in silence. Rien-à-voirisme, that is, “nothing to with-ism” is the response. Jihadism has nothing to do with Jihad.
The massacre in Lahore leaves us enveloped in the deepest of silences, the most profound sadness. But we have to listen. Jean Birnbaum asks, by what right does anybody have to deny the religious claims of the Jihadists? If members of Daesh are ever brought to the Hague Tribunal and judged for Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity will the religious doctrines that order their lives and by which they destroy those of others, be ruled inadmissible evidence?
Birnbaum’s Un Silence Religieux is not an essay on the failings of politicians grappling with the need to avoid scapegoating religious minorities. It is not about the generous feelings of people who wish to show respect for the beliefs of Muslims. It is not against those who point out the faulty syllogisms of the hate mongers who assert that ‘all’ Muslims are Islamist Jihadist sympathisers because…they too are Muslims. It is not, to cite a daily reiteration of his point, about the BBC’s official “rien-à-voirisme” labelling the Islamic State “so-called”.
Un Silence Religieux, the Gauche Face au Djihadisme is a dissection of the French left’s failure to tackle the fact of the irruption of Islamic belief in politics and war. His charge is that the majority fail to deal with the power of religious faith, its “autonomous force” in the lives of the Jihadists, reinforced in rituals and in murder. That Islam far from being consigned to the past, is a “universalism” with its own political impact – Islamism – is hard to accept, he argues, for a French left that is incapable to taking religion seriously.
If French left-wingers, intellectuals and activists, are more likely to dismiss faith as reactionary than, say, the English-speaking left, there remain those who take the that there is a form of “rebellion” at work in Islamism, a – distorted – projection of social causes. For every reflection on the Middle East and Islamism itself, another immediately jumps out: on Europe’s Islamists, on Europe’s states, on the French Republic, and the Salafism of the housing estates. That is to follow Olivier Roy, an “Islamisation of radicalisation”, (l’islamisation de la radicalité) a ‘nihilist’ and ‘generational revolt by those uninterested in written doctrine. (Le Monde. 30.11.15). To look for the sources in the failings of the French Republic, Western foreign policy, to look everywhere but in religion, In short, to explain away the fact of faith, that “day after day” by prayer and ceremonies guides the Jihadists, animated by the “récits mythiques et les formes symboliques” that “orientent leur esprit” (Page 31).
For Birnbaum this “community of fate” is the only ideal in the world for which young people by tens of thousands are willing to risk their lives, “le combat en faveur du rétablissement du ‘califat.” (Page 186) That claim, for all the elegance, clarity and passions he puts into this landmark essay, as they say, se discute – that is, it is very very debatable.
Un Silence Religieux traces the French left’s refusal to come to terms with the force of religion in the anti-colonialist history of North Africa. The minority of the country that stood in support of the struggle for Algerian independence and against the vicious repression of the French state was also marked by a tendency to remain silent about problems posed by the nationalist movement. Above all they treated the central role of Islam as “folklore”, the result of colonial underdevelopment that would disappear in the universalism and third-world socialism of the new society.
Four years after independence, in 1966, Pierre Maillot, closely involved in the conflict and its aftermath, sent an article criticising the Algerian programme of Arabisation and Islamisation to the ‘personalist’ left journal, Esprit. They accepted its truth, but judged it “inopportune” to publish.
Readers of the (colonial) Algerian raised Camus’ condemnation of all forms of blind terrorism, and those familiar with the section of the French left that backed the FLN’s opponents, led by Messali Hadj, and the small circulation writings of those who quickly denounced the new regime’s bureaucratic and repressive turn are familiar with some of the issues. But, as Claude Lanzmann recalls, having been overwhelmed by the necessity to defend the fight for independence against French repression and torture, the majority of the anti-colonial left was not about to denounce the efforts of the independent nation to create a new society.
One result, as Birnbaum states, was that nobody singled out the project that Maillot and a few others tried in vain to signal, the “arabo-islamisme” of the majority of those fighting against the occupiers, and the FLN’s determination to make Islam the centre of national life. Those critical of the new government concentrated their fire on these issues, and the emerging bureaucracy In Socialisme ou Barbarie, Jean François Lyotard warned in 1963 immediately after independence of the economic difficulties facing an underdeveloped country and a regime empty of democratic political life which began with populist slogans, including Ben Bella’s simultaneous railing against “cosmopolitanism” and calls for an Islam freed from “superstition”. Even the anti-totalitarian Claude Lefort, warning in the same year of the dangers of One-Party rule, considered the issue of secularism and Islamism to be a diversion from the economic – agricultural – and social problems of the country. (2)
Birnbaum argues that the legacy of this stand has indelibly marked the French left. The view that Islam is a religion of the “dominated” served to explain away the dominance of religious themes in the anti-imperialist Algerian struggle, to make it seem as if it was vehicle of revolt, and to conceal the autonomous importance of religious fervour. This had a long afterlife. In the 1980s Ahmed Ben Bella, the emblematic figure of the revolution deposed by the 1965 Boumédienne coup, was inspired by the Iranian example and became a fervent Islamist. An Arab nationalist (with all the problems that creates in a country with a strong Berber minority) he came to pronounce that Islamism was the “only authentic revolt against the economic and cultural domination of the West.” (Page 96) Freed from Maghreb detention he put his ideas into action, and, within a few years, founded an Islamist party opposed to the Algerian one-party state. Bella’s former comrades on the French left – and here I am speaking from direct experience – excused the turn. Asked if there was room for atheists in his version of the Islamic society when his template theocracy murdered non-believers it was said that a follower of Das Kapital could be considered one of the People of the Book.
It is hard, however, not to consider that the attitude of the French left towards Islam, like other European lefts, has been influenced by much wider considerations. The Bolsheviks, we learn from the Socialist Workers Party, tried in their early years to win Muslims to socialism. The early Comintern responded favourably to Pan-Islamism, as an anti-imperialist force. No less an authority than J.V. Stalin, supported the fight of the Emir of Afghanistan for independence, since his struggle “weakens, disintegrates and undermines imperialism.” If Trotsky’s assertion that, “the rule of Islam, of the old prejudices, beliefs and customs ……these will more and more turn to dust and ashes” was not fulfilled the tradition of supporting any movement which saps imperialist power was established. It has endured. If the principle that undergirded the strategy, that all these movements were part of the era of revolutions which would produce, sooner or later, the “transition” to socialism and a communist mode of production, has become threadbare there are still many on the left, in France and across the world, who remain trapped within its premises. (3)
From Foucault to Harman.
In this respect Birnbaum offers two contrasting accounts of the relation between Islam and revolution. The first is a sympathetic (some would say, unduly so) account of Michael Foucault’s writings on the late seventies Iranian Revolution. Foucault, we learn, was struck both by the originality of this revolt, a people united in a “ collective will” without – apparently – a vanguard – and by its originality, that is, its ‘political spirituality”. He remained, Birnbaum assures us, suspicious of “power”.
At the time Maxime Rodinson discerned the potential in the clerics for the totalitarian exercise of that power in the Iranian movement. If he charged Foucault with ignorance about the ambitions already apparent in Islamism, from the Moslem Brotherhood onwards, others have questioned the ‘anti-modernist’ project itself. In a comprehensive study of these writings, Janet Afray and Kevin Anderson (Foucault and the Iranian Revolution. 2005) ask ““Did not a post-structuralist, leftist discourse, which spent all of its energy opposing the secular liberal or authoritarian modem state and its institutions, leave the door wide open to an uncritical stance toward Islamism and other socially retrogressive movements, especially when, as in Iran, they formed a pole of opposition to an authoritarian state and the global political and economic order?” (4)
Foucault was no doubt right about the importance of the Iranian Revolution and its long-lasting effects. The evidence for that legacy is there to read on the left. Alistair Crooke’s claim that “The key event that emerge from the Islamist revolution has been the freeing of thinking from its long tutelage to the tyranny of instrumentalism” may be more muted today. Judith Butler’s claim that the Burka represents a form of oppositional spirituality to the Western gaze, follows Foucault in ignoring the struggle of Iranian feminists against the veil. For Butler the March 1979 enforcement of the Muslim dress code to cries of “You will cover yourselves or be beaten” is invisible as well. Such indeed is the autonomous power of Islamist spiritual ideology. (5)
Birnbaum then delves into Chris Harman’s The Prophet and the Proletariat (1994) for a less exalted view of Islamic revolution. Harman, a leader of the “puissant” (powerful – yes….see Page 148) Socialist Workers Party recognised the importance of the Iranian revolution. A polemic against those who considered the Islamists ‘fascists’., and those who were prepared to directly align themselves with Iran against imperialism, Harman’ account, notably of the Algerian government’s own role in encouraging ‘moderate’ Islamism in the 1970s and early 1980s, indicates the realism of the text. To Harman the class character of diverse Islamist movements, in the petty bourgeoisie, amongst ‘new exploiters’, went without any fascist ambitions to attack the workers’ movement. He noted (see J.V. Stalin, above), “the destabilising effect of the movements on capital’s interests right across the Middle East.” Their main fault in this respect was not being anti-imperialist enough; their petty bourgeois utopia envisaged justice without challenging capitalism.
Harman stated, that this, “utopia” emanating from an impoverished section of the new middle class. As with any
“petty bourgeois utopia” its supporters are, in practice, faced with a choice between heroic but futile attempts to impose it in opposition to those who run existing society, or compromising with them, providing an ideological veneer to continuing oppression and exploitation. It is this that leads inevitably to splits between a radical, terrorist wing of Islamism on the one hand, and a reformist wing on the others. It is also this which leads some of the radicals to switch from using arms to try to bring about a society without “oppressors” to using them to impose “Islamic” forms of behaviour on individuals.“ (6)
In fact what Harman advocated was not a formal alliance with the Islamists ‘against the state’ but – sometimes – being on the “same side” against racism and against (see J.V. Stalin again) against imperialism. Always naturally involving discussion, and exposing the ‘contradictions” of the Islamists’ utopian ideas and trying to win them to “revolutionary socialism.” As Birnbaum observes, this was not only an “optimistic” belief, it also rests on the assumption that the “objective” course of history, the working out of economic laws, favours the socialist left. Given the SWP’s own self-belief in the creation of its party as a “tribune of the people”, is equally, Birnbaum accurately gauges, is tied to the much shakier claim that they would emerge as the principle voice and vehicle for the oppressed.
