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Left Socialist Blog

Tariq Ali Joins the Labour Party.

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Tariq Ali: on Charlie Hebdo slaughter “when satirical magazines taunt them, they react. It’s as simple as that.”

Those not familiar with the history of the British left may recall Lord Ali.

He was once a leading figure of the International Marxist Group. The only thing I can recall about it is his support, and I agree with him on this, for the legislation of cannabis, ( his application to join the Labour Party in Crouch End was refused, though one may relate the things,….. I am not sure).

Since those halcyon days he has been after many political peregrinations, a prominent supporter of the Liberal Democrats, and most, recently, a voter for the Green Party in his previous domain Highgate.

In his new new estate, Islington, tofu toff Ali had invented himself as Jeremy Corbyn’s oldest friend.

Here is another of his oldest mates.

 

Bless!

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

John McDonnell argues for UKIP Voters’ Veto on Labour Brexit Policy.

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Vetoed by UKIP Supporters, Says John McDonnell.

John McDonnell: Labour wants to push ahead with Brexit

On eve of conference, shadow chancellor defies calls for party to promise second referendum.

The Guardian Political Editor,    cites this,

Earlier, speaking as Labour prepares to gather in Liverpool for its annual conference, with Brexit high on the agenda, the shadow chancellor told the Guardian he would expect his party’s stance to be similar to the one it took in 2017.

“We would be in the same situation there, where we would be saying: we’re accepting that original vote; this is the sort of deal that we want,” McDonnell said.

“I really think people want this sorted. That means negotiating a deal that will meet people’s objectives. So you don’t get hung up on the semantics; you do the deal that will protect their jobs, and address some of the concerns that they had during the referendum.”

He underlined his scepticism about the idea of a vote on the final deal, which will be discussed in Liverpool after more than a hundred constituency Labour parties, and the Labour-supporting unions, called for it to be put on the agenda.

“The debate around the next manifesto will go on, but I really worry about another referendum,” he said.

I’m desperately trying to avoid any rise of xenophobia that happened last time around; I’m desperately trying to avoid giving any opportunity to Ukip or the far right. I think there’s the real risk of that. We’re not ruling out a people’s vote, but there’s a real risk, and I think people need to take that into account when we’re arguing for one.”

Stewart notes,

Much of Labour’s manifesto, if there was a snap poll, would probably be based on last year’s document, The Many, Not the Few, drafted by Corbyn’s policy chief, Andrew Fisher. But the final version would have to be approved by a committee of senior party figures at a so-called clause V meeting – and would be expected to take party conference resolutions into account.

And, apparently, Labour Policy will have to be approved or least found tolerable by the UKIP and the far-right…

The new Pamphlet from the Left Against Brexit says.

“Brexit is a hard right Tory project – the only way to resist it is from the left. This pamphlet puts forward our distinct, left wing reasons to oppose leaving the EU.”

It’s increasingly clear that there is no such thing as a ‘good Brexit’, let alone a ‘people’s’ or ‘left’ Brexit – and this reality is gradually becoming obvious to millions of people in Britain. Brexit, after all, has always been a right wing project. Ardent eurosceptics from Nigel Farage to Daniel Hannan have long harboured a nationalist dislike for the idea of European unity – a hostility that has always gone alongside an aggressive support for Thatcherism and an extreme free-market ideology that yearns to emulate the US by, for example, abolishing the NHS.

….

There is a distinct radical case for staying in the EU, which starts from the assumption we cannot light a path to a new society through nationalist division. Instead, we need to work together with our allies across Europe to realise a bold and transformative socialism.Radicals need to make an unromantic assessment of the tasks at hand across the continent. The EU has many negative qualities – just look at its treatment of Greece (page 29). But the solution to this can only be brought about – like so many issues we encounter in the twenty-first century – through international cooperation, not ‘going it alone’. Staying in the EU and working across borders to tackle the many problems the continent faces is the best and only viable option. The alternative is to roll the dice on a Tory hard Brexit and hope for the best. Faced with this choice, leadership from the left is now required.

(Introduction, Luke Cooper).

Download this essential Pamphlet!

  • Brexit and the hard right’s American dream . Nick Dearden
  • Free movement: a workers’ right Ana Oppenheim.Railways and the EU: time for the truth Manuel Cortes
  • Austerity and resistance in Europe.Marina Prentoulis
  • The EU, a ‘neoliberal project’? Niccolò Milanese
  • Corbynism and Europe. Mary Kaldor
  • Conclusion: Alena Ivanova and Michael Chessum

From the Conclusion.

The British left is at a crossroads unlike any other in its history. Just as the Corbyn moment gives us hope, the Brexit moment presents us with an unprecedented crisis. Domestically, we face an entrenched regime of deregulation combined with an emboldened far right whose anti-immigration narrative has soaked into the mainstream.

The choices we face are not unique to us. From the emerging splits in Germany’s Die Linke to the ‘sovereigntist’ approach of some on the French left, the temptation to give in to the politics of nationalism and border-building is stronger than ever.

Our strategy for battling Brexit and the rising far right starts from an understanding that only the left can win against the encroaching darkness. Only a transformative, socialist vision can compete with the politics of hate and the reality of social crisis. And the agents of change will be workers and ordinary people – in all their diversity – not the morally bankrupt establishment.

This analysis parallels this present Blog’s views on Sahra Wagenknecht’s Aufstehen and the French sovereigntist ‘left’. One can add that the Brexit ‘left’, which may be in a  position to dictate these view inside the Labour Party, may be visibly failing, but still needs to be defeated.

The alternative internationalist strategy of the Left Against Brexit needs active support.

As for the far-right, this is the best response:

It’s in this vein that Michael Chessum says that UKIP should not decide Labour Policy.

After May’s humiliation, Labour must seize the initiative on Brexit  (Guardian)

By backing a referendum on the deal, Corbyn can prevent a split in his party and lay the foundations for electoral success.

This should be a moment of opportunity for Labour and the wider left. The Tories’ Brexit agenda was never about restoring sovereignty to ordinary people – its purpose is to deregulate the British economy and bring us more in line with the American mode, permanently shifting the balance of power in society. By deploying a narrative about the economic crisis that blamed immigration falling living standards, the Brexit project aimed, via the means of a popular vote, to be on the winning side of history.

..

The Labour conference is likely to be dominated by this debate. After a summer in which Unite, the GMB and the TUC have slowly moved towards backing a fresh referendum, 150 motions have been submitted on Brexit. In spite of attempts to weaponise the issue against Corbyn, this is now a campaign led by the left – a grassroots surge centring on the need to defend migrants and free movement, protect the rights and prosperity of working-class people, and push back against the ideological project that Brexit represents.

Everyone now recognises that defeating the Tories’ Brexit agenda is Labour’s only path to government before 2022. There is a consensus that Labour should vote against May’s deal, if there is one, when it is presented to parliament. There is also a consensus that a general election and a radical Labour government is the goal of the strategy. But Labour needs to clarify what it would say about Brexit in any manifesto, and it needs to be clear about its demand if, as is likely, no general election happens. On both points, there is an inexorable logic that points towards a referendum on the deal.

This is a difficult time for the Corbyn project. On one flank, it faces the prospect of an SDP-style split that would fatally undermine Labour’s electoral prospects. On the other, it faces a support base that is up in arms about attempts by unions and the leadership to block open selections and enforce a higher threshold for leadership elections.

There is an alternative to a split, and to using the “party management” machine to crush the left’s own grassroots. By backing a referendum and endorsing a roadmap out of the nightmare of Tory Brexit, Corbyn can kill off the political pretext for a split from the Labour right. Instead of horse-trading with union leaderships and placating the parliamentary party, Corbyn can stick to his principles and make the case for democracy – in the party, and, ultimately, in the country.

We heartily endorse this analysis and these views.

The Fractious Background of ‘left Populist’ Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Guest of ‘The World Transformed” at the Labour Conference.

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Image result for jean luc melenchon populiste charlie hedo

Something Fishy about Mélenchon’s ‘left-Populism’? 

The leader of La France insoumise will soon be in Liverpool.

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

The World Transformed will be welcoming Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at its Labour conference fringe. The French politician who inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017 won more than seven million votes. Since then, despite only commanding 17 MPs in the National Assembly, Mélenchon has emerged as the main resistance to the neoliberal ‘Jupiterian’ presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

The socialist veteran will appear alongside Labour shadow cabinet member Jon Trickett in one of the headline acts of our four-day festival of politics, art and music that has become a mainstay of party conference.

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

Mélenchon ‘commands’  15 MPs, there are two allies (Clémentine Autainand Caroline Fiat) from the alliance of small left groups known as Ensemble who form the Parliamentary Group of 17.

The Ensemble site has published material, in the past, highly critical of Mélenchon. In 2016 they put up a text by  Samy Joshua arguing that his strategy of ”federating the people’ dropped the working class for left populism. « L’ère du peuple » et « l’adieu au prolétariat » ?

The World Transformed  continue.

This was encapsulated by their 2017 manifestos. It was Corbyn’s left-wing programme of nationalisation, abolishing tuition fees and improving workers’ rights that precipitated his astonishing rise in the polls. Mélenchon’s similarly dizzying rise stemmed from the bold manifesto, L’Avenir en Commun (A Shared Future), which he put forward with his party La France Insoumise (FI).

It was the promise of a Sixth Republic, based on the principles of justice and democracy, which saw young and old flock to Mélenchon’s campaign. Likewise, Corbyn promised a constitutional convention as part of his quiet political revolution. Both seek to distribute power to the people.

Shifts in political power will, however, achieve little without an attendant transfer in economic power. The resurgent left is based above all on one thing: the return of class to politics. As Corbyn put it in a speech last month, Labour is back as the party of the working class. Mélenchon was at the heart of recent protests against Macron’s zombie neoliberal ‘reforms’ targeting the once-powerful French public sector (particularly rail workers). Both would repeal restrictive trade union laws, move to protect people from precarity and rebuild national industry following the ravages of neoliberalism.

This statement lacks any recognition of a long political past, not only before the Ère  du people replaced class as the defining context of Mélenchonian ideology.

‘Dizzying’ is the is the most unlikely word that comes to mind  when describing Mélenchon’s ascension, to a position of a commanding minority (around 20%) of the electorate, and a  history of stirring up deep antagonisms on the rest of the French left. Amongst the most recent is a virulent reaction to Parti Communiste Français (PCF) criticism of his supporters who advocated tougher immigration policies, and serious doubts about his claims to take a hard-line with the EU if other member states reject the LFI’s position on their own economic sovereignty. (LFI: un des fondateurs critique l’«hégémonie» de Mélenchon et sa «posture électoraliste» sur l’Europe. August 2018)

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s political career began in the orthodox Trotskyist  current in France known as ‘Lambertist’ after the Leader of a long-standing variety of groups,  Pierre Lambert (real name, Pierre Boussel). As a student he joined, after May 68, the Lambertists, one the most rigid and authoritarian groups on the French left, the ‘Organisation communiste internationaliste (OCI). The future Presidential candidate was head of the local antennae  in  Besançon, between 1974 and 1976.

The present chief of La France insoumise, dropped Leninism for the Parti Socialiste (PS). He became an active Freemason in the Grand Orient de France (GODF). A member of various groups in the Party he ended up creating the ‘Gauche socialiste’ with another former Trotskyist, Julien Dray (from the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (LCR). He was marked by burgeoning admiration for François Mitterrand. Indeed Mélechon is often called a “mitterrandiste “. For a variety of reasons, starting with the former French Preisdent’s role in the repression of the Algerian insurgency, and culminating in the 1983 turn of Mitterrand’s appointed Cabinet to “rigour” and retreat from radical socialism, this makes him an unlikely hero for those who would transform the world.(1)

Mélenchon left the PS in 2008, wishing, he stated, to draw clear lines with the right of the party and to have complete freedom to pursue his own left-wing course.  Forming the micro-party, the Parti de Gauche (essentially a public version of a Parti Socialiste ‘club’, ambitiously named after the German Die Linke)) in 2008,  Mélenchon entered in a long series of alliances, with forces such as the Parti Communiste Français, and smaller left groups. These culminated in the bloc, the Front de Gauche, which was marked by conflicts, over issues such the composition of electoral lists and his own version of republican laïcité.

With the creation of La France insoumise (LFI) in 2016, he has entered into a “war of manoeuvre” for hegemony over the French left. Some have compared this with the old Communist Party’s wish to impose itself over the whole left, and its tactic as to keep its supporters preoccupied by frenetic activism.

LFI is not a Party but a “movement of individual citizens those who recognise themselves in the line of action offered by JLM “un mouvement de citoyens individuels qui se reconnaissent dans la démarche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon “.

That is, is defined by allegiance to an individual.

LFI has no proper internal democracy at all.

Conferences, such as they are, a rallies in which up to 60% of the ‘delegates’ are chosen by lot from the lists of (on-Line) members who have expressed an interests. The rest are made up from those chosen by  what has been called “la petite caste” around the Leader (A La France insoumise, la démocratie interne fait débat). It’s this caste who take all the decisions.

There are no internal tendencies; on-line voting is on a limited agenda set by the central leadership.

LFI’s best known strategic objective is to “federate the people” against the oligarchy dominating French politics. This, a broad enough aim, “includes” the workers’ movement (that is skipping over the organised union federations, the CGT, CFD,  FO, FSU and SUD), just as it does ‘social movements’, like the late Nuit Debout that occupied French squares  in 2016 (freely translated as Woke Nights).

Critics say that the “people” figures in LFI’s plans as actors to follow the LFI script for the Sixth Republic. More abstractly, their disparate discourses are ‘articulated’ (voiced and linked together), in the words of the theorist of Left Populism Chantal Mouffe, to create a new, potentially hegemonic Collective Will.

It is true that those who enjoy inspiring speeches, lacked with poems, from Victor Hugo to Apollinaire, have much to hear from Jean Luc.

But the nationalist overtones of books like the Le Hareng de Bismarck, (2015 above) which rails against the “Le poison allemand” (German poison)  imposed on Europe, l’opium des riches”, un monstre born on the other side of the Rhine, are hard to ignore.

It is this thinking which leads Dan Davidson to accuse him of a “drive to tap into French patriotism rather than build international working class solidarity” (The British Left Should Be More Critical Of Jean-Luc Mélenchon)

Mélenchon defines himself as socialiste républicain. In French terms this means a belief that the Republic is the prime vehicle for socialism. The Sixth republic, in the ‘era of the People’, needs radical reform. It is hard to see how any of the political reforms proposed bring the state into the hands of the People, there is little in way of socialising ownership under self-management to start with.

As such he puts the Sovereignty of the People/France, at the top of his priorities.

The EU must change or we will leave it, was his reaction (some interpreted this as a welcome at the shock) to the Brexit result.

On international issues he is anything but an internationalist. His priority again is the national interest,  defending the French independent nuclear force outside of NATO.

The Leader of LFI has faced accusations of  conspiracism (he has been known to claim that Daesh  was created by the US) , of complaisance towards Vladimir Putin, and a failure to defend democrats (although he has taken a serious stand in defence of the Kurds)  in Syria. 

He continues to support the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

He should not be welcome at the World Transformed, still less a Labour Conference.

****

(1) Covered from his side  in Le Choix de l’insoumission, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Marc Endeweld. 2016. Less complimentary background is given by another former Lambertist, 68, et Après. Les héritages égarés. Benjamin Stora. Stock. 2018.

 

Exclusive: Extracts from Aaron Bastani on Automated “floating signifiers” from next month’s Tribune.

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Exclusive, a peek at the next Tribune.

Dry ice fills the room, and the instantly recognisable “DUM-dum-dum-dum-dum-DUM-DUM” bass line of “Seven Nation Army” sponsored by  the Red  Stripe Lager thumps out.

The crowd chants, “Ohhh, Aaron Bastani!” and the absolute boy appears through the smoke. The scene provides an introduction not only to Bastani’s rock-star status among Labour’s left, but also to the new language that is being used by his supporters.

“The first decades of the twenty-first century marked the demise of the current world order.” announces the dapper gent.

Against the confines of this increasingly limited politics, the meltdown of the Melts,  a new paradigm has emerged.

Fully Automated Luxury Communism claims that new technologies will liberate us from work, providing the opportunity to build a society beyond both capitalism, scarcity and planet Earth. Automation, rather than undermining an economy built on full employment, is instead the path to worlds of liberty, luxury and happiness. For everyone.”

Bastani pauses and pours a mixture of Red Stripe, Diamond White and Quinoa Gin into a glass,

“There was a Communist, literally, Juan Posadas, he wrote this, Flying Saucers, the process of matter science, the revolutionary and working class struggle and the socialist future of mankind. (1968)

Juan said,

We must appeal to the beings on other planets, when they come here, to intervene and collaborate with Earth’s inhabitants in suppressing poverty. We must make this call to them. It is possible to make ourselves understood to them. We must not, of course, expect that they will understand immediately. But we must make appeals to them, if we believe that they can, indeed, exist. If we have any possibility of making contact with them, we must not fall into individual scientific curiosity, out of some desire to see where they come from and to visit other planets.

We must unite with them, they who seem more powerful than human beings, such that they will come and help us resolve Earth’s problems. Then we can concern ourselves with going to see what other planets are like, how life and matter are organised, and everything regarding nature. But most important is first to resolve the problems of humanity on Earth. We do not have a fantasist or idealist position with regard to flying saucers. As we accept that they exist, we want to use all means at hand, including those from outside of this planet. When we seriously reach a scientific discovery, we must try to use it to the benefit of humanity.

A large cockatoo (Bastrani is a member of the militant ‘wing’ of the British Ornithologists’ Union) in a cage chirps nearby.

“Take Ryan Air. Huge company,” Bastani says. “Its idea is that by 2030 it will have this huge global network of driverless aircraft. That doesn’t need to be performed by a private company. Why would you have that? We had a documentary some time back, The Fifth Element, with taxis riding between the Shard and City Hall. Why couldn’t we have something like Uber with driverless airplane taxis provided at a municipal level without a profit motive?”

Read the Next Tribune for the full article!

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Socialist Worker Warns, Vote for Anti-Brexit Resolutions will be a “Huge Victory for the Right.”

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Image result for left against brexit

“Right wing faction” Championing People’s Vote, says Socialist Worker.

Beware the union leaders’ moves against Corbyn at Labour Party conference

Socialist Worker. Today.

More than 100 Constituency Labour Parties have reportedly submitted motions calling for a “People’s Vote” on a future exit deal with the EU.

The motions have been championed by right wing factions in the party as a way of pushing Labour into opposing Brexit altogether.

As in…

The Independent says, “A substantial amount of the motions, however, are based on the left-wing statement backed by Another Europe is Possible and Labour for a People’s Vote. “

John McDonnell says,

 “I’m still saying all options are on the table. We’re never going to reject any form of democratic engagement so a People’s Vote is still on the table – but I want a General Election.” 

Left Foot Forward. (Today)

 

Socialist Worker, in its campaign to divide the labour movement, and ignore the threat from the far-right fomented by Brexit, says,

Labour’s leadership has rightly avoided both calling for a second referendum and opposing Brexit.

But since the vote to Leave, it has constantly fudged its own position—neither backing remaining, nor making a clear left wing case for leaving.

Instead it has made semi-retreats and compromises—such as seeking “access” to the pro-privatisation European single market.

Crucially, this has helped the right to sell opposing Brexit as something progressive to left wing, Labour members who ­support Corbyn.

If Labour conference votes to back a second referendum it will be a huge victory for the right.

At last year’s conference delegates overwhelmingly voted not to debate motions on Brexit that could have led to defeat for Corbyn.

Those opposing them included the influential Corbyn-supporting Momentum faction.

This year Labour’s leadership may not be able to avoid the debate—and the vote on whether or not to have a second referendum may not be so clear cut.

If it’s a close call, the votes of one or two major unions will probably swing it.

After the TUC union federation last week voted to support a “People’s Vote,” it looks likely that union delegates will back the right’s motions.

I think we can do without this Ladybird ‘History’ full of venom against the trade unions.

History shows why unions back the right wing’s People’s Vote initiative

Watch this instead:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

“For National Populism”: the Man-Crush of Spiked (former, Revolutionary Communist Party) for Viktor Orbán.

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Orban’s Gallant Defiance of EU Elites.

A few days ago Frank Furedi was doing his chivalrous bit by coming to the aid of distressed demagogue Hungary’s PM, Viktor Orban,

The Hungarian government’s values are very different to the technocratic outlook of the EU federalists. The best way to describe the Hungarian government’s outlook is conservative, traditional and Christian. It is also democratic and very human. These are values that the EU oligarchy is determined to abolish, to erase from the European landscape and history, in order that it might replace them with its own technocratic cosmopolitan outlook.

Frank Furedi.  THE EU’S SHAMEFUL CRUSADE AGAINST HUNGARY

Furedi launched this crusade for Orbran and now his minions are now following.

The former High Up of the RCP and ex-Editor of Living Marxism Brendan O’Neill  has leapt into the fray in the right-wing Spectator.

Tory MEPs were right not to denounce Viktor Orban

You would never know it from the shrill media coverage, but Tory MEPs’ refusal to back the EU’s censure of Viktor Orban’s Hungary is one of the most principled things they have ever done. They are, of course, being denounced as Orban apologists, as cheerleaders for the authoritarian turn Hungary has taken under his prime ministership. Nonsense. They have taken a stand against authoritarianism. Against the authoritarianism of the European Union, whose technocratic arrogance has now reached such dizzy heights that it presumes the moral authority to punish nation states for doing what their own people, the electorate, have asked them to do. That is a far greater crime against democracy than any committed by Orban.

Good on the Tory MEPs who refused to back the anti-democratic censure of Hungary. And shame on those who are denouncing these Tories as bootlickers of Orban’s regime. It brings to mind the way that those of us who opposed the war in Iraq were written off as stooges for Saddam. Grow up, everyone: you can be critical of a foreign government while also opposing any tyrannical attempt by outsiders to overthrow or throttle that government.

What lies behind the New Course?

The Chief explained in August 2017.

Residing in Hungary for much of last year, I could see that the attacks levelled against that country by the EU-influenced media were motivated by the same impulses driving the anti-populist crusade across Europe. These attacks said more about the undemocratic spirit of Brussels than anything that was going on in Budapest.

WHY I WROTE A RADICAL DEMOCRATIC DEFENCE OF POPULISM

This book, appearing last year, to all the loud ‘umph of a falling hazelnut, intends to be a kind of alternative to Chantal Mouffe’s For a Left Populism (2018)

..one of the reasons I was so enthusiastic about Brexit, and remain so, was precisely because I see the EU as detrimental not only to public and political life in Britain, but also to the future of Europe. My book is devoted to explaining how the values espoused by the EU oligarchy are actually alien to the longstanding values of European civilisation.

The EU continually upholds the identities of minorities, regions and ethnic and other groups, but the one identity it singles out for attack is that of the nation. The EU prides itself on its celebration of identity politics and diversity; but its love affair with diversity doesn’t extend to appreciating the diversity of this continent’s national cultures. In my book, I argue that the EU is carrying out a culture war against national pride and consciousness.

National sovereignty is important for two reasons. First because it provides the largest terrain that humankind has discovered so far where democratic accountability can be exercised and have real meaning. Popular sovereignty can occur within a local community, a city or a nation – but it cannot be exercised in a territory larger than the nation. And the second reason national sovereignty is important is that it provides a context for the cultivation of a real, felt identity. There are other possible ways for people to develop their identities, but for most people the nation constitutes the largest area within which their identity can be forged and gain real purchase.

Having asserted the case for “identitarian politics” Furedi continues,

 in the course of researching this book, I came to the conclusion that, from the EU’s perspective, the main crime of the Hungarian government is that on many issues it promotes values that directly contradict those of the EU.

It is interesting to set these claims beside those made by Chantal Mouffe (who will be the subject of a full length  reply on this Blog, here is a very critical review in French, in which it is also published: Populisme de gauche, du nouveau ? Sur le dernier livre de Chantal Mouffe KHALFA Pierre) defending her new book, For a Left Populism (2018).

 She asserts that,

The only way to fight rightwing populism is to give a progressive answer to the demands they are expressing in a xenophobic language. This means recognising the existence of a democratic nucleus in those demands and the possibility, through a different discourse, of articulating those demands in a radical democratic direction.

This is the political strategy that I call “left populism”. Its purpose is the construction of a collective will, a “people” whose adversary is the “oligarchy”, the force that sustains the neoliberal order.

Guardian

This raises the obvious point that the demand “out with the immigrants” has no progressive content, nor does a demand for “sovereignty” rub up against markets, capitalism, or any of the left’s targets. That is the mechanisms which create inequality, injustice and oppression.

To put it at is starkest: those who claim that the ‘strain’ on public services ’caused’ is caused by migration and the EU ‘elite’ freedom of movement policy,  divert anger against austerity towards migrants…

Mouffe also claims that her alternative, “cannot be formulated through the left/right cleavage, as traditionally configured. “

It needs,

to bring these diverse struggles together requires establishing a bond between social movements and a new type of party to create a “people” fighting for equality and social justice.

Let us leave aside the point that such a “people” is something which has yet to be seen and touched, and how exactly does a “collective will” take decisions,  outside of her theoretical abstractions.

More significantly Mouffe’s examples, Podemos and La France insoumise, are widely different.

The first is a genuine mass movement with links to social movements (it was formed in the wake of the anti-austerity Movimiento 15-M), which, while not founding Podemos, are in close relation with a democratically organised organisation. Podemos has a proper elected leadership, conferences and internal debates, even ‘tendencies’. It takes decisions, hard ones in the case of the separatists populists of Catalonia, where they recognised national rights without giving way to the creation of ‘sovereigntism’, either of the Spanish state or the Catalan bourgeoisie.

La France insoumise (LFI), by contrast,  is a top-down Rally led by a Chief, Jean-Luc Mélenchon a “Party-Movement dedicated to training actors “in the art of becoming historical agents”. There is a simulacrum of internal democracy for its (massive, I am a ‘member’) on-line ‘membership, conferences of delegates in which a majority are chosen by lot, and policy decided by the Trainers. There are no internal tendencies (unlike their allies in Ensemble). LFI has recently been accused of drifting towards the nationalism which right-wing populism thrives on.

Feurdi and his mates have a simpler answer: they consider not just the kernel but the whole populist nut of people like Orban worth defending.

All the works of Lenin, Trotsky,  Marx, and Engels, all the ideas about capitalism, modes of production, class struggle, have evaporated.

The slate is clean.

The populists, Orban in case you asked,  are the Nation-People incarnate, proudly felt.

Woe betide ‘elites’ who attack them!

 

Brexit Bolsheviks Warn Against People’s Vote on EU.

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Image result for left against brexit

 

The pro-Brexit Bolsheviks are rattled.

Unable to point to any convincing case for their ‘People’s Brexit’, from Labour’s ability to influence the negotiations on leaving the EU to any popular movement to “bring back control” amongst the public, this morning their mouthpieces have been making dire warnings about the People’s Vote.

In an editorial this morning, Labour should resist mounting pressure to back another EU vote they warn,

Labour’s seismic advance in 2017 was down to it changing the terms of debate. It accepted the referendum result and fought for a government committed to a radical shift of power and wealth to working people, and it enthused millions.

That achievement could be thrown away if the party becomes a mouthpiece for those who want a return to the past.

In a piece rich in insults against those “who want to a return to the past”.This includes the “establishment”, a group which apparently does not include Boris Johnson, his wing of the Tories, and  pro-Brexit millionaire media, from Murdoch to the Mail. Citing cautious union leaders, who hesitate at a re-run of the EU vote, it manages to avoid the central issue which is the call for a ballot on the terms of Leave which the government reaches.

The Morning Star backs the RMT pro-Brexit stand, a non-Labour union which twice stood in European elections against the Party, with fringe groups such as the Communist Party of Britain (the publishers of the Star) and the Socialist Party with the slogan, ” No2EU — Yes to Democracy

The Morning Star/Communist Party of Britain (CPB) also believes in National Sovereignty (The necessity to regain national sovereignty )

They consider the Brexit in the context of a fightback against the “the erosion of sovereignty and self-government “.

The politics of the Counterfire are more radical.

They are fond of the writings of the Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács. This is how one of their writers sees his ideas in today’s context,

Seen from the perspective of the actuality of the revolution, the question is how do we maximise the level of political organisation, confidence and radicalism across the mass of ordinary people; how do we turn what has traditionally been the second party of British capitalism into a transformative force; how do we weaken the power of the British state to resist this movement. Then the answer is very clearly Corbyn – and the mass rallies, mass membership, organisation of resistance to the PLP that is going on as part of the Corbyn movement. Then a question like Scotland is easy to answer – don’t be so blinkered as to worry about numbers in Westminster – the Scottish question is about fundamentally weakening the British state.

The ideas of the great Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukács offer insights into Labour‘s recent quandaries, finds David Moyles (2016)

Corbyn: momentum meets vertigo

In an article on the Counterfire site a few days ago Martin Hall argued that Betraying the referendum result would spell disaster for Labour and the left. (People’s Vote vs People’s Brexit )

Hall, after ramping up the din about negative media coverage of Corbyn and Labour, suggests that,

The noise level is now increasing, with the aim of changing the party’s position of supporting the result and arguing for a Brexit in the interests of working people. The division which has been there on the broad left ever since the result is now cohering into two contradictory positions: a People’s Vote, or a People’s Brexit. Let’s consider both in turn.

Two anti-Brexit groups in Labour are cited.

He outlines the views of the People’s Vote campaign, with bringing several trowels of different, opposing positions, into a single lump.

People’s Vote represent the continuity Remain position that is favoured by the vast majority of the British establishment. Let’s remember that the CBI, the City of London, the Treasury and the Bank of England all supported Remain, overtly or tacitly, and have vested interests in tying British capital into its current arrangements within the Single Market. The Tory Brexiteers simply want a version of free trade that leaves British capital unfettered by EU rules: both these nominally opposed groups favour the primacy of free trade, but one is essentially federalist, while one is lost in nostalgic dreams of revivifying empire.

In the totalising eye of Counterfire’s version of the revolutionary left, they all back “capital”. Will I say or will I go now? Who cares….

Yet, why should people waste so much time fighting over “nominally” opposed positions when they all support “free trade”, imperial dreams or not?

While waiting for an erudite article somewhere challenging this claim, looking at the different “fractions” of capital involved,  it is clear that the divisions, spoken first and foremost by politicians, are political: between the idea of exclusive sovereignty, against the EU “pooling” of sovereign powers.

The second position is that of the Left Against Brexit.

…. position is that Brexit will be a disaster, and that the road to socialism (or at least, some form of progressive democracy) lies in a long march through the institutions of the largest trading bloc in the world. The second element is that having a final vote on the deal and overturning party policy will not represent a perhaps fatal blow to the Corbyn project, both in terms of his position within the Labour Party and what such a decision would do to Labour in the polls, and looking ahead, in the next general election.

To start with if the left takes a position independent of “capital” it does not take a position independent of attempts to share, by  international agreements, the governance of capital – which is one of the functions of the EU. This may be only  a potential power in the hands of the left, but it is not replaced by withdrawing into a sovereign nation which has even less capacity to respond to the internationalisation of capital, beginning with trade,  and extending to production.

Hall might have bothered to look at the motions to the Labour Conference before writing his article.

Do they overturn Party policy?

No: they call for the 6 criteria for a Brexit deal.

They call for the rejection of a Brexit deal if Theresa May fails to meet them.

They call for a referendum on the outcome of the government negotiations.

Normal Motion for CLPs

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda.

We note and support Labour’s six tests for Brexit, which aims to ensure that the post-Brexit settlement preserves the benefits we currently get from collaboration with Europe, defends our rights and protections, and delivers for all parts of the UK. It is increasingly clear that the Tories’ Brexit deal will fail these tests.

We believe that only Labour can lead the British people into a progressive and economically sound relationship with Europe.The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland, and the future of the NHS and public services. Tory Brexit will wreck the British economy, will commit us to a series of long-term trade deals which will enforce American-style deregulation, and will undermine the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law. All of this will bind the hands of a future Labour government, and will make it far harder for us to deliver on our promises.

We therefore urge Labour to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent, and create a Europe for the many, not the few.

The social problems that caused the Brexit vote – inequality, declining public services, falling pay, a lack of quality affordable housing, and so on – will be made worse, not better, by Tory Brexit and the continued austerity that would result. The problem is the policies of the political establishment, not immigrants, and the solution is a radical social and economic programme.

We must make the election of a radical Labour government our first priority.

We note that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the most likely route to a general election before 2022 is the collapse of the government’s Brexit agenda. This motion supports all available avenues to bring down the government: voting down the EU exit deal in Parliament, calling for a snap election, and a popular vote on the deal.

We note and support the 2016 Conference commitment to a public vote on the Exit Deal so the people have the final decision on whether to accept the government’s deal or to stay in the EU.

We call on the Labour Party to:

1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.

2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.

3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for an immediate general election.

4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.

(More on the Left Against Brexit on Shiraz)

Counterfire believes that “A radical rupture with the current model of capitalism in order to rebalance capital and labour in favour of the latter can only be achieved outside the EU, which is unreformable, and turning increasingly rightwards.”

Does it believe that capitalism is reformable, with a new ‘balance’ between capital and labour being built in a go-it-alone UK

Why is this intrinsically better than the potential governance offered by the EU.

That is, if they do not perhaps believe in a full “rupture” with capitalism is on the cards through elections, a view last proclaimed by the French Parti Socialiste  in the late 1970s….(Quand Mitterrand disait : “Celui qui n’accepte pas la rupture avec la société capitaliste ne peut être au PS“. France Culture)

What details do we have of this “radical rupture”, rather more modest than Mitterrand’s claims, in one country, with the “current model” of capitalism, with all the difficulties it would face (aside from domestic ones) with the WTO, Trade Partners, beginning with Trump who seems bent on his own new model of capitalist protectionism?

