Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Cable Street and Anti Fascism in the US Today.

with 3 comments

https://i1.wp.com/www.socialist.net/images/new-stories/History/CableStreet/cable_streetthe-daily-worker.gif

No, Antifa, This is Not the 1930s and We Don’t Need to Punch a Nazi

It is not often, indeed it has not been never, when I commend an article in Counterpunch, but this is important, if contentious, contribution to what is a very divisive debate in the US today.

The author draws on Daniel Tilles, “The Myth of Cable Street.” History Today, and does not refer to other critical sources well-known to the British and Irish left such as Out of the Ghetto  by Joe Jacobs. His account of his involvement in the famous defence of the East End against an attempted march by Mosley’s fascists is important and a different version to that published by Communist leading figure on the day, Phil Piratin (Our Flag Stays Red, 1948).

Joe describes events leading up to the march, including the changes in the CP leadership’s tactics as they finally realised their calls for a peaceful demonstration elsewhere would be ignored. His account “corrects false impressions later created by official Communist versions of the events”. The Battle of Cable St, 1936 – Joe Jacobs.

The “Battle of Cable Street” is a key event in the “creation myth” of the anti-fascist movement. It goes like this:

On Sunday, October 4, 1936, about 5,000 members of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), led by Sir Oswald Mosley, planned to march in full Blackshirt regalia through several Jewish neighborhoods in London’s East End. Six thousand police were assigned to protect them from about 100,000 anti-fascist protesters. The anti-fascists fought the police and erected barricades to block the marchers. When the fascists saw there was no possibility of moving beyond the barricades, they abandoned the march and dispersed. [1]

Some accounts of the battle claim that the fascists and anti-fascists fought hand-to-hand, but Reg Weston, a journalist who was in his early twenties when he actually participated in the battle, makes it clear that the two sides never clashed. The police and barricades kept them apart. It’s a myth, Weston says, “that the ‘battle’ was between the protesters and the Blackshirts. It was not — it was a battle with the police.” [2]

Nevertheless, the crowd celebrated that day. The “Battle of Cable Street” went down in history as a victory for anti-fascist forces and to this day is part of the heroic mythology of the ultra-left: “For many members of contemporary anti-Fascist groups, the incident remains central to their mythology, a kind of North Star in the fight against Fascism and white supremacy across Europe and, increasingly, the United States.” [3]

I am less than sure that European leftists outside of the Isles are aware if Cable Street (see this very small Wikipedia reference in French. The German Wiki entry signals the passing of the Public Order Act as the main result). Anybody familiar with the violent clashes that took place in France in the 1930s, which led to dissolution in 1936 of the far-right, Croix de Feu, Ligue d’Action française, Parti Franciste, and the Camelots du roi, would be tempted to  consider it a sideshow, above all since those groups would be part of the reigning power a few years later under Vichy.  If “white supremacy” enters into accounts of the Battle against Nazism and Fascism, in the shape of the British Union of Fascists (BUF), I have only just heard of it. Finally, if the British Left considers Cable Street, for all its importance, does not generally consider it something of a significance on a par with, say, the International Brigades, or the Resistance.

Yet Contursi asks a relevant question.

But was it really a victory?

After the battle the fascists grew stronger 

Unfortunately, the anti-fascists celebrating their victory in 1936 couldn’t have known that their actions would ultimately do nothing to stop either the Nazi juggernaut that descended upon Europe three years later, or the immediate popularity of the BUF. In fact, the BUF benefitted from the violence and became even stronger over the next four years, until 1940, when it was banned by the government.

What the anti-fascist forces did achieve at Cable Street was a singular victory in stopping a single march. But at what price? In the aftermath of that action, membership in the BUF grew. Rather than smashing fascism, the battle turned out to be a recruitment tool for the BUF. The organization gained an additional 2,000 members immediately, and its membership continued to climb steadily. Seven months before the battle, BUF membership was around 10,000; one month after the battle, it rose to 15,500. It continued to rise until, by 1939, the BUF had about 22,500 members. [4]

The anti-fascist actions didn’t dampen the peoples’ enthusiasm for Mosely’s message. In the weeks after the battle, pro-fascist crowds in the thousands turned out for BUF meetings, listened to Mosley’s fascist proselytizing, and marched through London without much opposition. [1] An intelligence report on the battle noted that afterwards, “A definite pro-Fascist feeling has manifested itself. The alleged Fascist defeat is in reality a Fascist advance.” [1]

Violence, it seems, provided free publicity for the fascists. The BUF “thrived off the publicity that violent opposition produced. The national media, under pressure from the government, largely avoided reporting on Fascist activity other than when disorder occurred. A leading Mosleyite lamented the ‘total silence’ in the press when BUF events passed without incident, complaining that only after disruption by opponents did newspapers show any interest.” [1]

So,

The lesson from Cable Street is clear—the anti-fascists succeeded in shutting down one march. But in the aftermath of that action, fascist membership grew and, within a few weeks, the BUF was marching again—with little or no opposition.

It is a long piece and the rest has to be read in full.

There is discussion of  the experience of Nazism, but no reference is made to early battles with Mussolini’s squadristi, (we used to call street fighting antifafs ‘squadists’) of the importance, in the context of Cable Street of the start of the defence of the Spanish Republic.

We learn that the 1930s were a different time……where Nazism and Fascism were in power  in Europe.

That said, it is easy to sympathise with those making a stand against the ‘anti-fascist’  hysteria which apparently has gripped sections of the US left.

Whether ” Nonviolent direct action” is the answer is open for them to answer.

Janet Contursi makes her case clear:

1) Violence is not an effective long-term tactic against Nazi hate groups. When Mosley’s fascists were perceived to be the victims of violence, their membership grew; but when they were perceived to be the perpetrators of violence, it dropped.

2) What does work, but is more difficult for peace groups to achieve, is applying economic pressure to the fascists’ financial base and swamping their propaganda with truth. This requires a long-term organizing strategy beyond the occasional demonstration or peace march (a good example of a long-term nonviolent strategy is the BDS movement).

To repeat, it is hard to disagree with the view that the US far-right, fragmented and marginalised, is not about to be a major threat that needs the kind of violent tactics that some indicate.

But others believe that they must be confronted. 

Nevertheless, since Contursi  draws parallels between our very different societies and politics (to say the least: there is no equivalent of the Labour Party or the socialist inclined trade unions in the US), can one say that mass street action has always been ineffective against the British far-right?

What of the conflicts between the British far-right and left  in the 1970s and later?

Contursi neglects any discussion of the British experience of fighting the National Front in the 1970s, not to mention subsequent battles withe British Movement, the BNP and, more recently, the English Defence League.

There is a good case that the street activism of the 1970s, which was centred on the goal of confronting the far-right,  helped, in the context of a much wider cultural anti-fascism and a grass-roots movement, the ANL, local anti-racist and anti-racist committees,  and Rock Against Racism, had it place in preventing a ‘break through’ of the far-right into national politics at the time, for all that people will cite Thatcher as the ultimate benefactor of the racist undercurrents at work.

Since that time European far-right groups have grown in a number of countries.

Nobody could have prevented the rise of UKIP – which is clearly far-right – by street battles, nor would this have been desirable for democratic socialists intent on challenging their ideas, not physically standing up to their  members.

It would equally be ridiculous to imagine that any large-scale street fighting could have defeated the French Front National.

When their first electoral successes happened in the mid-1980s I was met with laughter by my French left-wing comrades when I suggested similar tactics to the ANL and anti-fascists, anti-racist street campaigning groups. In fact what happened in France was SOS-racisme which – with something like Rock Against Racism’s cultural approach, moblised people against racialist ideology.

The legacy of SOS racisme has been contested, involving a whole series of cultural issues which we, and others, have taken up (La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa: ‘Manufacturing Muslims’.).

Clearly the very  the possibility of the far-right winning substantive political power in France, and elsewhere in Continental Europe, is of a different degree and nature to the problems US anti-fascists face.

But anybody interested in more than “myths” about the extreme right and their opponents should be more concerned with looking at these developments than backwards to the 1930s.

 

 

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm

Corbyn to Back Tough New Anti-Semitism Rules in Labour Party.

leave a comment »

Image result for fight anti semitism

Jeremy Corbyn will back change to allow tough line on antisemitism

Guardian.

Backers of antisemitism motion say unified Labour position on rule change is vital to win back Jewish voters.

Jeremy Corbyn is to back a significant rule change so Labour can take a tougher line on antisemitic abuse, which supporters hope will send a signal at the party’s conference that it is serious about tackling hate.

Supporters of the motion say it is vital the party has a unified position on the new antisemitism motion when it is agreed by Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday, although the exact wording of the rule change was still being fiercely debated late on Sunday.

Momentum, the party’s leftwing grassroots movement, has said its support for the motion is not assured and will depend on the final wording. Its backers, including the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), have argued there is a need to make a significant gesture in order to win back Jewish voters.

The proposed change would also mean a tougher stance on sexism, Islamophobia, racism and homophobia. At the moment, party members cannot be disciplined for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions”.

But the motion, which will be voted on by members at the party’s conference in Brighton next week, argues that rule should not apply to those who express racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or antisemitic views.

The proposed change has been brought by JLM, the largest group of Jewish Labour members and supporters, who say the current wording led to a more lenient approach to remarks by the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, that were widely perceived as antisemitic, when he was found by the party to have breached the rules.

..

A Labour source said Corbyn was in favour of the change in principle. “Jeremy is committed to tackling antisemitism and is hopeful that the NEC will pass this motion,” the source said.

The change has already been agreed in principle by Labour’s equalities committee and will be debated when the full NEC meets on Tuesday to decide the motions delegates will vote on in Brighton.

Senior Labour sources backing the JLM motion said they were still concerned it may be watered down before it goes before conference. Some leftwing party activists, including the shadow fire minister, Chris Williamson, have accused Corbyn’s critics of “weaponising antisemitism” in order to attack the leader’s supporters.

Labour List confirm the story,

Labour officials set to back rule change on anti-Semitism in run-up to conference

Labour is set to back the Jewish Labour Movement’s rule change on anti-Semitism ahead of next week’s conference.

The proposed change is expected to be put before Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) tomorrow, and, dependent on final wording, is likely to get wide reaching support, sources suggest.

The motion’s supporters believe it is key to ensuring the party can win back Jewish voters, which in certain key target seats is thought to have made the difference to Tory MPs clinging on in June.

The rule change would mean a tougher line from the party’s compliance unit on anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia. Presently, members cannot be disciplined simply for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions,” and the motion would change that for these examples.

The Jewish Labour Movement was not slow to react:

For reasons best known to themselves the Guardian presents  the main opposition to the motion to be Labour Party Marxists (founder, Stan Keable, membership around 20, though no doubt on this issue backed by the Monster Raving Greenstein Party) that is the Weekly Worker,

In a conference voting guide published this week, Labour Party Marxists called on delegates to oppose the motion, calling it “anti-democratic” and likely to stifle free speech. “This is supported by the Jewish Labour Movement, which already tells you that you should probably oppose without even having to read it,” the voting guide reads, adding that the motion “removes the need to rely on rational evidence”.

These other examples of Labour Party Marxist policy get less coverage, but no doubt their time will come:

Our 10-point-programme to transform the Labour Party

  • Our goal should be to transform the Labour Party, so that, in the words of Keir Hardie, it can “organise the working class into a great, independent political power to fight for the coming of socialism”.2) Towards that end we need rule changes to once again permit left, communist and revolutionary parties to affiliate. That is what we mean by a united front of a special kind. As long as they do not stand against us in elections, this can only but strengthen us as a federal party. Today affiliated organisations include the Fabians, Christians on the Left, the Cooperative party … the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Business. Allow the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party in England and Wales, CPGB, the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain, etc, to join our ranks.
  • Being an MP ought to be an honour, not a career ladder, not a way for university graduates to secure a lucrative living. A particularly potent weapon here is the demand that all our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker – a principle upheld by the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik revolution. Our MPs are on a basic £67,060 annual salary. On top of that they get around £12,000 in expenses and allowances, putting them on £79,060 (yet at present Labour MPs are only obliged to pay the £82 parliamentarians’ subscription rate). Moreover, as leader of the official opposition, Jeremy Corbyn not only gets his MP’s salary. He is entitled to an additional £73,617.3) Let them keep the average skilled worker’s wage – say £40,000 (plus legitimate expenses). Then, however, they should hand the balance over to the party. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott ought to take the lead in this.
  • We must establish our own press, radio and TV. To state the obvious, texting, Twitter and Facebook etc have severe limits. They are brilliant mediums for transmitting simple, short and sharp messages. But, when it comes to complex ideas, debating history and charting political strategies, they are worse than useless.
  • Programmatically, we should adopt a new clause four. Not a return to the old, 1918, version, but a commitment to working class rule and a society which aims for a stateless, classless, moneyless society, which embodies the principle, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”. That is what socialism is all about. Not a measly £10 per hour “living wage”, shifting the tax balance and a state investment bank. No, re-establishing socialism in the mainstream of politics means committing the Labour Party to achieving a “democratic republic”.4)

You can’t help feeling that this is a complete distraction from an important issue.

 

This Blog completely backs the changes but it is wrong to try to present – even if only by implication – critics as part of the same pool of thought as the ‘Labour Party Marxists’, still less their close associate, Monster Raving whose ‘writings’ can be sampled here.

As controversy continues over defining Jew-hate, read a Marxist view.

Appealing for an outbreak of sweet reason between Zionists and anti-Zionists is never easy, especially when undertaken by a veteran Marxist with political views a long way from those of the average JC reader.

But, at the risk of displeasing both sides, I want to urge the hard-left to back the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. Then let me double down, and urge Jewish organisations to commit to using this reasonable instrument in a reasonable way.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Le Parti communiste français (PCF), Skirmishes Continue.

leave a comment »

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DJ_Jfk7XkAIo4QE.jpg:large

The traditional  Fête de L’Humam a vast popular event, 550, 000 strong,  organised around the left daily lHumanité, was by all accounts a great success.

But politics did not stop for the music and gastronomy.

Amongst the debates that took place the disputes between the  Parti communiste français (PCF) and La France insoumise (LFI), which claims to be leading opposition to the government of Emmanuel Macron.

A la Fête de « L’Humanité », le PCF et La France insoumise règlent leurs comptes

Pierre Laurent, the national secretary of the  PCF, made a number of critical comments in the direction of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of La France insoumise. He referred to the simplistic slogans of “« les sirènes dégagistes” , the sirens of “get out”!, away with the old guard,  launched by Emmanuel Macron, Marine Le Pen  and Jean-Luc Mélenchon during the Presidential elections.

Laurent defended his party’s decision to vote against Le Pen in the second round of the contest, in contrast to Mélenchon who refused to back the ‘republican front’ against the far-right.

Mélenchon was not present, he is on tour offering his opinions to the French colonial citizens of Martinique.

But some of his supporters, including the Deputy Eduard Coquerel, were displeased at any criticism of their Leader. Coquerel called Laurent’s speech “violent and contemptuous” and that he and his friends had not come to the Fete with this spirit in their hearts.

Laurent however intends to participate, with a PCF ”delegation’ at the ” Marche contre le coup d’Etat social ” organised by La France insoumise (LFI)   on the  23rd of  September. Despite this the Communist leader, while attacking the new President and his policies,   continues to question Mélenchon’s self-assigned role as the “Leading Opponent” (premier opposant) of Macron. (le Monde)

A further report on Laurent’s criticisms of  Mélenchon’s ‘solitary strategy’ here:  La guerre des étoiles à la fête de l’Huma  (Libération).

*******

One of the most recent critiques of La France insoumise and its’ populism’ come the libertarian left here:

Populisme ? « La recette de la France insoumise est usée » CORCUFF Philippe, GRAULE Pauline

In this interview Corcuff states that  Mélenchon’s rally uses the theorists of radical ‘left populism’, Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe  as a source of  “légitimité intellectuelle” to back up his claim to be the “leader” in the construction of the “People”.

 Classical Marxism rested on the basis of challenging people’s frustrations into a project of ending exploitation  through positive measures. LFI he notes, faces two  major pitfalls,   moblising resentment against the “oligarchy” around the dead end of conspiracy politics “conspirationnisme”  or devoting themselves to an electoral ‘reformist’ strategy which  is not designed, or capable,   of transforming society in depth.

Amongst the 500,000 people who have clicked on the Internet and joined LFI (for free, I am, incidentally, a ‘member’), there are many different kinds of people, although, Corcuff  notes, there is little sign of any significant “popular”, that is working class and poor, voice in their campaigns.

There remains some hope, Corcuff concludes, amongst the capacity of local groups, independent of the leadership, who may through their own initiatives create something.  But over the last 20 years, starting with the experience of the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (NPA), new movements on the French left have not lasted. and we will see what happens with LFI.

 

 

Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan. Review.

with 2 comments

Image result for Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan.

Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan. Translated, Edited and Introduced by Francis King. Lawrence and Wishart.

Fedor (Theodore) Dan was a leading figure in Russian social democracy. A prominent Menshevik during the 1917 Revolutions, he had chosen their side after the 1903 split with the Bolsheviks in the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Workers; Party). During the Great War, King notes, Dan was a “Siberian Zimmerwaldist”, that is he opposed the conflict while under administrative exile in Russia’s far East and during his compulsory mobilisation as a Doctor in Turkestan. King writes, that Dan was described by Nikolai Sukhanov as, “one of the most major figures in the Russian revolution, one of the most outstanding actors in both the Russian workers’ movement and the events of 1917.” (Page 9)

Known to many on the left as the author of The origins of Bolshevism (in English, 1964), this is the first translation into any language of Dan’s Two Years of Wandering. Francis King is the Editor of Socialist History. His introduction outlines Dan’s background and his role in the crises of 1917. Dan, in conditions of political freedom, was part of the leadership of the Petrograd Soviet. Still calling for a “general peace” he took the Menshevik line of ‘revolutionary defencism”, which committed the country to continue fighting until this could be reached and support for a coalition Provisional Government.

This policy, opposed by its left wing around Martov, played a key role in the ‘end’ of Dan’s career in Petrograd. Bolshevik victory in October was not the only indication of their political dead-end. In the All-Russia Constituent Assembly elections of 1917 they won just 3% of the vote.

Continuing to support, “the idea of popular sovereignty, universal suffrage, and the Constituent Assembly” and demanding an end to terror for economic liberalisation, the Mensheviks tried to work within the new soviet structures. But what had begun in the Spring and Summer of 1918 with the “arrests and harassment of non-Bolshevik activists”. In June 1918, they, and the Socialist revolutionaries, were removed from the Soviet CEC. Yet they continued political activity. They focused on the defence of “the rights of labour” and the “defence of trade unions, with as a backdrop plans to make unions agents of “labour discipline” and “compulsory labour service” or the “militarisation of labour” exalted by Trotsky in Terrorism and Communism (1920). With their position set out in What is to be done: The Menshevik Programme July 1919 they had had a wider echo, Marcel Liebman and others record, within the official bodies (1)

For Trotsky the Mensheviks had in 1917, “together with the bourgeoisie, declared civil war against the Soviets”. In the Winter of 1920-1 the Mensheviks were systematically suppressed. (2)

In Lenin’s Gaols.

Dan’s serious travails began in 1919, when he spent 3 months in the Butyrka prison. Mobilised, again, in his medical capacity, he was put in charge of the Surgical Subsection of the Department of Medical Supplies. This was impossible task, faced with general chaos, the “constant inference of organs of the Cheka”, the sabotage of those who hoped for a return to private ownership and the prevalence of bribery. After protests, in an atmosphere of increasing hostility to the Mensheviks, Dan was reposted in what he describes as “official exile” to Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg), where he continued his “work service”. Further “wanderings”, which took him back to Moscow, then to Minsk and the Front in assault on Warsaw and finally to Petrograd, his native city, where Dan was finally caught in the Bolshevik repression and sent to Peter-Paul Fortress.

Two Years of Wandering is shot through with insights into those years of upheaval, the gaoling and exile of “thousands of socialists and non-party workers who (had) been so bold as to doubt the divine infallibility of the Bolshevik authorities, with all their fantasies, scandals, petty tyranny and occasional 180-degree turns. “(Page 53) From the famous 1920 visit of the British delegation to a meeting addressed by Printers’ leaders and Mensheviks, which criticised the “terrorist dictatorship of the minority”, the last Congress of Soviets at which the opposition was reluctantly tolerated, to the crackdown after the Kronstadt (1921) which marked the beginning of systematic elimination of dissent, the Mensheviks were disorganised. (3) A party that “had adapted all its tactics to the struggle for an open existence despite the Bolshevik terror.” was unable to mount any effective challenge (Page 98).

Dan was in prison during the Kronstadt revolt, which, when the news of this, following a strike wave, reached them, convinced those arrested that they were about to be shot. There were indeed mass killings. A gaoler, ‘S’ regaled Dan with tales of massacring whites. He also had this anecdote, “some Jewish trader they had arrested on suspicion that the leather he was carrying in his cart had concealed weapons under it. There were no weapons, but before letting the trader go, he wanted to have his ‘little joke’ at the expense of the ‘bourgeois’ so he stood him against a wall and ordered that he be shot – but they fired blanks. They did this three times – just to they could bring a little happiness to their prisoner when they told him he was free to go – although he could easily have died of heart failure.”(Page 121)

Sent to Remand gaol, Dan observed waves of new arrivals. Protests and demonstration were followed “on each occasion, a few intellectuals and party workers, together with hundreds of grey, non-party workers, would pass through the prison. There were tramway workers, workers from the Skorokhod, Obukhov, Putilov and Rechkin factories – all of working class Petersburg.”(Page 138) Conditions deteriorated, but perhaps what was most striking is that “once entering a Soviet prison, nobody can know even approximately how long he will be in there and how the imprisonment will end.” (Page 142)

Dan met an American ‘K’, identified by King as Adolf S Carm, arrested at the Third Congress of the Communist International “According to him he had been arrested on the strength of a denunciation by another American delegate, Haywood, in revenge for a polemical pamphlet K, had published against him in America. K was obviously very frightened and repeatedly stressed his devotion to everything the Bolshevik government did, including the practices of the Cheka.”(Page 155) Carm was released a couple of months later….

Dan was then sent to Butyri, a Cheka ‘internal prison’, a place where the “smell of human blood” was in the air. “the most dreadful aspect of it is the ordinariness of the circumstances in which this mass slaughter of people is taking place, where it has become an everyday occurrence.” (Page 145)

Hunger Strike and Exile.

For Two Years of Wandering hunger strikes, and a campaign “waged in the workers’ parties and working-class press of Europe” rather than kindness towards people who “had been in the same organisation at the Bolsheviks” The first response of the Bolshevik leadership came to them in the shape of the news that the All-Russia Cheka Presidium had sentenced all Mensheviks to be exiled for one year, and members of the party Central Committee for two years. As negotiations proceeded, their strike ended with the alternatives of, for imprisoned Mensheviks, either administrative exile in remote areas, or departure from Russia (Pages 179- 80) He chose Germany and arrived in Berlin in the winter of 1922.

As Francis King writes in his introduction – a significant contribution to the history of Menshevism in its own right – “it is the immediacy of this book which makes it so valuable” (Page 36). Dan shows understanding towards a variety of people, including anarchists, and a grasp of the plight of even imprisoned ‘whites’, that demonstrates the highest “common decency”. But Two years of Wandering is more than a personal memoir; it illustrates the “creation of a “large body of political of political police, operating with few constraints” built to enforce the governing monopoly of one party, the Bolsheviks” (Page 37).

Nevertheless, the Menshevik project of creating a ‘bourgeois’ democratic regime without a bourgeoisie that backed it was far from a viable alternative to the Bolsheviks, lacking, as King observes, both the “will” to govern and the instruments to do so. Dan’s evolution towards a form of “reform communism” also missed the tide of history. Yet, apart from its striking honesty, the book, smoothly translated, is a powerful antidote, written from the losing side of history, to the view that the early years of Bolshevik rule were only a joyous carnival of the oppressed.

********

(1) Trotsky’s reply to the Menshevik was, “If it were true that compulsory labour is unproductive always and under every condition, as the Menshevik resolutions says, all our constructive work would be doomed to failure. For we can have no way to socialism except by the authoritative regulation of the economic forces and resources of the country, and the centralised distribution of labour-power in harmony with the general state plan. The labour state considers itself empowered to send every worker to the place where his work is necessary.” Page 153. Terrorism and Communism. Leon Trotsky. New Park Publications. 1971. Pages 249 – 251. Leninism Under Lenin. Marcel Liebman. Merlin. 1980.

(2) Page 15. Social Democracy and the Wars of Intervention. Russia 1918 – 1921. Leon Trotsky. New Park Publications. 1975.

(3) King reproduces the speech of the Socialist-Revolutionary leader Viktor Chernov to this meeting with the British Labour delegation in Appendix 1. Liebman called his invitation ”an act of provocation” Liebman. Op cit. Page 251.

See Socialist History Society Newsletter.

Also, What is to be done: The Menshevik Programme July 1919

Economic Measures

1. The peasants should retain, on a collective or individual basis as they may freely decide, the public and privately owned lands which they seized and parcelled out at the time of the Revolution. Other lands, not as yet distributed, should be leased on a long-term basis to needy peasants and peasant associations, except for those lands on which large-scale model husbandry is being, and can continue to be, carried out by the state or by leaseholders. The decrees abolishing the Committees of the Poor should be put into effect without exception.

Agricultural communes should not be established by force, either directly or indirectly. Government-held supplies, agricultural implements and seed should be equitably distributed not only among communes but to all peasants who need them on communes and soviet lands.

2. The present food supply system should be replaced by one on the following basis:
a. The state should purchase grain at agreed prices involving a large application of the barter principle; it should then be sold at low prices to the poorest dwellers in town and country, with the state making up the difference. The state should make purchases through its agents, co-operatives or private traders on a commission basis.

b.  The state should purchase, at a price equal to the cost of production, a certain proportion of the grain surpluses held by the better-off peasants in the more fertile provinces, the proportion being decided with the advice of freely elected representatives of the local peasantry.

c. Grain should be purchased by co-operatives and workers’ organisations, who should at the same time make over the stocks they have procured to government organs concerned with food supply. The state retains the right to requisition supplies from large landowners who are deliberately hoarding them for speculative purposes. Transport arrangements are under the primary control of the state, co-operatives and workers’ organisations. All anti-profiteer detachments should be disbanded. The transfer of foodstuff from a particular locality shall not be prohibited save in exceptional circumstances and by a decision of the central legislature.

The state shall assist, materially and by administrative measures, the transfer of workers and their families from places where food is scarcest and their resettlement in fertile areas.

3. The state should retain control of major industrial enterprises that are fundamental to economic life, such as mines, metallurgical plant, the chief branches of the metal-working industry, etc. However, in all places where this seems likely to improve or animate production or to extend its range, recourse may be had to organising such enterprises by a combination of state and private capital, by the compulsory formation of a trust under state control or, in exceptional cases, by means of a concession.

All other large industrial enterprises except where state control is desirable for fiscal or other reasons and would not be deleterious to production, should as a rule be gradually transferred into private hands, by leasing to a co-operative or a new entrepreneur, or to the former owner on  condition that he accepts the obligation to restore and organise production. The state shall regulate the distribution of fuel and raw materials to different branches of production, enterprises and areas.

4. Small-scale industry should in no case be nationalised.

5. The state shall regulate the distribution to different areas, in accordance with a fixed plan, of the chief articles of mass consumption such as textiles, farm implements, salt, lighting materials etc with the aid of co-operatives and private traders.

6. As regards trade in other articles of the firs necessity and also in luxuries, the state should refrain from imposing restrictions and should allow co-operatives and private enterprises to function freely except in cases where regulation or even monopoly is desirable on account of the extreme scarcity of the product, e.g. medical supplies.

7. The credit system should be so reorganised as to facilitate in every way the use in trade and industry of available funds accumulate by producers in town and country and to afford scope for private initiative in trade, industry and agriculture.

8. The repression of speculation and trading abuses should be left to the courts and governed by specific legal provisions. All arbitrary acts of requisition, confiscation and the detention of goods should be punished. The law should protect rights of ownership in the case of all industrial and commercial concerns that are released from nationalisation. In future, when expropriation is required by the public interest it should take place on the basis of a decision by the supreme legislative bodies and on conditions determined by them.

9. Workers’ unions, in addition to taking a direct part in the work of regulatory bodies, are also and primarily representatives of the interests of the proletariat vis-a-vis the sate and private entrepreneurs. In this latter capacity they should be wholly independent of any state bodies.

10. Wage rates in state enterprises should be raised and minimum rates fixed for private enterprises in accordance with the commercial price-level for necessary goods….

11. The decree on consumers’ communes should be revoked. Workers’ and general co-operatives should be preserved as autonomous organisations, without the imposition of appointees or other interference in their internal affairs. They should also have the right to carry on non-commercial activity such as publishing, education, etc.

Political Measures

The right of voting for members of soviets should be extended to all workers of both sexes. Town and village soviets should be elected by all workers, with a secret ballot and freedom of canvassing by word of mouth and by the press. Soviets and Executive Committees should be subject to re-election at fixed intervals. Soviets shall not be entitled to exclude individual members or groups from their midst on political grounds. All officials and public bodies shall be subordinate to local soviets and Central Executive Committees.all workers of both sexes. Town and village soviets should be elected by all workers, with a secret ballot and freedom of canvassing by word of mouth and by the press. Soviets and Executive Committees should be subject to re-election at fixed intervals. Soviets shall not be entitled to exclude individual members or groups from their midst on political grounds. All officials and public bodies shall be subordinate to local soviets and Central Executive Committees.

2. The Central Executive Committee of Soviets should once more function as the supreme legislative and administrative body, its proceedings being open to public observation. NO law shall come into force without being discussed and approved by the CEC.

3. Freedom of the press, of assembly and of association should be restored, and any party representing the workers shall have the right and be allowed to use premises for meeting, paper supplies, printing workers. Etc. Any restriction of this right that may be necessitated by the war against counter-revolution shall be established and clearly defined by the legislature; it shall not infringe the basic liberty and shall be applied only by the courts and institutions under their direct control.

4. The Revolutionary Tribunals shall be reorganised in such a way that the judges are elected by all the workers. Together with their subordinate investigatory commissions they shall have sole responsibility for combating counter-revolution. All officials should be directly liable to prosecution before these Tribunals for illegal acts committed in the execution of their duties, at the suit of the injured party in each case. Terror shall be done away with as an instrument of government; the death penalty be abolished , and likewise all investigatory and punitive organs independent of the courts, such as the Extraordinary Commission (CHEKA).

5. Party institutions and cells should be deprived of state authority, and party members of all material privileges.

6. The bureaucratic apparatus should be simplified by the extension of local self-government.

7. A policy of understanding should be pursed vis-a-vis the nationalities which have for any reason broken away from Russia, in order to put a speedy end to the Civil War an restore the unity of the state on a basis of national self-determination. The Cossack districts – Don, Kuban, Tersa, The Urals, Astrakhan, Orenburg, etc – should be allowed the widest possible autonomy and there should be no interference in their internal affairs or system of land tenure. Siberia should have regional self-government, and the independence of Finland and Poland should be recognised.

Central Committee of the RSDLP, 12 July 1919
Sotsial-demokratiia i revolutionsiaa. Sbornik dokumentov (Odessa, 1920), pp 9-15.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Pakistan: Christian Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy.

leave a comment »

Image result for Protests against blasphemy law Pakistan

Demonstration last Year in Pakistan. 

Pakistan Sentences Christian man to death for blasphemy.

Nadeem James was arrested in 2016 after he allegedly sent a poem ridiculing Prophet Mohammad to his friend on WhatsApp.

A Christian man has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by a court in eastern Pakistan after a close friend accused him of sharing anti-Islamic material, the defendant’s lawyer said.

Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and insults against the Prophet Mohammad are punishable by death. Most cases are filed against members of minority communities.

Nadeem James, 35, was arrested in July 2016, accused by a friend of sharing material ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad on the WhatsApp messaging service.

Lawyer Riaz Anjum said his client intended to appeal against the verdict, passed on Thursday by a sessions court in the town of Gujrat.

READ MORE: In Pakistan, a shrine to murder for ‘blasphemy’

There was widespread outrage across Pakistan last April when student Mashal Khan was beaten to death at his university in Mardan following a dormitory debate about religion.

Police arrested more than 20 students and some faculty members in connection with the killing.

Since then, parliament has considered adding safeguards to the blasphemy laws, a groundbreaking move given the emotive nature of the issue.

While not a single convict has ever been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, there are currently about 40 people are on death row or serving life sentences for the crime, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Right-wing vigilantes and mobs have taken the law into their own hands, killing at least 69 people over alleged blasphemy since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

In March, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the immediate removal and blocking of all online content deemed to be “blasphemous” to Islam from social media – and for those responsible to be prosecuted.

Background:  Persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

Most recent story, September the 11th.

Christian Member of the National Assembly Khalil George and others paid a call to Sharron Masih’s bereaved family. 17-year-old Christian student was callously lynched by his classmate at Government MC Model High School for Boys in Burewala city of Vehari District. MNA Khalil George offered condolences to the Ilyasab Masih and family ensuring them of an all-out support and assistance.

MNA Khalil George who also holds the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Religious Affairs met with Ilyasab Masih and told him that the perpetrators will be duly punished. On this occasion, parents of Sharoon Masih detailed the incident to Khalil George; expressing grief over the fact that their son lost his life to anti-Christian sentiments of his mates. MNA Khalil George was accompanied by Bishop Abraham Daniel, Major Michael Paul, Elder Dilber, Pastor Peter Imran and Pastor Arthur Daniel.

Parents of Sharoon Masih strongly believe that their son was lynched for drinking water from a glass which was used by all the students. They said that the assaulter did not relent until Sharoon breathed his last. Afterwards, Bishop Abraham Daniel offered prayers for the bereaved family. He prayed for peace and comfort for the friends and family of Sharoon Masih.

Previously, talking to a local media stated: “His teacher, Nazeer Mohal, sent him back home because he was not wearing the proper uniform. His mother told me later that evening that Sharoon had told her that the teacher had hit him in front of the whole class and also called him a Choohra, among other curse words. She said that he was quite upset at being humiliated in front of the whole class on the very first day of school.”

Detailing the excruciatingly agonizing moments he said: “Sharoon went to school wearing his new uniform. Hardly a few hours later, a Muslim neighbor whose son studies in the same school told us that Sharoon had been killed in school.”