This is not the place to more than outline the collapse of this attempt to embrace the same constituency as the Islamists. Birnbaum does not cover the grotesque alliance that brought forth the shambles and shame of Respect, a party that claimed to represent ‘Muslims’, and the SWP’s work with its leader, George Galloway, now puttering around on Russia Today, railing against Europe. Nor does he cover the miasma that came from these quarters following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the British Je ne Suis pas Charlie, workshop organised by the ‘anti-racist’ movement, Unite Against Racism, from those who had barely heard of the Hebdo who knew, just knew, that they (and the Hypercacher victims?) had it coming to them. But Un Silence Religieux, well informed as ever, does cover the more limited attempts on the French left, in the shape of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA) to reach out to Islam. The admirable Pierre Rousset’s comment that the NPA’s acceptance of a veiled candidate in Avignon that this was (see J.V.Stalin above) an alliance against the “main enemy” and an inability to take religion seriously. And yet, as Rousset has more recently remarked, for the veiled candidate, Ilham Moussaïd, the « le voile incarnait ce projet politique » (7)
These examples would appear to show that anything but the most transient and punctual joint-action between those engaged in politics on the basis of Islam and those engaged in politics as socialists – that is those who derive their principles from the supra-human and those who base them on the world – is bound to run aground. If the British left could oppose the invasion of Iraq in alliance with a variety of forces, including the Liberal Democrats, it is hard to see how this can endure into the Syrian conflict where even the most moderate Islamists have sympathies for …Islamists who wish to create an Islamic – moderate – state. And that is without confronting the issue of secularism in its broadest and weakest sense. No Islamist, by definition, can back the principle of freedom from religion in the running of the public sphere.
Marxism and Religion.
Are there deeper fault-lines within Marxism that have contributed to this failure to come to terms with the religious reality of Islamism? Birnbaum discusses Marx’s conjecture that faith, as an imaginary projection of social relations, will evaporate once a fully transparent, communist society is created. He spends some time on the equally speculative writings on the origin of the religious imaginary in human alienation, despair and hope for the future. The feeling that somehow, at is origin, that Christianity, and – once whispered – Islam was a form of ‘primitive communism’, or at least socialistic, views expressed with some verve by Karl Kautsky and repeated by many, from Rosa Luxemburg, to, Birnbaum discovers, Gramsci, may yet encourage a renewal of that famous “dialogue” between the left and the believers that clearly some hanker after. Knowledge of the exclusive nature of these early communities, not to mention the reign of Mohammed, do not encourage imitation amongst more than small circles. The history of utopian communities is riddled with factionalism and failure. Medieval and other apocalyptic revolts with their mass killings, and hysteria, may also be important moments of early class – peasant – class conflict – but they do not inspire modern supporters of the right not to believe.
But for Islamism that time has long passed. Birnbaum contrasts the hopes for a fully human world that animated the Spanish Internal Volunteers with the Jihadist refrain of Viva la muertre! (Page 213) The social relations that are turned upside down and projected in the visions of death that appear in the jihadist wish for the “end of the world” and a “good death” are perhaps the affair of specialists, who might trace them in Olivier Roy’s nihilism. They do not fit easily into the explanations of those who wish to uncover a Universalist society of equality – a religious utopia in Ernst Bloch’s sense – amongst those attracted to violent Islamism. What we see bears a strong resemblance to another of Foucault’s visions, a disciplinary society based on obsessive regulation of every gesture by the learned interpreters of the Qur’an, or their home-made improvised pretenders. A world in which every form of behaviour, every belief we hold in our hearts under surveillance – by the vice-regents of god – and corrected. Which is ruled by punishment, always punishment. And mortal cruelty. (8)
Birnbaum asks why the enthusiasm for Islam, which has led in the form of Daesh, to a “cruel violence” a hatred of modern Reason, in its different shapes, philosophical, Marxist, bourgeois or proletarian, inspires. The left, after the Fall of Official Communism, the triumph of capitalist economics and the predatory wars of the West, briefly came to life in the anti-, or ‘other-‘globalisation movements, which have faded. We are, in sum, confronted with not the end of the ‘grand narratives’ of the left, progress, emancipation, but at an impasse.
Shoulder to Shoulder.
In these conditions what remains? If we recognise “la force autonome de l’élan spirituel” we have made a step forward: ideology is a material practice. But is that all? The rationalist strain in Marxism, which owes something to d’Holbach, has tried to concentrate on exposing the ‘error’ of religion. Yet science, atheism, or simply rational explanation, has so far fared badly faced with ideology. Translating Reason into lived experience has always looked a formidable task. But now when a world-view so all-encompassing, enforced by a web of publishers, of ‘educational’ bodies, and Courts, state backed or not, and financed so generously by the twin arms of Islamic intolerance, Riyadh and Tehran exists how can this be confronted but by open political struggle? (9)
They are already engaged in inter-Muslim warfare. But outside, from the institutions down to the jihadist micro-powers, right up to the Islamic State itself in Syria and Iraq, another battle, ideological, and ultimately, physical, is taking place. New fault-lines are emerging. It is clear, and Birnbaum admirably contributes to the literature, that there are many in the Islamic world, including those who consider themselves good Muslims, who for love of the world and its people, promote democracy, human rights, and free-thought about religion. We are less sanguine than Birnbaum’s former teacher, and one-times supporter of the Gauche Prolétarienne, Christian Jambert, on the resources available inside Islamic philosophy that can continue to the spirit of liberty. Will they, as d’Holbach suggested, be able to reform the idea of god? Will we be able to attract widely for the secular cause of freedom? For the moment it is for us to stand shoulder to shoulder with these democrats. (10)
(1) Page 67. D’Holbach. Premières oeuvres. Les Classiques du people. 1971.
(2) Albert Camus. Chroniques algériennes. 1939 – 1958. Gallimard. 2012. Pages 498 – 591 Claude Lanzmann. Le lièvre de Patagonie. Gallimard. 2009. Page. 56. Jean-François Lyotard: L’Algérie évacuée Socialisme our Barbarie. No 34. 1963. La Politique et la Pensée de la Politique. (Les letters nouvelles. 1963) Reprinted in: Sur un colonne absente. Claude Lefort. Gallimard. 1978.
(3) Page 75. J.V. Stalin. The Foundations of Leninism. Peking. 1970. Also available here, The Foundations of Leninism THE NATIONAL QUESTION. Leon Trotsky: Perspectives and Tasks
in the East. 1924. C:\Documents and Settings\Compaq_Owner\Desktop\Temporary\Leon Trotsky Perspectives and Tasks in the East (1924).htm.
(4) Page 136. Foucault and the Iranian Revolution.. Gender and seduction. Janet Afray and Kevin B. Anderson University of Chicago. 2005.
(5) Resistance. The Essence of the Islamist Revolution. Alastair Crooke. Pluto Press.2009. For Judith Butler the Burka, “signifies belong-ness to a community and religion, a family, an extended history of kin relations, an exercise of modesty and pride, a protection against shame, and operates as well as a veil behind which, and through which, feminine agency can and does work.”(Page 142) It is related to the fear of “decimation of Islamic culture and the extension of US cultural assumptions about how sexuality and agency ought to be organised and represented,”(Page 142). The Precarious life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence, Judith Butler. Verso 2006
(6) Chris Harman. The Prophet and the Proletariat.
(7) Pierre Rousset. Le NPA, sept ans après : projet, réalités, interrogations. January 2016. K:\Le NPA, sept ans après _ projet, réalités, interrogations – Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières.html
(8) Michael Foucault, Discipline and Punish. Penguin, 1991.
(9) Marx et la baron d’Holbach. Denis Lecompte. PUF. 1983.
(10) On the forces sustaining and dividing the power of Islamism see: Riddles of the Book. Suleiman Mourad. New Left Review. No 86. Second series. 2014. Christian Jambert. Q’est que la philosophie islamique. Folio. 2011.
Dozens of Children were amongst the dead.
A Taliban splinter group says it carried out a suicide attack on a park in Lahore, Pakistan, which killed more than 70 people, including children.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said it had targeted Christians celebrating Easter, though police have said they are still investigating the claim.
There were scenes of carnage as parents searched for children amid the debris.
Pakistan’s president condemned the attack, and the regional government has announced three days of mourning.
At least 300 people were injured, with officials saying they expected the death toll to rise.
All major hospitals in the area were put on an emergency footing after the blast, early on Sunday evening.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying it was targeted at Christians celebrating Easter. A spokesman for the group, Ehsanullah Ehsan, told the Guardian: “We have carried out this attack to target the Christians who were celebrating Easter. Also this is a message to the Pakistani prime minister that we have arrived in Punjab [the ruling party’s home province].”
Pakistan church bomb: Christians mourn 85 killed in Peshawar suicide attack
In Pakistan, 1.5% of the population are Christian. Pakistani law mandates that “blasphemies” of the Qur’an are to be met with punishment. At least a dozen Christians have been given death sentences, and half a dozen murdered after being accused of violating blasphemy laws. In 2005, 80 Christians were behind bars due to these laws.
Ayub Masih, a Christian, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 1998. He was accused by a neighbor of stating that he supported British writer Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. Lower appeals courts upheld the conviction. However, before the Pakistan Supreme Court, his lawyer was able to prove that the accuser had used the conviction to force Masih’s family off their land and then acquired control of the property. Masih has been released.
In October 2001, gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on a Protestant congregation in the Punjab, killing 18 people. The identities of the gunmen are unknown. Officials think it might be a banned Islamic group.
In August 2002, masked gunmen stormed a Christian missionary school for foreigners in Islamabad; six people were killed and three injured. None of those killed were children of foreign missionaries.
In August 2002, grenades were thrown at a church in the grounds of a Christian hospital in north-west Pakistan, near Islamabad, killing three nurses.
On 25 September 2002, two terrorists entered the “Peace and Justice Institute”, Karachi, where they separated Muslims from the Christians, and then murdered seven Christians by shooting them in the head. All of the victims were Pakistani Christians. Karachi police chief Tariq Jamil said the victims had their hands tied and their mouths had been covered with tape.
In December 2002, three young girls were killed when a hand grenade was thrown into a church near Lahore on Christmas Day.
In November 2005, 3,000 militant Islamists attacked Christians in Sangla Hill in Pakistan and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches. The attack was over allegations of violation of blasphemy laws by a Pakistani Christian named Yousaf Masih. The attacks were widely condemned by some political parties in Pakistan.
One year later, in August 2007, a Christian missionary couple, Rev. Arif and Kathleen Khan, were gunned down by militant Islamists in Islamabad. Pakistani police believed that the murders was committed by a member of Khan’s parish over alleged sexual harassment by Khan. This assertion is widely doubted by Khan’s family as well as by Pakistani Christians.
In August 2009, six Christians, including four women and a child, were burnt alive by Muslim militants and a church set ablaze in Gojra, Pakistan when violence broke out after alleged desecration of a Qur’an in a wedding ceremony by Christians.