If changing the EU means a “long march through the institutions” what institutions can an individual ‘independent and sovereign’ UK turn to change with diminished economic weight and political power turn to change the internationally dominant form of capitalism?

Nobody would deny that many of the the countries that make up the EU are moving rightwards, towards the very national sovereigntistism defended by the Morning Star.

And, as for this jibe…. “Any overturning of the result will only benefit one end of the political spectrum: the right, and not just its electoral, relatively centrist wing. The rag-tag gang of fascists, Islamophobes and assorted fellow travellers that is coalescing around Tommy Robinson, the DFLA and the increasingly extreme UKIP, will be given a huge campaigning boost by any change in Labour policy.”

One assumes  the strength of racist and xenophobic feeling is such that Labour can never confront it…

And that pandering to the sovereigntist line has nothing to do with the rise in…far-right sovereigntist parties.

Deaming of the actuality of the revolution Counterfire seems unable to see the world in front of its face: that “the opportunity that Brexit gives to a radical reforming government” does not exist.

There is no such thing as a Brexit in the interests of working people, as the dominance of those opposed to the labour movement in shaping it indicates.

And what of the ” shibboleths”: that doing so is justified because the vote was somehow unfair, with reasons for this including but not limited to, Russian involvement; breaches of spending rules; the EU Referendum Act of 2015 stating that the result was advisory; the full ‘cost’ of Brexit not being known to people two years ago; that there are now people who are eligible to vote who were not then (and some voters have died). “

Counterfire leader Lindsey German once dismissed gay rights, an impediment in the Respect party’s alliance with right-wing Islamists, as a “shibboleth”.

Can the groupsucle equally dismiss the effects of Brexit on people’s rights and living standards?

This campaign for a vote is for something which was not in existence before: the terms of a Brexit deal, and whether it should continue.

Not to campaign against Brexit is to march towards the constitutional victory of the primacy of right-wing sovereigntism, economic dislocation, and attacks on internationalism,  the interests of working people and the majority in this country.

Socialist Left Moves to Back People’s Vote on Brexit Deal.

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Theresa May’s abject failure in negotiating a deal with the EU means that the public must have a fresh say.

Mayor of London’s call for people’s vote adds to pressure on Jeremy Corbyn.

More than 100 anti-Brexit motions, and motions backing another referendum, or people’s vote, have been submitted by constituency parties – believed to be a record for any single issue in the party’s recent history.

A large number of the motions are from the left of the party, and call for a commitment to a people’s vote to be inserted into Labour’s next general election manifesto.

Sam Tarry, national political officer of the TSSA union, who used to work for Corbyn, said the left of the Labour party was uniting behind demands for another vote: “The sheer weight of anti-Brexit motions going to conference is unlike anything I have ever seen – and the only force in the Labour party capable of pulling that off is the left. The trade union movement has moved quickly towards an anti-Tory Brexit position this summer. There is this feeling that we, the socialist left, simply cannot stand by and watch while workers and communities are sacrificed at the altar of Tory dogma and imperial nostalgia.”

Until now Corbyn and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have said they would prefer the public to be given a say on Brexit in a fresh general election, adding that, if one does not happen soon, the option of a second referendum should remain open. But leftwingers in the party now say this formula is not sufficient, and want a commitment to another referendum in the next manifesto.

Alena Ivanova, a leading activist for the grassroots group Momentum in east London, said: “This is a campaign now being led by the left… Tory Brexit is a fundamental threat to the rights and prosperity of working-class people and the communities that Labour represents, driven by bosses and rightwing ideologues. We will only stop it with unashamed leftwing internationalism and, crucially, that will also help us in the campaign to get the Corbyn government we need.”

Guardian.

 

One of the parties backing such a motion is Ipswich.

In a debate last week at the All Members’ meeting this motion  was endorsed. It was just past the deadline for formal inclusion in the above list, but will be the basis for our Conference Delegate to support.

Motion – to be moved by Andrew Coates:

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government.

(Extracts)

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda”
…..

“We call on the Labour Party to:
1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.
2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.
3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for animmediate general election.
4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.”

This received overwhelming support from all sections of the party, with one vote against and a couple of abstentions.

Image result for march for the many people's vote liverpool

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2018 at 11:58 am

Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Friends, accused of ‘anti immigrant’ rhetoric will not go to the Fête de l’Huma.

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Image result for jean luc melenchon dans la neige

 Mélenchon: Virtue Lies in Not Talking to Left Critics.

Ian Brossat nous insulte” : les Insoumis snobent la Fête de l’Huma.”

Exasperated by the criticism of the Communist Party against Mélenchon’s  speech on immigration, La France insoumise will not send a delegation to the Courneuve where the PCF holds the Fête de l’Huma this weekend,  the biggest popular annual event on the French left wrote  in l’Obs yesterday.

Image result for l'humanite fete 2018

 

The cause?

The fall out from Sahra Wagenknecht’s anti-immigration law and order Aufstehen continues to hit the European left as the leader of the French Communists’ (PCF) European List, Ian Brossat, accused the ‘left populist’ party of indulging in anti-immigrant rhetoric.

 

Some flavour of the rancour involved can be seen from this petulant tweet by  apparently a LFI MP.

The Tweet attempts to rebut criticism of LFI slip towards a hard line position on immigration controls by attacking the PCF’s Brossat for referring to his family history,f aced with Nazism. Apart from rounding on Brossat’s  vulgar “insults” the thin-skinned LFI deputy fears, he alleges “incidents”, if they turned up in front of a left audience wider than their own movement.

This is the article LFI object to:

Ian Brossat: “An anti-migrant left does not exist, it’s like a vegetarian lion.

Ian Brossat : “La gauche anti-migrants, ça n’existe pas, c’est comme un lion végétarien”

Extract:

In France, Jean-Luc Mélenchon has changed his line on immigration since the last presidential election. The leader of the LFI proposes on the one hand “to assume the duty of humanity” towards the refugees and on the other hand to “fight against the causes of migrations”.

During his speech in Marseillehe he echoed the idea that immigration is used by employers to put pressure on wages: “Yes, there are waves of migration, yes, they can pose many problems for the countries of the world….. This poses additional difficulties, above all when some exploit the situation to make profits on the backs of the unfortunate  … […] If you read Jean Jaurès and the thinkers of socialism, they have always said: ‘You use immigration to lower the cost of wages, you use it to fight against social gains.’

Brossat had the outrecuidance to object not only to Wagenkecht’s line but to this mealy-mouthed apology for pandering to racism!

Today Libération claims that LFI was simply looking for an excuse not to turn up at an event which they do not run, and where they may bump into people on the left they do not agree with, including those with do not admire Jean-Luc Mélenchon!

Fête de l’Humanité: «Les insoumis ne voulaient pas venir et ils ont trouvé une excuse»

Unsaid – so far – in this row is the belief by more than a few on the French left that LFI is indeed moving in the same direction as Auftsehen’s founders, with its claims to moblise “popular sovereignty against the markets” serving as a cover for much more overtly nationalist politics.

   asserts that they are on the road to a full blown “red-brown” alliance. France Insoumise: une crise à la croisée des chemins bruns

Her controversial article needs to be read in full to judge, but there is little doubt that the present dispute adds fuel to the fire.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2018 at 10:50 am

On Louis Proyect’s The Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism and the European left.

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Idlib, Syria: Thousands protest peacefully against Assad’s war, Friday 14 September.

Louis Proyect has just published this article (in Counterpunch), of significance not only in the US but for the European left, and across the word.

On the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism.

Beginning with an overview  of “Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism” it extends to a wider series of reflections.

Project tunes into some of the key ethical and political problems, thrown up by a number of intense  conflicts across the world since 2011 and the response of various parts of the left to them.

In each of them the politics of an ‘anti-imperialism’, limited to opposing the ‘West’ (and de facto backing, amongst others, Assad’s regime, Putin and , though he mentions this to a much lesser degree, Iran) has been called into question.

Rohini Hensman’s recently published Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism is an important contribution to the debate that has divided the left since 2011, the year that Syria became a litmus test. For some, support for Bashar al-Assad became tantamount to backing Franco in the Spanish Civil War while others saw my perspective as lending support to the USA, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other reactionary states carrying out the same neoconservative foreign policy that turned Iraq into a failed state.

In other respects, he observes that on a range of social and economic issues the US left was united (“ranging from defending immigrant rights to opposing fracking),at the start of the decade.

But, “The polarization deepened in 2014 when the Euromaidan protest became litmus test number two.”

“As was the case with Syria, the overwhelming majority of the left sided with Yanukovych who was seen as a progressive leader ousted by a coup organized and funded by the CIA. When war broke out in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin-backed militias were freedom fighters while Kyiv became a tool of NATO and Western banks. Trying to avoid such geopolitical dualities became difficult, if not impossible.”

This could equally be seen here. The left (with at least some hope of a wider political influence than the US left, which was increasing after Ed Miliband began his Labour leadership)  has in general terms  been united on issues such as anti-austerity. This has parallels across Europe, although since that time the EU (UK) or sovereigntism has become  dividing lines.

It was during the Ukraine crisis that the same divisions over international issues, as in the US, became serious.

There was (lightly covered) with support for Putin and the Russian Federation’s claims  from the Morning Star, and the Stop the War Coalition (Counterfire-led) – a position not reflected so widely in the rest of Europe outside of the direct inheritors of the Stalinist parties – but also present.

Here is their activity in sharp focus,

Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine’ launched in London Socialist Appeal. 2014

Lindsey German (Counterfire), Boris Kagarlitsky (Institute for globalization studies and social movements), Andrew Murray (Communist Party of Britain), Alan Woods (International Marxist Tendency) and Sergei Kirichuk (Borotba) discuss the threat of fascism in Ukraine, the role of imperialism in the current situation and the need for a campaign in support of the antifascist resistance in Ukraine to provide a counterweight to the lies and distortions of the Western media.

Then there is the Middle East, where unity over opposition to the Invasion of Iraq began to crack, above all as the Arab Spring brought forth a movement for democracy against the Assad dictatorship.

Proyect talks of Syria, the cause of whose people he has been a consistent champion.

He cites US writers who have sided with Assad (and not, odd as it may seem, the worst of the red-brown Assad apologists….)

For Syrians, the notion put forward by Stephen Gowans et al that Syria was some sort of socialist utopia rivaling if not besting Kurdish Rojava was a cruel joke. Hensman writes:

Finally, it is an irony that people who see themselves as socialists fail to note the class dimension of the uprising. Janine di Giovanni provides a vivid description of the Damascus elite who support Assad: “[In June 2012,] for several weeks running, I watched the fevered hedonism of the Thursday afternoon pool parties at the Dama Rose Hotel … By lunchtime, women were rushing to hairdressers; the roads leading out of the city … were clogged with luxury cars … Restaurants such as Narenj, which … served traditional Arabic food to the elite, were still packed.” (di Giovanni 2016, 8). By contrast, in 2007 a third of Syrians were living beneath the poverty line, with nearly another third only slightly above this level. Swiss-Syrian socialist activist and scholar Joseph Daher (2016) writes that “even the regime-controlled Syrian General Federation of Trade Unions deplored in 2009 that “the rich have become richer and the poor poorer … (and) low income earners who make up 80 percent of the Syrian population are looking for additional work to support themselves”. He continues, “We must not forget that the popular revolution in Syria began as a result of social economic injustices and widespread poverty, in addition to political issues.”

This is the crucial, the crunch point: his summary of what’s facing people in Syria now:

We are now in the final hours of the seven-year ordeal in which attempts to restore the democratic values of Hourani’s government have been crushed by overwhelming air power and massive intervention by Iran, Hezbollah and Afghan mercenaries. The looming victory against “imperialism” leaves the country in shambles with dismal economic prospects and inescapable environmental disaster.

He continues, looking at the “campists” now backing, more or less openly, Assad.

A certain political myopia exists in such quarters. Despite their anti-fascist pretensions, they cannot fathom how Assad’s victory will strengthen reaction throughout the Middle East and Europe. In an interview on Portuguese television, General al-Sisi stated: “The priority is that we support the national armies to impose control over the territory, deal with the extremists, and impose the necessary stability in Libya, Syria and Iraq.” When the interviewer followed up with “When you refer to the National Army in Syria, do you mean the Syrian army?”, the General replied: “Yes.”

In  Proyect’s conclusion he suggests that capitalists, and those states who wish for  Assad’s victory, have their own interests at heart.

Hardly a surprising claim but can this be extended to speculation that a bloc is being formed out of “With Assad, al-Sisi, Putin and Haftar” in a “new axis of resistance against Islamists” or, even more speculatively, “would anybody be surprised that Netanyahu would apply for membership?2

One can only note that Louis’s belief that Boris Johnson is still UK foreign Secretary is one, amongst many reasons to doubt the emergence of such an alliance. And there is a leap from a certain support for Libya’s Hafter to….Assad, and Putin, Israel, Macron….. which is hard to jump. (“In July, Haftar met with an Israeli intelligence officer in Amman, to “deepen security coordination between him and Israel”. Not only does Haftar have these considerable forces in his corner, he can also rely on the backing of France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, as well as the United Arab Emirates.”).

The conclusion is, nevertheless, worth serious reflection:

 In all their heartfelt objection to imperialism, Assad’s supporters on the left seemed to have forgotten that Lenin wrote a book titled “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. If you forget about the capitalism part of his analysis, you don’t get very far.

One cannot imagine that Iran (whose capitalist rather than geopolitical and religious-ideological interest, if there is one, which it far from sure,  goes unmentioned) and Putin’s Russian Federation, have backed Assad out of a wish to strengthen a multipolar world contesting American dominance purely out of hearty anti-imperialist good will. The extent to which religious ideology as a material force in the conflicts remains unclarified, but who can seriously doubt that it plays a substantial role in these wars.

While one is certain that much of the US left, anxious at all times to distance itself from any hint of support for its own imperialist military machine, has good reason to be wary of its state’s involvement.

But today this is of utmost urgence: 

Indefensible: Idlib and the left Leila Al-Shami

Frank Furedi (ex-Revolutionary Communist Party) Gallantly Defends Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

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Image result for orban hungary soros

Furedi: “democratic and very human.” culture of Hungarian regime.

In Europe it striking that, in the face of right-wing ‘populism’, some on the left have taken up the same right wing themes.

The German aufstehen movement, which claims inspiration from both Momentum and La France insoumise of Jean Luc Mélenchon has taken up the themes of harder controls over immigration and a hard-line on law and order. Apart from creating an almighty row in the party a couple of days ago (Wieder Streit bei der Linken: Sammlungsbewegung Aufeinanderlosgehen)  the echoes have been felt in France.

Both elements within LFI and the ‘left’ of the Parti Socialiste. Emmanuel Maurel, who is said to be about to join Mélenchon, have praised this stand on borders,. Maurel, who cites  Régis Debray, Éloges des frontières (2010)) says, “La gauche ne doit pas avoir honte de parler de nation, de frontière, de laïcité” The left should not be ashamed of the Nation, of frontiers, and of secularism.” (le Monde) The leader of LFI now repeats his hostility to EU principle of freedom of movement, the latest occasion only being a few days ago. (“Jean-Luc Mélenchon a réitéré, à plusieurs reprises cet été, son hostilité à la liberté de circulation et d’installation.”Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières. 9th of September). Some of his team openly admire the positions of Aufstehen: “ La gauche allemande anti-migrants saluée par un proche de Mélenchon (8th of September) 

It would not be difficult to find similar views, from Blue Labour stalwarts, to Trades Unionists Against the EU, and, in a more mute form on other parts of  (by no means all) the Brexit left’

The drift to ‘sovereigntistism’, that is the centring of politics on the issue of National Sovereignty, borders, law and order to the fore, is widespread.

No doubt after the Swedish election it will grow.

But the destination reached by the ex-Revolutionary Communist party, now present in Spiked, and reproduced by their writers for the Sun, broadcasts on Radio Four, and the Sky News Press Review – for the moment -stands out amongst the others.

THE EU’S SHAMEFUL CRUSADE AGAINST HUNGARY Frank Furedi

For some time now, Hungary has been the target of a witch-hunt led by an alliance of Euro-federalists and cosmopolitan politicians. The aim of their propaganda campaign has been to delegitimise the Hungarian government by portraying it as a xenophobic, quasi-fascist entity that threatens to undermine democracy across the continent of Europe.

This campaign of vilification against Hungary has to some extent proved successful. Hence a significant section of the European Parliament voted today to punish Hungary. For the first time ever, this institution has unleashed the EU disciplinary process, known as Article 7, against a member state.

After some attempts to portray the Obran government as just like all the others:  “like other countries it has its share of problems, of course. Some of the policies pursued by Viktor Orban’s government can be criticised.” we come to gritty kernel of Feurdi’s argument: 

The Hungarian government’s values are very different to the technocratic outlook of the EU federalists. The best way to describe the Hungarian government’s outlook is conservative, traditional and Christian. It is also democratic and very human. These are values that the EU oligarchy is determined to abolish, to erase from the European landscape and history, in order that it might replace them with its own technocratic cosmopolitan outlook.

the EU parliamentarians who voted to punish Hungary should be ashamed of themselves. They have betrayed the real values of Europe: those values of humanism and tolerance that were best expressed by the Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers.

Perhaps the Emeritus Professor of Sociology could find an appropriate  quote from Voltaire on the necessity of tolerating the intolerable and intolerant…….

We will surely need all we can get to save us from the “cosmopolitans” out to erase so much that is precious from  the European landscape and history.

 

McDonnell’s “traditional British Compromise” over Brexit.

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Image result for far right pro-brexit march in london

Should These People Dictate Labour Policy?

John McDonnell has backed a Labour colleague who warned that a second Brexit referendum could lead to social unrest.

The shadow chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he agreed with Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, that anything seen as an attempt to undo the result of the EU referendum could embolden the far right.

But despite those reservations, McDonnell insisted that the Labour party was not ruling out a second referendum and that another vote remained an option if parliament was deadlocked in the autumn.

Guardian 24th of August.

Last Night:

Lindsey German of the groupuscule Counterfire and the Stop the War Coalition (one of whose allies is a McDonnell adviser) gave advice to Labour in this vein on Monday.

The stakes are very high in the Brexit argument. If the Labour right and the centre get their way, there could be a second referendum or an aborting of the referendum vote. That would immediately fuel the rise of the far right, with Tommy Robinson, Gerald Batten and Nigel Farage being some of the unpleasant political figures who would benefit from such a move. That might lead to fissures within the Tories, and with a further recomposition of the political centre pulling in remain Tories, Lib Dems and social democrats, and the right flank of Labour, into a new party.

These are exactly the mirror of pressures on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, where there is growing clamour among large sections of the party for a second referendum. This is now being taken up by trade unions, including the GMB and the TUC itself. This week’s TUC congress will see further moves in that direction, motivated largely by people who are hostile to Corbyn.

The pressure is therefore increasing on Corbyn to abandon his people’s Brexit campaign. Far from helping him win the next election, this would be a suicidal move which would lose votes for Labour, most obviously to right wing formations. It would also strengthen his enemies in the party who have been on a relentless attack against him throughout his three years of leadership.

Counterfire.

It would be interesting to hear more about this “People’s Brexit’ campaign, its rallies, its leaflets, its marches, the workers who’ve occupied the factories to “take back control”…..

It is all very well to set out a list of demands for the best possible Brexit, beginning with “No deregulatory bonfire”, and ending with this, directed at the major partner most Brexiteers are wooing, “We reject a foreign policy based either on a special relationship with Donald Trump’s US…”

It is all fine and good to talk of a Universal Basic Income and backing for worker co-ops….

How can these plans, and overall ambitions for “capital regulation”  deal with the boss of Jaguar, Ralf Speth’s warning that, “friction at the border could jeopardise production to the value of £60m a day. He also warned that traffic jams on the approach to Dover meant that “bluntly, we will not be able to build cars”.” (Guardian)

Socialist Worker rails in the same vein as Counterfire  against the TUC backing for the option of a People’s Vote this week,

Trade unions join call for ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit. Tomáš Tengely-Evans

A second referendum would be a gift to the far right, which will claim betrayal.

The TUC General Council statement was deliberately broad enough to be all things to all union leaders who are split over Brexit.

The various sops in it guaranteed O’Grady could push through her support for the EU’s neoliberal single market and the People’s Vote.

Only the RMT rail workers’ union—and two rebel Unite delegates—voted against the statement.

The composite motion on Brexit kept support for the EU single market and the option of a People’s Vote.

But it had more emphasis of forcing an early general election in order to win over the leaders of unions with members who voted Leave.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the People’s Vote option “must be left on the table”.

But he said the “vote we will need above all is a general election that can deliver a Labour government”.

The issue is not just one for the sidelines, from where Germain and the SWP are comfortable shouting from.

It is of concern that anybody “compromise” agreement looks entirely one-sided: giving in to Brexit.

The worst possible way to try and shut down debate is to brandish the scarecrow of the far-right, populism, and UKIP> 

There is still time to call for a pause in the negotiations over British withdrawal.  

There is a need to have a vote on the issue of Brexit.

Could demanding a General Election, a gift not in Labour’s hands, be an answer out of these difficulties?

No: the issue of the EU will not go away.

 

 

Morning Star Warns Against Trade Union Influence and Support for a People’s Vote on Labour Brexit Policy.

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Blairites and Tories in backing a “people’s vote.”

UNIONS could undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda for change if they back a referendum on the EU exit deal, Mick Cash warned today.

TUC 2018 Backing ‘the people’s vote’ could undermine the Corbyn project

RMT’s Mick Cash issues warning against joining the Blairite’s call.

The piece notes (see above) that “delegates at TUC Congress voted to ratify a general council statement saying the option of a “final say” referendum should not be “ruled out.” and the general union GMB has publicly backed a vote on the Brexit deal, but other unions would prefer to push for an early general election.”

Mr Cash warns, in the light of this decision, against the TUC and trade unions having an influence on Labour Party policy on Brexit.

“The RMT leader said the labour movement should refuse to “line up” with Blairites and Tories in backing a “people’s vote.””

Mr Cash, whose union represents transport staff, seafarers and oil workers, said: “We need to understand those in the Westminster bubble are calling for a people’s vote for the sole reason of a second referendum on the EU. They are your Chuka Umunnas, your Chris Leslies, your Peter Mandelsons your Tony Blairs, the Lib Dems.”

In other words the Left Against Brexit, part of the campaign for a People’s Vote, and the much broader section of the Labour party in the over 200 Consistencies which have backed motions supporting Labour for a People’s Vote, are all in the ‘Westminster bubble”.

Worse it seems we are acting to thwart Jeremy Corbyn.

He said these politicians “want us in the EU so that the EU can stop Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for nationalisation and for state aid and for workers’ rights.”

He stormed: “We, the trade union movement, will be lining up with people who are seeking to force the hand of Jeremy Corbyn and with people who want to attack the socialist leadership of the Labour Party and who want to attack socialist policies.”

The RMT is not affiliated to Labour.

In the 2009 European Elections they aligned with fringe groups (such as the Communist Party of Britain and the Socialist Party) to stand against Labour as No2EU – Yes to Democracy

The won a handsome 153,26 votes nationally  – below 1%.

In 2014 they got 31,757 – 0,2%.

The Morning Star then cites the opinion of another union leader.

Citing something they call the “consensus position” they refer to Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.

(he) told the hall: “I understand the argument for a so-called ‘people’s vote’ on the deal — not on leaving the EU. That people’s vote has already happened.”

Can the People can only vote once?

No: because,  McClusky adds,

He said the referendum option “must be left on the table,” arguing: “Let’s focus on the prize — sweeping this government away in a general election and giving a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn the chance to repair two wasted years of Tory wrangling.”

The article tries to marshal another recruit to their fading cause:

“…public sector union PCS leader Mark Serwotka argued: “We are not with Chuka Umunna, but neither are we with Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“We are an independent working-class movement.”

As the PCS is also not affiliated to the Labour Party it is by definition independent of the debate at the Labour conference.

Addressing Congress earlier in the day, TUC leader Frances O’Grady described EU laws as “the rock that national laws and union agreements build on.”

She said the TUC would “throw its full weight behind a campaign” for a “popular vote” if the government “come back with a deal that doesn’t put workers’ first.”

Communication Workers Union general secretary Dave Ward said he wanted “a people’s government” rather than a “people’s vote,” warning: “We have got absolutely no reason to support a second referendum that re-runs the debate that divides our country at the moment.”

Royal College of Midwives policy director Jon Skewes suggested an election was unlikely, arguing: “They will change the guard rather than do that.”

At a fringe meeting, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union official Sarah Woolley said: “We need to embrace that the UK is leaving the EU. A decision was made and we need to be proactive and make sure that our members are protected.

“The only thing that is certain is that next April we won’t be a member of the EU.”

She said unions should threaten PM Theresa May with a general strike “if you are not going to do the deal we want.”

No doubt a helpful suggestion.

We shall contact Seamus Milne again offering the services of the Ipswich workers’ militia to help ensure workers’ defence,  but what of the People’s Vote?

Mick Whelan, who leads train drivers’ union Aslef, told the same meeting that the EU Fourth Rail Package could enforce British-style privatisation across Europe.

“We don’t apologise for being protectionist about where we want to be for our railway,” he said.

Was the nationalisation of the East Coast line stopped by EU rules?

And what business is it for Brexit protectionists what policy the EU adopts?

And economist Costas Lapavitsas, a former Syriza member of the Greek legislature, said: “There’s a considerable ignorance in this country about what the European Union is.

“[The] Maastrict [treaty] basically created a union which is a neoliberal machine.

“We need an internationalist position on this … but internationalism of labour is not the same as internationalism of capital.”

An “internationalist” position is precisely the Left Against Brexit’s position.

What is the opinion of union members?

Perhaps the Morning Star could have asked McDonnell to explain why he wants a debate that answers the concerns of this section of the ‘Westminster Bubble’?

Here is the ‘Blairite’ Labour for a People’s Vote motion,

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda.

We note and support Labour’s six tests for Brexit, which aims to ensure that the post-Brexit settlement preserves the benefits we currently get from collaboration with Europe, defends our rights and protections, and delivers for all parts of the UK. It is increasingly clear that the Tories’ Brexit deal will fail these tests.

We believe that only Labour can lead the British people into a progressive and economically sound relationship with Europe.The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland, and the future of the NHS and public services. Tory Brexit will wreck the British economy, will commit us to a series of long-term trade deals which will enforce American-style deregulation, and will undermine the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law. All of this will bind the hands of a future Labour government, and will make it far harder for us to deliver on our promises.

We therefore urge Labour to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent, and create a Europe for the many, not the few.

The social problems that caused the Brexit vote – inequality, declining public services, falling pay, a lack of quality affordable housing, and so on – will be made worse, not better, by Tory Brexit and the continued austerity that would result. The problem is the policies of the political establishment, not immigrants, and the solution is a radical social and economic programme.

We must make the election of a radical Labour government our first priority.

We note that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the most likely route to a general election before 2022 is the collapse of the government’s Brexit agenda. This motion supports all available avenues to bring down the government: voting down the EU exit deal in Parliament, calling for a snap election, and a popular vote on the deal.

We note and support the 2016 Conference commitment to a public vote on the Exit Deal so the people have the final decision on whether to accept the government’s deal or to stay in the EU.

We call on the Labour Party to:

1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.

2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.

3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for an immediate general election.

4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.

It is far better to back the Labour for a People’s Vote motion than the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy one, which many believe is more subtle attempt to ward off commitment to opposing Brexit.

Brexit: living standards and jobs must remain Labour’s priority

Conference notes:

1) that following the UK/EU talks on 16/17 August the government still has no agreement on departure terms from the EU, despite the departure being scheduled for March 2019.

2) on 23 August the government started publishing some ‘technical notices’, advising people what to do in the event a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit.

3) the 6 August publication of ORB’s poll, indicating disapproval of the government’s handling of the Brexit negotiations has reached an all-time high of 76%.

Conference deplores the Prime Minister for prioritising negotiations within the Cabinet over those with the EU and her ministers for talking up the possibility of a ‘No-Deal’.

Conference notes any agreement the government negotiates is unlikely to protect the economy and people’s rights.

Conference continues to support Labour’s six tests, the commitment to a customs union and seeking full access to EU markets.

Conference calls on the Shadow Cabinet to continue with its policy of securing living standards and jobs, which requires free trade between Britain and the EU.

Conference agrees that Labour should vote against any agreement the government reaches with the EU which does not secure this objective, and how Labour achieves its objective should be decided in light of the situation at the time of the conclusion of any agreement negotiated between the government and the EU. At this stage in the UK/EU negotiations Labour should not exclude in advance any means or tactics to prevent a Brexit outcome which hurts jobs or living standards.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm

Rancière: ‘Post Democracy’, Populism, and Anti-Anti-Populism (Part One).

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Résultat de recherche d'images pour "jacques ranciere l'égalité"

‘Rancière: ‘Post Democracy’, Populism, and Anti-Anti-Populism.

Part One.

Maint fleur épanche à regret,

Son parfum doux comme un secret,

Dans les solitudes profoundes.”

Many a flower regretfully
Exhales perfume soft as secrets
In a profound solitude.

 

Le Guignon. Les Fleurs du mal. Charles Baudelaire. (1)

Introduction.

Jacques Rancière has become a reference point in radical aesthetic theory. Over the last two decades his writings have a committed audience, a larger group of spectators, and have helped inspire some optimism about allying artistic experimentation with emancipatory politics. (le Monde 6.7.18)  The irruption of “dissensus”, upturning existing communities of the creation and reception of arts, (the “partage du sensible” in a “sensus communis”), offers glimpses of “festivals of the future”. (2)

Across the left Rancière is best known as a champion of the politics of the “principle of equality”, “the equality of anyone at all with anyone else”. This, the only universal in politics, is the perpetual up-setter of apple carts. Perhaps his most ambitious target is a vehicle that might be better called a juggernaut. This is “post-democracy”. Pierre Rosanvallon has observed that he was one of the first to employ this term. “Post-democracy”(“post-démocratie”) has replaced the classical active ‘subject’ and agent of politics, effaced before the technical regulation of society – in the interests of those who hold economic power. (La contre-démocratie. 2006). As Rancière has stated, “Post-democracy is the government practice and conceptual legitimisation of a democracy after the demos, a democracy that has eliminated the appearance, miscount, and dispute of the people and is thereby reducible to the sole interplay of state mechanisms and combinations of social energies and interests.” (3)

Can the egalitarian figure of the People overturn the rule of the experts steeped in managerial science, neo-liberal economics, and the crafts of PR, presiding over post-democracy?  Is neoliberal post-democracy, as Rosanvallon has recently stated, so dominant, diffuse and elusive that the one is restricted to making its workings known?  (Le Monde. 31. 8. 18) Rancière places his hopes in a revived Demo. As he said in 2017, “the point today is trying to think a form of political organisation as really creating a new form of people. Because person is not the reality that parties represent, it is the reality that they create. The problem is whether we can create a new kind of people, a people of equals who have the possibility to put the capacity of anybody at work.” (4)

Rancière, then, is a critic of “Ètats oligarchiques”, based on the rule of – liberal – law that excludes Popular Sovereignty, and a voice on the side of the People. The late Ernesto Laclau’s On Populist Reason (2005) welcomed his “rediscovery of the People”, while flagging up his differences, with the French writers references to the “irreducible heterogeneity” (as Rancière calls it, “a multiplicity of experiences of equality, freedom or emancipation”) of popular struggle. Including those whose fight for equality flowers in “profound solitude.”(5)

Disagreements are more clearly signalled in public discussion with Laclau in 2015. Rancière asserted, “at least in European countries the representative principle of the state is completely integrated into the oligarchic mechanisms that it reproduces. It certainly does not function as a means for building a popular will.” This puts him at odds with the intramundane translation of Laclau’s ideas, put into strategic form by his partner Chantal Mouffe as ‘left populism’. Based on “federating the people”, bringing together their diverse interests and backgrounds into a unity that displaces the post-democratic consensus managed by the ruling political class, this has had some influence on European politics.  Spain’s Podemos and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France insoumise (LFI) have paid attention to this perspective. Key advisers have borrowed from Laclau’s theoretical tool-box. It would be rash nevertheless to make the bolder claim that these politicians are the earthly incarnation of the abstractions of On Populist Reason and, other, far less accessible works. Mouffe’s most recent book, For a Left Populism (2018) restricts herself to quoting Rancière’s description of “post-democracy”. The debate has halted there for the moment. (6)

Populism.