“I cannot express the agony I went through when I saw my son’s dead body lying motionlessly on the hospital stretcher, his new blue shirt covered in dirt and blood,” Ilyasab said as he sketched the horrific incident. Sharoon’s family was told by his classmates that Ahmad Raza engaged Sharoon in a brawl; expressing annoyance because Sharoon had drunk water from the glass used by all students,” he told the media.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Boris Brexit Bid, as Ipswich Tories hear call for fight back against “totalitarian fascists” behind EU.

leave a comment »

Boris Johnson today sets out a grand vision of Britain’s “glorious” post-Brexit future as a low-tax, low regulation economy paying nothing to the EU for access to the single market.

In a 4,000-word article for the Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary restates the key demand of the Leave campaign – that £350m a week currently sent to Brussels should be redirected to fund the NHS.

He says that Britain should not continue to make payments to the EU after Brexit and that ongoing membership of the European single market and customs union would make a “complete mockery” of the referendum.

While talk nationally is of Boris making a bid for the Tory leadership on a hard Brexit stand, Rees Mogg craze shows no sign of abating amongst the Tory grass roots youth, in Suffolk, well known Conservative intellectual and poet Kevin Algar has got over his months’ long grizzling at the defeat of Ben Gummer.

With this stirring appeal against the EU and for militant struggle to defend Brexit, Kev is mounting a fight for hegemony within the Ipswich Conservative Association.

So the  former PM of Luxembourg and Little Napolean, Juncker has said that Britain will regret Brexit. Early last century a little Austrian bloke said something similar. But there is absolutely no way that we are going to regret Brexit. Because in his speech he talked about bringing about the death throes of European democracy by giving more power to people like him, eroding national sovereignty and having an EU army to  crush decent amongst the plebeians of Europe. It doesn’t matter to Juncker that the people of Europe are against it. He seriously doesn’t care. To him the federalist project must continue. The people can end up in poverty, become destitute while he and his cohorts get rich because he doesn’t care. Because of the fascists in Brussels Brexit talks have been delayed again. They want to pretend it isn’t happening and continue their evil project regardless because they are ideologically driven, foaming at the mouth lunatics. Juncker is so loathed in is own country of Luxembourg that he dare not go there. Recently he was visited by another former PM who is loathed in his own country, Tony Blair. The meeting was obviously about how they could both keep the gravy train rolling.  Guy Verhofstadt‏ has launched an attack on Theresa May. What makes him think that as a member of of a quango he can attack a PM of a soon to be independent, sovereign state is anybodies guess. Make no mistake. Scratch away at the left wing, liberal veneer and it is revealed that we are dealing with totalitarian fascists. They will stop at nothing to  achieve their aims and will continue to inflict misery on the people  of Europe.

A Riverside View. 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2017 at 11:37 am

Feminists Attacked by Transgender Activists.

with 13 comments

Image may contain: 1 person, text

 

Yesterday evening I went to a meeting. It was a meeting similar to any other I have been to in my 40 years of socialist political activism. It involved a discussion about legislation, it was a feminist meeting. I was meeting up with friends to go.

And there the similarities end because this meeting was actually unlike every meeting I have ever been to. Firstly the meeting was targeted by activists, not of the right but claiming to be on the Left who harassed the venue and got the meeting closed because of fears of the “risk” posed by a left wing feminist meeting. Sisters spent the day organising a new secret venue that could not be targeted. The trans activists spent hours trying to find and close down the second venue.

We were given Hyde Park Corner as our rendezvous. A big group of women were there when I arrived. One woman approached me saying are you here for the feminist meeting and I said Yes, how did you know? And she laughed saying :because you look older”. This was true the point being we looked like a group of older, mainly middle aged women. How threatening is that?

Also at the rendezvous were a group of trans activists with banners. At the time I was there they were in a huddle. A couple had banners, one saying ‘support trans’ another something about TERFs. There were several males amongst them wearing military type boots and make-up. I don’t want to make an assumption about how they identified but want to say this mobilisation for a meeting of feminists was sickening. One of them randomly yelled ‘kill TERFs’ at us whilst I was there.

Each of us was given a piece of paper with venue details written on it. We were told to drift off in small numbers to make our way to the venue. I heard that the trans activists had snatched the phone from one of our speakers, Transwoman, Miranda Yardleyand been threatening towards her. How deeply ironic and sickening i thought that Miranda was being harrassed.

I left Hyde Park Corner with my friend and we went to the meeting so I did not see what happened next. A 60 year old woman was knocked to the ground and assaulted by the military bearing males. Her statement is attached.

The meeting started late. The trans activists found out where we were meeting. They made trouble on the door. 60 of us gathered finally in a room. There were many young women there as well as the stalwarts. It was an amazing room, books lined the walls, a wooden lecturn was placed at the the front, outside a group of people were chanting “burn it down”.

The meeting took place. The police arrived and stood outside. The speakers were brilliant under the pressure. We had the meeting. Outside the protest seemed to be losing it’s momentum. We left in groups for protection to just five people shouting “shame on you”. I still have the paper on which the venue was written and I will keep it because This was a watershed meeting.

This was a feminist meeting in 2017. Everything has changed.

This is beyond belief, as are attempts by some people to try to explain this away.

It is not the time to make points about the difficulties that transgender issues and feminist responses in ‘intersectional politics’ face except to note that “no platform” is the worst possible reaction in these conditions.

 It is not the first time that a hostile  protest has happened, but it the first occasion on which such violence has been seen.

There is no doubt that violence in these conditions is beneath unacceptable.

Update: Trans Activist Men Attack, Beat Dissenting 60-Year-Old Woman

The DailyWire.

The “tolerant” transgender activists beat up a 60-year-old woman at a protest meant to silence a transsexual speaker with whom they disagree.

On Wednesday night, 60-year-old U.K. woman Maria MacLachlan was attacked by male transgender activists while she was videotaping a protest at Speakers’ Corner in London.

A scheduled forum on gender and the 2004 Gender Recognition Act set to take place Wednesday night was initially cancelled due to “safety reasons,” according to New Cross Learning, the host of the event. A number of trans activists posted threats against “TERFs” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) online before the forum.

(Note from TC, it’s worth looking at the unpleasant comments this Tweet met, from all quarters) 

The discussion, which included guest speakers Miranda Yardley, a writer who identifies as transsexual, and Dr. Julia Long, a lesbian feminist, was eventually relocated but was cut short due to the protest outside the event, where MacLachlan was assaulted.

Per MacLachlan’s account, which is backed by video evidence, the 60-year-old was first attacked by a transgender activist who attempted to steal her camera. As the scuffle over the camera broke out, another trans activist ran over and punched the 60-year-old before others piled-on.

MacLachlan told The Daily Wire she estimated her assailants to be males in their 20s, whom she classified as “students virtue signalling.” To her knowledge, none of protesters were trans; in fact, MacLachlan suspects “the only trans person was our speaker Miranda, who they were trying to silence.”

“Basically I was hanging around at Speakers Corner, chatting to people as we waited to be told the new location for the meeting that New Cross library had cancelled thanks to the actions of trans activist bullies. A load of these bullies had turned up at Speakers Corner and one or two had shouted ‘Kill all terfs’ and there were a few arguments going on between people on our side and some of them,” wrote MacLachlan of the incident.

The woman said the protesters then began chanting, “when terfs attack, we fight back” before the unprovoked attack against her:

“Nobody was attacking anybody but they were obviously trying to intimidate us,” she said. “As I was filming I asked them, ‘Who’s attacking?’ They had no answer of course, they just increased their volume, so I asked again and again and then suddenly some kid in a hoodie ran past me and tried to knock the camera out of my hand but it was attached to a loop round my wrist so he came back at me, I think trying to get my camera. I was determined not to let him get my camera and I was also terrified that my glasses were going to get broken because then I wouldn’t be able to see. I don’t remember much else except that somehow I ended up on the ground and it felt like a few of them were punching and kicking me and it seemed to last forever but I guess it was just a few seconds.”

Further Update, Background: Trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERF; also Trans women exclusionary feminism or TWEF) is a subgroup of radical feminism characterized by transphobia, especiallytransmisogyny, and hostility to the third wave of feminism. They believe that the only real women are those born with a vagina and XX chromosomes. They wish to completely enforce the classic gender binary, supporting gender essentialism.

1. THREATS OF VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT, AND ABUSE

Threats of violence towards ‘TERFs’, lesbians, radical feminists, and anyone critical of the ideology

More via  link.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

French Union Protests Make a Good Start Against Macron’s Labour ‘reforms’.

with 5 comments

http://md0.libe.com/api/libe/v2/paperpage/245929/?format=jpg&size=x500

Protests took place yesterday  in cities across France against changes to the country’s labour laws.

Libération today carries extensive reports on the 12th of September day of action against the new wave of labour code ‘reforms’, which will weaken workers’ bargaining ability and rights, including their compensation from Employment Tribunals. (Loi travail : de Lille à Marseille en passant par Grenoble, la rue gronde).

La mobilisation syndicale presque au niveau des débuts de la fronde anti-loi El Kohmri

Le Monde notes that at 5000,00 people across France (230,000 according to the police) the level of people taking part was nearly at the same level as those against the previous Labour ‘reform’, the El Khomri law – despite the fact that this time around two union federations, the CFDT and FO did not take nationally take part. There were some welcome local exceptions of total union unity (Front syndical uni : des manifestations rares, mais qui mobilisent).

No automatic alt text available.

The first anti-El Khomri marches on the 9th of March 2016  gathered  450 000 et 500 000 ( 224 000 police figures).

The main organiser, the CGT, joined by the small left union grouping, the Solidaires, education and student unions, the FSU and UNEF announced that the day had been a success. The government has aid it remains “serine” faced with the protests. (Réforme du code du travail : l’exécutif affiche sa sérénité face aux manifestants.)

The left daily, l’Humanité, called it a promising springboard for future action (400 000 contre la loi travail XXL, un beau tremplin pour la suite).

On the 23rd of September Mélenchon’s rally,  La France insoumise  has organised its own event, the  “marche contre le coup d’Etat social”.

This has been criticised, some noting Mélenchon’s claim to be effecting the “replacement” ( remplacement) of both the Parti Socialiste and the rest of the left, and, some accuse him,  trade unions, by his own movement.

The CGT and the Parti communiste français (PCF) are participating in Peace marches on that day (Le Mouvement pour la Paix appelle à une grande journée de mobilisation partout en France le 23 septembre).

However, former Socialist Presidential candidate ( 6,36 %), Benoît Hamon who has left the PS and founded  the Mouvement du 1er juillet, is going to join Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.58% in the same first round of this year’s election) on the 23rd (Contre toute attente, Mélenchon et Hamon s’allient)

The CGT has its own next moblisation on the 21st of September (Journée d’actions, de mobilisations et de grèves).

This is the report in France 24.

Tens of thousands of hard-left trade unionists marched through French cities on Tuesday to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s labour law reforms, although turnout appeared lower than at demonstrations in previous years.

France 24 puts this story under the headline, no doubt for the benefit of its transatlantic readership under the heading, “Hardliners protest French labour reform as Macron chides ‘slackers’.

Translation, “Militant Trade Unions Protest Against French Labour Reform as Macron condemns ‘lazy’ workers.

The word used against workers was ” fainéant”, literally, “do-nothings”.

 

Hitting back at Macron‘s pledge to give no ground to “slackers”, some in Paris carried placards reading: “Slacker on Strike” while in Bordeaux demonstrators chanted: “Macron you’re screwed, the slackers are in the streets.”

The Paris prefecture said 24,000 protesters turned out in the capital, where riot police clashed with hooded youths in isolated skirmishes on the fringe of the march led by the Communist Party-linked CGT union.

That was under the 28,000 estimated by police during March 2016’s demonstration.

Labour unions have scuppered previous attempts to weaken France’s labour code, but this time there was comfort for Macron as two other unions, including the largest, the CFDT, declined to join the protests.

“We’ve been passing laws which take apart the labour code for 20 years. The answer (to unemployment) doesn’t lie in rolling it back further,” said Maxime Durand, a train driver on strike.

After weeks of negotiation, the government last month set out measures including a cap on payouts for dismissals judged unfair and greater freedom for companies to hire and fire.

The reform makes no direct reference to the 35-hour week, a totem of the labour code, though it hands firms more flexibility to set pay and working conditions. The government plans to adopt the new measures, being implemented by decree, on Sept. 22.

During a trip to Athens on Friday, Macron told the local French community: “I am fully determined and I won’t cede any ground, not to slackers, nor cynics, nor hardliners.”

He said the “slackers” comment was aimed at those who had failed to push through reforms in the past, although political opponents and some unions took it as an attack on the unemployed or on workers making the most of job protection.

“We will make Macron back down,” far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon, who has become Macron’s most vocal opponent in parliament, said on the sidelines of a protest in Marseille.

Cherished rights

French workers have long cherished the rights enshrined in the labour code, but companies complain it has deterred investment and job creation and stymied economic growth.

Unemployment has been above 9 percent for nearly a decade.

Macron’s reforms are being followed in Germany as a test of his resolve to reshape the euro zone’s second-biggest economy, a must if he is to win Berlin’s backing for broader reforms to the currency union.

The CGT is France’s second-biggest union, though its influence has been waning. Its leader Philippe Martinez said Tuesday’s nationwide protests were the “first phase” and more would follow. He called Macron’s reference to “slackers” an insult to workers.

“The president should listen to the people, understand them, rather than cause divisions,” Martinez told France 2 television.

CGT workers from the rail, oil and power sectors heeded the strike call but by the afternoon there was no apparent impact on power and refining production, spokespeople for utility EDF and oil major Total said.

Just over 11 percent of the workforce at EDF, which operates France’s fleet of 48 nuclear reactors, took part in the strike, a spokeswoman for the state-owned utility said.

The demos saw people with handmade placards with slogans that strongly suggest, dare I say it, something very similar to a British or Irish sense of humour,

Macron: a Good for Nothing is Worth Two of You Mate! Lazy-bones of the World Unite!

Here: Lazy. Cynical and Extreme!

Too idle to Find a Slogan!

Dennis Skinner Votes with Tories for Repeal Bill (EU).

with 4 comments

Image result for dennis skinner votes with tories

 As we vote on the it was a pleasure to see Dennis Skinner joining us in the Aye lobby.

The Telegraph reports,

Dennis Skinner rebels against Jeremy Corbyn as he votes with Tories for Repeal Bill

Dennis Skinner MP, who has previously flicked the V-sign at Labour rebels and claimed to never have contemplated doing “cross-party stuff”  shocked many as he voted against Jeremy Corbyn and Labour for the Repeal Bill on Monday night.

He has also said in the past he refuses to be friends or work with Tories — so his vote may surprise those who count on him as a Jeremy Corbyn supporter.

Mr Skinner, who is usually on the side of Jeremy Corbyn, voted for the Tory bill along with Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, and Graham Stringer.

14 Labour MPs, including Caroline Flint, abstained on the bill.

Corbyn supporters have said that MPs who voted against the whip should “find new jobs”.

Dennis Skinner is the MP for Bolsover – which voted for Brexit by a large margin. 70.8 per cent voted Leave, while 29.2 per cent voted to Remain.

He also was a staunch supporter of Brexit during the referendum, saying it was because he wanted to escape the capitalism of the EU and protect the future of the NHS.

 

The Telegraph notes that Labour supporters have called for those who backed the Tory bill to be deselected, and asks if this applies to Skinner.

This is how one Tory reacted:

The best the Telegraph could find to explain Skinner’s vote was an (unsourced) article in the Morning Star, from which this quote is taken.

Mr Skinner said at the time: “In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist government in Germany, but there’s not been one for donkeys’ years. At one time there was Italy, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, Portugal, Spain and us. Now there’s just one in France and it’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.”

Here is the original, Morning Star, Friday 10th of June 2017.

Speaking to the Morning Star yesterday, he confirmed he was backing a break with Brussels because he did not believe progressive reform of the EU could be achieved.

He said: “My opposition from the very beginning has been on the lines that fighting capitalism state-by-state is hard enough. It’s even harder when you’re fighting it on the basis of eight states, 10 states and now 28.

“In the old days they could argue you might get a socialist government in Germany, but there’s not been one for donkeys’ years.

“At one time there was Italy, the Benelux countries, France and Germany, Portugal, Spain and us.

“Now there’s just one in France and it’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.”

Even some on the pro-Brexit left argued against the Tory Repeal Bill.

Counterfire published this: A very British coup: May’s power grab Josh Holmes September the 11th.

If Theresa May carries off her coup, the Government will be given a majority on committees, even though it doesn’t have a majority in the House. This may sound merely technical and a little arcane, but it has the most serious consequences for democracy. It means that the Tories will win every single vote between now and the next election – which may well be in five years’ time.

May says she needs these powers because, without them, it will be hard for her to pass the Brexit legislation. She is right: it will be hard, and the legislation probably won’t end up looking like what she wants. It will be subject to proper scrutiny, and Labour, the SNP and every other party in Parliamentwill have a real say in shaping its final form. Britain’s post-Brexit future will not be written by the Tory party alone.

Skinner has many good points, and many weaknesses, which are well known in the labour movement.

I shall not go and see this soon to be released film for a start:

Dennis Skinner film director on Nature of the Beast

A film director has been given rare access to follow Dennis Skinner for two years to make a documentary.

Daniel Draper, who has made Nature of the Beast, told Daily Politics presenter Jo Coburn it was “fair criticism” for some who claimed he was guilty of hero-worshipping the Bolsover MP.

Image result for dennis skinner the nature of the beast

Update:

This is the  Skinner’s ‘explanation’ for voting with the Tories, “With all the treaties, Maastricht and the others, I don’t decide who’s in the lobby – some rag tag and bobtail of Tories plus a few unionists.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Brouhaha over New York Times Op-Ed: “Emmanuel Macron Will Be Yet Another Failed French President.”

with one comment

Image result for macron comme jupiter

French President Macron, as his Fans see Him.

For reasons most people will find hard to grasp a rude article about French President Macron in the New York Times, a paper of very limited circulation in France, or indeed elsewhere in Europe, including Britain (this is the first time I have read anything in it since…for ever), has been met by outraged brouhaha in France.

One thing that is easy to get is the idea that “fake news” is spreading like bad margarine over our daily political bread.

Libération today has this article, a factual piece in answer to claims that it was an editorial (apparently somebody can’t tell the difference between Op-ed, an American expression which I think means opinion piece), Editorial and report,  and  (Confusion entre tribune d’opinion, édito et article.) as well as  demolishing the idea that the author is a Le Pen supporter.

L’auteur de la tribune anti-Macron n’est ni journaliste au «New York Times»… ni lepéniste

A Government type (Secrétaire d’État auprès du Premier ministre, chargé des relations avec le Parlement, porte-parole du . Team ) claimed the Le Pen link, soon afterwards followed by another professional Macron fan (Hugues Renson @huguesrenson Vice-Président de l’Assemblée Nationale – Député  – 13eme circonscription de Paris – Commission des affaires étrangères).

The tale is taken apart in even more rigorous detail here: Comment une tribune du New York Times a assassiné la presse française

Emmanuel Macron Will Be Yet Another Failed French President

President Emmanuel Macron of France is liberalism’s new poster boy. Hailed as the answer to Europe’s populist tide, he has brought a buzz back into French diplomacy by facing down President Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. “The Macron method,” a leading European think tank gushed recently, is the new Third Way, threading the needle between technocracy and populism.

At home in France, it’s a very different story. A recent poll found that Mr. Macron’s popularity fell by 14 points in August, after a fall of 10 points in July. Only 40 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the president’s performance.

To be fair, Mr. Macron never had much popular support to begin with. In the first round of the presidential election in April, when the vote was split among four main contenders, he won just under 24 percent. (By comparison, François Hollande received 28 percent of the vote in the first round in 2012. Nicolas Sarkozy won 31 percent in 2007.) Mr. Macron won the second round handily, but only because he was the lesser-evil candidate in the runoff — his competitor was Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right populist National Front party.

Electoral arithmetic explains only so much. Mr. Macron’s popularity suffers from something more fundamental: Macronism. His entire political project has been far too focused on his personality. Much of his appeal has come from his youth, his dynamism, his good looks and his oratorical skills. This hyper-personalized approach always carried the risk that once his charm wore off, there would be nothing left for his supporters to like, which is exactly what is happening.

Since taking office, Mr. Macron has put off many people by trying to recapture the grandeur of the presidency. In a phrase that may stick to him for the rest of his time in office, he said he wanted to make the presidency more “Jupiterian,” comparing himself with the powerful Roman god Jupiter, who ruled the skies. When he brought the Senate and Parliament together at the Versailles palace and spoke to them about his ambitions for the presidency, many in France bristled at the monarchical overtones.

 

The above Chris Bickerton, who shows few signs of more knowledge of French politics than can be picked up from a few newspaper articles, is a pro-Brexit tosser, claiming to be on the internationalist  ‘left’ for reasons which remain obscure but are apparently linked to the idea that being anti-EU is a hand of friendship to the world,  whose views count for very little anywhere.

To just cite the pillock, on why people should vote Leave, (Brexit is not the property of the political right. The left is disenchanted too.

I believe we can make this into the basis for a new internationalism in Europe, one that gives Europe a political meaning far more profound than the shallow cosmopolitanism that comes with the economic integration of the single market. A vote for Brexit is also a universal message to all other Europeans that politics can be about change and not just about defending the status quo.

The main interest of the story, apart from indicating the mechanisms of fake-news, is that it shows just how twitchy Macron’s mates are.

Meanwhile this demo is taking place tomorrow , against Macron’s Labour Code reform:  Code du travail : première épreuve de rue pour Macron

Les syndicats, à l’exception de FO et de la CFDT, manifestent mardi 12 septembre contre les ordonnances sur la réforme du droit du travail.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Nigel Farage Boosts German Far-right AfD.

with 3 comments

Die Berliner AfD-Landesvorsitzende Beatrix von Storch und der Euroskeptiker Nigel Farage aus Großbritannien sprechen am 8. September 2017 in Berlin auf einer Pressekonferenz zu den Medienvertretern (picture alliance / dpa / Kay Nietfeld)

Farage with Beatrix von Storch.

Image result for farage and galloway

Farage with another Friend, George Galloway.

Sky has just reported,

Nigel Farage given standing ovation at German far-right AfD election rally

Ahead of the German election on 24 September, Mr Farage said: “(I’m trying) to get a proper debate going in the biggest, richest and most important, powerful country in Europe about not just the shape of Brexit but perhaps even the shape of the European project to come.”

He urged Germans to “say to Brussels: look, the reason the Brits left is because you’re behaving so badly, you’re taking away so much of people’s freedom, liberty and democracy”.

Mr Farage said: “We managed to break it in the United Kingdom. At the moment Germany is at a point where it is very, very tough to break through.”

However he added: “I predict, in Germany, it will probably start in Bavaria.”

He said he was at the rally at the “personal invitation” of his fellow European Parliament member, the AfD’s Beatrix von Storch, the granddaughter of Hitler’s finance minister Lutz von Krosigk.

Polls currently put the Eurosceptic AfD on up to 11% of the vote, which would make it the largest opposition party if Mrs Merkel wins as expected and renews her coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Ms Von Storch – whose party is calling for a referendum on Germany’s EU membership – praised Mr Farage for “showing that doing the impossible is possible”.

The leaders of the anti-Islam have provoked controversy in the past by saying German border guards should open fire on illegal immigrants “if necessary”.

They have also dubbed Berlin’s Holocaust memorial a “monument of shame”.

The visit, to give support to fellow extreme-right Sovereigentists, has been widely reported in Germany.

Nigel Farage in BerlinMister Brexit besucht die AfD.

Deutschlandfunk (radio).

Nigel Farage sieht „eine große Verantwortung“ für die AfD  die Welt.

Farage says, the AfD has a great responsibility.

Europa-Skeptiker treffen sich in Berlin  Taz.

AfD-Frau Beatrix von Storch hat Nigel Farage nach Berlin eingeladen – um ein paar Gemeinsamkeiten zur Schau zu stellen. Taz.

That is, a few double act shows with the AfD leader have taken place.

The visit has not only been noticed in Germany.

Le Monde has just reported that Farage was strangely ‘indulgent’ towards Merkel, which raised a few eyebrows amongst his far-right friends.

Devant l’AfD, « Mr Brexit » dit trop de bien de Merkel

Invité à participer à un rassemblement de l’extrême droite allemande, Nigel Farage a tenu des propos indulgents vis-à-vis de la chancelière.

Invited to a meeting of the Gemran far right, Nigel Farage showed signs of understanding  toward the Chancellor.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 9, 2017 at 12:32 pm

John Ross: from the International Marxist Group to defending “politically socialist” Chinese regime.

with 8 comments

Image result for socialist action uk

Still Around as John Ross Sings Praises of Chinese “Xi’ism”.

John Ross was one of the main figures  in the leadership of the International Marxist Group in mid01970s, elss well known than say Tariq Ali, but considered the main figure.  By the early 1980s when it became known as Socialist Action, but he gradually lost the support of much of its membership. Ross was leader of one of three groups which emerged from the crisis of this group in the mid-1980s, the one which retained the name Socialist Action. They increasingly ceased to function as a normal left-wing group and became a group of advisers to Livingstone, or as critics said, a kind of high-level entryist group  who provided the inner core of  the Mayor’s team.

I write the above as a one-time member of the Opposing Faction to Ross in the 1970s IMG, Tendency A.

Reasons to distrust the groupuscule are many but  this sentence sums up their kind of politics, “Socialist Action also participated in Respect – The Unity Coalition after the 2007 split in that party. Several of its supporters became members of the party and one served as its national treasurer.” They are now said to have influence on Jeremy Corbyn.

The group still has a, kind of, site: Socialist Action.

We cannot dislike  them too much at present  since this is one of their recent policies:  There is no ‘People’s Brexit’

The development of Ross is, which ever way you look at it, curious.

A famously ‘Orthodox’ Trotskyist, who knew his Lenin better than Jesuits know their Thomas Aquinas he has been working in China as an academic economist,   Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China- paid for by the state –  for some time and sings the praises of the government’s ‘socialism’.

He has been posting material like the below, all over Facebook for the last few weeks.

How China’s Socialism Outperforms Capitalist Development Strategies. John Ross.

China has followed an economic development strategy, as analyzed below, that is radically different from the neo-liberal “Washington Consensus” advocated by the IMF. The latter is the dominant development strategy advocated by capitalist countries. This article therefore factually compares the results of what will be termed China’s “socialist development strategy” versus the Washington Consensus.

The reasons for making such a factual comparison are clear. The basis of any serious or scientific analysis is that if facts and theory do not coincide it is the theory that has to be abandoned, not the facts suppressed. This is equally expressed in the Chinese dictum “seek truth from facts.” Anti-scientific “dogmatism” consists of clinging to a theory even when the facts contradict it.

Despite this requirement for factual study, supporters of the Washington Consensus appear to dislike making systematic factual comparisons of the two development approaches. The reasons for this will become evident from the data below. This shows that China’s “socialist development strategy” far outperforms the Washington Consensus. The emphasis placed by China on development strategy and its socialist orientation has obvious implications for other countries.

The term “Washington Consensus” was first coined in 1989 by U.S.-based economist John Williamson – although the actual practical policies were commenced in the late 1970s/early 1980s. The Washington Consensus is a classic form of neo-liberalism. It advocates in terms of economic policy privatization and minimization of the state’s economic role. Its social policy may be described as “trickle down” – a belief that if there is economic growth all layers of society will automatically benefit as the benefits “trickle down” from the richest to poorest. Legally the Washington Consensus states that the overriding goal is the strongest guarantee of private property. Politically, although claiming to be neutral, this combination of policies evidently favours capitalist and conservative political parties.

China’s “socialist development strategy,” which commenced with its 1978 economic reforms, is radically different in its entire framework, and directly counter-posed on key policy issues. China used, in Xi Jinping’s phraseology on economic policy, both the “visible” and the “invisible hand” – not simply the private sector but also the state. Indeed, in China itself, as the Communiqué of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC stated: “We must unswervingly consolidate and develop the public economy, persist in the dominant position of public ownership, give full play to the leading role of the state-owned sector.”

..

In social policy China, in line with its socialist approach:

  • undertakes conscious programs deliberately aimed at eradicating poverty – these are to be completed in the 13th Five-Year Plan by 2020 by lifting the remaining 70 million people out of poverty;
  • deliberately promotes development through urbanization as a way of moving the population into higher productivity economic sectors;
  • deliberately seeks to narrow the income gap between rural and urban areas;
  • does not rely exclusively on “the market” but deliberately uses state infrastructure spending to raise the economic level of its less developed inland provinces;
  • legally guarantees private property but a key economic role is assigned to the state sector;
  • is politically socialist

China’s Upcoming Communist Party Congress Will Formalise ‘Xi’ism’

John Ross. August the 30th.

Xi Jinping is therefore the first Chinese leader facing a simultaneous combination of China’s transition to a high-income economy with low Western growth. This combination, therefore, produces China’s new policy configuration – ‘Xi’ism’.

Xi Jinping’s organisational position was already consolidated by his official designation as the ‘core’ of China’s leadership. But the previous most powerful leaders of China, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, are also officially designated in terms of their analysis of the periods of their leadership in terms of ‘Mao Zedong thought’ and ‘Deng Xiaoping theory’. It is therefore likely that China’s Communist Party Congress will also ideologically and in policy terms formalize Xi Jinping’s position in terms of what amounts to Xi’ism.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Russian Revolution: when workers took power. Paul Vernadsky. Review: ‘1917 and problems of democracy’.

with 5 comments

Image result for Paul Vernadsky begins The Russian Revolution

1917 and problems of democracy.  Solidarity. 6th of September. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

The historian of the French Revolution, François Furet, wrote in 1995 wrote that that after the fall of the USSR, the October Revolution had ended its journey. Unlike the first French Republic, Soviet power, and Lenin, “left no heritage”. Over 800 pages later the critic of the Jacobins concluded that while it was hard to “think” of another kind of society, democracy manufactured the need for a world beyond “Capital and the Bourgeoisie”. If the figure of the Bolshevik party had disappeared, the “idea of communism” could be reborn in new forms.1

Twenty-two years later, on the anniversary of the October Revolution, much debate on the left remains about how to assess the legacy of the Bolsheviks. Many reject Lenin’s party, arguing that movements for socialism or communism should seek novel constituencies, structures and objectives. In contrast to these judgements, Paul Vernadsky begins The Russian Revolution by asserting, “The Russian revolution of 1917 was the greatest event in political history so far. It was the first occasion that working class people took political power and held it for a significant period.”

He states, “In October 1917 the Russian working class, led by the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP, Bolshevik party), took power through their mass, democratic soviets (councils).” The lessons of the revolution remain relevant to working class politics today.2 Vernadsky tells the story of 1917, from the slaughter of the First World War, initial protests and strikes, to the February Revolution and October.

The Bolshevik resurgence faced with a Kerensky-led government determined to continue the war, the July Days when the state was on the brink of a hard-right clampdown, to the dissolution of the elected Constituent Assembly in January 1918 and its replacement by Soviet Power. Celebrating the Carnival of the Oppressed, the “creative transformations” unleashed by the workers “ruling their own state”, he outlines the progressive decrees issued by the new Soviet government, beginning with the delivery of the slogan: “all land to the peasants”. “Without the RSDLP, the Russian Revolution would not have occurred.”3

The Russian Revolution is not just a history of events.

Vernadsky offers a valuable introduction to debates about this party, the Bolsheviks, much of which was stimulated by Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be done in context. Other writers covered include Lenin enthusiast Paul le Blanc, and Tom Twiss’s measured account of Trotsky’s evolving, contradictory, views of the development of bureaucracy in the wake of revolution. There is a strong section on the Women’s Revolution, paying special attention to the “futuristic vision of Aleksandra Kollontai, as illuminated by studies of “Bolshevik feminists”.

Other areas in which members of Workers’ Liberty have contributed important debate figure in this context. Of particular interest are the critical sections on Lenin’s theory of imperialism in the chapter ‘War and the Myth of Defeatism’, inspired by Hal Draper’s studies. Unlike knee-jerk ‘anti-imperialists’ the author cites Trotsky: “working-class policy on war is not “automatically derived from the policy of the bourgeoisie, bearing only he opposite sign…”4 One imagines that same quarters will reject the passages on nationalities, including the Jewish Question. In his conclusion Vernadsky is clear that “Israeli Jews are a nation and they should have the right to self determination today like any other nation.”5

Lih argued that the Bolsheviks were a lot more than, as the party leader Zinoviev put it in his lectures in 1923, a “hierarchical, closely knit organisation”, run from the top-down to enlighten the workers. It was not a “party of a new type”, but in the mould of democratic Marxist based organisations of the Second International, above all the German Social Democrats (SPD). Although it had its own stamp by operating in autocratic conditions, Lenin was, in key works such as What is to be Done? “directly inspired” by the German “model”. In more detail Lenin’s strategy was designed to bring together the “purposive worker” and the social democratic worldview conveyed by practical-minded activists, by the “power of a genuinely sound explanation.”

The Bolsheviks, if this account stands, were very far from political outriders, a messianic party-sect, but part of the mainstream of European socialism.6 Lih saw this as the basis for “fighting for democracy to the end” as a precondition for workers’ power, and socialism. For Lih this “old Bolshevik” stand guided Lenin right up to October and the overthrow of the Provisional government, “to carry out a thorough-going democratic transformation”. Vernadsky enters into the — lengthy — debate on this claim. He states that Lenin’s assessment of the growth of the soviets and soldiers’ committees meant that his call for the overthrow of the Provisional government meant that Lenin took “steps towards permanent revolution”.

That is, an acceleration of revolutionary “stages” towards, he contentiously asserts, a position where the victories of the Bolsheviks, “deconstructed capitalist relations of production and put in place an economic system where the imperative was social need, not private profit.” It is undeniable that this prospect inspired millions inside and outside Russia, with the hope that socialism was on the agenda. For many of us that wish still burns.7 Yet, many unresolved issues remain to be discussed from this thought-provoking book.

Two could be signalled; questions about the body that “led” the Russian working class, and the direction it began to take them in the aftermath of October. If we accept the view that the Bolsheviks were a democratic party with open debate and a real base in the working class and popular masses, what kind of template had Lenin and his tendency adopted? A critical description of the pre-1914 SPD “oligarchy” by Robert Michels developed themes already circulating on the left in Germany itself, and internationally by “revolutionary syndicalists” like the French writer George Sorel. In light of the monstrous oligarchy of Stalinist bureaucracy these limits inside Lenin’s “model” apparatus might inspire further reflection.

Only Lenin’s most uncritical admirers would deny problems about the practices of “committee people”, however small in number they may have been initially, brought into the “smashed” state machine.8

The next is that even supporters do not argue that in power the Bolsheviks were always democratic. Many would also question as to how far they respected the workers’ democracy they contrasted to “formal” Parliamentary pluralism. The well-documented cases of human rights abuses, which began with October, and were accelerated by the creation of the Cheka, cannot be explained away by “external conditions”, the civil war, and the need for Red Terror to stave off the very real threat of a far-right regime that would have drowned the revolution in blood.