On 8 November 2010, a Christian woman from Punjab Province, Asia Noreen Bibi, was sentenced to death by hanging for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The accusation stemmed from a 2009 incident in which Bibi became involved in a religious argument after offering water to thirsty Muslim farm workers. The workers later claimed that she had blasphemed the Muhammed. As of 8 April 2011, Bibi is in solitary confinement. Her family has fled. No one in Pakistan convicted of blasphemy has ever been executed. A cleric has offered $5,800 to anyone who kills her.
On 2 March 2011, the only Christian minister in the Pakistan government was shot dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities, was in his car along with his niece. Around 50 bullets struck the car. Over 10 bullets hit Bhatti. Before his death, he had publicly stated that he was not afraid of the Taliban’s threats and was willing to die for his faith and beliefs. He was targeted for opposing the anti-free speech “blasphemy” law, which punishes insulting Islam or its Prophet. A fundamentalist Muslim group claimed responsibility.
On 27 March 2016, a suicide bomber from a Pakistani Taliban faction killed at least 60 people and injured 300 others in an attack at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore, Pakistan, and the group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it intentionally targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday.
Hatred of Ahamdis in Pakistan.
Man arrested over death of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah was another Muslim: Police say the attack was religiously motivated.
Reports the Daily Record.
POLICE say both the victim and the accused are Muslim, and that the attack on Asad Shah, who was brutally murdered at his shop in Shawlands last night, was ‘religiously prejudiced’.
The Mail notes this,
But this vigil has been an important way for the community to come together and show support to his family and more than anything to show that the community is strongly united.’
An ambulance crew gave Mr Shah treatment at the scene on Thursday night. He was taken to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he later died.
It is believed he belonged to the Ahmadi movement, a Muslim sect which promotes non-violence and tolerance of other faiths.
Ahmadis identify themselves as Muslims and a determined missionary network has helped spread their teachings around the world.
Anti-Ahmadi hatred has been expressed in the UK.
For the five million Ahmadis, religious persecution has been particularly severe and systematic in Pakistan, which is the only state to have officially declared that Ahmadis are non-Muslims. Pakistani laws prohibit the Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims, and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, Acts and constitutional amendments. When applying for a Pakistani passport, Pakistanis are required to declare that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an impostor prophet and his followers are non-Muslims.
In 2010, in the wake of the May 2010 attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community living in the UK were threatened and intimidated. Certain Muslim groups in South London distributed leaflets asking readers to kill Ahmadis and boycott their businesses, and Ahmadi mosques in Crawley and Newham were vandalised. In October 2010 Ofcom criticised the UK-based Ummah Channel for broadcasting three interactive television programmes before and after the Lahore massacre of Ahmadi Muslims in May 2010, in which religious leaders and callers alike said that Ahmadis should be killed. These programmes were repeated several times. Ofcom stated that the programme’s abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of members of the Ahmadiyya community breached UK broadcasting regulations.
Nasser Butt, a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for the general election was targeted by a campaign that asked Muslims not to vote for him because of his faith. In the upcoming election, hustings in the Tooting Islamic centre, a Conservative candidate, Mark Clarke, was mistaken for Butt and had to be locked in a room for his safety.
In March 2016, an Ahmadi Scottish shopkeeper Asad Shah was stabbed to death in Glasgow after wishing people a Happy Easter on social media.
There are plenty of people feeding off the deaths in Brussels.
From the far-right, UKIP, to a host of others, there was a call to bring in tough border controls and halt migration.
Marine Le Pen has called for an immediate crack down Islamic fundamentalism and on areas where she considered it flourished.
Dans l’urgence, et pour la sécurité de tous, il est impératif de procéder à la fermeture immédiate de la frontière franco-belge, fermeture réelle et non pas fictive comme depuis plusieurs semaines, et au rétablissement de contrôles sur l’ensemble des frontières nationales de notre pays.
In this emergency, for the security of everybody, it is imperative to immediately close the French-Belgian frontier, a real shut down and not a gestural one that’s been in place for the last few weeks, and reestablish controls over all our national borders
The far-right leader has repeated this today saying on France-Info, “”Il faut arrêter Schenguen.” – we have to end the Schengen agreement on free movement within (continental) Europe.
Reacting after the Brussels bombing George Galloway took another step towards a common front with the far-right in announcing (RT),
Free movement between European states should have been abandoned after the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) attacks in Paris last November, former MP George Galloway said in the wake of Tuesday’s bombings in Brussels.
The Respect Party’s candidate for mayor of London argued that suspending the right to free movement could have prevented attacks on European soil.
Socialist Worker has jumped into the fray:
Nordine Saidi of the Brussels Panthers group spoke to Socialist Worker
“I’m wholeheartedly with the wounded and the families of victims. I’m shaken by these terrorist acts which nothing can justify, but unfortunately I am not surprised. Our foreign policy in Libya, Mali, Syria and Iraq, and its effects here—state racism and Islamophobia—cannot be ignored if we want to understand this chaos and escape from it.
“I am enraged by the inhumanity towards deaths that take place ‘elsewhere’. These are deaths in which we are complicit and responsible. Without that double standard, perhaps we could have avoided these deaths at home.
I will not have people tell us that we cannot mourn the deaths in Brussels.
I will not have people lecture us about our feelings, which should apparently be “elsewhere”.
I will not have some SWP mouthpiece tell me that I, “we’, are “complicit in the genocidal acts of Daesh.
I will not accept the dictates of the Grief Police. *
*From Sunny H.
A former campaigner for a hard-left party who defended Isis as having “progressive potential” has been allowed to become a Labour member.
John Tummon, a former activist for Left Unity, a political party founded by Ken Loach, the film director, made controversial remarks about the terrorist organisation in 2014. His comments were last night denounced by some Labour moderates as appalling.
This is the background.
To show solidarity with the people of the Middle East by supporting the end of the structure of the divided nation states imposed by the Versailles settlement and their replacement by a Caliphate type polity in which diversity and autonomy are protected and nurtured and the mass of people can effectively control executive authority’. Left Unity distances itself specifically from the use of intemperate, inaccurate and moralist language such as ‘terrorism’, ‘evil’, ‘fundamentalist’, ‘viciously reactionary’, ‘murderous’, genocidal’, etc in discussion about the Middle East; these terms are deployed by people and forces seeking not to understand or analyse, but to demonise in order to dominate, and they have no place within socialist discourse. (from Unity Resolution)
“We also distance ourselves from the Eurocentric brand of secularism that believes that the peoples of the Middle East must accept western terms of reference by consigning their religious faith to a separate part of their lives from their political aspirations, if they are to develop progressive societies.”
In another passage of Tummon’s amendment, which was seconded by Mark Anthony France, he writes: “Left Unity neither supports the western alliance nor the Islamic State and we see the struggle of the Kurds, the Sunnis and other Middle Eastern peoples as dependent on their ability to work together to establish a geographically wide, inclusive polity as an alternative to the existing nation states in the region.
“Insofar as the call for a Caliphate means such an inclusive, diverse polity, we support the call for it among the peoples of the Middle East.”
The motion got no support beyond its movers.
Andrew, your demonisation of me seems to know no bounds and the lack of grammatical grasp that has caused lots of people who say they are angry at this proposed amendment shows their political cowardice in denouncing any attempt to try to reach out towards a more strategic analysis of the Middle East shows the moralism ratehr than the politics of you and them and dependence on western media for your facts.”
“What do you know about what the concept of the Caliphate is, has been and might be apart from via propaganda?
Using secularist reflexes rather than engaging empathy and curiosity is the mark of Left dogmatism.
Yes, IS has picked up the flag of the Caliphate for its own tactical reasons, but not only Al-Qaeda but lots of ther organisations have publicly criticised them for abusing this call. Read Hizb-ut-Tahrir on the Caliphate. Nation states do not appeal to Muslims for well-documented reasons and, at bottom, the Caliphate represents a means of dispensing with them. The absence of a non-IS organised movement in favour of a Caliphate is not the way to assess this, because it is so fundamental.
The reality is that both the nation state and the Caliphate are shells which have to be defined in terms of their political content; they are both subject to class struggle and other struggles once in place, so to argue ‘there is nothing “remotely democratic or socialist about even the most ideal schemes for a caliphate” is an ahistorical comment which assumes an unwarranted closure of possibility and ignores the fact that, to paraphrase Marx, people make history but not in circumstances of their own choosing. Removing the Versailles settlement would loosen up all sorts of forces, including democratic and socialist forces; just look at Scotland once the assumption of a centuries-old political structure no longer applies – it frees up and releases the political imagination – tens and tens of thousands have joined the SNP, RIC, Greens and SSP.
More recently (13th December 2015) Caliphate John has said this:
ISIL did begin an insurrection against the post-WW1 imperialist settlement in the Middle East and I advocated critical support for the development ISIL was and still is trying to provide – a new, overarching settlement in the northern Middle East, as I said, but I disagreed then and still do now about how they have gone about it – in a sectarian and terroristic way, which has alienated all but the most desperate, stateless Sunnis. I am much clearer about the second part of this than I was then, because of what has become apparent since.
Back in August 2014. When this discussion happened, the news about ISIL was new and its sudden expansion was accompanied by a handful of atrocity stories but I had good reason to cast doubts on, because of the undeniable track record of truth being the first casualty in war and the way Srebrenica had been used in this way in the 1990s, especially that keynote photograph of Bosnians behind barbed wire which, it turned out, actually surrounded the photo-Journalists, who had erected it. What I was wary of, therefore, was of the Left yet again being softened up for demonising an opponent, especially after Cameron had closed down 40 websites in which we might have found out something the western media is not loyally feeding us on. That has remained the case over the past 18 months, although other important things have changed, chiefly, the relentless use of terror by ISIL, which is no longer something I doubt. What I hoped for and was explicit about at the time was that their rise would create a new political space in which a more humanitarian and less sectarian version of Islamism, which does exist, by the way, could take a federalised arrangement forward as a progressive alternative to the Versailles settlement. This has clearly not happened amidst a horrific cycle of violence which has got worse. I can no longer advocate a policy of critical support for ISIL.
Debates and positions on the Left move on, and so should they. The idea that whatever someone thought and said at an earlier stage is the be all and end all of what we need to know about them because subsequent developments proved them to have been wrong on some key aspects would mean that no-one – not Marx, Lenin, Bakunin. Trotsky, Mandel, Gramsci or Althusser – would have a reputation that was not in tatters. Part of me feels that the reason why I have been subjected to so much of this abuse is that some forces on the Left really have a lot to lose through any process of thinking outside the box in order to try and get to what is really happening. That’s what I tried to do and still am.