Rancière is also known for his article, L’introuvable populisme (2011), which criticised, pell-mell, “elite” contempt for the rough masses, secular French republicanism, and the racialism of the French state. Éric Fassin, Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, include these aspects of Rancière in discussion of both Populism and post-democracy. (7)

In this year’s Socialist Register James Foley and Pete Ramand find comfort for their opinions on the potential of Referendums for outsiders (including the left) to express themselves in the earlier La Haine de la démocratie (2005).  Pouring scorn on the denial of the French vote on the 19th of May 2005 against the EU Constitution, Rancière wrote on the theme he was to take up in L’introuvable populism, “Populism is the convenient name under which is dissimulated the exacerbated contradiction between popular legitimacy and expert legitimacy”.  Railing against “les oligarches, leurs savants et leurs idéologues” who despise the masses, in this instance those opposed to backing the EU plan, as ignorant “populists”. This theeme is repated many time in his writing, “‘populist’ is very much part of this arsenal used by the intellectual world, the world of the dominant.” This is, in some eyes, a way of avoiding talking about what exactly this particularly “heterogeneous” people. Indeed he is obdurate enough to claim that “it was clearly a democratic question and that was in the forefront.” In reality during that contest the ‘non’ to the Constitution included the whole of the French extreme right and many on the left marked by ‘elitist’ republicanism’ and nationalism. (8)

And yet… Rancière is best described as an ‘anti-anti-populist’. The ‘elite’ horror of mass direct intervention in political life, turning upside down the consensus of established politics, is the principal contradiction. “Cold racism”, he asserts on the universal basis of French experience, is generated by the ‘secular’ state. Laws entrenching secularism (that is, laïcité), endorsed by the Republican left, which affect ‘Moslems’, terms no doubt requiring no further explanation – highlight a wider form of contempt. But is, the “new racism coming from the top of the State” the end of the problem? The successes of right-wing ‘populism’, up to the extreme right, in the electorates of many countries, can hardly be obscured as they parade in the light of day. Is it only a ‘secondary contradiction’ amongst the people, a fabrication by ‘elites’, another shadow game in post-democracy, or, as most would imagine, a profound and rooted political problem?  Any answers are, at best, obscured by Rancière’s polemical gambit. That is, the principle  – frequent if never explicitly put – that one often needs to “reverse”, turn upside down, two poles to get a hold on how the elusive post-democratic society is operating. The election in Sweden this September suggests that one should turn this round again. We have to look at the ‘popular’ basis for mass backing for racist parties.

Radical Democracy.

That said, does Rancière contribute to grasping the world described as “post-democratic” and offer any useful ideas about creating democratic equality? Alex Dimorivić offers a hook into his work: the thinker is a champion of “Radical democracy ll, a stand that flavours democratic aspirations through “dissensus, argument, conflict and antagonism.” To approach Rancière’s politics through the lenses of left-wing radical democracy is to place him within, as he might put it, to join a sensus communis that is potentially intelligible to a broad left audience.  Rancière certainly does not follow those who are attempting to construct and channel the ‘People’ into a political organisation under the guidance of left populist theory and charismatic Leader. In the 2017 French Presidential election he called for a “non candidate”, and encouraged of independent forms of popular democracy beyond the “false choice” in the ballot box.   It would appear that the last thing the principle of equality would endorse is, transposing the words of The Philosopher and His Poor, a Party-Movement dedicated to training actors “in the art of becoming historical agents.”  (9)

Can Rancière offer light, as Étienne Balibar has stated, on the roots of his own principle of “égaliberté”, equality-liberty? That is that by pushing the drive for recognition by those without a stake in society into broader political thinking (including the worlds of Theory and Philosophy….)? He may of thinking through the concepts of freedom in the mould of radical egalitarianism, and add some spice about the pitfalls of integration into the ways things have been set up till now. Balibar’s pwn democratic experimentation, has explored the blind spots (“angles morts”) of Marxism. Rancière’s independent take (and criticisms) of pictures of the “democratic revolution”, and “political emancipation” associated with Claude Lefort.

Ideas of  “equality-liberty” may open up further avenues that bring the “principle of equality” into a wider range of issues, from human rights to the shape of the welfare state and education.  The critic of the Western military imposition of “infinite justice” is far from an opponent of all concepts of human right. Indeed he is a keen supporter of the struggles stemming from those who have no part in society (“la part des sans-part”), and their fight for rights that emerge beyond the framework of nation, peoples and classes. Those influenced by Claude Lefort tend to be over-wary of the threat of totalitarianism; Rancière has a profound tendency to ignore the issue altogether.  A certain balance, or, dare I say it, ‘anglo-saxon’ (as French writers misleadingly call us) pragmatism would suggest that that each writer may illuminate the other. (10)

But – this is a repeated warning  – often the language is very abstract. This is not only a matter of the terms employed. Slavoj Žižek point out that Rancière’s account (the ‘non-foundation’) of The Political (le politique) and Politics (la politique) structurally avoids the importance of the critique of political economy. One can extend this insight. Anybody educated in the history of the labour movement and the left will find the bald assertion of the importance of a “non-sociological” concept of the working class,  “a kind of symbolical invention of the collective”, offered without substantial documented detail, grating.  It is not only these difficulties that should concern us. Whether his take can contribute to any definite political project is equally far from clear. As Frédéric Lordon has remarked – he is far from the first to do so – the golden moments of democratic energy, real politics, are for Rancière brief and rare. The “police”, the administration of post-democracy, soon brings the masses to order. (11)

 

**********

Part 2, from the  La leçon d’Althusser (1975) La Nuit des prolétaires. Archives du rêve ouvrier, (1981), Le Philosophe et ses pauvres, (1983) to the overview offered by Pratiquer l’égalité  Anders Fjeld (2018) passing through, amongst others Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (2010), Chronicles of Consensual Times (2010)…….

 

References :

 

 

  1. Translation by William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954). The lines, criticsm assures us, echo, “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.” Thomas Gray. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The following may extend the relevance to Rancière’s project, “Some Village Hampden that with dauntless breast, The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood”.
  2. On the new links between aesthetics, politics and “other ways of living”, “Entre esthétique et politique les frontières deviennent poreuses.” Le Monde. 6.7.18). One of the best texts with which to begin reading his views on art is Chapter 3. Aesthetic Separation, Aesthetic Community. The Emancipated Spectator, Jacques Rancière. Translated Gregory Elliott. Verso. 2009. See the invaluable Translator’s Introduction to, Jacques Rancière’s Politics of Perception Gabriel Rockhill to The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution  of the Sensible. Jacques Rancière. Continuum. 2005. In French there is this useful short overview:  Stéphane Roy-des-rosiers. Introduction approfondie à l’esthétique de Jacques Rancière.  On the wider importance of his views on aesthetic judgement, see the Introduction to Rancière’s Sentiments. David Panagia Duke University Press. 2018.
  3. Page 15. Rancière, Disagreement. Originally published as La Mesentente: Politique et philosophie, copyright 1995 Editions Galilee. Translated Julie Rose. University of Minnesota Press. 1999. On Post-democracy: Page 267. La contre-démocratie. Pierre Rosanvallon. Seuil 2006. Rosanvallon states that Rancière was probably the first to use the expression “post-démocratie” in La Mésentente. The line cited is from the English translation, Page 102. Disagreement. Op cit. The term is also known through the work of  Colin Crouch. See Colin Crouch. Coping with Post-Demcoraccy.(Fabian Society. No Date) Is there a liberalism beyond social democracy? By Colin Crouch. Policy Network , 5 May 2011
  4. .Pages 19-20 A coffee with Jacques Rancière beneath the Acropolis Babylonia. January 2018.
  5. “Concluding Remarks” On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau. Verso 2005. Don’t they represent us? A discussion between Jacques Rancière and Ernesto Laclau. 2015. Translated by David Broder, from El Diario. Page 13. For a Left Populism. Chantal Mouffe. Verso 2018.
  6. L’introuvable populisme in Qu’est-ce qu’un people? Alain Badiou, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Georges Didi-Huberman, Sadri Khiari, Jacques Rancière. La Fabrique
  7. Pages 17 – 18. Populisme: le grand ressentiment. Èric Fassin. Èditions Textuel. 2017. In the Conclusion: Ce Cauchemar qui n’en finit pas. Comment le néolibéralisme défait la démocratie. Pierre Dardot, Christian Laval. .La Découverte. 2016.
  8. In fear of Populism: Referendums and neoliberal democracy. James Foley Pete Ramand. Pages 87 –88 Rethinking Democracy  Socialist Register 2018. Merlin. La Haine de la démocratie. Jacques Rancière La Fabrique. 2005 Page 120. Europe: The Return of the People, or of Populism? 2016 (Verso site’s translation). In fact faced with the Brexit vote all he could do was mumble about  a reaction to the (EU) “denial of democracy, a denial which the European bureaucracy itself embodies. Then there is the aspect that is about relating to the other, relations with foreigners. “
  9. Radical Democracy and Socialism. Alex Dimorivić. Socialist Register 2018. Merlin 2018. On more details on this ‘non-candidacy”, such as they are, see Jacques Rancière, La Grande Table: Revaloriser la démocratie avec Jacques Rancière. France Culture. (3.5.17)“Les logiques représentatives génèrent un système d’alternance de partis qui se ressemblent de plus en plus.”:”La seule campagne significative à mon sens est précisément une campagne pour la non-présidence.” “Il reste possible d’envisager des formes d’institutions réellement démocratiques et non axées sur la question de la lutte du pouvoir.” “La vraie question est celle du choix lui-même : nous assistons à une élection de la dépossession.” “Un peuple n’existe pas par lui-même : c’est le résultat d’un certain nombre d’éléments, d’un processus politique.” “Il y a un combat à mener contre les idéologies ouvertement réactionnaires et élitistes, et un autre contre les fausses évidences.” The Philosopher and His Poor, ed. Andrew Parker, co-trans. John Drury, Corinne Oster, and Andrew Parker (2004) original edition. Le Philosophe et ses pauvres, Fayard, 1983 a crucial transtional point which will be taken up further).
  10. The translation “counting the uncounted” (counting , décompte) is used in From Universality to Equality Badiou’s critique of Rancière. Jeff Love and Todd May (Clemson University) Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy. (Web) Most of the article is taken up with demolishing one of the most arrogant claims a world class egotist has ever made, Alain Badiou has asserted that in this approach to equality Rancière simply borrowed his own concept of “nomination” – in a grand ontology which few can fathom – to signal out the moment of resistance that marks the ‘non-part’ rebellion. Rancière’s own, respectful, account of Badiou’s concept of ‘fidelity” is discussed at a level of enormous abstraction in, “Jacques Rancière A propos de L’Etre et l’Evénement d’Alain Badiou. le cahier du Collège international de philosophie.n° 8 octobre 1989 (éd. Osiris) A courageous effort to render into English the decent obscurity of the learned language in this essay on Badiou is offered by David Broder, Time is nothing other than intervention”—Jacques Rancière on Alain Badiou’s Being and Event. Verso Site.
  11. The link is underlined by Balibar right at the beginning of this work, “il faut que s’affirme une légitimité de la lutte, ce que Jacques Rancière appelle la part des sans-part, qui confère une signification universelle à la revendication du « décompte » de ceux qui ont été maintenus en dehors du « bien commun » ou de la « volonté générale” Ouverture: l’antimonie de la citoyenneté. In Étienne Balibar. La Proposition de l’égaliberté. Essais politiques. 1980 – 2009/ Actuel Marx. PUF 2010. Étienne Balibar, L’Illimitation démocratique. Martin Deleixhe. Michalon Éditeur. 2014. Page 293. Of Lefort’s writings on these issues see particularly. Essais sur le politique. Claude Lefort. Seuil. 1986. L’invention démocratique. Fayard, 1981/1994.  Page 75. Amongst many references to this take on human rights see: What is the Subject of the Rights of Man? In Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (2010) The Lesson of Rancière. Slavoj Žižek. In: The Politics of Aesthetics. The Distribution of the Sensible. Op Cit. Structures et affects des corps politiques. Frédéric Lordon. La Fabrique. 2012.

 

Roshan Salih, Press TV and the Enfield Labour Vote of No-Confidence in Joan Ryan.

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Is it true that Salih is a member of the Labour Party?

I am not a member of Enfield Labour Party and am in no position to comment in depth on the events.

But it does appear that there was a broad coalition behind the vote of no-confidence in MP Joan Ryan.

In these conditions it is highly misleading to talk of “Trotksyists” “Communists” and “Stalinists” behind last night’s decision.

I hope that the result can be linked to her wider – right of the Labour Party – politics and not to the issue of ‘Zionism’.

Not to mention local concerns about her performance as an MP.

But this raises wider issues:

Press TV footage apparently filmed inside CLP vote of no confidence in MP Joan Ryan

Labour activists are calling for an inquiry after an Iranian state-backed TV station which is banned in the UK carried footage of a local party meeting passing a vote of no confidence in the Enfield North MP, Joan Ryan.

The Press TV footage, which appeared to have been filmed inside the meeting, was carried on the station’s Twitter feed and referred to Ryan, who is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, as a “pro-Israel MP”. It included the hashtag #WeAreEnfieldNorth.

Press TV had its licence to broadcast in the UK revoked by the media regulator, Ofcom, in 2012, over claims that editorial decisions were being made in Tehran.

The chair of the Enfield North constituency Labour party (CLP) tweeted that he had informed Labour party headquarters about Press TV’s apparent access to the meeting, and an investigation would take place.

Press TV’s licence was taken after, amongst other things, for this (Independent 2010).

in an interview with Channel 4 News, to be broadcast tonight, Mr Bahari explains that Press TV betrayed those promises, by sending a journalist to cover his forced confession in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

‘I was somewhat surprised because I thought Press TV would at least pretend to have some credibility and wouldn’t come and interview a prisoner in an interrogation room when I was under duress.’

Mr Bahari says he was tortured and then forced to make his confession on television, under threat of execution. He describes how he sat inside a room in the prison, before three cameras, and responded to questions suggested by a government interrogator, who stood behind a red curtain. He says he kept his blindfold on his knee, in full view, so it should have been clear that he was under duress.

Press TV then broadcast the confession, as though it was a legitimate interview, and Mr Bahari a willing guest; the presenter even suggested Mr Bahari might have participated in the protests.

Is Salih a member of the Labour Party?

The Tweet on ‘Zionist Infiltration’ was preceded  by this:

Today this is one comment he retweeted:

This is his own reaction after his coverage appeared on Press TV

This was another of his scoops – earlier this year (January)

Ken Livingstone appeared on Iranian state television on Holocaust Memorial Day on a programme that asked whether the Shoa has “been exploited to oppress others.”

The former Mayor of London – currently suspended from the Labour Party over antisemitism claims – appeared on Press TV on Saturday with host Roshan Muhammed Salih.

Several callers phoned into the show – which suggested ‘Zionists’ had exploited the Holocaust – and repeated openly antisemitic tropes.

At one point the presenter says: “I don’t know whether 6 million, or 4 million died or 2 million died.”

One caller to the programme, Ali, said: ”If it wasn’t for Hitler there would be no Israel. So this idea that Hitler was a bad guy – he wasn’t so bad for Israel.”

Mr Livingstone disagreed saying the remarks were “deeply offensive” to Jewish communities around the world.

But later Mr Livingstone attempted to justify his own past comments on Hitler and Zionism.

He said: ”I mean Hitler wanted to eliminate every Jew who was living inside Germany and that’s what he did in the 1930s. He worked with the Zionist movement to move …to get 60000 to go. But it was about half a million and then he changed his policy and went for genocide. “

Host Mr Salih at one stage spoke of the “industry” that has built up around the Holocaust.

Salih is the Editor the pro-Iranian Islamist site, 5 Pillars.

Editor – Roshan Muhammed Salih

These are some of his views:

The two-state solution means Palestine’s destruction, so why does Jeremy Corbyn support it?

If Jeremy Corbyn really cares about Palestine why does he keep talking about a two-state solution, asks Roshan Muhammed Salih.

The article ends with a call for support for action, military if need be, against Israel.

With the advent of a multi-polar world and rising Muslim powers, will Palestinians finally get the financial, military and political backing they deserve?

None of us know the answers to these questions but I do know that time is against Israel and an argument can be made that they need a deal more than the Palestinians do.

But non-Palestinians should not tell Palestinians what to do; our role is to simply support them. Whatever the Palestinian consensuses is I’m fine with that. If the consensus is to fight Israel with arms I support that because an occupied people has the right to resist an occupation militarily. If they want to struggle by peaceful means through cultural boycotts or politics then I also support that. And if they want to do a combination of both then that’s great too.

But like the majority of Palestinians I do not support a two-state solution. And neither should Jeremy Corbyn.

Then there’s this:

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Note: Harry’s Place asserts this: Press TV’s Roshan Salih films no confidence vote against Joan Ryan

But

Update: There is some haziness over the precise circumstances around the filming, but it seems clear that it was in no way condoned by the CLP’s chair, Siddo Dwyer.”

 

Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism) Storms Newcastle Council Debate to Prevent Adoption of Anti-Semitism Guidelines.

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RCG Says, “Smash Zionism!”

Far-left protesters storm council chamber as anti-Semitism debate descends into chaos

The Chronicle (Newcastle)

A council meeting descended into chaos as protesters stormed the chamber during a debate on anti-Semitism.

“Frightened” councillors were forced out of the room and left in tears due to the angry protest from far-left campaigners, one of whom had to be dragged from the chamber by securit

The protest – led by the revolutionary communist Fight Racism Fight Imperialism group – was opposing Newcastle City Council’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which they claimed would “criminalise solidarity with Palestine in Newcastle”.

After Lib Dem opposition deputy leader Nick Cott raised the motion to adopt the definition, protesters in the public gallery above began chanting, unfurled Palestinian flags, and shouted abuse at councillors.

As councillors left the room, one man broke into the main council chamber and was dragged away by security as Lord Mayor David Down tried to calm the protesters down.

It was claimed that one member of the civic centre’s security staff was put into a headlock by the demonstrators, some of whom were led away by police.

Afterwards, council leader Nick Forbes labelled them “clowns” who “don’t do anything to further the cause of the Palestinians”.

The result?

“When councillors returned to the chamber after around 25 minutes, Coun Forbes seconded the motion – having agreed to drop an amendment he had proposed – and it was passed unanimously.

Coun Forbes told the chamber that adopting the IHRA motion would “show we understand the upset and hurt that many people in our Jewish communities feel”.

Flagged up here: Revolutionary Communist Group attack Anti-Semitism Debate.

And on their Facebook Page: “Fight Racism – Fight Imperialism – FRFI North East

We have won the right to address the council! Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. See you at the protest today. Fight the council motion – defend the right to defend Palestine!

 

This was the campaign mounted by the RCG/Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism!

Don’t criminalise solidarity with Palestine in Newcastle.

1. Vote against the motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

2. State that the IHRA definition is an attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine by aiming to restrict protests, meetings and individuals that criticise Israel.

—————————————————————————–
This campaign is being run by a member of the public on the Campaigns by You website, not by 38 Degrees itself. 38 Degrees does not endorse all of the petitions on the website.

Why is this important?

On 5th September 2018, at its full council meeting, Newcastle City Council is due to vote on a motion as to whether the council should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The definition comes with examples of anti-Semitism, including: “”Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

We say: Israel is a racist state and saying so is not anti-Semitic. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.

Israel is a racist colonial settler state, based on the disposition of the Palestinian people, it must maintain itself by extending that dispossession through violent means, and has done so constantly since the 1993 Oslo Agreements.

We the undersigned call on Newcastle City Council to:

1. vote against the motion to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

2. state that the IHRA definition is an attempt to criminalise solidarity with Palestine by aiming to restrict protests, meetings and individuals that criticise Israel.

Acts of anti-Semitism show hatred towards Jewish and other Semitic people. Our assertion that Israel is a racist state is not informed by hatred towards Jewish people but rather by solidarity with the people of Palestine and their struggle against occupation and colonisation. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. Non-Jewish Israeli’s and non-Jewish Palestinian’s are discriminated against on a vast scale. This discrimination and the collective punishment of Palestinians by Israel has been recognised by international humanitarian organisations, including Amnesty International.

There are many Jewish organisations who are opposed to Israel because of its Zionist and racist nature. For example, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network states:

“Zionism is racist. It demands political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures. Zionism is not just racist but anti-Semitic.” Non-white, non-European Jews, are treated as second-class citizens, and face racism and economic exploitation at the hands of the Israeli state.

There has also been a witch hunt in the Labour Party against any politicians who criticise Israel. This includes the suspension of Jackie Walker, who is both black and Jewish. Does the council support this suspension?

We oppose all forms of racism and oppression. That means we must defend the right to defend Palestine. We ask Newcastle City Council to do the same.

The RCG’s background (Wikipedia)

The RCG grew out of the “Revolutionary Opposition” faction of the International Socialists (IS), (forerunners of the Socialist Workers Party), being strongly influenced by the politics of Roy Tearse. When the leading figures of the “Revolutionary Opposition”, the name itself only first appearing in print in their appeal document, were expelled from the IS its members met to decide on their course of action, and disagreements between Tearse’s allies and the majority of the faction around David Yaffe rapidly surfaced. The result was that Tearse’s supporters formed the Discussion Group which led a quiet life for a number of years inside the Labour Party before dissolving. Meanwhile, Yaffe and his comrades proceeded to found the Revolutionary Communist Group in 1974.[4]

In 1975, the RCG began publishing a theoretical journal called Revolutionary Communist in which it in part espoused a view of crisis theory, a theme they had already addressed in the IS when challenging the work of the theoreticians of that group.[5] They developed Karl MarxFriedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin‘s analysis of the labour aristocracy, and showed its relevance for politics in the period after the Second World War. Their conclusions led them to call for no vote for the Labour Party.

The early years of the RCG saw the group lose a large part of its initial membership. For example, in September 1975 the Birmingham branch decamped in order to join the Workers’ Socialist League.

Hungarian sociologist Frank Furediwas an early member of the RCG before being ejected in 1976, following which he founding the Revolutionary Communist Tendency. In later life he rejected socialism and became a libertarian.

A few years after the RCG’s foundation, disagreements emerged amongst its members regarding such topics as Stalinism and the South African government. One group, dominated by Frank Furedi (1947-), a sociologist at the University of Kent who used the pseudonym of “Frank Richards”, began to argue against the views put forward by David Yaffe and his supporters. Yaffe himself later remarked that Furedi had been “organising among a clique of middle-class members, and became their self-styled guru”.[6] In November 1976, Furedi and his followers were expelled from the RCG, following which they went on to form their own rival organisation, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency(RCT). Soon, the RCT itself splintered, with a group calling itself the Committee for a Communist Programme (CPP) being founded by several dissenting members.[7] Following this, the RCT went on to change its name to the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1981, and would publish the magazine Living Marxism from 1988 to 2000, in which their political position moved from Leninism to Libertarian Marxism.”

Fringe Warns, “Corbyn’s leadership in danger” after NEC reaches agreement on Anti-Semitism Issue.

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Tony Greenstein appears at a pro-Jeremy Corbyn protest outside Labour HQ

100 fringe Protesters failed to Stop NEC reaching agreement on the fight against Anti-Semitism.

The UK Labour Party’s ruling body has agreed to adopt in full an international definition of anti-Semitism, after months of rows.

It will incorporate all the 11 examples of anti-Semitism cited by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance into its code of conduct.

BBC.

There are some who are less than happy at this.

Corbyn’s leadership in danger

Written by John Rees. Counterfire.

The defeat for the Palestinian cause at the hands of the Labour Party’s NEC should not be underestimated

Who thought they would see the day when a left-led Labour Party would ignore the voices of Palestinian civil society, the highly respected former Palestinian ambassador to the UK, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, prominent figures in the anti-war movement, of Jewish socialist groups, and of 4,000 Labour Party members who lobbied the NEC online?

Who thought that this defeat would be delivered in part by mistakes made by Momentum’s national leaders, and the trade union leaders of Unison, Unite, GMB and Usdaw?

And there is the importance of this episode for the future. This reverse was the result of a divided left.

The leader of the Counterfire  revolutionary socialist groupuscule generously offers his advice to the Labour Party, the divided  left and the world at large:

Why were the left leaders either absent or actively working to get the IHRA examples adopted?

The short answer is that they imagine that they can buy off their enemies by surrendering to them. But that didn’t and won’t work. Not without getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn.

And there’s a danger that the argument will become, even from those who claim to support Corbyn, ‘oh, I support Jeremy, but he’s too much trouble’. This is dangerous nonsense. There is no candidate B and the very process of getting rid of Corbyn would demoralise and further split the left. It would, even if there were a period with another left leader, pave the way for the return of the right.

The full impact of the NEC decision is that they have set a pattern for compromise.

Socialist Worker is also going full froth.

Stand with Palestine after Labour Party accepts antisemitism definition Nick Clark

The Labour Party’s ruling body has adopted a definition of antisemitism that restricts criticism of Israel.

The decision by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday is a betrayal of the Palestinians. It is the result of relentless smearing by the right, and is a humiliating climb-down for Labour’s left wing leadership.

And Monster Raving, well what can you say?

“John McDonnell’s stupid and cowardly statement that Labour should adopt the IHRA in its entirety in order to put the false anti-Semitism campaign to bed beggars belief. “

Having talked about the decision with a number of people this looks a much more realistic assessment than these, and other, melodramatic attempts to stir up division.

The tussle over the IHRA shows neither Corbyn nor his opponents realise how secure he is

STEPHEN BUSH New Statesman.

The only thing that matters is that the NEC’s reccomendation means that IHRA, along with the Code of Conduct itself, will recieve an expedited passage through the rule-making institutions of Labour party conference and is essentially certain to pass unamended.

Bush continues with a carefully weighted analysis:

That’s provoked dismay among those within the Corbyn project who believe that IHRA has a chilling effect on free speech. Are they right to worry? Well, no. Ultimately both the NEC and the NCC are interpretative bodies: the NEC is not only the Labour party’s sovereign body but effectively its supreme court as well. Any ambiguities in the text are within the control of the NEC, which is dominated by Corbyn supporters and will be for the foreseeable future. Bluntly, should the Corbynsceptics retake control of the NEC – a near impossible prospect in my view – they will reshape the rules to expunge the party of some of Corbyn’s supporters anyway regardless of what a Corbynite majority NEC has done or not done. The only change to the day-to-day life of the Labour Party that would result from inserting caveats would be continuing the row over IHRA.

The Jewish Leadership Council and the European Jewish Congress have both welcomed the move, but both organisations have, as you’d expect, criticised the time it took Labour to get here. The European Jewish Congress have said it does Labour “no credit” that it took this long, while the JLC have said that “under a competent leader” the row would never have gone on so long. But while Corbyn won’t be framing either of those statements on his wall, the Labour leadership will be relieved at least that both organisations want to move on to the remaining five requests made of the Labour leadership when the JLC and the Board of Deputies met with Corbyn in April.

But Corbyn is also under fire for the 500 word statement he wanted the NEC to pass, which did apply caveats to the definition. Obtained by Robert Peston, who has posed it on his Twitter feed – this has been sharply criticised by the JLC.  While that row won’t help rebuild trust between Labour and the majority of Britain’s Jews, that Corbyn was rebuffed means that row isn’t going to rumble on. The correct outcome – as far as the bulk of community organisations and the party’s official Jewish affiliate, the Jewish Labour Movement are concerned – has been reached and no-one is going to litigate the last hours before Labour got there.

But what Corbyn’s attempt to insert an extra statement reveals is a strange point of unity between him and some of his vociferous opponents within Labour: an inability to recognise that he is the party’s hegemonic leader and therefore all his proposed statement would have brought was hassle. (It was that calculation that was decisive in persuading the left members of the NEC to defy Corbyn and speak against the statement, though the strength of feeling in the room was enough that it did not come to a vote.)

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2018 at 1:20 pm

Burston Rally 2018: a Report.

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Ipswich Trades Council’s New Banner on the Burston March.

The annual Burston Rally (“to commemorate the longest strike in history and to celebrate the people who continue to fight for Trade Union rights, working class education, democracy in the countryside and international solidarity” on Sunday was well attended (See: Eastern Daily Press. Burston Strike School Rally in Norfolk.)

Eastern Daily Press.

Arriving on the full Ipswich/South East Suffolk Coach the Village Green was already full of stalls.

There were all the main trade unions and linked organisations – Norwich Trades Council had an impressive display – a long list of Norfolk and Suffolk Labour parties (although many IPswich Labour councillors were apparently filling out the sparse ranks of a local Temperance event in Alexandra Park), and campaigns (Amnesty, Palestinian Solidarity, Norfolk anti-fracking group) and fringe groups, such as the Communist Party of Britain,  the SWP the Socialist Party and the Jewish Voice for Labour.

In the morning we were entertained by bands and by the comedian Kate Smurthwaite.

Trade Unionists, such as Sean McGovern (UNITE) angrily attacked the anti-Labour media campaign, and concentrated on the injustices faced by the disabled, and the hard time imposed on workers and consumers by those in charge of the privatised public services.

There was comradely atmosphere, only occasionally spoilt by SWP activists attempting to gather support for their ‘Defend Jeremy Corbyn’ petition, and to raise backing for their autumn anti-racism demonstration.

It was noted that a Momentum group, calling itself  Norfolk Momentum, displayed material in support of a policy backed by other break-away bodies, such as Camden Momentum, against Labour’s National Executive taking a position on the 4 September, to oppose the adoption of the  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Anti-Semitism (IHRA definition) of antisemitism.

I bought the highly recommended  The Village in Revolt: The Story of the Longest Strike in History.  Shaun Jeffery.

Image result for village in revolt

I also got  the – very far from esteemed  – Britain in the World Front, Palme Dutt, (1942) from the CPB bookstall.

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The march, around the village in the tracks as the original school strikers’ first protest, was enlivened by trade union bands.

In the heat of the early autumn sunshine we returned to hear the afternoon addresses to the crowd.

Mick Cash (RMT) followed earlier speakers was rightly angry at the way the media had run down Jeremy Corbyn, stirred up division in the Labour Party, and diverted attention from the disaster of privatised companies. Concentrating on the policies of his rail union he called for nationalisation and a the creation of a genuine public transport service.

It was unfortunate that a divisive speaker from Jewish Voice for Labour (recently founded – 2017)  was called.

He outlined his group’s position on the Israel Palestine conflict.

While people are dying in next-door Syria, amid mass murder and torture, and millions have been made refugees this appeared as if it were the sole issue in the Middle East.

Denouncing Israel, whose policies he compared to apartheid, he advocated opposition to  the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

There were other contributions, more in line with labour movement traditions of unity.

The best speaker of the day was, without a doubt, John McDonnell.

Beginning with references to the Middle East (though not Syria) he called for justice in the region.

But the heart of his talk was – and the words are weighed – a brilliant outline of Labour’s plans to bring serious change in the economy and public services, from education to local government.

McDonnell pitched his plans as an effort to transfer wealth and power to ordinary people. His plans for nationalisation, of the utilities and transport, did not include a return to old style Morrison-style administration, but democratic bodies under Parliamentary, consumer, worker and community control. Tackling ‘Magic Money tree’ – that is the money pumped out to tax shelters on the Paradise Islands – would provide some of the basis for the funds the project would need.

Finishing, the Labour Chancellor raised the issue of a People’s Vote on Brexit. After cries from the audience in support of the campaign against Brexit (there were campaigners for the Left Against Brexit present all day), McDonnell defended the Labour Line of attempting to defend the best possible deal that could be got at present. He added, that while the best People’s Vote would be a ballot  to remove Theresa May, he did not rule out a future referendum on EU membership.

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John McDonnell hears the Tendance Line.

To  the chagrin of those trying to divide the labour movement this has just been published,

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC will adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months

John McDonnell says he expects Labour’s ruling NEC to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism after a crunch meeting.

The shadow chancellor said he hopes the Party can move on from the bitter row which has dominated the news over the past few months.

He told BBC Radio Kent: “I think what will happen, I’m hoping what will happen is exactly what people are saying is an acceptance of the IHRA definition and examples, that’s what people are pressing for.

“But also to ensure, exactly what Rabbi Sacks said yesterday, that there’s freedom of speech so people are free to criticise Israel and its policies free to advocate the rights of the Palestinians but at the same time make sure it’s done in language that’s acceptable.

 

Tribune Bought by US pro-Brexit Magazine Jacobin that published anti-Semite Houria Bouteldja.

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Image result for Houria Bouteldja sioniste au gulag

“Freedom of expression” takes on the opposite meaning — and is being used instead to impose a reign of intimidation and fear.” Houria Bouteldja.

Tribune, the historic publication of the Labour left, will be revived next month by a US journalist who hopes to benefit from the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and run a financially sustainable leftwing print magazine.

Bhaskar Sunkara bought Tribune’s assets on behalf of his not-for-profit US news outlet Jacobin, which describes itself as “a leading voice of the American left”. He founded Jacobin at university in 2011 and the publication quickly rose to prominence, benefiting from the increased interest in socialist ideas which accompanied the rise of Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic primary campaign.

Guardian

The Unity Trap

HOURIA BOUTELDJA MALIK TAHAR-CHAOUCH

Instead, the discussion becomes one about “the class struggle,” or even worse, vague humanist principles. While the “unity march” did indeed mobilize large numbers from among the country’s white population — and, unfortunately, from the entire organized left (unions and parties) save for the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste — it received little support and sparked hostile and mocking reactions among the people on the receiving end of structural racism and its social violence.

……..

They seek to suppress the struggle against their privilege, by invoking a freedom of expression that is in fact indentured to this same privilege. So “freedom of expression” thus becomes a pretext for silencing those who have the least access to it: as we already saw in summer 2014 with the repression of pro-Palestine demonstrations and, before that, with the ban on Dieudonné’s shows (this black comedian’s anti-semitic tendencies apparently can’t be indulged in the same way as Charlie Hebdo’s Islamophobia).

Understood in this context, “freedom of expression” takes on the opposite meaning — and is being used instead to impose a reign of intimidation and fear.

Not only is there is no sympathy for the murdered at Charlie the largely Jewish victims at the Hypercacher are not even mentioned…..

It is not hard to see why.

One further overriding problem is this:

Jacobin regularly publishes extreme Pro-Brexit material from people linked to the Spiked front, The Full Brexit.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 1, 2018 at 4:44 pm

From Revolutionary Communist Party to Spiked: The Archives Speak!

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1980 The Next Step 8.pdf

Ever Wondered why Spiked is so Quiet on Corbyn’s Past? 

France had its former ’68’ Maoists, above all from the Gauche prolétarienne (1968 – 1974), who became right of centre, and left-of centre, anti-communist liberals.

It even had Benny Lévy (also Pierre Victor; 1945–2003) who from a hard-line Marxist-Leninist leader and ideologue of the group ended up a student of the Torah in Israel.