The need for independent law, in however difficult circumstances, respect for the people’s rights, was denied during the dictatorship of the proletariat. What kind of political instrument can introduce non-capitalist relations of production with these limits on democratic decision-making? Socialism was, and is, far from a self-evident thing. How can a transitional mode of production to communism be formed without free debate about what kind of economy, what kind of production, what social goals people are working towards?

Outlawing opposition papers, bourgeois, then all non-Bolshevik parties, ignoring the voices of “non-party” workers, stifled not just conflicting views but fostered the belief that those doing the outlawing knew better than anybody else. It was under Lenin that Soviet democracy was finished off. It was in the early 1920s that the acceptance of a military and political police entered into what would become the established doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat — the first, far from “temporary”, stage to socialism. This is a very negative lesson from the Russian revolution.9

Notes

1. Pages 8 and 809. Le passé d’une illusion. François Furet. Éditions Robert Laffont. 1995.

2. Pages 9 and 19. The Russian Revolution. When the workers took power. Paul Vernadsky.

3. Page 114. Paul Vernadsky Op cit.

4. Page 197. Paul Vernadsky Op cit

5. Page 346. Paul Vernadsky Op cit

6. Page 398. Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be done in context. Brill. 2005.

7. On Lih Pages 163-9. Next quote, Page 19. Paul Vernadsky Op cit. Political Parties. Robert Michels. Transaction Publishers. 2009 (originally published, 1911.) Georges Sorel in 1902 had already written of the SPD’s “spirit of authoritarianism and bureaucracy in a New Church run like an huge civil service (“administration”) page 188. L’illusion du politique. Georges Sorel et le debate intellectuel 1900. Schlmo Sand. La Découverte, 1984.

8. “La démocratie soviétique a été définitivement étouffée au moment de l’interdiction des partis soviétiques, après la guerre civile, et non pas lorsque l’alternative était soit capituler devant les Blancs, soit défendre la révolution par tous les moyens. Elle fut donc étouffée après la victoire, alors qu’aucune armée blanche n’était plus présente sur le territoire de la Russie des soviets. Ernest Mandel. Octobre 1917 : Coup d’Etat ou révolution sociale ? La légitimité de la révolution russe. Cahiers d’Etudes et de Recherches, n°17/18, 1992.

9. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat from Marx to Lenin, Hal Draper. Monthly Review Press. 1987.

Extract from Paul Vernadsky’s book: The opening days of the Russian Revolution.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2017 at 11:26 am

Defend Freedom of Movement Against Draconian UK Brexit Plan for ‘National Preference’.

with 15 comments

Image result for latest tory plans on immigration post brexit

British Government Plans to Introduce ‘National Preference’ in Jobs Market.

Leaked document reveals UK Brexit plan to deter EU immigrants reports the Guardian.

Exclusive: Home Office paper sets out detailed proposals including measures to drive down number of low-skilled migrants from Europe

It proposes measures to drive down the number of lower-skilled EU migrants – offering them residency for a maximum of only two years, in a document likely to cheer hardliners in the Tory party. Those in “high-skilled occupations” will be granted permits to work for a longer period of three to five years.

The document also describes a phased introduction to a new immigration system that ends the right to settle in Britain for most European migrants – and places tough new restrictions on their rights to bring in family members. Potentially, this could lead to thousands of families being split up.

Showing a passport will be mandatory for all EU nationals wanting to enter Britain – and the paper proposes introducing a system of temporary biometric residence permits for all EU nationals coming into the UK after Brexit for more than a few months.

The determination to end free movement from day one and drive down lower-skilled EU migration, end the role of the European court of justice in family migration and extend elements of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” measures to long-term EU migrants without residence permits is likely to please hard Brexiters.

The paper updates with this comment,

Analysing the document, Alan Travis, our home affairs editor, said:

It proposes that after Brexit day all newly arrived EU migrants, unless they are highly skilled, will lose their rights to live permanently in Britain. At a stroke they will be turned into temporary workers with a maximum two-year permit.

The Independent,

Brexit: Tory government EU migration plans labelled ‘economically illiterate’ and ‘plainly cruel’ amid angry backlash

Ministers accused of planning ‘cruel’ restrictions which would damage the economy, split up families – and allow rogue bosses to exploit workers

Draconian post-Brexit curbs on immigration revealed in leaked Government proposals would wreck public services and fuel an “underground economy”, Theresa May has been told.

The plans – which would strip all newly-arrived EU migrants of their rights to live permanently in Britain, including the highly-skilled – triggered a furious backlash within hours.

Ministers were accused of planning “cruel” restrictions which would not only damage the British economy and the NHS, but allow rogue bosses to exploit migrants and undercut good employers.

Those who follow French politics will recognise that in the scheme is a policy of National Preference, close to the demand of the far-right Front National, for jobs to go to first of all to UK Nationals.

p46 - Potential measuresp40 - we are clear

 

Criticism of the ideas is pouring in:  4 things wrong with the goverment’s Brexit immigration plans  COLIN YEO

It is to be hope that the majority of the left will respond to these plans along the lines advanced by the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

Ana Oppenheim, a spokesperson for the Labour Campaign for Free Movement and an international students’ representative for the National Union of Students, said: “Our party should stand for a system of free movement. This is in the interests of all workers, by giving everyone the right to work legally, join a union and stand up to their boss without fear of deportation or destitution. Migrants’ rights are workers’ rights.”

The Labour Campaign for Free Movement was launched on 4 August by trade unionists and Labour Party members and supporters. Prominent signatories to its founding statement include MPs Clive Lewis, David Lammy, Geraint Davies and Tulip Siddiq, and the General Secretaries of the TSSA, BFAWU, UCU and UVW trade unions. Over 2,300 Labour members and supporters are already backing the campaign, which intends to bring proposals for free movement policy to next month’s Labour Party Conference.

With these measures on the cards those on the left who voted Leave, and who claimed that the vote paved the way for a ‘socialist’ Brexit are in disarray.

How they ever imagined that a  few street protests would change the Cabinet’s course is hard to explain, even for those accustomed to the mythomania of some on the left.

A specific dilemma is faced by those within the labour movement and Labour Party who are hostile to freedom of movement.

The small ‘Trotskyist’ Socialist Party is representative of this current.

The organised workers’ movement must take an independent class position on the EU free movement of labour rules that will be raised in the EU negotiations.

The SP has written this,  “The single market and free movement

The socialist and trade union movement from its earliest days has never supported the ‘free movement of goods, services and capital’ – or labour – as a point of principle but instead has always striven for the greatest possible degree of workers’ control, the highest form of which, of course, would be a democratic socialist society with a planned economy. It is why, for example, the unions have historically fought for the closed shop, whereby only union members can be employed in a particular workplace, a very concrete form of ‘border control’ not supported by the capitalists.

It will be interesting to see what kind of ‘closed shop’ they and others of this opinion would offer as an alternative – if any –  to the latest Tory plans.

La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa: ‘Manufacturing Muslims’.

with 7 comments

La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa. Libertalia. 2017.

In the wake of the Tower Hamlets foster care furore Kenan Malik has written of the “inadequacy of all sides to find an adequate language through which to speak about questions concerning Muslims and Islam.” (Observer. 3.9.17) This inability to talk seriously about these issues as shown in the prejudiced press coverage, risks, Kenan argues, shutting down criticism of outing people in “cultural or faith boxes” and “blurring the distinction between bigotry against Muslims and criticisms of Islam”.

La Fabrique du Musulman (Manufacturing Muslims) is an essay on very similar dilemmas about “La Question des Musulmans” in French political debate. Moussa tackles both the “box” theory of faith and culture, and efforts by those taken by the “anti-imperialism of fools” to align with the “petite bourgeoisie islamique” and form alliances with Islamist organisations starting with the issue of ‘Zionism’. In 147 pages the author does not just outline the left’s political bewilderment faced with the decomposition of the classical working class movement. He pinpoints the “confusionnisme” which has gone with its attempts to grapple with the problems of discrimination against minorities in the Hexagone – its relations with forces with ideologies far from Marxism or any form of democratic socialism.

Indigènes, Race War and the US left. 

Moussa is the binational son of revolutionaries who supported Messali Hadj in the Algerian War of National Liberation. As the offspring of those who backed the losing side in a war that took place before independence, between the Messalists and the victorious FLN, who will not be accepted as French, he announces this to underline that he does not fit into a neat ‘anti-colonial’ pigeonhole (Page 11). He  examines the roots and the difficulties created by the replacement of the figure of the ‘Arab’ by that of the ‘Muslim’. Furthermore, while he accepts some aspects of ‘intersectionality”, that is that there many forms of domination to fight, he laces the central importance of economic exploitation tightly to any “emancipatory perspective” rather than the heritage of French, or other European imperialism. (Page 141).

La Fabrique is an essay on the way the “social question” has become dominated by religious and racial issues (Essai sur la confessionnalisation et la racialisation de la question sociale). The argument of the book is that the transition from the identity of Arab and other minorities in France from sub-Saharan Africa to that of ‘Muslim’ has been helped by political complicity of sections of the French left of the left in asserting this ‘heritage’. In respects we can see here something like an ‘anti-imperialist’ appropriation of Auguste-Maurice Barrès’ concept of “la terre et les morts”, that people are defined by their parents’ origins, and fixed into the culture, whether earthly or not. This, with another conservative view, on the eternity of race struggle, trumping class conflict, has melded with various types of ‘post-colonial’ thought. This is far from the original “social question” in which people talked about their exploitation and  positions in the social structure that drew different identities together as members of a class and sought to change the material conditions in which they lived.

In demonstrating his case La Fabrique is a critique of those opponents of the New World Order but who who take their cultural cue from American enemies of the “Grand Satan” and descend into ‘racialism’.  (Page 18 – 19) In this vein it can be compared with the recent article, “American Thought” by Juraj Katalenac on the export of US left concepts of “whiteness” as a structure of oppression reflecting the legacy of slavery (Intellectual imperialism: On the export of peculiarly American notions of race, culture, and class.) No better examples of this could be found than Moussa’s targets –  former Nation of Islam supporter Kémi Séba, “panfricanist” and founder of Tribu Ka, condemned for anti-Semitism, and a close associate of the far right, recently back in the news for burning African francs, and the Parti des indigènes de la République (PIR).

The PIR’s spokesperson Houria Bouteldja, offers a picture of the world in imitation of US Black Power lacing, in his best known text, diatribes against Whiteness (Blanchité) and laments for the decline in Arab virility, more inspired by Malcolm X and James Baldwin than by the nuances of Frantz Fanon. In the struggle for the voice of the indigenous she affirms a belief that commemorating the memory of the Shoah is, for whites, the “the bunker of abstract humanism”, while anti-Zionism is the “space for an historic conformation between us and the whites”. Bouteldja is fêted in Berkley and other ‘post-colonial’ academic quarters, and given space in the journal of what passes for the cutting edge of the US left, Jacobin. (1)

La Fabrique outlines the sorry history of the PIR, highlighting rants against integration, up the point that Bouteldja asserts that the wearing the veil means “I do not sleep with whites” (Page 51). The discourse on promoting ‘race’ is, Moussa, is not slow to indicate, in parallel to the extreme right picture of ‘racial war’. He cites the concept of “social races” offered by Tunisian exile and former Trotskyist, Sadri Khiari on a worldwide struggle between White Power and Indigenous Political Power (“Pouvoir Blanc et la Puissance politique indigène”) (Pages 60 – 61). Moussa notes, is the kind of ideology behind various university-based appeals to “non-mixité”, places where in which races do not mix. One can only rejoice that Khiari has not fused with Dieudonné and Soral, and – we may be proved wrong – no voice on the left France yet talks of a “transnational Jewish bourgeoisie” to complement the picture, and demand that Jews have their own special reservations in the non-mixed world.

Many of the themes tackled in La Fabrique are specifically French. Britain, for example, has nothing resembling the concept of laïcité, either the recognition of open universalism, or of the more arid arch-republicanism that has come to the fore in recent years. The attempts at co-operation, or more formal alliances with Islamists, and the sections on various moves, between opportunism and distance of those in and around the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (MPA),  intellectuals of the ‘left of the left’,  and the ambiguities of Alternative Libertaire on the issues, though important in a domestic context, are not of prime interest to an international audience. (2) Other aspects have a wider message. The convergence between ‘Complotiste’, conspiracy theories, laced with anti-Semitism, circulating on the extreme-right and amongst reactionary Muslims, finding a wider audience (the name Alain Soral and the Site, Egalité et Reconciliation crops up frequently), including some circles on the left, merits an English language investigation. There are equally parallels with the many examples of ‘conservative’ (reactionary) Muslims who, from the campaign against Gay Marriage and equality education (“la Manif pour tous”), have become politically involved in more traditional right-wing politics, and the beurgeois, the prosperous Islamic market for Halal food and drinks. 

Islamogauchistes.

In one area there is little doubt that we in ‘Anglo-Saxon’ countries (a term in the book that jars), that is the English speaking world, will find the account of alliances between sections of the left and Islamists familiar, So familiar indeed that the names of the Socialist Workers Party, Respect and the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) are placed at the centre of the debate about these agreements, from the 2002, 2007 Cairo Conferences Against US and Zionist Occupation (Page 74), attended also by Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), to the definition of Islamophobia offered by the Runnymede Trust (Page 87).

If one can criticise Moussa in this area it is not because he does not discuss the details of the failure of the SWP and the forces in Respect and the StWC have failed to carry out Chris Harman’s strategy of being “with the Islamists” against the State. The tactic of being their footstools collapsed for many reasons, including, the SWP’s Rape Crisis, the farce of Respect under George Galloway, and was doomed in the Arab Winter not just after the experience of MB power in Egypt, Ghannouchi and Ennahda in Tunisia and, let us not forget but when the Syrian uprising pitted the Muslim Brotherhood against Assad, Daesh was born, and the British left friends of ‘reformist’ Islamism lapsed into confusion. If the Arab ‘patrimonial states’ remain the major problem, there is a growing consensus (outside of groupuscules like Counterfire) on the British left that actually existing Islamist parties and movements are “deeply reactionary”. (3)

To return to our introduction: how can we talk about Islam and Muslims? We can, Moussa suggests, do without the use of the term ‘Islamophobia’ to shout down criticism of the ‘sacred’. The tendency of all religious believers to consider that their ideas make them better than everybody else and in need of special recognition cannot be left unchallenged. They need, “libre examen…contre les vérités révélés, pour l’émancipation et contre l’autorité”, free investigation against revealed truths, for emancipation against authority (Page 143). There should never be a question of aligning with Islamists. But systemic discrimination, and economic exploitation remain core issues. It is not by race war or by symbolic academic struggles over identity that these are going to be resolved. La Fabrique, written with a clarity and warmth that gives heart to the reader. Whether all will follow La Fabrique and turn to the writings of Socialisme ou Barbarie and the Internationale situationniste to find the tools for our emancipation remains to be seen. But we can be sure that in that “voie” we will find Moussa by our side.

*****

(1) Pages 66 – 67, Les Blancs, les Juifs et nous. Houria Bouteldja. La Fabrique. 2016. In discussing Fanon few who read him can ignore his sensitive complexity. For example, did not just discuss the ‘fear’ of Black sexuality amongst whites, but the dislike of North Africans for “les hommes de couleur”, as well as efforts by the French to divide Jews, Arab and Blacks. Page 83. Peau noire masques blancs. Frantz Fanon. Editions du Seuil. 1995.

(2  La Fabrique du musulman » : un défaut de conception. Alternative Libertarire. Droit de réponse : « La Fabrique du musulman », une publicité gratuite mais mensongère. Alternative Libertaire.

(3) See on the history of the period, Morbid Symptoms. Relapse in the Arab Uprisings. Gilbert Achcar. Saqi Books. 2016.

When the Tory Students and British State Backed the Islamist Mujahidin – Secret Affairs. Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam. Mark Curtis.

with 7 comments

Image may contain: 2 people

Federation of Conservative Students in the 1980s.

With Activate making a splash (We warned CCHQ that something like ‘Activate’ would happen) people may recall these campaigns the Tory yoof backed in the 1980s.

In addition to supporting no-holds-barred privatisation, controversial positions embraced included the support for American intervention in GrenadaRENAMO, the UNITA rebels in Angola, and the Contras in Nicaragua.[14] “Hang Nelson Mandela” slogans[17] were apparently worn by some leading members.

In the case of their support for the Mujahdin in Afghanistan there is a lot of background to fill in.

Training in Terrorism: Britain’s Afghan Jihad

This is an edited extract from Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam

Mark Curtis

The war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s was to mark the next phase in the development of global Islamic radicalism, building on the Islamic resurgence during the previous decade. Following the Soviet invasion of December 1979, tens of thousands of volunteers from around the Muslim world flocked to join their Afghan brethren and fight the communists. During the course of the war, they went on to form organised jihadi militant groups that would eventually target their home countries, and the West, in terrorist operations. These mujahideen, and the indigenous Afghan resistance groups to which they were attached, were bolstered by billions of dollars in aid and military training provided mainly by Saudi Arabia, the US and Pakistan, but also by Britain.

Britain already had a long history of supporting and working alongside Islamist forces by the time the Soviets crossed the Afghan border, but the collusion with the mujahideen in Afghanistan was of a different order to these earlier episodes, part of Whitehall’s most extensive covert operation since the Second World War. The problem with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher put it after six months in office, was that ‘if its hold on Afghanistan is consolidated, the Soviet Union will, in effect, have vastly extended its borders with Iran, will have acquired a border more than 1,000 miles long with Pakistan, and will have advanced to within 300 miles of the Straits of Hormuz, which control the Persian Gulf.’

In public, the prime minister and other British leaders denied British military involvement in Afghanistan and claimed to be seeking purely diplomatic solutions to the conflict. In reality, British covert aid to the Afghan resistance began to flow even before the Soviet invasion, while Whitehall authorised MI6 to conduct operations in the first year of the Soviet occupation, coordinated by MI6 officers in Islamabad in liaison with the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI. British and US covert training programmes were critical, since many of the indigenous Afghan forces, and the vast majority of the jihadi volunteers arriving in Afghanistan, had no military training. It was a policy that was to have profound consequences.

Review .Originally published in 2011, that is, before the Arab Spring Turned to Winter and Daesh took off on its genocidal path.

 

Secret Affairs. Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam Mark Curtis. 2010. Serpent’s Tail.

Hat-tip to Paul Flewers who suggested I read this book.

“Egypt’s future is uncertain after the death or fall of Mubarak and, whether there is a revolution or not, the Brotherhood could play a role in government or in the transition….Britain is the largest foreign investor in the country, amounting to around $20 billion. British elites want to be in a better position than after the fall of the shah of Iran in 1979 in 1979, and cultivating the Islamists is likely regarded as critical.”

“Britain likely sees the Brotherhood – as it did from the 1950s to the 1970s – as counter to the secular, nationalist forces opposition in Egypt and the region….” (Pages 308 – 9. Secret Affairs. Mark Curtis. 2010.)

Secret Affairs is a pioneering and unsettling study. It unravels how British officials have worked with apparently ‘anti-imperialist’ Islamists that they have found “useful at specific moments.” It sheds light on one of the less publicly acknowledged sides of British global policy – its “collusions” with Islamist groups and parties. Mark Curtis writes, “With some of these radical Islamic forces, Britain has been in a permanent, strategic alliance to secure fundamental long-term policy goals; with others, it has been a temporary marriage of convenience to achieve specific short-term outcomes.” (Page xi) Two geo-political aims have guided this policy, to keep control over energy sources in the Middle East and maintain the City’s place in a stable international financial system. More than out of sheer delight in the undercover world British intelligence agencies have pursued these rational, foreign policy, objectives.

For many it will be a mental wrench to consider that the British State could be complicit with Islamism. Islamists, in all their heterogeneous forms, are, according to a refrain that tends to drown out all others, a real or exaggerated threat. To the right they are from a civilisation out to clash with the West; to most of the left, a riposte to its imperial, Crusader, ambitions. After digesting Secret Affairs the claim that the West has declared a no-holds barred ‘war’ on Islam, sounds hollow.

On occasion even the most extreme Salafist inspired Islamists have been in the loop of the secret services, though more public state policy has been to nurture “moderate” Muslims, a moderation that exists sometimes only in comparison with the most violent Jihadists. If one turns the study’s conclusions upside down, one can also see some interesting aspects of Islamist politics: why, and how, they expect to use their contacts, half-hostile, half-respectful, with countries like Britain. Mark Curtis equally offers important signposts to the future direction Whitehall policy will take towards a key Islamist actor in post-Mubarak Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood.

State Islamist Sponsors.

The thread tying together Secret Affairs is an account of its relations with “the two most significant sponsors of radical Islam” – Pakistan, which promoted “the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the terrorist cause in Kashmir and its surge in central Asia” and Saudi Arabia, “the largest financier of the Islamist cause worldwide. “(Page 223 – 4)

Mark Curtis is a master of weighing up what governments have considered to be the national interest beyond alliances with these states. He enters the murky intelligence world without his vision becoming darkened by the complexity of the dealings involved. The author argues that Britain has “long connived with Islamist forces and their Pakistani state sponsors.” (Page 293) He cites Martin Bright, “it is depressing that so few of the left have been prepared to engage with the issue of the Foreign Office appeasement of radical Islam except to minimise its significance.” (Page 307) He comments, that this is not so much appeasement, as an effort to “achieve key British foreign policy goals” (Ibid).

In 2011 the arguments of Secret Affairs are extremely important.  The euphoria surrounding the popular uprisings against the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes, and the demonstrations unrolling from Algeria and Tunisia to Libya, Jordan, Yemen, and the Gulf States with its waves reaching Tehran, has spread across the world. It is more than welcome. Liberals and the left have greeted the democratic aspirations and secular demands of the protesters.

Some ‘anti-imperialists’ consider the unrest to be the much-waited-for blowback to a Western ‘crusade’ against Islam that carries social opposition in its train. Its client dictators, Mubarak and Ben Ali, gone, they hope for a more radical moves, revolutions with wider ambitions, social and international. They may even be, it is often whispered, occasionally said out loud, radical forces, potential allies in a push for deeper change. Comforting stories, about veiled women involved in the struggle, have circulated, sometimes designed to demonstrate the irrelevance of religion, other times to indicate its ‘progressive’ role.

Islamist groups, swathes of which have, on Curtis’s evidence, had ambiguous contacts in the past with Western states, are now held to be potential allies of the left. In the Iranian revolution, and its aftermath, such a common front has functioned to political Islam’s advantage and has not benefited any popular interest. If some Islamist groups have been prepared to work with Britain in the past, one wonders what kind of present-day agreements rival leftist suitors will reach, and what will be the result.

Divide et Impera.

Mark Curtis (interview here) takes us back to Britain’s colonial empire and its mid-twentieth century dissolution. The Raj was, he alleges (on the balance of evidence), kept in control by a strategy of divide and rule, between different groups in the sub-Continent. In the 19th century “promoting communal divisions” was deliberate policy. (Page 5)

Religious identity, a kind of ‘multiculturalist’ separate development, as promoted. From its 19th century origins in the Aligraph movement, the British looked favourably on the party that drove the demand for partition and the formation of Pakistan, the Muslim League. The ‘Muslim card’ was used against the Indian National Congress. After Indian independence the Pakistani glacis was a “strategic asset” for the Anglo-Americans. “Narenda Sarila notes that ‘ the successful use of religion by the British to fulfil political and strategic objectives in India was replicated by the Americans in building up the Islamic jihadis in Afghanistan’. (Page 34)

Geopolitics and high strategy are a specialist area, subject to infinite shifts, changing alliances, and differing judgements. But Secret Affairs unearths some coherent policies towards Islamism. In the post-Great War Middle East Britain the manager of ‘protectorates’ such as Palestine and Iraq, pursued such a complicated strategic course that there will never be a consensus about its course. Faced with the creation of the State of Israel at the end of the Second World War, “there remains disagreement as to whose ‘side’ Britain was really on ..”(Page 41) One theme however did emerge. As Curtis notes, it was during this period that British officials began to regard Islamists, of various stripes, as “bulwarks” against communism. (Page 43)

This has been a long-standing reason to collaborate with Islamism. Readers will stop at particular details of this history. Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of a galaxy of anti-communist causes (including those of the international far-right, and outright anti-Semitism), in tandem with its promotion of the “global Islamic mission” has been given free reign from the Cold War onwards. Curtis describes Indonesia’s Western endorsed massacre of up to a million ‘communists’ in 1966. “Islamist groups, trained and equipped by the Indonesian army, played a critical role in the slaughter.” (Page 97)

Britain Sends Communists to their Death.

One specific example sticks in my mind. In 1982 the Khomeini regime was brutally repressing the left, and executing thousands of them. The British obtained a list of members of the Tudeh (Iranian Communist Party) members from a Soviet defector, Vladimir Kuzichkin. MI6 and the CIA jointly decided to pass on this list to Tehran. Dozens of alleged agents were executed and more than a thousand arrested, while the party was banned. There were show trials of a 100 members (where some were sentenced to death). The British operated “in pursuit of specific common interests – the repression of the left – even though Iran was by now considered a strategic threat and overall anti-Western force.”(Page 130)

Back in the ‘sixties Islamism was also opposed to a far greater perceived threat, Arab nationalism. This is a tangled tale, with the British sometimes trying to use the Muslim Brotherhood against pan-Arabism, yet often being repulsed by the organisation’s ingrained hostility to the ‘Crusaders’. The pro-Western Egyptian President, Sadat, went with the grain in using Islamists to smash his country’s Marxist and nationalist student groups. Islamic parties and groups attracted the “urban poor”, and, more significantly, “the devout bourgeoisie, a class hitherto excluded from political power.” (Page 108)

Encouraging Islamisation turned out to be double-edged sword. Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel further pushed them towards maximalism; he ended up assassinated by al-Jihad in 1981.

The alliance between the Western powers and Islamism formed during the Afghan jihad against the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) was infinitely more solid and direct. Britain appears to have helped the Afghan opponents of the left before the Soviets sent in troops in 1979. When tanks rolled in Margaret Thatcher gave full backing to those fighting the “godless communist system.” US allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt (sending Islamists radicalised under Sadat) and Pakistan undertook the practical organisation of the war against the PDPA and their Soviet backers. This shored up the Saudis, already funding Islamist causes around the world, and Pakistan, then promoting an Islamisation programme and boosting its domestic far right (notably the Jamaat-i-Islami), under General Zia.

Muscular Liberals for Islamism.

Many of the ‘muscular liberals’ who now frenetically oppose Islamism, were as enthusiastic as Thatcher for the Afghan jihad. French nouveaux philosophes (such as the ubiquitous Bernard-Henri Lévy) saw it as the high-point of the fight for freedom against Moscow. There were also ‘leftists’ who saw the Mujaheddin as combatants against ‘Russian imperialism’.

They failed to foresee the fruits of their surrogates’ victory. As is well-known the fall-out from this war, which created a pool of violent Islamist activists ready for global combat, led to the Taliban regime, and, ultimately, provided a base for al-Qaeda, neither bolstered liberalism nor the left.

Amongst the Mujaheddin supporters, whether Tory, liberal or leftist, few seem to have taken seriously the ideologues who would eventually emerge to announce, that, “This [Clash of civilisations] is a very clear matter, proven in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet, and any true believer who claims to be faithful shouldn’t doubt these truths, no matter what anybody says about them.” That “we are in a strong and brutal battle, between us and the Jews, with Israel being the spearhead, and its backers among the Zionists and Crusaders.” (Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama Bin Laden. Edited by Bruce Lawrence. 2005).

Londonistan.

Many recent theatres of war, Bosnia, Albania, and Algeria, are covered in Secret Affairs. Again the traces of Western co-operation with various Islamists, and the half-wary, but intimate, relations between them are described. But perhaps the most memorable chapters are concerned with those at a distance from the battle-fields, in ‘Londonistan’. “London in the 1990s was one of the world’s major centres for radical Islamic groups organising terrorism abroad.” (Page 256)

Hw could this happen? It is claimed that a “covenant of security” was reached: that as long as the Islamists did not commit acts of terrorism in the UK, they would find this country a “safe haven”. Readers of the French press will be well aware of the anger felt in that country at the UK’s sheltering of brutal Islamic activists in the Algerian GIA (Groupe Islamique Armé). – responsible for attentats in Europe and sadistic murder in Algeria.

Other lands, where it could legitimately be shown that these refugees faced considerable danger, were also vociferous in complaining about the UK authorities’ tolerance. At times this lenience reached extraordinary levels. In 1994 Osama Bin Laden had a London office, even visiting that year. His Advice and Reformation Committee were permitted to continue (despite its transparent violent intentions) until Al-Qaeda’s East African bombings in 1988. (Page 182) There was little outrage in Britain at the murder of 224 people, mainly Africans, in these attacks on US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The policy did not end there. In the late 1990s Abu Hamza, a Special Branch contact was allowed to organise military training in England for his Supporters of the Sharia organisation. (Page 267)

Why would the British authorities have allowed Londonistan to develop? Curtis considers the view that it enabled the intelligence services to monitor and infiltrate Islamist groups. It may have been a way of cultivating relations “with possible future leaders”, help give the British a certain “influence” or “leverage” “over the internal politics” of Arab and other states. More crudely, “another major advantage of hosting radical Islamist groups in London, linked very closely to fundamental and current British foreign policy aims – the promotion of international divide and rule.”(Page 265)

The Raj and the Middle East were templates of a kind. But in present conditions encouraging divisions between states, and the Balkanisation of existing states (literally in the case of the former Yugoslavia), may be also factors. Some people in the “intelligence community” many have, even if not by formal policy, have therefore continued the policy of diviser pour mieux régner.

The public side of the British state, and the ordinary population, not to mention the left, only seem to have become concerned about Islamism in the wake of 9/11 and London’s own carnage on 7/7. The assault on the Twin Towers, that led, after the ousting of the Taliban to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, was followed in 2005 by the London massacre. Suddenly heavy-handed anti-terrorism legislation was passed. the Labour government began to differentiate between ‘good’ moderate Islamists and ‘bad’ ones.

On the left some claimed that Britain was indeed at “war with Islam.” Sections of the left expressed at least “understanding” of why people would want to murder Londoners as a “legitimate target”. This is a sordid evasion of reality. Curtis remarks that, “The bombings were, to a large extent, a product of British foreign policy, not mainly since they were perpetuated by opponents of the war in Iraq, but because they derived from a terrorism infrastructure established by a Pakistani state long backed by Whitehall and involving Pakistani terrorist groups which had benefited from past British covert action.”(Page 285) Britain, he observes, prepared the ground. It “has helped marginalise secular nationalist and democratic forces within the country..”(Page 294) In the political void the Islamists have grown. Its goals, and its targets, have no anti-imperial core: they are directed towards creating a purified Islamic state and against all who will not fit into this vision. The present vicious reaction in Pakistan in favour of killing ‘blasphemers’ illustrates the priorities of this movement.

Britain and Islamism’s Future: Slouching Back to Egypt.

Secret Affairs is an eye-opener. It is primary an investigation, that rarely gets an airing, into British Realpolitik towards Islamism. It dredges up its deep roots in Britannia’s imperial past. It is also thoroughly modern. Not only are the UK’s declining international strategic interests at stake, but far-from shrinking financial ones, including Saudi financial investment and the City’s part in so-called Islamic banking and ‘Islamic finance’.

There is much further light shed on the complexities of British and American alliances, and hostilities, with Islamist forces in occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. Relations with regional competitors, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, and US patronage of regional insurgency against Tehran, are given due weight. From geopolitical analysis Curtis moves to political judgement. Here we find an underling continuity, not rupture between British Cabinets’ approach to Islamism. That is, its willingness to negotiate as well as threaten, to use, to co-opt the most acceptable elements, as well as imprison the recalcitrant.

Curtis has his finger on the faults in this approach. He  points to the foolhardy agreements made with Islamists who operated on British soil, and the failure to grasp how the intelligence and diplomatic services’ strategies overseas can literally ‘blow back’ towards home. Internationally, collusion with radical forces has contributed to “the rise of radical Islam and the undermining of secular, nationalist, more liberal forces…”(Page 346) If one would wish for a wider explanation of the crisis of anti-colonial nationalism, and the decline of the left in countries with Muslim majorities, Curtis’s observations should play a major part in building up a fuller left picture of the place of Islamism.

Secret Affairs has been listened to in some expected quarters. Even some who generally subscribe to the Crusader view of the West’s role in the Orient, such as John Pilger and the SWP’s Socialist Review, have reacted positively to its analysis. But how far have they thought it through ? An obvious conclusion is that Islamism has gained more from its dealings with the British state than Whitehall has.

Operating with much weaker forces, the small factions of the pro-Islamic left, if they ever reach agreements with them, will see their interests overshadowed. Strong parties, notably those in the ‘International’ of the Muslim Brotherhood, who intend to use the state as a moral actor to enforce Islamisation on people’s private lives, may find some minor advantage in encouraging a radical veneer. Justice, as for political religions of all faiths, is a slogan that only lightly covers a commitment to free-markets. The Brotherhood apparent liberal and democratic Constitutionalism has made them politically acceptable, their liberal economic policies, potential partners. *If they have some support from the urban poor, it is their base in the pious bourgeoisie that counts. They play little role in the social unrest sweeping the working class (here).

It much more likely that they will return, strengthened by the crises sweeping the Middle East, to the High Table of global politics, to negotiate, this time openly, with the British and Americans.

####################

* See their attempts to whitewash their racist and totalitarian past here.

See: Margaret Thatcher praised jihadists in Afghanistan

Written by Andrew Coates

September 2, 2017 at 11:29 am

Macron’s Government Launches New Labour ‘Reforms’, Protests Already Planned.

with 3 comments

First Demo Against Macron’s ‘Reforms’, 12th of September.

Macron’s government unveils controversial labour reforms.

France 24.

After meeting with trade unions on Thursday, the French government unveiled President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial labour reforms, vowing to “free up the energy of the workforce” by making it easier for employers to hire and fire.

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and Labour Minister Muriel Pénicaud met with trade unionists on Thursday before publicly unveiling the labour reform measures, which are detailed on some 200 pages.

The highly anticipated and controversial labour reforms, a centerpiece of Macron’s election pledge, are aimed at creating jobs.

The changes will be implemented via executive order, allowing Macron to avoid a lengthy parliamentary debate. The overhaul will be adopted by the government in September and must then be ratified by parliament, where the president’s La République en Marche (Republic on the Move) party has a large majority.