Irrespective of whether or not you or Jim accept this, I won’t be doing any more self-justification. I will only come on here to debate what Andrew put at the start of this thread.
Like many people I love Brussels.
The city and the people have a gentle warmth that remains within you for a long time.
Not all of the vast conurbation, but enough of it to make today’s attacks leave deep wounds, and rouse profound feelings of solidarity to those affected.
It is with some distress that we saw this:
The Huffington Post reports:
Ukip defence spokesman Mike Hookem went further, saying that the attack were a “result of Schengen free movement and lax border controls”, adding: “I am appalled at the loss of life and injuries. our thoughts and prayer go out to the families of those killed and injured.
“This horrific act of terrorism shows that Schengen free movement and lax border control are a threat to our security.
“The head of [Europol] said in February that 5,000 jihadists are at large in EU having slipped in from Syria.
“There are 94 returned jihadists current living in Molenbeek, Brussels. This fact alone should alert people to the fact that open borders are putting the lives of European citizens at risk.”
Speaking on LBC, Ukip’s London mayoral candidate Peter Whittle also linked the attacks to the EU debate.
He said: “We have to take control of our borders, this has happened as a result of people going over borders and having free movement.
“At the moment the way things stand, Our membership of the EU means we actually have a problem with our security and that is appalling.”
Others, including Ukip spokesperson Michael Heaver, also joined in.
After a Labour In event this morning, in which Miliband urged his parties voters to back Remain in the June 23 Referendum, the former party leader said: “All of us have been deeply shocked by what we’ve seen unfolding in Brussels today. This is a place where my dad was born I think it’s an awful, awful and terrible situation.
“On a day like this I really don’t think it’s a day for either side in this referendum to try and use this terrible tragedy to make political capital.
“I think that honestly will be the response of right-thinking people right across the country, whatever position they take.”
Let us not forget the reaction of the Islamists:
As the death toll rose amid continuing rescue operations, Isis supporters were championing the attacks on Twitter.
“What a beautiful day today,” one man wrote, calling the victims “Belgium supporters” who did not count as civilians.
“F***. Belgium Belgium wanted to bomb the Islamic state Now enjoy what your hands have sown.
“A lot of duas [prayers] were answered today.”
The supporter claimed to have received a message from an Isis militant to the group’s supporters in Belgium reading: “We have come to you with slaughter.”
In Arabic, the hashtag #Brusselsonfire was being used by those praising the slaughter in a similar wording to the #Parisonfire trend seen when the French capital was hit.
Defend our Sisters and Brothers from Daesh Genocide.
The Guardian reports.
A cross-party group of peers is stepping up its campaign to have the persecution and killing of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria declared a genocide with an amendment to the immigration bill. A vote to decide is expected on Monday.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said last week that Islamic State was committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis and others, and there was a unanimous vote along similar lines in the European parliament last month.
The UK government has refused to make such a declaration, insisting it is a matter for international judicial bodies. Its position is “morally indefensible”, said Helena Kennedy, one of those backing the amendment in the House of Lords.
Dozens of peers have backed the amendment but the government is instructing its members to vote against it.
The amendment says that a person seeking asylum in the UK, who belongs to “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” that is subject to genocide as defined under international law, should be presumed to meet the conditions of asylum. Crucially, it adds that a supreme court judge should adjudicate on whether genocide has been committed “after consideration of the available facts”.
As well as Lady Kennedy, others peers supporting the amendment include Michael Forsyth, Emma Nicholson, Caroline Cox and David Alton.
In a letter sent to peers urging their support, Cox said: “It is noteworthy that, in the past two years, two serving foreign secretaries have lamented the failure of the international community to decry the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda quickly enough, despite overwhelming and compelling evidence. We have an opportunity to prevent history from repeating itself.”
Letter (Catholic Herald):
A cross-party group of peers is pushing for a judge to determine whether ISIS are carrying out genocide in the Middle East
The British Government is facing increasing calls to recognise that ISIS’s attacks on Christians, Yazidis and others should be declared genocide.
A cross-party group of peers is moving an amendment which could trigger a legal process obliging the Government to fulfil its obligations as a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention.
If the amendment passes, a judge – possibly from the High Court or Supreme Court – will examine the evidence and decide whether ISIS’s actions count as genocide.
That would force the Government to take concrete steps to protect the victims of ISIS and seek to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Government has so far refused to make a declaration of genocide, saying that such decisions are a matter for the judicial system.
In a letter to peers asking them to support the amendment, Baroness Cox, one of the group, said: “It is noteworthy that, in the past two years, two serving Foreign Secretaries have lamented the failure of the international community to decry the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda quickly enough, despite overwhelming and compelling evidence. We have an opportunity to prevent history from repeating itself.”
The peers moving the amendment to the Immigration Bill include Baroness Kennedy (Labour), Lord Forsyth (Conservative) and Baroness Nicholson (Lib Dem).
The Government is whipping against the amendment, which will face a Lords vote on Monday. If it passes, it will then come to the Commons.
It comes after the US House of Representatives voted unanimously by 393-0 to declare that ISIS is committing genocide. The State Department has pledged to announce by tomorrow whether it classes ISIS’s actions as genocide, though the decision may be delayed until next week.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the United States Foreign Affairs Committee, and the European Parliament have all said that ISIS is committing genocide.
A recent report from the Knights of Columbus, Genocide Against Christians in the Middle East, lists 1,131 Iraqi Christians killed between 2003 and 2014, and documents hundreds of attacks on Christians and churches.
One of those leading the Lords campaign, the Catholic crossbench peer Lord Alton, told the Catholic Herald that there is a “Catch-22 situation” in which the Government says declarations of genocide are a matter for the judicial system, but the judicial system is not obliged to examine the evidence. The amendment could oblige the Government to act.
Lord Alton said that although the UK is one of over 140 signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, “as things stand, it doesn’t seem to be worth the paper on which it’s written”.
If the judicial system does make a declaration of genocide, Lord Alton said, the definition “obliges us to both punish those who are responsible for genocide and to protect the people who are the victims”.
This would lead to a prioritising of asylum for victims of genocide: notably Christians and Yazidis, but also possibly others such as Mandaeans, Turkmen, and some Shia Muslims.
Lord Alton said: “To prioritise people who are the victims of genocide – the crime above all crimes, after all – would mean that you would then have a pathway where you would take people because they are the clear victims of what is underway. Rather than people who may be amongst the perpetrators of those events.”
He also hopes that Britain would table a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for the International Criminal Court to bring the perpetrators of genocide to justice. “Simply saying that we deplore what they do is not enough,” Lord Alton said. “You must always seek to bring people to justice.”
David Cameron said last year that Christian persecution was a “crucial” issue, adding: “We must stand together and fight for a world where no one is persecuted because of what they believe.”
In a letter last month, senior lawyers including four QCs asked the Prime Minister “to reconsider its position and to clarify why it operates a policy of refusing to recognize acts of genocide”. A similar letter was sent to the Prime Minister in December by over 60 parliamentarians.
Kennedy has cited the evidence of Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi MP in Iraq. “Her testimony is like a knife in the heart. Her voice shakes as she describes the slaughter of hundreds of men and boys, the kidnapping of women and girls from their families, who are then raped and raped again continuously over months, their vaginas and uteruses torn and shredded by [Isis] men who treat them like animals. Some of the girls are as young as eight and nine,” said Kennedy.
“A few who have escaped are suffering such severe trauma that doctors visiting the refugee camps are in despair. Vian describes the mass graves, the beheadings of children, the crucifixions. She cannot understand why western governments are doing nothing to help them when barely a day passes without news of further genocidal atrocities.”
According to Alton, a campaigner against the persecution of Christians, actions committed by Isis include “assassinations of church leaders, mass murders, torture, kidnapping for ransom, the sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian girls and women, forcible conversions, the destruction of churches, monasteries, cemeteries and Christian artefacts and theft of lands and wealth from Christian clergy and laity alike”.
After he resigned as Conservative leader in 2003, Iain Duncan Smith found a new purpose in his quest for social justice. That cause inspired him to co-found the Centre for Social Justice and brought him back to frontline politics, despite his bruising experience in the leader’s chair. Ultimately, it also led him to resign from the government on Friday, as his frustration at what he saw as endless obstruction from the Treasury boiled over.
The government itself sought through the renegotiation to regain power over who can claim welfare in the UK. The two central requests were set out in the Conservative manifesto – that benefits should not be paid for those children whose parents work here but who do not themselves live in this country, and that new arrivals should work for four years before they become eligible to access the welfare system. These were modest and popular demands, endorsed in a general election, but the EU still rejected them, watering down each so heavily that the process more closely resembled policy homeopathy than a renegotiation.
That failure sent a clear message about the reality of EU membership – we have lost the right to define the rules of our own welfare state, and have thus lost the ability to manage its costs or focus its resources as we wish.
Whatever your preference might be regarding the size and nature of the welfare system, it is hard to argue that the voters who fund it and use it should not have democratic control of its terms and scope. During the renegotiation, Duncan Smith identified the four-year waiting period before migrant workers could access benefits as “crucial”, and with good reason. With a stubbornly large deficit, there is no unlimited source of money for the welfare state; therefore, the greater the number of people who have the right to claim benefits, the less money there can be for each recipient. If one argues, as he does, that a permanent improvement in the lives of those in the greatest need requires the allocation of sizeable up-front resources, then allowing unlimited access to in-work benefits for EU migrants reduces the opportunity to deliver a new life for those in the direst need.
Cuts benefits for migrant workers to defend the poor and vulnerable!
It would be good to state that the Stand up to Racism demonstration over the weekend took up this issue and denounced this xenophobic attempt to raise hatred against migrant workers.
Instead they, the supporters of “Immigrants are Welcome Here” got this from this man (the one on the left…).
Galloway with new best friend before Stand up to Racism Rally.
Galloway at said Rally.
“Philosophy is transcendental homelessness; it is the urge to be at home everywhere”
― György Lukács
Protest Against Closing Down the Lukács Archiv
We, the undersigned, wish to express our deepest worries about the resolution of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to close down the Lukács Archives in Budapest. Görgy Lukács was one the significant philosophers of the 20th century, an author of modernity outstanding not only in philosophy but also in the fields of political mindedness, theory of literature, sociology and ethics An author of international renown, Lukács represented one of the intellectual peaks in Hungary’s history of civilisation, his works constitute a part of the treasures of humankind. For decades, the Lukács Archives has facilitated academic and non-academic circles to have access to the documents related to the philosopher’s life and professional achievements. As it is located in the philosopher’s home of his late years, it has also served as a memorial place devoted to a decisive personality of our era. Based on the above, we call on the authorities in charge to re-consider their decision, which took the international community of science and art by consternation and sorrow.