Whatever else you might think he was serious, as this citation indicates,

To be Jewish. To be, in an absolutely singular manner… a thought of the Return. The Return to the Sinaï… The thought of the Return (la pensée du Retour) requires a critique of the atheology of the modern Jew . Theology of the silence of God after Auschwitz, critique of theodicy, finally return to the notion of absolute Evil, these are the points through which one must pass in a critical manner. In this sense, this book addresses itself at any man, insofar as he is still sensible to the question of the origin of evil.

This biography is worth reading and thinking about: Philippe Lardinois, De Pierre Victor à Benny Lévy, de Mao à Moïse ?, Luc Pire, 2008

Britain, belatedly, had the hard-line Revolutionary Communist Party (1978 – 1997).

Odd as it seems the group behind Spiked was one of the more forceful – or barking – organisations on the British far-left, though not doubt without the kind of Oxbridge paternity that would have paralleled the GP’s best known members’ background in the École normale supérieure.

Today former members write this,

THE TERRIBLE PRICE OF A ‘PEOPLE’S VOTE’

To overthrow the Brexit vote would be to overthrow democracy itself.

The Remainer elite is feeling excited. Why? Because it thinks it might finally have beaten down the democratic desires of ordinary people, especially the poorer, less educated ones. It is hopeful that its relentless fearmongering, its highly moneyed, deeply cynical campaign to depict Brexit as the worst thing to happen to Britain since the war, might finally be paying off. This is the truth behind the Remainer elite’s wild cheering of a poll analysis that seems to reveal that more and more constituencies have shifted towards having Remain majorities: it spies in this alleged shift an important victory for its campaign of delegitimising the democratic vote for Brexit and sidelining the rough, ill-informed people responsible for that vote.

Their one time leader and ideologue, Frank Furedi, screams:

THE FLIGHT OF THE ELITES FROM THE NATION STATE

When leaders lose faith in the nation, geopolitics becomes more unstable.

And this: SELL OUT BREXIT? NO DEAL

It does not look probable that anybody is going to write a serious biography of Brendan O’Neill, or Frankie.

But there are people out there interested in their past (I admit I have a couple of copies of the Revolutionary Communist Papers mouldering away somewhere and a pamphlet….)

The Revolutionary Communist Tendency / Party…

(Splits and Fusions. An archive of British Trotskyist publications)

Love them (?)  or hate them, the Revolutionary Communist Party were a significant component of the British far left of the 1980s.

Originating as a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism Fight Imperialism), itself a split from the International Socialists, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency published 8 issues of a magazine Revolutionary Communist Papers before establishing the rather stylish tabloid paper The Next Step in 1979. TNS was, at first a 24 page theoretical review before becoming a weekly paper in 1985. The issues of TNS up to that point are consecutively numbered. From 1985 they are numbered 1 – 40-odd repeating each year.

The main preoccupations of the RCP were Ireland and anti-racism as reflected in their front organisations the Irish Freedom Movement, publishing Irish Freedom magazine, and Workers Against Racism

The RCT published a series of Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets whilst the RCP followed up with a number of books and pamphlets, often under the Junius Press imprint and a theoretical journal Confrontation (we will scan some copies of this in due course)

 

Frank Field, Resignation and “obsessive anti-immigration agenda.”

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“It is about culture, identity and family” Frank Field.

Today we learn that Frank Field, after resigning the Labour Whip, is contemplating contesting a by-election.

His Rallying Call?

Frank Field says Labour should be a ‘champion against racism’

Along with Nicholas Soames MP, Frank is Co-Chairman of the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration.

What is now so different, indeed unique, is the scale of that migration. In the last ten years the Government has in fact allowed an open borders policy. As a result, the composition of this country is radically changing. Maybe that is what should happen, and maybe that is what voters would like to happen. But voters have not been consulted whether they want that as a policy and as an objective.  Balanced Migration is about pushing the Government to a position where it brings into balance, over time, the numbers of people who come to this country, and those who actually leave. The campaign is seeking a change in the law so that people could come here to work for four years only, but to break the link between coming here to work and then having the automatic right to become citizens, as they have in the past.”

Amongst his many many speeches on the issue, the ‘champion against racism’  began harping on the theme about immigration in January 2016.

Field, who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership in the interest of debate despite not sharing his politics, told Sky’s Murnaghan show that Corbyn was “in tune” with voters on issues such as inequality and the economy.

On other issues, however, such as security and immigration, “the Labour leadership is walking off in the opposite direction to where voters are, and in particular those swing Labour voters who didn’t swing our way and gave the government its unexpected election win last time”, he said.

“Clearly that’s going to have to be sorted out before the next election if we’re not to get a walloping yet again.”

Guardian.

By November of the same year this had become:

Ukip leader Paul Nuttall is ‘game changer’ for Labour, says Frank Field

Nuttall could help Ukip take string of seats from Jeremy Corbyn’s party in the north of England, says senior Labour MP

Field, who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership in the interest of debate despite not sharing his politics, told Sky’s Murnaghan show that Corbyn was “in tune” with voters on issues such as inequality and the economy.

On other issues, however, such as security and immigration, “the Labour leadership is walking off in the opposite direction to where voters are, and in particular those swing Labour voters who didn’t swing our way and gave the government its unexpected election win last time”, he said

Farage picked up a million Labour votes by accident but with this guy it is all he’s going after,” Field said. “It is about culture, identity and family and so on. The party centrally hasn’t got a clue. There are one or two people taking about it but whether they seriously realise what is coming is another matter.”

To those in Labour who say Nuttall poses a similar threat to Farage, Field said they “couldn’t be more wrong – it is game changing to Labour”.

“Ukip under Paul will become the English party,” he said. “I don’t think it will be a wipeout on the scale of the SNP but I do think they will be taking Labour people out in our northern heartlands.

Field’s views on migrants, and the unemployed, not to mention the most obvious, issue, Brexit, have long been not too far off UKIP’s.

Frank Field: Migrants take nine out of 10 jobs

June 2011.

David Cameron’s plans to reform welfare are not radical enough as they do not punish the work-shy or reward those who have contributed to the benefits system, the Government’s poverty tsar has said.

Frank Field, the former Labour minister brought in to advise the Coalition last year, says that the public wants tougher sanctions forcing the long-term unemployed back to work. In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he dismisses proposals to simplify the benefits system as “Gordon Brown’s approach, on speed”.

He calls for “good, reliable” people who have worked and paid National Insurance to be prioritised for help above others, particularly those who have not contributed to society.

In the first year of the Coalition, 87 per cent of the 400,000 newly created jobs have gone to immigrants — as Britons fail to chase work, according to new official figures uncovered by the Labour MP. Under previous Labour administrations the figure was about 80 per cent.

Comrade Owen Jones sums up the position well,

Frank Field’s obsessive anti-immigration agenda once led a Church of England bishop to call him the “new Enoch Powell”.’

Antisemitism? No, Frank Field jumped before he was pushed

His resignation has nothing to do with antisemitism. Last month, the government was on the brink of defeat over its nonsensical customs arrangements plans. It may well have collapsed if the vote went the wrong way: Tory rebels were told that a general election could ensue. But Theresa May was saved by Frank Field and three other Labour rebels. That understandably riled Labour members, who pay their subs and surrender evening and weekends knocking on doors because they would quite like to replace a Tory government beholden to Jacob Rees-Mogg with a Labour administration instead.

The local parties of both Field and Kate Hoey near-unanimously voted no confidence in both, and called for the whip to be removed. Indeed, both politicians have a unique talent of being able to unite party activists on left and right: Hoey’s party activists nominated Blairite candidate Liz Kendall in 2015. Field knew he was about to be pushed. Instead, he jumped. It was what he called for Labour MPs to do three years ago if they were deselected, and he wasn’t citing antisemitism as a pretext back then.

Field’s claim that he fled the Labour party in the name of anti-racism is, given his record, certainly audacious. His obsessive anti-immigration agenda once led a Church of England bishop to call him “the new Enoch Powell” – the infamous Tory politician Field has himself praised. Here is a man who has described Margaret Thatcher as a “hero” and was appointed by David Cameron as his “poverty tsar”, swiftly announcing plans to shred child poverty targets.

There are those who angrily decry Corbyn as a beyond-the-pale Brexiteer, now cheering on Field as a principled martyr because he resigned the Labour whip before his local party deselected him for backing May’s extreme Brexit plans. That will do little to shake the suspicion that opposing Brexit is not their main priority: preventing a leftwing government is. There are a handful of other Labour MPs said to be planning on making the same journey as Field.

As it’s announced that a new centrist party has split before it has even been launched, it’s clear any new venture will perish. The best they can hope for is to gift a majority to a Tory party increasingly beholden to Rees-Mogg. What a political legacy to have. In the coming months, the media will venerate those determined to stop a Labour government, and both rightwingers and self-described “centrists” will escalate an increasingly vicious campaign against the left. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that they will do so because they are scared of losing, and understandably so.

Final word:

Neither Norman Finkelstein nor Jonathan Sacks but Democratic Socialist Internationalism!

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Just when you thought Jonathan Sacks had scraped the bottom of the barrel.

There is hysteria, and there is hysterical foam-speckled raving.

British politics has seen the two merge over the last month as some people have made what can only be called – charitably – as the Media Madness of Crowds.

The most offensive delusions, that the a Labour Government, led by, Jeremy Corbyn, would pose an “existential threat” to British Jews, have been peddled.

The wildest seers, like Norman Finkelstein, have been given free reign to speculate on the site of the Flagship publishers of the New Left about whether Jewish wealth, “didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power” in Britain. Having found that, “Were it not for the outsized power of British Jews, it’s hard to conceive that British society would be interminably chasing after a hobgoblin.”

At present Finkelstein feels armed from his American pulpit to intervene in the British debate on what kind of procedures the Labour Party should adopt on fighting anti-semitism FINKELSTEIN CRITIQUES IHRA ‘DEFINITION’ – AND REJECTS IT WHOLE.

The author of the Holocaust Industry uses all the moral authority of John Stuart Mill to defend the right to rant – something he so far not had much success with when lecturing his close friends in the Islamic Republic of Iran (Norman Finkelstein: Teaching John Stuart Mill in Iran  2014)

Then there is this.

Corbyn’s “Zionist” remarks were “most offensive” since Enoch Powell, says ex-chief rabbi

New Statesman.  GEORGE EATON

Whatever the Conservative former Chief Rabbi’s politics are today, this is what the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who gave Enoch Powell’s discipline Nigel Farage a platform in his paper, had to say after the Brexit vote:

Brexit: It’s a wonderful day for Britain – and its Jews

It’s certainly a truism that when times are troubled, the Jews are often the first target. But the referendum demand from voters that we regain control over immigration isn’t an attack on immigrants, on foreigners – or on Jews. It’s an attack on people being denied any say on a core issue of politics.

Indeed, far from Brexit hurting minorities, the real problem for minorities comes when politics ignores such concerns – when the mainstream loses touch with people and the only vehicles left to make a point are extremists. Marine Le Pen is surging in France not because all the French are fascists but because the French governing class – Eurofanatical to the core – treats its voters with contempt.

That has been the EU’s fundamental flaw. It regards voters as uncouths who need to have what’s good for them imposed on them. Just look at Greece. That’s how and when extremists prosper – and that’s when the Jews suffer.

Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released.

We will take no lessons on far-right extremism from Pollard – who looks even more of an empty vessel after we’ve seen the ‘Tommy Robinson’ campaign merge into a pro-Brexit, pro-Trump one.

Nor, as David Rosenberg writes, is Sacks in a strong position to attack Powell.

You were never my Chief Rabbi, bruv.

When asked last year what were his four favourite books of 2017, Sacks included Douglas Murray’s the Strange death of Europe, which the “respected rabbi” described as “unsettling” and “disturbing”. Sacks continued: “Murray weaves a tale of uncontrolled immigration, failed multiculturalism, systemic self-doubt, cultural suicide and disingenuous political leadership. Accurate, insightful and devastating.” (1) Lots of Powellite themes there which Sacks found strangely attractive. Needless to say Murray included an apologia for and re-interpretation of Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech.

But then again it wasn’t the likes of Rabbi Sacks, and the cushioned middle classes who experienced on the streets the fallout from Powell’s hate speech. It was predominantly the Asian communities facing vicious racial violence, including racial murders, and the anti-racist movements, abused and attacked by the far right forces Powell encouraged. Those Asian communities, the anti-racist movements, the refugee communities today, in the face of brutal attacks, have continued to resist. And through those years of resistance they have known they can rely on solidarity from allies beyond their own communities. One absolutely constant and ever-present ally, at their side then and now, is Jeremy Corbyn.

We do take seriously the threat posed by the racist far right.

If there are attacks on Jews in Europe, they are not alone.  Let’s begin with the events in Chemnitz where, “For two nights running, hundreds and then thousands of right-wing extremists and sympathisers have taken to the streets.” Their targets? “Far-right vigilantes ‘hunting down’ migrants in Germany after man’s death.” (Sky)

This Blog is not a supporter of the extreme ‘anti-Zionist’  politics presented as the core of ‘anti-imperialism’ which many consider one of the origins of this dispute. This approach has resulted in a failure to defend Syrian democrats, even the Kurds in their to-the-death-struggle against the ISIS genociders, and an obsessive concentration on Israel in a world rent with human rights abuses, from Myanmar to Central Africa. (1)

Nor do we wish to turn the Labour Party into a forum for people all-too-anxious to ‘debate’ playground motions expressing their hatred of ‘Zionism’.

But it is hard to argue that pro-imperialist, or pro-West politics are anything other than despicable faced with their equal inability to bring a solution to the Syrian civil war, the creation of a viable two-state solution to the Israel and Palestine conflict,  or the horrors taking place in Yemen.

The present frenzy looks less and less to do with such issues.

For the first time in many years this Blog agrees with  Lindsey German on what the relentless campaign means,

There can be no doubt about what this represents – the serious attempt to remove a twice-elected Labour leader who has left wing politics, who supports a range of causes and movements including those for the Palestinians, who is committed to redistribution of wealth and power, who wants more money spent on decent public services, and whose election as prime minister would inspire working people around the world.

When the lying has to stop – weekly briefing

It is as simple as that.

Common decency, as they say, ranges the left behind Labour.

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(1)  I have read the Murray book, which draws on somebody I am lot more familiar with, Renaud Camus, the theorist of the “great replacement” (the take-over of Europe by immigrants) and a pillar of the French far-right.

(2) For a thought-provoking introduction to different views read the latest at Shiraz: A history lesson for Corbyn on antisemitism, Zionism and Stalinist-influenced “anti-imperialism”

David Aaronovitch’s Voodo Smear Againt Corbyn ‘link’ with Red Action.

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Many people on the left knew Red Action.

They were capable of talking the arse out of an iron pot on solidarity with the “Irish Struggle”.

I am not writing this off the top of my head…..

Apparently this is news to the above:

But  what of the link between Corbyn and the group?

As I mentioned many people on the left came across Red Action, and the group it helped create in 1995, the Independent Working Class Association.

Many suggest  Aaronovitch looked into his own oeuvre – Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History  (2009) – before writing this

Zelo Street answers this.

I make no apologies for re-posting to add to the audience to this excellent piece of work:

Murdoch Corbyn IRA Bomb Smear BUSTED.

This is not a new idea from the Murdoch mafiosi: back in September 2015, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who claims to be the Sun’s Westminster Correspondent, claimed “JEREMY CORBYN TRIED TO FUND IRA BOMBER’S FLIGHT … The embattled new Labour leader handed over £45 to Irishman Sean O’Regan, who approached him inside Parliament to claim he was part of an IRA active service unit”.

Sadly, Master Cole was peddling a pack of lies: it was one of Corbyn’s staff who ponied up the £45, and as soon as Jezza found out, he called the cops. But now has come a new twist on the IRA claim from allegedly sensible pundit David Aaronovitch: “Finally, for a completely different reason, I’ve been going back over the 1993 Warrington bombing. There’s a big possibility that it was carried out by far-left people associated with a group called Red Action. I offer no prizes for which Labour figure was close to Red Action”.

Nudge nudge, wink wink, nod’s as good as  a wink to a blind hack,eh? But let’s take this pointless smear one step at a time. The Provisional IRA admitted responsibility for the Warrington bombings (plural) – that is, the gas works bombing in February 1993, and the town centre bombing the following month. It was speculated by a BBC Inside Out Broadcast in 2013 that it could have been an English “rogue” IRA unit.

The programme suggested that those who planted the town centre bombs were members of Red Action, despite the gas works bombing the previous month most certainly being carried out by an Irish IRA unit – some of whose members were caught in the aftermath of planting their device. And where does Jezza come in?

Indeed.

The Murdoch press is unequivocal in telling readers of its ultimate objective in attacking Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: it wants him removed from the leadership. This reinforces the admission from the Mail last week. But thus far, the campaign has been ineffective, and so it is being stepped up. That means a new smear exercise in which Jezza gets blamed for IRA activity on the British mainland. I kid you not.

You’ll love this. The claim of a connection between Corbyn and Red Action was made last weekend in the Sunday Times, under the by-line of … Andrew Gilligan. Yes, Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan, the clown who fouled up the reputation of the BBC Radio 4 Todayprogramme single handed, but still managed to escape censure from his press pals for his part in the outing of weapons inspector David Kelly.

So what’s his best shot? “Corbyn spoke at at least three Red Action meetings between 1985 and 1992 and the group sometimes met at his then constituency office, ex-members said”.

Convenient hearsay, just in time to start the next wave of smears. Oh, and “Jeremy Corbyn came to the attention of police after becoming involved with Red Action” might sound dead good until the obvious reality check is made on the claim.

Note: everybody on the left who knows about Red Action finds this direct Corbyn tie-in beyond any credibility

The post continues:

Corbyn had to undergo an extensive security vetting to become a Privy Counsellor. If there was anything like that in his background, he wouldn’t have passed muster.

Andrew Gilligan doesn’t know any better. But David Aaronovitch should. And he should be ashamed of himself. But in the end, all this proves is that the purchasing power of the Murdoch shilling remains undimmed after all these years. I’ll just leave that one there.

Then there is the issue of the “big possibility ” that  Red Action rather than the IRA carried out the Warrington Bombing.

It is widely noted that the Wikipedia entry on this was altered the day Aaronovitch made his assertion,

This is another source:

Anti-Fascist Archive

THE LARGEST PUBLIC COLLECTION OF ANTI-FASCIST ACTION MATERIAL

The Warrington Bomb and Red Action.

2003.

Recently, BBC North West’s Inside Out programme conducted an investigation into the 1993 Warrington bombing. Ending the police’s embarrassment of not catching the killers of Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry was, seemingly, the motivation. Inside Out speculates that the perpetrators of the lethal bombing were Jan Taylor and, Red Action member, Patrick Hayes. Inside Out asks that when the police were looking for Irish suspects; should they have been looking for a rogue IRA active service unit made up of Englishmen.

The documentary’s evidence supporting their claim leaves some questions. First is the linking of the bin bombing and gas works bombing in Warrington to the Harrods bin bombing and the bombing of a gas works in Tyneside. They are linked by target but, it is also implied, by suspects. The Tyneside gas works was bombed by an Englishman; the Warrington gas works by Irishmen. That the Warrington gas bombing was conducted by Irishmen wasn’t mentioned in the documentary. Partially based upon this faulty evidence the programme reasons that the Warrington bin bombing was carried out by the Harrods bin bombers: Hayes and Taylor. The film insinuates that English IRA active service units were attacking similar targets but Warrington gas bombing was done by Irishmen.

Another problem with the same targets, same nationality of suspects theory is that Hayes and Taylor were also convicted of bombing a train. Where does the train attack fit in to Inside Out’s story?

Inside Out uses Hayes’ Red Action membership as more evidence of guilt. Firstly, the programme doesn’t make it clear that only Hayes was a Red Action member, Taylor wasn’t. The programme also points out Red Action favoured “chicken-box bombs”, like the one used by Hayes and Taylor. The fact is that Red Action has never been found to have bombed anything. The implication is that Red Action had a bombing campaign but they did nothing of the sort. Why would Red Action favour a certain bomb when they had nothing to do with bombing?

Red Action is painted as a shadowy organisation. Whilst certainly secretive it was hardly unreachable. The IndependentITV and the BBC had all interviewed Red Action. The organisation was very openly pro-IRA, it was on the front of its newspaper and on its stickers; it wasn’t a secret. It was not the underground network Inside Out would have us believe.

Another claim is that the (or these?) English IRA active service unit were rogue or not in the loop. It is pointed to that the IRA was already at the peace table so why would they need to continue bombing? Furthermore, the polices’ claim that the IRA didn’t use the correct code words is their evidence of the bombers being rogue. But the IRA disputed that the wrong codes were used at the time. It’s a ‘he said; she said’ situation in which the truth may never be known.

Inside Out’s own evidence can be used to dispute the rogue unit idea. To provide evidence that there was a campaign to bomb certain targets in England they discuss how the IRA’s top man in England was caught with a list of targets, including gas works, and semtex. If the orders were coming from the IRA’s leading volunteer in England how were the active service units rogue or acting alone?

The evidence presented implying the guilt of Patrick Hayes and Jan Taylor is hardly clear cut. The idea that English IRA units were bombing the same targets isn’t true and the idea they were rogue has little evidence. I believe the documentary provides more questions than answers. The simplest being what was the purpose of documentary? And why now?

World’s Oldest Trotksyist Group Denounces “Witch hunt by liberals against Trump.”

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Image result for the militant socialist weekly us trotsky

An Honourable Past.

The American Socialist Workers Party is the world’s oldest Trotskyist group.

Old enough to be mentioned by George Orwell. (1)

It was founded at the end of 1937.

Their paper, The Militant (the original one) goes back to 1928.

The writings of its leading figure at the time, James Patrick “Jim” Cannon (1890 – 1974), form the basic reading of Trotskyists to this day.

Many know the pages of the History of American Trotskyism, 1928–38, Report of a Participant and The struggle for a proletarian party  (1943) practically (or literally) by heart.

It should be made clear that this Blog comes from a very different, European, background, associated with the sterling figure of Michael Pablo, (1911 – 1996) somebody Cannon opposed root and branch in the 1953 – 4 split in the Trotskyist movement’s largest international grouping, the Fourth International (FI).

Apart from its role in the upper levels of the FI (not formally affiliated due to US law)  the US SWP was directly engaged in various parts of the world wide movement.

The US SWP had a small group, called The Tendency, inside the International Marxist Group during the 1970s.

Uncharitably called a ‘cult’ by well-wishers such as the writer of this post and his mates, they formed the basis for the present Communist League.

Their best known figure is  Jonathan Silberman who hit the headlines not long ago when he in 2015 he announced his intention of standing for the London May contest. (Communist spells out policy to compete in next year’s mayoral election).

Alas, he did not stand.

But Peter Clifford stood for them in the 2017 General Election in Manchester Gorton where he won 27 votes.

If one multiplies this by the number of constituencies in the UK this makes a more impressive sounding 17550 potential votes for the Communist League.

For those interested one may see people selling the US paper cited below on their stall at demos, next to felt-tip written placards produced by a teenage creative writing class.

Yes, everybody who comes these currents have evolved over the years.

The US SWP, according to many reports, has evolved the most.

This marks a further stage in their development:

Witch hunt by liberals against Trump a danger to workers

As President Donald Trump continues to win support for improvements on jobs and production and in foreign policy, the liberal media, Democrats and some Republicans are trying to breathe life into their waning efforts to overturn the 2016 election and drive him from office. They have seized on the conviction of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, a plea bargain by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, and the president’s decision to revoke ex-CIA boss John Brennan’s security clearance.

After some dreary stuff we get to the meat, the real ‘low down’ as they say…

Assaults on free speech and freedom of assembly are being carried out today. They’re being organized by a layer of Trump’s liberal opponents, like Maxine Waters, who urges mob attacks on government officials to hound them from public life.

In a series of coordinated editorial columns, the liberal owners of some 350 newspapers around the country claimed the president was attacking press freedom when he tweets about fake news.

But Trump’s remarks have nothing to do with imposing constraints on the press. More and more of these papers have given up any pretense at printing “news,” instead running article after article arguing with Trump and calling him a liar.

As they trade conjectures about the effects the court rulings on Manafort and Cohen, and “treason” calls by Brennan, will have, most bourgeois commentators agree there’s little chance Trump will be indicted or successfully removed from office.

Their conclusions? All out for the Democrats in 2018! And, if they have to, against Donald Trump in 2020.

The Socialist Workers Party is fielding candidates across the country, speaking out about the capitalist rulers’ assaults on working people and the oppressed, and championing labor battles and social protests. The party explains that the road forward is for the working class to break with all the parties of the capitalist rulers and chart a course to take political power into their own hands.

**********

(1) “Although in some places, for instance in the United States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents and develop into an organized movement with a petty fuehrer of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative.” Notes on Nationalism. George Orwell. Polemic, No.1, October 1945.

For a good article on the relations between Orwell and Trotskyism see:  George Orwell: a literary Trotskyist? Anna Chen

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Socialist Party (former ‘Militant’) Makes Public Dispute Between Leading Members in the PCS Union.

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SP Makes Public PCS Row.

This Blog has little time for the politics of the Socialist Party.

They are centred on the lingering influence of a certain strain of Trotskyism, one based on assembling ‘leadership’, through a variety of bureaucratic ‘fronts’.

These include  the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and by its preponderant influence in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) which stands candidates in Parliamentary and local elections – or stood candidates, and, perhaps will again….

A few years ago Andrew Murray, then in the Communist Party of Britain, now in Labour, described very accurately this strategy as

…trying to create a shadow labour movement around itself, with its own electoral front, its own shop stewards’ network etc.

Left Unity or Class Unity? Working-Class Politics in Britain. Andrew Murray. Socialist Register. 2014.

More recently the SP has become Jeremy Corbyn’s best friend even, by attempting to create a New Workers’ Party through TUSC,  to have helped him gain the Labour leadership through standing candidates against his Party. It has also – though few will have heard of this – campaigns to be a Labour Party ‘affiliate’.

They regularly offer Corbyn friendly advice:

Corbyn must end false unity with Labour’s right. Tories and Blairites must go. General election now!

(The Socialist 4th August 2018)

The Socialist Party is also noted for its unrelenting backing for a “Socialist Brexit” as part of its strategy to build a socialist Britain, a wish-list of nationalisations, and legislation through a truly sovereign Parliament, under Socialist (that is, their) leadership.

One aspect is particularly controversial on the left.

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.

September 2016.

The group has, with other forces hostile to the EU, promoted resolutions in the labour movement calling for some kind of ‘Socialist Brexit’ – though how this can come about in the absence of ‘socialism’ is not clear.

Faced with the reality and costs of Brexit (above all a ‘No Deal’ Exit) few people now believe in the prospects for a “Socialist Brexit” any more than they do in a “People’s Brexit’.

Even fewer pay much attention to the idea of putting immigration and borders under ‘workers’ control’ or in terms of the ‘closed shop’ these days.

But….

The SP has members in a number of trade union positions as their upbeat report on the 2018 UNITE conference indicates,

The executive committee statement on the European Union was passed and rightly defeated motions explicitly calling for a second referendum. This superseded a motion moved by Socialist Party member Kevin Parslow from LE/1228 branch which called for a socialist Brexit in the interests of workers.

Socialist Party members have big impact as Unite conference kicks off

The Socialist 4th July 2018.

While claims about their great influence in UNITE can be taken as a case of the mythomania many see as a trait of some types of Trotskyism  there is little doubt that the Taafites (as they are known, after their decades long leading Cadre)  are important in the largest civil service union, the PCS.

There is much to say on this but one thing should not be doubted: they are serious people who, by the majority of accounts, have played a largely positive role in keeping this union going.

Attentive readers will have noted that the first sentence of this post says the “politics” of the SP,  not the People.

Now there is a really deep dispute between the SP and “a small number of Socialist Party members” over the election for Assistant General Secretary.

Over the last week a number of posts have circulated on Facebook about this.

In fact the Scottish wing of the Socialist Party issued this statement in May:

Threat to unity of PCS left – Support Chris Baugh’s re-election as AGS

Given that the players in this row centre around  Mark Serwotka, one of the best known figures in the labour movement, this disagreement, which appears to herald a split in the SP, is of wider importance.

Now according to sources a new group, Socialist View, has been formed – a breakaway from the SP.

Socialist View’ (SV) has been launched by those in PCS who are supporting the candidature of Janice Godrich for assistant general secretary against Socialist Party member Chris Baugh who is the incumbent and has been in office since 2004. We believe that this is a further divisive step in splitting the left in PCS, following the announcement of Janice’s candidature at PCS conference in May, which for many delegates overshadowed the launch of the strike ballot on pay.

 

PCS: the real issues at stake

The dispute within the left of Britain’s largest civil service union raises key issues for the whole labour movement. Above all, the need for democratic, lay-member control of fighting trade unions. HANNAH SELL and ROB WILLIAMS explain the background to the current situation in the September issue of Socialism Today.

For a decade and a half the leadership of the civil servants’ union, PCS, has been dominated by the left. Both the senior elected officers and the majority of the NEC are members of Left Unity (LU), the broad left organisation in which the Socialist Party plays a leading role. But at this year’s PCS conference, Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, launched a campaign to support Janice Godrich, currently union president, for the position of assistant general secretary (AGS), in opposition to the incumbent, Socialist Party member Chris Baugh, who has held the position since 2004.

Of course, within a democratic left any individual, including those in key positions, has every right to stand for any position. Nonetheless, PCS activists were rightly concerned by this development. This was partly because such a divisive campaign was irresponsibly launched at the same time as the start of a major battle to try and win a ballot for national industrial action over pay. And because they understood that it could lead to a serious rupture on the left, which might weaken the union’s fighting capacity.

Of course, within a democratic left any individual, including those in key positions, has every right to stand for any position. Nonetheless, PCS activists were rightly concerned by this development. This was partly because such a divisive campaign was irresponsibly launched at the same time as the start of a major battle to try and win a ballot for national industrial action over pay. And because they understood that it could lead to a serious rupture on the left, which might weaken the union’s fighting capacity.

Mark Serwotka had previously approached the Socialist Party, giving us an ultimatum that, if we selected Chris Baugh as the Socialist Party’s nominee for the LU candidate for AGS, he would put forward another candidate, and that his preference was Janice Godrich, a fellow Socialist Party member.

It has since become apparent that Janice had already agreed to this proposal and was determined to press ahead, regardless of the outcome of discussions in our party. As is our tradition, the Socialist Party had a comradely and democratic internal discussion, with both sides listened to and given equal time to put their views. An overwhelming majority agreed that Chris should stand. Unfortunately, a small number of Socialist Party members, including Janice, disregarded the party’s decision.

Mark Serwotka initially attempted to argue that his opposition to Chris Baugh was personal. However, it is not credible to suggest that such a serious conflict could develop for purely, or even primarily, personal reasons. To date, Mark has refused to engage in a debate about his political criticisms of Chris, something he would correctly demand of any left standing against him for general secretary. We, however, conclude that potentially serious political and industrial differences lie behind these events, as will become clear as the debate over the LU AGS candidate unfolds.

This is a very long and serious article.

But the conclusion is clear enough.

Of course, there are numerous good left activists in PCS who are not members or supporters of the Socialist Party, many of whom support Chris for AGS. And, unfortunately, Janice Godrich agreed to be Mark Serwotka’s preferred candidate to replace Chris despite being a member of the Socialist Party. Nonetheless, being part of a Marxist party – with a programme for the transformation of the union movement, and of society – has aided Chris and others in standing firm under considerable pressure.

Not for nothing did MI5’s Subversion in Public Life organisation – for monitoring ‘extremists’ in the 1980s – consider us the “most threatening Trotskyist group in Britain” in the civil service. It said our “greatest strengths” were our clarity of ideas and “the dedication of its members” to fighting for the interests of the working class.

We call upon all rank-and-file PCS members not to go down the dangerous road represented by Janice Godrich’s candidature for AGS, and to support Chris Baugh and the Socialist Party’s well-tested methods of building open, democratic, fighting broad lefts as a lever to transform the trade union movement. This discussion has relevance not just for PCS members but for every trade unionist and worker.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 24, 2018 at 6:04 pm

Mick Hume – Spiked – Kate Hoey, Tory Munira Mirza, and Labour Leavers, to speak at September Rally For Brexit.

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New Sovereigntist Group in the UK Aims to Split Labour.

Had fun at the Levellers’ Festival with  Vanessa Beeley?

Had a laugh with Tariq Ali citing the authority of Norman Finkelstein at the Counterfire meeting on Tuesday night?

You may have to wait a bit but this meeting looks a treat.

It’s held by populist alliance of patriotic Labour, Tories, Labour-Tories, and the icky types of Spiked, to promote a body that  aims to Honour the Vote – Rally for Democracy

6 September 2018.

Based on the Chequers deal the referendum decision to leave the EU faces being overturned and Britain looks likely to leave in name only.

This represents the culmination of a “slow betrayal of Brexit” by the Government and a political elite, many of whom are merely pay lip service to leaving. In the process the largest democratic mandate for anything, ever, in the UK, risks being overturned.

This would be a monumental betrayal of democratic principles. In the circumstances we must defend democracy against these attempts to ignore it, dilute it or subvert it. Otherwise we are in danger of confirming the view that our votes count for nothing.

The meeting aims to rally democrats to defend democracy and uphold democratic principles.

We have five great speakers lined up:

Mick Hume – Author and Editor at Large – Spiked

“Former leading figure of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and editor of above.”

Kate Hoey – Labour MP for Vauxhall.

Her….

Munira Mirza – Former deputy mayor for education and culture at the GLA

Boris Johnson’s £80,000-a-year director of arts and culture, 30-year-old Munira Mirza Mail on Line 2008.