..

Criticism from trade unions

Right after the announcement of the reforms, some unions voiced criticism, denouncing measures that they perceive to be more favourable to companies than to employees.

Philippe Martinez, secretary-general of the CGT trade union, lashed out Thursday, saying, “All our fears have been confirmed and the additional fear is obvious and has been written: It’s the end of the working contract.” He qualified the reform as “old recipes which will not change the lot of the people.”

The communist-backed CGT has opposed the changes outright and is set to mobilise its supporters on September 12 for a street protest. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the far-left leader of France Insoumise (Unbowed France) and a fierce opponent to Macron, is organising another protest on September 23.

France’s biggest private sector union, the CFDT, declared itself “disappointed” but said it would not be calling its members to join the CGT’s planned street protest on September 12.

Nevertheless, the CFDT is unhappy with the level at which dismissal awards in France’s labour courts will be capped, and unhappy with a section of the reforms in which employers will be allowed to negotiate directly with staff in companies with fewer than 20 workers.

The boss of the hard-left Force Ouvrière (FO) union, Jean-Claude Mailly, said he disagreed with some of the changes, but like Berger suggested he would not recommend his members join street protests.

Meanwhile, François Asselin, president of France’s confederation of small and medium-sized companies, the CPME, has praised the reform for being “particularly pragmatic”.

The CGT wants their Day of Action and Strikes  to be the occasion to begin a serious moblisation against Macron’s ‘reforms’. (La CGT veut faire du 12 septembre la journée « contre la réforme du code du travail »)

To the lack of support from the two other main union federations  there is also  this.

La France insoumise (LFI), 17 deputies strong, to repeat, is organising its own demonstration on the 23rd of September, without the unions and any other group on the leftJean-Luc Mélenchon appelle à un “rassemblement populaire” contre la réforme du travail le 23 septembre à Paris.

Macron has already seized on this to declare that Mélenchon   is claiming not just to be the only real opposition to the President but also to be a “rival to the trade unions”. (Mélenchon à la tête de l’opposition ? Une chance, selon Macron.  Le président de la République estime que le leader de la France insoumise se pose en “rival des syndicats” sur la réforme du Code du travail. RTL)

Whether this division exists, or whether the LFI march will have any impact, is not at all sure.

A few days ago the Parti communiste français PCF, which has 11 MPs, and close ties to the CGT,  expressed reservations about this division amongst left parties. Their  leader Pierre Laurent contented himself with noting a “lack of respect” (manque de respect) in the way LFI operates (le Monde. 26.8.17). A young member added, ” that for LFI “everything is built around his personality and his inner circle (tout est construit autour de sa personne et de sa garde rapprochée – literally his “bodyguard”).

One thing is clear: the serious campaign will be launched by the Unions.

By contrast LFI declares that they are leading the movement, ” «Nous proclamons en septembre la mobilisation générale contre le coup d’Etat social»” – we declare in September that there will be a mobilisation in September against the social coup d’Etat by Macron.. La France insoumise suggests that Mélenchon may soon be called for government if Macron is defeated, and they are ready to govern is need be. ” Jean-Luc Mélenchon affirmait ainsi : «Nous sommes prêts à gouverner demain s’il le faut” (Des «élections anticipées», nouveau credo de La France insoumise. Libération).

The wags are already laughing at this one:

 

In the meantime…

For the best analysis of these reforms seems Gérard Filoche:  Leurs mensonges sont énormes, Ils font le pire, ils ont passé le code du travail à l’acide

 

Bernard-Henri Lévy rages against « Le Monde diplomatique »

leave a comment »

Image result for bernard henri levy caricature

 

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a kind of Human Rights French Tariq Ali. A man who’s an expert and a view on every political event on the planet,  and a few more things beside. On the left with with Ali we only have his political vacillations,  early recognition of  ‘democratic socialist’ Boris Yeltsin, voting for the Liberal Democrat Party, pious rage against Charlie Hebdo, punditry on the Middle East, yelps of joy at Brexit, and this,

At present we hear that Ali is advising President Maduro of Venezuela on how to defeat the US imperialists.

Advice to Venezuelan masses: run for the hills!

It is true that Lévy  has a lot more contortions on what passes for his conscience, from support for the Islamist Mujahidin in Afghanistan, the defence of IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn  to writing a series of preposterous books.

Unlike Ali some people take him seriously.

He claims to have influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy which may well be true.

Background.

Lévy first shot to fame as a leading ‘new philosopher’ in the late 1970s.

This group which accused Marxism of being a cover for Mastery, and the root of the Gulag was important at the time, though largely forgotten today. I read Lévy ‘s attack on  Stalinism, which for him included the entire Marxist left,  La Barbarie à visage humain   (1977) in the early 1980s and cannot say that it had the slightest effect on me, unlike André Glucksmann’s Les Maîtres penseurs (1977) La Cuisinière et le Mangeur d’Hommes – Réflexions sur l’État, le marxisme et les camps de concentration (1975). The first book, is troubling. It brought home the tragic reality of the drive to make society fit Stalinism.  If it  stands  as a weaker book than the historically and theoretically more rooted, Un Homme en trop. Essai sur l’archipel du goulag de Soljénitsyne, ( 1975) by Claude Lefort,  Glucksmann raised important issues about the way the regime treated the ‘pleb’. The Master Thinkers is full of wild generalisations about the will to power and the apparatuses put into place to make ‘Marxism’ a reality, but it is still worth reading on a wet afternoon.

BHL’s  L’Idéologie française (1981) essentially accused all French political traditions of being tainted by fascism. Wikipedia notes (mildly), that “l’ouvrage a été fortement critiqué en raison de ses distorsions avec la réalité historique et de son ton grandiloquent.” the work was strongly criticised because of its distortion of historical reality and its grandiose tone.”

It is rubbish.

Like many I lost interest in the books, the one on Sartre, translated into English gives one  a taste of “grandiloquent” on a massive scale,  but sitll read his articles.

Its hard not to: they appear all over the French media as does the man himself.

It would be an error of judgement to get too involved in anti-Lévy outrage, there’s some pretty dodgy people who have an obsession with him for reasons (see his name…) which are pretty obvious.

Lévy  did nevertheless back Charlie Hebdo in their hour of need (In Praise of Blasphemy,)which shall not be forgotten.

Still,  the latest feud looks interesting.

The following appears in the latest (September)  print edition of Le Monde diplomatique. 

Bernard-Henri Lévy enragé contre « Le Monde diplomatique »

Bernard-Henri Lévy’s attack on Le Monde diplomatique on 20 July continues a long-running feud. In 2013 Bernard-Henri Lévy was condemned for ‘complicity in public diffamation’ by a Paris court after an earlier such attack. That has not stopped him publishing another broadside, titled ‘The shame and poverty of Le Monde diplomatique’, in Le Point.

Serge Halimi.

Déjà condamné, le 23 avril 2013, par la 17e chambre correctionnelle de Paris, pour « complicité de diffamation publique » après s’en être pris au Monde diplomatique,Bernard-Henri Lévy récidive. Il vient ainsi de consacrer la totalité de sa chronique hebdomadaire du Point (20 juillet 2017) à un texte rageur qui ressasse ses vieilles calembredaines, en titrant cette fois son propos « Misère et déshonneur du “Monde diplomatique” ».

A;ready sentenced, on the 23rd of April 2013, by the 17th chambre correctionnelle de Paris for ” involvement in public slander”, after having having attacked le Monde Diplomatique Bernard-Henri Lévy  has repeated his offence. It has just devoted the whole of his weekly column in Le Point (20th of July) to a raging polemic, titled, Misery and Dishonour of Le Monde Diplomatique,  which rehashes the same nonsense.

Full article through above link.

Le Monde Diplomatique is certainly not without its faults, with  one of the editors, Bernard Cassen  (also slandered by Lévy in 2010) who has    background in tiersmondisme (third-worldism). Many of its contributors are aligned to the more archly ‘republican’ side of the French left. It ahs published Seumas Milne, which is not considered a good sign. But it has recently begun to print articles by people like comrades Owen Jones and  Paul Mason.  It also carried a sterling attack by no less than the Editor, Serge Halmi,  on the darling of the US identitarian ‘left, the Indigènes de la République ( Ahmadinejad, mon héros).

 

Here is the dossier of articles on the man himself.

My favourite is The Man Who has Never Been Wrong:  Lhomme qui ne s’est jamais trompé », par Pierre Rimbert, janvier 2010.

Here is the article, which Lévy’s little helpers have translated into unusual – for Lévy texts –  clear English.

The Shame of Le Monde diplomatique

PARIS – Le Monde diplomatique, which has no editorial connection to the newspaper Le Monde, is not well known outside France. In a way, that is too bad, because it is typical of the French intellectual and journalistic scene – typical, too, of the brand of populism checked by Emmanuel Macron’s election, but which remains deeply rooted in France.

This article came about because of the recent appearance on the website of Le Monde diplo, as the monthly is known in France, of a “dossier” containing “20 years of archives,” “freely accessible,” concerning me. But “me” as Don Corleone, oligarch, mystifier, the devil incarnate, and a “significant” representative of the French “system.”

 I will not dwell on the details of this trove of obscure articles, which, for the most part, I had not seen before.

I will not attempt to correct – at least not right now – the mind-boggling falsehoods, nonsense, and petty insults that make up this grotesque and pitiful affair, which has caused a minor uproar in France.

But I will not forgo sharing my opinion of this monthly, to which, during the 1974-1975 Portuguese revolution, I submitted one of my first dispatches, but which today retains nothing of Le Monde except shareholders, nothing diplomatic except the word, and nothing respectable except the memory of its distant founders.

One should know, for example, that Le Monde diplo is one of the last places in France where Tariq Ramadan, ideologist of the Muslim Brotherhood, who sees the hand of the intelligence services behind the Islamist attacks in Toulouse and Brussels, is still considered an authority. In a piece dated April 3, 2016, a former Le Monde diplo editor, Alain Gresh, and others, called Ramadan’s voice one that “carries weight in poor neighborhoods” and to which “young people listen.”

One should know that all manner of conspiracy theories are often uncritically echoed. In a talk to the Friends of Le Monde diplomatique in Montpellier, in May 2010, Professor Annie Lacroix-Riz endeavoredto prettify the fascistic myth of the synarchism of the secret elite. Holocaust denier Jean Bricmont was long responsible for Le Monde diplo’s reviews of anti-American and anti-Zionist books. Frédéric Lordon, a sort of younger clone of Marxist thinker Alain Badiou, offers a chic variant, maintaining that it is no more absurd to see plots everywhere than not to see them anywhere, and that there is indeed a conspiracy of “the dominant” to blind the “dominated.”

Response to such articles as,

Bernard-Henri Lévy’s plan for the French left

Lévy’s pet hates.

In his latest book (1) Bernard-Henri Lévy lists “laboratories brewing atrocities”. This list features, in order of appearance:

 Hugo Chávez, “whose anti-neo liberal rhetoric recalls ‘fascist or Nazi-style regimes’ according to Latin-America’s bishops”.

 Etienne Balibar, Daniel Bensaïd, Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Derrida, held responsible for the “widely publicised rediscovery… of a theoretician, driven by his hatred of free markets to espouse Nazism: Carl Schmitt. He is presented as the saviour of a left that has lost its bearings.”

 Slavoj Zizek and Peter Sloterdijk: “A significant number of European intellectuals have wholeheartedly embraced this curious, indeed hallucinatory, notion that a Nazi thinker [Schmitt] could rescue the left from its current problems. Heidegger used to say that only a god could save us. Now, echoing the idea, this leftwing fringe repeats that only a Nazi can save us.”

 Emmanuel Mounier and Jean-Marie Domenach: “The idea [attributed to them] that the real danger was not the Soviet Union, but the United States, not communism but Americanism, resurfaces among the ideologists of the new right in the 1980s, and then in all the neo-Nazi sects, mentioned above, such as Nouvelle Résistance, and finally in [France’s] National Front.”

 Le Monde diplomatique: “An editorial of Le Monde diplomatiqueexplaining that America … has found a secret weapon for ‘domesticating souls’… almost exactly the same words as Drieu la Rochelle (2) used …. Or here again, in the same issue … the foul stench arising from the condemnation of the ‘cosmopolitan establishment of bankers and corporate lawyers’ that dominates the US, and therefore the world. Maurras (3), or nowadays Le Pen, would say the same… In yet another article, by Loïc Wacquant and Pierre Bourdieu … how can one not react to the disturbing similarities with another strain of anti-Americanism, the one and only true variety, hatched by Arthur Moeller Van den Bruck, the man who invented the idea of the Third Reich.”

 Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 “was no more than a variation on the old isolationist, populist, ultra-nationalist and chauvinistic ideas of Pat Buchanan and other rightwing US extremists”.

 Harold Pinter: “You would think you were listening to Pinter, Chomsky, Bourdieu or a neo-Trotskyist. But no. The nerve, the investigative style, the obsession with manipulation … it all brings us back, I fear, to the ravings of the tsarist police fabricating its famous fake that supposedly proved Jewish domination of the world.”

 Noam Chomsky: “this maniacal negationist”.

 Olivier Besancenot and the Attac organisation: “Why have we never heard any of them, ever, telling us what they think about Iran’s president Ahmadinejad, who repeatedly says that he dreams of annihilating Israel?”

Referring to Lévy’s publications in 1979, Cornelius Castoriadis found “a good sample of devious Stalinist techniques”. This is a severe criticism, particularly as Lévy claims to write “without any sense of controversy”, though “I do of course simplify”, and even suggests the reader “look at things calmly and with a cool head”. He sees himself as being “trained, I think, to be curious and respectful”.

Lévy defends the US industrialist Henry Ford, who inspired Adolf Hitler. As Lévy himself acknowledges, his commitment to the cause of Darfur brought him into contact with “an increasing number of Islamic militants, sometimes even Islamists, linked in particular to Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.” (The preacher Louis Farrakhan is, among other things, an anti-semite.)

Perhaps it would be most effective to refer Lévy to his own writings: “Sometimes, overwhelmed by exhaustion or disgust, it is just too hard to go on. What is the point in trying to make someone see reason, when they just will not listen?” Just so.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 31, 2017 at 11:35 am

Sovereigntists say, “Reject Reject Starmer’s Single Market u-turn” and “Fight for a Socialist Brexit.”

with 3 comments

Image result for socialist brexit cartoon

‘Socialist’ Brexit. 

Editorial of the Socialist (Socialist Party), issue 960

Reject Starmer’s Single Market u-turn

Where is the ‘workers’ Brexit‘ that Jeremy Corbyn spoke about during the general election campaign in this plan? Where is the promise to reject the EU rules which place barriers in the way of nationalisation *- like that of the railways and energy companies promised in Corbyn’s manifesto – or which say that companies’ right to make money trumps workers’ right to strike? As explained in an article in the last issue of the Socialist: “From its inception [the EU] has aimed to drive through neoliberal, anti-working class measures in order to maximise the profits of the capitalist elite.” This is a fact that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have long argued too.

At the behest of the capitalist class they are openly collaborating with pro-EU big business MPs in all parties, including the Tory Party. If it is not countered Starmer’s announcement will be a significant victory for these pro-capitalist, neoliberal forces.

The Socialist Party says,

Fight for a socialist Brexit. Organise a campaign with European socialists and workers’ organisations to use the Brexit talks to tear up the EU bosses’ club rules. For a new collaboration of the peoples of Europe on a socialist basis.

This was the last collaboration they went in for, a pro-Brexit  beano organised  in Paris on the 28th of May 2017  by the tiny Trotkyist Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), and attended by people from the British Trade Unionists Against the EU. POIDS’s 64 Candidates for the French legislative elections this year on an anti-EU platform received too small a vote to resister. Their leader, Daniel Gluckstein stood in the Presidential contest in 20012 and got 0.47% of the ballot in the first round.

 

The Socialist Workers Party joins in the cry,

The left in Labour can put forward a left wing vision for Brexit.

That has to involve extending freedom of movement, ending austerity and privatisation—and opposing the single market.

Meanwhile the Workers  Revolutionary Party opines,

Smash Labour’s right wing coup attempt – Leave the EU at once!THE Labour Party leadership has moved to sell out and stab the Brexit referendum result and the working class in the back.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has turned the office into its opposite. It has become the Office for Remaining in the EU at any cost, and by any method. Starmer wants to agree a transitional period that is ‘as short as possible but as long as is necessary’ in which the UK will remain in the single market, the customs union, and remain bound to pay financial levies to the EU, and also obey the jurisdiction of the European Court for that indeterminable period.

In a further move that will delight many pro-EU Labour backers, Jeremy Corbyn’s party at the end of the transitional period may decide to remain in both the single market and the customs union!

Starmer got the agreement of the Labour leadership and key members of Labour’s shadow cabinet for this coup last Thursday, according to both his and Corbyn’s office. His policy makes the sell-out of the Greek workers by Syriza seem even heroic – Labour is collapsing before the battle has even been joined!

……


Pro-EU MPs and activists within the Labour Party are now mobilising. MPs Heidi Alexander and Alison McGovern have published a motion for members to submit for debate at next month’s party conference in Brighton. This says: ‘The Labour Party is serious about protecting jobs, tackling austerity and defending the rights of workers and consumers, so staying part of the customs union and in the European Economic Area is a no-brainer.’

Starmer wrote in the Observer: ‘That is why a transitional period under Labour will be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary. It cannot become a kind of never-ending purgatory. That would simply create its own uncertainty and ambiguity… It must be based on a deal that, as Labour made clear in our manifesto, retains the benefits of the customs union and the single market. How that is ultimately achieved is secondary to the outcome.’ The outcome is remaining in the EU.

Workers in the Labour Party and in the trade unions must now act to smash these coupists and expel them from the Labour Party. CLPs must pass emergency resolutions calling for the resignation of Starmer, and the members of the shadow cabinet that support him, and the deselection of all MPs that support this Labour coup attempt.

Trade unions meeting at the TUC Congress must pass resolutions denouncing this attempted coup and call for the UK to leave the EU at once. Further the TUC must carry an emergency resolution calling for a general strike to bring down the Tory minority government from the left and bring in a workers’ government that will quit the EU and carry out a socialist revolution in the UK, expropriating the bosses and bankers and bringing in socialism.

For a truly left-wing view see, Another Europe is Possible.

With Article 50 triggered, we are entering a dangerous moment for our democracy. The government is pursuing a harmful, extreme form of Brexit for which it has no democratic mandate. Corporations will seek to influence the outcomes. But popular will and progressive politics are increasingly shut out.

In the shadow of an increasingly volatile world, we stand for co-operation between people and across borders, and we are for democracy. The British people must have the defining say over what kind of deal is reached.

Be a part of the flagship campaign to save the 6 progressive elements of EU membership.  We identify those as:

  • Rights at work
  • Environmental protections
  • Freedom to move
  • Human rights
  • Education and innovation
  • Science and research funding

We all have the right to know what is being negotiated on our behalf. The result of the referendum was not a mandate to undermine our human rights or our rights at work, to scrap environmental protections or to attack migrants. We will not allow this government to pursue a race to the bottom in which we all lose.

There is still everything to play for, and in the coming months we will unite to campaign for a deal which guarantees the rights of workers and migrants, and which maintains key environmental human rights protections. In an increasingly nasty and divided world, we will fight for a future of international cooperation and social justice.

This is our deal – bringing together people across civil society and different political parties in order to put forward a progressive vision for the outcome from the negotiations.

You can join the fight for a Progressive Deal today.

  • Write to your MP to ask them to sign up to the Progressive Deal
  • Download a leaflet for the campaign here

1. Rights at work

When Britain leaves the EU, workers could lose important legal protections. These include the 48 hour limit on weekly working hours; four weeks of holiday per year; strengthened equal pay legislation; guaranteed breaks; maternity and paternity pay rights; and protections for agency and temporary workers. If Britain and Europe attempt to compete with each other, this could lead to a race to the bottom on employment rights. We want a deal that:

  • Preserves all of these protections in British law
  • Contains an ongoing commitment that British and EU working rights will match each other, levelling up rather than levelling down

2. Environmental protections

In the EU referendum, no-one voted for environmental protections to be scrapped – but that could be the reality unless we retain those currently enshrined in European regulations. Climate change and pollution do not respect borders. We want a deal that:

  • Enshrines equivalent or better environmental protections in British law
  • Commits Britain to working hand-in-hand with European and international partners to radically reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate chaos

3. Freedom to move

The right to move across borders is a right that should be enjoyed by everyone. Without freedom of movement, it is a right enjoyed only by the rich. Free movement of people between Britain and Europe has enriched our societies, offered millions of people opportunities, and created bonds of love and friendship that cut across national frontiers. We want to see the right to choose where to live extended, not curtailed in the name of a concept of fairness that leaves everyone with the lowest common denominator of rights. However much the political establishment try to blame migrants for their own failure to provide stable employment and affordable housing, immigration makes a massive net contribution to the UK. We want a deal that:

  • Guarantees the rights of EU citizens already resident in the UK, and British expats in Europe
  • Preserves the freedom for British citizens to live and work in the EU, and for EU citizens to live and work in Britain
  • Sees the UK take play its part in building a humane and generous solution to the refugee crisis

4. Human rights

The European Convention on Human Rights, set up in the aftermath of the Second World War, enshrines the basic rights of European citizens – including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and association, and freedom from torture and religious oppression. Britain’s membership of the Convention does not disappear on leaving the EU, but it will become much easier for the government to withdraw from it. The current government has already indicated its intention to abolish the Human Rights Act, which covers much of the same ground. We want a deal that:

  • Commits Britain to continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights

5. Education and innovation

Tens of thousands of British students study abroad every year, using programmes like Erasmus to improve their education and expand their horizons. Free and easy access to higher education institutions in the EU is a vital part of sharing and creating research which saves lives and advances humanity’s understanding of the world. We want a deal that:

  • Preserves Britain’s membership of Erasmus and other study abroad schemes
  • Gives British and European students and researchers continued free and easy access to education institutions

6. Science and research funding

Britain’s science and academic research receives a large quantity of its funding from the EU. The UK is the second largest recipient of EU research funding through the Framework Programme (FP7) funds. Between 2007 and 2013, the UK received €8.8bn in research funding, much more than it contributed. 71% of this went to universities, which are more dependent than ever on these funds to produce vital research. We want a deal that:

  • Maintains Britain’s access and contributions to EU-wide science and research funding programmes

On nationalisation: Guardian 27th of July 2017.

France nationalises strategic shipyard to thwart Italian ownership.

President Emmanuel Macron orders ‘temporary’ state control of SFX France to save jobs and preserve only shipyard capable of building aircraft carriers.

 

 

Europe, Internationalism, Socialist Alternatives (Pabloism), and…Keir Starmer.

with 8 comments

 

Keir Starmer, people may note, is a member of the Editorial Collective of this journal.

It would be ridiculous to say that Keir Starmer’s support for Socialist Alternatives nearly 30 years ago determines his politics today, as  Labour’s  Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

The group’s  main politics were not ‘trotskyist’, although the name above of Michael Raptis, a historic leader of a dissident libertarian self-management current within that tradition indicates ties and Maurice Najman of the Alliance marxiste révolutionnaire (AMR) indicates connections with the ‘Pabloite’ tradition.

It was, more significantly,  aligned to the European ‘alternative’ movements of the time which stood for ecology, feminism and self-management. These were forerunners of later radical green-left groups, Los Indignados, Podemos, the left of Labour and similar currents within social democratic parties.

But it is encouraging that Starmer’s politics today  are certainly in the line of the policy of fighting for an ‘alternative Europe’, and seeing Europe as the central site of struggle for the left.

How he remains within this perspective, if at all, remains to be seen.

See also: The British Pabloites

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 29, 2017 at 10:48 am

Labour Backs Free Movement and Single Market membership, a Step Forward for Internationalists.

with 11 comments

Image result for labour campaign for free movement

Labour to “abide by EU free movement rules”.

Labour makes dramatic Brexit shift and backs single market membership

Reports the Obsever.

Party opens clear divide with Tories, with support for free movement and paying into EU budgets for up to four years.

Labour is to announce a dramatic policy shift by backing continued membership of the EU single market beyond March 2019, when Britain leaves the EU, establishing a clear dividing line with the Tories on Brexit for the first time.

In a move that positions it decisively as the party of “soft Brexit”, Labour will support full participation in the single market and customs union during a lengthy “transitional period” that it believes could last between two and four years after the day of departure, it is to announce on Sunday.

This will mean that under a Labour government the UK would continue to abide by the EU’s free movement rules, accept the jurisdiction of the European court of justice on trade and economic issues, and pay into the EU budget for a period of years after Brexit, in the hope of lessening the shock of leaving to the UK economy. In a further move that will delight many pro-EU Labour backers, Jeremy Corbyn’s party will also leave open the option of the UK remaining a member of the customs union and single market for good, beyond the end of the transitional period.

Permanent long-term membership would only be considered if a Labour government could by then have persuaded the rest of the EU to agree to a special deal on immigration and changes to freedom of movement rules.

The announcement, revealed in the Observer by the shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, means voters will have a clear choice between the two main parties on the UK’s future relations with the EU after a year in which Labour’s approach has been criticised for lacking definition and appeared at times hard to distinguish from that of the Tories.

(rest of article via above link).

The Financial Times comments,

Change of tack by opposition party puts UK government’s strategy under severe pressure

Theresa May’s Brexit strategy has come under fierce pressure after Labour announced it would change tack and campaign to keep Britain in the EU single market, at least during a transition period. After months of confusion over its Brexit policy, Labour now wants to in effect maintain the status quo in Britain’s relations with Europe for a transition period after the country leaves in March 2019. That would mean payments into the EU budget, free movement of people and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice would continue for a fixed period, possibly up to 2022, setting up a clear dividing line with Mrs May. The Labour policy will be welcomed by business and reflects the Treasury’s view that British companies should face only “one transition”, when Britain moves from an interim regime to a final, settled state based on a proposed free trade agreement.

 also comments,

Can Labour’s change of course over Brexit change Britain’s fate?

This change in position could not have happened without the agreement of Jeremy Corbyn, and that could not be taken for granted at the start of the debate between senior members of the shadow cabinet. Earlier this year, the Labour leader walked through the same Aye lobby as Theresa May for the vote to trigger Article 50 and he whipped Labour MPs to join him there. It is less than two months since he fired three frontbenchers when they supported an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for Britain to stay within the customs union and the single market.

The Labour leader, a career-long Eurosceptic, has not agreed to recalibrate the party’s position on Brexit because he has fundamentally changed his mind about the EU. But Mr Corbyn is more of a politician than his detractors or his admirers often acknowledge. On some things, at least, he can do pragmatism and triangulation as well as any of the other grubby compromisers in the rough old trade. His inner circle and his allies in the shadow cabinet include both Eurosceptics and Europhiles. He has surely noticed – everyone else certainly has – the dislocation between his views about the EU and those of the crowd who adored him at Glastonbury. The younger voters who helped him to upset election expectations in June are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, as are many of his most passionate devotees within the party. A poll for Labour List, conducted before the announcement of this shift, found a substantial majority of party members thought Labour had not adopted a Brexit policy that was sufficiently different to that of the Tories.

This is a major victory for progressive internationalists in the Labour Party.

There remain forces within Labour who will resist this move.

Lexiters, sovereigntists, advocates of a “closed” shop for migration, who count themselves as Jeremy Corbyn’s new best friends, will fight this turn.

It is now above all up to supporters of Free Movement to advance our case.

As Michael Chesson explained a few days ago, in the Clarion,

The cause of free movement belongs to the left, not the right

By Michael Chessum

There is a section of the British left – some of it indigenous to the old Labour left tradition, some of it linked to the old Communist Party – that actively supports border controls, and has always viewed free movement as a means of undermining the power of organised labour. In the Labour establishment, support for border controls has been a regular fixture – whether as a means of appeasing “legitimate concerns” (and racism) about immigration since the 19th century, or as a electorally opportunist response to the Brexit vote.

These sections of the left do not want to have an argument about their position, and for good reason. The idea that we should take away people’s rights on the basis of their nationality (which is what ending free movement means) only makes sense if you are, on some level, internalising or pandering to prejudice and nationalism. Otherwise, we ought to “build a big beautiful wall” separating deprived northern towns from the south east of England, to stop all the inhabitants of Blackpool from coming down here, taking our jobs, flooding our labour market and eating up the housing stock.

The vast majority of progressives and leftwingers would not want to make such a case. That is why, in Labour’s manifesto, the end of free movement was presented as an immovable fait accompli. One week Labour will say that free movement must end because we are leaving the single market; the next it will say that we must leave the single market in order to end free movement.  It’s also why the main argument against free movement in Momentum branches and on the left will be “ssshh, you’ll damage the leadership”, or even “this is a plot by the right to damage Jeremy.”

Yet the fight inside Labour for free movement and migrants’ rights has always been led by the left, not the right. Under Blair, Labour was responsible for introducing some of the harshest asylum laws in Europe, many of them aimed at driving refugees into destitution. It worked with the tabloid press to feed a narrative of immigrant benefit scroungers and government clampdowns.  Historically speaking, the leadership of the trade union movement has often been the most anti-migrant part of it. The immigration controls mug was not designed by CLPD.

And the logic of the arguments for free movement are overwhelmingly radical relative to Labour’s historical centre. We call for all workers to have the same rights, regardless of where they were born – because it is through collective struggle that we improve our lives. We call for massive public investment, common ownership, greatly increased minimum wages and the abolition of anti-union laws. Free movement is part of “our” globalisation – not a step backwards from the social democracy of the Twentieth Century, but a radicalisation of it.

This is not to say that there will not be many on the right of the party who come round to the idea of free movement in the coming period, and not all of them for honest reasons. Some on the right genuinely believe in a similar principled case to that which I would articulate. Some view free movement as an important argument to win for the purposes of remaining in the Single Market and protecting Britain’s business interests. And yes, some will see an opportunity to divide the left and expose the awkward fudges made by the leadership in recent months.

The fact that the argument will be difficult cannot deter us from having it. The question of whether or not Labour should have whipped for Article 50 in March was controversial on the left, as it was across the party, but it was fundamentally a tactical question. Even the bigger debate over EU membership was not a matter of raw principle, in so far as it was possible to offer respectable (if deluded) left wing arguments on both sides.  But ending free movement – dividing workers by nationality, taking away people’s rights, implicitly endorsing of the idea that immigrants undermine living standards – is a matter of deep principle on which the left cannot afford compromise.

Despite appearances, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the prospect of Labour taking a pro-free movement line. Over the past two weeks, about 2,500 Labour members and supporters have joined the Labour Campaign for Free Movement. A number of unions – including some big ones – have come out in favour. And we should not forget that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are friendly to the principle, and have the radical social and economic programme that can make free movement palatable and electable.

You can sign up to it here.

See also from the Economist: The movement for free movement. An alliance of Blairites and Bolsheviks criticises Labour policy

Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to end free movement faces opposition from both left and right.

And, Labour List.  Labour Campaign For The Single Market Launched By McGovern And Alexander

Written by Andrew Coates

August 27, 2017 at 11:21 am

Helen Steel, Victim of Political Police Spy, is Forced to Pay Coppers’ Costs.

leave a comment »

Helen Steel: Respected and Loved in the Labour Movement and on the Left. 

Comrade Helen was targeted by the Police in the  McLibel case.

My Union Branch donated money to support the defendants.

We met Helen at a Blair Peach memorial demonstration in West London.

I have a memory of how she managed to be both serious and approachable despite the burden of the case.

Since that trial, which the McLibel couple, Helen with David Morris, won, this has emerged that “In the course of the UK undercover policing relationships scandal it was revealed that one of the authors of the “McLibel leaflet” was Bob Lambert, an undercover police officer who infiltrated London Greenpeace and Helen Steel’s partner for two years was also an undercover officer.”

 

Bob Lambert, “Lambert infiltrated activist groups (environmentalists, animal rights activists and anti-racists) using the alias Mark “Bob” Robinson. To gain credibility as an activist, he formed friendships with other movement members; he also embarked in long-term relationships with women as a means of establishing a cover story.He fathered a child with one of the activists he was spying on[1] although he already had a wife and children in the suburbs.[8] After that relationship ended he embarked on another with a woman who was politically conscious, but was not herself an activist. His colleagues at Special Branch raided her home in order to bolster his image as a hardcore militant.”

Since then Lambert has been an advocate of “partnerships” with Muslims (“Countering Al Qaeda in London: Police and Muslims in Partnerships (2011): Police and Muslims in Partnerships) and as such won the praise of the Islamophobia Watch site by Ken Livingstone employee Bob Pitt, “Can those who smear Bob Lambert claim such anti-terrorist success?” He is now some kind of ‘academic’.

The Helen Steel case stands on its own:

Here is her statement in December 2016.

The Undercover Policing Inquiry (1) has named John Dines as an undercover police officer (2), the third officer confirmed in recent weeks (3). John Dines was the long term partner of Helen Steel (4), who until recently was suing (5) the police, with seven other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover officers.

It was Helen’s search for John Barker, after he had disappeared from her life, which revealed he was John Dines, an undercover officer. This is only being confirmed by the Inquiry now. Despite settling her legal action with a comprehensive apology (6), the police have until now refused to admit that John Dines was an undercover officer, relying on their ‘policy’ of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ (7).

Helen Steels Statement:

“While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago.  Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser.  To date, despite that apology, they have also refused to confirm the identity of Mark Jenner who deceived ‘Alison’ into a five year relationship.  We and other women similarly deceived have had no disclosure at all about how these abusive relationships were allowed to happen, instead we have been subjected to intrusive demands for evidence of the effects of the abuse.  None of those responsible for this abuse have been held to account – even those still employed by the police have kept their jobs.

It is an insult to the many victims of political undercover policing that the police who are responsible for serious human rights abuses have been allowed to cover up the truth and withhold information from those they abused.  The public inquiry should release as a matter of urgency the cover names of all these political police and also the files they compiled on campaigners, so that those spied on are able to understand what happened and give relevant evidence to the inquiry.

We know that over a thousand campaign groups have been spied upon by these political undercover policing units.  This represents a significant interference with the right to political freedom of thought and the right to protest.  Ultimately it is a means for those who hold power to preserve the status quo and prevent social change.  For this reason it is in the public interest for the cover names of all the political undercover police to be released, along with the files they compiled so that those who have abused their power can be held to account, the public learns the true extent of this political spying in this country and further human rights abuses by such units can be prevented.”

—statement ends—

More on these abuses:  Police Spies Out of Lives  Support group for legal action against undercover policing

Today we learnt this:

Morning Star.

AN ACTIVIST who was deceived into a relationship with an undercover police officer has been ordered to pay £7,000 to cover the Met Police’s legal bill for the 2015 court case relating to the scandal.