More information and signatures here.
In the Morning Star Edmund Girffiths reports,
WORLDWIDE anger has been sparked by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ announcement that it intends to close down the Georg Lukacs Archive in Budapest.
Lukacs (1885-1971) was one of the 20th century’s most eminent Marxist philosophers.
He first gained recognition as a writer in the tradition of classical German philosophy — the very tradition in which Marx and Engels reached intellectual maturity.
Probably his best-known early work is The Theory of the Novel, written “in a mood of permanent despair over the state of the world” during WWI.
It was Marxism and the Russian revolution that showed Lukacs a way out of his despair. In 1919, when Hungary was briefly ruled by a revolutionary Soviet Republic or Republic of Councils, the philosopher served as a people’s commissar with responsibility for culture.
He was to remain actively involved in socialist and communist politics throughout his life.
His most famous book, History and Class Consciousness, appeared in 1923. With unparalleled precision and clarity, Lukacs distinguishes between class consciousness itself — the way society must appear when viewed from a particular position within it — and the beliefs held by members of any given class at any given time.
For students of consciousness, reification and other central questions of Marxist philosophy, Lukacs’s work remains fundamental.
He also wrote extensively on literature. The Historical Novel, which came out in 1937, was an epoch-making study concentrating in particular on the works of Balzac and Scott.
Lukacs’s former pupils include Agnes Heller, Imre Lakatos, and other well-known Hungarian philosophers.
The Lukacs Archive is home to thousands of books, letters, manuscripts and other documents, including unpublished writings in Hungarian and German and correspondence between Lukacs and many leading 20th-century thinkers and writers: Ernst Bloch, Thomas Mann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Erich Fromm and others.
Situated as it is in the philosopher’s former home, in an apartment in Number 2, Belgrad Rakpart, it also serves as a memorial to him.
The Academy of Sciences now proposes to dissolve this important resource.
Dr Miklos Mesterhazi, of the Lukacs Archive staff, told the Morning Star: “If you decode the academy’s statement, it means that the Georg Lukacs Archive as it has existed for decades will be closed down. Lukacs’s apartment, where the archive has been housed, will be sold off, and my colleagues will be driven out — either reassigned or pensioned off.”
The decision to close the archive should be seen in the context of the increasingly reactionary cultural policy pursued by the country’s right-wing government.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who came to power in 2010, declared in 2014 that his government’s aim was “building an illiberal new state on national foundations.”
We have already seen the illiberal new state in action, most notoriously in the steel and barbed wire fences it has erected along its southern border to keep out refugees fleeing Syria and other warzones.
We have seen its objectives entrenched in a new constitution overflowing with references to Christianity, budget discipline, the nation, one man with one woman, the Holy Crown, the moment of conception, the “criminal communist dictatorship,” and other conservative talking points.
And we now see it trying to blot out the memory of Hungary’s most celebrated philosopher.
Zsuzsa Hermann, whose online petition against the decision to close the Lukacs Archive has already received more than 7,000 signatures, told the Morning Star that “this decision was crudely and exclusively politically motivated.”
And Sandor Radnoti, Professor of Aesthetics at Budapest’s Eotvos Lorand University, added: “It shows a complete lack of understanding of Lukacs’s significance.”
The decision has drawn wide condemnation in left and intellectual circles. Dr Ruediger Dannemann, the chair of the International Lukacs Society, told the Morning Star: “The struggle to save the Lukacs Archive is about preserving the priceless legacy of a great 20th-century intellectual and Marxist philosopher.
“But it is also about maintaining the heritage of radical philosophy (in Agnes Heller’s sense) and Marxist philosophy as part of our great cultural narrative.
“I hope the Hungarian Academy of Sciences will change course.”
But that might mean compelling Orban’s “illiberal new state” to reconsider the impoverished, mutilated version of Hungarian history and culture it has chosen to present as its “national foundations.”
More about György Lukács Wikipedia.
This is a book all serious Marxists will have read: History and Class Consciousness
Orthodox Marxism, therefore, does not imply the uncritical acceptance of the results of Marx’s investigations. It is not the ‘belief’ in this or that thesis, nor the exegesis of a ‘sacred’ book. On the contrary, orthodoxy refers exclusively to method. It is the scientific conviction that dialectical materialism is the road to truth and that its methods can be developed, expanded and deepened only along the lines laid down by its founders.— §1
He criticises Marxist revisionism by calling for the return to this Marxist method, which is fundamentally dialectical materialism. Lukács conceives “revisionism” as inherent to the Marxist theory, insofar as dialectical materialism is, according to him, the product of class struggle:
For this reason the task of orthodox Marxism, its victory over Revisionism and utopianism can never mean the defeat, once and for all, of false tendencies. It is an ever-renewed struggle against the insidious effects of bourgeois ideology on the thought of the proletariat. Marxist orthodoxy is no guardian of traditions, it is the eternally vigilant prophet proclaiming the relation between the tasks of the immediate present and the totality of the historical process.— end of §5
According to him, “The premise of dialectical materialism is, we recall: ‘It is not men’s consciousness that determines their existence, but on the contrary, their social existence that determines their consciousness.’ …Only when the core of existence stands revealed as a social process can existence be seen as the product, albeit the hitherto unconscious product, of human activity.” (§5). In line with Marx’s thought, he criticises the individualistbourgeois philosophy of the subject, which founds itself on the voluntary and conscious subject. Against this ideology, he asserts the primacy of social relations. Existence — and thus the world — is the product of human activity; but this can be seen only if the primacy of social process on individual consciousness is accepted. Lukács does not restrain human liberty for sociological determinism: to the contrary, this production of existence is the possibility of praxis.
He conceives the problem in the relationship between theory and practice. Lukács quotes Marx’s words: “It is not enough that thought should seek to realise itself; reality must also strive towards thought.” How does the thought of intellectuals be related to class struggle, if theory is not simply to lag behind history, as it is in Hegel’s philosophy of history (“Minerva always comes at the dusk of night…”)? Lukács criticises Friedrich Engels‘ Anti-Dühring, saying that he “does not even mention the most vital interaction, namely the dialectical relation between subject and object in the historical process, let alone give it the prominence it deserves.” This dialectical relation between subject and object is the basis of Lukács’ critique of Immanuel Kant‘s epistemology, according to which the subject is the exterior, universal and contemplating subject, separated from the object.
For Lukács, “ideology” is a projection of the class consciousness of the bourgeoisie, which functions to prevent the proletariat from attaining consciousness of its revolutionary position. Ideology determines the “form of objectivity“, thus the very structure of knowledge. According to Lukács, real science must attain the “concrete totality” through which only it is possible to think the current form of objectivity as a historical period. Thus, the so-called eternal “laws” of economics are dismissed as the ideological illusion projected by the current form of objectivity (“What is Orthodoxical Marxism?”, §3). He also writes: “It is only when the core of being has showed itself as social becoming, that the being itself can appear as a product, so far unconscious, of human activity, and this activity, in turn, as the decisive element of the transformation of being.” (“What is Orthodoxical Marxism?”, §5) Finally, “orthodoxical marxism” is not defined as interpretation of Capital as if it were the Bible or an embrace of “marxist thesis”, but as fidelity to the “marxist method”, dialectics.
Lukács presents the category of reification whereby, due to the commodity nature of capitalist society, social relations become objectified. This precludes the spontaneous emergence of class consciousness. In this context, the need for a party in the Leninist sense emerges, the subjective aspect of the re-invigorated Marxian dialectic.
In his later career, Lukács repudiated the ideas of History and Class Consciousness, in particular the belief in the proletariat as a “subject–object of history” (1960 Postface to French translation). As late as 1925-1926, he still defended these ideas, in an unfinished manuscript, which he called Tailism and the Dialectic. It was not published until 1996 in Hungarian and English in 2000 under the title A Defence of History and Class Consciousness.
Lukács and Stalinism.
In 1956 Lukács became a minister of the brief communist revolutionary government led by Imre Nagy, which opposed the Soviet Union. At this time Lukács’ daughter led a short-lived party of communist revolutionary youth. Lukács’ position on the 1956 revolution was that the Hungarian Communist Party would need to retreat into a coalition government of socialists, and slowly rebuild its credibility with the Hungarian people. While a minister in Nagy’s revolutionary government, Lukács also participated in trying to reform the Hungarian Communist Party on a new basis. This party, the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party, was rapidly co-opted by János Kádár after 4 November 1956.
During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Lukács was present at debates of the anti-party and revolutionary communist Petőfi society, while remaining part of the party apparatus. During the revolution, as mentioned in Budapest Diary, Lukács argued for a new Soviet-aligned communist party. In Lukács’ view, the new party could win social leadership only by persuasion instead of force. Lukács envisioned an alliance between the dissident communist Party of Youth, the revolutionary Hungarian Social Democratic Party and his own Soviet-aligned party as a very junior partner.
After 1956 Lukács narrowly avoided execution. Due to his role in Nagy’s government, he was no longer trusted by the party apparatus. Lukács’ followers were indicted for political crimes throughout the 1960s and 70s, and a number fled to the West. Lukács’ books The Young Hegel and The Destruction of Reason have been used to argue that Lukács was covertly critical of Stalinism as an irrational distortion of Hegelian-Marxism.
Following the defeat of the Revolution, Lukács was deported to Romania with the rest of Nagy’s government. Unlike Nagy, he survived the purges of 1956. He returned to Budapest in 1957. Lukács publicly abandoned his positions of 1956 and engaged in self-criticism. Having abandoned his earlier positions, Lukács remained loyal to the Communist Party until his death in 1971. In his last years, following the uprisings in France and Czechoslovakia in 1968, Lukács became more publicly critical of the Soviet Union and Hungarian Communist Party.
In an interview just before his death, Lukács remarked:
Without a genuine general theory of society and its movement, one does not get away from Stalinism. Stalin was a great tactician… But Stalin, unfortunately, was not a Marxist… The essence of Stalinism lies in placing tactics before strategy, practice above theory… The bureaucracy generated by Stalinism is a tremendous evil. Society is suffocated by it. Everything becomes unreal, nominalistic. People see no design, no strategic aim, and do not move…” Thus Lukács concludes “[w]e must learn to connect the great decisions of popular political power with personal needs, those of individuals.— Marcus & Zoltan 1989: 215–16
Lukács, Georg (1885-1971).