Brendan Chilton – Labour Leave.

Here is his background in Labour for Britain, which launched in June and says it picking up strong support from MPs, peers, councillors and activists, aims to “provide a space” for party members who support a “significant change” in the relationship with the EU.

But The Independent has found that it has strong links to Business for Britain, an organisation that is prepared to go further and argue in favour of a British exit from the EU. The Labour group also has ties to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which has variously argued for further benefits cuts, reducing pensions and eroding trade union rights.

A Labour source said: “This isn’t a forum for debate but a front for people who want to erode workers’ rights and raise taxes on families while cutting them for millionaires. I’m shocked Labour MPs would work hand-in-glove with those whose policies run counter to the beliefs of our party.”

Brendan Chilton, the director of Labour for Britain, said the website would shortly be registered to Mr Mills.

Independent 2015.

Gisela Stuart – Chair – Change Britain

In October 2004, she became the only Labour MP who openly supported the re-election of George W. Bush in that year’s U.S. presidential election, arguing “you know where you stand with George and, in today’s world, that’s much better than rudderless leaders who drift with the prevailing wind”.

She wrote that a victory for Democratic Party challenger, John Kerry, would prompt “victory celebrations among those who want to destroy liberal democracies. More terrorists and suicide bombers would step forward to become martyrs in their quest to destroy the West”. Wikipedia.

Stuart is a signatory of the Henry Jackson Society principles, which promote the spread of liberal democracy across the world and the maintenance of a strong military with global expeditionary reach.[14] She is the editor of the weekly political magazine The House.[15]

 

Chair: Tessa Mayes – Journalist, author and documentary film maker.

Pillar of Spiked.

Spiked has become the centre of British “sovereigntist” ideology – the fantasy that the key political aim of today is not to tackle inequality, class, sexual or ethnic, or capitalism, the marketisation of the state, poverty or injustice, but the fight to restore the rights of the ancient British Constitution and the delegated power of the People dwelling  in its antique land.

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Verso Publishes Norman Finkelstein’s diatribe that “Jews have too much power in Britain.”

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Finkelstein, “Jew have too Much Power in Britain” – to join Gerry Downing in Socialist Fight? 

The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)

Amongst Finkelstein’s pseudo-learning we hear that,

Jews have too much power in Britain. The three richest Brits are Jewish.[12] Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits.[13] Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful.[14] These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups.

Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish.

Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.”

The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power. The Israel-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute rhapsodizes that “The Jewish People today is at a historical zenith of wealth creation” and “has never been as powerful as now.”[18]

It is certainly legitimate to query the amplitude of this political power and whether it has been exaggerated,[19] but it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts.

He continues, froth speckling,

Were it not for the outsized power of British Jews, it’s hard to conceive that British society would be interminably chasing after a hobgoblin. True, although fighting anti-Semitism is the rallying cry, a broad array of powerful entrenched social forces, acting on not-so-hidden agendas of their own, have coalesced around this putative cause. It cannot be gainsaid, however, that Jewish organizations form the poisoned tip of this spear.

He (provisionally) concludes with that mind-reading ability that is the gift of those able to see beyond mere appearance,

..the truth is, Jewish elites do not for a moment believe that anti-Semitism is a burning issue. If they truly feared that it posed a clear and present danger now or in the foreseeable future, they wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops that Corbyn was a “fucking anti-Semite.” For, if the UK was awash with closet anti-Semites, then, logically, broadcasting this accusation would hand Corbyn free publicity as it would be dulcet tones to the ears of potential voters. Far from damaging him, its diffusion could only facilitate Corbyn’s victory and pave the way for a second Holocaust.

On the contrary, Jewish organizations know full well that vilifying Corbyn as an anti-Semite would drastically reduce his appeal, as anti-Semitism resonates only among assorted antediluvians, troglodytes, and fruitcakes. In other words, the irrefutable proof that Corbyn’s pursuers don’t believe a word they’re saying is that by labeling him an anti-Semite they hope and expect to isolate him.

However, as the accusation is manifestly a red herring, it’s also possible that the current hysteria will pass most people by entirely, not because they are unconcerned by anti-Semitism but because it hardly occurs to them as an issue at all. If the controversy has an effect it will be restricted to exacerbating divisions in the Labour leadership and perhaps also adding to a more general perception that the stories promoted by mainstream media are fake news.

Here is another aspect of Finkelstein’s politics that makes this Blog loathe him even more: he spat on the graves of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

“World renowned political science professor says he has ‘no sympathy’ for staff at Charlie Hebdo.”

 

New Left Review and Verso Stalwart Tariq Ali has had many friendly echanges with Finkelstein.

Perhaps he will invite him to the follow up to this event:

It would be remiss, surely, if Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan, pioneers in this matter, did not get an invite as well.

Why Marxists must address the Jewish Question concretely today

…the outcome of WWII, and then the rise of Israel, destroyed this worldview among the imperialist bourgeoisie. What took its place was an emerging understanding that the Jewish bourgeoisie was an important reserve for the survival of capitalism itself, particularly in its ability to see beyond narrow national horizons and look out for the interests of the bourgeois class on a broader basis.

As a distinct caste, this depends on the Zionist project for its internal coherence; without it this caste would disappear through assimilation into the separate imperialist bourgeoisies. The end of ethnocracy in Israel would spell the defeat of this extra resource of imperialism, which today’s Western ruling classes value highly indeed.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 22, 2018 at 11:50 am

Criticising the burqa means lining up with racists – says SWP.

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Defiant woman rips off her black burqa after ISIS were driven away. (Raqqa October. 2017)

The fall out from Boris Johnson’s comments on the Burka continues.

Nobody doubts that they have given the wink to the far-right and legitimised prejudiced diatribes against ‘Muslims’.

But there is also a pro-body veil reaction from some quarters.

Liberal people who (as a Facebook friend in the US remarks) are up in arms about the world imagined in The Handmaid’s Tale. But often the same individuals give weight to the idea that the religious obligations inflicted on women by this interpretation of Islam, are a choice to be celebrated.

There is talk – I thought it remained safely relegated to distant memories of courses on ‘theory’ – about the way it may free the female shape from the ‘male gaze’.

As if Islamic Law is about anything other than the behaviour of the believers in the sight of god enforced through violence if need be.

Not surprisingly the British SWP, with its long history of complicity with Islamism, has bent to this wind.

They are not trying to shout down criticisms of the burqa by linking them to the far-right.

Why criticising the burqa means lining up with racists

Boris Johnson’s attack on the burqa has left some liberals with a problem.

The article begins with this bold assertion:

“when supposed progressives criticise the burqa, it gives more credibility to the more overt Islamophobes.”

It then jumps to this statement,

Some liberals see the burqa as a reflection of sexist ideas.

They assume that women are pushed to cover themselves because female flesh has been deemed dirty or too exciting to men.

Of course there will be some Muslims who think this. But the idea is hardly Islamic—it’s deeply rooted in Western capitalist societies.

So that’s all right then.

Or not.

Think of rape trials where women are told they were “asking for it” because of what they wore. Or the Canadian cop who said that women should “avoid dressing like sluts” to escape sexual assault.

The SWP claims that

Many liberals, and right wingers, claim they want to “liberate” oppressed Muslim women who they assume have been forced to cover up.

Are they alone.

Apparently not:

We should oppose women being forced to wear coverings. And we should stand with the women in Iran who have defied the state and removed their hijabs in public, imprisoned as a result.

This is what the SWP said about these protests (4th of June):

Women are resisting the compulsory wearing of the headscarf—which is another very good thing happening at the same time.

Even women who want to wear it are saying it should be the right of women to choose.

As the left we have to support the women fighting back, and not leave the issue to the pro-imperialist right.

The problem is that the issue grabs attention in the West because it resonates with the Islamophobic representations of Iran.

The issue is being hijacked by Islamophobia by some in the media in the West.

End of story for the SWP until this week.

But its not Islam that’s at fault

But it isn’t true that Islam forces women to cover themselves. Like other religions, Islam suggests that men and women dress “modestly”. What this means is open to interpretation, which is why different Muslim women choose to wear different coverings, or none at all.

Women often say they choose to wear coverings to feel closer to Allah. It’s patronising to assume that every women who wears a hijab, niqab or burka has been told to do so by a man.

So they do it for Allah.

If religion is not a problem what is?

This also treats the main source of oppression facing Muslim women as Muslim men. In fact, the main oppressor of Muslim women is the state.

The state is of course the principal form of oppression for ‘women’: no doubt the ‘state’ has a special function in oppressing women……

Apart from wishing away decades of feminist debate about patriarchy, the family, and the old saying that the “personal is political’,

The confusion reaches its apex in confusing state legislation about the full body veil, ‘forcing’ women to give up the ” veils, headscarves or burqas  with the idea that criticising the burka is to “line up with racists”.

Socialists should defend a woman’s right to choose what she wears. That includes the right to wear a burqa—and the right not to wear one.

Forcing Muslim women to give up wearing veils, headscarves or burqas isn’t liberating, just as encouraging women to wear skimpy clothes isn’t. Instead it’s just another form of judging women on their appearance and dress, and taking control and choice away from them.

Is siding with the legislation, in say France, when it was backed by all the political parties at the time, the same as being on the same side as the ‘far right’?

Is ‘forcing’ people to not wear the oppressive full-body veil the same as “criticism”?

This argument gets nowhere.

Rather than point out that the SEP feels no compunction about lining up with the far-right over Brexit the issue at hand should be taken seriously.

This is a ‘liberal’ view  of a Muslim woman the SWP and others are trying to  shut up.

Boris Has Made it Almost Impossible for Muslims to Critique Veiling.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

In my view, scarves, cloaks and masks symbolise the negation of the female form, female inferiority and menace, and most troublingly, a wilful distancing from other humans in the public space.

One of Britain’s foremost scholars Ziauddin Sardar, has this to say on the controversial subject: “In a total perversion of Qur’anic advice, dressing modestly has been interpreted as dressing like a nun, covered from head to foot, showing only a woman’s face (in some circles only the eyes), wrists and feet.”

Females thus accept the burden of modesty while men do not, though both have this obligation. Millions of Muslim women do not submit to these pressures. One of them, a senior TV producer unloaded her frustrations in an email: “We came here to get away from these oppressive expectations. Britain offered hope, a place where you were protected by the law, could be educated, go out, be free. “You could make your own decisions, strive to be equal to men.

Now this freedom is crumbling away because of a few shouty, veiled women. Our voice remains unheard.”

She is right. Vast numbers of white Britons give us their support when most we need it. They did this week. We Muslims need to give a little too – abandon regressive customs and integrate for the greater good and our survival. With the hard right marching again across Europe, Muslims face an existential threat. This is no time for cultural and religious obstinacy.

These are her views (2015) in more depth:  As a Muslim woman, I see the veil as a rejection of progressive values.

They are much more materialist and historically rooted than airy abstractions about the ‘state’.

Muslim feminists of the past critiqued and repudiated the veil. One of them was a man, Qasim Amin, an Egyptian judge and philosopher, who in 1899 wrote The Liberation of Women.He was the John Stuart Mill of the Arab world. Huda Shaarawi set up the Egyptian women’s union in the early 1920s. One day in 1923, as she disembarked from a train in Cairo, she threw off her veil and claimed her right to be visible. Educated Iranian women started feminist magazines and campaigned against the veil around the same time. These pioneers have been written out of history or are dismissed as western stooges by some contemporary Muslim intellectuals.

After the transformative 60s, Muslim feminists resumed the fight for equality. European rule was over. It was time. The Moroccan academic Fatema Mernissi, Egypt’s Nawal El Saadawi and the Pakistani scholar Riffat Hassan all argued for female emancipation. They rightly saw the veil as a a tool and symbol of oppression and subservience. Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil ( 1975) is a classic text. So too El Saadawi’s The Hidden Face of Eve (1975). But more conservative Islamic tenets have taken over lands, communities, families, heads and hearts.

The promise of this version is a return to certainties and “purity” of belief, a mission backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Deobandi revivalists, funded by Arab money, now run more mosques in Britain than any other Muslim subgroup. Women are told not to travel without male relatives, not to work, to be subservient, to veil. This movement began as a reaction against the Indian raj and mutated into a fundamentalist creed. Today their pushback against “cultural imperialism” appeals to many alienated young Muslims. And, in part, it explains the growing popularity of the hijab, jilbab and full veil .

But in the Qur’an, the veil is mostly used metaphorically to describe barriers between good and bad, believers and nonbelievers. In two verses, women are told to lower their gaze, and to cover their private parts and bosoms. Men are also instructed to lower their gaze, and to dress modestly. One verse commands the women in the prophet’s family to fully veil, partly to protect them from enemies and supplicants.

Sahar Amer, associate professor at the University of North Carolina, has studied these sacred injunctions: “[Nowhere] is the hijab used to describe, let alone prescribe, the necessity for Muslim women to wear a headscarf or any other pieces of clothing often seen covering women in Islamic countries today. Even after reading those passages dealing with the female dress code, one continues to wonder what exactly the hijab is: is it a simple scarf? A purdah? A chador? Or something else? Which parts of the body exactly is it supposed to cover? Just the hair? The hair and neck? The arms? Hands? Feet? Face? Eyes?”

 

All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times

 

Veils, in truth, predate Islam. Zoroastrian and Byzantine upper-class ladies wore them to keep aloof from the hoi polloi. When Islam’s armies first reached Persia, they were shocked at this snobbery; then they adopted the custom they loathed; the control of women was hard-wired into their psyches.

All religions cast women as sinners and temptresses. Conservative Islam has revived the slander for our times. Women have to be sequestered or contained lest they raise male lust and cause public disorder. Some young Muslim women argue that veils liberate them from a modern culture that objectifies and sexualises females. That argument is appealing; but if credible, why would so many hijabis dress in tight jeans and clinging tops, and why would so many Muslim women flock to have liposuction or breast enhancements?

It is complicated: veils for me represent both religious arrogance and subjugation; they both desexualise and fervidly sexualise. Women are primarily seen as sexual creatures whose hair and bodies incite desire and disorder in the public space. The claim that veils protect women from lasciviousness and disrespect carries an element of self-deception. I have been at graduation ceremonies where shrouded female students have refused to shake the hand of the chancellor. Veiled women have provoked confrontations over their right to wear veils, in courts, at schools and in colleges and workplaces. But I regard their victories as a rejection of social compromise.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 21, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Chris Williamson MP Praises Assad Apologist.

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The “Rebel” tent at The Levellers festival: Who on earth would want to attend this event?

Or this:

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Or this?

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Well now we know:

Not surprisingly Williamson has already got some stiff replies:

Vanessa Beeley — the Syrian conflict’s goddess of propaganda

Brian Whitaker. 

One spin-off from the Syrian conflict has been a war of words that reaches far beyond the Middle East. It’s a battle in which honest reporting and the search for truth have come under sustained attack.

Those leading the attack claim they are simply asking questions that need to be asked. It’s healthy scepticism, they say. But it’s a selective kind of scepticism where reports from some sources, primarily mainstream media in the west, are dismissed as untrue — not because evidence shows they are wrong but because they don’t fit the desired narrative.

At the same time, reports that do fit the narrative win praise on social media, regardless of supporting evidence, and people who venture to question them are liable to be assailed with abuse.

A prominent example is the work of Vanessa Beeley, a supporter of the Assad regime whose reports from Syria have turned her into a social media celebrity. The Russian propaganda channel, RT, describes her as “an independent investigative journalist” and, in addition to her Russian TV appearances, she is associate editor of 21st Century Wire, the conspiracy theory website that publishes most of her work.


Beeley (fourth from right) with President Assad in 2016. She described it as her proudest moment.
 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Moroccan feminist activist, Ibtissam Lachgar, arrested for Public Drinking and Disturbing Order.

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Solidarity with Ibtissam Lachgar!

ABAT, Morocco (AP) — A prominent Moroccan feminist activist has been arrested for alleged public drinking and disturbance of order, in what her association called an attempt to quash its campaigning for abortion access and LGBT rights.

An online campaign was launched soon after Ibtissam Lachgar’s arrest Friday in Rabat, demanding her release.

Lachgar’s group Alternative Movement for Individual Freedoms, or MALI, said in a statement that “we strongly condemn these arbitrary arrests and intimidation of members of the movement.”

Hours earlier, MALI criticized the Health Ministry in a press release for banning sales of a drug used to induce abortion. The group also created an online platform to provide women with abortion pills.

Women who intentionally attempt or undergo abortion in Morocco face up to two years in prison and a $50 fine.

AP News.

Mouvement Alternatif pour les Libertés Individuelles – Maroc

(from Face Book)

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Betty Ibtissame Lachgar was assaulted in town, and unjustly detained at the police station while she wanted to file a complaint against her attackers ” with knives ‘: change of police stations, interrogations, degrading situation in the jails…

According to Betty’s family and friends, she’s supposed to be out in the morning to get past the da.

If Betty was to be a victim of violence, human rights violations or humiliation during her detention, the Moroccan state will be held in full responsibility by Mali, such violence will be prosecuted.

My house was smiling to thank you for being assaulted in the ancient city of Rabat, and was unjustly detained at the police station while she wanted to file a complaint against her attackers “with knives”: changing police stations, interrogations and humiliating situation at the theoretical guard.

According to Betty’s family and friends, you’re supposed to come out tomorrow morning to go to the d.a.

If Betty is a victim of violence, human rights violations or humiliation during her detention, the Moroccan state will be fully responsible by ” Mali and this violence will be pursued legally.

She has now been released.

There is a ‘debate’ about the MALI  including allegations that they have been “provocative”.

That is, they have organised a campaign about the dramatic position of Moroccan women who wish to have an abortion and have to resort to clandestine methods. The movement is also charged with “muscular” activism having held a picnic in the month of Ramadan, a  ‘kiss in’ to support two adolescents charged with embracing in public, backing gay rights and supporting Femen.

Ibtissam Lachgar alleges that before her arrest she and a friend were threatened by a group of young men for their “libertarian” lifestyle and, in the process of complaining to the local police, she was again menaced and insulted before finding out, later, that charges against her had been made. (Here)

Huffington Post reports on this:

Written by Andrew Coates

August 19, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Farage Begins Hard Brexit Campaign with ‘Leave Means Leave’: The Real Fight over the European Union has Begun.

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Will This Bunch of Charmers Join Leave Means Leave’s ‘Battle for Britain’?

The far-right Daily Express says,

7.30am update: Battle for Britain campaign launched by Brexiteers

Leave Means Leave campaigners Richard Tice and John Longworth have spoken out in the strongest terms of the betrayal looming over Brexit talks.

They said: “Public anger is palpable. Among those most keen to support a new campaign are traditional Tory donors disillusioned by the handling of Brexit.

“A number are so angry about what is going on that they have told us they will stop donating to the Conservative Party unless there is a major change in approach.

“Should the party leadership stick doggedly to the flawed Chequers proposal, it should be prepared to haemorrhage funds.”

Mr Tice and Mr Longworth said they set up Leave Means Leave as a six-month project in the belief the Government could be trusted to do the job they had been instructed to do by the British people.

They told the Daily Telegraph: “People knew what they were voting for. They dismissed the ridiculous scaremongering of Project Fear and voted in the largest numbers ever to leave the EU.

“None of us imagined that, two years on, we would have to refight the battle. We never dreamt that we would have to attack some desperate ‘Chequers’ proposal from the Prime Minister, which led to the resignation of two of the most influential Brexit-supporting Cabinet ministers.

“None of us feared being let down by other Cabinet Brexiteers, who we thought we could trust. Today, they are trying to sell thin gruel to Brexit voters as if it were some sort of delicacy. It is a con, and must be exposed as such.”

The Arron Banks launched Westmonster brays:

Nigel Farage has announced that he’ll be hitting the road and campaigning across the country, hitting out at Project Fear and saying: “Our complacent MPs need to understand just how strongly people feel about being lied to while their wishes are blatantly ignored.”

Writing in The Telegraph, Nigel makes clear that he “will go back on the road to campaign once again” for the pro-Brexit group Leave Means Leave.

“Over the last few months, and particularly since the Chequers betrayal, scores of people have stopped me in the street to ask: ‘When are you coming back?’

“Well now you have your answer: I’m back.”

They post their ‘line’:

Support Westmonster

We stand with Nigel for a clean Brexit. Westmonster will always fight for Britain’s independence, but we need your help. If you support what we do, please donate so that we can go on countering the mainstream media’s Project Fear. Thank you!

The Independent reports,

Nigel Farage has announced he will once again begin actively campaigning in British politics against Theresa May’s “fraudulent” plans for Brexit.

The ex-Ukip leader said it was necessary as a result of the “deceit and treachery” of politicians and senior figures in British society in their approach to EU withdrawal.

In particular he singled out an exclusive report in The Independent on warnings from the British Medical Association that a no-deal Brexit would be a “catastrophe” for the NHS.

It comes as The Independent also drives forward with its Final Say campaign for a new referendum on the outcome of Brexit – with more than 650,000 people now having signed its petition.

Pressure is intensifying on the government ahead of Brexit day in March next year, with Theresa May’s own MPs even drawing up alternative proposals to the prime minister’s, and meagre public support for her approach.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Farage claimed people had stopped him in the street to ask when he was returning, adding in his article: “Well, now you have your answer. I’m back.”  

He said: “It is now beyond doubt that the political class in Westminster and many of their media allies do not accept the EU referendum result.

“It is equally clear to me that, unless challenged, these anti-democrats will succeed in frustrating the result.

“Well, I’ve had enough of their lies, deceit and treachery. The time has come to teach them a lesson – one that they will never forget.”

He said he had decided to commit himself to the Leave Means Leave campaign, which is set for a relaunch, following discussions with its founders, businessmen Richard Tice and John Longworth.

In his piece, Mr Farage wrote: “To make matters worse we are subject to a daily stream of negative to beat us into submission.

“The latest example was the British Medical Association suggesting that a no-deal Brexit would lead to huge numbers of people dying.

“This baseless claim proves project fear is thriving. We need leadership.”

Mr Farage was referring to an article in The Independent in which the BMA said a failure to secure a deal could increase the risk of a Europe-wide pandemic.

The doctors union warned in a new briefing paper that the UK’s ability to coordinate responses to emerging threats, such as the current outbreak of measles or seasonal flu, will be seriously undermined, making it harder to stop infections spreading across borders.

Left campaigners against Brexit are attempting to get the issue onto the Autumn Labour  Conference agenda

In a counter move forces hostile to socialist internationalism are also organising inside the Labour movement.

 

Counterfire, which occupies leading positions in the Stop the War Coalitioon and the People’s Assembly, are hostile to the pro-EU motion.

In the run-up to the Labour Party conference in the period 23-26 September, all of this is a major threat to Corbyn. If the right succeed and change the party’s existing antisemitism code, and water down the party’s commitment to a People’s Brexit, this will sap away at the energies and hopes of left activists and voters, and breed wider discontent and distrust with the political system.

The consequences would be disastrous. The victory of the right in Labour would only do the Conservatives a favour by pushing Brexit voters in their direction, and it would embolden the real antisemites and the far right, the likes of Tommy Robinson, who feed on disillusion with the system.

Defend Jeremy Corbyn: time to fight back – Counterfire statement

Faced with the invisibility of a ‘People’s Brexit’ it is perhaps a sign of desperation to try to link the issue of the EU  to the Labour dispute about anti-semitism and to claim that to ‘defend’ Corbyn is to be against the call for a new People’s Vote.

There is no such confusion for the majority of the left.

UKIP and its former Leader Farage, are racist cheerleaders of the Carnival of Reaction, including the pro-Brexit Tommy Robinson crew,  that has followed Brexit.

Farage’s ‘Battle Bus’ and ‘Battle for Britain’ will no doubt receive the response they deserve.

Tragedy of Yazidi Woman Who Met Islamic State Gaoler in Germany.

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Yazidi woman encounters ‘Islamic State’ captor in Germany

The past she was attempting to flee came back to haunt a young Yazidi woman in a small town in Germany. Her former IS tormentor confronted her on the street and “told me he knew everything about me.”

A 19-year-old Yazidi woman has fled Germany with her family after encountering the “Islamic State” (IS) fighter who had enslaved her in Mosul on the streets of Schwäbisch Gmünd, a town in Baden-Württemberg.

Ashwaq Haji Hamid arrived in the southwestern state with her family in 2015 through a programme aimed at assisting Yazidi women who had been subjected to violence by IS.

In 2014, IS committed what the UN concluded was a genocide of Yazidis in northern Iraq. The militant group also abducted scores of women and children, including Hamid, who were sold into slavery.

But while attempting to leave her past behind, she was confronted by her tormenter, who had kept her as a slave for 10 weeks.

“I ran away from Iraq so I would not see that ugly face and forget anything that reminds me of it, but I was shocked to see him in Germany,” Ashwaq Haji Hamid told InfoMigrants, a news site about migration run by DW, France Medias Monde and Italy’s ANSA agency.

“The first time was in 2016,” she said. “He was chasing me. He was the same person, but the second time, he came close to me and told me he knew everything about me.”

Deutsche Welle.

This tragic case raises the issue of how to prosecute Islamic state genociders.

Some of the members of the modern Einsatzgruppen who went and fought for Daesh have been found, some executed,  and others face prosecution.

Prosecuting the Islamic State Fighters Left Behind.

Jenna Consigli

 

In Syria, the SDF operates amid a civil war and depends on U.S. aid to maintain operations. It is reportedly holding 593 fighters from more than 45 countries, including Egypt, France, Germany, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.

For local IS fighters, the Kurdish enclave also holds no official legal authority complicating their ability to prosecute Syrian and Iraqi fighters. Still, the SDF set up counterterrorism courts, which have focused on reconciliation and prohibit the death penalty. In some cases, the SDF negotiated with local tribal leaders to have fighters released to face tribal tribunals. Though, the Kurds face an uncertain operating environment and overstretched prisons. Lack of adequate security has already allowed a number of ISIS fighters to escape.

In Iraq, out of the approximately 19,000 individuals detained for ISIS-related terrorism charges since 2014, some 1,350 are foreigners. Foreigners and citizens face quick trials, differing standards of evidence and harsh penalties. Iraq’s 2005 counterterrorism lawpermits judges to sentence anyone holding membership in a terrorist organization—regardless of their role—to death. As of March, more than 3,000 individuals had received the death penalty and many others faced life in prison for their involvement in the group. The Iraqi government now needs to delicately balance sectarian tensions. Building trust between citizens residing in formerly ISIS held territory and the Baghdad-led government remains its biggest challenge to permanently rooting out the Islamic State.

Western governments shifting responsibility to local forces to prosecute or indefinitely detain their citizens are unlikely to prevent these individuals from falling through judicial loopholes to reengage in jihadist activity. Especially for those detained in Syria, uncertainty about the country’s future and U.S. engagement creates potential for foreign fighters, like John Doe, to be released if they are not sent home. Such releases are likely to further destabilize an already volatile region.

Foreign fighters are known to exploit weak political and security environments to advance their jihadist agendas. If released, these fighters are likely to find another conflict zone to advance their violent ideology, disrupt communities and conduct attacks. Foreign fighters well versed in governance and combat will continue to pose a global threat, whether or not their citizenship is revoked. And if countries do not take responsibility for their citizens, the alternative—fighters further destabilizing other countries and taking advantage of civil unrest—feeds the cycle of terrorism.

Recall that those responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent strikes across Europe fought in foreign conflicts and formed global jihadist networks. While counterterrorism efforts have improved since 9/11, ISIS attacks across Europe, especially those in France in 2015, demonstrate that foreign fighters, and their networks, still pose a threat.

The U.S. and its allies need to choose a path for those who become Islamic State fighters. History has shown that leaving foreign fighters on the battlefield can have serious repercussions.

Daesh poses  the same kind of problem that came after the Second World War, of tracking down and prosecuting war criminals and those who took part in genocide.

This present case illustrates the difficulties faced: Two British ‘Beatles’ Islamic State Fighters Captured In Syria. They were part of the same group as ‘Jihadi John’.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 17, 2018 at 4:27 pm

SWP and others call for relaunch of the Anti Nazi League (ANL).

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Image result for antinazi elague

Is the Past Another Country?

In Socialist Worker this week,

Labour’s John McDonnell’s recent call for a movement “emulating the work of Anti Nazi League” was incredibly important. Paul Holborow, who co-founded the organisation, looks at its history and its legacy.

How the Anti Nazi League beat back the fascists

We learnt from the revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who argued for the need to build a united front against fascism.

Today, Stand Up To Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism are active and provide focuses for opposition to the far right.

The founding members of the ANL are all supporters of these organisations, which stand in its tradition.

But with the scale of the challenge we now face, we need to broaden and deepen those three organisations.

Anything that John McDonnell can do to assist us in this process of extending unity is hugely welcome.

We need to get together and create a genuine mass movement that takes on one of most serious challenges of fascism since the 1930s.

In the Guardian today,

All of us who are committed to a tolerant, multiracial and multicultural society face a growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK, encouraged by Donald Trump and his close associate Steve Bannon and now boosted by the release from jail of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson.

The storming of the socialist bookshop Bookmarks (Report, 6 August) and the disturbingly large mobilisations on the streets of London, Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere underline the scale of the threat.

Boris Johnson’s recent remarks are a calculated bid to appeal to the same audience and can only give them further confidence.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s recent call for an Anti-Nazi League-type cultural and political campaign is therefore very welcome and timely. We need a broader-based, imaginative and vibrant campaign that unequivocally opposes all forms of racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

As founder members over 40 years ago of the original Anti-Nazi League (ANL) and its sister organisation Rock Against Racism, we think that Stand up to Racism, Love Music Hate Racism and Unite Against Fascism have been established firmly within this tradition, and indeed these organisations have already provided essential and much-needed rallying points of opposition to the rising far right.

This is a process that, as John argues, now urgently needs to be deepened and extended, uniting all people and organisations of goodwill against the huge challenges we face over the next few years from the far right and fascists.

This will involve applying the ANL’s tactics of mass propaganda, unrelenting opposition to the racists and fascists wherever they organise, and the cultural appeal that ANL/RAR pioneered, with large-scale music and similar events asserting the values of our multiracial and diverse society.

We believe this needs to done with the utmost speed. Tommy Robinson and his international backers are likely to be preparing further national and international events in the autumn, seeking to build support and influence. Developments in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy highlight how urgent this is. Echoes of the 1930s are all too real.

Whatever our other political differences, we believe the time to come together against the poison of racism and fascism is now.

Peter Hain House of Lords; founder member, Anti-Nazi League 
Paul Holborow Founder member and national secretary, Anti-Nazi League 
Red Saunders Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Roger Huddle Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Jerry Dammers Musician, The Specials, 2 Tone, Rock Against Racism 
Carol Grimes Musican, Rock Against Racism 
Tom Robinson Musician, Rock against Racism 
Mykaell Riley Musician, Bass Culture, Steel Pulse, Rock Against Racism

Divisively  there is no mention of the effect that Brexit has had in encouraging the “growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK.”

This is despite the fact that the movement behind Tommy Robinson and the “storming” of Bookmarks were created and led by groups and individuals linked to UKIP and the Brexit Right, not to mention that Bannon and Trump’s backing for Brexit is a pillar of their politics.

There is nothing about  Hope not Hate in the list of organisations to learn from.

It is equally hard to see that unity on anti-semitism is easy to achieve.

Counterfire, a faction which left the SWP and which plays an important role in such bodies as the Stop the War Coalition and the People’s Assembly, is at present engaged in a campaign to “defend Jeremy Corbyn” against charges of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Whatever the merits of this initiative they, supporters of a non-existent ‘People’s Brexit’, link it to this claim:

The right will also increasingly seek to couple this campaign around antisemitism with pressure to modify the party’s stance on Brexit in favour of keeping Britain in the Single Market or even calling for a second referendum on Brexit. In this, the right has the support of the British establishment and much of the media.

Corbyn is right – the left needs to fight back against the slander of antisemitism

There are other, substantial, reasons why unity with the SWP looks unlikely.

Background to Stand up to Racism, (October. 2016)

Stand Up To Racism: Stand Up To Rape Culture

We, the undersigned, want all planned speakers and delegates to withdraw their attendance from Stand Up to Racism’s conference on 8 October. We ask because the speakers will share the bill with Weyman Bennett, Stand Up To Racism’s co-convenor and a central committee member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

This must include refusing to lend any support to the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) either directly, or indirectly through its front organisations including “Unite Against Fascism”“Unite the Resistance”“Stand up to UKIP” and “Stand Up To Racism”.

We call on people to do this because the SWP’s well documented failing of two women members who accused the then central committee member of the SWP, known as “Comrade Delta”, of rape and sexually assault. The complainants were asked classic victim-blaming questions about their behaviour and drinking habits. Some members of the SWP leadership denounced the complaints as motivated by a “dangerous feminism”. SWP members who in 2012-2013 challenged the central committee’s kangaroo courts were expelled from the party – many more left in disgust.

This is not about bad individuals. The SWP as a whole is an acute example of collective disregard for sexual violence. Their culture and leadership continues to put its own internal interests above tackling rape and supporting complainants within its ranks. Sexual assault and harassment are not unique to the SWP, or to left-wing organisations, but the SWP’s unwillingness to address its failings show it should not to be worked with.

The racialised violence that has followed the Brexit vote demands a strong anti-racist movement; this movement must be principled and intersectional. This means recognising what Kimberlé Crenshaw and other Black Feminists have shown, that sexism and racism do not operate in silos rather oppressions often overlap and intersect. We cannot build an anti-racist movement organised by rape apologists and anti-feminists. We must end the bankrupt politics of the past, not rehabilitate some of the worst proponents.