Helen Steel is one of eight women who was a victim of the spy cop scandal in which police spies infiltrated campaign groups and trade unions.

Over a 25-year period, at least four other women brought civil claims against undercover police officers who had deceived them into relationships.

There were continual cover-ups over the numbers of police spies who exploited the female activists.

Ms Steel first met John Dines at a London green activists’ meeting in 1987 and, throughout their two-year relationship, knew him as John Barker — but found that he lied about his name, age and background. Police had given him the identity of a dead child.

Only by tracking down Mr Dines last year did she receive an apology and admission that he had been a spy.

He was a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad, which targeted protest groups until it disbanded in 2008.

In 2014, a court ruling allowed the police to maintain that they would “neither confirm nor deny” whether cops were spies and Ms Steel launched an appeal, which she lost.

At the time, she said she felt angry at the continuing cover-up and “the fact that they can have the audacity to claim that the relationships were genuine in any way.

“There is no way anybody would consent to a relationship with somebody if they knew they were using the identity of a child who had died, if they knew that they were there to spy on them, if they knew that everything about that person was fake.”

Blacklist Support Group secretary Dave Smith branded the Met Police shameful.

He praised Ms Steel for her tireless campaigning and told the Star: “The Met Police have already given a public apology, admitted it was human rights abuse and admitted the identity of John Dines.”

An ongoing inquiry into undercover policing — originally led by Christopher Pitchford and now overseen by Sir John Mitting — was launched in 2015 in which Ms Steel is a core participant. But it is yet to take evidence from witnesses.

A friend of one core participant proclaimed they were “flabbergasted at how much control the police have over the evidence and over the process.”

And Mr Smith accused the police of “using tactics to stifle the public inquiry.”

At the time, the Met police, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Crime Agency were all represented by their own barristers and solicitors at preliminary hearings.

But the inquiry only paid for one legal team for the victims, though there were 178 organisations and individuals involved.

The letter, from Weightmans LLP, demands that Ms Steel pay the five-figure sum by Wednesday and informs her that she was sent reminders in August and September 2015.

Ms Steel took to Twitter to express her dismay, saying: “Morally bankrupt Met Police sent spycop John Dines to invade my life and privacy. Now demand I pay them £7,000 for seeking to expose that!”

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2017 at 10:51 am

October. The Story of the October Revolution, China Miéville. Critical Left Reflections.

with 7 comments

Image result for october mieville

October. The Story of the October Revolution, China Miéville. Verso. 2017.

Autumn and the 100th Anniversary of the October Revolution are drawing closer. The harvest of books on the new Soviet Power is still being gathered. It is, no doubt somebody has written, the duty of socialists to study, and this crop comes, for many, at the top of the left’s reading list. Should we begin with Lenin and the debates that have arisen after the publication of Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered: ‘What is to Be Done’ in Context (2008)? The 17th century Jansenist theologian, Saint-Cyran, claimed to have gone through Saint Augustine’s writings, 22 volumes, ten times, and his writings against the Pelagian heretics thirty. (1) There are Leninists whose familiarity with the Collected Works of Lenin  exceeds that modest accomplishment. Far better, if we are to grasp what was a stake in Russia in 1917, to start first with accounts of events: the contending politics and theories, Bolsheviks and their opponents, are embodied in the acts of the revolution.

China Miéville’s contribution is, as he announces, “a short introduction for those curious about an astonishing story, eager to be caught up in the revolution’s rhythms. (Page 2). If it is more than as a “story” that he tells the tale, Miéville, from the radical left, and the accomplished author of the BasLag weird fiction trilogy, brings a freshness and enthusiasm to the narrative, which begins in the 19th century Tsarist Russian opposition, the 1905 Revolution, and above, all the immense tragedy of the Great War which overshadowed the events that unfolded. October leaves little doubt that the immediate alternative to All Power to the Soviets was not a coalition of the left, but the threat of a successful far-right coup that would have accomplished what General Kornilov had failed impose. Miéville has both charmed and irritated those already familiar with the plot, and, one hopes, instilled both interest and caution in those not.

The Saint-Cyrans amongst the left have not been slow to argue about the take on Lenin’s Letters from Afar (March 1917), which called for the Bolsheviks to take state power. For some this remains a “bombshell”, advocating an accelerated move towards a socialist regime, telescoping previous alliances and revolutionary ‘stages’ into an immediate drive towards something close to socialism. But Miéville claims (following Lars Lih) that, “His argument that the revolution must continue remained clear, as did his exhortation to worker, ‘you must perform miracles of proletarian and popular organisation to prepare for your victory in the second stage of the revolution’ – a stage not of socialism, he would soon clarify, but of taking political power, of winning over the Soviet, to ensure the victory of the (necessarily bourgeois, democratic) revolution (Page 98). It was “continuity Bolshevism, and yet contained the seeds of a distinct and more trenchant position”. (Page 99) Readers who wish to make their own judgement can follow debates on the relationship between socialism, the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry and other aspects of Bolshevik programme and doctrine.

Defending the Revolution.

Of far greater interest are Miéville’s defences of the Revolution. In a concluding chapter there is a series of reflections on its outcome, to put it simply, Stalinism. The state organised Red Terror was, in a manner familiar to anybody acquainted with Miéville’s former organisation the Socialist Workers Party, explained as a result of external circumstances. The Civil War was the cause, ““Under such unrelenting pressures, these are months and years of unspeakable barbarity and suffering, starvation, mass death, the near-total collapse of industry and culture, of banditry, pogroms, torture and cannibalism. The beleaguered regime unleashes the Red terror.”(Page 312). Yet, ““there is no doubt that its reach a depth expand beyond control; that some agents of the Cheka the political police, seduced by personal power, sadism or the degradation of the moment are thugs and murders unconstrained by political conviction and wielding new authority. There is no shortage of testimonials as to their dreadful acts.”(Ibid).

October does not examine the view that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” unconstrained by the rule of law is fertile ground for abuse, thugs and murders. One may disagree with Kautsky’s critique of Bolshevism. But if Lih is correct that Lenin accepted the view that the democratic republic was an important stage in the “ripening of the proletariat” it is not the view that this is a “stage” “the essential basis for building up a Socialist system if production” that favours the eventual conquest of political power, that strikes us most today. It is his opinion that “people’s rights” such as “the protection of minorities” are the bedrock of socialism. (2)

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat. 

Was Soviet Power, on the basis of interpreting Lenin’s reflections in State and Revolution (1917), made up of “working bodies, executive and legislative at the same time” a vehicle for these rights? Could take the state and politics back into the hands of the – restricted – electorate who controlled them? Lenin’s model was the barely over a couple of months long Paris Commune (8 Mar 1871 – 28 May 1871), a pluralist assembly, a heroic stand,  but which ended in a deep split between the patriotic majority of Blanquists who wished to fight by any means to the end, and an opposition of Proudhonists  and supporters of the First International (Prosper-Olivier Lissagaray, Histoire de la Commune de 1871,  Published, 1876 and a standard source for Marxists for many years). Its own administrative achievements – contested – aside, this perhaps illustrates the difficulties of revolutionary democracy in war.

As Isaac Deutscher memorably commented, the Bolsheviks refused to allow the “famished and emotionally unhinged country to vote their party out of power and itself into a bloody chaos” are not hard to grasp. (3)

They had always tacitly assumed that the majority of the working class having backed them in the revolution, would go on to support them unswervingly until they had carried out the full programme of socialism. Naïve as the assumption was, it sprang from the notion that socialism was the proletarian idea par excellence that the proletariat, having once adhered to it would not abandon it. (Ibid)

The Russian Dictatorship of the Proletariat had immense ambitions. Soviet power was a lever to the transition towards socialism. But disagreements arose over the methods used to that aim. Those opposed to the militarisation of labour in War Communism, to the One Man Management that emerged, Taylorism, and what is called ‘bureaucracy’ indicated that the content, the social institutions, of ‘socialism’ were not something that was already there in the “programme”. No number of warnings about external threats can retrospectively annul the fact that the dissident voices within the left, the critics of Bolshevism whose views were far from the ‘formalism’ of Kautsky and the social democrats who rejected the revolution en bloc,

In a more open-minded fashion than many who wish to defend Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ state of grace,  Miéville says, Those who count themselves on the side of the revolution must engage with these failures and crimes. To do otherwise is to fall into apologia, special pleading, hagiography – and to run the risk of repeating such mistakes.”(Page 317) But without human rights, how can we judge such abuses? Without such standards – not trumped by the necessities of the moment – what do we have left? This is more fundamental than the ban on Bolshevik “factions” that took place at the  10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) 1921, that is –initially limited – clamp down on the freedom of inner-party debate. But even if the Party had reached agreements to tolerate loyal extra-party opposition, say with left Mensheviks and ‘non-party’ representatives in the Soviets – that is accepting disagreements in terms that they set, there was no prospect of accepting pluralism as such, that is the right of an opposition to say what they wish. As the twenties wore on this was no longer a matter of the external constraints of civil war, ‘temporary measures’, but became a matter of doctrine.

The Russian Revolution, it is customary to say, contained many potentials. Miéville points to the sense of popular power that it unleashed. Government decrees, on women’s rights, decriminalising homosexuality, and the recognition of national rights as the USSR was formed from different ‘republics’, and – within the limits of the censorship – artistic creatively briefly flourished. But the strategy of a ‘transitional dictatorship’ was the worm in the fruit.

******

(1) Page 293. Tome l. Port-Royal. Sainte-Beuve, Charles-Augustin. 3rd Edition. 1867.

(2) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Karl Kautsky. Ann Arbor. 1964 (1919)

(3) Page 505, The Prophet Armed. Trotsky 1879 – 1921. Isaac Deutscher. Oxford University press. 1979.

Moroccan sit-in Protest against Sexual Assault.

leave a comment »

https://i0.wp.com/img.bfmtv.com/c/1000/600/6e7/04989d07ed90735563b23000877c7.jpg

 

Hundreds of Moroccans stage mass sit-in protest after teenage boys sexually assault woman on bus.

The Independent.

Around 300 protesters chant ‘We are not afraid!’ as they march in Casablanca.

Hundreds of Moroccans have staged a mass sit-in in Casablanca on Wednesday evening in protest against the aggressive sexual assault of a woman on a bus, in a case that has sparked outrage across Morocco.

The 18 August assault was filmed and posted online, quickly going viral.

Protesters chanted “We are not afraid! Liberate public space!” as they marched in Morocco’s largest city.

In the video, the 24-year-old victim can be seen crying, while a group of teenagers molest her, insult her and tear her clothes off. No passengers intervened to help as the footage was shot.

Sexual harassment, violence, and abuse of women is a major problem in Morocco. Nearly two-thirds of women have experienced sexual, physical, psychological or economic abuse, according to a national survey.

This is also not the first time a video showing harassment of a woman has sparked mass complaints. Earlier in August, 10 seconds of footage showing a woman being chased by a group of men in Tangier infuriated rights activists, but also sparked a debate about victim blaming after some Moroccans posted online saying it was the woman’s own fault for wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

 

BFMTV. 24/08/2017 à 06h44

Manifestation à Casablanca contre les violences sexuelles faites aux femmes, le 23 août 2017

 

Background in Libération:

Au Maroc, «la femme dans la rue est une proie potentielle ou une bête à abattre»

In Morocco a woman in the street is either potential prey or a beast to be slaughtered.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Foretaste of End of Freedom of Movement in the EU: EU Citizen Detention Letters Sent in Error.

with 10 comments

Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg

Eva Johanna Holmberg, one of those targeted by 100 deportation letters sent in error to EU citizens living in the UK.

This morning those of us who are pro-Freedom of Movement, and back, for example, the Labour Campaign for Freedom of Movement, received urgent E-Mails.

 

 

It turns out this was an ‘error’, but this mistake gives us a foretaste of what life under Brexit is going to be like.

EU citizen detention letters sent in error.

The BBC reports.

The Home Office sent about 100 letters “in error” to EU citizens living in the UK, telling them they were liable for “detention”.

The mistake emerged after a Finnish academic, who has the right to live in the UK, received one of the letters.

Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg, who is married to a British citizen, was told she had a month to leave.

A Home Office spokesperson said “the rights of EU nationals living in the UK remain unchanged”.

Everyone who received a letter would be contacted to “clarify that they can disregard it”, they said.

“A limited number of letters were issued in error and we have been urgently looking into why this happened,” the spokesperson added.

Dr Holmberg, who works at London’s Queen Mary University, had originally applied for a “qualified person certificate” before receiving the letter.

These registration certificates – for citizens from the European Economic Area or Swiss nationals – confirm the right to live in the UK for those who meet certain criteria.

The historian said the “absurd nonsense” had made her “even less likely” to trust politicians in the wake of Brexit.

‘Shame Britain’

James McGrory, executive director of the pro-EU group Open Britain, said: “This is shameful stuff from the same department that gave us the disgraceful ‘go home’ vans a few years ago.

“It’s little wonder that many EU citizens feel worried about their future status in the UK when they hear of people with every right to be here getting letters threatening their deportation.”

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the letters “shame Britain”.

“EU nationals who have made their lives here are already facing huge uncertainty over Brexit. It is appalling that some are now being officially threatened with deportation,” he said.

He called for Home Secretary Amber Rudd to personally apologise to those affected and to ensure they are reimbursed for any legal costs incurred because of the letters.

The pro-Brexit left has many who heartily agree with ending freedom of movement in the UK, comparing regulating labour movement – that is people’ s right to residence and work – to union power exercised in closed shops.

Others claim that they enthusiastically backed Brexit because they want a revolution against EU ‘neoliberalism’, and see it as a step to ending all control on migration, and a move to join their comrades on other planets who are already enjoying the actuality of the revolution.

Well, this is a monstrous injustice and our hearts go out to those put in fear by this ‘error’.

Sanction the bastards who did this, hard!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Brendan O’Neill Gets Offended at the “Orwellian War on History”.

with 7 comments

Related image

“Everyone’s smashing statues” Says Upset Bendan O’Neill.

 

Brendan O’Neill is the author of A Duty to Offend (2015). He is Editor of spiked  and a columnist for the Big Issue and Reason. He writes widely for a variety of other publications, including the Telegraph, the Spectator and the Australian.

He is also a former member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group, which was a split from the Socialist Workers Party.

A Duty to Offend takes little time over  those who take this responsibility to heart, such as Charlie Hebdo (a publication few had heard of, he notes – not bleeding on this Blog ) and a great  many words on those Offended.

This set a pattern. In the O’Neil world Snowflakes, Trigger Warnings and whatever US term of the minute is recycled in the media, are flung around. in Spiked and by the man himself.

As in today’s Sun,

BRENDAN O’NEILL

The CPS’s decision to crack down on online mockery is a recipe for tyranny

In elevating online slights to the level of hate crime, the CPS has written a Snowflakes’ Charter…

All those snowflakes and professional offence-takers who think a cross word is as bad as a slap in the face will relish this opportunity to land their critics in the dock.

A man of many words his take on life, for the benefit of anybody who does not wish to plough further, can be boiled down and served up in the following,

Every leap forward in history, every freedom we enjoy, is a product of individuals having given “offence” — having offended against the orthodoxies of their age. Offensiveness is not just something we have to grudgingly accept. Offensiveness is the motor of human progress.

But now apparently O’Neil is Offended.

An Orwellian war on the past.

The control of public space is an attempt to control thinking itself.

Everyone’s smashing statues. From Islamic State hotheads sledgehammering ancient artefacts in old Mesopotamian cities to plummy students at Oxford demanding the removal of busts of old colonialists, waging war on the past is all the rage.

A Year Zero mentality is on the march. People seem hellbent on wiping out history, making it invisible, and starting society all over again, cleansed of the likenesses of dead people of whom they disapprove.

In truth, there’s nothing good in this mob-like erasure of history. It’s a reactionary, even Orwellian, movement. The urge to ethically cleanse public life of “bad history”, to shove down the memory hole any bust or tribute to past folk whose values make us bristle today, is intolerant, illiberal and profoundly paternalistic.

During the past week, the irrational fury against inanimate objects moved up a gear. First, there were the disturbances in Charlottesville, Virginia, when disagreements over a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee descended into violent clashes between leftists and neo-fascists.

….reeks of PC paternalism. The idea that minority groups can’t cope with seeing statues of dead people who did some dodgy things is an affront to their intelligence and autonomy. It infantil­ises them, even suggesting they will feel physically wounded by history: after all, “there is a violence” to these statues.

..

it’s a low, brutal form of censorship, and we should have no truck with it.

Offensive innit?

What would Orwell have said?

Well he would have said that it is wrong to conflate the genocidal rule of the Islamic state with movements against the public reminders of contentious figures of the past, that honour them.  He would then have talked about the past being honoured, starting perhaps with his own experience of Imperial rule in Burma.

In Moulmein, in Lower Burma, I was hated by large numbers of people – the only … by-products of imperialism; ask any Anglo-Indian official, if you can catch him …”  Shooting An Elephant.  1936.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 22, 2017 at 12:04 pm

The State: A Cautionary Tale? Review of Peter Kosminsky’s Drama about British Recruits to the Islamic State.

with 8 comments

Image result for The State channel four

The State: A Cautionary Tale?

The first episode of The State, the tale of four British people who leave Europe and join the Islamic State in Raqqa Syria, was shown last night. Channel Four, at a time of glossy, paper-thin, series, terrestrial, streamed or in Box Sets, needs no justification to show serious tragedy. Peter Kosminsky, who adapted Wolf Hall, it was a “narrative that needed to be told”. “As far as I know there’s been no other depiction certainly in drama, of what happens to young British Muslims when they arrive in Islamic State.” (The ‘I’. 17.8.17)

The audience hardly has to be told of the importance of the subject. Globalisation means not only that media had brought a cascade of information about Daesh and its acts, but also has facilitated the recruitment of these supporters amongst several thousand other Europeans. As Graeme Wood put this in the Way of Strangers (2017) “Since 2010, tens of thousands of men, women and children have migrated to a theocratic state, under the belief that migration is a sacred obligation and that the state’s leader is the worldly successor of the last and greatest of prophets. If religious scholars see no role for religion in a mass movement like this, they see no role for religion in the world.”

This should not lead us to forget that ISIS was able to create its original totalitarian strongholds from many more Middle Eastern recruits in the wake the bloodbaths of post-invasion Iraq, and the Syrian civil war. Or that, as Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan have recounted, their “draconian rule and religious obscurantism” was initially resisted in Raqqa itself by brave individuals like schoolteacher Souad Nofa (Pages 187 – 190. Isis. Inside the Army of Terror. 2015)

In this vein, The State Kosminsky has stated that the production is based on extensive research both about life in Raqqa, and the “relationship many radical Muslims have with their faith”. “These people are either recent converts to Islam or people [who are] born Muslims, but who’ve been relatively recently ‘born again’ relatively recently and come to an interest in the faith”.

Radicalisation.

Sunday’s broadcast did not begin with lengthy treatment of the process of ‘radicalisation’ that led to the voyage to Raqqa. We are rushed into the crossing into Syria, hungry for clues about whether the recruits were ‘self-radicalised’, dreamt of their own pious utopia, or were pushed into Jihad by a passage through Salafism and recruiters who float in its milieu, as Gilles Kepel famously suggests (La Fracture. 2016).

Some indications about their background do emerge. Adolescent Ushna is anxious to fit in and wed. She hopes to be “a lioness amongst the lions” but her manners suggest an effort to adapt to Daesh’s Islamist rules, as do the other, mobile phone hugging, companions. Single mother and Junior Doctor, the Black British Shakira,  wants to tend to the – Islamist – sick. In a  scene, with echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale, women are instructed by American convert  Umm Walid, brittleness peppered with “sweeties”,  in their proper role as helpmeets. This Ushna challenges, as if she was in a university seminar, by citing female warriors at the time of the Prophet. 

Towards the end of the programme, a speech, in which the male combatants are informed of the coming Apocalypse, when America has been lured into their territory and Armageddon will unfurl, suggests something of Olivier Roy’s Jihadist “imaginaire” (Le djihad et la mort. 2016). Yet the characters already show ambiguity towards this war, a global jihad waged with the utmost force against the unclean, unbelieving “Kuffar” (the word constantly used in The State), whose violent momentum Roy considers the source of the attraction of ISIS.

The State is, Kosminsky has announced, a “cautionary tale” far from a “recruitment video”. We can expect disillusion, although it is hard to see why anybody should feel empathy for those, portrayed by actors,  who have joined an armed totalitarian organisation, a would-be state, whose genocidal acts are more than well known and self-advertised. It is certainly a powerful story, well dramatised. 

 

Whether this series will help shed light on the wider conflicts in the Middle East, from the Civil War in Syria to Iraq, where, as Gilbert Achcar has underlined, there are many other murdering bands, not to mention the Assad regime itself, remains to be seen (Morbid Symptoms: Relapse in the Arab Uprising  2016) But we hope, that after we see how Daesh treats women, we’ll hear a lot less of the genre of comments by Judith Butler about the Burka carrying “many meanings of agency” which Westerners have not grasped. (Precarious life. The Powers of Mourning and Violence. 2006)

Next episode tonight…

******

The State is a four-part mini-series following the story of four British men and women who have left their lives behind to join ISIS in Syria, and although it is a fictional story, it is based on extensive research of real life events.

Channel Four.

The Mail reviewer Christopher Stevens  says,

The State is no sort of truthful drama, as it claims to be. This is a recruitment video to rival Nazi propaganda of the Thirties calling young men to join the Brownshirts.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Call to Court to Declare George Galloway Bankrupt.

with 26 comments

Image result for george galloway bankrupt

I used to be George Galloway you know!

Our old friend Mr 5.7% (Manchester Gorton 2017) is in hot water again.

Former aide asks court to declare George Galloway bankrupt

George Galloway is facing the threat of bankruptcy in a bitter feud with the former parliamentary aide who once complained that she had to buy his underwear.

Aisha Ali-Khan, a Muslim women’s rights activist, has issued a petition to bankrupt the former MP, according to records at the Bankruptcy Court.

Ms Ali-Khan has been engaged in a long-running dispute with Mr Galloway. Last year she accepted costs and damages, believed to be a five-figure sum, to settle a libel battle over his allegation that she had used his home for trysts. He issued a public apology in a statement read by his lawyer in the High Court.

Bankruptcy Court records show that Mr Galloway applied last month to set aside a statutory demand for payment…

The rest behind Times paywall.

 

George Galloway pays libel damages to former aide over ‘dirty tricks campaign’ claims 

The former MP withdrew his accusations  Samuel Osborne  Monday 20 June 2016

George Galloway has agreed to pay undisclosed damages to a former aide over claims she conspired to run a “dirty tricks campaign” against him.

The former MP withdrew his allegations against Aisha Ali-Khan and agreed to pay damages along with legal costs.

Ms Ali-Khan brought libel proceedings in London’s High Court after the Respect Party leader published a statement on his website in October 2012.

George Galloway’s firm goes bust, owing £100,000 tax

Company set up by George Galloway, the left-wing firebrand, to channel earnings from Iranian state-funded broadcaster was put into liquidation with £100,000 debts Telegraph 27th February 2016.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 19, 2017 at 11:52 am

Barcelona Attack, Love, Solidarity and Sadness: Reflections.

with one comment

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DHgYTEGWAAA3IiZ.jpg

Barcelona: “No tenim por! No tienen miedo! We are not Afraid!

 

Spanish police kill five suspected terrorists in resort town of Cambrils

Suspects believed to have been preparing attack following killings in Barcelona on Thursday afternoon; one woman injured has since died. El País

ISIS claims responsibility for Barcelona terror attack that killed at least 13 people

Police detain three suspects, naming Driss Oukabir, who allegedly rented the van used in the attack El País

Isis supporters celebrate Barcelona attack after the terror group claim responsibility.

Independent.

Several pro-Isis social media channels put out messages in Spanish such as “Kill the Spanish pigs” and users changed their profile pictures to Driss Oukabir, a suspect in custody.

More: Daesh reivindica el atentado y llama a matar “cerdos españoles”

Barcelona and its people have a special place in many hearts.

The history and culture of the City is celebrated and loved throughout the world.

It goes without saying that many are keenly aware of the tragic 20th century history of Barcelona. Some on the English speaking left will have read the translation of Max Aub’s Campo cerrado (1943, translated as Field of Honour 2009), “It tells the story of Rafael Serrador, a young man from Castellón, near Valencia who, aged sixteen, moves to Barcelona. He gradually becomes involved in politics. He is very unsure of himself and what he believes and ends up joining the Falange, i.e. the Fascists. He starts becoming disillusioned when the leader tells him that he is interested only in ideas and not people. When the Spanish Civil War does break out, at the end of the novel, we follow events in Barcelona as the workers resist the take-over of the city by the Fascists and Nationalists. At this point, Rafael realises the error of his ways and fights with the anarchists rather than the Falange.  (The Modern Novel).

It is to be hoped that the same left will respond with dignity to the present horrific events.

We do not need a further recycling of the idea that the murders took place because of “imperialism”, and “Western Wars”.

Nor do we need yet another ‘Nothing to do with Islam’, “so-called Islamic State” lecture, still less ‘Islam is a religion of Peace’ homily.

A simple declaration of love for those affected by the slaughter and condemnation of the killers is the principal message called for. 

We could however mention this,

Islamist extremists suspected of opening fire on diners at Turkish restaurant popular with foreigners in Ouagadougou.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 18, 2017 at 12:29 pm

As Trump’s Crassness Reaches New Heights Antifa in the Spotlight.

with 17 comments

Trump’s Crassness Reaches New Heights.

In the wake of these events Louis Proyect has written an important article,

Antifa and the perils of adventurism

I would suggest reading the full post but these extracts are worth flagging up:

Turning now to Charlottesville, it is obvious to me that if the protests had been disciplined and under the control of marshals such as was the norm during the Vietnam antiwar movement, there would have been much less of a chance that James Fields would have been able to drive his Dodge Challenger into a crowd, killing a young woman and injuring 19 others.

The antifa contingent came to the city with the intent of turning it into a battle between the fascists and their own street fighters in the same way that it “intervened” at the Berkeley protest against Milo Yiannopoulos. Fortunately, nobody was killed or injured at Berkeley but the protest lacked political clarity.

The same cannot be said about his appearance at the University of Washington in Seattle on Inauguration Day. During a melee between the black bloc and cops outside the hall where Yiannopoulos was speaking, IWW member Josh Dukes was shot by Elizabeth Hokoana, a Trump supporter. Her husband Marc was arrested with her as an accomplice. Dukes has lost his gall bladder, half his colon and is left with a severely damaged liver.

If you want to keep tabs of the adventurists who are unaccountable to anybody outside of their ranks, you need to consult the “It’s Going Down” website. There you can read an assessment of the Charlottesville events by an anonymous author, which is typical of the lack of accountability that exists in this milieu. Titled “Charlottesville and the Rise of Fascism in the USA: What We Need to Do”, it is certainly not what one would call an exercise in false modesty.

Louis summarises the ideas behind these groups, which could stand for sections of the  larger and more important (not least because fascism has held state power in countries on the Continent European anti-fascist movements,

The enemy is not fascism as much as it is capitalism that exploits the working class according to civilized norms that would never be associated with the swastika or other fascist regalia. How do I know? Just read the NY Times op-ed page that screams bloody murder about Trump but gave Obama and Hillary Clinton a free pass. It was, after all, Democratic Party indifference to the suffering of the majority of Americans that led to the current crisis.

In a way, the American antifa movement suffers the same kind of political myopia as the original movement in postwar Germany, where Socialists and Communists tried to root out the residual Nazism left behind in the German state. This history is detailed in a Jacobin article titled “The Lost History of Antifa” written by contributing editor Loren Balhorn who is a member of Die Linke.

This is harshly put, but the ultimate focus on “capitalism” remains behind  many, though far from all,  present day movements in Europe.

Unfortunately Louis fails to mention the more positive side of this hard-line approach, that is building working class resistance to the far–right. The British Anti-Facsist Action may not have represented large forces but the ideas they held could sum this stand up, “AFA had what they called a “twin-track” strategy: physical confrontation of fascists on the streets and ideological struggle against fascism in working class communities.”

At a time when the French Front National is the largest party amongst manual employees and has an ever stronger presence in the traditionally unionised left-voting areas of France, such as the North, this remains an issue which has to be taken seriously.

Proyect ends with these controversial comments,

As a small, self-appointed savior of the America people, the antifa milieu has little grasp of the tasks that face us. Right now it is the cops, not Richard Spencer, that is killing Black people with impunity. All across the country, fracking and other forms of environmental despoliation will be on the rise under Donald Trump. This requires a powerful mass movement to confront, not small-scale skirmishes. We are dealing with frightening confrontations over North Korea that cry out for a new anti-nuclear movement, not stupid, childish window-breaking.

I doubt that anybody involved with window-breaking, fist-fighting idiocy is capable of rising to the occasion but I urge people who have been seduced by their fake militancy in the same way that they got a kick out of the viral Richard Spencer getting punched video to wise up. We are in for some stormy battles and intelligence is needed much more than empty bravado.

This is how the US media reports Antifa,

What is Antifa? CNN.

Antifa is short for anti-fascists. The term is used to define a broad group of people whose political beliefs lean toward the left — often the far left — but do not conform with the Democratic Party platform. The group doesn’t have an official leader or headquarters, although groups in certain states hold regular meetings.

Antifa positions can be hard to define, but many members support oppressed populations and protest the amassing of wealth by corporations and elites. Some employ radical or militant tactics to get their message across.

Scott Crow, a longtime Antifa organizer, says the “radical ideals” promoted by Antifas are starting to be adopted by liberals. “They would never have looked at (those ideals) before, because they saw us as the enemy as much as the right-wingers.”

The majority of Antifa members don’t fall into a stereotype. Since the election of President Donald Trump, however, most new Antifa members are young voters.

The exact origins of the group are unknown, but Antifa can be traced to Nazi Germany and Anti-Fascist Action, a militant group founded in the 1980s in the United Kingdom.

Modern-day members of Antifa have become more active in making themselves known at public rallies and within the progressive movement, said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “What they’re trying to do now is not only become prominent through violence at these high-profile rallies, but also to reach out through small meetings and through social networking to cultivate disenfranchised progressives who heretofore were peaceful,” Levin said.

Members have been spotted at high-profile, right-wing events across the country, including Milo Yiannopoulos’ appearance at the University of California, Berkeley in February. They also protested (at – Blog Editor’s note)  President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

While it can be difficult to distinguish Antifa activists from other protesters, some dress head to toe in black. Members call this the “Black Bloc.” They also wear masks to hide their identities from the police and whomever they are protesting (against – Blog Editor’s note).

The group is known for causing damage to property during protests. In Berkeley, black-clad protesters wearing masks threw Molotov cocktails and smashed windows at the student union center where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held. Crow said members use violence as a means of self-defense and they believe property destruction does not equate to violence.

“There is a place for violence. Is that the world that we want to live in? No. Is it the world we want to inhabit? No. Is it the world we want to create? No. But will we push back? Yes,” Crow said.

Peter Beinart gives a different perspective.

What Trump Gets Wrong About Antifa

If the President is concerned about violence on the left, he can start by fighting the white supremacist movements whose growth has fueled its rise.

In his Tuesday press conference, Donald Trump talked at length about what he called “the alt left.” White supremacists, he claimed, weren’t the only people in Charlottesville last weekend that deserved condemnation. “You had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he declared. “Nobody wants to say that.”

I can say with great confidence that Trump’s final sentence is untrue. I can do so because the September issue of The Atlantic contains an essay of mine entitled “The Rise of the Violent Left,” which discusses the very phenomenon that Trump claims “nobody wants” to discuss. Trump is right that, in Charlottesville and beyond, the violence of some leftist activists constitutes a real problem. Where he’s wrong is in suggesting that it’s a problem in any way comparable to white supremacism.

What Trump calls “the alt left” (I’ll explain why that’s a bad term later) is actually antifa, which is short for anti-fascist. The movement traces its roots to the militant leftists who in the 1920s and 1930s brawled with fascists on the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. It revived in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when anti-racist punks in Britain and Germany mobilized to defeat Neo-Nazi skinheads who were infiltrating the music scene. Via punk, groups calling themselves anti-racist action—and later, anti-fascist action or antifa—sprung up in the United States. They have seen explosive growth in the Trump era for an obvious reason: There’s more open white supremacism to mobilize against.

As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifa activists generally combat white supremacism not by trying to change government policy but through direct action. They try to publicly identify white supremacists and get them fired from their jobs and evicted from their apartments. And they disrupt white-supremacist rallies, including by force.

As I argued in my essay, some of their tactics are genuinely troubling….

Full article here.

This is how Spencer Sunshine reported his experience of Charlottesville.

I Almost Died in Charlottesville

The anti-racist demonstration against the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was the most frightening I have ever been to. Yes, I was in the crowd when a car—driven by a man who had been marching in uniform with a neo-Nazi group—slammed into the crowd, killing one and injuring at least 19. But that was only part of it. With armed militias on the streets playing an unclear role, police being even more opaque about their intent and 1,000 fascists on the streets of what seemed like a ghost town, this was not an ordinary demonstration.

Although the event was set to start at noon, attendees of the White nationalist “Unite the Right” rally started gathering at Emancipation Park early in the morning. Various counter-protesters met up in different parts of the city rather than holding a single, unified rally or march, and anti-racist clergy members headed directly to the park early in the morning. Around 9:30 a.m., the antifascists who ended up having fights with White nationalists arrived.

Authorities almost immediately lost control of the situation and declared the White nationalist rally and the anti-racist counter-demonstration an “unlawful assembly.” At about 1:40 p.m., the car rammed into anti-racists who were celebrating the fact that “Unite the Right” had been halted.

Charlottesville, Virginia, is a picturesque town, filled with precious little houses and statues of Confederate generals. It was the city council’s attempt to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee that set off previous Far Right demonstrations. The first, a torch-lit rally led by alt-right figure Richard Spencer, was in May. The second, a small Ku Klux Klan rally, took place in July. But the August 12 event billed as “Unite the Right” ended up being the largest White nationalist gathering since a 1987 rally in Forsyth County, Georgia, in support of it remaining a sundown county where Black people weren’t allowed to live. That drew 3,000 people.

I have been warning people for the past year about the rising tide of White nationalist violence. In a July 2016 article for Colorlines, when it still looked like Republican candidate Donald Trump would go down in flames, I warned about a new wave of White nationalist and other Far Right violence. I saw that Trump was energizing the movement. A series of clashes with antifascists also seemed to invigorate some of the Far Right. I sounded the alarm in June—after Jeremy Christianallegedly murdered two men on a Portland, Oregon, light rail who were trying to stop his racist and Islamophobic harassment of two young women—that we should “expect more murders” from the Far Right. Their movement is a drumbeat of violence, created by the demonizing narratives they use against groups they perceive to be threats: “foreign enemies,” historically oppressed groups and domestic political opponents. Whether they are people of color, Muslims, Jewish people, LGBTQ people or perceived Communists, the Far Right always imagines a monster that they can act monstrous toward.