Hungarian Marxist philosopher, writer, and literary critic who influenced the mainstream of European Communist thought during the first half of the 20th century. His major contributions include the formulation of a Marxist system of aesthetics that opposed political control of artists and defended humanism and an elaboration of Marx’s theory of alienation within industrial society. His What is Orthodox Marxism? and The Changing Function of Historical Materialism, demonstrated his creative and independent approach to Marxist theory.
Born into a wealthy Jewish family, Lukács had read Marx while at school, but was more influenced by Kierkegaard and Weber. He was unimpressed with the majority of the theoretical leaders of the Second International such as Karl Kautsky, but had been impressed by Rosa Luxemburg. In the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, Lukács joined the Hungarian Communist Party in 1918. After the overthrow of Béla Kun‘s short-lived Hungarian Communist regime in 1919, in which Lukács served as Commissar for Culture and Education, the Hungarian white terror brutally persecuted former government members.
Fleeing the White Terror, Lukacs moved to Vienna, where he remained for 10 years. He edited the review Kommunismus, which for a time became a focal point for the ultra-left currents in the Third International and and was a member of the Hungarian underground movement. In his book History and Class Consciousness (1923), he developed these ideas and laid the basis for his critical literary tenets by linking the development of form in art with the history of the class struggle. He came under sharp criticism from the Comintern, and facing expulsion from the Party and consequent exclusion from the struggle against fascism, he recanted.
Lukács was in Berlin from 1929 to 1933, save for a short period in 1930-31, at which time he attended the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow. In 1933 he left Berlin and returned to Moscow to attend the Institute of Philosophy. He moved back to Hungary in 1945 and became a member of parliament and a professor of aesthetics and the philosophy of culture at the University of Budapest. In 1956 he was a major figure in the Hungarian uprising, serving as minister of culture during the revolt. He was arrested and deported to Romania but was allowed to return to Budapest in 1957, where, stripped of his former power and status, he devoted himself to a steady output of critical and philosophical works.
In later years, Lukács repudiated many of the positions put in his early works which had formed the starting point for such writers as Adorno and Fromm, and other tendencies which not only rejected the Stalinised version of Marxism, but departed from Marx’s central principles. He frequently clashed with Jean-Paul Sartre and others who combined Marxism with psychoanalysis, structuralism and other philosophical currents inherently incompatible with Marxism.
Lukács wrote more than 30 books and hundreds of essays and lectures. Among his other works are Soul and Form (1911), a collection of essays that established his reputation as a critic; The Historical Novel (1955); and books on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Hegel, Lenin, Marxism, and aesthetics. In his Destruction of Reason, he launched a furious attack on Heidegger‘s accommodation with Nazism and the whole current of irrationalism which was dominant in the pre-war years.
Bumper Issue: Fun for all.
The Saga continues:
Gerry Downing movingly pleads:
This anti-democratic procedure (no hearing before expulsion; no right to appeal) was initiated by the Labour Party leadership of Tony Blair, which was involved in extensive criminality against working class people at home and abroad. Such as, most notoriously, the Iraq war, where the Labour Party leadership bore responsibility for over a million deaths, caused by the unprovoked invasion.It was also involved in terrible abuses of democratic rights, such as torture and ‘extraordinary rendition’, and even complicit in the American sexual abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. So it is hardly surprising that a party whose leadership did things like this evolved procedures that show contempt for the seemingly more mundane democratic rights of ordinary Labour Party members at home.
The tone is set.
But what does Comrade Tony Greenstein have to say?
Socialist Fight is an organisation that is causing much amusement to the right. However, Downing’s defence, or “understanding”, of al Qa’eda’s 9/11 attacks and the actions of Islamic State are anything but amusing. His playing with anti-Semitism is also no joke and his actions have been used to discredit the wider left.
Unfortuantely cde Greenstein has not the slightest intention of analysing Daesh, its totalitarianism, its class basis, and its genocide, in its own terms.
Instead we get this,
IS, for example, is known to be controlled militarily by ex-Ba’athist officers who have adopted Islam as a convenient justification and legitimation for their barbarous rule. How any socialist can support or “understand” – not as a means of analysis, but as a form of apology – an organisation which enslaves young Yazidi women, whilst slaughtering all the men and older women, defies belief. A group which openly uses rape as a weapon of war. This genocidal group may indeed be a reaction to the US’s imperialist slaughter in Iraq; it may have come into conflict with the US and its sectarian Iraqi regime (although being supported by the Turkish regime); but what type of reaction is it? Do we support any opposition, however reactionary, to US capitalism?
Perhaps those less inclined to dismiss the religious basis of Daesh would disagree: it is a genocidal variant of Islamism, with clear roots in the internal development of that current. How it sprang into political power is a related issue, but it cannot be reduced to this.
Greenstein also makes an extraordinary claim,
It is no accident that Israel is known to support al Qa’eda’s al-Nusra in Syria and it is widely suspected of supporting IS (it is known to be the largest purchaser of IS-produced oil). Opposing Zionism is not on the agenda of IS or al Qa’eda.
It is with relief that we turn to this:
Jim Grant writes, “We must oppose the expulsion of Gerry Downing, but fight to expose his political errors. ”
Gerry’s anti-imperialism is, needless to say, confused in the extreme. The confusion stems from exactly where Gerry says it does: Leon Trotsky’s policy of critical support to anti-imperialist nationalist forces – most notably Haile Selassie in Ethiopia during the Italian invasion – and his argument that, instead of joining the Chinese nationalist Kuomintang in the 1920s, the communists ought to have fought separately but alongside them against the Japanese. This policy ultimately stems from the anti-imperialist united front advocated by the early Comintern.
The trouble is that Trotsky’s judgements were straightforwardly incorrect, and Gerry’s later ones also wrong for much the same reasons. Selassie was a British client; Trotsky’s support effectively meant supporting British imperialism against Italian imperialism. (His vigorous pursuit of this policy inside the British labour movement was thus particularly misguided.) As for China, it is difficult to see how the communists could have suffered less except by fighting the KMT and the Japanese, as they ended up doing anyway.
Leftist Trainspotters will note that the Weekly Worker here attacks some of the most cherished ideas of Trotksyism.
The mad Bob Pitt was fond of citing Trotksy on Haile Selassie in defence of his own principled position in defence of the progressive potential of feudalism, sorry Islamism.
We forget exactly the details about the line of the Kuomintang but know it is an issue that continues to burn today in the halls of orthodox Trotskyism.
The Tendance hopes a stern rebuke, from an unimpeachable sources, such as the World Socialist Web Site, will be winging its way to the Weekly Worker forthwith.
Cde Grant concludes:
When the Labour Party is cleansed of warmongers, city shills and cabs-for-hire, there will be time enough to deal with people whose anti-imperialism leads them to idiotic political conclusions; and with those, like the AWL, whose horror of the latter leads them to worse errors in the opposite direction. Hopefully the comrades will learn along the way. Until then, we deny the right of the Labour right to police the left tout court – no exceptions.
It is hard to see that what could be worse than Downing, from his support for Assad’s chemical weapons programme, his claim that the ‘anti-imperialist’ forces of the genocidal Daesh has to be backed “against” the US and this pile of steaming manure: “ISIS, no matter how reactionary they are, should be supported only in these circumstances (NOTE: of ‘imperialist’ ‘attack’) and only against imperialist attack.”
We therefore, as a matter of principle, support the right of indigenous forces in such countries to resist imperialist attacks. We also say that it is the duty of the workers’ movement in imperialist countries to assist them in defending themselves when possible. This is the meaning of the phrase about ‘tactical military assistance’ that has been so often quoted, again out of context. In the current situation such assistance would most likely take the form of political strikes against a given war. In a developed revolutionary situation, more might be possible.
Be afraid, be very afraid!
This declaration should be supported by all progressive humanity:
The US secretary of state said extremist group is responsible for acts of genocide against Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims amid mounting global pressure.
John Kerry on Thursday declared that acts committed by Islamic State against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria are genocide.
The US secretary of state did not say how such a declaration would affect US involvement in areas controlled by Isis.
“My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims,” Kerry said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group. “Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions, in what it says, in what believes and in what it does.”
The announcement came amid mounting global pressure to declare the acts against Christians and other religious minorities as genocide.
The BBC reports:
Islamic State ‘committed genocide’, says US.
The US says the Islamic State (IS) group has committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said IS was “genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions”.
He also said the group was responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in areas it controls in Syria and Iraq.
“Naming these crimes is important, but what is essential is to stop them,” Mr Kerry said.
Mr Kerry admitted that a lack of access to IS areas meant the US did not have a “complete picture” of the atrocities that had been carried out.
He said the “full facts” must be sought by an independent international investigation.
The US, he went on, would “strongly support” efforts to collect evidence of IS atrocities and brings those responsible to account.
“The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians, Yazidis because they are Yazidis, Shia because they are Shia,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for the group.
“This is the message it conveys to children under its control. Its entire world view is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology.”
Son but : « Faire entendre le camp des travailleurs. » L’enseignante en économie de 46 ans entend incarner une « candidature de classe » qui « permettra aux travailleurs, aux chômeurs, aux exploités de défendre leurs intérêts, à l’opposé de ceux du patronat et des actionnaires qui encaissent des millions et des millions ». Ce sera la seconde fois que Mme Arthaud tentera sa chance à la présidentielle. En 2012, celle qui avait succédé quatre ans plus tôt à Arlette Laguiller avait récolté 0,56 % des voix. A treize mois de l’échéance, elle est créditée d’environ 1 % des intentions de vote.
Her goal: to give a hearing for the workers’ side. The 46 year old economics teacher intends to embody a “class candidacy”, which will “permit workers, the unemployed, and the exploited to defend their interests, opposed to those of the bosses and shareholders living off their millions of cash. This will be the second time that Arthaud has tried her luck at the Presidential elections. In 2012, having taken over from Nathalie Arthaud, she received 0,56% of the cote. Now, thirteen months before the contest, polls give her around 1%.
English language Wikipedia on Nathalie Arthaud
This is LO’s official statement:
Lutte ouvrière, lors de son 45ème congrès qui s’est réuni les 12 et 13 mars, a décidé de présenter Nathalie Arthaud à l’élection présidentielle de 2017.
Il faut en effet que le camp des travailleurs se fasse entendre dans cette élection. Certes, aucun scrutin ne peut suffire à changer le sort des classes populaires. Aucune élection ne peut même permettre de résister aux attaques du patronat, comme celles aujourd’hui menées par ses serviteurs Hollande et Valls. Seule une contre-offensive du monde du travail, avec des grèves et des manifestations de masse, permettrait d’y faire face. C’est ce qui sera nécessaire, dans les semaines à venir, pour que le gouvernement renonce à la démolition du Code du travail.