It is vital for women and non-binary people – particularly people of colour who wish to resist the racism they experience – to be able to organise politically without groups that facilitate or cover up sexual assault. The SWP and the campaigns they lead are demonstrably not capable of offering this.

AFem Conference organising committee
Bis Of Colour
Black Lives Matter UK 
Brighton Solidarity Federation
East End Sisters Uncut
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth
London Campaign Against Police & State Violence
Nottingham Solidarity Federation
Southall Black Sisters
Southwark Notes
The Free University of Sheffield

Amendment:

After sending our letter to those billed to speak at the conference, at least one high profile speaker dropped out. We were also assured by a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s media team that Corbyn had agreed not to attend. However, on 8th October it was widely documented that Jeremy Corbyn went to the conference. We suspect that we were deliberately misled to stop us from going public with our concerns about Corbyn’s association with the SWP.

Some signatories have publicly defended Corbyn’s politics in the past. However we are all agreed that any platform for the SWP is counter-productive for grassroots community and labour organising. This is because of its leadership’s abuse and gaslighting towards women inside and outside the organisation. Stand Up To Racism cannot be an effective anti-racist movement if it actively condones misogyny by having rape apologists in its leadership and paid staff.

The Guardian reported in 2016.

Weyman Bennett, one of two co-conveners of Stand Up to Racism, with whom Corbyn shared a platform at Saturday’s event, is a longstanding member of the SWP, and a recent entry on the SWP’s website listed details of SUTR planning meetings and called on members to attend the rally.

“Comrades in every local Stand Up to Racism group should be fighting down to the wire to build the biggest possible event,” it says. Many mainstream political figures also serve on the SUTR steering committee, including Abbott, its president, and Labour MP Kate Osamor, one of five vice-chairs.

Corbyn is also set to face questions over his attendance at the rally and its links to the SWP from his own MPs on Monday night, according to a report in LabourList. Several speakers, including the Guardian columnist Owen Jones, pulled out of the event after learning of activists’ concerns about the link to the SWP.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

Samir Amin (1931 – 2018) – from the Critique of Capitalist Development to the Rejection of Political Islam.

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Image result for samir amin

Samir Amin, (1931 – 2018).

Tribute to Professor Samir Amin

This Sunday, August 12, 2018 we learned, with great sorrow and sadness, of the passing the eminent development economist Professor Samir Amin on the eve of his 87th birthday. An illustrious thinker, the late Samir Amin leaves behind a wealth of economic thought on developing economies that he has inspired since the early sixties by his many publications and thought-provoking conferences.

As its Director for 10 years (1970 – 1980), IDEP is particularly touched by the passing of one of its pioneer-directors who made an indelible mark in the history of IDEP through his accomplishments in training and research in the domains of development planning and economy management in Africa. His astute leadership enabled the institute to gain and strengthen its identity in the delivery of capacity development and research programs that were strongly tailored to fight against underdevelopment.

With Samir Amin, IDEP gained momentum and is proud to be continuing on with this momentum, almost forty years later, in delivering on its mandate of building the capacity of African countries to effectively plan for their development and efficiently manage their economies.

In this sad moment, we offer our condolences to his family and to the African continent, to which he has always devoted himself with remarkable zeal and dynamism.

United Nations Economic Commission on Africa.

In French (Amin was Franco-Egyptian):

Mort de l’économiste Samir Amin, figure de l’altermondialisme

Par LIBERATION, avec AFP — 

“UN BAOBAB EST TOMBÉ” : SAMIR AMIN, LE THÉORICIEN DU DÉVELOPPEMENT INÉGAL, EST MORT  l’Humanité.

Samir Amin, l’économiste du Sud, est mort Le Monde.

“Le Franco-Egyptien s’est illustré par son analyse critique du système économique mondial et par son engagement en faveur des pays du Tiers-Monde.”

Like many I first came across Amin through the debate on capitalism and underdevelopment.  My introduction was  ‘Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism‘ (1976 ). This was one of many books in which he developed the idea that, “how accumulation in advanced capitalist countries prevents development, however that may be defined, within the peripheral social formations, usually referred to as “underdeveloped” countries. Samir Amin ranks among those who realize the necessity not merely to comprehend the growing crisis of world capitalism, as it manifests itself within individual nation states, but also at the world level.”

A lucid and memorable tribute is given in Red Pepper,

Nick Dearden looks at the theories of one of Africa’s greatest radical thinkers

Samir Amin (1931-2018) was one of the world’s greatest radical thinkers – a ‘creative Marxist’ who went from Communist activism in Nasser’s Egypt, to advising African socialist leaders like Julius Nyerere to being a leading figure in the World Social Forum.

Samir Amin’s ideas were formed in the heady ferment of 1950s and ’60s, when pan-Africanists like Kwamah Nkrumah ran Ghana and Juliuys Nyrere Tanzania, when General Nasser was transforming the Middle East from Amin’s native Egypt and liberation movements thrived from South Africa to Algeria.

Africa looked very different before the International Monetary Fund destroyed what progress had been made towards emancipation and LiveAid created a popular conception of a continent of famine and fecklessness. Yet through these times, Amin’s ideas have continued to shine out, denouncing the inhumanity of contemporary capitalism and empire, but also harshly critiquing movements from political Islam to Eurocentric Marxism and its marginalisation of the truly dispossessed.

Global power

Amin believed that the world capitalism – a rule of oligopolies based in the rich world – maintains its rule through five monopolies – control of technology, access to natural resources, finance, global media, and the means of mass destruction. Only by overturning these monopolies can real progress be made.

This raises particular challenges for those of us who are activists in the North because any change we promote must challenge the privileges of the North vis-à-vis the South. Our internationalism cannot be expressed through a type of humanitarian approach to the global South – that countries in the South need our ‘help to develop’. For Amin, any form of international work must be based on an explicitly anti-imperialist perspective. Anything else will fail to challenge structure of power – those monopolies which really keep the powerful powerful.

Along with colleagues like Andre Gunder Frank, Amin see the world divided into the ‘centre’ and the ‘peripheries’. The role of peripheries, those countries we call the global South, is to supply the centres – specifically the ‘Triad’ of North America, Western Europe and Japan – with the means of developing without being able to develop themselves. Most obviously, the exploitation of Africa’s minerals on terms of trade starkly favourable to the centre will never allow African liberation, only continual exploitation.

This flies in the face of so much ‘development thinking’, which would have you believe that Africa’s problems come from not being properly integrated into the global economy which has grown up over the last 40 years. Amin believes in fact Africa’s problem stem from it being too integrated but in ‘the wrong way’.

In fact, as long as the monopolies of control are intact, countries of the centre have had few problems globalising production since the 1970s. Sweatshop labour now takes place across the periphery but it hasn’t challenged the power of those in the North because of their control of finance, natural resources, the military and so on. In fact, it has enhanced their power by reducing wages and destroying a manufacturing sector that had become a power base for unionised workers.

So there is no point whatever in asking countries of the centre to concede better trading relationships to the peripheries. Amin is also concerned at environmental activism which too often becomes a debate about how countries of the centre manage their control of the world’s resources, rather than challenging that control. It is vital that Northern activists challenge the means through which the ruling class in their own society exerts control over the rest of the world.

Amin’s views on political Islam brought him to the attention of many secularists, including this Blogger.

Political Islam in the Service of Imperialism 2007.  Monthly Review.

On an initial reading he offered a rigorous critique of Islamism.

All the currents that claim adherence to political Islam proclaim the “specificity of Islam.” According to them, Islam knows nothing of the separation between politics and religion, something supposedly distinctive of Christianity. It would accomplish nothing to remind them, as I have done, that their remarks reproduce, almost word for word, what European reactionaries at the beginning of the nineteenth century (such as Bonald and de Maistre) said to condemn the rupture that the Enlightenment and the French Revolution had produced in the history of the Christian West!

On the basis of this position, every current of political Islam chooses to conduct its struggle on the terrain of culture—but “culture” reduced in actual fact to the conventional affirmation of belonging to a particular religion. In reality, the militants of political Islam are not truly interested in discussing the dogmas that form religion. The ritual assertion of membership in the community is their exclusive preoccupation. Such a vision of the reality of the modern world is not only distressing because of the immense emptiness of thought that it conceals, but it also justifies imperialism’s strategy of substituting a so-called conflict of cultures for the one between imperialist centers and dominated peripheries.

The exclusive emphasis on culture allows political Islam to eliminate from every sphere of life the real social confrontations between the popular classes and the globalized capitalist system that oppresses and exploits them. The militants of political Islam have no real presence in the areas where actual social conflicts take place and their leaders repeat incessantly that such conflicts are unimportant. Islamists are only present in these areas to open schools and health clinics. But these are nothing but works of charity and means for indoctrination. They are not means of support for the struggles of the popular classes against the system responsible for their poverty.

On the terrain of the real social issues, political Islam aligns itself with the camp of dependent capitalism and dominant imperialism.

It is the latter assertion, which straightforwardly answers  the false assertion that Islamism contains a kind of sublimated ‘anti-imperialism’ which is attractive. This was clearly sensed by his critics who tried to claim that the reactionary nature of political Islam was hidden behind a “welfare” vision of society. While in many ways this seems strange perspective today in the light of the rule of Daesh,  Turkey may make the case for a synthesis between authoritarian populism and Islamist welfarism.

There were and are equally clear difficulties in claiming that  Islamism was in some unexplained manner not “really”anti-imperialist. Yet various forms of actually existing Islamism were engaged in armed combat with….imperialism well before they began murdering civilians outside of their own lands.

In the debate in Monthly Review that followed Amin was criticised in Analyzing Political Islam. A Critique of Traditional Historical Materialist Analytic by  2009

The point is that if the left is ever to become serious in challenging militant/political Islam, it has to move past and dump its heavy baggage of Eurocentrism and the careless analysis of political Islam. The current wave of militant Islam is a force to reckon with, and dismissing it as reactionary—true as it may be—is unhelpful. Yes, militant Islam has an extremely narrow ideological view of Islam, and an exceedingly oppressive vision of societal change, especially concerning the treatment of women.

This vision is not shared by the vast majority of Muslims in Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and even India. That being said, this dominant obscurantist current of political Islam in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan is also locked in military/guerilla combat with U.S. imperial power and client states in the region.

But here’s the rub, militant Islam is also supported by people in these respective regions not, as mentioned earlier, because they support its vision of a Muslim “welfare state” rather, the support is because the United States is seen as ruthless, anti-Islam imperial occupier. Alongside, people in these states are also very tired of the tactics of Islamists, especially as they terrorize and target unarmed and uninvolved people. Overwhelming numbers in Muslim-majority states would like the Islamists to disappear, just as they would also wish the same for U.S. imperial presence and the client regimes that rule over them. If this complexity could be grasped, it may enable people on the left as well Western political leaders and the media to desist from homogenizing the makeup of entire Muslim-majority societies as reactionary or obscurantist.

Similarly, the popular anti-imperialist sentiment in Muslim majority states should not be confused with the actions of militant Islamists, which are not anti-imperialist. Militant Islam is conceived and imagined in the present, current context. It is, therefore, a “modern” manifestation that posits its own version of the Islamic “welfare state” for the current conjuncture to rival the Western capitalist state and Enlightenment notions of modernity. Understanding militant Islam in its current context will only enable the development of a coherent strategy of opposition and an alternative non-Eurocentric vision of society.

Comments on Tariq Amin-Khan’s text

Amin defended this analysis, focusing on how different forms of political Islam could be simultaneously ‘modern’, that is a part of a globalised world, and backward-looking, with their textual and ritual evocations of utopias.

Political Islam is a modern phenomenon. Tariq does not see that this was my thesis. All of the ideological, political and social movements of the “modern” world (i.e., of actually existing capitalism, which is both globalized and polarizing, thus imperialist by nature) are modern, because they are inseparable from capitalism. Bourgeois democratic liberalism, whether conservative or reformist, socialisms (social democracy, historical communisms), fascisms, ethnocentrisms (or para-ethnic movements), the nationalisms of the imperialist powers, the nationalisms through which dominated peoples express their resistance, movements of “religious renaissance” in all their forms, be it liberation theology, apparently “fundamentalist” revivals, both Christian and others, and new sects, all these movements are “modern”.

But it is not sufficient to understand them simply as modern. Even more, it is necessary to choose between them and identify those which move society forwards and, on the basis of a critique of capitalist modernity, participate in inventing socialist modernity.

As for the ‘welfarist’ aspect of political Islam,

the fact that the movements inspired by such formulations have recruited their rank and file from the most disadvantaged classes does not change the reactionary utopian character of these formulations. I include political Islam (even political Islams, in the plural), but also political Hinduism, political Buddhism, North American Christian fundamentalism, new sects and others, in this large family of illusions, apparently attached to the past (but in fact modern) and able to mobilize the “poor” in certain circumstances. Their success, like at the present moment, is the result of the failure of the relevant (socialist) lefts to oppose capital’s offensive, which has seized the historic opportunity provided by the erosion and then collapse of the progressive forces that had formed the world after the Second World War.

Amin was nevertheless primarily interested in the geopolitical game.

Describing the Middle East he stated in his original article on Political Islam that,

The region of the Greater Middle East is today central in the conflict between the imperialist leader and the peoples of the entire world. To defeat the Washington establishment’s project is the condition for providing the possibility of success for advances in any region of the world. Failing that, all these advances will remain vulnerable in the extreme. That does not mean that the importance of struggles carried out in other regions of the world, in Europe or Latin America or elsewhere, should be underestimated. It means only that they should be part of a comprehensive perspective that contributes to defeating Washington in the region that it has chosen for its first criminal strike of this century.

This view, which puts the conflict between ‘imperialism’ and the rest of the world, became more trenchant as the years went by.

During the Arab Spring he out the two, secularism and anti-imperialism, together and declared,

The ongoing U.S. project of military control over the planet by its armed forces, supported by their NATO lieutenants, the erosion of democracy in the imperialist core countries, and the medievalistical rejection of democracy within Southern countries in revolt (taking the form of “fundamentalist” semi-religious delusions disseminated by political Islam, political Hinduism, political Buddhism) all work together toward that dreadful outcome. At the current time the struggle for secularist democratization is crucial for the perspective of popular emancipation, crucial for opposition to the perspective of generalized barbarism.

2011: An Arab Springtime?

But imperialism came to play its role.

Counterpunch summarised his opinions in 2017.

A main pillar of Amin’s thought is that far from battling political Islam, the NATO and US have enabled such regional movements as a divide and conquer approach to maintaining power. This critique upends the dominant narrative of Uncle Sam’s war on terror as a noble pursuit.

According to Amin, since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the lone superpower has been spurring a “permanent civil war between Shiites and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds.

What does all this mean?

Amin writes: “US armies have protected those who subsequently had to take the direction of the Daesh (or ISIL), the Caliph himself!”

In Russia and the Long Transition from Capitalism to Socialism, Amin presents a thought-provoking interpretation of Russian history in the global system. It involves geography and history and of course human agency.

He considers the Czarist Empire and the colonial empires, quite different. Further, Amin considers Lenin and Stalin and the Ukrainian crisis, the latter of which constitutes no small threat to widening armed conflict.

Russia remains a pivotal nation on the world stage, in spite of its capitalist restoration. Its importance as a counterbalance to the imperialism of the Triad (US, Europe and Japan) is Amin’s special focus, and for good reason.

For many  the belief that US was involved in the rise of Daesh seems an unproven and tied to conspiratorial claims about the  ‘sponsorship’ of the Islamic state made by supporters, amongst others, of the Assad regime.

Amin also made claims about the “le coup d’état euro-nazi de Kiev ” and, giving a name to the US involvement, stated that the Hillary Clinton had founded ISIS, “A ce propos la presse aux Etats Unis a reconnu que l’accusation portée par D. Trump à savoir que Hilary avait activement soutenu la mise en place de Daesh – était fondée.” (Samir Amin; l’élection de Donald Trump (25 / 11 / 2016) (1)

Amin, it might be said, failed to keep up with developments inside  Islamism. He ignored the self-driven ideological causes and nature of the Deash genocidal and totalitarian regime. There is a disregard for the weight of doctrine. There is no serious analysis of its relation to earlier forms of political Islam and the ideologies of radical Salifist currents that were drawn to jihad. There is nothing on the buds of tyrannical  “micro-powers” of Islamism dispersed across the world including within the ‘West’ and the way in which these can become ‘proto-states’ in trying to create a racist misogynist Caliphate.

In short, neither the ‘global jihad’ nor the blood-drenched reality of Islamist rule in Iraq and Syria, the Taliban and Boko Haram, the jihadis of the Maghreb and Mali,  and the Somalian killers, can be explained only in terms of geopolitical rivalries, or, as a regression to a pre-Enlightenment ‘utopia’ in modern political and technological armed dress.

Louis Proyect reflects on some of these issues here:  Samir Amin, dependency theory, and the multipolar world

Amin’s defence of a “multi-polar world” was nevertheless a positive vision of the future.

Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multipolar World

A genuinely multipolar world will become a reality only when the following four conditions have been satisfied.

  •  Real advances towards a different, ‘social’ Europe, and hence a Europe that has begun to disengage from its imperialist past and present and to embark on the long transition to world socialism. Evidently this implies more than a mere exit from Atlanticism and extreme neoliberalism.
  • The prevalence of ‘market socialism’ in China over the strong tendencies to an illusory construction of ‘national capitalism’, which would be impossible to stabilize because it would exclude the majority of workers and peasants.
  •  Success of the countries of the South (peoples and states) in rebuilding a ‘common front’. This is also essential to provide the leeway for popular classes to impose ‘concessions’ in their favour and to transform existing systems of rule, replacing the dominant comprador blocs with new ‘national, popular and democratic’ blocs.
  •  Advances at the level of national and international legal systems, harmonizing respect for national sovereignty (including moves from state to popular sovereignty) with respect for all individual and collective, political and social rights.

Amin opposed the Muslim Brotherhood root and branch, “We should not just look at the Muslim Brotherhood as a political Islamist power but as a backward movement that rejects workers movements and social justice, preferring to talk about charity as a form to ensure their control over the people,” he once said, according to al-Ahram.” The New Arab.

Dearden puts Amin’s contribution best in these paragraphs,

Perhaps Amin’s central thesis is somewhat obvious, but it’s often forgotten – that a true revolution must be based on those who are being dispossessed and impoverished. But he goes further in undermining the assumption that any thinking emerging from the South will lack enlightenment, or that a lack of enlightenment should be excused.

He believes the Enlightenment was humanity’s first step towards democracy, liberating us from the idea that God created our activity. He has caused controversy in his utter rejection of political Islam. This ideology, embedded for example in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, obscures the real nature of society, including by playing into the idea that the world consists of different cultural groups which conflict with each other, an idea which helps the centre control the peripheries.

 

 

***********

(1) Again, opinion is perfectly manipulated on the subject. Jihadism is only the inevitable product of the triad’s continued support of reactionary political Islam inspired and financed by Gulf wahabism. The exercise of this so-called Islamic power is the best guarantee of the total destruction of the ability of societies in the region to resist the dictates of liberal globalization. At the same time, it offers the best pretext for giving the appearance of legitimacy to NATO’s interventions. In this regard the press in the United States acknowledged that Donald Trump’s accusation – that Hillary had actively supported the establishment of Daesh – was well founded.” Samir Amin Blog.

Brexit, Racism and the Far Right: what some new anti-Fascists ignore.

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Image result for bookmarks shop britain great peoples charter

Hard-Line Brexit Right.

“The fight against racism is indivisible – which is why the left has always made it central to its politics.”

Lindsey German.  of the Left pro Brexit group Counterfire. August the 13th.

Brexiteer Arron Banks wants to mobilise Leave supporters to join the Tory Party and vote Boris Johnson as leader reports the Tendance’s favoutie daily print paper, the ‘I’.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon says Johnson has potential to be a ‘great prime minister’

Brexit-backing businessman Arron Banks is planning an attempt to ensure that Boris Johnson becomes prime minister by flooding the Conservative Party membership with his anti-EU supporters. The former Ukip donor, who gave £9m to the Leave.eu campaign in the 2016 referendum, has proposed a digital advertising campaign to encourage backers of his Brexiteer movement to join Tory ranks and back Mr Johnson in a future leadership election.

..

Trump adviser In the immediate aftermath of Mr Trump’s election victory, Mr Banks travelled to meet the president-elect along with close political ally and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s former political strategist and architect of his White House victory, yesterday reiterated his support for Mr Johnson, saying he has the potential to be “a great prime minister”. Mr Bannon, who is attempting to sway Mr Johnson towards supporting his plans for a populist anti-EU movement, insisted that Mr Johnson had “nothing to apologise” for over his remarks on the wearing of the burka. The US right-winger told the Sunday Times: “Boris just needs to be Boris – true to his nature and his calling – and I think he has potential to be a great prime minister, not a good one.”

In her account today of the Johnson’s Burka scandal Germain discusses racist coverage of Muslims, Islamophobia, and Boris. She defends women’s right to choose their oppression with the Burka. (Boris Robinson and Tommy Johnson: two sides of the same racist coin – weekly briefing)

For a second one’s attention is caught by this curious sentence, “Islamophobia in the 21st century targets women heavily, reproducing all sorts of issues to do with fear of sexuality, or of independent women. “

But disappointingly the role of the Burka and Niqab in promoting sexual independence is not developed.

After rushing around to mention media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, she then ends with the one phrase which makes some political sense in the whole overladen adjective-strewn, rant against “toxic” “scapegoating”,

There is a deliberate process here where fascists and the far right hitch themselves to mainstream politicians, and use them to further spread their doctrine of hate and division.

Now how did we come to a political scene in which these highly funded, media, Net obsessed alt-right can have an impact?

Why is there a cross-over between the far right and ‘mainstream politicians’?

How is that when the SWP bookshop, Bookmarks, was assaulted recently members of the vehicle of this cross-over UKIP, were involved (Ukip suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack) ?

Why is Boris the favourite of these forces?

The answer is the Carnival of Reaction that fed into and broke out after Brexit.

This was and is itself based on racism and xenophobia, the motor of that form of alt-right-driven populism which focuses on defending national sovereignty against the foreign EU and migrants.

While some on the left keep imagining that a People’s Brexit will be magicked out of economic and political thin air this continues to develop.

As observers have stated:

UN: Racism has risen since Brexit vote 11.5.2018.

The UK’s Brexit referendum has caused a growth in the acceptability of racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, the UN special rapporteur on racism said Friday.

After finishing a two-week fact-finding mission in the UK and Northern Ireland, Tendayi Achiume said in a statement that she found a “growth in volume and acceptability of xenophobic discourses on migration, and on foreign nationals including refugees in social and print media.”

Racial and religious-based intolerance was also noticeable in political discourse on both the left and right to the point that it has gained ground in mainstream political parties, she said.

DW

Perhaps one reason why Germain does not want to talk about this is because a part of the pro-Brexit left was heavily implicated in the process that has led to present conditions.

Paul Embery, National Organiser, Trade Unionists Against the EU. (a body given publicity and support by the Morning Star, the Socialist Party, and parts of the trade union left)  expressed (the  Sun 4th of May 2018)  the view that the left should be against uncontrolled migration permitted by EU rules on freedom of movement.

He went further than talking about competition over jobs and social resources, or employers’ use of (un-unionised) migrant labour to threaten wages and conditions.

Migration has created a cultural threat:

“The demographic convulsions meant stable, settled Barking and Dagenham found itself in the eye of the storm of the debate over mass immigration. The indigenous population cried out for respite. The letters page of the local paper was filled with correspondents begging to be heard. But nobody in power took a blind bit of notice, other than to patronise them with trite arguments about improved GDP and cultural enrichment.”

Our working class is not racist — they’ve just been shafted by the liberal elite

Embery’s defence of what he calls the “indigenous population” and their “their sense of order” ““faith, family and flag” against the “liberal elite”.

If this sounds like a call for something like the politics of Arron Banks (who donated £54,000 and gave other help to the Trade Unionists Against the EU) that is because beyond being the right-wing of Blue Labour it teeters on the fringe of the hard right.

There are wider issues about the relationship between Brexit and racism and the far right.

One way to look at them is through this emerging coalition of mainstream Tories and the far-right.

But it’s still important to look into the background.

In the lengthy article below Chris Gilligan, author of Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism argues that the pro-Brexit left has ignored or tried to explain away the role of racialism in the Brexit vote.

It is not necessary to agree with the author’s support for Marxist-Humanist ideas on non-state social liberation (they took no official position for Leave or for Remain) to see that,

“If the Lexiteers are aiming to lead the working class, then they are invoking the working class to advance some other  project—such as promoting parliamentary sovereignty, justifying immigration controls, promoting social cohesion or building the Party. They are not immersing themselves in, and learning from, the struggle for human freedom.”

Left Brexiteers Evade the Charge of Condoning Racism

‘It was a popular revolt, not an anti-immigrant vote’: Left Brexiteers evade the charge of condoning racism

by Chris Gilligan, author of Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism

The majority vote to leave the European Union (EU) has been celebrated by many on the Left (Lexiteers) as a revolt by the ‘left-behind’ working-class. The same vote has been condemned as enabling substantial racism and anti-immigrant sentiments. This article critically examines various Left attempts to defend the ‘Leave’ vote against the accusation of racism. According to these defences, a vote to leave the EU was in the interests of the working class, or of human liberation more broadly. The article highlights some contradictions between the goal of human emancipation and the defence of the Leave vote against the accusation of racism.

The article is divided into four main parts. The first part points to the ample evidence that anti-immigrant sentiment was a significant factor in the Leave campaign and vote. (This part also provides a substantiation of the assertion, in the MHI document Resisting Trumpist Reaction (and Left Accommodation), that: ‘In the UK, the surge of support for Brexit last year, which secured the victory of the “Leave” forces, was driven largely by anti-immigration backlash’ (p. 49).) The second part outlines a number of different attempts to evade the ‘it-was-racism-that-won-it’ argument. The third part provides a critique of Goodhart’s defence of Brexit voters from the accusation of racism. The fourth part does the same for Bickerton and Tuck. The article concludes by noting the importance of challenging racism as part of the broader struggle for human emancipation.

Amongst the many important  sections this is particularly telling:

Studies conducted after the referendum confirm that immigration control was a crucial issue. A poll conducted on the day of the vote, for example, found that a third of Leave voters who were polled (33%) said that the main reason for their vote was that leaving ‘offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.’ An analysis of data from the British Election Study survey of referendum voters concluded that the data suggested ‘that the decision taken by the Leave campaigns to focus heavily on the immigration issue … helped to drive public support for leaving the EU while also complicating the ability of Remain campaigners to “cut through” and galvanise support for continuing EU membership’. A study of the British Social Attitudes survey used the data to test two popular explanations for the Brexit vote: firstly, that it reflected ‘the concerns of more “authoritarian”, socially conservative voters about the social consequences of EU membership—and especially about immigration’; and secondly, ‘that the vote was occasioned by general public disenchantment with politics’ (a version of the ‘revolt against the elite explanation’). The study found that the survey data provided more evidence to support the first explanation than it did to support the public-disenchantment one.

Until people like Germain recognise this link between Brexit, racism,  and the growth – still very far from a mass movement – of the far-right in Britain, it is unlikely that those outside their limited circles will take their calls for anti-fascist and anti-racist unity seriously.

 

 

 

Brexit Support Shifts to Remain as Labour Activists Call for new Referendum.

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Opinion Shifting Against Brexit.

Major new analysis shows most constituencies now have majority who want to Remain

The analysis, one of the most comprehensive assessments of Brexit sentiment since the referendum, suggests the shift has been driven by doubts among Labour voters who backed Leave.

As a result, the trend is starkest in the north of England and Wales – Labour heartlands in which Brexit sentiment appears to be changing. The development will heap further pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to soften the party’s opposition to reconsidering Britain’s EU departure.

Researchers at the Focaldata consumer analytics company compiled the breakdown by modelling two YouGov polls of more than 15,000 people in total, conducted before and after Theresa May published her proposed Brexit deal on 6 July.

Corbyn hopes to avert call for public vote on Brexit at conference

Guardian 9th of August.

Labour members seeking second referendum could inflict damaging defeat.

Labour has been considering how to head off a concerted attempt by remain-supporting members to stage a vote at its annual conference calling for a second referendum, to avoid what would be an embarrassing defeat for Jeremy Corbyn on the party’s Brexit policy.

About 130 constituency Labour parties (CLPs) were understood to have expressed willingness to back a motion in favour of a second vote, drafted by the pro-Corbyn campaign group Labour for People’s Vote.

To avoid a damaging defeat, one option is to invite delegates to support a Brexit policy statement that would refer to holding a second referendum, but only in exceptional circumstances.

It could be similar to a watered-down resolution that was supported at Unite’s policy conference in July, which was offered by the union leadership to defuse a similar situation.

Major new polling of 10,000 people suggested Labour voters backed a second referendum by 63%, with just 8% opposed, in one of the largest surveys of public opinion since the referendum to leave the European Union.

Motion: (I have submitted this, for my CLP All Members’ Meeting).

Oppose Tory Brexit and win a radical Labour government.

This CLP supports the earliest possible election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The current government is putting Tory Party dogma first, not jobs first – and they have no mandate for their agenda.

We note and support Labour’s six tests for Brexit, which aims to ensure that the post-Brexit settlement preserves the benefits we currently get from collaboration with Europe, defends our rights and protections, and delivers for all parts of the UK. It is increasingly clear that the Tories’ Brexit deal will fail these tests.

We believe that only Labour can lead the British people into a progressive and economically sound relationship with Europe.The Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland, and the future of the NHS and public services. Tory Brexit will wreck the British economy, will commit us to a series of long-term trade deals which will enforce American-style deregulation, and will undermine the rights, freedoms and protections currently enshrined in EU law. All of this will bind the hands of a future Labour government, and will make it far harder for us to deliver on our promises.

We therefore urge Labour to oppose the Tories’ destructive Brexit and unite the country behind a radical vision for the future. In government, Labour could rally left-wing parties across the continent, and create a Europe for the many, not the few.

The social problems that caused the Brexit vote – inequality, declining public services, falling pay, a lack of quality affordable housing, and so on – will be made worse, not better, by Tory Brexit and the continued austerity that would result. The problem is the policies of the political establishment, not immigrants, and the solution is a radical social and economic programme.

We must make the election of a radical Labour government our first priority.

We note that given the Fixed Term Parliament Act, the most likely route to a general election before 2022 is the collapse of the government’s Brexit agenda. This motion supports all available avenues to bring down the government: voting down the EU exit deal in Parliament, calling for a snap election, and a popular vote on the deal.

We note and support the 2016 Conference commitment to a public vote on the Exit Deal so the people have the final decision on whether to accept the government’s deal or to stay in the EU.

We call on the Labour Party to:

1. Oppose any Brexit deal that does not satisfy Labour’s 6 tests.

2. Call for an immediate general election, and make a manifesto commitment to call a public vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU if the public rejects it.

3. If we cannot get a general election, to campaign for a public vote on the deal with an option to remain in the EU; and following a defeat for the government, to call for an immediate general election.

4. To place radical social and economic policies at the heart of our programme of government – taxing the rich and big business to pay for better public services, rapidly expanding common ownership, abolishing anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.

Delegates from this CLP to Labour Party conference should vote in line with this policy.

While the old sovereigntist left and those claiming to back a non-existent “People’s Brexit’ are running out of steam, the anti-Brexit left is organising!

Labour set for policy shift as left and Labour grassroots turns against Brexit

Labour looks set for a strengthening of its Brexit position, as an unprecedented number of constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) look to submit motions in favour of a People’s Vote. The countdown to the conference begins in earnest on August 8th with the motion submission now open.

Labour for a People’s Vote, which launched in June with the support of key left wing figures within the party, has put forward its motion in well over a hundred constituencies across every region and nation of the UK.

Because of the Labour Party’s rules, CLPs only have a small window between August 8th and September 13th in which to pass conference motions. Nine CLPs have already agreed to submit the Labour for a People’s Vote conference motion before submissions even opened, with around 130 set to consider it prior to the deadline. Delegates at Labour conference will first decide whether to debate Brexit as a policy area, and then decide whether to support the motion.

The movement in CLPs follows a series of large town hall meetings held across the country last month. The ‘Left Against Brexit’ tour, run by Another Europe is Possible, has drawn hundreds of local activists to meetings in Manchester, London, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham with speakers including Ann Pettifor, Catherine West, Manuel Cortes, Zoe Williams, Billy Hayes and Marina Prentoulis. It will continue in late August and September with events in Glasgow, Leeds, York, Sheffield, Cambridge, Northampton, Newcastle, Norwich, Cardiff, Cornwall, Plymouth and Oxford.

The conference motion argues that “the Brexit deal being pursued by Theresa May is a threat to jobs, freedom of movement, peace in Northern Ireland and the future of the NHS.” It continues: “Tory Brexit will mean a future of dodgy trade deals and American-style deregulation, and undermine our rights and freedoms. This binds the hands of future Labour governments, making it much harder for us to deliver on our promises.”

If passed, it would commit Labour to voting down Theresa May’s deal in October, and then calling for a general election, with a commitment in its manifesto to holding a People’s Vote. If a general election could not be achieved, Labour would campaign for a People’s Vote as a means of bringing down the Tory government.  The motion also argues for “taxing the rich to fund better public services, expanding common ownership, abolishing the anti-union laws and engaging in massive public investment.”

The push for motions at Labour conference comes alongside a major shift inside Momentum, the grassroots group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.  A petition, started by Tower Hamlets Momentum activists Alena Ivanova, has ostensibly now obtained the 4000 signatures it requires to trigger a vote of Momentum members on backing a strategy to stop Tory Brexit.

BREXIT BROMIDE

While a Brexit bonus is a lie Peter Kenyon checks out progress and sees opportunity at this year’s Labour Annual Conference.