Last week, I published another warning on the website of Political Research Associates where I am an associate fellow. I wrote that up to 1,000 people were coming to “Unite the Right,” including members of the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America. James Alex Fields Jr., the 20-year-old who was charged with murder for allegedly driving his car into a mass of counter-protesters, rallied with the group that day, sporting their logo and shield.

In fact, the only thing I was wrong about was that counter-protestors didn’t outnumber the White nationalists as I predicted they would. They appeared to be there in equal numbers, and during the face-off at the park in the morning, the White nationalists outnumbered the anti-racist counter-protestors by about five to one.

Full article here.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Yazidi female fighters, Charlottesville: ‘Unite against fascism

with one comment

Image result for yazidi female fighters unite against fascism

Members of the Yazidi Sinjar Women’s Units (YJŞ) currently fighting the Islamic State in its self-declared capital Raqqa, have sent an exclusive photograph to The Region in which they commemorate Heather Heyer, the anti-fascist activist killed in Charlottesville.

The four women are seen in the photograph making victory signs and holding two messages written in black ink on white paper in front of a YJŞ flag and poster of imprisoned Kurdistan Worker’s party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. One of the messages reads, ‘R.I.P Heather Heyer,’ while the other states, ‘Unite against fascism,’ with #Charlottesville written to the side.

In a short statement sent to The Region along with the photograph, the women said they were deeply affected by Heather Heyer’s death and called her “a martyr.”

“As women who have suffered at the hands of Daesh [ISIS] we know well the dangers that fascist, racist, patriarchal and nationalist groups and organisations pose. Once again men of this mind-set, this time in America, have martyred a woman, Heather Heyer, who was resisting against the division and destruction of communities.”

Thirty-two -year-old Heather Heyer was killed after a vehicle driven by white-supremacist James Alex Fields Jr., rammed into a group of counter protestors demonstrating against a “Unite the Right” rally organised by white nationalist and far-right groups in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The statement went on to say that women across the world had stood with the Yazidis following the Islamic State attack on Sinjar in August 2014 – during which thousands of women belonging to the minority religious group were killed and kidnapped – and that now Yazidi women were “organised and strong enough to fight back.”

“We believe that Heather Heyer’s struggle is our struggle and that the fight against fascism is a global battle. For this reason, we are calling on women around the world to unite against fascism and put an end to terrorist groups like Daesh and those made from the same cloth that kill women like Heather.”

The YJŞ was established in October 2015 to “protect the Yazidi population” according to the group’s founding document. The all-female group is allied to the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ), which was trained by the PKK, and adheres to the ideology of its imprisoned leader Ocalan.

The Region.

From the Kurdish Question. 12.7.17.

Three internationalist volunteers of the People’s Defense (Protection) Unit (YPG) have been killed in clashes with the jihadist Islamic State (ISIS) group in Raqqa, northern Syria.

Briton Luke Rutter (Soro Zinar), 22, and Americans Robert Grodt (Demhat Goldman), 28, and Nicholas Alan Warden (Rodi Deysie), 29, lost their lives in battles on 5-6 July.

The YPG released a statement sending condolences to the families of the men and said they had “fought bravely against Daesh [ISIS] fascism and terrorism.”

The YPG released videos of the men’s final messages and photos on its Facebook page. (Click the names below to watch the videos.)

Demhat Goldman

Soro Zinar

Rodi Deysie

Since the Rojava Revolution and fight against ISIS hit global headlines hundreds of international volunteers have joined YPG/YPJ ranks. With the death of the three volunteers, the number of international volunteers killed in battle has gone up to 28.

List of International Volunteers killed in action in Rojava-Democratic Federation of Northern Syria
1. Ashley Johnston 23 Feb 2015 AUS
2. Kosta Scurfield 2 Mar 2015 UK/GR
3. Ivana Hoffman 7 March 2015 GER
4. Mihemed Kerim 5 May 2015 IRAN
5. Keith Broomfield 3 Jun 2015 USA
6. Arnavut Karker. 26 June 2015 AL
7. Reece Harding 27 June 2015 AUS
8. Kevin Jochim 6 Jul 2015. GER
9. John Gallagher 4 Nov 2015 CAN
10. Gunter Hellstern 23 Feb 2016 GER
11. Mario Nunes 3 May 2016 POR
12. Jamie Bright 25 May 2016 AUS
13. Levi Jonathan Shirley 14 July 2016 USA
14. Dean Carl Evans 21 July 2016 UK
15. Martin Gruden 27 July 2016 SLO
16. Firaz Kardo 3 August 2016 SWE/EGYPT
17. Jordan MacTaggart 3 August 2016 USA
18. William Savage 10 Aug 2016 USA
19. Michael Israel 24 Nov 2016 USA
20. Anton Leschek 24 Nov 2016 GER.
21. Ryan Lock 21 Dec 2016 UK
22. Nazzareno Tassone 21 Dec 2016 CAN
23. Paolo Todd 15 January 2017 USA
24. Albert A Harrington 25 January 2017 USA
25. Merdali Süleymanov 23 April 2017 KAZ
26. Robert Grodt 5 July 2017 USA
27. Nicolas A Warden 5 July 2017 USA
28. Luke Rutter 5 July 2017 UK

Written by Andrew Coates

August 15, 2017 at 12:07 pm

Row in Northern Ireland Labour Party, Boyd Black: ‘Maoist’ BICO Resurfaces.

with 4 comments

Image result for British and Irish Communist organisation

BICO Once again.

There is, as yet, no comprehensive history of British and Irish ‘Marxism-Leninism’. Popularly known as Maoism, for the various groups’ alignment with Beijing during the 1960s, this political current had influence in much of the rest of Europe, and in the United States, where it was described as the New Communist Movement in the 1970s (1) French Maoism continues to draw attraction, with many colourful escapades to its name, and even a proto-armed wing, La Nouvelle Résistance Populaire (NRP), and the leader of the Gauche Prolétarienne, Benn Lévy, the hardest and the hard M-Ler, who became Sartre’s secretary and ended his days as student of the Torah in Jerusalem. (2) The former M-L Dutch Socialistische Partij, Socialist Party, with parliamentary representation, and its counterpart in Belgium, the, Parti du travail de Belgique /en Partij van de Arbeid van België, also attracts interest, not least in the latter’s days as enthusiasts for North Korean Juche.

But here possibly only Alexei Sayle’s learned tome stands out. Largely concerned with his activism in the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) he summarised their, and his orthodox Communist parents’ activism as, “my hobby and my family’s hobby was the elimination of private property via the violent expropriation of landowners, industrialists, railroad magnates and shipowners…”(3)

Maoism is however back in the news. A former member of  the British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO) are apparently involved in the controversies taking place in the Northern Irish Labour Party.

John Rogan writes,

There was an article in the Belfast Telegraph about the ruction in the Labour Party in NI by its ex-Secretary (Kathryn Johnson) which may be of interest.

The main person she seems to be angry with is Boyd Black. As a curious historical footnote for Leftist Trainspotters everywhere, Mr Black was at one point a member of the pro-Stalin, pro-Mao, pro-Kymer Rouge British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO) and stood as a “Unionist” candidate in the 1986 Fulham by-election.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/news-analysis/kathryn-johnston-the-fight-for-the-soul-of-the-labour-party-in-northern-ireland-36016846.html

Black seems to have something of  a history of “controversy”.

Image result for British and Irish Communist organisation

His background is acknowledged.

On another occasion, “Boyd Black, Blacks election agent confirmed that he had been a member of the British and Irish Communist Organisation at one time.” 

Whatever his present relations to the group, if there are any, are  we note that BICO’s publication in Britain at the present is Labour Affairs which takes a keen interest in the Labour Party.

This is how they describe their present form,

Who We Are

Monthly journal of the Ernest Bevin Society.  It is a small independent left-wing magazine based in Britain, but covering the wider world.  Previously Labour and Trade Union Review.

The Ernest Bevin Society began as the British portion of the British and Irish Communist Organisation, but then decided Leninism was no longer relevant.  In the 1970s it advocated Workers Control as general reformism as the best way forward in Britain.  It warned ahead of time that the methods being used to fight Thatcher were going to fail.  But retained a general confidence in socialism after the Soviet collapse.

We did also warn well ahead of it becoming obvious that Yeltsin was going to fail.  And said in 1989 that People’s China was not in fact about to collapse.

We condemned New Labour for having adjusted to Thatcherite fantasies rather than what actually existed.  And were flatly against the war on Iraq, fully expecting Saddam’s rather bad system to be replaced  by something much worse.

See out publisher’s website at Athol Books.

For historians we lack a complete organigramme of the groupuscule’s original relations to other supporters of Marxist Leninism. Indeed while Wikipedia mentions this it is difficult to see the nature of the link to either the “first wave” M-L split with orthodox Communism, based on the Sino-Soviet dispute, or the “second wave” , which arose from enthusiasm for the Cultural Revolution.

Wikipedia sets them out as this,

Brendan Clifford was an Irish emigrant from the Sliabh Luachra area of County Cork who had migrated to London and become involved in left-wing politics there.[1] Clifford and some of his followers had been in Michael McCreery’s Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity and later they joined the Irish Communist Group.[2][3]

This body consisted largely of Irish people who were living in London and were opposed to the Soviet-aligned communist organisations intended for Irish people. Following a 1965 split, the Maoist wing named itself the Irish Communist Organisation, which later became the British and Irish Communist Organisation. The broadly Trotskyist wing, led by Gerry Lawless, became the Irish Workers’ Group.[4]

The ICO undertook an investigation into the development of Maoism, and concluded that it was not a suitable model for an anti-revisionist group. The Chinese Communist Party had supported some aspects of Nikita Khrushchev‘s “revisionism“, and then been dishonest about its past positions.[5]

One founder-member, Dennis Dennehy, was Secretary of the Dublin Housing Action Committee, which organised a highly successful protest movement in the early 1960s.

In 1968, the ICO issued a press release which defended the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

BICO is known, above all, for the writings on the Irish Question of Brendan Clifford. According to the Bible in such matters, he was an “unemployed Jesuit trained, gravedigger” who spent time in Trinity College Library Dublin researching Irish republicanism. This is what he found in works on the founders of this tradition.

“Having blown off the dust he was flabbergasted to discover that these saintly heroes, who he had been told were the Irish equivalents of Garibaldi and Mazzini, were a shower of bigoted, racist, shitbags, who hated England because it had prevented Ireland from establishing its own empire with its own blacks to chain up and flog. The odd man out among this unsavoury crew was Wolfe Tone, a Protestant who view of the Vatican tallies closely with that Ian Paisley.” (John Sullivan. As Soon As This Pub Closes)

The ‘two nations’ theory which he developed from these studies made Clifford’s name. His collected articles, from the Irish Communist, published in 1971 under the name Aspects of Nationalism (1972) begin with a long discussion of Stalin’s Marxism and the National Question. On this basis he took a stand for “Protestant national rights”. .

There is no mention of Clifford or a forerunner to BICO in Bob Purdie’s authoritative history of the Civil Rights movement Politics in the Streets (1990). It can be safely said to be beyond marginal to People’s Democracy – the most important grass-roots radical organisation in the land since the 1920s.

All COBI is known for is the ‘two nations’ theory. The view retains a certain intuitive appeal, no doubt reinforced by later Irish ‘revisionist’ histories which look at the conservative sides of nationalism, and Catholic cultural and political domination of the Republic In less studious environments problems immediately arose. COBI therefore backed protests such as the Ulster Workers’ Council and all attempts by the Protestant side to resist Irish unity. The one problem, no doubt unforeseen, but perhaps familiar to anybody who ever met Unionists, not to say, Orangemen, is that a group so dominated by violent racist bigots would be hard to find, although American ‘white nationalists’ stand muster.

The remnants of BICO seemed to have pursued with the Historical Review. The British branch became the Ernest Bevin society. The have been fading into decent obscurity.  They are rare creatures. The present writer may be one of the few people alive to have met them…..

****

(1) Revolution in the Air. Max Elbaum. Verso. 2002.
(2) De Pierre Victory à Benny Lévy, de Mao à Moïse. Philippe Lardinois. Editions Luc Pire. 2008.
(3) Page 132. Stalin Ate My Homework. Alexei Sayle. Sceptre. 2010. Sayle accurately makes this description, “Woodcraft Folk…. they formed the paramilitary wing of the Co-operative movement.”(P 91) See also the less amusing, Thatcher Stole my Trousers. Alexei Sayle. Bloomsbury Circus. 2016.

Update, for a serious account of this dispute: Clarion.

LPNI WTF?

By Labour Party of Northern Ireland members

The Labour Party in Northern Ireland’s executive committee has recently undergone a catastrophic breakdown in communication, followed by a series of resignations which received a degree of local media attention and attention on the left. Sadly, the explanations given by those involved have been consistently misleading. Whilst the context is political, as might be expected, much of the upset is interpersonal and the motivations of those involved represent a complex combination of the two. As things stand, there is a toxic air about this local party’s dissent into in-fighting, but if we look carefully it might be possible to discern some lessons for the Labour left.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm

Background Information on White Supremacist ‘Unite the Right’ in Charlottesville.

leave a comment »

Image result for charlottesville rally

The MSF America Today carries this story,

Trump’s Charlottesville disgrace: White supremacists aren’t just another ‘side’

Cheri Jacobus, Opinion contributor. 

To elevate Trump’s deplorable, evil fringe as equal to the rest of us united was extraordinary for a U.S. president — and nothing short of vile.

The Guardian has this to say,

President laments ‘hatred, bigotry and violence from many sides’ but senior Republicans and Democrats demand condemnation of far-right extremists.

Donald Trump has faced bipartisan criticism after failing to explicitly condemn the role of white supremacists in clashes with counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that culminated in a car running into a crowd, killing at least one person.

This is known,

Man charged with murder after car rams anti-far-right protesters in Charlottesville.

BBC,

White nationalism is the big story after today’s violent “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Here’s what we know and some resources to deepen your knowledge about what’s going on.

On Saturday (August 12), thousands of White supremacists, many armed, attended a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Organized by a self-described “White advocate” and University of Virginia alum Jason Kessler, the rally was slated to be in protest of the pending removal and sale of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in a park that was renamed Emancipation Park in June. Charlottesville was the site of a Ku Klux Klan rally that ended with the deployment of police tear gas last month. In attendance at today’s action were a range of White activists who promote or participate in racist terrorism including Neo Nazis, White supremacist biker gangs, the Ku Klux Klan, the National Socialist Movement, the Traditionalist Worker Party, the neo-Confederate League of the South, Identity Evropa and various figures from the so-called alt-right.

While “Unite the Right” was permitted by the city, a related action on Friday night was not. At that action, hundreds of White men and women carrying lit tiki-torches marched on the campus of the University of Virginia, yelling “You will not replace us!” “Jew will not replace us!” and “Blood and Soil,” a slogan of Nazi Germany. The White supremacists surrounded the campus’ St. Paul’s Memorial Church as an opposing multifaith, multiracial prayer service let out and then violently clashed with a small group of student counter-protesters at the university’s rotunda.

Read the full post here.

Spencer Sunshine wrote this before the rally,

A GUIDE TO WHO’S COMING TO THE LARGEST WHITE NATIONALIST RALLY IN A DECADE

 

Sunshine had underlined the importance of this event:

Spencer Sunshine on The Largest Fascist Rally in Recent Memory. Original Air Date: 8.10.17 “Make It Plain.”

 

The Largest Fascist Rally in Recent Memory Is Expected This Week — Can the Left Unite Against It? Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Update.

The Guardian picked this up during Sunday.

‘Increasingly Nazified’ white nationalist rally descends on Virginia amid expected protests.

Speaking earlier, Spencer Sunshine, who wrote a report for Political Research Associates assessing Saturday’s rally, said: “This is a national gathering that the far right have been planning for months. It’s their big event.”

In response, local demonstrators and anti-racist activists from all over the country are coordinating a counter-protest, which they are hoping will dwarf the far-right event.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 13, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Skwawkbox Goes “undercover” in Venezuela and finds a Horn of Plenty in Supermarkets.

with 9 comments

 

Image result for venezuela las colas para supermercados 2017

Venezuela, March 2017, Queue for 2 Bags of Goods.

“If seeing is believing, then these simple, everyday scenes that would be familiar to anyone in a developed nation should be enough to cast serious doubt on the perception that the Establishment media seem eager for us to adopt.”

UNDERCOVER VIDEO SHOWS FULL SHELVES IN #VENEZUELA SUPERMARKETS

On Thursday the SKWAWKBOX published a first-hand account of the situation in Venezuela that challenges the prevailing portrayal and exposes the ugly reality of much of the opposition ‘protest’ as violent, even murderous and co-ordinated with ‘economic war’ on the socialist government to create the impression of a failed state.

A key part of the ‘failed state’ narrative is the claim of nationwide shortages in food and other key goods, as corporate and Establishment news attempts to convince that the socialist project has been a disaster.

That shortage-narrative has been raised by objectors to Thursday’s article as proof of the claims of the right-wing opposition.

As Thursday’s article showed, what shortages there are appear to have been manufactured by opposition-run monopoly corporations – but even those appear to have been greatly exaggerated.

For her Empire Files series, journalist Abby Martin filmed undercover in a series of Venezuelan supermarkets – and found something very different to what those watching BBC and other mainstream news would expect.

Skwawky reminds me of a certain Édouard Herriot (1872 – 1957) Parti Radical, and many times French PM) who remarked during a visit to Stalin’s Russia in 1933 that, the “Soviet Ukraine was “like a garden in full bloom”.

This is what Wikipedia has to say, Shortages in Venezuela.

Under the economic policy of the Nicolás Maduro government, greater shortages occurred due to the Venezuelan government’s policy of withholding United States dollars from importers with price controls.[6] Shortages are occurring in regulated products, such as milk, meat, coffee, rice, oil, precooked flour, butter prices and other basic necessities like toilet paper, personal hygiene products and medicines.[4][7][8] As a result of the shortages, Venezuelans must search for food, occasionally resorting to eating wild fruit or garbage, wait in lines for hours and sometimes settle without having certain products.

This is what Human Rights Watch says (2017 report),

Under the leadership of President Hugo Chávez and now President Nicolás Maduro, the accumulation of power in the executive branch and erosion of human rights guarantees have enabled the government to intimidate, persecute, and even criminally prosecute its critics.

Severe shortages of medicines, medical supplies, and food have intensified since 2014, and weak government responses have undermined Venezuelans’ rights to health and food. Protesters have been arbitrarily detained and subject to abuse by security forces.

Police and military raids in low-income and immigrant communities have led to widespread allegations of abuse.

Other persistent concerns include poor prison conditions, impunity for human rights violations, and continuous harassment by government officials of human rights defenders and independent media outlets.

Here is what the Morning Star said in July,

OVER 100,000 Venezuelans queued at the San Antonio del Tachira border crossing into Colombia over the weekend to buy foods and medicines that are in short supply at home.

It was the second weekend in a row that the socialist government has opened the border with Colombia, which was closed, as were all crossings, a year ago to obstruct smuggling.

Speculators were accused then of causing shortages by buying state-subsidised food and petrol in Venezuela and taking them to Colombia to be sold for far higher prices.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has played down talk of a humanitarian crisis, blaming his government’s political enemies and self-serving smugglers for shortages.

He dismissed as a “media show” televised images of 500 women pushing through the border checkpoint a few weeks ago claiming to be desperate to buy food.

Venezuelan state TV ran footage on Sunday of citizens returning from Colombia empty-handed, dissuaded by “price-gouging” and the threat of violence from their neighbours.

So Skwawkbox have been caught out spinning faubations yet again.

Any shortages are the fault of the ‘monopoly capitalists” and….well there are no “real” problems with food in supermarkets as a single video shows.

Perhaps one could ask who, with hyper-inflation, can afford to but anything.

Full marks for ‘undercover’ investigation into a Venezuelan supermarket though.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 12, 2017 at 10:51 am

A conversation to be had about race in the Newcastle sex abuse scandal – and we should be brave enough to have it

with 8 comments

Girl, 13, drugged and gang-raped under a Kurdish flag by men in 'relay race'

Newcastle sex ring victims suffered ‘profoundly racist crime’, says former CPS chief  Independent.

Lord Macdonald warns of ‘major problem in particular communities’ of men viewing young white girls as ‘trash’.

A fear of being called racist is preventing authorities investigating the reasons behind child abuse cases, an MP has claimed.

BBC

Rotherham MP Sarah Champion was speaking after 17 men were convicted of forcing girls in Newcastle to have sex.

Mostly British-born, they are from Iraqi, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iranian and Turkish communities.

Ms Champion said asking if there were “cultural issues” was simply “child protection”.

Northumbria Police said society “can’t be afraid to have this discussion”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Champion, Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister, said gang-related child sexual exploitation involves “predominately Pakistani men” who were involved in such cases “time and time and time again”.

Julie Bindel has stood  out for an exceptional article on the issues raised.

There’s a conversation to be had about race in the Newcastle sex abuse scandal – and we should be brave enough to have it

We do not need to ask why so many men of Asian origin abuse children. This is a racist question. Rather, we need to ask why some white liberals appear to bend over backwards to find a way to claim these men are set up

The Newcastle case, in which 17 men and one women were convicted for rape, sexual assault, sadistic abuse and general heartless violation of girls and woman, has now become another argument about race. While on the one hand the racists and fascists twist the truth about child sexual abuse to give kudos to their arguments against asylum seekers and black and minority ethnic British citizens, much of the liberal left wring their hands and worry about being labelled “racist”.

It would appear that this matters more to some that preventing the rape of children and young women.

We do not need to ask why so many men of Asian origin abuse children. This is a racist question. Rather, we need to ask why some white liberals appear to bend over backwards to find a way to claim these men are set up, or unjustly treated, and why police and other state agencies have been known to turn the other cheek.

In 2007, my name was added to an ever-growing list on Islamophobia Watch the same day that my investigation on grooming gangs in Northern English towns was published in a national newspaper. I was accused of demonising the entire British Asian community by specifying the fact that these particular criminal gangs originated from Pakistan. My reason for mentioning ethnicity at all was to raise the unavoidable fact that some child protection agencies, and a number of senior police officers have made it plain that they were taking a hands-off approach in such cases lest they were labelled racist.

I was clear in the piece – I did not think that the police particularly cared about having the slur of “Islamaphobe” thrown at them from lefties, but rather they didn’t want to be responsible for policing a “race riot” as one senior police officer in West Yorkshire said would be the result of raising the ethnicity of the perpetrators.

During my investigations, I found there to be a stubborn defensiveness from a number of quarters, including some charities, when I asked about the relevance of the ethnic origin of the perpetrators, despite the fact that I carefully explained that I wished to tackle this thorny issue from the perspective of an anti-racist, and not a member of the BNP. Furthermore, I said how disgusted I was that racist pressure groups had colonised these crimes for their own dangerous agenda, and had been allowed to do so because the issue had been given a wide berth by the left. Some of the individuals that gave me the cold shoulder back in the early 2000s were named in the Jay report of 2013 as having failed the victims of child sexual abuse, partly because of their “nervousness” and unwillingness to engage with issues regarding the ethnicity of the perpetrators.

Although I was congratulated on journalistic endeavours in exposing these crimes by a number of friends and colleagues of Asian descent – such as the journalist and anti-racist campaigner Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – many white left-leaning liberals clearly believed I should not have even mentioned ethnicity or religious identity of the perpetrators lest it might “incite racism”

Read the rest of the article here.

So far there has been little other serious public debate on the issues involved with one major exception, yesterday’s Newsnight..

The Express gives a distorted report on  this.

BBC Newsnight guest claims Newcastle grooming gang should not be considered ‘Muslim’

MEMBERS of grooming gangs should not be considered Muslim due to the un-Islamic nature of their vile actions, a high profile member of the community has claimed.

An impassioned Newsnight debate on the role of the Islamic community after the heinous incidents, one-panel member protested at blame being levelled at British Muslims.

It follows a court hearing earlier this week which saw 17 men and one woman convicted of rape, sexual assault, human trafficking and inciting prostitution as the city of Newcastle was added to the growing list of UK towns blighted by the evil grooming gangs.

Muhbeen Hussain, founder of the group British Muslim Youth, claimed the sex gang incident was not a Muslim problem in an emotional speech which brought on criticism from controversial columnist Katie Hopkins.

Speaking on Newsnight Mr Hussain said: “Islam is a religion of all cultures.

The  Newsnight debate (here) began by underlining that there was a problem, the number of similar cases could not escape attention, however marginal and unrepresentative they were of the wider community.

It was impressive to see how the debate that followed, between young Muslims of very different views, raised a whole series of issues, including  religion.

Those taking part were not shy of pointing out that sex abuse cases had come up in other quarters, though perhaps citing the Catholic Church would have been more relevant than the name of name of Jimmy Savile.

As some participants underlined, the way in which the prosecuted acted had a lot to do with a kind of night-time abuse of the vulnerable.

One mentioned that the culture of dividing women between respectable veiled Muslim women, and Western dressed white women, was a serious problem.

This is related to religion: the laying down of “modest” dress codes  is not just ‘cultural’ by sanctioned by many readings of the Qur’an. The converse, is that “immodest” women are worth less.

In many states modest dress is laid down by law, “in Iran, women are required to wear loose-fitting clothing and a headscarf in public”, “Saudi Arabia is different from many Islamic societies in the extent of the covering that it considers Islamically correct hijab (everything except the hands and eyes) and the fact that covering is enforced by Mutaween or religious police.”

Islamic religious police  exist in a number of countries.

You can’t help feeling that, like in The Handmaid’s Tale, extreme public conformity to bigoted religious norms co-exists with an underworld of sexual abuse.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2017 at 12:32 pm

The Socialist Party (Militant) admits it has entered Labour in Northern Ireland.

with 6 comments

Image result for socialist party

“A number of individual members have joined Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. “

Labour figures in Northern Ireland quit, claiming secret group within the party.

Most of the key figures in the Labour Party in Northern Ireland tonight resigned from their leadership positions after alleging a secret internal attempt to subvert the party.

Six people – including the chair and vice chair – who have been campaigning vigorously for Labour’s ban on fielding candidates in Northern Ireland to be lifted have now walked away from their roles, claiming that a “small minority” of hard-left members had made their work impossible.

The split comes after several years of strong Labour growth in Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies where in a few years its membership has swollen from around 300 to more than 2,000, partly due to members who have joined in order to vote in the party’s leadership contests.

The report is followed by this,

Entryist suggestion

Although they did not use the word in their resignation statement, the members appear to be alleging an entryist attempt to take over the party in Northern Ireland.

Labour and other left-wing sources claim that recent or current members of the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party and People Before Profit have recently joined Labour in Northern Ireland.

Those who have resigned are chair Anna McAleavy, vice-chair Damien Harris, vice chair membership Peter Dynes, secretary Kathryn Johnston, disability officer Keith Gray and women’s officer Mary Sheen.

In a statement, the six said that they would remain active members of the party.

They said: ‘We do not resign lightly. Instead, it is a heavy decision which has weighed on us for several months. It became evident from a very early stage that there are diverse and inimical political parties secretly organising within the LPNI contrary to Chapter 2 of Labour Party Rulebook 2017.

“Although these are a small minority among our committed and hardworking activists, members and supporters, they are a vocal and troublesome element. ‘This has presented us with irreconcilable difficulties.”

The Socialist Party has now admitted its members have entered Labour in Northern Ireland.

Labour Party Executive resignations – Socialist Party statement

A group of members of the Labour Party’s Northern Ireland Executive have suddenly resigned their positions, allegedly in response to left-wing groups organising within the party, with some of the former officers and some media outlets specifically referring to the Socialist Party in this context.

The Socialist Party supports Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies and the building of a broad, cross-community left in Northern Ireland. A number of individual members have joined Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. Some did so solely to help defend Corbyn against the Blairite coup and have never attended a meeting. Others have got active locally in an open and honest way, aimed at helping Labour to develop as a vehicle for workers and young people to challenge austerity and sectarianism. However, Socialist Party members have not sought any senior positions within Labour. Some of those who have resigned from the Executive were not only aware of this but, for positive reasons, actively encouraged Socialist Party members to become involved in Labour at various points.

……

Some of those who have resigned from the Executive are also members of two parties – the Co-operative Party and Labour. This is perfectly permissible, as the Co-operative Party has affiliated status. We believe that socialist groups and anti-austerity campaigns should be afforded the same right to affiliate and work with others to rebuild Labour as a campaigning, left force. For those who are supporters of Corbyn’s policies, the focus should be on challenging the pro-capitalist right, including the Blairite-Tory entryists who continue to dominate the Parliamentary Labour Party and the apparatus and remain determined to undermine Corbyn’s leadership, no matter what the cost to the party.

The Socialist Party worked fraternally with Labour members – including some of those who have resigned from the Executive – in the successful Hands Off Our Libraries campaign last year, as well as in developing the five-point Re-Think agenda which was endorsed by the Labour Party locally and adopted by six labour movement candidates in this year’s Assembly election. We believe that the impact of Corbyn’s policies on political debate has created an important opportunity for the anti-sectarian left in Northern Ireland. We will continue with our constructive and positive approach in working with others in the struggle to build a working class alternative to the Green and Orange Tories on the hill.

Previous ‘fraternal’  links between the Socialist Party  and Labour Party include:

2017. Socialist Party Stunt : ‘Ana Key’ – ’11 Votes’ Ellen Kenyon Peers – is expelled from Labour Party.

In 2015 an attempt was made to launch this: (The Socialist, 25th of November. 2015) Trade Union Momentum launched to organise to defend Corbyn.

Jeremy Corbyn’s new best friends have not been idle since.

It was widely suggested that the SP may have been involved in the Northern Ireland equivalent of Momentum.

It is hard to imagine what kind of “fraternal” work was possible with a group that is fanatically pro-Brexit was possible in Northern Ireland during the EU Referendum.

This is the kind of stuff they are coming out with now: Venezuela shows battle that would be faced by Corbyn government. Decisive break with capitalism needed (The Socialist. August 2017)

History shows – including in the drama now being played out in Venezuela – that piecemeal reforms irritate the capitalists but at the same time do not satisfy the demands of the working class for real change. The British and other ruling classes throughout the world are attempting to use Venezuela as a scarecrow to frighten the working class away from socialism.

They can only be defeated through the adoption of clear, fighting, socialist policies in Venezuela and in Britain.

We can assist the masses of Venezuela, and ourselves, by explaining similar ideas in Britain and exerting pressure on the labour movement for the Corbyn revolution to be completed, both in the internal battle to defeat the Blairite right and programmatically with measures which can really lead to a democratic and socialist Britain.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Malaysia’s government says it will re-educate ex-Muslims who took part in an atheist meeting.

leave a comment »

 

The National Secular Society reports.

Malaysia targets ex-Muslims over viral atheist photo.

Malaysia’s government says it will re-educate ex-Muslims who took part in an atheist meeting after a photo of the event went viral.

A minister has also said that anyone found spreading atheist ideas could be prosecuted.

Last week the Kuala Lumpur consulate of Atheist Republic, a global support group for atheists, held its annual conference. The group posted a photo of the gathering on Facebook and said it “was such a blast”.

The image spread quickly, including on several Islamist blogs and sites. Malaysia’s deputy minister who oversees religious affairs said the government would investigate the group to find out if any “Muslims” were involved in the meeting.

“If it is proven that there are Muslims involved in atheist activities that could affect their faith, the state Islamic religious departments could take action,” said Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

He said the government would take a “soft approach” to dealing with the issue. He said ex-Muslims who took part in the gathering would be given counselling. “Perhaps they are ignorant of the true Islam, so we need to engage them and educate them on the right teachings,” he added.

Atheist Republic’s founder, Armin Navabi, said the atheists were being “treated like criminals”. “Who are they harming?!” he asked in a Facebook post.

Many social media users also called for the imprisonment or death of those involved in the meeting. “If they refuse to repent we burn them alive,” wrote one. “An apostate’s blood is halal for slaughter.”

READ: Malaysian Muslims openly talk about killing fellow Malaysian atheists—whom their government just announced it is actively targeting.

This is the reality for those who leave Islam. We speak a lot here in the West about anti-Muslim bigotry, which is real and abhorrent. But it pales in comparison to Islamic bigotry, which gives license to its followers to murder those who dare to think for themselves, outside of Islam.

Ex-Muslims, who still have Muslim names and share ethnicities and nationalities with other Muslims, are targeted by both. Read and share.

No automatic alt text available.

This story has been widely reported:  Malaysian atheist group under investigation over alleged Muslim apostate members (Independent).

Targeting atheists will ruin moderate image, Malaysia told.  BY ZURAIRI AR (Malay Mail)

 A hard-line is emerging. Atheists in Malaysia should be hunted down, minister says. BY KAMLES KUMAR Malay Mail.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Atheists in Malaysia should be “hunted down” by authorities as there is no place for groups like this under the Federal Constitution, a minister said today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the public should aid authorities in locating groups like the Kuala Lumpur chapter of Atheist Republic so that action could be taken.

“The (Federal Constitution) does not mention atheists. It goes against the Constitution and human rights.

“I suggest that we hunt them down vehemently and we ask for help to identify these groups,” he said in a press conference at Parliament today.

The Arau MP added that most of these Malaysians especially Muslims turn into atheists as they lack religious education.

“They actually don’t want to be atheists but it happens because of the lack of religious education. They are misled with a new school of thought,” Shahidan said.

He also urged religious groups especially the muftis to help educate Muslims who have become atheists.

“We need to return them to the faith and correct their aqidah if they are Muslims. To all Mufti’s and state exco’s, take note,” Shahidan stressed.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Venezuela: For the Left is Defence of Maduro, Dialogue or Criticism, the Answer?

with 3 comments

Image result for maduro

Ni Dieu, ni César, ni tribun !

This was on Newsnight yesterday: Evan Davis speaks to Juan Andrés Mejía, founding member and National Director of one of the main Venezuelan opposition parties, Popular Will (Voluntad Popular, a “centrist social democratic party”).

This statement has caused controversy and there is little doubt that many critics of it do so in bad faith.

I will restrict comment to one point.

If Macron has indeed called for dialogue in Venezuela, his appeal has not been widely reported in the French media.