Mais il faut aussi que les travailleurs soient capables d’affirmer leur point de vue de classe, d’exprimer leurs mots d’ordre, y compris lors des échéances électorales. Il faut qu’ils puissent apparaître comme une force politique, contre cette gauche gouvernementale si dévouée à la classe capitaliste, contre cette droite qui n’aspire qu’à prendre sa place, contre le Front national qui rêve également d’accéder au pouvoir, pour faire pire encore.
Ce sera le sens de la candidature de Nathalie Arthaud et de notre campagne pour faire entendre le camp des travailleurs.
“LO assert that while their candidacy is intended to give those in the camp of the working class a voice during the Presidential election, no contest at the ballot box can change the condition of the popular masses. No election can be the way to resist the attacks of the bosses, like those waged today by their servants, Hollande and Valls. Only a counter-offensive from the world of work, with strikes and mass demonstrations, can stand up to them. This is what will be needed, in the coming months, to make the government back down on its destruction of labour protection (Code du Travail).
Nevertheless, LO continues, the workers have to be able to affirm their class standpoint, express their line, including during electoral contests. They have to be able to appear as a political force, opposed to the present government, which is devoted to the capitalist class, and against the Right, whose only aim is to take their place, and against the Front National, which also dreams of taking power in order to introduce even worse policies.
It is in this sense that the candidacy of Nathalie Arthaud and our campaign exists, to give a voice to the workers’ side. “
The below is from Les Guignols de l’info, recalling LO’s glory days when Arlette used to stand for LO, er, every time…..
Happy Days for Arlette.
They’re Jubilant: Few other People are. (1)
AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) RIDES HIGH reports Reuters.
With a high turnout in all the votes, the AfD, already represented in five of Germany’s 16 regional assemblies, succeeded in entering three more.
Its support was strongest in Saxony-Anhalt, where it grabbed 24.2 percent of the vote behind a diminished CDU showing, surpassing even the Social Democrats (SPD), Merkel’s coalition partner in Berlin, ZDF television projections indicated.
With campaign slogans such as “Secure the borders” and “Stop the asylum chaos”, it was the first time the AfD had come as high as second in any state.
“We have fundamental problems in Germany that led to this election result,” said AfD chief Frauke Petry.
The AfD’s rise, which has coincided with strong gains by other European anti-immigrant parties including the National Front in France, punctures the centrist consensus around which the mainstream parties have formed alliances in Germany, and may embolden more European leaders to challenge Merkel on the migrant issue.
The CDU’s leader in Saxony-Anhalt pointed the finger squarely at Merkel for his party’s losses.
“The issue that has brought the AfD into parliaments across Germany can’t be ignored on a federal level any more. We need solutions,” Reiner Haseloff told ARD television.
Charlotte Knobloch, former head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, bemoaned a “massive shift to the right”.
“If voters follow the call of right-wing populists and extremists to such an extent, it is a failure of the democratic parties,” she said.
In Baden-Wuerttemberg in the southwest, the Greens for the first time became the strongest party in a state, with 31.1 percent of the vote, ZDF television projections indicated.
The state was a CDU stronghold for more than 50 years before turning to a Green-led coalition with the SPD in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, and CDU support fell by another 12 percentage points on Sunday.
Also damaging for the CDU was the result in Rhineland-Palatinate, the home of former chancellor Helmut Kohl.
There, the CDU’s Julia Kloeckner, who had positioned herself as a future candidate to succeed Merkel, failed to unseat SPD state premier Malu Dreyer.
It was the only bright spot for the SPD, the biggest loser overall. In Saxony-Anhalt, its support almost halved and in Baden-Wuerttemberg it sank by more than 10 percentage points.
Asked if the SPD’s weak showing in those two states would trigger questions about SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel’s future, deputy party chairman Ralf Stegner said: “No, not at all.”
It is still unclear which coalitions will take power in each state, but the splintered vote opens the prospect of deep changes to the political landscape.
Die Welt, presenting a detailed break-down of the vote, notes that the AfD support came above all from former CDU and SDP voters: (Woher die Stimmen für die AfD kamen)
The Süddeutsche Zeitung points out that, the AfD has one central theme: “Es gab ein Thema, das in diesem Wahlkampf, an diesem Wahlsonntag alle anderen überlagert hat: die Flüchtlinge. DieAfD ist gegen “Multikulti”, prangert das “Asylchaos” an, ist stattdessen für “Mut zu Deutschland”, für “kontrollierte Zuwanderung”. That is, refugees. The AFd is against multiculturalism (in their derogatory slang, with echoes of ‘cult’), singles out Asylum-seeker chaos, their “Pride in Germany” and demands for a “control of immigration.”
The paper lists its other appeals as a “protest party”, as a “social-media party” and a party of “donnernden Reden”, thundering speeches, which we would more freely translate as loud-mouthed demagogy, shouting “”Merkel muss weg”, Merkel must go!
Jubelzahlen aus der Lügenpresse
Auf der Wahlparty der Rechtspopulisten ist die Stimmung gut. Die AfD sei nicht mehr nur eine Ostpartei, freut sich deren Spitzenpersonal.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit über Kretschmann
„Es bleibt nur Schwarz-Grün“
Also bleibt nur Schwarz-Grün, die neue Große Koalition.
That is, Cohn-Bendit foresees a Green-‘black’ (CDU) coalition running the state.
The Guardian states,
The German government will stick by its existing refugees policy, a spokesman has said, after the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland made strong gainsin regional elections on Sunday.
Asked if the results in three German states, where support for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives dwindled, would lead to a change in policy, Steffen Seibert said: “The German government will continue to pursue its refugee policy with all its might both at home and abroad.”
AfD entered state parliaments in all three regions that voted, winning 24% of the vote in Saxony-Anhalt and over 10% in Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate.
The results suggested that German politicians increasingly appear to have two options: rally behind their chancellor, or rail against her.
Although AfD enjoyed considerable momentum, the majority of votes still went to parties who support Merkel’s pro-refugee stance. In all three states, incumbent premiers held on to their seat. In Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Green and Social Democratic (SPD) candidates managed to increase their vote after resolutely backing the chancellor’s open-border position.
(1) Except perhaps this man: Wie Putin die rechten Parteien in Deutschland hofiert.
McDonnell: I joined Labour only as a tactic.
JOHN McDONNELL, the shadow chancellor, told hard-left allies that he had joined the Labour party as a “tactic” because it was a “useful vehicle”.
MPs have seized on the remarks, caught on film four years ago, as evidence that McDonnell is an “entryist Trotskyist” as rebels prepare the ground for a leadership challenge against his close ally Jeremy Corbyn this summer.
Moderates believe they must act before July 19, when supporters of the Labour leader will be able to submit rule changes shoring up his position to the party’s ruling national executive committee (NEC).
Crucially, many MPs, including about half a dozen frontbenchers, are said to have decided that Corbyn must be challenged even if he cannot be kept out of the ensuing contest.
In the article Angela Eagle is cited backing this absurd claim.
As further ‘proof’ poor old Gerry Downing is dragged into the affair.
Let us make a few points clear.
“There was an extraordinary motion by something called Socialist Fight, (that is Gerry Downing) on Syria.
This noted that “Negotiation with Russia and Iran disarm Syria of its chemical weapons and Iran from developing nuclear weapons and so prepare for a future attack against weaker enemies.”
It ended, “The defeat of this utterly bogus ‘revolution’ will defend a relatively secular administration, strengthen the Syrian working class against Assad and dent chauvinism in US, Britain and France.”
This was roundly defeated in favour of a policy of defending democratic movements in Syria against Assad and opposing the Western backed jihadists. “Tendance Coatesy 2013.
Angela Eagle and the like are playing with politics.
As a Leftist Trainspotter I’d say that the behaviour of those cited in the Sunday Times, which runs a hare and then asks those they know will back it to cheer it on, bears a greater resemblance to the worst kind of underhand Trotskyist manipulation than anything McDonnell has ever done.
Labour will campaign to keep the UK in the EU but wants “progressive change” in the union, the party’s leader will say.
Jeremy Corbyn will tell a party conference in Newcastle later today that he wants to see a “real social Europe” that has greater public ownership and stronger workers’ rights.
He has come under some criticism recently from backbenchers who warned the EU referendum vote could be lost unless the party made a more “passionate” case for remaining.
The opposition leader will say reforms secured by David Cameron which curb benefit payments for low-paid migrants “won’t put a penny in the pockets of workers in Britain”.
Ahead of next week’s budget, the Labour leader will insist the Conservative’s austerity measures are a “political choice not an economic necessity” and call the cuts “both brutal and unnecessary”.
“In 2010 they said that their ‘long-term economic’ plan would sort all this out, that the deficit would be eradicated by now.
“Their long-term plan has turned out far longer than they imagined, but subject to short-term revision when it fails again and again. It is a blueprint in deepest Tory blue to shrink the state, to shrink people’s security, stability and opportunity.”
Jeremy Corbyn will also dismiss Chancellor George Osborne’s so-called Northern Powerhouse policy as “southern hot air”, saying most of the investment for infrastructure projects in going to London and the south-east.
Why stay in the EU?
Free movement of people
Your right to work and study in other European countries would be at risk. There are 1.8 million British people living in Europe who currently benefit from these rights.
Limits on weekly hours, guaranteed breaks at work and minimum amounts of annual holiday – these key rights are protected at a European level.
Membership of the European Convention on Human Rights secures precious freedoms. Leaving the EU places our human rights at real risk because many of those who advocate British exit also want to abandon the European Convention.
Key safeguards protecting wildlife and tackling climate change have also been won at a European level. By establishing a level playing field they stop a ‘race to the bottom’ on environmental standards.
Protecting these things doesn’t mean settling for Europe as it is.
A different Europe is urgently needed – one that breaks with the free market economics that have caused so much damage to our societies. With 1 in 4 EU citizens at risk of poverty and social exclusion, we can’t afford to accept the same broken economic thinking.
Building ‘another Europe’ means working to strengthen social and progressive movements across the continent and pushing for democratic change – not walking away from the EU. It’s clear that an exit at the current time would boost right wing movements and parties like UKIP and hurt ordinary people in Britain. Join the campaign that says, ‘Stay in Europe, to change Europe’.
There is of course this ‘campaigner’ for Brexit to show us where that leads:
Students Join Demos Against Plans to Weaken Workers’ Rights.
End of term protests threaten François Hollande’s labour legacy
French president trying to cement his place in history with sweeping reforms to the country’s rigid employment laws.
François Hollande is facing one of the biggest tests of his presidency as his sweeping labour reforms sparked protests by a potent mix of leftwing students and French trade unionists.