Feeding the groundswell of discontent with the Tories – and it must be the Conservative Party as a whole that is targeted – should be the leitmotif of Parliamentary Labour Party activity until a Brexit deal is delivered, whether dead or alive. Voters need reminding repeatedly – there is no Tory Brexit bonus – it was a lie. There are no alternative trade deals under the Tories – it was a lie. National sovereignty will be surrendered with a Tory Brexit, and so on.

This will not be achievable in current circumstances. Too many of Labour ‘s elected representatives in Parliament are Brexit bromide dependents. For Labour’s electoral ratings to enjoy another major uptick, Labour MPs in so-called Leave constituencies need to be working over the summer wising their voters up to the realities of the Tory mess – surrendering our right to have a say, continuing to pay into the Brussels budget, accepting European Court of Justice rulings. We should be relaunching that old rallying cry from across the pond – no taxation without representation – to justify the Remain option, when the time is right.

Constituency Labour Parties have an opportunity to table so-called contemporary resolutions to Party conference.

Chartist editor Mike Davis has tabled one for his local party:

Labour & Brexit –

Conference notes:

*British households are £900 worse off following the vote to leave the EU;

*the economy is now 2% smaller than forecast before the referendum;

*a rise in racist attacks and abuse since the referendum;

*an almost 20% devaluation of the Pound in relation to the Dollar and Euro;

*a relocation of many businesses to European states;

*the threat to the peace process and Good Friday Agreement with the introduction of a hard border in Ireland;

*the HMRC estimate of a cost of over £20b to leaving the EU in addition to the £39b settlement:

*Trump’s election and declaration of a protectionist trade war:

This BLP/Conference further believes the Tories will either exit with no deal or manage a bad deal that will not protect jobs or workplace rights or safeguards for environmental and human rights including full citizenship rights for EU citizens in Britain.

This branch/BLP/Conference resolves to:

Call on the party in parliament to reject any deal which fails to sustain these current rights and conditions.

Support the proposal to negotiate for as long as it takes to secure these terms, through a transition period for continued membership of a Customs Union and single market.

Campaign in a general election for the option of retaining membership of a reformed EU.

To work with our European partners for:

– an end to EU austerity policies with

– a European recovery programme for jobs, rights, benefits and economic security that the British

and other European peoples deserve, after ten years of austerity, worsened employment, reduced pay and welfare deprivation.

The affiliated trade unions also have rights to table such resolutions. In the face of mounting evidence of the job losses in the UK arising from Brexit uncertainties, it would seem negligent in the extreme if they did not link staying in the EU Customs Union and possibly the Single Market to Labour’s ambitious and necessary anti-austerity programme for jobs and investment. What is certain is they will not seek to embarrass Labour’s leadership. Nor should rank and file members, but that is an idle wish. As long as Labour has dropped any pretense of negotiating a ‘Better Brexit’ or delivering a Brexit bonus, an open debate at Conference can only help seal the idea in the electorate’s mind that ‘Brexit means a Tory mess’.

The Left Against Brexit.

Time is running out. Theresa May’s Brexit deal will go to the vote in parliament in autumn.

The closer we get, the clearer it becomes that Tory Brexit is an attempt to deregulate our economy, sign our future over to dodgy trade deals and allow bosses to cash in. It is all-out attack on the rights, freedoms and prosperity of working class people and the communities that the left is supposed to represent. And it is built on an agenda of racist scapegoating.

We have been quiet for too long. The fight back starts now.

This summer, join us for a nationwide tour — with inspiring speakers, and an in depth discussion about how we can stop Brexit

Written by Andrew Coates

August 12, 2018 at 10:58 am

As ISIS Massacre in Sweida Druze call for “international force” protection as charges of Assad and Russian complicity surface.

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Druze Women Kidnapped by Daesh.

“She thinks reports of the demise of Isis are exaggerated and dangerous. “Every politician wants to be the one to prove he has made real headway against this group. Granted, 97% of the territory it held is now gone. But 3% is still around 1,000 square miles. That’s not a small amount of land. And its caliphate was never just Iraq and Syria. It was this global project. It is growing in Niger, it’s growing in Nigeria, it’s growing in Afghanistan, in Libya. It’s like seeds that have gone to the wind.”

Rukmini Callimachi: the podcasting terror expert getting into the minds of Isis.

Yazidis in Afrin forced to convert to Islam

5th of August. ANF News (Kurdish News Agency)

Occupation forces are forcing the Yazidi people in Basufane village of Afrin to send their children to mosque. Those refusing to do so are subjected to torture.

According to the sources, Yazidi citizens A.S. ve F. S. were tortured by the gangs because they refused to obey this imposition.

According to sources from Kaxira village of Mabata district, Furqat al-Hamzat gangs under the command of Abu Amsha have turned the village school into a center where religious lessons are lectured.

The house of villager Henan Ebdo stated has been turned into a mosque where children are given religious lessons. Another resident’s house has been burned down by the gangs.

Two months ago, the gangs tore down the Afrin Yazidi Union building, detonated the Zarathustra statue and burned the books about the Yazidi faith kept in the building.

After a New Massacre, Charges That ISIS Is Operating With Assad and the Russians

Daily Beast.   

The slaughter in the Druze region of Syria cost hundreds of lives last month. It happened after the Druze told the Russians they wouldn’t fight for Assad.

July 25 in the Syrian province of Sweida a massacre began in the early morning. Ten jihadists from the so-called Islamic State entered Sweida town. They wore the traditional baggy trousers and loose-fitting overgarments of Druze men, but beneath the clothes they had hidden explosive vests. Three detonated in the main vegetable market, then one of them accompanied the many injured to the hospital and set off his explosive charge there. The other six suicide bombers were overcome before they could detonate, according to senior officials in the Druze community.

At the same time, hundreds of ISIS fighters entered three nearby villages, moving house-by-house slitting throats and shooting to death men, women and children. Some reported that the killers left a witness from each family alive to tell their hideous story. In all, 273 Druze were killed and 220 injured, Druze officials told us.

They strongly suspect that the attack by ISIS was carried out in cooperation with the Russian-backed Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and this is corroborated to some extent by ISIS prisoners we have interviewed who are being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces here in northern Syria.  The Druse politicians and officials came here to try to forge an alliance with like-minded Kurds for mutual self-protection, which is when they told us the details of the massacre.

The horror of the Sweida massacre in an area most considered safe—and in these last moments when ISIS rule in Syria appears to be all but over—was magnified when the Druze learned that some of their women and children had been taken captive by ISIS cadres. “Most of the Daesh attackers were killed,” a Druze official told us. “The only escapees were those who were kidnapped in the first village: 29 women, teenagers and babies.”

One 19-year-old student already has been beheaded by ISIS, which also quickly posted pictures of their Druze female captives and demanded that the Syrian regime stop attacking them and exchange ISIS prisoners held by the regime for these women and children.

In addition to the sensational pictures of the helpless women holding their hands above their heads in the desert, ISIS sent a video of one of their Druze captives, 35-year-old A Shalguinz, who delivered her baby in the desert.

“Daesh said they will make them sabaya [slaves] if the regime doesn’t’ give 100 prisoners to them and the regime refused,” one of our interlocutors told us.

The article, by respected reporters of the horrors of the Syrian events gives details of why the Druze suspect Syrian state complicity.

“We think there is complicity between Daesh and the regime,” another of the Druze leaders said. “It’s so obvious to us. The regime refused to send ambulances to assist the population. They cut the electricity as well and the local telephone service to make it difficult to communicate. They couldn’t cut the mobiles.”

One of the 10 captured ISIS attackers admits on an interrogation video shared by the Druze leaders that in the village massacres a man from the Syrian government guided them from house to house, knocking on the doors and calling the inhabitants by name so they would unwittingly open their doors to the ISIS attackers.

This is the heartfelt conclusion,

The leaders of Druze mountain tell us that they are now also appealing to the international community to be protected by an international force, as the Kurdish area is protected by the Americans, and to assist them to bring back the kidnapped women to their families.

“To safeguard our community and to protect the diversity in the future of Syria, we need to create a crescent against aggressors,” said one of the politicians. Running from north to south, including parts of Iraq, it would protect the Kurds, the Yazidis, Christians, and Druze. “The minorities are looking to the Coalition as the only credible force in the area,” he said, adding, “The crescent strategically speaking would also cut the Iranians from access to the regime.”

The world must decide whether or not to respond, but the record thus far does not hold out much hope.

Background:

Lebanon’s Druze leader attacks Syrian government over massacre

Reuters 27th of July.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The main leader of the Druze sect in Lebanon on Friday attacked the Syrian government for failing to stop an Islamic State massacre of Druze in Syria, saying it should have noticed the militants gathering to attack.

No one can tell me that the squadrons of many American, Russian and foreign planes did not see this gathering which suddenly took the regime by surprise and raided Jebel al-Arab,” said Walid Jumblatt.

Islamic State’s assault on the city of Sweida and nearby villages in the Jebel al-Arab area on Thursday killed more than 200 people, many of them civilians.

Syrian state media said the army had intervened and battled the militants with both ground forces and air strikes.

Jumblatt, who heads the largest Druze political party in Lebanon, is a strong critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Other Druze parties are pro-Damascus.

The Kurdish led YPG issued this statement,

People’s Defense Units (YPG) Press Office released a statement condemning the ISIS attack in Suwayda city of Syria.

The statement by YPG Press Office reads as follows;

On July 25, more than 250 people were killed and hundreds more got injured due to IS attack on the Druze people in the city of Suwayda. During the attacks, hundreds of other people, mostly women, were kidnapped by IS. The attack carried out through suicide bombings and the following random shootings, caused us great sorrow.

The attack reveals once again the true face of IS and shows clearly that this terrorist group must be destroyed as soon as possible. IS terrorist organization continues its existence as a threat to the Syrian and all Middle Eastern peoples. As People’s Defense Units we will continue to intensify our efforts to struggle against the IS. As YPG-YPJ defense forces, we will continue our struggle in every place where the IS terrorism is present. We once again emphasize our determination to fulfill our responsibility concerning protection of all the peoples of Syria, including the Druze people, and we declare that we are ready to protect them everywhere where it will be necessary. This attack is as burdensome and painful as an attack on Kobanê and Cizir for us.

We give our condolences and respect to the Druze people, to those who lost their lives in this massacre.”

There is an entire Wikipedia pages in English, and in French on these massacres:  2018 As-Suwayda attacks.  Attaques de Soueïda.

The lack of an international response led the French weekly Marianne to write with indignation:

SILENCE, DAECH MASSACRE LES DRUZES

Written by Andrew Coates

August 11, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Ben Gummer, ex-Ipswich MP, Cosies up to Russian Oligarch and dodgy US “management consultants’ McKinsey.

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Image result for ben gummer sells kebabs

Gummer’s now got a nice little earner touting for Kremlin Oligarch and Dodgy US ‘Management Consultants’.

Ben Gummer and the ‘Kremlin-friendly tycoon’.

Friday 10th of August. SOLOMON HUGHES.

Morning Star,

Ben Gummer was a Tory Cabinet minister from 2010-17. Before the election he was considered part of Theresa May’s “inner circle.”
Gummer was “May’s eyes and ears, more trusted than many others around her Cabinet table,” according to one report.

He helped to write the manifesto for the 2017 election, which turned out to be a disaster, as loads of Tory MPs lost their seats — including Gummer himself.

So now he needs a new job. According to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, he’s got two.

First, Gummer has become a “fellow of practice” at the Blavatnik School of Government. He’s there to advise on “teaching and research on government reform” — because the Blavatnik school thinks the disastrous “reforms” his government ran between 2010 and 2017 are worth learning from.

The Blavatnik School of Government is an Oxford school founded by London-based Russian oligarch Sir Len Blavatnik. (1) His firm, Access Industries, have given the Tories £94,000. Blavatnik gave $1 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration committee, which organised the celebrations for Trump’s election. And he’s given £75m to Oxford to found this school.

But he built his fortune in the rough landscape of post-Soviet Russia, when oligarchs became billionaires by grabbing newly privatised state industries in a commercial “wild west,” where political connections helped to build fortunes.

The way his Russian wealth grew in the Putin years and his ongoing Russian business interests led the Financial Times to call him a “Kremlin-friendly tycoon.”

So his school hiring a former minister is likely to make the Tories even more oligarch-friendly.

Indeed, there is already government-Blavatnik school traffic. The Blavatnik School of Government does free work for the Cabinet Office, helping to train top civil servants through the Civil Service Leadership Academy.

A minister for a really bad government lecturing on how to do “good government” in an oligarch’s college is just one part of the picture.

Gummer also has a nine-month job as a senior adviser to McKinsey, the giant US firm of management consultants. McKinsey is all over the government, offering overcomplicated “solutions” to public services it doesn’t understand, usually by some spurious market methods. (1)

Any government that was “small-C” conservative would run a mile from McKinsey. But it got millions of pounds from both New Labour and Tory Andrew Lansley’s market-led “reforms” of the NHS.

McKinsey is hiring Gummer to advise on “government transformation projects.” Again all the Tory “government transformation projects” that happened in Gummer’s time — Lansley reforms, the probation privatisation, universal credit, rail franchising, academy schools — have been awful.

*******

Background: 

Should Oxford and the V&A take millions from Ukrainian-born billionaire Len Blavatnik?   Guardian September 2017.

Fallout from resignation of Oxford professor at school bearing tycoon Blavatnik’s name latest in which business background has been raised

The Ukraine-born billionaire gave £75m to Oxford to set up the Blavatnik school of government, one of the largest donations in the history of the university. But last week Bo Rothstein resigned as a professor of government and public policy at the institution after it emerged that Blavatnik had donated $1m (£773,000) to Donald Trump’s inauguration committee.

A spokesperson for Blavatnik said his gift was for the committee that has been responsible for organising US presidential inaugurations since 1901 and that he had never donated to Trump. But Rothstein, a specialist on corruption, called the donation “incomprehensible and irresponsible” in his resignation letter.

Blavatnik, a UK and US citizen, was knighted for his philanthropy this year. His links to Vladimir Putin’s Russia and controversy in his business background mean criticism has often followed his donations, especially when it involves institutions naming buildings after him.

Oxford is not the only institution that has accepted money from Blavatnik and in return put his name on something. Tate Modern named its new extension after him because he made a donation the gallery described as “unprecedented”. The V&A museum is to call its new entrance hall after him too.

Oxford had already been criticised for accepting Blavatnik’s money before the letter from Rothstein. Two years ago, a collection of critics issued an open letter about his donation to the university, urging it to “stop selling its reputation and prestige to Putin’s associates”.

The signatories included Pavel Litvinov, one of the eight 1968 Red Square protesters, and Vladimir Bukovsky, a Russian dissident who exposed the Kremlin’s use of psychiatric treatment on political prisoners.

The letter urged Oxford to look into Blavatnik’s role in a clash between the British oil firm BP and its partners in a Russian venture.

Blavatnik, who turned 60 in June, was one of a group of oligarchs in the AAR consortium which partnered BP to create TNK-BP, one of the largest oil companies in Russia. Blavatnik was a director of TNK-BP.

*********

(1)  Blavatnik is a supporter of the US Republican Party, and in 2015-2016 donated a total of $7.35 million to six Republican political candidates, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Arizona Senator John McCain.[30] In February 2016, Blavatnik donated over $1 million to an anti-Donald Trump GOP group.[31] He also donated $1 million to the committee for the inauguration of Donald Trump.[30] In August 2017, political scientist Bo Rothstein resigned from the Blavatnik School of Government out of opposition to Blavatnik’s politics.[32]

Blavatnik and his American wife, Emily, also donated to Democratic Party candidates Kamala HarrisChuck SchumerAndrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.[33]

 

In 2017, after two senior Trump administration officials went on record as being lobbyists for Blavatnik’s Access Industries[34], Blavatnik was mentioned in investigations led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian donations to the administration.[35] Since April 2016 Blavatnik contributed $383,000 to the Republican National Committee and $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund. However he did not give directly to the Trump campaign.[36]

Wikipedia

(2)  Information relating to allegedly corrupt practices by McKinsey at Transnet in 2011 and 2012 came to light in late July 2018. The weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper reported that a “…new forensic treasury report shows how controversial former Transnet and Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh enjoyed overseas trips at the expense of international consulting firm McKinsey, which scored multi-billion rand contracts at the state owned entities.” The “…report reiterates treasury’s recommendations that Singh’s conduct with regards to McKinsey should be referred to the elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks, for investigations under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca). Under Precca, Singh would be investigated for allegations of corruption as the overseas trips alone constitute a form of gratification, which is illegal.”[59] The Sunday City Press reported that the forensic report in turn reported that “multinational advisory firm McKinsey paid for Singh to go on lavish international trips to Dubai, Russia, Germany and the UK, after which their contract with Transnet was massively extended.”[60]. Mckinsey issued a statement that the allegations were incorrect. Mckinsey stated that “based on an extensive review encompassing interviews, email records and expense documents, our understanding is that McKinsey did not pay for Mr. Singh’s airfare and hotel lodgings in connection with the CFO Forum and the meetings that took place around the CFO Forum in London and elsewhere in 2012 and 2013.”[61]

In early August 2018 McKinsey admitted to helping Transnet Group Chief Executive Siyabonga Gama prepare a part of his thesis to obtain an MBA degree from TRIUM, a collaborative MBA programme jointly run by the NYU Stern School of Business, the London School of Economics and Political Science and HEC School of Management. Several researchers at McKinsey’s Johannesburg office were assigned to help outline and prepare Gama’s submission to a joint thesis to which he had to contribute at least two chapters. Despite multiple earlier denials that any corrupt activities had been discovered, a McKinsey’s spokesperson said “… we believe this matter passed the threshold of reasonable suspicion that an offence may have occurred under South African law. As such, we reported it last year to relevant authorities under Section 34(1) of Precca.”[62]. The TRIUM Global EMBA official twitter account was reported to have tweeted that “We have been made aware of recent allegations about academic integrity involving a TRIUM alumnus. TRIUM and its three Alliance Schools…take academic integrity issues very seriously.”[63]

2018 Lawsuit

As of May 2018, the restructuring practice of the company is being sued by a competitor claiming knowingly misleading courts in order to land clients[64]. The company indeed disclose an average of only five potential conflicts per case, whereas other professional-services firms divulged, on average, 171 connections. In most cases it disclosed no conflicts at all.[65]

Wikepedia

Written by Andrew Coates

August 10, 2018 at 4:27 pm

Dispute about Jade Azim’s article ‘Cranks’ rocks British left.

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Image result for Labour Party cranks

 

Yesterday this set several felines amongst the peace-loving doves of the British left.

The Real Battle For Labour’s Soul? Lansmanites Vs Cranks

Momentum, as a national body, have been swift and effective. There was a delay in the decision to drop Willsman from their slate, but the line at the top has since been clear: we will not tolerate antisemitism or bigotry that has become the apparent priority of the ‘crank’ left. In doing so, the Momentum National Coordinating Group (NCG) has aligned with the ‘Lansmanites’ who rightly draw the line at the likes of Jackie Walker. But local parties and local Momentum groups have seen rebellion and dissent. This has manifested itself online in organised ‘Twitterstorms’, the replies of Momentum’s Twitter account, and most amusingly in the replies of loyalists such as former Jeremy Corbyn spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin. These activists, now #JC9-branded, have made it known this is still a hill they want to die on. On the left, the split hasn’t only just emerged – but it’s become too difficult to ignore.

This is poor old Skwawky’s response:

At present the Azimites are winning:

But there is a backlash:

This attack on comrade Azim intensely annoys me, and I imagine many others:

 

By contrast, the tone, not just the content, of the Azim article is immediately attractive.

The existence of this crank tendency, is one of the reasons many of us on the left have played no part in Momentum.

Not that it defines Momentum.

Or Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters.

There are a number of recommended books for those who want a serious analysis of the Corbyn phenomenon:

The Candidate: Jeremy Corbyn’s Improbable Path to Power Paperback Alex Nunns (Second Edition 2018) 

Nunn’s lucid account focuses on the inner workings of the Corbyn candidacy, both as he won the leadership (twice) in the Labour Party, with a full command of the various Parliamentary, party and union players. There is an illuminating section on the (post-Referendum) 2017 electoral  campaign. The role of Momentum, as a positive force that works to reach outside the Party is underlined. The debate  on whether Momentum should be a support team for Corbyn  or extend to becoming a wider social movement is discussed. 

A Party with Socialists in It: A History of the Labour Left Simon Hannah (2018).

The definitive modern account of the Labour left, pre and post-Corbyn.

Democratic Socialism.

There are problems about Momentum. Its basis may be democratic socialism but supporting Corbyn is its principal focus. Not everybody thinks that left populism’, around a Leader, however important unity may be, is the way forward.

The way the Momentum national structure appears not to have a fully transparent democratic basis, critics says far worse, does not give strong legitimacy to a NGC run by ‘Landsmanites’. Which is not to ignore problems in the way other groups, from the Campaign for Labour Party democracy to the Labour Representation committee, operate internally or externally.

It may well be, signs indicate, that Momentum will run out of steam faced with the present controversies.

Regarding Azim’s main charge, it is true that a fringe of cranks exists in the Labour Party, in Momentum and amongst the ‘ultra-loyalists’ like poor old Skwawky

It would not take long to find the word used for some in the Lansman camp as well……

But one group of kenspeckle cranks  are conspicuous on the issue of  antisemitism, defending their right to shout their ‘anti-Zionism’ at the top of their voices.

This body, Labour Against the Witch Hunt is noted for its oddballs,  internal faction fights and purges.

It is  hard to beat Lansman’s Nemesis,  the Monster Raving Greenstein Party (expelled from Labour and a pillar of Labour Against the Witch-Hunt).

Here is his latest plea for help:

We need to turn the heat up on the BBC and all the other liars in the mainstream press.  When we can have the racist press, the Sun and Mail, being in the forefront of the campaign against ‘anti-Semitism’ we can be sure that the ‘problem’ in the Labour Party is utterly contrived.  That is why Corbyn has to be saved from his own stupidity. If he doesn’t start fighting back he is doomed.  And the person who bears most responsibility is the scab leader of Momentum, Jon Lansman, a Zionist for whom defence of Israel is more important than a socialist Labour Party.  Already there are reports of secret meetings of his MPs.  CORBYN’S CURTAIN CALL: Furious MPs vow to ‘COLLAPSE’ leadership at SECRET MEETINGS

We know who these MPs are and in the event Corbyn manages to win a working majority at the next election we can expect these scabs to refuse to support him as Prime Minister.

We have to deselect Labour’s Tory MPs now.  If their bluff isn’t called then they will, when the time is ripe, act as a Tory/Liberal 5th column.

We confidently predict that we will see some crankery from this quarter after today’s news: Exclusive: Jon Lansman lobbying Labour to adopt full IHRA with examples

Sources tell Jewish News that the Momentum founder believes the NEC must accept full anti-Semitism definition to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2018 at 1:17 pm

As Controversy Rages on Boris Johnson, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Backer of the Burqa Ban, is invited to Momentum Labour Fringe.

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Image result for Photo by Yemeni photographer Boushra al-Moutawakel.

‘Disparition’ by Yemeni photographer Boushra al-Moutawakel.

Boris Johnson should be kicked out of Conservative party for burka comments, Muslim peer demands.

Plenty of people have commented on the words of former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party’s relationship to Islam, not to mention those who’ve joined in, with glee at the opportunity to attack the prejudices revealed amongst the Tories and their supporters.

In a different vein I began writing on the wider European and international context of the controversy this morning.

Johnson may speak for a ‘liberal’ attitude peppered with a  few rude words (personally I find his handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, prisoner of the Islamic Republic of Iran far far worse).

An obvious point to begin with is that  that the Danish Social Democrats,  Socialdemokraterne, backed the public ban on the burqa,

“The Liberal, Conservative and Danish People’s parties all voted in favour of the bill, as did the opposition Social Democrats with the exception of MP Mette Gjerskov, thereby securing the majority.” The Local. 

The full law needs looking at it:

Another issue would be the silence of most of the people now shouting about Johnson faced with this: (March 2018): Iranian woman who removed headscarf jailed for two years. “Prosecutor says woman took off obligatory hijab in Tehran street to ‘encourage corruption’.”

But, to return to the issue of the burqa in general,  France, the best known secular country,  has, with the support of many sections of the left, prohibited the full face veil since 2011 (Loi interdisant la dissimulation du visage dans l’espace public.The bill was passed by the National Assembly by a vote of 335–1.

Amongst the left who backed the ban was Jean-luc Mélenchon, vocal in his enthusiasm for Laïcité, secularism.

It did not take long to draw some connections here, and the Spectator had got there before me:

Man who supported a burka ban to speak at Corbynista festival

Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The French socialist veteran who ‘inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017’ will be speaking to a Momentum-heavy crowd at the event. And what is his view on Muslim dress? Well, it turns out he has advocated a full face veil ban, as well as stating that the burkini was ‘a provocation’ – and the ‘fruit of a Salafist religious offensive’:

‘It is not impossible or contrary to public freedoms and fundamental rights to legislate on dress practices if the defence of public order and human dignity justifies it. The complete concealment of the face is problematic from this dual point of view. It prevents any recognition of the persons concerned, which disturbs public order. And it also deprives them of social existence and undermines their physical and moral integrity which puts into question the dignity of the human person. It is therefore on this double basis that the law could affirm the obligation to have the face discovered in all public places.’

The Spectator gives no source for this quote but it a pithy and accurate summary of the views of the leader of La France insoumise (LFI).

Here is the site of The World Transformed 2018.

As a service to those attending the rally here are Some further indications of his stand:

From Tendance Coatesy: (2016).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon on the Burkini : “C’est une provocation”.

Dans Le Monde d’aujourd’hui, JLM condamne les “militantes provocatrices en burkini”.  Michelle Guerci.

«L’instrumentalisation communautariste du corps des femmes est odieuse. C’est un affichage militant, mais quand on est l’objet d’une provocation, mieux vaut ne pas se précipiter dedans […] La masse des musulmans est excédée par une histoire qui les ridiculise. Valls a eu tort d’en rajouter. »

The ‘communitarian’ * exploitation of women’s bodies is vile. It’s a militant badge, but even so when we are the target of a provocation the best thing to do is not to get involved…The majority of Muslims are frustrated by this row, which makes them look ridiculous. Valls (Prime Minister) is wrong to add to it.

Il ressort de cette interview que JLM, ne condamne ni les maires qui ont pris ces arrêtés, ni Manuel Valls qui les a soutenus,  ni la droite sarkoziste qui a orchestré cette campagne, ni le gouvernement qui laisse faire (3), mais des femmes accusées d’instrumentaliser leur propre corps ou de l’être par leurs maris, pères, cousins… Bref la fameuse COMMUNAUTE.

It is apparent in this interview that JLM neither condemns the Mayors who have instituted these by-laws, nor Manuel Valls (Prime Minister) who backs them, nor the (ex-President) Sarkozy’s right-wing which has orchestrated the campaign, nor the the government which has allowed this to happen, but the women involved, who have used their own bodies, or have been ‘used’ by their husbands, their fathers, their cousins…to put it simply, the famous “community”.

Le burkini est le fruit d’une offensive religieuse salafiste qui ne concerne qu’une partie de l’islam […] La question politique à résoudre reste celle du combat des femmes pour accéder librement à l’espace public.

The burkini is the product of a Salafist religious offensive which only affects a part of Islam….There still remains the political issue of women’s struggle for free access to the public sphere.

Michelle Guerci points out that the Burkini is in fact a relatively new phenomenon, which would itself be prohibited under the rule of severe Wahhabist codes.

******

When the law banning the bukha was first debated in 2010 this post was on Tendance Coatesy.

French Left Leader Backs Secular Freedom Against Religious Garb.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Here

On proposals to ban the Burka.

What is wrong with the Burka (voile intégral) ?  “D’abord parce qu’il est obscène.”

To start with it’s obscene.

“Si l’objet de la nouvelle loi est bien de garantir la liberté, l’égalité et la dignité de toutes les femmes qui vivent sur notre territoire, d’autres mesures seraient opportunes dans ce cadre.

If the object of the new law is  to guarantee freedom, equality and dignity of all women who live in our land, there are other measures which should be taken within this structure.

The Parliametary Left should amend the law (he is a Senator).

The aim should be to extend secularism.

It is time to impose the principle of ‘mixing’ (that is women and men should allowed to be together) in all public places. Today this principle is not guaranteed by law, even in schools.

For example, one cannot accept the rule that reserves certain hours in swimming pools for one gender. Or that certain types of sport should be reserved for one gender.

Finally, if the legislators are really coherent they should extend secularism to French overseas territories and to Alsace Moselle (where there is still recognition of religion as part of the state and the education system).

The LFI chef has not dropped his hostile views on Islamic ‘modest’ dress, as can be seen in this furious attack on his opinions on the veil  in 2017.

Sur la question du voile, les propos choquants de Jean-Luc Mélenchon dans « L’émission politique »

During the 2017 Presidential elections the (now)  Candidate for the  Élysée emphasised his backing for banning the burka (voile intégral).

Jean-Luc Mélenchon est pour l’interdiction du voile, s’il est intégral, mais n’envisage pas de légiférer s’il ne l’est pas.

And in May 2018 the LFI leader criticised the fact that the new leader of the student union Unef, Maryam Pougetoux,, who has a veil, comparing it to himself advertising religion by wearing an enormous cross.

Mélenchon sur le voile de la présidente de l’Unef à la Sorbonne : “C’est comme si j’arrivais avec une énorme croix”.

Many people will be uncomfortable with legislation on the issue of the face-veil, the burqa.

And with La France insoumise’s vision of a top-down administered secularism.

But from that to go and speak of this as if it’s simply a fashion choice, or worse, ‘celebrating’ it as a sign of diversity, is both insulting and reactionary.

The blood-stained tyrannies which have enforced this dress remind us that it is not, in the view of some currents of Islam, a ‘choice’ but an obligation.

As Terri Murray has put it, Why feminists should oppose the burqa.

The claim that covering yourself up in public is an empowering choice insults the intelligence and dignity of women everywhere, just as the theological claim that the burqa is a necessary defence against predatory male sexuality insults Muslim men insofar as it treats them as fundamentally incapable of responsibility for their sexual behaviour.

The reason Western feminists (male or female) object to seeing women in burqas is not that we can’t tolerate diversity, but that the burqa is a symbol of patriarchal Islam’s intolerance of dissent and desire to contain and repress female sexuality.

Without challenging the burqa we cannot challenge the oppressions it is bound up with.

At the minimum it is hard to disagree than nobody in a public function should  enforce their religious ideas of “Purity” and sexual segregation through the display of this oppressive costume.

New Row on Antisemitism Looms as Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at Labour conference Momentum fringe.

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« La révolution citoyenne a déjà commencé » - L'interview des interview

Mélenchon to Learn from Labour Party “Shining Beacon”.

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

Next month, The World Transformed will be welcoming Jean-Luc Mélenchon to speak at its Labour conference fringe. The French politician who inspired the European left with his radical campaign for the presidency in 2017 won more than seven million votes. Since then, despite only commanding 17 MPs in the National Assembly, Mélenchon has emerged as the main resistance to the neoliberal ‘Jupiterian’ presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

It was the promise of a Sixth Republic, based on the principles of justice and democracy, which saw young and old flock to Mélenchon’s campaign. Likewise, Corbyn promised a constitutional convention as part of his quiet political revolution. Both seek to distribute power to the people.

Shifts in political power will, however, achieve little without an attendant transfer in economic power. The resurgent left is based above all on one thing: the return of class to politics. As Corbyn put it in a speech last month, Labour is back as the party of the working class. Mélenchon was at the heart of recent protests against Macron’s zombie neoliberal ‘reforms’ targeting the once-powerful French public sector (particularly rail workers). Both would repeal restrictive trade union laws, move to protect people from precarity and rebuild national industry following the ravages of neoliberalism.

Corbyn’s Labour is a shining beacon to the left, in Europe and beyond. As parties across Europe, including the PS, suffer from Pasokification, a resurgent Labour demonstrates the need for a strong, socialist alternative to a decaying neoliberalism.

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

Angus Satow is an organiser for The World Transformed.

Was the promise of a 6th republic in France the cause which attracted French voters to back the – failed – candidacy of Mélenchon in 2017?

Is a British “constitutional Convention” capable of bringing about a “citizens’ revolution”?

Can we see the invitation to one section of the fragmented and divided French left a sign of building “socialism from the grassroots”?

Can we say that a new left being created through a return to class politics?

French trade unionists, in the ‘intersyndicale’ (joint unions committee which led the recent strikes against Macron’s plans for the country’s railway service will no doubt be pleased to hear from The World Transformed  that their efforts were overshadowed by Mélenchon’s efforts on their (and his)  behalf.

Those who follow French politics will perhaps ask questions about the ‘grassroots democracy’ inside Mélenchon’s rally, La France insoumise.

It declares that it is not a party but a “un mouvement de citoyens individuels qui se reconnaissent dans la démarche de Jean-Luc Mélenchon “, a movement of individual citizens who identify with the approach laid out by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

A bit like Momentum’s claim to be supporters of Corbyn rather than the Labour Party itself...

At ‘conferences’ (‘Convention, December 2017) of the movement up to 60% of the “delegates” were chosen by lot and the others by a process which makes the old British Tory Party’s way by which leaders ’emerged’ look transparent.

There were no clashes between opposing motions, or organised currents of political opinion.

There is however plenty of ‘cyber-democracy’ (votes for all on a narrow spectrum of pre-prepared ideas) …tweets, FB groups and Memes….

Critics…..

Unsurprisingly there is dissatisfaction with the way things are run inside this Rally (A La France insoumise, la démocratie interne fait débat).