A search reveals that he suggested that he offered his services in the role of mediator.  France’s Macron pushes for mediation role in Venezuela  4th of August. The French language media is pretty near silent on this but you can find that, “La lettre écrite de la main d’Emmanuel Macron a été envoyée le 5 juillet à Nicolas Maduro” – a letter written by Emmanuel Macron was sent on the 5th of July to Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela : Macron a envoyé une lettre à Maduro pour tenter d’aider le pays à sortir de la crise).

I may well be proved wrong but Le Monde certainly has not found this story worthy of recent coverage and there was certainly no major “call today” as the Corbyn statement suggests: here.

We wait for a reply from Maduro to Macron.

But, silence, Mr 5,7% has spoken.*

George Galloway ridicules Venezuela dictatorship claims: ‘They’ve won more elections than anyone in history’.

George Galloway has rubbished the idea that Venezuela is sliding into dictatorship, saying the country’s Socialist regime has won more elections than any other regime in history.

The country’s constitution is to be redrawn following a recent election, and there are fears that President Nicolas Maduro will gain a raft of new powers – fears exacerbated by the recent arrest of two leading opposition activists.

Galloway told a caller that he was firmly opposed to dictatorship, saying “some of them work for a little while, none of them work for long,” while quoting Winston Churchill’s line that “democracy is the worst political system apart from all the others.”

Turning to the specific allegations against the Venezuelan regime, Galloway said “the government of Maduro, and before him Chavez, has won more elections than anybody in all of human history.

“If they’re dictators they’re the most elected dictators in the history of the world.”

George Galloway: Venezuela critics are just Blairites having a kick at Jeremy Corbyn.

Galloway said: “I keep hearing half-witted, uneducated pontificators who know nothing about the country, lecturing us on how Venezuela has taken such a wrong turn.

“When I heard the interview about it on this station, in this very studio room with Ken Livingstone, I realised we had to take a stand.

“What’s really going on here is not an attack on Maduro, who these pontificators had not heard of before last week, couldn’t identify his mug on a mugshot on a TV screen. This is another assault on Jeremy Corbyn.

“Labour MPs, many of them admirers of Tony Blair, many of them supporters of the Iraq War, many of whom abstained on a three-line whip to ask for an inquiry into the selling of deadly weapons to the putrid dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, are demanding that Corbyn denounce his erstwhile friends in Venezuela.

“It’s enough to make you sick.”

Galloway went on to suggest that, “if only Venezuela had hired one of Tony Blair’s PR machines in London town, they might be in a better place as far as the British mainstream media is concerned.

“If only Venezuela, when it adopted its new constitution in the last couple of days, had chosen the Saudi Arabian constitution, all the Western countries would have loved it and would have been queuing up to sell it weapons. Prince Charles might have done a sword dance with President Maduro.”

Turning to the cause of the current crisis, Galloway said it has been “fuelled by the United States, not in the last few weeks or months but since 1998.

“Nineteen years the United States government and its secret agents have been trying to overthrow the Venezuelan political protest.

 Skwawkbox can only agree, screaming yesterday that,

Rightist Labour MPs busted exploiting Venezuela for a shot at Corbyn.

As anyone who follows the news even tangentially will be well aware, the latest ‘weapon of mass desperation‘ used to attack Labour’s hugely-popular leader is a country. To feeble and flailing right-wing media and MPs, the complex troubles of a whole nation have been reduced to little more than a hammer to try to land a blow on Jeremy Corbyn.

But the new Venezuela APPG does little more than expose the motivations and lack of character of MPs who have joined it. Labour MPs Graham Jones, Angela Smith and John Spellar joined the group – but their former deputy leader spotted something interesting and called them out on it on Twitter.

Now this may well be true but when will people answer serious left-wing criticisms of the Venezuelan regime?

On the Venezuelan crisis

With the global fall in oil prices, Venezuela’s fifteen-year experiment in “petrol populism” seems to be winding to a close. Either the regime will collapse in short order, or it will maintain itself through increasingly bloody and repressive measures, as Maduro’s claim to represent the interests of the people grows even more tenuous. George Ciccariello-Maher, a seasoned apologist of Chavismo in the United States, writes in an article for Jacobin that the “enemies” are the ones who are out there “in the streets, burning and looting.” Socialists, he contends, should be supporting the recent state crackdown on the protesters, which has already left 130 or so dead.

One should read comrade Ross Wolfe’s full article on the Charnel-House, but this conclusion is important,

Socialists gain nothing by continuing to defend this bloated and incompetent regime. Even an oil-rich state like Venezuela cannot build “socialism in one country,” as the old Stalinist motto goes. Better to admit now what should have been obvious all along: Bolivarianism was a Revolution In Name Only, or #RINO for short (that acronym is still available, right?).

As Vincent Présumy puts it on his Blog carried by the highly respected French left site, Mediapart, in answer to those on the left who defend Maduro,

Ni l’expropriation du capital par les travailleurs organisés, ni la destruction de l’appareil d’Etat existant, n’ont jamais été à l’ordre-du-jour au Venezuela sous la direction de Chavez.

Neither the expropriation of capital by the organised workers, nor the destruction of the existing state apparatus, were ever on the cards in Venezuela under the Leadership of Chávez.

Présumy states,

La meilleure chose qui pourrait arriver au Venezuela, au contraire, serait une mobilisation indépendante de la classe ouvrière, des pauvres et des paysans, contre Maduro.

The best thing that could happen in Venezuela is, by contrast, an independent mobilisation of the working class, the poor and the peasantry, against Maduro.

Drawing to a conclusion he comments,

Le problème principal, à gauche et dans le mouvement ouvrier, est l’absence de mobilisation en défense du peuple vénézuélien et donc contre Maduro. Se répète l’expérience accablante et tragique de l’Ukraine et surtout de la Syrie.

The main problem on the left and in the workers’ movement, is the absence of a mobilisation in defence of the Venezuelan people, and therefore against Maduro. This is a repetition of the horrifying experience we saw with the Ukraine and above all with Syria.

 

A propos du Venezuela  7th of August,

*********

* 2017.  Manchester Gorton. Parliamentary constituency Galloway 5.7% , 2,615.

Skwawkbox Tries to Shut Down Debate about Brexit and Freedom of Movement.

with 3 comments

Image result for Labour campaign for free movement

Skwawkbox Says: “Noise about freedom of movement by some of the usual undermining suspects.”

Self-appointed Corbyn and Labour Party adviser Steven Walker is notorious for scaremongering on his site Skwawkbox. 

Now he’s turned his attention to the Labour Party Conference in an attempt to spread fear about possible “protests” by people who “wish to damage the party” at Labour Conference on the issue of Brexit.

The SKWAWKBOX can reveal that a move is planned inside Conference by ‘moderates’ desperate to disrupt Jeremy Corbyn’s surging popularity to disrupt Labour’s Conference by means of either a ‘mirror’ protest inside the hall or a ‘walk-out’ to join protesters outside, which of course makes an even bigger mockery of the term ‘moderate’ than it already is.

It is worth noting that Walker uses this ‘report’ to attack the growing campaign for freedom of movement.

The vast majority of Labour members – already bristling at the increase in ‘noise’ about Brexit and freedom of movement by some of the usual undermining suspects as Conference draws closer – will have no tolerance for this ridiculous, self-indulgent stunt and will back any and all measures the party’s leadership takes to block the infantile behaviour.

Let the tone of this sentence sink in….

SELF-INDULGENT ‘MODERATES’ PLANNING TO DISRUPT LABOUR CONFERENCE.

If one can delve into Walker’s mind, a murky, fog clouded, region, the reasoning seems to be that since, “Corbyn’s ability to remove Brexit as an vote-factor for millions of voters ” is an “an incredible political achievement” (here) attempts to bring up ‘divisive’ issues, that is either questioning Brexit or whatever Corbyn may, or may not, say, on Brexit, is the work of “undermining suspects”.

No doubt Skwarky will froth at this:  Finally, Labour’s left are standing up for freedom of movement, “A new campaign is tackling the Labour leadership’s growing anti-immigration narrative.”

This, Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

And this:

 

Image may contain: 2 people, text

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Support the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

with 3 comments

 

We are Labour members and supporters united in our commitment to defending and extending the free movement of people in the context of the debate around Brexit.

The UK is at a crossroads in its relationship to the rest of the world, and so is our party. Immigrants and free movement are being scapegoated by a political and economic elite that is subjecting ordinary people to cuts and austerity. During the greatest refugee crisis in recent years, the Tories have responded with brutality and detention centres.

Labour should respond with clarity, humanity and solidarity. We fought the last General Election arguing against such scapegoating, and celebrating the contributions of migrants to our society. That tone must now translate into policy.

Migrants are not to blame for falling wages, insecurity, bad housing and overstretched public services. These are the product of decades of underinvestment, deregulation, privatisation, and the harshest anti-union laws in Europe. On the contrary, migrant workers have been on the front line of fighting for better pay and working conditions. Labour is the party of all working people – regardless of where they were born.

A system of free movement is the best way to protect and advance the interests of all workers, by giving everyone the right to work legally, join a union and stand up to their boss without fear of deportation or destitution. Curtailing those rights, or limiting migrants’ access to public services and benefits, will make it easier for unscrupulous employers to hyper-exploit migrant labour, which in turn undermines the rights and conditions of all workers.

Free movement enhances everyone’s rights. There are more than a million UK citizens living in the EU, and millions more who may enjoy the right to do so. UK workers in the EU have access to benefits, healthcare and other public services. Tens of thousands of UK students study abroad each year under ERASMUS schemes. UK and European citizens have the automatic right to family reunion.

Labour must build a society for the many, not the few. We need well-paid, secure jobs for all, with guaranteed hours, collective bargaining and stronger, freer trade unions. We need a policy of massive investment in council housing, public services and infrastructure. And we need to tell the truth about who and what is to blame for the crisis: an unaccountable elite who have run the economy in their own narrow interests. Ending free movement would be counterproductive to achieving all of this.

List of signatories.

More information: Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

This important initiative  has been signaled by Shiraz Socialist. We hope it gets the widest possible support.

Labour MPs Clive Lewis, David Lammy and Geraint Davies have joined trade union leaders in backing a new Labour campaign for free movement. (New Statesman.)

Their participation in the campaign underlines the tension between the Labour party’s official line that free movement will end after Brexit, and the theory expounded by many leading Labour politicians that migration has forced down wages.

The MPs were joined by the MEP Lucy Anderson, Transport Salaried Staffs Association general secretary Manuel Cortes, National Executive Committee members Ann Black and Darren Williams, and the leaders of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.

Cortes said: “We are fully committed to challenging and fighting unscrupulous bosses who exploit EU migrants. We put the blame firmly on the perpetrators not the victims. We strongly believe that free movement enriches our society.”

A statement from The Labour Campaign for Free Movement said: “Migrants are not to blame for falling wages, insecurity, bad housing and overstretched public services.  These are the product of decades of underinvestment, deregulation, privatisation, and the harshest anti-union laws in Europe.”

BBC report:  New campaign urges Labour to back free movement

Guardian report: Labour MPs ask Corbyn to commit to free movement post-Brexit

The Sun says, “The move would be in defiance of the referendum result – as the British Social Attitudes Survey found the main reason people voted to leave was due to concerns over uncontrolled immigration from the EU.”

Comment: 

Will this call be supported by everybody on the left.

In 2016 (September, Socialism Today. No 201) the Socialist Party said this on free movement,

The socialist and trade union movement from its earliest days has never supported the ‘free movement of goods, services and capital’ – or labour – as a point of principle but instead has always striven for the greatest possible degree of workers’ control, the highest form of which, of course, would be a democratic socialist society with a planned economy.

It is why, for example, the unions have historically fought for the closed shop, whereby only union members can be employed in a particular workplace, a very concrete form of ‘border control’ not supported by the capitalists.

How many others wish to create a form of “closed shop” against free movement remains to be seen.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm

The Tragedy of Venezuela, Michael Roberts: How Should the Left Respond?

with 3 comments

https://i1.wp.com/www.japantimes.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/wn20130414p1a.jpg

The Morning Star reports,

LABOUR MP Graham Jones declares that he would have “gone further” than shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes’s criticism of Venezuela.

McInnes had urged “the government of Venezuela to recognise its responsibilities to protect human rights, free speech and the rule of law.”

She demanded a response to concerns expressed by the “international community” about supposed authoritarianism and very real hardships affecting Venezuela’s people. This is presumably the US-led “international community” rather than regional states such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba that have declared solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution.

Jones, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Venezuela, advised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that he must make a statement “at some point” and told frontbencher Chris Williamson that “he’s backing the wrong side.”

Several Labour MPs, including Corbyn, and many unions support the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, but Jones wants “everybody in the Labour Party (to) condemn the Venezuelan regime” for not looking after its citizens. His colleague Angela Smith asks Corbyn to condemn President Nicolas Maduro’s government as “a very serious threat to democracy in that country.”

If Williamson is on the “wrong side,” it follows that Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable and Tory MP Mark Pritchard, who all attacked Corbyn for his silence, while on holiday, over Venezuela, must be on the right side.

What would the Morning Star say about this?

Michael Roberts Blog

Blogging from a marxist economist

The tragedy of Venezuela

As the Maduro regime tries to impose its new Constituent Assembly as a rival or replacement of the existing Venezuelan Congress and arrests the leaders of the pro-capitalist opposition, the dire economic and social situation in the country continues to worsen.

According to the IMF, Venezuela’s GDP in 2017 is 35% below 2013 levels, or 40% in per capita terms. That is a significantly sharper contraction than during the 1929-1933 Great Depression in the US, when US GDP is estimated to have fallen 28%. It is slightly bigger than the decline in Russia (1990-1994), Cuba (1989-1993), and Albania (1989-1993), but smaller than that experienced by other former Soviet States at the time of transition, such as Georgia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Ukraine, or war-torn countries such as Liberia (1993), Libya (2011), Rwanda (1994), Iran (1981), and, most recently, South Sudan.

So, on this measure, according to Ricardo Haussman, former chief economist of Inter-American Development Bank, Venezuela’s economic catastrophe dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe or the rest of Latin America.

Back in 2013, I warned that the achievements of the ‘Bolivarian revolution’ under Chavez were seriously under threat.  Chavez had improved the conditions of the poorest with increased wages, social services and reduced inequality.  But these improvements were only possible within the confines of capitalist economy by using the revenues of oil exports at a time of very high global oil prices.  But oil prices started to mark time and have virtually halved in the last two years.

Oil exports fell by $2,200 per capita from 2012 to 2016, of which $1,500 was due to the decline in oil prices.  The Maduro government started to rack up huge foreign debts to try and sustain living standards.  Venezuela is now the world’s most indebted country. No country has a larger public external debt as a share of GDP or of exports, or faces higher debt service as a share of exports.

More,

The minimum wage – which in Venezuela is also the income of the median worker, owing to the large share of minimum-wage earners – declined by 75% (in constant prices) from May 2012 to May 2017.  Measured in the cheapest available calorie, the minimum wage declined from 52,854 calories per day to just 7,005 during the same period, a decline of 86.7% and insufficient to feed a family of five, assuming that all the income is spent to buy the cheapest calorie. With their minimum wage, Venezuelans could buy less than a fifth of the food that traditionally poorer Colombians could buy with theirs.

Income poverty increased from 48% in 2014 to 82% in 2016, according to a survey conducted by Venezuela’s three most prestigious universities. The same study found that 74% of Venezuelans involuntarily lost an average of 8.6 kilos (19 pounds) in weight. The Venezuelan Health Observatory reports a ten-fold increase in in-patient mortality and a 100-fold increase in the death of newborns in hospitals in 2016.

Importantly,

Before Chavez, most Venezuelans were desperately poor after a series of right-wing capitalist governments.  But now once again, under Maduro, this is the situation for the poor and the majority of the Venezuelan working class.  No wonder support for the Maduro government has subsided while the forces of reaction grow stronger.  While the majority struggle, many at the top of the Maduro government are as comfortable as the Venezuelan capitalists and their supporters who are trying to bring the government down.

The Maduro government is now relying increasingly not on the support of the working class but on the armed forces.  And the government looks after them well.  The military can buy in exclusive markets (for example, on military bases), have privileged access to loans and purchases of cars and departments, and have received substantial salary increases. They have also won lucrative contracts, exploiting exchange controls and subsidies, for example, selling cheap gasoline purchased in neighboring countries with huge profits.

As Rolando Asturita has pointed out in a series of posts.  the army has strong direct economic power, since the FANB directs and controls a whole series of companies: the bank BANFANB; AGROFANB, for agriculture; EMILTRA, transport; EMCOFANB, company communications systems of the FANB; TVFANB, an open digital TV channel; TECNOMAR, a mixed military technology projects company; FIMNP, an investment fund; CONSTRUFANB, constructor; CANCORFANB, Bolivarian Mixed Company; Water Tiuna, water bottling plant; And then there is CAMINPEG, the anonymous military, mining and oil and gas company.

Many of the Maduro government elite have used the economic crisis to their own personal benefit.  They have bought up government debt for rich returns, while at the same time ensuring that there is no default, all at the expense of falling living standards for the people who must pay this debt through taxes and foregone oil revenues.  Foreign exchange earmarked for the payment of foreign debt has been offset by the reduction of imports of food, medicines or essential industrial inputs.

Robert’s concludes,

What went wrong with the laudable aims of Chavismo? Could this tragedy been avoided? Well, yes, if the Chavista revolution had not stopped at less than halfway, leaving the economy still predominantly in the control of capital.  Instead, the Chavista and Maduro governments relied on high oil prices and huge oil reserves to reduce poverty, while failing to transform the economy through productive investment, state ownership and planning.  Between 1999 and 2012 the state had an income of $383bn from oil, due not only to the improvement in prices, but also to the increase in the royalties paid by the transnationals. However, this income was not used transform the productive sectors of the economy.  Yes, some was used to improve the living standards of the most impoverished masses. But there was no plan for investment and growth.  Venezuelan capital was allowed to get on with it – or not as the case may be.  Indeed, the share of industry in GDP fell from 18% of GDP in 1998 to 14% in 2012.

Now the right-wing ‘free marketeers’ tell us that this shows ‘socialism’ does not work and there is no escape from the rigors of the market.  But the history of the last ten years is not the failure of ‘socialism’ or planning, it is the failure to end the control of capital in a weak (an increasingly isolated) capitalist country with apparently only one asset, oil.  There was no investment in the people, their skills, no development of new industries and the raising of technology – that was left to the capitalist sector.  Contrast that with ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’, albeit in the largest country and now economy in the world.

Just over a year ago, I argued in a post that, to save the aims of Chavismo, “it is probably too late, as the forces of reaction gain ground every day in the country.  It seems that we await only the decision of the army to change sides and oust the Chavistas.” 

 Left critics of Maduro:

Criticizing Venezuela from the Left. ANDRÉS FELIPE PARRA 30 May 2017  Open Democracy. 

Venezuela, increasingly, resembles today’s liberal democracies, where institutions are becoming formal appendages of the power of the markets and securitization. Español

Venezuela and the Left.

RAFAEL UZCÁTEGUI.  May the 3rd.

The human rights situation in Venezuela is getting worse. Fortunately, some on the Left are deciding to speak up. Español 

Just after the Sunday vote this declaration came out from a small Trotskyist group.

¡Contra el fraude constituyente redoblemos la movilización! ¡Fuera Maduro!  (Unidad Internacional de los Trabajadores – Cuarta Internacional).

El gobierno hambreador, corrupto y represivo de Maduro, consumó el pasado domingo un gigantesco fraude en alianza con el CNE.

Au Venezuela, ce sont les travailleurs qui ont le droit de dire à Maduro : dégage !  30th of July.

Against Venezuela’s authoritarian turn . May 3, 2017

On May 1, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro signed an executive order to form a Constituent National Assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. Predictably, Maduro’s right-wing opponents howled about a lack of respect for democratic rights and procedures, which they themselves routinely violated in seeking the overthrow of Chavismo.

But many on the left see the latest move by the ruling Venezuelan United Socialist Party (PSUV) to consolidate its power as a dangerous further lurch toward authoritarianism. Here, we reprint a March 29 statement by Marea Socialista , which joined the PSUV when it was founded in 2007 by the late President Huge Chávez, but left it in 2015 in protest of the course set for the party by Maduro. The statement by Marea Socialista’s National Operations Team was first published in Spanish at the Aporrea website and appears here in a version edited by Todd Chretien of the English translation published at the Portal de la Izquierda website.

How should the Labour Party respond?

Two Views:

Jeremy Corbyn will be on the right side of history – if he condemns Venezuela’s left-wing leaders. James Bloodworth. New Statesman

The country appears to be marching toward full-blown dictatorship.

The demand that a politician “condemn” something is usually an exercise in political performance. It typically has no measurable impact beyond a minor point scoring exercise. But calls for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to condemn the government in Venezuela are different in one important respect.

On seemingly good terms with the government of Nicolás Maduro, Corbyn’s words may actually carry weight in Venezuela. This is a matter of some importance when the country appears to be marching toward full-blown dictatorship.

…..

Demanding an apology from those who did not see the true nature of the Venezuelan government earlier on would be self-indulgent. It is also, for many, wildly hypocritical. Britain sells weapons to Saudi Arabia after all, another brutal dictatorship. Those getting on their high horse about Venezuela include admirers of Margaret Thatcher, whose relationship with Chilean tyrant Augusto Pinochet makes Corbyn’s relationship with the Venezuelan leadership look decidedly frosty.

Yet Corbyn, who engaged in a cordial conversation with President Maduro over the telephone in 2014 for the television show En Contacto con Maduro, arguably has it in his power to influence developments in Venezuela. However small his influence might be, he ought to be calling publicly for the release of the political prisoners López and Ledezma.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn like to say that their man has always come down on the “right side of history”. If this is to mean anything at all, then it should also mean speaking out against the abuses committed by one’s own side.

 A different approach is offered here:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 4, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Ken Livingstone Goes Loudly Mad (Venezuela …)

with 5 comments

Image result for un fou entonnoir

Ken Livingstone ‘s Adviser on Anti-Imperialism. 

Items today:

Ken Livingstone: Venezuela should have followed my economic advice.

Ken Livingstone gave an extraordinary interview on talkRADIO this morning, saying the country ignored his economic advice – and this folly is the root cause of its decline.

The former mayor of London also said America had played a major part in Venezuela’s crisis, that Hugo Chavez’s failure to kill the country’s oligarchs is a “problem”, and that Nicolas Maduro seemed a nice and fair men when he met him.

Livingstone spoke to Julia Hartley-Brewer this morning about the mounting crisis surrounding Maduro, which escalated further this week following the arrest of two leading opposition figures.

Livingstone told Julia Hartley-Brewer that he’d offered personal advice to Venezuela’s minister of finance, telling the country to move away from its economic dependence on oil.

But, Livingstone said, “he ignored my advice… and that’s one of their problems.”

He then went onto speak of this:

Ken Livingstone: Venezuela crisis caused by Chávez’s failure to kill oligarchs

Ken Livingstone, a former mayor of London, has blamed the turmoil in Venezuela on Hugo Chávez’s unwillingness to execute “oligarchs” after he came to power.

Livingstone, who is suspended from the Labour party, also blamed the economic crisis in the country on the government’s failure to take his advice on investment in infrastructure, which he said would have reduced the Latin American state’s dependence on oil.

The former mayor, a longtime supporter of the late president Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro, said the socialist leader’s enemies wanted to restore their power.

One of the things that Chávez did when he came to power, he didn’t kill all the oligarchs. There was about 200 families who controlled about 80% of the wealth in Venezuela,” Livingstone told Talk Radio.

“He allowed them to live, to carry on. I suspect a lot of them are using their power and control over imports and exports to make it difficult and to undermine Maduro.”

The Newshounds of the influential Labour Party Marxists  state today (August the 3rd),

….unconfirmed reports in the party suggest that Ken Livingstone is facing a new investigation over his comments on the relationship between Zionist organisations and the German Nazi government in the early to mid-30s. The comrade remains suspended for statements he made about the limited cooperation between these two otherwise bitterly opposed forces; concretely over the immigration of Jews from Germany to Palestine.

More:  Livingstone’s ‘blasphemy’

Indications from reliable sources inside the Labour Party indicate that investigators will have a lot more on their plate after  the latest outbursts.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 3, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Socialist Party Stunt : ‘Ana Key’ – ’11 Votes’ Ellen Kenyon Peers – is expelled from Labour Party.

with 2 comments

The Socialist Party, formerly the Militant, today condemned Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft for reporting a local student to the police – over an art project which proposes socialist policies.

The party – which has stood candidates against the Labour Party – continued in its  official paper,

Socialist Party member Ellen Kenyon Peers, the art student in question, has now been expelled from the Labour Party over the project.

Ana Key ‘represents’ the currently non-existent south London constituency of Deptford and Greenwich for the Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Her website includes proposals for building new council homes, capping private rents and making roads safer for cyclists.

Anybody wishing to continue reading can learn that,

The Socialist Party’s forerunner, the Militant Tendency, had three MPs who were known for their active backing for local and national campaigning.

Dave Nellist, Terry Fields and Pat Wall only took the average wage of a skilled worker in their constituency, and donated the rest of their salaries to workers’ struggles. They also used their parliamentary positions as platforms to build these campaigns.

Although Ana Key is a personal art project, not solicited by the Socialist Party or TUSC, the attention it has drawn to socialist politics is welcome.

The Socialist.

It is clear that the Labour Member saw her creation as a member of a rival party, called the Socialist Party.

Ana Key:
First Socialist Party MP
Elected to Westminster

You voted for change on June 8th!

Huffington Post takes up the tale,

Student Ellen Kenyon Peers Who Posed As Fake Socialist MP ‘Ana Key’ Expelled From Labour Party

A university student who was reported to the police for posing as a fake socialist MP as part of an art project has been kicked out of the Labour Party.

Goldsmiths University student Ellen Kenyon Peers sparked uproar on Tuesday after it was revealed she had passed herself off as the newly elected MP for Deptford and Greenwich – a constituency which is set to be created in the next election.

The 24-year-old – who called herself Ana Key – was accused of running a fake Twitter account where she offered help to constituents, using House of Commons headed paper for correspondence and creating a website to list fake constituency surgeries.

Foxcroft told the Telegraph: “As an MP I deal with thousands of constituents with emergency cases, some of them about very serious issues on housing or immigration.

The Story continues,

In 2014, the student stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in the Blackwall and Cubitt Town ward election, winning 11 votes.”

Yet,

But in 2015 Peers went on to join the Labour Party, signing up after Jeremy Corbyn became leader. She now claims she has been expelled from the party.

She told the Evening Standard she has received a “standard legal letter” from Labour HQ cancelling her membership on the grounds she had written for the Socialist Party and stood for election on a “hard-Left ticket”.

Peers, who says she comes from a “traditional Labour-supporting family”, said: “My mum and dad were quite upset that I have been expelled from Labour.”

However, she claims that she has not been contacted by the police or Parliament over her stunt.

A Labour spokesperson confirmed that Peers is no longer a member of the party.

The student at the posh London University has yet to comment further.

But Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe,  tweeted: “The reason we have to #DefendAnaKey is because this imaginary character makes a better MP than the local one, Vicky Pollard or something…”

This  looks decidedly unfunny,

A previous art project of the Socialist Party drew national attention.

Socialist candidate who was left red-faced after getting NO VOTES at last week’s local elections is demanding a re-count – after saying he “definitely” voted for himself.

Paul Dennis, who stood for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Rainham North ward in the Medway Council elections in Kent, was left “baffled” at the count when the announcer revealed he had not got any votes at all.

The Socialist Party is best known on the left for its fanatical support for Brexit and for ending the free movement of labour,

Why the Socialist Party opposed the EU.

What ‘free movement’ exists in the EU is used to allow big business to exploit a cheap supply of labour in a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of low pay, zero-hour contacts and poor employment conditions.

Any EU citizen with problems about the end of free movement would be well advised to steer clear of such an ‘MP’.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Gilad Atzmon Resurfaces, to Protests Against Antisemitism.

with 3 comments

https://i0.wp.com/bedfordandbowery.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/053.jpg

New York Protest at Atzmon this May.

Gilad Atzmon is a ‘controversial’ figure.

Wikipedia notes, “The Community Security Trust report on antisemitic discourse in the UK published in November 2012, but reviewing the previous year, describes Atzmon as increasingly regarded among anti-Zionists as an unwelcome antisemite:

Atzmon’s analysis of Jewish history, identity and culture introduces an unusually explicit and quite new antisemitism into far left-wing politics. Leading Jewish anti-Zionist figures have denounced Atzmon as an antisemite. Most anti-Zionists have followed suit and now also condemn Atzmon, but some factional splits have occurred due to a minority of activists defending him

This just about the sums up the position of anti-racists in the UK:

Nick Lowles writes at Hope Not Hate.

GILAD ATZMON: Supporting Holocaust Deniers and spreading hatred of Jews

Our decision to ask Raise Your Banners to withdraw its invitation to Gilad Atzmon has caused a lot of controversy from his small, but very vocal, band of supporters. In all the years of writing this blog I don’t think I have received as many abusive and angry emails as I have over this issue, though it must be stressed that many of the emails are from the same two or three people.

I’m sticking to my position – namely that Gilad Atzmon flirts with Holocaust Denial, has supported Holocaust Deniers and is a racist antisemite. I will not be bullied or threatened into silence. HOPE not hate stands for decency, tolerance and equality. I will speak up against racism and antisemtism just as I will campaign against fascism and anti-Muslim prejudice.

Gilad Atzmon supports Holocaust deniers and claims that the established history of the Holocaust is misleading. He attacks Jewish identity in a way that would clearly be recognised as racist if it were about any other minority identity, and claims that because of how Jews behave, in the future people might think Hitler was right about Jews. He tells crude antisemitic jokes and mocks any concerns about antisemitism.

Much of the criticism against our position stems from those who believe that we are part of some Zionist plot which seeks to silence criticism of Israel. Nothing can be further from the truth. To me, this has nothing to do with the Israel/Palestine conflict but merely opposition to a man who makes racist and antisemtic comments.

While pretty much universally despised in Europe ‘controversial’ writer Gilad Atzmon still has fans amongst the US ‘left’.

As one would except his popularity has been high in the past with the  ‘Wise guys’ of  Counterpunch, who like ‘low down’ on ‘Zionism’.

On Gilad Atzmon’s “The Definitive Israeli Lexicon”  (May the 22nd 2015.

Infamous for his earlier book, “The Wandering Who?: A Study in Jewish Identity Politics” (2011), Gilad Atzmon has collaborated with Italian cartoonist and interior designer, Enzo Apicella to produce “The Definitive Israeli Lexicon, A to Zion”.

Since the publication of “The Wandering Who?” Atzmon has been vilified and dragged through the mud of slander by the Jewish/Israeli establishment, accused of anti-Semitism and being a self-hating Jew.

Please, run out and buy a copy of this book. It will knock a hole in all your prejudices.

Earlier this year (May) this took place in New York,

Clash Over Anti-Semitism as Controversial Speaker Gilad Atzmon Appears at Theatre 80.

They weren’t wearing black masks or hurling smoke bombs. But a small group of no more than 20 anti-fascists made it clear Sunday afternoon that they strongly opposed the appearance of British jazz saxophonist and author Gilad Atzmon at a panel discussion on politics after Brexit held late yesterday afternoon in Theatre 80 on St. Marks Place.

“Jew-Haters [get] out of the East Village,” blared a leaflet handed out by local journalist Bill Weinberg, a leftwing anarchist who writes a blog called New Jewish Resistance. His leaflet describes Atzmon, who was born in Israel and served as a medic in the Israel Defense Forces, as a “proud self-hating Jew” who allegedly traffics in anti-Semitism and has made a career out of “legitimizing hatred.”

..These people are a bunch of a racist assholes!” shouted one demonstrator, apparently referring to attendees who had paid $10 to hear Atzmon speak with three other panelists, including radical leftwing lawyer Stanley Cohen.

..

Cohen added that any attempt to repress speech is “an invitation to violence.” He said there’s a “growing repression” worldwide that now includes some people on the “insular Left” who are, he said, “attempting to dictate the dialog and to shut down the marketplace of ideas. That’s called fascism.”

The fiery lawyer also claimed without substantiation that there had been “discussions” before the demonstration to shut down the panel, possibly create violence and exact “economic punishment” on Theatre 80, allegations which Weinberg, one of the organizers of the protest, said was news to him.

For his part, Atzmon read passages from his book and railed against “the tyranny of political correctness,” sometimes drawing laughter from attendees–especially when he declared that Archie Bunker of the TV series from decades past was a beloved show that created a kind of cultural revolution eventually leading to the election of Donald Trump.

In an opinion piece Bill Weinberg explained why he had got to the point of  protesting against Atzmon,

While Atzmon and his defenders hide behind “anti-Zionism” (or “criticism of Jewish culture”), he has been roundly condemned by legitimate anti-Zionists. Please read the US Palestinian Community Network statement, “A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon.

Jewish anti-Zionists such as myself are committed to making common cause with the Palestinians and fighting anti-Semitism in the diaspora rather than rallying around a settler state. That’s why picketing Theatre 80 is my responsibility.

This is the above call,

Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

Bearing these events in mind the following call was circulated yesterday,

Holocaust denier and neo nazi supporter Gilad Atzmon is still due to perform at 2 venues in London this Wednesday and Thursday. If you prefer your jazz without a side of fascism, contact the venues today and ask them to cancel the gigs. If you’re a local to either hackney or camberwell, why not stop by?

http://www.jazzlive.co.uk/contact.html
http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/contact-us/

For those who might say ‘what’s wrong with him playing a saxophone’ – 1)No platform for nazi supporting holocaust deniers. Ever. 2) Atzmon uses his gigs to promote his views. He advertises them side by side on the same website. His success as a musician gives him a platform that he would not otherwise have, a platform that he more recently seems to be using to network with prominent, dangerous nazis. He does not keep his musical and political careers separate, so why should we.

This is  Atzmon’s reply today (Tuesday the 1st of August)

Zion Declares War on British Jazz

Back in the day, my detractors at least attempted to encounter my arguments and debate me. They didn’t get too far. Since the publication of my new book Being in Time: a Post-Political Manifesto, they have changed their tactics: they insist on obliterating my international jazz career.

Earlier today, a book shop in Oxford that regularly hosts my concerts posted the attached letter (see below) to my Facebook page. The Oxford venue received the letter from the ultra-Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitsm (CAA). The CAA letter is blatantly and intentionally defamatory and duplicitous.

The CAA and other Zionist institutions have been busy subjecting every British jazz venue that features my music to intense harassment. It is no secret that Zionism has been destroying Palestine, its people and its culture for decades. However, eradicating British culture and British jazz in particular may be taking this carnage one step too far.