Student unions and youth demonstrators were staging sit-ins and street marches on Wednesday, teaming up with unions and striking rail workers in a wide-reaching protest movement that could prove highly toxic for the president. It is the first such collaborative protest against the Socialist government since Hollande came to power four years ago.
Reports the Guardian, neatly illustrating a report with a good reason why leftists do not trust the paper.
The “sweeping reforms” to the “rigid employment laws” were opposed by over a million people who signed this petition below:
Loi travail : non, merci !
The Petition gives is a list of some of the key measures.
☞ En cas de licenciement illégal, l’indemnité prud’homale est plafonnée à 15 mois de salaire.
In cases of illegal redundancies the amount awarded to those who win their case is limited to a ceiling of 15 months wages.
☞ Les 11 heures de repos obligatoire par tranche de 24 heures peuvent être fractionnées.
The day’s rest day – at present 11 hours per 24 hours – can be divided into sections (that is, distrinuted over the whole day).
☞ Une entreprise peut, par accord, baisser les salaires et changer le temps de travail.
A company can, by agreement, lower wages and change working hour.
☞ Les temps d’astreinte peuvent être décomptés des temps de repos.
Standby time can be counted as breaks.
There follows other technical changes – including those affecting apprentices- essentially allowing employers more ‘flexibility’ and their employees the possibility of working more hours according the employers’ needs.
☞ Une mesure peut-être imposée par référendum contre l’avis de 70% des syndicats.
This is the key point: a company will be able to organise a referendum on new working arrangements directly appealing to the employees without the intermediary of the trade unions.
☞ Une entreprise peut faire un plan social sans avoir de difficultés économique.
Laws on redundancies will make it possible to offer a proposal to get rid of people (plan social) whenever they wish.
☞ Après un accord d’entreprise, un-e salarié-e qui refuse un changement dans son contrat de travail peut être licencié.
Anybody who doesn’t knuckle down to the new arrangements can be sacked.
☞ Par simple accord on peut passer de 10h à 12h de travail maximum par jour.
By a simple agreement bosses can increase working hours from 10 to 12 hours a day.
Salarié-e-s ou non : cette réforme nous concerne toutes et tous !
Interpellez la ministre du travail et demandez lui de renoncer à ce projet.
Signez la pétition et RDV sur http://loitravail.lol
Put simply the project, under the name of El Khomri, but piloted by Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his Economics Emmnual Minister Macron, is designed to introduce as much as possible of the British/US model of “flexible” working.
For an expert analysis, by an acknowledged authority in the field, see Gérard Filoche:
Valls, who received a mere 5.63% % of the vote in the 2011 Parti Socialiste ‘primary’ to select a Presidential candidate, has met strong opposition from his his own party MPs and activists. He is described as being, with Italy’s Matteo Renzi, the last of the true believers in the Blair Third Way project – giving priority to adapting economies to ‘globalised markets’.
The result is that some consider that the PS is on the verge of a split. A more probable result, given that breakaways from the Socialists have a long history of marginalisation, the latest being Jean-Luc Mélechon’s descent into populism at the head of the small (well under 10,000 members) Parti de Gauche, is political paralysis.
To use Léon Blum’s words, the Hollande Presidency will be seen not as a “conquest of power” nor even a successful “exercise of power” but a descent into manoeuvring to impose the plans of a minority of the Socialist Party and the – majority – of French employers and the Right.
France faces a wave of protests Wednesday over unpopular labour reforms that have divided an already fractured government and raised hackles in a country accustomed to iron-clad job security. Follow our live blog for the latest news.
Youth organisations and unions have called for protests across France over labour reforms on the same day as a rail strike over a wage dispute that is set to cause transport chaos.
High school pupils are expected to take to the streets alongside unions, ecologist movements and university students over the controversial reforms.
France’s Socialist government has faced massive blowback — including from within — to measures that would give bosses more flexibility in hiring and firing, in a bid to turn around a record 10.2 percent unemployment rate.
The reforms spell out simple conditions such as falling orders or sales, or operating losses, as sufficient cause for shedding staff. They would also cut overtime pay for work beyond 35 hours — the work week famously introduced in the 1990s in an earlier Socialist bid to boost employment.
An online petition against the El Khomri draft law, named after Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri, has attracted more than a million signatures while a poll showed seven in 10 people were opposed to the proposed changes.
Meanwhile, trains are expected to suffer “severe disruption” due to a strike as workers demand salary increases. The Paris Metro will remain largely unaffected.
It is not at all popular: L’Humanité reports:
The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty reported last year on this strange event.
As many as 30 (thirty) people turned up to the most recent mass action staged by the so-called ‘Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine’ (SARU) campaign: a picket of the US embassy in London, backed by the equally misnamed ‘Stop the War Coalition’.
The comrade gave special attention, to a ‘Trotskyist’ speaker at this event:
Pride of place amongst the speakers belongs to Gerry Downing of ‘Socialist Fight’ and his delirious ‘anti-imperialist’ contribution in which he applauded the seizure of Debaltseve by Russian-separatist forces in breach of the recently concluded Minsk peace deal:
“The Ukrainian army suffered a humiliating defeat. That defeat is a defeat not only for American imperialism and its forces but also for Franco-German imperialism. We should salute that victory and be unequivocal about it.
It was a major victory and sets up the struggle for the next phase. And no doubt there will be a next phase.
We reject completely and totally the notion that Russia and China are imperialist countries. We have no dual defeatist position. We are unequivocally for the defeat of Kiev and European imperialism in this conflict.”
Unfortunately but understandably, an Everton fan who had once been to Ukraine to watch a game of football became so intoxicated by the protest’s politics that he used his contribution to launch into a diatribe against “Trots”.
The SARU chairperson gently admonished him, pointing out the difference between good “Trots” (ones who support Russian imperialism) and bad “Trots” (we who can tell the difference between police-state Stalinism and socialism).
The protest finished with the chant: “Obama, McCain! No more weapons for Ukraine.”
Of course, Obama and McCain have not actually provided Ukraine with any weapons. But such a basic factual inaccuracy can readily be excused on the grounds of poetic licence: “Lavrov, Putin!” neither scans nor rhymes with “Ukraine”.
Apart from apologising for Russian imperialism, SARU has also been busy in recent weeks pretending that there are real trade unions in the so-called Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR).
This was of interest since Downing is known to many people on the left.
Not for his activism but simply, er, his presence.
And his org, Socialist Fight.
Socialist Fight is a supporter of one of the more exotic imaginary Fourth Internationals – or rather, to give it its full grand title Liaison Committee for the Fourth International.
It is also known for this stand:
We defend the ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Iraq against the bombing of US imperialism but do not ally with them against the Kurdish defenders of Kobane and Rojava (Western Kurdistan). We support the Kurdish nation’s right to self-determination and to their own nation state, even though they are scattered over four other nations now. The Islamic State is a reactionary utopia and has no legitimate right to self-determination. We do not object if the Kurds take advantage of airstrikes against ISIS to defend their own territory in a process of nation-building but we reject any strategic alliance with US-friendly forces on the ground, like the Free Syrian Army. The Kurds have every right to accept arms from Assad.
Socialist Fight supporter Iain Donovan also has a special political position on the “Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie.”
Now – 2016 – we have this to confront.
Zionism, the hegemonic Racism of Today.
There has been a major, revolutionary change in the position of Jews in capitalist society. No other ethnic minority has achieved such a tremendous turnaround. They have gone from an often feared and hated group that significant sections of the imperialist bourgeoisie were prepared to see persecuted and oppressed in a manner that in some cases became genocidal, to arevered minority whose bourgeois layers have a great moral authority among the imperialist bourgeoisie, which regard it as a priceless asset and vanguard. So now, instead of scandals about the Royals’ support for Hitler, we get the Royals’ involvement in child abuse scandals with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein and Alan Dershowitz, arch-Zionists.
.. the Jewish body politic became monopolised by the Jewish bourgeois caste in the imperialist countries.
That developing caste had, since the dawning of the age of imperialism in the late 19th century, sought to advance its ‘national’ project, Zionism, mainly by seeking sponsors from parts of the non-Jewish imperialist bourgeoisie. After WWII, after the genocide, it succeeded in establishing its own state, which further helped consolidate the Jewish people on a nationalist, increasingly right-wing trajectory.
It also produced a major shift in the attitude of the non-Jewish bourgeoisie towards that caste. The defeat of the Jewish left meant the destruction of the toehold of anti-Semitic ideology in the consciousness of the non-Jewish bourgeoisie. Over time, it led to the dawning of a very different consciousness, of the Jewish bourgeois caste embodying a culture rooted in commodity economy older and with more experience than the mainstream of the gentile bourgeoisie.
It also, with its broader international outlook, not bound to the traditional nation-state, helps the bourgeoisie generally to see beyond its older, traditionally territorially based chauvinism vis-à-vis each other. Thus as a vanguard layer of the bourgeoisie, its advantages for that class are similar, though in a degraded way, to the attributes that made the Jewish left a key part of the proletarian vanguard in the earlier period.
So what conclusions do we draw from this about the importance of the Jewish Question, and Zionism, today? It is centrally this: the Palestinian struggle is of world historic import for the working class of the entire world. For without the Zionist project, the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, which is a key component of the vanguard of world capital, would have no unifying ethos to hold it together. This may be a vanguard, class conscious formation, but it is fragile. Without the Zionist project as a unifying focus, it would over time dissolve through assimilation into the various imperialist bourgeoisies.
Not everybody agrees with Donovan’s rantings.
This happened in 2014:
No place for anti-Semitism. Weekly Worker. 18.9. 2014.
A Communist Platform member has been shown the door. Peter Manson reports
The September 14 meeting of Left Unity’s Communist Platform saw a parting of the ways with a member of its steering committee, Ian Donovan. This followed comrade Donovan’s espousal of views that can only be described as anti-Semitic: in his opinion, there is a Jewish “pan-national bourgeoisie”, which has constituted itself as ruling class “vanguard” in key imperialist countries, and it is this that accounts for US support for Israel. Donovan says he intends to write a book laying out this ‘theory’ in detail.
Once this line of thinking had been fully revealed to other members of the steering committee, they urged him to step down from the CP. When he refused, the September 14 members’ meeting was called, which had before it a motion from comrades Jack Conrad and Moshé Machover stating that anti-Semitism is “incompatible with membership of the Communist Platform” (see below).
In response, Donovan put in an ‘amendment’ – of the ‘replace all’ type: it would have transformed the motion into something completely antithetical to the original. He announced that if this amendment was heavily defeated he would leave the platform. Not unexpectedly, his amendment received only one vote and, true to his word, he left the meeting – and the CP.
What are the present other political activities of this lot, we ask, rhetorically……