On paper it’s a ‘horizontal’ movement.

In reality, critics say, that it is “vertical” with decision-making in the hands of Mélenchon’s key advisers.

LFI’s strategy is often called  ‘left populist’, drawing on sources such as Chantal Mouffe’s extensive writings (the latest, For a Left Populism. 2018).

It is said that they are engaged in a ‘Battle for hegemony’. At  present they have not in a long-term ‘war of position’ but a frenetic ‘war of movement’ against not just Macron, the ‘elite’, and ‘the media’, but to win leadership over the rest of the French left and ‘federate the people”.

There are many other things to say, such as Mélenchon’s continued support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela, his dreams of a Bolivarian revolution, and a position on the European Union that while formally pro-European keeps slipping into assertions of French sovereignty,  sovereigntism than the pro-Other Europe views of many Labour members.

In their favour it must be said that LFI’s most recent proposals in migration have included a defence of asylum seekers and an ambitious plan to cope with global migration. Propositions alternatives au projet de loi sur l’immigration et l’asile. 28th of May 2018.

 

The real problem is that the invitation to  Mélenchon’ is probably going to get embroiled in the Labour row over anti-semitism.

Why?

Mireille Knoll: Crowds jeer French far-right, far-left leaders after ‘anti-Semitic’ murder.

BBC. 28 March 2018

France’s far-right and far-left leaders have been booed during a Paris rally after a Jewish woman was killed in what is being treated as anti-Semitic crime.

Marine Le Pen of the National Front (FN) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed joined the silent march, defying wishes of Jewish groups.

The groups accuse the two parties of having anti-Semites in their ranks – a claim denied by both organisations.

Mireille Knoll, 85, was stabbed and then burnt in her Paris flat on Friday.

As a child in 1942, she evaded the notorious Vel d’Hiv round up of some 13,000 Jews in Paris, who were then deported to Nazi death camps.

Two men have been held and placed under formal investigation over her murder.

……

On Wednesday, Ms Le Pen and Mr Mélenchon met a hostile reception from a number of protesters marching from Paris’s Place de la Nation to Ms Knoll’s apartment in the east of the French capital.

The two political leaders had to leave the rally as tensions threatened to boil over. Ms Le Pen later rejoined the protest, the AFP reports.

Ahead of the rally, Crif, an umbrella organisation of France’s Jewish groups, asked the far-right and far-left politicians not to join the event.

“Anti-Semites are over-represented in the far-left and the far-right, making those parties ones that you don’t want to be associated with,” Crif director Francis Kalifat told RTL radio.

“Therefore they are not welcome,” he added.

This dispute has long-standing roots:   including the LFI leader’s charge against the Crif’s “aggressive communitarianism” )Le communautarisme du Crif est particulièrement agressif”   Mélenchon et le Crif, un désamour de longue date. In return the CRIF has, in the past, made claims (strongly contested)  that Mélenchon  was in some manner implicated in anti-semitic demonstrations that followed public protests over Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014, (” les complaisances de Jean-Luc Mélenchon pour les manifestations antisémites de l’été 2014). The Communist daily, l’Humanite   was the venue where the accusations of anti-semitism have continued to surface, firstly in a column by Jean Rouaud, and then, in his defence, by its Director, Patrick Appel-Muller. (Quand Jean-Luc Mélenchon est accusé d’antisémitisme dans L’Humanité. Marianne. 13.12.2017).

The controversy, with obvious echoes in present day UK disputes, centred over the language used.

 

Many, while they would perhaps not always agree with the wording of the leader of LFI’s criticisms of Israel, find some of the claims of the CRIF hard to swallow. It is  hard to imagine that somebody who comes from the tradition of Laïcité (as this Blog does) and who has never shied away expressing his hostility to  anti-semitism, can be accused of….. anti-antisemitism

No doubt it did not help that he referred to his opponents in the CRIf as “la secte CRIF on his Blog in the article L’antisémitisme et « La France Insoumise ».

Nor that his ‘republican’ patriotism lead him not long ago to deny that “France”, that is the French republic, was responsible for Vichy anti-Jewish legislation and complicity in Nazi war crimes.

This kind of language and disassociation is hard to echo outside of France.

As an illustration of his position on these issues Mélenchon expressed his “total opposition” last year when one of the MP’s of his rally, La France insoumise (LFI),  Danièle Obono., expressed her support for the anti-semitic racist groupuscule, le Parti des Indigènes de la République (PIR):  Mélenchon met les choses au clair avec le Parti des indigènes de la République.

He and his party condemned her remarks.

It is doubtful nevertheless that in the present climate that we will see a rational – favourable or critical – reception of Mélenchon when he addresses a Labour and Momentum audience.

 

 

 

Arsène Tchakarian, Last Survivor of Resistance Group Manouchian (l’Affiche Rouge) Dies at 101.

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Affiche Rouge

“L’affiche Rouge.”

L’ancien résistant Arsène Tchakarian, le dernier survivant du groupe Manouchian, est mort

Le Monde

Avec la mort d’Arsène Tchakarian le samedi 4 août à l’âge de 101 ans, disparaît le dernier survivant du groupe Missak Manouchian, dont 22 membres furent exécutés par les nazis le 21 février 1944 au Mont-Valérien. Après le décès d’Henri Karayan, le 2 novembre 2011, à Paris, à l’âge de 90 ans, celui d’Arsène Tchakarian renvoie la mémoire et la relation précise de cet épisode, à la fois magnifié et propice à certaines polémiques, à la seule responsabilité des historiens.

The report below appears via Deutsche Welle.

The last survivor of a famous group of immigrant workers that fought against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II died on Saturday at the age of 101, French media reported.

Arsene Tchakarian, a tailor of Armenian origin, passed away at a hospital near his home in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine, where he had lived since 1950.

He had dedicated his life to fighting “facism,” French paper Le Figaro reported.

After fighting in the legendary resistance group Manouchian, Tchakarian’s historical and memorial tasks occupied him for the rest of his long life. He turned his home in an archival center, spoke at colleges and schools about the Nazi occupation of France, and campaigned for the recognition of the mass killings of Ottoman Armenians as a genocide.

“I’m sort of the last of the Mohicans, as they say,” Tchakarian said, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.

..

By 1942 he had joined the Manouchians, a small resistance group made up of foreigners and named after its leader, the Armenian poet and communist Missak Manouchian.

“They were immigrants who had come from countries that were becoming fascist, like Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria,” Tchakarian said, according to the German News Agency. “From all those countries, there were immigrants who were kind of hunted out.”

The Manouchian group carried out an intense campaign of resistance activities against the Nazi German occupation of France that included attacks and acts of sabotage such as assassinations and train derailments.

In 1944, 23 members of the group were rounded up and sentenced to death by a German martial court in a highly publicized trial.

The ‘Affiche Rouge’ poster campaign aimed at turning public sentiment against the resistance fighters of the Manouchian group

After the execution of Tchakarian’s fellow group members, Nazi German authorities and French officials in the collaborationist Vichy government hung up infamous red posters, known as the “Affiche Rouge,” denouncing the members of the Manouchian group as “the army of crime” in an attempt to sway public opinion against the resistance fighters.

Tchakarian managed to escape to Bordeaux and was taken into hiding by fellow resistance members. He remained active in the resistance until the war’s end.

After the war, he turned his focus to history, writing multiple memoirs, and fighting for recognition of the Armenian genocide.

DW.

There is a comprehensive Wikipedia entry in English on L’Affice Rouge.

In mid-November 1943, the French police arrested 23 members of the Communist Francs-Tireurs et Partisans de la Main d’Oeuvre Immigrée (FTP-MOI), who were part of the French Resistance.[1] They were called the “Manouchian Group” after the commander, Missak Manouchian. The group was part of a network of about 100 fighters, who committed nearly all acts of armed resistance in the Paris metropolitan region between March and November 1943.[2]

Its membership included 22 men: eight Poles, five Italians, three Hungarians, two Armenians, a Spaniard, and three French; and one woman, who was Romanian. Eleven were also Jewish.[3]

After having been tortured and interrogated for three months, the 23 were tried by a German military court. In an effort to discredit the Resistance, the authorities invited French celebrities (from the world of the cinema and other arts) to attend the trial and encouraged the media to give it the widest coverage possible. All but one of the Manouchian Group’s members were executed before a firing squad in Fort Mont-Valérien on February 21, 1944. Olga Bancic, who had served the group as a messenger, was taken to Stuttgart, where she was beheaded with an axe on May 10, 1944.

In the spring of 1944, the Vichy authorities launched a propaganda campaign, designed to discredit the Manouchian Group and defuse public anger over their execution. They created a poster, which became known as Affiche Rouge, due to its red background. It featured ten men of the group, with nationality, surnames, photos and descriptions of their crimes. The Germans distributed an estimated 15,000 copies of the poster.[4] Along with these posters, the Germans handed out flyers that claimed the Resistance was headed by foreigners, Jews, unemployed people and criminals; the campaign characterized the Resistance as a “foreigners’ conspiracy against French life and the sovereignty of France”:

Si des Français pillent, volent, sabotent et tuent…

Ce sont toujours des étrangers qui les commandent. Ce sont toujours des chômeurs et des criminels professionnels qui exécutent. Ce sont toujours des juifs qui les inspirent. C’est l’armée du crime contre la France.

Le banditisme n’est pas l’expression du Patriotisme blessé, c’est le complot étranger contre la vie des Français et contre la souveraineté de la France.”[5]

Although the poster attempted to depict the group as “terrorists”, the campaign seems to have had the effect of highlighting the feats of people whom the general public saw as freedom fighters.[5] Legend has it that supporters scribbled the words MORTS POUR LA FRANCE (They died for France – the phrase used on official monuments to soldiers of France who died in combat) and put flowers beneath some of the posters.

In 1975, Philippe Ganier Raymond claimed that there was no historical record of such activity.[6] More recent research has in fact confirmed that such additions occurred.[5]

The story was put into verse by Aragon which is sung by  Léo Ferré.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2018 at 11:19 am

Solidarity with Bookmarks against Fascists and Trump supporters’ attack.

with 16 comments

 

PRESS RELEASE: FAR RIGHT THUGS ATTACK TUC BACKED SOCIALIST BOOKSHOP

Bookmarks in central London, a socialist bookshop and also the TUC’s official bookseller, was attacked on Saturday (4 August) by around a dozen far right supporters.

Some carried placards reading “British Bolshevik Cult” and one of them wore a Trump Mask. Books and magazines were ripped and torn, with displays wrecked.

A Bookmarks staff member said,

Books on Islamophobia were ridiculed and thrown around. They chanted about Muslims and paedophilia, and called us traitors. While not mentioning Tommy Robinson the links are there to see.”

The far right activists also shouted about Corbyn and anti-semitism and then took Abram Leon’s “The Jewish Question” off the shelf holding it aloft as proof of the anti-semitism of the left.

The attackers also make threats to return and “show what they can do”.

Michael Bradley from Stand up to Racism said:

“Luckily no one was hurt this time, but this is a sinister development that indicates the growing confidence of the far right who feel they can attack a bookshop in central London in broad daylight. Attacking a bookshop also exposes their claims to be defenders of free speech as hollow.”

For those who do not know Bookmarks  in Bloomsbury Street is just around the corner from the TUC  (Great Russell St).

 

Solidarity!

Update: Via Urban Forum.

The group seems to be the same US-linked alt-right group (note placards) that protested against a FB ban on Alex Jones, “America’s leading conspiracy theorist”.

We appear to have entered the unpleasant American-led world of Kill all Normies.

Image result for kill all normies

They are from this group: Make Britain Great Again.

STAND AGAINST MARXISM

We do more than protest. We heavily research politics, and have familiarity with what drives the left-wing radicals who want to destroy Britain. We will do EVERYTHING it takes to Make Britain Great Again!

These claim to be “modern Day Chartists”.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 5, 2018 at 11:05 am

Sahra Wagenknecht Launches German Populist Left Movement, “Aufstehen”.

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Image result for aufstehen bewegung

 

Der Spiegel – our correspondent in Germany informed us yesterday – reports that the new ‘populist’ law and order left party of leading Die Linke Sahra Wagenknecht is going public.

“Aufstehen” – linke Sammlungsbewegung formiert sich.

Called Aufstehen (Rise Up/Stand UP) the movement is now being organised with a web presence a first formal step.

Der Spiegel notes that one of New Left Review’s top writers,  Wolfgang Streeck, is involved in the movement, whose key policies include greater law and order and a rethink of Germany’s openness to refugees and migrants. Wagenknecht has made many calls for a reduction in immigrant workers (“Einschränkungen der Arbeitsmigration” 10.6.18) and end to left backing for ‘open borders’.

German press accounts underline, as our Watcher on the Rhine has observed, that preparations for this movement (Bewegung) have been going on for some time:

Die seit längerem angekündigte neue linke Sammelbewegung nimmt deutliche Konturen an.  (NTV)

Wagenknecht, the same piece notes, has run up against heavy criticism inside the Left Party, Die Linke, for her stand against Germany’s migration policies.

Wagenknecht war zuletzt etwa mit ihren Positionen in der Flüchtlingspolitik innerhalb der Linken auf Kritik gestoßen.

As an illustration of its wider ambitions, Aufstehn has got the support of these figures: Marco Bülow (SPD MP), Sevim Dagdelen (Linke MP) the former Green MP,  Antje Vollmer (Taz).

Taz notes that Aufstehn is the title of a Protest song, by the Dutch popsters,  Band Bots.

The website informs us that a formal public beginning will take place on the 4th of September.

It wishes people to become part of the movement!

WERDE TEIL DER BEWEGUNG!

Here is an English language account (the only one that could be found this morning).

The high-profile faction leader of Die Linke, Sahra Wagenknecht, has been working for months on a movement to unite left-wing politicians across party boundaries. The movement now has a name and is about to go online.

 

The Local. basing itself largely on the Spiegel article states,

The new left-wing political movement first proposed by Wagenknecht in early 2018 is to be called Aufstehen (stand up). Its website, aufstehen.de, will go live on Saturday, Spiegel reports.

Political observers in Germany are eagerly awaiting the launch of the new movement, due to the fragile state of left wing politics in the country at the moment.

With the Social Democrats (SPD) haemorrhaging support, Wagenknecht has stated that she sees her movement as a solution to the woes of social democracy in Germany. In view of the fact that no left-wing party has led the country since 2005, Wagenknecht has stated the aim of Aufstehen is to lift the left back into power.

The movement is not supposed to pose a threat to the parties which currently reside on the left of the political spectrum. Instead Wagenknecht sees it as a platform for discussion outside of parliament and has invited politicians from Die Linke, the Green Party and the left-wing of the SPD to join in.

“It is of course our intention to achieve a different political majority and a new government with a social agenda,” Wagenknecht told Spiegel. “If the pressure is big enough, the parties will see it is in their own interest to open their lists to our people.”

The idea was initially met with suspicion on the left, with Die Linke’s chairpeople fearing that Wagenknecht was attempting to create an organization which would usurp their authority.

But Die LInke co-chair Dietmar Bartsch said on Friday that he was now open to the idea.

“On the right they are fighting a cultural battle. We need to take every idea seriously that can oppose them,” he told Spiegel. “Perhaps this provides a chance to to strengthen the left so that we can once again have a political majority.”

Other influential politicians on the left joined the chorus of support for the movement.

“The idea is good, the timing is right, the need for far-reaching chance is enormous,” an article penned for Spiegel by MPs from the Greens, Die Linke and the SPD argued.

Whether this is intended as the nucleus of a new party or a ‘Momentum’ type movement that presses within the existing German left for tough policing and a halt to open German migration policies,  is not yet certain.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 4, 2018 at 11:36 am

Today is the Anniversary of the Yazidi Genocide.

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SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN AIMS FOR AWARENESS ON 4TH ANNIVERSARY OF YAZIDI GENOCIDE

Activists on social media hope to raise awareness for thousands of missing people kidnapped by ISIS in 2014, hold events around the world and online.

 

Absolute solidarity and love to the Yazidi people.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 3, 2018 at 11:22 am

Backlash at Momentum Withdrawing Backing for Peter Willsman Exposes Deeper Left Rift.

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Image result for corbyn palestine

New forms of international solidarity, based on democratic human rights, should replace unconditional support.

Momentum withdraws support for Corbyn ally Peter Willsman for ‘deeply insensitive’ remarks about Jews

Independent.

The present crisis in the Labour Party over anti-semitism is a mess with which most people would recoil from.

The underlying problem is not this or that charge: it is a fight over Jeremy Corbyn’s politics.

Although the majority of the left stands with the anti-austerity programme, and for democratic socialist measures  to replace neo-liberal politics – give or take some divisions about how to respond to Brexit – there is no consensus about the politics of the Middle East and, above all, on the Israel-Palestine issue.

Is this  the central question of the age? In most people’s minds it is not. We could begin with the civil war in Syria, where massacres continue after genocides.

But there is no getting away from it.

Jeremy Corbyn comes from an honourable tradition on the left which puts international solidarity at the forefront of left campaigning.

It is part of his marrow.

Jeremy Corbyn has put the Palestinian people’s rights at the centre of his work.

It is scandalous to accuse him of underhand behaviour when he has acted in the plain light of day.

Or that Corbyn is of the same mind as everybody he’s been found in the company of.

Nobody can doubt that this involves cooperating, or at least appearing on the same platform,, as people he disagrees with.

But not everybody on the left accepted, or does now accept, the idea that solidarity means not taking a critical distance from the leadership and activists of liberation movements.

A thoughtful piece this year on the New Socialist site begins with a premise that seems very much of a different time:  Antisemitism and Our Duties as Anti-Imperialists. (The Editors April 2018)

The claim that groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip, are liberation movements reflects a position of the 1960s and 1970s left on such struggles which has not worn well.

But in a wider sense what are the “duties” of “anti-imperialists”? Opposing colonialism, the occupation of whole swathes of the world by European powers, US intervention in Asian wars, ended by the 1970s.

The term ‘anti-imperialism’ was visibly coming apart after the the Khomeini  victory in Iran in 1979, which heralded a wider rise in diverse forms of political Islam – virulently opposed to the left. Yet these were, in Tehran,  ‘anti-imperialist’, as a whole section of the Iranian left claimed, before being executed or put in gaol.

Opposition to US-led intervention against Iraq, the Gulf War onwards, and in Afghanistan, had some meaning.

But it failed to inspire much support on the left for Baathism or the various Islamist groups that took power in Afghanistan

The idea of moral obligations to support positively anti-imperialist countries or movements opposing ‘imperialism’ has even less  meaning today when ‘anti-imperialism’ or ‘campism’ in the post-Soviet world has led some on the left to claim the mantle of ‘internationalism’ for support for a variety of repressive and reactionary states and movements opposed to the ‘West’.

Despite its obvious bankruptcy the influence of this stand can be seen at present far beyond the Middle East, with some continuing to back the blood-stained and  corrupt regime in Nicaragua on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds.

The hollowness of this position is not hard to see. For those who wish to see them taken apart read Dan la Botz Nicaragua’s Popular Rebellion Stopped—For Now. (1)

Just as we would not tolerate unconditional support for Israel, above all in the form of the Israeli government, it is hard to see why why we should tolerate the – well-known – faults of the backward looking right-wing  Muslim Brotherhood ally Hamas.

This has its domestic translation.

In the present Labour Party row the issue keeps returning to the influence of anti-democratic, and prejudiced forces that style themselves ‘anti-Zionists’ operating in movements calling for  support for the Palestinians.

These range from those who have lost all sense of decency through their use of  ‘Nazi’ rhetoric against ‘Zionists’, Islamist and classic far-right anti-semites, to the probably more numerous, “conspiratorialist” individuals and groups.

But the Labour Party is not, as Labour Against the Witchunt and the its backers would like it to be, a playground where these individuals can engage in ‘debates’ on the template of the Letters Page in the Weekly Worker.

It is equally  true that the Labour Party is not going to be taught lessons about racialism from people like the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who declared in June 2016,

Our freedom from the EU will make extremism less, not more, likely, as the pressure cooker is released.

Brexit: It’s a wonderful day for Britain – and its Jews

But we are not going to resolve our difficulties without a coming to terms with the need for forms of international solidarity, based on democratic human rights, to replace the old unconditional support. for movements we think are ‘anti-imperialist’ or progressive.

In the deeper senses outlined above this is simultaneously a foreign policy issue and a domestic one, so that this analysis by Steve Bush in the New Statesman is right at both ends put together:

The issue at stake is that Corbyn himself regards the row as a foreign policy issue, confined to the question of how Labour members can talk about Israel, while his critics primarily see it as a domestic issue, confined to the need to reassure British Jews of Labour’s intentions and to take the sting out of the row, which risks derailing a summer of detailed policy interventions from the opposition.

Momentum dump Peter Willsman from their NEC slate – in direct defiance of Jeremy Corbyn’s office

The backlash at Momentum’s decision illustrates all these issues coming to the surface:

Momentum drops Pete Willsman – support the comrade!

 

And so it goes….

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Skwawkbox launches an organised wrecking operation against Momentum.

LOCAL MOMENTUM GROUPS COME OUT FOR WILLSMAN AND THE #JC9YES9

National Momentum – or rather the officer subset of Momentum’s ‘NCG’ (National Coordinating Group) – made the widely-condemned decision yesterday to withdraw support from left-slate member Peter Willsman in the vital National Executive Committee elections, over antisemitism claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

The decision sparked a major online backlash, with large numbers announcing they had ended their membership.

But others are staying within the organisation yet still making clear that the NCG has not spoken for them.

****

(1) Notably,

Many of my generation, the generation of 1968, who supported the Nicaraguan revolution of 1979 (as I did), may have found these arguments appealing, reflecting as they did the situation forty years ago, but not only do they have little factual or logical merit, but they are based on a specious reasoning that denigrates ordinary people and idolizes strongmen. Such arguments are based upon three fundamental suppositions:

1) Nicaraguans and other Latin Americans cannot have legitimate grievances against the “Leftists” governments and would any case be incapable of creating their own movement, so they must be manipulated by some other force;

2) the United States masterminds and controls all political developments in Latin America from Argentina and Brazil to Venezuela and Nicaragua, and it is the real force behind any apparent popular opposition;

3) existing “anti-imperialist” governments (Russia, Syria, Nicaragua), whatever their character, must be supported against the world’s only imperialist nation, the United States.

These arguments can only appeal to those who have no understanding of the complexity of international political developments, of a world where, for example, people can organize themselves, a left can develop critical of a so-called leftist government, and the United States, powerful as it is, cannot always call the shots. That these authors provide shameful support for an authoritarian, capitalist government murdering hundreds and wounding thousands of its citizens is not surprising, given their support for Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia, Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, and Assad’s dictatorship in Syria. Zeese and Blumenthal represent what writer Rohini Hensman has called a neo-Stalinist current that came out of the left but now has little that is even vaguely leftists about it.[18]

Fortunately, the international democratic left has rallied in defense of the Nicaraguan people’s rebellion. Noam Chomsky spoke out against Ortega’s “authoritarian” government on Democracy Now.[19] Dozens of leftist intellectuals and political activists  principally from Europe and Latin America signed a statement strongly condemning the Ortega governments and containing these demands:

The unconditional release of all political prisoners; the transfer of information from the authorities to human rights organizations about the real situation of the persons declared missing; disarmament of the paramilitary army organized by Ortega and his government; an independent international investigation into the various forms and facets of repression, with appropriate sanctions; the constitution of a transitional government — with a limited mandate, — leading to free elections; and the end of the Ortega-Murillo government.[20]

Prepare for Far-right Carnival Of Reaction as Tommy Robinson Freed on Bail.

with 10 comments

Tommy Robinson bailed after Court of Appeal win

BBC.

Far-right activist Tommy Robinson has been bailed after winning an appeal against a finding of contempt of court.

Robinson, 35, from Luton, admitted the charge and received a 13-month jail term in May after he filmed outside Leeds Crown Court during a trial.

At the Court of Appeal, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett ruled there had been technical flaws by the judge who jailed him and quashed the finding.

He will attend the Old Bailey for the Leeds allegation to be reheard.

In his written judgement, Lord Burnett said: “We are satisfied that the finding of contempt made in Leeds following a fundamentally flawed process, in what we recognise were difficult and unusual circumstances, cannot stand.

“We will direct that the matter be reheard before a different judge.”

Lord Burnett said a suspended sentence Robinson, also known as Stephen Yaxley Lennon, was given for contempt of court relating to a trial in Canterbury in May 2017 should stand.

Anti-racist protest during the Hearing.

There have been warnings that the far-right was preparing a Carnival of Reaction if Robinson, either if he remained in gaol or  was freed on bail (Police are bracing for the possibility of mass protests and disorder over Tommy Robinson’s appeal result) .

It has begun:

Robinson’s cause has been taken up by the international far-right from Europe to the USA. It’s in the latter that he’s received the biggest support including this Trump diplomat ‘took up Robinson’s cause to UK ambassador’ (Mirror). And this,  US rightwing groups bankroll campaign to free Tommy Robinson. Thinktank that paid for far-right activist’s legal defence says other groups are backing him. Guardian.

Recently this caught people’s attention:  Steve Bannon calls for Tommy Robinson to be released from prison. Guardian.

Steve Bannon, the former adviser to Donald Trump, has defended the jailed far-right leader Tommy Robinson, saying that he didn’t think he was “a bad guy” and that “he’s got to be released from prison”.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 1, 2018 at 11:27 am

After Peter Willsman Outburst on Jewish “Trump Fanatics” Left Figures Urge Him to Stand Down.

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Image result for peter willsman labour party

Pressure Grows on Willsman to Withdraw from NEC Race.

The day starts with this:

Bombshell tape shows Jeremy Corbyn ally blamed ‘Jewish Trump fanatics’ for inventing Labour antisemitism

The Jewish Chronicle continues,

The leaked audio begins with Mr Willsman ending a sentence saying: ”They can falsify social media very easily.”  It appears to be a suggestion that some of the antisemitism Labour members have posted online has been faked.

He then says: “And some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics and all the rest of it.”

Speaking in an increasingly agitated manner, Mr Willsman, who is secretary of the Campaign For Labour Democracy group that supported Ken Livingstone over his Zionism and Nazi remarks, adds: “So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up duff information without any evidence at all.

“So I think we should ask the 70 rabbis where is your evidence of severe and widespread antisemitism in this Party?’”

As he continues to speak, amid audible protests from some in the room, Mr Willsman adds: “Let me ask you, let me ask you a question, how many people in this room have seen antisemitism in the Labour Party?

“Put your hands up…  one, two – you’ve had antisemitism in the Labour Party? I’m amazed. I’ve certainly never seen it.”

Audio: Labour NEC member Peter Willsman’s rant about Jewish ‘Trump fanatics’

Comrade Rhea Wolfson had this reaction:

Phil sets the right tone:

Labour’s Incompetent Handling of Anti-Semitism

A recording of outgoing NEC and Momentum slate member, Pete Willsman ranting away about anti-semitism at the NEC earlier this month is, to put it euphemistically, not helpful. Saying “I’ve seen no evidence of anti-semitism” coming from someone who isn’t Jewish is like some bloke claiming sexism is a myth because he’s never experienced it. While not anti-semitic in and of itself, it’s crass, stupid, and in the context of what’s going on, unforgivable. As Luciana Berger notes in her quote, evidence of anti-semitism, as sporadic as in the party it is, was right there in the papers in front of him. The thing is when studied recklessness of this sort happens and continues to happen (I understand this isn’t the first time Pete has held forth on this topic in a similar manner), you’ve got to start asking serious questions. Whether Pete is guilty of being stupid or something worse doesn’t matter, he has shown himself unfit for the position he’s contesting, Momentum slate or no Momentum slate. For as long as he’s on the leading body and associated as a “key ally” of Corbyn, he’s a liability and will cause further damage down the line. I was glad when Ken Livingstone belatedly realised his pig headedness was harming the Corbyn project, and did the decent thing. I hope Pete has a similar epiphany too.

Already Labour List reports,

Corbynites who previously expressed support for the slate termed the #JC9, endorsed by Momentum, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance (CLGA) and others, have withdrawn their backing.

Leading Corbynite journalist Owen Jones said he would no longer be voting for Willsman, and Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar agreed that the NEC member should pull out from the race. Matt Zarb-Cousin, Jeremy Corbyn’s former spokesman, also spoke out and started using the hashtag #JC8.

Owen has updated his tweet:

This the recommendation we would follow and urge others to do so:

Some supporters of Ann Black, who was dropped from the full Corbynite slates and now stands as an independent candidate for Labour’s NEC, are urging members to vote for ‘Ann and the #JC8’. Ballots dropped on Thursday and voting closes on 30th August.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2018 at 10:45 am

Marie Laguerre on Street Harasser’s Slap “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent'”.

with 7 comments

Image result for marie laguerre le monde

Harcelée dans la rue, elle publie la vidéo de son aagression (Le Monde)

Paris prosecutors opened an investigation Monday after a young woman was assaulted by a street harasser for telling him to stop, in full view of a terrace full of people and CCTV cameras in Paris’s 19th arrondissement.

France 24.

This outrage has been all over the francophone media – with good reason.

The Paris public prosecutor’s office opened an investigation Monday after a young woman lodged a complaint against a street harasser who hit her in the face after she told him to stop making obscene remarks.

The victim obtained a CCTV video of the incident that has since gone viral on social media.

The investigation involves sexual harassment and violence with a weapon after he threw an ashtray at the victim, resulting in an injury that will cause her to miss some work, French media reported.

Marie Laguerre, 22, posted footage of the incident on her Facebook page, describing how the man launched a series of “humiliating” comments coupled with whistles and explicit language as she was on her way home in northeastern Paris. (1)

So I let out a, “Shut up!” while making my way,” she wrote. “Because I do not tolerate this type of behaviour. I cannot keep silent and we must not be silent.”

But “this man didn’t like that”, she continued, explaining that he first threw an ashtray at her before following her and then “hitting her in the face in the street, in broad daylight, in front of dozens of witnesses”.

Her Facebook post was accompanied by the video surveillance from the bar in front of which the incident took place. The video has so far been retweeted hundreds of times and the public video on Facebook has received hundreds of comments.

The French government announced in March that sexual harassment on French streets or in public transport will soon be punishable by an on-the-spot fine of €90. In announcing the measure, a government spokesman cited a 2016 survey that found 87 percent of women who use public transport had experienced harassment such as wolf whistles or comments on their appearance, intrusive staring or someone pressing up against them.

Only 2 percent of these women went so far as to file a police complaint, although in more than 85 percent of cases at least one witness was present.

The BBC has just reported on this:

France shocked by video of woman being slapped by harasser

Everyone at the cafe had found her response normal, she said, and the owner gave her the video to help catch the attacker. It has now been viewed more than a million times.

Ms Laguerre said fighting back against such aggression was hard, but all women were affected by it and it was time to say stop. “I can’t keep quiet and we mustn’t stay silent,” she wrote on Facebook.

(1)”Hier soir, alors que je rentrais chez moi, vers le Boulevard de la Villette dans le 19ème arrondissement à Paris, j’ai croisé un homme.

Il s’est permis de m’adresser des bruits/commentaires/sifflements/coup de langue sales, de manière humiliante et provocante à mon passage.

Pas de chance, c’était pas le premier de la journée et j’étais fatiguée. J’ai donc lâché un “ta gueule” en traçant ma route. Car je ne tolère pas ce genre de comportement. Je ne peux pas me taire et nous ne devons plus nous taire.

Ça n’a pas plu à cet homme. Après m’avoir jeté un cendrier dessus, il est revenu sur ses pas et m’a suivi dans la rue.

Il m’a frappé au visage, en pleine rue, en pleine journée, devant des dizaines de témoins.

J’ai porté plainte.

Ce n’est pas le seul. Le harcèlement c’est au quotidien. Ces hommes qui se croient tout permis dans la rue, qui se permettent de nous humilier et qui ne supportent pas qu’on s’en offusque, c’est inadmissible. Il est temps que ce genre de comportement CESSE.
#NousToutes

The reason why the video has been so widely shared can be see immediately.

 

Now in English:

 

While Marie Laguerre has received enormous support, some remark on the passivity of witnesses (a dubious point for reasons too obvious to cite):

Written by Andrew Coates

July 30, 2018 at 5:08 pm

Skwawkbox Gets in a Spot of Bother over Anti-Semitism.

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Image result for Labour anti-semitism jewish papers

Is this just ““concocted hysteria” ?

This Blog does not consider the row about the Labour Party’s definition of anti-semitism to be the only issue in international or British politics today.

When there are actual genocides and mass murders taking place in Syria, the latest being the incursion of Daesh into the Druze areas, the heat generated seems, to say the very least, disproportionate (Daesh leaves Syria Druze reeling from heaviest losses of war. 27.7.18)

One site, Skwawkbox, is doing all that it can to claim this, that, ” a significant part of the agenda in the presentation of this issue is indeed to divert or prevent criticism of Israel.”

And that this is a way to ‘get’ at Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

Whether this is true or not, Steven Walker, the chief of Skwawkbox, also claims – ludicrously in the light of the opinions publicly expressed all over the place on these issues – is that the Mainstream Media has presented the controversy  as if those of a Jewish background “all have the same view and the same voice.” (Skwawxbox. 27.7.18)

It would be equally ridiculous to assume that there is uniformity amongst the diverse critics of the Official Jewish Community Voices.

But is there a problem with anti-semitism – in the form of  extreme attacks on ‘Zionism’ and ‘the Jews’  in the UK which is reflected in the Labour party?

The following may give some indication that there is a problem.

The inflammatory – morally cretinous –  comment on this Tweet aside what of this?

 

Image may contain: text

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 29, 2018 at 11:25 am