A number of the British promoters, venues and festivals who received a copy of this defamatory letter against me attempted to investigate the CAA’s accusations and have found the allegations to be baseless, delusional and duplicitous. By way of illustration, the band I am touring with at the moment is led by a NY Jewish musician and the bass player is an ex- Israeli: not exactly a ‘Neo-Nazi’ quartet.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 1, 2017 at 5:17 pm

Commemorating Jean Jaurès.

with 4 comments

A YEAR has passed since the death of the greatest man of the Third Republic. Events the like of which history has not previously known have welled up almost as if to wash away Jaurès’ blood with new blood and to divert attention away from him and to swallow up even his memory. But even the very greatest events have only partially succeeded in this. In France’s political life a great void has been left behind. New leaders of the proletariat answering the revolutionary character of the new era have not yet arisen. The old leaders only make us remember the more clearly that there is now no Jaurès.

The war has thrown on one side not only individual figures but a whole era with them: the era during which the present leading generation in all spheres of life had been educated and brought up. Today this departed era on the one hand attracts our thoughts by the obstinacy of its cultural heritage, the uninterrupted growth of its technology, science and workers’ organizations; and on the other seems petty and characterless in the conservatism of its political life and in the reformist methods of its class struggle.

After the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune (1870-1871) a period of armed peace and political reaction set in. Europe, if one excluded Russia, knew neither war nor revolution. Capital developed on a mighty scale outgrowing the framework of nation-states and overflowing into the remaining countries and subjugating colonies. The working class built its trade unions and its socialist parties. However the whole of the proletarian struggle of this period was impregnated with the spirit of reformism, of adaptation to the existing order and to the nation’s industry and the nation’s state power. After the experience of the Paris Commune the European proletariat did not once pose the question of the conquest of political power in a practical, that is, a revolutionary way. This peaceful, “organic” character of the era reared a whole generation of proletarian leaders thoroughly steeped in distrust for the direct revolutionary mass struggle.

When the war broke out and the nation-state embarked on its campaign with all its forces armed to the teeth, this generation could without difficulty place the majority of the “socialist” leaders down on their knees. The epoch of the Second International has thus ended with the violent wrecking of the official socialist parties. True they are still standing as monuments to a past age and supported both indirectly and forcibly by the governments. But the spirit of proletarian socialism has fled them and they are doomed to collapse. The working masses who have in the past accepted the ideas of socialism are only now, amid the terrible experience of the war, receiving their revolutionary baptism of fire. We are entering upon a period of unprecedented revolutionary earthquakes. New organizations will be brought to the fore by the masses and new leaders will stand at their head.

The two most outstanding representatives of the Second International have left the scene before the onset of the era of storms and earthquakes: namely Bebel and Jaurès. Bebel died in ripe old age having said everything that he was able to say. Jaurès was killed at the age of 55 in the full flower of his creative energy. A pacifist and a sharp opponent of the policies of Russian diplomacy, Jaurès fought right till the last minute against French intervention in the war. It was considered in certain circles that the war of “liberation” could not commence its march other than by stepping over Jaurès’ dead body.

Jean Jaurès  Leon Trotsky. July 1915

Two important and recommended books on Jaurès

Gilles Candar – Vincent Duclert, Jean Jaurès, Fayard, 2014.

This  biography has set a new standard. Beautifully written, with a proper ‘critical apparatuses’ (not a noted feature of many French biographies or indeed works of political theory), it is the best study of the French socialist leader that I have come across.

Candar (of the Société d’études jaurésiennes  and Duclert (a specialist on the Dreyfus affair) point out that, while never  held office, Jaurès remains one of the most influential figures in the country’s history, revered on all sides. Amongst its many merits the book is illuminating on the general history of the 3rd Republic, from the Dreyfus Affair, in which the Socialist, initially reluctant, was drawn to take the side of those defending not just the unjustly accused by the universal values of human rights, to the separation of state and Church, the foundation of French Laïcité . The authors do not skirt around one issue, which has always irked me, the absence on the French left at the time (indeed up till say, the 1970s…) of any recognition of the importance of feminism. The socialist leader, active in the Second International where these issues were raised more frequently than in France, was they illustrate, was committed to women’s rights, if, as a homme du Midi of the age, he was marked by  patriarchal culture.

Jaurès’ struggle for peace on the eve of the Great War and the ferocious hatred that he inspired on the French nationalist right, today, on the anniversary of Passchendaele has passed, and xenophobia has returned throughout Europe, serve to underline the grandeur of  one of the greatest leaders of international socialism.

Jean-Paul ScotJaurès et le réformisme révolutionnaire, Seuil, 2014.

For many  Jaurès’ socialism is summed up in the phrase, “the republic must be made social“. Scot argues that it  rested on deeper foundations. Tracing his intellectual development the author of unravels a  dialectic between a belief in the reformist (though not ‘revisionist’) belief in  ‘evolution’ and the need for radical change. Taking from Marx the concept of  “évolution révolutionnaire” to bring the two sides together Scot, illustrates this through the socialist leader’s speeches, articles and political career.  Jaurès began as a republican, much as his British counterparts in the late 19th century, started as “radicals”. He became a ‘collectivist’ and republican socialist, but, with his reading and experience began, Scot argues, to offer a perspective  that went beyond the structures of capitalism.

Lucid and always readable this essay ploughs into the world of 19th century socialism. We are spared the details of the rifts between the Marxism of Jules Guesde  and the  Parti ouvrier français,, pure republican revolutionaries (Parti socialiste révolutionnaire),  mutualists, the allemanistes,  the electric ‘integral socialism’ of Benoît Malon, and the wider current of reformism,  (possibilistes)  as Scot underlines Jaurès’ ability, as an “Independent” to bring most of the left together for the creation of the Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière (SFIO, French Section of the Workers’ International), the first French Socialist Party in 1905.

This hopeful essay, which does not skate around  the difficulties Jaurès lyrical French republican side leaves us, but focuses on the profound  problems created by capitalism, is a  tonic against those who imagine that the division between Right and Left  can be wished away by the election of a new President.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2017 at 12:00 pm

As the Caliphate Falls Daesh Fighters Should be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity.

with 2 comments

Related image

ISIS Fighters Should be Tried for Crimes Against Humanity. 

This is in the news today,

Isis fighters’ bride reveals horror of life in the so-called caliphate. Independent.

Islam Mitat describes a ‘Little Britain’ in Raqqa where many young British people fought for Isis

An Isis fighter’s wife has revealed the horrors of the life of jihadi brides under the so-called caliphate after she was forced into Syria by her husband.

Islam Mitat, 23, a young mother of two said her life was turned around when her husband of three years, Ahmed, forced her to go to live in an Isis bastion in Syria, where he became a jihadi fighter.

Originally from Morocco, Ms Mitat a physics student and keen former fashion blogger, discovered life in “Little Britain” within the caliphate.

Speaking to The Sunday Times from a safe house in northern Syria, she revealed how she set up home with teenage British twins, Zahra and Salma Halane, who ran away from their home in Manchester in 2014.

Will the jihadists, many of whom are said to be involved in crimes which the UN has described as Genocide (ISIS’ Yazidi Genocide) and  Human Rights Watch has said are Crimes against Humanity,  face justice?

The British government has just announced this:

The UK has stripped more than 150 suspected jihadists and other criminals of their citizenship to stop them returning, it has been reported.

Ministers have issued the “deprivation orders” in case the collapse of the Islamic State in the Middle East leads to a sudden influx of militants from Syria, according to the Sunday Times.

Quoting official figures and security sources, the paper said more than 40 suspects have had their right to a passport removed this year, with about 30 targeted since March.

It added those who have had their citizenship removed include gunmen and “jihadi brides” who have travelled to Syria.

The news comes as the Syrian army and its allies reported made gains in the last IS-held territories in Homs province.

They are all dual nationals, including British-born people with parents of different nationalities, as ministers cannot take away citizenship if it would lead a suspect stateless.

A senior security source told the Sunday Times: “There’s an awful lot of people we have found who will never be coming home again.

Our number one preference is to get them on trial. If we don’t think that’s possible, we use disruption techniques.”

Last week the Home Office revealed that just six suspects in Britain who cannot be deported or prosecuted are subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims).

Security minister Ben Wallace said: “Prosecution and conviction is always our preference for dealing with terrorists.

“Tpims (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures) are one of a range of powers at our disposal to disrupt terrorism-related activity where prosecution is not possible.”

Evening Standard.

The fighters for Daesh have not just committed acts of  terrorism  or are a potential threat in the UK.

They, like their forebears in the Nazi  Einsatzgruppen, stand accused of crimes against humanity.

They should be tried for that by an appropriate court.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Ken Bell, Labour Leave, EU “scab influx” of Migrant Labour and “gobby Birds”.

with 10 comments

 

The ‘Good Old Cause’ Says leading Labour Leave Writer.

 

arry’s Place, Sarah AB,  broke this story (though it had been going around Facebook yesterday afternoon)..

 So here it is: as HP calls it,

Labour Leaver on ’scab’ migrant labour

This piece has been cross-posted by Labour Leave. (who have removed it….)

Trigger warning: the author shows the curious mixture of xenophobia, Stalinist nostalgia and sheer  lunacy that marks out some of the Lexit, pro-Brexit, self-styled left.

Kenneth Bell (4 followers) writes,

Let’s be honest, the left argument against the EU is not an anti-immigration one. Rather, it’s about the wholesale importation of scab labour by management to cut British wages and put us in our place, both economically and socially. That is a fact that Jeremy Corbyn made clear when he said that people will still move around after we leave the European Union. However, he then went on to say: “What there wouldn’t be is the wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry.

The man of the moment goes on to say,

I can describe them as genuine scab labourers because they come from countries which had the type of economic system that we want for ourselves. One that guaranteed full employment, a functioning health service that was free at the point of use, and two weeks holiday every year at a Black Sea resort. Most important of all was the fact that management were little more than errand boys, with the major economic decisions being taken by the government and the unions.

Sadly, because socialism was introduced courtesy of the Soviet army, it was seen as something imposed on those countries from outside, so we can fully understand why the peoples of Eastern Europe wanted the Soviet Union out of their countries. However, throwing out the socialist baby with the Soviet bathwater has never made any sense to me, nor I suspect would it to any of the British workers who now spend a lifetime doing a crap job for a crap wage for a crap employer.

Bell is oh so keen on Brexit,

A year ago today we voted to free ourselves from the clutches of Brussels. We had been told by various scum sucking Federast types that if we voted for freedom we would be condemning Britain to another generation of right-wing Tory rule, a line that I look back on today with a head-shaking grin.

Enjoying our new found liberty Bell has developed a frolicsome  line in humour.

“This is a scold’s bridle, used to keep scolding woman, or gobby birds as we now call them, quiet. Photographed in the Edinburgh Museum today.”

His unique line on women’s issues is not doubt widely shared amongst his Lexit comrades.

Pippa Middleton is Still Best Viewed From Behind.

A fierce commitment to free speech opened Belly’s heart to this guest post:

Guest Posting: The Wankery that is Intersectioanality

According to well-established rumour Bell is in line for a weekly Morning Star column.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 29, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Venezuela, Honesty and the Left.

with 15 comments

Image result for resistance and repression in Venezuela

Time for the Left to Defend Human Rights in Venezuela.

Many people will have watched yesterday’s report on Venezuela on  the BBC  Newsnight.

It was deeply disturbing.

“In Venezuela, activists say the government is using torture and imprisonment without trial against those who oppose it – a claim the government denies. So who are the people hoping to overthrow President Maduro? Vladimir Hernandez reports.”

The programme showed evidence of repression that would shock all supporters of human rights.

I am not in a mood to listen to those who will try to cast doubt on the BBC report.

There are plenty of other reliable sources of information which confirm their facts begining with, La represión de Maduro se salda con al menos 36 muertos en un mes.  El País (May.

The Guardian reports today, “It takes a lot of courage’: Venezuelan protesters tell of rising police violence.As general strike begins, more than 100 have died and hundreds more arrested in anti-government protests since April. Spanish language media takes the same angle, Una huelga general endurece el pulso contra la Constituyente de Maduro. Tres muertos, 367 detenidos, calles desiertas y barricadas en el paro organizado por la oposición a una semana para la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente. El País (Today). The mass emigration of the population is also startling, Les Vénézuéliens s’exilent en masse vers la Colombie. (le Monde)

The splits inside the Chavista side (signaled in the Newsnight film) are well known: La procureure générale du Venezuela critique la répression de l’opposition.

Here is some more of the BBC coverage:

How is the left reacting?

First of all we have the Morning Star’s ‘reports’ which say nothing of state repression.

VENEZUELA’S right-wing opposition launched a 48-hour “civic strike” yesterday, calling on workers to stay at home in its latest campaign to derail plans to convene a new constituent assembly.

President Nicolas Maduro has confirmed that Sunday’s elections will go ahead to choose the members of the assembly, despite the Democratic Unity Roundtable (Mud) coalition’s three-month campaign of rioting which has led to hundreds of deaths.

The CTV union federation, which supported the 2002 coup against late president Hugo Chavez, said its 333,000 members would join the strike.

On Tuesday, Mr Maduro said Venezuela would “choose between peace and war, between the future or the past and between independence or colonialism.” He has said that the new constituent assembly will promote peace and reconciliation.

Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada has demanded answers from the US over “systematic” efforts to overthrow its elected government. He said there was a “campaign of intelligence operations at the highest level to overthrow the constitutional government of President Nicolas Maduro.”

The Foreign Ministry accused Washington of providing “finance and logistical support to the Venezuelan opposition as an integral part of its destabilising efforts against democracy.”

It also condemned former president Barack Obama for extending his 2015 decree designating Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US national security” before leaving office in January.

It also attacked Mr Obama’s successor Donald Trump for additional sanctions imposed since he took office.

This is what Cuba said….

Cuban Communist Party second secretary Jose Ramon Machado denied claims Havana would mediate between the government and opposition.

He said it was up to the Venezuelan people and government to overcome their challenges “without foreign meddling in their internal affairs.

“Those who from the outside try to give lessons on democracy and human rights while encouraging coup-mongering violence and terrorism should take their hands off that nation.”

Counterpunch,

Time for the “International Left” to Take a Stand on Venezuela    July the 17th

Venezuela is heading towards an increasingly dangerous situation, in which open civil war could become a real possibility. So far over 100 people have been killed as a result of street protests, most of these deaths are the fault of the protesters themselves (to the extent that we know the cause). The possibility of civil war becomes more likely as long the international media obscure who is responsible for the violence and as long as the international left remains on the sidelines in this conflict and fails to show solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement in Venezuela.

 …

So, instead of silence, neutrality, or indecision from the international left in the current conflict in Venezuela, what is needed is active solidarity with the Bolivarian socialist movement. Such solidarity means vehemently opposing all efforts to overthrow the government of President Maduro during his current presidential term in office. Aside from the patent illegality that the Maduro government’s overthrow would represent, it would also be a literally deadly blow to Venezuela’s socialist movement and to the legacy of President Chávez. The international left does not even need to take a position on whether the proposed constitutional assembly or negotiations with the opposition is the best way to resolve the current crisis. That is really up to Venezuelans to decide. Opposing intervention and disseminating information on what is actually happening in Venezuela, though, are the two things where non-Venezuelans can play a constructive role.

Socialist Appeal (17th of July) continues in this vein,

Defeat reaction with revolution

The reactionary opposition represents the interests of the oligarchy (bankers, capitalists and landowners) and imperialism which stands behind them. If they were to take power they would launch a massive austerity package on the Venezuelan workers and the poor, with brutal cuts in public spending, the abolition of the Bolivarian social programs, the privatisation of social housing, the privatisation of expropriated companies, the privatisation of re-nationalised utilities, the abolition of the main rights and protections in the Labour Law, etc. At the same time, they would launch a political purge of all state institutions, ministries and state-owned companies and  an all out assault on democratic rights, unleashing a lynch mob against chavistas and their organisations.

For this reason we must oppose their reactionary campaign and stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan working people.

But,

As we have explained elsewhere, this does not mean giving support to the present policies of the Maduro government, which are ineffective in combatting reaction and by making constant concessions to the capitalist class undermine the social base of support of the Bolivarian movement. Even now, during the campaign for the Constituent Assembly elections, the so-called “patriotic businessmen” are advocating the privatisation of expropriated companies as well as the use of the Assembly to “strengthen private property rights”. This is the main plank of the campaign of Oscar Schemel, for instance, with the full backing of businessman and minister Perez Abad, which has been given ample time in all the state media. That road leads directly to disaster.

The only way to defend the conquests of the revolution is by unleashing the revolutionary self-activity and organisation of the masses of workers, peasants and the poor. An example of what is possible can be seen in the campaigns organised by groups like the Bolivar Zamora Revolutionary Current (which has organised Popular Defence Brigades) or the Alexis Vive Patriotic Force (which is calling for a new revolutionary leadership).

The offensive of the oligarchy must be defeated, but it can only be defeated by revolutionary means.

The duty of revolutionaries and consistent democrats internationally is to oppose the insurrectionary attempts of the reactionary opposition and defend the gains of the Bolivarian revolution. Taking a “neutral” position puts you objectively on the side of counter-revolution. We must wage a relentless campaign against the lies of the international media, to denounce our own imperialist governments which support reaction in Venezuela in the name of “democracy” and “human rights”. At the same time we must support and encourage those in Venezuela who are beginning to draw the correct revolutionary conclusions from this crisis: we cannot make half a revolution.

These might be fringe leftist groups but more seriously El Pais has accused Podemos of complicity with Maduro: Cómplices de Maduro (28th of July). That is, “guardan silencio, cuando no justifican a Maduro y acusan a la oposición de antidemocrática..” Podemos leaders have kept silent, when they are not justting Maduro and accusing the opposition of being antidemocratic.

Others are beginning to ask broader questions.

Being honest about Venezuela. Socialist Worker (USA, no relation these days to SW UK).

The world’s media, overwhelmingly hostile to the Bolivarian process, sneer at President Nicolás Maduro’s rhetoric while presenting the right-wing parties, which certainly launched this wave of violence, as defenders of democracy. This definition of democracy apparently allows whole populations to fall into poverty and illness, with nearly 100 people left to die in the streets.

Meanwhile, the international left has accepted the explanations government spokespersons offer, still believing that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Thus, when a helicopter attacked government buildings on June 28, some observers simply added the event to the catalog of right-wing violence.

It is, unsurprisingly, far more complicated than that.

Oscar Pérez, a retired officer of the state security services, piloted the helicopter. Pérez has close ties to ex-Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, whom Maduro dismissedin 2014. Torres, like the majority of the current cabinet and around half of Venezuela’s state governors, belongs to the military. He also leads one of a number of Chavista factions angling for power.

Behind a façade of governmental unity, another struggle is developing, but none of the groups are fighting to continue the revolutionary project or to reconstruct the mass movement that saved it after the attempted coup and the bosses’ strikes of 2002-3.

The opposition is also split into rival factions. Some advocate dialogue with the president, while others, especially the group that Leopoldo Lopez and his partner Liliana Tintori lead, almost certainly support the most violent street fighters. They aim not only to get rid of Maduro but also to destroy Chavismo itself.

Most Venezuelans know the major players on the right: they belong to the wealthiest and most powerful families, who controlled the economy until Chávez arrived. Since the first street barricades went up, Maduro has tried to work with representatives of these right-wing sectors. In 2014, for example, he called in Lorenzo Mendoza, head of the Polar multinational and one of the richest Venezuelans.

Gustavo Cisneros, another member of that exclusive clan, has remained untouched in the nearly 20 years of Chavismo. He recently claimed that Venezuela needs a Macri, referring to the militantly neoliberal Argentine president, who is currently working to dismantle that country’s public sector. Cisneros likely speaks from knowledge of the right’s strategic thinking.

As the economic and political crisis deepens, it’s become obvious that neither the government nor the opposition will offer any real solutions. While Maduro betrays the revolution by courting the bourgeoisie and sliding backwards into neoliberalism, right-wing forces have brought in violent mercenaries to try and disrupt the country even further. As these two groups struggle for power, ordinary Venezuelans are watching the gains of Chavismo slip away.

It must have been hard for the comrades of the ISO to say the above, but it needed to be said.

Nobody can accept the state version of what is happening in Venezuela, or its claim to ‘defend’ anything resembling socialism.

We have to defend human rights.

It is time for those in this country who are close to these issues to speak out.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 28, 2017 at 11:34 am

English Labour Network, a “Patriotic” initiative.

with 2 comments

Image result for english labour network

Identity Politics?

Jean-Luc Mélelenchon perhaps set a precedent.

Image result for melenchon and patriotism

“They nourish national vanity and the love of supremacy by force. “We alone,” they say, each behind his shelter, “we alone are the guardians of courage and loyalty, of ability and good taste!” Out of the greatness and richness of a country they make something like a consuming disease. Out of patriotism–which can be respected as long as it remains in the domain of sentiment and art on exactly the same footing as the sense of family and local pride, all equally sacred–out of patriotism they make a Utopian and impracticable idea, unbalancing the world, a sort of cancer which drains all the living force, spreads everywhere and crushes life, a contagious cancer which culminates either in the crash of war or in the exhaustion and suffocation of armed peace.”

Under Fire: The Story of a Squad, by Henri Barbusse, 1917

Denham and key Corbyn ally join forces for “patriotic” English Labour initiative

A former Labour cabinet minister has joined forces with one of the leading lights of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign for the launch of a “patriotic” initiative to give English voters a voice.

John Denham, the former communities and local government secretary under Gordon Brown, has set up the English Labour Network in an attempt to help the party win again in the largest of the home nations.

The network aims to build on Labour’s progress in the June general election and allow it to take the seats in the “large towns and small cities”which are necessary to be able to form a government.

It will provide “practical support” rather than be “yet another internal party group lobbying for individual policies or individual candidates”, Denham writes on LabourList today.

George Orwell famously distinguished between patriotism and nationalism. “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” (Notes on Nationalism. 1945)

It is unclear if things are so clear cut, we find plenty of people talking sentimentally about ‘their’ nation, places and culture, in good times,  but using these to defend the superiority of their way of life against all others. Or simply giving priority to ‘their’ ain folk. It surely is not a coincidence that the ‘identitarian’ movement in the European extreme right tries to connect the two.

Orwell is nevertheless useful when we realise that it’s issues of power, that is the state, which mark nationalism. Sovereigntist ideas, on the populist right, and sections of the left which try to create their own radical populism, which see the capture of national sovereignty by the ‘people’ as the premise of political success, have a tight link to nationalism. If the right bases itself on the People against a variety of Enemies, from Globalised elites, to migrants, the left version targets Oligarchs and claims to ‘federate’ the people. There is some convergence in  that both could be said to reflect something of  Zygmunt Bauman’s idea that today, in ‘late modernity’  “the settled majority is ruled by the nomadic and exterritorial elite” (Liquid Modernity 2010).

David Goodhart’s The Road to Somewhere (2017), is perhaps  the most recent attempt to put forward this themes in British terms.  His  writing, on  the opposition between ‘somewheres’ and ‘anywheres’, talks of the need for the left to take up the concerns of ‘decent populists’. He argued for the importance of the ‘restless’ anywheres who dominate Labour policy making to take up the concerns of those, who vlaue   “group identity, tradition and national social contracts (faith, flag and family)”. 

Drawing on this feeling for “a particular place and way of life”, in the line of  Blue Labour, along with “work family and community”, the English Labour Network, now proposes the following.

Labour Vision interviews John Denham on launch of English Labour Network. He tells us: “No Labour manifesto in my time has gone as far as this year’s in recognising the political identity of England”

Sam Stopp ” a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Brent and is the Chair of The Labour Campaign to End Homelessness. He has written regularly for LabourList, LeftFootForward, Progress Online and Open Labour. “

  •   Labour has to aim to win England for two reasons. One is that, despite the strength in Wales and the fact we’ve recovered in Scotland, we can’t rely on sufficient MPs from those two nations to give us a UK majority. But the second reason is that it will be harder for Labour to implement policies that will be controversial in England if it doesn’t have an English majority, or is a long way behind the Tories. So we have the aim for an English majority.”
  • The second (point) is a constitutional and democratic point. The Welsh and Scottish Labour parties have a great deal of autonomy from UK Labour, but there is no place in which England is actually discussed. And I think the history says that one of the reasons that England has remained so centralised … and all of the failures to devolve have failed … is that the whole thing is being governed by the interests of Wales and Scotland, rather than the ideas of England. So I think we need to have a clear place for England within the Union and a clear decision on how we’re going to devolve inside England. And that is now long overdue.
  • The third thing”, Denham tells me, “is the cultural one, which is that Labour lags in support among English-identifying voters. Now, that’s going to be particularly critical. If you look at the seats that we need to win at the next election to form a government and the ones that we have to defend if the Tories get their act together, they are largely seats that are actually pretty evenly balanced between leavers and remainers and more of the older, working-class leaver voters than the places that we won at the election. And so to lag behind amongst those voters is very dangerous. And the reason that identity is important is that people want to be respected for who they are.”This is where Denham gets passionate and it seems as though this third issue is the one that stresses him the most. “If somebody feels English”, he goes on, “nobody ever acknowledges that they feel English. It’s a clear way of saying that we don’t understand you, or we don’t know where you’re coming from. The irony is that we live in a society where all sorts of multiple identities are possible, but it’s almost as though Englishness is the one that’s not legitimate. If Labour behaves as though there’s something inherently wrong with being English, we’re never going to reach those voters. When we talk about the importance England and Englishness, nobody is suddenly going to vote for us because of this, but it opens the door to discussions about public services or industrial strategy or austerity or spending and all the other things.”

offers some important critical reflections.

Labour has slipped rightwards on immigration. That needs to change

 

Both Denham and Liam Byrne stress that they want good, not bad, patriotism. But Byrne also asks us not to dwell on “dusty history”, as if the toxic nature of modern jingoism isn’t derived precisely from the predominant chauvinistic version of our nation’s past. It will take more than a half-baked rebranding exercise to deal with these deep-seated issues. After Brexit, the idea that our national identity should be simply celebrated rather than critically re-examined is not only irrational but deeply irresponsible. Currently, the ELN looks more like a triangulating appeal to rightwing voters than a serious project for reimagining and building a more inclusive England, with all the difficult conversations that will necessarily involve.

This is connected to a wider strand of thinking in and around the Labour party that sees xenophobia and racism as confined to a minority of cranks on society’s fringe, with the current high levels of public antipathy towards immigrants being due for the most part to nothing more than the “legitimate concerns” of primarily working-class voters. It’s a view resting on spectacular naivety about the true nature and breadth of prejudice in Britain (which is in no way class-specific), as well as the misconception that it is experience of, rather than prejudice about, immigration that drives this antipathy.

This narrative becomes a shade more sinister when the dubious category of the “white working class” (apparently neglected more due to its whiteness than its class) is elevated to the status of Labour’s “traditional” support – the “core vote” residing in the “heartlands”. One wonders where in the pecking order this leaves the non-white working-class residents of Grenfell Tower, for example. It would be unfortunate if the answer to that question were to be found in the expressions of sympathy one hears from some Labour figures for people “anxious about … the rate of change of communities”. Labour neither has nor deserves a future as the party of those who don’t want black and brown people moving into their street.

We suspect that the problems lie deeper than this.

It is not just the cultural issues Wearing rightly highlights and which make a mockery of efforts to revive a ‘national identity’  from the left.

Brexit has been followed by the attempt of some inside the Labour Party to assert their own brand of sovereigntism.

Calling on support from ‘anger’ of the anti-EU camp, the sturdy “northern working class” to the people of England who have not spoken yet, these forces – they have a name, and that is those within the Lexit campaign, and supporters (who include Labour leadership advisers) wish to mobilise the ‘people’ against any commitment to oppose the Tories’ Hard Brexit. They believe that they can ‘federate the people’ around a new version of the old Alternative Economic Strategy, Keynesian economics administrated by  a ‘captured’ state.

The real difficulty is that the world is too ‘liquid’ economically and culturally, for any radical left  government both to moblise popular enthusiasm and to build the links we need with ‘other’ nationalities, other peoples with their own loves of place and “particular ways of life”, without at the very elast making direct agreements across Europe, inside and outside of the institutional structures of the EU.

Declaration of the International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century.

with one comment

International Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in the 21st Century

This is important and we extend our solidarity to those standing up for freedom of thought against religious bigotry.

See this email online.

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

Over 70 notable speakers from 30 countries or the Diaspora gathered in what was dubbed “The Glastonbury of Freethinkers” and “a Conference of Heroes” to honour dissenters and defend apostasy, blasphemy, and secularism.

The sold-out conference highlighted the voices of those on the frontlines of resistance – many of them persecuted and exiled – and included the first London film screening of Deeyah Khan’s film, Islam’s Non Believers, a public art protest of 99 balloons representing those killed or imprisoned for blasphemy and apostasy, a body-painting action, and crucial discussions and debates on Islamophobia and its use by Islamists to impose de facto blasphemy laws, the relation between Islam and Islamism as well as communalism’s threat to universal rights, art as resistance and Laicite as a human rights. The conference hashtag, #IWant2BFree, trended on Twitter during the two days.

At the conference, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) honoured ten individuals to mark its tenth anniversary, namely Bangladeshi freethinker Bonya Ahmed, Saudi freethinkers Ensaf Haidar and Raif Badawi, Moroccan atheist Zineb El Rhazoui, Philosopher AC Grayling, Centre for Secular Space’s Gita Sahgal and Yasmin Rehman, Algerian Sociologist Marieme Helie Lucas, Jordanian Atheists’ Founder Mohammad AlKhadra, Egyptian Atheist Founder of The Black Ducks Ismail Mohamed and Author and Scientist Richard Dawkins.

The conference issued resolutions against the no-platforming of Richard Dawkins by KPFA radio station, in defence of Ismail Mohamed who was prevented from leaving Egypt to speak at the conference by the Egyptian government, and on CEMB’s presence in Pride in London as well as a Declaration of Freethinkers (see below).

The event was live-streamed, which can be seen here. Professional video footage will be made available soon as well photos and more details of the event.

Report from Sedaa,  London conference sees ‘largest gathering of ex-Muslims in history’.

Sedaa founder Iram Ramzan, who was co-hosting the event, said: “The conference reminded us all that there are people in the UK and around the world who are ostracised or persecuted simply for deciding to think for themselves.

“It was also noted that one does not necessarily have to be an atheist in order to be a champion of secularism. In fact, a lot of religious people at the event recognised that secularism allows them to worship in the way they want to, just as it would protect non-religious people. A secular state would remain neutral in religious affairs.”

And this:

No apologies.  Maryam Namazie

This is my letter to you.

Not you, the Islamist, who wants me silent or dead whilst dreaming of your vile caliphate, nor you, the racist, who wants my Muslim and migrant family out whilst dreaming of your contemptible white, Christian Europe. To me, you are two sides of the same coin.

This is my letter to you who I should consider a friend, an ally, but who refuses to make a stand with me. You: the progressive, the anti-racist, the supposed defender of human rights.

How come your defence of freedom of conscience and expression never includes my right to reject and criticise Islam?

You exclude, bar, ban, blame and shame me – or at the very least – remain silent, simply because of who I am: an ex-Muslim, an atheist, a critic of Islam.

Of course, you have a right to your silence.

You are not responsible for my persecution. Only those who threaten, kill and harm freethinkers in countries and communities under Islamist control are directly responsible; justice, after all, can never be about placing collective blame.

But I do accuse.

I accuse you of blaming me and never the perpetrators.

They always seem to have some ‘legitimate’ grievance or ‘hurt’ sensibility that justifies their incitement to violence or mass murder.

I, on the other hand, am always at fault:

If only I had not offended’ Your religion offends me but I am still able to stand with you and defend your right to religion.

‘If only I had not provoked’ Islamists kill, maim, silence and I am the one provoking them by saying what I think? Is that you speaking or them?

‘If only I had respected Islam’ You don’t respect my atheism; why must I respect your religion? In any case, one is not required to respect beliefs but the right to belief.

‘If only I had kept my opinion about Islam to myself’… You do not keep your opinions to yourself. Every day, from every corner I hear how ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ and that ‘Islamists are not practising real Islam’. Religion is shoved down my throat until I suffocate; yet I must keep my opinions to myself? Do I not also have the right to speak and think as I choose? Until Islamists stop threatening me, I will shout my atheism from every rooftop.

‘I am aiding racism because I criticise Islam’ Are you promoting terrorism because you defend Islam? I do not blame you for terrorism; stop blaming me for racism – which, by the way, affects me too.

Dear ‘friend’,

Is it really so hard to grasp that freedom of conscience is not just for the believer? That it includes the right not to believe, the right to reject Islam – publicly or otherwise. That freedom of expression is not just for those who defend and promote Islam. It is also my and our freedom to criticise Islam, mock it, and even see it as the regressive ideology of the Islamist movement.

And to do so publicly without fear.

Frankly, when I hear the Quran recited, it feels like a kick to my stomach.  It reminds me of executions in Iran and the totalitarian nightmare from which I have fled and sought refuge.

Nonetheless, I can still make a distinction between beliefs and human beings. I can still defend the right to religion; I can still stand with you against fascists of all stripes.

Why can you not defend my right to reject religion?

Why can you not stand with me?

Can you not see that freedom of religion is meaningless without freedom from religion? These are corresponding freedoms. They cannot exist fully without the other.

Maybe you can afford your silence. After all, religion and its defenders have always been privileged and freethinkers have always been persecuted throughout the ages. But I and we cannot.

Because we have no choice.

Because we have a right to think and live freely – even if it offends you.

Because if we don’t speak for ourselves, who will speak for us? You certainly won’t.

Because we must speak for ourselves, our loved ones, for those who cannot speak, for those who are beaten into submission in homes in London, imprisoned in Riyadh or are facing the gallows in Tehran and Karachi.

For Raif Badawi, for Sina Dehghan, Sahar Ilyasi, Ayaz Nizami, Ahmad Al-Shamri, Taimoor Raza, Avijit Roy…

Because we are the tsunami that is coming…

Yes, I don’t blame you for my persecution, but I do often wonder how much of a role your victim blaming and silence play – even if unwittingly – in normalising the open season on Islam’s atheists and freethinkers.

I wonder. If you were not so tolerant of the culture of offence and so intolerant of my criticism, would the world not be a different place?

I accuse.

#IWant2BFree

“Religion has ever filled the mind of man with darkness, and kept him in ignorance of his real duties and true interests. It is only by dispelling the clouds and phantoms of Religion, that we shall discover Truth, Reason, and Morality. Religion diverts us from the causes of evils, and from the remedies which nature prescribes; far from curing, it only aggravates, multiplies, and perpetuates them.”  ― Paul Henri Thiry d’Holbach